Author's Note: Surprise once again! I seem to be on quite a writing kick, I suddenly have the motivation to get this book finished. Of course I cannot promise when the next chapter will be up.
Also, I am in a bit of a hurry tonight, so please excuse the typos.
Tristan sat with Psyche all day, listening to her story, his heart aching for all she had been through. He felt tears in his eyes at times, wishing she did not have to go through what she had. She was not the woman he had met. That woman had this incredible light about her, this happiness. The woman he looked upon seemed to have aged fifty years in a matter of months. It was as if her youth had been stolen from her, yet she was still as beautiful, she still held his heart.
Tristan was moved to silence, not knowing what to say. He took Psyche's hand and placed a kiss upon it as he looked at her. Psyche was surprised by this, to see real emotions in his eyes.
"I hate that you have gone through so much." He told her.
Psyche felt as if she had been alone for so very long. She remembered the last time a man had looked at her like that, and the memory made silent tears roll down her cheeks as she turned her face away.
"Oh Psyche." Tristan said softly.
He placed his hand on hers as he stood from his chair and sat on her bedside. She shook her head and he placed a hand upon her shoulder, wanting nothing more than to comfort her. And it was in that moment, with that touch on her shoulder, that Psyche broke down and turned towards Tristan, wrapping her arms around him and letting him hold her close as he stroked her knotted black hair. He gently rocked her back and forth as she cried, kissing her hair from time to time.
"You are safe now." He promised her. "You will never be cold, or hungry, or thirsty. I swear this to you." She nodded as she continued to cry in his arms. She would not admit it to herself, but it was the first time she had felt safe or comforted since the last night she spent in her husband's arms.
Eros had stayed awake, watching Psyche every moment since she set off on her own. Any bandits that came anywhere closer to her, he dispatched himself. It was not much, but he could at least keep her safe until she reached wherever her destination was. Leading her to the freshwater spring and those pomegranates had not been easy, but it had worked.
Once Psyche had fallen asleep that night in the grove, Eros had fallen into an exhausted sleep, thereby missing out on Psyche's sickness and Tristan's rescue. Eros searched for Psyche, and the sight he was greeted with broke his heart and gave him comfort at the same time. Psyche was in a bedroom in King Tristan's home. The king sat on her bed, holding her tight and whispering into her ear as she cried.
Psyche held Tristan so tight as she curled against him, just as she used to hold him. Eros thought he had come to terms with this, with the idea of her loving someone else. He had had to consider it. If he was going to die, did he truly want Psyche to be alone for the rest of her life? Tears fell from his gray blue eyes, the very idea of letting her go was ripping him apart from the inside out. He lifted his hand, seeing the life still draining from it. Dying of a broken heart, a fitting end for a god of love I should think, The words ran through the love god's mind.
Yes, he had known love before, but nothing compared to what Psyche had done to him, both the good and the bad. His very being was intertwined with hers, and the sensation of being ripped away from her was literally killing him. Life was beginning to lose meaning, though to tell it true, life had lost its meaning that night when he allowed his mother to send Psyche away.
Finally, Eros could take no more of seeing his wife in another's arms. She was safe now, even if this was not where she had planned to be, she would be loved and taken care of. Eros knew it was time, and so it was with a pain-filled, heartbroken, soul shattered sigh, that Eros teleported away, knowing he would never look upon Psyche again.
The moment Eros arrived in their home, the memory of their first night as husband and wife ran through his mind and he collapsed.
Psyche clutched onto the man holding her for dear life. She could not take this pain, this regret, this guilt anymore. She wanted to forget, she wanted all of this to just be over. After a time, a very long time, Psyche began to quiet down. Tristan continued to hold her, stroking her hair and except for that smooth motion, neither of them moved for a great while. His touch was tender, his arms around her strong and reassuring, and Psyche found that for this moment at least, she could give up and give in, she could let go and just not think anymore.
After a time, Tristan pulled back enough to look into Psyche's beautiful dark eyes. He tucked her hair behind her ear with a soft smile upon his face.
"Are you hungry?" He asked, she nodded.
"Lunch awaits us in the dining hall, unless you would prefer to eat in here." He told her.
"Can we eat here? I am not exactly presentable to be see by others." She said, he nodded.
Tristan stood and went out the door, telling the maid to bring a feast as quickly as possible and to have some maids draw the princess a bath. Tristan returned to see Psyche getting out of bed. Her legs were wobbly, like a newborn calf. Her strength gave out and she just barely caught herself on the bedpost as Tristan rushed over and picked her up into his arms. She felt lightheaded, her sight was blurred as Tristan carried the princess to a chair.
"You need to save your strength." He told her, she nodded as she sight returned.
She felt pressure on her hands, and when her eyes came into focus, she found Tristan kneeling before her, holding her hands as he watched her with worry.
"Let me get you something to drink." He said as he stood.
