An Important Author's Note (and Apology)
Many thanks to all of you that have reviewed, favorited, followed, or in any other way supported this fic. It truly means a lot to me that you enjoyed it and I'm so sorry that I wasn't able to continue it. It's been nearly a year since I've updated and I know many of you are still looking forward to another chapter. I'm sorry to say that since I've stopped watching Vampire Diaries, I've lost about all my motivation to continue this fic. That said, I had a lot of ideas for the story and where I wanted to it to go, so I decided I would share with you all some of the writing I had for the rest of the story. Lots of it is incomplete, stopping midsentence with plenty of typos. There's also a few notes in there that I left for myself, plot outline and what not. Lines that I wrote that I liked, but didn't quite know where to fit in, etc… It's not at all a complete ending, but I thought some of you would enjoy having a little bit of closure. I would also be happy to answer questions on my tumblr (fadingtales) if you feel like you just need a bit more information. I won't guarantee that I'll be able to answer everything completely since the story never finished forming in my head. But I'll be happy to provide any of my thoughts about where I had wanted the story to go. Thank you once again for being such loyal readers and again I'm sorry for not finishing. It's just a very difficult thing to accomplish when you lose all motivation and your love for the show wanes. I hope you all understand and enjoy what I have to share.
Lots of love and thanks,
Athena recalls games of chess with her sister when they were younger. They used to play late into evening, sometimes outlasting even Apollo's and Artemis's stamina. Athena was naturally adept at the game and the victories were always in her favor. But Aphrodite's stubbornness was a trait that had already manifested itself and despite the numerous losses, she pushed to play one more game. Always just one more. Their sisterly rivalry very much alive even back then. And even if the games grew long and increasingly spiteful, Athena never worried. She was confident in herself despite Aphrodite's resilient stubbornness.
The realization of her own hubris is crushing.
Her pulse is throbbing like war drums in her ears. She spots Aphrodite laughing and chatting with Artemis, looking the picture of innocence and ignorance. Marching up to her sister, Athena wrenches Aphrodite's arm backwards, yielding a yelp from the Goddess of Love.
"Ow! Unhand me you uncouthed boar!" Aphrodite shrieks, her face twisting in disdain.
Artemis looks shocked, but highly amused.
"I need to speak with you," Athena growls back. Turning to look at Artemis, Athena barks, "in private."
"Oh, I am not missing this cat fight for anything," Artemis replies smugly, crossing her arms and settling herself to be as immovable as a statue.
"Go away, Artemis," Aphrodite snarls. "Or I'll tell Hermes about your little crush on him."
"I do not!" Artemis protests despite the pinkening of her ears and cheeks.
Aphrodite arches her eyebrow at the huntress as if to say "dare me to test that statement?" Artemis looks to Athena to continue her objections to the accusation, but the Goddess of Wisdom remains frosty and her eyes only for her sister.
The combination of the two sisters is enough to quell Artemis who snorts indignantly before reluctantly stomping off in a huff.
Athena waits until they are alone before she addresses Aphrodite again.
"Are you mad? Has all of that hair oil and face powder corrupted your brain? Or maybe your level of sadism has just leapt new bounds whilst I was unawares. Either one is the only explanation I can think of for using our half-sister in your sick little games."
Athena has Helen's face memorized. So much like Aphrodite's, save for the subtle mortal flaws that make her distinctly not Aphrodite. It's the minor blemishes that are absent on the face of her true blooded goddess counterpart that make Helen all the more human. There was no doubts about it, she was one of Zeus's mortal bastards. And if Hera should find out, there will be hell to pay.
"She's under my protection," Aphrodite drawls.
"Your protection won't be enough if Hera finds her. Not to mention Zeus's wrath once he finds out you've outed his indiscretion. I get that you have a grudge against father and me, but why bring her into this? She's an innocent."
Aphrodite laughs a mirthless laugh. "Oh noble, virtuous Athena. Always defending others. That's probably why Diomedes loves you so."
Athena flinches at the mention of Diomedes.
"I hear he's besotted by our little half-sister."
Athena knows that Aphrodite is trying to get her riled and though she fights against the urge to be prickled by her sister's taunts, she feels her hands turning to fists at her side.
"Does it hurt, Athena? To lose him to someone who can properly share his bed? Especially when that someone wears my face?"
Athena's nails bites into her palms, her mouth a thin stern line.
Aphrodite tilts her head slightly to the side, "From the looks of it, you don't look too happy. Have you two had a falling out perhaps? Maybe that's for the better. I can't imagine the agony you would go through if he invited you to his wedding day."
