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Mid March 75AD - about two weeks after An Evening Alone

Longinus paced up and down the little room, groaning audibly. This seemed all wrong. The room - because that's all it was - contained about as much luxury as the military camps he had endured; a bed, a small pitcher of water and a basin to wash and a chair. The wine he'd supplied himself - he dared not drink the swill they served in this place - and he'd only purloined a loaf of bread and some olive oil from the kitchen before the slaves grew suspicious at his excuse of 'visiting a friend'. Whether they believed him at all, of course, was another matter. 

He'd tried his best to make it presentable and had lit the sparse lamps it had come with, but the downside of clandestine meetings, of course, was that they could hardly go anywhere reputable. He had ruled out the Venus because a) the cost of renting a room off of a lovely, hardworking whore might have bankrupted him, and b) half his friends were frequent patrons. The Elysium - likewise - was out because he hardly thought Sestia would willingly attend a brothel where only thin curtains divided the rooms from general view. He'd settled on a tavern who rented rooms - he suspected (and it hardly needed confirming) for prostitutes outside of the law who dealt their trade on the streets rather than in licensed brothels. It would explain the meagreness of the place, at least. 

Once he'd settled on the venue all that remained was to let Sestia know. He'd settled on using his friends as a reasonable excuse, and had just hoped she understood the message. The last thing he wanted was for her to actually turn up at Titus Sulpicius Rufus' domus expecting a party whilst he wiled away the hours in a dank little back room of a pseudo-brothel. The message had read; 

Sestia, from your friend Lucius Cassius Longinus, I must thank you again for the pleasure of your company. My mother and Cassia certainly enjoyed your stories of Carthage! I write to enquire whether you would be free the evening of the new ides? T. S. Rufus is hosting a gathering, I believe, and it's got to be better than the last time he dragged me to this horrid little tavern in the Subura - 'ad cucu' - I mention its name only to warn you if he attempts to drag you there himself! It would make my night to see you in attendance. 

It was hardly the masterful deception of spies and the like, but he had been suitably pleased with it. He just hoped Brysias didn't cotton on. And so here he stood, in 'The Crow' with a little purse - a gift for her - gripped in his healing hand and nervously awaiting her arrival. Gods he hoped she'd turn up.

 

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This was probably the most stupid and dangerous thing she had done in her entire life. If that was the case then why hadn't she stopped. Her breathing was hard and ragged as she hurried along the busy and unfamiliar streets, swathed almost from head to foot in a thick Carthaginian cloak, so long that she almost tripped over it with every other step. She had received Lucius' note. If it had not been for their previous meeting she would not have understood it at all. The secret message within it was clear only to her. If any of her slaves or her freedwoman had read it then they had not understood. She had dismissed Brysias for the day. She did this every now and again to make herself feel benevolent. Besides, two could keep secrets. Her freedwoman did not think her mistress knew about the secret gatherings she went to for that Judean cult. She was probably there now. Either way, it meant that she was freed from her scrutiny. As for her sons, when she had said she was going out, it went over their heads and they carried on reading and playing.

She had told her steward that she would be receiving a lift from a public litter. He did not stop to think how bizarre that was when she had her own and made no move to stop or question her when she stepped out onto the street alone and flagged down a passing one. She hopped into it, was carried out of site and, several streets away, got out and paid the litter off. From there she set off on foot, her heart pounding with each step.

The beating was from fear and anticipation. She could not recall a time when she had ever gone anywhere in Rome alone. There was a reason for that. Even the safer parts of the city were only comparatively safe. There were criminals everywhere. However, going into the Subura was utter madness. The place had a reputation, centuries old, of being amongst the most violent and dangerous of all Rome's regions. Home to some of the city's most poverty stricken, it was a general den of all sorts of iniquity and human suffering. It was, however, also one of the city's most cosmopolitan areas, home to various ghettos of foreigners, with so many faces of all sorts that anonymity was generally granted on entry. You could be stabbed here for just carrying a loaf of bread too visibly. If someone was to know that the daughter of a Proconsul was walking its streets, alone...Well, at best she would be ransomed. At worst...She shivered and hurried on, her heart beating so hard that she thought it might explode.

