foreverwarrior: (Miranda (listening red))
[personal profile] foreverwarrior
 Natalie didn't think Immortals could get sore, but she was wrong, again. Quinn was a hard teacher and definitely subscribed to the schools of hard-knocks and tough-love respectively. If she'd expected to be "mollycoddled" as Quinn put it, she'd have to find another teacher. Their lessons weren't always about fighting though. Natalie had learned how to change her appearance by using makeup, contacts, wigs and clothing. She'd been surprised when her eighteen-year-old self had stared back at her from the mirror. An hour later, she looked nearly sixty.

"So, why didn't you and Lance ever get together?" Natalie asked over tea one afternoon. "You know he's crazy about you."

"I don't see how that's any of your business," Quinn replied tartly.

Natalie sensed the other Immortal was still a little upset that her old protector had shown up, unannounced, and expected her to teach her without asking about it first. Natalie felt like a child all over again, not really given a choice as to what she wanted, just handed a life she didn't ask for. It didn't really surprise her when, after three days of seemingly endless fighting, Lance just tossed up his hands in the air and left, without Natalie.

"I'm plenty pissed at him, myself," Natalie replied, as though she didn't hear. "He knew I was a pre-Immortal, but never said a word, and then he just dumps me on your doorstep without even saying 'good-bye'."

Quinn harrumphed. "That's a Roman for you."

Natalie thought back to a conversation she'd had with Lance the day after her First Death. "Yeah, he mentioned something about Boudica. What's that about?"

Quinn looked at her over the brim of her teacup. "What did he say?"

"Nothing, only to ask you about it."

Quinn sighed and set down her cup. "I had met Prasutagus shortly before the birth of his second daughter. I had taken on an identity of a wise woman, a healer and midwife, and everyone knew that his wife's pregnancy was extremely high risk. What surprised everyone was how much we looked alike. We both had the same red hair, the same build. When her time came, it was all I could do to save the babe. She suffered what we now knows as a hemorrhage. In his grief, Prasutagus started calling me 'Boudica,' and I didn't have the heart to convince him otherwise. So, I naturally assumed the role of wife and mother. Taya and Ciara became my daughters. I watched them grow, taught them as my own.

"Shortly after Ciara was born, Claudius negotiated a peace treaty between the Icini and the Romans," she continued. "The basic terms were that when and if Prasutagus died, his lands would fall to Taya and Ciara with an agreement of alliance to Rome. Prasutagus lived for another fourteen years before closing his eyes for the last time. Nero was on the throne then and didn't believe that women had any right to property, and so Taya's and Ciara's claims were null and void.

"I was livid, to say the least," she added. "Who were these intruders, these bullying blowhards, to say what my daughters could and could not inherit? During the fourteen years Rome had occupied Icini lands, they had turned our sacred sites into temples to their own gods and goddesses. They completely disregarded everything we held dear, and to say Taya and Ciara were little more than chattel added insult to injury. Naturally, I argued their case in front of Governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus."

Natalie could tell that there was some deep-seated anger, and that even after all these centuries, Quinn was still angry about the injustices.

"What happened?" Natalie asked, curiously.

Hatred glittered deep in Quinn's eyes, and Natalie suppressed a flinch. "I was stripped to the waist and flogged. Publicly. So badly I nearly passed out. And though I may not be Christian, I can certainly sympathize with what He went through."

Natalie was dumbfounded. "Flogged? Like with a belt?"

"No," Quinn answered shortly. "You know what a cat-o-nine-tails is?" Natalie nodded. "Imagine something like that only with weights attached every six inches or so."

"But what about your Immortality?" Natalie couldn't help asking. "Wouldn't they notice the wounds healing quickly?"

"I was still young then," Quinn answered. "Less than a hundred years old. It probably took a week or so before I was back to normal."

"A week? But I was only out for sixteen hours when I died."

"First Deaths are unique that way. No one knows why." Quinn took a sip of tea before continuing. "At any rate, the flogging had the opposite effect that the Roman's had planned for. Instead of taming the shrew, it actually infuriated the Icini. That someone would do that to their queen had many talking about revolt. To try and quell those ideas, the Romans raped my daughters thinking that by deflowering them, it would make them less attractive as women. Taya was sixteen and Ciara was fourteen."

Natalie couldn't help but think of little Sarah Knightly who had been raped repeatedly, nearly daily, for two years, and she wasn't even ten yet. It was enough to make her sick. "Was Lance...?"

"No, he wasn't one of the men," Quinn answered. "If he had been, you can bet I would've taken his head a long time ago. As it was, I ordered one of our Druids to make an example of someone. I didn't care who, or how, but someone, anyone, needed to pay."

Again, Natalie thought of Steve Johnson who was pushing up daisies as they spoke. She doubted she would ever see the man as anything more than a depraved child molester. In a way, she could understand Quinn's issue with Rome, even after all this time. But Natalie could tell there was more to the story. Quinn shook her head.

"No, that's not all," she answered. "Three settlements and seventy-five thousand people later, I finally met my Thermopylae."

"Don't you mean Waterloo?"

Quinn shook her head again. "Thermopylae is more apt. Waterloo hadn't happened yet, and the Roman forces only numbered around four hundred where I commanded nearly two hundred, thirty-five thousand angry Britons. The Roman's chose the battlefield well. Trees prevented us from flanking them, and the low hills served as a bottleneck. They might've had the smaller force, but they were better trained and better armed. Had I won the battle, Nero would've pulled his forces from Briton altogether, but as it was, I failed."

Natalie nodded as she took a sip of tea. "Then, to your surprise, Lance shows up centuries later as one of Arthur's best friends."

"I didn't know he was Roman then," Quinn said defensively. "He and I never met before Camelot. He never told me about his upbringing until we crossed paths again during the Middle Ages."

"Is that why you won't give him a chance?" Natalie asked, trying to be tactful. "He couldn't exactly help being Roman, you know."

Quinn sighed and sipped on her own tea. "The thing of it is, he was never man enough for me."

Natalie nearly choked on her biscuit. She remembered Lance's towering, brawny physique well. Quinn gave her a stern glare.

"I don't mean physically," she retorted. "To Lance I'm always going to be his Queen and he's always going to be a subject. He'll fight for my honour, but will never fight me as a person. Until he does, until he stands up to me, I don't see it going anywhere."

It made a strange sort of sense. Throughout most of his life, Lance had identified with the motto "to serve and protect." The man practically had it tattooed to his forehead. When Natalie had gone her own way during their investigation, didn't listen to him, and got killed in the process, it pissed him off but good. Because he couldn't protect her. Because she wouldn't let him. Even though Natalie had never been anyone's subject, she knew enough that one, except maybe a king, never, ever, negated a queen, and to use an obviously-popular quote, "not nobody, not nohow."

"And that three-day-fight?" Natalie argued.

"He was definitely going the right way," Quinn admitted. "But he still left. Now, if we're done talking about my love life, we'd best get back to your training."
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