Without warning Athena's fist connects with Aphrodite's cheek with enough force that sends the other goddess reeling backwards. Screaming, Aphrodite launches herself at her and they tumble to the floor in a tangle.
Aphrodite gets in a few good swipes, but she's no match for Athena whose skill sets are specifically tuned to battle. After a good scramble, Athena pins Aphrodite to the marble floor, her thrashing body held down expertly by Athena with little effort. Other than the initial punch, Aphrodite bears no wounds, Athena had no real desire to hurt her sister and she is expert enough to do it. What she wanted was to embarrass and infuriate Aphrodite, to which she's done successfully as proven by the streams of obscenities Aphrodite screams at her.
"You and Zeus! You both deserve it! You robbed me of my happiness, so why shouldn't I rob you of yours?"
"You frame me, Aphrodite, for the messes you've made for yourself."
Aphrodite rages at her, conjuring an audience. Among them are Ares, Poseidon and Hephaestus. No doubt all conveniently just strolling by after Artemis was so scornfully dismissed.
Upon seeing Aphrodite lying prone on the floor and Athena straddling her, Ares rushes forth.
"Get off of her!" Ares barks.
His sudden appearance makes Athena recoil and flush in embarrassment, as if she were a child being caught doing something naughty. She releases Aphrodite's hands and leaps to her feet, backing several steps away for good measure. Aphrodite who, for once not looking graceful, scrambles to her feet with Ares's arms wrapped around her for support.
"Are you alright?" Ares asks, his hand hover just above her belly.
"I'm fine," Aphrodite bites out, flinching at his touch.
Ares quickly retracts his hand when he remembers their audience. He looks up and his eyes meets Athena's then. She quickly looks away only to see Poseidon staring intently at the two illicit lovers. Beside him Hephaestus is stony faced, the look of his eyes impenetrable.
Aphrodite brushes herself off, regaining her posture.
"We just had a bit of a… disagreement is all," the darker hair goddess proclaims.
Athena remains silent, choking on her embarrassment and indignity. Her hands are fists at her side, nails digging into her palms.
"I feel a bit weak. Ares, will you escort me home?" Aphrodite says, batting her eyes. You wouldn't be able to tell that just moments ago she was shrieking on the marble floor.
Ares nods, his eyes still not moving from Athena's, though she tries her best to not look back at him. How she wishes she could just disappear right now. She can't stand the accusations in his eyes. Eventually he lets his gaze drop.
Through the corner of her eyes she could barely make out Ares's nod to Aphrodite.
Holding Aphrodite by the hand, they pass Poseidon and Hephaestus without a glance. Unable to stand the silence left in their wake, Athena bolts out of the room.
For the moment, her humiliation eclipses all other matters. She lets the wave of self-pity erase her thoughts of Helen and Diomedes and Zeus and Hera. She can only think of the sight of Ares's arms around Aphrodite and the way he had looked at her. Her face burns in shame. She had let anger overwhelm her and she disgraced herself.
She wants to sob, cry, scream into the wind, but all she manages to do is bury her face into the crooks of her arms, tears leaking in silent protest. What has overcome her? She prided herself the embodiment of grace and wisdom and yet only now has she realized what a beast she has become, green eyed and self-righteous. She proclaims to fight on behalf of Helen, on behalf of Diomedes and the mortals, but in the end it was all about-
"I've been looking for you."
His voice startles her and she jumps back in shock, hastily wiping her eyes for evidence of tearshed.
Ares stood before her, his expression unreadable.
"I-I thought you were taking Aphrodite home."
"After we left your presence she acted well enough to fend for herself," Ares answered dryly.
"She should, I restrained myself from breaking both her arms," Athena bites out. She regrets her haste immediately after. She knows she's being spiteful, but even now she cannot help herself.
Ares chuckled and nodded. "I'm sure you did, though her eye looks like it will bruise."
"Nothing a bit of her vanity magic won't hide."
"I'm sure she'll figure something out," Ares agrees.
"Why are you here? Won't she be angry with you if you're not there with her, fawning over her wounds?"
She doesn't hear Poseidon, stealthy as he is, sidle up besides her.
"I've made a fool of myself," Athena says, finally registering his silent presence.
Poseidon says nothing, neither contradicting or agreeing with her. His gaze forever on the horizon.
"I wish myself not as petty as I am, but I hate her," Athena says aloud, slightly shocked at her own words.
Poseidon turns to her then.
"And hating her makes me only hate myself all the more."
