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You Should See Me in a Crown


Cynane
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Sosia beamed and raised her cup, tapping it against Cynane's. "To a joyful night." She moved the cup back down and sipped the sweet wine - too much water (she supposed it was how they turned a profit), but otherwise perfectly palatable. Better than the lora she was used to back in Africa. 

"Does your dominus let you have many nights off?" Sosia enquired gently. She couldn't remember having a single not off, besides at Saturnalia and precious few other festivals, back in her old life but then she'd heard some masters and mistresses were more lenient. She blinked, trying to push such memories and such thoughts from her head. She was a citizen now, apparently, and an equite lady. She had to snap out of her reveries! But being in the city, surrounded by people but utterly alone, it made the thoughts all the more persistent. 

"I suppose it must be terribly exciting, being a bodyguard, although I don't think I could stand it...have you...have you had to use your skills much? My husband told me the empire is peaceful now, or Rome is at least..." 

 

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So it was agreed, they’d try and have a joyful night together. What night though? Cynane still knew she might get in trouble tomorrow over this, maybe even tonight when she came home, way too late considering what plans she told them. But it didn’t matter. Cynane never did things like this. She was always very vigilant and alert. Letting her guard down like this was different, but Sosia was kind to her and she was easy on the eyes. Why should she not, just once, not follow orders? Sosia then of course asked if she had many nights off. 

“Sometimes, my domina lets me out. I don’t have the night off though…” Cynane said, “I was on my way home from the baths, when I came across the entertainment. And you.” Would Sosia turn her in for revealing this? That she did not have the night off. Hopefully she would not – in fact Cynane didn’t think Sosia would do anything, because she seemed almost nervous about Cynane even staying with her and she didn’t even know whom Cynane served. The other woman then spoke of how it must be like, to be a bodyguard and wondered if Cynane used her skills.

 “I haven’t had to use them much, no… luckily! But we were once attacked, when we were out riding outside of Rome. I definitely got to use my skills there.” She added with a smile, “And my domina left unharmed too, so all was well, at least regarding that.” That they’d been attacked in the first place was bad though, and that the fight had been so rough and the princess’ life in danger. That was not good. But Cynane was still here at least. She didn’t dare giving away too many details though, she knew the imperials wanted to keep it as quiet about the attack as possible. And Cynane would not break Claudia’s trust.

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Sosia merely smiled warmly as Cynane stated she didn't have the night off. She remembered those days, when her time was not her own and she salvaged a few spare minutes here and there for her own interests and entertainment. It was a hard life, although perhaps Cynane's situation was better? Sosia would never have considered simply...not turning up for work of an evening because she wanted to, her dominus would have punished her bloody. "Well...I'm glad you're pandering to me," She chuckled, "And I won't tell if you won't but...I don't want to get you into trouble...so best not to get you steaming drunk." She chuckled, "Just slightly tipsy?" 

She listened to Cynane's story with the expression of a woman who'd seen almost no excitement in her life; wonderment. "I..." She blinked, "Gods that must have been terrifying!" She said after a pause, trying to gather her thoughts. She drunk deeply from her cup and exhaled, trying to imagine what it must have felt like. Her own escape to Carthage and then across the sea seemed positively banal compared to that! 

"Do you...not get afraid?" She asked gently with a little bite of her lip, "Or maybe I'm just a coward..."

 

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Sosia gave her a smile, when she explained she did not have the night off. It was also Cynane's way of saying that she chose to stay here, now. Sosia said she was glad she stayed, but promised to not tell anyone and also suggested Cynane didn't get too drunk. She nodded, "That sounds like a good plan. I do work tomorrow again." Cynane said and then she'd told the story about how she and the rest of Claudia's small party were attacked outside of Rome. Claudia escaped without a scratch, but covered in blood. She hadn't forgotten how Claudia's otherwise fine dress clung to her body and how Cynane kind of thought that attractive, even with the blood.

