Love has its harsh ways

They were both a bit of outsiders at Olympos. Both of them 'accidents'. None of them really expected to have been around. Yet they were, and in the beautiful and peril world of the gods, where survival of the fittest was as applicable as in the jungle, the two of them found that they had more in common than being outsiders. And their unexpected love grew strong in the shadows. But did they dare to come forward with it into the light. Did they dare to confront the other gods and say "here we are - and we're in love"?

This is the story about Hebe and Herakles. We all know Herakles' labours and how he ascended to Olympos after his heroic life on Earth. And there he met and fell in love with Hebe - his old arch enemy Hera's daughter. But how did that happen and what reactions did it trigger among the gods? The myths do not tell, so here is my own try at that story.

Prologue 1 - Zeus and Alkmene

At first glance she could have sworn it was Amphitryon standing there over at the bar. After all he had the same kind of broad shoulders, the same kind of healthy and thick, blond locks falling down his brawny back. And he too wore a long, worn and black leather cloak. Yet upon a closer inspection Alkmene noted that this stranger was taller than the husband who had left her so abruptly to go off to war for more than two years ago. Since then there had been no words of Amphitryon. No one seemed to know where he had gone, what he had done, to be true Alkmene didn't even know if he was alive or not, and it grated at her heart. She missed him so much, his enchanting smile, his joyous eyes, his strong, calloused hands, his furry beard, his corny jokes...

On top of that she didn't want to end up a childless widow with no one to take care of her when she got old. No one to miss her when she left this life. She wanted a child; she wanted to hold a baby in her arms. She wanted to look into the eyes of new life. And most of all she wanted her husband back. She wanted Amphitryon; she wanted him so bad that she kept seeing him everywhere these days it seemed. Including among the strangers in her own brother's bar.

Swallowing hard Alkmene walked the few steps up to Ludon who was serving wine to the blond stranger, his jet-black curls hanging in his eyes as usual, making him look like a rascal boy more than a skilled business man. Ludon greeted her with a broad smile, he was always happy to see his sister and it was not often she came down here to the village pub these days. In fact Alkmene had become withdrawn, a bit of a recluse since her husband had left two years back. And it shown upon her face, how much she missed him, or at least missed any kind of news about what could have happened to Amphitryon. Ludon didn't ask, he just poured her a cup of wine. If Allie wanted to talk she would eventually. Instead he leant his elbows on the counter and simply enquired about her well being and assured in return that all was fine with him and his young family of wife and expected child.

Alkmene dared a peek at the blond man in the corner of her eye. He had a noble profile, like a royalty and carried himself with the same grace too. And he looked physically powerful and vigorous. Up close there was not that much resembling of her husband, save for the strong, lithe body and the blond locks. This man was younger, paler in complexion and Alkmene had to admit to herself that he looked a tad better than Amphitryon did.

His stance was calm, restful; still there was something dangerous about him. Not hostile but rather a strong awareness of his surroundings, a remarkable source of power resting within him like with a relaxed predator, an alpha lion ready to move at any second. He emitted authority even in this composed state, and Alkmene knew instinctively that this stranger was no one you picked trouble with. He held great powers and he knew how to use them. But what was a man like him doing here? In this backwater village, far away from all kind of battles he seemed like being made for partaking in? What tides had brought him here? To Ludon's bar, which usually only received merchant foreigners, people arriving here to buy crop or sell trinkets. Alkmene felt something stir in her belly at those thoughts. Wonder, bemusement, distraction!

Next thing the stranger was turning his head only so slightly, looking at her. Checking her out, she could tell. And although she tried not to, she glanced back. He smiled slightly at her, acknowledging her, and she noted yet another difference to her husband. While Amphitryon had brown deer eyes this man's eyes were as blue as a spring sky. He smiled at her, while saying hello and Alkmene replied with the same words. Suddenly she had introduced herself, even told she was the sister of the bar owner and that she tried to come here at least once a week.

The stranger replied by holding out a large hand:
"I'm Caradon, a pleassure to meet you, Alkmene."
"Where you from?" she couldn't help asking. His accent was different, slightly Thessalian but with another lilt to it as well. A cadence speaking of far off shores, distant cities. As if this man had travelled around quite a bit, picking up tidbits of language sounds all over the place.
"From Crete originally," Caradon replied. "Although I don't live there anymore these days."