The words bubble forth like a waterfall. She feels unable to contain it any longer. Gripping the banister she leans forwards and screams. Suddenly all the weight of everything she's ignored from shame comes rushing forth. Diomedes, Helen, Hera, Zeus, Ares, everything. Her screams turns into sobs.
Poseidon grips her arms and turns her to them. She inhales a deep breath, closing her eyes before she can open them and face him.
"Do I look pathetic to you?"
Poseidon shakes his head. "You look heart broken."
Something about the way his voice cracks at the end of the sentence makes her realize he understands her feelings completely.
Brusquely wiping away her tears with the back of her hands, she regains her composure. She turns back to the horizon, balling her hands into fists.
"I am done being broken," she states. Turning to him she says, "Aphrodite has gotten away with too much. I cannot stand by any longer and watch as she destroy lives for her own amusement. I don't claim to know your feelings towards her, but I must ask you to not interfere."
"You sound convicted."
"I cannot claim that my own personal biases are at play, but Aphrodite's actions have rippling effects on innocent bystanders. I need her to stop."
Poseidon extends his hand and tips her chin upwards in an oddly endearing gesture.
"You are young, Athena, and, as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore a while from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters.[i]"
[i] A quote by Plato. The original reads, "You are young, my son, and, as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore a while from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters."
"You want a wedding? Fine. I just have one condition."
From behind her back she pulls out a golden mask.
The wedding of Aphrodite and Hephaestus is deck out in gold and ivory. Curtains of spun gold cascade down from the ceiling like waterfalls. Ivory tables line the halls. To say it was extravagant would be an understatement.
"To the fairest!"
The roll of the apple seems to echo as it lands just into the middle of the circle comprised of Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera.
Hephaestus looks at her, a moment too long. It makes her uncomfortable, the intensity of his stare and so she turns away.
"It's late… I should retire," she says, turning away.
His hand snatches out and pulls her back. His pull so sudden she stumbles against him.
"Don't go yet," Hephaestus whispers, leaning forward to kiss her.
Athena turns her cheek at the last moment, the stench of ambrosia and wine thick on Hephaestus's breath, it clings to her nostrils.
"I think you've had too much to drink," she chides softly.
She turns back to look at Hephaestus and is startled to see the anger in his eyes. He tries again to kiss her, but she pushes him away more forcefully this time.
"Hephaestus, stop. You're drunk and upset."
"Don't pretend to play the virgin, Athena. We all know that Dionysus spilled your virgin's blood.. And I hear you were eager to spread your legs to the likes of Ares, as well. You're more like your sister than you'd care to admit."
Hephaestus takes a step towards her and she slaps him, hard enough to make his head turn.
"How dare you!"
He retaliates by grabbing her wrists and shoving her towards the bed at the center of the room. The situation was escalating too quickly. Before she can push herself up, Hephaestus was upon her.
"Hephaestus, stop! You're not yourself!"
"What? Do even you, Athena, reject me now? Is it because I'm a cripple? Not good enough for you? I'll show you how much of a man I can still be."
Despite his handicap, Hephaestus is strong. His muscles like the iron that he welds. His hands pins her against the bed.
Athena's heart hammers in her chest as she struggles to push him off. Her strength, however, is no match for his.
"Aphrodite thinks she can make a fool of me. And it seems like you do, too."
"I've done no such thing!" Athena screams.
His hands are creeping up her skirt and her eyes are widening in shock. This couldn't be happening.
"You and your sister. You all mock me! Well, I'm done with that."
Ares goes stiff, his eyes taking in the scene: Athena with her clothes and hair in disarray, wielding an iron poker in her hands, the tip red hot, and Hephaestus at the opposite end, bearing a nasty gash across his cheek, his robes on the floor.
"A-Ares," Athena's voice is soft and hoarse, as if she had been screaming. Somehow hearing his name uttered from her lips makes Ares's vision turn red.
Without warning he launches himself against Hephaestus, knocking the other man to the floor. His fists connecting with Hephaestus's face. Once, twice, three times. He's sure he's broken his fingers, but the pain only fuels him on.
He can feel Athena's hands on him, pulling him backwards.
"I will kill him," he vows, biding her no mind.
Hephaestus's face is a bloody mess, his body limp.
"Had I been the one to choose, I would've easily know who to give the apple to."
Athena scoffs, "Spare me. I already know that Aphrodite deserves the apple."
"Why do you think I'd choose her?"
Because you already have, she thinks. "Because look at her. And look at me. I don't consider myself ugly, but how can I compete with the goddess of love and beauty. I only made such a ruckus because she annoyed me and I was being petty. I know my beauty is not the same as hers."