Her companion seemed surprised and said it must be terrifying. Cynane grinned, "I don't know if I'd call it terrifying... just... intense?" She said while Sosia drank a huge gulp of her wine and then wondered if she didn't get afraid.

"I don't really get afraid in such situations. There's no time for that, in a fight. What I feared most was any harm coming to my Domina..." Cynane added and looked distant for a moment. Anyone just harming a hair on Claudia's head would have to deal with Cynane. Just like that bandit did, that day. Not that it made her think Sosia was a coward.

"I don't think you're a coward. Most would probably get afraid, I think? But to be honest... what I fear more, are men like the one earlier tonight. I fear men like him more than I'd fear ten armed men in a fight." And that was the truth of it. And she'd been in public here, without her weapons. Sure she could have fought him off, but had she hurt him, it would fall back on her Domina and she could not risk that. Apparently she'd rather have a man violate her than put Claudia in a bad light. It was weird, but that's how it was. She didn't know why it had come to that. At least Sosia was here, so nothing happened. She sighed by the thought while drinking more of her own cup.

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Sosia listened to Cynane with the patience of somebody who had spent their life listening to their dominus' dull ramblings. Her face was perfectly neutral, but she snapped herself out of it as her company finished. What could she say to that? She swallowed the lump in her throat. 

"I think that is natural." She nodded, agreeing after a long drawn out pause. "I think some men..." she frowned, trying to sound diplomatic like the other women of her newfound class, "I think some men think that everything belongs to them, even women. They go through l-life and everything is easy, they can take what they want; a vase, a slave, a woman..." She sighed and shook her head, sipping at her wine. 

"Women are not such people." She grinned, trying to lighten the mood with a little chuckle. "But I think that makes us cleverer...not me, I'm not so smart but some women seem so clever, so bright, and they have just as much influence as men. I wonder what that would be like?" She leant her jaw into her palm, day dreaming. "like your domina, imagine being so important!" 

 

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Cynane finished talking about what she felt during a fight and what she feared more than a fight... men, who wanted to control her and take advantage of her. Luckily, there'd been none of those since she came to Claudia and she was perfectly happy with that. Well, there were men who wanted those things, but she had a powerful mistress who seemed to protect her so far. You didn't just touch Claudia Caesaris' personal and famous bodyguard without permission. She kind of liked that. Sosia agreed that men liked to think everything belonged to them, because as men, they could take what they pleased. Sosia kept on musing about how women were not like that, they were more clever, although she claimed she was not one of those. 

"There are tribes in Britannia, where I come from, that are led by women. Ever heard about Boudicca? Women can inherit thrones just like men, there. My own cousin, Ysulda, she was queen too. Until she made an alliance with the Romans, but that was after I was captured." She said, the bitterness shining through her voice. She hadn't been there to experience all the business with her cousin and Eppitacos, but she'd heard about it all and she almost found it harder to forgive her cousin than Eppitacos - and he was hard to forgive, although she at the same time had trouble hating him. Men! 

"The world might be a lot safer for us, if women had more power. I guess that's why we don't. Then the men wouldn't be able to take what they want." She added with a sigh and drank a little more, "By the way, don't say you're not clever. You were clever enough to help me out of trouble. That's something." Cynane smiled at her new... friend? It would seem they had some similar views. She wondered if they had more in common.

@Sara

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Sosia listened, fascinated but a little sheepishly. "No...no I've never heard of Boudicca." Should she have? Is that something that plebeian or equite women knew about? "Who was she?" Somebody infamous, no doubt. From what little she knew of history it was that the Britons and the Romans did not get along. She made a mental note to ask the more learned slaves in the household whether they had heard of the woman, or Ysulda. She swore they had a British slave in the kitchen somewhere, maybe she'd know her?

