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Late February 75AD 

TW: Miscarriage references 

Charis didn't know who had found her, just after midday. She also didn't realise the sight that had greeted them; sheets soaked with blood, a pale slip of a thing shaking in bed, unable to be roused from sleep, at deaths door. She also didn't know how long it had been until Tertius was told and a medicus was called. Likewise, she was not privy to the conversation between said medicus and her dominus where he informed him - based on her symptoms, Charis had taken an abortifacient and was suffering the after effects of whatever other poison had been mixed into the tisane. She had, however, been informed that the tisane hadn't worked. From what the medicus could see - despite the bleeding and the stomach cramps, despite the sleep that had taken her over a full day to wake from, she was likely still pregnant. She had been forced, in her sleep, to swallow charcoal shavings which had made her wake and retch up the poison; and the concerned face of Rhoda was the first thing she saw - hovering over her - as she did so. 

Now here she was, two days after she had seen Teutus and taken the money and the tisane, alone and in her bed. It was early evening - she could tell from the movements of feet and the bustle of slaves around her house. She lay pale as a ghost in her bed, her hair freshly washed by Rhoda and the sheets and pallet changed but unmistakably unwell and upset. The oil lamps were running low and darkness filled the room - casting long shadows amongst her and Hector's belongings. Few had come to see her; Rhoda had, and Jocasta had peeked in with a sly smile on her face, evidently delighted by this turn in her fortunes. 

She didn't know what to expect of the next few days; would she be sold? Killed? Or would Tertius be relieved, not wishing to endure fatherhood for the third time? It seemed the Fates were determined to answer her silent musing as another shadow joined the collection and Tertius loomed into view through the cracked door. She swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry, and attempted to sit up a little. She felt weak and wrung out, and lying there - pale as snow in the bed she looked younger than her years. She didn't say anything as he stepped into the room and curled her fingers into the sheet, balling it into her fists. Finding the silence unbearable she croaked, "Domine." in greeting and then fell silent again. How much he knew - beyond that she was pregnant and had tried to rid herself of it - she didn't know. Did he know Teutus had given her the money to buy the tisane? Or that she had been planning this for days? How close to death she had been? She didn't know and just stayed silent, her heart drumming against her chest.

 

TAG: @Atrice

 

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Charis was lovely in so many ways – she was sweet and gentle and charming, she was good looking and felt good in his bed too. She knew about the garden, she helped out with Antonia too, she was learning very well how to read and write. Tertius thought there were many good things about her, although he hoped that after their conversation at Saturnalia, she would trust him more and tell him things. He really hoped that’s what she was doing now and he had not asked more into it since that night. Months had passed and life went on almost as always – the only difference being that Teutus was now freed and would very soon be declared Tertius’ official heir. His freedom of course changed a few things, but not much, he thought.

Everything was fine. Until it suddenly wasn’t.

Hector had come to tell Tertius about it – it was of course Hector who found Charis, after having spent the night in Tertius’ bed and spent the morning with his master too and he’d gone to get something from the room he shared with Charis. And there she had been. He had told his master about Charis and blood and had in fact for once seemed very upset about what he’d seen and what was happening. Tertius took a glance and instantly sent a boy out for a medicus, who took care of her and made sure they didn’t lose her.

Once she was safe, the medicus spent a long time with Tertius in the tablinum, telling him about what Charis had most likely taken, because he had of course discovered something else with her. And a few talks with other of the female slaves had confirmed it – she showed the right signs. She was pregnant, it just wasn’t showing yet. She thought she could hide it and get rid of the baby and instead she’d almost killed them both. Luckily – or what? – both mother and child survived and now Tertius was waiting for Charis to get better.

Honestly he was not sure what to think of all this! Firstly, he was so fond of her! But somehow she managed to get herself pregnant and most likely with his child, unless she had secret lovers out there in Rome. And what was he to do now? Get himself another illegitimate child, now that Teutus was finally freed? Or should he just acknowledge the child right away and suddenly he would be the true father of three? And what would Antonia say? She was already worried about why she was not allowed to go and see Charis, but anyone else but Rhoda had been forbidden access to the room. Hector slept with Tertius.

