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Sacrifice and Stalemates


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January, 77AD

Charis stirred softly in the early morning light, grumbling against the pillow as it disturbed the peace of her sleep. She would never quite get over how comfortable this bed was, or how people lived in such ardent luxury all their lives. Even as a free woman, back in Britannia, she hadn't been able to afford anything like this. She doubted they even had beds like this in Britannia...at least not amongst her people. No doubt the Romans who colonised it imported this sort of stuff for fun. Still, she was fully prepared to bask in the luxury in Rome, at least for ten more minutes. 

But life had a manner of getting in the way and the sun was burning against her closed eyes. She grumbled again and turned her back to the shutters window to the sound of Tertius sleeping next to her. She blinked one eye open sleepily, and then the other. Even after a month it was still...uncomfortable for her. New. Not altogether un-pleasureable, but that itself brought a whole host of complex feelings to the fore. To see him sleeping there, it was difficult to imagine that such a man could inflict such cruelty and such joy on a woman such as herself. He had forced her, locked her up, given her a son, freed her and married her. Not even the greatest authors could imagine such twists and turns she was sure. 

Sighing softly, she pulled the sheet up, tighter around her chest and shifted to sit up a little as she reached for the cup of water on the side she usually slept on. She felt him stirring next to her and offered a soft smile down. "Good morning." 

 

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Tertius was quite content with how things were in his life right now. It was not uncommon for a Senator of his age to take a wife as young as Charis, and while it wasn’t exactly normal to take a wife the way he had, it also wasn’t uncommon. As a Praetor, he knew this. He had yet to take Charis to a social event, but he might soon. She still seemed to be getting used to her new rank as a freedwoman and wife to a man like him, but she’d get there and then he would take her out, properly. But so far, it was just nice to have her back in his bed and wake up with his arms around her or just next to her, really. He had not spent a single night with Hector since Charis returned to Tertius’ bed. And he liked it like this, actually.

 He felt her move by his side in the bed and he blinked, opening his eyes to find her looking at him with a soft smile and a cup of water in her hand.

 “Good morning.” He said sleepily and laid over on his back to stretch a bit. Then he stretched his one arm across the bed where her space was, inviting her to curl up against him, “I hope you slept well?”

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She wasn't sure when or if she'd get used to sharing a bed with Tertius but to look at him in the hazy early morning light as he blinked his eyes open it was difficult to square the man next to her away with the person she knew he had been to her, to Teutus, to the other slaves. He was almost tender in the way he shifted and invited her in to curl at his side. She offered him the cup of water and then shifted to curl in next to him, draping an arm across his chest and savouring the warmth as a winter breeze drifted through the house.

"I did...I never appreciated how comfortable your bed was before." Or how uncomfortable the ones used by slaves were in comparison, even the one she had in her old room which she shared with Jocasta and Peregrinus. She moved to rest her head on his chest and sighed sleepily. This early in the morning she tried very hard not to let her mind drift to the feelings of guilt and shame she knew would come once she woke up properly and the reality of her new life with this man set in again. For now she was content to enjoy the comfort he offered her. She smiled against his skin as her eyes fluttered shut again but she mumbled nonetheless; "What do you have planned for today?" 

 

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Tertius took the cup of water she offered to him too and had a sip, which was nice in the morning. But he soon let himself rest in the bed again and invited her to curl up next to him, nestle against his body. He loved the feeling of hers, and however pleasurable it was in the night, having this warm and naked body next to him in the morning... was just extremely comfortable. She wasn't fit in the same way as Hector, his body always felt a little harder. Charis had a woman's soft curves. Not that she wasn't fit, it was just different with her. Better, somehow. She told him she'd slept well and appreciated how comfortable his bed was. Tertius chuckled, "I'm glad you appreciate it now then. It's your bed too, now." He added with a smile, wrapping his arm around her as she was there, resting on his chest. His fingers gently caressing her skin. Tertius was glad he made the decision he did... freeing her and marrying her. It was a pity he'd had to make her sign a list of terms, but she had betrayed him before and he could not risk losing his son because of her. He had to take every precaution possible. But that didn't mean she had not shown good behavior so far. If this continued, he might give her more freedom.

