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"I will get one of Father's clients to take him, I should think," Aulus said, equally amused. "I mean, can you imagine how awkward it would be for him otherwise, knowing it's his father waiting outside? Anyway, I am a perfectly virtuous man and I'm not even sure I know where the best lupanaria are, not since I shut down a couple that hadn't paid their fees back in my days as an aedile. Not that those lasted all that long."

And yes, he thought that Titus ought to take his toga this year - really, could there be a better time for a boy to take on the rights and duties of manhood, than in the year his father was first named consul?

"And it's as much your celebration as it is mine, anyway," he pointed out. "A man can hardly celebrate alone - that would lead to all sorts of gods know what! And I am not fool enough to think that I would have made it to this point without your support. I have certainly been grateful to have it, and your encouragement, over the years. Have I told you so before? If I haven't, it was not from the fact I didn't know it." He took her hand. "I would very much like to demonstrate my gratitude, and appreciation of you, my dove."

 

@Sara

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Horatia grinned, and couldn't help an audible scoff at his protestations of virtue; "Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus, I have returned home after one of your...evening soirees to see some very suspicious women leaving via the slave door. Do you think your wife a fool? Tsk." She tutted and tilted her head, studying him. She didn't like the particular facet of Roman society that gave her husband impunity to sleep with whomever he wanted, although she also knew he didn't do it as often as some, so really she should probably count her blessings. "And yes, probably best to ask one of his clients. Don't want our son scarred for life now, do we?" Titus wasn't a sensitive sort, but she couldn't imagine even the hardiest of constitutions being fine with losing one's virginity with one's father right outside the door.

She smiled softly though as the conversation turned back onto his achievement and she gave his hand a soft squeeze. She flushed at the compliment, wondering not for the first time how she managed to get quite so lucky in her marriage. "How about naming a portion of your baths after me then?" She chuckled, only jesting, "Or adding the Horatia Justina library to them? That seems a little more fitting." She hadn't enquired on its progress recently - given the planning seemed to stretch onto eons and if she was being honest, it bored her a little. 

"Or perhaps," She reached up her fingers to softly stroke the line of his jaw, "We could take some time for ourselves, after you've had time to settle into your role and have found space to take a break from the city...We could go to one of the islands off of Napoli, just the two of us. It'll be like we're newlyweds again with no responsibility?" 

 

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"What the esteemed Horatia Justina was doing coming back in via the slaves' entrance, I cannot begin to think," her husband rejoined, with a smile "I shall make certain to kick them out a lot sooner in future. And I have never thought you a fool - far from it, indeed, my dear."

She was definitely trying to put him off, yet her tone and was as it ever was - there was humour there, and the gentle sort of teasing that characterised a great deal of their private conversations.

"I only have the position for a year, my dove, but I daresay we'll be able to take time together, just the two of us. We could take some time now, as well, seeing as we're unlikely to be interrupted for a while, and your weaving is not so urgent it won't keep until tomorrow."

 

@Sara

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Horatia said nothing at his deflection and merely arched a well shaped brow at her husband. He knew her well enough to understand that she knew everything. When something got past Horatia Justina, it was a travesty to her. She kept her eyes and ears open for every morsel of information and filed it away in the recesses of her mind. One of her slave girls couldn't smile at a market trader without Horatia knowing about it, and so that her husband indulged in affairs of the flesh with some of Rome's finest courtesan's when with his friends, was a fact she'd learned quite some time ago. That he also, on occasion, took his body slave to bed, and had in the past eyed up some of the prettier of their household slaves, was also known to her. She said nothing on it - she knew it wasn't her place. 

She merely smiled at his insistence and turned her attention back to the loom. "I shall tell your mother you said that, my love." She quipped as she picked up some thread - starting it on the edge of the loom. "But that is not what I was implying. I meant a holiday." She glanced back across at him, "It might be nice to abandon our duties as a Consul and a mother for a few days. Spend our time lazing by the sea, swimming, feasting and..." She merely twitched her lips in amusement and let him finish the thought. "I'll ask your secretary when you might have some time, soon your schedule won't be your own after all."

 

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"A holiday would be nice," Aulus allowed. "Though the position is only for a year, as I said. A short enough time, after all."

That he might well be appointed governor of some far-flung province after his term was up was neither here nor there.

"Unfortunately, Consular duties are very bad at allowing you abandon them - and I thought you would be conscientious enough not to encourage me to do so, even for a short break at the villa? Although I will allow that I wouldn't be the first consul to abscond from Rome for a month or so in the summer."

