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Roman Lovers

bymystic_Arrival©

The silence of the coliseum was broken by only two things that night. The steady drip of condensation and the sound of human voices lifting in a variety of noises. These voices sighed, moaned and communicated in hushed whispers. In a dark stairwell two shadowy figures came together with the soft sounds of flesh slapping together. The moans slowly increased in both volume and rhythm until with a hoarse shout they ended. Silence again until there was a scraping noise followed by a burst of light applied quickly to a torch.

In the flickering torchlight these forms were revealed to be a young man and woman, in a state of disarray. They lay entwined on the floor together; exchanging kisses and quiet endearments until the sound of a gong told them their time was growing quite short. Rising, they dressed hurriedly, each into tunics and footwear. Snatching up a cloak each, they paused for another kiss.

"Hurry my love, the change of the watch will come soon and you don't want to be caught!"

The young man caught her to his breast and comforted her with a kiss on the head. "Ah Marie, Claudius and his fools shan't catch me this night, for I shall fly on the wings of love!"

She hissed in exasperation, "Haven't you forgotten the fact that as of a fortnight ago you are one of those silly fools too? If they catch you out here they won't just jail you, they will behead you!" Shaking her head, she pushed at him lightly, "Go now, before it is too late!"

He laughed with carefree abandon, "As you wish sweet miss, but I shall expect you in the same place tomorrow night for another tryst! Perhaps tomorrow I shall bear news of great import, for I have heard whispered secrets that bode well for our future." With that he left, running lightly up the steps and into the gloom of the night.

She shook her head and muttered, "Julius, you will be the death of both of us, I swear it!" Then she crept up the steps after him, peeking around the corners before venturing out and home to her lonely bed. She had no intentions of course of meeting him on the morrow, but his mention of a secret had aroused her curiosity.

The year was 269 A.D. the Roman Empire was flourishing, though it repeatedly cast its armies into terrible battles at great cost in an effort to expand its territories even further. Young men were refusing to join what had previously been considered a great profession and the emperor was becoming impatient. Claudius II had concluded the men weren't joining due to a desire to stay home with their families. To circumvent this he cancelled all the engagements and marriages. That is what had led to the meeting in the stairwell that night. Couples everywhere had to sneak around and court in private, even knowing that they wouldn't be allowed to take it further.

Julius and Marie had known each other since shortly after their birth and their parents had arranged the union shortly thereafter. Unlike most arranged marriages, this one seemed to be built on affection that had blossomed to love as the couple entered their teens. Julius was 19 and Marie 18 when the proclamation was issued, now a year later they met in secret to consummate their love in the oldest of languages.

The following morning found Julius sweating under a blazing sun as he trained with the others in his Cohort-about sixty others. They were practicing with their gladius' and moving in the long lines of their formation. Julius' mind however was not on the techniques they were practicing, but instead on his love and the whispered conversation one of the other men had imparted.

He couldn't wait for the end of the day when they would be dismissed and he could go to the baths in preparation for his meeting that night. The Centurion in charge of his cohort noticed his inattention and finally came to him.

"Do you have a problem citizen?" Julius quickly shook his head. The centurion gazed at him for a few moments longer before finally turning away and Julius breathed a sigh of relief. Managing to concentrate with fewer lapses got him through the day.

After a stop at the barracks, Julius made his way to one of the opulent baths in the city. Exchanging a brass Dupondius for admittance, he entered. The bath was one of the better ones in the city, built with marble and a spring fed swimming pool. A man was seated near the entrance and took his toga, carefully folding it and setting it in a special compartment where it would remain until he was ready to leave.

As he walked toward the pool, Julius noted the number of men seated around the smaller pools and in the library. The hair on the back of his neck prickled a warning; he glanced casually over his shoulder and noted that the man who had taken his toga was staring at him. When their gazes met, the other man quickly looked away. Giving a mental shrug, Julius walked onward.

Reaching the side of the swimming pool, Julius quickly stripped off his tunic and executed a shallow dive into the water. Reaching the approximate middle of the pool, he stood and washed himself quickly. Fed from a natural hot spring, the water circulated and all the grime he washed from his body was quickly swept away.