Silence had fallen until she spoke, asking if he had any plans, "I have to work, but not all day. Actually I thought we could do something together. Perhaps a visit to the temple of Vesta, I'd like to make a sacrifice for her, to bless our union." Tertius then explained, "And it would be best, I think, if we do it together. Maybe after, we can go to the market and see what's going on there." Tertius said with another smile to her. He knew she had not fully accepted the Roman gods as her own yet, but now that she was the closest thing to a wife he had, she ought to get to know them better. And Vesta, the goddess for family and for the home, would be a good start for her - and for them.

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She smiled against the skin of his chest, smoothing her fingers over the muscles of his abdomen. His work was still an enigma to her but she was slowly learning, her work as his psuedo-secretary was helpful for that, even if she spent more time organising accounts for the home and such. But his plan was intriguing and she glanced up at him, shifting so her face was level with his own, although her arm and her thigh was still draped over him. 

"I've never seen a Roman sacrifice or visited that Temple," She gave him a sly smile and arched a brow, "Do you think a barbarian like me would be welcome?" She chuckled. She was suitably Romanised now - she dressed like them, her Latin was excellent even if it was accented - and she understood most of the customs and laws she had to abide by - at least as a slave - but she was always going to be a foreigner to Romans, she knew that. "But that sounds nice," She stroked a finger softly over his jaw - trying to relax into the moment rather than dwell on the discomfort of being comfortable in a situation like this, "I ordered some fabric I can collect for new dresses from the market, and I'd like your advice on jewellery." She chuckled and then curled back against his chest. "What would we sacrifice?" It wasn't an uncommon practice in Britannia, but she wondered how different it would be here.

 

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He couldn't begin talking about how much he enjoyed just being here with her. The way she touched him so gently with her fingers on his bare skin. It made him think that it was the right decision to free her and make her his wife. He never had it like this with Hector. Hector just wanted to please him. Which was understandable, he was a slave and meant to please Tertius, but still... it wasn't quite like this. Charis seemed so much more calm and lovely, so much more peaceful. Like she didn't do it just to please him. 

When he mentioned the temple to her, she said she'd never experienced it before. And wondered if she would be welcome at all, "You're no longer a barbarian, Charis. You're a citizen. And you're with me. You will be welcome." Tertius told her quite certainly. If they would not welcome her, he held more than a little power in Rome as a Praetor, holding the office just beneath the Consuls. They should not wish to mess with him, even if they were priests or priestesses. Not that he thought there'd be an issue. And if there was, he could also pay. All would be well, there was nothing to worry about. 

Charis said it sounded nice and then mused about fabrics for dresses and jewelry. And what they'd sacrifice.

"I have not been to that temple very often. But something not too big and not too small. Perhaps a goat. To bless our marriage. Do you know what Vesta stands for?" Tertius asked, he'd be happy to educate her, in case she didn't know. Maybe now that she was a Roman citizen, she should learn a bit more about their gods and their practice. 

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She smiled a little and nodded. She was a freedwoman of Rome, which was not much in itself but she was also the wife of a Praetor which was something. She never knew how much power Tertius wielded, not in the grand scheme of things and not outside the confines of his home but she understood enough to know others would rightly fear him. He made life and death decisions every day, and not just in the domus. 

"A goat." She grinned, "No Briton customs of people being used, in Rome?" She arched a brow. Human sacrifice was rare, so rare it was whispered on winds around the druids that lived in there communities...or used to, before the Romans came. "But I'm joking." she chuckled against his chest and nodded. "To bless our marriage, anything you think would work." We need all the home we can get. "And no," She shook her head and shifted a little so she was peering up at him, blinking sleepily. "Just that she has important women that tend to her temple?" 

