Disclaimer: I own 'Troy', the myth or the plot.
Eyes in Heaven
Helen could only remember being truly happy once in her life before that day in court.
When she had been twelve she had been kidnapped by Thesus of Thebes, who had apparently been duped into to thinking that she was the world's 'most beautiful woman', not the little scrawny girl she was.
After he realized her youth—the baby fat still on her cheeks, the underdevelopment of her body, the bright-eyed innocence of her baby blue eyes—Thesus had taken her to Thebes not as a bride, but as a little girl. On the boat ride to the city on the coast, Helen had become Thesus's daughter.
Those days Helen had been herself for the first time. No one had reprimanded her for hiking her chiton high and diving headfirst into the ocean. No one scolded her for riding a horse instead of embroidering. Thesus took this all in good humor, clapping his aging knee and saying isn't she better than any boy you've ever seen?
And she, Helen of Sparta with the gangly body and too bright gold hair, had felt like she had belonged. With Thesus she felt as if she could be herself, as if the Helen that wanted to sleep out on the beach all night was not something to be ashamed off. Nay, she felt as if that Helen should be reveled in, glorified.
Was it no surprise that she fancied herself in love with Thesus, the first man to make her feel like herself? It took her no more than two days' time to develop the girlhood crush that progressed into admiration and trust over the months she spent with him.
But just as she knew she loved Thesus for allowing her to be herself, she knew his heart would forever remain an unconquerable holy grail. He still dreamed of his Amazon queen with the dark hair braided on her head and her flashing eyes as she dared any man to tame her. Helen had once laid outside his door and listened as he dreamed of the day a spear had impaled her. She had sobbed for the loss of the great warrior woman and the loss of her childhood dreams.
There were times when Helen wished she had been born Amazon. She would have given anything to be one of them, in the short, white chitons with a bow on her back and a sword at her side. She could ride all day, as far as her horse could stand to carry her, and no one would tell her to go inside and needle.
For almost a year Helen remained blissfully in the company of her father Thesus, for he was more of a father than her own who saw Helen only as a pawn for his political games. She was marriage barter only for him, just as her sister had been before her.
Then her brothers came storming into the castles of Thebes, ready to rescue their sister all costs.
She would forever remember the way Thesus fought her two brothers, her twin Polydeucus and her elder brother Castor. The old man had been no match for the youth and vigor. They fought for their sister's honor and 'freedom', Thesus fought for the sake of fighting.
It was forever scorched into her memory the way Thesus looked as he leaned against the wooden frames of his beloved stable, gripping the edge of his favorite horse's stall. Castor's sword had found its mark in Thesus's chest and the blood stained the light blue of his tunic.
"Very good, young warrior," Thesus had congratulated in a raspy voice as he bravely clung to the end of his life. His eyes drifted over to Helen. "So beautiful… Helen… I truly wish you had been mine…"
Mine… she knew he had meant his daughter and, though she had lost the will to speak, she knew he knew that she wished for the same as well.
When Thesus had breathed his last Helen had fallen into the arms of her brothers, sobbing. They would never understand why she had cried so fervently that day. Just as they would never understand where the light her blue eyes had always shone with had gone.
Helen had ceased to be a child.
Paris knew the stories of his birth.
He supposed he wasn't supposed to. Whenever he asked his father about them, Priam patted his head and sent him off without answer. Hector looked far away and brooding before telling Paris to practice on his sword skills.
There never was a straight answer from those two.
But he found that if he managed to squeeze his skinny body into the tight gaps in between the wall and furniture the servants within the palace never knew he was listening in on their conversations. They never knew he heard every word, every story, that surrounded his birth.
The last son to be born to Hecuba and Priam, rulers of Troy. He had come out of the womb covered in blood and shining with a handsomeness that bards would write about for years to come.
All was not well in the palace on the day of his birth, Paris had learned at a tender age of seven. His sister whom he had never met had raced down the long halls of Troy's center palace just as Paris's first infant whines had pierced the halls.
"Kill him! Kill him!"
She prophesied Paris's hand in the fall of Troy. She had seen the fire that would consume Troy, had seen the golden haired woman who held the wooden horse, and yanked at her hair as she screamed.
Hecuba and Priam had tried to comfort her, but Cassandra would not be. She demanded the death of her newly born brother. She had even gone as far as to reach for the long blade of a sword at her father's side to attack her brother.
Cassandra had been taken away and locked in a tower, raving. As Paris had began to cry again she cried with him, haunted by the fires and the blood and the decay. Apollo's gift to her. The ability to see the future.
