The sound of her soft delicate hand, slapping harshly at Hephaestus' cheek rang throughout the room. The fire god backed away from the sudden pain stinging on his face while Aphrodite glared at him. If looks could melt things, the forger would be ashes in an instant. The forger just stared when Aphrodite continued with her tirade "Who do you think you are, ruining my relationship with my precious son like that, huh, Hephaestus?! WHAT IN TARTARUS' NAME ARE YOU THINKING!"
"H-Huh?" He asked dumbly, unable to comprehend what she just said, which only fueled her rage more. The god could feel her angry aura rampaging throughout the workshop. Small things such as screws began to lightly shake as her eyes narrowed thinner than before. At this moment, Hephaestus felt more fear towards her than ever before W-What... What did I do this time? I-I'm so-
"DON'T COME NEAR MY CHILDREN AGAIN, HEPHAESTUS!" Her voice was cracking in anger "IF EVER I SEE YOU NEAR THEM, STYX BE DAMNED BUT I WILL CURSE YOU. I WILL CURSE YOUR POOR, PATHETIC LIFE!"
Aphrodite never acted like this, even on her worst, and Hephaestus knew that. But her outburst which she definitely haven't thought about made his shattered heart to be broken into oblivion. Like how he was being thrown away from Mount Olympus, to his sudden wedding, and now, all of this low points in his life has the same theme: He did not know what was happening, and yet he was serving the full consequences of it. The fire god's eyes threatened to spill tears as he tried to utter her name "A-Aphrodite..."
Still blind with her rage, the love goddess narrowed her eyes when he mentioned her name. All her pent up frustrations she felt ever since Zeus decided to make her wed him was now flowing. If only she could see what she's saying, she would be appalled by herself. "You don't deserve even mentioning my name! You are the reason why I'm not free anymore. You are responsible for me feeling like I'm being caged. I don't want you, Hephaestus. I will never like you! Why do I have to bear you as my punishment?!"Her mind is still being hampered by waves and waves of thought, each of them centered to one specific god. Aphrodite was entranced with her dark thinking when she heard her husband nervously saying something.
"Uh... Aphrodite... Sorry, I mean... Lady Aphrodite." She stared expectantly, with raised eyebrows when he mentioned her with a honorific, as Hephaestus sighed and bowed his head lightly "I... I'm really sorry for whatever you think I did wrong. I never wanted you to be angry, honest." She could see his tears falling from his cheek. And as much as she wanted to stay angry at him, her eyes softened considerably when the forger god continued "All I did is to make your two children happy. They were wandering around my temple and was only curious. I took them in and... I just wanted to enjoy their company. I never dreamed of turning your own blood against you, Lady Aphrodite. It is the last thing I wanted to do, despite what you may think."
A-Aphrodite... His heart can't take it any longer. All he wanted for her is to be happy. If I was the one reason why she's... she's... she's angry, t-then I have no choice but... With his eyes still running with tears, he wiped them with his calloused hands, not caring if he looked weak in front of her, and faced her strikingly beautiful face and ended his speech "A-After I build Eros' bow and arrow, I will deliver them to you. I did promise him that I will create them. After that, and I will be gone from them. If that is what you want... I'm... I'm very sorry for all the trouble I caused."
the dove goddess just stared at him, unable to form any sentence to say. The fire that was blazing inside her heart was now embers of her past rage. And all that was left inside was confusion. She never expected to blurt out all her hatred at that moment. But what made her shocked is his reaction to it. It was a known fact that the only thing that gods wanted the most is pride, especially when you are from Zeus' lineage. Athena was a great example of it. But to see him, the one who made many things Olympus was known for, the progenitor of all weapons they wield, the very one who she was forced to wed, bow his head and said sorry multiple times while addressing her in the most respectful manner. No one had done that to her and it had been a long time since she heard someone call her as respected as like what Hephaestus said.
