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Sibling Solitude


Horatia Justina
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April, 74AD

Horatia ducked out of the litter and couldn't quite wipe the smile from her lips. Four years! Time had passed slowly in Rome, it seemed. Nothing much had changed during her time in Raetia, the streets were the same cluttered mass of plebs, the smells and sounds just as claustrophobic and even the people! Her in-laws had barely aged, it seemed and nor had her father - from whom she'd just departed. Besides some redness across his cheeks - a tell tale flush of too much wine, he had been as alert and astute as always; prying into her life as a father always did. Or at least, as her father always did. 

But now it was time for an altogether less formal reunion (she hoped). She'd written to Livia to ask her to meet her at their brother Publius' domus. Their letters had become more infrequent to one another during the years, especially since the news of Gnaeus' passing and her remarriage and Horatia - ever practically minded - thought she'd assuage some of the awkwardness by having Publius there. Besides, she had missed her brother dearly and her nieces and nephews. 

She was admitted almost immediately and blinked into the darkness of the atrium, smoothing out her stola and dropping the palla from her hair. She heard footsteps approaching and looked up to see her brother. Formality (usually the backbone of her life!) be damned, and she grinned, stepping forward to embrace him in a sisterly hug. "Publius!" 

 

TAG: @Echo @Liv

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Publius had been more than excited upon receiving Horatia's letter that she would be visiting the city, where Publius was currently residing. He had only recently returned from a campaign in Greece and, like the cycle of his life dictated, had grown weary of the military life and wanted to return to Rome. Though he was no statesman, Publius enjoyed the less regimented lifestyle of a senator, which quieted the echo of marching and the clangs of swords that rang in his ears otherwise. He was glad, too, to be able to spend time with his wife and children, who remained in Rome while he was away. He could hardly believe how big the children had gotten. 

And of course, being in Rome allowed visits from his family. Today, Publius had risen early and dressed himself, then gotten in his wife's way as she readied the household for their visitors, as he was eager to make sure everything was perfect. The triclinium was filled to the brim with savory treats and sweet desserts, spotted here and there with fresh floral decorations put there specially by Lucia. As the time approached for Horatia and Livia to arrive, Publius rushed around ensuring the slaves had made everything perfect. 

Soon enough, he heard his doorman usher his sister into the house and Publius hurried into the atrium, anxious to greet her. She stepped forward and he returned her embrace, beaming with pleasure. "Horatia, you're as radiant as ever," he said, pulling away. "I hope you had a safe journey? Come, are you hungry? There's plenty to eat."

@Sara @Liv

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Livia had been ambivalent about her sister's letter, and had taken more time to make up her mind than would have been expected, or even proper. While she did look forward to reuniting with her siblings in the flesh, the inevitable barrage of questions and judgemental small talk that were sure to follow made her quite apprehensive. In the end, it was as good as opportunity as any to get away from Tibur and her husband and would ensure she still stayed in the family's good books, so the pros outweighed the cons.

Publius' domus was much as she remembered it, and the slave at the door clearly remembered Livia too as she was shepherded inside. Fortunately there were no sounds of children to be heard, although she knew they were probably inside somewhere. She reached up to adjust a curly lock by her ear that was already exactly where it should be and plastered what she hoped was a convincing smile on her face; at least in the beginning she should seem happy to see her siblings again.

As she entered the atrium it was impossible to miss the two familiar figures just a few feet ahead, and Livia let out a small sigh of relief. She was only a little late, not enough to earn her a scolding from Horatia even before they kissed each others' cheeks. "Publius! Horatia!" she called out to them, quickening her pace.

@Sara @Echo

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Horatia relished the warmth of her brothers embrace. Gods, it hadn't felt like four years until this moment! As she pulled back she chuckled at his compliment and waved a hand, "The journey from fathers domus to here? Fine. The journey from Raetia to Rome?" She rolled her eyes, her lips twitching in amusement, "More trying, but uneventful. It makes a difference now the children are older, they didn't ask 'are we there yet?' every five minutes on the way home." As they had done, incessantly, on the way to Raetia. 

She frowned as she glanced around, making her way to to the triclinium, "Is Livia not here ye-" She was stopped mid-question by the flurry of activity by the door and glanced over her shoulder as said sister called out in greeting. A wide smile split on her face and she quickly left Publius' side to wrap her sister in a gentle hug, "Livia!" She kissed each cheek and then pulled back to grip her sisters hand. "Gods you've not changed at all in four years, how is that possible?" She flattered her younger sister, although Livia had changed. Where was that buoyant, cheeky smile that used to drive her mad? Why did somebody so young have dark circles under her eyes suited to a mother who hadn't slept in years? She cast a concerned glance over her shoulder to their brother, to non-verbally ask 'what's going on?' before pulling Livia towards the triclinium. 