"Mhmm." Sosia agreed sadly with a little mumble. What would a world look like without men? Certainly more peaceful, and probably a lot more ordered too. But she knew very well that women could be capable of immense cruelty and viciousness. Maybe it wouldn't be the paradise that she dreamt of? She was broken out of her reverie by Cynane's comments and she felt some colour come to her cheeks. "I...wouldn't say that means I'm clever." Because she wasn't, not compared to some of the women she knew. She felt out of her depth in almost all ways in Rome - everybody seemed to have everything whilst she was perfectly...average. 

She sipped her drink, feeling that welcoming warm sensation wash over her as the alcohol took hold of her senses. "Would you go back?" She asked with innocent eyes, "To Britannia I mean? Sometimes I day dream about Carthage, or the villa where I lived...with my siblings and the heat and the laughs and..." She realised she was not only rambling, foolishly, about things she should not speak of, but that she was being incredibly insensitive. Why would Cynane wish to dwell on her past?! In horror, she reached out to apologise; "I'm sorry don't answer that, ignore me I a-" But as she reached out her hand brushed the full wine jug, sending it spilling down all over the table toward her newfound friend. 

 

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Cynane wasn’t surprised Sosia had not heard about Boudicca. Few Romans had and even fewer women had. The events about her happened many years ago anyway, but she was a legend in Britannia. A powerful woman who dared to fight the Romans. Of course Roman women would not hear about her. To imagine that a Roman would tell a woman that another woman held power. Imagine the ideas women might get. No, of course they would not let women think that.

 “She was a queen, who inherited not just the throne when her husband died, but also debt with the Romans. But the Romans didn’t like her becoming queen and her not paying the debt, so they punished both her and her daughters… brutally. She sought revenge and gathered an army and led them into battle.” Boudicca and her army lost though and Boudicca had to flee, but that was not worth mentioning. Cynane admired her because she’d been strong and powerful and dared to stand up to the Romans. With Sosia, she mused more about women and men and when Cynane said Sosia was clever, she didn’t think she was.

 “Well I’ll say it for you then.” She just said with a smile and Sosia sipped her drink and wondered if Cynane wanted to return to Britannia. She said she sometimes dreamt about going back to Carthage, where she came from. Cynane wasn’t upset about the question, it was only natural she supposed. But before she could answer though, Sosia apologized for her question… and knocked over the wine jug on the table. Cynane was soaked within moments. She let out a sound of surprise, looking down to the front of her usually light blue tunica and her breeches. Now she was all wet… and crimson.

 She stood quickly, getting away from the table, where the wine still dripped down, to examine the damage. Wine was hard to get off clothes like these! “This is not good…” She wasn’t really angry or upset with Sosia, she was just bewildered. She couldn’t go home to Claudia like this! It would be too obvious what she’d been doing. Fuck! She inhaled a breath, unsure what to do.

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Sosia's hand flew to her mouth and she started to panic. Back in the days where she was enslaved (although technically she supposed she still was) such a mishap would have cost her the skin on her back. She felt anxiety course through her, it had never been trained out of her, and she stood as well - knocking her chair back. People glanced over at the two of them in curiosity. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," She repeated, feeling the most foolish woman who had ever lived. She couldn't tell if Cynane was angry or upset, but it didn't matter either way and she shook her head, "I'm a fool, I'm so sorry." 

She glanced around, a lump in her throat and feeling sweat form on her brow. People had stopped staring overtly but continued to glance her way. She felt panicked and needed to calm herself down. This was not how equite ladies behaved. Pull yourself together! But  how do you hide years and years - a lifetime really - of flinching at every slight mistake? 

She tried to settle her thoughts and breathing and glanced at Cynane with big dark eyes, "You...you should come to our domus. I-I can get the slaves to clean your clothes and dry them?" It was an adept solution, and the only one she could see. "It's not far, we can take the litter if that...if that suits?" She managed a weak smile as her nerves began to calm, "A-and you can have some wine of course. To make up for the jug I..." She gestured at Cynane's clothes. 

