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By the gods Cynane hoped this was the right time! Two weeks ago, she had met a very lovely young woman from Britannia and they had actually gotten along rather well. So well that they wanted to see each other again. And they agreed to meet near her domus, two weeks later. Cynane had been a very good slave to her imperial mistress those weeks, she had not asked for any trips out on her own, but now she did it and it paid off. She was allowed. But at what hour was it she met Charis last time?

She believed it was afternoon, because she remembered Claudia having business during the morning hours and she had been resting later in the day, and that’s when Cynane went to the market. She could not ask for an entire day off, but she wanted to see Charis so badly. She didn’t know why, other than that she’d felt bad for the young woman and wanted to be her friend. And maybe that’s all the reason she needed?

Anyway, she was here now. Right where they’d left each other, but she had seen where Charis went afterwards so she continued up the hill to the domus. It didn’t look like the biggest place, but it wasn’t small either. She leaned against a wall opposite the domus where Charis lived and worked as a slave and she hoped Charis would actually appear. If she remembered their deal about meeting here and if she actually got the chance to leave. She hoped so.

@Sara

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Charis had been flustered that day. The work she now did in the small internal garden was more enjoyable, but more time consuming than working with Rhoda in the kitchens, and it wasn't as if the older Greek slave had let her off lightly. Generally when she had finished her planting or pruning she would be pulled back to help prepare meals. It meant that she had even less time than when she had first arrived, even though she had gained surer footing in the household. Fortuitously (and she had chalked it up to her prayers to the Gods the night before), her Dominus was otherwise occupied that morning and there was little to do in the garden and kitchens. 

She had insisted to those that asked, that she needed to venture into the city to collect cuttings for a rarer form of rose. A complete fabrication, but she would simply feign ignorance - that she couldn't find a vendor that had any, or couldn't find one at all. Patiently, she waited until what she assumed was the right hour and spirited out of the smaller entrance to the domus, ducking her head to avoid any inquisitive questions from any of her fellow slaves. Not that they had been speaking to her much - since her change in fortune and new responsibilities, many of them had been openly irritated. Evidently it was rare for a slave to dictate their choice in job and they'd been aggrieved that she seemed to have managed it. 

Blinking into the early afternoon sun, and relieved that the weather was at least cooler today, she glanced around. It was left, wasn't it? She hadn't ventured to the markets since she had first run into Cinnia and bit her bottom lip in a momentary panic that she couldn't remember the way. Glancing around, the worry evaporated from her face as she spotted the tall blonde leaning casually across the way. Grinning a smile that stretched across her face she waved a hand in greeting and hurriedly crossed over to her. "You remembered!" She spoke in their shared dialect with amusement, "I'm flattered you didn't forget about me." Arching a brow, she glanced back over her shoulder to make sure nobody had followed her out of her domus and gestured with her head further down the road. She started walking as she spoke, "They think I'm going to the market, not meeting you." With abandon she reached down to squeeze the other woman's hand, "How are you?"

 

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Cynane felt she’d been waiting a good long while now, and Charis wasn’t here yet. Maybe she had forgotten. Or maybe her dominus wouldn’t let her have this time off. Maybe she had really come home too late that day they met, and now she wouldn’t be allowed out alone in a while. Cynane felt a little bad about it. She hadn’t been busy getting Charis home that day, because she’d enjoyed the younger woman’s company. Gods it wasn’t fair that they were slave and were not allowed to control what they did with their time! Or where they were, at all times, really!

Suddenly though, a small figure stepped out of the building Charis disappeared into that day. She looked around first, and then she saw Cynane and approached her, grinning and waving. Cynane laughed a little at her words, “You’re not that forgettable. Don’t ever think that.” Cynane said with a smile to her. She considered giving her a hug, but maybe that was too early… Charis seemed happy at least and they started walking. The other woman explained how she got out.

“So they just allowed you to go to the market again? You must be doing well.” She said, “I’m good. Nothing life-changing has happened though. Except of course for making a new friend.” She looked at Charis, “I hope life has been treating you well too. As well as the circumstances allow, anyway.” 