Mortals never address me like that now. And gods were infinitely worse than them when it comes to respect. Aphrodite felt a lump on her throat, feeling a pang of an unfamiliar feeling on her heart. She lashed out on him and expected to retaliate. And yet, he humbled himself down, bitter with tears, and asked for her forgiveness. The goddess of love could only nod, not trusting her voice to say something to him. When Hephaestus saw her silent answer, he started limping to his desk and reminded her "Come back here tomorrow and I will hand you my last gift. Is there something else you want to say, my Lady?"
Without saying another word, she warped herself out of the forge and into her chambers. Aphrodite lay down to her bed, thinking about what has transpired between them and can't help but to tear up. The sincerity and heartbreak in his voice was evident that she was very ashamed of herself on acting like that. Sudden flashbacks entered her mind as she reeled on the tears that won't stop falling from his scarred face. The days where she would sneer at his way, only for him to shrug and continued to be a dutiful husband, or as much as he can. And the more she thinks about it, the more the pain she felt from the unfamiliar feeling becomes unbearable.
H-Heph- She was about to say something to herself when she felt a pair of chiseled arms enveloping her whole body around. She turned around and saw a smiling Ares who just came back from his temple. He leaned and kissed her lips with much gusto, which Aphrodite tried to return them. The event took a toll on her and was distracted at everything. When the war god finally realized what was happening to her, he asked "Is something wrong, my love?"
"Nothing's wrong, my dear." She said, feigning happiness. He stared at her for a second and she knew he didn't bought it for a second, then kissed her again and whispered to her ear "You know, my love? I kept thinking about you last night and you're just too good. I can't stop thinking about you." Ares trailed her face and neck with kisses as Aphrodite was lost in a trance of his touch. The war god's arms roamed around her body, trying to grab as much skin as he can. Her mind was caught up with her carnal instinct O-Oh, Ares...
"A-Ares," She huskily said, grabbing a handful of his hair before pressing her lips against his "take me now!" The god in question just grinned with lustful eyes and was too happy to comply. The two were locked into a long love-making session, each filling the other to feed their insatiable lust. The bed creaked as the synchronized motion the two share made them reach their climax. His skin slapping hers, both uttering their names in ecstasy.
Aphrodite laid her head on top of his chest in their afterglow, thinking about how grateful she was to have Ares. It was a great distraction to everything that happened. She let her slender fingers twirl around the war god's chest and sighed lovingly. Ares was sleeping quietly, and the love goddess giggled when she heard him snore slightly. With that, she, too, closed her eyes, enjoying the warmth her lover gives off and smiled as she succumbed to dreams.
Thank the Fates that I have you, Ares...
The temple of Zeus, being the king of all Olympians, is the largest of all temples in Olympus, rivaled only by his wife's. The white pillars done by the best masons of the mortal realm, decorated with countless number of ornate, seemingly radiating with power befitting only to his name. The god of the sky ruled them, ever since his victory against their titan father, Kronos, with a iron hand. He always wanted to be in control of any situation. He never liked anything that was against him. But this particular time, however, he was very surprised to see Hera saying something he least expected.
"I want to make their union be null and void."
Zeus never expected the day where the goddess of marriage and matrimony would ever utter those words to form a single sentence. His brow raised highly from her statement and urged to elaborate. She sighed and grabbed his hand "Zeus, I think we should reconsider the union Hephaestus and Aphrodite. It was doomed to fail the moment you announced it." His eyes furrowed and was about to ask if she doubted his judgement when the queen of the gods continued "I know, you are surprised that I said this. As goddess of marriage and all. But, you know that the foundation for any relationship, especially to become husband and wife, is pure love, a thing that is absent on them. Even if Aphrodite is the goddess of love, we both know that it is ever absent whenever the two meet."
"H-Hera, my dear, I can't make that decision by myself." Zeus sighed. Despite what his wife thought, the sky god wanted to separate them for his son's sake. He was more than guilty when he learned of his identity when he first step in Olympus, yet his enormous pride wouldn't let him. He had done so much for them, yet they would always take him for granted. He knew that whatever he was feeling was smaller compared to his wife. The guilt and anguish she felt when Hephaestus freed her from the throne was great, she cried on their bed for nights. And up until now, she hadn't amended their broken relationship. Although a lot less than his, pride was a very great deal for them. And as such, they would sit quietly, cheering him on at the back of their minds.
