By: Kathleen Locklear
Photo Credit: Creative Commons
The first time he had seen her, she’d been in the stands of the Colosseum. It had nearly gotten him killed, freezing in his tracks and nearly getting speared by his opponent, but her beautiful winsome smile had won him over right then and there. She was wearing a stunning gown of blues, purples, and whites, complimenting her dark hair. He knew then and there he had to see her again.
Next time he saw her, it was before his upcoming match. He could see the lion in the arena, and as much as he didn’t want to kill such a creature, he also had no desire to be its prey. The woman was closer than last time, this time she was looking inside where himself and the other gladiators were. He smiled at her, biting back a large grin as she simpered and blushed back at him darkly.
Lucky for him, someone else defeated the lion before he was forced into the arena, and with the main threat gone it became an easy day. Only a few more years before he could finally meet the woman in person.
He noticed she was there for every match, always sitting in the same spot and eating from a bowl of what appeared to be cranberries. She always sat to the right of the emperor, slightly below him. A few of his fellow gladiators had noticed her as well; they said she was the emperor’s younger sister. Yet despite every man who came to flirt with her in the stands, she would always shoo them away and watch him instead. He was both honored and flattered she had actually noticed him as he noticed her.
Every day before a new tournament he would look for her in the same spot and smile, waiting to see her smile back before going into the arena, and no matter how many times he would get thrown around he would always see her cheering for him.
In no time the years had passed, and he won his freedom. It had been a long road, and a painful one. His body was littered with the remnants of his imprisonment and tournaments. His left eye would forever be useless; just as he would never be able to get back his missing thumb and index finger on the same hand. Yet none of that mattered, as he would finally be able to see her.
He’d managed to get a hold of one of her servants and had them deliver a letter from him, asking her to meet him in the vale outside the city. it would be the most secluded place, and where there would be no one to catch them. He’d waited nervously, over an hour for her to show up, with a very expensive bottle of wine he’d managed to get from the kiosk in town in his hand. He’d laid it all out meticulously, with a blanket stretched over the grass by a large lake, the quacky ducks swimming around the crystal clear waters.
He flung the rocks into the lake while waiting for her, and finally she was there. He stopped in his tracks, staring in surprise as she walked over to him nervously, caramel colored skin glowing in the warms sunlight and emphasized by the simple white tunic and sandals she was wearing. She smiled at him hopefully and he quickly grinned back, moving to make room for her on the blanket as she sat next to him, both awestruck to finally be meeting in person after so many long years of simply smiling and watching each other.
After a year of courting, they slipped away from the city and married in a neighboring country. Everyone would ask where they came from, and why such a woman had married a scarred man, but they only smiled and refused to tell. After all, it was their story to tell, and their story to keep secret. A story to be passed down from generation to generation, never to be told to anyone else, until now.