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A few weeks after Another Day

Didia mumbled to nobody in particular as she counted off the bags of supplies Appius was lugging into the domus. It was well before sunrise, so they could get round the restrictions on cart, and Didia still held a sleepy look on her face as she picked up one of the lighter bags to carry in through the slave entrances into the kitchens. Appius deserved a rest, the boy was going to have a heart attack and so she left him keeping watch. After a few trips in and out (oh how the rich could eat so much was beyond her!) she entered the domus again with flushed cheeks but a warm smile. 

This house was one of the newer ones on her call list, but conveniently close to Rufus'...or his masters, so it didn't add a great deal of extra time to their route as they made their way up here regardless. The slaves were an unknown quantity, really, although friendly enough and they gave both herself and her brother a cup of cheap lora and a little bit of bread and honey to set them up on their day (and as thanks, she supposed, for carrying in the produce themselves). Appius took his outside whilst she ate hers quietly in the kitchen, the slaves flustering around unpacking. She'd need to sign off the receipt at some point but it was so horribly early that she could use a bit of a rest. 

She sat with her back to the external door, facing the curtain that divided the kitchen from the main, fancy portion of the domus (the portion she was never invited to see!). She was glancing about absentmindedly when somebody pulled the curtain aside and stepped in. Her heart leapt into her mouth and she choked at the face that greeted her. A wide, broad grin spread on her face and she laughed, "Manius!" She moved to stand hurriedly to greet him properly before she stopped herself and frowned, teasingly reaching out to swot his arm softly, "I was worried sick! Don't you ever leave a woman waiting for you again!" 

 

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He had only been Caecina’s bodyguard a few days and didn’t know the young woman or her household that well yet. Manius was already alert though, he couldn’t help it. He slept in his own room at the domus now – he had sold his father’s old home, where he had lived with Salacia. A place that held too many harsh memories anyway. Or too many sweet memories that were now only adding to his gloomy mood. It would be better to live in this house, to guard his new mistress and make sure that everything went on the right way in this household.

Manius went to bed late, often after everyone else and he woke up early. Old habits died hard, it would seem, once he moved into another person’s home to help keep them safe. By now, some of the slaves were busy, those who woke up early too to get it all started up before the higher classes would get up. Manius was up with them, he was a freedman, but now, it didn’t matter. The head slave seemed pleased enough with some extra help in the mornings, to get people up and make sure they went to their tasks.

Today, new supplies of fruits and vegetables would come in and Manius thought he’d check on that, see who brought it and if they were truly trustworthy. He hadn’t forgotten that he had now not been to see Didia for a week – he had not collected his daily free apple, but things had been so busy with the new job and he simply had not found the time. He hadn’t guessed however, that he’d run into Didia today! A slave informed him that the supplies had come and he could meet the merchants now if he wanted to.

So Manius went to the kitchen and pushed the curtain aside and before he could really take a look around, someone exclaimed his name and he was looking at Didia! She stood, grinning and laughing as she often did, poking him and saying she was worried and he should not leave a woman waiting. He felt his cheeks blush a bit, feeling embarrassed.

“Didia, I… didn’t mean to.” He said, glancing down for a moment, “I have been so busy here… this is where I work now. And live.” He explained to her, “Apologies, I should have sent word.” Manius then added and paused, looking at her, tilting his head, “You were worried about me?”

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She grinned and arched a brow, "Well if you weren't working here I'd be worried, you'd be robbing the place otherwise." She chuckled and folded her arms around her waist, a content look on her face. She wanted to ask whether he was here of his own volition, or whether he had sold himself as he mentioned he might do. She tried to gently pry as she retook her seat and sipped her lora, "What is it that you do here, lovely Manius?" 

She picked at the bread, dipping a crust in the honey that sat in a little dish, waving her hand when he apologised about not sending word. But as he paused, she offered a gentle smile, her brow creasing in a little frown. "Of course I was worried, you fool," She shook her head, a bit bemused, why wouldn't she be worried? "We had a deal and when I didn't see you I gave it a few more days and then swung back via the slave market, asked about but nobody had heard of you." She sighed and finished her bread, clapping her hands together to get rid of crumbs. "I should ring your neck, hmm?" 

