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Julia Valeria

Market Day

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July 74 CE

 

Widowhood was hard to deal with, but Julia was doing the best she could. A little over six months had passed since Canus had passed. She was still residing on the small farm that her and Canus had shared and worked together for Alaric Stilicho, but there were a few slaves who did the direct work. With the arrival of early summer Julia had taken a few days away from the farm to come into town to visit her son and go to the Markets.

 

Julia entered the Emporium Magnum and immediately was bombarded by the noise and the crowds of people milling about. She was mostly there to sell and purchase a few items but also to simply see who was around. After doing her business she was looking at a stall with a variety of wares.

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Alexius wanted to find a present for Oriana. Maybe just a small one. He knew they were not open about their relationship or affair or whatever you’d call it. Officially, Oriana was still looking for a wealthy husband and Alexius was nothing but her personal bodyguard, who would even guard her quite closely in the nights. Unofficially though, they had recently admitted that they cared for each other and Alexius couldn’t help but admire his beautiful and young mistress and lover. So he thought he’d get something for her. Perhaps a new necklace or a silken ribbon to decorate her red hair with.

He arrived at the marketplace as he had a few hours off today, since Oriana had some other business to attend to that apparently didn’t need to be looked over by her bodyguard. Well, she was a capable woman and although he doubted her skills in a physical fight, he knew she had power over words and more than he did. Alexius was a physical man, made for action and his mistress knew how to choose what to say and when. They complimented each other just fine, didn’t they?

With that in his thoughts, he approached a stall that did have a few ribbons hanging over a rack on the table. They were very pretty… but he knew nothing about these things! The man in the stall was busy with another costumer and Alexius looked at a charming woman who also just arrived to look at the wares. Maybe she’d know. She certainly looked like someone who would know!

“Excuse me, lovely Domina… would you be happy with getting one of these as a present?”

@Jenn

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Julia entered the marketplace with a plan in mind. She had a few wares that needed to be sold and it made sense to complete those transactions first. Finding the appropriate vendor, she placed the wares on the table for examination. Her part of the farm, a thriving garden, had experienced a bumper crop- too much for her to use entirely so she had arranged to sell it. Once they were examined and payment was received, she headed off to look at another booth.

She came across a stall that was selling ribbons, baubles and various pieces of jewellery. Julia let her gaze wander over the wares but wasn’t planning on buying. She was about to move on when a man near her spoke. “Excuse me, lovely Domina… would you be happy with getting one of these as a present?”

Julia turned and saw who the voice came from. It was Alexius- although she didn’t know him personally, she was aware of his history. “Salve. Would I be happy with one of those as a present? There was a time when I would have been.” If he knew anything of her story, he would understand her answer.  

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Alexius had always been a part of the lowest in the society… first as a slave and gladiator and now as a freedman. He wasn’t even a plebian, he was just a former slave and while he had often mingled with the upper classes for various reasons, it was rare he really got to know any of them. They didn’t want to know him, usually. Or some did, but that’s because they remembered his days a champion among gladiators, and that still didn’t mean they respected him as their equal.

He didn’t know who this woman was, but he knew she looked wealthy and probably she was some kind of noble. She had the looks and dressed according to her rank too. In fact she wasn’t all that bad looking, he thought to himself, and that’s why he hoped she’d be able to help him pick a perfect little present for Oriana. She looked at him and greeted him kindly and said at a certain time she would have been happy with it. But that wasn't now? That was odd, but maybe she had everything she needed now? Or there was an entirely different reason for her answer.

“Oh? I am just looking for something to buy for… someone I care for. How come you wouldn’t be happy with such a present now? If you are willing to share the story, of course.” He said with a smile to her, unaware of who she was or what she’d been through, but he was always happy to listen to anyone wishing to talk to him. And that the woman happened to be striking to him, didn’t harm the idea of listening either.

@Jenn

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“Oh? I am just looking for something to buy for… someone I care for. How come you wouldn’t be happy with such a present now? If you are willing to share the story, of course.”