Tears pricked the corners of her eyes. What was she doing? She was a mother. A woman of the Sestii Vaticanii. She had only, the other day, stood in the presence of the Augustus. Now she was hurrying to an assignation with a man for purposes wholly immoral. If she was discovered she would not only lose her social standing but she might very well lose her children. Her father would surely return, like a Fury, and impound her sons into his protective care. Look at how Augustus had treated his own daughter and granddaughter. They had been exiled for the rest of their natural lives to barren islands. Her mother was no Scribonia, she would not accompany her disgraced daughter. Yet, if that was the case and those were the stakes, then why hadn't she stopped. Turned back. Said the message never arrived.

For some reason she was still going on. Still racing on. And it was not just for the prospect of safety that arriving meant. There seemed to be an almost self-destructive streak that had been awakened in her ever since she had set foot again on the soil of Italia. Her last meeting with Lucius she knew had been wrong. How it had ended had always been an option. It was an option she had taken and had enjoyed. Enjoyed was a naïve word for it. She didn't know how to properly describe the feeling because it was something she hadn't experienced before. Whatever it was called, it was compelling her to set each foot in front of the other.

With no small relief she finally arrived at the inn. Still swaddled in her cloak, she asked the grinning innkeeper which room she was to go to. Leering, he gave her the directions and she hurried on, as fast as Mercury himself. Standing outside the wonky door she tried to compose herself. Rein in the racing chariot of her heartbeat.

She knocked on the door.

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Longinus felt his heart skip a beat as there was a gentle rap on the door. Striding over he composed himself with a quick pause, in which he tried to steady the tension that coursed through his blood. He swore to the Gods that if this was Titus, found out about his excuse, or the innkeeper - he couldn't be held liable for what damage he'd do to the meagre room. Before he lost any nerve, he reached and swung open the wonky door and felt all of the tension - at least the bad tension - lift from his shoulders and a wide, warm grin spread across his face. 

Quickly - and silently - he ushered her into the room before swinging back the door and bolting it shut. She looked beyond amusing, swaddled up as she was in a thick cloak, but that didn't matter at all to him. The thrum of lust in his blood and anticipation for her overtook him in that moment and he moved without hesitation to wrap her in a kiss, one hand moving to her jaw and the other sweeping the hood down from her hair. He didn't remember the last time he felt like this; it had been years, he supposed, he felt this intoxicated by somebody - and even then those instances had been fleeting. This was something different, something more. 

He moved his other hand to her waist before he felt the little pouch in his palm and remembered himself. With a boyish grin he withdrew from the kiss and suddenly felt a wave crash over him. He hadn't even appreciated that she might be here to tell him this couldn't happen, or she needed to take things far slower and he felt embarrassment creep up over him. Trying to make amends for his rashness, but still close enough for him to smell the intoxicating fragrance of her perfume, he sheepishly held up the little pouch and placed it in her palm. "A gift," He swallowed, "For you." In the bag she'd find four ornate, expensive hair pins - gold filigree with blue gems interwoven in the metal work. Despite what others thought, he was a deeply caring man and observant; it hadn't escaped his notice that her other pin had been bent and broken from their last encounter. 

Of course, this being Longinus, he didn't quite appreciate how such a gift would look in the context of their present meeting. It didn't occur to him that a man always paid his whore before the act, not that the present was meant as such in any way, shape or form. 

 

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It was for the best that Lucius greeted her in this manner. Immediately all the thoughts that had hounded her hurried steps the entire journey through vanished. The fear. The anxiety. The anticipation. The shame. All of it dissolved in a single moment and she forgot the very things that had kept her awake the night before as surely as if she had drunk from the River Lethe.

