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Zia

A Happy Union [M - S & V]

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"Hope he speaks good Latin, then," was Titus' deadpan reply as he eyed said high priest with faint disdain. In honesty, the few Dacians he had spoken to all knew his tongue far better than he knew theirs, and failing that there was often Greek to bridge the gaps. But that was something he would never admit to, and certainly not when they should be the ones learning the official languages of the empire if they really wanted to present themselves as a somewhat civilised people. As he mulled that over, a detail stood out to Titus, and he shot Zia a sly smirk. "Tomorrow, you say? The same tomorrow when there's another celebratory feast? How will I make time for both things, I wonder..."

The woman was as much a blushing bride as he was a charioteer. Titus snorted, but chose not to respond to it, much as he had chosen to ignore her pointing out the animosity - he wasn't blind, and despite Cothelus' attempts at merrymaking the tension on the room was still thick enough to cut with a knife. "No, I had a wife many years ago." Now, in particular, it felt like it belonged to a different lifetime, a different timeline even.  He did not like to dwell on what had been, much less on what could have been, but he felt the urge to defend his late wife's honour from some crude joke the Dacian woman no doubt had up her sleeve before she even could voice it. "She passed away," Titus added sombrely, lowering his gaze. There was no need for Zia to know the details - and out of some fuzzy feeling resembling piety or devotion, he also wanted to keep his memories of those halcyon days unblemished by his current situation. Even if she had no respect for him, he hoped she would at least have respect for the deceased.

Her earlier question was much easier to answer. "More cheerful than this, for one. The bride wears white, not whatever that-" he pointed his finger at Zia's dress, "-colour is. There's a couple of different ways to do it, too, depending on status. A pleb's would've been quite different from mine." Rather obviously, he wasn't privy to all the details on the former. "There's two handfuls of witnesses, sacrifices to the gods to ask for their favour, and we shared a special cake which in truth wasn't even that good..." Reminiscing on the spelt cake, Titus subconsciously wrinkled his nose. For something reserved for very special occasions, one would think that cake would taste like Elysium, but sadly that hadn't been the case. "Then at the end there's a procession anyone can join from the bride's house to the groom's. That's it." Not quite, but Titus was going to keep his mouth shut about the bridal carry lest the harpy sat next to him put it into her head to try it. Of course, if the tides of fortune had turned differently, Zia might have found herself experiencing a simple plebeian wedding with some honourably discharged centurion for a groom... but there was no point to musing on ifs and buts.

He decided to tease her a little; what with how bored he was, even that was looking appealing now. Besides, the chieftain - when he finally took a pause for breath, or ran out of words - might appreciate the fact that the new couple were by all appearances speaking civilly to one another in public, in a pathetic pretence of unity. "Would you have liked to have had one of those? Or was that just curiosity?"

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She said nothing to the mention of a dead wife. Everybody in the hall had lost somebody; mothers lost their sons, sons and daughters lost their brothers, and wives lost their husbands, as she had done. She wished to remark that it didn't make him special, but something in her tone stopped her. Whilst she was excellent at being petty, she was a better strategist. No point riling him up now when he was actually being vaguely pleasant. No, she'd save remarks about said dead wife for when he was being unreasonable - which she suspected wouldn't be that far away, judging by his attitude and general demeanour. 

"Black." She replied cooly, "The colour. Black." She said the latter in Dacian as if she were teaching a child his colours, but listened intently to his description. It sounded dull as shit. Usually a Dacian wedding was a grand affair with feasting and hunting and all manner of appropriate activities, not some odd vegetarian cake and a walk through the city. 

She smirked wryly at his question and shrugged; "Curiosity." She had half an ear out to Cothelas and could tell his speech was winding down. Her nails nug into the arms of her chair. "And you know, if we ever make it to Rome as husband and wife, your people might like us to repeat the ceremony in your way." She smirked into her cup as she sipped her wine. That would, obviously, never happen - despite Cothelas' hope that all would be resolved and they'd harmonise perfectly with the Romans. Still, it didn't hurt to foster a little hope in him that one day he might see his city again - if only to keep him from taking a knife to his throat before his usefulness was done. 

