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Ubi tu Gaius ego Gaia


Metella
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Early September, 77AD

The baby was arriving any day now, and Metella felt like a beached whale. She had to stop and rest multiple times on the short walk up the Aventine, even with Attis there to support her. 

"If I give birth in a temple like the consul's wife did, I'm blaming it on you" she pointed out in no uncertain terms. Still, she was happy they were making this trip. They had good reason to.

Hidden in a street on the Aventine was a small temple to two gods the Romans didn't actually steal from someone else: Pomona and Vertumnus. Attis liked their story for some reason. And the shrine was as good as any for two slaves to make an offering, and declare themselves married. Metella was wearing a clean tunica (made for her current condition) and flowers in her hair.

"Tell me why we're climbing up here in particular again?"

@Sharpie

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"Well, you kept on saying no to me," Attis pointed out. "If you'd said yes a bit earlier, we could have done this a bit earlier." Not that it was particularly necessary to do it in a temple, but it was the sort of thing Metella liked, and he thought she'd appreciate Pomona and Vertumnus, gods of orchards and harvest and all.

"And we're coming here because this is the only temple to Vertumnus and Pomona in Rome, and it's more suited to us than the temple of Juno Moneta up on the Capitoline besides being a lot closer to home than the Capitoline is. Technically we don't need to do it in any temple but I thought it was important to you."

He tightened his arm around her a little, careful not to crush her wreath - and trying not to think about the start of the day that last time they'd worn wreaths. He was wearing his best tunic, a rusty orange one that had somehow survived Ragum.

"It's just there, see?"

 

@Chevi

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"Oh? Well, it's your fault I am the size of a domus, so we're even" Metella pointed out; pregnancy had not helped her temper. But today, she was in a good mood, against all odds. She smiled a little as Attis put his arm around her. The small temple was just ahead.

"And it is important to me. It's not like we can have an actual wedding celebration. But I do want to be at least on some gods' good side when the baby comes." It was clear that Metella was worried about giving birth. All women did, as far as she understood.

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"I'm sure you will be - I don't see any reason even Juno wouldn't grant you her favour." He shut up then, Juno was known to be changeable and while Metella had helped the consul's wife in her temple, she might not be exactly favourably disposed towards Metella considering how she'd treated Juno's priestesses.

Thinking like that made his head hurt. Anyway, Metella was probably a long way beneath Juno's dignity and all.

"You could ask your friend the consul's wife to make a sacrifice to Juno for you, perhaps?" he suggested, readying himself for a thump by way of response.

 

@Chevi

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"She's not my friend." Metella pointed out. She had no illusions about a patrician woman befriending a slave. "And I don't think she is inclined to return to Juno's temple for a while either... Although I hear her husband might be donating money to them or something?" The gods could always be consoled by generous donations. Or the priestesses, anyway. "So let's hope your Pomona and Vertumnus do their level best..."

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"Patroness, then," Attis returned, and shrugged. She was probably right about the woman not wanting to bother Juno again for a good long time. "Dominus might? And quite apart from being the gods of fruit trees and orchards and stuff, they're the only two I can think of who are quite happily married."

They were older gods, too, which meant they were more minor gods in the pantheon, and that surely meant they'd be more inclined to grant their good fortune to a couple of slaves? Leave Jupiter and Juno to the senators in their pristine white togas...

The temple of Pomona and Vertumnus was smaller, distinctly older than the grand temples of the Capitoline and the Forum, with a far more homey sort of atmosphere. The statues of the god and goddess within were less imposing than the enormous statues of Juno Moneta and Jupiter Capitolinus.

Attis shifted the basket he was carrying so that he could help Metella up the temple steps.

 

@Chevi

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"Happily married. It sounds nice." Metella smiled, walking slowly up the steps of the temple. It looked friendly, and the couple of gods, standing jovially next to each other, did not seem very threatening either. There was no one else in the temple, apart from a plump priestess and an elderly priest shuffling around. They acknowledged the visitors with nods, and let them walk up to the alter placed in front of the gods. "I don't really know how to do this" Metella admitted; meaning the wedding, the marriage, and the whole ceremony in general. "Am I supposed to kneel?"

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"Not in your state," Attis exclaimed. They'd have difficulty getting her to her feet again, probably. "Um. I don't think there's any real sort of ceremony for becoming contubernales - you just say you are, and act like you are, and you are." They'd practically been that for months, anyway, until Metella had come right out and said it.