There were no words. She was just gathered up and drawn to him. Her cloak fell back. Their kiss was hurried but this was borne out of a need. It was as if, should they have not done so, there might have been physical harm. It was something that had to be done and she welcomed it. She almost gasped when he broke off, having to catch her breath after her hasty, panicked walk across Rome, pursued by the demons of her insecurity.

He passed her a pouch and looked at her expectantly. Four beautiful and well crafted pins. He was beaming at her with a boyish look. The same look that her sons gave her on her birthday when they presented her with a gift Brysias had bought for them to give her. A certain triumphalism of having done something thoughtful that a woman would surely not expect from them. She smiled. "Lucius, they are lovely, thank you." She knew that thought had gone into this. Replacement for the one lost at his domus that last time. Yes, there was an element of tactlessness in it. Courtesans were paid up front, in gold, before services rendered. Yet this thought flew straight from her mind because she didn't care. These were a gift. From him. To her. For her. She had been bought presents by her late husband, of course, but somehow this was so different. This one was charged with intimacy and each of those four, almost inconsequential little pins each held a world of memory. She closed her fingers over them and held them to her.

Suddenly, and not just from the pricking sensation of their points on her skin, she became aware of the awkwardness of it all. The passionate encounter had banished such immediate thoughts far, far away but now she couldn't help but see the half absurd, half comical aspect of the entire thing. She did not mean to ruin any ambience that Lucius may have been attempting to bestow on the place but she felt as if she threw herself straight down on the bed then she was just acting like the courtesan that the gold pins had reminded her of.

"So," she said, looking around the room with its spartan furnishings, having to lift her voice a little to be heard over the noise of the street outside, "this is where you bring your conquests, Lucius? I assume you rarely get second dates after this shock?"

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A look of genuine relief washed over him that she liked him. He'd always been thoughtful but had struggled with his late wife. Feminine things were far, far out of his comfort zone - but he hoped the gift showed that he was not averse to understanding and learning. But as she glanced around the room, he felt himself tense a little bit. There was something so wonderfully aloof, spontaneous about her that drove his heart into a harder thump against his ribs, something that made him want to do better for her. In the dark of the night the place they occupied looked drab, ridiculous even compared to the finery that she deserved. 

He winced but tried to lighten the situation, "Oh yes - different girl every night." He winced again, "A joke, obviously." He breathed and hurriedly bounded over to pour her a cup of wine. Why did he feel so...nervous? It wasn't as if he hadn't done this before...but somehow it felt wrong with a woman like Sestia. Or maybe it just balanced on that knife edge of wrong and right. He didn't wish to find out which way it fell. 

As he turned around again and laid out his hand outstretched with the wine he sighed, "You deserve more than this...I...thought you would't come." He swallowed and then took a deep sip of wine. Even in his honesty, however, he couldn't help but move his fingers to trail lightly over the gentle, inviting curve of her hip. "Do you think I'm a scoundrel?" He said with a boyish grin - but it was warm and inviting, and he couldn't help the way his fingers moved around her back as he gently pulled her closer. 

 

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"Of course I think that. If I didn't, I wouldn't have come." she joked.

The fact that he seemed to be somewhat nervous himself was, funnily enough, making her feel more at ease. He was, after all, a decorated military commander and a man presumably used to such assignations. If he should feel nervous then she was not so odd, perhaps, to be feeling nervous herself. That, and the bantering, was making her feel much more comfortable and the initial waves of panic and anxiety were softly settling into a calmer sea.

"If that is the case then I presume you got a discount on the room for frequent use. It is hard to imagine why anyone would choose it unless they were receiving some customer loyalty discount incentive," she teased.

She opened her palm and looked at the four pins again. They were lovely. She shook her head. "Don't say that. I didn't think this was about money and gifts. If it is then I haven't done very well because I've arrived empty handed!"

She felt him drawing her closer again and she made no move to stop it. "You are a dreadful scoundrel, I think, because you have clearly enticed me to throw my reputation to the wind for four pins and a cheap hostel. You must think me a foolish woman and a terrible mother to dice with my position in such a way?"