After finishing his bath, Julius dried himself with one of the many towels laid out for the purpose and then wrapped a fresh towel around his waist. Leaving his tunic on the bench, he walked towards one of the three steam rooms located along the wall. The bath was such, he knew that when he was ready to leave he would find it cleaned and pressed, waiting for him in the same place that he had left it.

Entering the steam room, he noted two other men seated in the humid darkness inside. Shortly after he took a seat on one of the wide benches, one of the men got up and left. He sat there for a few extra minutes while he waited to see if anyone else would come in before he softly spoke, "Is it true?"

The man opposite him stood and came to sit beside him on the low bench. "It is," He replied, "Valentine is his name, he has a church on the outskirts of the city. If you go there after midnight he will do it for you. But take much care, as he is watched. Someone has told them that he does this and they are just waiting to catch him in the act. I fear for him and those he is caught with as things will not go well for them."

Julius nodded soberly, then whispered, "Thank you my friend, I will talk to Marie tonight and hopefully she will agree. Then we might do it before the years end!" Rising as he heard muted voices outside the room, he nodded to the shadowy figure and then quickly left.

Dressing, he left the bath and went back to his quarters where he spent the next few hours in quiet contemplation. Shortly before midnight he rose and dressed himself before making his way to the meeting place at the coliseum. He failed to notice the eyes that marked his passage through the silent streets, or the shapes that followed his progress.

He slipped into the stairwell and could feel his heart lift in the anticipation of seeing Marie. He came around a small bend then stopped, his eyes darting around as he searched for her cloaked form. Nothing. He sat on the wide steps with a defeated thump and crossed his arms on his knees. Wondering where she was, he never even heard the quick light step that heralded her presence until her arms wrapped around him from behind.

"A fine soldier you make!" She laughed at him softly.

With a mock growl he pulled her around and sat her on his lap, "I was just wondering where my sweet angel had run off too that she couldn't come to grace me with her presence this eve. What kept you lover?"

A worried light filled Marie's eyes at this question, "There was a lot more activity on the street tonight. Soldiers were on practically every corner, it took some time to get past them. I am worried, Julius. What will happen if they find us here?"

Julius kissed her softly on the corner of her mouth and said, "I had a little talk with the centurion today, asked him about caring for a mans personal needs as such without breaking the new laws. He told me that as long as it didn't appear to be a committed relationship, a little leniency would be allowed. So the only thing we might need to consider is not meeting every single night. Though how I would survive without the feel of your body wrapped around mine at least once a day is beyond me."

With that, he leaned forward and claimed her lips with his own again, teasing the corner of her mouth with his tongue until she parted it and let her own come out to dance with his. She sighed in pleasure as his hand trailed slowly up her thigh, under her tunica to brush softly across her moist curls at the juncture of her thighs. His hand traveled up the outside of her tunica to rest on the swell of her breast before squeezing it lightly. They both felt her nipple stiffen under his ministrations and she moaned softly.

He broke the kiss finally and drew back, his breath coming in uneven pants. Helping her to her feet, he grabbed their cloaks and togas, spreading them out in a crude bed on the ground. He turned and looked at her, noting the flush of arousal on her face. His eyes lit up with pleasure at his ability to create this reaction in her. He lifted a hand in a beckoning, welcoming gesture, "Come to me, my goddess, my all. Come to my nest and let me love you until you die a small death."

She giggled at him and strolled to his side, "Am I really your goddess? Then worship me!" she stood there smiling at him, her legs spread slightly.

He came to his knees in front of her, gripped her thighs lightly and whispered, "Let me see all of you, my sweet wonder, let me drink from your cup of beauty." He smiled with pleased delight as she reached down and drew her tunica over her head. Her pale skin gleamed in the dim light filtering down from the street and he gasped. "You are so very beautiful!" Naturally he had seen her like this before, but each time was like a revelation to him as he found a new part that seemed perfect.

