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18th of December, 74 AD

It was about time. It was the second night of Saturnalia, the 18th of December, and it was for this night that Tertius had planned the feast for the slaves of the household - and also freeing his son from slavery, of course. Tomorrow Teutus would no longer be a slave. And it was perfect to use Saturnalia for this ceremony and celebration, because this was when tables were turned for slaves anyway. During this week of Saturnalia, gambling was permitted and it was also common for the masters to provide a table service for their slaves. Someone had to cook it though and it hadn't been Tertius. But no one would be required to serve him tonight. He would pour his own wine and break his own bread.

The triclinium of the house was not big enough for all his slaves, so tables had also been set up in the the peristyle - luckily the weather had been good enough for it. Tertius had invited a few friends and then of course all of his slaves would attend the feast. He hoped that Longinus and Rufus would come, as it would be good to have some fellow Senators present too. They had not sent word, but that didn't mean they would not show up. Antonia had been dressed up nicely for the occassion and everyone had been told to wear their finest clothes. He even had Jocasta make a new set of clothes for Teutus, for formal occassions. 

A chamber had been made ready for Teutus to move into, starting on this night if he wanted to. His own chamber with his own bed, his own table and chair and his own clothes. It would be a new life, but Tertius trusted his son could manage it. Tomorrow, he would be Teutus Quinctilius Varus instead of just Teutus. Finally.

Now he was waiting in the hall just inside the front doors, hoping to see his slaves in their finest clothes. It was however also Saturnalia and that was the time of year where masters would often switch places with the slaves. He usually did a little thing with Hector at Saturnalia, but this year he considered to do it with Charis instead. What would it be like, if she was his mistress? That could be a very interesting... game. But he had not decided yet and before everything else, the ceremony of freeing Teutus would happen. 

So far, Tertius stood alone in the hall, but soon someone would join him here. A table had been set up earlier, with drinks for everyone, before all the slaves and Antonia went to get dressed for the feast. While he waited, he sipped a cup of wine casually.

@Sara @Joaquin @Sharpie 

Edited by Atrice
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To say she had mixed emotions about what was to come would be an understatement. Her only recent truce with Teutus was frail but he had only recently become her friend again, and the months before their stupid little argument had been good. She'd relied on him like she would a brother or a close friend. And she was not naive enough to believe that would last once he was freed. He would need to impress his father, and treating the slaves as...well, slaves, was to be expected, and surely he'd marry and who knows what his wife would inevitably be like. She sighed and swallowed the lump in her throat at the thought. She knew she should be happy, but it was...hard. 

She'd dressed up, as per Tertius' instruction and sat on her (and Hector's) bed in her fine blue chiton. She'd braided her hair in the Roman way, albeit with basic twists and plaits, nothing elaborate - and even borrowed some kohl from one of the other girls in the house, lining her big blue eyes. She felt like a whore in it (fitting, she mused) but it was an occasion, and she needed to make an effort. 

When she was satisfied that she looked the part, she left the room and padded gently through the oddly quiet domus. Everybody else was clearly getting ready and when she moved through the home she frowned. She heard stirrings by the front door and frowned, padding silently before spying Tertius alone, sipping wine casually as if this great feast was nothing at all. She considered going back to her room silently and waiting until she wouldn't be alone with him but he adjusted his position and she feared he'd already spied her. With a sigh, she smoothed down the chiton and tried to force a light, breezy smile on her face as she stepped into the hall. 

"Domine." She inclined her head lightly, "Everything for the feast looks...wonderful." 

 

TAG: @Atrice @Sharpie @Joaquin

 

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Teutus had been presented with a fine new tunic for Saturnalia... and the bombshell that his manumission would be this evening. He was not quite sure how he felt about it and had spent the day in somewhat of a daze (that could, hopefully, be blamed on the festival).

He pulled his new tunic on; it was finer than his usual clothing, though his usual clothing wasn't terrible - Tertius liked to display his status in his slaves' clothing, after all. At least, in the clothing of the slaves whose duties took them out of the house.

