Her rash hand in evil hour

Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat:

Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,

Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe

That all was lost.

- John Milton, Paradise Lost (Book IX)

The echoes of his promise drift away into the mist just as he does from the shore. She watches him go; her eyes tracing his figure, memorizing every last inch of him. She knows she should look away, should save herself the additional sorrow of actually seeing him disappear from her life forever. The last thing she needs is more heartbreak.

But as much as she doesn't need it, she needs it even more; needs every little bit of him she can take, needs something to keep her sane, needs everything to remember when the silence and loneliness overwhelm her yet again. And so she watches him sail off towards his destiny, one of which she has no part, as she has every other time a hero lands on her island.

(Like the others, he doesn't look back, and that's more painful than him leaving in the first place.)

This is her curse, to suffer because of her own heart, and sometimes she thinks she has the worst punishment out of all those who supported the Titans in the war.

Oh, the gods think that they've been kind, granting her this island to live on instead of throwing her into the depths of Tartarus. As she stares at the lake, watching the sunlight play off the water (every beat of her heart another stab of pain, because she sees his eyes in the way the sea-green waves sparkle), she knows that she should be grateful. Ogygia is pleasant, peaceful, breathtakingly beautiful. A paradise, Lord Zeus had said. As enchanting a place as the Garden of Hesperides.

But as the Garden of Hesperides has its forbidden fruit – the golden apples of immortality – so does Ogygia; and it's that forbidden fruit that makes her would-be paradise Hades to her. It's that forbidden fruit that makes her wish the gods had been harsher, that she had been given some other punishment instead. She would gladly stand in her father's place, holding the sky up, if it meant that she didn't have to go through this agony anymore.

(The weight of the sky is nothing, she thinks; nothing compared to the unbearable silence and to her heavy, deserted heart.)

What's worse is that this pain is self-inflicted, caused by her own soft heart, by the ease with which she loves. Love is her weakness, her failing; what brings new meaning to her solitary confinement. Love is what got her into this prison in the first place; love for a father who couldn't care less, a father who didn't love her back.

It was a sign of things to come, she's realized over the past couple of centuries. For this is her fate: to love men with great destinies (destinies that don't include her, that will never include her) who do not love her in return.

(She allows herself this little lie – tells herself that they don't stay because they don't love her at all, because it's less painful than the truth: they do love her, but not enough to stay. Never enough.)

It's a cruel fate, a vicious cycle. Every time a hero leaves, she tells herself that there's nothing she can do about it and tries to find whatever peace she can in her little island. She tries to harden her heart, tries to prepare herself to prevent herself from falling in love with the next white knight the Fates will inevitably send her. When another hero does wash up on the shore, she takes care of him, befriends him; convinces herself that she won't fall in love with this one, won't bruise her already battered heart once again.

But she always falls in love with the hero, falls in love with his bravery and his compassion and his determination (the qualities that cause him to land on Ogygia in the first place), falls in love with him like she did with the one who came before him, like she will with the one who comes after him.

(There will always be another one to come after him. There will always be another hero to save, another hero to love. There will always be another hero to break her heart.)

She distances herself from the hero, understanding that he'll leave, as they always do. She promises herself that she won't get her hopes up, won't offer her home and her heart to him, not when she knows the Fates have made it so that he won't accept. Yet she's always been an optimist, has never been able to stop that small part of her that still hopes that this one will be different; and so she breaks her promise and asks him to stay.

For each hero, the routine is a little different, but this is the one thing that never changes: he leaves.

He leaves, as they all do, as she has always known he would do. Some stay longer than others, but her brave ones all leave her eventually, leave her alone in her paradise where she has (almost, almost, almost) everything she's ever wanted.

Just as her latest hero, this son of Poseidon, the prophesized saviour of the gods, has, they all sail away towards their destinies. They know they go back to incredible dangers and certain (and in some cases, immediate) death; but still they go back, leaving safety and immortality and eternal peace behind. They leave her behind, because they're noble and loyal and valiant, because they're true heroes, because they'd save the world before even thinking about themselves.

(What hurts the most – her most shameful secret; her biggest self-betrayal: she loves them all the more for it.)

A/N: Did I write this in two hours? Yes. Did I use an insane (and possibly illegal) amount of parentheses and semi-colons? Yes. Did my sister nearly drown herself in her breakfast cereal when I rewrote the ending a thousand times and asked her to look over every single version? Yes. But I actually kind of like this not-quite-drabble-but-not-quite-one-shot-either, so I'm hoping you guys do too. :) The title is (obviously) from the epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton, mostly because I'm hopeless with coming up with my own. This is my first PJO fanfic (my first non-Harry Potter fanfic, actually), so I'd appreciate any constructive criticism. :) (Actually, all kinds of reviews are welcome. Whether you liked it or not, just knowing you read the whole thing will make me happy.)