Read Part I, Teenage Trouble
I spent the last few days in the only place I could be, by my husband’s side. At least I think days have passed. Once Dinlas had finished healing Zeus, we took him back to our rooms and laid him on the bed. Several people came and went, checking on us, but I couldn’t give you any names. No one existed but Zeus.
My eyes watched the rise and fall of his chest as if my own life depended on it, and in a way it did. What would I do without my love, standing strong beside me? Who else could cause me to scream his name in fits of passion? Who else could make me feel safe with simply a touch? Who else could support me in all aspects of my life? There is no one else but him. He is my heart.
You mortals experience this loss all of the time when your spouse dies, but take your pain and magnify it by thousands, and you’ll only just begin to understand how desperate I would be without him. You have your lovers for mere decades, while I’ve had him for millennia. I would rage without him. I would burn your world to the ground. NO ONE would survive me.
I spent my time with my head lying on his shoulder, his arm loosely behind me, my own arm stretched across his once-powerful chest. His body was healed, but he still looked ill and he wasn’t waking up. It was as if his spirit was fighting something, so I spent every moment I could, whispering words of love and encouragement to him. I reminded him of adventures we went on, mortals we smote, walks we had, and love we shared. I talked about our plans for the future, and reminded him of the work he still had ahead of him, with me by his side.
I spent the entirety of those days crying and thinking only of him. Then, one day, there was a knock on my bedroom door.
I ignored whoever it was.
“My lady Hera? We know you’re in there.”
I tried to tell them to go away but my voice cracked in my dry throat from severe lack of use of anything above a whisper.
They knocked harder. “We will enter on our own if you don’t come out here.”
I took a shaking breath and rose up off of the bed on my elbows. I looked between my husband’s pallid body and the door, trying to decide what to do.
“This is your last warning, my lady.”
I leaned down and pressed my warm lips against Zeus’ cold ones, exchanging breath for breath with him before slowly sliding off of the bed. I had decided that I could open the door since it would still keep me in line of sight with my husband.
I shuffled to the door, realizing at the last minute that I was in no physical shape to meet anyone. I absently brushed my hair back from my face and straightened my shirt. When I opened the door, I stared blankly at the other person. What in the world were they doing there?
Aphaid sucked in their breath and raked their eyes over me, distaste evident in their face. “No. No, this will not do. We cannot have people seeing the Queen in such disarray.” Aphaid crossed their arms and clicked their tongue.
“Aphaid, what are you doing here?” I blinked stupidly at them.
“We’re here to save you, my lady.”
“The only thing that will save me is my husband sitting up and talking to me again.”
Aphaid huffed a short, laughing breath. “And what do you think he would say once he looked at you? Hmm?” They raised an eyebrow at me.
I self-consciously smoothed my hair back. “I don’t care what I look like. I just want him conscious again.”
“That you don’t care is quite obvious. Come with us, my lady. We will help you gather yourself so that when the king rises from his slumber his eyes will feast on the beauty that he loves, and not some diseased half-wit who doesn’t know not to bathe in animal feces.”
Aphaid held out their hand to me and waited. I wanted to smite them for their audacity and I was about to do so when I realized what they had done. Aphaid had managed what my family failed to do. They talked sense into me. I looked back to my husband lying so deathly still on our bed and shed another tear for my love. Closing my eyes, I turned back to Aphaid and hesitantly put my hand in theirs.
“Very well. You may lead me to my bathing chambers.”
Being away from him was perhaps the most difficult thing in my life, but Aphaid was right. I couldn’t let myself waste away. That was doing my king no favors. He trusted me to lead when he wasn’t around, and in my pain, I had forgotten that. A long soak and some clean clothes later, and I was at least outwardly back to myself.
Aphaid met me in the outer rooms. “You look better, my lady.”
I didn’t even bother wasting energy to smile. “That is all that matters right now. Everyone must think I’m back in control. In the meantime, I’ll do all my work here until my husband wakes up.”
Aphaid raised a perfectly drawn eyebrow at me.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that. I’m not leaving him.”
They inclined their head. “Of course, my lady.”
“Good, now reschedule my appointments for the next two weeks and bring me the mail.” I walked over to my writing desk.
“It’s all there, my lady. We even had Lord Zeus’ mail brought to you as well.”
“Thank you, Aphaid. I’ll call if I need anything.”
“Of course, my lady.” They bowed slightly and left. I turned my writing desk so that I could see through the doorway and into the bedroom. I may be able to put on a good front for everyone, but I will never leave him.
A couple of hours later and I was almost through all of the mail. The only thing left was a smallish box addressed to my husband. I stood, stretched and thought about having some food brought up to me. I picked up the box and ran my fingers over Zeus’ name.
“He’ll be fine. He is the strongest man I know. Soon, we’ll both be laughing at how worried I am right now. He’ll be fine.” Right?
I sighed and opened the box. Inside was a black velvet jewelry box. I opened the black box and a small card fell onto the floor. I leaned over to pick it up and read it as I stood.
Even Gods run out of time.
“What the hell?” I flipped the card over, but there was no signature or name. Weird. I set the card on my desk and turned back to the jewelry box. There was a beautiful gold pocket watch nestled on the satin inside.
