Summary: Being caught for the second time, Ares and Aphros meet a very unexpected end.
Ο Ἔρως Εμπνέει τον Πόλεμο
Olympian Muse: Love Inspires War
It was not but two days since Ares and Hephaestus were given their terms of war over Aphros that they had been summoned to the tribunal hall by the king’s demand. Ares felt severe irritation at being interrupted in the midst of his preparations and training, while his brother Hephaestus felt much of the same in regards to his own work in the forging of armor and weaponry. While the two brothers had such similar responses to being so abruptly called upon, their father was outwardly furious. Both brothers made their entrance together, though the hatred between them was no more apparent than at that moment. Ares was so disgusted by his older brother that he made it a point to stand as far away from him as possible. Zeus, on the other hand, had spent the entire moment of their arrival dispensing a scowl upon Ares that would make even the boldest of gods cower.
“Did I not say that there were to be no meetings for three days before the battle?” Zeus queried accusingly, the anger apparent in his expression. At such a question, Ares then realized why he and his brother had been called upon. How in the name of the gods had Zeus known? He had personally seen to it that anything he did in Thrace was never to be discovered by anyone but him! Had he been betrayed?
“My brother...did Aphros come to you?” Hephaestus asked, his voice somewhat pained but void of animosity even as he may have felt many negatives toward his younger brother for numerous reasons. Ares turned to look at the deformed face of his mother’s son, unsure of what to say for the first time in his existence. Was he scared of repercussion or did he truly not know what to say? It was at his son’s silence that Zeus waved a single hand impatiently in the air—a signal for his retinue to come to his aide. Mere seconds after, four winged figures materialized from the air. Two of the figures, Nike and Bia, stood obediently on either side of the throne where Zeus was perched. The last two, Zelus and Kratos, stood directly in front of Ares who was now at full attention—for these two minions of Zeus held Aphros captive between them. The counterpart was bound by the hands and feet with golden chains, leaving him to depend solely on those who now held him prisoner. The counterpart was no longer elegantly attired; instead, he wore a simple white loincloth that barely covered his lower thighs. Ares threw a quick glare toward his father, and then directed that same look at Zelus and Kratos.
“He did nothing. If blame must be placed, I will take it.” Ares had forgotten to hold his tongue, no longer caring what his father did or did not want to hear. “He came to Thrace, but he did not come to me because he did not have to. I sought him first.” Ares was visibly shaken by what he saw in front of him, but shaken to the point of tempestuous rage. Zeus only seemed more vexed at his son’s reaction.
“As I said before, my son, I believed your words to be no more worth the air they were spoken upon and I was justified in that statement.” Zeus then glanced toward Bia and she gave a single nod, holding out her hands to reveal a visual window likened to that of a magical projection. Ares could feel his rage building, slowly shaking his head at what he saw: the previous day’s events with Aphros replayed before his very eyes. Aphros remained silent, but Ares had trouble doing so—especially when the scene of their once clandestine love making had played out for all to see. Gasps were heard throughout the hall, and it was not until the very last scene was finished that Bia lowered both hands, conveniently ending the visual window. Aphros was shaking slightly, but more because he did not know what to expect of Ares in terms of confession. Was it not simple to admit to wrongdoing now that it was painfully obvious that they had both disregarded the king’s demands? Ares turned to his elder brother, swallowing the hatred boiling up in his throat. Ares looked as if he might commit murder right then if he had not been in the presence of his father.
“You bastard...” Ares growled out under his breath, “...you sent your spies to my lands?”
“Not spies, brother...but a servant of mine, Kedalion. I have learned never to fully trust that which comes from or has any connection, no matter how weak, to Aphrodite. I made such a mistake once and we both remember very well what came of it.” Hephaestus was expressionless, though Ares could feel the unmistakable air of victory that was not his own. Zeus knew that his son would make excuses or introduce his temper into the equation as a means for escaping punishment—but Zeus had other plans.
