title is from Mumford & Son's "Awake my Soul".
'To love is human. To be indulgent is also human.' - Latin Proverb
Of the many things that sets humanity apart from other animals and species, one that stands out the most is the ability of humans to love. To love is to feel a strong, personal attachment to someone, to feel something so strong and so irrepressible that can affect one's actions and choices in life (see the classic stories of Medea and Jason, Heracles and Deianira, Menelaus and Helen).To love appears to be a seemingly harmless word, yet an action so differently and ambiguously defined: eros, agape, philia in Greek, amor, amicitia in Latin. To love has the paradoxical capability to both mend and shatter a person, the power to build someone up or break someone apart. To love, as a Latin proverb had once said, is simply human.
All this, she is aware of.
If then, the idea of love is beautiful, promising, and everlasting, why does she detest being a daughter of Love?
She had thought to herself, not once nor twice but a million more times, that to be a daughter of Love is one of the worst things that has ever happened in her life. Her thoughts come out as ungrateful and churlish; contemptuous even, but for a moment when she feels the hatred bubble up inside her she feels just like a regular teenager who curses her life and hates her parents for numerous and (often hormonal) reasons.
But she knows her life is far from that, far from anything boring or dreadful or even normal because not only is she a pawn of the gods, but she is also the daughter of the greatest gambler of them all.
She is the daughter of Love.
One would think that being the daughter of Aphrodite guaranteed her immunity from pains and heartaches. If she were to be honest, she had never believed in such a foolish notion. Nobody really did. Even the great Silena Beauregard had to experience loss, pain, and anguish along the way. Only the shallow and vapid women did, women like Drew, who thought that love was about the number of ticks one has in her bedpost or the number of fragile hearts that were ruthlessly crushed in a span of 365 days. So when Piper McLean found out about her heritage, of the blood of the gods running through her veins, and most especially of the web of lies that were created to blind and deceive her (and this includes him and those few weeks in the Wilderness), she had been prepared to experience hurt, pain and anguish. Like a good soldier she had readied herself, wore her breastplate and armor, and waited for the attacks.
What she didn't expect: It never came.
Not in the form she would have imagined, at least. She thought, (and this was when his memories began to return and he began to remember her name) that in an instant he'd leave Camp Half-Blood, go back to Reyna, (whoever she is/was), and forget about their memories like how he had forgotten about his past life. She was completely scared that he would just forget about her, because then how would she forget about him, not when he had given her so much to remember?
(The ironic part of the story: the son of Jupiter never left nor forgot the daughter of Aphrodite. In her place sat the forgotten daughter of the warrior goddess instead, who continues to faithfully wait for him.)
Naturally she was overjoyed. He didn't leave. He stayed in Camp Half-Blood and spent the next six months of his life with her; the first three figuring out what they actually were, the other three acting upon their decision to officially become boyfriend and girlfriend. They made out, they had fun, and for the first time she enjoyed being the daughter of Love, and being in love. Finally, she feels, that her mother was truly blessing her life.
(What she didn't know: Aphrodite did bless her, if only in the meantime. Because the gods were careless and ruthless, and to be honest, where was the fun without a variety of female choices, especially for the son of Jupiter?)
When Annabeth informed her that they'll be sailing for New Rome in two days' time Piper had never felt more scared than ever. She was all just a bundle of nerves, and at night she could barely sleep a wink. She feared meeting the Romans, feared that her Charmspeak might not work on them, but most of all she feared meeting her. Because although she trusts Jason, she still can't quench out the feeling of worry and doubt that continues to bubble inside her, and the dreadful question: When the time comes, who will he choose?
On Tuesday, before they set sail to New Rome, Piper utters one last prayer to her mother: Please let us stay together. Please bless this relationship and don't ever break us apart. Please, for me, mother.
She didn't expect she'd answer her prayer yet again.
When Piper met Reyna, she was mostly nervous. When her kaleidoscope eyes met her black, stoic ones she felt a chill run down her spine, because immediately she felt the anger and bitterness that was radiating from her, a harsh slash like that of a violent whip, piercing and ripping out chunks of her bare flesh and skin. Seeing Reyna's eyes enabled Piper to see her soul; she saw the wound Jason had left, the huge gash that continued to be raw in pain, and she saw the struggle between love and duty; between fighting for Rome and fighting for love. Though they only met briefly, Piper picked this all up from her bitter hard eyes, and at that moment she detests being the daughter of Love, of having a keen sense of the emotions surrounding her, but mostly knowing that she had helped cause such pain to a fellow woman. She realizes, right then and there, that this was the emotional battle she had waited for, the reason she had worn her breastplate and armor, but even so she wishes it were an entirely different war.
Because she realizes, she isn't ready at all.
The witnessing spectators of a battle will always take sides. This is a rule of thumb. They would bet between the minotaur and the human or the gladiator and the lion; in this case, the daughter of Love versus the daughter of War. They say that there is a thin line between love and hate, and indeed, such line is as fine as golden hair, for even the greatest love stories happened in times of war. And what's more fun, than watching the daughters of both, wage war against each other, for love?
Both sides stand an equal chance of winning. One is not higher nor better than the other; they are both simply two demigods fighting in a battle in which they have an expertise in. The difficulty would have to be gaining the favor of people, and who's more interesting, the scorned Queen or the indulged Piper?
She never saw it coming. Never.
It never occurred to her, that she'd receive such amount of hate and scorn, never thought that this was what the spectators had felt, sharing the rival's anger and bitterness and hate all because she did the most natural and human thing in the world: love.
In a way, she accepts why the people favor Reyna over her. She was the epitome of strength and resilience, a Queen no longer with an unfaithful King. She carries more grace than she or Annabeth or anybody else could ever know, even in times of trouble and war. She puts everyone's needs in front of her own, attends to Rome's interests despite what she feels. She is the daughter of the warrior goddess Bellona; she was born a Queen by name, and a true Queen did Reyna act.
And Piper? Piper is the daughter of Aphrodite. The daughter of the woman who helped initiate one of the greatest battles of all time; the woman who brought the Spartans and the Trojans in conflict, just so she could enjoy seeing love blossom between the favored Trojan prince and the precious cygnet of Zeus. She was the daughter of the woman who cursed the wife of the Minoan king and made her fall in love with a bull, all because of the foolishness that her husband displayed. Aphrodite was known for her shallowness, for bending lives left and right, causing warfare and death, cursing men and women, all just to satisfy her need, her lust, for a juicy and twisted love story.
If Reyna was the Queen then Piper was the concubine, the Other Woman the King exchanged for the Queen. And she didn't like it at all. She could stand people thinking of her as a thief, a kleptomaniac, but she trembles when thoughts like whore, slut, and bitch occupy the air around her.
Her unforgivable sin: Because she loved a man, and he appeared to have loved her back.
"To love is human, to be indulgent is human."
Piper was human in every, single way. She was human because she made mistakes, and she loved a man who had scorned another woman. And she accepts this, accepts this humanity of hers, because this is what she is made of, this is what she is.
And she knows that behind the strong-willed and stoic façade, Reyna's every bit of a human too.