 

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The speech she just made on Boudicca’s behalf was quickly forgotten. Instantly, in fact. Now she had another problem to deal with. This night was nothing but problems, was it? First with that man and now her clothes. Not her finest, sure, but just the color of it was valuable, light blue could be hard to achieve, especially in this shade that matched her eyes, and Claudia liked that. And now it was ruined. She could not possibly wear the tunica and the breeches at the palace now! Fuck!

 She only noticed Sosia again, when the other woman stood, knocking her chair over, apologizing and calling herself a fool. Cynane ignored the stares from the people around her and looked at Sosia, “It was an accident.” She said, running her hand down over the tunica to feel just how badly it had spread, the wine. It was hard to see it well, since it was evening. She could feel the wetness though. It was a mess! An accident and a mess! She didn’t know what to do, she felt lost! Then Sosia spoke again, suggesting Cynane came home with her, she could have the clothes cleaned and they could take a litter.

 “That’s… a kind offer. But clean and dry my clothes? They may not be dry until tomorrow morning. I have to go back tonight. The princess…” She stopped talking instantly, she had not told yet exactly how high in the hierarchy her mistress was. But she really couldn’t go back like this… “Maybe you have something I can borrow? Until the cleaned clothes can be returned. I can make up some excuse.” That would be better than not coming home at all, wouldn’t it? She didn’t want Claudia to think she had run away. She’d be punished. Maybe Claudia wouldn’t have her anymore. She would sell her. Cynane would become a gladiatrix again, or worse. She really didn’t want that.

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Sosia - blinded by panic and feeling an utter fool - didn't catch on to the mention of a Princess. She was merely focused on Cynane, her face, her refusal of help. She felt like she could cry but managed to hold it together - just

But then the tension broke and Cynane offered another solution. Sosia nodded frantically, "Yes, yes of course. You can have anything - we have my clothes or the slaves have some - and my husbands breeches for when he goes to colder climates." She nodded, as if trying to convince herself that everything was fine. She reached out instinctively  to take the other womans hand, and have it a squeeze. "I am sorry, it was an accident, but I will fix it." Her nerves were settling, and her racing thoughts were calming - thank the Gods. She realised she was still holding Cynane's palm in her own, work-worn fingers and let it drop hurriedly. 

"Come," She said with a gesture of her head, "I will fetch my slave and then we can take the litter back." She indicated for Cynane to follow her as she wove through the crowds - spotting the face of her girl not far off. The woman looked aghast when she saw Sosia's flushed cheeks and the sight of a towering, blonde, wine-soaked woman in breeches behind her. "Domina..." Sosia waved a hand, effecting the indifference she mimicked from other rich women, "Fetch the litter. Hurry, we must get home." Loreia dutifully did as she was asked and a few moments of awkwardness later, reappeared with four burly men and a rickety old litter to convey her mistress home. 

 

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Sosia seemed just as bewildered as Cynane felt in this situation. She wondered if the red wine would even come off, but they would have to try. Claudia didn’t know Cynane had gone out like this. Even if it was stupid that Cynane, whose age was far above Claudia’s, should answer to a young woman like her mistress. But that was the lot of a slave and she cared too much about Claudia to want to hear her scolding. So… she’d have to find a way to solve this.

She suggested borrowing clothes from Sosia and Sosia nodded, talking about what Cynane could borrow and even spoke of breeches she could wear. How nice, Cynane thought… that Sosia was so considerate to think about that. She’d hate to return to Claudia in a long dress. It was impossible to move and work properly in one. She was so glad she’d never been forced into one in Rome. Sosia then took her hand and Cynane nodded, “I know it was an accident… but thanks.” Cynane replied and then Sosia suddenly let go of her hand. She’d barely noticed Sosia’s being worn, but she had welcomed the kind gesture. She followed Sosia through the crowds. Sosia was too kind to a slave, Cynane thought. Anyone else might have blamed the slave for the accident and let them fix it themselves. But not Sosia.

