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The evening of About Time, Saturnalia 74AD 

Charis sipped at her cup of wine and padded gently into Tertius' cubiculum, the man himself following behind her. Over the course of the evening she'd had the offered wine and food and her merriment at feeling free, even for the shortest period of time possible, had put a smile across her face. Atop her head sat a braided wreath of flowers which she'd hidden away and then promptly brought out for her favourite friends in the house mid-way through dinner (one for Rhoda and Parnes, one for little Antonia and one for Teutus), and she'd offered one to Tertius for her own amusement. That he wanted her tonight was no surprise, she'd dressed up for the occasion of Teutus' manumission and the festival, but she hadn't failed to notice Hector's horror that he would not be spending this apparently coveted night of festivities with his master. 

Still, she had other things on her mind than Hector; Teutus' freedom and her sister paramount amongst them. Still, with the wine in her blood and the happiness of the evening on her, she entered his room with a smile for possibly...the first time since he'd started summoning her. Or, at least it was the first genuine smile. 

Turning to him she raised her fingers to the coronet of flowers and brushed over it. She didn't particularly want to extract it yet but the routine of these sorts of nights was familiar and mundane now. Gone was the immediacy of their earlier interactions and instead, much like an old married couple, they undressed themselves and proceeded with the act without the heady lust of their earlier encounters. Lifting off the wreath and setting it down on a side table with her wine, she eyed him (for tonight she could actually look at him without fear of reproach) and asked in a light voice, "Tonight was lovely, Tertius." She smiled and set about unpinning the plaits and twists in her hair, unbraiding them one by one as she took a seat near the only window. The wine had flushed her cheeks and warmed her skin and she could do with the winter breeze. 

Arching a brow at him as she continued to unbraid her hair she asked; "Did you enjoy tonight?" She wanted to ask exactly what this equal footing on Saturnalia entailed but decided to hold off, preferring to test the boundaries first.

 

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Teutus was a freedman now and Tertius hoped his son would enjoy the feast in his honor... and the rest of the night and his life with his new rank and title! After the ceremony concerning the manumission, the actual feast and party had begun and by now, Tertius was no longer hungry and he certainly had a bit to drink too! He was in a good mood, just like everyone else - Saturnalia was just like that, every year and he hoped Charis was enjoying her first Saturnalia. She seemed to do so, so far and he had chuckled when she gave him the wreath of flowers - but he put it on, because why not, right?


He had debated a lot with himself whether he should take Charis or Hector or maybe for once both tonight, but it would not be right to suggest it at Saturnalia. The slaves were supposed to be the ones making the decisions and Charis had not turned him down when he approached her, hoping she would come tonight. Together they now moved on to his chamber, Tertius with a cup of wine in one hand and a jar in the other. He might be in his forties tonight and that might mean he would not be able to do much the next days, due to hangovers, but... gods, it tasted good and gods he wanted to just let it all go and have fun! Just for once! 


Once in the cubiculum, Tertius and Charis both undressed - he did not ask her to help him tonight - and he looked at her with a smile, seeing that she too seemed more relaxed tonight, which was nice for a change. He enjoyed Charis and her body a lot, but she could be a little tense at times and tonight just seemed different, he thought. She said it had been a lovely night and he watched her remove her wreath and undo her hair - and Tertius sat down on the bed, wearing just his tunica, watching her. It was almost like she was glowing, he thought to himself. Gods she was gorgeous! He took a sip of his wine while she spoke.


"I'm glad you've enjoyed the evening." Tertius said with a smile, not correcting her for calling him by his name, "I have certainly enjoyed the evening so far too... and hope to continue doing so, with you." He said with a playful tone, drunk and in a good mood, "So you must tell me, sweet Domina, what you want me to do to you... so that I can please you. You do look stunning tonight... even now. Or perhaps, even more now than before..."

@Sara 

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Charis only arched a brow at him and chuckled to herself, nimble fingers working through the intricate braids in her hair. He seemed as tipsy as she did, which was surprising. Tertius always seemed so...in control, it was one of the many things that made him difficult to manage and understand. But tonight, perhaps because of the festival or the adoption of his son, he seemed to relax. "Domina?" She scoffed with a melodic little laugh and frowned at him. Was that what he meant, about slaves relaxing at Saturnalia? She really had no notion of what the festival entailed besides what Rufus had mentioned all those months ago and the mutterings of the other slaves in the run up to today. 

Flushing a little bit at his compliment, she shrugged and worked her fingers through her hair. She made no move to sit on the bed with him and stayed by the window, seated on her little perch. 

"The chiton was a good investment." She smiled at him, unwilling to admit she looked 'stunning'. She had rarely seen herself in a mirror and didn't know tonight how she looked. For all she knew the kohl she'd traced her eyes with had smudged down her face and she looked mad. This was only the second time she had worn the dress with him, the first when Titus and Longinus had visited her domine. Of course, she'd also worn it for Alexius and she smiled a little to herself at the memory. He'd certainly appreciated it as well. "What I want you to do...?" She asked quizzically with a small smile and reached out to fetch her wine, retreating back onto her seat as she sipped it. "I'd like to talkdomi-" She shook her head and arched a brow with a little challenge in her eye, "Tertius."