 

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Tertius had come to the point where he just didn't care that she couldn't be his legal, Roman wife. Just because he couldn't marry a freedwoman. One of the past emperors had done that once, many years ago, but they were emperors. That was different. Tertius was not that high up, although pretty high on the social ladder still. And he never claimed he wanted more, he had not run for Consul one single time. Tertius was fine with being a Praetor. He still had plenty of power in Rome and plenty of coin and now he had Charis too. So what if she wasn't his legal wife? He still named her his wife. He treated her like one. And he'd make Rome treat her like one too, no matter what they said. People shouldn't come here saying he didn't try and do his very best for someone he cared for. And he did care for her. Despite everything, he cared.

Charis seemed amused that they would sacrifice a goat and mentioned Briton customs, which earned her a look from Tertius, before she said she was joking, "If you want to ask the gods for help properly, it is best to accompany the wish with blood." She really did not have much experience with this in Rome yet, but she'd get there. She was his wife, after all. She seemed to like the idea of blessing their marriage, then said she didn't really know what Vesta stood for.

"She is our goddess of the family, of the home and the hearth. Also the hearth of Rome, of course." Tertius explained, "The Vestal Virgins tend to her temple and the flame there. They're very important women, the most important in Rome actually. Perhaps even more so than any Augusta, once we gain a new one." The young Caesar had not married yet, after all. But then again, he was very young. A little too young, Tertius thought, and he was no Augustus. 

"Let's get out of bed. Will you call for Hector?" Tertius asked, sitting a bit more up in the bed as he continued that line of thought, "We should get a body slave for you too." 

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Charis listened patiently, nodding. She was trying to figure out who Vesta's equivalent was in her own Gods and Goddesses but was struggling to draw a parallel, so instead shook the thought from her head. She still worshipped her own but it was difficult sometimes, especially with her new position. She didn't imagine Tertius would be particularly impressed by her sloping off to the gardens at night to worship. He hadn't understood it that first time they'd met out there, and doubt he would now. She couldn't imagine it was very becoming of an important Roman's wife to pray on her knees in the dirt. 

Nodding at his instruction she sleepily uncurled herself from his side, stretching out in bed for a brief moment before tossing the covers off and standing up on tired legs. She couldn't hear Peregrinus so presumably he was being tended to by one of the women. Now she no longer fed him from her breast, he wasn't so much of an issue in the nights. She scooped up the thin tunica she had worn to bed before it had been discarded in passion and moved to his door, calling for Hector. Odd that he wasn't stationed outside like he usually was. She glanced back over her shoulder as she pulled on the tunica. "Teutus said the same. When I went to see him over Saturnalia." Had she told Tertius she was visiting  him? Woops. Too late now. She was not going to tell him that Teutus had suggested the idea so she'd have somebody to complain to besides him. "Or I could hire somebody, they don't have to be a slave do they?" she asked, hoping he'd understand the awkwardness of it for her.

 

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She listened to his explanation of Vesta and he hoped she’d like that. Charis did not yet trust the Roman gods, he was quite sure of that, but perhaps Vesta would speak to her. Women tended to be very fond of Vesta, actually. Both because of what she stood for and because there were no priests in that temple, only priestesses. It was a place for women. So maybe she would like it more once they got there.

 Tertius then decided it was time to leave bed and watch her get out first, her naked form landing on the floor and he took her in. Young and beautiful, why should he not be happy and proud to call a woman like her his wife? And maybe she was most beautiful in the mornings, when she was still relaxed from the sleep and not yet dressed, but just comfortable with herself. She picked up a tunica though and slid it on, before she called for Hector. Tertius had mused about her having a body slave and that’s when she brought Teutus into the conversation like it was nothing.

 Tertius had been leaving the bed too and now he looked at her with different eyes, although she went on about the body slave.

 “They don’t have to be, but it is most common.” Tertius said and picked up his tunica from the floor too, while waiting for Hector to appear, “You didn’t tell me you went to see Teutus. I’ve barely seen him since the dinner last year.” The dinner that was barely ever mentioned and everyone knew why. It was an embarrassment, one of many the later years. He had seen Teutus since, of course, but it hadn’t been much… “I hope he is doing well? Did you see Varinia too?” He wasn’t sure how she felt about Varinia, but it was after meeting her again, that he’d decided to free Charis. At first he had wanted Varinia, because she’d stirred old emotions and desires in him. But then he had realized it was wrong to Peregrinus and it would be weird with Charis still in the house. This was more right.