 

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She teased him, as she had a tendency to do, even if Manius didn’t always understand it. She suggested that if he did not work here, he could be robbing the place and he arched a brow, he’d never do such a thing! There were hundreds of things he’d rather do than rob someone. He watched her fold her arms around her waist and then she asked what he did here. Calling him lovely Manius. Lovely? But it was just Didia, teasing him again.

“I’m a bodyguard for the younger mistress. Caecina Tusca.” He explained simply to her, while Didia sat down again and continued to eat the food the slaves had served her. It must be her, who had delivered the fresh produce to the house. Well, then it was definitely someone trustworthy. Manius had not sat down yet though, but wondered if she was really worried and she smiled and said that of course she was worried, because they had a deal. Manius cast his eyes down again briefly, it was a long time ago since he was a slave, but this behavior… it just sat in him. He looked up at her though when she suggested putting a ring around his neck and he touched his throat, he had worn a slave collar before, after all. He felt his heart beat faster for a moment there.

“You could, if I had given in.” Manius then said, “I didn’t though, thanks to your apples. And now I’m here.” He added. She had been worried about him and now she scolded him, but in a kind way. A part of him enjoyed it, wanted more of it. He deserved it, he knew that. It was right of her to tell him how he’d wronged her and it would be right of her to punish him. Maybe he should talk about something else… “So… you deliver the fresh produce to this house? Besides having the stall at the market?”

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Didia grinned, "A bodyguard?" He continued as she spoke and confirmed that he hadn't done as intended and sold himself. She felt relief wash over her like a wave and let out a very audible sigh, a wide smile on her face. "Manius, that makes me so happy, and look at you now!" She let out a whistle and arched a brow, "Bodyguard to he mistress! Who must be somebody important if she lives up here! Aren't all the imperials here?" She didn't know for sure (what Pleb honestly kept up with the nobility?) but she was sure the houses up here were nicer than in some parts of Rome. 

She nodded at his question and sipped her drink. "Mhm, me and my brother Appius - he's outside, I'll introduce you before we go. We do deliveries in the morning and then I go to the stall in the day, then load up in the evenings." She smiled wryly, "The fun never stops." She chuckled and folded her arms on the table, eyes narrowed on him. "And tell a simple girl like me, what does a bodyguard to a young mistress spend his time doing?" 

 

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She seemed very excited to hear that he was a bodyguard and said she was happy about it. She complimented him, letting out a whistle, which surprised him a bit too, before she said that the young mistress must be someone important because this was the Palatine and the Imperials lived here. Was she flirting with him? He wasn't sure. Didia was of such a different mind to his that he thought it was hard to tell if she was joking or serious. But he nodded at her question, "They do. Her family is quite high-ranked. Her father is proconsul of Britannia and his wife is related to Caesar." He explained to Didia, because that was quite high up in ranks, but Manius had once worked in the palace itself, so this was really nothing out of the ordinary for him. It was a long time ago though, since he worked there. Then he'd asked into her reason for being here and mentioned her brother, who was outside. They did deliveries and had the stall? That sounded like a busy day! She should have a husband to relieve her a bit, he thought. She was fairly young still, but she must be so tired in the evenings.

"It sounds like hard work to me. I hope you... are fine with it." Manius said, he had almost said he hoped she enjoyed it, but it didn't sound like it. Then she chuckled again and Manius decided to also take a seat, while she asked what a bodyguard spent his time doing.

"I... guard her." He said, that was quite obvious, wasn't it? "I escort her when she leaves the house and I also make sure to keep an eye on everything going on the house. I wouldn't want anything to happen to her. It appears she enjoys making trouble sometimes, so I have my hands full." Manius explained and tilted his head again, "You never met a bodyguard before?" 