Summer in Rome was an awful hot, sweltering season where tempers frayed over the least little thing, and sitting on hard marble benches while swathed in yards and yards of woollen toga did very little to help the average Senator remained sweet-tempered.

"You may tell my secretary from me, to make it no more than a month - I do not wish anyone to think I might be shirking my work," he told her, watching her pick up her own work again.

 

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Horatia frowned at him for the briefest of moments before schooling her features back into neutral expression. She was an incredibly educated woman; devoured literature on every topic from poetry to warcraft, but politics was her blindspot - and the practicalities of it even less so. Of course she understood the positions, and better still understood the undercurrents and what Aulus needed to be careful of, which families to be wary of, but the actual day to day duties were painfully opaque to her, or more rightly, to women.

"I am conscientious," She replied in a slightly taut voice with a hint of annoyance somewhere lurking in her inflections, "And if you'd rather not go, then I won't force you to. It's only a year, you're quite right." She said as she resumed her work, pointedly choosing not to look at him. She was not easily riled, nor was she a petty or vindictive woman, but she did have a core of iron and any insinuation that she was not doing her duty, or respecting the familia or her husband raised her ire. She managed to keep it fairly well hidden from her husband though, as the conversation continued and she ventured with a slight smile; "Besides, there's no need for you to come. I'm quite happy to take Calpurnia and Titus alone if you can't get away, perhaps with your parents. It would be good for them to spend time together before we are all summoned to some province halfway across the Empire, when your term is done." she might not have known the particulars of a Consul, but she did know that when his term was complete, they were very unlikely to stay in Italia. She just hoped wherever he was sent next was warmer than Raetia had been. 

 

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Aulus noticed his wife's frown, even if she didn't realise she'd done it - he was used to looking for weaknesses in his opponents, both in the civil courts and in the field of military operations. While his wife was neither an enemy soldier nor a defendant in a court case, Aulus still saw her tiny tells. In this case, it must because he'd slipped up - of course he had, he knew he had as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

"You are, very conscientious - I hadn't meant to suggest that you weren't, whatever I said to the contrary." She had pointedly turned her back on him, obviously upset, or annoyed.

"I can't make any promises; sometimes officials can get away during their term and sometimes they can't, it all depends on what's going on. Though things are stable enough that I should be able to sneak a little time away. If you want longer than I can take, you can always bring Titus and Calpurnia and I can join you later."

And she had rightly guessed that he would then be appointed the governor of some province somewhere - it would be very unusual if he were not, in fact, and not being given some further appointment would hint that the Augustus was displeased with him somehow.

He got up from his perch and mover around the loom - he didn't need to have something between his wife and himself.

"I am sorry I upset you, Horatia," he said quietly, kneeling beside her and looking up into her face. Others might say it was a sign of weakness in a man, to apologise like that to a woman, whether she was his wife or not, but Aulus cared little for such opinions - if it was scandalous for him to apologise, let the neighbours be scandalised. Admitting to weakness had helped forge steel into their marriage, though Horatia was the only person on the gods' green earth that he would ever allow to see him in a position of vulnerability.

 

@Sara

 

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"I would not have lasted thirty-two years if I got upset as easily as all that." She retorted with a hint of a smile on her lips, shaking her head and not looking at him kneeling beside her as she concentrated on the loom, "You did not upset me." She added, to make it clear. He hadn't upset her, only irritated her in the vague way all couples bicker and grow irritable after so long married. Aulus and Horatia were no exception, although for the benefit of their marriage she usually kept her irritations hidden from him on the rare occasion they occurred. 

Sighing, she set down her threads and after a moment of hesitation, swivelled on her stool so she was facing him kneeling next to her. She moved a hand to the plane of his cheek and softly stroked a circle over the sweep of his cheekbone. She looked at him, meeting his gaze with the expression of a woman not quite ready to yield her position. "You know I don't like things that are unpredictable," She started, with a low, soft voice, "I've weather all the changes we've made over the years, everything that has happened, but I would rather know what is going to happen so I can plan." She offered him a wry smile and a knowing look. She was a woman that needed control over every aspect of her own and her family's lives, "I suppose I should just have to get used to things being a little...unsettled for a while?" Her fingers squeezed his cheek gently in finality as she dropped her hand back to her lap and she sighed, making a small joke as she did; "And I shall have to get used to being second-best to you, hmm?" She quirked her brow as she looked back at her threads again at the loom, "Your priorities...the senate and Rome, and then me? Or maybe I'm third in the pecking order; the senate and Rome, your children, and then me?"