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She gave him a small smile over her shoulder as she returned to sit on the edge of the bed, braiding her hair. She'd get it done properly before they went out, but the tangles of the morning annoyed her and it was calming to simply sit and weave it. It also helped her not to look at him (she saw his reaction to the offhand mention of Teutus) and gave her something else to focus on, almost nonchalantly. "I'm not common though, am I? I think I would prefer to hire somebody, somehody free. I would feel...odd, having a slave just for me." Given she'd played that role herself. It wouldn't feel right.

"And it was the day after I was freed," She said casually as if it was no bother at all. She shouldn't have told him, but she'd dug the hole now and had to try and claw her way back out. "I wanted to tell him in person and I didn't know when he'd next be coming around...he seems fine." She said with a soft smile, "And no, I didn't see her but I suggested perhaps I could take Peregrinus over to the apartment and they could both spend some time with him." She glanced up cautiously at him, neglecting to mention the fact that the dinner had already been arranged for this week, "If you'll allow it, of course. I'd like him to know his brother better, and...I'd like to know Varinia too." 

 

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While Charis seemed to think it would be strange having her own slave, Tertius thought it would be strange if she didn't. At least that's one thing that Teutus understood, he had been a slave, yet now he was freed and Tertius knew Teutus had slaves of his own now. It was just how things were done in Rome. But Charis looked at it differently. Then of course, she wasn't born here, "It wouldn't be so odd for anyone here. Didn't you have slaves in Britannia?" Tertius then wondered, because he wasn't really able to see how a busy and functioning society could work without slaves. There were many slaves in Rome. Although maybe that's why Rome took Britannia so easily... there were no slaves and everyone were too equal in the society. Then it would be hard to keep track of who held the most power. And everyone wanted it. No, Rome did it better.

Charis sat on the bed, braiding her hair and then explained when she saw Teutus. The day after she was freed. That was a while ago already! Why had she not told him? How many times had he told her he preferred that she was honest and open with him? How come he'd been so stupid and thought things had changed now, when apparently, they hadn't? Tertius slid on the tunica while she kept on talking, saying Teutus was fine and she didn't see Varinia. But wanted to go there with Peregrinus. Teutus wanted to spend time with Peregrinus? He had never taken even the slightest interest in his little brother until now. Tertius was unsure about how to feel and deal with all of this. While he wanted a good relationship with his son, he felt it odd and felt left out, knowing now that Charis went to see Teutus without his knowledge. On top of this, Charis wanted to get to know Varinia. Tertius felt this was a new disaster building up. He didn't like it.

"I'll think about it." Tertius then said and opened his mouth to say more, but then Hector stood in the doorway and Tertius gave him a nod to enter. He looked at Charis as his body slave came towards him, "Go and get ready for our day and tell Rhoda to make something easy to eat for our litter." 

And that was that. Hector busied himself with finding a comb for Tertius' hair along with some lotion to smear on him, seeming to ignore Charis, but he'd seen the way Tertius looked at her and he'd heard the tone of his voice. At least they weren't always a happy couple. Hector was at least pleased with that.

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I'll think about it. She swallowed and glanced at him warily, opening her mouth and then shutting it tight again with a little sigh. Tentatively she stepped round the bed to his side, hands falling from her half-done braid to rest on the sides of his neck. "I'm sorry. I've disappointed you?" Probably. Teutus was a sore subject for him, she realised she shouldn't have been quite so cavalier in mentioning him. She nodded at his instruction and took a step back with a secondary sigh, side-stepping Hector as she did. Wife not a slave, you're a wife not a slave. "Of course." She gave a half-smile and then without even a glance in Hector's direction, padded away to her own room, uneasiness settling heavily across her shoulders. 