 

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It was rare that he did let it all loose and just relaxed and had fun, like tonight, but that's what festivals were for and especially this one. Free speech and kindness was what it was all about, at least some of the time, when it wasn't time for old rituals and ceremonies. Traditions like this one were good to have too! She seemed surprised at his words and especially that he called her Domina. Tertius smiled, "What other name could I call you, on such a night?" He said, watching her and letting his eyes wander over her shapes. She did blush when he called her stunning and then said the chiton was a good investment. It was. But so was she. 


She wondered however at his question, when he asked what she wanted to do... then said she would like to talk. Talk. Well that was a disappointment and certainly not what he expected.


"You'd like to talk..." He said, trying to wrap his mind around that idea, now that he had just prepared himself to do something he considered a lot more intimate and fun with her. Talking was not much fun, not right now anyway. But it was Saturnalia and he did ask and it was right of her to make the decision.


"What do you want to talk about then?" He finally said, hoping it would not be too much talk and that she would say she wanted him for a change. When they were together on any other night, he was of course the master and it was Tertius who desired and wanted her and said it out loud. But tonight he had hoped to hear her say she wanted him and he would do his utmost to please her. And now she would just talk.

@Sara

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"Talk." Her lips twitched in a small smile and she arched a brow in challenge. She knew she had to be careful, opportunities like this came round (literally) once a year but even if he gave her freedom for one night for Saturnalia, what she did or didn't do tonight would be remembered tomorrow when she was back to being Charis and back to be a slave. She had resolved herself to the fact that she couldn't refuse his sexual advances - much as she might like to - this evening, it would look odd and she'd face the punishment tomorrow when he returned to his familiar position as dominus. However, her newfound station for Saturnalia meant she could certainly delay the inevitable. 

As she shook out the rest of her braids from her head and let her waist length hair fall over her shoulder she grinned. Uncurling herself from her little perch she padded over to join him on the bed. Sipping at her wine, she moved to sit up against the cushions, cross legged. "You've never asked me about myself Tertius. Do you remember the day in the Gardens of Sallust?" He ought to, the way she'd ridden him, "I asked you all those questions about your life and you didn't ask me one." She arched a brow. It was his prerogative, of course, but it hardly helped her impression of him. Not that it could get much worse, given she considered the man as good as the dirt on her sandals for what he'd done to her.

The playful nature of her smile and mischievous glint in her eye would hopefully put him at ease - as if she was joking about this. In truth, she wanted an easy way to segue the conversation to talking about her sister and this seemed like the safest bet. But she also needed to flatter him, and make him think she wanted his company and so as she spoke again she ran a hand through his hair lightly. Needs must. "Did you know that my family were blacksmiths? And we lived in these small houses, much smaller than your domus," Flattery was always good. Her hand continued its light movements as she spoke, "And we used to live near a river that was so clear and so calm that in the summer I used to spend all my days just laying on the banks in the sun, and my father used to be furious that I just up and left." She smiled to herself at the memory. She wanted this little trip down memory lane to both enlighten Tertius about her family life (with the ultimate aim of bringing her discovery into the mix) but also refresh him to the fact that she was a person, with a fully fledged life before Rome and slavery. 

Smiling to herself she moved her hand from his hair, running her fingers down the side of her face before bringing it back to cup her wine. She sipped at it and arched a playful brow, "I want you to ask me questions all about my life, slave." Her lips quivered in amusement, "And then after we are done I will have to think about what I want from you..." The suggestion was heavy in her voice. She wanted to add 'and what I want  is for you to leave me bloody well alone' but obviously she couldn't.

 

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Tertius had not expected that she just wanted to talk, when he said he hoped to enjoy this evening with her and asked what she wanted from him. He was growing more and more fond of Charis and seeing her like this, in a drunken state while he was the same and they were almost equals instead of master and slave... it made him admire her even more. She did look stunning tonight and she was so relaxed. So was he, to be honest! And he wanted to please her. Show her that he could be a romantic lover and not just a master who would have his slave because he could and she looked good... but apparently not yet. 


He wanted to touch her long and soft hair, he knew she'd been to the baths and that she had made herself look more pretty than usual tonight. Now at least she joined him, with her wine and she relaxed up against the cushions, as a mistress and not a slave. As a Domina... then she began talking, about how he never asked her about her life even though she asked about his. What was he supposed to say to that? 


"I... guess you're right. I thought you'd adapted so well to your new life here." Tertius admitted, a bit disappointed that it wasn't so. Was she taking him for a fool, making him believe she had settled in and all that, but really she had not. She was lying to him? Charis spoke again, touched his hair almost affectionately and spoke of her family and where she lived. Of course he didn't know all that. Why and how should he know? She was here now and as far as he was concerned, she was not going back. It would be much better for her if she tried to forget her previous life. Tertius said nothing to her words. Small houses and being blacksmiths... sounded a bit like Germania, he thought. Not that he had been near Germania for long, but long enough. 


