So I finally figured this thing out. :) It's more in line with the myths, too, so enjoy! R&R!
She is so beautiful. I cannot withstand this burden any longer. With her long fair hair whirling as she prances about my halls, Hermione seems to me a great weight upon my shoulders. I know I should be glad- Menelaus even consented to send his eldest daughter to be queen of rocky Ithaca instead of bringing me to his state as king of Sparta. It was never for me, though. It was a gesture in memory of Odysseus. He had waved it off as a sign of his support of me, saying he had many other daughters. I realized the truth. Tonight I will marry a girl I know only as the daughter of Helen of Sparta and Troy. Bah, Helen the Destroyer!
Officially, it is the first night of festivities- the bride had arrived mere hours earlier. To me, the feasts and revelries simply are continuing, seeing as my friends and allies have been rejoicing for six days, more and more pouring into Ithaca's harbors as the parties continue. Tonight is just the high point of the festivals. I slump a little lower in my chair and swirl the honeyed mead in my golden goblet. Ithacans have never been a people for partying- Penelope especially, even after Odysseus returned at last.
Hermione flashes past my chair in a whirl of ivory skirts and smiled flirtatiously as she passes. Orestes whistles at me, but then he starts and abashedly grins towards me in apology. I smile weakly for a moment and shrug, raising my cup to my lips and letting the remainder of the drink flow down my throat. A young serving-maid, Hecale, hurries to refill my goblet. I will need to drink as much as I can hold in order to make it through the night.
Pisistratus looks at me in concern. He sailed with me to Sparta on my journey before Odysseus returned- the son of Nestor can see what I am feeling better than anyone, bar Penelope. "Are you feeling well, Telemachus? Perhaps it would be to your advantage if you laid aside your goblet for the night." The man goes to take away my drink, but I hold the cup with white-knuckled fingers. Pisistratus sighs. "At least you need to ready yourself for the ceremonies- it would not do to have Telemachus son of Odysseus walking to his marriage looking like a common drunkard!" I allow Orestes and Pisistratus to nudge me to my rooms, Orestes joking at my sorry state all the way. O, why did I ever befriend him? Yes, he was at Ithaca while he was waiting for purification from his murder of his mother Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus; we spent much time together as reluctant acquaintances. We must have grown to tolerate each other. I turn to my friend, smiling at the memory, but he's not looking at me- Orestes isn't even making jests anymore. He's watching Hermione with wistful eyes.
"Orestes!" I snap. He jumps and turns toward me.
"Is the bridegroom a little nervous?" he says, a smile playing across his lips.
"Do you love her?" I ask, pointing to my betrothed.
"Wh... what?" he stutters, "Why would I love your future wife? Are you trying to bring the gods' wrath upon your house, Telemachus?"
"Do you love her?" I demand. He lowers his eyes from my face.
"Then marry her!"
"WHAT? That is not possible! She is betrothed to you, friend, and I do not envy you. Hermione is not destined to be my wife."
"Why not? My parents saw each other and fell in love- Odysseus chose Penelope over Helen. I do not wish to marry a girl I have never met- no matter how pretty she is. Marry her, Orestes!"
"I will not marry your bride!"
"I do not want her- she is yours, Orestes!" Pisistratus, always sensible, lays a hand on Orestes' shoulder.
"Telemachus is offering you a great gift, friend. Take it, I advise you!" Orestes hesitates, and then nods. Then Pisistratus turns to me. "How will you make invalid your betrothal and give Hermione to Orestes? The elders will not approve."
"You shall see in a moment, dear friend." I stride from the rooms, the two astounded men following me. The entire crowd turns their heads as I step forth into the main hall, with my friends following on either side of me.
"Tonight tow people are to be married!" I proclaim, staggering a bit from the amount I drank earlier. Everyone cheers and Hermione steps forth with a veil over her face. I do not wish to marry her. This will be a shock to her especially.
"Let us celebrate the joining of Orestes and Hermione!" The girl is stunned, but Orestes steps forward and grins a lopsided smile.
"But… but…" Hermione whispers.
"What is the meaning of this, boy?" the elders say, "You are to marry the daughter of Menelaus!" Whisper begin to fly through the crowd.
"She's not good enough…"
"Coward!" I draw my sword and brandish it menacingly.
"I am no coward, nor am I in love with another. I do not wish to marry Hermione, but Orestes harbors a deep love for the girl. Let the two be married!" Stout, red-haired Menelaus stomps forward from the crowds.
"How shall I react, then, to receiving a different son than the one I had accounted for?"
"Sir, I do not need a wife to secure my throne. If I do not marry Hermione now, it will show the same courage as if I had taken her as my wife." Menelaus scowls.
"Orestes? Do you agree to the proposed match?" My friend nods. Pisistratus folds his arms and smirks. We share a look saying we made the right choice. After a gaping-mouthed hesitation, the elders begin the ceremonies.
"We are pleased to welcome Orestes and Hermione to the home of King Telemachus of Ithaca!" I slip into the shadows, making my way to the drinks. I need another. Pisistratus does not take it from me this time. I do not need a wife. I have secured my position as king of Ithaca- a just king like his father, clever Odysseus. I wonder if my father would be proud of what I did tonight.
But, deep in my soul, I know the answer. He is proud of me. He knows I do not need to marry unless I find a woman as faithful as my mother- a woman who will be perfect match, like Penelope and Odysseus. My father would understand my actions completely.
Yeah, I'm not taking this thing any further. It's resolved the issue and Telemachus is happy, so :). Another story to add to the completion list. XD