After various attempts I have finally managed to sketch this character in a way that my wife approves of!
Belsia Valeriana, the misfit in the House of Iulii, has had a curious fate in the development of the #Romanike series. We had introduced her as a minor detraction in the first few chapters of "Codebook of the Cosmos" that was meant to be quickly disposed of near the end. But she would not tolerate that: Valeriana is such a versatile and powerful character that, once she was there, it was impossible to get plausibly rid of her and she usurped much of the plot, challenging even the assassin on the heels of our young hero Iulius Adrianus. Then, when we translated the first three volumes of the "Romanike" series into English, I realised that she would already have been around during the time of this story. I made a note that a phrase ought to be added at some place which introduced her in passing as the two-year-old little girl she was then. But again, Valeriana did not accept to be pushed aside like that. Whenever my wife was bored with merely translating what was already written, up pops the little one on the scene to create mischief! At the end of the day, Valeriana had become the only character who features prominently in all six volumes of the series and some readers consider her the actual heroine of the tale.
So, when we first meet her, she is a very poor little girl from the neighbourhood that trespasses the property of the House of Iulii at will - with the assent of Castilla, the lady of the house, but irritating her husband Restitutus who would literally trip over her when he least expects it - and slow by slow develops the ambition to become another resident of the noble house to which she is coming and going. In the subsequent volumes her fate is traced to adulthood: Valeriana grows to become a talented but cunning minx who would use every scheme conceivable to defend her endangered place up the social ladder which she has arranged for herself. Our hero Adrianus does not call her the Vixen for nothing - though never in her presence, fearing for the integrity of his nose.
Indeed, Valeriana is noted at times for her eyes that vaguely resemble those of a sly fox. Otherwise she was born with a few girlish freckles on her nose and strong brown curls that are difficult to trim into shape: most often she lets them wildly flow though she likes to constrain them with diadems - expensive ones, ideally. Her trademark, in a way, is a blue and white silk scarf that she has received from Castilla. Over the years she grows to become a markedly tall and deveicingly innocent-looking young lady, a natural advantage that she exploits without restrictions. Valeriana is very popular with the private house teachers who acknowledge her intellectual skills but much less so with Adrianus' mother who is aware that the relationship between her son and the misfit is determined by a sexual attraction she very much disapproves of. She poses the most imminent threat to Valeriana's place and position in the house of Iulii and when Castilla dies, Valeriana is left without her only and much needed guardian.