 

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"Well. I shouldn't have upset you, or annoyed you, or caused you to be less than happy with me," Aulus rejoined, and sighed even as Horatia cupped his cheek. "I know. I can't make things be predictable, though. But let us say, I shall promise to take July if I can, and if it turns out that I can't, you and Titus and Calpurnia will enjoy the time at Baiae together, just the three of you. I am sure they will like to spend time with you out of the worst of the summer heat in Rome, even if I can't be there too."

He took her hand from his face and clasped it within both of his. "You will always be a priority to me, you and the children both. But I do have a responsibility to Rome - although admittedly not as great a responsibility as the consuls had during the years of the Republic."

He sighed. "Quintus Augustus is getting older and needs men in the Senate who can guide it when he can't be present, so I have to consider that. But I will talk with you about anything that may affect you, or the children, or your plans for the future. I hope you know that - I am not one to issue edicts to my family and expect that they will be obeyed without question, not unless it is a matter of life and death."

And after everything that they had gone through during the past year, Aulus hoped that Horatia knew and appreciated that, at least.

 

@Sara

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Horatia's lips twitched in a hint of a smile and she shook her head softly, even as he clasped her hand in his. "You've forgotten in your old age what it's like to be a teenager," She chuckled, "I'm sure they'd rather spend time with their friends at the villa rather than their Mama." Her children were growing up, and pulling away from her in the way all teenagers did. Titus especially; their relationship was changing, expectedly. It was different she supposed, for Aulus, given the importance placed on father-son relationships. It didn't sadden her often, but sometimes she craved her children's youth - when they actively sought her out to spend time with, rather than squirrelling themselves away in their rooms or with their peers. Even Calpurnia - quieter and more reserved than her brother - had a coterie of young female friends that she prioritised now. 

She sighed softly and squeezed his hand as he spoke of Quintus and his duty. He had his responsibilities, and she had hers. She had never outwardly complained over her position and lot in life, besides a few grumbles when particularly frustrated, but she did occasionally chafe at the constraints of her class and position. That was not Aulus' problem though and she offered him a smile. "You wouldn't have married me unless you wished to be questioned, after all." She was not a wife that stayed silent in the background, behind closed doors. She could be forthright and opinionated when there was need. Sighing, she squeezed at his palm, her hand still encased in his. "I just have things on my mind," She shook her head, "You know I'm proud of you, don't you?" She ducked her head to try and meet his eyes. She might have been irritated by him, and anxious for the future but she was, equally, in awe of him and excited. She hoped he knew that. 

 

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Aulus couldn't help laughing. "Perhaps I have forgotten, but surely I'm not as old as all that? Though granted, I suppose I must seem to be to Titus and Calpurnia and their friends.

He caught his wife's sigh and the slightly sad look that flickered over her face and was gone. "Yes," he said in answer to her question, blue eyes meeting blue, and asked a question of his own. "And if you are worried or anxious about anything - or have any other concerns - you know that you can tell me, don't you?"

He thought she knew that, and knew that she did tell him things - they were remarkably open with one another - although he had caught hints on occasion that she did not quite tell him everything. But that was her prerogative, she need not tell him everything if she did not want to, and he would not pry. She knew that she could trust him, after over fourteen years of marriage. He hoped she knew that, anyway.

"I know," he told her quietly, in response to her quiet, heartfelt, assertion. "I am proud of you, too, my dove."

 

@Sara

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Horatia offered an uneasy smile; "Perhaps I should ask your parents what my husband was like as a teenager, to see what I have let myself in for with our children, hmm?" She couldn't imagine Aulus as a youth was anything but serious and studious but then again, she was an alien to the worlds of young unattached men so perhaps that was naive. She'd find out soon enough though, she suspected, with her own two growing up so quickly. 

"I know," She squeezed his hand, "It's nothing of importance - just thinking through memories." Of those precious few months the three of them had enjoyed, unburdened by high office, the Civil War or separation after Titus had been born. That had been bliss, lazy days in Baiae with her son growing up - dinners and evenings in Rome watching him learn to walk and babble, and time alone with her husband to discuss their future and their plans. She had been eighteen at the time and full of youthful naivety. Her heart ached in longing that she could never go back to that uncomplicated past, which had been so cruelly destroyed by the war, Aulus' absence, her own experiences, careers and the inevitable passing of time. She was grateful, happy and excited for where they were now, but that did not stop the feeling of loss she sometimes felt for their past. 

