Aphrodite never managed to talk to Hephaestus and Athene. Once she departed from Hermes and Tyche, Aphrodite went back towards the forge. She found Hephaestus and Athene, working on his truck together, but they looked so...happy... that she couldn't bear to interrupt their work. Instead she decided to make her own preparations for the battle. She was still in Hephaestus' old overalls, tied at the waist by the remains of her dress. Her hair was probably still a mess and her face was more than likely smothered with dirt. The whole day had been a disaster for her wardrobe. Aphrodite stood lingering the forge, not sure of where to go. She wondered if her old room, the one she used to keep all her belongings in when she lived here, still had something halfway decent in it, even if it was completely out of season in the fashion world. Sometimes, needs must.
Aphrodite wandered through the forge to the back where her room was situated, out of the way. The further she got, the more dust was gathered on the steps. Clearly no one who had been there in a long time. The room at the back of the forge, on the lower level, not too far from their marital bedroom, had once been all hers. Sure, she slept in the same room with Hephaestus, but Aphrodite was a high maintenance girl and she came with a lot of material possessions. This room was basically a storage unit for anything she never wore on a regular basis. Aphrodite turned the handle and the door to the room flew open. It was bright from the low sun beaming through the window, but apart from that the room was dismally empty, pale and lacking warmth. Aphrodite sighed. She had thought as much, it would be unlike her to leave anything behind. The room smelled musty, but it had the faintest haze of old perfume lingering in the air.
Aphrodite entered the room and sat on the bed. The sheets were crisp, like they had been on the bed for too long without being changed. Her old vanity mirror was propped up against the desk. She caught sight of herself and shuddered. It was worse than she could have imagined. She sighed again, before unwinding the tattered dress piece from her hair. It had stuck slightly to her head, where the blood had been from her injury. Luckily, her injury wasn't all that bad anymore. It just twinged every now and again. Her blonde hair fell loose from its tie, and she shook it out over her shoulders. Her hairdresser would have murdered her had she seen Aphrodite now. She untied the dress piece from her waist as well, letting the overalls fall free back to their tent-like shape. She stood up from the bed, walking to the chest of drawers by the window. She pulled open the top drawer, hopeful. It was empty. She tried the second, and the third. Empty as well. It seemed as if she were to have no luck in finding some appropriate attire. She wondered if the others were going to make her wear any armor. As unflattering as it was, it would at least protect her from another injury.
Aphrodite wandered over to the cupboard, hiding in the corner of the room. She twisted the handle, expecting it to open, but it was locked. She turned back round and dropped onto the bed in disappointment. There was nothing here that belonged to her, no dress, no coat, no shoes. It was empty, cold. She remembered how Hephaestus rejected her before, told her that he didn't love her. By looking at this room, it kind of proved that once again. Anything that had been here would have been removed a long time ago. Probably not too long after she left.
Hephaestus had gone out, but Aphrodite didn't know how long he was going to be. She had to move fast. She wasn't sure if she was doing the right thing, but she wasn't going to wait around and find out. She had tried, tried hard, to keep their marriage alive, but it just wasn't working anymore. She couldn't try any harder, couldn't last any longer. And Ares was always trying to convince her to leave.
She thought if she got out, if she got her own place, she could start a business, make something of herself. She knew Zeus was a hot-shot in the city with Hera by his side. She knew the others had lives of their own, companies, jobs, families even. Aphrodite wanted something, anything, that she could be proud of. Instead of staying in a loveless, childless marriage. She'd already given up a daughter, of Hermes, one that no one else could know about. She was the Goddess of Love, didn't she deserve a little happiness, a little love?
She'd had her things packed for a long time. She'd rented a small fully furnished apartment in the city, under her mortal name, biding her time, waiting for the perfect opportunity. She'd even been sneaking out her belongings, clothes, jewellery, little things that Hephaestus wouldn't have noticed. Did he know that she was leaving him today? Aphrodite wasn't sure. She was certain he knew she was having an affair, had many affairs with other men, mortals and gods. She thought it was only a matter of time before it all became too much for him and he threw her out. She was just getting there first.
She pulled a suitcase out from under the bed. It was full of everything she needed to take with her, the rest had either already gone, or wasn't worth taking. She looked around the room, around her room. The sunlight was glowing through the glass, illuminating the room like it so often did on summery days. There was a sheet of paper on the desk and a pen beside it. She hadn't been sure of what she was going to write, but she knew that she had needed to say goodbye. Aphrodite took one more look around the room, picked up the suitcase, and left her married life behind.
Aphrodite bolted upright on the bed. She had dozed off without realising it. She wondered what the time was, probably closer to the time of the battle. She stood up and wandered over to the desk, peering at herself in the mirror. Her hair would be passable if she put it into a complex top knot, and her attire, well, she would just hope someone had something more appropriate for her. She opened the drawer attached to the desk, not expecting anything in there. She was right, half-closing the drawer before she noticed something. A small curled up piece of paper, scrumpled in the back corner. She pulled it out, awakening piles of dust, and smoothed it out.
I have wondered what I would write here for so long. I think this is the hardest thing I will have to do, but I know that things will work out for the better in the end. You have been nothing but a good husband to me, and I cannot thank you enough. I have been a terrible wife, unfaithful on more than one occasion. I'm surprised you can even bear to look at me, sometimes the mirror holds a reflection I cannot stand. What I need you to understand, husband, is that this was a union which neither of us really wanted. It was forced upon us by Zeus and therefore doomed to fail. There have been times where you have made me so happy, I have felt loved, secure, cared for. But sometimes, when you are as passionate as me, that is not enough and I need more.
Think of this not as me leaving you. Think of it as me setting you free, to live your life and find the one you truly love and belong with. I hope we can still be friends.
Your once-wife, Aphrodite
It only took her a few seconds to realise what it was, and when she did, Aphrodite couldn't stop the tears from rolling down her face. She had come full circle. Except this time, it was her husband that wanted to leave her, for good. No more half-promises, vows that were broken slightly, there would be nothing between them anymore, especially when she told him that he was free to be with Athene. Her marriage was over for good this time. There was no going back. Aphrodite needed to be strong, she knew there had to be heartache and hurt in the world for there to be love. She knew she would love again, probably several people at various and simultaneous times. Right now, she knew that she would be doing the first good thing she ever did as a wife, by letting Hephaestus and Athene be together. No more jealousy, no more spite.
Aphrodite wiped away the tears, pushed the letter back into the drawer, shutting it with a slam. She stood up from the desk, and left the room without looking back. She could hear people gathering outside the forge, so she headed in their direction. There was a low buzz in the atmosphere, the build-up to a battle. Once outside, she headed towards Hephaestus' truck, where she hoped someone would have some better battle attire for her to change into.