I take a certain amount of pride in being able to conceal many, if most, of my immediate emotions. In saying that, love is a powerful emotion, no matter what you are the god or goddess of. For me, it feels like sometimes it is both a blessing and a curse. I love deeply, like the currents that swirl past the City of Atlantis in the depths of the sea. I put my heart and soul into who I give my loyalty to. A dangerous thing to do for anyone, I am not special. But my love also courses with divine rage should that be threatened, and sometimes, I am overkill. Like, way overkill. I can’t help it. So, why am I telling you this?
Because the first gift I am giving this year is for the two men of my heart to spend time with their mitera.
Look, I know we’ve never really spoken, and to be completely honest, it was only a little by design. Between you and Hephaestus sorting things out and you venturing out on your own, and my supernova with Erebus, along with work – if we’d had time to stop and talk, it’d be a small miracle. But, a lot has changed since we arrived, and I have somehow ended up with two of the sons of Aphrodite and Ares by my side. So, you can imagine I have heard some tales from them about their past.
Aphrodite, I will be plain. I will never, ever be able to fathom what could have possessed you to discard your child into the Underworld. Nor how Ares would go along with it. It is almost as bad as Hera treating Zeus’ illegitimate children with the cold disdain that she does (Herakles notwithstanding).
So, as you may have guessed, I wasn’t very keen to put in effort to connect with you. However, I’ve come much too far with your sons to not say something, so – here I am.
Eros and Dinlas fell into my lap, so to speak. The Moirai never told me I was going to be caught in between them. I’ve never angled to be in their lives on purpose, or tricked, plotted, or otherwise planned to be here. If you ever feel so inclined to speak with my daughters on how the three of us ended up together, do let me know. Chaos help me, they’d never answer their own mother if she asked.
I don’t know how much the boys have spoken to you about me – my guess is very little – but I will tell you what I have learned of them in the short time we’ve been on this plane together.
Eros is capable of anything he sets his mind to. He is a charmer in every sense of the word, intelligent, witty, and has a keen eye for detail that he would never tell anyone about. He’s resourceful, heartfelt, and no matter what he says, he feels so much and shoulders it all with a quip and a smile.
He’s also spent about two thousand years without the woman who completes him on every level, and he wears that yoke heavily. Heavens knows he won’t accept help unless we force him to. He’d do anything for his family, and he has proven himself to be the best friend that I’ve ever had in all my years. I would do anything for him, he needs but to ask – or allow me to just step in, depends really.
Dinlas is, unsurprisingly, similar to his brother, though it is breathtakingly painful when they go up against one another. Everyone knows his past deeds – I need not go into detail. But what so many don’t know is that he has worked unbelievably hard to bring himself back to the present. To not live his life in the shadows of hate and jealousy, to become the healer he once was – and he’s doing it. To say I am proud of him would be the understatement of the century, and I try to show him that. I think he needs someone who is proud of him. He is stubborn, raw, strong, empathetic (though he won’t show it), and a good man. And, if I’m to be honest with you, I love him. With everything I am, have been, and will be.
In the past few weeks, I have been watching these two grow, and it pleases me to no end that I keep this from them. They have come a long way from when they used to ignore one another or argue constantly over mindless things, to trust and a brotherly bond. They laugh and joke together, though they still bicker. They are more like real siblings now, and I think that will only continue. It makes my heart glad to see that they have found one another, and I guess I am a little pleased to have been their catalyst, so to speak.
So – back to why I am writing you. Your sons know that their relationship with you has been – rocky, at best. And while going through their own self discovery, they’ve both expressed to me on separate occasions – because oh no, who wants to share feelings – that they’ve sort of come to realize that you were just doing your best. In your own broken way, you love them both, and from what they tell me, they seem to be okay with that. If they are coming to terms with this, then who am I to be a black mark on it?
The boys have said for you to pick a day and time, and they will be there. I was told to tell you to dress formal, but that’s all they’ve said. I have no doubt in my mind that it will be a wonderful evening. And I hope, Aphrodite, that you will enjoy them as well. Your sons have brought peace to me, along with joy. There is nothing in this world that I would not do for Dinlas or Eros. You may have delivered them, but they reside in my heart as well.
And, if you’re agreeable to it, I am but a phone call away, should you wish to grab a cup of coffee or lunch together. My treat.
To many more solstices that we may share together. Looking forward to seeing you.
The night was upon us finally: the family appeared to be mostly accounted for, everyone was dressed up in their most beautiful formalwear, and the lively chatter rose and dipped with the music from the band, playing a catchy tune from their stage. I allowed everyone to settle themselves into their grooves, watching from a corridor with a glass of Black Opal in hand until I spotted the first two people on my list.