Things had improved between himself and Charis, a little, since their conversation in the garden when she had received news about her sister, but life was immediately going to get more complicated again once e was free because, well, life in this house couldn't ever be easy and simple, could it? He could not fool himself that his friendship with Charis would survive his manumission; he would be free, she would still be a slave - but he would do his best to be a good master, for her and for the other slaves in the household.

He could not stay out here for the whole evening, though, much as he might like to, and eventually sighed and made his way to the atrium, to find his master (his father) and Charis already there. Tertius was holding a cup of wine and Teutus had to fight down the urge to return to the kitchen, find amphora of wine and drink it dry - he could do with the courage wine imparted. How he was going to get through this evening, he did not know - he wasn't even sure which form of manumission his father had chosen, if he'd decided on one of the various ceremonies.

 

@Joaquin @Atrice @Sara

 

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Saturnalia had been enjoyable in the past for Hector, but it always presented itself as a bizarre experience. Not serving Tertius in the way that he always did was like asking a mother not to be a mother, there were moments where he would see his master do something as small as tip the wine vessel over his cup and almost want to reach out to do it for himself, as if there was an art to it. Even if the only artistry about it was that he was doing it for him. But instead, he tried to enjoy the festivities rather than grimacing at how he could have or would have.

This year was different than the last ones. First, there was Charis being the apple of his master’s eye – or one of them – and then there was Teutus. The whole situation with him was strange and admittedly awkward. Hector had yet to figure out how to address him, his transition from slave to a Varus by name and position didn’t exactly ‘compute’. Thus far, Teutus was the receiving end of a mixture of confused constipated but annoyed looks.

As Hector entered into the hall, his first instinct as always was the wine. As he took a cup for himself, he turned around and took another, handing it out for Jocasta like an unspoken treaty. As he had learned from his time with Helios, there was nothing more unionising than a mutual hatred. It was mostly out of convenience than anything that ran any deeper – as if Hector made friends.

His eyes caught Charis’s makeup and he felt himself almost choke on a gasp. “Oh. My. Hephaestus. She looks like a fish,” Hector mumbled through his teeth and under his breath, purposely out of his master’s range. He had spent literal days in preparation for the feast with his legion of ‘beauty products’. He wanted his skin to glow for the celebrations, even if inwardly he felt dark and bitterly. And yet Charis shoved her face into a dead flame pit and emerged with dark eyes and what looked like a horse’s ass at the back of her head yet had the gall to stand there and ‘flirt’ with his master.

Moving off from the drinks, he began to pass Teutus as more slaves arrived. “If it isn’t the man of the hour,” Hector greeting Teutus, sounding pleasant and even offering a smile, albeit one that was rather empty on any further inspection.  

 

@Atrice @Sara @Sharpie

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Charis was the first to join him and he gave her a smile, as she looked very beautiful today, he thought. Dressed up in the pretty chiton that he gave her, and with braids and twists in her hair and even kohl around her eyes, she looked like she could easily be so much more than a slave. But she wasn't, he reminded himself. It was hard for him not to admire her though, and he did as she approached him with a smile and complimented the feast so far. She also called him Domine, but of course, this would be her first Saturnalia in Rome and she did not know the traditions.


"Thank you. You don't have to call me Domine today, Charis... Tertius will do. Saturnalia is usually a time where slaves get to... relax a little more." He explained, although it could easily turn into a longer lecture about Roman festivals and especially this one. He knew many slaves thought Saturnalia was the best, because of the focus on blurring the line between master and slave.

Not many moments later, Teutus appeared, as well as a few other slaves, preventing Tertius from actually telling Charis about Saturnalia, as he considered. Teutus said nothing though, but Tertius smiled at him, "Welcome, Teutus. I hope you're looking forwards to the feast." He said to his son and then Hector also appeared and naturally picked up a cup of wine. Tertius quietly watched Hector and although he did not hear what his body slave said, expressions sometimes spoke louder than words. Gods, why could they not get along, those two? Was Hector really so jealous that he could not see how gorgeous Charis looked? Not that Hector looked bad tonight either, he thought to himself. 