It had been two days since the event and Tertius had been thinking… a lot! He wanted to know why she had failed to tell him this very important thing. Why she didn’t trust him, again! Why could she not be honest? Yet how could he scold her after she nearly killed herself? On the other hand, apparently he was to be a father again. Fortuna worked in mysterious ways sometimes and if he was meant to have another child, so be it, right? Surely there was a meaning with this and yet Charis would want to remove it. Tertius really did not know what to think. But he went to her room anyway and seeing that she was awake, he walked in and looked at her. She greeted him but didn’t move otherwise.

“How are you feeling now?” Tertius said, he hoped it came out in a caring way but feared it didn’t sound like that. Because he also wanted to yell at her… make her feel bad for what she did. And at the same time, she was not entirely well yet and you could not scold a sick person. Gods, this was a mess!

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Charis bridled at his question, how was she feeling? Was that really what he wanted to know? But she was too tired to react overtly and instead shuffled up the bed as best she could until she was sitting. Even the act of doing that, however, left her exhausted and she folded her hands across her waist to disguise the shake of her hands. She felt as if she'd run a marathon twenty times over and then swam the Mare Nostrum. She swallowed the lump in her throat, although it was still dry and her mouth tasted of burnt embers from the charcoal.

Her voice was quiet as she spoke; "Tired, domine. The medicus said I would be tired for a while." She added after, by way of explanation. One didn't lose that amount of blood and retch up that much poison and come out feeling as fresh as after a nap. She let the silence hang between them and didn't attempt to break it. Instead, her eyes found a place on the floor by his feet and she kept her gaze there, unwilling to look up at him. What else did he want her to say? That she was sorry? She wasn't, she was merely sorry it hadn't worked and she had been found out. There was no going back from this situation; no bluffing her way out with gentle manipulation and easy words as she had done in so many other situations with this man. No, this time she would have to be completely and utterly honest. 

The silence hung between them like a great ocean.

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Of course he wanted to know how she was feeling, and for more than one reason too. He had cared about her, he had liked her a lot – so he cared about her wellbeing. But he also wanted to know how she was doing because he had quite a few questions to ask. And he was at the same time confused because he didn’t quite know what to think or feel. He was both worried about her and angry with her and disappointed in her. She shifted after his question, folding her hands on her stomach and then said she was tired and would be for a while.

“Yes, he told me that too.” Tertius said. Gods he wanted to yell at her! But how could he, when she lay there, being so… miserable and gloomy? He could not scold her now, no matter how much he wanted to. Charis was now staring at the floor, as if she was being a good slave, not meeting her master’s gaze, but he knew she was nothing but a good slave. It was one thing that she got herself pregnant but it was something else that she kept it from him and nearly killed herself trying to get rid of the child, in secret.

“You shouldn’t have done what you did. You should have come to me.” He finally said, unable to hide his disappointed emotions in his voice. And now he got himself started… he was unable to stay quiet about it all, “Why didn’t you? No, wait… don’t answer that. After all, you have now proven very well that you will never be honest with me about anything. Or am I wrong?” Tertius crossed his arms, inhaling a deep breath. She might be sad and miserable, but maybe it served her right. He would not have to punish her for this. Her being sick now would be plenty of punishment, he hoped.

@Sara

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She listened to his disappointed words and felt a ripple of anger run through her, but suppressed it - just. As he continued she could no longer keep her eyes on the floor and brought them up to stare him down. What was the point in lying anymore? Playing the meek and placid woman he wanted her to be? Her truth was out now, and he saw her for what she was. Why keep up the pretence?

She swallowed and shrugged forlornly; "I...did not want the child." She said with renewed strength in her voice. She had never spoken to him like this before, honestly, and with no formality. It felt oddly freeing. "I...I do not want my child to be a slave," She swallowed, "I do not want to watch my child grow up in this house, in this mess, knowing their father could have them sold, killed even, if he wanted." She frowned and felt tears gather behind her eyes. She shook her head and snapped her gaze away, tears of frustration and anguish falling down her cheeks. If he wanted the truth, so be it. She continued in a hoarse voice; "I am being honest now, but I..." She raised a trembling hand to wipe away the tears - upset at how weak and feeble she must have looked to him, "What does it matter? It didn't work, I was told and you will do what you wish to." She waved a hand as if dismissing him in his entirety. 

 

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After Tertius had spoken, Charis looked up at him. She no longer seemed just tired and miserable – no, now there was a faint fire there! And she answered his words, saying she did not want the child because she didn’t want a child that would be a slave. She called the house a mess and made Tertius sound as if he would be the worst master ever… selling or killing his own child! Gods, why did she think this about him? Charis seemed to continue simply assuming things about him, instead of talking with him about it! If she would just trust him, but she would not. As she said, what did it matter now? Tertius would indeed do what he wished to do. But she needed to understand a few things first.

