sam_storyteller: (Doctor Who)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-18 14:15
Entry tags:

De Bello Rorii

Title: De Bello Rorii
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Rufus Atius Ferox remembers two childhoods.
Notes: Spoilers for Doctor Who through 5.12. This is the first version of the story I wrote; my betas commented that it felt incomplete, so I expanded it into Vita Longa (this is very similar to how I treated "Dresser", one of my more popular fics, and I thought it would be interesting this time to preserve and post the early version as well as the completed project). I do recommend reading Vita Longa first -- there are a lot of shared or rearranged sentences between the two, but Vita Longa is the better story.
BETA CREDIT, JESUS: [personal profile] spiderine, [personal profile] 51stcenturyfox, and [profile] neifile7 all beta'd the merdae out of this.

Originally Posted 6.30.10

***

Rufus Atius Ferox remembers two childhoods.

In one of them, he was the weedy boy constantly taunted because his name was girly and he was small and had a funny nose. This childhood is always accompanied by a sense of low-level hostility, as if the whole world was angry with him -- except when he remembers Amy (Camilla Pontia Rutila) and then all he can think about are warm afternoons and hidden-away places where they played Raggedy Doctor for hours. He never minded Raggedy Doctor; Amy came up with the best stories and if his play-trousers were already ripped then he couldn't be yelled at by his mum for ripping them more. And sometimes he got to kiss Amy, which was nice even if she wasn't really kissing him.

He remembers this childhood as the one of McDonalds and flush toilets and cars. He remembers a school trip to London to see the Tower, and how Amy had bloodthirstily lingered in the armoury where they kept the torture devices, while Rory sought out the room where Lady Jane Grey's husband had carved Iane in the stone before they were both executed, five hundred and fifty years before. He remembers studying biology and chemistry for his A-Levels. When he thinks about being a young man he remembers nursing school, losing his virginity (Amy), getting his first job. Leadworth was the town. His name was Rory Williams.

The men still call him Rory, an unofficial agnomen, a nickname. His father will be pleased when he hears.

He remembers two fathers but the more vivid of them is Brutus Atius Africanus, the Consul. As a boy he ran barefoot on the tiled ground of his father's villa's courtyard, the only cool place in the summer, and stole sweet fruit right off the trees. His mother's best friend would come and visit, bringing her niece Camillaulus Pontia (Amelia Pond) with her. Little Camilla was a Roman all-but-princess, a good match for Rufus Atius even if she had been born in far-flung occupied lands and was constantly being exhorted by her aunt to be more ladylike.

This is his childhood in Rome: Greek and African slaves to be his tutors, low-born Romans to wash his clothing, his first toga, lessons in oration, the complicated politics of an empire. When he was thirteen he visited his first whorehouse; when he was sixteen he was sent into the military as an officer.

"Be brave and strong, and kill a lot of barbarians," his father said. His father dreamed of Rufus Atius returning a Dux, as if he were going to cross the Rubicon like Iulius Caesar, alea iacta est, and become the next emperor of Rome. He fancies he has done this father proud so far, at least; Ferox is his cognomen, Warlike, and his men affectionately call him Rory Legatus. He's well liked by his legion. It is not entirely out of the question that in due time he will be Dux, leader of many legions.

Not like Leadworth, where his father always looked at his nurse's badge with a little sigh, because he wasn't the doctor they wanted him to be. Rufus Atius' nose isn't funny-looking; it's a good Patrician nose, a sign of strong breeding. When he returns from this campaign he'll be a decorated young statesman, eminently suitable for marriage to Camilla Pontia (Amy Pond, for whom he bought a ring, who said yes even if she loved the Doctor best).

He remembers Latin from the other life: Elizabeth II Regina, semper ubi sub ubi, nil illegitamo carborundum, none of them with any meaning in this time, in this place; translingual puns don't work when English hasn't been invented yet. Fabricati Diem Pvnk is downright absurd. (He misses Terry Pratchett novels. Amy had her escapes, he had his own.)

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori has meaning for his soldiers, but only as a dusty bit of poetry that Horace wrote a hundred years ago. Not that Rory ever valued it especially -- for him, too, the line was schoolboy verse, a poem he had to memorise when he was twelve or thirteen. Horace meant it sincerely; Rory learned it first as a sharp-tongued mockery of the glory of war: My friend, you would not tell with such high zest / To children ardent for some desperate glory / the old Lie...

It is sweet and dignified to die for the patria, the land of one's fathers. If Rory dies he will receive an honourable funeral, with an actor in a wax mask of his face riding a litter through the streets of Rome, to ensure his immortality and to glorify his deeds.

But all the same he'd rather not die, not yet, thank you. His life is a mystery; he remembers Leadworth, even as he gives orders to his men in drawling Latin he never learned at Leadworth school. Plumbpretium, it would be in Latin. He asked one of the cartographers in the legion about Plumbpretium, if there was ever a town called that, and was told they'd never mapped such a place.

He can't die before he finds Amy (before he returns to his beloved Camilla Pontia). Unlike his men, he's nobly-born enough that he feels an obligation to be faithful to her and he avoids the camp-followers and the native girls. Though he doesn't figure a few desperate nights between the thighs of his prettiest centurion really counts. That's practically a Legatus' right.

There was a boy for him in Leadworth, Jeff, back when they were both a hormonal fifteen. He feels a little guilty about how he treated Jeff later, but he didn't know any better. He's kinder to his pet centurion, who adores him but knows what their bed-sharing is and what it isn't. Rory is waiting for Amy to arrive with her Raggedy Doctor, Doctor Pannosus (except in Latin, Doctor means Teacher, and in English, well, Rory isn't sure what it means for the Doctor).

Each morning, Rory puts on his tunica, his baltus, his lorica musculata and paludamentum, his braccae if it's cold, and he thinks about his light, loose scrubs and his sensible trainers and his boxer-briefs. Oh, how he misses boxer-briefs. Semper ubi sub ubi indeed.

Some mornings, Rory the Ferox leads a few hundred men into battle, if he must. He often comes quite close to dying. Some other mornings, better mornings, he takes a few contuberniae and goes to trade and make treaties. Ferox he may be, but he is not Atrox, and he does prefer peace to war.

Most mornings he wonders if today will be the day he wakes up in the TARDIS again, but he never does.

Every day (diem ex die), he wonders if Amy still wears his ring.

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