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He grinned and pulled her closer so he could leave gentle kisses against the warm skin of her neck. "Mhmm," He murmured, "A terrible, foolish woman to actually enact what she wants from the world rather than just let her watch her desires as they go by." He grinned and moved his kisses up until he was at her lips where he left a lingering one.

This was so far out of the norm that he didn't quite know what to do - this just wasn't done by people of their class. It should be all chaste courtships and batted eyelids and easy smiles, not a rendezvous in a cheap room in the red light district. But they were older, wiser than teenage fools who steadfastly held out from even the lightest of kisses until their wedding night. They had seen too much of the world to know that chemistry was critical and if this was to progress any further then they'd have to test it out. Not that he was thinking that far ahead at all - he liked her, a lot, but he was not about to start organising a wedding. Besides, it was nice to just enjoy the moment without thinking of all of that for a while. Spontaneity was so rare amongst the patricians that it felt exhilarating. 

One hand remained on her hip, his fingers gently stroking whilst the other moved up the front of her body, skirting around her breasts until it came to rest on her cheek. "Are you sure about this?" He murmured as he leant his forehead against hers. He felt like he could explode; the heat from this place, his ideal woman standing in front of him. His fingers moved to her shoulders, dancing featherlight over her collarbone and moving to the ties of her stola. His heart thudded against his ribs, beating like a horse in gallop. 

 

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No, of course she was not sure about this. In fact, she was sure, in her mind, that this was perhaps the biggest mistake she may have made in her life to date. What she couldn't understand was why, if she harbored these sorts of thoughts, that she was smothering them and racing on like a chariot, careering over a possible precipice? He was joking but he was right. She must know, deep down, that she was letting her life slip by. No, that's not right. She didn't even have to look deep down. It was clear. It was manifest. How long had she done what others wanted? All her life. She was not even that old but she could honestly not think of a single thing that she had ever done of her own volition.

Life was passing her by. What would be left to her if she did not seize back control? A fate of her growing into an old widow. Neglected by her sons as they went about their own lives. Started families of their own. Would she just sit back and let the rest of her days wash over her doing nothing more of the small list of things that were allotted to her by what was proper?

No, she wasn't sure about this. She did not fully understand what she felt about Lucius. She liked him. She longed for him. He made her feel something she had not felt before. He was leading her, whether she liked it or not, to do these things which she feared. Not out of pressure - no, he was guilty of nothing of the sort. Rather, he instilled in her what she could only term desire. A desire to ignore that voice in the back of her mind and do what she knew she shouldn't. She shouldn't be doing this but she couldn't stop herself.

It was too late now. That ship had sailed. She was committed to whatever would come of this. And, if she was honest, in this very moment in time she did not care a single iota about whatever those consequences may be.

"I'm sure," she whispered. Her whisper gently melted from a hushed tone to a purring groan as his hands explored her body. If her mind was unsure then her body was determined to over-ride such hesitation with action of its own.

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---

Longinus led back, breathless and flushed - his arm slung around Sestia in the small bed. His feet were tangled in the threadbare sheet but he made no move to disentangle himself, content to simply lie back and catch his breath with the most wonderful woman in his arms. It had been everything he had wanted and more. Sex had always been - or mostly been - a way to satisfy an urge for him, at least outside of his marriage. But even then, Antonia had hardly been the most vibrant of bedmates and they'd struggled to...get into sync, as it were. Sex workers and slaves were likewise, different. He knew what female pleasure was, and how to give it, but largely didn't bother when it was a way to satisfy his own needs. This was different, however, and he'd put more than a concerted effort into making sure she'd enjoyed herself, perhaps more than he'd spent on enjoying the act himself. 

He leant down to leave a kiss on her hair, mussed from their passion and then lay back content. One hand idly traced the soft curves of her body under the sheet as he held her close, as he muttered to himself, satisfied; "You're perfect." Never a great wordsmith, that was about as good as he could come up with in his post-climactic state. The sounds of the Suburra filtered up through the shuttered window and the wind which blew in through the gaps threatened the oil lamps which flickered and cast shadows over them both. As he lay there, he tried to recall a time where he had felt as he did now and came up completely blank. 

