It took a few months for Aphrodite to find a good match for Alcmaeon of Argos. First she had tried with a noblewoman from Mycenae, a lady about a decade younger than the Argos King and thus still in fertile ages. Having a past which included two young daughters, she was in a way at the same state in life as Alcmaeon. But what had first looked like a likeable combination proved less favourable the long run, since this Algetha, although she seemed empathic, had a bit hard to cope with Alcmaeon's dealing with his loss. Perhaps his heart wasn't in it for real either. Alcmaeon was still too preoccupied with his memories of the late Mylasia. No, Aphrodite realized that the Argos King should have someone quite a bit different from his old to make it really work. Someone who could challenge him, make him see things from a different perspective, understanding that life had to go on. That it was still worth living.
Boreas and Oreithyia though – that was a deed Aphrodite was more than pleased with. The god of the Northern Wind had carefully been courting the Attican goddess for a bit more than a season. Mostly by hanging around in her cottage, giving her a hand with practical issues, hunting and cooking for her and being a friend in general. Then one day had he lured her away to Olympos for the first time, convincing her that it wasn't a dangerous place and that the "Big Twelve" didn't bite. Surprisingly, Oreithyia had been unexpectedly cool about arriving at Olympos. She could think of returning, she loved Boreas' affluent bathroom and the food served at the Poplar Garden Square.
"And she's sure coming back!" Boreas had cheered and given Aphrodite a big hug. "All thanks to you!"
"Oh, it's you who've done most of the work," Aphrodite humbly replied. "You've been taking Oreithyia where she wanted to go with a relation, you've been loving and trusting all the way, and that was what this girl needed. In any case she didn't want to admit to being lonely!"
"But you had to convince me to do these things, Aphrodite! You had to convince me to go ahead and dare! Or I wouldn't even had taken the first step. I'd only feared it'd be the same as with Sekmeth."
"Forget her now," Aphrodite challenged him.
"I already have," came the self-assured response.
Meanwhile Aphrodite had her own life – and her own love to take care of. Ares had dashed off to yet another war – almost as if he was avoiding a confrontation with her about having spent some lovely time with her worst enemy – Ciresia! Coward! Aphrodite had never thought that of him! Naturally she was disappointed. However right now that felt like the only grain in the cup (although a quite large one at that!). She had performed another great achievement down in Thebes and she had some ideas about whom to pair up Alcmaeon with next. She just had to work the two of them over a bit in her mind...
Meanwhile, on a hot day in early September she returned to Olympos. Feeling that she needed a cooling swim, she went down to the lake. Not a soul was there oddly enough, not even some childish off-duty nymphs with no cares in the world splashing at each other. The blue surface lay untouched, only softly stirred by a mild wind and beckoning her to jump in. She decided to enjoy this moment of rare solitude, climbed up at the highest rock, tripped off her thin, white peplo and dived head-first down in the crystal clear water.
That lake is deep, Aphrodite dived some fifty metres, or at least until she hardly saw the green daylight, before she turned and began to swim upwards with strong beats of her able arms. She rested a while just below the surface, admired the bubbles sneaking out of her closed mouth, watched them dance their way up to the mercury-like surface and killing themselves by joining it. The sun beams were shining down like silver rays in the water and the world was so overly beautiful she felt she could kiss everything. So by an impulse she made a promise down there – she promised to kiss the first male she would encounter upon returning up.
Given that she finally broke surface and gazed around her. The sun was beating down at the shimmering lake, almost blinding her and she had to cover her eyes with her hand. When she looked again she saw him. A stranger god sitting at a rock, splashing his feet in the water, humming to himself. He was good-looking with his light-brown hair still wet from swimming and a fine-tuned although a bit pale body. On top of that, his aura radiated with an impressive power rivalled by few others and Aphrodite understood that he had to be one of Zeus' children. But hadn't she met them all? At least those mighty ones living at Olympos? Surprised, the goddess gasped at his appearance. Who was he?
