AN: This is a quick piece I wrote for an English Assignment, based on one of the events in 'The Iliad'- specifically the fight between Hector, a warrior/hero of Troy, and Archilles...hopefully you know who he is...this is the story containing the famed wooden horse- look up one of the interpretations sometime- they're good! This is from the perspective of Andromache- Hector's wife, pregnant with his child Astyanax. This is nothing very exciting, but let me know what you think ;) Misti xx

PS: It contains a birth scene- nothing very graphic, but still...don't read if you haven't had the 'birds and the bees' talk yet...

PPS: I've put this in fanfiction because, well- they aren't really my characters ;)

Leaving

The calloused skin of Hector's hands ran over the smooth swell of my belly, sending a slow, rich smile to his face as the baby kicked out in return. "Love you, baby," he whispered, kissing the stretched skin on my navel that covered our growing child. "Love you, sweet." as he kissed my nose, and I stretched out my arms to pull him closer, reclining in the sun that shone through the window. He sat down beside me for a moment, wrapping his powerful arms around me, careful not to nudge my belly.

"Love you, too." I whispered in his ear. "Love you forever." He smiled again, and neither of us moved, caught in the power of the moment, eyes locked together. Then his name was called, and he rose, though I caught his huge hand in mine. He raised it to his lips, and kissed the knuckles, one by one, before he left. He was always leaving me, my Hector.

The baby's head butted up against my pelvis- it wanted out. A scream loosed itself from someone's throat, both distant and piercingly close at once. "Hush," my Hector whispered, "...be brave." and I realised the scream was my own, powered by my own ragged lungs. The midwife said nothing, her strong hands rubbing pungent herbs in concentric circles across my belly and chest, their strong scent cutting through the reek of blood, sweat and tears lying heavy in the air. Slender, stretching fingers of pain seized me, pulling and pushing and stretching, trying to split me down the middle, to rip and to shred and to- again they ceased, leaving me to flop back on my pillows, dragging in desert-dry air to my heaving chest. They came and went like the quickly flowing tide, wavelets growing with power, slamming into the shore before retreating once again. The only thing to do was to roll with them like a ship at the harbour, and to loose my sails and push and push, as the midwife kept repeating, her words forming a steady chanting chorus to the bright splashes of pain. The contractions were back again, and she was calling out to me to push, and I was, but nothing was happening, except for the stretching, the stretching and the pulling and the pushing and the screamed again, and someone called my name, but I was drifting away, floating on the rising tide of numbness, of nothingness, and everything was far behind. Now I could close my eyes, close my eyes and sleep forever, warm and safe and light. I was leaving the agony behind. Someone below was still calling my name, but they were distant, faint- I had no wish to return there. Something was crying, too, and someone was pulling me back even as I struggled further away. The voices were louder again, and Hector's boomed above them all, Hector was back there, and my baby, my baby, was crying, and I was leaving them behind, but I didn't want to. Hector's hand anchored me, gripping tighter and tighter as he swam into focus, and for a moment I thought tears swam in his eyes, but he blinked and they were gone. The numbness left with the tide, but the agony was gone, replaced with a dull, throbbing ache. Hector pulled me close, showing me the perfect infant nestled in his arms. "Our son!" he whispered to me. "Our son!" he said louder to all the family clustered round the bed, his voice packed with pride. The midwife bustled round me and the baby, washing us clean of my blood, but she and all the rest were shooed out of the room before long, leaving Hector with one arm around me and the baby in our arms, already suckling at my breast. Hector smiled again, stroking the baby's soft head before looking at me. "I'm so proud of you," he said warmly. "I'm so, so proud..." his voice threatened to break, and he clutched me tighter, laying a soft kiss on my forehead. For once he didn't leave, sitting with me as our son closed his eyes and slept, settling me back on my pillows as the waves of exhaustion washed in, warm form soothing and safe. "Sleep, sweet." he murmured. "Sleep, sweet, I'm here."

"This is a sword, my son." Hector held his blade up above our child, smiling as much at the silver length as at the boy. "One day, this will be yours." he said, smiling as the baby held up his arms to touch the new toy, which was moved farther out of his reach. "You will fight, my son, and you will win!" Astyanax smiled at the sword, marvelling at the way the light flickered off the blade and darted round the room, dancing in golden circles in the shadows.

"But not just yet, my son." Hector said as the baby reached out his arms again, annoyed at this teasing person who was keeping a new toy from him. But the frown was wiped from his face when the blade disappeared before his eyes, slid back into its sheath by Hector's muscled arms. Hector leant down over the cot to sweep Astyanax into the air, lifting him high above his head as the baby screeched with delight. Hector looked over at me and smiled. "He's going to be a warrior." he said, and I smiled as the sharp lines of his face softened into curves. He loved us, my Astyanax and I. And we loved him. A bell tolled outside, and his features sharpened again. "Now, take care of your mother, my son." he said seriously. "And you, do what he says!" he joked, waving one finger back and forth before my face. I laughed at his frivolity, keeping a smile plastered to my face as he kissed us and left to fight. It would not do for us to part in tears. He turned back once more at the doorway, blowing one last kiss before walking away, radiant smile still burning on his face. I looked down at Astyanax, who had been deposited in my arms.

"Don't be a warrior, love." I whispered, nuzzling the top of his soft head. "Or you'll break your mother's and your wife's heart with every passing day..."

The day was cold, chill wind laying biting kisses against my bare skin as I watched Hector run. And he ran, muscles pumping to move his strong form on, away, forward, rippling under his skin as they powered him further and further. But never far enough. Sweat dripped like rain from his brow, and his eyes were creased in intense concentration as he ran, around and around the walls, chased by the detestable Achilles. Their footfalls slapped out, sounding like the patter of little children's feet from our outlook over Troy's huge walls. But their chase had nothing childlike about it. To stop meant to fight, and to fight meant death, of one or the other of them. Hector's form appeared around the wall again, the early light glinting off the golden armour he wore like winking eyes, taunting me as Hector ran on, with Achilles gaining on him step by step. They disappeared around the walls again, leaving me waiting, heart caught in my throat as Astyanax burbled on my hip, punctuated by the barking of dogs far below. It seemed as if the whole of Troy had turned out to watch this gruesome death-dance, drawn as all crowds are to the promise of death. And now, we waited.

And we waited, as the breath hitched in my throat, Astyanax bouncing unhappily on my hip, his little face scrunched up into a frown with tears forming in his eyes. Now the sounds of a chariot were upon us, galloping hooves thudding on the cobbles, throwing up sticks and stones in their wake as a chariot screeched around the corner, pulling behind it - my Hector. My Hector, face dull and eyes closed, bouncing on the street, leaving bright splatters of blood behind on the ground. My Hector, ears unhearing, hands unfeeling, eyes unseeing. I let out a scream, piercing the shocked air as the crowd looked on, shuffling their feet and looking everywhere but at me. That was my Hector they stared at, my Hector they had cheered, and my Hector they now watched, dragged like a dog behind the wheels of Achilles' chariot. The chariot rounded the corner again, Hector bouncing behind like a forgotten rag doll and passing out of our view. But the picture lingered on in my mind, replaying again and again as I fought to stay upright, clutching a wailing Astyanax in my arms. That was my Hector, leaving me for the last time.

AN: So...if you liked it/hated it/ thought it was cliched/ have any other comment, even 'salmon icecream is foul with artichokes' then leave it! I will love you forever! Really truly, no lies!

Misti xx