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What's a girl got to do?


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May, 76AD

Ovinia grinned at her nephew, held firmly in the arms of his nurse and then resumed her game of 'peekaboo'. Lucius was a docile child - now nearly eighteen months old - and his giggles as she revealed her face, booping him on his nose as she did, warmed her heart. "Domina, he does need his nap..." Ovinia rolled her eyes, "He can wait a little longer, Viria asked me to take him out for some fresh air." Probably because she intended to either argue with Ovinia's eldest brother, her husband or...do whatever married couples did when alone behind locked doors. She wrinkled her nose at the thought and returned to fuss over little Lucius.

The slave's exasperated expression was only thinly masked though and perfectly souring Ovinia's mood. She snapped; "Fine. Fine, take him back. But don't pout when Viria snaps at you." The slave only meekly nodded and bundling her little charge up, hurried back towards their families sprawling Domus. That left Ovinia alone with Hostus, one of her fathers slaves who had accompanied the young unmatched Ovinia out today. 

The Porticus Liviae was her favourite place in Rome, it had been all of her young life. She found the usual gardens too busy and crowded, and filled with the riff-raff that always made Rome unpleasant in the summer. The Forum - once one had been once or twice in a month - held no interest, nor did the markets, but here? Here was everything you could want. Art and shade, even musicians today - the dulcet tones of a singer drifting from some secluded corner. It was quiet as well, the lull after lunch where the rich were taking their naps and the poor were back at work. Ovinia enjoyed the quiet, it was a respite after a busy few weeks in the Domus with its stifling atmosphere of her mothers moans, her fathers chiding and her brothers quarrelling.

Drawing to a stop in front of a fresco in one of the colonnade's, newly painted, she tilted her head to the side and examined it. "What do you think of it?" She called to Hostus, unaware there was somebody else drawing to a stop next to her. 

 

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The gardens offered a much needed respite from the heat. Rome was not a very friendly place in the summer, and it was already that time of the year when many wealthy families were beginning to flee the city for their villas. Lucius, on the other hand, still enjoyed mingling with those who didn't. Today, he wandered the Porticus of Livia, mostly keeping to the shade of the vines covering the columns and the roof, and admiring the paintings on the wall. He was currently munching on a crisp apple to keep thirst at bay. Few other people were out and about this time of the day, but he did notice a young woman, accompanied by a slave (who seemed intent on melting into the shade).

"What do you think of it?" 

"I think if Hyppomenes looked like that, I would run from him too" Lucius noted with a smirk. He knew the question was probably not addressed to him, but the painting - of Atalanta running a race with her suitor - was right there to be discussed. It was a good painting, all in all, but the man's face was wearing a strange expression that was not too endearing. 

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Her head whipped round to see a man, definitely not the big, brutish Hostus standing behind her, admiring the painting. After a heartbeat to recompose herself, she flashed a grin and turned back around to study the fresco in more depth, eyes comically narrowed and lips pursed. "With fairness to Hyppomenes though, he knows he's going to die if he loses, I'd look a little cowed if that was me..." She frowned, "Or did he already have his apples by the start of the race?" She really should have paid more attention to her tutors, but found no pleasure in fables and stories, she'd rather have been off swimming or riding than listening to her father or Gaius drone on about this minor deity or that.

Tossing her hair over her shoulder and readjusting the palla that concealed her shoulders from the sun, she  gestured to the next fresco. It was older and more careworn than the last and as she drew to a stop in front of it she let out a bubble of thinly disguised laughter. Which was enough to prompt a glare from a fusty old woman a little way off. "Well, at least Hyppomenes can say he's more handsome than Narcisissus." She shuddered mockingly and wound her palla tighter around her waist, the beads attached to the hem jangling as she did. "Honestly why any man would love himself so much when he looks like that is beyond me, even one cursed by the Gods." Whomever the artist was, they did not have a knack for faces.