I'm really sorry, my beloved. But, in order to nullify the union, both partners must agree to their separation. And so far, Hephaestus has yet to pass any sign that he wants to break things with her. He sighed sadly as he grabbed her wife into a tight hug. Hera tensed as she was shocked to see him in an intimate manner with her. Zeus was never loyal to her, and yet, she had hoped that one day things will change. But, for thousands of years, her heart would always shatter when a new demigod appears with eyes the same with her husband. For countless of times she cried for countless of nights, trying to ease her pain. She hated that he would always spend time with his spawn from mortal women and yet they didn't have a single one.
It was that time she planned on having her first-born with him. It was supposed to be a start of something to change her husband's heart.
And yet, she didn't anticipate what the Fates had in store for them.
She never expected that the boy she would give birth to would feel the same way she felt with her husband. And what's worse that he has no one to have a shoulder to lean on. She still haven't come to terms that she was the sole responsible for that circumstance. She was too vain that she threw her own flesh and blood just because he was not handsome. No mother would ever do that and Hera was never more ashamed at that. The time before Hephaestus came back, she would sob inside her chambers, crying for the sin she had done to the innocent child. She would discreetly look for him but she found none.
When that fateful encounter with his once-lost son has arrived, she felt her heart leap in joy. But as much as she wanted to ran towards him and hug from where he stands, she kept her composure and tried to look as regal as possible in front of him. When their eyes meet, time seemed to stop as they stare at each other. Hera hoped to herself that he would recognize her but quickly kicked that thought out while laughing bitterly What's there to remember me about? I dropped him when I saw his face and I threw him through the window when Zeus laughed. His eyes furrowed slightly before moving on to look on others. That made her heart crack a bit, preventing a choked sob to leave her mouth.
For the whole time, she would just sit on her throne, trying to cope that her son is now with them in the council. But, instead of creating bonds, the two were locked in a heated conversation, that leads to their estrangement to each other. They would constantly fight until it reached the throne incident. Hera would always remember the hatred burning in his eyes, staring at her soul and saying something that completely broke her.
"Tethys was more of a mother to me than you could ever imagine, Lady Hera. I'm sorry but I am going to tend to my real loving mother. If you would excuse me..." That line haunted her up until now. She realized that she had never done anything to help him. As a matter of fact, everything she had done was against him. She cried whenever she remembers the coldness of his voice and the depth her transgressions caused to him. And as much as Zeus comforted her, nothing could change the fact that it was all her fault that his son's immortal life had been a living hell.
And that's where it comes to this. Even though it is against her domain, Hera felt it was the least she could do to free his distant son from the pain.
"Hera, I know what you feel. And you also know that I really want to agree with you. But, rules are rules. Although Aphrodite kept pestering me with letters, trying to convince me to be divorced to our son, Hephaestus needs to agree to it before we can finalize the decision." The god of the skies kissed the top of her head and spoke with love "I'm really sorry. I am sorry for everything. I had a part why Hephaestus is in this state. I never realized how hurt you were when I bed other women."
"Z-Zeus..." Hera stared at her husband, perplexed at his rambling but he continued "Your happiness is what matters most to me. And I let you down again and again. I've been an incompetent husband for you. You were always loyal for me, my love. No words can express how grateful I am to have you. I am really sorry for betraying you." He brought his face near her, feeling his hot, shaky breath on his skin "Hera, I love you."
Zeus... Hera's heart melted at his voice. She quickly captured his lips with hers and gave their kiss every love she could muster. For the first time in her immortal life, she felt hope. The queen waited for gods know how long for the seemingly impossible wish but this time, it magically came true. The two spent a few more minutes, kissing, caressing the other with as much gentleness and care as they could do. When they broke apart, they gazed at each other's eyes while Hera whispered "I-I love you, too, my dear Zeus. I have always loved you and I always will."