She then said she wanted him to ask him questions and she even dared to call him her slave. Well tonight she could, of course... as long as she did not cross the line too far, he thought to himself. But he could play along so far, as long as he would get what he wanted too. And maybe he would discover just how much she'd betrayed him and fooled him? If she wanted him to ask her questions...


"I'm sure there is plenty I don't know about your life." Tertius said, watching her carefully, "Have you made any new friends in Rome? Besides that... Briton slave, Cynane. I'm sure you must have had some encounters on your trips to the market and the baths." 

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Charis could sense him tense, and almost immediately regretted her line of conversation. She'd hoped he'd take it in the lighthearted manner she presented it, but apparently not. Still, she was nothing if not an actress and offered a light smile to him as he asked about friends, and let out a melodic little laugh. She picked up his hand and gently entwined her fingers with his. Maybe some intimacy would help? "No, not many friends." She sighed a contented little sigh and leant back against the plush cushions. "There was somebody I knew from Britannia, a woman, who helped teach me Latin years ago," Better to inject this little story with a bit of honesty to make it not quite so transparent, "And I saw her in the baths." She smiled and sunk back a little more until she was comfortably enveloped. 

"And when I was in the market," She swallowed, "Before you...saved me," She squeezed his hand a little, "There was a woman called Rufia, and I saw her in the markets a few days ago and she had some news." She bit the inside of her cheek. Now or never, she supposed. He didn't seem to be biting at her attempts to get him to discuss her life in general terms and so she'd have to be direct. Balls.

"She told me that she'd seen my sister, Tertius." She shuffled until she was kneeling in front of him - but even then she was still shorter than him, even as he relaxed against the bed. She kept her hand gripped in his. "She's, my sister, she's younger than me, my little sister, blonde, and very, very sweet." She arched a brow at him, "Sweeter than me." She added with a sly smirk as if teasing him. Hopefully her revelation wouldn't have too much of an impact on him, she needed him to be in a good mood. "I...I know where she is." But she didn't ask to see her, not yet. She needed to see how he'd react first. 

 

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He wondered if she made any new friends here, this way he was still asking about her life but it would be her current life. And it was a good question, he thought. Charis however just smiled and laughed at his question, took his hand into hers and then said she had not made many friends. She leaned back against the cushions, her hand still in his, so naturally he followed while she said she met someone from Britannia - did she only meet Briton slaves? - and this one she met here, in the baths. Then she mentioned another one she met previously and apparently her other friend had news for her. Tertius was being very controlled and he did not attempt to touch her yet, although he very much wanted to, as he lay there against the cushions with her. 


"Mmm, what news would they be?" He asked, not thinking it could be important, but then apparently it was. She said she had news about her sister and then she moved, until she was on her knees in front of him and she took his hand. She was suddenly very serious! Charis spoke about how her sister was like and that she was sweeter than Charis. He didn't buy the sly smirk now. She wanted to see her sister, that's what this was about. That is why she had been so insistent on just talking and that's why she was on her knees now. It was Saturnalia and despite that she was practically begging him. 


"You know where your sister is. Your very sweet, little sister." She must be very young, he thought, because Charis was at least twenty years younger than he. Tertius thought that might be too young for him, although you never knew until you knew, right? But enough about that, he had Charis on her knees here. He had planned to be nice and gentle and even romantic with her tonight, but the mood had shifted and it was no longer as light as it was when they entered the room. 


"Where is she then?" Tertius asked and smiled warmly to her, he too could play this game after all... "Remember that tonight, I am your slave. You don't have to fear me." But how he would be with her tomorrow might depend on how she treated her slave and what she asked of him tonight. This was not at all what he imagined though. Charis was still full of surprises, was she not?

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She nodded her head, unable to gauge his reaction at all. He was mind-numbingly difficult to read at the best of times, and the wine hadn't made it any easier. "My sister," She repeated with a soft smile, "Ardra...Nymphias now, her dominus has renamed her." She said it as matter of factly as she could, as if the thought wasn't deeply painful for her. Ardra was the name of their maternal grandmother and to have that wiped away...well, it was just one further insult to the many her family had suffered at the hands of the Romans. 

His warm smile unnerved her and she sat back down on her heels, kneeling on the bed, still running her thumb over his hand. "One of the men you invited over last week, Titus Sulpicius Rufus, he owns her." She said it matter of factly, without any of the girlish glee she mimed as she came into the room. Shrugging thin shoulders she sighed, "I think that is why he looked at me like he did," She used her spare hand to push back a few strands of hair behind her ear and eyed Tertius carefully, "We look very alike. People used to think we were twins." Although after the journey and what she had endured, she doubted she still looked much like sweet little Ardra. She felt decrepit and exhausted, even if she'd only recently turned twenty-one. 

