The Hot Well
The north-westernmost edge of the Olympic summit held a very special little cave. Special because inside of it there was a hot well, one of the few remaining remnants of the volcano the mount Olympos once had been, some ten thousand years ago. The well was a cradle formed as an almost perfect circle, shallow enough to sit in and about twelve feet wide. And the water inside was nicely hot and gurgling, fizzing and swirling as it evaporated from the innards of the mountains and slowly streamed over the cradle's edge and out into a stepping of smaller ponds, before it finally gushed down in a small waterfall to later connect with the larger fall on the western mountainside.
This hot well was very popular with the Olympians, and they had an elaborated system of sharing it, a list to keep track on everybody's turn. Usually every god or goddess got three hours at a time to spend in the well, hours to be used use the way everyone saw fit, and if someone wasn't able to use their hours, it was always possible to find somebody else to trade them with. Needless to say a god or a goddess might also barter his or her turn into other services or commodities from their fellow gods.
Lovers were known to share the well. Aphrodite used to sneak away there with Ares or some other god she had turned her favour to for the time being. And Zeus used to bring Hera there now and then for some kiss-and-make-up when he had slipped from his matrimonial duties. In fact most of the time the Royal Couple had access to the well they used it together. Some, like Dionysos, invited everyone who could squeeze themselves in for a big time party with almost as much wine as water available. Others in turn, like Artemis, preferred to bath alone.
This morning the well was really reserved for Apollo, but he had told Hebe to go there in his stead.
"I have some composing to do and you sure can need some special favours after all the ordeals you've been through."
Hebe was about to say that she didn't need to be treated like some patient, that she was fine and la-di-da, but the Hot Well was after all the Hot Well, and she loved to bath there whenever she had the chance. Soaking in that warm water was so totally relaxing and comforting and she could definitely need some soothing now after those awful long hours as a captive of the Titans. Then she could always plan ahead with her Rhodos' branch of the Academeia while resting. It sounded wonderful, a temptation she just couldn't resist!
"Thank you Apollo," she smiled and rose on her toes to reach up and kiss her step brother on his cheek. When she turned to leave Apollo asked her:
"By the way, can I rhyme 'kiss' with 'bliss'? Or is it too cheesy."
Hebe wrinkled her brow and thought it over for some seconds.
"I guess it depends on the rest of the lyrics, Pol. It's not exactly cheesy but under the wrong circumstances it can sound a bit cliché. "
"I guess you have a point, dear. Thanks!"
"Welcome," Hebe beamed. After that she ran home to pick up towels, soap and herbs.
Apollo scratched the back of his head as his step sister took off down the sunlit path, singing and making small dancing steps as she went. The lovely girl! She had made it home well and she seemed to recover fast from her destitution. Nevertheless those sightings he had done for his father at the time Hebe had been lost still troubled Apollo with their incomprehensibility. He wasn't anxious about Hebe anymore, she seemed to do fine, and there were no worrying possible futures lying ahead of her as far as Apollo could see. No, it was more a feeling of personal shortfall.
He hadn't seen the liberation of Hebe; he hadn't seen Herakles bringing her home to Olympos. There had just been these other oddities. These incomprehensible visions. Why had he failed? And what were those other things he had seen instead? Now the god of prophecy was almost certain that something extraordinary had started with this adventure up there in the far north, something which would soon take unexpected consequences. Not dangerous in anyway but – unexpected. And the god of prophecy had been unsuccessful to see what it was all about. Those sightings he had gotten, and not been able to interpret, they wouldn't leave his mind. He resented this shortcoming of his.
When he tried to do something about it, tried to concentrate harder and use better tools for his scrying, like more potent water and ichor/uranium plated sighting bowls the only thing he had seen was more of Hera's magic circles and large manors in disrepair. And Dionysos' late mother of all people! What had she got to with anything! After that he saw his father and Hera staring at each other and not knowing what to do with something they had just learned. Now, that was probably Zeus just having spawned another kid – but the rest of the sights? What were they all about? It was oh – so frustrating not being able to deduce what was going on! Apollo knew he ought to warn his father that something was afoot, but when he didn't know what, it felt almost an impossible task. What was he going to say really – hey dad something strange will happen at Olympos. I don't know when and I don't know what. But it will and I have to tell you.
Apollo could almost hear Zeus's laughter ring in his ear: Son, there are always strange things happening at Olympos. You don't have to use a sight pool to foresee that. Why don't you go write another love song instead?
Apollo hoped it wasn't his skill failing him, he hoped it was just a temporary fluke, some external factor disturbing his scrying tries. Sunspots or something. He was very sensitive to the sun's behaviour after all, had always been and he had learned to live with that, even if it made life complicated sometimes. Sighing he returned to his music. There was very little else to do at the moment. Kiss and bliss - huh!