That was it, Crete she thought, then the rest was easy enough for her to dare a guess:
"You're living in Thessaly now, right? The Eastern parts?"
"You're observant, Alkmene, how d'you guess?"
"I heard it. Those 'r's are typical Eastern Thessalian ones. I used to go there a lot when I was younger. I had friends there and I met…" she suddenly finished, for some reason she didn't want to tell Caradon about her husband, the man she had not heard about for so long. Instead she enquired:

"And what do you do? What brings you here; you're a merchant of some kind?"
"You might say that, yes."
"So what's your business?"
"Ideas."
"Ideas? That sounds…"
"Strange, I know. Let's just say I collect and gather new ideas, and then I make use of them within line of work."
"Your - line of work... What do you do if I may ask?"
"I am what you might call an executive. Although of quite a different kind than a businessman, a military general or a monarch. Although a bit of all these things as well. And a bit of researcher and philosopher as well. As such I am able to give advices to all those categories to make things happen when I want them to happen. To spin the world in my desired direction. To be able to do so I have to go out in the world and see what the little people are saying as well as the kings and then generals. Thus I come to places like this."

"That seems like..." Alkmene gasped. "Amazing. I never knew there was such a profession. What do you call yourself?"
"That depends on where I go, who I meet."
"Depends? Honestly, Caradon, the way you carry yourself - you appear like one of the eternal gods, and the things you talk about - they appear above mere mortal business to me. Or at least like something associated with the gods. So who are you really?"
"That's a bit of a secret - for the time being. Let me just assure you that my business here is good natured and slightly bordering on a pleassure stroll as well."
"You're full of secrets, Caradon!"
"Yes, that is part of my line of work. At least when I come to places like this, where I go to learn more than anything else. Because then I don't want people to really know what I'm looking for and adjust for that. I want things to come to me naturally, things said to me naturally."

"But how come you tell me these things then?"
"Because you seem honest, Alkmene."
"Why, thank you!" Over in the corner she could see Ludon looking at her, obviously pleased that she had found someone to chat with and that she was enjoying herself. "You've been in the war against the Thracians?" she asked. Hoping perhaps there was an ever so slight chance that this Caradon had met her husband. A chance she didn't dare to miss. But no, further enquiries turned up fruitless, Caradon had not met an Amphitryon, and he said that this was a big war, with a lot of men marching and fighting, coming from all over Greece and then some places.
"They're even enlisting Amazon tribes these days, to fill in their ranks."
"Amazons? I thought they were too proud to fight side by side with the Greeks."
"They used to be. But they have encountered bad times, with failed harvests, plagues and dying life stock and they need the money the Greeks are paying for mercenaries."

Caradon had told a lot more about the war and other things and meanwhile time flew. Suddenly Ludon was standing next to them:
"I'm sorry, sis, but I have to close down the bar. Laetizia wants me home by now. Caradon, if you want to rent that room on the upper floor, it's still available."
"Great!" the big man replied. "I'll take it; I'm just going to walk this beautiful lady home."
"That's very noble of you!" Alkmene couldn't help blushing.

For once she wished the path up to her little house had been a bit longer, because she really liked talking with this man, and there was a lot she felt like she wanted to say to him before they parted - probably for good. He reminded her so much of Amphitryon, same delight in reasoning, same interest in people and human behaviour and same little tidbits of knowledge to share. Like what made the fireflies glow and that the Moon seen from Earth appeared to have the exact same size as the Sun. Yet too soon they were outside her house and Alkmene began to bid her good nights. But Caradon silenced her with a sudden kiss.
"Oh… I don't really..." Blushing she backed off, but Caradon smiled and laid his large hands around her back.

"Didn't I tell you I was married? Sure I did…"
"Yes, and that he's off in the war. Been gone for years! I can feel how lonely you are, I can sense it in my whole being. How you just need someone to hold, how you wish for it so hard lying alone there in your big bed in the dark of the nights. Freezing within your soul. You need someone, and so do I. So if I can give you that, if we can exchange that, if just for a night let us do it, sweetheart! You deserve it for enduring so long in your loneliness. "

It made so much sense the things he was saying, yet Alkmene felt hesitant. It wasn't right against Amphitryon, was it? Yet how would he ever know? What if he never came back, then she would regret that she had never taken this chance which might most probably never appear again. Besides, Caradon was right, she sure needed someone. If just for a night, what bad could come out of that? She had just had her bleeding, so there was no risk for a pregnancy. Too early in the monthly circle. She felt tears burn beneath the eyelids at the thought about how right he was, how his words had hit right into her heart.

