Artemis’ trusted nymph, Iphigenia, stepped back allowing Selene to pass beyond the waterfall, basket in hand. She walked into Artemis’ temple to find her resting by Sayeh’s too still, form. “Hey,” Selene said softly, “how is she?”
Artemis turned her head to watch as she strode in, Selene’s eyes filled with compassion for Sayeh. Artemis crinkled her brow as she noticed that there was something different about Selene, but she couldn’t place what it was.
“Hey.” Artemis got up to give her a hug, and with a deep sigh she replied, “Sayeh’s in a coma.”
Selene returned her hug and asked, “And you? I was worried you hadn’t left her to eat.” She lifted the basket of food she had brought.
Artemis wiped a quick tear from her eye and smiled a small smile. “I am ok. And you?” She raised her hand to Selene’s cheek. “You look…you’re different, nice but different.” She took the basket from Selene, amazed by her caring attitude. “Thank you, you’re so sweet to come by, Sel.”
Selene smiled slightly, self-consciously running her hands through her hair. “I tried to go back to work, but I couldn’t stop thinking about you and Sayeh and…well, of home.” She paused before continuing, “My staff have everything running so smoothly.” She shook her head. “I felt I was needed here, more than there. Did you see your mom? Leto?”
Artemis watched as Selene ran her hand through her hair. She gasped and grabbed Selene by her shoulders, touching her hair in shock. “Your hair….it’s your hair. Sel…you cut it?”
Selene blushed and Artemis realized her reaction was stronger than she should have made it, releasing her suddenly, she smiled weakly, “You’re sure you are alright, though? You look stunning, regardless. The short cut suits you.”
Selene smiled, “Yeah, I’m ok. A lot changed while you were with your mom, but that’s ok.” She sat down by Sayeh and started pulling out containers of food. “I just…I couldn’t stand my hair falling in my face anymore…after…” She looked up from the food containers into Artemis’ eyes exchanging a brief, knowing glance, before looking back at her task at hand.
Artemis sat down beside her. Iphigenia brought them plates and joined them. “Visiting Mom was the best thing I have done in a while, I needed it. What did you mean by a lot has happened? Are you alright?”
“Good,” Selene replied. “I visited Ares. He taught me how to fight with less carnage, and to use a blade.
Emotions flowed across Artemis’ face as she took that in. “You’re taking training from Ares?” Her eyes grew large as she asked the question.
“Yes,” Sel answered with a nod. “Ares and I are a unique combination.”
Artemis winced, feeling a tinge of jealousy prick at her when Selene said she was a unique combination with Ares. Artemis was surprised by her own feelings and something her mom had said played through her mind, but she quickly pushed it aside.
Selene caught Artemis’ reaction from the corner of her eye at the mention of Ares and said, “Ares…” She shook her head and chuffed. “His mouth and mine…” Selene rolled her shoulder, “He is showing me how to use the things I already have, or wear, to defend myself more like a mortal, so I get into less trouble for excessive force.” Selene laughed, then realized this was not the time for laughter. Her face fell and she sighed deeply, then reached out to hold Artemis’ hand. “I’m sorry. I came asking about you and we are talking about me, sweet friend. Tell me, what did your mom say? I am here if you need me, ok?”
Artemis blushed at her touch and gripped her hand tight. “Same goes for you, you know?” Selene kept Artemis’ hand in hers as her thoughts drifted to how soft they felt in hers, despite the rough work she did outdoors. Artemis ran her thumb over Selene’s knuckles, caressing them. Something about this time felt different and they held onto each other.
Artemis smiled sadly, “You know, it was only when I met my mother that I realized how much I was missing her.”
Selene nodded knowingly. “Like when I saw Helios. It was like ripping open stitches?”
Artemis nodded vigorously. “Exactly, you know how it feels. At the same time, meeting her meant the universe to me.”
Selene looked up at her, glanced back at Iphigenia and remembered they weren’t alone. “Yes, I can imagine.”
Artemis followed her eyes and looked at Iphigenia, who sat there with a smirk on her face and a plate full of food in her hands.
Selene reluctantly let go of Artemis’ hand and picked up a plate, dishing food onto it. “So, was she able to help you through some of the memories Ananke stirred up?”
Artemis shuddered slightly at the mention of Ananke’s name before she followed suit and took a tiny amount of food on her plate. “I am sorry, Sel. The food is great, but I just don’t have an appetite when Sayeh’s like this.”
Selene nodded in understanding. “I figured, but knew you needed to eat, so I thought I’d bring you something worthwhile.”
Artemis smiled warmly at her thoughtful care, their gazes locking for a moment before she continued, “My mother gave me a different perspective which helped, but mostly she gave me an idea of how I can save Sayeh. I knew my mom would be able to help.”