 

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Some women would have told Lucius to leave them alone, or at least would have heavily implied that starting up a conversation with a stranger was not usually done in polite society. She was young, but she looked like a noblewoman. To Lucius' relief, she laughed at his comment, and did not sic the slave on the strange man in a simple tunic who dared to address her.

"With fairness to Hyppomenes though, he knows he's going to die if he loses, I'd look a little cowed if that was me... Or did he already have his apples by the start of the race?" 

"He did." Lucius nodded, pointing at the satchel Hippomenes was carrying. It was similar to the one he was carrying the apples in right now. "But if we are being honest, I always rooted for Atalante anyway."

The woman moved on, wrapping her palla around her slender frame, and laughed again at the next painting. Lucius arched an eyebrow as he followed. Many patrician women did not laugh like this in public.

"Well, at least Hyppomenes can say he's more handsome than Narcisissus. Honestly why any man would love himself so much when he looks like that is beyond me, even one cursed by the Gods." 

"Oh, you would be surprised." Lucius grinned, looking at the picture. Damn, Narcissus was ugly. Turning into a flower was definitely an improvement. "Love is blind, especially when it comes to people's own flaws... Or maybe this is just an unflattering angle." he added, taking another bite of his apple.

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"I think that's a good judge of character," She reported with a wry smile over her shoulder at him as he mentioned Atlante. How anybody couldn't root for Atlante and would rather side with the men who sought her hand, Hyppomenes himself included, was a little beyond her comprehension. Then again, she wasn't a man, and maybe they saw his trickery with the apples as some great scheme that went over her head. 

She studied the painting as he spoke although she could see Hostus from the corner of her eye growing uncomfortable. Her father had trained him well in the fifteen years he'd been in the family, having been plucked up in Britannia as a wilful teen. "I should think the latter. Poor Narcissus, I-" she heard her slave cough indiscreetly and she glanced back at Hostus before letting out a sigh. "Do you often strike up conversations with ladies you do not know, is what my slave would like to know...?" Her eyes returned to the taller man's face. She couldn't place him but settled on an equite, judging by his gait and that his tunic wasn't the worst quality that she'd ever seen. Waving a hand at Hostus, she let him do his bit - which he clearly relished given how he stepped up taller, his chest puffing out and his accented Latin possessing a firmer quality to it that she only  heard when he had the opportunity to be imperious; "You are addressing Ovinia Camilla, daughter of Praetor Camillus. Who are you?" 

 

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"I should think the latter. Poor Narcissus, I-"

The slave was growing restless in the background. He must have finally realized his mistress was talking to a stranger. She did not look like a matron, and if she was unmarried, she was expensive goods in Roman society. Warranting the worries of her bodyguard.

"Do you often strike up conversations with ladies you do not know, is what my slave would like to know...?"

"I like meeting new people" Lucius noted honestly. It wasn't like he went around trying to flirt with women. He just liked talking to people, especially when they seemed interesting. And it was stupid to keep patricians from talking to the plebes anyway. Everyone needed a reality check sometimes. 

The slave got his mistress' permission to butt in, which he did with great determination. He was somewhat taller than Lucius, and definitely imposing. Lucius wondered what they thought he was. Rich people often misread his social standing.

"You are addressing Ovinia Camilla, daughter of Praetor Camillus. Who are you?" 

Oh. Her father was a praetor. That explained a lot.

"I'm Lucius. Lucius Vipsanius Roscius, if you want to be specific about it. And what's your name?" he was not going to flash his brother's position in the ranks of the Senate. They either knew the name, or they didn't. But he did want to know the name of the slave with the accent. He looked interesting too.

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Hostus blinked and looked back at his domina in a moment of confusion, and for her guidance. She knew the name, or at least she thought she did. Her fathers friends were innumerate and she could have sworn she had heard of a 'Marcus Vispanius Roscius' who had been killed in the purges. At least she thought she recalled it; why did so many gentes sound the same? Either way, Ovinia was confident that this man - despite his appearance - wasn't some pleb trying his luck and she waved a hand at Hostus who dutifully spoke. "Hostus. I am charged with keeping domina safe today." 