Which slave to pick for switching places with him? Besides Teutus, who would become a freedman tonight, but that was different. It would be interesting with Charis, to see what she would do if she could for once control Tertius. On the other hand, it was safe with Hector and he knew what that would be like... now the slaves might think highly of the tradition of switching places with their master, but for Tertius, it was almost just like some kind of game they were playing. Switching roles for a brief moment in time... but he made no decisions yet, that would be after the ceremony. Almost all slaves had appeared now. 


"Everyone... welcome." Tertius said, "Tonight is our Saturnalia feast. There should be plenty of both food and drink both here, and in the rest of Rome tonight, as you know. With Saturnalia, you are free to enjoy yourselves where you please. First things first though - you all know that Teutus is going to be freed, as I told you not so long ago. So we should proceed with that ceremony first. Please pick up a drink and join me in the atrium." Tertius said and moved to the atrium, where his lictors were also present. It was quite convenient that Tertius was both the master of the slave and the praetor present too. His head lictor would be ready with his fasces to perform the ceremony together with Tertius. But Tertius waited until everyone were present. He beckoned to Teutus to come over to him, as it was often costum that the master of the slave held him while the lictor performed the ceremony for him. Once he was freed and the official words had been said, Tertius would let go of him again, as a gesture of showing that now he was free.

@Sara @Sharpie @Joaquin

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"Thank you...Tertius." It sounded weird, odd on her tongue. She'd gotten used to 'domine', and in many respects just considered it his name rather than a mark of his ownership. It made it more bearable. She hadn't any more to say to him, especially  given the very unsubtle glance he cast over her appearance, and was relieved as Teutus joined them. Giving him a beaming smile, she arched a brow at him: "And the freedom." She laughed a little bit and cast a purposeful glance back at Tertius. He had said slaves could be more free tonight, and to her that sounded like an invitation to push the boundaries; both in reminding him of his duty to his son, and looking him square in the eyes. Well, as much as she was able to from her diminutive height. 

As the slaves gathered round, she pointedly ignored Hector and Jocasta's little huddle and turned her back to them. Let them talk, she thought she liked nice. Listening to Tertius she ached a brow. Well...she hadn't expected it so soon and glanced a look at Teutus, feeling excitement bubble in her chest on his behalf. She couldn't, however, keep the gnawing, hideous part of her heart from aching at the thought that nothing would be the same after tonight. He'd be freed, on the very night the could converse as equals, but come the end of the festival? Life would resume, with all its complicated, hideous rules. 

Still - she kept up appearances for her newly reacquainted friend and picked up a drink as instructed, sipping it gingerly. She'd not had nice wine like this since that night he'd first had her. She padded quietly into the Atrium and drew nearer to Teutus, offering him a little sigh of contentment and a few consoling words; "Congratulations," She smiled, "But don't forget who spits in your food if you're an awful master." She arched a brow, feeling emboldened by the festivities and the few sips of wine. With her spare hand she reached down and gave his a tentative squeeze before they parted and she went to join the rows of other slaves, whilst he entered his new life.

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Joaquin @Atrice

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Teutus had never really felt comfortable at Saturnalia before, and wasn't sure he was likely to ever find the festival comfortable, or fun, or anything at all. He couldn't call Tertius by his name, being his son, but to call him 'father' felt too presumptuous. And naturally 'Domine' was out of the question for a festival where the rules were set aside and slaves and masters exchanged places.

So... it was going to happen. Teutus had to pinch himself to make sure that he was actually awake; after everything that had ever been said about it, he wouldn't have been at all surprised to find himself dreaming this whole thing.

He smiled at Charis and squeezed her hand in return as he followed his master - his father - into the atrium. There would be enough time for drinking afterwards; right now he wanted to be as sober as possible because he felt that if he had even the smallest sip of wine he would end up either laughing or crying, neither of which were suitable emotions for such an occasion.

He made a mental note to try to speak with Charis later this evening, if he could, before things got too difficult, while there was still the upside down nature of the festival that meant they were (although temporarily after tonight's ceremony) still equals.

'Domine' was wrong, tonight, and 'pater' felt wrong, so he hedged his bets and managed to wish Tertius "Good evening, sir."

Jupiter! His mouth felt dry as the desert!

