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Cosmo Zabini for Calliope Riley.
Attractive young wives really are a rich man's prerogative...
Her niece's humility was an admirable thing and had the added advantage of leaving Temperance feeling as though she was constantly rendering Blythe dumb with her words of wisdom and encouragement.Temperance Fairchild in Messiah
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Not too far gone to care
Tiberius had been picturing such an interaction since she'd introduced the concept half a moment ago. The stages of confusion, realization, shock, horror — and then the knowledge that they had been chosen to survive, and that their sibling's death allowed them to continue on. Yes, it would be quite educational to watch their child go through that process, he had to admit.

But entertaining? The idea had never occurred to him. Tiberius didn't really pursue things for the sake of entertainment, but sometimes there was a certain allure — the curiosity associated with being able to try something new, the pull of a unique experience.

And it seemed to him that the concept of a dark social experiment being entertaining wasn't entirely foreign to him. It seemed the sort of reaction he might have heard from Valeria, or Seneca. But when had Antigone's personality taken this turn? She had never been particularly maternal, but there was quite a gulf between not wanting to cuddle a baby and finding it amusing to put that child through a form of psychological torture.

Tiberius kept looking at his wife, his expression taking on a look of subtle appreciation. "Come here," he commanded softly.
He was acting strangely, this was definitely abnormal. Why else could she not gauge what his intentions might be, even to a point as simplistic as whether he meant her harm or not. Antigone was determined not to seem hesitant, however, she was suspicious not frightened.

For once she didn't question him or object, although she did make sure her movement seemed anything but urgent. Words seemed risky, Tig suspected she'd never find out what this odd behavior was if she verbally acknowledged it as she very much wanted to. Instead she forced herself to be content with the vaguely bemused expression she was exhibiting.


Tiberius reached out as she approached and rested his hand on her arm, but for another moment he said nothing. He merely examined her at this closer distance. Her eyes looked particularly bright. Was that due to the dress she was wearing, or the expression she had, or something else entirely?

"Sometimes the woman you are hardly resembles the girl I married," he said. The words themselves could have been taken any number of ways, but his tone made it clear he intended it as a compliment. "I don't know when that happened," he admitted, then he reached out and pulled her towards him, intending to kiss her.
The uneasiness she felt intensified when she felt his hand on her arm and between that and the intensity of his gaze she was almost regretting coming closer. He finally spoke and it was like he had thrust a knife into her gut. As much as her mind tried to reject what was unfolding, no amount of denial could reverse the visceral reaction he had triggered. It was a trick, it was definitely a trick. He was testing her. He was getting a measure of her, how easily he could manipulate her, she couldn't afford to fall for it. He was pulling her closer and the knife in her gut seemed to twist sharply. He was going to kiss her, he was going to kiss her and she couldn't tell whether she was rejoicing or revolting more at the notion of it.

By now her limbs had gone rigid and her hands had curled into half fists while she fought herself. An impulse just about won over and she met him in a kiss, albeit a little stilted and awkwardly as half of her was screaming at herself to pull away.


This may not have been the first time in their marriage that they were kissing each other, but any previous occasions could probably have been counted on one hand. Certainly, none came to mind at the moment. Any degree of physical intimacy was typically something he forced on her — either in the polite but insisting Victorian way, or more forcefully in the heat of the moment — and it seldom included any inkling of affection. This was... a change, to say the least. It left an unfamiliar feeling tingling in his chest.

He wasn't sure what to do next. This was unfamiliar territory. He tentatively moved his hands to her hips. Their kiss was ending, but he wasn't sure he could bear to look at her at the moment — he didn't know why — so he tilted his head to the side and kissed her neck instead.
What was happening? Well, Tig knew in a very literal sense what was happening but she had no reference point to draw from on what was happening. She couldn't think of one instance where she had kissed him and not wanted it over with, unless it had involved mind-altering magic but that didn't count. Surely she wasn't under the influence of something now? It was true she felt strange and even uncomfortable but it didn't strike her as the sort of weird that might suggest she'd ingested a potion of some sort.

It was a relief to her that she could continue to avoid eye contact with him even after the kiss had ended, she was sure the look on her face was odd at best and she wasn't sure whether she could even look at him without feeling... Embarrassed? Tig tensely knotted her hands into his clothes because, she told herself, her hands felt clammy and she didn't want them touching her dress. "Tiberius-" She cursed herself even as she felt the last syllable leaving her mouth and hoped he hadn't heard her; it was one thing to be confused and another thing entirely to talk about it. Not to mention the longer she didn't have to look him in the face the better. 


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