Author's Notes: well, here it is, a bit short but they'll get longer. Took me long enough, right? What with college, my brother's wedding and several other life interferences (which caused me to actually lose what I had written thus far, this has taken awhile! But here it is. "The Lioness" starts a year after Briseis and Achilles were reunited and things aren't completely smooth sailing for them. Also complicating matters is the interference of the gods, who do not approve of a near-immortal such as Achilles being with a mortal. Down the line expect to see Briseis kicking some ass, Achilles fighting some inner demons and the appearance of Eros, the Love God, who is struggling with his own romantic fascinations towards a mortal woman. It's going to be fun.
Steel on steel. It was a sound the Briseis had grown accustomed to in her year of marriage with Achilles. The shriek of a blade as it was pulled from its sheath no longer grated on her nerves as it had before, and instead of shrinking away from watching Achilles spar with his men, Briseis now took pleasure in watching him fight. Her eyes traced along the golden muscular contours of his body, drinking in the sight before her eyes. A smirk drifted over her lips as she caught his eye for a split second. She swore she saw a smirk come over his own lips before he spun around and slammed the hilt of his sword into the shield of his sparring partner, sending the man stumbling back. Sensing the opportunity to strike, Achilles swung the sword down against the shield again, knocking him back against the ground.
The look of arrogant pride in Achilles' eyes caused Briseis to shake her head as if in dismissal but when he came towards her, she tilted her head up towards him. "My lion…you will be leaving soon, I fear." Her voice was quiet and her fingers deft as she slid them over his arms. "Leaving me home with the other women, again?" Her eyebrows arched slightly as if daring him to say otherwise. In their time being married, Briseis had learned that her husband could not stay at home for long. It was not simply his skill in battle that called him away to settle violent disputes between neighboring countries and cities…it was his need for battle that caused him to go when called.
Still, Briseis would never dream of stopping him. It was his life and she had learned that trying to convince him not to go did not ever work. Instead, she busied herself when he was gone, though perhaps not in the most ladylike pastime. In an effort to understand what drew her husband to the sword and battle, Briseis had begun to acquaint herself with the weapons in the armory. She had become particularly deft with a bow, finding that the weapon felt supple and strong in her hands. It gave her something to do with her hands and her life as well. While she could have spent her time in court, Jason was there and despite the year that had passed, his dark gaze still cut her soul like knives.
So she spent her time in the armory or in a field practicing. No one questioned it. Briseis assumed that it was because of who she was married to. For one thing, no one would dare raise their voice to her for fear that they would bring Achilles' wrath down upon them. And for another, she was the wife to a warrior. She supposed it made sense that she would know how to use weapons as well.
"Leaving, yes…but I'll be back in time," Achilles said, deep voice rumbling out like a lion's growl. Briseis was used to the gruffness of his tone around the other men. It was his way of continuing to be intimidating while near her and near his men at the same time. She merely nodded and then shrugged a bit, "And whose battle are you fighting this time?" "Scyros is having some trouble with barbarians…" HE trailed off, looking over Briseis' shoulder. Briseis looked as well at the men who were watching them before back up at Achilles, whose blue eyes were narrowed in their direction. Instantly, everyone looked away and Achilles pulled her closer in his arms. The tight grasp and the feeling of his flexing muscles caused Briseis to smirk a bit, "I should have known."
His lips were close to hers now and she found her breath deepening. As always, his presence caused shivers to run down her spine and when he crushed his lips against hers in a firm kiss, Briseis practically melted up against him.
They only broke apart when sound of Odysseus chuckling reached them. Achilles lifted his head and smirked a bit at Odysseus. "Come down from your palace to practice in the arena?" Odysseus shook his head, kissed Briseis' hand in greeting and then glanced at Achilles, "I wouldn't want to beat you in front of your wife. No, I've come to tell you that your men are prepared to leave whenever you are. I came myself because I wanted to see you off…" He trailed off and glanced at Briseis, whose eyes were lifted ever so slightly in Achilles' direction. "I see your fair bride did not know you would be leaving so soon." Briseis shook her head slightly, chin lifting.
"No, that he failed to mention."
She stepped back, dark eyes lingering on Achilles' as if waiting for an explanation. Yet he didn't give one and she wasn't surprised. The silence lingered for a long moment and then Odysseus said quietly, "I'll leave you two then and see you at the docks." Briseis watched the king of Ithaca walk away before turning back to Achilles with narrowed eyes. He met her gaze with a quiet one of her own, "I didn't want to disappoint you." She shook her head slightly, "You should prepare for your journey…"
Then Briseis turned sharply and walked back to their large comfortable home. Achilles didn't come after her, for which Briseis was thankful and annoyed at all at once. She loved him, and knew he loved her…but lately they had been struggling to keep the romance together. The passion of their reunion had left them to the reality of making a life of marriage work when they spent half of their time apart. It was wearing them down slowly. Their nights were passionate, spent in heated desire between the sheets of the bed…but when the day came, it left them back with their struggling marriage.
Sitting down on a cushioned seat, Briseis gazed out the window. She could see her lion pacing back and forth, agitated from the way he was walking. Let him be agitated. He should have told her that he had to leave today. Penelope walked in and glanced over at Briseis, "From the look on your face, I can see that you and Achilles are still going through the trials of figuring out married life." She sat down next to the younger woman, touching her chin lightly, "It's not easy. But you two do love each other – the gods would not have brought you back to each other if it was not meant to be."
Briseis narrowed her eyes slightly, "He is just such a frustrating being! I do not believe he knows how to communicate except through the sword." Penelope laughed a bit, "A tendency with warriors. But the point is, you will learn to be with him… Until then, do not let your back be the last thing he sees of you." Briseis frowned and then sighed. Penelope was right. The ups and downs in her and Achilles' marriage was mostly due to their stubborn temperaments…but at the end of the day, it was her that Achilles came home to.
So she stood to prepare to see Achilles off…and pray to the gods that he would come back safely so they could continue to work on their marriage.