 

@Joaquin @Atrice @Sara

Edited by Sharpie
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Charis called him Tertius and it might sound weird to her, to call him that, but he actually kind of liked it. Tertius was growing more and more fond of Charis, especially after he made her one his regular bed slaves and he wanted her tonight too. All that later though. Now they had more important things to do and when he greeted Teutus, Charis mentioned his freedom with a laugh and Tertius nodded. The plan was to go through with this ceremony as the first thing, because later everyone would be too drunk and too busy having fun, that no one would pay attention. And this was important.

So he had gathered everyone at the atrium and there, his head lictor was ready with the fasces to perform the ceremony. Teutus stepped up to Tertius, greeting him and Tertius smiled, “Good evening… son.” He replied and then he stepped in behind Teutus, who would now stand in front of the lictor. Tertius wrapped his arms around Teutus from behind – had he ever held his son this close before? – and the lictor looked them both over. He then laid the rod on Teutus’ head.

“I demand that this slave is now independent and a free man.” He said and Tertius proceeded with his words, “I wish that this slave is made free.” Tertius said and then turned Teutus around in his arms to face him and he let go. That was it.

“Teutus is now a free Roman and will henceforth be known as Teutus Quinctilius Varus.” Tertius declared oud loud before the entire household, “Let us toast, to Teutus, the freedman.” Tertius picked up his drink once more, held it up and waited for everyone else to do the same. Antonia was clapping and there was a grin all over her face, she was so thrilled about this too. After Saturnalia, Tertius would make sure to fill out and turn in the right papers and also handle the part concerning the adoption of Teutus, so that he would officially become Tertius’ son and heir.

“Congratulations, my son.” Tertius said with a warm smile to Teutus afterwards, “I hope you will enjoy your first night of freedom – the first of many.”

@Sara @Sharpie @Joaquin

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Charis swallowed and folded her arm around her as Teutus dropped it. So that was it, she thought to herself, an official break from the life of a slave and those friends he'd been able to make. She thanked the Gods Tertius had seen fit to do the manumission during this festival, else the starkness of Teutus' newfound position would have been difficult to swallow. At least tonight they could eat and drink as equals, and delay the reality for a few hours. 

She watched and bit her lip, nervous on his account, as Tertius wrapped his arms around his son. The sight would have been amusing had it not been for the undercurrent of tension permeating through the room. But it was as over as quickly as it had begun and Charis blinked, glancing across at the smiling but plainly jealous faces of the other slaves. Was that it? Was that genuinely all it was? They said a few words and it was over? It seemed odd to her, but then she was far from accustomed to Rome's peculiarities or the intricacies of slavery and manumission. 

Charis raised her cup and toasted, and then as the chatter swelled again and the other slaves offered stiff congratulations to both Tertius and Teutus, Charis picked up a cup of wine from the side and offered it out to Teutus as they drew nearer. "Congratulations Teutus." She beamed and offered him the wine cup and then inclined her head to Tertius, standing close next to her, "You've done a wonderful thing." She offered a wry smile and sipped her wine. Perhaps it was a touch too forward but it was Saturnalia after all, and Tertius seemed in a good mood. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice @Joaquin

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It was a simple ceremony, really - stupidly simple. If there was one thing Teutus could be thankful for, though, it was that his father had chosen the simple version (or one of the simpler versions) - having to go through the whole complicated thing in front of one of the magistrates at the law-courts would have been humiliating.

"Thank you - Father," he said, catching himself before he let the more familiar title of 'master' slip out. His smile was as genuine as he could make it, though his emotions were as mixed as they came. He was not ungrateful, but it would be a while before the reality actually sank in. He caught Hector's eye; his father's pet looked as though he'd chewed a lemon expecting it to be an orange.

Everyone else just looked jealous, which Teutus  could not really blame them for, although at the same time he hadn't expected jealousy to be the main emotion shown; the whole thing had been so long in coming that he'd pretty much stopped believing that it would ever happen.

"I very much hope to enjoy the rest of the festival," he added, though he was not entirely sure quite what he was going to do during the festivities.

 

@Joaquin @Atrice @Sara

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