It took her a little while to get ready - first she bathed quickly in the small baths in the domus, scrubbing remnants of last night off of her skin until she was fresh and raw. Jocasta helped her begrudgingly, as did Peregrinus in his own way and she got distracted playing with him so by the time she finally made it to the Atrium she'd been longer than intended. She carried her son on her hip though, his pudgy arms gripping the fine material of her nice new pink chiton. She understood proper Roman wives wore a stola but given she wasn't a proper wife, figured the dowdy ugly things weren't for her. That suited her fine. "He wanted to see his Tata before we left." She grinned at Tertius and as if on cue, Peregrinus reached out a chubby fist in Tertius' direction. Jocasta had her palla in a shade of pale blue ready to wrap around her but she wanted to give Tertius an opportunity to see his son (and remind him just why they were doing this...) before they left.

 

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When he said their marriage would function with them having their own interests to follow too, he didn't mean that Charis shouldn't tell him what she'd been up to. And she knew what Teutus meant to him and that it was, indeed very much, a sore subject for him. So to know she'd gone to see him the day after she was freed, and was even going to bring Peregrinus there and meet Varinia and know her... that all this had been planned without his knowledge... that was disappointing. She couldn't claim by now that she didn't know how Tertius would feel about it. Didn't she know him well enough now? She sighed and she came over to him, touching him, apologizing, wondering she had disappointed him. Tertius looked down upon her, "You have. You know I don't like that." He said and then he'd instructed her to go and get ready too and bring a message to Rhoda. Not because she was his slave, because she wasn't, but because she was his wife and supposed to tend to her husband like that. 

She left then and Hector took his time to take care of tertius, without asking inappropriate questions or anything, he was just there, caring fingers touching Tertius and giving him the soft tenderness he needed right now. Tertius still considered getting rid of Hector, mostly because of their history, because he wouldn't go without a body slave, especially not at his age. But Hector knew him so well. It was only when Tertius was dressed and ready that the slave looked up at him and asked if he could do more. But he'd done enough, more than enough, and Tertius felt more relaxed now. He left his chamber and Charis was waiting in the atrium together with Peregrinus. She was looking very neat and pretty and grinned at him, almost making him forget their little disagreement before. 

Tertius took Peregrinus in his arms and chuckled, "I swear he's getting heavier each day. Soon we won't do this anymore." He said and Peregrinus reached for the edge of his toga, tugging at it, "You'll have one of these soon enough. Before we know it." He promised his son and Peregrinus tugged harder at it. Tertius handed Peregrinus towards Jocasta then, "We're going out for a few hours. Is everything ready?" He then asked, looking at Charis, trusting she'd made sure there was food and drinks for them in the litter and that that was ready for them too. Along with their entourage of slaves and guards.

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She smiled genuinely, relaxing a little as Tertius took Peregrinus. At almost a year and a half old he was getting a little too heavy for her slight frame to carry, but she still cherished the closeness with her son. Even if she now slept in different rooms and he had nurses to look after him where she was otherwise busy, he was still the most important thing in her life and she loved him to the ends of the earth. She'd tied herself in softer, velvet chains as Tertius' wife for him. Seeing Tertius smile and chuckle about a toga made it all worth it. 

Jocasta nodded mutely as she took the boy back. "Domina organised the litter, food and drink and your lictors to escort you, dominus." Charis arched a brow at Tertius and allowed herself to be wound in her expensive, soft palla. You see? Her look almost said, not always so useless. Charis leant to leave a soft kiss on her son's forehead who babbled and did that addictive, adorable little laugh and with one final sweep along his cheek with her finger, she moved through the atrium and out onto the street where the entourage and litter was waiting. It was still so unusual to her to have so much fuss. She could have made do walking there. 

She allowed herself to be helped into the litter by one of the slaves and settled herself against the cushions, moving the palla from her neatly done-up hair. All of this refinement, all for her. Hoping Tertius had forgotten, or at least moved on, from their little disagreement she offered him a light smile as he made his way into the litter. "After we go to the temple, at the markets, I was hoping to get some jewellery for Antonia. She's growing up and I thought I'd get her a gift from me, to wear, if you think she'd like it?" His daughter was always a safe topic of conversation.