Caradon took her chin in his big hand, made her look up in his deep blue eyes, and in spite of the dark night Alkmene could see all those vibrant emotions there and she found it impossible to resist him.
"But no one can know it! My brother will ask questions; after all he'll know that you won't take that room."
"He won't sweetheart," Caradon promised her.
"How can you…"
"Let's say I have my methods."

Alkmene just sighed and then she caved in. She let this handsome, blond stranger return to kissing her lips. She let him run his hands across her back and she let him lift her up and carry her to the doorstep where she picked the key out of the purse and opened up the door to the cold, empty house. She didn't bother with lighting any lamps, after all she knew this place by heart now, where everything were and there was nothing she would bump into anymore. And for some reason Caradon didn't seem to have any problems with the dark either. It was almost as if he had night vision, like some owl.

She let him follow her to the very bedroom she shared with her husband. Had shared, when he had been around. Now he was lost, nowhere near. So what harm could it really do if she spent one night, one single night with a stranger? If she shared her warmth with someone. No one would ever know.

Alkmene swept the covers off the bed, she let Caradon kiss her, let him undo her soft, lavender silk dress and make it slid down her slender hips and fall down on the cold floor with a whisper of thin textile. She let him kiss her neck, her breasts and her slightly convex belly. And then she let him lift her up into the bed and continue his teasing, leaned over her while she moaned with a pleasure she hadn't felt since Amphitryon left. Or no, she had never felt such pleasure. Amphitryon had always been horny and in a hurry, never really bothering with fore play. So different from this man, this Caradon who took his time, teased and pleased her, warmed her up, made her beyond ready.

He stopped for a second to relieve himself of his coat, his pants and his shirt, it all happened very quickly and then he was naked, sliding down next to her in the bed, his form warm and hard, turning her on even more. He went back to her body with his hands, teased her and played around. Started using his tongue as well, making her moan with pleasure, making her wish for it to never ever stop. As well as she wished him to hurry, to come inside her. Tenderly he separated her loins, but instead of entering with his member he surprised her by using his hand, using a finger to touch her flower, to price it open and to slide inside, feeling for what he knew was inside. That knob, that trigger of ultimate pleasure. He stroke it gently, made her react with her whole body, made her shiver and arc her back as she came for the first time, against his sensitive fingers.
"Caradon, please!" she moaned. "I can't take it anymore. I want you to come inside! I want… please! "

He chuckled with a husky voice:
"Don't be so impatient, milady. I want you to remember this night as much as I will do." Alkmene could only moan with bliss in return. Oh, this man was so sweat, he was just too much for one woman! Then she kissed him on his neck, felt the warmth of his ticking pulse beneath her trembling lips, the velvety softness of his skin - how could a man be so soft?

He evoked tremendous feelings within her. Vibrant desires she had though dead since long. Passions which had been but embers were now flaming again, a roaring fire in her belly, a fire of yearning, of need and desire. And the only thing to slake that fire was to give in to this man so totally that nothing else mattered. Alkmene wanted Caradon with such a passion that it almost scared her; she wanted him like she had never wanted anything else in her entire life...

In that instance he removed his hand down there and with a gasp he entered her using his member, pushing, probing himself deep inside of her. Filling her up and making her almost scream out his name. At that moment Alkmene had forgotten everything about Amphitryon and whatever else mattered in her life. At that moment the only thing real was her ecstasy and this divine lover.

Prologue 2 - Hera and Elderon

In the myths Hebe's birth certificate holds a 'father unknown' status. I felt sorry for the little goddess because of that, so for this story I invented Elderon.
Auxesia is a nature goddess without parental background, I made her a daughter of Zeus and Hera in my story, to explain her part in further development.

The goddess Hera stood by the large elm, hidden for every mortal eye, regarding the playing toddler rolling around in the grass with his half a year older cousin, laughing out loud, while their nanny looked upon them with a watchful eye. The little lad sure looked suspicious, with those blond locks and big aquamarine eyes. He definitely looked like one of her husband's bastards, mortal as he was nevertheless. And Hera wondered… She wrinkled her brow and bit her lower lip as she stroked the rugged surface of the treetrunk with her slender hands, borrowing strenth from the elm, the strenght to endure, to face the possibility of another treachery.