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Didia let out a low whistle at the rank of his mistress. "Gods, you've done well Manius!" She chuckled and tossed some hair behind her ear, and "I enjoy it - it's fine, and I get to meet all sorts of interesting people - and believe it or not Manius, some are even more miserable than you." She chuckled, only teasing him in her odd, irreverent way. She was pleased when he sat down, trying to relax and she listened to him. 

Didia arched a brow, "No, never - never had a need to." Then she remembered and shook her head, "Oh no - tell a lie, I have one as a next door neighbour. Alexius...something. Used to guard an equite, he said. But he didn't go into much detail on what his job entailed on the day  to day." She supposed he had no need to - what their conversation happening in the aftermath of a bloody earthquake. "What's she like?" She waggled her eyebrows with a sly grin, "Any gossip? You have to tell me, in recompense for not coming and seeing me...I thrive off hearing about the lives and riches of the elite." She didn't - not really, but it was fun to talk about and imagine living such a blessed life. "But you're happy here? You like it? That's the most important thing, obviously." 

 

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Didia thought he had done well, she chuckled, she tossed some hair behind an ear. She was flirting with him, wasn’t she? Why? He had nothing he could offer a woman. And she worked harder than him, it seemed, as she’d explained her work and he hoped that she was fine with such work. She said she enjoyed because she met many people and some more miserable than him. She had laughed again, which told him she was teasing him, but he felt embarrassed. He knew some people had it worse than him, of course he did! But there was a difference! Most of those probably didn’t deserve it… it wasn’t their fault.

“I know.” He merely said with a small sigh and then he’d explained what he did as a bodyguard and wondered if she never met one before. Then she said she hadn’t, but corrected herself, talking about a neighbor of hers called Alexius. Manius arched a brow, he’d seen that name written on a wall somewhere. But surely it wasn’t the same.

“It sounds like he had a good job too. Is he still a bodyguard then? I have been before, but it’s a long while ago.” He explained before Didia asked what his mistress was like and if there was any gossip.

“I shouldn’t speak about things that could be said as gossip. I’m here to guard her, Didia, not to expose her.” And to Manius, that meant not only guarding her body and person but also her reputation. If she fell from grace and it was his fault… he shook his head at the thought, “But, as I said, her former bodyguard told me stories… and I’ll have to keep an eye on her at all times when we leave the house, because apparently she’s a bit too independent for her rank and status. She isn’t married yet, after all.” That wasn’t saying too much, was it?

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"He's looking for work," She said in between mouthfuls of bread, "At least he was when we last spoke. Maybe you can give him a few tips...or meet him! You'd get along, I should think," She commented and set down the crust, "He was a slave too - although didn't sell himself, mind, and a gladiator." Didia kept her neighbours positivity a secret, but thought it might do the slightly morose Manius a bit of good. 

Didia rolled her big eyes dramatically. "No fun!" She chided with a grin, but it was obviously meant in jest. It was good he was taking his work so seriously. She took hers seriously, but delivering fruit and vegetables was hardly life and death business, was it? She chuckled as he let a bit of information slip and arched a brow, "I bet she's pretty, and a pretty, young, rich girl whose not yet married? Tsk. Recipe for disaster, I bet!" She grinned, "You'll have to fend off suitors left right and centre Manius." She picked up the bread again but before she took a bite, narrowed her eyes on him; "And you didn't answer my question...are you happy here?" 

 

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Didia talked more about her neighbor, who had been a bodyguard too, although now apparently also looking for work. She thought they would get along, but also mentioned the man had been a slave - not by choice though - and even a gladiator. And now he was a bodyguard? Well, it made sense such a man put his skills as a gladiator to work as a bodyguard, "You must introduce us then, sometime. If it will be possible, now that I am busy here." Manius added. Of course he wasn't the only guard in the house, but he was Caecina's personal bodyguard and he knew he had his hands full with her. And he was still waiting to meet her step-mother, whom the other slaves had mentioned he should talk to about Caecina too. They had already noticed how determined he was to do his job right and apparently more than one of the house slaves thought it would be good for her with a disciplined bodyguard like Manius.

