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April, 75CE

Today was a special day. Today, Livia had convinced her controlling husband, Secundus, to let her visit her sister Horatia. Naturally, Aglaea, who was like Livia's shadow, was right along with her as they traveled to the Praetextatus household. As the two sisters began visiting, Aglaea ensured they had all they needed, and then was dismissed to let the sisters talk in private. She was pleased to be trusted enough by her mistress to be left to her own devices for a while, and it was always pleasant to be away from Secundus's domus. Anything was better than the gloom and worry that was constantly in the air there. 

Aglaea decided to grab something to eat. Familiar enough with the layout of the domus, she walked there and politely asked for some food. Once she had a plate and a cup of wine, she stepped out into the back of the house and sat on a step to eat her food. It was a beautiful day, and it was a shame to spend it cooped up inside when she could be enjoying it. 

@Chevi

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Horatia had guests, and the household was instructed to be on its best behavior. The domina's sister did not visit often, so when she did, it was a special occasion. Food was prepared, the good wine was brought out, and whatever noisy cleaning activities had been planned for the day had been postponed. Aulus, probably to allow his wife and sister-in-law some uninterrupted time, had gone to do some visiting himself, and left Felix behind, in case the women needed any errands run by someone Horatia trusted.

So far, nothing really happened. Felix enjoyed the day off, eating when he felt like it, getting some sun in the garden. He was wandering across the household when he noticed the young woman sitting on the stairs that led to the upper floor. She was balancing a cup of wine and a plate of food, and since she did not look familiar, Felix knew she must have come with Livia's entourage. 

"We can bring out a table and a chair, you know, if you want to be more comfortable" he noted with a smile "I don't think anyone would mind."

@Echo

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Aglaea was in her own world. It was sunny, with the sun beating down on her dark hair and warming her up. But her mind was not in Rome. It was in Judea, trying to grasp the memories of her childhood that sometimes seemed so fleeting. Sometimes, she could not remember the faces of her mother or father. But the slave was drawn from her musings by a voice nearby. She hadn't noticed the man until he was quite close. "Oh, that's alright. I'm perfectly comfortable here." She gave him a smile. "But thank you for offering.

She took a moment to look at who she was talking to. He towered over her, especially since she was seated and he was standing, and was very muscular. She wondered where in the domus he worked. The few times she had accompanied Livia to visit Horatia, Aglaea usually stayed with her mistress and so had not met many people in the household. "I'm sorry, I haven't introduced myself. I'm Aglaea."

@Chevi

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"Oh, that's alright. I'm perfectly comfortable here. But thank you for offering." 

It seemed like he had jolted her out of her thoughts, but at least she didn't mind much. Felix would have brought out a small table and chairs if she wanted to be more comfortable, but for now, she was happy where she was, sitting on the stairs. Felix looked down at her, aware of their difference in height, and took a step back.

"I'm sorry, I haven't introduced myself. I'm Aglaea."

Felix offered a friendly smile in greeting. 

"I'm Felix. You are here with the domina's sister?"

@Echo

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"Unless you're saying I'm in the way, sitting here," she said with a teasing laugh. It was clear she was joking. "It's nice to meet you, Felix. I am Livia Justina's body slave." Now engaged in talking to the young man, Aglaea set aside her food. She wasn't overly hungry anyway. "Where do you work in the domus?" She wasn't usually so blunt, but sometimes directness was the best policy. 

@Chevi

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"Unless you're saying I'm in the way, sitting here. It's nice to meet you, Felix. I am Livia Justina's body slave."

"Don't stop on my account" Felix waved a hand as she put the plate aside. The last thing he wanted was to keep her from enjoying her meal. He had guessed right: she was with domina's sister. A body slave to Livia.

"Where do you work in the domus?" 

"Body slave to the dominus" he said with a small smile. "Quite a few years now. I was born in the household."

@Echo

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Aglaea glanced at the plate and then back at the other slave with a smile. "I was almost finished anyway." She listened as he explained that he was a body slave to the master of the household and that he had been born in the household. She briefly wondered what her own life would have been like if she had been born into slavery instead of sold into it by her parents. "That's nice," she commented, meaning his position as a body slave. "I joined Livia's household when I was... thirteen or fourteen, I think. But I've only had two mistresses my whole life." 

Aglaea suddenly realized that she was blocking the door and she stood, picking up the plate in order to move it. "I hope I wasn't blocking you from going inside. It's just such a nice day, and I was dismissed for a while, so I decided to spend some time outdoors."

@Chevi

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"That's nice. I joined Livia's household when I was... thirteen or fourteen, I think. But I've only had two mistresses my whole life." 

So, she had not been in Livia's household forever. She had been sold at least once. Slaves had vastly different experiences from each other, and Felix knew it must have been harder to go from one place to the other, or from freedom to slavery. She seemed like a friendly person.

"I hope I wasn't blocking you from going inside. It's just such a nice day, and I was dismissed for a while, so I decided to spend some time outdoors."

"Oh, no" he shook his head "To tell the truth, I am not sure what I'm doing. The dominus is running errands and he left me here, so I... have the day off, it seems. Unless domina wants something. But if you'd like to be outdoors, we can go and sit in the garden?... Or you can. If you'd rather be alone."

