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Set right after Judge and Jury

Pinaria had also been hurt by their attacker, but Ovinia was younger and seemed to take it worse. Maybe he had been worse with her. Pinaria escaped with a cut on her arm, thanks to Spurius, but others might not have been so lucky. And Pinaria was strong. Or she tried to be. She had to be, for her son’s sake. Now, she had to be, for Ovinia’s sake. So she’d gone to her after the younger woman’s outburst, and Ovinia looked at her and Pinaria led her away towards a place where they could sit. Ovinia was stuttering with a weak voice…

 "He...he hurt me. I-I wanted him to under-understand what it felt like..."

 Pinaria nodded, “I know. He hurt me too. And I’m sure they will make him understand.” She promised with a firm, yet soft voice, while looking at Ovinia. The other woman seemed pretty shaken after what just happened and Pinaria was good at comforting other people.

 “But you… have to make sure you don’t fall to his level. You’re better than he is. You’re more than he is. You’re… not a killer.” At least she hoped not. She didn’t think so.

@Sara

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Words drifted past her ears in Pinaria's soothing tones as she sat down with a slump. Her fingers were still covered in Lucius' blood and she blinked at them, as if almost confused. She blinked up at the other woman with owlish eyes as she finished speaking, her voice comforting. She wasn't a killer. "But...I want to be." She swallowed as the door banged shut. She glanced around - too in shock she hadn't noticed the men bundling Barbatius out. She moved to stand but saw the stern look the little Hispanian woman was giving her and took a seat again, gulping in air.

She turned her attention back to the woman sat in front of her, her face crumpling with tears. "I...I just want to go home." And suddenly she wasn't a nineteen year old woman on the verge of marriage and children and responsibility, she felt like a little girl again that just wanted comfort. She moved to try and wrap her arms around Pinaria in a hug. The other woman couldn't have been more than a decade older than her but she had that warm, maternal presence that Ovinia craved more than anything right now. When she pulled back, she tried her best to wipe her bloodied fingers on her dress, gulping in more air; "You're Pinaria?" Her voice was quieter though, hushed almost and drowned out by the others in the room talking. 

 

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Pinaria was watching Ovinia the whole time and when she finished saying that Ovinia was not a killer, the other looked up at her and said she wanted to be. And then the door closed and they both looked around. Their attacker had left the room, along with four of the men - Lucius, Alexius and two she didn't know, but they clearly had something to do with this too. Suddenly the room was a lot less crowded, which was good. Easier to breathe again. She looked back at Ovinia, "You think that now, you want to be. But you don't, trust me. Not that I've ever done it either. But I know what it can do to a person." She said softly and then Ovinia suddenly began crying and wanted to go home.

When Ovinia leaned towards her, Pinaria accepted the embrace and returned it, allowing Ovinia to cry in her arms. She sighed softly, gently stroking Ovinia's back, as she would do to her own son when he was sad about something. Ovinia was so young. She had not been married, she did not have children yet, as far as Pinaria knew. She'd seen the young woman before, most likely at social gatherings among Patricians, but she never formally met her. Then Ovinia pulled back, wiping her fingers on her dress and asked Pinaria's name. So she knew Pinaria's name too. She recalled that Alexius had told her Ovinia's name and he wasn't supposed to. So maybe he'd told Ovinia about her too, so they were even. It made sense.

So she nodded, "I am. Pinaria Gaia. You must be Ovinia?" She asked and glanced around, looking at the the other younger woman, the one who had started the votes and whom Alexius had looked at to 'control the mess'. Didia, was that her name? "Do we have any water? She needs to wash her hands properly." 

@Sara

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Ovinia rationally knew Pinaria was right; if she took a man's life she'd never be able to live with herself. Unfortunately, she wasn't thinking very rationally right now and all she could imagine was watching him die and a great, sweeping feeling of relief wrapping her up like a hug. The reality, she was sure, would be far grimmer but reality seemed a far-away concept for her, at least as they began to talk. But as she shuddered, wracked with tears, and felt Pinaria's soothing hand stroke her back, she let the enormity of what had happened wash over her. when she finally pulled back, cheeks wet and eyes red, she was gasping or breath and grasping for help.