“The two of you were not called here to quarrel!” The thunderous voice of Zeus could be heard all throughout the kingdom of Olympus, and perhaps even on Earth as well, but the king of the gods was not about to let his own children derail his intentions for the meeting at hand. Turning his attention to Ares, Zeus took on an incredibly serious, yet convicting tone. “I warned you of what would come to pass if you should disobey me. I meant just that. How dare you go against my demands! You have even gone so far as to involve the very one you were set out to protect and have as your own precious trophy.” Shaking his head, Zeus had little left to say to his son before he carried out the punishment he had promised. “You have finally allowed your avarice to get the best of you.” Ares opened his mouth to speak but Zeus silenced him with a single sweep of his hand, Hephaestus taking several steps back and away from his brother as if he did not want to be involved in the dual-sided altercation of father and son. Aphros lifted his head slowly, gazing at Ares with a terrified and helpless expression.
“I am sorry...my angel...” Aphros rasped out, struggling to remain on his feet. Ares fought the urge to tear his lover away from the two captors and make an attempt toward escape, though he knew that avenue was not open to him now. “I love th—” As Aphros began to speak once more, his voice was cut short by a sound of pain, followed by a gurgling cough as blood crept from the corners of his mouth so suddenly that Ares had trouble believing what he was seeing before him. Zeus had sent one of his infamous bolts of lightning directly into the counterpart’s body—striking first between the shoulders and making a clean exit by piercing the heart. Aphros had been run through, and Ares could only watch with incredulity as his lover fell to the ground at his feet in a mass of broken half-life.
“No...” Ares finally said, whether to his father or to Aphros he was not aware. It took Ares several moments to realize where he was and just what was going on around him before he turned his eyes to the floor where Aphros now lay at his feet. Did he cry or did he rage? Did he threaten the life of his own father or did he take this like any real man or god might have taken it? Ares had never felt such an overwhelming sense of complete and utter loss in his entire lifetime. Slowly dropping to his knees, Ares narrowed his eyes as he took hold of his lover’s dying body so that he may embrace him one final time. Surprisingly, Ares was capable of keeping himself from breaking into pieces, though he was not entirely sure of how or why. Had he reconciled himself to such a fate before it had come to pass? “What did you wish to tell me, my love?” It was difficult to watch the most beautiful face in all of Olympus twisting in anguish and suffering, but Aphros made an attempt to answer the question posed to him.
“I love...thee...” Aphros coughed, lifting a hand to weakly touch upon the side of the war god’s face. Aphros knew he would die at any moment and there was not a thing to be done about it—though his place of death was so consoling that he did not think to argue it and instead simply smiled as if he had never known greater peace. Ares held his breath, unable to do anything but gaze down at the god of love as he struggled to speak. More blood came forth, and Ares brought a hand to rest upon barely moving lips.
“Shhh...it is time for my dove to fly away and wait for me in the underworld, for rest assured, once you leave me I will not be too far behind.” With those words, Ares moved his now bloodstained hand and leaned down to press a farewell kiss to the lips of his beloved Aphros. Just as soon as the kiss began, Ares felt the hand against his face fall away; the warm body he held going completely lax in his arms. Aphros had at last done just what he was bade to do, leaving Ares to his own devices and completely lost for the first time. It was then that Ares noticed how heavily his heart pounded within his own chest, and the very strength of it matched that of the violence which he felt in battle. Was this how it felt to mourn? Or was he simply so angry that his own sense of irrational mentality confused one emotion for another? Hephaestus had watched the entire scene in complete awe, even as he knew what his father was capable of, he did not expect such an inconsiderate display of reprimand.
“Mother...how could you allow this to happen?” Hephaestus finally asked, his voice full of confusion just as his expression appeared to be. The blacksmith knew it was quite bold to question the authority of the king and by extension his queen—but Hephaestus once had a stake in the situation himself, so he felt some slight sense of entitlement.