The blessed Apollo had let her use the Hot Well! Hebe didn't know how to begin to thank him! Humming lightly she undressed and left her tunic and pants in a small niche. Then she threw the herbs in the water before slipping down in the bowl-shaped well. Some centuries back Hephaestos had made a few steps leading down into the water, to make it easier to descend or ascend if you were too tired or too comfortable to levitate. There was also a small bench running around the near sides, carved out to sit upon. Hebe had a favourite spot, where the bench ended into a soft, cornered backrest which almost felt like it was made for her body and she was soon making herself comfortable there. Closing her eyes the goddess sunk down with her head resting against the rim, and then she bent back her head until the only thing that could be seen breaking the water's edge was the tip of her nose and two rounded cheeks - if you looked carefully.
But the god who entered the well a few moments later didn't see that, simply because he was not looking, and Hebe didn't hear him coming because she was so lost in thoughts and more or less asleep, lulled by the heat, the fragrances from the herbs and the swirling and slightly bubbling water.
Herakles knew it was Apollo's turn in the Hot Well and when he heard music stream out through the open window of Apollo's home when passing by, he knew that his half-brother was not using the Well.
"Guess it's up for grab then," Herakles mused to himself. "I don't think he has traded it off, he must simply have forgotten it or put number one priority on his music. Then it's first come first served, I figure. I'll take the chance that it's free."
With cheerful steps Herakles went home and picked up what he might need for a bath and then he was off to the Hot Well. It was a rather chilly day for the season and thus almost all of the lower parts of the mountaintop were coated in clouds, creating a thick fog which gave the landscape a mystery fantasy feel. As Herakles walked downwards on the graveled path to the Well he noted that the usually so stunning view from up here was almost totally hidden. However that made the scenery beautiful in another aspect. Beautiful and strange. Rays of sunlight shone down here and there and glittered on lingering dew drops on grass, leaves, spider webs and branches and as he passed the tiny waterfall he saw an out-of-the-place rainbow. That was one of those odd phenomena that lingering divine magic often created in this place, where so much of these powers were in use and sometimes discarded of lightly and without a second thought.
Some cherry trees were almost done blossoming and littered the path with pink and white petals, and it felt odd to Herakles that he noticed such things. Must mean he was in an unusual state of relaxation, he figured. Then he turned the corner and stood in front of the cave. Yes it felt empty, he noticed some lingering energies, but he could not identify whom it belonged to and they seemed to him rather stale and thus he thought nothing more of it and walked inside.
The place was dead silent, only the bubbling and hissing of the warm water was heard and steam from the well was mixing with the outdoor mist which was seeping in trough the cave opening. That was why Herakles didn't notice the clothes and towels left in an outcropping in the wall. He only noted that the place smelled lovely of herbs and perfumes, but neither that was anything unusual. He lit a divine light and started to undress. As he moved the light orb out over the centre of the bowl he thought he heard something splash, but then it went silent again, and he guessed it must have been a smaller animal running away. There were no rats or mice at Olympos but he had seen quite a few rabbits around, especially in those outskirt parts which weren't as populated.
Herakles removed his pants and then he started to descend into the pool. At that moment it splashed again, and a familiar form rose from the water, almost like a Nereid, wet skin gleaning in the green of his divine light, red hair dripping wet and surprised brown orbs eying him.
"I'm sorry, I thought..."
It was empty? Well, Apollo let me have his turn."
"Okay, okay, I'm leaving," Herakles held up his hands and started to back out of the water.
"No, don't do it for my sake," Hebe giggled. He looked so funny with his surprised face there in the pale divine light. "It's large enough for the two of us, if you pardon the cliché, so come on in and share it with me!"
"Are you slow or what? I wouldn't say so otherwise."
Herakles smiled at the gentle goddess who was beckoning him with her laughing eyes to return into the hot water again. Grinning even wider, he started all over, descended into the beckoning pool, swam out almost to the middle of the rounded area and then he sat down a bit away from her.
"I won't disturb but - well that cliché you talked about. It was the other way around."
"'This town isn't large enough for the two of us.' Has been said by egomaniac war lords since the dawn of time. Usually it ends with one of them killing the other."
Hebe humped and rolled her eyes.
"Glad we have a big bowl of water to share then. I think people in general - gods as well as mortals - should be better at sharing things. And not be so propertarian about things we don't exactly need all of and the whole time. It'll benefit everyone in the end. Make the world a better place."
"I agree wholeheartedly," Herakles said. He looked at Hebe again. She was wet all over, her red curls laid plastered over her head and shoulders and some dripping ringlets had found themselves covering parts of her face. Her cheeks were red with heat and her eyes a bit veiled, lips slightly parted. That made her look - oh so sensual and desirable and against his will Herakles felt the little rascal between his legs coming alive. He was glad the water hid the most obvious signs of his hard-on and hoped that Hebe didn't notice the inevitable changes in his aura that came with the arousal.
But her mind seemed to wander. She looked up at Herakles' ball of divine light and raised an arm out of the water and rested it on the rim of the bowl. She had the most elegant little hands, Herakles thought. Why hadn't he seen it before?
"You know," Hebe said, the green light reflecting in her dark eyes as her fudge-brown irises darted towards him again. "I'm teaching my children - my pupils that is, even if I really want to have children of my own one day - how important it is to share and to help. And you Herakles. With your past. You could be a good role model for them. I wonder if your offer still stands."
"What offer?" the son of Zeus said with his mind distracted by the rush of desire.