"I'm sorry if this is dull for both of you, you must see each other a great deal," She asked - to try and figure out if Publius and Livia were in regular contact in a Horatia sort of way, "But I just missed you both so much, I thought a family reunion together would be better." 

 

TAG: @Echo @Liv

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Publius grinned at Horatia as she described the journey from her home in Raetia to Rome as trying but uneventful. "That's good to hear. And a blessing that the roads are better, so soon after the earthquake," he remarked. His work in the senate had little to do with the roadways of Rome but he had kept abreast of the news. After all, he would be growing tired of Rome in about a year and want to hit the road to join his men in Greece. As Horatia began to ask if Livia was here, the youngest sister of the group appeared in the doorway and rushed to greet her siblings. 

Publius let Horatia embrace the woman first, but once she had, he wrapped her in a tight bear hug, forgoing what was probably more appropriate. "Livia, it's so good to see you," he said, releasing her from his grip. Just as Horatia had, he noticed the drawn quality to her face, but hid his concern, resolving to pull her aside once Horatia had gone to ask her if everything was alright. Horatia then led them both to the triclinium, surreptitiously trying to ascertain whether Livia and Publius were often together. Publius sensed this double motive and smiled a little. "Nonsense, nothing about seeing my sisters is dull," he commented smoothly. "And both at the same time, no less. Now if only Lucius were here, too, it'd be a proper family reunion."

He settled in a seat with a sigh and accepted a cup of wine, only drinking after his guests had done so. 

@Liv @Sara

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Livia had changed a lot more in four years than Horatia would know, but she wasn't about to turn this reunion into a pity party barely seconds into it. Publius stayed diplomatically quiet, though he was observant enough to have noticed that the smile on her lips didn't reach her eyes. As if it would dispel any doubts her siblings might be having, she let out a measured giggle that had nothing spontaneous about it and let herself be taken to the triclinium, where she readily accepted a cup of wine from one of her brother's slaves and took a quick sip. Top quality, as expected.

"The gods know what that twin of mine is up to in Germania. It's certainly been keeping him busy, he hasn't replied to my letters in ages," Livia pouted in a plaintive tone, effortlessly falling back into the role of spoilt little sister. Family dynamics were practically immutable, and therefore safe. After another sip of wine, it was time she demonstrate some curiosity about her siblings' stints in foreign lands. Publius was the eldest and a man, so Livia picked him as her first target. So long as he and Horatia had stories to tell, they wouldn't steer the conversation towards her.

"How was Greece? Did you pray to Apollo at the temple in Delphi?" was followed by a quick nod to Horatia, lest there was danger of silence settling. "Do they know of Apollo where you were?"

@Sara @Echo

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Horatia chuckled and added; "He stopped by to see Aulus and I for a day en route to the front, and he seemed very much his usual self but I agree - his letters have been scant at best." She rolled her eyes. Her younger siblings didn't quite have the same respect for the social niceties and rules Publius and herself had been subjected to by their parents. Niceties such as; if you receive correspondence, always aim to compose a response within a day or two.

She followed her siblings into the triclinium and took a couch opposite Livia, leaving Publius at the 'head' as it were. She was mildly relieved that her nieces and nephews didn't appear to be joining them. After a long journey on the roads of the Empire with her own, she could do with some adult conversation without the interruptions of teenagers or their younger siblings. 

She took a cup of wine that was offered to her by a slave and settled herself as Livia posed her question to their brother, only interceding when Livia immediately followed up with a  question to herself. She nodded; "They were fairly refined for provincials. Not like in Gaul or Britannia, they had temples and such. If the weather was better and in a hundred or so years it may well rival Greece!" 

 

TAG: @Echo @Liv

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Publius chuckled as his youngest sister asked whether he'd prayed to Apollo. He was a Roman senator, and therefore had to maintain appearances as far as religion went. But, truth be told, he wasn't particularly interested in praying or going to temple. He had never found that the gods took much interest in him, so he paid them the same courtesy of leaving them alone, other than required visits for festivals and the like. He couldn't risk being accused of being too far from the cult. "No, you know me, Livia. Far too much in the way of visible entertainment to much bother visiting the Greek temples," he said, laughing again. "But, if it'll make you feel better, next time I'm up that way, I'll pay a visit and write you all the details. Or, you could come and visit and I'll take you there personally." A little nudge, a hint that he wanted to see her more. They'd grown so distant. 

Horatia explained that Lucius had been by to visit her and her husband on his way to the front before they were settled in the triclinium, and then afterwards that the provincials where she lived were more refined than Gauls or Brits. "Well, if the Gauls or Britons are our touch-point for refinement, I must say, society has taken a turn for the worst while I've been gone," he joked. "And Livia, you and Secundus stay mostly at the villa, don't you? Remind me where that is again? Now that I'm back in Rome, I'll have to come and visit you."

@Liv @Sara

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