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Calm before the fall


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July, 77Ad

Formiae

Metella sighed, easing herself to sit on a rock, dipping her feet into the waves lapping the beach. As the months ticked by, her impending motherhood had been harder to ignore every day; seven months along, she was now sporting a very visible baby bump, and beginning to waddle. She was grateful the dominus decided to take her along to Formiae with Cassia. Outside the city, the heat was a little less suffocating. Still it was hard to bare, more often than not. The family was having a picnic dinner together, so she took a moment to excuse herself and waddle down to the beach to cool down. The sun was low on the horizon, painting the water with golden hues. Metella sighed, enjoying the cool water on her feet; she reached out to dip her hand in too, but leaning down was not really an exercise she could accomplish anymore.

@Sharpie

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Attis had watched his - they still didn't have a name for what they were together, not really. His better half...

It had been seven months or so since Metella had told him she was pregnant, and he had watched her over those months, with a sense of nervousness, protectiveness and incredulity all wrapped up together. She was now very definitely pregnant, the bump obvious to even the least observant person in the city, and it was with some relief that the master had brought her to Formiae with the rest of the party that came down here every summer.

She had left Cassia with the ex-gladiator Amatus for a bit and wandered down to the beach, where Attis had followed.

He bent to put his arms round her from behind, resting his hands lightly on her stomach, wondering if he would feel the child kick.

"How are you doing?"

 

@Chevi

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Metella heard Attis' footsteps and glanced over her shoulder, smiling as he wrapped his arms around her. He had been all touchy-feely in the past months, which she endlessly made fun of - but also caring and gentle, which she secrely loved. After that first scare with the consul's baby, it seemed like he suddenly realized the two of them would be responsible for a whole actual live infant soon enough.

"Hot and tired and the size of a whale" Metella muttered with a sigh, but she leaned back against him anyway.

@Sharpie

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"There's a bit of a breeze down here, at least, and the sea," he said. "You're not whale-sized. Maybe a dolphin?" He'd seen those, on the crossing over to Achaea after Sestia had up and left them all high and dry - and she would have made a good mistress, and a good mother to Cassia as well as being probably the best thing that had ever happened to their master.

"You're beautiful, you know," he told her quietly.

 

@Chevi

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She groaned at the dolphin comparison. They were smaller than whales at least. But she did not feel nearly as aerodynamic in her current state.

Attis called her beautiful, in a quiet, more genuine way, and she smiled softly.

"And you flatter me because I am incubating your child. But I'll take it." she noted, reaching for his hand to slide it across her belly to a spot that was stirring. "There. She's trying to kick my lungs over here."

@Sharpie

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"She?" He pressed his hand gently to where Metella had placed it. "How do you know it's not a boy?"

He couldn't help hoping it was a boy, simply for the reason that their child was going to be born a slave and male children had a marginally better time of it. Marginally. But this would be a child born in Lucius Cassius Longinus' household, where even a slave child had the potential for a half-decent sort of childhood.

"I'd flatter you anyway - I thought you knew that?" he said. "Oh..." That was definitely a kick - their child was going to be just as feisty as Metella, whether they had a boy or a girl!

 

@Chevi

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"She is a girl until proven otherwise" Metella declared. Honestly, not even the midwife could tell her whether the child was a boy or a girl and she did not much care. She'd love them the same. Whenever they were not trying to kick her organs in. She winced, but smiled as Attis felt the move with his hand. "She's strong." she muttered, letting him enjoy the sensation. "She will be as stubborn as you are..."

@Sharpie

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"As feisty as you, you mean," Attis said, voicing his thought of a mere moment ago, and pressed his cheek to her hair. "I'm not stubborn, am I?" He didn't think he was, not particularly - sarcastic, yes. Probably far too much of a smart alec for his own good, even, but he wouldn't have listed stubborn anywhere among his qualities, whether positive or negative.

"You've at least got an excuse for it, which is more than I can say about me," he added - he had been born a slave, Metella had not, although he had never known her to yearn for the freedom she'd lost.

"Have you thought any more about what you'd like the consul's wife to do for you?" he asked, curious - Metella had the favour of the wife of one of the most powerful men in the Empire, and he couldn't help being curious what she might like the lady to do for her.

 

@Chevi

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"Well, you keep pestering me" Metella pointed out, but she was smiling softly, and not really annoyed at all. She had given up some of the snark towards Attis in the past months. And she knew she could be a handful. She had not been rebellious toward the dominus, but she was also not as meek as some of the other women in her position. 

She shifted Attis' hand as their baby moved on to kicking the other side.

"I... have. But I haven't really decided yet." she shook her head. "Do you think... what would happen if the baby was free, and we were not?"