@Sara

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Charis arched a brow, amused; "Well...I didn't really ask." Who was she supposed to ask, nobody had told her? "But I said to Rhoda, in the kitchens, and a few of the others that I needed to get to market and they didn't really seem to care." One of the benefits, it seemed, of having irritated her companions in the domus was that they were largely apathetic to her presence. It certainly made her life easier...if not more lonely. 

Grinning as they walked, and cautiously avoiding the glances of citizens who looked pointedly at the pair of women, talking away in a foreign dialect, she smiled. "Nothing life changing?" She narrowed her gaze, "What about non-life changing things? Your mistress is well?" She tried to pull from the recesses of her mind the girl's name, but it escaped her. She did, however, remember that she was important and lived in a palace. 

Shrugging her shoulders, she offered a coy smile at her company. "It's...better...I'm not in the kitchens anymore," She shook her head, correcting herself, "Not all the time anyway, Rhoda - the kitchen slave - she drags me back sometimes." Much as Charis wished she didn't. A little awkwardly, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear - a nervous habit - and spoke quietly, as if ashamed; "I...had a run in, or more of a chance encounter with my dominos...but it worked out for the best, he at least agreed for me to work in the gardens, where I want to."

 

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It was of course good that Charis was doing well in her household. Cynane wouldn’t want her to do get herself into trouble, so she was surprised to hear that the young woman had gone out without asking. She’d just told them and then she left. Well at least they knew she left, so hopefully that would be fine too. She just nodded, didn’t see the need to comment and then she’d told how her life was the same as always. Nothing life-changing here. Then the young woman asked if her mistress was doing well.

“Plenty of non-life changing things, I guess.” She said with a smile, she could see how that might sound amusing, “My mistress is as well as ever, too. Young, beautiful, noble… and no news of any husband for her, at least not that I’ve heard.” Cynane added thoughtfully. She would have thought that Caesar might want to marry off that young and pretty lady soon, but on the other hand, she wasn’t sure she was going to like it, when it happened. A new master might be difficult and Cynane might not get to tend to Claudia the way she did now.

Charis was doing well, apparently she was not in the kitchen so much anymore. Then she said she’d had an encounter with her master, who had then allowed her to work in the gardens. Cynane arched a brow though, looking at her, “A chance encounter… did he do anything to you? Since you… were allowed to do different work? Gardens sound nice though.” She couldn’t help but wonder if Charis had pleasured him, willing or not, and in return, he granted her work in the gardens, that she seemed happy with. Roman masters didn’t just do that, unless they had a very good reason. Especially not if Charis’ master was as difficult as she said last time.

@Sara

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Charis grinned, "Good. I'm glad you have her undivided attention for now...men just complicate things." She waved her hand, but in good nature. She missed her husband deeply, but tried not to dwell on it. He'd be with the Gods now, if he had died and if he hadn't well...that was possibly even more painful. With curiosity, she glanced up at Cynane. "Did you have one? A man, I mean, back in Britannia?" She didn't know why, but she couldn't imagine it - the other woman was beautiful, to be sure, but she seemed to have a strength of character that Charis imagined men might be affronted by. 

Frowning, and with a small, uncomfortable laugh she shook her head. "No...not really." He had't really done anything. He just seemed to have an innate way to make her feel on edge. "He...found me praying, in the garden at night and he wanted me to sit with him and talk to him," She frowned, as if trying to pull out the memories that were already a little hazy after just a few weeks. "And he made me kneel in front of him and I thought, well..." She gave the other woman a pointed look, "But it wasn't that...but he was watching me so intently and I realised that maybe that could be useful." She shrugged and continued walking. She knew she was playing a dangerous game, but he was only watching her.

"So I said he could watch me...if I worked in the garden and now here I am." She gave her friend a grin, pleased with herself. "Men are very predictable. But from what I can tell he hasn't had a woman since his wife, and far prefers his body slave so all I need to do is smile and nod and I'll at least get the peace of working alone."

