The violets are finally in bloom, covering a portion of the field with blue-purple and scattered patches of white. They move in the breeze and their scent reaches across the field. Vergil goes to walk to them. He hasn’t been to that part of this field for a little while, and the violets won’t look this good after a few weeks. He walks to them carefully, trying to avoid disturbing other newly sprouted plants. The violets grow in a clearing by a stand of olive trees, and he sits under the shade of one, looking at the small flowers. They are beautiful, with their deep colors and stripes, and the yellow center contrasting with the purple and white. The evening light only accentuates the colours instead of making them too dark or unsaturated.
He sits under the tree for a while, looking at the violets, observing the ones in front of him the closest. They all grow connected, a web of flowers that stretches for a long distance. He looks intently enough at the one in front of him to see the pattern of the petal growth that he almost doesn’t notice the sound of someone running to him.
“To think those flowers are more interesting than me! Maecenas and I’ve come a long ways to see you.” Horace says, a little out of breath. He drops a bag on the ground and continues after a moment of rest. “Or did you not check your letters again? I’ll have to draw even more bees on the outside of the next one, won’t I? It’s hard to draw them, you know. The stripes all blur together with the legs.”
Vergil stands up and smiles. “Hello to you, too. I’m sorry I didn’t get to your letter. I’ll read it with you after this, if you want. It’s so good to see you, I miss you all the time. Would you like to sit down and look at these violets with me?”
Horace smiles back and replies, “It’s alright. I’m seeing you now, aren’t I? Maybe it’s more fun that I surprised you, anyway.” He hugs Vergil before they sit, trying to stand as tall as he can. “Why do you have to be so tall? It isn’t right, I can’t properly hug you.”
“Perhaps it’ll be easier if we just sit down. That way, we’re almost the same height.” Vergil replies, putting his arm around his friend and guiding them both down. Horace hugs him from the side and rests his head on Vergil’s shoulder.
“Tell me more about these flowers. You must have learned something with all that observing you do, isn’t that the point? Or so you say, I’ve never seen much use in your views on it and your science myself.”
“Maybe you’ll see it one day, I can still hope, can’t I? Move a few of them aside gently, don’t break them.”
Horace moves some of the violets aside as asked, not entirely sure why he’s supposed to be doing this. Vergil lifts up some of the leaves and brushes away some dirt, revealing thin, pale shoots between all the violets.
“They’re all connected together. I think that’s probably where new violets come from. Maybe it’s why the ones that are similarly coloured are growing closer together.” he explains. “See how the light violets all grow in that region? This is likely why.”
Horace lets go of the flowers and pulls a white violet in front of him out, smelling it. “Do you think it can grow back after you pick one? Don’t be upset with me, I’ll put it on you later, maybe then butterflies or bees will come to you, too.” He places it in his friend’s hair, where it doesn’t stay too long until he knots it in. He gives up a little after that, the flower will do what it wants, he guesses.
“Another flower will likely take its place, eventually.” Vergil replies. “Though it won’t be exactly the same. I do appreciate the thought, though. I hope you always think of me when you see plant life.” he added, laughing softly. He pulls out a blue violet and hands it to Horace. “Now we can see which grows back first. I hope that’s not too much science and observation for you.”
“Not when you’re doing it. Though I suppose you’ll just make it about how flower atoms, or something, and that won’t do.” Horace looks a bit more carefully at the violet - about the same as the one he looked at earlier, just a different colour, and the stripes were different on the inside. Interesting, but just like other violets, really.
Horace shifts position a bit, turning to face forward while still keeping close to his best friend. He’s glad he decided to come here, glad to be with his friend. Though he knows it likely won’t be stated so directly, he can tell he was needed here tonight. Vergil usually seemed tense to him, but less so now. It was nice to see his friend relax a little and look happier. “Have I mentioned yet how good it is to see you looking so well? I think about you when I’m back at home, I always hope I can see you and make you feel better when I do receive letters from you. And usually when I don’t, too.” he says. He knows it didn’t make much sense - travelling all day has exhausted him - but Vergil seems to have understood.
“Thank you. You're too kind. I think about you often, too, I think we both need each other around. I'll try to make an effort to see you more, and open my mail every once in a while." Vergil says. He pulls Horace slightly closer, and Horace smiles and ruffles his hair a little.
“That we can both agree with." Horace replies. He notices the sun setting and turns towards it, pulling his friend with him. "Look at it, it's so lovely. Some of it matches your violets."
Maecenas comes out and joins them so quietly Horace almost doesn't notice him. "Glad we came in time to see this! And of course, it's nice to see you, my friend." he says, addressing Vergil and moving next to him. “It’s been a while. Sorry I don’t get out here enough. I couldn’t ever ask you to visit Rome for me, I wouldn’t want to distress you.”
"I'm happy to see you and Horace, too. I know you’re probably busy, and anyway, I don’t mind being alone. Are you staying for a while? I could show you this nice forest nearby that's interesting enough, if you want." Vergil replies to him.
"Sounds good." Maecenas replies. He thinks about asking after what Vergil is writing now, but doesn't press the issue now. He lets everyone fall silent as the sun sets and the stars begin to appear.
Horace picks up his bag. "I'm starting to get tired, let's head back inside." He pulls his friends up and nearly falls over, which makes him laugh. "You see that I need you, now."
"I assume I speak for both of us when I say we need you, too. Though maybe you shouldn’t try to pull us up again. Now let's get back in before we can't see enough to find our way back. I’ll get you two back home, okay? Let me take your bag, too." Maecenas says.
“Thanks, that’s sweet of you.” Horace replies.
Maecenas leads his friends back inside carefully, trying not to step on many plants if he can avoid it. They walk for a little while, with various distractions from the stars shining and "important moth species," as Vergil claims. It’s nice just to be with his friends again, Maecenas thinks- even when they aren’t interacting overtly, he can always feel the care and affection shared between them.
When they get inside, he puts away his and Horace’s belongings. The three of them stand in the doorway of the room for a few quiet moments, smiling sleepily. "It's good to have us back together, isn't it?" Maecenas says. “I can’t imagine how I’ve gone so long without seeing two of my favorite people in the whole world.”
"I've missed this." Horace and Vergil reply at almost exactly the same time. (All three of them laugh at the coincidence at exactly the same time.)
"I have, too." Maecenas says. "Good night, my dear friends. I look forward to tomorrow.” Horace and Vergil smile their silent agreement before starting to head to their rooms. Maecenas stands there a few moments before shutting his door and lying down. Friendship and moments like these are the reason he loves what he does so much, he thinks before he finally drifts off to sleep.