This is not how she intended this to go. She hoped he'd be intrigued, press her for more details but he didn't. Instead she felt nerves eat at her. With a little sigh she brought fingers to run across his forehead; "You're disappointed in me?" She bit at her lip, this time genuinely, "I was just...excited to learn she was alive, and alright." She lied through her teeth. But she needed to see just how angry he was before she even broached the idea of a meeting. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Charis had been up to something and she quickly learned that beating around the bush with Tertius would get her nowhere. It was Saturnalia, but right now, she was definitely not treating him as her slave at all. And the night was not at all turning out the way he had imagined. Charis explained what her sister had been called and what her name was now. He watched her intently, could see how it almost pained her to have her sister renamed like that. Tertius tried to remind her what tonight was, but Charis sat back and explained that one of Tertius' recent visitors was apparently her sister's owner. For how long had she known this and kept it to herself? 


"Did you know all this when Rufus and his friend came to visit?" Tertius wondered curiously, while she sat there and tried to figure him out. She seemed so uncertain now. Tertius briefly thought about it all. So Charis had friends in Rome, and one of her friends had found her sister and even knew her owner. And now Charis knew where she was and she obviously wanted to see her. Why shouldn't she? He just wished she had come to him openly about this, instead of playing this odd game tonight. Why was she so afraid? Why were they all so afraid to speak openly to him? 


She spoke up again, interrupting his thoughts by touching him and she wondered if he was disappointed and said she was excited to hear about her sister.
"Of course you're excited to learn about her and learn that she is here, in Rome." Tertius said, "And I don't see why you should not pay her a visit... or have her come here, so that I can meet her too." He added, it would be interesting to see what Charis' sister was like and if her personality was anything like Charis'. 


"However... why did you choose tonight, of all times, to speak about this? I thought we'd grown... closer. You should be able to speak to me about such things. Did you assume I'd be upset or angry? What disappoints me the most is the time and the way you chose to tell me these news. But you don't trust me." He said with a small sigh and reached out for his wine, she had not at all accepted her current life, had she? And she did not trust him. She was his slave, one of his favorites and he was supposed to trust her and she could trust him to be her master, that would want the best for her as long as she behaved well. But now he was confused. He halfway wished they could just start over.

Tertius downed the entire cup of wine and then said, "This is not at all how I imagined this night would be like."

@Sara 

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Charis felt her heart leap out of her throat and she grinned, genuinely and vividly; "Really? I can see her?" This was completely unexpected. Given his changing moods and impossible to read personality she had thought he'd been angry, or miserable. That he would allow her to see Ardra was a welcome surprise. Forgetting herself, for just the briefest of moments, she considered wrapping him in a hug in thanks but she remembered what was really happening here just before she did. This was still a game, and Tertius was still boss. Even if just for tonight she had a glimmer of another, old life.

"I..." She watched him as he spoke and as he reached to down his wine. Most unlike controlled, measured Tertius. This must have really gotten under his skin. Shit

Thinking quickly, she moved from her kneeling position on the bed to lie next to him, sinking into the plush cushions. Her fingers traced over his arm by her side. "I knew when he visited," She admitted with a little nod. A bit of honesty with the lie would be easier to swallow, surely, "But I knew you were busy - with your work and with the feast and with Teutus' manumission." She shuffled closer to him and turned her face up to him. "I trust you." About as far as I can throw you, she thought to herself, "I...I just thought you would say no." She admitted candidly. Maybe a touch of honesty was the best policy. She didn't want this night to end in an argument, but the wine in her blood had made her frustration palpable. 

 

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She seemed very surprised that he would allow her to see her sister... he saw her genuine smile and grin and heard her tone, surprised and excited at the same time. He almost thought she'd kiss him for it, but she didn't. And he was still disappointed that she chose to tell him like this, on this night of all nights. It was not how he had hoped. The night was ruined, wasn't it? Maybe he should have asked for Hector tonight after all, and then everything would be like always. But Charis was still a bit of freshness in all that was like it always was. And he wanted her. But he also wanted her to want him.


Charis shifted after he downed his wine and confessed the night was not how he imagined it would be. She touched him lightly, said she knew about her sister when Rufus came and excused it all with Tertius being busy. Then said she trusted him, but thought he'd say no to her request about her sister.


"Why did you think I'd say no? You don't trust me." Tertius said, looking at her. He didn't believe her words. She kept secrets from him. Who knew what other things she did not tell him? It both mattered and didn't matter. There were just other things that mattered more right now.


"I don't know what it is I've done, or failed to do, to make you so... afraid. Have I not allowed you to work in the garden and I have made sure you have more freedom than some of the other slaves. I know you visit the baths and you have made new friends in Rome. I have taught you how to write and read. And I want to be a good master to you, but you're demanding quite a lot more than any of the others. And it is still not enough." He inhaled a deep breath. He was her master and she his slave, but they slept together frequently and they were far from strangers now. He did think they'd grown closer. But it would seem they had not! 