Selene felt her cheeks flush with heat and dropped her gaze back to her plate. “So, what’s the plan?”
Artemis smiled and took a forkful of the food and chewed on it before she spoke, “Mom thinks that I should speak to Hekate instead of searching for the heartfire by myself. I sort of agree with her. Kate does have the magic to help me find it and I will go to the end of the universe if I have to for Sayeh.
Selene nodded while eating and listening. “Well, you aren’t going alone. You know that, right?
I told you before, you aren’t alone, Arty.”
Artemis smiled and looked down before Iphigenia shoved her elbow into her side. Artemis pushed her back and replied, “I was kinda hoping you’d say that, Sel. I could use your help and support…actually it’s a great comfort having you by my side.”
“Why do you think I came home?” Artemis blushed and smiled slightly as Selene continued. She looked Arty in the eyes and said, “Sayeh and you, you saved my life…” She looked down, unsure how Artemis would respond, then back up at her.
Artemis’ eyebrows crinkled as she let the words sink in. HOME, she had said HOME. Artemis repeated to herself. She quickly stopped herself from going there, remembering the last time she took the risk of falling in love. She smiled softly.
“We saved each other…actually Sayeh saved us both.” Her eyes, filled with sadness, resting on a sleeping Sayeh she added, “I just hope I can save her before it’s too late.”
Selene looked away, remembering her place. “I’m sorry. I overstepped.” Uncomfortably, she placed her hand on Sayeh and said quietly, “Me, too. I hope you find the heartfire and bring it home to her.”
“Overstepped? No, you did not, Sel. I am glad you’re here.”
Selene looked back at Artemis, “No, I made you uncomfortable. Just know, I’ll follow you anywhere, ok. You’re my dearest friend and I will do anything to help Sayeh and you.”
Artemis placed her hand on Selene’s again, “I know, and I want you to know that I am here for you, anytime.”
Selene smiled slightly as her heart warmed to Artemis’ touch again and she thought, If only she knew how I really felt.
Artemis went back to pushing the food around on her plate. “Anyway, I need to find Kate first and see what she has to say. I am planning to go to her at sundown.”
Selene nodded and asked, “Where to?”
Artemis looked at her, “I think she’s around the GC.” Artemis took three cups and poured Selene, Iphigenia, and herself glasses of water before taking a sip of her own. Iphigenia excused herself and went to the inner chambers to prepare the concoction that had been keeping Sayeh alive.
Selene took the water, her hand touching Artemis’ again and her face flushed as she took a sip, hiding behind the glass.
Artemis noticed Selene twitching and thought to herself, am I seeing things or do I sense something different between us? She shook her head in an attempt to get the thoughts from her mind. “I am glad to hear that.”
“So, you’re leaving to find Hekate at sundown?” Selene asked.
Arty nodded, “Yes, I will check here at the GC first,” she said looking at Sayeh. “If she’s not there, I will have to seek her out by sending her a chant that she can hear from me. That will reveal her location to me.”
“Do you want me to come with you?”
Artemis shook her head slowly, “No, sweet, Sel…this one I need to do by myself. Plus, you need to focus on your lab.”
Selene reached up and put a loose strand of Artemis’ hair behind her ear. “If you’re sure. It isn’t going anywhere, you know.”
Artemis looked down and smiled. “I will be sure to reach out if anything begins to go south. I promise.”
Selene nodded and put her hand back in her lap. “Please, never hesitate to ask. OK?”
Artemis smiled. “Thank you, Sel. For always being there.”
Selene smiled and nodded. “Why don’t you try to rest? Phi and I can sit and watch over Sayeh, or I can go, but you need to try to rest before you go find Hekate. Ok?”
Artemis nodded. “Yes, I need the strength to make this journey. Hopefully, Kate can help me find the heartfire.”
“Would you like me to stay? You know I don’t sleep, so I can stay with Phi if you like.”
Artemis smiled brightly, “That would be wonderful.”
Sel nodded and smiled. “Very well.” She cleaned up the meal and stood to walk towards the entrance. “Artemis, thank you for allowing me to enter your temple. I know it’s a special place for you and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
Artemis followed her and reached out to hug her. “No, thank you for offering to help.”
Selene hugged her in response, feeling warm all over. “Rest sweetie. We are here.”
Artemis inhaled deeply, the smell of her hair and the warmth in her embrace left her smiling and confused over what she was feeling for Selene.
Selene thought to herself, I don’t want to let go. I wish I could hold her while she sleeps, but she pulled back so Artemis could go. “Go…rest.”
Reluctantly, Artemis pulled out of her arms. “Yes…I must go.”
Selene turned and walked to the entrance, sat down with Iphigenia and kept guard for the evening.