“Hera,” For once his voice cracked. That was new. “Hera, please.”
She kept her back turned towards him because if she looked at him, saw that pitiful face he always made after this; she wouldn’t know what to do. During her lifetime, she had helped marriages across the globe and a few realms.
Hades and Persephone. Menelaus and Helen. Two examples of many and she had neglected her own marriage because nothing would change.
She had realized this over and over and over every time her ever-so-faithful husband came crawling back, going as far to grovel once for her forgiveness. She relished in it once, that he would always come back on hands and knees, whispering sweet nothings and empty promises into her dark skin. Every night was the same dance of apologies and that next time his eyes wouldn’t wander or his hands wouldn’t magically find their way down trousers or up a skirt.
It was always next time. Next time, she reminded herself, tugging at short curls, nails digging into light brown skin like many mortals had done in throes of passion that had thunder rumble and lightning strike and heavens quake. Next time, with every turned sour kiss and touch and suck. Next time would never come since he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants for more than five minutes.
“Zeus,” she finally said, turning to face him. Felt like she could finally look at him and ignore the marks on his body. “honey.” She was surprisingly calm for once.
Jealous is what the mortals would call her, but no. She was calm. Calm like Medusa when she brought Perseus’ head back, tossing it at Poseidon before moving to who knows where.
Hera had never really been jealous of the men and women Zeus pulled along. Angry, yes, she had been angry for a very long time. But jealous? Jealous would be used to describe “nice guys” and “you belong to me” types, but not her.
He looked hopeful when she said his name, a pet name tacked on just in case. He was so ready to plead that she could see the half-formed lies on his tongue.
“It won’t happen again. We’ll go to therapy like you wanted. I love you, Hera.” He’d say, a hand on the small of her back. To the bedroom, like fucking her would solve anything. Like his empty promises and fleeting love would be returned, appreciated even. Like she would forgive him as she foolishly had previously.
“Honey,” she repeated, walking towards him. She cupped his jaw, ran her fingers down his neck to his chest, played the forgiving-wife shtick. “I will not keep doing this.”
“You can fuck whatever man, woman, or even cloud you want, but you will not come back to me. You will not beg for my forgiveness. Every night you fall asleep, your thoughts will not turn to me.” She said, watching his face fall into that sad puppy look. It used to work on her.
Then he smiled, laughed, put his hands on her shoulders. “Hera, baby,” he started, rubbing her arms.
“Don’t “baby” me.” She shot back, for once feeling like she had spit venom. “You will not come back to me. I will not keep doing this, Zeus, do you understand me?” his face had fallen again only to twist halfway through in rage.
She hummed, putting her hand to his jaw again to feel it clench, feel him bite down on his tongue. “One more thing before I go. Echo,” she said.
“You cursed her,”
“Because of you. If she’ll have me; she is mine to court and love. You have no place in either of our lives and you will not. Understand?”
Zeus clenched his jaw again, searching her face for some reassurance that this was a joke. He found none, taking a while to look away from her. A short nod was her only answer.
All the contempt, curses, and years she spent accepting this man melted away. Hera felt light. She felt all the little things mortals expressed when they were free from scorn and pain. She had to find Echo, release her from the curse, and court her properly.
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