Paris never looked for his sister. He did not dare. After hearing the tale he had run into his room and had not come out until Hector managed to convince him to play at the beach with him. Hector could always bring Paris out of his slumps.
He often wondered if it would have been better for his mother and father to leave him abandoned on a hilltop. Cassandra might have been a normal happy girl-child then, without haunting visions of death and blood.
But youth was resilient and the dread of Cassandra's prediction faded from Paris's memory until it was considered nothing more than a dream. And it seemed likely to be only that for Paris was a dreamer. He saw adventure and glory awaiting for him.
Growing up with Hector, one could only dream of adventure and glory. Hector was all serious eyes and dark hair, holding a sword as if he was born to lead an army to honorable glory. He was a true soldier, strong through willpower and not natural skill. He took every duty pressed onto his shoulder as eldest son with a sullenness that made him age before his time. He was handsome, but it was daunted before the wisdom and tired responsibilities in his eyes. Paris had only seen those eyes lighten when his wife, Andromache, was close or when he was holding his tiny son.
Paris had none of the skills of Hector. When his brother trained, Paris snuck out to flirt with the Trojan girls. He had no talent with wielding a blade. Hector's blade moved with intricate twirls and loops, like a dancer's last stand on the stage. Paris could barely manage to thrust and parry correctly. His only skill came from the bow and arrow, a coward's weapon he had once said bitterly. Hector had argued that a bowman was irreplaceable in an army, but Paris had not believed him.
"Come to Sparta with me," Hector had said one day when Paris had, yet again, been bested by him in a sword match. "We must make peace with those Spartans and you are a much better speaker than I."
Sparta, the warlike nation. Ruled by the barbarian king Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus. It was no secret they hungered for Troy's sea power and land. They watched Troy like starved lions watching an antelope.
That was not all it was known for. Paris had heard of Helen of Sparta, Menelaus's wife. The most beautiful woman ever to be borne onto the earth, lovechild of Leda and Zeus himself as the story went.
But that wasn't why Paris went. He had women in Troy and he needed no spoiled wife of a war-hawk, a beast of a man.
Hector said he needed him, though. Needed him at Sparta. Hector had never needed Paris before. "I'll come," Paris said and smiled at his brother. He'd show Hector that while he was not a good warrior he was a fine prince.
Paris was going to prove his worth.
Helen had not wanted to marry after Thesus. She had begged her father upon her return for more time before she was bartered off. The king had relented, pressured by both Leda and Helen's sister Clytemnestra, and Helen had managed to escape marriage for another three years.
But news of Helen's beauty, for it only increased with each rise and set of the sun, was reaching the ears of the kings. Everyone was clamoring for her hand. The beauty of Helen of Sparta would enhance any king's realm.
She had no choice. She had not chosen her suitor. Her father had done it for her. She remained in her rooms as the men argued over whose wife she would be. She hadn't even really worried about it. Helen had shut down, her body freezing, her blood chilling. She rested on her couch and stared at the sky, imaging riding a horse into the sea where she would drown and the beauty of Helen of Sparta would be forgotten.
Menelaus… Clytemnestra had told her. That was who had won her hand. He was the large, younger brother of Agamemnon, most powerful man in Greece. Helen could not have chosen a better husband herself. She was lucky.
She told herself that too. But she never believed it. How could she be lucky when whenever she felt her husband's touch her skin crawled? She had dreamed of love and passion and beauty and what she got was a big man with hard eyes and a warrior grin. It made ice run into her veins.
Every time she looked into Menelaus's dark eyes she knew there was no love for her in them, too. His head was too filled with war and pride and Agamemnon. She was simply a beautiful women, respected and admired, meant to bare him his heirs.
Perhaps Helen could have been fond of Menelaus, perhaps there could have been compassion in their relationship, but Menelaus was too filled with love for his brother. The need to please him, the hero-worship, the love, the admiration. Menelaus only wanted to please Agamemnon and everything else fell short.
Helen told herself she could go on living with no emotions. She told herself she could smile and make-nice as was expected of her, she could bear the proper heirs, and she could be beautiful. The glass mask she had slid onto her face would never creak, nor shatter, no matter how much she wanted it to. She truly was Helen of Sparta now, and all she was to the men was a beautiful golden woman on a throne. They saw nothing of the woman who dreamed of the sea and the grass and the earth beneath her.