Swallowing as Pinaria mentioned her name she nodded quickly and silently, casting a quick glance around. Nobody was paying them much attention and she doubted anybody heard her, but panic was evident in Ovinia's face. Then a rag was tossed her way by the little woman, alongside a snappy; "Are we going to have any more attempts at heroics?" to which Ovinia silently, vehemently shook her head. Any chance of heroism...or cowardliness depending on how one looked at what she tried to do - was firmly out of scope as she nauseously tried to wipe the blood from her fingers. They were shaking. 

Her voice was quiet as she spoke to Pinaria, and just for her - a whisper that the others couldn't hear; "T-they don't understand." She swallowed a gulp of hair as her motion to get Lucius' blood from her fingers became more frantic, and glanced around the plebs and slaves still left in the room, "I-if he has a t-trial, he-he'll ruin us." She was staring at her fingers, still stained red. That reason hadn't been why she'd did what she did, but it was a new fear that was just sprouting. She had did it to see him in pain and afraid and to stop the pictures that still pooled in her mind. 

 

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Ovinia did seem like a very sweet young woman. She had her life ahead of her still, marriage, children... but she also had the nasty meeting with their attacker behind her, and that might be an issue for her, even in the future. From what Pinaria understood, Ovinia had been hurt more than she had and she was obviously not feeling good about it. Pinaria felt sorry for what happened to her and for what it did to her. So she did her best to comfort Ovinia, keep her distracted, talk to her. Ovinia had asked her name and Pinaria gave it and explained she knew her name too. Pinaria noticed how the younger woman kept rubbing her bloody hands though and asked the dark-haired other little woman if she had any water, so that Ovinia could wash her hands. A rag was tossed their way along with a remark.

"I don't think so. Just... please calm down?" Pinaria softly asked of the other woman, not with a firm or commanding voice, it was more a plea than anything else. Ovinia did not need anyone talking to her like that right now. Then she looked at Ovinia again, who whispered to her about what the others didn't understand.

"That depends on a lot of things. I trust Lucius. Alexius too, I suppose." She knew Lucius better than Alexius, but they both seemed like good men to her. Men who wanted to do the right thing... "They know that our families want to keep us safe." She replied, "And... if that man... killed that Senator too, maybe that's what they will focus on. As long as he is punished, and I am sure he will be. One way or another." She added, giving Ovinia a soft and reassuring smile. She would be angry too, if the man was not punished, but they had made a promise, the others and she was quite certain they'd keep it. And if not, she was also certain she could rely on more than one of the men who'd been here, to make sure their attacker was punished anyway. They all seemed to want him to die. What a wicked thing, wishing death upon another. But in this case, it was at least justified. 

@Sara

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It depended on a lot of things, but she also knew her reputation and likely Pinaria's too were hanging by a single thread. All it would take was the man to yell out as he was taken to the arena or for execution that he'd...done something, with either of them, and the rumours would swirl and any prospects they had would be shattered like a fine glass cup. She found herself struggling to breathe and clawed the tunica away from her chest, fingers blanching as she gripped it. 

"I-I hope so I do trust them...I do..." with her life, "But..."  She swallowed. Focus on the dead Senator - that would be enough to send him down, surely? Atratinus was a man she'd met. Not one she'd cared for, and nothing had come of a proposed match but she knew others had been less fortunate...her thoughts drifted to Sosia and she squeezed her eyes shut. Nobody deserved to die in the dust like that. Alone. She found herself shaking and stood up on wobbly legs. "I-I need air." She pushed past the people still milling around and out into the coolness of the night on the balcony. She just wanted to go home, but couldn't do it alone. Lucia had taken her place in bed and she was alone. She blinked at Pinaria with wide eyes. "Do you think we'll ever feel better? About all of this?" she asked, quietly.

 

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They would be ruined, if it ever got out that they were attacked by that man. And it would be even worse than just the attack, because they had apparently both been very much alone with him, in the time of the attack. An unmarried woman alone in the company of a man, that was not a good thing, especially not for women of their class. But she could not let him get to her, or to Ovinia. And she trusted the men who took their attacker away. Ovinia agreed with trusting them, and that the dead Senator might also have an impact on what would happen next, but she still seemed worried. 

