I got back from my hubby's forge to find Apollo stony silent and Ares giving me the come-hither eye. Well, I should have gone after Appy to find out what was wrong but I have to admit that sexy Ares got my attention first. And when the God of War has your attention, he has it all. My hormones were singing sweetly by the time he finished making love to me for the fourth time.
"Not that I mind, sweetie, but what got you so hot and bothered?" I was a sweaty mess but I didn't have the energy to move more than my lips.
Ares chuckled and rolled so I lay atop him. Still embedded in me, I felt a little spark deep inside. One of his little guys was about to make me very, very happy. Hep understood my need for another child but since he's sterile, he tries not to mind when I get a donation from one of his brothers. Eros was sixteen now and I've known for a while I was ready to have another baby.
"You set Achilles and Paris up, didn't you?" His big hands petted my back all the way down to my tush and I wiggled a little to see if he was still hard enough for another round.
Then my mind caught up to what he said and I froze. Blinking down at him, I wondered what to say. But something told me he already knew so I confessed. "When Paris chose me, I saw his heart's desire and it wasn't Helen. He does like blonds but only the male variety. Poor Achilles was mourning Patroclus and Paris doesn't have much time left, if Daddy is right."
Ares frowned. "Dad told you that?"
I nodded, folding my arms on his chest so I could rest my chin without squashing my breasts too much. "He told me over a week ago that Paris wouldn't survive the war. I don't know if he's planning something or Hera is. My guess is it's the old bat who's in a real hissy fit about this war. If she'd really *look* at Paris and Helen she'd know the baby the Queen is carrying is Hector's, not his little brother's."
"Damn!" Ares looked seriously angry. "Paris is just a kid and he's fallen in love for the first time."
"And you know this, how?" I glared at him and he almost but not quite blushed. That's when he told me what he'd witnessed two nights back. It was my turn to swear. I was hoping to watch beautiful Paris lose his virginity to sexy Achilles.
But just showing me their two hour love-making session fired us both up again and I found myself on my hands and knees with Ares planted solidly in my backside while I played Paris' role and he played the golden warrior. I do adore making love with a god who knows what he's doing. We'd just collapsed in a heap when both our temple alarms went off.
Dragging ourselves apart, we did a quick cleanup and dashed to the supplicants who needed us. Appearing in front of my altar, I found a sobbing Paris rocking to and fro at the foot of the steps. This wasn't a lover's quarrel, I decided with a cold chill running up my spine. Descending to his side, I gathered him into a hug. He was too far gone to even jump, just kept saying over and over, 'no, no, no'.
"Sweet Paris . . . dear Paris . . . slow down and tell me what's wrong." I rocked him slowly and gradually his sobs began to subside.
"I've killed him." He finally said. "I was shooting arrows towards the army when one changed direction. I swear I didn't shoot at him, I didn't."
"Who was hit, Paris? Tell me who it was." I had a real bad feeling about this.
"He was leaving the field in his chariot and I shot over him, I swear it." His eyes beseeched mine to believe him.
"I know you did, sweetheart. You wouldn't hurt Achilles. I know that." I stroked his face and watched it crumple into pain.
"It changed direction and hit his heel. But he cried out and fell on the floor of his chariot. I watched them lift him from it and he was convulsing so hard they couldn't hold onto him." His eyes were blank with shock and he was shivering all over. "I don't poison my arrows, I don't."
Dear gods and goddesses, this was bad. "I know you don't, sweet Paris."
A small flicker of life appeared in his tear-drenched brown eyes. "That's what he called me once. Sweet Paris - I loved him so much. What if I truly have killed him?"
"You didn't, Prince Paris. Sleep now and wake refreshed when I return." I put him out quickly and shifted him to the little room behind my altar. I'm a lot stronger than I look. Heading up to Olympus, I changed clothes and went looking for answers. But if Achilles was really dead, I wasn't sure what I could do to help these doomed lovers.
********* Achilles *********
I burned everywhere. Whatever had been on that arrow, it was working quickly. Mother had always told me I should never wear sandals and it appears she knew what she was talking about. The second set of convulsions had just passed and Eudorus was sponging my forehead with a cool wet cloth.
He was weeping and that was never a good sign. From out of thin air, Ares appeared at the foot of my sleeping pallet. "Achilles, I'm sorry."