Then Didia had asked for gossip, but Manius wasn't happy to deal it out. First she said it was no fun, but then he shared a tiny bit. Only that she was very independent and also not married. She arched a brow, mentioning how Caecina was indeed a recipe for disaster. She said Manius would have to fend off suitors and he nodded, "I will if I have to." She was his to guard, now, and he would. He would make sure she did not get into too much trouble before finding a suitable husband. And then he'd make sure the husband treated her well too. His to guard, indeed! 

Didia suddenly reminded him she'd asked another question - was he happy? That was a deep question. And not one he could reply simply to, either. He looked at her, he'd known her for weeks only, but then he had seen her on a daily basis, even if they did not always have time to talk. She was the person in his tiny circle that knew him the best, right now, "Happiness is such a... fleeting thing, I think. It's hard to judge. I was happy with my wife, I suppose. She's gone now. I..." He trailed off, this was a hard question she asked, did she know this? Manius looked at his hands that were resting on the table. Gods he felt so... foolish, sometimes. But he didn't know a lot about happiness. Manius was content with being content. 

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Didia moved to rest her jaw into her palm, peering up at him. Poor, poor Manius. She was a naturally sunny, positive person but she had to admit his morose demeanour was starting to rub off on her and she felt her mood sink a little. Nope. Not going to happen, pull yourself together Didia! 

"Tsk!" She tutted and swung her leg to kick his shin under the table, "Happiness is fleeting but you should try and find it where you can...i know...I know what happened with your wife hurts," She sighed and her expression relaxed, "But you're with good people now, with good friends - myself included," She grinned and nudged him again with her foot, "So cheer up buttercup!" She retook her wine and had a deep sip before setting it down, "If you don't, if you keep yourself so...longing for the past, you'll never find joy again and...you're a lovely lad Manius, I don't want you to be sad." 

She narrowed inquisitive eyes at him, "What do you enjoy doing? What makes you happy?" 

 

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She studied him, he felt and it made him feel a bit strange. It was obvious Didia did not quite understand him or his reasons for being the way he was. And he knew he did not deserve her kindness, he'd done nothing to earn it. In fact he had done nothing for her at all and she had done so much for him. Offering a free apple a day and someone to talk to, and how did he repay her? With nothing. He hadn't even told her he worked here, she had to discover on her own. He was possibly the worst friend she could get, if she considered him her friend, that was. And still she talked to him, seeming to flirt even and she tried to understand, at least. Now again however, she failed, when she had asked if he was happy here and he couldn't really say yes or no to that question. Manius did not feel happy - he did not feel that thrill inside, that joy in his heart. But he was glad that he was here. That he had a job and something to do. And coin to earn and a place to live. And food. He was glad he had all those things. But still he would only judge that he felt content.

Didia said you should try and find happiness where you could, despite that his wife was gone. And then she said he was with good people and friends and she counted herself among them. So she did think of them as friends. What a horrible friendship for her, with someone like Manius, who honestly hadn't been a very good friend. Then she nudged him with her foot and said he should cheer up and he should not long for the past. Well it was hard not to. He'd been happy with his first wife too. But that was such a long time ago. So he didn't know what to say to all her words on happiness and friendship and finding joy. It wasn't that easy.

He looked up at her when she wondered what he enjoyed doing and what made him happy. Manius blinked.

"I..." He began, but then he had an idea, "I enjoy working. It keeps me busy, takes my mind off everything else." But did it make him happy? "Else, I don't know... my wife made me feel happy and peaceful, when we were alone together. But that's it." He said with a small sigh, his wife was gone and so were those moments of simple silence and peace at heart. Manius looked at her, "Are you happy, Didia?" 

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Didia's face crumpled in sadness. Poor, poor Manius. She felt a swell of pity but also something more grim in the pit of her stomach...as if she wanted to grab him by the shoulders and shake some life and sense back into him. She was very unused to depressed, or morose people. Most in her life just...got on with things and even if they didn't have the eternal optimism she did, they weren't so...beaten, like Manius. 