Nevertheless she still had to keep her promise, so she swam up to the god who hadn't noticed her yet, so lost in his own contemplation was he. She had almost reached the rock he was sitting on, when he finally looked up and saw her.
He never got further because Aphrodite jumped up like a mermaid and kissed him right on those full, sensual lips. Surprising him of course, but only for some milliseconds, his mind worked fast like a true god, and before she knew it he had gripped her with large, strong hands and was kissing her back. Sensual lips exploring her, tricking them into opening up so he could familiarize himself with her tongue too. That kiss wasn't shy or awkward in any way; still there was something in it which told Aphrodite that a long time had passed since he had kissed a woman for real.
When he let go, the goddess was gasping for air and he smiled at her and asked:
"Now what did I do to receive such an honour?"
"You were there, and I felt like kissing someone so I kissed you."
"You sure are full of surprises, Aphrodite!"
"You know my name?"
"Of course I do. Who doesn't? The Goddess of Love, most beautiful of them all."
"I thought that was Hera."
"And since she's my mother I have nothing to say about that," the stranger smiled.
"You're a child of Hera?" astonished she regarded him more thoroughly, yes those large, round eyes ought to have given him away, they were the same as Ares', even if they were quite a bit lighter in colour than the pair of the War God.
"And of Zeus." The god replied with a smile.
"So where have you been all the time? It's been more than a year since I came here and..."
"Working, I guess. Most of the time."
"Where? When, and with what?" Curious, Aphrodite sat down next to the god.
"Oh, this and that. Magic locks for divine secrets, better flying chariots, sundials, armour, abacuses… gizmos and gadgets of all kinds. Including some little trinkets to enhance a woman's beauty. Like this!"
The god held out a hand, and suddenly there was something glittering, golden there. Something he had brought through the ultra-dimension on a whim. Curious, Aphrodite looked closer and saw that it was a bracelet - and one of the most beautiful ones she'd ever seen. Audaciously, she poked at it, and in return the god took it and fastened it around one of her slender wrists.
"You want me to have it?"
"For kissing me."
"That was just a whim," she felt herself blush.
"Perhaps, although it saved a day I thought sucked until then."
"Your day sucked? Why?"
"I hurt my foot."
"Oh, poor you! Let me see it!"
"Oh, don't worry, it's healed since long."
"What's the problem then?"
"I dropped an iron bulk on it and it hurt like a blast and made me lose concentration on what I was working on, and then I realized I had been working on the same kind of bloody self-playing piano for more than 48 hours without really getting anywhere. So I decided I needed a break, and went up here to take a swim before I'd go grab something to eat and hit the bunk."
"Poor you. That sounds… lonely."
"Yeah, perhaps. No one enjoys my company anyhow."
"Why do you say so?" Aphrodite raised a brow in puzzlement. "You seem nice enough to me."
"But I work odd hours to say the least. And I tend to forget people around me when I do that. My former wife Aglaia left me because she couldn't stand me paying so little attention to her."
"She did? Poor you! Just like that?"
"Ah, well she placed an ultimatum, told me it was either my latest invention or her."
"And what did you say then?"
"Nothing, because this sad, ugly sod didn't even hear her, I just kept on working, and the next day she was gone. Packed everything and left when I was down in the forge."
"This was recently?"
"Fifty years or so. Or sixty. Yeah, more like sixty."
At those words Aphrodite noticed that the god had got tears in his dark eyes so naturally she leaned over and gave him a hug and for a long time they just sat like that, she with the beautiful bracelet holding on to a god who's name she did not know. So upon releasing him she asked for it. "You mean… you don't even know me? Have I really been that off the social scene lately? That's dreadful!! I really must get a life. I'm Hephaestos."