“So you think that if you had a child, my child, I would sell such a child? Or kill such a child? My child?” He exclaimed, he seriously could not believe that she would believe this about him! “I am not heartless, Charis! What if you had told me, then I… or we could have figured out, together, what was to happen. Gods! Kill my own child, I would never do that!” It was outrageous, to be honest! He could not even imagine selling his own child, even if it was a slave.

And who knew if the child would remain a slave? He could recognize the child as his own, instead of what had happened with Teutus. He would not make that mistake now, that he made back then. He’d been what… 18 or 19 years old when that slavegirl gave birth to Teutus. He was barely an adult and his father didn’t give him much guidance in what to do, other than pursuing his career… but things had changed then, many years had passed and he wasn’t the same as he’d been back then. He wasn’t some stupid youth anymore.

“I will do what I wish to do. But I will not act the way you apparently believe. See Charis, if you would be honest with me, maybe you would know things instead of assuming things about me. I am not the youth I was when Teutus was born. And I will not behave the way I did back then.” Tertius inhaled a breath again, to think about what to say next and maybe to let Charis think a little bit and answer, if she had anything wise to say.

@Sara

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She listened to his exclamation with a glower, her jaw working and clamped shut. She couldn't help herself, however, and retorted; "You kept Teutus as a slave for twenty years! I-I don't know what you'd do!" She choked, upset but furious. There was no point in pretending anymore, and she felt all of her pent up desperation, frustration and fury crash over her. She had been holding it together, holding herself together for almost a full year but all of her experiences and all of what she'd been through was now running through her mind as he stood there - arms folded, berating her. She just couldn't take it anymore.

As he finished speaking she exhaled deeply through her nose and shook her head, silent tears of frustration falling from her eyes. "You will not have this child for a slave." She managed to mutter out. He would not. In that moment she would rather be sold than give birth, suffer the pains and agonies of labour just to watch a child grow into chains. 

She shook her head and pointedly diverted her furious gaze from him to stare up at the ceiling, sinking back into the pillows. Gods give me strength. She had snapped - and this furious, protective, strong-willed side of her he'd certainly never seen before. This was 'free' Charis from before, her personality so suppressed by a year of slavery that it was shocking to see. She shook her head and laughed darkly, hoarsely, "I have nothing to say to you." She said breathlessly and kept up her staring at the ceiling, watching the shadows dance over its plaster and feeling a wave of relief wash over her. It was so freeing - to finally say what she'd been thinking over the last year. She no longer feared reproach. Her life was over as she knew it anyway now that she had been found out, what did it matter anymore?

 

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Keeping someone as a slave was one thing, but if it was his own child, he could not imagine selling them or even killing them. He hadn’t sold Teutus either, had he? Did he appear like such a monster, that would do that? Why? Tertius was not known for selling his slaves and he also was not known for killing them. In fact he could not recall having killed a single one. And last time he sold someone, that was maybe eight years ago. He had sold Anteros, his former body slave and lover. Teutus’ mother had been sold before Tertius married his late wife, as far as he recalled, so that did not really count. And still, it was nothing compared to killing someone. Really!

“Well I would not kill a child. Gods!” He threw his hands up, astonished that she would think that! He thought she knew him by now, but apparently, she had not been paying attention at all and she simply kept assuming things. And now she was giving him these angry eyes, saying he would not have the child for a slave and Tertius inhaled a deep breath, fighting the urge to tell her it was his choice because she was his – and so was the child in fact, whether it was his or not – but he assumed it was his. And it wouldn’t help any of them if he said it, so he kept his mouth closed for that. Maybe he would free the child, who knew? Teutus was to be made heir no matter what. A newborn child could not threaten Teutus’ position here and not Antonia either. Charis however, she would most certainly stay a slave with that behavior!