“Silence!” Zeus turned to look upon the son he had once forsaken for lack of attractiveness, aiming an accusatory finger toward his warlord son and the now lifeless being he had chosen over all else. “This is a direct result of going against my demands and bringing shame to our family! Do you not see that to choose love over logic is but a fatal flaw that only a human should possess? Gods are divine and therefore should not suffer such disillusioning fantasies...yet here we are witnessing such a spectacle and the aftermath set upon all those involved!” Having spoken his part, Zeus turned to Ares and stood from his throne, beckoning Hera to his side. “You may have time to mourn, my son. It is the least I can offer you before that creature’s memories are erased from your life forever.” Hera quietly moved to her husband’s side, reluctantly slipping her hand into his as he held it out for her. Ares had not yet processed that he was still within the company of others, his attention far too immersed in the loss he had suffered and how he was going to overcome it.
Zeus and Hera, both having been aware of the troubling state of mind their son was in, had decided to leave the hall together without saying anything further. All eyes not belonging to the king and queen turned on Ares, almost as if they were waiting for some kind of response from him in regard to such behavior from his own parents. While most of the divine would have accepted their place and tempered their behavior where Zeus was concerned, Ares had simply lost any desire to do such a thing—and with that he had forgotten to curb his own temper in his father’s presence.
“Either you bring him back or you send me to him.” Ares gently released the body he had been holding, having risen to his feet and holding more conviction in his voice than he felt he ever had. “I will not be without him, father.” Ares refused to leave the place where he stood, not trusting even the corpse of the one he loved to be taken care of by anyone other than himself. Hera was the first to stop the retreat with her husband, turning to look at the son she had helped to create with a god who seemed so much more vengeful than him at that moment. For the first time, perhaps in centuries, Hera felt compassion for one of her children. Zeus, on the other hand, felt nothing but contempt for a child who would speak in such a way to him.
“I owe you nothing, my son. The day you were conceived is the day you were in debt to me for your very existence. Without me you would have never lived to win as many battles as you have, seen more triumphs than defeats...” Zeus then glanced down at the body still resting idly at the war god’s feet, “and you would have never come to love as you have.” Such disregard threw Ares over the edge, and he was more livid than ever before at his father’s acute lack of feeling.
“You owe me everything! Every battle I have won was to honor you! Every act I have committed...right or wrong...was to honor your own triumphs! I have made my mistakes but not only were they mine to make...most of them were made in your own footsteps.” Pointing downward, Ares acknowledged Aphros even as he no longer lived to witness it. “This counterpart that you call a simple replacement believed me to be an ‘unruly son of Zeus’ and for good reason...I took very much after your lineage and anyone who knows the both of us knows how true that is. Do not take your revenge on me for actions and behaviors that come directly from your bloodline...bring him back or send me to him. If you will protect and watch over my brothers Perseus and Heracles as closely as you have...especially when they are only half as divine as I...why can I not have the same treatment? Because I am a god of war and can hold my own?” Ares laughed almost maniacally to himself, holding out both hands as if to make a display of his next confession. “As you can see, father...that is quite untrue. The resulting denouement of your verdict is that I know not what to do with myself now that I have lost the one thing that truly meant anything to me. Do I live or do I die? Do I continue fighting ceaseless battles to honor a father who shows me no consideration? Do I deny myself the chance to love as you once loved my mother? What should I do, father?” Shaking his head, Ares lowered his gaze to Aphros once more; darkening blood on his lips marred the fair skin and heavenly features. “No...for even if you gave me direction I have no will with which to follow it...my will died with him—and everything I ever felt or believed in.” Once Ares went silent, Hera turned to her husband with an expression of longing. Zeus did not want to give notice to his wife’s lingering sense of motherly concern, but alas, he had no choice. The king and queen had their troubles, especially when it came to the many illegitimate offspring Zeus seemed to enjoy spawning, but Ares was quite different if only because he was one of their children. As untamed and troublesome as Ares was, Hera still loved him as her child; one of many parts of a generation that reflected the love she still felt for her husband.
“My king...would it not be possible to make an exception in this case? Ares is our son...” Hera tugged gently at her husband’s arm as if to very carefully coax him into rethinking his decision. Zeus tightened his jaw at the request, but even he could not deny that Hera was indeed within her limits to ask such a favor. Zeus had come to understand the folly of his own promiscuous pastimes—even if they produced offspring that he had come to love and or favor—if anyone Zeus was indebted to, it was Hera. The king, with heavy aversion, turned to give full attention to his son.
