Summary: Season 2 spoilers
Category: Rome, Octavia/Octavian, mention of Octavia/Servilia
Written for: , challenge Five of Swords
She speaks the truth to her brother, Octavia is angry. With Servilia, with Brutus, with herself. Most of all, though, with herself. She should have seen this all happening, should have sensed something wrong. She supposes that she has a right to be angry. It’s better, as Octavian says, than her mother’s simpering over their dead uncle. Anger, at least, might do something about the whole thing.
She finds herself to be incredibly stupid, actually, to have played the pawn in the game. Was it that she was so eager to please her lover? Or something deep inside of her so eager to commit the vulgar act that nearly got her disowned. She looks at her brother now, they are as close as they ever were; outwardly nothing has changed, but when he looks at her… Octavia is certain that there isn’t supposed to be this jumping in her stomach, this heat inside of her loins, longing for him. All those years ago, listening to mother discuss his sex life when her own had been ripped away… wasn’t there a part of her who wanted to be the one, if only for spite?
He looks at Pullo, tells him a bit more than he needs to know. He is confident in him, knows that Pullo is his one and only friend. But still, Octavian is ever conscious of what he isn’t saying. He doesn’t reveal that Octavia was Servilia’s lover, never even lets his face hint at what the two of them did together. He merely says that he told Octavia, and she told Servilia. Octavian is confident that Pullo won’t ask why. Pullo isn’t the sort.
He doesn’t bring up his first penetration, though his mind wanders there for the first time in many months. He doesn’t ask if Titus Pullo noticed the way that the hair fell in waves down the girl’s shoulders, and even long after he forgot her name he could still remember how it felt to enter her and shut his eyes tight, holding her body to his and whisper the name “Octavia” into her sweet-smelling hair. How he told her not to speak because her strange accent broke into his reverie and for a moment he remembered who they were and where he was. No, Octavian says none of this. He trusts Pullo, but even trust has its limits.
She approaches him in the darkness, in a rare moment of quiet. “Are you well, brother?” she whispers at the doorway, waving the servant away, and shutting the wide door behind her as her gown ghosts around her ankles.
Octavian clears his throat. “It is a lot, to be made his son, and still be brother to you and son to Atia.” His voice is wry and his eyes light but his face smooth and calm. He rises from his bed to take his sister’s hand. “Tell me why you are here. Mother will be looking for you.”
Octavia flushes from the neck of her gown and looks down to her lap. “To be honest, I…” She takes a deep breath, pausing to collect her thoughts. “I feared I might harm myself again, Octavian.” A moment, looking into his eyes. “There’s an overwhelming sense that I must be punished for what I’ve done, for deceiving you, for our part in what’s happened…”
Her brother’s hand tightens on hers. “Then I too should have atonement. Do you wish to see my blood shed?” His voice is low and quiet, only just above a whisper.
“No! Of course not!” She jumps up, clutching her hands together, wringing them.
“Then,” he concedes, “We must find another way.”
She remembers crouching in the Temple, tears rolling down her cheek, begging to the Great Mother to be pure and whole again. Feeling her brother inside of her with every cut of the knife, feeling her mother’s wrath, Servilia’s caresses and cold eyes.
Octavia remembers seeing the disapproval in his eyes when he grasped her arm and wanting to cry and make the cuts anew.
He has scroll after scroll filled with poetry to a beautiful maiden, a girl with flowing hair and greenish eyes, thin arms and a sharp wit. One who stumbles so gracefully through the art of seduction that her prey cannot help but fall.
Octavian has the slaves leave the room when he locks the cabinet where he keeps the verses. He’d like to think he’s learned his lesson.
He moves his gaze slowly up from her hands, rising up her bodice to the skin of her neck, still pink, to her lips, moist and slightly parted, to her nose, to her eyes. He watches them and seeks out with peripheral vision the cords holding back the curtains of his bed. With one deft movement, he undoes the first tie.
“Hold out your hands,” he says, swallowing to keep his voice from breaking.
She does so, solemn in the ceremony of it, her hands still clutched together. He cinches the cord tight around her wrists, conscious that he is rubbing the fabric over old scars and he cringes as he makes the swift knot.
“There.” She drops her arms, now bound by the cord and held at an odder angle in front of her waist. Octavian reaches for a second piece of binding, knowing this will only work if he is submitted to the same as his sister. “Now you should apply the same technique to me.” He places the cord in her hands and places his together in supplicance before her.
Octavia frowns in concentration for a moment, twisting her wrists around in an effort that must pain her, but successfully ties the rope around his wrists after a long moment. “Alright. I’ve done it.” She paused. “Now what?”
A tiny smile lights Octavian’s eyes. “First sit down here, next to me.” He watches her move, trying futilely to arrange her dress once she had sat. “Our sin was in touching each other, yes?”
Octavia’s tongue flits out momentarily to wet her lips. She nods.
“Then our punishment should fit the crime. We should stay here for as long as it takes and not touch each other, not even move.”
After a moment’s pause, Octavia nods again. The room falls silent. Octavian can sometimes hear a bird outside, chirping occasionally and flapping its wings at the wind.
“Won’t you let me ask forgiveness from you, Octavian? For involving you in the first place? We wouldn’t even be in the mess in the first place if-”
He cuts her off, “That’s ridiculous, Octavia. Don’t be foolish. There’s nothing to forgive.”
She turns to him, eyes worried, mouth tucked into itself.
“I only mean that it’s not your fault. None of this is, really.” He looks down at his hands, at the cord that binds them, and then at the matching cord binding Octavia’s wrists.
And then, there is nothing but the sudden presence of Octavia’s lips pressed on his own. Her head ducked under his, mouth turned upwards to catch his. Tongue flicking out once more, but this time to taste him, and he, echoing the gesture. Their hands, still bound, clutch at each other, grasping at fingers and tugging at the cords tying their wrists together. One moans into the other’s mouth, and they fall backwards, hands between them but faces and bodies not separating even when nimble fingers undo the knots.