It wasn't the first time her husband would have betrayed her, far from it. And every time he had promised… Hera remembered all his 'never again's as an endless procession, like Ares' hoplites, and she felt a heavy lump in her throat and salty tears sting her dark eyes as she regarded the little ones. How could he be so false, so full of deceive. What was it he searched for, what was it this mortal woman could provide with that she, Hera, failed to give? Sure, Zeus's and her sex life was a far cry from what it once had been. Where there used to be sparkles and flares, magic and delight was just a little bit of lukewarm affection these days. Like cinders where there had been a roaring fire. Faith, they didn't even share bedroom anymore. So there was many a night when Hera wasn't even sure if Zeus stayed at home or not.

But was it her fault? She wasn't sure; she couldn't even remember when they had started to drift apart. When they had stopped caring for each other the way they once had. It had come very slowly, too slowly for at least her to even notice - until it had become too late. Hera felt she missed that sensation in her chest that used to manifest itself when she thought about her husband. She didn't feel that warm happiness anymore, she just felt… emptiness. Void. Sadness and loneliness.

Now all she wanted to know was if this toddler, this one year old Herakles was a son of her Zeus. And if so… what? Hera chewed her lover lip trying to figure out what she would do with this knowledge if she found out. If anything. Confront Zeus? No, he would only shrug. Laugh perhaps. And say his usual remarks:

"What does it matter to you, Hera? Have you cared about me recently? I mean for real and not just for some absent minded sex." Or "You too are free to go out there and play with any men you fancy if you so should desire. Why should I care?"

Yeah, why should any of them care anymore? Their marriage was just a political construction these days. The only reason for her to stay with him was because she was Queen of the Gods, and she had duties as a queen. Things she needed and wanted to do. She guessed everyone else knew it these days too. That her and Zeus' marriage had withered away to become just a business relation. They were colleagues these days, she and Zeus, not lovers. Just like it once had been. Before…

=O=O=O=O=

A sudden change in the surrounding woke Hera out of her reverie, a movement in the grass. Just a shadow first, then a slithering form. A - snake! No, there were two of them. Gray-green serpents advancing quickly trough the grass, heading for somewhere, on a path where the small boys were in their way. And the others hadn't even noticed the threat yet. The nanny seemed to have dozed off in her chair and the children were chasing each other around a boulder, oblivious to their surroundings, the way only children can become when they get caught up in a game.

Then it all happened very fast. Hera heard the older boy, dark haired Eurysteus; scream out loud, he had seen the snakes. She saw Herakles turn around, and now he too saw them.
"Mama!" Eurysteus was crying out loud and the nanny stirred, rose and came running, but stopping dead at the sight of the two serpents which had surrounded the boys. She froze, became paralyzed.

But before Hera could react, little Herakles had taken first one snake and then the other by the neck so they couldn't bite him, and then he smashed them against the boulder, crushing their sculls. Killing them. The boy had acted unbelievably fast and accurate, and thus Hera knew. Herakles sure was the son of Zeus. No mortal could perform such a thing at that age – to be true, very few gods either! The Sighted had been right about this little toddler. At this realization the tears came for real, Hera couldn't hold them back anymore. She had been betrayed yet another time. Rejected, ridiculed. And now she knew what she had to do.

However Hera missed one important thing in her despair. She forgot to stay hidden while taking off in the sky. And down on the ground the 17 year old nanny looked up at the departing goddess, recognizing her.
"Hera," she whispered. "Hera! Did she just curse or bless those children? Was it because Alkmene named her son after the goddess, she came here? Did she send those snakes?"

=O=O=O=O=

It started out as a plan for sweet revenge. Hera packed her bags and went off on a holiday at the end of the Solstice Month. Once she and Zeus had used to take these holidays together, going away for months sometimes and finding desolate beaches for lovemaking and endless talking, spending romantic moments watching sunsets and full moons. Whatever that had been decades and decades ago. Not since the year before the birth of their daughter Auxesia had Hera and Zeus travelled together like that. And that was almost fifty years ago now. Fifty years since Zeus let Athena and Apollo sit in for him as rulers while he went away with Hera, giving strict orders that no one was to disturb them.

This time Hera travelled on her own. She journeyed across the Aegean to the coast of Anatolia and the lush rural areas outside the town of Smyrna. Of all places, Hera had no idea why she went there, it was just it was just something happening on a whim. She guessed she was just looking for a quiet place where she could be alone and think. Anyhow it was there she met this bulky god with curly red hair and green eyes filled with laugher. Elderon. He had no idea who she was; she kept her identity very secret, called herself Vinona and made up a story about being from Mycenae. Although she found that Elderon was a great-great grandson of the exiled Titan Atlas and that he was a healer god who worked with keeping animals healthy. A god people prayed to, to prevent anything from happening to their horses, pets or cattle.