“If I make such exceptions, it will be under my own terms. Do you wish to hear them or am I to assume that I will be losing a son before this day is over?” Zeus knew he owed Ares some form of compensation, as he did almost all of his divine children, for a lack in adequate fatherly attentions. On the other hand, to admit and or give sight to this would only complicate his position as king. Zeus knew of his mistakes, and it was good enough for him that he should provide atonement by means of cloaked reparation. Ares looked questionably at the father he had barely known since birth, most often having contact with him only in times of punishment or ridicule. In fact, Ares could barely remember such a time where he and his father shared any moments of a true father-son relationship. Ares did not know what such a relationship might entail even if they had experienced it.
“I do not care what they are...as long as I am not separated from Aphros should you choose to grant them to me.” Ares stood firm in what he felt and believed, unshaken by any threat of death or risk of losing his station on Olympus. Why should he care about such trivial things if he was standing there now in protest of his lost love? If he had fallen, so be it, because he had not much farther to fall before he and Aphros would be reunited—regardless of his father’s intentions.
“You are certain of your resolve, I see. Even so...I must inform you that my terms are irreversible. Not only will I lose you as a son of Olympus, but you and Aphros will not retain your godhood.” Clearing his throat, Zeus watched his son’s face closely and it did not change even once—then Zeus continued. “What powers you may possess and all the rights therein regarding your titles will be stripped, and you will become mere humans left to fend for yourselves on Earth.” Looking away momentarily, Zeus closed his eyes with a sigh as he finalized the terms. “You may continue to use your given names if you wish, but I will make this very clear to you so you do not forget: you and Aphros are never to appear in the public eye more than once each year. Your physical features and attributes will not be altered and thus will give you away to those who might recognize the gods they have spent their entire lives worshiping. I cannot risk confusion in the minds of mortals concerning their views of us, even in exchange for your complete freedom. If I desire to check in upon your progress from time to time, you will be informed, but that is the only contact we will have after the exception has been made. Do you accept my terms?” Hera held her breath, knowing the terms before they were even voiced, but it still pained her to imagine losing one of her children to mortality.
“I am waiting, father.” Ares was resolute in what he wanted, and mere threats of being demoted to humanity would not change his mind. Zeus felt himself chuckling, shaking his head with a heavy sigh. So this is what it had to come to in order for Ares to be happy? Even Zeus had to admit that, aside from the royal blood between them, not one of his children were much alike in regard to sibling connections; however, each one of them had inherited his stubborn will. Raising one arm in front of Hera as though to shield her, Zeus lifted the other where a new lightning bolt instantly appeared within the tight grip of his fingers. Taking a long look at the boy he had raised to be such a headstrong commander of his most prized Olympian armies, Zeus began to feel the imminence of his own loss. This was the only way things could be done, yet even the great king of the gods was questioning his own methods for even the slightest of seconds. However, Zeus would not go back on his word once it was set into motion—least of all in front of one of his own most cherished divinities.
“Then this is goodbye, my son. I do hope what lies in your future on Earth will treat you well, for I will not be able to intervene should it not.” Ares appeared to accept the parting words; Zeus then quickly hurled his glimmering spear of annihilation forward with full strength. Meeting its destination, the weapon pierced cleanly through the very heart of Ares. Fortunately enough for the son of Zeus, death was instant. Upon impact, Ares felt his entire world fade into darkness before he simply collapsed on the marbled floors of the tribunal hall. The lavish armaments Ares wore, belonging to Athena, made a loud clattering sound before shattering to pieces—a most appropriate method of departure for the arrogant brother of Athena who had despised her as much as she did him.
“Goodbye, my beloved son.” Hera whispered quietly, her voice oddly shaken yet controlled. It was abrupt, but the room quickly seemed to liven up with the chatter of surprise and amazement at the scene that had unfolded. It was as though it had been going on all along yet Zeus and Hera had only then been made aware of it. The remains of their Ares and his companion lie together on the floor, mere feet away from where the king and queen now stood with solemn faces. Ares was their son, and one of many who had given them much honor over the years. As godly parents and rulers, it was difficult for Hera and Zeus to show their love; however, such a feeling did exist between them—even for the infamous and unruly god of war.