@Echo

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"Oh, good," she said. Aglaea hated being in another person's way. Then, Felix explained that he was also not busy and suggested they visit the gardens. "I would love to see your household's gardens. And I wouldn't mind the company, either." The slave went into the kitchen briefly and put her plate and cup away, then returned to where she had left Felix. "Alright, where to?" 

@Chevi

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Felix knew that people sometimes just wanted to be alone. Especially body slaves, who spent most of their days catering to the needs of their masters; moments of peace and quiet were few and far between, depending on how demanding their master or mistress was. He was ready to leave Aglaea to her thoughts if she wanted.

"I would love to see your household's gardens. And I wouldn't mind the company, either."

Felix nodded with a smile. The girl stepped into the kitchen with her plate and cup before appearing again at his side.

"Alright, where to?" 

"This way" Felix nodded to her. The household, like many Roman houses, had a garden in the inside courtyard, fairy spacious because Aulus could afford it. At this time of the year it was filled with lush greenery and blooming flowers, bringing a peace of wilderness inside the domus. Felix smiled as they stepped out of the walkway and into the garden. "Domina is very proud of the gardens. Does your mistress have them too?"

@Echo

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Aglaea walked beside the taller man, admiring the lush beauty in the gardens once they arrived there. Aglaea often enjoyed walking in her mistress's gardens when she had free time and nothing better to do. It reminded her of God's creations and his love, bringing her peace. Felix asked whether her household had gardens and she smiled. "Oh, yes. My mistress has the most beautiful gardens, both at her home here in the city and the villa." She paused a moment to study a particularly attractive rose bush. "But the villa is beautiful anyway. There is a lovely swimming spot that she likes to go when she can." When Secundus will let her, she thought privately. 

"Do you ever get a chance to get out of the city? I personally prefer the open spaces in the country rather than the cramped city."

@Chevi

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The gardens were beautiful, and Felix could tell that Aglaea had an eye for them. They were also peaceful this time of the day. The dominas seemed to enjoy talking in private.

"Oh, yes. My mistress has the most beautiful gardens, both at her home here in the city and the villa. But the villa is beautiful anyway. There is a lovely swimming spot that she likes to go when she can." 

Felix smiled. It did sound lovely, having a villa with larger gardens, outside of the city. Swimming, too, although Felix never had much of a chance to learn to swim. Especially in the summer days, a place like that was a blessing. Inside the city, the baths remained.

"Do you ever get a chance to get out of the city? I personally prefer the open spaces in the country rather than the cramped city."

"Not since we returned to Rome" Felix admitted "I think dominus had enough of wild places for a while since Britannia and Raetia... A villa does sound nice, though. Did you... grow up in a city?"

@Echo

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Felix said that his master had had enough of wild spaces in their travels together. “I probably would have too. Was it terribly dangerous? Aglaea hadn’t been to too many places in her life; only Judea, Antioch, and Rome, not including the various villas she had been to. Nowhere like Britannia. 

Felix then asked if Aglaea had grown up in a city and she smiled. “In a way. I was born in Judea, but i’ve been enslaved since I was seven or eight. From Judea I went to Antioch and then I joined Livia’s household.” She paused a moment. “Where else have you been with your dominus?”

@Chevi

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 “I probably would have too. Was it terribly dangerous?"

"Sometimes." Felix admitted. They had risked their lives to get out of Rome on the night when Felix's entire life changed forever. And they had been in danger multiple times since, along multiple frontiers. Felix was not a soldier, but Aulus was, and Felix's place had always been at his side. He wondered how Aglaea's life had been different, if she had not been to many places.

“In a way. I was born in Judea, but i’ve been enslaved since I was seven or eight. From Judea I went to Antioch and then I joined Livia’s household. Where else have you been with your dominus?”

"Oh." Felix nodded "I've been to Syria with him. We went there to join the emperor during the civil war... I don't remember much of Antioch, just that it was a... crowded city." he admitted sheepishly "We went to Britannia, and then spent time in Raetia... I've seen a lot of the Empire's edges.

@Echo

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Aglaea sometimes thanked God that she was born a female - though she had been a slave most of her life, she had never been in any kind of serious danger, especially not the kind that threatened her life. Felix had certainly led a different life than her own. She wondered what might have happened to her had she been born a male. Cynically, she wondered if her parents would have abandoned her if she had been a boy. "Well, I don't envy you the danger," she said with a smile. "But I would like to travel more, if my mistress ever did any traveling." 

Felix described all the places he had been and she nodded thoughtfully. "You're right about Antioch. I don't miss it." She laughed. "Is it true that the Briton warriors are blue?"

@Chevi

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"Well, I don't envy you the danger. But I would like to travel more, if my mistress ever did any traveling." 

Traveling was not for everyone. Some traveled for business, and some traveled because they had work in the provinces, or positions waiting for them. In the case of slaves, they traveled wherever their masters wanted to go, without much time for enjoyment. Still, Felix had to admit he liked seeing the world. 