Pinaria watched her as she closed her eyes for a moment and then she suddenly stood and said she needed air. Pinaria let her go and followed her quietly out on the balcony, standing next to her. Inhaling the cool, night air. She was rarely out this late on her own. She closed her eyes briefly too, until she felt eyes upon her and Ovinia spoke.

"Maybe." She said, "Or... I think we will come to terms with what happened. You won't be the same as before. And you will never forget. But even wounds fade and turn into scars. They're still there, but... not quite as painful as before." Pinaria spoke softly and looked up at the sky again, as an idea began taking shape in her mind. She couldn't help but smile gently, as she looked at Ovinia again, "Perhaps we should start a charity. For women. Help others. I think that would be good, both for us... and for them, of course." 

@Sara

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Maybe. Maybe was not a yes, maybe was a thought that she might be burdened with this pain for the rest of her days. Maybe was the idea that she'd never be able to glance at shadowed dark corners without seeing danger lurking just beneath the surface, waiting for her. She sucked in and exhaled a shaky breath at the thought. She couldn't live like that. A faded pain was still a pain. She just wanted to forget, wanted a reason to forget. 

"Do you think your father would let you? Mine wouldn't," She swallowed and shook her head, "He wants to pretend this never happened...nobody  to know, nobody. If...If I were to start a charity he would think that people would find that suspicious." She sighed and then slumped back against the wall before letting herself sink down until she was sat with her back pressed against it. Even that feeling made her shudder at memories she was trying so, so very hard to forget. "But...but I would like to see you," She glanced up at Pinaria with a weak smile, "Again. If you would like to. You're the only one...who understands. The only one." 

 

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Ovinia was still very shaken over the incident with her, and maybe more now that she had faced her attacker again. Pinaria felt it too, but Ovinia felt it deeper, she thought. Perhaps because she was younger. Or because she'd been harmed even more by their attacker than Pinaria had. She felt sorry for her. And she wished to help. Then she had an idea for something that could help both others, and themselves. Pinaria knew that it gave some sensation within, to help others, so everyone gained from it. So she suggested to start some kind of charity. But Ovinia wasn't sure it was possible for her, as her father wanted to pretend it never happened.

"My father is not among us anymore. My brother is. I'm sure he would let me." She said, "I could be the hostess and you could attend and support the charity. There would be nothing wrong with that. Starting a charity is perfectly honorable and proper for women like us." She said, watching Ovinia who had slumped back against the wall and now sat up against it. She looked up at Pinaria and said she'd like to see her again.

Pinaria crouched down in front of Ovinia, took her hand again, meeting her eyes, "I would like that too. You're a beautiful young woman, Ovinia. You have your life ahead of you. You deserve understanding." She said softly and squeezed Ovinia's hand, before she stood again, glancing down to the dark courtyard in the insula, "He's long gone now. Perhaps behind bars. Hopefully, the next time we see him, it's for his execution." She could not imagine they would be called in to testify against him. But would she do it anyway, perhaps? She considered it. It might ruin her reputation. But it might also make people see her in a new light, if she was the one who dared to risk it all to have this man gain a proper sentence. Perhaps she would need to see Gaius again, see if he would mind. She had liked Gaius, Lucius' brother. He was a possible future husband for her. If he would not mind she did it, if he would support her and back her... then it might be possible. She would have to find out.

@Sara

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Ovinia gulped in air, trying to regain a semblance of composure that was rapidly slipping through her fingers. She knew her father would never let her start any such charity, not whilst she was living under his roof but Pinaria's idea was a good one. She nodded quickly and exhaled a deep breath. "Y-Yes." She swallowed in more air, "Yes that could work, that could work..." And maybe that way she'd get closure. Something to give her some more meaning than just listlessly being buffeted between parties and events and dinners all the while feeling like she was on the edge of some sort of breakdown but that she couldn't tell anybody. Well...mostly nobody. 