 

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Tertius could still carry his young son with ease, but he was getting heavier and he knew that Peregrinus would be better off wandering on his own small feet. He needed to learn to walk properly, to do things on his own. Become a strong and courageous boy and eventually a man. Tertius could only hope he'd live long enough to see it. He would often pretend otherwise, but he knew he wasn't young anymore. Jocasta took Peregrinus from his arms and Jocasta explained that a litter, food and lictors were all ready to escort them both. Meanwhile Charis was wrapped in her palla and gave Tertius a look, before she kissed Peregrinus' head and followed Tertius out to their litter. Tertius climbed in first, settled agains the cushions in one end of the litter and Charis followed to face him.

He'd not forgotten their little disagreement from before, how could he? She had gone to see his son without his knowledge, she'd more or less planned to get and have dinner with them with Peregrinus too and Tertius didn't like the idea one bit. Teutus had never been interested in his new little brother. And he feared what they'd all say about him, what they would discuss. He wanted so desperately to trust Charis, but he almost felt betrayed, again. His thoughts ventured to Varinia. She had been nothing but kind words and smiles when she came to see him and he had found that he still adored her. Charis never looked at him like that. 

She broke into his thoughts, apparently concerned with what to do after the visit to the temple. She wanted to shop for Antonia.

"I think Antonia will like anything you give to her." Tertius said with a smile, "I am glad that she has you now. Maybe you could teach her some modesty." He added, because the older Antonia grew, the more he thought that would be good for her. Although it was almost too late. Her future husband would have to be wealthy.

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She smiled softly and then let out with a little chuckle. "You think I'm modest?" She quirked a brow as the litter set off at a slow, jostling pace down to the Temple. Charis - even now free - didn't like to adorn herself in the expensive fabrics and jewels she might have been allowed to buy. She liked simple, practical things.

 "I'm glad to have her." She said with a soft sigh and looked out through the curtains to the passing crowds. Rome was always so busy. Her voice was almost wistful as she spoke. "I always wanted a daughter. I know she's not mine, of course, but still." Granted Charis' age meant she was more akin to a sister than a mother but still. She was speaking truthfully. She had always wanted a little girl, and Peregrinus - love of her life that he was - hadn't changed that. "You worry about her?" She glanced at him. The comment had struck her as odd. Modest. Antonia could be precocious and outlandish and was most certainly, definitely spoiled, buts he was a child and an innocent.

 

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Tertius smiled when Charis wondered if she was modest, "You are certainly more modest than most other wives to Senators here in Rome. Not that I mind." It was part of her charm. Perhaps it was her years as a slave, that made her more modest than the others, or maybe she'd just always been like that and didn't like to overly decorate herself. Besides, she was beautiful as she was. On the other hand of course, being able to spoil your wife and having your wife show off just what you could afford to give her, was a showoff of wealth too. Perhaps he should encourage it more. Well, it was something to consider. 

The conversation continued about Antonia and Charis said she was glad to have her. She was? Then she spoke about having a daughter and Tertius smiled, "You are what she needs now. She lacks a mother and if you wanted a daughter... then I don't see the issue." Tertius replied and picked a grape from a bowl of fruit placed in the litter. Charis asked if Tertius worried about his daughter. Of course he did, she was his daughter and his only one too. Boys would grow up to have power and a lot of freedom, but women and in particular daughters were different. He wondered if he'd have more daughters or sons. If Charis should fall pregnant again, he didn't think he'd mind. She was a good mother. And most of the time, she was a good wife. Except for when she wasn't honest with him and didn't tell him important things, like her visit with Teutus. Right, she asked a question.

"Of course I worry. She's becoming a woman and I will soon look for a husband for her. I want the best for her. And..." He paused, "She's all that her mother left behind." Antonia, his wife, had been perfect and that's why he married her. Not because he was in love or because it was just practical, but because he did like her and because they had the same goals and they understood each other. Maybe he had set his hopes too high, when he married Charis. But perhaps he could still get that again. If only Charis would trust him.