Meanwhile Charis shook her head, staring at the ceiling and claiming she had nothing to say to him…

“Is that so?” He could make it so, he could have her tongue removed, but he wasn’t that nasty… still though, he could do other things and he could make her life worse without even touching her – something he did not exactly feel like doing now, “I could make it so that you will have nothing to say to anyone. Yes…” He trailed off, thinking. Apparently, her current sickly state was not enough of a punishment for her, so he would cut a little deeper, “You’re going to keep this room as your own; but that will be your only luxury. Jocasta will leave your meals and drinks on the table and walk out. No one in this household will talk to you and you will stay in here until I tell you otherwise. You are not to leave this room or this house, at all. You won’t have visitors, except for the medicus.” Tertius paused and walked over to the chest where she kept her things… to open it and among her other things, he found her tablet and the stylus in order to remove that from her too. Holding the things in his hands, he faced her again, “And it will be like that until you decide to apologize for what you said to me and what you did to yourself. Then we can talk about what is going to happen next. Am I making myself clear?”

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Charis kept her furious gaze on the ceiling, tears of frustration still running down her cheeks as she did. She listened to him, apathetic to the threat - or instruction rather, seeming as he seemed to have made his mind up. She scoffed, feeling utterly and completely unafraid. Did he not realise she'd been confined to a cage for months on her journey to Rome? Housed in a pen in the slave market? Confinement to a luxurious room (decorated to Hector's specifications no less) was hardly a hardship. 

"I will see you in seven months then." She said with a little shrug, laughing hoarsely, "With your child in my arms and a grin on my face because I will not apologise." She swallowed and wiped away the tears with the back of her hand. She flicked her gaze dispassionately to him, a curious look in her eyes; one of deep resentment but unbridled peace. She felt free, even if she was about to be imprisoned in a room. Saying what she felt, not caring for her life was breathtakingly liberating. 

She decided to push it further; "Or sell me, if you'd rather." She shrugged limply and turned her face back to the ceiling, watching the shadows again and picturing herself as a girl - awed by her fathers ability to make his hands appear as animals and monsters in the shadows. "I do not think you know, domine," She continued in a soft voice, "How little I care about what happens to me now." What was left unsaid, of course, was that she did deeply care about what happened to her child. The best scenario, for her, in that moment, was that the child did not live. Either of the other two options open to her right now; enslaved under Tertius or freed by him were unpalatable for their own distinct reasons.

 

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Gods she was being stupid and selfish and she was going to be the mother of his child! He could see the tears down her cheeks, but he made no move to stop her from crying this time. Tertius had lost it with her. He had adored her and liked her and he had done so many things for her, to make her life better and easier, but still she refused to be loyal and honest with him and she refused to be broken, it would seem. Tertius would not have her again. It would seem he’d had her plenty anyway.

 She said she would see him in seven months and she would not apologize. Seven months… and a woman carried a child for nine, didn’t see? An easy count in his head told him the child was created around Saturnalia. Maybe at Saturnalia. Where he’d given her so much pleasure and she once more promised to be honest with him. And to think of that and then her action and reaction now! Lies, again! It just upset him even more. The slavegirl went on, suggesting he could just sell her and she didn’t care what happened to her.

 “If I sell you, I’ll be selling my child too. And I will not.” Tertius said and walked a little closer to her. She made it seem as if his instructions to her didn’t matter, but she was being selfish, he thought. She thought only of herself. Not of him or anyone else or even the child! How could he make this clear to her? He knew she had friends... at least outside the house. But she wouldn't be seeing them now - and they would not see her. And she would be unable to send message to them.

 “You may not care, but your friends will. And only if they care enough, they will learn that you chose this. You chose to poison yourself. And you chose to defy me. And until you choose otherwise, you won’t see any of them.” He walked towards the door, “Remember it’s your decision; stay here or relent and apologize to me. I will come and see you in a week.” And with that, he strode out of the room, closing the curtain behind him - feeling frustrated and angry. To be told that you were to be a father was supposed to be a good thing. But this clearly didn’t bring any joy. Tertius went straight to his owner chamber to brood over the conversation. She was being a foolish slave. And she carried his child! If she kept her promise to him – and he doubted she would, she would break, eventually – then he considered she would not see her child once it was born. His child did not deserve such a selfish mother. He hoped she would change her mind, that weeks or months in solitude would work and finally break her. Only time would tell if it worked.

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Charis' face creased in upset. That stung. She knew Cynane had the sense to go digging if Charis did not turn up at their pre-arranged meeting, but she just hoped she learnt the truth. And what of Rufus? Aia? Were they to think she died, bleeding and alone in her bed? The thought briefly crossed her mind that Teutus would be able to do nothing to help her - even if he wished to - if she were confined to these four walls on his fathers instruction but she said nothing. Instead, as he turned to  leave she only said; "I will see you in a week domine." and let him stride from the room with no further ceremony. 

