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The Golden Apple (ao3)
The Silver Branch, by Rosemary Sutcliff
Summary: Paulinus met his father only once. It was a day he never forgot. Written for [community profile] sutcliff_swap 2014

I knew myself the apple of my mother’s eye before ever I’d seen an apple tree. Her love spilled out in honey cakes and honeyed words, and I grew into a plump child, content and carefree. In my earliest memories I’m learning to wind a length of blanket about me and tuck it just so, till the wash-softened folds fall like the marble ones in the frieze at the forum. My toga, she called it, pinching my cheek and telling me how proud my father would be of his proper little Roman man when he came for us. She spent hours each day with her pins and her pots and her mirror, coiling her bright hair, painting her face white as a statue and arranging her bracelets on her arms. Her arms were exquisite, truly exquisite, and her skin smelled as sweet as her cakes. Today was always the day he would come.
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January 2016

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