Jump to content

Under the Morning Sun


Sara
 Share

Recommended Posts

Early the morning after 'The Bridge is Crossed'

Charis, try as she might, barely slept. Every thirty or sixty minutes she was woken up either by the movement of her bedmate or a nightmare that left her gasping for breath. In the end she had decided against sleep - choosing to stay awake and think. Hector had come in to replenish the wine, and besides that interlude where she fluttered her eyes shut and pretended to be dreaming, largely she just sat up and awake. Glancing through the high window she had whittled down the hours thinking of nothing in particular. She had cried a little, silently, so as not to disturb Tertius, but she wasn't overwhelmingly upset. She just felt...a little numb. 

When looking at the window and noticing it had lightened a touch, she had taken it as her cue to leave. Dawn was just off breaking, but morning was fast approaching and she thought it better he awoke to find her gone than lounging in his bed. Silently, she slipped from underneath the covers and silently made her way around the room - squinting in the darkness. She took a sip of the wine, straight from the jug, to dull her mood and leant to pick up the long tunica she had abandoned, along with her loincloth. She left the rose, however, on the table near his bed. He could keep that, it was worthless to her now. 

Silently, she moved from his room, stumbling a little in the dark and out of tiredness. Still, she was relieved when she made her escape and found herself in the silent domus. Even the hardest working slaves were unlikely to be in this area of the house at this time. Quietly, she moved in a daze and found herself in the garden. She took a seat on the bench where just yesterday she had enjoyed an afternoon of chatter and fun with Teutus and Antonia. In the darkness of the early morning, and the quiet, it seemed different - more sinister. She didn't do anything as she sat, she didn't even think of much. She just wanted to sit. She needed space and time to breathe, and she knew she wouldn't get it if she returned to the slave quarters. She took a deep breath and folded her head in her hands, completely unaware of somebody else approaching. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Teutus had come out to the garden in the pre-dawn chill for the simple reason that he'd woken early and didn't really want to be around when everyone else woke up. He was half-way to the bench where Antonia Varia had sat the day before when they'd had that light=hearted conversation with Charis that had taken such a bad turn, when he suddenly realised that he wasn't alone. There was someone else there.

He pulled his rough cloak tighter around his shoulders and hesitated, half-turning to retreat and leave the other person alone when he realised who it was, and saw that she did not look happy at all. Perhaps he should just leave her, especially after yesterday and... whatever had gone wrong.

He couldn't just leave, not now, not if there was anything he could do to help.

"Charis?" he said softly, thinking she might well prefer to be left alone, or speak to anyone else at all.

 

@Sara

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Head still in her hands, she didn’t hear Teutus until he spoke. Glancing up, she blinked. She was exhausted and it took a few moments for her eyes to focus on him. “Teutus?” She frowned. What was he doing this early? Self-consciously she dropped the long tunica she was clutching to cover her legs - given she was only wearing the short shift she slept in, and hid her loincloth under the bundle. 

Satisfied that whatever remnants of modesty she had left, was preserved, she swallowed and gestured for him to join her. She hadn’t wished to be disturbed, but right now she realised she could use the company. She was going over everything in her head, tangling herself in knots trying to figure out if there was anything she could have done differently...

She wasn’t much in the mood for conversation even if she appreciated the company, and unlike yesterday offered no smile or friendly banter. Instead she sat still. Swallowing, she turned her face a little to his and asked plainly, “Did you hear what happen?” She wasn’t in the mood for small talk but certain questions were eating away at her. Still, she thought she felt her cheeks flush. She didn’t know why she cared if Teutus thought less of her, but she did. Maybe it was the humiliation of it all?

 

TAG: @Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Ah, some," Teutus said, trying not to notice her bare legs - her nightwear was about the same length as his day-wear. From what he could see in the twilight, she looked dishevelled and somewhat wan - had she slept at all?

"I think I can guess," he added, quietly. "Hector slept in the dormitory last night, and you didn't. Did m- the master, uh...?" He nearly said 'my father' and then couldn't quite bring himself to finish the question. He knew more or less exactly what went on between Hector and Tertius, but putting it into words was another thing entirely.