"You're right about Antioch. I don't miss it... Is it true that the Briton warriors are blue?"

Felix chucked at the question.

"Some of them paint themselves blue, yes. Quite the disturbing sight. They do it to intimidate their enemies. Although with the weather up there being like it is, maybe they are just half frozen..."

@Echo

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Aglaea wondered what she would do if she gained her freedom. Perhaps she would visit Judea again, though the thought of seeing her parents after they had sold her, or finding out that they had passed away, gave her pause. She was also interested in seeing other parts of the empire, but she suspected that she would eventually return to Rome. It was the only place she really felt at home. 

Felix replied that some Briton warriors did in fact paint themselves blue and she grinned. "I can imagine the willpower it would take to not cut and run, seeing a horde of blue men running at you and screaming." Felix then joked that they were half-freezing, to which Aglaea laughed. "Perhaps that's a factor." 

@Chevi

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"I can imagine the willpower it would take to not cut and run, seeing a horde of blue men running at you and screaming."

"Yes. A Roman legin can look terrifying too, but in a different... less nightmarish way" Felix admitted. "Not that I even faced either. I'm a body slave, not a soldier."

Maybe for the better. In another life, Felix would have been a good soldier, given his strength and his stubborn loyalty, but he was not going to blame the gods for not making him so. War was a dirty business, even in the well-organized legions of Rome. 

@Echo

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Aglaea nodded when he said that he was a body slave, not a soldier. "Of course," she said, chuckling. "Aulus is lucky to have someone like you." Her tone was genuine but passive, matter-of-fact. 

@Chevi

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Felix smiled a little at the compliment. They had only just met, but she felt comfortable saying she was a good man for his master to have.

"How about you?" he ventured "I admit, I know little of the household you come from. How is life there treating you?"

How is your domina treating you? He would have never ventured to ask that directly. But he really did not know much of Livia's household, or the way their slaves lived day to day. And Aglaea seemed like a kind person. She reminded him of Callista a little.

@Echo

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Aglaea wasn’t surprised that he had asked; after all, she had been a bit forward in complimenting him like that, even though the two had just met. But she couldn’t possibly tell the whole truth. She shouldn’t unload her domina’s troubles onto this man. “She is very kind. My dominus’s domus is beautiful and I am lucky to be with Livia.” Secundus’s household was pretty- if the constant fear of being berated or being the target of his ramblings was considered beautiful. “Livia and I are almost like sisters. I’ve been with her so long it’s hard not to think of her that way.”

@Chevi

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“She is very kind. My dominus’s domus is beautiful and I am lucky to be with Livia.”

That sounded lovely. Almost too good to be true. Aglaea looked content as they walked in the gardens and talked, but she had only met him a few minutes before, so he could not expect her to be completely honest about her life. As body slaves, both of them were privy to their masters' lives and secrets, and Felix would not have shared the truth about those either, to someone he'd just met. But still, there was honestly in Aglaea's voice. She liked her domina, at least.

“Livia and I are almost like sisters. I’ve been with her so long it’s hard not to think of her that way.”

Sisters. Felix smiled a little. He would have not thought of Aulus as a brother, even though he had been with him for most of his life. He had no idea whether dominas had the same kind of intimate moments with their body slaves as he and Aulus used to have while away from Rome. Not that he would judge either way.

"Then she is lucky to have you too." he noted, returning her compliment. "It makes domina happy that her sister visits from time to time. I think she'd like it if she came more often."

@Echo

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Aglaea dipped her head at the compliment. "Thank you." Aglaea had been with her mistress so long it was like she was an extension of her. It was hard to even consider herself a self-contained person, when she always shadowed her mistress at the expense of her own desires. But she reminded herself to consider herself lucky. She had a relatively safe place to sleep, plenty of food, and a kind mistress who rarely had occasion to punish her for anything. 

Felix commented that Horatia enjoyed her sister's visits and that she would likely enjoy more regular ones. "I'll mention it to her. I'm sure she would like to visit more often as well." If Secundus would ever let her, that was. Aglaea looked up at the sky to judge what time it was. Livia had given her the rest of the afternoon to do what she liked, and she had already spent an hour or so just at the domus. She had been wanting to visit her temple and perhaps shop a little. "Would you look at the time!" she said. "I have some errands to run this afternoon. I hate to cut our conversation short, but I probably should be going."

@Chevi

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"I'll mention it to her. I'm sure she would like to visit more often as well."

Felix smiled. He knew that family visits were good, at least in the cases where the family members were actually liked. And Horatia liked her sister. Having her visit more often would be a welcome change in the daily life of the domus. 

"Would you look at the time! I have some errands to run this afternoon. I hate to cut our conversation short, but I probably should be going."

"It has been a pleasure to meet you" Felix nodded to her, turning to lead her back out of the garden "I hope your day goes well. Let me know if you need anything while you are in the domus. And if you need a companion for your errands, see if Callista is around. She is domina's body slave." he added with a smile. He would not push his company on Aglaea, but if she needed another woman to come along, she could ask Callista. Felix waved to her as she went her own way, returning to his idle afternoon.

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