Cothelas' words drifted over to her, in Dacian; "And the happy couple, Zia and Ti...Titus." A murmur went up through the crowd and she kicked out her foot at his ankle. "Stand up." she said through the side of her mouth and then stood herself, smiling and inclining her head at the crowd. "You have to make a toast." She muttered to him, in Latin.

 

TAG: @Liv

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"That can't be." Titus shook his head dismissively. Not in the same mould as his first marriage had occurred: she lacked the bloodline to go with it. It also couldn't be simply because he held no illusions about being able to go back to Rome as if nothing had happened - and Titus did not plan on lasting that long, anyway. While he could humour her by learning his colours over the coming month, in the long run it was a useless lesson. "Black," he repeated in Dacian like a dutiful pupil. So she had chosen the outside to match the inside. How quaint.

A toast. A fucking toast where he was supposed to wax gratitude about having his sorry life spared and praise the people who had decimated his legion. Titus' hand tightened round his wine cup, knuckles turning white. If he refused, there would be bloody chaos, to put it mildly. The old man, the priest and even his new wife could all die in agony and he would laugh in their faces, but the curious little boy stuffing himself and smearing honey all over his face in the process deserved better. 

Sighing in resignation, Titus let go of the cup, pushed his seat back and stood up slowly and carefully, using his arms for support. If it made him look weak before the Dacians, all the better; it would help his goal. He turned to Zia with the fakest of smiles on his lips and held out his hand for her to take. They should try to present a united front, starting from that moment. 

"Esteemed guests, thank you for joining in on today's celebrations." Had Titus been sure they did not understand Latin, he would have cursed them to Hades and back, but unfortunately that was not the case. He was not about to waste much of his breath on them, regardless. "May our peoples learn to live in harmony and to treat one another with respect, and see their relationship mirrored in ours." Smirking, he tipped his head towards Zia and reached for his cup with his free hand, raising it up in the air. "Here's to us, and to you all." That was all they were going to get out of him that night, Titus mused as he drank up, and if they weren't happy then they might as well just come at him already and find somebody else to play their fool.

@Sara

 

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Zia's jaw tensed, the muscles in her neck worked. If you can't even take his bloody hand, how are you going to screw him later? Her inner voice chimed, and begrudgingly she reached out her fingers to take his but squeezed so hard on his own hand she was worried her fingers might snap off. 

She arched a brow as he didn't try in Latin and sighed, translating into Dacian as he spoke. As he finished and sipped his wine, and as she finished her translation, awkward silence swelled in the room as nobody joined him in a toast. She glanced across at Cothelas who was looking particularly ashen-faced, the old fool. Sensing the mood deteriorate, she squeezed his hand all the tighter and sent a buoyant laugh into the crowd, speaking in Dacian: "My new husband is not a man of many words it appears." That produced a rippled laugh from amongst the gathered guests. "But as your Chief, and he says, we need to forge ahead with respect and dignity." The men muttered amongst themselves and Cothelas glanced rapidly between the crowded, assembled faces. Zia raised her cup; "To a new way forward for the Ratascenses!" The men finally murmured and half-heartedly raised their cups, before Zia, relieved that  they'd avoided disaster for now merely glanced at Titus and spoke in Latin. "You could at least have made an effort, I thought Romans were excellent orators?" 

Cothelas waved his hand at the couple; "Off with you. Get it done." And Zia felt herself tense. She turned sideways to her son and smiled at the honey-glazed view that awaited her. She leant down to kiss his head tenderly and take his sticky hand, moving past Titus to deposit the little boy next to Cothelas. "Mama has to go now, but you'll stay here with your Grandfather, hm?" Luto didn't look the least bit fussed and only bobbed his head with a grin. Zia felt her heart hurt as he the little boy waved to Titus as she departed, hand gripping the Roman's forearm as she practically dragged him out of the hall. 