“Aphrodite!” I called to her, just as she and Apollo grabbed two flutes from a passing waitress. She looked stunning in a long, satin red dress, a white fur stole around her shoulders, while Apollo wore a sleek suit of a beautiful golden hue, a wide smile on his face.
She took me by surprise when she pulled me into a tight hug, leaving Apollo standing off to the side. I returned her gesture after a moment, and gave a small sigh of relief. I wasn’t sure how’d she take my letter, or if she’d even come – she never responded.
Breaking away from me carefully, Aphrodite looked up at me with a half smile. “Thank you for your letter – and gift. I’m looking forward to spending time with the both of them, and…taking you up on your offer, hopefully in the new year.” She glanced at Apollo, who shifted awkwardly and gave me a cursory glance. I kissed her cheek gently, before turning to the god.
“And for you, God of Music.”
His look was one of curiosity – he had only just returned home, so we had not spent any time together, though I suppose the Night and the Sun might not do that very often. I held my hand out, and a twinkling of stars appeared in it. Apollo watched it apprehensively, before a small, gift wrapped square materialized in my palm. I offered it to him with a small smile.
He plucked it from my hand with a curious look, and unwrapped it quickly. A small wooden box lay among the wrapping, gold scrollwork inlaid into the lid.
I nodded my head towards it. “Open it.”
Apollo did so, and a dazzling light lit up his face. He blinked hard, glancing away at the sudden light, before squinting inside, his eyes growing wide.
“The Pick of Destiny…how did you get this?” Apollo asked, and he delicately held up the contents of the box – a golden guitar pick. It glittered in the light of the hall, and he looked between it and me with a grin.
“I cannot disclose that, unfortunately, but I assure you that it is authentic. The mortals I got it from were only too happy to have the god of music own it.”
He shut the lid and tucked it into his jacket, an easy smile on his face as he dipped his head. “Thank you, Nyx. It’s a stunning piece, one I will treasure.”
We made small talk for a few more minutes, until I caught sight of two of my favourite people walking by, and very obviously bickering at each other.
“I hope you two enjoy yourselves tonight. If you need assistance finding your rooms after, the staff here are excellent. Please excuse me.” I gave Aphrodite a brief hug, shook Apollo’s hand, and went to catch up with my boys.
I swept up behind the pair, nearly indistinguishable from one another in their suits if you glanced at them. They hadn’t noticed me yet, and were in a heated whisper battle.
“You’re out of your damn mind if you think that’s going to happen,” I heard Dinlas growl. Eros cackled beside him, hands jammed into his pockets with a grin on his face.
“Just think of it, Din, all that sky,” Eros quipped, nudging his brother’s shoulder.
“Forget it. Why would I take advice from you?” Dinlas said, before catching sight of me and turning around. I walked right into his arms, hugging him tightly. “Have you been there the whole time?”
I released Dinlas to hug his brother, slightly stiff from his dislike of affection. “Not very long. And what’s this about the sky?” The three of us took to walking through the crowd, Eros scooping two drinks for him and Dinlas while I finished my Black Opal, heading towards the far end of the hall where it was quieter.
“Nothing, forget it.” Dinlas looked scathingly at his brother, so I let it go.
“Are you two staying out of trouble?” I asked, pointedly looking at Eros, who smirked.
“I wouldn’t dream of causing trouble tonight, Nyxie,” he said, smiling innocently and taking a sip of his drink as I rolled my eyes.
“The last time you said that was on Eventide, and if I remember correctly, there were fireworks of fighting Titans, chalk bombs, and more than a few arrows loosed.” I gave him a once over and sighed. “I suppose I will take your word for it this time.”
I snaked a hand into Dinlas’ and squeezed tightly, smiling at him. “And you, amata? Enjoying yourself?”
He glanced around at the crowd of family, before pulling me down into a brief, but hard, kiss. “If you weren’t here, I wouldn’t be, either. That being said, it’s been fun enough so far, even with this asshole,” he jerked his head at Eros, who rolled his eyes but said nothing. I chuckled, and kissed his forehead, before stepping in front of them, my back to the distant crowd.
“I have something for the both of you.”
They both started to say something, as I knew they would, and I held up my hands defensively with a grin.
“I already know what you’re going to say, and you already know I don’t care, so let’s skip that part, shall we?” When they bit back their words, I continued. “I know I don’t have to get you anything, but allow me to spoil you once in a while, hm?”