Sosia’s slave seemed surprised at the sight of Cynane, but Sosia just barked orders and soon after, the old litter appeared. Cynane looked at it and at Sosia, when it appeared – she was used to walking or running next to the litter, she never sat inside… “I’m not hurt, I can walk, if you prefer.” She said, too used to how things always were and besides… maybe Sosia didn’t want a wine-soaked slave in her litter. It would be understandable.

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Sosia looked between Cynane and the litter with a quizzical frown. She should not have offered her a seat, she realised her misstep - but it was the most natural thing in the world for her to do, and now she had to commit to it. "Not at all, not at all - you should sit." She said decisively and held open the curtain.

"You're the personal slave of an Imperial - I won't be taken into court for somebody claiming I mistreated you!" She offered a sly, conspiratorial grin. She knew she outranked a slave - or would have had she genuinely been free, but then again Cynane was the personal property of somebody that outranked Sosia tenfold. The lines were blurry - at least to her, and she hoped to leverage it. 

"Hop in, I insist." She smiled and took a seat herself. Smoothing the skirts of her stola over her knees as she arranged herself on the minimally padded cushions. "It's not far," She confirmed to her companion. Her husbands home was more than she could have ever have dreamt of in her childhood - and it felt achingly vacant and sparse. She had no notion of how to decorate it, it wasn't a skill a slave needed after all when she grew up. "And it's just me there, and my staff, so you don't need to be worried about being seen with me. Your secret is safe." She said with a slight smile and inclination of her head. She remembered the fear from when she was younger, if her master ever found out about some of the thing she had done, she could have been a dead woman. She hoped Cynane trusted her. 

 

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Cynane always felt sorry for the men, who had to carry the litter. Slaves to do nothing else but the hardest work, carrying around another person who didn’t care to walk for themselves. But that’s how life was here. Still, she was a slave too and not at all used to sitting in a litter. There had been maybe once or twice that Claudia had invited her in, but that was about it. Sosia didn’t want her to run or walk though, she insisted that Cynane came to sit and tried to explain why.

 “I wouldn’t claim you’ve mistreated me... especially because you haven't.” Cynane said with a smile and climbed carefully into the litter with the soft cushions and all, it felt kind of awkward, “But if you insist.” She added and tried to make herself comfortable across from Sosia, while the curtain fell down into place and they were alone in this small space. It wasn’t even that light, because it was evening. But she was very much aware of the other woman sitting there. Sosia said it wasn’t far to her home and Cynane would not have to worry there, because it was just Sosia and her staff.

 “Thanks.” Cynane said politely, trying to stretch her legs in a way that wouldn’t bother Sosia, but she felt her foot brush against the other woman’s body, “Sorry… I don’t sit in these very often.” She said, “You really are being very kind… I promise I won’t forget it.”

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Sosia nodded her head determinedly; "I insist." Besides, it made life much easier for them both - with the curtains now drawn around them nobody could peer in, nobody would know Cynane was with her or her accident. It was most certainly not something she should be doing; anybody genuine of her 'class' would find it peculiar and it would likely lead to further questions, and so by secluding her blonde guest within the litter she was not only being generous, she was protecting herself too. Although she'd have to explain it to her slaves, who would be more than a little curious. 

As she felt something against her leg she withdrew it, but felt a frisson of something in her chest. She swallowed it down as far as she could and offered a shy smile. "It isn't a problem, I don't like them much myself," She squeezed herself into the corner - giving a distance between herself and the other woman as much as she could, "I like to walk, see the sights although the crowds..." She wrinkled her nose and shook her head, "I've heard women here ride as well, although I can't." When would she have had the opportunity to learn? She could barely even swim let alone get atop a horse. 

The litter slowed down as the conversation meandered on and Sosia peaked out of the curtains, "We're nearly there," She offered a smile to her company, "And we can get you out of those wet clothes." she realised the innuendo in what she said a second after she said it and blushed furiously, turning her dark skin a rosy hue; "I mean, we'll find you something better to wear." 

