After Marcus Lucius got his medicine, he fell asleep and Julia took care about his hygiene. She washed him and rubbed the new substances into his body. Definitely, he was the cleanest man in the convoy. Octavian and other legionnaires always had signs of being on the road in their faces. Some dust and sweat glued to them. During the three weeks of the journey, they had no possibility to take a bath. They used lakes or rivers on the way, but it was rather a rare occasion. Julia felt dirty, too. She was the only woman in the convoy. It wasn’t comfortable to go and completely wash herself, when she knew that her guards would follow her. It was embarrassing, so she rather lived with the dirt than the looks of the men at her naked body.
When she finished the cleaning tour of Marcus Lucius’s body, she sat down on the floor and drank a bit of water. Even then, she cautiously observed the beautiful stranger. He slept a lot. His breath was regular, and therefore, his chest kept moving rhythmically. This calmed her down. Sometimes, she went closer and inhaled the scent of his skin. Even the stinking, icky substances didn’t completely cover his own scent. Julia liked it and she enjoyed the rare moments, when she collected enough courage to sniff, always anxious that Marcus Lucius could wake up any moment. Maxentius didn’t smell good. He stunk like sweat and an undefined icky thing. It wasn’t a pleasure to bide long next to him.
Sometimes she could even gather enough courage to stroke Marcus Lucius’s neck and a part of his shoulder. She did it briefly, almost non-perceptively. His skin was pleasant, even when rough and full of small scratches. He was well trained and it was impressive. These arms she barely touched, protected her during the ambush. These fingers held the heavy sword partially covered with blood and this hand moved the weapon perfectly, magically, beautifully. She liked him being asleep or unconscious.
The whole daily routine was quite predictable. Julia stayed at Marcus Lucius’s side and tried to minimize the time outside the wagon, even though the space there was limited and could make you claustrophobic after over a week spent in there. Still, Julia liked familiar spaces, rooms, surroundings. She used to stay at her father’s home for almost whole life. Then, she had to travel with Maxentius and being on the road with him was horrible to her. The wagon was like a trap to her, a cage, a limited space, where she wasn’t able to breathe. She hated it. Now, she felt free here. It was the same wagon with the same limited space, but she felt good. She felt safe. She wished to keep this state for eternity. She knew it was impossible, but still, she savoured the nice illusion.
Octavian came into the wagon twice a day: shortly after the legionnaires woke up and again after the stretch of way for the day was finished. He didn’t speak, he simply looked around, checked Marcus Lucius’s condition and left the wagon. His brief visits marked the beginning and the end of the day. He was on time and reliable like the sunrise or a Swiss watch.
Until noon, Julia washed Marcus Lucius and rubbed the special mixtures in his body. She wasn’t able to define the improvements of Marcus Lucius’s health condition from day to day, but looking at him every now and then made her assume that he was better with every minute. She was happy about it. It meant she did a good job. Besides, the burned part looked better and better, so it meant that Octavian’s action was right, too. She wasn’t ready to apologize for all the unspoken insults she addressed at him during the last days.
In the late afternoon, Julia used to have a nap, because she wasn’t able to sleep during the nights. She sat on the floor of the wagon, next to the bed, where Marcus Lucius was sleeping, with her head on her knees. From there, she was able to look out through the small window of the wagon and focused on the shadows of the nature outside. While she momentarily nodded off, her head kept falling to her right shoulder. When her legs fell more to the ground and she lost her balance, she woke up.
She didn’t drink enough water and almost didn’t eat anything at all. She was losing weight, but it didn’t catch anyone’s attention, because almost nobody saw her. She used to have a normal body, neither slim, nor fat. Now, her arms were more slender and her bones were visible beneath the skin.