Realising he had been silent for some time, gingerly he eased himself up on his elbows she could look down at her face, and smiled boyishly; "Are you alright?" 

 

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Sestia looked up at him. He was so kind and gentle. She hadn't expected that but it was hardly as though she minded. Perhaps it was a slanderous thought but she just had not expected a decorated soldier such as himself to be the kind to be as easy-going and not as...ruthless? She was unused to being complimented. Well, she had received plenty in her time but they had never before seemed to carry such an emotional charge. It made her blush.

She rolled onto her side too. "Yes, I was just thinking, that was all..." she said.

He would naturally ask what about and it would be unfair not to say.

"Just about how I never thought it might be like this. Not that I am complaining or don't like it. Just...I don't know...I just wonder why I don't seem to mind so much that I am so utterly outside of what was once my comfort zone? That must mean that this is right, doesn't it?"

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Longinus continued his trailing fingers over the soft curves of her skin, a lazy, satisfied grin on his face as he listened. When she was finished he ducked down to leave a soft kiss on her forehead, although perhaps it wasn't so soft given he'd forgone his shaving routine the last few weeks and stubble pervaded his jaw. "It does, I think." He pulled back after he mumbled against her skin and sighed, utterly content. 

This...situation surely couldn't go on forever, he knew that and he had no qualms in saying she knew that to. The risk was too great - not necessarily to him; he'd be considered a scoundrel and a rogue but men had that fortunate habit of escaping situations like this with reputations virtually intact; but for her it was a high price should they be discovered. Yet the two clear paths they could take forward didn't really bare thinking about right at this moment; either they'd never see one another like this again, stop this illicit affair in its track, or they'd legitimise it with a wedding. Both were steps too large to think about whilst in those heady minutes after sex, and in such a small room. He tried to push them from his mind. 

Feeling a little awkward given the very prominent elephant in the room, he ventured gently; "Did...did you," Oh Gods... "Enjoy yourself?" He felt colour come to his cheek and he coughed to dispel the tension, trying  to ease it with a boyish grin. He felt like he was sixteen again, all of a sudden. 

 

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Sestia flushed. How was she supposed to answer that, she thought, without sounding wanton?

Of course she had. The sad truth was that she had little to compare it with and, by virtue of that alone, it was shatteringly memorable and highly prized in its own right. There were accolades just for that. She did know that some men liked to have their ardor congratulated and offered laurels by their conquests to enhance their personal ego. Oftentimes it was not deserved. However, she felt that they were.

"Yes," she said, blushing deeply. So much so that she wanted it again. And again. "Will hearing me say so make you feel better about yourself, general?"

She was too shy to ask about how her performance might have been rated. She felt herself too much of a novice, despite being a mother of two, to get any sort of positive feedback. She didn't even know if hearing her praises would make her feel better. Might it not make her feel more of a harlot?

"But, if it makes you feel better, I would not be averse to doing it again."

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Posted (edited)

Longinus watched her flush with a grin of pleasure, but not one born of his own ego, but one of genuine relief. He was acutely aware that with the age of her late husband, she surely couldn't have had the most...fulfilling of experiences, and he'd intended to make up for that. He chuckled and shook her head, pulling her closer by the hook of his arm, "No...no, I just..." He winced and went quiet with a shake of his head, "Want to make you happy." he groaned and managed a laugh, "If any of my friends heard me say that I'd never live it down you know." He ducked to leave another kiss on her hair.

At her request he teased her with a grin, "Give me a few more minutes, Gods you insatiable woman you." and laughed, feeling that sweet relief that came with everything feeling so...right. He tried to ignore the pressing issue of where they went from here, instead content to just hold her close. 