'The sooty god' Aphrodite thought and stopped herself from saying it out loud while Hephaestos held out a hand. Relieved, she took it and it struck her how odd it seemed that an encounter should start with a kiss and lead up to a hand-shake instead of the other way around. Then the love goddess realized why she hadn't recognized Hephaestos earlier, it was the first time she had seen him clean! When she told Hephaestos that, laugher came to his eyes instead of tears, and Aphrodite became all warm and fuzzy when realizing that she had picked this man out of his misery by just one little kiss and some moments of positive attention.
"Let me help you getting your social life back, Heph!" she offered.
"And in return?"
"I want a matching necklace, and perhaps earrings to go with it."
"Deal!" Hephaestos squeezed her hand slightly harder, and she became aware of the restive strength in those arms. This sure was a man used to working hard.
She had in fact been joking about the necklace and earrings but Hephaestos insisted on giving her these things – and a lot of other items of beauty in return for dragging him out of his workshop, getting him a haircut and some decent clothing. Not to mention taking him to all those parties held at Zeus' palace. Soon enough Aphrodite decided Hephaestos needed someone to not end up in that vicious circle again, someone more stubborn and proud than sweet and soft Aglaia. A woman who could tell him off when he was skipping social events to spend time at work, and to if push came to show grab him by that ponytail and drag him headfirst off the work bench. Aphrodite decided to match Hephaestos.
It was always hard with those children of Zeus because they are so many and so loud. Dominating the scene. Aphrodite kept hearing them all the time and everywhere wile a lot of other gods and goddesses remained unnoticed. Regardless, she made a list of possible candidates for Hephaestos. First out was Eos, goddess of dawn. Eos made sure to get Hephaestos in bed faster than a thunderbolt of Zeus – and then out of it again even faster, because she thought there was someone better to be found around the corner. She always did, and poor Hephaestos was left consternated and not just a little bit sad.
After having cheered Hephaestos up, Aphrodite realized she would have to talk with Eos as well. Not only about her behaviour towards the blacksmith god, but her general approach when it came to men and love. The way she kept on jumping from lover to lover was precarious, one day that lady was going to get burned, that was for sure! And Aphrodite didn't want to be around when that was happening, because most of the time it turned out nasty and a love goddess generally stood the risk of getting the blame, even if she had done nothing but being in the vicinity.
Aphrodite then tried to pair Hephaestos with some Nereids, but they soon got overwhelmed by their longing for the sea, and after them Taigeta, one of Atlas' daughters, but she ran off to nail down Zeus instead. And trust Zeus to seize that opportunity! Selene declared "not interested" and Leto felt it too embarrassing to date "a stepson". Hello! Young Hecate was in it for a one night stand and that was it and Nemesis was just as annoyed as Aglaia had been at the lack of attention she received from the god. She wanted hot steaming love-making, not bling-bling.
After them Aphrodite tried to match Hephaestos with Nike, but they were soon fighting like angry sea-monsters.
"Why should I, the goddess of victory, team up with a loser like you?" Nike growled and then she left, slamming the door so the western regions of Olympos shook and all the nymphs ran off on burning feet to tell the gossip to the very next one they met.
Nyx was no use trying, a morning person like Heph wouldn't stand a chance with her. Then Hemera happened to have fallen for the Cretan god Velchanos and consequently she was out of the loop, at least for the time being. Then there were all those ladies who Aphrodite had come to know during her time up here: Astella, Coronis, Cleeia, Phaeote, Pedile, Polyxo, Cleis, Aesyle and Eudora. However among them only Cleis, Aesyle and Astella were somewhat fit, and none of them were actually interested. Coronis for instance was cleverly avoiding Apollo's persistent wooing. So throwing poor Heph in the mix too wouldn't do none of the parts any good, it would just become over the top complicated. Of course, Olympos loved complicated, but Aphrodite wasn't out to create any drama at the moment, she just wanted to make this god happy. Which had proven way harder than she ever would've thought.
So that left her with – what? Nymphs? Aphrodite suddenly felt so miserable and useless at what she was doing. Now she was the one crying and Hephaestos who offered comfort instead.