"Tonight I wanted to be very good to you. I had hoped you would want me to please you, because that is what masters do for their slaves at Saturnalia." He trailed off. He didn't want this, but it was too late now... he shook his head, "I don't even know if it matters to you." 

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Charis listened intently but couldn't help the way her mouth fell ajar. She'd never seen or heard him speak quite so...candidly before. Either the wine had addled his brain or she was really getting under his skin. Neither of which were particularly good right now. She didn't interrupt him, or interject until he'd completely finished. Feigning embarrassment she covered her face in her hands and groaned. She'd had far too much wine to be the perfect actress but she was with it enough to be decent. 

"It does matter to me." She mumbled through her hands before cracking her fingers to look at him. Eventually she removed her hands from her face, moving to fiddle with her long hair to keep the nerves at bay. There was just something so deeply unsettling about the man, perhaps it was because she simply had no idea what went on in his head. 

"You've given me so much," She continued and pointedly kept her eyes off of him, staring down as her fingers moved through the wavy remains of her braids, "And...I felt selfish, asking for more, asking for this." Well, that part was true at least. Even if deep down she felt it was her right to see her family, she knew that no other slave in the house would dream of asking for it and she felt embarrassed that just by opening her legs she had managed to cultivate what many would see as a nice little life. Still avoiding looking at him, she let out a heavy sigh and sunk further into the pillows. How on earth was she going to make this right? 

She knew something that had certainly worked before and she bent her legs so her dress fell down a little over her thighs, as if by accident. Pretending not to notice she finally looked up at him with all the faked humility she could muster; "I'm sorry domine. Can we start this..." She waved around them, "Over again?"

 

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Maybe it was the wine that got him talking, he didn't know and didn't think about it. He just knew what a night he had pictured in his mind and what he had right now - which was not at all close to his imagination! So Charis had found out her sister was here and he honestly did not see why he should not let her go and see her sister - plenty of slaves had families and siblings and children, even - but what upset him was still the way she chose to tell him. And the way she had kept secrets from and admitted it now, instead of earlier... gods, what a night to choose to do it! 


She didn't interrupt him as he spoke and now she said it did matter to her, all that he had done for her and what he had wanted to do for her tonight. But he didn't know if he would believe her. And now he thought about it, this was not the first time she'd gone behind his back with something! What about the truths she spilled to Helios, who sold the secret to Tertius... why on Earth would Charis not just trust him and allow him to be good to her? Why did she want it to be difficult?! 


Charis shifted, looked at him and fiddled with her hair, before she said he had given her much, but she did not look at him. She claimed she had felt selfish asking for more and then she sighed and lay down into the pillows next to him. Then she suggested they'd start over again.


"There's nothing I'd want more, but how can we, when you keep going behind my back like you do?" Tertius asked, looking at her and her bare legs exposed. Gods he did want to start over, he did! 


"How about... instead of going behind my back... you start telling me the truth? All these secrets... they are not leading anywhere good, Charis. I want you to be honest with me." He said and shifted on the bed, so that he was now in front of her. She was really alluring as she lay there, so tempting. He leaned closer, ran a hand over the warm skin of her lower leg and ankle, so soft, so warm... "How about... we make that deal? That you'll come to me first, when something bothers you? Then maybe we can start over..." 

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She listened with nerves fluttering in her chest and her teeth nibbling the inside of her lip. He had a habit of making her nervous, as if his stoicism would break and he'd become unpredictable. Fortunately for her, this evening that was not the case and he was entirely predictable in his habits and reactions to her movements. As he shifted in front of her, she blinked solemn, big eyes back at him and furiously nodded her head; "I promise I will be, honest I mean." A lie, but a necessary one. She was hardly going to spill all her secrets to a man that she suspected might be as volatile deep down, as his apparently mad brother. 

She felt his hands on her skin and exhaled through her nose - feigning finding it attractive, but deep down baring it as a necessary evil. 

"Deal." She nodded resolutely and managed a fairly convincing, sly smile. Without hesitating - now she had him distracted - she moved to kneel up and wrapped an arm around his neck. Since that fateful day in the Gardens of Sallust she'd taken a more...active role in their intimacy but it was still deeply uncomfortable on a moral level for her. She acted and played the part he wanted, but she felt dread in the pit of her stomach about tonight. He'd never seemed to actively want to please her before - and she didn't know how she'd react. She had to give it a go though, for it would look odd to agree to start a fresh and then shun his advances. In her mind she went over her mantra; Do you want to see Ardra, Erea? Get it together, it's just sex. 

And it worked. She leant in tentatively for a kiss but it was passionate in its own way. When she withdrew she kept her arm around his neck as they knelt on the bed and arched a brow at him; "And what did you have in mind for this evening, now we are starting again and pretending I didn't ruin it." She offered a light grin, hoping her irreverence wouldn't irritate him. 