Not a good sign at all, when the gods apologize. With a wave of his hand, he froze my friend then knelt by me. "Two days ago you killed a young lad named Tenes. He was Apollo's son by a Trojan woman. Apollo poisoned one of Paris' arrows then made sure it got deflected to the one spot where it would enter you."
"D-d-d-damn, this w-w-will hurt-t-t, P-p-paris." All I could think of was my tender hearted lover of a single night.
"Aphrodite is taking care of him but you're right. He's young and in love." The dark god looked almost apologetic when he took my hand.
"P-p-protect him . . . p-p-please, Ares." Another wave of pain crashed over me and it almost carried me away. But I fought to stay a moment more.
"I'll do everything I can to make sure he doesn't suffer." Those dark eyes looked into mine and I nodded.
There was no more strength left to me. The last thing I heard before falling into darkness was Ares' voice calling out to his brother. "Hades! I need a favor."
Then I spiraled away from the pain and entered the black night.
********* Hades *********
It was a close call as to who got to me first. Aphrodite and Ares appeared within a heartbeat of each other, both calling my name. Well, well, well, it looked like I was about to get lucky. Lately I'd been overworked with all the dead being generated by the Trojan War. If I played my cards right, I could end up making out like a bandit.
"What is it now?" I put enough of my true exhaustion into my voice it came through loud and clear. "No I'm not letting anybody out alive. Hercules used up his last favor on Iolaus so I'm already down by one."
"Hades," Aphrodite was wearing that adorable 'sweet little me' look that hadn't fooled me in a millennia. "I don't really need that kind of favor. More like a . . ." she looked over at Ares and gave that little helpless shrug that always turned both my nephews to putty.
"Hades, we'd like to take one of the newly dead and transport him somewhere else." The god of war rubbed his cheek and looked almost as weary as I felt. "Achilles just died from an arrow shot by Prince Paris of the Trojans."
I do know who everyone is, damn it. So I narrowed my eyes and split a harsh look between them. "Achilles is destined for the Elysian Fields and you both know it. It doesn't matter who killed him."
"Yeah it does, Hades." Aphrodite sighed and took my hand in both of hers. "He is Paris' first and last love. I don't know where you were planning to put Paris when he dies but Daddy says that will be soon."
"Paris is an oath-breaker and destined for that section of Tartarus." Nothing she said could persuade me otherwise.
"He didn't steal Helen, Hector did." She said simply.
All right, that might change my opinion. "Prove it."
So through her touch I watched Helen and Hector take one look and fall into lust while Paris stood by in shock and fear. All these years and no one ever knew but the three of them. It rocked me back on my heels and I found myself with an armful of Dite while she cried gently on my shoulder.
"There, there, Dite, I'll put them both together. It's going to be difficult though. They're destined for different sections." I cast a look at Ares and he smiled slowly. Oh that was an evil look if I ever saw one.
"What about the White Isle? It's outside the main Fields. It's empty at the moment. The two of them would have plenty of room to keep a flock of sheep for Paris and provide them with enough room to make love for Achilles." One of his hands reached out to stroke my hair. "I could give you a little incentive while you're waiting for Paris."
"*We* could give you a great big incentive to bend the rules a little." Dite wiggled against my groin and Little Death came to attention immediately. "Two for one and the next time they make love," here she aimed a mock glare at Ares, "we'll all three go to watch them."
I had to know more about the story behind that promise. But the bells were ringing and Charon's call echoed through the caverns of my realm. "I'll take you both up on that promise. Let me take care of this boatload of dead and then I'll meet you on the White Isle."
Aphrodite wiggled all over and kissed me hard. While my head was still reeling, she flashed away and Ares laid the hottest kiss I'd felt in centuries on my lips. They were still tingling when he left in a shower of golden sparks. Damn, it really was my lucky day. I had to duck my head in a basin of cold water to get control of myself again. Maybe this war wasn't as bad as I'd originally thought.
********* Paris *********
It was true.
Achilles was dead and it was my arrow that killed him.
I wanted to die.
Father was finally proud of me and I couldn't care less. How ironic that killing was more highly valued than loving. Aphrodite had told me she was sorry but Achilles was already in the Fields.
I hoped he was happy there. Probably he was making love with his cousin and planning eternity with him. I shouldn't be jealous but I was. I'd known I wasn't good enough for him when he sent me away. But maybe I could end this war and get myself killed at the same time.