"No," She began when he finished her sentence with a beautiful smile.
"No wine, I know." He told her as he poured water into a gold cup for her. He brought it over to her and she took it.
"Thank you." She said, taking a drink, smiling that her throat no longer hurt. That was an experience she never wished to know again. She met Tristan's sapphire blue eyes, she had a few questions of her own. "How did I end up in your palace? The last thing I remember is going into that cave." She noticed how he adverted his eyes, a blush beginning to show upon his cheeks.
"My friend Alexander and I, we were hunting that day." He told her. "The storm began and that cave, which we both knew well, was closer than my palace. We decided to take shelter. We only saw you when he made a fire. And when I saw it was you..." He shook his head, then the blush deepened. "You were soaking wet and freezing cold mind you..." He went on, and Psyche's eyebrows knitted together.
"What did you do to warm me?" She asked, suddenly wondering where this story was going. He took a deep breath and looked up, almost as if asking the gods to protect him.
"I took your clothing off, and mine, and laid under a blanket with you to warm you." He said, she was clearly shocked and a blush rose up upon her own face, remembering the warmth. "Nothing else happened. Though I did have Alexander join us. Psyche, you would have died if I had not done what I did." He sounded incredibly guilty. Truth be told, that was not the way he imagined they would be naked together for the first time. Psyche sighed and shook her head.
"It is alright." She told him, meeting his eyes. "Thank you, for saving my life and my child's." He nodded, grateful she was not angry with him.
"The doctor said it is a miracle your child has survived." He said.
Psyche placed her hand upon her womb, looking down at where her child grew.
"He or she is half a god, I am certain that had something to do with it." She said, her mind going to the father, her husband as more tears came. She then met Tristan's eyes. "Thank you, for everything you have done for us, but I need to be leaving. If you will give me some food and a fresh horse, I would be most grateful." Tristan felt a panic rise up within him at the thought of her leaving, especially in the condition she is in.
"Psyche, you can barely walk." He said to her. "You cannot even stand. How do you expect to ride a horse nearly two hundred miles to Olympus?"
"I will manage." She said, though doubt had risen within her heart. What if she fell off the horse? What if I... what if I lost the child? That one thought was completely unbearable.
"Please, stay here." Tristan begged her. "At least until you are strong enough to travel. I swear to you, I will personally accompany you to Olympus when the time comes. Just please, stay here with me." He did not intent the last to words to be said, yet they came out all the same.
"Alright." Psyche agreed, if for no others sake than her child's. She had to rest, she could not do anymore, though she would if she were strong enough.
Tristan smiled to her, such a bright and happy grin that Psyche found it within herself to give him a small smile in return. In that moment, there was a knock on the door. The food had arrived. Just the sight of it, never mind the heavenly scent, made Psyche's mouth water. She had not had a hot meal since she was with her guards, before they had been killed that night.
Psyche was silent as she ate, stuffing her face in a way that would have appalled her nurses who had taught her perfect etiquette. She rolled her eyes when Tristan began laughing at her, she was quite a sight and he loved her for it. He shook his head as he ate.
"I am hungry." She said in her own defense.
"I was not judging." He told her, holding up his hands in defense. She rolled her eyes, one laugh leaving her lips. She then realized how long it had been since she had laughed, even though the sound was short lived.
When the meal was finished, four maids entered, curtsying to their king. "Psyche, these women will help you bathe." Tristan said.
A hot bath, Psyche thought longingly. She had not had a hot bath in a month.
"Take good care of her." Tristan said to the maids.
"Yes my king." The one who was clearly in charge replied.
The maids came forwards and carefully helped Psyche out of her chair. They had already been told of how weak she would be, they handled her with the greatest of care as they brought her into the adjoining bathing chamber. They helped her out of the nightgown she wore and into the perfectly hot water. Psyche sighed as she leaned back in the copper tub, a contented smile upon her face. She had to admit that she missed luxuries such as these.
The maids cleaned her body and went to work on her hair which had easily become a birds nest with how long it had gone uncared for. They wet her hair and washed it, then poured oils in to help loosen the knots. It took them well over an hour just to finish with her hair. The water was cooling off and so it was with great reluctance that Psyche rose from the warm water with the help of those women. They sat her on a chair, drying and brushing her hair, anointing her with perfumes that held the scent of Jasmine flowers. They cleaned and shaped her nails and oiled her skin so that it was once again soft. Psyche looked into the mirror and was surprised to see that she was still beautiful.
"These are gifts from King Tristan, do they please you?" Asked one of the maids.
Psyche turned her eyes and looked upon the beautiful gowns the maids held up. Silk, and velvet, and cotton, even some with furs. They were beautiful, even though they could not hold a candle to the dresses her husband had made for her.
"They are lovely." Psyche said.