 

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Tertius did feel angry and upset over this incident... her not trusting him, after all that he felt he had done for her. And he had even said he would let her see her sister, but still she did not trust him. He hoped she would be honest from now on and she promised she would be. Well time would tell if that was a lie too - he would remind Hector to keep an eye on her, he coud not have dishonest and illoyal slaves in his household! Tertius wanted her to be as honest as he assumed she was with Teutus. He had asked Hector to keep an eye on them both a while ago, and Hector had both reported that they had fallen out, but also that they recently began talking again. 


She was being very tempting and attractive though, as she sat there and he did want to start over. He tried to explain to her, how all the secrecy would not lead anywhere good and she agreed again to come to him first, if something would bother her. Tertius hoped for her sake she did not lie to him this time. 


Charis then leaned forwards, wrapping an arm around his neck and then she kissed him passionately. Tertius returned her kiss, he wanted a night where he was not her master and she not his slave, although it would not be easy to go back to that now. He had wanted to experience another Charis and let her experience another Tertius. Maybe if he let her, she really would be more honest with him. So he let his anger go for now. He had a plan and he would see it carried out, now that he had the chance once more.


When the kiss broke, she wondered what he had in mind for the evening, since they were starting over, "I had only good intentions... or, pleasurable intentions. For you." Tertius said, "I had hoped you would lie down and let me please you, for a change." He said with a wink and a wicked smile to her, "So either you let me know what you like... or I will just have to attempt to find out on my own." Tertius arched a brow, waiting to hear what she'd say to this. Either way, she would be on the receiving end. That was his plan before, after all. 

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Charis blinked and couldn't help the genuine blush on her cheeks. This was most unlike him, and it made her more uncomfortable than usual. Even if it was only for one night she felt uneasy not knowing the parameters of their relationship. She'd become comfortable in the very set ways of their intimacy and it was odd to think it had been upended. "I...don't know what I like." She admitted, embarrassed. That at least was the truth.

Her late husband, whilst she loved him dearly, was hardly one to stoke the fire of passions. When she did feel pleasure with him, it was largely incidental and rare and it wasn't as if she had another frame of reference by which she knew what she wanted and what she enjoyed. Her two lovers were a man as useless at giving her an orgasm as herself (which was to say, completely inexperienced), and a man that forced her to bed. Realising she'd been silent for a while lost in thought, she shrugged her shoulders embarrassed and fiddled with the trim of his tunica; "You are only the second man to have me...and the first was not...very good." She let out a nervous laugh and cursed herself for speaking ill of Immin in front of Tertius of all people. 

But understanding this was something he wanted to do (and despite the festival, appreciating that she was in position to argue with him) she dutifully unwound her arms from his neck and after a light, lingering kiss on his lips, moved to lie down against the pillows. She moved her fingers up to untie the shoulders of her chiton as she did so, wondering what in God's name he was planning on doing. 

 

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She seemed surprised that he wanted to please her; she blinked and she even blushed in the faint light of the candles in the room. It was unlike him indeed, but it was Saturnalia and he'd had a few drinks. He could still think somewhat clearly, so he knew what he had in mind and he would not forget their little discussion before this... or his thoughts on how she might not trust him... but he still wanted to see what would happen, if he focused on her and her pleasure. Maybe it would be even better with her then, in the future, and might make her like him more. 


Charis then spoke, said she didn't know what she liked. Tertius arched a brow, it seemed something was at the tip of her tongue, but silence fell and he was about to ask why, when she finally said that he was only her second man to have her and her husband had apparently not been so good with her. Inwardly, Tertius smiled. So this was his chance to prove that something could indeed be much better in Rome, than what she recalled from her life in Britannia. 


"It will seem then, that I will have to try and find out what you like on my own." He said with a small smile and watched her remove her chiton finally, revealing her pretty and youthful body to him. Tertius looked her over, thinking about how to start, "Don't hold back... let me know somehow when something feels good." He smirked and gently pushed her to make her lie down again. His hands slid up her legs and he settled between them, but not to enter her, at least not the way she was used to with him. He might, at some point, but he would also touch her with his hands, fingers and tongue over her body and curves. If he sensed something felt good to her, he would continue. If it didn't cause her to react so much, he would stop and try something else. Tertius could be a romantic and attentive lover and hopefully after tonight, she would finally understand that. 


Once they were both all spent, Tertius probably more than her, he reached for his wine and also brought Charis her cup of wine. He had an idea that she might have climaxed at least once, it had definitely sounded and felt like it, and it made him quite pleased too. Now he leaned back against the cushions and the wall behind the bed, looking at her, "You're practically glowing... it suits you." He said with a smile, "Is there anything else you want? Are you hungry? More thirsty?" 

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Charis pushed hair from her face, breathless as Tertius moved off of her. She released her grip on the coverlet and flexed her fingers, aching from their grasp. Whatever she had imagined would happen as they entered his room, it had not been that. Whilst she'd felt pleasure before, and largely didn't find sex uncomfortable (at least not before Rome), what he had done to her this evening was something new. She felt nauseous that her body should have betrayed her in such a way. She had been determined to not enjoy it, not that she thought there was much of a risk she would if past experience was anything to go by. But whatever he had done to her had brought out something innate or primal in her, and she couldn't help the way her body had responded. 