Whatever might await Ares in his life on Earth, the king and queen of Olympus hoped that it would afford him a greater level of happiness than he achieved during his life whilst serving them. With that final wish, the extinguished bodies of Ares and Aphros then vanished from the hall as if they never were.
It was so warm. When was the underworld ever so warm? Aphros was the first to awaken, though not entirely certain of where he was. Ares told him to wait in the underworld and that was the one place he expected to be, especially if it was to meet up again with the one he loved—even if Ares was late for their reunion. With weary movements, Aphros slowly lifted himself into a sitting position so that he could more visually discover his surroundings. At first, Aphros was so confused that he feared he may have been caught up in purgatory between life and death simply because what he saw was not expected. Various plants and trees were strewn about, and there was also a lake nearby where he could hear the quiet sounds of water in motion. To his surprise, Aphros began to recognize his location—Penneus Lake. Why was he here? Was this some kind of joke on behalf of Zeus after having been so quick to take the very life from him? Aphros attempted to stand, though it proved quite difficult as he was not yet mentally prepared for what he was experiencing so he could not focus on the act of moving his legs into their required positions.
“Mn...” A pained sound came from nearby, and Aphros immediately went on his guard. The voice was not familiar to him and he did not know exactly where it came from, though he did know his situation and that he was completely alone—at least for the time being. Glancing around out of habit, he searched for Ares, but all too quickly realized that he was now without the god of war to protect him. Did Ares stay behind? No, surely he would follow even if it cost him his life. Aphros would never begrudge Ares the right to decline the loss of life should he receive a greater reward in its place, but Aphros knew his lover well enough to understand that nothing would keep Ares from him. Even death. Aphros began to feel the keen sense of pain throughout his entire body, but he did not know what had caused it or where the source of the pain was. With his pain came the task of discovering where the human-like sound had come from.
“Who is there?” Aphros kept his voice calm, but heard no response as he made an effort to stand once more. He was only halfway successful. Wincing at the strength required to take such a simple action drove him mad with frustration, especially since he had never had such trouble before. Suddenly, he remembered how often Ares would restrict his movement just to tease and it made his face flush with heat. Aphros hoped that Ares would soon join him, but just as he finally managed to reach a full stand, Aphros finally learned the truth as to what became of Ares. Several feet from where Aphros now weakly stood, he could see the familiar form of Ares leaning up against a large rock as if for support.
“Damnit...” Ares coughed, lying back against the rough exterior of the rock he had seemingly landed on during his descent from Olympus. Ares supposed it must have been the last punishment from his father in making him feel true physical pain in the way a human would—and it worked. “Nice try...father...” Ares chuckled to himself, and then groaned in pain as he reached down to feel the side of his body where it hurt the most.
“Ares...?” Aphros called out, still caught up in disbelief as he stared at the man he had departed from not too long ago. Falling back to the ground littered with various pebbles and stones, Aphros lifted both hands to his mouth so as to shield the great wave of emotion that flooded his senses. It was unreal how much Aphros felt at that moment, feelings he had never had nor experienced at such intensity. Could it be...
“I told you...that I would not be too...far behind...” Ares choked out, leaning forward as he lifted himself to his feet with such effort that it nearly made him lose consciousness. Regardless of the pain or struggle involved, Ares meant to reach Aphros and had no goal more important than that. Aphros was breathing heavily and in raspy intervals, and he too got back on his feet. The two lovers had gone through enough and now they were able to be in the same vicinity without persecution, so they were going to relish that fact even if it killed them a second time. It was miraculous that they had survived it all, but even Aphros had questions as the two made their way toward one another carefully—almost as if they were treading on the thinnest of ice that might crack at any moment.
“My love...what did you do? Why...how?” Aphros did not know which question to ask first or what kind of answers he might receive. However, once the two of them reached one another, Ares enveloped Aphros with such strength that it made all questions obsolete in the world they had created for only them. For the first time, Aphros began to cry at the contact he felt, never entirely certain if he would feel it again in the same way once they had been separated. How had it come to this? Why were they there?