The walk to their marital chamber wasn't long but she kept silent the whole time and didn't release her grip until they were in the room. Two guards were stationed outside. She finally released his arm and rounded on him, fire in her hazel eyes. "If you try anything, they," She jerked her head to the door, "Will make sure you die very, very slowly. You understand?" She shot him a final glare and then folded her arms across her chest defensively in what must have been, the least tender staff pre-consummation imaginable. "Do you want to get drunk for this, or what?"

 

TAG: @Liv

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His new wife had at least one hidden merit, that of interpreting. It might play in her favour when another legion or two came knocking on their door. Of the words in her language she tacked on at the end, Titus recognised only two, both recently learnt: 'husband' and 'chief'. They made the wine sour in his stomach. "When the audience is worth it, which was not the case," he replied in a can't-be-helped tone, blinking in her direction before putting his empty cup down. 

While Titus didn't understand what the old man had said, between his wave and the sudden stiffness to Zia's body he could make an educated guess as to what it was. He was unceremoniously dragged outside, just barely managing to wave back to his honey-loving new friend who seemed fairly nonplussed at his mother disappearing with a stranger. Maybe the little boy just wasn't that attached to her, Titus pondered maliciously as she led him on. If he were to befriend the kid, she would probably be pissed off beyond belief yet also unable to prevent or remedy it. The thought clinched it; besides, it made the charade that much more believable if he actively sought to bond with his new stepson... Despite the throbbing discomfort in his chest, he smirked in satisfaction, causing one of the guards to eye him quizzically and then smile back in complete misinterpretation of the gesture.

Someone was all hot and bothered. Holding up his newly-released hand in a call for peace, Titus nodded slowly. "I'm not in a state to try anything, in case you haven't noticed," he countered irritably as he scanned the room, which was devoid of people except for the two of them. Not even a slave to help with undressing? These Dacians took their privacy far too seriously. "Yes, thank you, that would be nice," Titus mumbled as he began to fiddle with the trappings of his armour. Amidst a lot of lip biting, hissing and grunting, the thing finally came off after what he felt had been an embarrassing amount of time. His breathing was laboured and his face pale as he put it atop a chest in a corner with slightly wobbly movements, turning his back on Zia and for once glad to be rid of the thing. 

He had not been lying moments earlier: he really did not feel he was in a state to try anything other than sleep. Who would find out, anyway? She was no virgin, as her young son attested to, and seemed as happy to get on with it as a sow headed to the slaughterhouse. The guards might be listening in, but was the door so flimsy that they would hear it all? Not all instances of coupling reached brothel levels of ear-piercing shrieking. But perhaps it would be a great offence to the apparently terrible Zalmoxis if things didn't carry on as planned, and while Titus did not fear him or his punishment, Zia most likely did. If it were the other way round, he would not be keen on angering his gods either.

Needs must. He had promised compliance, after all. Titus turned around and closed the short distance with slow, uneasy steps between them before helping himself to a cup of wine wisely filled almost to the brim. As he drank he cast Zia a languorous look, trying to stir his imagination into filling in the blanks of what she might look like underneath that black dress and only partially succeeding. It would take more wine, possibly the entire unwatered jug. Titus put down the empty cup and cupped her cheek in his hand, gently guiding it upwards towards him to join their lips in a hesitant kiss.

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Zia dutifully poured two cups of wine, brimming and threatening to spill. She took her own and downed it in three clean gulps before refilling it. She didn't notice him stepping closer, she was too intensely focused on her wine, until his hand made contact with her cheek and he leant down to kiss her. She recoiled almost immediately with a shove to his chest, wine splashing over the rim of the cup and landing in a red pool on the stone floor. "We have to couple, we don't have to kiss." She said in a clipped voice, aggrieved that he should want any intimacy whatsoever. It would be uncomfortable for her, she knew, if she wasn't aroused but it would be over - judging by his ashen face, before it would get painful and thereafter it would only need to be repeated monthly. It was a discomfort she'd endure. 

