Title: Pullo's woman
Summary: Eriene liked it when Pullo smiled. It would make his eyes soft and even if Eriene didn´t like to admit it he had the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.
Disclaimer: HBO/BBC owns Rome
The tavern was filled with people it was always filled with people whores, thieves, murderers, your occasional rich merchant coming more or less on business smells, bodies rubbing against each other, smoke, darkness .. it seemed to Eriene that the bukets of piss never stoped filling up and the pots of porridge she would make were never enough .. she didn´t even know why she bothered. Most of the time right after they would eat, they would vomit anyway. It seemed such a waste to her.
- If you can´t keep it down, she thought, maybe you shouldn´t eat it. Then I wouldn´t have to make so much of it and have to clean your vomit It didn´t matter how much she cleaned it, it would still smell, it would still stain but it didn´t matter the smell would just rise up in the air and blend happily with the other smells (sweat, feces, mud, dirt) .. it all seemed a conspiracy to Eriene No matter how much she would try, the place only seemed more thilthy as the days progressed.
Now it was night .. she was sitting in her bed staring blindly into the ceiling she had put a chair against the door, not because she was afraid that the men of the Colegium would try to force themselves on her they all knew she was Pullo´s woman’- but because sometimes clients of the brothel, in their drunken stupor, would get lost in the hole way and end up in her room She was about to fall asleep when a loud scream sent chills down her spine, forcing her to stand up .
- Juno help me! she yelled Why do you leave me with these bad people?
She had wondered that since he told her he had to find Vorenus to tell him the children were alive. He disposed of her in about 5 minutes, while he was packing some food, comforting Lyde and jumping on a horse (all at the same time it seemed to Eriene, which really confused her):
- Mascias will take good care of you, love he said quickly .. You will be safe, I´ve warned them what would happen if they don´t treat you right
- But .. she tried to object
- I´ll be back before you know it, princess and before she could say anything else, he was riding off. He was so happy and smiling like he hadden´t been in all the three months that they had been away from the Colegium and from Vorenus.
Eriene liked it when Pullo smiled. It would make his eyes soft and even if Eriene didn´t like to admit it he had the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.
The screams never stopped at the Colegium, not even at night, or especially during the night, Eriene didn´t know anymore some were screams of horror, others of laughter, some of pain and some of pleasure (if you can call it that). When she told Pullo that they had to move from Vorenus´s house because it was a place of death, this wasn´t what she had in mind. This was no place for a baby, she thought .. It was filled with murderers, thieves, whores and HER Gaia She had know it from the moment they came here He wanted her, she could see it in his eyes, in the way he looked at her And the bitch, pig, whore knew it as well. That´s why she treated her like she did . Gaia was supposed to be a slave of the Colegium but at times it seemed that Eriene was the slave, cooking, cleaning while the whore stood on Macias´s lap blowing on his dice for luck .
Of course that wasn´t the case when Pull was there She missed him, she felt protected when he was with her. She didn´t know why. The things that had happened between them in the past shouldn´t make her feel like this, shouldn´t it? A chair smashed very close to her door and she knew that she wouldn´t be sleeping that night.
The only good thing this man had ever done for her was unbinding her form a cart, she thought to herself. After that he did his best to destroy her life even more then others had done before him. First, he forgot her in a tavern. She can still remember the fear and the cold sitting in a corner watched by a dog that was barking at her, not being able to move, to speak, to be understood. When he finally came back for her, he made her a slave in his friend house and then he left Three years passed, then he came back expecting everything to be the same. But it wasn´t. She had discovered life while he was gone, at least an other kind of life that made her hope that one day she would mean more to someone then just a thing
No, now she aspired to become a person! He had given her that. A future. He was a slave in the Vorenus household that the mistress had bought with the money from the butcher shop. She didn´t know if she loved him or not, she only knew that they were the same, that she didn´t owe him anything. They had planned their future, even down to the years that it would take to buy themselves out of slavery And then Pullo came back.
She remembered when he called her in the middle of the night. He was drunk and his voice sounded so desperate that it woke Eriene right up. She knew what he wanted. She had wondered why he had waited all this time. No other man before him had. It was the first thing that they would do. He even offered her some wine. To make things easier, she thought. And she drank. She stood there while he was talking of his mother, forcing her to smile, not even noticing that she didn´t want to be there, talking about how he would never let anyone making him a slave, that he would rather die then have someone humiliate him like that.