"That's not good enough." She retorted and arched a brow. "Of course I'm happy; I have my work, my health, my friends." She shrugged. She was sure if others were put in her place, with her lot in life they'd be miserable as sin and think her worthy of pity but she firmly believed that life was what you made of it, and she was more than content with her life. She shook her head at him and narrowed those big eyes, "What hobbies do you have though? Reading? Going hunting? Oh! Where do you like to go in Rome?" She sipped her wine, "I bet you'd be a good swimmer, do you go often?" She gave him a side-eye to try and boost his morale. Not that she was particularly inclined to flirt with him, but it was harmless and might cheer him up!

 

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Now he'd done it again - he saw how she looked sad after his words and he didn't mean to make her feel this way. This was why she shouldn't talk to him - she seemed so bright and cheerful and Manius was usually anything but that. He was usually alert, observant, strict and serious. That's what worked for him. And it also helped to have a job to do. But true happiness, the way other people talked about it? Manius was not sure he knew that feeling so well. Didia said it wasn't good enough and said that 'of course' she was happy, because she had everything. Work, health and friends. Manius had work. And one friend called Didia. That was more than nothing, but if he continued to bring down her mood, she would not stick around for long. He just wasn't very good with people, was he? 

She looked at him, narrowed her eyes and asked into his hobbies or where he liked to go in Rome. She suggested he was a good swimmer and gave him a certain look, which confused him. But really it shouldn't. Why was she flirting with him? 

"I don't have time for reading or hunting." Manius said, he had a job and it overshadowed everything else in his life, "I swim in the baths, but that's that." He was replying to her questions one by one, "I like to take walks around Rome. I always liked visiting the gardens. That's where I met my wife for the first time... and we met in secret, when we both belonged to each our master and they didn't want us to see each other." Those were the times, he thought to himself. He had to see her. And yet he felt so guilty when they met, because they shouldn't and he hated to fail his master like that, but on the other hand, she was so sweet. His thoughts still went back to her all the time, it seemed. But then, 15 years together was no short time.

"I haven't been to the gardens since the earthquake." He then said thoughtfully and looked at her, "If I were to go back... would you come with me?" He liked that place, but it held so many memories that it was almost scary and he did not wish to visit it on his own.

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Didia smiled brightly. Finally! He looked different as he spoke of his wife; less morose. "Oh?" She queried gently, wanting him to think on happier, brighter things like those first few months of early love. Didia  herself had never felt it, not properly, not being in love like the stories described it. "But you met her anyway, now that's commitment." She commented, hoping he'd elaborate more. She didn't think she'd be able to do that. Familial commitment ran dee for her, and seeing somebody her father didn't approve of...was not something she could do, she didn't think. 

His question started her and her eyes widened. Gods, she didn't mean to lead him on! He was sweet and handsome, and for another woman he'd no doubt be a good husband but...not for her. But he looked thoughtful, almost hopeful. And what did she have to lose by saying yes? "Of course," She said slowly before her a wide grin stretched across her face, "Of course! I never get to go to them, you can take me to your favourite one!" She smiled and sipped at her wine, "And then something that you like will make somebody else happy. You see? You're a good friend Manius." 

 

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She seemed interested when he mentioned his wife again. It would seem that all his most fond memories were about her and that's what he kept returning to. But she wasn't here anymore. Didia said it was commitment, that he'd met with Salacia even though they weren't supposed to. He arched a brow, "Commitment or stupidity... I earned myself a bad flogging one of the times. It could have ended worse." He mentioned, but didn't mention what else happened when he got flogged. How his fellow slave from his household had seen them together and called his wife a harlot and he beat said slave up over that. And that's what upset his owner so much. It could have ended much worse though. At least he had someone to mend his wounds. He had Galenus. Now he had no one. Of course, there was Didia, at least.

He considered going back to the gardens then, but with all the memories such a place held for him, perhaps he should not go alone. So he asked if she would come with him and she seemed surprised, with wide eyes and everything. Perhaps he overstepped, he went too far, asked too much. She didn't owe him anything. But then she grinned and said that of course she'd come and she never went to the gardens.

