You stared out over the city, silently fretting to yourself. When you awoke that morning Heracles had been gone. That was normal so you didn't worry. But then, he didn't show up at breakfast like he usually did. You kept telling yourself it was nothing, but now it was late afternoon and he was still gone. You had decided though, that you wouldn't tell anyone. When questioned you told your father's wife that you had sent him on an errand. You could only hope he would be back by morning. If he wasn't... you would have to raise the alarm.
You turned quickly. "Oh, father! I didn't hear you come in," you said. You had been feeling a bit on edge.
Your father smiled at you and put his hand on your shoulder. "I am proud of you daughter," you smiled a little. "I know you didn't want one so I convinced my wife not to have a birthday party for you. But I did get you a gift."
"What is it father?" you said feeling excited. Your father was the only person who'd been able to make you excited in your life. Or at least in most of what you could remember.
"This," he said quietly, pulling out a golden necklace with a fairly large [birth stone] on it. It was a fairly simple piece of jewelry, but it was breathtakingly beautiful at the same time.
"Oh, father," you breathed as he gently placed it around your neck, "It's beautiful! Thank you!" you said, and hugged him tightly.
"It was your mother's," he told you as you released him. "I know she would want you to have it. You are a woman now, so I thought it was time."
You fingered the necklace and smiled. Now it was like you actually had a piece of your mother for the first time. Your father stayed in your room and spoke to you for a while before leaving.
You stared out of your window at the moon looming large in the sky. Heracles had never came back. It looked like you would have to say something to your father or his wife in the morning.
Sighing dejectedly, you started back towards your bed. Then you heard a clanking sound and turned to look at the window. There was Heracles, looking like he had just caught a flower pot that had somehow been knocked over. You felt an initial rush of relief followed by a small burst of anger which sizzled down into irritation. Where had he been all day?
"Where have you been?" you asked irritably.
"Out," Heracles answered simply, striding across the room in your direction. He was smiling mischievously too. Sometimes you disliked the night when you were equal. You couldn't (or wouldn't) order him around like during the day.
You crossed your arms and frowned at him. "I was worried you know. I almost alerted the soldiers to your escape."
"But you didn't," he smiled at you again, this time genuinely pleased.
You huffed and looked at the ground. "Don't read too much into it. What were you doing anyway?"
"Preparing your birthday present."
"What?" you said, entirely flabbergasted. Why would he get you a present? Could it be that... Could it be that he might like you? But a bigger question; how could he get you anything? And what would he get you?
Heracles pulled a small pink and white flower from his toga. You took it, trying not to think about the fact that the slightly wilted thing had been touching Heracles' muscular chest.
"A flower?" you asked curiously. It was pretty, but not really special or unusual in any way.
"Not exactly," he said, holding out his hand. "I don't like doing things for people usually. It requires energy I don't want to spend. But, I made an exception for you. Come with me."
You gave him a peculiar look and put your hand in his. He led you to the window and crawled up into it, carefully pulling you up after him. Turning, he looked at you as the two of you stood carefully in the window.
"Can you climb down yourself, or would you rather ride on my back?" You looked down and swallowed. It was a pretty long ways down, and you had never climbed anything besides stairs before.
"If you can carry me I'd prefer that," you said quietly.
He smiled, but it almost seemed like a smirk. "Alright," he squatted and held his arms out to the sides. "Get on."
A strange feeling of shyness crept over you as you leaned down onto his back.
"You're going to have to hold on better if you don't want to fall," Heracles said, twisting his head around to give you a partial glance.
You nodded and leaned more onto his back, sorely conscious of your chest pressing on his back, and latched your arms onto his shoulders, and then wrapped your legs as much as you could around his waist.
"Are you ready?" he asked, standing up.
"I'm ready," you said, nodding your head even though he couldn't see you.
As soon as you ahead given the okay Heracles turned and climbed onto the side of the building, balancing precariously on the edge of the roof of the lower floor. You desperately prayed that none of the tiles were loose. A fall from this height would not be good.
"Don't worry so much," Heracles muttered as he inched along the edge. "I checked this path already."
"W-what? Wait, how did you know I was worrying?"
"You're squeezing the life out of my arms."
"Oh... Sorry," you said, feeling embarrassed. He just chuckled.
It didn't take horribly long to get to the corner of your villa and you wondered what you would do next. Your arms were getting tired.
"Hang on tightly," Heracles warned. You complied and suddenly you felt weightless as Heracles jumped from your villa to the next, where he grabbed the vines growing up the wall. For a moment you almost lost your grip, but quickly regained it as he made the climb down.