"You're not useless, Deete," he soothed her. "You've just had some bad luck. And fate knows I'm a hard nut to crack. Perhaps I'm better off alone."
"No, you're not, you deserve someone. In fact everyone do. I mean, look at weird Hades, even he could get someone. So why not you?"
"Because she hasn't got it yet!"
"Who? Who are you talking about? Is there anyone I have overlooked?"
"Yes there is."
She hadn't known if to laugh or to cry even more at that bold statement from the Blacksmith god. However he saved her from that predicament by just taking her in his strong arms and holding her and chuckling lightly right down in her blonde hair.
"What do you think?" he asked her. "Could we make it work? You and I?"
"I..." actually she hadn't even given it a thought. She and Hephaestos? To be true Aphrodite still nurtured some naive idea about patching it up with Ares although that felt so vain and unrealistic now. He was off warrying again and hadn't even bothered with telling her goodbye before he left. So when thinking about it, the idea of her and Hephaestos together felt strangely appealing as soon as she gave it a little bit more mulling over.
"Let's do it!" she heard herself say. "But beware! I can be a bit over the top sometimes. Demanding."
"That's okay," he mumbled down in her hair. "...I guess..." he added after a while. Almost as an afterthought.
"You see I'm no Aglaia. I'm no sweet and shy little one. I don't wait until it's too late. I'll come and pull you out of that workshop if I think you spend too much time in there and neglect those people around you who care."
"Very few do."
"O stop pitying yourself," she detached herself from him. "I don't appreciate that behaviour either. You're ever as likeable as, say Ares. If not even more. Honestly, he's not the most social person either, the way he prefers his wars all the time. You can have at least as much social life as he up here; you're at home and can be around for the evening events, when your day work is done. While he's away butchering up some northern tribal god you can show off your latest invention instead. I'm sure that is going to meet appreciation."
"I thought you liked Ares."
"I do! Well, in a way. He was – entertaining."
"Entertaining!" Hephaestos looked puzzled first. Then he shrugged. "I bet I don't really fall in the category of 'entertaining'."
"Oh, come on! Do you want this or not? If you're already getting second thoughts about it, then spit it out! I don't intend to hang around an indecisive lad who thinks he's a loser. Especially when it's not true!"
"You don't think so?"
"No I do not. Or I wouldn't frigging saying it! And if you like to compare yourself to your big brother, then at least dust off your benefits as much as your shortcomings!"
With a sigh Aphrodite put her hand across his mouth.
"And don't ever say you're sorry like that, man! You have nothing to be sorry for. Now what?" Perplexed she removed her hand as the god started to laugh, tickling her palm in a quite unusual way.
"Whaaaat?" she pressed on.
"You!" Hephaestos began to laugh even more. "You're just... like my mama!"
"Like Hera – oh!"
"Yes, she's always like that too. Don't Hephaestos! Don't, don't, don't! Don't this – don't that!"
"That's my mother too," Aphrodite had to admit as she felt herself starting to titter too. "I guess it comes with the territory."
"Of being a mother."
"Fathers ain't the same."
"I don't know. I hardly know mine. I have more fingers on my hands than encounters with him." She held up her hands for emphasis and he grabbed one of them and placed a firm kiss on her palm. Oh my, he was charming that man, there was no denying it.
"Too bad. Zeus is more like – the other way around. Giving orders. Dealing out errands. Do! Do! Do! Do! And then it happens more often than not that he goes Do and mother goes Don't."
"And what do you do then?" Aphrodite asked with a smile playing around her lips. She could very well imagine Zeus and Hera in disagreement about things their children should be engaged in.
"Earlier in life I used to take one or the other's side and get involved, and then it usually got nasty. The fights we had! I'm surprised sometimes Olympos is still standing. These days..." he shrugged and made a face. "These days I let them straighten out things between them first. And if it takes them too long, I do it the way I consider it best instead."
"Clever boy! And the others?"
"What do you mean?"
