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Outside the Circus Maximus, the crowds were swarming and increasingly smellier as they began to bump shoulders under the hot sun while trying to push into the complex and its seating arrangements. Naturally, Valeria had very little interest in watching the gladiatorial games, much less the races, and household names like ‘Menelaus’, ‘Bassus’, or ‘Marcellus’ of the Whites evaded her. She often left such things to Titus to take Publius, but she thought of it as a treat for her children, a spur of the moment decision following a morning’s visit to her father’s. The younger two particularly would find excitement amongst the crowds, charged by the social energy and adventures that circled the track over and over again. Flacca, on the other hand, was at the age where she seemed to want to be elsewhere and instead carried reading along with her. Regrettably, it was not the great Landicus, but it was still something that made Valeria smile. Although years ago, when Valeria had done the same, would have made her father hiss a “put that away”. It was poor manner to read in company, after all, but to Valeria, it was poor form to be unread.

As they tracked through the crowds towards where they could make their entrance, Valeria instinctively held onto her son’s shoulder to keep him close, while her eldest was carrying her squirming sister, who kept trying to climb over Flacca’s shoulder to point out people or animals in the surrounding area. As Valeriana pointed in one direction with a “look!”, Valeria followed as she swept through some of the people spread out and around the stadium and caught the familiar face of Pinaria Gaia.

“We’ll go inside in just a moment,” Valeria told her children, only to be met with Publius’s complaint.

But our seats!

“But Pinaria Gaia!” Valeria complained back, mimicking her son’s whine, before she added “it’ll only be a minute” even though in momspeak, that essentially meant the same as when she created a side-trip to the markets with her children and had them bouncing from foot to foot in exhaustion as she turned minutes into hours of looking at fabrics and jewels.

As Valeria approached, she tilted slightly as if to get a good look at Pinaria as she excitedly opened her arms. “Fancy seeing you here,” she greeted her with a laugh.

 

@Atrice

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Races were really not her thing, but her brother had wanted to go and thought little Gaius should see it too. But he was so young and the races could turn pretty foul sometimes! Of course it was no gladiator game, but still, Pinaria was careful when it came to her son. She perhaps shielded him a bit too much, but her brother was also the man of the house and she could not really argue much with him, when he set his mind on something. So off they went, to the Circus Maximus, to watch the day’s races.

Publius was holding Gaius’ hand and walking ahead of Pinaria together with Gaia Lucia, who was also here to help look out for little Gaius. She considered buying some treats for them all to eat while they were there, but she didn’t like the huge crowd here and perhaps it would be better to just get to their seats. Then she heard someone say her name nearby and turned her head to see none other than Valeria Flacca! She had not seen her in a while – like so many others, really – and smiled at the friendly and pretty face.

Valeria made her way over to Pinaria, who stopped and waited for her as the other opened her arms for a hug. Pinaria returned the embrace and kissed Valeria’s cheeks, “Fancy seeing you here indeed!” She said with a warm smile, “I’m guessing you’re here with the family too? How have you bee, it’s been a while.”

@Joaquin

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It seemed other families in Rome had the same idea to make use of the summer weather to see the races. “Oh, yes, this is all of us, but I haven’t been counting,” Valeria joked with the shrug of her shoulder, while her son impatiently turned around to stare at the Circus Maximus in youthful longing. The magic of the races just a few paces away, but his mother was an obstacle. “Valeriana, Flacca, Publius, say hello to Pinaria,” she instructed. Valeriana was the first to greet the woman, followed by Flacca, and Publius’s lifeless and sombre ‘good-day’ followed.

“I have been well, thank you,” Valeria answered. “Although, you might have heard about my father. No, he has not died, not yet, Gods be willing, but his health has been ebbing and flowing for a while now. I must have told you that, hadn’t I?” She likely did not need any direct telling, it was as good as common knowledge now, much to her father’s dismay given his pride. “I was not able to make the reading group with Horatia Justinia. How did it go? Any gossip that will wake me up before the races?”

Edited by Joaquin
this mofo forgot the child's name
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Valeria was of course indeed here with her family and gestured to her children, then introduced all of them. Three of them she had – and Pinaria thought that little Gaius was plenty of work, although he was also a very easy kid at the same time. Then again, he basically had two mothers, being raised by Pinaria and Gaia Lucia. How could he not become a kind and gentle boy? The children said hello to Pinaria and she smiled warmly at them, “Greetings to all of you, how lovely to meet you. My son Gaius has probably already found himself a seat together with Gai… my servant.” Pinaria corrected herself, Gaia Lucia was special to her, but to everyone else, she was just a servant and a freedwoman. Then Valeria shared that she’d been fine but her father wasn’t well.

 “I think I heard something through the grapewine. I hope he will return to full health soon.” She said and then Valeria asked about the reading group that Pinaria had also joined.

 “I don’t know if there’s much gossip… but there were a lot of ladies present, both younger and those of us that are more mature. It was very interesting to see them all again. As you may know, I withdrew a bit when my husband passed away. But it is good to be out among people once more.” She said with a smile, “If I hadn’t been out, I would not have run into you, after all. Shall we go in and find my son? Hopefully there are spare seats near, for you.” And maybe they could leave all children there and Pinaria and Valeria had more time to talk.

@Joaquin

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“Very true, it is most understandable,” Valeria answered sympathetically as Pinaria made mention of her late husband and while she would have liked to have offered her condolences, she wondered if the other woman had grown tired of hearing the same empty expressions of pity. Valeria had enough years under her stola since the loss of her brother. There had never been a body to give a sense of closure, but the clumsy good intentions of others never helped bring closure instead they drew-out what was already painful. Although, the memory of her father hiring professional mourners to wail at the funeral of her brother simply to pad the numbers that would have otherwise been significantly smaller, given that ‘Porcus’ was an obnoxious man in life, always made crack into a smile. “I, for one, am most happy that you re-join us.” Valeria placed a hand on the woman’s back unthinkingly as she turned towards Circus Maximus as if she had just remembered it standing there in all its glory.

At Pinaria’s suggestion that they go inside, Publius’s face lit up. The races were bustling as ever, and it was possible that there were not many seats close-by. “If there are none, I’ll simply sit on someone,” Valeria jested with the wave of her hand as she walked, keeping an eye on her son. Her daughter dutifully followed, carrying her second daughter. “It’s quite busy today, isn’t it? Must be the weather. There would be no better time to rub your sweaty shoulders against someone else’s.”

‘That’s not true!’ came Publius’s protest, annoyed that his mother and her jokes couldn’t appreciate the races just as much as he did.

@Atrice

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