Not that he could really blame Tertius - Charis was pretty, and sweet, and innocent, and just didn't have the self-preservation instincts of someone who'd been a slave for as long as Teutus or Hector - or any of Tertius' other slaves.

"Are you alright?" he asked, wishing he knew what to say, what to offer. He wouldn't have minded sleeping with Charis himself, although under perhaps different circumstances, which meant probably never - but he couldn't deny his attraction to her. He squashed it; it had absolutely no place here, in this conversation.

 

@Sara

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charis watched him with an indistinguishable expression; a mix of apathy and pain. She only nodded at his question initially, before she added quietly; “Yes. It was punishment...” She grit her teeth, and glanced at him again. “I said things I shouldn’t have to friend and another...went drinking...” She laughed a little hoarsely at the absurdity of it all. Who would ever rightfully consider sex as an appropriate deterrent for drinking and gossiping? “The other sold to Domine I think.” She shrugged and moved to look away from him. She felt deeply, wholly embarrassed. 

His second question made her smile a fraction. Ever the sweetheart, Teutus. Even after the awkwardness that had ended their conversation yesterday he was still concerned for her...if he thought her sweet, he should really consider it a reflection on himself.

Was she alright? She shook her head and quietly spoke; “No...but there was nothing I could have done...he...” She shook her head, “But I hate him.”  She swallowed, her mouth suddenly feeling dry and scratchy. Was that fair? Did she hate him? She hated what he had done to her, what he had thought was right. But that was Rome, wasn’t it? She glanced back at him again, and felt a chill shudder up her spine. “Can have cloak?” She asked without prompting. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"You went drinking with a friend?" When?! It certainly hadn't happened in the house or Teutus would have known about it much earlier.

He unfastened the cloak he was wearing and put it around her shoulders; the day would heat up, but not for a while yet - but her shift was thinner than his tunic, he thought. She'd be warmer if she dressed, but he wasn't about to suggest that she do so here, not in front of him - even if he turned his back, she wouldn't want to, probably.

"Our wine is very strong," he said neutrally. "It should be mixed with water."

He didn't suppose she had thought of that, still being unused to Roman ways.

He said nothing to her declaration about hating Tertius - what was there to say? Teutus himself had mixed feelings about the master of the house, after all, how could he condemn anyone else for feeling strongly about the man? Especially if he'd ordered Charis to his bed as Teutus thought he had.

"Is there anything I can do?" he asked instead, wishing for Charis' sake that she'd ended up in a different household with less complicated relations between master and slaves. It wasn't like he could say anything to Tertius - for one thing, Tertius had been well within his rights as paterfamilias, and for another, Teutus didn't want to risk even the uncertain future that had been promised to him.

@Sara

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charis only nodded meekly. "Cynane...one I mentioned." It depressed her to think that she wouldn't see the young Briton woman again for some time. Who knows when they'd chance upon one another again? And it wasn't like Charis could read or write to send a note about what had happened. Swallowing, she shrugged and wrapped the cloak tight around herself. She wasn't cold but enjoyed the feeling of it over her shoulders. "Thank you...but not drink that made him angry." She admitted with a little sigh, embarrassed. "Wine too strong, loosen my words...said things I should not have to Helios." She grit her teeth after saying his name. As despondent as she felt now, that little prick would pay - she knew that much at least. "You met him, he said. He bad man." She shook her head, angrily. 

Although she took most of the blame on herself. If she had been been better...if she had kept quiet...she shook her head. She felt exhausted and racking over things in her mind wasn't helping, but she was trying to convince herself it wasn't her fault. This would never have happened at home, and she didn't deserve it here, she tried to think. 