"You're right," Ares says. "Your beauty is not the same as hers."
It stings to have him agree, even if she knows he's only admitting the truth. It's one thing to know it herself, but for him to confirm it, it broke her heart. And here she thought it was already broken enough. She turns away from him quickly to hide the tears that have unwillingly budded.
His hand reaches out and turns her back around. His touch so gentle it made everything worse.
"Did you know that when you cry, your eyes look like Poseidon's sapphire seas?"
She reaches her hand up to wipe away her tears with the back of her hand, but he beats her to it. He brushes away her teardrops with his thumbs. They're slightly rough and calloused, but they're warm and the friction is comforting against her skin.
"And did you know that your cheeks, when flushed, are the color roses envy? It's a loveliness that even Demeter would be unable to conjure in spring."
He cups her face with his right hand. His eyes travel down to her lips and her brushes them slightly with his fingers. "And your lips, do you know how much I yearn to taste them? Tantalus knows no thirst as strong as mine for your lips."
Her breath hitches in her throat and his eyes look upwards again to meet hers.
"And yet all these things are not what makes you beautiful," he says with a wry smile.
"You're beautiful when you're caught up in an argument, your nose all crinkled and a frown creasing your forehead," his hand lightly taps her forehead.
" You're beautiful when you've got a sword in your hand and tip of it at my throat," his hand sweeps down, fingers skating lightly over the column of her neck.
" You're beautiful when you purse your lips in concentration as you ponder over a puzzle," he cups her chin and smoothes his thumb over her lips.
" And you're beautiful when your eyes light up with you've figured out the answer." His eyes meets hers then, the sincerity in them blazing.
"All these things are more beautiful than your eyes, cheeks and lips."
"I wish to kiss you," he bends his head down, presses his mouth against the column of her neck, "here." His kisses moves downwards, lingering against her collarbone. Her mouth parts with the sensation. "And make worship on your body."
He writes words onto her skin with his tongue.
She runs her fingers down his spine, tracing each notch, and then counting them with her lips.
Words and logic which have always been her constant and reliable companions fails her in his presence.
"I am always struck speechless with you," she tells him.
"Now we both know that is a lie," he says with a chuckle. "The whiplash I get from your verbal stings still act up sometimes."
She permits herself to smile a little at that.
"I never mean to say the things I want to say."
His expression softens and he takes a careful step closer to her.
"What do you wish to tell me?"
"I would give up eternity to know your thoughts."
She turns to leave, but his hand stays her. They are once more replaying the same old dance.
"Why do you always stop me?"
"Why do you always have to run?" he counters.
"Perhaps because I want you to chase me," she says, her eyes filling with unbidden tears.
He smiles and wipes away the droplets with his thumbs.
"Then I shall chase. It's seems like what we're good at. You can run and I can chase and we can continue on like this for several centuries or more. Because we're immortals, we have the time. And so long as I have my legs intact I will chase you."
"What if I get tired of running? What if I don't want to run any more?" There's melancholia in her tone.
"Then I'll find another activity for you to do," he replies with a smirk.
"Diomedes, please. I beg you to reconsider."
"I'm sorry, Helen," he says, shaking his head. "But I cannot. I cannot put my people through war."
"Sparta and my father would not stand for this. You do realize that? You do realize what it means if you do not declare allegiance to Sparta against the Persians, do you not?" her voice is cracked with desperation. "You would lose me, Diomedes. My father will never allow us to marry! And still you stand by your decision?"
Diomedes takes on a pained expression and her turns his back to her, feeling his eyes stinging with tears he dares not shed.
"... Yes," his voice comes out choked and raspy.
Diomedes dares not turn around for he feared seeing the look on Helen's face. Heavy silence hangs between them, drawn out for what seems like ages. Finally he hears the sounds of retreating footsteps and soon pure silence. She was gone. He had lost her.
Greco-Persian war, Diomedes decides to stay neutral (loses Helen's hand). wiki/Greco-Persian_Wars
"This is a foolish war."
"Are not all wars foolish?" Diomedes answers. "You know I cannot defect this time, Athena. I've already done it once, when I thought it was for the greater good of people, but this time... "
He gives her a sad smile before turning to the balcony to face his people. WIth hands upraised, he silences them.
"Argives! Today the Trojans have declared war on all of Greece."
Athena turns away, not bother listening to Diomedes's speech. She's already heard it a thousand times. She knows what the result will be. Amongst the clamor and the ruckus of the crowd she spots him off to the side.