Now it was over, she lay quietly against the plush pillows, her heart rate finally slowing. As he leaned to pass her wine over and settled next to her, she offered a wan smile and took a sip of it to try and disguise it. 

At his compliment she barely arched her brow and noted his smile, as if he was pleased with himself. Well, she supposed he should be - he'd succeeded in doing something that had baffled her dolt of a husband for years on his first try. That didn't help her feel any better about herself, however. She shook her head at his offer of food or drink and instead, cracked a smile; "No, thank you, I'm very well satisfied as I am." She hoped the innuendo would assuage any concerns he would have about her silence or sudden tenseness. Shifting a little, she pulled up the sheet to cover her body, feeling embarrassed and when she was settled, she curled up next to him and risked a glance up at him. 

As bad as she felt, she knew he liked her best (and thus would give into her whims and fancies and schemes) when she was grateful. "I'm sorry I...I've just not felt...like that before." She snaked a hand down to his forearm and squeezed it lightly. "Thank you." She managed with a sly grin that she didn't feel. Curling tighter into his side she arched a brow and managed a genuine chuckle; "Maybe we should make it Saturnalia every day, hmm slave? I'm not too demanding a domina, am I?"

 

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Why would he not be pleased with himself? Charis had not denied him since he made her his second official bed-slave, but she was also always fine with letting him take the lead and he actually got he impression that she wanted to please him so he'd be done sooner. Maybe he was just imagining things, but this time was certainly different. He still took the lead this night, but more because she apparently didn't know what she wanted him to do. And now she was glowing, he was quite sure she'd cried out in extasy at least once and how could a man not be proud, when he managed to make a woman do that? Women thought they could fake it... and while that was enjoyable too, you knew when it was real. At least Tertius thought he did. 


 She took the wine that he handed her, but didn't want more food or drink. Said she was well satisfied and Tertius chuckled, "Good, I'm glad to hear you're well satisfied. I had hoped you would be." He said and drank more of his wine, while Charis shifted to look up at him and then said she had not felt like that before and she thanked him, suggesting they made it Saturnalia every day.


"Maybe a little demanding, but perhaps we can find a compromise." He suggested with a wink, "I think I'll not mind making you feel like that again." Think that she had never felt like that before! And she had been married and with child when she was captured, but her husband had not managed to make her climax like that? And Tertius knew how.


"I hope this proves to you, that I really had only good intentions when I wanted to be with you tonight, of all nights." He could just hope that Hector was not too offended and he promised himself to make it a special night for his other slave tomorrow. It was all new to Charis though, so she had to learn about it the best way possible. Tertius emptied his wine and lay down next to her, facing her, thinking about how they talked about starting this night over, and they had. And see what happened... what if he started entirely over with her? He reached to brush her hair lightly with his fingers, deciding to be what she apparently wanted him to be when they first entered the room - curious about her life, "Tell me more about you and your sister. Did you have other siblings?" 

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Charis managed a nervous laugh and tucked her hair behind her ear; "I'll look forward to it, domine." She slipped and reverted back to her subservient role. Would she look forward to it? Morally, no, not at all. What her body had done was an innate reaction but it had not made it any less intense or pleasurable. She felt a maelstrom of conflict rooted in her core, but she tried not to think on it, dwell on it. 

Instead, as he moved to lie next to her and lightly brushed the loose tendrils of hair, she eyed him with surprise and confusion. Did he really want to know? Or was this just another one of his tests? She wasn't sure, but she wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to remind him of her life before...all of this mess. But she'd have to be careful, try and take the emotion out of her voice and her body language. Relaxing against him, she bit her lip, not sure where to begin. 

"Adra is younger than me, I'm twenty-one," How odd that she'd never even told him her age, "Well...I turned twenty-one in August. She's sixteen, blonde, very sweet, always much more interested in cooking and sewing and girly things than me." She let out a peal of laughter and then nodded, "And yes, I had two brothers. Calpornus was the eldest but..." She swallowed, "He was killed a year, two years ago. And I have my younger brother Turi," She shook her head and bit at her lip, gripping the sheet between a clenched fist, "I don't know what happened to him. He and Ardra weren't at home when...the Romans came." She tried to phrase it as diplomatically as possible even if her stomach churned at the memory. 

She used her other hand to squeeze his arm again with a light smile, "Thank you for asking." Even if he only asked to test her, it was still a relief to get it off of her chest. 

 

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He found that many women did not know how much pleasure they could feel, so they were sometimes surprised. His wife had known, of course, but she was also a very confident young woman. She knew what she liked and what she didn't like and they were open about such things with each other. They knew from the beginning that both mostly preferred their own gender, so after he discovered she was pregnant, he let her be, to not disturb the pregnancy or her life in general. They married for practical reasons, but he did believe he did what he could to make it good for both of them, when they slept together until she was with child. They might as well both feel good, since that was the way to gain an heir. Sometimes he did miss her, although there had been no love in the marriage. But there had been respect and trust and that counted for a lot too.


