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After Marcus Lucius was done with the check, he helped her to cover in the warm and cosy materials. Her skin was already cold and it felt unpleasant, because he knew what risks were combined with it. He could stay outside without even proper clothes, but he would easily survive it. He was a trained, healthy man. She was a weak woman on the road to get healthy. She trembled. He wanted to call slaves to make the fire in the fireplace bigger. Julia held him off with a gentle gesture. She simply laid her hand on his shoulder and he didn’t say anything. Instead, he slipped under the blanket to warm her up. He laid down next to her and closed his eyes. He was tired due to the restless night and the emotions he experienced lately. He promptly felt asleep. He didn’t want to think over what Octavian said. He didn’t want to go through the letter from Appius that he read already the day before. Appius sent no supportive news. Situation changed extremely since Octavian left and Appius wasn’t able to predefine anything. The short message suggested to hold on to the strategy they have chosen, to accept the facts he knew and could derive and to decide wisely how to play the game to save lives of people, who were involved into the game. There were no specific suggestions and no pragmatic advices. Marcus Lucius was on his own. There was no word about Julia. Nobody was mentioned and the entire message sounded like a praying of a priest. It was general and could suit to everyone’s problem. It was like a fortune cookie. Marcus Lucius didn’t show his disappointment. People around him expected he got a piece of wisdom and he needed to keep their hopes alive. Instead of thinking about such endless, unsolvable matters, he felt asleep. His head landed on Julia’s thighs as in the night. His arm cuddled her waist. His arm fell down on her legs as well as his stage of sleep changed.

Le Désespoir, Jean-Joseph Perraud Musée d’Orsay, Paris