He may not be dressed in his usual finery, but she'd recognize him anywhere. His image has already been burned into her mind. It's his face that she sees behind her eyelids when she closes her eyes.
"Ares..." she whispers inaudibly.
She doubts anyone can hear her almost silent plea, but he meets her eyes. They stare at one another across the distance. She sees him clench his jaw, in that familiar way of his. See how his expression shifts ever so slightly, knows that he's come to a resolute decision and watches as he disappears into the ocean of bodies.
She closes her eyes, trying to keep him there, if only in her mind. She opens them again and sees Diomedes extend his hand to her. She takes it and he brings it to his lips to place a kiss across her knuckles.
She smiles at him and when he leads her by the hand out of the obscurity of the curtain, the crowd roars at her appearance.
"Thank you, Athena," Diomedes says to her. "With you besides me, victory shall be ensured. I will end this war. I promise."
Once again she smiles at him before turning back to the crowd. They've already started chanting her name. Athena. Goddess of Wisdom, Goddess of Victory.
If she is the Goddess of Victory then why does she feel so defeated?
She turns to walk away, but his voice calls her back.
"Don't go to him."
"Don't go to him and I promise to withdraw from the battlefield. If you go to him I can't promise you his safety. It's your choice."
"This is not a game. You cannot make me choose, Ares. "
"Why not? It's easy."
"Easy," she repeats. "We are dealing with the fates of millions of lives."
"I would sacrifice a million more if it means you will come to my side."
"That's insanity. To pass judgement so frivolously-"
"We are gods. We pass judgment everyday," he growls.
She shakes her head in disbelief.
"If you are truly making me choose then you are a lesser man that I thought you were."
"Iskhýs mou hē agápē toû laoû.
"The people's love [is] my strength."
"I understand that you are brave and you seek justice, but do not flirt with danger. Ares is more complex than you give him credit for. And it would not due to venture further with this relationship with him. It would only further complicate our already complicated family."
"Shouldn't you be taking your own advice?" she says.
"Yeah... I really should."
He looks a bit defeated then, his calm expression faltering. She frowns, a little thrown off by his subtle behavior.
"Why... why Aphrodite?" she asks cautiously. "To be honest, I just don't think she's your type."
He laughs. "And what do you think is my type exactly?"
Athena shrugs sheepishly, feeling a little embarrassed for no real reason other than she's discussing types her uncle was into. Her rather dashing and handsome young uncle. Who is also sleeping with her sister. Just another day in Olympus.
Poseidon gives her a small smile. "I care for her. Though I know I am not alone in that regard... I am aware of Aphrodite's reputation and of her men.
"I must go with Paris? But why?"
"Because I said so."
"But what about Menelaus and Diomedes-"
"Forget about them. I am commanding you to go with Paris now," Aphrodite says, waving her hand dismissively.
"And what if I don't want to go?"
Aphrodite pauses from what she is doing and looks up at her doppelganger.
"Diomedes..." There is a slight, shy smile on Helen's lips. "I think I am in love with him."
Aphrodite whirls on her, eyes blazing.
"You do not think and you do not love. You are but a creature of clay that has been formed in my image."
Helen shakes her head resolutely, but Aphrodite advances on her. The goddess presses her hand against the girl's cheek and then holds it up for Helen to see. Brown dirt smudged Aphrodite's hand where she rubbed Helen's tear soaked cheeks.
"You see? Mud and clay."
More tears leak from Helen's eyes, staining her cheeks with brown sediment tracks.
"Do not cry," Aphrodite tells her, her voice is almost sympathetic. "You will fall apart if you do."
Aphrodite reaches out and brushes away the stains on Helen's cheeks.
"You're beautiful, you know. You could have the world at your feet."
"I am only beautiful because you are beautiful. And I have no use for the world when my feet are in shackles."
"I may be made of clay... but I am also made of you. My feelings and my soul are born from yours."
Aphrodite turns away and pretends to not hear her double's words.
"I could kill you." He says it with such ease, as if he was announcing the weather, but Diomedes knew the god meant it. He was God of War, after all. And after Hades, Ares is responsible for thousand souls into the bowels of the underworld.
"It would be easy," Ares continues. "Like snuffing out a candle." Ares waves his hand casually to emphasize.
He was Ares. Reckless, cruel, and careless of the fates of men under his command. He was the God of War, but it was violence that ruled him. He lived for it, the warrior's glory. And every time he stepped into the ring, she held her breath. Logic told her that he was immortal and invulnerable, but that was no quite true. Even gods can be wounded. The proof lies in the scars he's left on her heart. For how can the Goddess of Wisdom be so foolish as to fall in love with the God of War?