So I challenged Menelaus to a one-on-one duel with swords. Helen tried to dissuade me but I listened with deaf ears. I knew he was really good at swordplay. If his ego was well enough assuaged by killing me, maybe he'd go away and leave Troy alone.
I didn't really care one way or the other but I know my brother would like it if his Helen and their unborn baby were safe. He loved his wife, Andromache, too so perhaps he'd sleep easier if I could secure their safety. For once, King Priam approved of my actions. He thought I was protecting Troy's honor and I let him think that while I prepared to go get killed.
It was a hot day when I left the walls of Troy and strode out onto the open plain. Menelaus looked worn around the edges. I felt sorry for him; it couldn't have been easy watching his beautiful young wife fall in love with another. So I apologized for the pain and suffering I'd put him through. He looked a little surprised at my apology but then we were trading blows and I found it's harder to throw a fight than it looks.
I thought I'd just let him stab me but all that training Hector put me through kept me fighting instead of giving up. I was so hopeless I couldn't even get myself killed on purpose. Then out of nowhere, an arrow arced down into my back and I stumbled to my knees. It had sunk deep and I felt a burning sensation tingle through me.
Was this what my beloved Achilles had felt when my arrow pierced him? Menelaus held me in his arms and I heard him telling me that he would punish the one who'd shot me. I laughed weakly and bade him reward him instead. At last I would be free of all those expectations I couldn't live up to.
I wondered in the midst of the searing pain if Hades needed a shepherd in the Underworld. Another convulsion and then I lifted free of the burning heat and passed into darkness.
********* Achilles *********
I awoke under a leafy tree. The sound of water falling nearby confused me for a moment and I slowly sat up. I was clothed in a clean white tunic but I looked whole as I turned my hands this way and that. I felt like I was in one piece but something was missing. Getting up, I walked through the lush grass while a vision of a heated desert crossed my eyes.
Heat . . . burning . . . pain . . . all these sensations flooded my mind while I stumbled at the edge of a blue pool of water and fell to my knees.
A war, I was a warrior in a war but now I was here.
Where in Hades was here? I looked around at the low-hanging trees of silver and green leaves. The word Fields popped into my mind and I said it out loud as if that would help. "Fields. I'm somewhere called the fields."
Dipping my hands in the water, I splashed my face and drank thirstily from cupped palms. It felt wonderful but as the water cleared, I saw my reflection and just like that, my memory returned. "I'm Achilles."
It felt good to remember my name but there was something else I should be remembering. But what it was escaped me for the moment. Getting up again, I walked up the hill to find the spring from which this waterfall and pool was born. The path was broad and not so steep I was winded when I reached the top. A small cave awaited me almost at the summit.
Ducking my head, I entered a large room filled with comfortable looking furniture and a fire pit with a fire already burning. The table had a tray upon it filled with delicious food and I sat down to eat while trying to remember what I'd forgotten. Or maybe it was a 'who' I'd lost? Suddenly a sweet face surrounded by curly dark hair flashed across my mind's eye.
"Paris, his name is Paris." I smiled in relief. But why wasn't he here with me? There was something that happened to separate us but I couldn't remember what it was. I drank some water from a goblet on the table and cudgeled my mind to bring back what was lost. Suddenly I was tired, more tired than I'd been in a very long time. The wide low bed in the corner looked comfortable and I staggered over to it to sink down onto soft sheets and a woolen blanket.
Maybe I'd remember more when I awoke.
Waking felt good because what was missing had been found. I awoke with my arms around my lover, his body held close and his head nestled into my shoulder. I took a deep breath and held in his clean cedar scent while my hands stroked his broad shoulders. Now it felt right, now I could enjoy where ever this place was. One day I might remember more but for the moment, I had all I needed in my arms.
He stirred and I nuzzled a kiss to the soft skin at his temple. "Hm-m-m, Achilles."
"Good morning, sleepy head." I said softly and he smiled against my skin.
We were naked and I wondered how that had happened but I didn't really care. It just meant I could feel all of his silky skin against me.
"My love," he sighed and raised his head to kiss me.
We tasted good together and I drank him down like a fine wine. When we broke apart to breathe, he gazed into my eyes with a look of such delight. "I love you, Achilles. But where are we?"