Hera had found Elderon in a meadow where he was resting not far from his horse, a chestnut coloured stallion of the most noble kind. Half asleep after a meal the god looked both vulnerable and strong with his squarey cheek and his long red hair radiating out in the grass around his head. She had sat down next to him, almost startling him. And he had smiled at her, beamed like a sun actually.
"It's not often beautiful goddesses come here, not many bother with old Elderon."
"Really? But you're magnificent. You should walk the palaces of Olympos."
"Olympos? Naaah! I'm a bit too rustic for that place, milady..."
"Vinona."
"Hello Vinona," he held out a broad, freckled hand. "I'm Elderon."

She knew that already although she refrained from saying it. Instead she started to ask about him, about his work and as a consequence giving him very few chances to enquire on her. Hera had never been good at lying, never been good at making up false stories. Instead she just let others talk if she had something to hide. Talking about themselves made most people, gods as well as mortals, forget about the questions they might want to ask.

Later on Elderon had taken his bow and quiver and they had gone off into the forest where he had shot some pheasants. Then, with the help of some herbs and summer fruits they had made a simple but delicious dinner. She had brought wine so they didn't have to thirst either. Hera realized that she didn't need any golden plates and fancy table settings to enjoy a meal. A nice company was very much enough. She noticed that she had almost forgotten what it was like to have a picnic sitting on a blanket beneath a tree on a little hill and watching the wonders of nature spill out in front of them as the sun was sliding down the sky in the west, turning orange and colouring the pastures in the same hues.

They didn't make love the first night; Hera was after all not the horny kind like her husband. She wasn't desperate for sex, she just wanted some company, she just wanted to talk with someone who was not from Olympos, someone who didn't know her and who didn't worry about pissing off the mighty Queen of the Gods. Someone who saw her as just another goddess on an adventure far from home and duties, and who cared more about that brown-eyed woman than the position she held. Hera delighted in this refreshing exchange of ideas more than anything else. The kind of company that made her alleviate her mind of old thoughts which had got stuck on repeat and to think in new ways, see things from another perspective. That was exactly what Elderon gave her. Thus they had just talked and talked until they both fell asleep next to each other, Hera curled up almost in foetal position, wrapped up in her woollen blanket.

The second day they went for a longer walk in the woods, talking about the animals they saw. Birds and little squirrels, larger beasts like wild boars and deer. Tiny insects and spiders, the latter weaving intricate nets where attached drops of dew still gleamed like precious gems in the rays of the midmorning sun. They bathed in a little lake and Hera noted that Elderon had a fine body, although not as lithe as strong as Zeus'. But Zeus was exceptional, why did she expect him to be content with her, who was far from perfect with her too long legs, deep voice and boring colours. He could have anyone, why would he be satisfied with her? No, Hera corrected herself, she was considered beautiful, it was only her bad self esteem playing tricks with her mind. Her husband's problem must be of another concern.

Then she forced the thoughts of Zeus out of her mind and decided to live in the present. Here and now with Elderon who seemed to appreciate her for who she was, not for the position she held or clinging to memories of a long gone passion. Elderon, Hera discovered, was a 'now' man, very much living in the present, hardly mentioning past events or future dreams. What mattered for him was what he and Hera were doing together right at the moment, and that was what filled his mind and his joyful eyes.

So she swam with him, they played around in the water like kids, splashing at each other and laughing. And later they rested in the emerald grass by the pond; let the warm sun dry their bodies before they got dressed again. That evening they dined on game once more. A hare this time. They finished the last of Hera's wine, drank it to the last drip, letting the beverage smooth their thoughts, lull any anxiety that might linger. Finally - under the starlit sky - they had made love; it had been more or less inevitable because of the strong connection they felt.

It was the first time in six full centuries Hera had made love to another man than Zeus. Felt someone else's naked body against hers. It had been fulfilling in a radically different way. Elderon had been faster, roguer and at the same time slightly shy. His smell and texture had been different; he was hairier and not as wiry. He hadn't been as large or enduring as Zeus, but he had let her take the lead in a way her husband never did. Zeus had always been the director, the driver. Elderon had let her obtain control with her fingers and lips. And when he came he had grunted and huffed almost like a bull. There had been a rawness to him that felt like a novelty after the accustomed refinement of her husband.