"In some other place, in some other time, we would be together. But we are Gods. Happy endings are left for the mortals."
"You've said before that we are water and oil... but don't you know, Athena? Fire can still burn on top of water if there is oil."
"If your own mind is set upon going home—go—the way is open to you; the many ships that followed you from Mycene stand ranged upon the seashore; but the rest of us stay here till we have sacked Troy. Nay though these too should turn homeward with their ships, Sthenelus and myself will still fight on till we reach the goal of Ilius," He paused in his speech, just for a moment, and looked up at her. "for heaven was with us when we came."*
Nenikḗkamen, Athena. "We have won."
"... I should've known better. Argos is your patron city."
Hera smiles, a cruel and wicked gesture.
"Yes, indeed it is."
"Is that why you hate me? You thought I was encroaching on your territory?"
Hera shrugs, her movements smooth, fluid, and elegant, and she sinks into her divan.
"It is about territory, but one city means very little to me. Although, I must say, that it made spying on you much easier. There are many of my worshippers in that city."
Athena swallows, mentally berating herself for not having the foresight to piece this together.
"But no, this is not over Argos. I care not about your blatant favoritism for the young Argive king. In fact, I would have preferred it. It would have kept you away from Ares."
So that was it. Ares.
"I will stay away from him. I will not seek him out, I will not speak to him, nor will I touch him. We will be strangers."
"Athena, no," Ares pleads.
She ignores him. "I swear this to you. If you heal him, I promise that I never see him ever again."
"And what if I let him bleed out? You won't be able to see him if he is dead."
"If you let him bleed out, then I will never speak to you again, father. I will renounce you as my father. And I will go to the Fates and give up my immortality."
"Athena!" Ares protests, but she continues to ignore him.
"You would give up your god-ness for him?" Zeus bellows, incredulously.
"Yes." Her answer is absolute and without hesitation.
"Athena, don't," Ares tries again.
Zeus stares at his daughter. "You drive a hard bargain, Athena."
"Can I have a moment to say good-bye?"
Zeus clenches his jaw, but nods his head. His robes billow as he turns and walk away. As soon as he is out of sight, Athena go to Ares, kneeling down besides him and pulling his head into her lap.
"You tried to kill me and then you go and blackmail Zeus to save me. I will never understand what goes on in a woman's mind."
She laughs despite the tears running down her cheeks. "Don't waste our good-bye with pondering about it too long."
Ares reaches a hand up to touch her face, bloody from the wound in his stomach. The wound that she helped make when she guided Diomedes' spear. The blood smears on her cheek, mingles with her tears.
"I would not mind dying in your arms," he says with a sigh.
"Hush, I will not have you make my efforts go to waste."
"Then what should I say? I already feel like I am dying."
She leans down and presses her lips against his, tasting salt and iron.
"Then don't say anything at all," she whispers. "Just kiss me good-bye."
And so he pulls her down towards him once again and he kisses her. For the last time.
"two paths lay before me. One leads to war and the other martial ruin. Both are impossible situations. So tell me, Athena ... How can I choose?"
"There is no easy answer, my poor Diomedes."
"then tell me the difficult one."
Diomedes shares at her, his expression desolate and pleading.
"You will not like what I have to say," she says warily.
"I like nothing of this conundrum, but deal with it I must."
"the fact of the matter is that Argos may not survive a war with Persia. At least not right now. Your peoples morale remains shaken by the treachery of the failed coup led by your counselor.
They will resent you for declaring war," she pauses to watch Diomedes pace before her. "These are the facts, Diomedes. I can only advise you so much. What does your heart tell you?"
"It tells me I neither want to go to war nor lose helen's favor."
"then you must reach down deep within yourself and decide which you love more. "
"Helen has left. Her retinue departed before dawn."
He doesn't turn to address her. His eyes trained toward rhe ?east?, the direction of sparta where helen has gone.
"i am sorry... I knew that you loved her"
Diomedes looks at her then, his expression pained. He looks haggard, dark shadows lines his eyes. And most of all he looks desolate. Moreso than she has ever seen him.
"love," he repeats. "yes...i suppose i did. I had thought she could be my queen. Be my shoulder upon which to rest, share my bed, be mother to my heirs and be the one to mourn my death."
Athena felt a lump form in her throat. She had been biased in her advice because of her petty jealousy of the mortal helen. She had bore too much resemblance to aphrodite for comfort and Most of all she was mortal. A thing athena could never endeavor to be. Helen would be able to marry diomedes, rule by his side, grow old, and die. All of which escapes Athena.