"I don't know, Paris. I woke up down below, walked up here and found this cozy place." I brushed the curls off his forehead and kissed the tip of his nose. "I think it's our new home."
He nodded slowly and wrinkled his forehead in deep thought. "I remember being really hot and sad. I don't think I liked where I was before."
"Well, if we weren't together then I didn't like it either." I ran my hands down his back and he arched into me, our groins rubbing together in a very interesting manner. "Do that again, little love."
He wiggled and I slipped a hand between us to capture both our shafts. That felt wonderful and I kissed him while we thrust gently together. Slowly we kissed and touched, wringing every bit of pleasure from our loving until we released against each other with a sigh of each other's name.
I think we dozed a while before we arose from our bed to find fresh food on the table. We ate naked because we could and after we finished, we followed the sound of bubbling water to a second cave where a hot spring steamed among light-filled walls of crystal. Paris was even more beautiful when he was wet, his hair slicked back and water beaded on his lovely face.
When I told him so, he laughed and told me I was the beautiful one with the sun shining on my hair and reflecting from my blue eyes. We agreed we were both the most beautiful men in this timeless place while I wondered if we were the only two people here. Finishing our bath, we walked hand in hand down the trail to the place where I first woke up. The baaing of sheep in the distance made his face light up and we followed the sound to a meadow where thirty ewes and lambs grazed.
I watched him move among them and loved his eagerness to watch over this flock. I sat on a stone at the edge of a great forest and closed my eyes to bask in the sun. Where ever we were didn't matter so long as we could stay together. With only a whisper of sound, I felt him return to my side, sliding his arms around me and pressing a loving kiss to my lips.
"We shall have fine wool garments, my love when it's time to shear these sheep."
"And lamb for the table?" I asked him with a smile and watched him pout.
"Only if we must, Achilles, I think I've had enough of death." He shivered and I held him close.
"I agree. Only if we need to but if our food keeps arriving on the table we shouldn't need to. Perhaps we can offer the wool to the gods in return for our sustenance." I offered in return and he beamed at me.
"That will be perfect. Aphrodite will like that especially if I experiment with the herbal dyes I'd started to learn about before I had to leave my family." His brow wrinkled a little at that thought and I kissed it away.
Whatever it was could stay in the past. We had a bright new future to prepare for.
********* Hades *********
I was limp, I was so tired. Being the middle of a sandwich consisting of Aphrodite and Ares is exhausting. I was still buried in the goddess of love while the god of war blanketed my back, still imbedded in me. I was going to sleep for a century after they left.
"Thanks, Hades." Ares whispered in my ear before biting the earlobe. "We'll have to do this again sometime."
"Later, Ares, much, much later," I sighed and started to disentangle myself from the gently snoring goddess. That pushed me back on the Little God of War, which is not so little, thank you very much. "Let me recover from this bout first."
He snickered, almost tenderly pulling free of me and collapsing on the wide bed we'd thoroughly trashed. "Say about ten years from now."
I chuckled and bent to kiss him quickly. "That's about right. How about we leave Sleeping Beauty here and go take a quick dip in the Styx?"
He stretched, all those muscles sleek and sinister in the candlelight. "Good idea, Hades. She can find us when she wakes up. Although she'll probably want bubbles."
I shuddered at the thought of pink bubbles frothing in the dark river Styx. "Over my dead body."
"Don't be too sure of that, lover." The dulcet tones warned us she was awake. "Did someone mention a bath?"
Giving her a hand out of the bed, I swatted her behind and then picked her up to walk down to the river. I definitely felt younger since we'd gotten together. Watching Paris and Achilles settle down in bucolic bliss made me want someone of my own to love. I hadn't had that urge in centuries. Aphrodite and Ares weren't the ones although I'd never turn them away.
Maybe I should start dating or something, I mused while dropping Aphrodite in the river and listening to her shriek. Ares pushed me in before jumping in myself. Maybe I'd get some pointers for later. That said, I transported in some soap and prepared to dunk the god of war. For his own good, of course. Aphrodite would help me do it, I was sure.
This was the best bargain I'd made in years. And the White Isle couple looked to be an inspiration for some time to come. Smiling, I did my best imitation of a shark, coming up under Dite and making her shriek some more. Life was good. Maybe the Trojan War hadn't turned out so bad after all.
The end of the story