"And he's doing a fine job, as you can see." She chuckled and drifted away to the other side of the colonnade which overlooked the manicured gardens, "We meant no offence to your rank, of course." She dipped her head and felt the chiding words of her brother Gaius in her ear; she shouldn't be found alone with a man - any man, really, save the slaves - until she was firmly wedded and bedded. She narrowed her eyes and spied a few people milling around in the sun and then glanced back at Hostus, who seemed to have relaxed slightly. See Gaius? I'm not alone. 

"Most of our lot are at their villas by now," She queried to Lucius - trying to remember and gauge whether he was an equite or a patrician - "Did you fancy baking to death  in Rome instead this year Lucius Vispanius?" 

 

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"Hostus. I am charged with keeping domina safe today." 

"Well, nice to meet you Hostus. Keep up the good work." It would have sounded sarcastic from most noblemen, but Lucius actually meant it. The man was just doing his job. Now that Lucius introduced himself, he visibly relaxed. Even patrician families preferred their daughters getting into scandal with someone of higher ranking.

"We meant no offence to your rank, of course." 

"None taken." Lucius waved a hand. He didn't usually get offended about his rank. They moved to the steps overlooking the gardens, being in the line of sight of the few people milling about in the shade of trees and mushes.

"Most of our lot are at their villas by now. Did you fancy baking to death  in Rome instead this year Lucius Vispanius?"

"I spent most of my life at the villa, and it is not nearly as interesting there as in Rome, even in the summer" Lucius admitted, taking a bit of his apple, then added "And I think my brother is keeping us here in the hopes I might get bored enough to join the military. How about you, Ovinia Camilla?"

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Posted (edited)

Ovinia could relate, somewhat. When her father decamped the family to the villa (or nowadays, largely himself, her mother and Ovinia with her brothers remaining in Rome with free reign), she found it mind-numbing. All the beaches, swimming and walks in nature couldn't compensate for the loss of her friends, the theatre, games and well...and well Decimus back in Rome. She tried to shut down the nervous flutter in her chest at the thought of the latter. 

His comments made her laugh though and moving to lean against one of the columns, hands behind her back against the cool stone, she made a study of him. "A young man that doesn't want the glory of the legions? Glory and wealth? Tsk," She was jesting and offered him a wry grin, "Well there's a first. And my fathers work keeps him here, which in turn keeps me here, but I don't mind so much." She shrugged and leant further back on the column so the cool stone pressed against her shoulder blades, cooling her down, "All the really detestable people have already fled, I've found, so it leaves the good eggs left in Rome." Or those too poor for a villa to escape to, "But those good eggs aren't always the best company, so I do find myself a little...bored. Any suggestions for what I can do for fun?" She quirked an eyebrow, her wry smile staying firmly in place. 

 

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"A young man that doesn't want the glory of the legions? Glory and wealth? Tsk,"

Well, there it went. Most patricians in the city could not wrap their heads around the lack of ambition in Lucius, or why he had not left with the legions yet, to further the great glory of Rome. Not that he actively detested military service. He just had no interest in it. 

"I just think glory, like Narcissus here, looks more fetching from a distance."

It was easy to celebrate the power of Rome when was was at a safe distance from the barbarians.

"Well there's a first. And my fathers work keeps him here, which in turn keeps me here, but I don't mind so much. All the really detestable people have already fled, I've found, so it leaves the good eggs left in Rome. But those good eggs aren't always the best company, so I do find myself a little...bored. Any suggestions for what I can do for fun?"

So, she was stuck here because her father was. An probably because they were actively trying to find her a match, if she was not already engaged. Lucius smiled at her question, fishing another apple out of his satchel and tossing it to her, trusting she might catch it. 

"More than one would think. Although according to my brother not all of it is suitable for people like us."

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Ovinia was proficient in a great many things, although hand-eye co-ordination was not one of them and as he threw the apple she had to fumble to release her arms from her back to snatch it. She swooped low and caught it just before it hit the ground. Hostus looked like he might have a heart attack and she noted his balled fists as she straightened back up. "It's an apple, not a rock." She chuckled to her slave and resumed her position against the column, turning the fruit in between her fingers. 