His fingers danced over her arm and up to stroke her face. He felt tired and utterly relaxed in a way he hadn't felt for months, years perhaps and thus said things he might not have had he had more wits about him. "I wish this had happened years ago." He murmured, fingers stroking the arch of her cheek. "Although I'm not sure what you would have made of a teenaged me." Tearing about the place, desperate for some adventure - bedding every slavegirl he could find and wobbling home at dawn with enough wine in his blood to sink a ship. 

 

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Yes, it was true. All men liked positive feedback. Even the noblest. She could not begrudge it when it was merited. His pleasure made her smile. It was infectious.

She rolled onto her back and stared at the cracked ceiling. The constant bustling noise of the Suburra had faded into a single constant hum and, although she hadn't believed it at first, it was possible to drown it out. Presumably that was how so many thousands of people could live here in places like this. And people did. Not just in the Suburra, she meant in a wider sense. People lived in the way she and Lucius did now. They lived by following what they wanted. They lived by a code which was not dictated by the assumptions and requirements of centuries' worth of stern disapproval. Such people were able to live and love as they saw fit, with who they saw fit, for whatever reasons they liked. It was utter liberation. In this moment she could perhaps touch a sense of what that might be like but she had to wonder if she would ever understand it fully.

After all, this had to end. She had to go back home. So did he. This was just an island of time.

She laughed at his comment. "I think you have improved with age. Men do that. Women, on the other hand, only fade as they get older."

She rolled back and faced him again.

"I do wonder though what things could have been like if they had gone differently. It's stupid to think like that because no one knows but it doesn't stop my mind wandering."

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Longinus scoffed and stroked her hair softly, feeling utterly content and at peace. "Don't be so bloody absurd." He grinned sleepily, "I don't think anybody could rightly say that you are fading, and besides - I remember when you were younger, you tried all those cosmetics and things in your hair to make it look more westernised," He chuckled and shook his head, "I can quite safely say that right now you are my ideal woman, not when you were younger." He knew some men preferred their women barely out of their teens but the thought vaguely horrified him. He was old enough now - with his thirty-six years - to be their fathers. Gods. It was why the majority of the names on his good friend Titus' list of potential spouses had been summarily struck off. 

No, there was something utterly intoxicating about being with a woman - with the figure and the aura of confidence that came with it, rather than a girl. 

As she rolled back he leant down to kiss her lips gently, finding it irresistible to do otherwise, and then pulled back, content to pull her in to lie on his chest. "And what does your mind wander to?" He asked, genuinely intrigued. "I sometimes wander what it would have been like to have had a wife that supported me," He scoffed, "Or at the very least didn't mind my career...perhaps even one that fancied a foray into Britannia in a nice villa to keep me company." He sighed, "Or at least a wife that liked me rather than my money." Gods preserve Antonia but nobody could rightly say she was a warm and loving woman.

 

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How funny - you never assumed that men were preoccupied with the same sorts of thoughts that women had, at times. Sestia, at least, had always assumed that the masculine mentality was far more clear cut. Immediate gratification and, to be honest, simple thoughts. No disrespect intended to men but, if they prided themselves on simple virtues, she had always assumed this must belie a simple mindset.

To be described as an "ideal woman" was an alluring thought and one she hardly would have applied to herself. Nevertheless, she happily received the compliment which she was sure he was not just saying, either.

She could empathise with his regrets. "I know the feeling. My father was, and still is, a wealthy man. Not many people see past that. In the same way that not many people look past youth."

She could not help but think that Antonia must have been a bit strange not to have made more of her marriage. Everyone was different, but still... Her husband had led an interesting, successful and exciting career. There were those, like Valeria Flacca, who would happily give up the comforts of the city to experience the wilds of the Empire's extremities. Yes, you might not want to live there forever, but what were a few years? Would you really be happy living forever inside the pomerium of the city with perhaps only the occasional trip no further than Neapolis? The Empire covered almost all the known world. It took months - months! - of travelling at your fastest to get from one end in Britannia to the other in the deserts of Aegyptus or Arabia Felix. How much was crammed within these vast boundaries? So many, many different worlds, peoples, sights and wonders. The knowledge of that alone ought to show how small in scale the city of Rome actually was, even if it was the greatest urban development in the history of Man.