 

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Cynane nodded, she agreed it was nice to have Claudia as a mistress without a husband at the moment. And men most certainly complicated things, all the time. Then Charis wondered if Cynane had a man in Britannia, but she shook her head, “I was younger than you, when I fought and was captured by the Romans. There were… crushes, but never more than that.” Cynane explained. Sometimes it was odd seeing married couples around her and even lovers, knowing that she might never have a husband and there had never been a truly steady lover either. Maybe someday… but she didn’t know. It didn’t seem important.

Charis had also mentioned an encounter with her master, which resulted in him allowing her to work in the gardens. Cynane was naturally curious about what her master did, but apparently, he didn’t do much. They had talked and he’d made her kneel, but seemingly only to watch her. That was odd. But men were odd, sometimes. It was surprising he didn’t do anything more to Charis. And what a horrible world here, where a slave had to take advantage of her master watching her, to get what she wanted.

“I am glad it worked out for you. He sounds sort of… I don’t know… strange?” Why would her master watch her and not take advantage of her? “Just be careful. I wouldn’t trust him.” But then, how many men did Cynane trust? Definitely close to zero! Decimus she might trust, but only because he’d treated her well so far. Most men didn’t. So most men, she didn’t trust. She gave Charis a look, “Is he the only male in your household?”

@Sara

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Charis felt a little bad. At least she had had a glimpse of a life; a husband, a child on the way, before it was taken from her. At least she had those memories. She didn't know if it would be worse to have nothing. Still, not wanting to dwell on dark times, she arched an eyebrow at her company, a mischievous grin on her lips; "And anything more than crushes now?She didn't know whether slaves were allowed relationships, although she assumed they couldn't. Not that Charis was in any position to ask, love and passion were possibly as far from her mind as they could ever be, right now.

She nodded, however, at her company's words. "He is a bit strange." She shrugged. He was an enigma to her - which was rare. She'd always prided herself at being able to read people easily. 

Still, she drew to a stop at Cynane's wording and glanced up with a frown. "He honestly doesn't seem interested like that." She affirmed, more to herself than the other Briton. "He only has eyes for his body slave...I think I'm just a novelty." She knew she likely sounded naive, but she didn't want to admit to her friend (or herself, for that matter) that she'd been foolish and placed herself in his way without a thought of the consequences. She was pleased with her new work, but a discomfort lingered about how it may have changed the dynamic between herself and her master. "But I will...I'll be careful." She repeated hesitantly. Although if he does decide he wants to do more than look at me, what do I do? She wanted to ask, but felt too embarrassed.

With another nod, she slowly started walking again. "The only free man in the house, he has male slaves," She waved a hand, hating how dismissive she sounded, "Including his own son...he's older than me I think, Teutus." She liked the youth and was yet to keep her distance, like the others who only saw him as a future domine. For Charis, she believed she wouldn't be here long enough to see that day. 

 

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When they spoke of their past, free lives and whether Cynane had any husband or anything, she had to disappoint Charis. She had no one. Only crushes that never evolved, because well… Rome. Instead of dwelling on that fact though, the younger woman would know if Cynane had any crushes now. Sometimes she wish she had. But they weren’t there. Few men caught her interest. There was that man Lucius, whom she met at that tavern a while ago, she couldn’t him out of her head. No matter how irritating and arrogant he’d been. But luckily, she hadn’t seen him. Else it was mostly women that caught her gaze lately. Aia was very interesting. They had talked about seeing each other too, like Cynane and Charis did now. Maybe she should look more into that again.

 “Nothing more than crushes. And they don’t seem to lead anywhere.” Cynane said, hoping she didn’t sound too pessimistic, but this was how life was for her now. She doubted anyone would mind if she had a relationship with someone, but she didn’t.

 When talking about Charis’ owner, now that was a strange man. Peculiar, maybe even… creepy? But she didn’t word it like that. Charis only agreed he was strange, and again didn’t think her owner was interested in her ‘like that’. She did however promise she’d be careful, “Please do. I’d hate to find you bruised or docile next time I see you.” She’d seen it happen before, to other slaves, while she was a gladiatrix. Slaves could come in and they were all high and mighty to begin with, thinking they knew how to live this life. But one wrong step and their master had made sure they knew their place and wouldn’t forget it anytime soon. 

