Dedicated to the Verenus/Lena shippers out there. Without you guys, i would never have considered the possibility!
A Year Later
"Do you ever think of Rome?" Verenus asked as he and Aurelia sat next to each other outside of Kailen's tent in the mid afternoon sun.
Aurelia paused in her basket weaving to consider the question. "Everyday." She finally answered as she scrutinised her work. She was getting the hand of the pattern, making fewer mistakes the more she did it. "I think about my family and what they are doing, if they are happy and thriving. If they thin about me and are proud of me."
Verenus watched her quick nimble fingers on the task with a small frown. "I'm sure they are." He assured her with conviction. "It is never too late, you know. You could send word by merchant ship to let them know you are safe and very much alive. That Aquilla played them for false."
Aurelia shook her head, not meeting his eyes. "No. It's better this way. They are proud of their Roman daughter. How could they possibly be proud of that same daughter who now calls herself a Briton? Whose very husband was the man who killed Aquilla, a man they had named son?"
Verenus opened his mouth to protest but he couldn't find the words. She was right, of course. It didn't matter that Aquilla had jeopardized the standing of Rome for his own gain, he had been a decorated General with powerful senate connections that would have benefited Aurelia's family to lofty heights.
"Let them grieve in peace." Aurelia said definitively. "It is kinder this way."
They lapsed into silence for a few moments, comforted by each other's presence to share a common background, and looking out over the new village of the Silure tribe. After the dead had been laid to rest and the tribe were reunited with those who had hid, they had moved on to fairer land further north with the blessing of neighbouring tribes. There they had built their village anew and hoped to heal the tribe from the blow that was dealt to them.
Half of the tribe had been killed or seriously injured in the battle. It showed in the now depleted size of the village, the ratio of men to women to children. Orphans were taken in by the extended family, the elderly were cared for by their neighbours. It wasn't one families loss, it was the whole tribe's and they all pitched in to hep each other.
It would be a slow process for the Silures to recover from such a loss, but if there was anything that Aurelia had learned from her time being with the Silures, it was their persistence and their willingness to take strangers into their fold.
"What about you?" Aurelia asked Verenus. "Do you think of Rome? Is there anything you miss?"
Verenus gave her a wry look, the corner of his lips turning up slightly. "Sometimes i miss the discipline of the Roman soldier's life, the structure it provided. I'm still not used to waking up after the sun had begun to rise."
Aurelia gave a snort of mirth. "I doubt Lena would let you out of bed before then."
Verenus's face was suddenly overcome with a bashful expression that made him look younger. He must be thinking of his lover. "That's very true. She would skin me alive if i even attempted it."
Aurelia would never have even considered the possibility that Lena and Verenus, a Roman Centurion, would end up together. She had been so adamant that Romans were not to be trusted and, from the very start of the two getting acquainted, had been antagonistic and sarcastic towards Verenus. He had bore it all with a cam fortitude that was impressive.
And then it had become a lot less antagonistic and a lot more welcoming. Aurelia couldn't help but watch it with a sense of incredulity. It helped thaw Lena's stance towards Aurelia, so Aurelia wasn't going to complain anytime soon.
"The Silure tribe is adamant they are going to stamp out all Roman notions inside of us." She said neutrally.
It was Verenus's turn to snort and he pointed at her rounded stomach. "I can see that. I guess that tea Bran has been totting around really does pay off."
Aurelia's cheeks reddened as her hands came to rest on the unmistakable swell of pregnancy. "I can't give all of the credit to Bran's tea, but don't think for one minute that i'm going to have the same amount of children as Elsa. I'm not that charitable."
"That is a shame." Kailen said, appearing from inside of the hut and crouching down beside her to rest his own hand on the bump fondly. "I rather like the idea of having a home full of our children."
Aurelia fave him a less than impressed look for his teasing. "I know how that is going to go."
Kailen raised his eyebrows. "How it's going to go?"
"When the children start crying ang acting up, you'll make the excuse that Bran needs you for swordsmanship and you'll disappear on me and leave me to deal with it."
"That would never happen." He assured her with an innocent expression that would have made the very Gods believe him. "Besides, our children would never act up. They will all take after me."
Aurelia's eyes narrowed to slits. "Oh really."
"Or they could take after their uncle Bran." Bran said as he filled the doorway with his bulk.
The wound he had received in the battle had healed nicely, leaving a thick pink scar on his shoulder, but he had limited some of the movement in his arm. It was enough for him to retire from the field and take more of a instructional role to the younger warriors. Elsa couldn't be happier wih the extra help with their growing brood of children.
"Let's hope they won't be the size of their uncle as well, or else Kailen and Aurelia would be eaten of of their home." Verenus teased.
Bran clapped him on the shoulder and Verenus made a pained 'oof' sound as the air in his lungs left him. "Be careful what you say, my friend, or i might take it upon myself to give Lena some of my tea."
Verenus blanched at his words.
Aurelia laughed. "Serves you right."
Kailen's other hand rested on her stomach, framing it with his long finders, and bringing her attention back to him. "You are getting big so fast." He said, smile widening in male satisfaction. "Perhaps you are carrying twins."
A warm glow diffused inside of her at the thought of carrying two. "This is a good place for children, is it not?" She murmured.
Kailen's face softened as he leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss against her forehead. " The Carvetii and the Brigantes our neighbours, have kept us safe from any Roman interference. We haven't seen a Roman scout in over five months. I say it is a very safe place for our children and the next generation."
"It's all we have ever wanted," Bran said. "To be at peace. To be our own masters. We may not have done anything to stop Rome invading more land, but we have remained free up until now. Not many of us can saw the same these days."
"And it will remain that way." Kailen vowed. "For our children." He met Aureia's eyes. "For you and i."
"For everyone." She returned. "Until the end of our days."
My thanks, as always, goes out to every one of you who has read my story. I hope it was as enjoyable for you to read as it has been enjoyable for me to write it.
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Aurelia, a Noble Roman woman, had heard of the savage British tribes, their mystic Celtic ways, and the battles the Roman army was fighting against them on their shores. The battles her soon-to-be Husband, Quintus Acquilla, was fighting in the name...