Author's Note: Here's the edited chapter 2! From next chapter on, it'll be all new material, but again I would suggest reading my edits of these original 2 chapters for plot reasons.
12 hours earlier
Troy was rising.
Briseis, former priestess of Apollo and current talk of the palace, was not keen to follow its example. She groaned as the morning sun finally reached the point at which it shone directly into her bedchamber, and pulled the sheets over her head. The longer she stayed in here, the longer she could try to deny that she had just awoken from a dream featuring a certain Greek, who she spent many of her waking hours doing her best to keep out of her thoughts. But at night….
Her mouth crooked slightly as she allowed herself to indulge in the dream for a moment longer. Now that Achilles was gone- had left, she corrected herself coldly. Now that he had left, and she had been unceremoniously returned to her royal status in the city, she found herself wishing…not to be a prisoner again, not that exactly, but to see him again, be his again-
Good gods, do you even hear yourself? And they call Helen melodramatic. He's not coming back, and you shouldn't want him to. You were a fool to think you were anything more to him than a warm body.
A slight tremor ran through her bottom lip, and she dug her nails into the palms of her once-delicate hands, now covered in calluses that hadn't had the time to soften again. Her self-pitying reveries had become unfortunately common these days, to her chagrin. She forced herself to pull back the covers and sit up, narrowing her eyes at the daylight, which seemed even brighter than before. She'd been behaving like a child lately, like some lovelorn girl and it was all his fucking fault-
This pointless train of thought, destined to come to an equally unhelpful conclusion, was interrupted by a sharp series of knocks on her chamber door. Briseis started, making a half-hearted attempt to run her fingers through the snarl of her sleep-tousled hair to make it slightly more presentable. "Who calls?"
In lieu of replying, the person on the other side simply opened the door, a move which would have greatly annoyed her had the Trojan queen- and Briseis's aunt- Hecuba not been the one to walk in. Briseis had always found her aunt rather grating, but the queen's attempts at 'helpful advice' had become near insufferable since her return. Hecuba breezed into the room, her overly rouged cheeks looking more garish than usual in the morning sunlight.
"Briseis! I would have expected you to be fully dressed by this hour." Briseis glanced down at her nightgown, which was small enough that it couldn't possibly be mistaken for a day dress. "Oh, I- well I was just about to-"
"No matter dear," the older woman interjected, her keen eyes noting the younger woman's bloodshot ones. "You've been crying again, haven't you?"
Briseis resisted the urge to audibly sigh. "No aunt, I actually slept quite ill last night-"
"Nonsense darling!" clucked Hecuba, her elegant grey eyebrows furrowing. "Not sleeping well indeed. You simply haven't been the same since that brute of a Greek-" she flashed her a sympathetic look. "Well, I don't suppose my mentioning him will make you feel any better. But all that aside, you really don't have to do this anymore! I feel like you barely leave your room these days. He's gone now- they're all gone dear, and they aren't coming back. Isn't that enough to cheer you up?"
Briseis managed to plaster something she hoped resembled a smile to her face. "Of course, Aunt Hecuba. How silly of me to carry on like this! You're right of course, now that that Greek monster"- she winced slightly-"is gone, I've nothing to worry about."
"There, you see? You're feeling better already" smiled Hecuba. "I'll wait in the hallway until you're presentable, and then we have news to discuss."
As soon as her aunt left, Briseis rifled through her wardrobe for the least ostentatious chiton she could find. In her first years at court she had reveled in the attention she received as a princess of Troy, and her attire matched this, but now she found that she attracted more than enough whispers from the court without her adding to it with the bright colors and plunging necklines she once favored.
After dressing, she slipped from her sun-warmed room into the cool interior of the palace. Once they were both in the hallway, the queen glanced around as if to make sure they were truly alone before leaning in to whisper, "Now dear, have you heard?"
"About what?" replied Briseis uneasily.
"About what?' you say. Sometimes I think I'm the only one paying any attention in this entire court. Why, about the horse! Though now that I think about it, I'd be more surprised if you did know, why should you? The only person you're talking to these days is Paris," she said dismissively. "But no matter, back to what I was saying. As the Greeks were preparing to leave, one of our spies- I can't recall his name - overheard Odysseus say that there was a prophecy: if the wooden horse they built to placate Minerva was brought into Troy, it would protect us from harm, as well as bring us the favor of Minerva herself! The spy also managed to hear the location where they were going to leave the horse. Naturally, once they left there was a unanimous decision for it to be brought to the city square. In fact it's there now, they brought it inside last night."
"Although," Hecuba hesitated, "the decision wasn't completely unanimous. Helen, of all people, burst into the council meeting and started ranting about how we simply couldn't bring the horse in, she said it was because...well, who knows why? It was Helen, I'd be surprised if anyone was listening. We finally had to get the guards to escort her out, and even then we could hear her screeching outside the door. It was quite awful. I think she even tried to go and talk to Paris, but," she snorted, "as I'm sure you well know, he won't have anything to do with her! It would seem they've finally had one fight too many. About time if you ask me." Hecuba finished.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find Andromache and tell her the seating chart for the victory banquet tonight. I haven't seen her all morning either! She 's been in such a mood ever since-" the queen faltered, cleared her throat, and walked off, leaving Briseis to try and process this onslaught of information.
Why would the Greeks need to make an offering to Minerva in the first place? She's already their patron goddess! And why would she ever grant favor to Troy? And- here her face darkened- why would the Greeks, Odysseus specifically, discuss this "prophecy" out in the open? Achilles always said that important matters were only talked about in private...
Suddenly, Briseis felt a hand grip her shoulder. Instinctively she jerked back, grabbed the person's forearm and had them pinned to the ground in an instant.
She had expected a man, but was caught off guard when she found herself staring into pair of startled looking blue eyes.
A/N: No POV change for next chapter, it picks up where this one leaves off.