She told herself she could live with that, too. Live with being the legend. Live with being Helen of Sparta, beautiful and silent and golden. Thesus had seen the real her and she told herself that was enough. No one else had to know.
But every morning when she managed to escape the suppressing grasp of Menelaus's arms she walked to her balcony and looked at the sea. The crashing waves that destroyed the sand. She wanted to be the sand, to sink into the sea. She wanted to walk forward into the sea until she drowned.
That was fine, too. But to die would be a weakness. She would live on and do the one thing she was meant to do.
If he had not seen her, would things have been different? If there hadn't been that one brief glance across the room would he have dared defy Sparta all for the woman whose face was beautiful and eyes sad?
The sun had set when Hector and Paris and the Trojans had arrived in Sparta. They were accepted warmly by Menelaus who said Agamemnon was dealing with a disturbance in a provenance outside Sparta.
There was drinking and dancing and women in thin chitons that danced to music. They smiled at Hector and Paris, the handsome princes from Troy. Hector paid them no heed as he jumped into politics with Menelaus. His wife was at home and he had no need for a mistress.
Paris started to pay them attention, watching their swaying hips with interest. He had no respect, nor love, for the Spartans but indeed their women where beautiful. For the first time Paris wondered of Helen.
"Ah," Menelaus as his beady black eyes drifted along the line of women. "Have you heard of her? My wife. Helen." With his large hand he motioned to the end of the line of women.
And there she was, Helen of Sparta. Golden hair in loose pigtails at the sides of her face, making her look younger than she already was. Paris was surprised. He had thought she would be old, old enough to match Menelaus's age, but she was even Paris's junior. She was thin and pale, her face beautiful and meant to please, and her eyes as blue as the ocean were dead and staring straight ahead.
Paris found it hard to breathe.
Helen told herself she could stand on the little raised platform Menelaus had constructed for her. It was nothing to her. Let the Trojans stare. Let them see the famed Helen of Sparta, the most beautiful woman on earth.
It had been Agamemnon's idea to have Helen stand on the platform in the too thin, too short, too white chiton. Let them see what we Spartans have! he had boosted as Helen had sat silently at Menelaus's side during dinner a week ago.
They could have her body, Menelaus and anyone who wanted it, but her heart was beating above their heads. They could not touch it, could not hold it. Her heart was an intangible thing. She looked at the ocean, covered in the black of the night, and imagined sinking into it and never coming out.
"Tell me, Lord Hector, have you ever seen something so beautiful?" That was Menelaus's voice and she knew that he was speaking of her. There was always a tone in Menelaus's voice when he spoke of Helen. Possession and hunger.
She looked at them, down at them, allowing curiosity to drive her to glance at the Trojan princes.
Hector, the eldest. He glanced at her once than lost interest. She felt her back go up, as if she had somehow found wanting by the man. No one had dismissed her so quickly. She was relieved and annoyed at the same time. Could she be so repulsive that the Lord Hector could barely stand to look at her? Could allowing herself to become a spectacle make him sick?
Helen didn't know how that made her feel, but suddenly she was dizzy. This prince had been the only one who seemed to think she was not worth any time. She wished everyone would think that of her. She wished everyone would let her fade.
But then she saw his eyes.
Dark, curly hair around the tanned face with eyes light with innocence that had once filled her eyes. Paris, the youngest prince of Troy, was staring at her. His lanky body was stiff and his dark eyes looked at her as if they were never to look away. It was his eyes that held her, made her chest clench painfully.
It was as if he had tore down the walls that she had constructed around herself. As if he had yanked the mask off her face. She was left vulnerable and naked, trembling as different emotions whirled within her. Fear. Want. Lust. Grief. Anger.
He couldn't seem to look away. He watched as the transformation came over her. As the cold woman changed into the young girl. She looked at him plainly, staring at him as if to drag him towards her with only her eyes. Paris would have gone to her then, would have dragged her from the platform and ran with her.
An arrow had shot through their hearts in that one glance, piercing their flesh. The love story of Helen and Paris didn't begin with words or romance, but with a simple glance. It was that glance from across the room that was all that needed to be said about Paris and Helen. The glance said it all, the love, the lust, the wanting. The glance that started a war.
Hector reached out and put a hand on Paris shoulders, drawing his attention back to Menelaus. Helen's husband. He doesn't deserve her. He flaunts her like he would a prized horse.
Paris didn't dare look at Helen again, even though she sat across him from, silent at Menelaus's side. He was deathly afraid he would grab her if he did look upon her and kiss her, consequences be damned.