She smiled at his affirmation, shaking herself out of her sad reverie. "I know." She had been about to counter that she'd done nothing to make him proud, but stayed her tongue. Giving him two healthy and happy children and managing in his absence had been no small feat. "And you know," She continued in a soft voice, "We'll be looking back on this conversation when we're old and grey in thirty years time in awe of all that we'll go on to achieve, without ever knowing it now." She chuckled. 

 

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"I don't think my father would agree with Cicero about me - 'Times are bad, children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book'. Titus is perhaps less studious than I was, or displays it in a different way, and Calpurnia - are all girls mysteries to their fathers?" Aulus couldn't help the smile. Calpurnia was a serious, quiet girl, much like her mother. "I wonder if she would like to learn philosophy? Titus should have some training in oratory, I think; whatever path in life he chooses, that can only help."

He wouldn't be at all surprised if Horatia would like to join Calpurnia in her studies if he could find a suitable tutor. Horatia's own studiousness was a quality that Aulus liked about her. She directed her household staff and did not need to dirty her hands with doing any chores herself, which would leave her with time to read, or study, as she chose.

"I shall loo forward to the day when my son takes his own seat in the Senate, and then at each stage of his own cursus honorum - and whatever Calpurnia does, I shall be as proud of her, too. But let us enjoy our own successes, too, we shall be old soon enough!" Horatia would be as beautiful to him then as she was to him now, of course.

 

@Sara

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"She'd like that, I'm sure. But I think all women, young or old, are mysteries to men full stop." She smiled wryly at him, "If my memory serves, you were so intrigued by the mysterious red-headed young woman in a garden in Athens that you practically tripped over the garden furniture to speak to me." She chuckled, recalling their conversation and his shock proposal with deep amusement. Her father had been flabbergasted, and somewhat appalled for moment that his eldest daughter must have done something untoward to provoke and inflame Aulus' intentions so much when they were alone with the slave. It had taken a good ten minutes to talk him down. 

She pulled a face when he proclaimed they'd be old soon enough, "Speak for yourself, you've got almost a decade on me! But either way, I can't see you longing for a relaxing sedate retirement in the country my love." She cupped his cheek and gave it a squeeze with an amused glance down at him. Aulus was just as likely to be working until he dropped dead, she couldn't imagine him choosing to spend time in the peace and quiet of the country with nothing to occupy his time besides a book or overseeing farm work. 

Setting down the guiding shuttle after she finished a row and turned back to him. "I'll leave it there for today, should your mother complain I'll say you distracted me." Smiling impishly she considered him with a tilted head; "Do you wish to get out of the villa for a little while? I suspect the beach will be deserted?" She used to take walks along there alone in his absence, it would be nice to enjoy it with him now he was firmly rooted in their lives once more.

 

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"I don't recall falling over the garden furniture quite as much as I remember falling over my own words - a fine orator I must have seemed when I couldn't even manage a coherent question! I don't think I have ever come to a decision so quickly in my entire life as the decision I made then, to marry you. And I have never regretted it." He gave the ring on her finger a final stroke with his thumb before getting to his feet, and had to hold the loom for a moment because of the sudden rush of blood to his foot brought with it the sensation of being stuck with hundreds of tiny needles.

"I daresasy the time will come when I want nothing more than to retire here and enjoy the quiet peacefulness of the country, but that is unlikely to be for many years yet," he said, and offered her his hand, to help her stand. Not that she needed the help, she was (as she had pointed out) more than ten years younger than him, but it was the polite thing to do.

"I should like nothing more - a pleasant walk on the beach sounds most delightful." They could borrow a slave to carry their shoes if they wanted to paddle in the water - even if they didn't, barefoot on the sand would be far nicer than getting sand in their shoes.

 

@Sara

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Accepting his hand to stand, she shot him a discerning look which said 'I don't believe a word of it', because she didn't. Aulus was a man of action and unless he no longer had the means to take said action, she suspected he'd work until his final day. "Good, let me change first." The plain tunica she wore when in the company of family was not appropriate to be seen in public in, and despite the beach at the base of the cliff being secluded, and all but private for the familia, she still didn't really wish to chance it. 

Squeezing his hand, she withdrew and made back to her rooms as she rattled off orders to the slaves. One was to tell Aurelia when she woke where Aulus and Horatia had gone, another was to check on Calpurnia's pains and another was sent to purloin some of the chilled wine they kept and some fruits for the walk. Callista would come with them and carry it, but for now she was dressing Horatia in a plain stola and fastening the pins tighter in her hair to keep it from falling down on the windswept sands of the beach. 