"Ah, Ares! He hardly ever cares what anyone tells him. Auxesia sometimes plays mum and dad against each other for her own benefit. Dangerous, I know, but I guess she gets some odd kick out of it. And the others – well they are only half-sibs. They tend to listen to THEIR parents and hardly bother what the other one thinks. But I guess you know that already."
"Yeah I've noticed. Some of those Olympians doesn't seem to care about ANY of their parents. However, that's not exactly our business. And I'll try to sound less like Hera in the future."
"Sounds fine by me, one mother is enough."
His eyes had been glittering with laughter when he said that. Once again Aphrodite had to ask herself, how could she have missed this so original and charming man for so long? To instead fooling around with his brothers who at the moment didn't feel half as interesting. Not even Ares to be true. Well – almost – not even Ares. There was an uncertainty there grating at her mind, although she decided to not give it any room no longer. Ares had chosen to end it just like he did with his foes – just snuffing it with no further thoughts and no looking back. And if he couldn't care more, then neither should she!
"I guess I've must've been about 18. Or 20. Or 21. I'm not really sure I remember," Hephaestos said and leaned back in the bed, stretching his hands over his head, lazily content after their intense love making. "Back then I was quite the brat. Didn't care for nothing, just running around, getting drunk and trying to bed every nymph I could lay my eyes and my hands upon. Becoming more and more bored for every day that was passing. Needless to say my folks didn't approve. So they decided to do something."
"So they threw you off the mountain?" Aphrodite asked as she walked her fingers across his bare torso, softly pressing down the pale skin which stretched across his rippled muscles, enjoying the resistance therein and the distracting effect it had on the god lying next to her in her wide bed. "Sorry, but that's how the story goes at least."
"And it's more or less true," the god chuckled. "I wasn't really anybody's role model back then. Mum and dad had tried to reason with me zillions of time, but did I listen to any of it? No way! I guess I might've given some nonsense reply and then went on in the same manner as before. What they said just didn't stuck. But I guess every kid goes through one of these periods in life when what mama and papa say are as pointless as anything can be."
He laughed again and she flattened out her hand, stroking him gently, feeling the hairs on his torso tickling her. He was perhaps even hairier than Ares, she thought.
"What happened," she whispered mesmerized.
"I was kicked out of the mountaintop. Actually, I became sent away, to the oceanides Eurynome and Thetis to – um – try to raise me into a man. A working god. You know, these ladies have a special talent – a way of seeing where everyone's secret aptitude lies. They look at the aura and see ulterior skills. Gifts to bring forward and develop. And that's what they did with me. Very patiently and persistently did they unfold the real me. Found out that inside the surly slacker hid a little creator who had a knack for beautiful and ingenious things."
"They helped me setting up my first workshop, they showed me how to sketch up the designs I had in mind, first in sand and then upon papyrus. To prototype in wood and to later on cast it in metal, heating it up and then cooling it down with water, hardening it. They taught me to dare, to realize a mistake wasn't everything, that it was possible to forget and re-learn and try again. And again. They taught me patience and endurance – and to rest where the working day was over. Although the latter had a bit hard to stick. I became so mesmerized with what I was doing I found it hard to stop."
"And you turned into the well-known workaholic?" she asked smilingly.
"Sort of. But not immediately, mind you. Living with Eurynome and Thetis in their seaside home, I watched the water flow and meander, bend and curve back to its origin. I saw thousands and thousands of possible forms in those currents, waves and bubbles. And I made them possible – I made them real!"
"Awesome!" Aphrodite exhaled, while looking into his brown eyes. They were burning with the kind of frenzy only true commitment can give, as he went on with telling her of all the things he had created for his landladies. He spoke of earrings made out of glass and gold, inspired by the air bubbles in the sea. He had made broches inspired by sea-shells and necklaces looking like sea-weed. And a lot of practical things to be used in a house hold and elsewhere. He had invented the first cogwheel, a construction he had had no idea what to do with from the start. It was just the idea for another broche, he admitted. It wasn't until he returned to Olympos and started making more complicated machinery; he began to understand the real benefit of this little thing.