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"I'm happy to be that for her." She commented with a small smile although she winced and gave him an amused expression, "Although I'm only ten years older than her. So maybe a sister, more than a mother." She chuckled. Tertius' age was an enigma to her, but she suspected he was almost double her twenty-two years, or getting close to it. Not that it seemed to be an issue in Rome - she'd met a few women with husbands old enough to be their grandparents. It seemed wrong to her - both for the women, and for the men who likely couldn't keep up with their pretty, young wives. She suspected if she had to endure something like that then a lover on the side would be an attractive option. She kept all of those thoughts to herself though, naturally.

She gently reached out a hand to squeeze his own as he admitted his worries. Tertius so rarely showed weakness, but she could see how talk of his late wife pained him. Likewise the prospect of marrying off his daughter was hard as well. She still seemed so small, so young to Charis, although she supposed she had only been sixteen to Antonia's thirteen when she had first been married. "And what an excellent legacy she left, Antonia is a beauty and has charm by the bucketful." Her spoiled nature not withstanding. She squeezed his hand again with her smaller one before retreating it to her lap. "Time moves too quickly." She commented as she raised small fingers to brush open the curtains a little so she could look outside, "I still can't believe Peregrinus is a year and a half already. It feels like just yesterday that I was pregnant, doesn't it?" 

 

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He was glad that Charis and his daughter got along so well. Antonia had always been curious about Charis and liked her, so there really was not any issue with them being friends. And Charis was the only person Antonia would ever know to be her mother, since her own died when she was still so small. Then Charis pointed out their ages and he nodded, although it felt a bit weird to think about his wife as the sister to his daughter. Something was off about that too, somehow... "Or maybe just a friend to be there for her." He suggested. Meanwhile the litter gave them a slightly bumpy ride, but not so much so they couldn't eat their simple snacks and have a conversation. He mentioned that Antonia was all he had from her mother, but of course he worried about her. Perhaps even more because of that. 

Charis leaned over to squeeze his hand and complimented his daughter. Tertius gave her a faint smile, "She does. Thank you. But all that also provides reason to worry." Men liked beautiful and charming young women and that was both a good and a bad thing, when you had a daughter of that age. He wanted to keep her safe and pure - yet she would also need to show her charm and beauty off if he was to find a proper husband for her. Maybe in a few years. Not now.

She pulled her hand back then and spoke of how time flew by and Peregrinus was already a year and a half... "Yes, time does move quickly sometimes." He replied, although he did not comment on the pregnancy, because that was kind a rough patch in their odd relationship and history together. One he'd rather not think about, although of course he knew that Charis might never forget it. And what he did to her. And yet now, she was his wife. Tertius sighed and leaned back. There was no way to erase the past. All one could do was attempt to make a better future.

@Sara

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She sighed and nodded. She knew better than most the desires of men in Rome and young Antonia - beautiful and charming (if not spoiled) would no doubt be a catch. She only hoped Tertius' often hidden side of sense would prevail and he'd choose well for her. A loveless marriage was an anchor tied to a heel and she didn't want that for the little girl. But Tertius was distracted, she could tell by his sigh after he spoke of time slipping through their fingers and she cast her eye over him in concern. She felt a great wave of frustration wash over her from the tips of her toes to her chest. Her inability to gauge his moods made these moments hard. Did he wish her to be silent and respectful and stop her talking? Or did he wish for the playful, forthright Charis she had once been? She took a bet on the latter.

Gingerly, she moved. She was still a slip of a thing, even after childbirth, and so as she pushed herself to a sort of half-stand in the litter, the bearers could mercifully take it and carried on walking. Carefully, she shuffled over the pillows and food until she was next to him, and she squeezed herself in between him and the curtained window, her arm pressed against his. She moved a hand to stroke his softly. "Today's a happy day." She said with a quiet murmur and squeezed his hand. "You don't look happy. Smile for me?" Her lips twitched in a smile of her own.