 

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Sosia was very kind. And Cynane sat in a litter with her and she was slightly drunk. Was Sosia the same? It didn’t matter. Here they were, as the other woman had insisted that Cynane sat in the litter instead of walking. When Cynane accidentally brushed her foot against Sosia, the other woman smiled shyly, saying she didn’t like sitting in litters really. She tried to inch away, but there really wasn’t much space. It would actually be easier if they didn’t face each other, Cynane thought. Sosia could lean against her instead. But they didn’t know each other that well.

 She tried to focus on Sosia’s words. She spoke of walking and how she could not ride a horse. Cynane smiled, “It’s really not so hard. I ride with my mistress sometimes.” Although Claudia hadn’t been wanting to go for rides often lately, not after the incident with the attack. She’d never forget though, Claudia’s dress clinging to her body as she had been covered with blood. It was strangely attractive. It shouldn’t be, but it was. She shifted a bit, thinking about that. Now the litter slowed down though and Sosia spoke of getting out of the wet clothes and into something better to wear.

 “That sounds good.” She said, “It’s begun to dry though… that’s not good. I know wine stains can be hard to get off.” Would she stay until they were clean and dry, her clothes? Where would she sleep? She looked at Sosia, wondering what was on her mind. She did hear how the other corrected herself after speaking about wet clothes. Cynane was on the verge of saying or suggesting something probably stupid, but she wasn’t sure. And she was usually never uncertain about anything. How to say it best? “I expect you’ll be helping me? Not that you have to… but it would be nice.” She didn’t think she’d mind Sosia seeing her naked. The other woman had been very kind to her and although it was strangely awkward, she enjoyed spending time with her. And she was very pretty. Gods, was she really going there? Had she really been without proper comfort for so long?

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Sosia felt a lump in her throat and a flutter of something in her chest as she stared at the blonde woman. Words caught on the edge of her lips, the tip of her tongue; of course I'll help you, but she stopped herself with only a breath to spare. The fluttering continued, but began to settle into something else in her belly, warmth in her pelvis. She pushed on regardless; she'd been a fool tonight, she'd not been the woman she had to be to survive in a place like this and she needed to be more careful. "I...I have slaves to help you." She said after a few long moments of contemplation as she weighed her natural desire to help...and help Cynane with what she should have said. She looked saddened as she said it though and nibbled on her lip, turning her face away from her companion to look out of the side of the litter as it lurched towards her Domus. 

She stayed quiet for the last few hundred metres until the litter was unceremoniously set down. A hand fondled through the gauzy curtains to help the domina out, and she gratefully took it. She felt...on edge with Cynane and she honestly didn't know why. Sosia had never felt like this before - it was odd, and worrying and she needed to breath the fresh cool air of the night. Once out of the litter, she smoothed her hands over the front of her stola and offered a shy smile to Cynane that didn't quite meet her eyes. She was tense and needed a distraction. "Mari...Marius," She said as an attendant rushed out of the house, looking curiously at the tall blonde woman next to his domina. "Will you tell Laberia to prepare the baths for my guest, a-and fetch some new clothes. A long tunic and breeches?" The man looked dumbstruck but dutifully nodded and shuffled back into the house.

Taking a deep breath through her nose, she finally faced Cynane and inclined her head. "You can refresh yourself and change and perhaps...perhaps then we could have one last drink?" She was playing with fire, but couldn't stop herself.

 

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Why did she feel kind of disappointed, when Sosia said that her slaves would help Cynane with the clothes and everything? Because Sosia was sweet and kind and nice to talk to. And there was something about her, with her curly, dark hair and the dark skin. Cynane liked it. The contrast between that and her own, pale skin and hair. It was so different. Sosia was beautiful. But of course, she was a free woman, married even, so she would not be helping a mere slave with anything more than she’d already done. Helping out with the guy at the show. And then sharing wine with Cynane. But that was enough, of course. More than Cynane could have asked for.