- Like you humiliated me, she thought. Why was he telling her that? Did he think that she didn´t have pride? Of course he did. But no matter. He was the master, he had to take what he wanted and then one day she would be free of him, she would be free
- Come here, he said slowly. She did what was asked of her. She was a slave. She wasn´t free, yet.
- Come closer Take off you dress.
There it was. He was like every other man she had met She took her dress off and looked at him. He had tears in his eyes. It must be the wine, she thought’. He took her hand and placed it on his face. She did not remove it as he started kissing her.
As he was possessing her, all she could think was that her lover was up there watching form their bed, no doubt, as someone else was fucking his wife (that´s what he called her she was his wife in his heart). She felt so sorry for him but they had no choice. They didn´t belong to each other. They didn´t even belong to themselves. But some day, some day
And that day seemed so close too when Pullo told her that he had freed her.
- Thank you, sir. Thank you, sir! she said. You are the kindest man in the world, and jumped up and kissed him. He seemed so happy too, like a child.
He was the first person she told. Her husband. Now she could call him that. They had enough money to buy his freedom as well. They were people like everyone else now. She told him that it must be under Pull´s name that they marry. After all they owed him at least that. He agreed, of course, and decided to go and thank Titus Pull personally for the kindness that he had showed them.
All she could remember after that was screaming over her husbands´ motionless body which was laying on the pavement. He was dead. His head had been smashed repeatedly against the pillar. Titus Pullo had killed him. She could hear him saying: Eriene, sorry. I´m sorry. Sorry’? That was all? That was all he had to say? Then he disappeared. That was easy, Eriene thought. It must be easy just to leave and not to look back. She wished she could do that, but where was she supposed to go? She had to stay here. She was condemned to walk next to that pillar, to walk on that pavement and pretend that nothing had happened there. To forget that once again she had no future, that once again she was a thing and not a person. Sure, she was a free woman now. But what good would that do her? She was condemned to oblivion and silence.
And just when she thought that she had managed to recover, Pullo came back. He was badly injured and immobile, but was that enough? Of course not, she thought. The only way that they could even the score was if he was dead.
She took the knife and went up the stairs. She hoped that he was awake so he would see that he was going to die and by her hand. Then again, better if he´s not. That way she will have more courage to do it.
He felt her coming and opened his eyes:
- Eriene It´s good to see you, he said and smiled.
That was it? He had nothing else to tell her!?! It´s good to see you? She put the knife against his throat. He looked at her scared. It was the first time she had seen him scared. This mountain of a man was afraid of her.
- Fair enough, he closed his eyes.
Eriene found that she couldn´t kill him. Instead she wanted to asking him why. Why? Why did he do it? Her lover had never done anything to him. He was always saying that they had to respect their masters and love them. Didn´t you know? Didn´t you know that if you had asked me I wouldn´t have married him? she wondered. Not because I love you but because I would never go against your wishes. There was no need to kill him . There was no ..
- If If you can´t do it, that´s alright too, he said all of a sudden.
She couldn´t. She wouldn´t have done it even if her mistress hadden´t walked in to stop her. She realized that she could never be able to take a person´s life, and especially not his. After all, he was the first person to show her kindness, to thank her, to help her with her duties, to save her life.
That didn´t mean that she didn´t hate him anymore. The next day when her mistress asked her to feed and change Pullo, she was so angry but she did not dare refuse. He was so happy that it was her that had to feed him.
- Thank you, he said with the biggest smile on his face. So she spit in his food. It was a small punishment but it was the only one she could apply. He didn´t even change his face expression. That changed something in Eriene. She saw something in his eyes that made the hurt be a little more bearable and the hate a little less powerful. She was not angry anymore. In the days that fallowed, she got used to seeing Pullo in his bed, to feeding him.
She didn´t notice the pillar or the pavement anymore.
When she saw him packing she thought he was leaving. For some reason that affected her more then she liked to admit:
- Why are you dressed so? she found herself asking
- I´m going to the country, he said. Just for the day
He was just going for the day. He wasn´t leaving.