 

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Antonia was a very beautiful and charming young woman. She could certainly charm her father, but he'd yet to dare taking her to any social events. Once her time came, her time to find a husband, he was certain it wouldn't be that hard. The daughter of a Praetor of Rome, looking like she did? Able to make eyes and smiles like she was? She was a catch. But she was also his daughter. The only thing he had left of his wife and it was more than ten years ago since she passed now. Time did fly too quickly and he more often felt like it was flying away from him. He seemed to fall into some kind of daydream about it all again, sighing and staring into nothing, until Charis suddenly moved in the litter. Proving that she was becoming a real Roman wife, with no regard for the slaves carrying the litter while she moved around in here. She shifted over to his side, and he lifted an arm so she could nestle against him and she stroked him softly. Spoke of today being a happy day and he didn't look so happy.

Tertius gave her a smile, "I'm sorry, I just... grow thoughtful sometimes. More often, lately." Tertius said, "But you're right, this is supposed to be a happy day. We'll be at the temple soon and can make our sacrifices and our wishes for Vesta. For us and our family." He said and squeezed her shoulder, his fingers caressing her arm. Sometimes he felt lucky, to have such a beautiful young wife, but then he remembered again how she did things without telling him and thinking it would be fine... when she should know his moods by now. It's not like she moved into the house yesterday, after all. 

@Sara

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Charis peered up at him as she nestled herself under his arm, curled closely to his body. She watched his smile and returned it with one of her own as he apologised. She could probably count on one hand the times her husband had apologised to her. She nodded as he squeezed her shoulder, speaking of their plans and letting his fingers stroke the pale skin of her arm. Her smile softened. "For us and our family." She repeated. 

Not knowing what else really  to say, she leant up to leave a soft kiss on his cheek and then curled back up at his side, stretching her legs out with a contented sigh in front of her. "And then I do need to go to the markets to be dull and look at jewellery," She chuckled and stroked her fingers across his chest, "Hopefully I won't bankrupt you with my tastes." She'd always been a woman of practical, simple fashions but she knew she had to look the part nowadays and he'd want her to take an interest in her appearance, and so she did. Or tried to, at least. "But maybe after that, if you have the time, we could take a walk somewhere? Together?" 

 

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She was being very sweet, he thought, when she reached up to kiss his cheek softly. Perhaps she enjoyed this, leaving the house with him. It wasn't exactly an adventure, but it was something else than staying at home. He knew his terms for her for their marriage were maybe a little harsh... but he really couldn't risk losing his son, his only true heir. Even if he was beginning to trust her again, and adored her when she nestled against him and kissed him and tried to cheer him up... a part of him would never forget how things had been between them before Peregrinus' birth. How she'd tried to rid him of his son. And now they both loved Peregrinus. Think if she never had him! Then they wouldn't be here, now. She should be grateful for what he had done, shouldn't she? Hopefully she was. And at least right now she seemed happy to leave the house with him.

She spoke then of how she needed to go to the markets to look at jewelry. Be dull? Tertius chuckled when she did, looking at her, "I doubt you'll bankrupt me. And is it dull to look at jewelry? The other ladies don't seem to think so." Then again, she wasn't like them. She wasn't born into Roman wealth, but she had it now, through him.

Charis then suggested to take a walk somewhere, together. Which caused him to glance at her again, a particular walk coming back to his mind, in the gardens of Sullust and something with a private bench where no one saw them... "I will make time for it, if that's what you want. Where did you think we should walk?" 

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She smiled a little and shrugged as he chuckled. "It's not something I've ever really done before." She admitted. Of course she had jewellery at home, back in Britannia, but they had largely been heirlooms or serviceable pieces her father, husband or brother had created for fun or sentimental reasons at the forge or otherwise. The thought that her most treasured piece - the simple leather bracelet from her late husband - lay in the desk of her current husband, stolen off of her in punishment, made her uneasy. And sick with shame. She shoved those feelings away as quickly as she could. 

The same thought occurred to Charis as he asked where they should go. She remembered the walk vividly. She offered a slightly wry smile, brows arched; "The Gardens of Sullust are always beautiful." And then her smile became a grin and she shrugged, leaving the memory back in its box where it belonged. "But I..think I should know more about Rome. And the Empire. If I'm to attend dinners and parties and things with your friends." Who were all far, far more educated than her - even the women. She glanced up at him and stilled her fingers on his chest; "I've heard about the library at the Palatine? Or Augustus' mausoleum? What do you think?"

 

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