Downing the rest of her wine she shot him a glare and gestured for him to refill it as she worked on the gold clasps and laces holding up her dress. She stopped herself when she was in her strophium and subligaculum, moving over to a small chest to carefully unpin the diadem she wore and slip off her necklaces. She didn't want this Roman brute to damage it. She could not have been more clinical or cold if she tried, and it was hardly as if her figure inspired much lust for most men. She was blessed with athleticism; a small chest and narrow hips with no spare fat to pinch anywhere. Her lanky frame was hardly what the Roman poets wrote lasivious verses over, and it was equally far removed from their ugly statuettes she saw toted around. 

She made no move to untie her strophium - not that there was much need for it in the first place - but it helped her feel...defended, almost, from his gaze. She flicked cold eyes to him and shrugged. "I guess I better lie down so we can get this over with." She made no move to, however, and just picked up her wine, drinking deeply.

 

TAG: @Liv

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So much for trying to be nice. Titus winced at the forceful touch and took a step back, gingerly rubbing his ribcage. "That was for your sake, not mine," he glowered, but made no move to touch her again. If she wanted to make things more unpleasant for herself out of sheer, pigheaded pride, he had no reason to deny her. 

Titus refilled her cup as he was bid and poured himself a new one for good measure, stealing furtive glances while she undressed. It was a disheartening sight: how on earth had this woman borne at least one child and not filled out a little? Remove the head and ignore the obvious female parts, and her body resembled that of a prepubescent boy more than a woman's. And that was just not how he rolled, at all. Even with copious amounts of wine, it was still a tall order, made worse by Zia's standoffishness; no illusion of smooth curves and grooves or supple skin if he tangled his hand in her hair and closed his eyes. 

"Are you daft?" He rolled his eyes, pointing vaguely at his torso as he swigged his wine in a single gulp. Bitch had probably never had a broken bone in her life. She'd certainly never tried to fuck anyone while nursing one, that much was obvious. "Or just entirely clueless?" Not bothering to wait for a reply, Titus went to work on carefully divesting himself of shoes and clothing until he had stripped down to his subligaculum, kept lonesome company by the bandages wrapped round his chest. With that out of the way, there were no reasons left for dithering. Gods, how could one look so little forward to a shag? 

With grim resolve and a slightly unsteady hand Titus poured himself a new drink of wine and downed it in almost the same breath. Any more liquid courage and it would be counterproductive. He settled on the bed, half-reclining against the headrest with legs stretched out, and tugged on her arm to pull her closer and into a straddling position."May I at least take this off and pretend like it's actually covering something?" The question had barely left his lips, yet one of his hands was already snaking up to unwrap it while the other came to rest on what should have been the curve of her hip if she hadn't been straighter than an iron rod.

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Zia's standoffishness didn't improve when it quickly dawned on her that she'd have to do the bulk of the work. It was bad enough she had to couple with him, and worse still that he'd simply get to lie there and enjoy the view. Although judging by the expression on his face, he wouldn't be enjoying much. She merely cast him a scowl and then arched a brow, attempting to show him that she didn't care a fig for his opinions of her physique. Why should it matter? He was just a Roman. Somewhere buried though, it did wound her. She tried to ignore it.

Downing the rest of her wine, she reluctantly drew to the bed and hesitated, just for a fraction of a setting before climbing into place. It felt odd, it felt wrong and she tried her very best not to recoil completely from his touch. His comment stung and she fought the urge to slap him, instead just placing her palm on his wounded chest and leaning in - applying pressure to make it uncomfortable. Prick. 

But something wasn't right. She was not a virgin, obviously, and she'd done this position plenty with Diegis. She frowned and glanced down. "What's wrong with your prick? Do you even have one?" She scoffed. He was still in his subligaculum but there was...nothing there. Or nothing she could feel, at least. It shouldn't have been surprising given there was equally absolutely no physical change in her own body with her arousal at a firm zero percent, but it was offensive. She'd seen men get hard for the ugliest girl in the settlement, and he couldn't muster little Titus for her? She glowered at him and took his hand from her hip - shoving it to his lap. "Sort yourself out so we can get this over with." In what was possibly the least erotic marital scene ever, she sat back on her heels and crossed her arms across her chest, waiting for him. 

 

TAG: @Liv

 

Edited by Sara

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