Perseus, God of Tides, Quests, & Battlefield Courage, slayer of Medusa, founder of Plataea, wielder of Aegis, patron of Heroes the world over...was struggling to climb a hill.
Well, perhaps ‘sheer, perilously loose rock face’ was a more apt description, but Percy had never been one to accentuate his achievements - a rarity in a being that was old as he was.
Though not quite as old as the one that first greeted his eyes as he pulled himself over the crest of the cliff-top. Lusciously rich, black locks; intense, bottomless silver eyes; a resting bitch-face that simultaneously caused his heart to flutter, but also made him want to run away and cry to his momma. Well, the latter wasn’t really possible, seeing as his ‘momma’ was Athena, and their relationship rarely went further than Percy driving her chariot during battle, and the occasional telling off when he forgot to keep the spring tides in check around Athens. (The goddess of Wisdom didn’t like to get her sandals wet.)
That left him with a fluttering heart.
In hindsight, he should have known it would be her, seeing as he was on Delos, and climbing Mount Cynthus, ancient birthplace of the ‘Archer Twins’. Part of him had hoped the person on top of the mountain would have a mop of sandy hair, but when it came to Perseus and Artemis, the fates were anything but kind. Apollo was easy enough to deal with, not least because the god of the Sun hated his guts, so they could get straight down to business.
Actually, that wasn’t very fair on the goddess. Their whole relationship was complicated, and it wasn’t helped by certain biological and celestial forces at play. The amount of times they met by accident wasn’t funny, and whilst he liked to peg that down to the Fates messing with them, it was getting to the point where he just accepted that their lives were interwoven, for better, or (in all likelihood) for worse. Her brother, Perseus suspected, knew that, hence the natural animosity he had for the god of Tides.
It was stupid, really, but as much as he hated it, Apollo was in their little circle too. Artemis pulled Percy in, and Apollo, inevitably, pulled him back out. That was their whole dynamic. If Percy was near Artemis, then old Sunshine himself wasn’t far behind.
That was probably why the sight of the goddess brought a pang of sadness rising through his chest, albeit momentarily. Whether they ended the encounter cordially, or at each other’s throats, Apollo was undoubtedly going to be the one to break them apart. That’s just how it was, and Percy was more or less sick of it.
Still, he did actually have a genuine reason to see Artemis, other than because he wanted to, for once. The goddess had been bad. Well, his father, Poseidon, thought so anyway, and whilst Percy didn’t particularly care to get involved with the petty squabbles of his fellow deities, he did in this instance.
Nonetheless, he had a fluttering heart to deal with. Business could wait.
Rather embarrassingly, he tried to hide it, by haunching his body forward, hands resting on his knees whilst he panted, pretending to be out of breath. That was a dumb move, considering he was a god, and he didn’t really need oxygen to live.
He held up a finger in a gesture of ‘please wait for my dumb ass to calm down’, whilst he tried to get his breathing under control. The fact that his legs already wanted to move him closer to the goddess wasn’t helping matters.
Artemis seemed to be amused by his display, as she always was.
“Take your time, Perseus…” she hummed casually, continuing to sharpen an arrow atop her rocky perch, knowing full well that he suffered when she pronounced his name like that. Artemis was nothing if not malevolent when it came to their whole situation, especially when Percy knew she suffered from the same crisis of attraction that he did.
Percy gave a loud huff, and stood upright, frowning a little petulantly at the woman that taunted him so.
“It’s not funny. The spring-tides are doing my head in, and what’s worse, you decide to show off with a Supermoon tonight. Do you have any idea how many cities that’s going to flood? Demeter said she’d tan my hide if I caused another one of her crops to fail. Well, she said she’d force-feed me corn until my skin turned bright yellow, but you know exactly what I mean!” he ranted, flustered, vaguely aware that he sounded like a little kid at that very moment, but mostly he didn’t care.