The first half of the week itself passed easily enough. The first few days - overcome with tiredness - she spent dozing in her bed, only woken up by visits from the medicus or Jocasta purposefully clattering her food down on the small table. It was only when she started to feel brighter, some five days after Tertius' visit, that the silence became deafening. Or, rather, the silence of her space coupled with the loudness of the rest of the house. She heard Antonia Varia's giggling as she skipped past the curtained doorway; she heard Teutus' voice in discussion with a slave and she heard the gossiping of Hector just out of the confines of her would-be cell. Inside the room, however, everything was deathly still. 

She spent her time humming to herself, old songs she had learnt as a child, and rifling through Hector's belongings. Her fingers skirted the jars and pots of his various lotions and potions and briefly the thought crossed her mind that ingesting them might make this situation end. It was the same thought that occurred to her when she glanced at her dinner knife. But those musings left quickly enough - to take her life would be a victory for Tertius in a way, and she would not allow that. Besides - she'd only recently begun a relationship again with her sister and to end it all would be too painful for sweet Ardra to endure, she knew that. 

When - at the end of her week of isolation - the curtain was drawn back, Charis glanced dispassionately up. She was better now - still pale, but almost recovered and looked healthier than she had previously. She was sat on her bed - but over the sheets, cross legged and applying some of Hector's creams to her hands. She'd neatly braided her hair into two plaits that fell to her waist and for the occasion - almost in mockery - had donned the exquisitely fine chiton Tertius had gifted her. She said nothing as he entered and instead went back to her task of rubbing the moisturising lotion into her hands.

 

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It was strange at first, around the house, without Charis here. She was usually in the garden or she’d spend time with Antonia and take her to the baths and so on. Antonia had of course asked about Charis, where she was and what had happened to her. She’d been sick, Tertius told her. Charis had been sick, because she had misbehaved by drinking something she should not have done. It had made her sick and after that, she had been a very bad slave. Antonia had been thoughtful about that, but then decided that her father always knew best when it came to slaves. And she still had Teutus to spend time with and Tertius assigned one of the other, younger female slaves to spend time with Antonia instead of Charis.

 Everything was fine like that. Tertius had of course informed the other slaves about the situation and instructed them to not go and see Charis. Hector spent every night with Tertius now and he seemed pleased enough – and he did his utmost to keep Tertius happy and asked about Charis only if Tertius mentioned her. If he didn’t, he’d make sure Tertius got his massage and a nice bath and a good time to forget about all the stuff that was clearly upsetting him. Hector was as perfect as he had always been. He wasn’t an ungrateful Briton slavegirl.

 After a week, Tertius went to see Charis. The medicus had checked on her, she was doing better he said… and he also said there was no issue with keeping her locked up like that. In fact it was best for a pregnant woman to avoid strong emotions and sudden movements, so it was actually perfect that she was like this. According to tradition, she was given a light diet of grains and was given light drinks and not wine to drink.

 She sat on her bed, with the hair braided, wearing the fancy chiton he once gave her and seemed as if she was just fine. Tertius arched a brow seeing what she was doing; putting some lotion onto her hands. Hector had mentioned he missed a few of his things and Tertius had promised to get it for him, when he went to see Charis. And she wore that dress. As if to mock him – which was certain was the case, in fact.

 “Have you changed your mind or do you prefer staying here, alone?” Tertius asked her.

@Sara

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Charis shrugged thin shoulders at his question and stayed silent for a while, working the cream into her hands with almost religious concentration. When she was done, she finally uncrossed her legs from under her and moved to stand. She was, despite being off the bed, still a good head and a bit shorter than him at her diminutive height. Nonetheless, the curiously blank expression on her face was enough to make even the tallest, broadest men cautious in her presence. 

"You wished for me to be honest, domine." She shrugged again and stared him down - the distance between them not far at all, "And so I was. I will not change my mind on that - but I apologise if you were offended." Her lips worked into a wry smile. The fool's apology, her father had called it, when one apologised that another took offence without directly apologising for the words themselves. 

Shrugging limply again, and as if bored, she turned her back to him and moved to sit on the edge of the bed - and resumed her examination of Hector's pots and vials.