“I struck a bargain...that is all.” Aphros closed his eyes, tears streaking his face while he held Ares as though he may lose him again at any second. “My love...please do not cry. I did this so that we could be together and under no jurisdiction but our own.”
“But what will we do? Where will we go and how do we live? Are we not expected to be in Hades by now?” Aphros had many questions, though he knew that somehow Ares had secured them a life together.
“We are human now, Aphros.” Pulling back just enough to lift his lover’s face toward him, Ares smiled and leaned forward to press a kiss to the once counterpart’s forehead. “We can do as we please...go and live where we wish...we have no duties or responsibilities as once we did. Our only allegiance now is to each other.” Aphros gazed at Ares in awe, and even though he knew it was truth, it still sounded too surreal to his human ears. Is this what it meant to be human by questioning and doubting?
“But how will we ever know anything for sure? Now we are left to question everything...” Aphros began trembling; now gaining a fear of life for the first time. “We know nothing of this Earth and how to survive here...nothing will be given to us as it was before...” Ares continued smiling, lifting a hand to rest against his lover’s face in adoration of such concern still so evident and unchanged in the beautiful creature.
“We know enough. We share a mutual love for one another. Do you not take an unspoken vow when you choose someone to love for the rest of your life? To protect and honor...nurse them when ill...provide them with all they need in heart, mind, and soul?” Aphros flushed once more, this time his face gave proof to that fact and he could not prevent the shyness in his smile.
“I do believe they call that marriage, angel...there is no promise when you fall in love.”
“Is there not? We are not married and yet I have done all I can as your lover to insure that you are alive and well...that you do not falter in your beliefs and that you have my support in whatever you decide.” Aphros felt his lover’s thumb slide over his lips, then down below his chin to make sure that their gaze had connected. “I love thee, Aphros...do not ever forget that fact. I have proven my love by risking it all...you did the same when you died in my arms in defense of that love. You went against the great Zeus...for me...and for us. That is enough reason for anyone to fall in love. It is enough for me to want to protect you and keep you with me until the day we can write our story in the sky with our own remains.” Aphros was stricken and speechless when he heard such words of romantic and honest sentiment—is this how humans felt when they were in love?
“My lord...” Aphros whispered, now gaining a rather peculiar sense of meekness that he did not understand and was not natural for him. How did he respond to something so true and full of meaning?
“There is no need to refer to me in that way any longer...Ares will do.” Chuckling at the rouge-colored face of his companion, Ares tilted his head and pressed a loving kiss to parted lips. The very sensation of kissing was different than it was before! Did he feel such contact even more or was it just his imagination? Aphros had such a warm mouth and his lips were incredibly soft, yet harsh when necessary. Aphros returned the kiss, sighing happily as if he were feeling the sweetness of it for the first time in his life. Ares felt that he had achieved the ultimate triumph over tyranny and it was through determination and a love without fragility.
“I love thee, Ares...” Aphros whispered into the kiss, not wanting to break it for too long in case life became cruel and played one of its many mean tricks—many which he knew of all too well but did not have to experience in full.
“I love thee as well, Aphros.” Ares wound both arms around the slightly smaller form in front of him, now resting kisses against every part of the most breathtaking features he had ever witnessed in all of creation.
“You still enjoy indulging your lips with the feeling of my skin...some things never do change...” Aphros smiled, trailing his fingers up the arms that held him close.
“I enjoy that which allows me to feel as much as I do when I am with you...and your skin is delectable even as it is now human...some things will never change.” Ares playfully bit at the tip of a nose before landing a final kiss to a gasping mouth. “I must confess, my dove...there is something different about you that I did not know of before...”
“Really now...and just what would that be?” Aphros grew curious, now unable to use any powers of love to coerce a response. The both of them would not rely completely on the attribute of human honesty, though it was apparent that they need not worry too much about a lack of such a thing between them.