- I was thinking of stopping by the shrine to ask her if she´ll forgive me for all the bad things I have done.
She remembered. The pain was still there. Not as fresh but still there.
- Do you think she might? Forgive me?
She knew he wasn´t talking of the goddess. He was talking to her. She wasn´t ready to give him that so she just said:
- Who knows what the gods will do.
Still hours later she found herself in the country holding Pullo´s hand. Nonetheless it came as a surprise when he started talking:
- I know I didn´t get us started on the right foot killing your man and all and I´m sorry for that .
This must be the worst apology she had ever heard. And the first.
- But , he hesitated, I have a question to ask you With permission of Venus and Mars, I ask you to be my wife.
- Your wife? Married? His question surprised her. She never thought he would want to marry her. Why would he want that? But what could she answer? She had nowhere to go anyway.
- If you wish it so, master.
- No, no, no I´m not your master anymore. You can refuse me. I won´t be angry. Well, I won´t be best pleased but you know I won´t beat you or anything. A man like me can always make good money. You´ll have a roof over your head, food. I´ll buy you anything you want dresses, shoes.
He was right. He would give her protection and she wouldn´t be a slave anymore. She knew very well that being a wife was not much different from being a slave but still, she would belong to a family, she would be respected. She would be a person.
The pillar, the pavement were still present in her mind even now, while she was serving wine at the clients of the Colegium. Even now that she had been married to Pullo for two years. He had promised her that she wouldn´t regret marring him. And she didn´t. For the most part. He had been a good husband. He took care of her, respected her, let her have her say. She didn´t even remember most of the things that had happened before their marriage when she was with him. It was when he was away that she remembered. That she had doubts. That she twisted everything in her head only to forget it when he came back.
This time was no different. He walked in with Vorenus and the children. Even if she was mad at him for leaving her, she couldn´t help but smile. She didn´t know why but it didn´t matter. He was home. She was happy to see the children too. She embraced them. She wanted to do the same to him, but couldn´t bring herself to do it. Instead she smiled at him. He seemed so happy to see her. Was he? She wondered
She didn´t see him for the rest of the day. He was walking around talking to Vorenus and to Mascias. It was like he had forgotten all about her. It wasn´t until the night came that he remembered. By this time she was so tired. She was drying some glasses and couldn´t stop her tears . She hadden´t cried while he was gone but she couldn´t help it anymore. She didn´t belong after all. She wasn´t a person after all. She was still a slave that made porridge and carried piss around.
- Come to bed love, she heard him say. She didn´t want to come to bed
- What´s wrong, princess? A lot of things, she thought to herself.
- Why are you crying? Tell me, he continued. Something I´ve done I expect. He came very close to her. She couldn´t not answer now that he was looking straight at her.
- Why do you leave me with these bad people?
He seemed alarmed:
- They treated you all right , didn´t they? Name the one that didn´t treat you right and I´ll se to it.
He didn´t understand anything! This wasn´t about them. It was about him.
- It´s not the point. Why do you leave me here for Vorenus?
- He needed my help. I couldn´t let it lay. The children , he tried to explain. That´s all fine, but what about me?
- Vorenus him you love. Me, not.
He seemed so amused by her explanation:
- No You, yes he said getting even closer.
- He more. Why do you have to love him more? she thought.
- No No question, If both of you were drowning in the river, I´d save you first
She wasn´t so sure about that:
- I swear .. he said very convincingly You´re half his weight.
She was confused: - Half? she asked
- Half his weight . Not so heavy Easy to save, he tried to explain. No matter.
She looked at him. His eyes seemed so big and grey to her. It looked like they were filled with love. She kissed him. It didn´t matter. He was home.
They were having dinner with Vorenus and his children. Pullo was telling her a joke:
- A cow can´t have three bulls, he finishes. Him and Vorenus are laughing so hard. He looks at her:
- I hear! She says half amused. It´s not funny.
She walks in with the plates Gaia bitch, pig, whore. Pullo stops laughing long enough to look at her and she gives him one of her looks bitch, pig, whore. Eriene looks at Pullo. She wonders if Gaia would have laughed at the joke.
Disclaimer:Characters (real and fictional) aren't mine, no money is made with these stories and history isn't changed. Damn.