 

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At first she didn’t move at all, either as if she did not hear him or she simply ignored him. Stupid girl! And to think he had showed her such affection and put her on a pedestal! She didn’t deserve it and she would not receive such attention again, that was for certain! If she wasn’t pregnant, he could just decide to not feed her at all, but he wasn’t a monster. He just needed her to learn her lesson and apparently all his previous attempts had not worked, so hopefully this would. He waited impatiently, until she finally stood and stared at him.

 Then she said she’d been honest before and she would not change her mind – meaning she would not apologize. She said she apologized if he was offended. Tertius arched a brow while she turned her back to him and sat down once more. Gods, she'd learned nothing! Stupid girl. And he'd been stupid for hoping she would learn, hadn't he? But now everything had changed.

 “Offended does not quite cover it.” Tertius replied firmly and continued, “You will stay here then, in your solitude. And hand over the lotions and oils. They’re not yours to use.”

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Charis glanced at the oils and lotions that littered the bed and then back up at Tertius, as if confused. Reluctantly and incredibly slowly she began to place them one by one into the little wooden box of Hector's that also sat on the bed. She took her time, arranging each one perfectly and spinning them around in their box until she was satisfied. When she was done, she closed the lid with a little snap and silently moved from the bed to hold it aloft for him to take. 

"You know they say exercise is good for a child, domine." She said with a little apathetic shrug. She wasn't asking him to leave the room, only highlighting a potential flaw in his plan. She couldn't really care less one way or another, but she knew her mind would start to suffer eventually if she was locked in these four walls for much longer. She didn't have the sense, at that moment, to see her fragile mental health had already slipped. 

Venturing further - and still standing before him - she tipped her head to the side to study his face. It looked familiar, but the irritation on it was evident - an expression she hadn't seen on him in months. She had been so careful for so long after all. "And may I ask what happens...after?" Her hand fell to her stomach, still flat but likely to begin showing over the next week or two - the medicus had said. 

 

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She was trying to get under his skin on purpose, that much was obvious now. Irritating her dominus, on purpose! Tertius watched while she incredibly slowly placed all Hector’s vials and pots back into his chest. When she was finally done, she handed him the box and then pointed out that exercise would be good for the child. Tertius took the box and placed it over by the doorway.

“It would.” Tertius said, “So I guess you’re so far only making poor choices for your child. First you poison yourself and then you offend your master and refuse to behave in a way, that would lead to a better pregnancy. But that seems to be the way you prefer it.” He added, considering to also let her know that he didn’t know if she was fit to be a mother. He recalled she’d been pregnant before he bought her, but she had lost that child. Maybe she was not supposed to be a mother at all. Maybe she should have the child and he could remove it and find another nurse. With Charis’ behavior, she’d be no good anyway.

He didn’t tell any of that to her though. Not now. Meanwhile she was watching him and then suddenly asked him a question, “After what? After you’ve apologized or after the child is born?”

@Sara

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Charis frowned at his refusal to allow her even the basic request of getting a little exercise and shrugged thin shoulders. In truth, she was entirely apathetic to this whole situation presently- and an outside observer (one who was not as cruel or enraged as Tertius) might see that her faculties were not all there, as if her mind had slipped off kilter. As it was, she only shrugged and returned to sit on the bed, folding her legs up under herself. 

"After the child is born." She clarified. The words sounded strange to her now, as if she were in a dream. She had sincerely believed her plan would work - as any desperate creature is when they are backed into a corner and yet now here she was - pregnant with a  child that could well suffer the after effects of her poison, forced to endure pregnancy and childbirth. It seemed laughable to her, that she should be here in this position and a little bubble of laughter left her lips at the absurdity. "I'm having a child..." She repeated quietly, obliviously, as if she were in a trance.

Her hand fluttered to her stomach and she frowned to herself. Cynane was right, perhaps Brigid was determined she should be a mother. 

 

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He would love to allow her to do some exercise, take a walk and a proper bath in a bathhouse and so on. But with how she acted, he didn’t want to. She did not deserve such treatment. She deserved to sit here and consider everything she’d done and hopefully reach the conclusion, that maybe she had been wrong and maybe it was the best idea to just submit to her master. Which she should have done a long time ago, but it had all been pretense. That was part of why Tertius was so angry with her right now – all her lies. None of it had been for real, from her side. She had made promises, sweet words had escaped her lips, but they’d been lies. She had deceived him and he would have no more of that.