@Sharpie

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"Only because - well, you'd make an honest man out of me. Maybe." He couldn't help nuzzling her hair a bit more.

"I don't know how that would work," he said slowly. "What if the baby grows up thinking he's - she's - a slave when he's not? We wouldn't be able to discipline him - her - I don't know." He came to find a seat beside her on the rick; it was perfectly big enough. "But... I think, I really think, honestly, that Dominus would free you. If his friend, or his friend's wife, asked him to."

Which would put Metella forever out of his reach because Longinus wouldn't be at all likely to extend the same to Attis, which was fine by him at least on a personal level - what would he do as a free man, after all?! He would be happy for Metella if she was freed, but it would change the nature of their relationship in ways he couldn't begin to imagine right now.

"You're making me be serious, it can't be healthy," he said, playing up the petulance somewhat.

 

@Chevi

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"Only because - well, you'd make an honest man out of me. Maybe." 

"I'm trying to picture that" she smirked. In fact, she had. She really liked Attis. She did not like the idea of marriage all that much, but if she was going to do it with anyone, it would be him.

"I don't know how that would work. What if the baby grows up thinking he's - she's - a slave when he's not? We wouldn't be able to discipline him - her - I don't know. But... I think, I really think, honestly, that Dominus would free you. If his friend, or his friend's wife, asked him to."

Metella sighed. She wanted to be free... but she didn't want to be free without her child, or without Attis. And if any of them were freed without the others... it just would not work. Even if the consul's wife could make it happen.

"You're making me be serious, it can't be healthy,"

"Well, it only gets more serious from here" she noted, wrinkling her nose. "I don't think her favor extends far enough to free both of us. So... I'll just have to think of something else to ask."

@Sharpie

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"Metella - cock, I hate being serious. Don't - don't turn down the chance of being free just because of me, will you?" Attis wouldn't know what to do with freedom, but Metella had been born free. She could do anything, probably - Longinus wouldn't stop her. If nothing else, he'd probably set her up in that farm he'd promised to give Attis along with his own freedom, in his will. "If you'd take it otherwise, you should. Dominus won't turn you out with nowhere to go, I know that much."

Longinus was a remarkably relaxed and beneficent master. Some might almost call him indulgent - the worst he'd ever done to any of his slaves was to send Attis to his friend's house for a few months that one time. Anyone else would have flayed the skin from his back.

 

@Chevi

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"And do exactly what, as a free woman with a baby?" Metella questioned, turning around in a somewhat wobbly manner to face him. She didn't much like the serious conversations either but it was time to have them. And say some things she'd never thought she'd say to Attis' face. "Even if dominus helps... you're the baby's father. I don't want to raise her unless you're there... If I get to choose, I'd rather be married to you than free on my own."

@Sharpie

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"Anything you want," Attis said and had to swallow. He hated feeling emotional about anything but was aware enough that joking here and now would probably end up with him getting murdered. A grave in the sand below the high tide line didn't sound at all appealing.

"Of course you get to choose. And I'm not going anywhere - well. Not unless Dominus says, that is. But otherwise I'm sticking with you like a limpet on a rock. Or like the fish smell round garum." He leaned back a little to see her face properly. "Will you marry me, then? Or be contubernales, anyway? If you won't do the other thing."

 

@Chevi

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"Limpet." she giggled, watching his face. He had tried so many times to needle her into marrying him that he flat out missed the point she had just made. She raised her hands to frame his face. What a magnificent dumbass. She still couldn't believe he somehow ended up in her life like this. "I just told you I'd marry you, you idiot."

@Sharpie

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"You... you did?" He blinked at her. "So you did."

He felt as if she'd taken the wind out of his sails - he'd been asking her, off and on, for so long that he hadn't actually worked out what to do after she said yes, because she never seemed as if she would ever say yes.

"I'll be a horrible father," he told her. "I barely even remember mine, what am I supposed to do?" He had no idea where to put his hands, or anything else. Keeping the one on her bump and putting the other onto the cold stone of the rock they were sitting on seemed to be a good idea. "But you'll be a wonderful mother, so I guess I can figure it out."

He wasn't conscious of moving his hands until he was pressing his mouth to hers with his hands tangled in her hair.

 

@Chevi

Edited by Sharpie
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The look on his face was priceless, now that he caught up to what was happening. Metella grinned at him. Gods bless this man. He was an idiot, but he was a kind, sweet idiot, and he was her idiot. For better or worse. She opened his mouth to tell him no, he was not going to make a bad father at all, but he was kissing her now, and she had no chance to speak. She smiled into the kiss and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

@Sharpie

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