 They soon enough arrived at Sosia’s domus and while Sosia was offered a hand to leave the litter, Cynane awkwardly climbed out on her own. She really wasn’t used to sitting inside of them. The fresh air was nice. Sosia smiled at her, not meeting her eyes though and inside they went. She spoke to one of the slaves, but she also seemed oddly nervous. Sosia asked the slave that a bath was prepared for Cynane and new clothes were brought out. In her style, it seemed. Or, as much as it could be anyway. At last Sosia turned to her again.

 “I’d like that.” Cynane replied, another drink with Sosia sounded nice. Just spending more time with her, was a nice thought. It was then she had an idea, maybe it was bold, she was a slave, she should not be asking, but she could find a way, could she not? She wasn’t a young woman anymore… “You wouldn’t like to refresh yourself too? It’s a lot, having a bath prepared just for a slave like me.” She said, indirectly inviting Sosia to join her. Hoping Sosia didn’t think she overstepped, but with how she’d been so far, she didn’t think it was too much. She looked at Sosia, smiled a bit, “It would be a pity to let all that warm water go to waste.”

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Sosia felt her stomach tense and then flutter. She was already playing with fire by inviting the woman, another person's slave back to her Domus, but bathing with her? She bit her lip and instead of answering immediately, inclined her head for Cynane to follow her into the house. It was dark when they entered, and...depressing. Never having a home of her own before, she had never had to decorate. So the Domus in Rome was a sparse place, filled with her husbands trinkets but not much of her personality. It was a little embarrassing, she supposed, especially to somebody like Cynane who lived and worked in a literal Palace. Nonetheless, this place - sparse and depressing as it was - felt like a palace to her after what she had lived through. 

Now they were in, stood in the atrium, she felt like a fish out of water. Her heart was thrumming in her chest - a low, dull thud that only increased as she glanced across to Cynane. Her slaves were eyeing the woman curiously, and their domina. But if her husband queried it - could she not simply say that it was the custom in her homeland? And that slaves bathed with the nobility in the public baths, so why not her personal one? If all else failed, she could claim she'd had too much of the strong wine the bar had served. She nodded, and quickly padded away from her company towards the small suite of baths they had in the Domus. "Yes," She called over her shoulder as they drew to the room with a small, warm bath and a smaller cold plunge pool. "Yes it would be wasteful, wouldn't it?"

The slaves knew she liked to bathe before bed most days, so the steam was already rising from the warm bath. Two attendants appeared through a curtain, carrying oils and balms and lotions before they stepped up to help Sosia undress. She didn't dare look at Cynane as she did. 

 

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It was bold of her to ask Sosia to join her, even if she tried to make it sound like it would just be a waste of water if she didn’t. Cynane was a slave, she should not request such things, but she thought Sosia was beautiful and sweet and maybe even someone she’d like to… well, what would she like to do with her? Cynane had more than once daydreamed about Claudia. She was young compared to Cynane, so sometimes it felt wrong, even if she wasn’t a child anymore. But Claudia was her mistress and a princess. She would never dream of suggesting that Claudia shared her bath. Sosia was different, she thought. More down to Earth, somehow. And she sensed Sosia liked her too. Maybe it could be more than just a daydream?

 She watched Sosia, as the other bit her lip and just quietly then invited Cynane further inside the house. She didn’t care what it looked like, she didn’t grow up in luxury, after all. Or, it was a bit luxurious for a woman of the Brigantes, but for the Romans, it was nothing. It didn’t matter what Sosia’s domus looked like. She didn’t care. She cared about what Sosia would do, right now. She made the bold request. Now she was anxious to find out what would happen next. Gods, she felt like a young girl! It was stupid… but also kind of nice.