No, if it had been her lot, she would have gone with a husband like that. Even if it meant facing the dangers and doing without the modern conveniences of the city.

"I cannot understand how someone could not have been interested in all that or sought to support it? I would have done. There is so much more to life than you can find within the walls of the city."

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Longinus smiled ruefully and arched a brow down at her, "It's because you're a very different woman to her, Gods keep her." He shook his head with a fond smile on his face. It was not that he was uncaring, he did miss his late wife - the way she looked in the mornings on the rare occasions they actually spent the night together, the way she smiled and played with Cassia on her good, healthy days, the way she used to turn every head in a room when they attended functions together. Yet he didn't miss the blazing arguments or her pettiness, nor did he miss feeling like he'd always be second fiddle to whichever man it was that had stolen her heart long before they had met. 

"And you?" He nudged her with his leg and chuckled, "If you could do it all again - what would you do differently?" His fingers moved to play with her hair, as if finding it the most fascinating thing in the world like a child finding a particularly interesting new plant or animal to play with. He suppressed a yawn, barely by glancing away from her momentarily. Whilst he might have significantly above average fitness of somebody of thirty-six years thanks to his boundless energy, he was no longer a teenager and the relaxing atmosphere, combined with their...activities, was lulling him into contended tiredness.

 

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"Well, some of the things a good lady like myself would not presume to say but let us say that perhaps I would have wished for a little more recreational exercise in my life?"

She laughed. The Sestia of only a few days ago would never have spoken in this manner. She certainly would not have thought of her late husband in that sort of earnest way. It was in fact much a relief to her that he had not been as vigorous as perhaps he would have liked to be and therefore his attentions were sporadic, at best, and rarely long at that. A kindly soul, but not one she could ever have warmed to in any deeper way.

"On a more serious note, I am not so sure. It would have been interesting to be married to someone who was making his career. My late husband had done all that. A consul years before we married. He had no interest in politics or the Empire any more. He just wanted to enjoy what time he had left doing those things he alone found interesting. He was not inclined to share his interests with me. He was not cruel. Just perhaps too used to living alone. It was as if having a family was an after-thought for him. Something he had forgotten to do along the way and was attending to now before it was too late. I think I would have liked to be more involved, helping a husband with politics. Listening to what is going on. Entertaining his friends to help forge alliances and the like. I would have liked to travel. Many things, really. But I have my sons so at least something good came out of it all and I am hardly poorly off, I cannot fault the late Gallus for that."

@Sara

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Longinus listened to her, truly listened to her. His hands moved from her hair down to her shoulder where they gently stroked in a repetitive, soothing rhythm. "Your sons are credits to you." He added with a gentle, easy smile as she finished. There was much to mull over in what she said, but it was apparent already that what she was looking for was - at least in part - what he needed. It was not that he was directionless, he had significant ambition, but he was not a man astute in the world of politics, nor was he a man that really knew what he wanted from his life besides career advancement, a family and well...fun. He needed help, or at least somebody willing to offer an opinion. He smiled to himself at the thought but said nothing on it, merely leaning down to kiss her forehead. 

"I don't think that's a high ambition at all." He commented lightly, trying to not let the mood sour by bringing up could-have-beens that would only make her reflect on the odd direction her life had taken with him. He stifled a yawn as he held her close, burying it on his shoulder. "Maybe," He said as his yawn finished, "Maybe we should intersperse these bouts of...recreational exercise," He grinned into her hair, "With some proper meetings as well. You know Cassia still chatters about you, and treasures what you gave her. They're pride of place in her room." He smiled, contented to himself feeling drowsier and drowsier. "I can be a gentleman when the need calls for it, after all." 

 

TAG: @Lauren

I think we could wrap up soon?

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