His lips curl into a smile, but it was one without warmth or humor.
"but in the end it seems to have been an impossible love. You would have thought i would be used to those by now. After all, i have loved you for more than i have fingers enough to count. I think I've loved you my whole life. "
His confession, said so casually, takes her off guard. she stares at him blankly, incapable of forming a coherent response.
"and what is more impossible than a mortal in love with a goddess?"
He turns abruptly away from her.
"no!" he shouts at her, his anger suddenly flaring" Don't call me that. That was the nickname of a little boy. I am a king. Dont," his voice softens "dont say anything. I have already lost one woman i love tonight. I will not lose another."
Athena walks slowly to him, her hands outreached, but she stops mere inches away.
"Tell me what I can do to ease your pain," she says.
"Can you give up your immortality?" What he means to say is, can you be my wife?
"You break my heart, Diomedes."
Diomedes nods, not arguing. "And you break mine."
Haephaestus tries to rape athena after being rejected bt aphrodite and discovering her supposed affair w ares. When athena defends ares he gets angry and tries to force himself on her. He is drunk from wine given tp him by hera. Athena is able to savw herself but ares witnesses it and nearly kills hephaestus. Zeus finds out and is enraged w ares believing he is the instigator. Athena goes after ares and they have a moment.
"i hope you didnt mind, but i took the liberty of correcting ypur work.
He glances down at tje pieces upon his desk. The links he has tries so hard to pry apart. The puzzle that has has agonized for days. Solved.
A scrawled note, in her handwriting, lies beside it.
"Some things require more than stubborn brute force to solve. They require time and patience."
And more so than anything else she has done. more than her strength, which surpasses that of a hundred men. More than her beauty, which puts the stars to shame. It was her cleverness, her pure brilliance that awes him most. He looks down at the solved puzzle, shaken by the pure unadulterated affection he held for her. She has never been so desirable.
"Did you ever think that things would've turned out differently if they were in love with other people?"
"I don't think Ares and Athena are capable of being in love with anybody else," Aphrodite replies.
From her vantage point above, Aphrodite watched the Argive king. So many lives lost, hearts broken, her own included.
He glanced up at the sky, towards Olympus, and answered, "The city will be named Aphrodisia."
"I am not in the mood to speak to you, Aphrodite."
"That's good because I am not Aphrodite."
His head jerks up and he looks at her, really looks at her, this time. Her hair may be darker and her skin more olive than porcelain, but he'd recognize her all the same.
"The disguise is for Zeus's benefit," she explains. "Aphrodite has help me concoct a loophole in my promise with our liege."
He's staring at her so intently it makes her blush.
"Does this form bother you?"
He answers by taking two swift steps towards her and sweeping her into his arms, his lips pressed urgently against her lips.
"It matters to me not what form you're in, so long as I may kiss you. You could come in the form of an owl if you'd like and I would not utter a single word of complaint," he whispers, his forehead pressed to hers.
"Well, beaks make it awfully difficult to kiss," she grins.
"Zeus will send us both to opposite corners of Hell if he finds out," Athena whispers.
"He knows not of Hell. Hell is not the fiery pit where Hades resides. It isn't even Prometheus's sentence, chained to a rock and forever feasted upon by eagles and vultures. Those things mean nothing to me. Hell is being alive and knowing that you can never be by my side. If you ask me if I can live without you then I'd tell you yes. Yes, I can live without you. Because for hundreds and thousands of years I have done so without you. But to do so now that I know your love, it would be to live in agony. And that's what my hell is."
*A quote from the Spartan poet Tyrtaeus. Pages/47931_
χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά
Khalepà tà kalá
"The good/beautiful things [are] difficult [to attain]."
"Naught without labor."
Cf. Plato, Republic 4, 435c.
Helen is a statue of Aphrodite that Hera had breathed into life. It is Hera's attempt to seem helpful to Aphrodite after discovering her pregnancy. Knowing that Aphrodite is pregnant when Zeus has just betrothed her to Hephaestus would incur Zeus's wrath. So together, Hera and Aphrodite concocted a plan to have him be raised by Helen. Her mirrored appearance with Aphrodite will ensure the child will recognize its mother when it becomes time for Aphrodite to take him back. As part of Aphrodite's resentment towards Athena for her predicament, she wishes to have Helen marry Diomedes so that Athena would be heartbroken and deprived of her favorite mortal (thinking that Athena truly loves Diomedes). Hera meanwhile plots to undermine Aphrodite's schemes while pretending to be her ally. She had sacrificed one of her own priestesses (the one that was raped) so that Paris could take his place in the tournament and punish Diomedes for allowing his city to worship Athena over her during the tournament (Argos was supposed to be Hera's patron city).