"Colour me intrigued, Lucius Vispanius." She arched a brow and narrowed her eyes, "We have the world at our disposal, to do as we bid, do we not?" She watched him curiously. "I'm not so sure there's anything that's off limits to young men of our class, if my brothers are a model...wine, wome-" She flushed and chose not to finish that thought. For a woman who had grown up in a male dominated household, she was still unfailingly naive in the ways and means of lovers and passion, "What is it you do that your brother finds so detestable? Or do I dare not ask?" She smiled at him with challenge in her eyes as she took a bite from the apple. 

 

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There was a slight chance Hostus would punch him in the face for the stunt with the apple. But Ovinia caught it, after some fumbling, and she looked pleased with herself. Being the son of a senator was one thing, but the girls - if Vipsania was any indication - tended to be even more sheltered from things flying at them.

"Colour me intrigued, Lucius Vispanius. We have the world at our disposal, to do as we bid, do we not?"

Lucius smirked. Many people thought that. Those who were not among the ranks of the few definitely wished they would be. And many who were believed just what she had said. It was a lie on both counts, but for different reasons.

"I'm not so sure there's anything that's off limits to young men of our class, if my brothers are a model...wine, wome- What is it you do that your brother finds so detestable? Or do I dare not ask?" 

He noted the pause and the blush as she mentioned women. No wonder her mind went straight to debauchery. It would be the right idea in the case of many young men their age and standing. The only time Lucius encountered his peers out and about was usually when they were slumming it at the brothels, gambling dens, or other unsavory places. Not that he had never visited any of those. But his brother might have forgiven him that.

"I have to admit, my list of offenses is pretty long" he said, the corner of his lips turning up. "I don't think he's quite forgiven me yet for walking around all purple last harvest. But have you ever actually gotten in the vats for stomping grapes? Great fun. And for the amount of wine our people drink at feasts, I find it a bit odd that most of us don't even know how it is made. This was at least one of the upsides of growing up at the villa." he shrugged "Feasting is forgivable. Getting your hands... or feet, dirty in public, not so much."

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Ovinia’s eyes widened and she had to struggle to swallow the apple as she spluttered a very unladylike laugh. “Don’t the slaves do that?” The question sounded so naive that she regretted it as soon as she asked it. Of course the slaves did it, the slaves did everything. That was not why Lucius had done it - clearly, his family couldn’t be poor enough that they had senatorial sons stomping grapes and couldn’t afford to keep slaves to do the work instead.

”I…don’t know what to say.” She laughed nervously and took another small nibble from the apple. No wonder his brother, whomever he was, was displeased with his hobbies. She could imagine her father would have a heart attack should her brothers, let alone her, do such a thing. But along with the horror, she was also somewhat fascinated. Her friends and peers were nothing like this man and would have laughed until they were blue in the face should somebody suggest they partake in such an act. She really had lived a very sheltered life. Withdrawing the apple from her lips she asked, genuinely curious and a little bit…thrilled: “What else have you done?”


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Ovinia was surprised enough to laugh and almost choke on her apple. There it was, the reaction he'd expected. Point made. He was the odd one out. Lucius laughed too.

“Don’t the slaves do that?” 

"Yes. They do." he confirmed. Back at the estate, he'd often accompanied them, solely out of curiosity. They were kind people, although they too were a little baffled at first that the dominus' son would want to join in on their work. They got used to it over the years.

”I…don’t know what to say... What else have you done?”

"A lot of things, if you count he grey hairs on my brother's head." Lucius grinned, leaning against the column opposite to hers. Hostus was trying to keep up a neutral expression, but he could see the confusion seeping through in his face. "Let's see... oh. I picked these." he held up the half-eaten apple. "There's a vendor who has a little orchard out by the Campus. He's getting old so he lets people pick the apples he wouldn't. Some of the trees are a bit tricky to climb, but until pomegranate season rolls around, these are a great remedy for thirst."