"You never go to the gardens?" He said, now it was his turn to be surprised, "They're some of the most... relaxing places to be in this city." He said. He enjoyed the gardens even more than the baths. There was something relaxing over all the greens, all the flowers and the beautiful statues and decorations. Didia said he would make both himself and her happy by going there with her and she said he was a good friend. Manius felt a heat in his cheeks for a moment there, looking up at her with a small smile, "Thanks. So are you, Didia. I appreciate it a lot." Manius said, "I'm glad you want to come with me. I'm sure you'll enjoy the gardens too." 

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Didia shook her head, trying to recall the last time she'd ventured to the gardens. "Not really...it must have been years," She squinted as she tried to dredge up a memory from the recesses of her mind, "I remember going to the Gardens of Sallust when I was a girl, and just got to Rome but things got too busy and..." She shrugged, "There's more places in Rome I like than gardens but," She chuckled at Manius, "Maybe I just don't appreciate them, hmm?" 

Not likely. Didia enjoyed the business of Rome, she was more than positive she'd go mad if she was forced to spend a protracted period of time in the countryside or the quiet. What did people...do with their time out of the city?!

She stifled a yawn with the back of her hand, and realised she'd been silent for a bit too long, "Sorry...I was trying imagine relaxing," She arched a brow at him, "And how...dull I think I'd find it out in the countryside. Have you travelled much? You must have a favourite place outside of Rome?" 

 

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He was surprised she did not make use of the gardens - she said it must have been years since she last went somewhere, and then she mentioned the most famous Gardens of Sallust, which was the same place Manius preferred, but hadn't been to since the earthquake. Didia went on about how there were places she liked more than the gardens, but maybe did not appreciate them. Manius gave her a small smile again, "Maybe you just haven't been there with the right person." He said, going there together with a friend was a good start, wasn't it? Manius wasn't suggesting anything more than that, but she could not know that of course, "There's a lot to appreciate, I'll show you." 

Didia then suddenly yawned and he let out a little amused huff, when she said she tried to imagine what it would be like to relax. She went on about how she'd find the countryside very dull and wondered if he ever travelled much.

"I haven't travelled  all that much, no... I was born and raised here in Rome and we weren't exactly wealthy. There was never a reason to travel. Although... I have lived in Pompeii for a while, with my wife. My master set us completely free after we had been married a few months, so we went there." He explained to her. This was nice, just talking, getting to know her better, "How about you, have you ever left Rome?" 

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Didia grinned. Gods she had a full few weeks coming up...dropping by to chide and force feed Theo, exploring ruins with Rufus and now attending a garden with Manius. She had better keep this latest escapade out of her mothers ears lest she think she had a loose woman for a daughter! "Good." She said with a self-satisfied grin. "When are you free, or does her ladyship keep you especially busy?" Didia herself could wrangle a few hours free from work if needs be (and this was important).

"That sounds so sweet! A romantic escape to the South." She beamed. "What did you do there? I've never been," She shook her head, "I've left Rome but never to the South although I hear the coast down there is beautiful...and filled with rich people." She smirked to herself. Like she'd ever belong somewhere like that. Pfft. "I was born in Hispania," She continued and finally set down her cup - now empty. "We came over when I was a girl and besides a few trips back and forwards when we can to see relatives, I've just stayed in Rome." She shrugged, "But I like it. I like how busy it is, how crowded...does that sound odd?"

 

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She grinned when he spoke of the gardens and it seemed to be decided then – that they would go there together and he would teach her to appreciate such a nice place. She asked when he had the time for such a trip, “She does not keep me that busy, it is mostly when she leaves the house I have to be alert. Do you know how to read? I could send you a message if you let me know which time you are free?” Manius suggested, hoping he did not offend her by asking if she could read, but not everyone in Rome had such an ability and he knew that among the working classes, especially the girls didn’t always learn. And Didia was in that class.

Then he’d told her about Pompeii and she called it romantic and wondered what he did – and told a bit about her own travels before he had a chance to answer her. Didia talked so much, he thought to himself. Manius mostly spoke when spoken to. When it mattered.