"To come and teach at my Academeia. At least part time. Or as a guest lecturer. The children would love it."
"Yes... yes indeed..." Must not be tempted by Hera's daughter, Herakles thought to himself. Not in THAT way at least. The lecturing offer was another thing, it sounded wonderful. He bit himself hard on the inside of his cheeks to distract himself from the speeding up fervor.
"Oh that's great, thank you!" Suddenly Hebe flew forward and into his arms. Surprised Herakles found himself hugging her and he swallowed hard. At the same second Hebe let go, but only slightly. Now she giggled with embarrassment.
"I - do not normally... I guess I am... A few days back we..." She pushed a hand over her face, swept away some locks of soaking hair. Then Hebe stopped her motion, hand in air, and for a few seconds the world froze. Even the steaming and fizzing water in the well seemed to calm down a bit. The next second she had laid her hand upon his chest, feeling the warm texture of his wet skin beneath her sensitive palm. Herakles was slightly hairy, something you didn't normally notice, since he was so fair, and his muscled torso was hard and felt powerful, his breath slightly affected, she noted.
She was so close to him that he could see the tendrils of water and sweat worming themselves down her pale olive skin and the tiny light brown freckles upon her nose. He also noted that there were specks of gold in her dark eyes, as if someone had dropped coins down in those deep wells. Wishing wells... She smelled of warm body, lavender and thyme. It didn't really mix and for some reason it keyed him up even more.
Hebe, who felt his breathing deepen, was regarding him in her turn, took in those handsomely chiseled features, those emerald green eyes and high cheek bones. His lips were not as full as with most sons of Zeus and they had an angle to them that made Herakles look like he was smiling, even if he wasn't and his chin was prominent and angular. Hebe knew that his nose had been broken several times during his mortal life, however nothing of that could be seen these days. And those green eyes gleamed with - desire. Desire? For her?
In response to that notion she felt something stirring deep inside of her. She felt how her body, her soul responded to his nearness and his warmth, to his hands which somehow had found themselves upon the small of her back and was gently and almost imperceptible pulling her closer to himself. Within moments Hebe found the tips of her breasts touch his torso and she felt her nipples react, harden. She was so close to him now, both physically and emotionally that the last barrier broke easily. She faced him and let her lips brush first his chin then the corner of his mouth. He responded, opened his mouth and tasted her mellow softness, felt those lush, wet lips meeting his.
That kiss started hesitant, but then it deepened remarkably fast and hotness replaced the first moments of tentative insecurity. She felt her hands travel up his sturdy neck and wound them into his blond curls, as he was leaving her mouth to continue his path of kisses down her neck and then descending further on. The warmth of the water, the dancing steam and the dusky lime light contributed to the special feeling of almost dreamlike quality and soon both Herakles and Hebe lost themselves in the moments of passion. It had been a long time since Hebe had enjoyed sex and even longer since it had felt this fulfilling. If ever. She was not even sure she could recall any moment which had felt this close to perfection. And when she gave in to him, when she opened her secret paths for first his hands and then for other parts of him, she had a faint understanding way back in her mind that this was the Ultimate Experience you could only have with the one who was your Perfect Fit. And it frightened her for a fraction of a section that this should be Herakles.
Then that fright disappeared like mist when the sun came up and gave way for a bliss she never wanted to see the end of. She wanted this go on forever and ever and as she caught up with his rhythmic movements she felt as if she with every trust of this mighty god were travelling farther and farther away from reality. The cadence bringing her deeper in ecstasy, beat per beat. And she didn't ever want to return. She wanted to stay like this forever, forgetful of everything else out there outside their private little dimension of desire and ardor. And then…
And then she exploded in a sensation so strong it felt as if the universe tipped over and turned inside out around her as she contracted against him and shook with an almost painful sensation of pleasure. She opened her mouth, letting go of a weak call, something more primal than a human's try to form words. The female calling out to her mate in an ancient exclamation of her pleasure of fulfillment.
Herakles came in almost the same instance, felt the juices of his desire fire off inside of her as she arched back against him, and he became oddly aware of the glittering diamonds of water on her neck and the beating pulse beneath as she craned her neck and called out. And he heard someone make a strange sound, almost like a bull. And that someone was he!
Had he ever come so forcefully? He wasn't sure, he doubted it hard. Not even Deianeira… Not ever…
When it was over, when they were both spent, Hebe was lying there resting her head against his chest, listening to his heart beat and simply enjoying this moment. She knew that this wouldn't last. It simply couldn't last. They could never be together; they were such a bad match. She a bastard of Hera, he a bastard of Zeus - the sins of the royal couple incarnated. Their presence a constant reminder that first Zeus then Hera had broken their mutual promise of faithfully loving each other. And as such Hebe and Herakles should really be kept as far from each other as possible. Alas faith could be cruel sometimes, pushing these two deities together as if they were just another couple of strangers in the night, with their sheets of history hidden for each other and their future filled with possibilities ready to harvest together.
Then again, now was now, why worry about tomorrow? The two of them still had some moments here in the smoky solitude and warm waters of the Hot Well which were only theirs. Moments while they could linger in each other's arms and pretend that it would last forever.