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“Well I shall have to meet him, won’t I, to count them?” Her lips twitched in a hint of a smile. She had an image of the man in her head: flushed jowly face spouting obscenities at his brothers poor choice of hobbies, a shock of grey hair falling in his eyes every time he spat new venom. The image made her grin. 

She glanced down at the apple hanging limply from her hand and retorted; “Well, your produce is excellent, how much do I owe you, shopkeep?” Hostus - not understanding the sarcasm, produced his domina’s coin purse which she waved away.

Watching him as she took another nibble of the apple, she shrugged her shoulders limply. “Well, your…hobbies are irreverent, but I wouldn’t consider you that dissimilar to other men your age, not really.” She tilted her head to the side, hair falling over her shoulder, “You might prefer to stomp grapes and catch apples but evidently you enjoy the perks of our lot in life…only a man of our class could have the freedom, money and free time to choose to do as you do. You should tell your brother that you’re simply enjoying the benefits of your rank?”

 

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“Well I shall have to meet him, won’t I, to count them?” 

"Maybe you will" Lucius nodded. Noble families tended to meet sooner or later. Maybe they already had, Ovinia was just not directly involved in the social life of the men of her family. And with all the flaws and tensions, Gaius was a good man. And a caring father figure, even if his caring was a bit misguided.

“Well, your produce is excellent, how much do I owe you, shopkeep?” 

Hostus was ready to actually pay for the apple, but Ovinia waved him away before Lucius could. 

“Well, your…hobbies are irreverent, but I wouldn’t consider you that dissimilar to other men your age, not really. You might prefer to stomp grapes and catch apples but evidently you enjoy the perks of our lot in life…only a man of our class could have the freedom, money and free time to choose to do as you do. You should tell your brother that you’re simply enjoying the benefits of your rank?”

Lucius blinked, then arched an eyebrow. Leave it to the young domina to speak some truth. He let out a laugh, placing his free hand on his chest as if he had been wounded.

"Guilty as charged. You, on the other hand... Not many women would say things like that to a stranger." Not many of them ever admitted either that they were at a disadvantage, even though they were. That was the Roman way. "So, if you had the freedom and the money and the time, what would you do with it, Ovinia Camilla, daughter of Praetor Camillus?"

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Ovinia felt her heart flutter against her ribs and squeezed the apple in her fingers, whoops. She hadn't meant it as a controversial statement, and certainly hadn't anticipated he'd take it was one but she saw now that it was very much not an opinion to be aired in public, especially with a stranger. She gave a wan smile and shrugged her shoulders; "I meant no offence, stranger, it was only an observation...on your chosen hobbies, rather than my lot in life." Because in truth, she was largely comfortable in her role. Sometimes she might have yearned for a seat at the table, the ability to make decisions, but more often than not she was content to simply be under the guiding hand of her father. It was why his next question caught her off guard a little. 

She hesitated for a moment, biting down on her lower lip as she considered the question. "I...have all those things." She finally replied with a little frown of confusion. "I have the freedom - I'm never going to be more free than I am now," Before she wed and had a house and children to manage, "I have the money," She flashed a grin, "And I have the time. We unmarried women don't tend to have any pressing matters that require our attentions." So the question really became; what do you do with your freedom, money and time now? She struggled to answer. How had she lived nineteen years and not be able to draw on a single thing that she enjoyed doing, or did at all?

She blinked, realising she had been quiet for some time and then said; "I...shop? And...see my friends?" Gods, how pathetic. "Oh!" She exclaimed as she finally dredged something up so she seemed slightly less vapid, "And I sing."

 

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She must have noticed she'd gone a bit far in speaking the truth, which really was nothing to be embarrassed about in Lucius' opinion. He was still a stranger to her, having met only minutes earlier. She suddenly became more interesting for that comment, but just as quickly she was beginning to walk it back.