She gripped Pinaria's hand as she would her mother, or a sister if she had one and managed a weak smile. "If it is not," She said with a deep breath, "If that is not the last time we see him then I-I'll do it myself." She had never considered herself particularly strong but she had surprised herself at the strength of feeling she'd felt when she'd voted and when she'd grabbed that knife. She squeezed Pinaria's hand back with a smile that was weaker still. "We should go for lunch." That was what ladies did, "O-or walks. If you have the time to spare." Pinaria was probably married with a brood of children. And here she was caring for Ovinia. 

"We-we should go home too," She said and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, "We can't be seen here." 

 

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Pinaria would make sure to pray for Ovinia and her health, she thought to herself, while the younger woman gulped in air and seemed to exhale and inhale deeply, while she spoke. Surely the charity idea Pinaria had, would be just fine for both of them. And if she started it, what was so wrong with Ovinia joining in too? It would actually be right and perfectly acceptable and respectable. Maybe it would be good for Ovinia. She seemed like she needed... purpose. Pinaria promised herself to visit a temple tomorrow, for Ovinia. 

Then Pinaria had glanced into the darkness of the insula courtyard and mused about how their attacker was behind bars now. And they would not see him again until he died. But Ovinia gripped her hand and made a deep promise. That she'd do it herself. Pinaria looked at her, she understood the need. Even if it wasn't a right thing to do, she understood. Yet she worried for the young woman, but she could not make herself tell Ovinia it wasn't the right thing to do. Because for Ovinia, it would be. So there was only one other thing she could say, "If it comes to that, promise me you won't do it alone. And don't lower yourself to his level. Never do that." She said, her voice was firm but her smile comforting. 

Ovinia suggested they did something together then and Pinaria nodded, "I have all the time in the world for such things." She said, "And you are right, we should go home. Maybe someone can escort us. Maybe Alexius or Lucius, when they return?" Pinaria reached a hand for Ovinia to help her stand and met her eyes again. They had both been attacked, but Pinaria knew she did not feel half of the pain Ovinia did, "I hope you will be alright. But I will be there, if you need comfort." 

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"I already feel at his level." She replied with a wan smile and a shrug of her shoulders. She'd already tried to kill him and maimed Lucius instead...she'd voted to watch him die...she was scarred and traumatised by what had happened...she was his level. But she sighed, trying to shake off her upset and her disquiet. Pinaria was kindly offering a friendship and that was as good a distraction as any. Turning dark eyes up to the other woman she nodded weakly, the ghost of a smile on her lips. "Thank you." She swallowed. She'd have to send a letter, fashion some excuse for how they were acquainted that would get past her mothers eagle eye - even in her infirmity she was a canny woman. It shouldn't be hard though, there were plenty of reasons for two young well-bred women to know one another. 

Ovinia shook her head as she pushed herself to stand, letting out a pained sound of annoyance as she furiously wiped at her still watering eyes. You're being pathetic, an inner voice chimed, but she couldn't help it. The look in his eyes would live with her forever. "I...I don't want to wait that long. It could be hours." She swallowed and shifted to glance back inside the apartment. There were only a few of them left. "We could ask the medicus, to take us some of the way...where do you live?" She asked, it only dawning on her now that Pinaria might live half-way across the city from her. But at the woman's offer she sighed and reached out with trembling fingers to squeeze her hand. "And I for you. I...owe you." 

 

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She was sad to hear Ovinia felt like she was at their attackers level already, after what happened and how she'd tried to kill him even this night. But Pinaria still shook her head, wanting to comfort and help the young woman rather than scold her, "But you aren't. You're better than he is. You must believe that." She said and helped Ovinia to her feet, while the younger woman thanked her.

She wondered then how they should return home, if they should wait for Alexius and Lucius, but Ovinia said she wouldn't wait that long. Pinaria nodded, "You're right. If the medicus has looked at the other woman who was injured... maybe he can take us." She said and felt Ovinia's eyes on her again. A moment later, Ovinia held her hand again and promised to be there for Pinaria too, should she need comfort. Pinaria clasped her other hand over Ovinia's, embracing the younger woman's hand with her own, "Don't think about it like that. You owe me nothing." She said, "But if you insist, then I shall only ask for your friendship." She smiled at Ovinia once more, "Now, shall we go inside and see if the medicus is finished?" 

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