 And now she dared to wonder what was going to happen ‘after’. Tertius naturally asked what she meant and she would know what was going to happen after the child was born. Meanwhile she sat on the bed and suddenly laughed and spoke of the child.

 “You are. Whether you want to or not.” Tertius just said, he didn’t see the reason to laugh. This was hardly an amusing situation!

 “Concerning what happens after… well, that… depends on your behavior, dear Charis. You could have a better life. I gave you so many chances to have it… but in the end, you decided to betray my trust.” Tertius said, “There are however many months until that child is born, and much can happen. Maybe you will stop being selfish, relent and it will be better for you again and you will be a mother. Maybe you won’t and you’ll never see your child.” He stopped to watch her reaction to that statement.

@Sara

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Charis swallowed and kept her eyes down at the floor, her hands softly stroking the imperceivable bump on her belly. Whether you want to or not. This was possibly the most epitomising moment of slavery so far for her; she had been raped and abused, shackled and chained but that had not broken her spirit. She felt she still had options after each. But this? To carry a child for nine months and endure the rigours and very real possibility of death in childbed, against her will? Nothing could have summed up just how little freedom she had, than that. Tertius likely didn't even realise it - he was a man of class, and a man full stop. He would never understand, but she was beginning to. 

Her frown increased as he finished speaking and she glanced up at him - the fire dimmed in her eyes and pure confusion filling the void. "B-but it will be my child? How can I not see him?" She had a sense - an inkling that whatever grew inside her would be a boy. It was a foolish thing to think she could predict it, but it felt right. 

If anybody who was allowed to see her - Tertius or the evil little witch Jocasta - cared to really examine her they would see the cogs on her mind begin to slow and falter. She had lashed out initially - a sign that she was not well mentally, but this creeping dread - the realisation that everything was so far out of her control now - was something else. 

She sat in silence, hands over her stomach and frowning. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Tertius had not thought he was going to have more children – his wife died after giving birth to Antonia and he already had Teutus, who was now free and to be made heir of Tertius’ fortune. But then Fortuna decided he should be a father again after all, and he was not going to let Charis change the ways of the gods. She was going to have a child, a child that was his… and that was it. She swallowed when he told her that she was having the child, whether she wanted to or not. And then she would know what was going to happen, after the child was born.

 He tried to explain to her, that it would depend on her behavior and that she could relent and maybe things would be better then. Or she could not relent and she might not see the child. This seemed to surprise her, she wondered why she could not see ‘him’. A boy? How did she know? And yet although she thought she knew this, she did not know what he meant…

 “I will not have my child nursed and brought up by a selfish and deceiving mother.” He said and inhaled a breath, because what came next was another crucial matter, “If you do not relent and change your behavior before the child is born, I will find another nurse for the child.” Tertius explained and backed towards the door, “Do you have more questions today… anything you’d like to say? Else I really think I need to get on with my day.” At least he gave her a chance to apologize for her behavior. Whether she wanted to take or not, well that was up to her. She knew the terms no matter what she chose.

@Sara

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Charis' face crumpled in upset and she wound thin arms around her middle. Her mind had slipped, broken down into a shell and in her confusion she didn't understand..."B-but he will be my baby." She said, swallowing the lump that restricted her throat. She sank down onto the bed, her arms still around her midriff, a pained and confused expression on her face. She was so lacking in sense, she didn't even react to his opportunity to apologise and simply sat, staring at a spot on the wall.

She stayed quiet, her addled mind unable to comprehend what was happening. Perhaps it was a defence mechanism? That her mind wouldn't let her remember that he had bedded her against her will, that she had almost died after trying to rid herself of this child, and that there was a very significant chance the baby would be taken from her arms the second she had finished the birth never to be seen again. The idea of all of those things was evidently too painful, and so her mind would not let her see them clearly. 

She stayed silent and still, and although she didn't cry, the pain of the situation was clear on her face. She repeated softly, to herself, unaware of whether he was even still in the room; "He will be my baby." 

 

TAG: @Atrice

Feel free to jump forward however many weeks/days you think appropriate!

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Charis didn’t seem to grasp that he could take the baby away from her, once it was born. But this was his house, he was the Pater Familias and she was the foolish slave, who thought she could take the control of it all away from him. But he was proving her wrong now. She had deceived him, she had taken him for a fool, she had played with his feelings in a way she shouldn’t have. And then she had tried taking control entirely out of his hands with the child, when she took the herbs that led to her becoming sick – but not enough to lose the child. She was paying for her wrongdoings now and she would continue do so, until she could relent. He had again given her a chance to do so, but she just sat there on the bed and muttered to herself. Tertius shook his head with a sigh and left her alone, taking the box with Hectors things with him, of course.