Today it was her navel that caught his attention, and he leaned forward to bestow a kiss on it, allowing his tongue to flicker inside. She laughed softly and placed her hands on his shoulders, pushing down lightly. He took the hint, and trailed kisses down until he parted the down between her legs and kissed her fully there. She moaned and sighed as his tongue explored each spot between her sweet lips, her hands tightening on his shoulders every time he teased the hard nub hidden there. Just when she thought she would die from the wanting, he drew it into his mouth and suckled sharply. She shuddered and groaned her way through a climax; his reward came in the froth of her cream that spilled out. When she calmed, she found herself almost totally supported by his hands cupped around her thighs.

Slowly, he lowered her to the tangle of clothing and kissed her, sharing the tangy taste of her nectar. Softly, he said, "Would you?" But he stopped short when he saw the look of panic cross her face. "Shh, it's alright, you don't have to. Each thing that happens between us is and should be an act of love and mutual desire. I never want to ask or force you to do something just because I want it."

Rolling atop her, he positioned himself at her entrance and slid inside. Catching his breath sharply at the exquisite feeling of her tight sheath enveloping him, he paused and fought the natural impulse to thrust sharply and take her like a rutting animal. He looked down and their eyes met, He began to thrust slowly as he lowered his head and kissed her, his tongue driving into her mouth in time with his lower body.

Gradually, his speed increased, his moans rose along with hers as he felt himself rising on the crest of passion. He reached between her legs to where they were joined and he rapidly stroked and tweaked the hard bud until she climaxed with him. Clinging together, their bodies wracked with spasms of pleasure they slowly settled back to earth and the reality of the cold floor beneath them.

Giggling like small children, they sat up and drew one of the cloaks around themselves, Marie sitting in the cradle of Julius' lap. She turned to him and asked, "So what was the big secret you have been holding and the biggest reason I am here tonight?"

Julius took a deep breath and then expelled it in a rush, as if preparing himself for a bad reception. Then he said quietly, "Marius has heard news of a catholic priest who has defied Claudius' orders concerning marriage. His name is Valentine and he marries couples that come to him. The marriage is only valid in his, Gods and the couple's eyes, but often that is enough. I have the directions and the will to see it done, but I don't know if you feel the same way."

Marie had tears in her eyes as she turned and looked at him, "Julius, how can you be unsure? I have thought about the fact I have been betrothed to you from my twelfth year onward. When I was in my sixteenth year I couldn't wait for the time to pass. When Claudius decided to cancel everything I was heartbroken to think I would never have you as my husband. Now you tell me it can come to pass, I am ecstatic! I don't care if no one else can know, you will know and so will I. That is more than enough." She looked thoughtful for a moment and then asked, "Is it to late now? Or can we go tonight?"

Julius laughed and hugged her to him. Kissing her repeatedly, he said, "I don't know, it is worth a try isn't it? Maybe if we run we will catch him in time."

They rose and dressed quickly, running up the steps holding hands and giggling like school children. A quick look out in the street showed no one and they walked onward. From the spaces between the buildings, dark shadowy forms followed them silently.

Crossing the city took some time and it was almost one o'clock before they arrived. A single candle burned in the window of the small church and Julius timidly tapped on the door. It opened quickly and a woman ushered them in with an admonition for silence. She led them to a stairwell and whispered, "Father Valentine is downstairs, go quickly and good luck to you both in these trying times."

Nervously they crept down the steps, their grips tightening on each others hands for mutual courage. When they reached the halfway point, a jovial voice called out, "Come my children, fear not, for you are in good hands." Reassured, they walked down the remaining stairs with confidence. Coming to the bottom, they saw a tightly closed door with light filtering from the bottom.

A rap on the door and Julius pushed it open. A young man stood there, wearing just his tunic. He smiled and said, "Welcome, welcome. I am Father Valentine and I bid you entrance to my humble home."

Julius started to speak of their desire, but was cut off. Father Valentine waved his words aside and stated, "I know why you are here, a single look into your eyes tells me of your desire. Come, kneel on these cushions and we shall begin."