Julia smiled when he said he was looking for something to buy for someone he cared for. She looked at the items available and nodded her head. She noticed that he seemed kind of surprised by her answer-in fact he seemed curious as to why she wouldn’t have been happy with such a present now. It wasn’t exactly that she wouldn’t be happy but Julia had become very practical, not wanting money to be spent frivolously. Yes she was ‘technically’ wealthy but she had gone through so many ups and downs in her life that she understood what it meant to barely get by.

“It’s hard to explain…I certainly was happy when I was younger to have received presents like this, however, life has not always been easy for me. I was forced to learn the value of money and that it was important to be wise with the coin you had. Life has certainly gotten easier again so I don’t have to worry quite as much, but at the same time I have also recently lost my husband. I hope that makes sense.”

Julia once again looked at the items available before looking back to him. “That being said, what kind of person is the gift going to? That usually makes it easier to decide on a purchase.”

@Atrice

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Alexius thought most women would be happy with a present from a man they liked. That seemed to be the general idea of it – the man bought something for the woman and she’d be happy. And then she’d make him happy and all would be well. But of course, it seemed as if the lady right here had another story and she didn’t want the present for no reason. Alexius was always happy to listen to people share their stories. She smiled to him and then seemed willing to share.

And her reason was surprising, although he had the idea that she wasn’t telling him the full story here. She said she’d been happy when she was younger, but her life had not been easy and she’d learned the value of money and how you should be wise with what you had. Now she didn’t have to worry though, but then said she was a recent widow. He dropped his eyes for a moment, feeling a little bad on her behalf, that she had to share that with a stranger.

“It makes sense, I think. I’m sorry to hear you lost your husband… I hope he was good to you.” Alexius knew this wasn’t always the case and Oriana certainly didn’t seem sad about having lost her husband. But not all marriages were bad in Rome.

Then the lady changed the subject and wondered who the gift was to.

“No offense, but she is younger than you. And even younger than me. She’s quite independent and self-confident. She’s enchanting, really.” He added with a smile, “But I’d like to give her something to show how much I admire her.” Oh he hoped he wasn’t offending the lady, maybe he should secretly give her something too. If she was sad after having lost her husband, a gift might cheer her up. And Alexius hated to see any woman unhappy in his presence.

@Jenn

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“It makes sense, I think. I’m sorry to hear you lost your husband… I hope he was good to you.”

Julia nodded her head when he gave his condolences and enquired whether he was good to her. “Thank you.” She took a moment to think about the time they had together. While it was an ‘unusual’ match in that he had once been working for a rival to Caesar, her life had never been a straight course either so in a way they were perfect for each other. “Yes he was good to me.”

He then went on to describe the young woman whom the gift was going to- she had a bit of a chuckle when he said ‘no offence, but she is younger than you’. “No offence taken- I assumed she was younger than me. She sounds like she has made quite an impression on you. If she is one who enjoys looking her best or enjoys dressing up you have picked a good stall. I would be very surprised if you weren’t able to find something that would suit her. Can’t really go wrong here.” She pointed to a few things as examples then stopped on the ribbons that were hanging down. “The ribbons can be used for many purposes- woven in the hair as an embellishment, worn around the neck with an amulet or pendant. Hope those were helpful suggestions.”

@Atrice

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She seemed pleased that he offered his condolences on her late husband and after some consideration, she even came to the conclusion that he was good to her. Well that was good. A rare case of an actual happy marriage in Rome? Alexius hadn’t heard a lot about those, especially the arranged marriages. His own marriage had not really been arranged, other than that his wife’s father offered his daughter to Alexius and he took a liking to her. And she to him. Well until he couldn’t stop straying, again. Then he had to end it. He wondered sometimes if he could stay true to Oriana, he wanted to, but could he?

Then he’d described Oriana to the other woman, so she could help him pick a present. She chuckled when he mentioned Oriana was younger than she, and he liked seeing the lady smile. It suited her. The lady then said he’d picked the right place and she said he couldn’t go wrong here. Well that was comforting.