Aeneas is actually the son of Aphrodite and Poseidon. Their affair had gone undetected by Zeus because Poseidon stole the identity of the Dardanian prince Anchises. He is unaware until after the Trojan war when Aphrodite is wounded trying to save the boy. He threatens Hera after he finds out, knowing that she had plotted this complicated scheme just because of her jealousy against Zeus's daughters.
Paris is actually plotting against Argos, his father having poisoned Diomedes' father. He had hoped to humiliate Diomedes in the tournament to lower the Argive's morale so they would be weak for Troy to invade. They wished to take over the Greeks (ironically it will be Aenaes, as "father" of the Romans, to achieve this task.) Paris instead becomes obsessed with possessing Helen as a prize and gets sidetracked, fails to beat Diomedes despite his sabotage of his chariot.
Trojans want to conquer argos and are the ones who assassinated diomedes father. Paris will attempt to kill diomedes during chariot chase and Diomedes's advisor will be the one colluding w him. They originally plotted to sabotage one of the other contestants earlier so that paris could take his place but the athenian rape happened which sped up their plan. Paris is besotted w helen and ends up risking it all to possess her. A prime example of hubris.
After the tournament is over, Zeus is impatient with Aphrodite and expedites the wedding of Aphrodite and Hephaestus. To incur more chaos, Hera purposely omits the god Eris's invitation. Angered, Eris shows up and throws the apple of discord on the table, proclaiming it for the "fairest one". Athena and Aphrodite are both in the midst of a fiery rivalry (Athena resentful that Ares is still with Aphrodite) and both leap for the apple. Hera decides to throw herself in the ring out of pure arrogance as Queen of the Gods.
While Aphrodite is preoccupied with the apple, Tyndareus is overwhelmed by the suitors for Helen's hand, a daughter that had seemed to appear overnight and gained world wide fame with her beauty. He was previously enchanted by Aphrodite to act and think according to her whims. He initially is warm towards the idea of an allegiance with Diomedes, but then the Greco-Persian war breaks out. Diomedes, as a new king decides to be neutral and earns Tyndareus's wrath. He decides to hold a contest to marry Helen off instead (rigging it so that Diomedes would not be able to win), and she goes to Menelaus.
Greco-Persian war, Diomedes decides to stay neutral (loses Helen's hand). wiki/Greco-Persian_Wars
Aphrodite finds out about Helen's marriage and is enraged, but when Zeus announces that rather than coming up with the winner of the apple himself, he has randomly assigned it to the mortal Paris, she uses the opportunity to make Helen elope with Paris.
Hephaestus, angry at Aphrodite's infidelity, lashed out instead on Athena. He tries to force himself on her, convinced that her kindness towards him was something more. Athena is able to thwart his advances, but Ares walks in and nearly kills Hephaestus in anger. Athena and Ares fight.
How does Athena find out about Hera? - Discovers the nature of Helen, puts the pieces together that only Hera, as goddess of Marriage, Women and Birth, has the power to give life to inanimate things.
Hera wants to pit the sisters against one another because of her resentment towards Zeus's favoritism to them. Didn't expect Ares to get involved with either two.
Helen is actually a clay statue of Aphrodite that Hera blew life into. She is a pawn that Hera uses to continue to drive a wedge between the Aphrodite and Athena.
Hera had hoped that the Trojan War would relinquish Ares's affections for Athena and give him purpose again (he is deemed an obsolete and useless god in times of peace and she wished to grant him glory in the eyes of Zeus).
When it proves impossible to erase Ares's love for Athena, Hera takes away Athena's ability to conceive. This is why she has no offspring and is considered the Virgin Goddess.
Ares, angry and ignorant of Athena's infliction, continues to wage war. He is in his element and finds purpose in the bloodlust. In order to stop the bloodshed and mortal casualties, Athena conspires with Diomedes to stop him.
Athena barters with Zeus to convince him to heal Ares from the near fatal wound she, herself, inflicted upon him.
Aphrodite, realizing that she has been Hera's puppet all along, uses her powers to allow Athena to borrow her form, that way she may visit Ares without incurring Hera's or Zeus's wrath. The sisters reconcile.
Ares, finding out Hera's manipulation of the whole thing confronts her. He had never cared about gaining Zeus's good favor, he had always only sought hers. She was his mother and he wanted to make her proud of him. He breaks off relations with her then, realizing he needs to seek no one's approval, but his own.