 A week later he returned, as planned. And he asked again, if she had changed her mind and apparently she hadn’t. She didn’t speak a lot. But she looked well-fed, he thought. A bit pale, maybe, but that made sense considering she’d been in here for weeks already. But that didn’t seem to do anything. She did not apologize. And in the end, he left again, because he really had better things to do than waste his time with a disobedient and selfish slavegirl.

 She seemed changed, somehow, though. Think that she had toyed with him and he was now trying to teach her a lesson, but apparently she had already gotten under his skin and he could not stop thinking about her! Foolish girl! But he would not give in, he would not let her win this!

 And so he left her alone for longer than before, returning the second week after last time. She’d now been in the chamber for four weeks. Before Tertius went to see her though, he made sure the medicus took a glance at her. He said she needed sunlight and exercise and otherwise she seemed to almost be in a sort of daze… as if not truly present and listening to him. The child was fine though, he assured Tertius of that. Good. The medicus did however also mention that the state of the mother could have some influence on the child. That made him sigh. He really had to convince her that she needed to apologize! Both for her sake and for the child!

 “Charis…” Tertius said after he entered the room and she didn’t even look up at him, “Have you changed your mind?”

@Sara

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Charis sat on the bed; pale and unmoving. Her knees were against her chest, her thin arms wrapped around them protectively. She didn't even hear the door open or Tertius enter. The last few weeks had been a daze. She could no longer recall the days. She no longer slept regularly; finding dozing between fitful daydreams easier than getting solid sleep. Time had lost all meaning for her in her, with only her thoughts for company. And what dark thoughts they were. 

Only when Tertius asked his question did she hear him. She didn't turn to face him, however, and instead just frowned. It was as if - to her - that there was a ghost in the room, or an other worldly presence. One that didn't belong to anybody and just stood and taunted her. She was so far gone already. "My mind?" She repeated slowly, in Brittonic. She thought in the language and it didn't occur to her to answer in Latin. 

Her arms moved from hugging her legs to her belly where a neat bump now lay, visible even under the plain tunica. She looked down at it with a frown, still speaking in Brittonic, "What is he talking about sweet one, hm?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Gods, what was wrong with her? Why did she just sit there, was she still so defiant against him, even after four weeks on her own here - where she'd only been allowed to leave few times? It was also turning a bit smelly in here, he thought. Why was she still so selfish, refusing to relent and apologize? Was she stupid, suddenly? But she'd been so smart. He had praised her, he'd been so fond of her and now... he could barely recognize her. She finally spoke, but not in Latin and Tertius rolled his eyes.

"Charis!" He raised his voice a little, "Look at me when I'm talking to you! You know what I'm talking about... or are you that selfish, that you can only think about yourself and have no love for anyone else... not even the life inside of you?" He was getting upset again, but he really didn't understand why she would not relent. It had been four weeks! Other slaves had been broken faster, but Charis simply refused and it was stupid and selfish of her. He was coming closer and closer to the idea of removing the child from her, once it was born, because she was surely not fit to be a mother. She tried killing the child and herself anyway. What sort of mother would she be? Would she tell her child she originally didn't want it at all? What a mother indeed...

@Sara

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Charis practically jumped out of her skin and looked visibly afraid as he raised his voice and called her name. She had not noticed his presence and as she blinked wide blue eyes up at him, a confused frown lingered on her face. What was he doing here? She pondered. Her hands and then arms wound round her middle and she backed away on the bed to the corner. "I...I don't understand." She managed in Latin, sensing the Brittonic had made him angry but in her confused state, did not understand why.

Tears threatened and gathered in her eyes, a few errant ones rolling down her cheeks. She felt so confused, as if thinking required her to wade through mud to get any clear direction. Everything was odd to her; she didn't understand what he was asking of her, she didn't even really understand what he wanted or why he was here. She had a notion that she had hurt herself - judging from the visit from the medicus but when or why seemed like a thought that was locked away so she couldn't recall it. "I...I'm sorry domine," She swallowed - visibly genuinely upset, "I d-don't know what to do." Poor Charis had well and truly lost her mind. 

 

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