He couldn't do that, not to Hector. Paris swallowed his heart and managed to avoid the piercing blue gaze he felt upon him.
Menelaus split wine onto her new white gown, the red wine dribbling down her arms. She didn't notice. She couldn't take her eyes from the dark-haired youth in front of her. He was older than her, this Paris, but he shone with the innocence she had shed like a second skin years before.
She wanted to lean across the table and touch his sculpted face, draw her fingers down his jawbone, touch his lips. She wanted to sink into his arms. That look in his eyes, as if he was seeing the woman and not the beauty, haunted her. It was possible she would have died just to see that look once more.
A shiver crawled up her spine as, for the first time since that glance across the room, Paris looked up at her. Their eyes met and held. Helen felt her breath catch in her throat. She could almost feel his hands on her skin, touching every intimate part of her. His eyes alone made her feel gloriously naked, like every part of her had been covered in gold dust.
Then Menelaus reached out and grabbed her arm, hauling her into his lap. "Helen's always a bit too quiet, Lord Hector. But her face makes up for it, no?"
There had been a time when her family had been hard pressed to find a way to cease her chatter. But coming into Menelaus's palace had stolen her voice, looked her away in an iron cage.
"She's young," Hector said but his voice sounded far away. All Helen was aware of was how much she wanted to fade into sweet, blissful oblivion. "I had thought Helen would have been older…"
Obviously, Paris realized, Hector had been surprised as well at Helen's apparent youth.
"Most do," Menelaus answered and drew a finger down Helen's arm. Helen shuddered and Paris's fingers clenched. "Thesus kidnapped her years ago thinking she was older than her true twelve years. Poor fool got a girl-child instead of a beautiful bride then killed because of it."
"Thesus…? Thesus of Thebes…?" Hector was interested now. The warriors of the past generations never ceased to amaze him.
Thesus… yes, my Thesus. My brother killed him, Lord Hector. Ran him through in an attempt to save my honor. She saw him in her mind's eye, grasping the stable, drawing in unsteady breaths. And the blood… oh, the blood.
Her throat clogged and she almost choked. No one noticed it save Paris who almost leapt from his seat. Helen shook her head in warning.
Wrong. They both knew it was wrong. She was Menelaus's wife. There could be nothing between them save for polite friendship. Nothing. No soft-spoken words, no secret glances. Only polite smiles and cool eyes.
"Helen…" Paris said it just under his breath, but she was harmonized with him in ways she had been with no one else. With every sigh he took, she took one also. When her stomach jolted painfully, Paris felt it in his abdomen.
Nothing can happen. Menelaus would kill you and you… you must live Paris He had to live, had to spread his golden innocence over the land. He couldn't die at the beastly hands of Menelaus. She would not stand for it.
Realizing Helen would not look at him again, Paris lowered his head and did not speak for the remainder of evening, even though Hector sent him worried glances.
Never before had the urge to die been so strong within Helen.
As night settled upon Sparta, as the embers within people's homes were doused, Helen climbed the wide, stone steps of the palace.
The night was cold and she felt the gooseflesh on her arms. She ignored it and her sensible voice urging her to go back inside for a shawl. She kept on climbing the steps, towards the veranda, overlooking all of Sparta.
It was silent, with only the breeze from the sea making any noise, and only a few red dots shone out against the dark background. Some Spartans were still up, wives waiting for their husbands, mothers with their sons and daughters.
Helen wrapped her arms around her shoulders as she stared, almost crying. Those people down there, what would she give to live in their shoes? They were happy and lived with love while she remained frigid and neglected within her prison of stone.
But she had grasped love tonight. For a moment it had been held tantalizingly within her grasp only to be snatched away. If Zeus was her father than why did he treat her so? Why did he force her to live without love or hope and then send love to her?
She pressed her hands against the smooth stone of the balcony. Helen could hear the crash of waves against the beach.
I will not live knowing what I cannot have, Helen thought as a wild pain clenched in her heart. She saw Paris in the darkness, smiling at her, his whole handsome face light up. Just out of her reach. She could never have him. She would always be forced to endure Menelaus's cold, rough touch.
Her feet balanced themselves on the stone as she climbed up. Her white chiton whipped around her legs, urging her to jump. To die would be better than to be the ghost she had turned herself into.
In the afterlife there would be no more Menelaus with the sharp, warrior smile and rough, callous hands. There would be no more almosts and could-have-beens. There would be nothing. Just the endless darkness.
