She had grown up, there was no doubt about that. Gone was the little girl he had seen endlessly trailing after Domina, now stood a women. A beautiful one at that.
He had first seen her at the games; he had looked up into the pulvinus to salute Dominus when she had caught his eye. She was standing behind Domina, her head bent down ever so slightly, even from the distance it was from the sand he could see her flawless flesh, her dark hair, the curvature of her body fit for a goddess. It wasn’t until she had looked up, slowly, as if hesitant to look down in the arena had she truly captivated him.
Her luscious lips drew him in, but what made him stay there was her eyes; a beautiful deep brown that seemed to shine like a jewel right into his soul.
Little Naevia had blossomed.
He could see the Domina had draped herself across the seat on the balcony that over looked the training yard; she had the Jeweller with her, as well as Naevia.
“Crixus!” called Doctore sharply, he immediately turned his attention to his friend and mentor, “pair with Maximus” he barked.
Clutching his practice sword he approached his fellow Gladiator brother, squaring off to face him.
“Ready for pain Gaul?” he taunted bringing his shield up to his chest.
He snorted in amusement, Maximus beat him? The champion of Capua? Unheard of.
Shaking his head he grabbed his shield and thrust his sword quickly throwing him to the ground.
Rather than gloat as he sprawled he looked up to the balcony, the Jeweller had just handed Naevia a necklace which she looked down at fondly before draping it around her neck; it was a simple opal necklace, encrusted in gold. It was nowhere near being grand enough for Domina’s taste, but she seemed to like it.
It was a good choice, the dulled stones didn’t distract from the already beautiful jewels that were her eyes.
He watched her with interest as Domina shook her head and she regrettably took off the necklace.
Maximus made to thrust at him again, he stepped to the side easily before hitting him in the lower part of his back, he turned around quickly, swinging his sword as he did.
Ducking quickly he brought his leg up kicking him in the chest, once again sending him sprawling on the ground; he looked up to the balcony again.
She was now wearing an emerald piece, her chest bare; he stopped to see the perfect mounds of her breast, he could tell by her stiff posture that she was uncomfortable as Domina stood and left with the Jeweller.
This intrigued him, surely she had been taken by Dominus, displayed naked in front of many royals at a party, but the way blush rose to her cheeks it would appear not. She was untouched then. A shy little flower yet to be picked.
She looked down into the yard and her eyes locked with his, she held his eye only a moment, those brown eyes peering down at him, but seeming to panic she quickly pulled her dress up and turned her back on the training, rushing after Domina.
He stared after her in wonder; it appeared that his gaze made her uncomfortable.
She was shy, a quality he had not expected nor experienced before from Domina, Royals or whores.
She was different. She intrigued him.
He easily ducked out of the way as Maximus lunged at him; his technique was unrefined, still raw, despite his years at the School.
Turning his mind back to the fight he longed for a time where he may get to speak to her, to unravel her mind and perhaps make his intentions known.
She waited patiently for the guards to fetch him. Crixus. The Champion of Capua. The undefeated Gaul. These names were known to most.
What was less known was the title he bore in secret; Domina’s Lover.
She had recently been given the job of escorting Crixus to her chambers, a job that had been left to Old Gail, but since she had passed into the care of the gods, it was now her responsibility.
Today was her first time.
She kept her back to the door and her head bowed waiting for the guard to let him in. She wasn’t blind to the Gaul’s stares, but what could she expect from a blood-thirsty brute?
The door opened and closed with a creek, glancing over her shoulder quickly she saw him; in his sabligaria, coated in sweat and dust his body still looked to be carved from marble, truly a physique of a god.
Not letting herself linger she continued on, listening to his footsteps from behind, the silence was broken quickly by him, “This drought seems never to end” he said conversationally.
She kept walking in silence there was no need to encourage whatever it was that he wanted from her and if Domina were to hear them talking, she would be furious.
“How do you fare?” he asked, another common statement, though there was something in his voice that made her wonder if he really did want to know.
“Domina Provides for me” she stated simply, though it made her uncomfortable to talk she kept her back to him as she walked.
“That’s good. Good…” he seemed to say more to himself than her, she could feel his eyes burrowing into her, his footsteps stopped as he spoke again, “How long have you served Domina?”
She stopped, she was already ahead of him and there was no point continuing to Domina’s chambers if he was not with her, “All my Life” she said reluctantly looking around at the only walls she had known “I was born in this Ludus”
Putting her head down she continued on hoping to stop the conversation, she listened as he began to follow her again, “You have recently come to blossom” he stated with a somewhat surprised tone, “I barely noticed until I saw you at the games with Domina three moons past”
She stopped walking, three moons past? He had been looking at her for that long? She had only noticed it recently, when she had been forced to bare her chest in public, she turned around to face him directly.
He had a square jaw and a serious face held all the depth of a goblet, but his eyes, they seemed to be in deep thought and were the only feature on his face to betray any emotion.
He stopped to stare at her, a ghost of a smirk making its way onto his face, he seemed pleased to have finally caught her attention, “I fought Arnoch of Tarquinti, did you enjoy my victory?” he asked.
She chose her words carefully, it was best not to offend, “I was pleased” she stated, his smirk grew more pronounced and she felt the need to clarify, “when it ended”
His grin faded and he became serious, “It’s no easy task to sever a man’s head” he began.