At his offer though, she was stirred and glanced up at him. What could he do? Pour a boiling hot bath so she could scrub herself clean? Argue her corner to his father? Both were about as likely as one another...Instead, she was quiet for quite some time, fingers playing with the edge of his cloak. When she finally spoke, she did so with a shrug; "I don't know what to do..." She admitted, "How get him to leave me alone?" It was a naive question, she knew, although hopefully her poor performance as his bedmate might put him off. Hector was no doubt skilled in bed, far moreso than her, and Tertius would miss that surely? "I don't want to...again." She couldn't verbalise what had happened, although the insinuation was obvious. "I did not know he want me like that." She added finally, blandly. She was such a stupid girl. 

"What you do? If you me?"

 

TAG: @Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, now, there was a question and a half!! Teutus couldn't remember the last time his father had had a woman in his bed - he couldn't remember the last time there'd been a woman in the house attractive enough for Tertius to consider wanting to take her to his bed, even. He was fairly sure that where Tertius had taken someone to his bed once, he'd do so again, but saying as much to Charis would not be helpful, not now.

"I don't... I don't know," he admitted. He'd only really known Hector to have any appeal for Tertius, but he didn't particularly get on with the blond-haired boy, for obvious reasons. "I wish I did. I wish I knew what to say, even."

Apart from 'suck it up, buttercup' - but that would be unhelpful and downright cruel, even, and whatever Teutus was, he wasn't cruel. Not like that. Well. He hoped he wasn't, anyway

"Are you all right - did he hurt you?" Physical hurts, he might be able to help. Anything else... Well, probably not, after yesterday. He was surprised she'd even approached him, considering how quickly things had cooled yesterday, for no reason that he could really put into words.

 

@Sara

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charis looked sympathetically at Teutus. Had she been in her right mind, she would have stayed well clear of this topic with him - learning about his father's bed habits wasn't exactly pleasant conversation. But she was upset, and despite what he might think, he was a comforting presence. "Fact you care is enough." She shrugged at his assertion he didn't know what to say, and she meant it. 

At his question, she pulled the cloak tighter around herself subconsciously but shook her head. "I all right...not hurt...not really." Which was surprising. She'd heard from other women who had been forced against their will that it was painful, but then again Tertius hadn't threatened her or physically forced her down into bed - in her mind she had done it of her own volition, and she felt bile rise in her throat. 

Glancing up at him, she let out a long held breath and reached to squeeze his hand tentatively. "Thank you...for care." She withdrew her hand as quickly as she placed it in his palm and wound it around her waist. "I no allowed to leave domus until he say okay..." She tried to laugh but sounded hollow, wrong"So  you see me more. Bad for Teutus...you angry at me yesterday..." She arched a brow at him, eyes still watery from tears that had at least stopped falling for now. She moved her hand to her forearm where her husbands bracelet had been until yesterday evening, needing to spin it and get some relief as she always did when anxious, and felt a lump form in her throat at its absence. 

"Hector hate me now as well." She offered a more genuine laugh this time, although her face creased in a frown of upset. Tertius' lessson was going to have far bigger impacts than he could ever have predicted. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Hector hates me too," Teutus said with a shrug. It wasn't as though he particularly liked Hector, so the feeling was mutual. There were times he couldn't help feeling vaguely sorry for his father's concubīnus, but mostly he didn't, particularly.

He shook his head at her assertion that he'd been angry with her the day before. He hadn't, really. He'd been confused, perhaps a little upset, but not angry. "I was... hurt, but not angry, not... I thought you... I don't know. It was silly of me, maybe. I thought you were teasing me, on purpose, and wasn't sure what to think."

It was easier than he had expected it to be, to say the words.

She looked as though she might start crying at any moment and he didn't have a rag or anything to offer her. He did care, he just wasn't quite sure how to show it - and if Tertius had taken her to his bed, would she want to do anything with Teutus? Though, did he want to sleep with someone his father had slept with?

Teutus was certain of one thing: No other household in Rome was going to be as confusing and tangled as that of Tertius Quinctilius Varus!

 

@Sara

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"But you be better...higher than Hector soon when you free." She eyed him sadly. If Tertius' promise was kept, soon Teutus would be freed and then Hector's hatred of him wouldn't matter. That promise of freedom was nonexistent for Charis and last night had proved that any of her hope that she'd be freed and get back home had been successfully extinguished, at least Teutus had a hope still - however faint it might be. 