Later, when Elderon had fallen asleep, Hera got up, swept her cloak around her naked shoulders and took a few steps away. She sat down in the grass which was turning wet with night dew. The balmy darkness was filled with little sounds around her. Crickets and frogs. A hunting owl calling out somewhere. The white noise from the rapids of the river a bit away down in the valley. Fireflies were dancing and the moon was coming up behind the treetops, it was a few days after being full and it looked like a battered orange.

Hera was wondering a bit about her feelings. She felt more pleased than she had in a long time. More fulfilled. Yet, there was something missing. She didn't know what, but there was something within her which felt incomplete. She was satisfied in her body but not in her soul. And she felt - guilt. In spite of all the times Zeus had done the same to her she felt like she had hurt him, damaged what they had. For so long she had fought to stay faithful to her husband, and to the woes she herself had once dictated, when she had founded the institution of marriage. For so long she had tried to show that she was better than him. That she could be reliable and loyal even when Zeus had wavered in his devotion. No one should be able to point her finger at Hera and say: 'Look at her, she invented marriage, and not even she can live up to its standards. So why should we?'

For so long Hera had lived by that rule. For so long she had refused to give Zeus the benefit of saying 'Look who's talking'. But Herakles had been the grain to tip the proverbial scale, the last strain to break - if not her back so her strong will. She had finally caved in and begun to play the game Zeus had been playing for ages. The game of deceive and betrayal. Glory of Hera - what an irony, she saw no glory in this at all, only shame and ignominy.

She had drunk from the chalice of revenge, and its taste was not sweet the way she had expected, it was bitter, curling her lips and tongue. Once again tears blurred her eyes. She so wished it had been different. That a lot of things had been different. And she didn't know for what time in order she regretted even marrying Zeus. But the tears dried off and with a sigh she went back to Elderon and lay down next to him, resting her head against his warm chest. Why not doing this for real, Hera thought; why not finish what she had started once and for all? There was no turning back now anyhow.

=O=O=O=O=

"Forget it, Zeus!" Hera said, still with her back against him. She was looking out through the large window while absent minded stroking the cold marble of the parapet. The city of Argos was lying below her in the pale, gray autumn light. Her Argos, her most beloved city. Her home! The sun was playing hide and seek among large, fluffy clouds, glittering upon the gilded roofs when it came out, and a strong wind was making flags and banners flutter from spires on the top of towers and cupolas. This was her place in the world, the place where she felt as strongest and most independent.

"Why?" Zeus said, taking a step closer, she could felt the warmth of his body against her back, even if he didn't touch her. His woice was warm and mellow, filled with confusion and worry. And unexpected tenderness. "We're still officially married, even if we live separated at the moment."
"And that moment is supposed to last," Hera replied with a stern voice, refusing to let him hear the pain hidden behind the armour of steel she had covered her soul with. "Because I intend to stay queen, I intend to use my position to make the things I want to happen. I don't want to hand it over to some bimbo who mess it all up. It wouldn't benefit you either, Zeus."

"Honey, you and I..."
"Used to have the greatest of marriages, used to share the most fantastic love, I know those words from you, Zeus. I've heard them so many times before. And I'm sick of them. I'm sick of hearing your promises and woes and knowing that you'll break them as soon as you lay your eyes on some big-boobed slut stripping off her chiton. I'm sick of meaning so little to you, Zeus, that you think you can go wherever you want, do whatever you want and with whoever you want without even caring a second about how I might possibly feel about it. There's nothing you can possibly say this time to make me change my mind."

Zeus didn't reply immediately. Instead he took that last step towards her, and touched a lock of her dark brown hair with his large right hand, stroking her rosy cheek ever so slightly. And Hera felt the pain in her chest at that contact, the pain of admitting to herself how she longed for more of the kind. From Zeus, not from anyone else.
"Go away!" she whispered, unable to bear it.

"No." He said firmly. "I am not going away. Don't deny yourself your true feelings."
"They are not anymore." she lied. "You killed them."
"It's not true, Hera. I can feel it in your aura. I know you so well, I know those tiny aural sparks. I know how you want me now. I know..."

"NO!" angered she turned around and backed off, feeling the back of her loins hitting the banister. "No, I am not. I am finished with you and your games, husband. If you think you know me so well, Zeus, then you ought to see why too."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm pregnant, Zeus. I am pregnant with another man's child."