So yes, he did know how to please women. It was just most often he slept with men and Charis was his first steady female lover in years. Now she said she would look forwards to next time, but he thought her laugh wasn't entirely genuine. So he made her climax and still she was not satisfied with him? Charis was something near impossible, he thought. But he pushed such thoughts aside to ask into her life, now that they were resting after sex. 


Her expression was surprised when he asked about her siblings, but then she began talking. She said her age, which was as he expected and told more about her sister. She would have been very useful in his household too, he thought. But then she had more siblings, one definitely dead and she had another brother too. She didn't know where he was, but since her sister had been captured and ended up in Rome, her brother Turi had likely shared her fate. So he was here, but where? Tertius decided he would find out, but not tell her - at least not until he had any news.


Charis squeezed his arm and smiled at him then, thanked him for asking, "It's what you wanted, is it not? Tell me more about your brother, the one that perhaps still lives. Since your sister is apparently here, I imagine he too may be in Rome somewhere..." Tertius said thoughtfully, looking at her. He wondered then shortly whether she did know about him, but also kept this from her master. Why did she not see that if she would trust him, he might be good to her and help her. Instead of being upset over her keeping the secrets from him.

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"I...he's seventeen, eighteen maybe now." She nibbled at her bottom lip. The thought Turi was here in Rome had been her hope, but she also knew that male slaves were more volatile than women and were more likely to end up at the mines. The thought made her sick and she swallowed the bile that rose in her throat. 

"He's a...giant," She laughed - this time genuinely, "He was taller than my husband who was a warrior - and broader too, but he had a heart of gold and was quiet and...liked to think." He was also a little shit when he disobeyed her instructions and she had an unsettled feeling that her husband and brothers antics, which they had evidently kept from her, were the reason she was now here in chains in Rome. She sighed, irritated and then guilty for feeling so. Maybe it had all been a mistake and her brother was entirely blameless? She sincerely hoped so. 

Shifting so she was curled into his side but able to look up at him, she asked, tentatively; "Will my slave let me look for him?" She decided to keep it light, trying to keep him happy. His moods were so changeable and he needed to think of her as happy and merry, even if she wasn't.

 

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She seemed so surprised that he kept asking about her family and her brother, but see, this was what it could be like, with Tertius, if she would dare to trust him and tell him truths. He would listen and he might even be helpful! Charis told more about her brother, stating his age and his looks. Tall and broad, but he was a thinker? Tertius thought that over, it was likely he would have ended up in the mines then. Either that or as a gladitator, but if he wasn't a warrior like she said her husband had been...


It was strange to imagine Charis as anything but a slave, he then thought. Think that she had a husband and she had been a free woman in Britannia. But now she had learned to be submissive and act as a good slave and do her jobs well. If she continued like this, he might very well reward her regarding her family. He had already allowed her to see her sister, but what of her brother. But he would have to know more, he thought. Charis sighed then, clearly also deep in thought, before she curled against him and wondered if Tertius would let her look for her brother.


"Who knows, maybe your slave will also look." Tertius said with a wink to her, "You say he liked to think though. Did he fight though? With his build he could be a gladiator... and then I think I could find him. If he ended up in the mines though, it is not likely. What do you think... mistress?" Tertius asked and leaned closer to kiss her hair, because he felt like it. They were both slightly drunk, satisfied and just relaxing now. This was nice, he thought to himself. If only Charis would let it be like this more often. 

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Charis eyed him suspiciously but masked it well enough with a light smile and an arched brow. Why Tertius would purposefully seek out her brother, she didn't know, but she dared not ask. He was in a fickle mood tonight and she didn't want to test his patience. Keeping up the charade her smile widened and she arched a brow, "It is domina to you, slave." She continued with a mischievous smile on her face, trying desperately to put the image of poor Turi buried neck deep in a mine.

"He fought," She nodded, "Not in a war, but he practiced." She tried to school her features into neutrality, but obvious irritation shone through, "I used to tell him off, him and my husband would practice sparring and I was petrified the Romans would come...and they did." She shook her head, trying to blink away the memory.

She bit at her lip and moved an arm to lay across his bare chest, as lovers might do after an afternoon of happy lovemaking (hah!) - but she found odd comfort in it. Being more candid than she intended to be, she continued; "I wonder if I met them now if they'd recognise me at all..." She nibbled her lip nervously, speaking more truthfully than she probably ever had done to Tertius courtesy of the wine, "They both hated the Romans, they wanted to fight and I told them not to, forbid it, and if they saw me now and saw what I did, what I'm doing..." She was getting upset and brushed errant tears from her eyes before remembering herself and blinking up at him, "I'm being silly, ignore me."

 

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