"Hurt?" Charis blinked watery eyes up at him, "I hurt you?" She had been joking, jesting...and his assertion that she had been flirting she had confused her. That she had hurt him stung. She muttered and shook her head, "I sorry...I was playing....joking around. I was having nice day." She glanced up at him cautiously with a faint smile, "I mean it...I tease you because I like you...but won't do it again...if you don't want...we still friends though?"  Evidently they weren't that close yet. Not that she probably could be close to him anymore. She didn't know why (naivety!) Tertius seemed suspicious of his son, but she had noticed his casual suspicion and wouldn't wish to incite him any further. 

Tentatively, she shrugged off his cloak and held held it back to him, feeling flushed and warm after her crying and upset. "I should go get ready...he still want me to work in garden...but," She glanced in the direction of the slave quarters although obviously couldn't see them from her vantage point, "They'll talk about me...they be cruel, I know it...has he done this before? With others?" She remembered Teutus had been emphatic that her predecessor who had passed away with child hadn't bedded the master, but Tertius hadn't seemed particularly out of practice...

 

TAG: @Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Well, sort of - I..." He took a breath. "It seemed like you... like you were flirting with me," he said, feeling awkward in a way he didn't want to; he'd never really spoken about emotions with anybody and trying to put words to feelings was not an easy exercise. "And, well, it confused me. The hurt came later." He shrugged. "I am very bad at talking about how I feel - who would I talk to, after all?" And he had realised yesterday that it would take very little indeed for him to develop feelings for Charis - and there was absolutely no way he could tell her that now, not after what his father had done.

"If I've hurt you, I'm sorry," he added, taking his cloak back. "I would like to be friends still - if you want." Probably she wouldn't. Not after yesterday - after everything that had happened yesterday. He held his hand out, as a free man would to another free man to clasp in agreement,  and paused in confusion. Not only was Charis not a man, she was not even Roman. Probably they didn't do this in Britannia. Probably they had some outlandish custom, liking spitting at each other.

"The others... they might tease, but only because they're bored. If you don't let them know it hurts, they'll get bored and stop." Eventually. "You can talk to me."

He might not be able to stop it dead, but he could squash the worst offenders, at least. Though Hector was remarkably unsquashable and unaffected by Teutus' position, having access of his own to their master, which might be threatened now.

 

@Sara

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I..." She blinked, confused again. Was flirting something different in Rome? All she had done was joke around, dance a little...was that all it took here? Shaking her head, she winced, "No...I...I wasn't but you can talk to me..." She offered a wan smile, feeling exhausted. This was precisely what she did not need right now...bedded by one generation, and having to talk about romance in the other? If she had been in a better mood, if what had happened...hadn't happened, then perhaps she would have cracked a joke, or been more open to talking to him about it, about thinking about what he had said but...as it stood, she was too dispirited, too tired. 

"Of course I still want to be friends..." She choked a laugh and eyed him sincerely. As he held his hand out, she didn't understand his meaning and instead took his hand and squeezed his fingers. "You only friend I have...and even if you weren't...you good man." She didn't let go of his hand and instead held it tightly, finding it comforting. 

"Bored and jealous for some reason." She shook her head with a frown, as if unable to fathom why anybody would want to be singled out and bedded by Tertius...completely oblivious to the favour it gave her, and the elevated position it put her in (even temporarily). She didn't care for all of that, but she knew others did. Still, thinking of the others made her think of something else and she eyed him tentatively, although still held his hand, "You...you don't think any less of me because he did...it...do you?" She thought far, far less of herself for what she had done (or was made to do), but for some inexplicable reason she didn't want him to think any worse of her.

 

TAG: @Sharpie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Jealous because... because it means you're close to the master and could tell tales of them if you wanted to, so they're probably a little bit afraid, too." Teutus knew all about that, as he was in exactly the same position but for a different reason.