Charis said there was just the one master in the house, but male slaves and even one who was the son of her master. Cynane nodded, “That sounds peculiar. But not… extraordinary. Just like we had bastards running around, so do the Romans. One can wonder though, why your master has a grown son being a slave.” Again, Charis’ master was just strange, “I can see why you have a hard time figuring him out.”

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Charis bit her lip nervously but chuckled. "I'm plenty docile for him...which should save me any bruises." She said, although couldn't keep the concern from her voice. She hadn't seen Tertius beat his slaves, nor had she really heard anything to suggest he would, but she remembered how he made her kneel in the gardens and forced her eyes down at that first meeting. She definitely wouldn't put it past him to raise a hand to a nobody like her. "I'll work in the garden and smile when I need to and try not to grimace if he looks my way." She offered a wavering smile and reached down to squeeze the other woman's forearm. "Please don't worry about me, I'll be fine, I promise."

Still, she laughed. "He's impossible to figure out. I don't even think he does it on purpose." He was just an enigma. She only dared to imagine what his poor late wife must have felt. But then again, she wondered how close husbands and wives were over here. Political marriages were common in Britannia but only for those in the upper echelons of the tribe. Her own marriage had been made out of equal parts practicality and love. She wasn't sure if the latter even factored into the marriages here.

She sighed. "I do feel bad for Teutus though." She shook her head as they walked, "Not even able to look your father in the eye...never being able to even call him Father." it sounded barbaric to her, and before she could realise it, she let slip; "Immin and I spoke about it, with the baby...about whether it was right we were even bringing a child into the uncertainty at home but..." She realised what she had said and glanced up, big blue eyes blinking. She hadn't told anybody about it, not here. Quickly she shook her head and tried a smile, "It didn't last...don't worry. They didn't take my child off of me...that's one saving grace I suppose." 

 

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Cynane gave Charis a look, wondering if the younger woman knew just how docile the Romans wanted the women in their household to be… whores and slaves that weren’t their own, now those they liked to have spirit, but besides that, Romans seemed to like quiet women. She could only hope Charis was as quiet in the house, as she was outspoken here with Cynane. The other mentioned then how she’d work in the garden and smile at her owner, and she squeezed Cynane’s arm sand said she should not worry about her, “I’ll try not to worry. But I like you… which makes it hard to not be concerned for you.” She said with a smile to Charis. What a pity she was only a bodyguard to her mistress and couldn’t be there for Charis. But then she felt like that for many people she met.

Charis laughed when Cynane commented that Charis’ dominus was difficult to figure out – but the other said he didn’t do it on purpose, it was apparently just his nature. She continued about her master’s son, Teutus and how it would be like not being able to call your father by his title. She went on about what must be her husband from before slavery, for she mentioned a baby suddenly. Cynane looked at her and then she stopped, blinked with those pretty blue eyes of hers and then there was a forced smile as she said it didn’t last. What, the marriage or the baby? She was with child and she clearly had none now…

“I’m sorry to hear about all of that. It must be rough, having your life turned around so suddenly and…” She trailed off, it sounded so… terrible, loosing everything. It was a long while since Cynane experienced it and it wasn’t quite the same. She’d been in a battle, she knew the risk, although she would have preferred to die on the battlefield rather than becoming a slave. But she knew it could end like that. Still she held a grudge to the Romans for doing this to her; enslaving her and putting her through all they’d put her through. But Charis, she had a husband, she had a family, she could have had a child… her life was even more settled than Cynane’s, when she was ripped away from it.

She sighed, “I’m sorry, all this talk is making me all kinds of mad and sad at the same time. I wish you hadn’t gone through all that you’ve gone through lately.” Cynane said and lifted her chin a bit; her way of trying to ‘man up’ and pulling herself together, “The market is not far away now. Was it a honey-cake you wanted?”

