A hush ran over the symposium, the din of conversation slowly ceasing. Kassandra saw Sokrates' eyes move, and turned to follow his gaze.
Aspasia, the whispers carried, some in awe while others in undisguised disgust, as a beautiful woman dressed in Athenian blue strode calmly down the steps. Her obsidian curls hung at her shoulders, a blue circlet at her forehead, framing a heart shaped face with well-defined features. Her mouth was set at a small smile as she greeted a guest, nodding at others milling nearby. Her gaze settled on Kassandra, the obvious new face, and Kassandra felt her heart flutter as the woman nodded to her, her smile turning just a little genuine. Not knowing where to look, Kassandra turned back to Sokrates.
A grin appeared on Sokrates' face, as he had just spotted Alkibiades. Already nodding his head in farewell, Sokrates marched towards the fair man, leaving Kassandra alone with a sour faced Aristophanes.
Quickly ducking her head, she departed, hearing a huff from the skinny man. Slowly, she made her way towards the hetaera, her eyes scanning her, trying to read what kind of woman this Aspasia would turn out to be. But the woman was unreadable, and soon Kassandra found herself facing the woman, bowing her head ever so slightly.
"I couldn't help but notice your talent for debate. Well done," Aspasia spoke, her eyes glinting slightly. Kassandra was take aback by her accent. Definitely not Greek. Possibly Anatolian, if the brothel from last week was anything to go by.
"Sokrates is... an interesting character," Kassandra replied steadily, glancing over her shoulder.
Aspasia smiled, a hint of white teeth making its way past smooth, painted lips. Kassandra saw the smile reach her eyes, and realised she was the recipient of a genuine smile. Her head buzzed, whether from the wine or that bright flash of teeth, she did not know.
Suddenly, Phoibe materialized next to Aspasia. Kassandra had to blink once, grinning slightly at the memory of the young girl's foot races against her, back on Kephallonia.
"Ah, Phoibe," Aspasia said, her voice growing soft, the light slowly petering out of her eyes. "Perikles has retired to the balcony already, has he? His ability to sneak off and sulk is second to none."
Phoibe giggled slightly.
"I can go get him, and Kassandra can help! Everybody listens when she talks," Phoibe said.
Kassandra smiled, gazing fondly at the child.
Aspasia, glanced at Kassandra, clearly seeing the love for the girl pouring undisguised from the misthios. Her own heart softened slightly, the misthios' expression tugging softly at her mind. Oh how little she resembled Deimos.
"That'll be fine. Run along, Kassandra will be right behind you," Aspasia said, smiling warmly at the misthios. Kassandra returned the gesture, a warm feeling settling in her belly.
Phoibe nodded, stepping away from the pair. Aspasia's gaze returned to Kassandra, her brown eyes hardening.
"Allow me to introduce myself," Aspasia said, her voice taking an authoritarian tone. "My name is Aspasia. I had to go to great lengths to cover up your work in Megaris."
A light blush settled on the misthios' face. Nevertheless, she would not back down.
"Your spies have been watching me. I knew you people couldn't be trusted," Kassandra sneered, although Aspasia could sense the lack of true malice.
"We do what we must to survive, and there's no shame in that. It's how you got here - how I got here."
Aspasia paused, her eyes travelling downwards at the dress Kassandra had been fitted with.
"The clothes, they fit you well, I trust?"
Aspasia took her time drinking in the woman before her, the toned muscles, angular jaw, full bodice. She loved the way the neck revealed more skin, how it glowed with health. She mapped the innumerable scars littering the visible skin, and she had to resist the urge to touch them, wanting to know whether the skin was really as smooth as it looked.
"Yes, thank you, although it is a bit uncomfortable." The blush on Kassandra's cheeks burned brighter as the woman before her dragged her gaze down her body, visibly stopping at her chest. Not one to be outdone, she forced herself to keep the woman's gaze, her Amber eyes flashing defiantly.
Aspasia's amusement grew. So, this misthios liked to play games. Well, she was about to lose tonight.
She smiled mildly, gesturing slightly as her smoky eyes dimmed.
"It seems we have the attention of the entire room without a single eye being fixed on us." Judging by the look on the misthios' face, she wasn't capable of looking at anyone else.
"If my husband can escape, I don't see why I should remain here. If you wish to continue this conversation..."
Aspasia sighed slightly, her hand just brushing Kassandra's shoulder. Goosebumps rose, and despite the heat Kassandra's mind flashed at the thought of those hands working somewhere else. Licking her lips, she followed Aspasia.