“You have become more desirable now that your body is like that of a virgin...a human virgin.” Ares chuckled again, unable to resist his ability to tease his lover to lengths that made him frustrated or even slightly embarrassed. Fortunately for Ares, his teasing worked.
“Ares!” Aphros covered his mouth with both hands, glancing around them as if someone may have heard their conversation. Suddenly, it occurred to Aphros what Ares had just told him. “Are you meaning to tell me that you will not find me as desirable once my human virginity is no more?” Raising a brow, Aphros then feigned insult and pressed both hands against his lover’s chest as though to fend him off. With a shake of his head, Ares lowered his hands to grip sensitive hips carefully.
“I will never tire of you, my love...there is far too much about you that I still do not know and now have a lifetime to discover.”
“And what should happen once you have discovered all of me inside and out? Will you not become tired of me then?”
“I will do it all over again.”
“I do not believe such audacity...you are so unruly even like this!” Aphros yet again feigned insult, but Ares knew better and took care in sweeping Aphros off his feet and into his arms. The face that Ares made in response echoed immense pain, and it set Aphros into an immediate mode of worry. “Ares, put me down if I am too heavy! You are injured!” As Aphros began to protest, Ares swallowed his pain and silenced the complaints with a kiss. It was not unlike Ares to behave in such a defiant way, but Aphros began to wonder if he would always be this way and if it would one day mean his ultimate death. The thought was terrifying and even saddening, but Aphros made a secret note in his memory to keep such an end from coming to either of them. After several moments of being lost in the deepening union of lips, Ares broke away for air and rested his forehead against the other’s.
“I will follow you anywhere, Aphros...to the ends of the earth and into the farthest of galaxies among the stars. There is nowhere you can go that I will not follow in search of you. When I fell in love I made the decision that you were the one I needed...you shake me to the very core and destroyed everything I based my existence on. As a god I may have never come to admit this...but I was changed forever because of you. When we met here...” Ares looked out ahead of them and indicated the lake with a single nod, “it was my end and my beginning. I did not regret it as the god of war and I do not regret it even now as a human. Once I know all of you...and nothing is secret...I will do it all over again just to be with you. Because it is you...I will do it all again.”
“Ares...” The undeniable feeling of love and affection invaded Aphros like he could not believe. How could a human feel so much without dying from it all? Could there ever be a feeling so strong that it could take a life? Aphros slowly reached up with both hands, cradling the handsome face he had become so accustomed to seeing in daily life. “I truly believe that you may just love me to death one day...”
“If that happens, I will not be—“
“—Too far behind.”
At such a response, Ares now felt the same heavy sense of love and affection that Aphros was feeling for him. It was not only exhausting, but it was also invigorating at the same time. Did human emotion always balance out in such a way as to stabilize a potential overflow of feeling? Whatever the case may be, Ares and Aphros knew that they had their work cut out for them in being human. Now even Heracles and Perseus were above them in rank, yet it seemed to be unimportant as the two lovers became lost in one another. Their entire lives were spent on Olympus simply going through the motions of godhood, fulfilling their positions as any child of Zeus or resident of the kingdom usually did. Through sheer will and tenacity did they come to this point in their lives, and they would not risk losing it now due to a fear of the unknown. Ares turned and began walking slowly, though surely, along the length of the river. Aphros did not know where he was going and it seemed that he did not care as long as they reached the destination together. Aphros had a sudden thought, and he pursed his lips in quiet contemplation. Ares noticed right away and smiled curiously.
“Is there something on your mind, my love?”
“Mm...” Aphros shifted in his lover’s arms before he worked up the nerve to make his inquiry. “Will you feel the same...when we make love?” Aphros felt slight self-consciousness taking over upon asking his question, and Ares could not help smiling wider at such a reaction from a being who was once the god of love itself.
“I wonder the same of you, Phrosy.”
“There is but only one way to find the answers to such questions...”
A familiar wave of heat rushed over Aphros with that reply, but he knew it would be the most favorable of any answer he could have received otherwise. Finally, Ares sealed the suggestion by starting it off with a loving kiss that bore no intention other than to convey his everlasting dedication; Aphros reciprocated the conveyance with all his now human heart.