"I don't pray all that much," he added, and set the basket down. Hopefully gods of fruit trees didn't expect an animal sacrifice of any description; the basket contained a loaf of bread and some fruit - all that Attis could procure without having to ask his master for funds. Longinus probably would have given him some money, but this was for him and Metella, he was allowed to want to do something without having to ask, surely?

"We've come to ask your blessing on - us," he said, looking up at the two gods, whose statues weren't honestly much bigger than him and Metella. Pomona had a smile on her stone face, at least.

He reached to take Metella's right hand in his own.

 

@Chevi

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Metella stayed on her feet; she really wanted to sit, but at least she did not have to kneel down. Resting her hand on her belly, she watched as Attis places their offerings on the altar. She took off her wreath of flowers, and placed it there too.

"Um. I don't think there's any real sort of ceremony for becoming contubernales - you just say you are, and act like you are, and you are." 

"Well, we shall say it then." Metella, ever the practical person, decided.

"I don't pray all that much... We've come to ask your blessing on - us,"

Metella reached out to hold Attis' hand. She looked up at the statues; at least they did not look threatening. Kind, even.

"We declare that we are husband and wife, with your blessing" she stated, squeezing Attis' hand. "And we ask for your... benevolence, and your blessing on our child. Please accept out offerings kindly."

@Sharpie

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 "What she said," Attis declared, and squeezed her hand. "Which is to say, we take each other to be husband and wife." Maybe he should have said something about 'ubi tu Gaius, ego Gaia' to Metella - but doing it like this was no less valid and entirely them. Longinus would laugh himself silly if he ever learned about it, though, Attis was certain of that.

"If you could put in a good word with Juno, we'd appreciate it - and please bless our baby."

Whatever sort of life their child would have, Attis didn't know, though he knew that there were far worse masters in Rome than Longinus, who was more of a benevolent dictator in his house than the stern paterfamilias that he might be expected to be.

 

@Chevi

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Metella chuckled a little at Attis' words, but she was touched. This was it. She never imagined she would be married (formally or informally, although standing in front of the gods was as formal as it got). And now she was. And to be a mother soon. She turned to look at Attis with a smile. "Well... I guess we are married."

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"I guess so." Attis grinned at her, probably making him look a little deranged but oh well. "Doesn't feel much different, does it?" Well, they had practically been married before, but it was nice to have it confirmed. "Let's go - you look as if you need to sit down."

Being pregnant didn't look all that comfortable, really, and Attis slipped his arm around her to offer her a bit more support.

 

@Chevi

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"I guess so. Doesn't feel much different, does it?"

"It does feel different" she noted, leaning up to kiss him briefly. They were married; the game of flirting they had been playing for years was done now. She would miss it, a little. But there was a whole new kind of relationship ahead. "I like it."

"Let's go - you look as if you need to sit down."

"I do" she groaned; they walked out of the temple, but by the time she made it down the steps she decided she needed to sit. She lowered herself down onto the bottom step, huffing. "This child needs to come out soon..."

@Sharpie

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It was different, she wasn't wrong there. In some ways, Attis was glad it hadn't needed to be a big thing like the master's future wedding was bound to be - proper vows with a proper priest and the very proper sacrifice of a sow, and probably half of Rome crammed into the atrium and spilling out into the garden and through the rest of the house... Loud and boisterous Attis might be, he was not one for wanting a whole lot of display (well, if he had to be honest, slaves weren't used to making a whole lot of themselves apart from the rare occasions when they were the display that their masters showed off - and neither Longinus nor his father had ever shown any inclination of that sort!).

"I'm glad you like it," he told her, sitting next to her and keeping one arm around her. "I'd hate to have done all that only to find you hated it."

Though slave marriages weren't formal official things and could be broken up as easy as blinking by a master - but Longinus had long given his blessing to this particular union and Attis didn't think him at all likely to revoke that blessing and consent now. Whatever else he might be like as a master, he was not capricious, for which Attis would always be grateful.

"Soon, maybe, but not here - Dominus told me he's prepared to pay for a good midwife and everything. I think he'll rather like having a new child in the house." Even if they would have to try to keep him from hearing the baby when it got hungry or hot or cold or any one the hundred other things that made babies cry.

 

@Chevi

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"Definitely not here." Metella chuckled, reaching for Attis' hand and placing it on her belly. It had become their little ritual, whenever the baby was fussing around. "I am not wealthy enough to give birth in a temple." Not even the consul's wife could really get away with it. "But soon." she squeezed his hand. It was only a matter of days now. She knew he was excited and worried. She was too. "Come on, husband. Let's go home."

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