You gladly relinquished your vice-like grip on the Greek's shoulder and let out a deep shaky breath as you tried to shake the trembling out of your limbs.
"Follow me," Heracles said quietly, looking around alertly and offing you his hand again. You placed your hand in his and without looking back at you, he closed his big warm (and a little rough) hand around your small one, and began pulling you quickly but cautiously down an alleyway. Even for people like you and even with someone like Heracles, Rome could be a very dangerous place at night. No more dangerous than other large cities you supposed, but you weren't there, you were in Rome.
But then you realized you weren't really feeling nervous at all. You were beginning to realize you felt... excited maybe, to be doing something so unusual, something so different, so... dangerous.
The streets of Rome were mostly empty. Occasionally someone shrouded in a dark robe would pass you, reminding you of some of the dark creatures from the stories of some of the gods and their children. One time a litter passed you, most likely some high class person coming home from a party, very possibly entirely soused. The only other variety of people that seemed to pass you were normal looking people-that you believed were slaves- once or twice, scurrying quickly like the rats they were.
Suddenly you stopped, Heracles stopping as well when he noticed your resistance. Your eyes remained trained on the land in front of you, the land that seemed to stretch endlessly for miles. You clutched your mother's necklace and stared at the green (or at least it looked sorta green, but it was hard to tell exactly in only the moonlight) fields and hills. You hadn't realized it was so big. Well, you did, but still, you didn't. For your entire life you'd been surrounded by tall white columns, tan villas, earthy red tiles and dim pops of color in clothes and flowers here and there. You loved the way the city looked, but in your mind it didn't really compare o the moonlight landscape you were staring at now.
"Come on," Heracles said gently, as if to preserve the mood, and pulled you slowly out onto the grass. You moved as if in a dream, carefully taking in the sights and sounds. It was so much quieter than in the city. You could hear some sort of creature making a chirping noise, and you could see and feel and hear the wind as it blew through the grass and nearby trees. Small bugs that shone a small, blinking, yellow light flew around you, lending an even more surreal feeling to the night. You spread your arms and let the wind blow through your (h/c) hair and your toga, feeling as if the breeze took all your cares with it, and for once, you were completely free.
"Oh!" you exclaimed softly.
"What?" Heracles questioned, watching you curiously as you sat down.
"I want to see what it feels like to stand barefoot in the grass," you said, busily taking off your sandals. You were surprised when Heracles slipped off his sandals as well and offered you a hand up.
You smiled and took it and he easily pulled you to your feet. It felt a little strange. It was cool and sort of soft, but there were also lots of bumps. Overall, it was decently comfortable on your feet, and a much different feel than the cool marble of Rome.
Turning towards the city you spotted Heracles stretched out on the ground, propped on his elbows and watching you. Smiling, you walked over beside him.
"You should sit down," Heracles said, looking in your direction.
You stared thoughtfully at the ground. "Alright," you said, and joined him on the ground. The grass was a bit scratchy, but it felt good in a strange sort of way. From the ground you had a much better view of the moon and stars. The moon was full and the stars were bright and numerous. It was the same night sky you saw from the villa, but it seemed somehow different, somehow better, than it did in your bedroom.
Slowly you lowered yourself onto your back and placed your hands on your stomach staring up at the sky. It was enchanting. The whole evening was enchanting.
A deep sigh came from beside you, and you turned your head. Apparently Heracles had also laid down at some point, and was now looking at you. You smiled at him. "Thanks," you whispered.
He simply watched you for a moment, his usually dull looking eyes seeming incredibly perceptive. "Are you cold?"
You turned your eyes back to the sky. "Hmm... Maybe a little," you said quietly.
There was a slight shuffling sound, and you were suddenly engulfed in-between two long, muscular, warm arms. Slightly shocked you turned your head to look at him. His green eyes were right there, barely an inch from your (e/c) ones. His breath was warm as it brushed against your quickly coloring cheek.
"H-Heracles," you stuttered, your heartbeat gaining speed-against your will of course.
"It isn't like it matters," he said quietly, lowering his eyes slightly. "I'm only a slave." Unspoken words seemed to hang in the air.'I'm not a human, I'm not a man, I am only a tool.'
You stared at him, trying to decide what to say. Finally, you brought your hand up and placed it lightly against his cheek. He lifted his eyes back up to you, clearly surprised.
"No, you're not. You are so much more then that," you whispered, and wrapped your arms around him as well. You decided you had never felt so wonderful in your whole life as you felt right now, tightly intertwined with Hercales, not your slave, but your friend. Or maybe... He was even more than that now. It was almost as if this night had broken a small invisible wall that had stood between you. A wall that could never be rebuilt. A wall you decided that you never wanted rebuilt.