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Mid June - 75AD

Charis had not been herself for weeks. Yet she was not quite her old self either. Alexius' kiss, the memory of which still lingered on her lips had jolted her reality into an odd one of dual-experiences. She was both the docile, meek slave girl - nodding silently at instruction, never willingly entering into conversation, eyes firmly on the mosaic floor. Yet she was also remembering. She was remembering those long weeks in her room - abandoned and imprisoned by her dominus, and she was remembering them in a way she hadn't before. She had been trying to block it out she supposed, seeing it as a punishment instead of seeing it for what it was: cruelty. Of course, she still maintained she had been wrong - she had been - she should never have said the things she said, not to him, not so openly. But what his reaction had been was beyond humanity or care. She was to be the mother of his child - recognised or not - and how had he repaid that? Her jaw grit as she snipped the stem of a rose. 

So there she sat, in the garden as she often was, diligently working as she had been for several weeks - pruning this and replanting that. Her belly had swelled now she was mere days away from her sixth month of pregnancy, but she wore it well with a neat bump to match her petite frame. But she could no longer hide the fact that she was pregnant, and the child was determined to make it obvious by flipping and kicking and making her gasp at inopportune moments. Yet despite the normalcy of the pregnancy, the normalcy of the house, she didn't feel normal

She felt conflict bubble in her and it made her feel confused. On one hand she hated him. Her hatred had resurfaced since Alexius' kiss in small ways. A flippant command he doled out made her prickle, a look he cast her belly made her recoil and the memories of what he'd done - both in her confinement and before made the fire ignite and burn as it had done months ago. Yet existing alongside her hatred was another feeling; worry. Her child was due in September, only a few short months away and an uncertain fate awaited it. It hung on a knife edge, as far as she could tell, as to whether he would recognise and free the child or not. Equally, a deeper fear ran through her that the child - which she had never wanted, but now was drawn to and loved in an indescribable way - may be taken from her. And so her hatred now coexisted with a need to be good.

It was not quite the same as before; she was no longer doing things merely to please him, nor was she doing things to play act in front of him. No, she did things now for the child. If he wanted her to get on her knees and scrub the floor she'd do it for the child. If he wanted her to smile politely and greet his visitors, she'd be pleased to do it if it meant her child had freedoms she did not. She would not bad mouth him, that much she was certain of - not because she didn't feel the hatred (oh she did) but because it wouldn't serve the interests of the child. As his voice rang out somewhere else in the house, she smiled a little to herself. Snip. She cut another stem. She was not back but she was better. Her hands floated to her bump. And this is all for you, my love.



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