"I...have all those things. I have the freedom - I'm never going to be more free than I am now. I have the money. And I have the time. We unmarried women don't tend to have any pressing matters that require our attentions." 

"Uh-huh." Lucius nodded, taking another bite of his apple. If she liked those things the way they were, he was not going to judge her. Freedom, in the end, was relative. Depending on how one wished to live.

"I...shop? And...see my friends?... Oh! And I sing."

That sounded a lot like Vipsania. Lucius smiled a little at the last comment. She had been thinking a little too long about what she liked to do with her freedom. But singing was a good thing to do.

"Now there's something I'd like to hear."

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Ovinia frowned, parroting back to him; "Uh-huh?" Look at him, so laconic and at ease - judging her, or at least she presumed that was what he was doing. "Do you have something to say, Lucius Vispanius?" She quirked an eyebrow and then responding to his request, shook her head resolutely, discarding the half-eaten apple into Hostus' hands. It was pleasant, but the heat was making her nauseous and deciding that throwing up was less lady-like than her previous comment, chose to discard it. 

"I'm sure you would like to hear," She chuckled and pushed herself up from the column, moving back into the absolute shade of the colonnade. The sound of an actual singer - rather than a hobbyist like her - drifted through the shadowed walkway and made her smile. She really had no relative scale for how talented she was, but people had always enjoyed her music and encouraged her to pursue it as a hobby, "But alas there's already a singer at work and I wouldn't wish to embarrass her with my raw talent, you see." She said with a chuckle. Besides, she had never really performed for anybody outside of her close family and very close friends. Certainly not in front of strangers or their wider society - that's why professionals and such were hired. 

 

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"Uh-huh? Do you have something to say, Lucius Vispanius?" 

"Nope" he held up his hands in defense, chuckling. Who was he to question the degree of freedom she felt she did or did not have? They moved on to the topic of favorite pastimes. She said she liked to sing. 

"I'm sure you would like to hear. But alas there's already a singer at work and I wouldn't wish to embarrass her with my raw talent, you see." 

"Of course" Lucius grinned at her. Jokes or no jokes, he would have been surprised if she was willing to sing in public. "Or..." he added, as if the thought just occurred to him "You could sing along with her." The song was one he had heard before, popular among the people of Rome. He was fairly sure she knew it too.

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Ovinia's browse rose on her forehead and she let out a bubble of nervous laughter. "Why should I do that, Lucius Vispanius?" Her risen brows fell into a frown that crumpled her face. Was he mocking her? The 'nope' of earlier suggested he was, as was his tone now. She had never met anybody quite as irreverent as this man here - troubling and privileged though she found his philosophy on life, and so she genuinely couldn't tell whether he was sincerely suggesting she join in the professional musician or not. 

"I could," she said after hesitation, wariness in her voice as she drifted closer to the sound of the musician, coming from some corner they hadn't yet reached, "But I don't see you offering to join in." She smiled up at him with a challenging look in her dark eyes, "For a man that claims to have a list of offences that made his brother an elder before his time, perhaps you should offend now?" Her smile turned into a grin and she gestured, "Go and join in, Lucius Vispanius, and perhaps I'll consider it myself."

 

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Lucius was curious to see how she would react to his half-challenge. The point was to try: if she was willing to sing in public, maybe she really was as free of obligations as she claimed to be. But she did seem a bit nervous, and a little flushed. Not that it didn't look good on her.

"I could... But I don't see you offering to join in."

"Ooh" he raised his eyebrows too.

"For a man that claims to have a list of offences that made his brother an elder before his time, perhaps you should offend now? Go and join in, Lucius Vispanius, and perhaps I'll consider it myself."

"Is that a dare I hear?" Lucius smiled, looking down at Ovinia. He held her gaze for a moment, curious if she would walk this back too, then laughed, and tossed the rest of his apple into the bushes. "Well, let's go then."

The singer was just around the corner of the porticus. She had a small number of people gathered in the shade of some rose bushes. She was wearing a plain tunic; Lucius would not have been surprised to find out she worked at the market or in a household whenever she was not making some extra coin with her singing. She had a pleasant voice. 