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Charis visibly winced at the awkwardness. She hadn't realised she'd mentioned the child until it was too late, and it was in the open now. In truth, that loss seemed paler compared to the loss of her family and husband. She hadn't ever known being a mother, but she had known being a wife and a daughter and a sister. That didn't mean it didn't still distress her, but at the moment she was trying not to dwell. As the slaver had told her, a few days after it happened; 'You're young, you'll have more. Smile!'. She shuddered at the memory.

"No...I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you morose." She offered a weak smile. Glancing at her friend she shrugged her shoulders, trying to act braver than she felt; "It's in the past now...I shouldn't dwell." That was the advice the other slaves had given her, a few days after she arrived in her masters house. At the time it had seemed almost...laughable, pathetic even. But in time she had come to understand that dredging up her upset and bitterness wouldn't serve her. She could still be angry about what happened, but she needed to be proactive in changing her circumstance now, and being upset didn't help. It was, however, easier said than done. 

Relieved at the change of topic, but still trying to shake off the awkwardness, she nodded. "Honey cakes sound good." It had been serendipitous to find a friend, especially one from her own country and she wasn't going to let a silly comment and awkwardness ruin it. Turning her face up she offered a more genuine smile. "I'm working on being allowed to go to the gardens soon, here, in Rome." She had heard they were beautiful...and a source of desperately needed shade for the fair-skinned Briton. "We should go. With honey cakes and wine, spend the afternoon gossiping..." The latter was perhaps a wistful dream, but she could hope. 

 

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Cynane hated how the Romans turned the British and so many other people into slaves. Sure they had slaves in Britannia too and sometimes they were captives from battles, but more often it was people unable to pay a debt or they had been traded between tribes as a token. Or they were just the lowest in the society… it wasn’t like here, where the Romans decided they had the right to be superior to everyone they conquered, and they decided who’d live and die and who would be free and who would be a slave. She felt so sorry for Charis.

The other woman apologized for making Cynane feel what she felt, and then she said how she should not dwell on the past… “Sometimes it’s hard to not dwell on the past. I still haven’t forgotten. If you forget what you had before… they have truly won.” She said to the younger woman, because that’s what she believed. They could own her body and give her orders, but her dreams and memories were hers and hers alone.

She changed the subject though, as they were going to the market for honey-cakes and she felt the mood wasn’t all too good now. Charis agreed how the honey cake sounded good, and then went on about how she hoped to go the gardens in Rome at some time. Cynane gave her a smile, “Maybe we have time today. If we hurry. Honey cakes and wine sounds so good…” She could not remember that she had a good time outside of a household like this, in Rome, at any given time. But now she had a chance… “Should we do it?”

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Charis swallowed, and nodded with a sigh. "Remembering it hurts though." She offered a weak smile. But Cynane was right - to forget was as awful as being complicit here. She was a free woman, a married woman and she should never forget the slight that had been inflicted on her. Waving a hand, as if trying to brush past it - because whilst she should remember, she shouldn't do so now - she offered a sigh and a shrug of her shoulders. "Let's not remember it right now...life is so miserable here, I don't want to make it any worse." And she meant it, dredging up the past now would serve them no good. 

She grinned then, as Cynane agreed to her plan. It had been a daydream, a fantasy (how simple her fantasies had become!) but at Cynane's affirmation, her smile beamed.  "Really?!" She laughed. Gods how she wished to watch the sun go down, drinking and laughing, joking and gossiping with a friend amongst nature. 

Glancing about, realising her exuberance had garnered her some stares from passers-by, she bit her lip to stop the smiling. They had neared the markets now and the amount of people was overwhelming. Quickly her hands went to the little coin purse hanging from her belt. It contained almost nothing, just enough to buy a honey-cake for each of them. She'd been saving. "I...can't afford to get wine." She winced and shrugged her shoulders, "But I can get you a honey-cake and we can still go to the gardens...? Nobody will miss me I'm sure." For some reason, she simply didn't care if they did.

 

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