Tertius might not bed her again, of course, but then again, he might.

"Do I think less of you because...? Of course not, Charis. It... happens." He squeezed her hand; she had mistaken his meaning there but it really didn't matter.

And people got on with their lives.

"If you want to talk about - anything, I'll be around," he said. He would probably end up running errands as usual, but he would be around if he could.

He slipped his arm around her, offering a brotherly sort of hug, though it felt a little awkward after everything that had happened. You'd think I'd be used to 'awkward' by now, living in this house, Teutus thought to himself.

 

@Sara

Edited by Sharpie
Link to comment
Share on other sites

She felt relieved at his assertion that it hadn't coloured his opinion of her. She tried to smile a little at him. She supposed it happened so commonly in Rome that she'd get little sympathy from most people...she had seen it, for herself, at the slave market with sweet red-headed Rufus after all...but for a woman that had (previously to last night...) only bedded one man, the idea of simply being used as a toy for pleasure was devastating. She was glad that Teutus at least, seemed to be sympathetic. 

She didn't flinch away as he wrapped an arm around her, which was surprising given that she was in no real mood for physical touching. Bit it felt comforting, like something one of her family or her husband would have done when she was upset and when she shut her eyes briefly, trying to keep the tiredness at bay, she imagined herself there. What was the last thing she had been upset about at home (proper home) that warranted a hug like this? Something to do with the forge? The baby? 

Her eyes blinked open and she glanced at him in panic, "Yarrow." She blurted out, her first words in minutes of silence. "Yarrow root...they sell at market?" She eyed him cautiously, "I not allowed to market...not allowed out of domus now but need it...to stop..." She placed a hand across her middle, hoping he'd understand. She had been married for close to three years and only fell pregnant once...and she genuinely believed the root had aided that (Immin and herself recognising they were in no position to bring a child into the world). "Can you...get me? I pay back..." She had very little of her peculium left and said a quick prayer  to her Gods that the Romans were as practical as her own people about things like this...to have a child out of this...she couldn't even imagine it.

 

TAG: @Sharpie

Unfortunately Charis doesn't know about Silphium...

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yarrow? What, in Jupiter's name, was that? Some outlandish British thing, Teutus had no doubt, but why she should want some now, he could not say for the life of him. Unless she'd just been reminded too much of home and wanted some sort of reminder or... something.

"I don't know what that is," he said, a little nonplussed by her sudden panic. was it something he'd done - but she hadn't pulled away from the arm he'd put round her shoulders. It would be perfectly understandable if she had, if his guess about last night bore any semblance to the truth. He was a man, after all, and the master's son.

What wouldn't he give right now for her to be fluent in Latin so that he stood some chance of actually understanding what she wanted.

And she'd mentioned Helios earlier in the conversation, too. What the golden-haired man from the Domus Venus had to do with Charis, though, and how they'd met... Well, that was probably for another conversation another time.

"I'll see what I can do, though. Are you... Are you all right?" It might be a dumb question, but Teutus was honestly stuck for anything else to ask.

 

@Sara

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"It root, like..." She tried to find her words but struggled, and panic rose in her voice and face, "You ask herb wife for it she'll know what it for." But given he seemed so non-plussed by it, Teutus evidently had no sense of how important it was. Maybe he needed to know. "It stop baby, Teutus." She looked at him with seriousness for a moment, speaking directly this time rather than just suggesting its use; "I don't want baby, his baby.She wanted to add 'no offence' given his own parentage but decided against it. Surely he could see that another slave-born child in this house would be as bad for his prospects as it would be for hers?

Satisfied that he'd at least try she only nodded and shook her head. "You help me escape? Or take knife to him? Or...find me nice new domine who treat me better? Or free me?" She looked at him with a small flash of irritation in her eyes before shaking her head, "You can't do those things then you can't do anything." It was true, after all. What she needed right now was support, but more than that she needed a plan but none would materialise. She felt thoroughly brow-beaten. "Just the yarrow."