My light, may you not love me any more
the way I think you did a few days since...

Lucius stepped up to the columns again, listening to the song she was sining. He knew it; people working the fields or the orchards often sang all kinds of songs, and love was always a favorite topic. He found a good place to join in.


If I have ever in my youthful life
done anything as stupid as I did
yesterday, when I left you all alone
because I didn't want to show my love...

Lucius was not a professional singer, but he had a pleasant voice. The singer turned in surprise, but to her credit she did not pause, their voices mingling together, accompanied by some laughter from the audience. Lucius threw a glance at Ovinia. See?

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She blinked at his words and as he threw his apple, following him with a gait that said 'I really don't want to be here'. "No it wasn't a dare!" She protested, but couldn't stop herself from following him. It had always been the way for her; following others whims, it's how she had become so entangled in Decimus' web, and the plots and schemes of her father and brothers. Curiosity killed the cat, or in Ovinia's case, got her into some unfortunate situations involving singing. 

She didn't actually think he'd do it. She stood next to him, head tilted up to watch him as Hostus fretted in her peripheral vision. There was no way he would. Then he did and she blinked. He had a soothing voice, one which reminded her of a distant memory, of a time she couldn't quite place and she let a soft, genuine smile creep onto her face. Well, I'll be damned.

But the song was over at his last line and she raised her hands, clapping their dual performance - half in sincerity, half with amusement. "Beautiful, simply beautiful. But alas, no option for me to join in Lucius Vispanius." She chuckled, "If only we'd gotten here earlier, we could have sung the whole of Sulpicia's works!" She was jesting but the singer, evidently amused and irritated in equal measure by the young noble lord and lady quipped; "You're welcome to request a song, my dear, and we can duet?" Ovinia blinked and started to shake her head in a silent protest. 

 

TAG: @Chevi

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"No it wasn't a dare!" 

Well, it was now. Good thing Lucius enjoyed singing. And even better that he actually knew the song. They sang together, the singer lady probably eternally grateful that he could carry a tune and was not ruining the performance. When it was over, the audience applauded. So did Ovinia. He only had to glance at her face to know he'd won this round.

"Beautiful, simply beautiful. But alas, no option for me to join in Lucius Vispanius. If only we'd gotten here earlier, we could have sung the whole of Sulpicia's works!" 

"You're welcome to request a song, my dear, and we can duet?"

Lucius grinned at Ovinia as the singer beat him to the next comment. It was too perfect. Maybe it was not quite polite to play dare with an unmarried noblewoman he'd just met, but she had kind of started it.

"I am not going to dare a woman of high standing." he noted, folding his arms. "She can sing in public any time she wants."

@Sara

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Ovinia made a sound of protest; "You know full well I can't if anybody sa-" The singer glanced between the pair, obviously confused but plastered a sickly sweet smile on her face. "The lady protests! But how we all wish to hear what voice the Gods have blessed her with!" The crowd murmured and Ovinia shot them a worried, agitated look. She didn't recognise anybody but that wasn't to say they didn't know her family, didn't know her father. 

Not taking no for an answer, the blonde singer grinned and inclined her head, "I presume you know Sappho? We," The woman gestured to a man on the cithara next to her, "Composed a little tune to some of her works..." Ovinia watched in abject horror as the music started and the woman, in a soft voice began. Of course, a poem of jealousy. How did this woman even know Sappho anyway?! 

"He seems like the gods’ equal, that man, who
ever he is, who takes his seat so close
across from you, and listens raptly to
your lilting voice"

The tune, Ovinia decided, was a little derivative but easy enough to pick up and she bit at her lip. She saw urging eyes and with a glance upwards towards her companion, she started before Hostus could interject; 

"and lovely laughter, which, as it wafts by,
sets the heart in my ribcage fluttering;
as soon as I glance at you a moment, I
can’t say a thing..."

 

TAG: @Chevi

Translation of Sappho 31 from here.

 

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