She gazed at him; was there a spark of humanity in him? Did he regret the lives he took all in the name of entertainment?
“You must to find the right angle” he finished.
She flinched back, “I do not favour the games” she said quickly as she turned to walk again not bothering to care if she had offended him this time.
To her surprise he laughed, she stood still, her head down as he approached her; “well that is an odd bent” he began as he stepped in front of her, “for a slave at a gladiator school”
Her eyes immediately narrowed in offense, she didn’t like to watch people die for sport and that somehow made her different from a thousand others who served at these halls?
“One not to be straightened” she hissed boldly stepping closer to him so there conversation may avoid detection; she glared at him for only a moment before she continued on.
Whilst surprised at her own daring, she did not regret it; he was nothing more than a brute, a wild animal that thirsted for blood.
She heard his step quicken after her before he was once again at her side, “I did not mean to insult-“ he began.
She did not let him finish, stopping abruptly she gestured with her hand towards the chambers, “Domina awaits!” she hissed
He held her eye for a moment, something akin to regret and anger flashing through his eyes before he turned and walked away.
She turned away from him stopping to calm herself for a moment; why is it that he was able to provoke her so easily? Why did she care what a Gladiator thought of her?
Taking a deep breath she pushed it from her mind and continued on with her chores.
He watched as Barca threw his opponent to the ground, hardly anyone ever presented a challenge for the both of them anymore. Something moved up above, capturing his eye, he looked up to see Naevia leaning gently on the railing of the balcony to oversee the yard.
His eyes stayed on her as he replayed their brief encounter; while her shyness had hindered the conversation lightly he had known part of her mind, she did not like the games and within that thought he had insulted her.
Her eyes scanned the yard, stopping when they met his; he watched her jaw contort in contempt before she quickly pushed herself off the railing and headed inside.
Guilt clutched his insides, he hated that she thought ill of him; she did not know his mind.
He looked away in anger, his current situation vexed him, how was he to apologize when she would not see him? More so, how was he to make his mind known? He had no words to say to her that could possibly help his cause.
He watched as Asher shuffled along, he was a pathetic excuse for a man but had his uses, one of which might help him.
“Asher” he said watching as he stumbled towards him, “there’s something I need you to get for me”
“Whatever your needs, Asher provides” he grinned.
He resisted the urge to roll his eyes as the man attempted to befriend him. He looked around; he did not want his intent with Naevia known for many reasons, the foremost being that it was forbidden for him to be with anyone besides Domina.
“Follow me, away from prying ears” he said walking to the solace of the dining area.
What he wished would cost some coin, but to gain Naevia’s favour, it would be a small price… if Asher could succeed.
He stood in all his glory in the halls of Dominus for women touch and men to marvel. Whilst he usually enjoyed his adoring public, tonight his mind was elsewhere, he scanned the room for Naevia, a glimpse of her to ease his mind, he longed to see her face and to possibly know a little more of her mind, how would she react to the necklace?
This pulled his mind away, Asher was still to deliver; he would not hesitate to break his other leg if he was to be double crossed.
As a group of women passed on he was left alone and Asher approached laughing sarcastically, “A moment alone… a rarity for a man with such an adoring public, huh?” he asked.
He looked away, the man was dirt to him, a pathetic excuse for a man and no excuse for a Gladiator, he longed to cut the sacred brand from his arm, he was no brother of his.
He cleared his throat uncomfortably, “To business then, a difficult task on such short notice, yet…” he said producing a small cloth from underneath his robe, “carried to completion”
Looking down he quickly grabbed the cloth from his hand, feeling the jewels of the necklace through the cloth as he tucked it into his belt, wanting to avoid suspicion.
Asher lingered a smug look on his face, he turned to face him, his glare prominent, he was finished with him and yet he stayed. Whilst he could do nothing now he would make it known to him later that this little exchange meant nothing. He still loathed him. Let him return to him place in the dirt where he belonged.
Asher seemed to catch the meaning behind his glare, smiling stupidly he shuffled away
He remained perfectly still as the Lady Illythia and Domina came to observe him.
“Yours Gaul is of a fine cut, is he not?” asked Illythia, her eyes peering down at him.
“None finer is all the republic” boasted Domina happily.
“Such a man” she said, more to herself than anyone else; the Lady extended her hand as if to touch his chest, he watched as Domina glared looking as though she wished to grab his sword and cut the hand off herself, but movement from the back caught his eye.
Naevia stood behind them; she had jerked away, her eyes downcast though her body was tense.
She looked beautiful in a new blue dress; it hugged her figure more and exposed one of her long golden legs, how he longed to run his hand up the smooth skin of her thigh, to feel it wrapped around him…
Taking a deep breath the Lady withdrew her hand and he pulled his eyes away from Naevia who was still looking at the floor.
“I tremble again to see him at the arena” said Illythia her eyes roamed his chest hungrily.
“As do we all” agreed the Domina taking her friend by the hand to pull her along.
Free from their critical gaze he returned his eyes to Naevia, she looked up at him through her lashes as she passed, her eyes roaming ever briefly over his body before resting on his face, her brown jewels locking with his eyes, blush rising to her cheeks she quickly looked down again and hurried on.
His eyes darted to the side to follow her, she had been looking at him, appreciating his form like so many others.
He couldn’t help but let a small smirk creep onto his face, perhaps he had caught little Naevia’s attention after all.