I pulled it gently from the box, marveling at the heat radiating from it. It was definitely for my husband, as there was an eagle in flight clutching a lightning bolt on the front casing. I wrapped the shiny chain around my hand and rubbed my thumb over the lightning bolt. I brought it up for closer inspection; the engraving was exquisite. Wanting to know if the insides matched, I pushed the button to open it and got a face full of dust for my troubles.
The dust burned my eyes and I dropped the watch on the floor so I could rub them clear. I started grumbling my frustration and got a mouthful of dust as well, causing me to cough. I was so consumed with getting rid of this dust that I didn’t realize what was happening until it was almost too late.
My body started to get smaller and feel more energetic. My thoughts broke down in the middle of having them. I started questioning where I was. A small piece of me realized what was going on and knew I had mere moments to react, so I teleported to my office, determined to leave a clue for Aphaid so they could get someone to help.
I didn’t know how far this would go. I didn’t know how much of myself I would lose.
I ripped my office door open and opened my mouth to get Aphaid’s attention when at the same time my vision cleared, my coughing stopped, and I completely forgot where, and almost who, I was.
“Whoa. I feel weird.” I ran my hands over my body. “What in Hades am I wearing? Ugh!”
I looked up and saw the strangest blue-skinned creature staring at me with large black eyes. “What are you?” I walked over and ran a manicured nail over its cheek.
“Lady Hera. We are Aphaid. Your assistant.” They looked blankly at me. Creep-tastic.
“My assistant, huh? Well, what is there to do for fun around here, assistant?” I spun around and looked at the very new construction. Something big happened here and they were still patching it up. Sucks that I missed it. I bet it was fun.
Aphaid just blinked at me. “I suppose you would consider your rug fun.”
“Eww, why would anyone think a rug was fun? I mean, unless you’re naked and rolling around on it. That could be fun.” I giggled thinking about it.
“It’s a flying rug, my lady.”
I gasped. “Well, why didn’t you say so!?” I spun around and ran back into the office, stopping once I got to the rug. “Fly!” I stood, waiting for something to happen and got frustrated when nothing did.
“Why did you lie to me, assistant? Don’t you know it’s not wise to lie to a God?” I turned to face it and could feel the energy crackling around me, desperate to be released.
“We didn’t lie, my lady. There is a code word you have to speak to make it work.”
I huffed and threw my hands up. “So, what’s the word? Well? Come on already!”
The blue creature finally started to show some emotion, in a crease of their brow. It cleared its throat.
I tossed my head back and laughed. Of course, it would be my favorite fruit. “KUMQUAT!”
I almost lost my balance from the quickness of the rug’s ascent. I laughed louder. “What a fun word to say, isn’t it, assistant?”
“Lady Hera. We think you should come with us. Something is wrong with you. Please, let us get your grandson to help.”
I looked at the creature like it had lost its mind because obviously, it had. Grandson? Pfft. I wasn’t even old enough to have kids yet. “Um, how about no, weirdo?” I flicked my hand at them and they flew across the office and out the door, closing it after them with a little extra flick of my fingers. I turned to the windows and waved them open.
“Alright rug, let’s go have some fun!” I cackled as it carried me out the window and down to the streets below. There was a small crowd of people at the entrance to the building and I swooped down at them. All but one of them ran away.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, huh? You can’t just fly around like you own the place!”
“Silly mortal. I’m a GOD! I can do whatever I like. Watch!” I smote him on the spot and laughed as his body jerked and fell forward, lifeless. I looked around and decided to see how fast these silly mortals could run. I flew my rug over and around them, scattering them like roaches exposed to daylight. I threw energy at the stragglers, pure euphoria, when the mortal would be too slow to move out of its way and they would fall, smoking and dead, to the pavement.
I looked back to the doorway of the building and saw a few people standing there. Two were mortal, but one was definitely a God…and a very sexy one at that. I licked my lips. This was going to be fun.
“Mother! Get down here this minute!”
Uh, gross. I swooped down so he could get a closer look at me. There was obviously something wrong with his eyes. Good thing I didn’t need his eyes to work for what I planned on doing to him.
“I am so not your mother, but you are cute. Give me a kiss!” I laughed at the look on his face. He kept talking to me like he thought I was his mother. I’m into roleplaying, but that’s a bit much. So I tuned him out.
“Blah blah blah blah blah.” Hotboy’s mouth was sexy.
“Blah blah blah blah blah.” The woman next to him looked way too serious. By this point, they’d both grabbed onto my carpet and weren’t letting go. This was getting old. I was already getting tired of people telling me what I can and can’t do.
“You two are a couple of party poopers, but if you really need my help, I’ll go with you.” I gave them my sweetest, most innocent smile, which totally worked, because they both let go. Giggling, I took off on my rug, practically barrelling into a woman walking her dog.
“You stupid bitch! Watch where you’re going, you almost hurt my dog!”
I growled and flipped around to face her. “No one calls me a bitch.” I pointed my finger at her and whispered, “Boom,” and her body instantly fried with a lightning bolt. I brought my finger to my mouth and blew as if it were smoking, laughing at my joke. I took off, leaving her steaming body and her yappy dog.
“There’s gotta be some fun around here somewhere.”
- The Trials of Herakles, Part VII - September 1, 2022
- The Trials of Herakles, Part VI - November 5, 2021
- Herakles, Part V - October 18, 2021