I held out my hands once more, and two identical black boxes appeared in my hands. I passed them to the brothers, who glanced at each other. “You can open them now, or wait until later, it’s up to you.” As an afterthought, I unfurled my wings and held them partially open. To the guests, we were now a shadow. I nodded to them. “Well? They won’t bite, I promise.”
Eros glanced at Dinlas and shrugged, opening his first. Letting the wrappings fall to the floor, he pulled out a deep blue cloak that shimmered when it moved. Frowning, he set the box aside and held it out to inspect it before letting out a bark of laughter.
“You got me a blanket?”
I grinned as he folded down the collar, just beneath the hood, where I had embroidered the word “blanket” in thin gold writing. Chuckling, he swept it around his shoulders and pulled the hood up, making a face at us.
“Do I look like Skelly in this?”
Dinlas snorted. “Hardly, he’s much better looking than you.”
“He wishes,” Eros replied, flourishing the cloak dramatically.
I leaned forward to adjust how it sat on Eros’ shoulders, a small smile on my face. “Close. It will allow you to cross the Underworld unscathed and unseen by anyone, living or dead, among other things. Same material as my own cloak, actually.” Eros glanced up at me and I shrugged. “It could come in handy, though I really hope you don’t find yourself wandering around Tartarus or the Underworld in general, without me or Hades there.”
Eros looked to his brother. “Open yours.”
He did so without extra encouragement and in a similar fashion. Three pieces slid out of his box into his hands, and Eros looked at me with mock outrage. “How come he gets more than me?”
I ignored him, taking two of the pieces from Dinlas while he examined the third. “What is this, amorcito?”
“A very similar gift to mellilla’s, only yours is a three piece suit, and not a cloak.”
Instead of a deep blue colour, Dinlas’ was void black, the faintest hints of stars pulsing through it. He held the vest out, admiring the sharp lines and simplicity to it, before I exchanged it for the jacket.
“You can try it on later, if you wish. Just let me know if it doesn’t fit somewhere, and I will have it changed quite easily.”
He nodded slowly, and I took the jacket back from him, grabbing Eros’ new cloak as well. They disappeared in a whisper of black smoke. “I’ve sent them to your rooms, so you don’t need to tote them around the whole evening. And, there’s one more thing.”
“More? Than those beautiful gifts?” Dinlas said, Eros giving me an exasperated look and making me laugh.
“Yes, I said I was going to spoil you.” I held my hands out again, this time two long, narrow boxes materialized into my hands. I handed them over to my boys.
“At the same time, if you don’t mind.”
The brothers exchanged looks, but did as I asked and opened them at once as I stretched my wings out a little further, brushing the walls now. In Dinlas’ hands he held a long, black sword that seeped black mist, sheath still in the box. The blade was sharply pockmarked. It was a side effect of being doused in the rivers of the Underworld and gave the blade a barbed look all over. The hilt and handle were wrapped in chromium and titanium, fine etchings depicting the night skies wrought in it. In Eros’ hands was a black quiver, embroidered with gold constellations that twinkled, and inside were void-black arrows with silver arrowheads. The faintest hum came from them, and you could almost feel them vibrating against one another.
“Are we going to war, Nyxie?” Eros asked, his voice hinting at his desire for an affirmative answer, fingering the fletching on his new arrows, before taking one out to twirl between his fingers.
“No, we’re not. I just thought they’d make nice gifts. I could shower you in affection instead, if that will be better, mellilla,” I teased, and he shook his head vigorously.
Dinlas was running his hand down the blade, examining it closely. “My sword?” he whispered with awe in his voice.
I smiled. “I hope you don’t mind amata, I…added a few enhancements to it. It will ease my mind to know it keeps you safer.”
“This would hurt like hell if it went through you,” he muttered, catching his thumb on one of the pockmarks. He sucked on it before sealing the small cut absently, sheathing the blade and giving me a handsome smile. “Thank you, amorcito. Like you, it’s beautiful, but dangerous.”
Eros leaned up and kissed me on the cheek, the quiver hanging by his side. “Scariest kid in the yard, yet by far the prettiest, except for me, obviously. Thanks, Nyxie. Do you mind…?”
I took the weapons wordlessly and they vanished, lying beside their other gifts in their respective rooms, and dismissed my wings as we headed back to the floor, one on each side of me. I took Dinlas’ hand in mine again, and he kissed my shoulder as Thanatos and Nemesis appeared near the hors d’oeuvres table. I saw Nemesis laugh, which made my heart alight, and Than grabbing something from the table.
“I’ll catch up with you two later, okay?” They caught my line of sight and nodded, both kissing me on the cheek before heading off to get another drink together. I watched them for a moment, heart full, before turning towards my son and daughter.
234 total views, 1 views today