 They arrived at the atrium and moments later, moving on towards the bath of the house. They arrived and Sosia said it would be a waste of water.  Cynane couldn’t help but smile a little bit, and then some slaves stepped up to help Sosia undress. Well she was a free Roman. Cynane had undressed near other women before, in the public baths and as a gladiatrix too. She wasn’t shy about her body, not really. Quietly she removed the wine-stained clothes and placed them in a stack on the floor. The long braid she had, she folded up and tucked into itself, so her hair wouldn’t be too wet. And then she turned and stepped towards the warm bath, suddenly unsure of what to say. She tried not to look at Sosia… tried, and failed a little. She had a body as beautiful as her face. But Cynane didn’t look up until she was all the way underneath the water. It felt nice. What now?

@Sara

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Cynane wasn't the only one who cast a furtive look as both women undressed. As she cast a glance to her blonde companion, Sosia felt colour creep into her cheeks and lighten them with a pink hue. She hurriedly looked away and allowed the two female slaves to finish undressing her, clipping up her curly mass of hair as they did to avoid the water. Without ceremony, she then hurriedly moved to enter the pool, sinking beneath its warmth with a satisfied gasp and allowing her eyes to flutter shut. For al her pleasure, however, she kept one hand firmly on the side of the pool. 

Opening her eyes, she glanced across at Cynane with a shy gaze. The two slaves stood nearby, watching the pair curiously until Sosia waved a hand a dismissed them. They hesitated for a moment, glancing between themselves, before they did as they were bidden and scurried away, undoubtedly to gossip. Her hand gripped onto the mosaic rim of the small pool as she moved around it, legs floating in front of her. "I never learnt to swim," She said after a moment of silence, finding it awkward and filled with tension. She hated awkward silences and needed to fill it. "Even shallow water makes me nervous...I don't know what I would have done if I'd grown up on island surrounded by water like you..." 

TAG: @Atrice

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She almost felt like a young girl again, for some reason. Like the day of the betrothal party for her cousin and she’d met Eppitacos… just a young girl, inexperienced and naive. Now she wasn’t that, but Sosia stirred something in her and she could not explain it. Of course she noticed how Sosia too stole a glance in her direction and she wondered if the other woman felt the same. Maybe it was just the wine that made her feel like this? She was rarely, if ever, drunk. Not that she felt very drunk now either, but she did feel a little bit tipsy.  

Sosia quietly came into the water too then, sinking into the water, letting out a small and satisfied gasp with closed eyes. Cynane watched her. Gods! Was it really just the wine? Then Sosia opened her eyes and dismissed her slaves, leaving her alone with Cynane. Speaking of how she had never learned how to swim and then she made some small joke about growing up surrounded by water.

 Cynane smiled, “We didn’t leave near the ocean though… Britannia is a large area. We did have lakes and streams though. We did bathe, and swim. We aren’t dirty barbarians as some Romans seem to think…” She stopped herself, she said too much, her tongue was too free tonight, “Apologies, I didn’t mean you, of course. You don’t seem to be like most Romans.”

@Sara

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Sosia's eyes widened, though not for the reason Cynane might expect. She always imagined Britannia when it infrequently came into her mind - as a tiny place, desolate and dark. She'd been educated tonight, however, and was grateful for it. She paid no heed to Cynane's comments on the Romans and merely offered a chuckle, before she too realised her mistake. She swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. 

"I...I don't always consider myself Roman," she explained with an uneasy smile, "Where I grew up it seemed quite distant from Rome - the laws were the same of course, and some from Italia settled there but it was also different...exotic, almost. I suppose I am Roman though," She frowned to herself. "Or...provincial, at the least. Probably provincial. I think if you asked a real Roman woman, like your mistress, if I was one of her kind she'd say no." She managed a weak laugh and shook her head. Still gripping the side of the pool, she completed her circle of the perimeter and came to rest near Cynane, legs floating out in front of her. 

"That is one thing I like about Rome though," she continued, trying to distract from the tugging feeling in her belly as she glanced across at Cynane next to her, "How-how much of a melting pot it is. There's people from all over the empire here, I never feel too much of an outsider here...you must feel the same? You have British friends?"

 

TAG: @Atrice

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