“My mistress enjoys Rome too, although they have a villa in the countryside. But I think she prefers the people here too.” Manius wasn’t sure what he preferred, he did like it when it was silent and relaxed, but on the other hand, he disliked being bored, because that gave him too much time to think.

“And to answer your other question… in Pompeii I spent the time as a sparring partner for the wealthy and teaching their boys how to use the sword. It never felt right though. So we came back to Rome…” Yet he had been unable prevent Cyprianus’ death, despite his attempts. Manius could still get angry about how unfair it was, that his old master was murdered like that. Even if he was meant to be executed. And he was mostly angry about how he could not prevent it. Funny how the old days sometimes didn’t seem so far away after all.

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Didia shook her head at the question, "No, not really." She shrugged. She didn't feel awkward about it, few of her station could read after all - especially women, "I mean...I know some letters, so I can tick things off orders but that's about it. But, you can always find me at the market to arrange a time." It wasn't as if she had any other things to fill her days with...so long as Manius didn't attempt to find her when she was ruin hunting with Rufus or delivering packages for Theo. 

 "Maybe in another life your mistress and I would be friends," She chuckled and finished the last of her wine, "Alas I don't think fancy noble ladies want to spend heir time with a fruit and veg girl from the market." And Didia - despite her generally affable, good nature, wasn't sure she'd much like the company of a fancy, spoiled young girl. No. She much preferred to socialise with the slaves and freedmen and plebs, they were her people.

"Well," She said as she slipped off  her stool, "I for one I'm glad you're in Rome. Consider yourself my tour guide for all the city sights I haven't explored yet, hmm?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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He wasn’t too surprised, when he learned that she couldn’t read, but he still felt bad for her. If she knew a little though, she would easily learn more. Manius wasn’t here to do that though, he was just here to be her friend, as she was his. She suggested that instead of sending a message, he could just find her at the marketplace. Manius nodded, “I’ll do that then.” No use to send a message to someone who couldn’t read it.

Didia had explained how she liked how crowded and busy it was in Rome and he explained that Caecina did the same, or so it seemed so far. She suggested that his mistress and her could have been friends, but she doubted it would happen now, “She probably wouldn’t… she’s not so bad though, just a bit…” How to put it best, how to describe Caecina? She was sweet enough, but she also seemed a bit naïve and too lively sometimes, “She’s so young. And acts like it.” He was certain Didia would understand that. He didn’t mean to speak ill about Caecina behind her back, but he also wanted to be honest with Didia.  

She stood while she said she was glad Manius was in Rome now and he would be her tour guide. Manius stood too, it would be rude to sit when she was standing, “I will be happy to show you.” He said, a small smile playing on his lips again, “I assume you have to go? I’ll see you soon then.” And he would look forwards to it.

@Sara

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Didia smiled wryly, understanding his meaning perfectly. "Young girls will be young girls...especially if they're pretty and have cash to flash. You'll have your work cut out for you Manius." She chuckled under her breath and shook her head. Poor Manius, if Caecina was half what Didia was imagining it'd be chaos. 

She nodded with a sad little sigh although she could feel the slaves grow irritated that she was taking up valuable counter space by lurking and socialising, and Appius was no doubt itching to get on so he could get a proper sleep afterwards (lazy sod). "Alas, work never stops." She pushed the cup towards one of the slaves who snatched it up to rinse it out. It seemed she had a bit of work to do to make friends with this lot, as she had with others in the noble houses of Rome. 

"Very soon." She corrected him with a twinkle of amusement in her eyes. She wanted to reach out and hug him (being naturally more comfortable with displays of affection than most) but restrained herself and instead reached up to squeeze his arm. "Chin up Manius, things can only get better." She grinned again and after a good bye to the slaves, hurried back through the slave entrance to greet her brother. Yet as the morning progressed, she couldn't help but shake off poor Manius. Gods she hoped she wasn't leading him on, but Gods above she hoped she'd be able to cheer him up. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

Fin! Thanks for a great thread 🙂

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