She choose the dusky yellow one to wear. It was long and flowing, made of silk, the collar trimmed in a very soft, brown fur. The long sleeves were enough to keep her warm. A beautiful pair of matching slippers were slid onto her feet, and she was helped back into the bedroom, where Tristan had been waiting for her while he read. The look of concentration on his face, with his eyebrows scrunched together, made Psyche smile for some reason. She was not certain what it was about him that took her mind off of her worries. She could only be grateful that she was no longer alone, that she had company. Tristan looked up, his jaw dropping as he looked the princess over.
"You look absolutely beautiful." He told her in wonder as she met his eyes.
"Thank you." She said.
The maids helped her over to the couch and sat her down. She and Tristan spent the rest of the night talking. She had almost forgotten how wonderful it can be to just have company. She had been alone for so long, so very long. She did not want to be alone anymore. Yes, she worried for Eros, but for their child's sake and her own health, she had to stay here until she was stronger. Tristan was a good man. Psyche could not describe how thankful she was that he had found her in that cave.
When she began yawning, Tristan called for the maids again to help Psyche prepare for bed. He bid her goodnight, kissing her hand, and then left to his own rooms.
He laid on his bed, his arms behind his head as he stared up at the ceiling, smiling. He sighed, a breathless little sight that made his smile grow as he thought of her. She was a blessing. He saw her sadness, that her journey had broken a part of her, and he swore that he would put her back together. He would keep his promise, he would take her to Olympus when she asked to go once she was well enough, but not without telling her first the truth that lives in his heart and asking her to stay with him, to be his.
Once Psyche's needs were seen to, the maids left the room, leaving Psyche alone with her thoughts. Somehow, sleep came, and with it a beautiful dream.
The sky had been overcast all day, and now it was finally nearing sunset, the time of day she longed for the most. Psyche still had yet to see her husbands, that candle lied unburned in their room. On the nights the moon was bright, there was always a storm, the clouds keeping her husbands face obscured
On those nights, it had rained and thundered. The sound had scared Psyche and she had hidden her face in her husbands chest for most the night as he laughed at her, trying to tell her that there was nothing to be scared of, yet she had this ridiculous idea that if she moved from his arms, one of Zeus' bolts would strike her dead.
Psyche had not appreciated her husband laughing at her fears, but her annoyance helped to make her forget her worries. His laughter, even though it was aimed at her, soothed her frightened soul. His strong arms around her were like some kind of barrier that protected her from all the evil things in the world. She had looked up into his laughter-filled gray blue eyes during that first storm and realized once again that she loved him.
The storm had already begun by the time Eros arrived home. Lightning had flashed and Psyche looked up to see her Eros standing facing away from her as he drew the curtains closed, but not before the sky lit again, letting her see his outline. Her heart was pounding, somehow knowing just how much he wanted her. He turned around to face her in the dark as thunder shook their home once again. She knew the hunger she saw in his pale blue eyes. It seemed as if the storm had awakened something primal within him, and it excited her to no end.
She heard the sounds of his clothing and jewelry hitting the floor as he walked towards her, his eyes never leaving her own. She could not move, she was paralyzed under the intensity of his gaze. He stopped right before her as he looked down into her eyes. Without a word, he undid the pins that held her dress together and let it slid off her body, leaving her bare before him.
He leaned down and picked her up in his arms as thunder shook the sky, she shuttered as he laid her down on the bed. He lips found her skin, worshiping her body with his touch and tongue. His lips found her ear, kissing every bit of it. Thunder came again as she shuttered, his voice in her ear only made that shutter grow.
"By the end of the night, you will love storms." He promised her, his voice was low, nearly a growl.
Psyche could literally feel the desire rolling off of his skin and pouring into her as her as she pulled his lips down to her own, driven mad by everything that was him. Her body and soul felt alive, awakened in a torturously wonderful way. He deepened their kiss in a way he never had before, claiming her lips, as their two bodies became one and their lovemaking began...
Psyche woke the next morning, her body still awakened, still yearning for his touch. Her face and body were flushed with warmth as she closed her eyes and let her mind run over the memory.
All through the night it had lasted, he had not let her sleep. Each time they stopped, she suddenly found herself within his lovers embrace once again. Psyche found that he was right, by the time morning came, she did love storms. The way he was with her... it drove her wild! And no part of her wanted it to ever stop. He was always a wonderful lover, but there was something about the way he was during a storm that held a whole other element to it. They were both exhausted and slept for half the day in each other's embrace.
And now here she was, in Athens. Her husband was dying, and his seed grew within her, his child. That desperation sprung to life once again within Psyche, she had to get to him, she had to save him. But for now, she had to gather her strength before beginning the next leg of her journey. Truth be told, she was scared. Scared of being alone again, scared of being lost, of the feeling of an empty stomach and a sore throat. She was scared of being cold, and as much as she hated herself for this fear, she could not set out again towards Olympus, she simply could not.