Besides, he wasn’t going to get into the upside of a Supermoon in spring-time. Chiefly because the singular upside was that Artemis was looking absolutely radiant, and it wasn’t even night-time yet. The ethereal, silver-glow that surrounded her silk-dressed figure truly framed her like the goddess she was. On the downside (again), Percy was feeling particularly drawn towards her that evening. Artemis would be the death of him, that much was certain.
Said goddess rolled her eyes, and jumped from her perch, landing gracefully in the grassy clearing. The arrow and whetstone disappeared from her hand with a subtle poof, but all Percy could concentrate on was the rapidly advancing goddess that made his knees weak.
“If you feel that strongly about it, I could always turn you into a deer...again. A week without tides to worry about...and a week without me,” his soulmate purred, simultaneously making Percy cringe, and whimper quietly in his mind at the thought. No. Unacceptable. Once was bad enough, and whilst he freely admitted that Artemis had been right, all those years ago, to turn him into a deer for the crime of stumbling on her whilst she was bathing, that ship wasn’t going to sail a second time.
The gap between them closed quickly, and that ever-present pressure within the very fibre of Percy’s being reached boiling point, until he was quite sure he would wither away there and then. It didn’t that time, or the hundreds of times before it. It was an exhilarating sensation, but one that was totally debilitating, for Percy at least. Artemis had bested those carnal weaknesses, but it was always reassuring to know that she was drawn towards him, as much as he was drawn towards her. Why else would they be chest to chest at that very moment?
Percy’s grey-speckled, green orbs stared down at the goddess, a soft exhalation parting from his lips as they touched, and his broad arms wrapped gently around her back, gathering her slender, slightly shorter frame towards him, until he felt...whole.
“I appreciate the offer, but perhaps saving a space on your Moon Chariot tonight would be a more...mutually beneficial arrangement...” he murmured quietly, the pressure within his core dying, until nought was left but the tranquil peace that only his soulmate could give him. With Artemis in his arms, everything felt right.
“Oh? And how does that benefit me, Perseus?” she hummed in reply, leaning forward until their lips were almost touching, whilst her gentle fingers danced slowly along his exposed throat, in a manner that almost made him buckle.
Percy knew she was feigning ignorance, but he nonetheless played her little game, if only to hear that sweet, melodic voice say his name some more.
“You, me...eight hours alone in your chariot...without a certain sibling there to interrupt us. I think you can fill in the blanks…” he whispered suggestively, brushing against the goddess with tantalisingly deft movements.
“In a daring mood, Perseus, aren’t you? I would strike a lesser man where he stood for such...sordid suggestions...” Artemis returned, playing along, teetering a little threat into her quiet voice, whilst her head tilted downwards, brushing along that chiselled, godlike jawline with subtle, silent movements.
“You don’t need an excuse to strike a lesser man, m’lady…” Percy murmured, teasing, but nonetheless true, and he didn’t need his mother’s smarts to know that he had the goddess with that.
Artemis slowly wrapped her arms around his nape, and in an instant, their lips were touching - briefly at first, but the fireworks that erupted within were enough to invite deeper contact. No matter how many times they shared a moment of intimacy, Percy always felt struck by sheer emotion. It was indescribable, or at least, the words to describe it had not, as yet, been invented, but if he had to try, he’d compare it to learning to walk, or learning to talk, over and over and over. Each kiss was a treasure, and he remembered each and every one down to the finest detail. Where they were, why they were kissing, what they were wearing, what time of day it was, how humid it was…
Sometimes he was sad they didn’t have something as casual as regular mortals did, but those feelings were always forgotten when he remembered each and every special moment they shared. Each left him struck, and whilst they were interrupted often, temperance made sure the feelings they shared lasted, and remained strong.
Percy pulled away first, not because he wanted to, but rather the voice of his father was playing heavily within his mind, and his point about their relationship being ‘complicated’ was proven well-founded. If they had their way, they’d be rolling along the floor, making their godly mothers blush, but as it happened, Percy really did have business to discuss. Urgent business too.