The king of the gods smiled at her proclamation and said "Let's get rest, my love." He carried her, much to his wife's pleasure, to their chambers, where they said their goodnight wishes before falling to sleep. Their chambers used to be a battlefield where the two divine beings would argue but this time, the room would see a different light. The two were entangled by their embraces, both wearing smiles on their faces as they continue to rest.
Maybe this time,things are about to change.
It had been a week since the fire god handed the bow to Aphrodite. Their meeting was different from how they met in the forge. The love goddess was more tolerable this time, the forger thought. He may never see the reaction Eros would have when she gives his present, but he do hope that he would like it. He spent the whole night, trying to make a perfect bow for him. Hephaestus enjoyed his first-and-last company with him and would like to repay that with the present. I hope he likes it.
Athena visited him again, this time to repair her armor. With the winged god of love now gone, the goddess of wisdom became his only companion. He would always wonder why would she, of all people, would care for him. He never expected her answer, as much as he tried to prepare for it. Hephaestus sighed as he stared at the half-empty bottle he was currently drinking inside a dingy bar somewhere in Mexico. With another gulp, he thought about their conversation
"A-Athena" Hephaestus asked while tinkering with his tools, earning said goddess' attention. The two were sitting inside his workshop. The fire god thought she would leave him to be with himself after bringing her broken armor but was shocked when she insisted to stay and watch him fix them. He didn't know what warranted him to earn her attention. He could feel her stare at him with curiosity, very different from the ones he usually get.
"Yes, Hephaestus?" She asked while petting her pet owl.
"I'm sorry" She raised her eyebrow when he continued "I-I'm really sorry for everything. You were the only one who showed me kindness. I thought that our talk on the Hearth was a one-time thing, but I was wrong. I kept thinking about the time that I... I... I'm really sorry for that, Athena." He hung his head low, almost begging for her forgiveness "I know I've been played by Poseidon that time. We were reckless back then. And up until now, I haven't atoned for it... I'm sorry. Forgive me." Hephaestus kept his eyes on the ground, not noticing Athena to stiffen when she remembered the dark times. She learned that although he tried to get into her, Poseidon had been behind it all along. The sea god convinced him that she loved him and told that she wanted to take her his. Hephaestus was never the one to inflict pain to others, even though they deserve it. And with that, she stood up and placed her hand on top of his shoulders.
"A millennium is a long time for that, Hephaestus." She said, eyes boring to the fire god's soul "I know you wouldn't do that in your own volition. You're too good to do that. And besides," She caressed his cheek and brought his face out from his gaze, facing hers "If I was still angry at you, I don't think I would have wanted to talk with you. You are a brave man to confess what you've done wrong. I don't know anyone who would do what you did. To me, you are the strongest, emotion-wise."
"A-Athena..." He can't help but stare at her with wide eyes. Any doubt that he had for her was washed away when he learned the fact that she doesn't hate him. She saw who he was and accepted it as him. For the first time in his life in Olympus, he smiled a sincere smile and hugged the goddess as much as she can. She was shocked at first but she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him back. His eyes felt stingy from the feeling of being accepted... being cared for. Aside from Tethys and the see nymphs, Athena was the only one who showed compassion to him. And that made his tears fall with joy. "Thank you, Athena. Thank you very much!"
She smiled as the wisdom goddess merely rubbed his back in response. When they let go, he went back to working with her armor, now with much enthusiasm than before. Athena was in awe as he gracefully work his way on repairing. She could see the precision he uses his tools. The careful and perfectionist approach was what made him create the best weapons Olympus has ever wielded before. The owl goddess would ask about his profession while Hephaestus was happy to answer her questions. Along their conversation, she noticed there were boxes full of the most precious gems on Earth. Athena asked about it and the fire god answered it was for his present for his wife.