“That’s good, it’s not often I go and buy gifts for lov… for women.” He was about to say lovers, but that wouldn’t sound quite right, would it? He went quiet again as the lady explained how the ribbons could be used and he nodded, “That’s what I was thinking. I don’t know if she needs more jewels, she stunning enough already. But a ribbon… or more than one, perhaps?” He mused and considered what he had in his purse. Could he afford more than one? Then he glanced at the lady and thought he should. She’d been so helpful, so he kind of wanted to thank her. He could buy one for her as well… even if she said she didn’t care for presents anymore, but maybe no one gave her enough attention like that. And she deserved it. He’d do it anyway and might surprise her, which could only be good, right?

“If it was you, which color would you pick?” He wondered then with a smile, not letting her know his intentions of course. It was always better if it was a surprise.

@Jenn

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“That’s good, it’s not often I go and buy gifts for lov… for women.”

She noted the quick change at the end of the sentence- had he meant to say ‘lover’? Julia didn’t bother to comment on his choice of relationship. Instead she pointed out various items. When she got to the ribbons he seemed to agree that it was a good choice. “That’s what I was thinking. I don’t know if she needs more jewels, she stunning enough already. But a ribbon… or more than one, perhaps?” Julia could see that he was certainly infatuated with the young woman.

“If it was you, which color would you pick?”

Which colour would she pick? A little curious as to why he was asking, Julia looked at the various ribbons. There were all kinds of colours, and preferences were very personal. Thinking about many of the colours that were on display Julia compared the options to her wardrobe. “If it was me I would probably chose a brown or dark green which then allows anything you string on it to stand out a little more.”

 

@Atrice

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He really had to figure out with Oriana what they really were. Maybe they were lovers? But did lovers care so much about each other… he’d promised himself to try and not fall in love with her, but it was quite hard and the longer they kept going, the harder it was to stop. And he didn’t want to stop. So that’s why he would buy her a gift and he decided to give the lovely lady here something too, because she was so kind and helped him out. He casually wondered which color ribbon she’d pick, and she seemed to really think it over and then said what she’d choose.

“Those are very good thoughts. I’m glad I asked you, you’re so much more aware of how they can be useful and for what, than I am. Thank you.” Alexius said with a grin and then turned away from her for a bit, as he waved at the vendor behind the tables with the goods on them. He picked an emerald green ribbon for Oriana and then a dark green one too. He paid the vendor out of his own purse and then looked to see if the helpful lady was still here, so that he could give her the present he bought for her too.

“You’re as lovely as you are kind, Domina. This is for you.” He said and handed her the neatly folded dark green ribbon that she pointed at just before.

@Jenn

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While it wasn’t her business to know the relationship between Lexus and the young woman he was shopping for, she had obviously made a good impression on him. There were so many social rules to courting, but she was always happy when young people seemed to be figuring out their world and hearts. Perhaps it came from the fact that her life had been so messed up- she would never wish her path on anyone. Sold into slavery, escaped slave, freed but hard to reintegrate into society due to her tarnished reputation…although that may have been more her hesitation than society around her. She had reached a point in her life where she was happy, even if content to be own her own now with a little help from her son and Alaric.

“Those are very good thoughts. I’m glad I asked you, you’re so much more aware of how they can be useful and for what, than I am. Thank you.”

Julia nodded her head and gave a wave of her hand as he said he was glad to have asked her & thanked her. “You are welcome. Good luck with your purchase.” With that said, she assumed the conversation was over and looked back to the wares she had been considering when he first made conversation. She didn’t pay Lexus any mind as he went on with his transaction so she was unaware that he was purchasing a ribbon for her until he looked in her direction and spoke up once more. You’re as lovely as you are kind, Domina. This is for you.” She turned back, momentarily confused until she saw the ribbon he proceeded to hand her. Julia let her gaze drop to the dark green ribbon in her hand and then back up to Lexus. “Oh…Thank you. You didn’t have to do that- you asked a very simple question and I didn’t mind answering it. Have a wonderful day and may the Gods bless you both.”

@Atrice

(end?- sorry for the long wait for a reply….my work schedule has become busy)

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