He gave a gentle sigh, reluctantly breaking contact, but relishing the tingling sensation that encapsulated his soft lips.
“You complete me...” he whispered, running his thumb along Artemis’s back in gentle circles.
Said goddess slowly moved her hand upwards, brushing her digits along his cheek, such that he had to lean into her touch.
“And you, me, Perseus…you, me…” she replied, and it took all of Percy’s willpower not to crumble and start kissing her there and then.
Fortunately, Artemis had the good sense to back away from him, and Percy’s arms gently untangled themselves from her slender frame, albeit reluctantly. The further they drifted apart, the more empty, and lost he felt - that fiery need within slowly starting to take root again. It was something he had to live with at that very moment.
He gave a deep sigh, before swallowing, and letting that dopey grin fall from his face, to be replaced by a look of tense seriousness - one that never quite matched his personality. Or as Artemis put it, ‘makes you look like Zeus when he’s constipated’.
“I did actually have a reason to be here, apart from seeing you again, of course,” he announced, quickly correcting himself when those silver eyes flickered his way, and Artemis raised a brow.
“I...want you to let the Achaean fleet depart Aulis, and set sail for Troy,” he said, knowing full well what he was asking of the goddess, but his reasonsings were just. Whether Artemis saw it that way was another matter.
True to form, Artemis’s eyes flashed with a look of anger and betrayal, and Perseus almost flinched. She had seen that look many times beforehand, but it was rare enough to be on the receiving end of it…
“They killed one of my sacred deer, Perseus. That is not a slight that I will let slide. You can tell Poseidon, your mother, or whoever sent you, that the Grecian fleet will remain in Boeotia until those foolish mortals pay due deference to me,” the goddess scathed.
Percy held his ground.
“Agamemnon is to kill his eldest daughter to appease you. He refused, at first, but a seer has convinced him to do it. You can’t let him!” he responded, taking a step towards the vengeful goddess.
A flicker of emotion crossed Artemis’s face, but it was so quick that Percy didn’t have time to discern it properly...not when he had a beautiful, dangerous goddess bearing down on him.
“Do not presume to tell me what I can and can’t do, Perseus,” she said, voice low, with a knife edge to it that almost dared him to challenge her. Their chests were almost touching again, but unlike before, the pressure within his core remained strong. Raw emotion. The seas were fighting the pull of the moon. It almost hurt, in a way - it felt unnatural, to be arguing with her. It wasn’t a feeling he experienced often, but it usually left its mark. He wouldn’t back down, though. Not when it came to something like this.
“Then I will save Iphigenia myself,” he announced resolutely, but made no conscious effort to move. No, Artemis made that decision for him.
She struck him hard and fast, as befitting the goddess of the Hunt, and a flash later, Perseus was on his back in the dirt, knife at his throat, totally at the mercy of his soulmate. He knew this game well. Or at least, he thought he did. There was an unspoken rule between them that they would never interfere with each other's domains, the exception being the natural connection they had as the deities of tides and the Moon. This was one such occasion, and Percy knew he was baiting her. Iphigenia was a maiden, and therefore Artemis’s responsibility, but he was wholly surprised she appeared oblivious to the girl’s plight.
“Who sent you, Perseus? Your mother, or your father?” she said, voice deathly calm - it didn’t need to be anything louder, considering the blade that was cutting into his throat. She really was scary when she wanted to be...
“No one, Artemis. I swear on the styx that I came here under my own volition. Iphigenia doesn’t deserve to die. Not for this pointless spat between my mother, Hera and Aphrodite. Save her, please…” he replied, almost flinching when thunder cackled in the background, but his grey-speckled orbs never left hers...though he might have swallowed hard enough to cause the blade to nick his skin a tad...
For a few seconds, Artemis was silent, holding her intense gaze with her lover’s below, whilst she passed judgement. He needn’t have been worried, though. The blade eventually disappeared from the goddess’s grip, but Percy didn’t notice, because Artemis leaned in, closing the gap until their lips were gently dancing together in a soft kiss that didn’t quite match the intense aura of power that surrounded the area.