"For nine and twenty years did I stay with Eurynome and Thetis. 29 amazing years, I'll never forget them."
"And then – did you just go back to Olympos like nothing had happened?"
"No, I realized there were so much more to learn and to see out there, knowledge I couldn't pass on. So I went travelling in the divine and in mortal world. I met engineers and blacksmiths all over the place, went as far south as Egypt and helped these people with their pyramids. Believe me, those are going to stand for millennia! And I went north and worked with irrigation and mining. Somewhere along these journeys I learned to harvest the power of water and the wind to run engines and fires. I designed the very first watermills and the first pair of bellows the second last year of these trips and then I finally felt ready to go back home. I'd been away for almost a century at that time. Postponing and postponing my return until I felt it was impossible to keep doing it anymore. So I came back."
"Received with open arms?"
"Not really. Oh, mum and dad were overjoyed to see me again, but some of my siblings seemed more like – who's that? So much had changed here and I hardly knew anyone anymore. A lot of deities had left, others had taken their place. Prometheus, Moneta, Melethe, Talos and Kres were not around anymore. Instead there were quite a few newcomers, including two ladies called 'The Muses.' Calliope and Thalia. Wonderful beings."
"So they were the first ones?"
"They were. Daughters of Mnemosyne. Full of creativity and energy, impossible to shop listen to, whatever they sang, told stories or recited poems. Or just being generally funny. And I – was trying to fit in. I played some pranks on people, made a kind of high-chair you got stuck into when sitting down into it. And dear fate, I remember Mama trying it out it when I wasn't at home. Let's just say she did not appreciate being trapped in it!"
Aphrodite couldn't help laughing until her eyes teared at the thought of the haughty Hera trapped in a high-backed chair.
"Oh, that must've been a sight for sore eyes," she blurted out when she was able to make coherent talking again. "Hera! Trapped in a magic throne – oh my!"
"It sure was," Hephaestos said. "I guess most people considered it 'payback time' for being expelled in such a humiliating way back in the last century."
"So anyone who embarrass Hephaestos gets tied up in some ingenious trap as revenge?" Aphrodite grinned and kissed him on the chest. As a response he rolled over with her so that he came to be positioned on top of her instead.
"Yes I might, try to remember that, sweetheart," he jested.
"So what was that fo..." she began but was cut off when he caught her mouth and started to kiss her.
After having assaulted her mouth for a while he withdrew and replied:
"For being such a teasing wench."
"Then I think I'll continue being that, because I really liked that trap," she smirked back, which provoked even more kisses and nuzzling from the blacksmith god.
Ares stopped and turned at the sound of women's laughter. There, in the second floor anteroom by the landing of the grand staircase he spotted his father together with Menmosyne, Erato, Calliope, Clio and a fourth girl with the same, flaming coppery hair as Erato and the same pointy nose as Calliope. She seemed to be about 18, having about two or three years until her prime, when she reached the point where immortals Remained for the rest of eternity.
"So, Mel, what do you say? You like to stay with your sisters and see what's being a Muse is all about?" Menmosyne was asking.
"I..." Mel hesitated and glanced over at the other. Then she shrugged with a carefree smile. "I'll give it a try! If I don't like it – well, I'll go back to that theatre I guess."
"So... " Zeus began before spotting Ares. "Hello, son! Come over here! Meet Melpomene, the youngest sister of the Muses!"
The war god grinned at the beauty as he sauntered over and took her hand, then she bent down and kissed it the way Apollo usually did and became rewarded with the girl's cheeks turning into raspberries.
"Mel, this is Ares," Zeus went on and the young girl tittered, as did her older sisters.
"Nice making your acquaintance!" Ares said as he lifted his head and met Melpomene's sparkling, verdant eyes. "You're to become a Muse too?"