The ceremony was simple and brief, but the three of them were so absorbed in what they were doing they failed to note the sounds of a scuffle overhead until feet were heard clumping down the steps. Quickly, Father Valentine said, "I now pronounce you man and wife! Though how long that will last I do not know as it appears we have been caught out and I don't have a back entrance!"

The door came crashing open; five men entered the room and grabbed all three of them. Father Valentine tried to bluster out of it, saying, "Here now! What is this? You are interrupting a prayer here; I demand you let us go at once!"

They paid little attention, other than to backhand the good Father and to tell him to shut up. Dragging them out of the house and into the street, they were carted off to jail. Thrown into dank musty cells for the night, each wondered about the other two, but there was little that could be done.

In the morning, Julius and Marie were brought before the tribunal, and questioned. Marie, being female was quickly dismissed as unimportant-it was common knowledge that women had few brains and were rarely capable of thinking for themselves. She was told to go home and stay there; she begged to be allowed to remain for Julius' trial but was refused. She huddled outside for hours, hoping for any kind of news, but went home at sunset empty handed.

Dawn found her pacing the steps and a guard finally had to threaten to lock her up again before she left. In a small café she bribed a man to go find out what was happening. He came back an hour later and she listened to his news with a sinking heart. He told her that Julius was not going to be put to death, but instead sent to the front lines of another legion that was preparing to advance into Gaul. That was the equivalent to a death sentence in itself as the Gauls were known for their ferocity.

She wracked her brain trying to come up with any idea of what to do, but there was nothing. During the noon hour a crier came round heralding the news that Father Valentine was to be beaten then beheaded. The initial execution date was set for three days hence, but Claudius II himself decided that he wished to see it and the date was set for February 14th 270 A.D.

A few days passed, Marie wallowed in misery. Then one morning, a knock sounded at her door. When she answered, a small boy handed her a note then ran away before she could ask its origins. She had to ask her father to read it to her, and it said;

Dearest Marie,

As you may have heard, my fate is to be sent to the front lines in the upcoming war, obviously in the hopes that I will be killed in the ensuing action. I have been told that if I survive the conflict, I may go home a free man once more and take up my life as I see fit. I asked, and they say that my life may include you as my wife, as I will have proven myself to Rome and may consider my debt paid in full.

It took great bravery, but I dared to ask for a final request, as all believe I won't be coming back and it has been granted. Tomorrow at dawn, a soldier will arrive at your door to conduct you to my side for a day spent in my prison cell.

I would dearly love to see you, but if you can't, or feel that your love for me has faded in light of the circumstances I shall try to understand.

Yours Forever,

Julius

Marie's face was wet with tears when her father finished reading. He looked at her and simply said, "You shall need your rest for tomorrow, I suggest you get some sleep." In a daze, Marie did as she was bid. Sleep however, didn't come easily to her as she lay in bed thinking of the sweet sorrow the next day would hold.

In the morning, she dressed with care, donning her best tunica and stola. When the knock sounded at the door, she snatched up her palla and left. She looked every inch a lady of high status as she walked quickly through the streets. When they arrived at the prison, she wasn't led to the cells as expected, but to the doorway of a room with a solid door. She looked enquiringly at the soldier who gruffly explained that conjugal visits were usually held in privacy. He went on to explain the door would be locked behind her, but if she wanted to leave all she had to do was knock.

She nodded, and gestured for him to open the door. Entering, she barely heard the door close behind her or the snick of the lock as she stared at the man sitting in a posture of complete dejection on the bed. His head was hung and as he lifted it she noticed his eyes were red as if he had been crying. He looked at her, a second passed as his brain assimilated what he was seeing, and then a look of complete joy infused his face.

"You are late, I thought you weren't coming!" he exclaimed as he bounded off the bed and came to her, enfolding her in the comfort of his arms.

She answered softly, her joy at seeing him clear in her face, "The soldier was late. I couldn't stay away my love! Not when I knew I would see you again and hold you!" She plastered his face with tiny kisses as she spoke, each word coming out slightly muffled.

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