“I was already going to, Perseus,” she whispered, pulling back after thoroughly making sure there were no hard feelings between them.
Percy just felt confused. “So why the…” he said, gesturing with his hands to the present position they were in. Not that he was totally complaining. Frankly, he quite liked the feeling of the huntress on top of him...not that he’d ever mention that out loud.
A rare, sheepish smile played on her lips, and Percy blinked to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. Artemis rarely did ‘sheepish’.
“Because… I wanted to make sure your intentions were as pure as I suspected them to be. Plus, that look on your face...” she teased, shifting her body until she was resting half on Percy’s taut, godlike frame, and half on the grassy ground, fingers splayed across his chest.
Percy sighed, shaking his head, though he couldn’t deny the smile that played on his lips. He curled an arm beneath her head, gathering her slender figure close to his warmth, and just savouring her presence. “Why do I love you again?” he asked her with mock resignation.
Artemis simply answered him with a kiss.
An hour later, and they were still in the same position, Percy satisfied that Artemis wasn’t going to let Iphigenia perish as a sacrifice, whilst Artemis simply enjoyed what little time they had together, idly tracing shapes into his chest.
“Aphrodite knows about us. She’s waiting for the war to be resolved before she tells the council. My father won’t be pleased, of course...” she eventually announced, breaking the comfortable silence.
Percy didn’t reply for sometime, externally calm, but her words were quite the bomb, for him especially. He’d have Apollo on his back, not to mention Zeus. Thousands of years later, and Percy was fairly sure Old Thundertunic hated his guts for being the result of his precious daughters’ broken vow. And that was forgetting he was also the son of his biggest rival. Now it would seem like he was taking his innocent daughter away from him…
Great. Olympian politics. There was nothing greater. Still, they would weather the storm. They always did - nothing could tear them apart. They physically, and emotionally, meant to be together.
“When is he ever happy? Actually, don’t answer that,” he said, immediately cringing at the thought of what made Zeus happy. The man had some pretty disgusting tastes. Sometimes Percy felt sorry for Hera. Sometimes.
Artemis laughed, gracing his ears with that songful, melodic sound that he could get drunk off. Her lips graced his chin, and for a few moments, he was lost in that moment. That perfect point in time when everything was perfect.
Sadly, he had to ruin it. It was sort of required, considering Mr. Sunshine could make his usual appearance at any second. It was horrible, having Apollo’s shadow follow them around, but that was something Percy was learning to live with.
“What do you think your brother will do?” he asked, flickering his eyes downwards, whilst his fingers gently traced down her braid.
Artemis hummed a little, before shrugging, not caring. “He’ll get over it, and if he doesn’t, I’ll make him get over it,” she said, the dark edge to her voice making him shiver involuntarily.
“You scare me, sometimes…” he grumbled, and received a smooch on his lips for his trouble.
“You love it… Speaking of which…” she said, looking out towards the conveniently placed steps that led down from the mountain. (The steps that Percy had completely forgot about.)
Percy looked up, and immediately caught the flash of blonde belonging to their resident third-wheeler.
“Dammit. I’ll see you tonight, Artemis. Be good,” he said quickly, hiding his natural disappointment by placing a kiss on her lips. An instant later, he was gone, leaving the faint aroma of sea-salt in the air.
Artemis pretended not to notice Apollo was present, instead shaking her head at the antics of her soulmate. He really was such a dork sometimes...but he was her dork.
“Why are you on the floor, lil’ sis?” Apollo said slowly with narrowed eyes, giving the clearing a once over, just to check there were no pesky sons of Wisdom and the Sea around.
“High tidings, brother. Wind must have pulled me over,” she looked up, giving an innocent smile, internally screaming at her own silly pun.
If it were at all possible, Apollo’s eyes narrowed further, but Artemis was already looking away, and out to sea, smirking to herself all the while.
The tide was out, and she simply couldn’t wait for it to come back in again.