"I..." Melpomene staggered. "I dunno... We'll see. You're the... war god, ain't you?" she asked of Ares, looking him up and down.
"I am," Ares fought to not let pride leak into his voice, he had no idea how this young girl was regarding the art of warfare. Some seemed to loath it and he didn't want to alienate her the first thing he did. But he wouldn't have to worry about it.
"That sounds exciting!" she grinned and regarded the brawny man in front of her. "You must tell me one day. But I'm going with Zeus now and then my sisters are supposed to show me around."
"You're my sister?" Ares had to ask before Melpomene left and when she smiled at him again, he noted that she had a small gap between her front teeth.
"No, Ouranos is my father," she told and shook her head, making that long, red hair flying. "What if I were?"
"Then I couldn't flirt with you," Ares replied. "The way I cannot with Erato, Thalia and Ourania."
"Watch out for him, Mel, I'm warning you!" Clio warned, waving a gracious index finger, but with laughter in her cerulean eyes.
"Come on, girls!" Zeus urged them on. "We got things to do!"
Ares watched the four goddesses leave with Zeus and then he turned to Menmosyne who was leaning against the back end of a chair, regarding them as well.
"I must say you've inherited your father's charm," Menmosyne said after a few moments and Ares breathed in.
"I – didn't mean to flirt her down," he answered more or less truthfully, regarding the redhead goddess who let go of the chair to straighten out some imagined wrinkles on her ice blue peplo. "Sorry if it came out that way."
"Oh, I don't mind, Ares," Menmosyne tilted her head as if regarding the war god for real for the first time. "Mel is almost a grown up woman now and she has to learn to deal with men. With gods. And the persistence in their dallying. They're not like mortals whom she can have as - um – toys. And throw away when she tires of them. Gods are the real thing. And it's more your father I'm worried about."
"You think he'll..."
"Not today. Not tomorrow. Or next week. But perhaps... within a year or two. And speaking for myself – Zeus is hard to resist. Although hadn't I fallen for him there wouldn't 've been any Erato, Thalia or Ourania. Or...."
Ares raised a brow at how Menmosyne suddenly stopped talking.
"Ah – Oups, I did it again!" once again the goddess pulled at her dress and Ares suddenly understood.
"You're pregnant once more, with one of father's children?"
"Yes – another daughter. I think I'm going to call her Euterpe. What do I do?!" she shrugged and laughed lightly.
"Just go with the flow, I guess," Ares replied, as much at lost as the older woman, who laughed a bit more while balling her fist and hit lightly across Ares' right shoulder.
"So how's it with you and the lovely Aphrodite?" she enquired and Ares felt his belly contract.
"She's..." he stopped right there.
"Oh, don't tell me it didn't work out!" Menmosyne almost pouted. "Erato said you two were so lovely together! You danced so wonderfully."
"I'm not sure, Meni," he admitted. "She's been – I've been away busying myself with those perimeter problems in Trachea. Lot of disturbances up there. Tribal clashes, warlords, road pirates. Alliances forming and breaking up, treason and blackmailing. Wicked magic and foul weapons in use. A general mess. Has been taken a lot of my time. Since it's not a regular, clean-cut conflict, but an all against everyone confusion with no clear sides. The kind of war which only breeds losers in the long time, and thus it has to be contained and if possible finished. Oh, am I boring you, Meni?"
"Not at all, however I can't say I know anything about warfare. So how about Aphrodite?"
"She – well, she's been busy too. Mother keeps her busy with mortal royal houses. So we've been seeing too little of each other for it to work. Actually – I think there's been more than a year since we danced with each other."
"That's too sad, Ares. But don't let it hinder you from trying to start all over with her. If that's what you want, of course. Then remember, you have to make sure you two give each other the time together. Sometimes the most beautiful connection can be severed just by absence."
"I'll think about what you said," Ares said and looked down upon the hand Mnemosyne had placed on his arm. It was exactly the thoughts he had nurtured over the last few weeks.
He was missing her!