"Thesus…" she called softly into the darkness. She could almost feel him at the bottom of the darkness, waiting for her. "Catch me…"
"No!" Even as her foot slipped over the side of the wall, a hand was gripping her waist, dragging her back. She fought against it wildly. No, no. Who would dare drag her back into this hell?
"Let me go!" she begged, falling against her unwanted rescuer, sobbing uncontrollably. "Please let me. I don't want to live anymore!"
"Hush. They'll hear you." She recognized his voice and went stiff against him. It was Paris. Paris's hands on her hips, Paris's chest pillowing her head, Paris's scent invading her senses.
"I want to die," she managed as her legs gave way and they both sunk to the ground. Paris stroked her hair. "Please… please… just leave…"
"No, I can't. You know I can't," Paris was saying against her hair, his lips kissing her hairline. "You can't die, Helen."
"Why not?" she demanded, too weak to pull against him. "Why shouldn't I? Do you think I want to be Menelaus's trophy? To stay in this prison he constructed for me?"
"You can't die," he repeated again and cupped her face. His eyes were so bright even in their dark shade. His fingers were soft on her cheeks. "Not when I've just meet you, Helen. Not when I lo—"
"No, don't say it!" she hissed as more tears fell down her cheeks. "You can't, I can't. You know that." She pressed her hands against her eyes and sobbed wildly. "It doesn't matter what I or you want, Paris. Nothing matter except that I am Menelaus's wife and I cannot stand to be her anymore…"
"I won't let you die, Helen," he repeated again and his voice was stern and final. "You're not meant to die."
"Oh, don't you understand?" Helen rasped, pressing her forehead against his shoulder. "I—I can't stay alive knowing what I can't have, Paris!"
"The minute I saw you across the room," Paris counted, stealing her voice. "I knew you were mine. The gods meant for us to be together, Helen. That's why I came to Sparta, not for Hector like I thought. I was meant to come to you."
"I want to believe that… I want to believe it so much," Helen admitted so softly that it was almost as if she wasn't speaking. "I've known you for a moment, but I… I've never been so happy."
"Just kiss me." There was a wave of emotions sweeping her up and she was helpless to do anything but ride the wide torrent. "Just kiss me now, Paris. Make forget about everything. Menelaus, Sparta, my life…"
He did kiss her. He cupped the back of her head and pressed his mouth against hers. Helen wrapped her arms around his neck, shivering. He tasted like wine and bread and cheese and he was so warm. Warm like the sun on the beach during the spring.
"We shouldn't be doing this," she thought she said against his mouth.
"I know," she thought he answered.
But there was no could nots and should nots here. There was no marriage and no Menelaus. There was only Paris who parted her lips with his tongue and made her moan and beg and feel like a woman. Not a girl like Thesus had, but a woman. Helen the woman.
Paris pulled away, holding his lips an inch above her. "Helen… Helen… Helen… I love you."
"We shouldn't," Helen said and touched his face, unwilling to push away. "We can't… I love you so much… I can't say no." Was it weakness? Was that had her clinging to him as if her entire life depending on their skin contact?
"Stay with me tonight, Helen," Paris said softly, his fingers burying themselves in her hair. He kissed her jaw, licked her earlobe, and rocked her.
"Yes." What else could she say? Helen had never had such strong feelings inside her before and she wouldn't turn from them when her life had been so cold without them. She couldn't. Her heart wouldn't let her.
Paris scooped Helen up in her arms and swung her around, the night the only witness to the beginning of the greatest love story ever told.
Or maybe the night was not the only one watching them, Helen thought as Paris kissed her again until they were both drunk with passion.
Maybe there were eyes in heaven watching them… sighing in ecstasy just as they did.
Word Count: 4714
Time: one hour
Beta: it's all a lie
Couples: Helen/Paris, mild Hector/Andromache
Status: one-shot (complete)
Author: Lizzy Rebel
Characters/Style: Helen/Paris romance fic
Notes: for those of you who noticed, yes, yes I took the basic idea for this fic from the miniseries Helen of Troy, the most accurate Troy adaptation I've ever seen. That and my mad from Paris love was inspired from that show, though I've always loved Helen. Oh and the Menelaus in the movie makes me go 'ew' and twitch. Glad he died. Glad Achilles died—no matter what the movie says, he's still a perverted pig… and I don't like Brad Pitt. Not glad Hector died. I always love him, myth, miniseries, movie. And every time… he dies… so sad. And on that bright note review!