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10th June, 75AD

TW: miscarriage

Longinus sat in silence on the beach, down the cliffside path from his villa just outside of Formiae. It was deserted, even at this time of year by virtue of the setting sun which cast long shadows over the sand and reflected off the water. The villa itself was no more populated with a skeleton staff of people he had forgot he even employed; a girl to cook in the kitchen and a few odd-job slaves that crept around him with thinly veiled annoyance in their eyes that their dominus was suddenly intruding on the peace and serenity of having run of a patrician's villa without oversight. He'd left everybody else behind in Rome; Vitus his secretary had been left with instructions not to disturb him for anything (save the health of his mother or daughter). Attis was still at Titus', despite the fact the morning he had found out he had been due to go over and collect him. He couldn't face his body slave's smirks or even worse his concern or gods forbid his pity. His mother and daughter were left with run of the domus, and all of his other attendants were left behind. He needed to be alone.

It had happened so quickly Longinus only now had time to breathe. On the morning of the 23rd of May he had received a flustered, tear-stricken slave girl into his house who breathlessly informed him that her domina, his betrothed was on a ship bound for Carthage - escorted by her fathers men. Abandoning his trip to collect Attis, he instead had, without a moment's thought, taken a horse to Ostia, only to find out the ship had sailed at first light and was long gone by now. The rest of the day had been spent trying to barter passage on a ship to follow it, and it was only the insistence of his mother - finally - late that night, that made him relent. He would wait, he thought, to find out exactly what had happened. He would wait to be summoned by her father, and then make his amends in the proper, dignified fashion. 

The letter he received on the 30th of May, the day before his wedding - when all the preparations were set, when nobody had been informed that anything was awry - was almost unbelievable. The graffiti that had gone up around the city - that he'd seen and largely ignored - had been sighted by those close to the Proconsul  of Africa. He had sent his men, as quickly as good winds would allow, to collect his daughter and her sons - sweep them back into his aggressive, controlling arms. Yet that was not the worst of it. She didn't describe what happened, or how it happened, but the child was gone. Miscarried, lost forever. Gone. With no ties to him now, and her fathers rage, she - the woman he had been due to marry tomorrow had signed the letter;

The last few weeks, months had given me more pleasure or happiness than I ever thought to experience. But it is not enough. I see the folly in thinking I could have so much, for ignoring my father, for ignoring my duties as a mother and as a widow. I was wrong. Please do not come here, please do not write back Lucius. This is over - even if it is not the way we ever envisaged it to end. My children - those still with me - must come first, and I can no longer tarnish their reputations via my actions. I am sorry. Goodbye. Sestia.

Throughout his life he had experienced loss - as many do. His father, his mentor and friend, his men in war and in peacetime, his wife and now his betrothed and his child - who the Gods never even allowed to draw a breath. Yet the sting of this loss was so acute he could not cope. Not this time. He had packed that night and instructed Vitus to send messages to his friends on his behalf, saying merely that the wedding was cancelled and the engagement broken off. Should anybody pry, the reason was that the dowry could not be agreed. It was something simple - clean and neat that expunged them both of the dirtiness that had befallen them. He had left for Formiae the next morning after a brief, cold farewell to his mother and a challenging goodbye to his daughter. He did not know when he'd return. What was left for him in Rome now to bring him back? A daughter that barely knew him? A mother that was content to live her life as she'd always done in his absences? Friends, of course, but they would move on. It wasn't as if he had a great desire for politics or glory. No. He'd be better off in Formaie he thought.

So there he sat, on the waters edge. The wine he had drowned himself in that evening gave him pleasant, muddled sort of thoughts. It took the edge off of the wound that stung like a British axe to his chest. He cried. He didn't know the last time, certainly couldn't remember the last time he had cried but there he sat, sobbing into his hands. In the space of two weeks he had gone from a man of ambition; a decorated thrice-serving legate seeking a praetorship with a beautiful woman whom he loved (he begrudgingly admitted) about to be his wife, with a child on the way, to a man sat sobbing in the sand, alone. 

He wondered if the Gods were laughing or sobbing with him. 


  • Sad 6
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