Samantha Lee’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Love and Forges
"This was a little extreme, no?"
She glanced around at the destruction, the mayhem, the bodies, and gave him the disbelieving look his denial deserved. "Right, of course not. Silly me."
Sighing, he tipped his face heavenward before turning to face her. "What are you even doing here? Don't you have some dead people to tend to? I'd imagine so after all this."
"It's summer," she pointed out. "I'm all about plants and flowers for another five weeks. Besides, Thanatos has already come and gone so this lot's set. I came for you."
He rubbed at his temple with his free hand, the other still gripping the hilt of a sword. She stepped carefully around the bodies and came close, heedless of the blood that still stained him. Her hand gently curled around his on the sword, gently pulling it from his fingers. He allowed it; it was probably best not to have the conversation he knew was coming while armed.
"You know?" he asked.
She laughed. "Know? It's all the mountain's talking about."
Twirling his sword idly in one hand, she started to pace back and forth in front of him; she'd never been very good at staying still. "They have a lot in common."
"She was made by Dad alone - with a little help from the sea - he was made by his mother alone. They have...bonding potential."
He just looked at her in disbelief, inciting her to cough uncomfortably and went on, "He loves her."
"He loves the idea of her; I love her."
She switched the sword to her other hand. "Our family has a horrible record when it comes to love. Look at my situation. Or our parents'. We...we're just not good with happily ever after."
He wanted his sword back, wanted more violence to drown himself in and chase oblivion. Which is probably why she had taken the blade from him in the first place, very perceptive imp, his sister. "They say all's fair in love and war; who the hell ever heard of pairing love and forges?!"
"Blacksmiths?" she suggested.
Glaring at her, he said nothing.
She sighed, stopped pacing, and lowered his sword. "Dad gave his word Hephaestus could ask for whatever he wished and receive it. Hephaestus asked for Aphrodite. There's not a lot of leeway there."
"She wasn't Dad's to give away," he growled, clenching his fists. "She was mine!"
Another laugh. She dropped his sword, leaving it in the dirt so she could come close once more. There were few of their kind who would brave so much, especially knowing he was angry, but little sisters always dared much where big brothers and their tempers were concerned. "You're not thinking, brother mine; on the mountain, adultery is literally an Olympic sport."
Dared much indeed. "Are you saying that you engage?"
"Are you kidding? Where would I find the time? I'm much, much too busy being the confidant for all my siblings. I'm lucky if I can fit in washing my hair."
He rolled his eyes. "What about your darling sweetheart? And could you pick up the sword? Seeing it in the mud like that is making me itchy."
Obligingly, his sister bent and did as he'd bid, once more taking to pacing while slowly spinning the blade. "He doesn't, no, but it helps that he's not only confined to a kingdom of isolation but also scary as sin to almost everyone else but me. It helps. A lot."
"So you're advocating I cuckold our brother?"
"He's not my brother, he asked for my sister as though she were property to be claimed and owned, and he knew full well what her nature was when he made his request. It's like acquiring a tiger and being surprised when it kills your horse."
He blinked, tilting his head to the side as he studied his sister. "That was a little cold."
She suddenly switched to practicing parries and thrusts with an invisible opponent. "I have a strong sense of injustice, okay?"
"Says the girl in favour of me and her sister carrying on an illicit affair behind her step-brother's back."
"Love forges its own path."
He just groaned.
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