When she was dressed, she glided back through to the atrium - Callista following, now with a bag full of supplies. She rejoined her husband with a smile and inclined her head. "Lead the way, the slaves will let your mother and Calpurnia know when they're up and about."

 

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"Lead the way? I have no intention of having my wife follow behind as women do in the East - or at least, as I am given to understand they do," Aulus said, and took her hand. "You didn't need to change just to walk on the beach, surely?"

But that was one of the little foibles he loved about his wife, her perfectionism in all things and her refusal to allow even the chance of looking unworthy of her position in society.

The walk down to the beach was not a long one, but it was nice to walk in peaceful silence down to the golden sand and dark blue of the sea. There were seagulls wheeling and calling, and several sitting bobbing on the water. Aulus bent to unfasten his sandals, and then his wife's - the girl could carry two pairs of shoes without much trouble, even with whatever other burden she had, and it would be easier to go barefoot on the sand.

 

@Sara

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Horatia rolled her eyes; "I didn't mean it like that, and of course I'd change." She smiled at him a girlish smile as they strode down out of the house and the path towards the beach.

"Secundus Statius Pudens and his wife Hosidia have the villa down the way," She indicated to a far away clifftop where the outline of another building was barely visible against the haze of the beach, "And they like to snoop about. They were incenced when your parents put down the new orchard to the south, they thought it spoilt their view." She chuckled, "And I'll not have them say the new Consul has a hussy for a wife and is out and about in naught but her tunica." Besides, since her marriage she always felt more like herself in her stola and with her hair pinned up and it provided an alluring sense of intimacy between herself and her husband given Aulus was the only one who saw her with her hair undone and clad in a tunica. 

As Aulus knelt to unfasten her sandals she felt a shiver of something run the length of her spine, but merely arched a brow at him and stepped out of them, handing them to Callista with a nod and she hurried back to keep her distance back away from her domina and dominus, knowing they liked their privacy. Horatia retook her husbands hand and gave it a squeeze, letting out a breath of contentment as they began their walk - the beach utterly deserted. "I've missed this," She said in a low voice and with a gentle smile on her lips, "You."

 

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"Oh, by all means, let us not give Secundus Statius Pudens and his admirable wife anything to gossip about - gods forbid!" Aulus said, standing up. He could not deny the thrill it gave him to know that he was the only one who would see his wife with her hair down, wearing just her tunica. "I have missed you, too," he told her. There was something about the simplicity and wildness of natural surroundings which felt more like Horatia than any amount of cultivated parks and fine buildings could - he sometimes felt that to plant an olive grove would be a more fitting tribute to her than any amount of libraries and other public buildings.

They had the beach to themselves and the birds - and the slave girl following them, but Aulus naturally paid her no mind.

"I am glad to be here, with you. And I will do my utmost to come down with you in the warmer weather, too," he said. It was not cold, nothing like the frigid chill of Britannia, but it was wild and clear and windy, perfect for blowing cobwebs away.

 

@Sara

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Horatia rolled her eyes, "Don't be sarcastic Aulus, it doesn't suit you my love." She said jesting but her eyes belied a little irritation - she didn't like to be mocked. But the moment passed in a heartbeat and she squeezed his hand as they walked. 

"And I know you will, but duty is duty Aulus and I don't begrudge you it - I hope you know that?" She might have a frisson of longing for an uncomplicated past, or a desire for a calmer life now, but she was a match for her husband and understood and relished the prospect of a life of legacy and service to the state. 

"Were the beaches in Britannia like this?" She queried, as if reading his mind. She had liked Raetia for its cooler climate, although the culture was wanting and the locals sometimes more hostile than she'd anticipated, but besides that, Greece in her teenage years and Hispania in her childhood, she'd never been somewhere quite so exotic. Even Livia had been, having fled to Antioch with her father. It made her excited for her future, because the Gods only knew which province Aulus would be posted to after his Consulship was up. 

 

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"I'm sorry," Aulus said and stroked the side of Horatia's hand with his thumb. "And I know. You are an example of Roman womanhood and I shall be proud to be seen with you at the public events I will have to attend." He knew that Horatia was unlikely to want to be at all the Games he would have to be at; even if they weren't all matches to the death, Horatia did not relish such things, which he could understand.