 

TAG: @Sharpie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"All right, all right - I can ask, it's alright." Teutus found himself rubbing her back as the panic rose again. She wanted to prevent a pregnancy, which he could totally understand - he wouldn't wish his life on anyone, let alone any sort of sibling.

At her further words, he glanced around. "You don't want to do that - the things they'll do if they catch you. The things they'll do to all of us if you - if any of us - take a knife to him."

He sighed. "I'm sorry about yesterday, I'm sorry about last night - I want us to be friends." If they couldn't be anything else, Teutus wanted her to know that she could still rely on him as a friend. Jupiter knew she few enough of those around here, after all.

"I'll do my best to get you your yarrow, Charis, I promise."

 

@Sara

Edited by Sharpie
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charis eyed him with a rough laugh. "I know...they told us, at slave market." Although the intricacies of what happened in a crucifixion still escaped her, she understood enough to realise it was a fate that no person should go through. She shook her head slowly, "I just...don't want it to happen again." She swallowed, and mumbled under her breath, "I have to be good, have to be better." Then he'd stop. Then he wouldn't punish her anymore, then she'd be alright. 

She did, however, offer a weary smile to him and nodded. "You are my friend. Only friend here, in house." She had others outside, but Gods only knew when she'd see Cynane or Aia again, and Teutus made life here far more palatable. If she lost the one bit of companionship she had here - even as tenuous as it was - she didn't know what she'd do. 

She nodded at his promise and gripped his hand with hers, squeezing it, but didn't say anything. He'd surely understand how critical it was? The thought of a child...she blinked tears away. She had always wished to be a mother, but not here, and not with him. Silently, she unfurled herself from his embrace and stood on wobbling legs. She felt exhausted, as if she could sleep where she stood. Blinking down at Teutus she offered a shadow of a smile. "Thank you, Teutus. You a g-," She sighed and stopped herself before starting again, "...I glad you not like him." She reached down to squeeze his shoulder lightly and stifled a yawn. "I need sleep before other wake up and then..." She glanced around the garden, silent in the early morning. "It all go on again."

 

TAG: @Sharpie

I think I'm done! Thanks for a great thread!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Teutus bundled his cloak in his arms, grateful that at least he had not (and was not likely to!) endured the indignities of the slave market- he avoided such places as much as he could, though it was impossible to walk through any market and not see slaves for sale, alongside pots and pans and woodwork and everything else you could buy.

"You go and get some sleep. I will... I will try to get your yarrow, though I don't know if I'll be able to today." Probably the stuff had a short window when it would work, probably he only had a day or two before it wouldn't do what Charis needed it to. He resolutely did not think about what might happen if she did get pregnant, and Tertius found out about it.

It was a shame that sweet innocent Charis would end up as cynical and hardened as any other person in Rome. Teutus wished it would not happen, but it was surely inevitable - for her own protection, as much as anything.

"If you need to talk, I'm here. Only - not about women's things, all right?" He hadn't the first clue about those, except to know that he didn't want to know anything about them.

He would try to run interference between Charis and their master, but there honestly was not likely to be much that he could do because Tertius was aware of her now - more than aware of her.

Oh, Juno, why couldn't she have gone to any other household? This is far too complicated a place for her!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"No women things..." She could have laughed if she had any humour left. What on earth did that mean? Her flux? Sex? A pregnancy? Although granted she understood why he might be reticent to talk about the latter two, given they could only be regarding his father. 

With a final sisterly but lingering squeeze of his shoulder, she wordlessly left the peristylium and padded gingerly back towards the slave quarters. She felt so tired that by the time she reached the curtain, she had to stumble her way through with her hand reached out in front of her as if she had lost her sight. The gentle sound of snoring from the other slaves in the sleeping quarters filled her ears although she heard whispered words almost as clearly. She was too tired to care, however, and gingerly eased herself down onto her pallet, not bothering to undress and instead simply slipping a blanket up and over her, right the way up until her head was under it. She fell asleep almost instantly, and didn't wake until long past dawn. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie

And she's done!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...