Two Thousand Years Ago
I suppose I had been in a state of constant drunkenness, high on ambrosia since the feeling of hot oil burned my chest. I could remember so easily her beautiful face, standing there in the dim light, and then the realization, the horror, that she was looking on my face. My true face. The one thing I asked – begged – her not to do. So I ran. I’d been moving from one hole to another, never sobering up enough to really come to terms with what happened.
I glance down at the amphora in front of me, huffing when I find it empty. Does nothing last in this world? I wave for another, the server eyes me but I snark at her blatant invitation, swiping the amphora from her hands. She scurries away with a look of fear. She should fear me. Not even I know what I’ll do in this state.
Could there be anything more unpredictable than the god of love with a broken heart?
I tighten my fingers around the clay, bringing it to my lips, but my mother’s voice interrupts me. “Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”
I growl at her and her eyes widen. I’ve never in my immortal life threatened my mother. Ever. But everything’s different now, I’m different now.
My mother’s eyes water and her heart’s desire rings through my head, clear as a bell, to see my son happy.
Which makes me feel like shit.
Grimacing, I offer the amphora to my mother, Aphrodite. She waves it off.
“You’re a mess, Eros,” she remarks, as if I don’t already know.
“Good of you to notice, miteras.”
When I begin to bring the amphora back to my lips, she stays my arm with a strong grip. I lower the clay pot and my brows furrow, noticing for the first time the harsh lines in my mother’s flawless face.
“What is it?”
I reluctantly release the amphora and scooting closer to her side, I wrap a comforting arm around her. “I’m here. Always.”
An expression I can’t identify flashes across her face, but is gone before I can analyze it. My mother grabs my arm, her eyes strangely earnest. “Eros, I’ve done something –”
Whatever she’s about to say gets cut off by a blinding flash of light in the tiny room, which I’m pretty sure my corneas will never recover from. I shrink slightly in my seat at the sight of my grandfather, completely intimidating and powerful in his glowing robe.
I frantically run through all the things I could have possibly done to piss him off recently. Though I come up empty, I know this doesn’t mean I’m safe from his wrath. Zeus has always been the type to smite first and ask questions never. He doesn’t say anything, only takes my arm in his vice-like grip and drags me away from the table to my feet.
I’m way too drunk to deal with this.
My mother stands meekly, her head bowed reservedly as Zeus flashes us all to Olympus.
The sudden change in locale immediately upsets the alcohol weighing in my stomach, I press a hand to a nearby pillar to support myself as I struggle not to heave. My mother’s hand rubs my back soothingly, and soon the moment of impending nausea passes.
I send a grateful glance her way, noticing for the first time that we are not alone. Extremely not alone. The room is filled to the brim with the entire pantheon, and they are all seated, staring at the three of us.
I groan loudly at the realization and straighten my back. I glance again at my mother, who strangely avoids my gaze and moves to stand next to my step-father, Hephaestus, earning her vicious glares from my actual father, Ares. My father’s anger whips around the room like a palpable force, but oddly he doesn’t say anything.
Zeus yanks me towards the front of the room where Hera waits and places me on the lower step below him. I resist the urge to roll my eyes, he can never resist a chance to show how above us he is.
My uncle Apollo stands to the side holding his lyre. He begins to play a tune, a familiar tune. A wedding tune. My eyes go wide, and I glance around waiting for another god to step up to what I now realize is an altar.
I prepare to bolt away, but Zeus is still gripping my arm, and he sends a bolt of electricity down it, letting me know I’m not going anywhere. Frantically, I look to my mother, who immediately glances away. My father is no help, he doesn’t even look in my direction. Then strangely, my eyes lock with my brother’s black ones. Most find his eyes disconcerting, but I’ve always found them strangely comforting, as I do now.
Dinlas mouths to me: relax.
For some strange reason I listen, and the tension leaves my body, though Zeus still grips my arm. I glance down the aisle, again shocked at the number of deities present for this occasion. Then I see her walking towards me.
My heart stops.
I’m pretty sure my jaw drops.
I might be drooling.
It’s the same reaction I have every time I see her, but it never fails to shock me. Psyche. I try to remember why I was mad at her, why I had fled from her, but my mind is an utter blank. When I see her approaching me at the altar, I can’t wait for her to finish the short walk. I manage to break my grandfather’s hold and race to close the space between us. I mean can you really blame me?
I hear some of the other gods gasp in shock, and others chuckle at my eagerness. All I care about is her reaction. I cradle her face in my hands and search her eyes for her answer. Then, as it always does, her heart’s desire rings through my head, to love and be loved in return. It’s that, not her beauty – I am the son of Aphrodite – that made me fall in love with her in the first place. It never wavers, and it makes me wish to be the one who fulfills it. She places a hand over one of mine, squeezing it reassuringly, pressing her cheek against it, her eyes bright with tears.
I lose it.
Again, can you blame me?
She opens her mouth to say something, but instead, I slam my lips to hers, tuning out the roar of approval from the other gods. All that matters is her, I pull away from her slightly, my forehead touching hers. “Do you want this?”
I won’t proceed with the wedding if she’s being forced, no matter that Zeus will likely turn me into a piece of smoldering charcoal if I don’t.
Her magnificent eyes pull at me, connecting with mine. “I’ve always wanted this.”
My smile practically breaks my cheeks. I raise an eyebrow slightly, noticing the wings attached to her back and she smiles brightly, flaring them out for me to see. They’re nothing like mine, which are feathered and white. Hers are so uniquely her and I wish I could take the next several years to worship every inch of them.
Standing at her side, I offer her my arm, which she takes and I escort her the rest of the way to the altar.
Zeus and Hera both smile at my eagerness and begin to officiate the ceremony. Hera’s the goddess of marriage, so I know why she’s officiating, I’m not sure why Zeus is, though. Not that I’m going to ask. He’s marrying me to the love of my life, in front of the entire pantheon, I won’t say a word if doing so will somehow change that fact.
I don’t remember the ceremony. All I’ll ever remember is the love of my life standing beside me, standing before my entire extended family, promising to take me for the rest of our lives. I hold my breath when she answers, only releasing it on a relieved exhale when I’m finally allowed to kiss her.