"Britannia? Oh, the beaches were much the same as this, for the most part, though the sea is green if you can credit it, and there are beaches that are nothing but pebble, or shell. And the cliffs at Dubris and Anderida are white - chalk or something. A fine view when approaching from Gaul, at any rate. It is all very wild, though there are forts and towns being built now that you would like. The further north you go, the more the people are savages. The tribes in the south are almost civilised, and the country itself is good farmland, though not for olives nor citrus, I think. Not that I have any real experience or knowledge when it comes to farming, I leave that in the hands of far more practical and experienced people."

He ran his free hand through his hair. "Are you hoping I get posted to Britannia once my term is up, my dove?" he enquired. "Or are you just curious about the places I have already served?"

 

@Sara

 

(Dubris is Dover, Anderida is Pevensey in Sussex)

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She listened in fascination. In much of the literature she read the descriptions of Britannia were evocative but she took it with a very hefty pinch of salt. Hearing it from somebody that had been there was an altogether different matter and she glanced up at him - being half a head shorter she had to crane her neck. "Just curious," She confirmed with a light laugh, "I'm not sure how I'd fare in Britannia - cultured, heat-loving matron that I am." It was probably why the current Governor's young wife had stayed in Italia, or if rumours were to be believed, one of the reasons at least.

"But I was speaking to my father about it," She gave him a sidelong glance which let him know that 'Marcus has had another opinion' "Who suggested if it were somewhere like Britannia or Judea, that neither is a place for a woman of my rank and standing. Which is laughable when you consider he dragged my poor mother and us around half the provinces he was sent to as a legate." She shook her head and rolled her eyes. She had a difficult relationship with Marcus Horatius Justinus - she often found herself simultaneously not enough for him, but at the same time under his thumb. 

"But I am under his authority, so you may need to do some convincing depending on where you go, when your term is up."

 

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"I knew I should have made a greater case for a marriage cum manus," he replied with a laugh. "If I am posted to either province, I shall do my utmost to convince him to allow you to come with me - the entirety of Britannia and Judea is not frontier, after all, and governor's palaces are generally built of at least brick. I can't speak for Judea but Britannia is not quite the nest of savages it once was, and I have walked into their own settlements and come out unscathed. You need not worry that I will make you sleep in some mud hut anywhere - I very much doubt any governor anywhere has anything less than a palace with all the luxuries and amenities his province can provide, which will naturally include a hypocaust in places like Britannia and Gaul - you remember we had a hypocaust in Raetia, and I promise you didn't freeze your toes off there."

He paused to look down at Horatia's feet, examining them to see that she did, in fact, still have all ten toes. She did, and very pretty her feet were, too, at least in comparison to his own.

"Anyway, having a woman of your rank and standing accompany the governor will give the benighted barbarians an example of what their own wives should aspire to be, surely?"

 

@Sara

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She grinned and rolled her eyes: “You could have made your case but he wouldn’t have moved an inch, you know my father.” Quite unlike the stoic and calm Tiberius Calpurnius Praetextatus, Horatia’s own father was brasher and more vocal. This has only increased in his ageing years as he took more to his drink. His criticisms of his eldest daughter and son - for she knew Publius suffered the same - had likewise doubled. 

“And I’d rather not remember the first winter there thank you very much” she grinned and nudged him as he glanced down at her feet, half buried in the soft sand, “It was touch and go for a while there.” She always felt it easier to jest when Aulus was around, finding he understood her humour. To some she was a cold, humourless woman, but to her husband she had the levity of a comic. Or she did now, at least, she hadn’t when he’d first come home.

“Do you think so?” She queried, not able to tell if he was teasing. Turning round to walk backwards - so she was facing Aulus - she gave him a wry smile and tilted her head, the wind whipping a few loose strands of hair around her face; “So you’re saying I’d make all the barbarian men desire me, and all their wives loathe me when their husbands pile on all these new expectations?” 

 

TAG: @Sharpie

 

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"You would provide the very finest example of what it means to be a Roman lady," Aulus informed her, though he could not hide a smile as the wind whipped at the loose strands of her hair in a way she would not normally abide were they in public. "You would be able to influence how they educate their daughters and what sort of men they should consider in marriage for those daughters. The husbands will thank you for showing their wives how to run a household neatly and profitably and with good discipline - I do not recall the last time I had to administer discipline in our house, and that is all to your credit."

She looked more beautiful in that moment, with her stola and bare feet and the wind pulling at her hair and clothing, and he bent his head to kiss her.

"There is no man in the entire Empire who is so blessed in his marriage as I am," he said quietly, wrapping his arms around her.

 

@Sara

 

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