"Why must you continue making jewelry to that harlot?" Athena asked with ire in her voice. Hephaestus sighed as he poured molten iron on a cast "Athena, as his husband I would always give something special to his wife. I know it's not fair but that's just how it-"
"You don't have to live like this!" She butted in, cutting him from what he was saying "That sea foam has been nothing but pain in your life. She constantly cheats on you to any man who gives her the time of day. You're too good for your own sake, Hephaestus. Why do you still insist on keeping your duty as her husband when she clearly and blatantly, if I might add, betrays you?" The fire god was silent for a moment before putting down his tools. He handed her armor to Athena before he gave his answer:
"I guess that's what we call love."
"That's a load of bull and you know it! She constantly sleeps with Ares, of all gods, just to spite you. She had given you nothing but frosty glares and sneers. There was nothing that could be a valid reason why you 'love' her." Athena sighed, trying to control her emotions before facing the shell shocked look of the forger "All I wanted to know is why you keep loyal to the one who doesn't even want you? Why, Hephaestus? Why are you still in love with her, even though she sees you with hatred in her eyes? Why?"
"I-It's because... It's because she gave me the fire in my heart." Hephaestus answered after a long minute of silence. Athena looked at her, not understanding what he mean. She was about to ask when he continued "I don't know why but I can't help but be drawn to her. Not by her looks, mind you... But there was something inside of her that made me want to reach my hand to help her. Call me irrational but that's how I feel for her. There's something she seeks and I think I can give it to her. I'm sorry but I'm kind of bad at explaining things. But, don't worry, Athena. I am happy that you wanted to look out for me, but there's really nothing to worry about!" He smiled at her.
The goddess of war wanted to say something but she bit her lip. She could see the determination etched in his weary face. She knew that he was growing tired of what was happening but that didn't mean that he would give up that easily. She could even feel the genuine love overflowing his heart at the moment. And that left her almost to tears. She hugged him before smiling back "If that is what you wish, Hephaestus. Now, I must go back to my temple. I enjoyed our time together. Perhaps when the I am free, I would visit you again."
"Oh, the forge is always open to anyone, Athena." He said, smiling at her. She grabbed her fixed armor, which looked like it was brand new, and gave the forge god a wave before transporting back to her temple. Hephaestus sighed with a wide smile as he continue with his other projects inside his forge. With his trusty hammer on his hand, he went back to his next creation and started to work. 'Athena' he could feel his mouth tugging to a smile whenever he hears her name. This time, maybe things would be different.
He smiled as he finished another bottle of beer. He paid the bartender before leaving the bar and walked aimlessly around the city. The streets were bustling with cars as people cram their way towards their houses. The disguised god of fire sighed with his mind preoccupied with his thoughts. As much as he enjoyed Athena's company, it would not compare to the ache he's feeling from Aphrodite. And since the wisdom goddess was busy, he felt alone. Hephaestus then remembered what Athena told him and since there was nothing left to do, he decided to visit the mortal realm once again.
It has been a long while since I last step foot on Earth. Carriages were the mode of transportation then. How fast technology has come. He faintly smiled at human's strive for innovation. One thing he liked from them is their insatiable curiosity to make things better. Although their forges were different, it would still be the place to create new things. And for that, he had a small praise for the race. Along the way, however, he bumped to a woman with dark brown hair and onyx eyes. The flowers she was carrying was sprawled out to the street, some where being run by vehicles.
"Lo siento! (I'm sorry!)" Hephaestus quickly helped her pick them up. He handed them to her which was bewildered for a second. When everything was caught, he stood up and looked at her. She, then replied before staring back at his eyes "Esta bien. (It's alright.)" The two were locked into a gaze. Hephaestus wanted to say something to her but cannot form the words to say. Obliviously, they didn't notice they were holding hands. When they came back to reality, he quickly drew his hand out, making said female to blush.
W-What am I going to do? This woman... Hephaestus was intrigued by the feeling he has with this woman. There was something that felt right with her. Taking a deep breath, Hephaestus asked the question that may change his whole life "Cual es su nombre? (What's your name?)"
She smiled at him and replied "Mi nombre es Esperanza. Esperanza Valdez."