Life wasn't all that wonderful around 470 B.C.E. Rome. Valerie Severus's father was a proud consul of the Roman Republic, which in turn made the poor girl's existence a jest. Lines and lines of suitors always awaited her from their mansion's doorsteps, hoping to win her hand and gain their family's wealth, Valerie's stepmother wasn't a help; she pushed her to find another wealthy man and go marry him. A magistrate, if possible. Power was still important, no matter what happened. Unlike the other female patricians around her, Valerie felt like she was being punished. Better to be one of the plebeians, maybe.
When she turned eighteen, her father took in a fresh batch of bodyguards. All were from the Roman military, yet most were plebeians, to Valerie's stepmother's dismay, who still sought for a formidable groom. Three were stationed to watch over the daughter, much to Valerie's consternation.
~ ~ ~
Calix Gavia Elerius wasn't born rich, nor lived rich. Raised by a single mother under a dilapidated roof, he'd learned living the hard way. School was at the end of the list of the things he could have. He hadn't known how to write and read. Work and helping his mother and three other siblings was all he had in mind. With the atrocious patricians looming over their misery, it wasn't very facile. All the hard work had him build his body up, practically surviving tough weathers and weights to carry back and forth. He didn't have time for illnesses. Calix would've been handsome if it weren't for his dirty face and the scars running down his hands and back - thanks to those overseers who seemed very eager to punish some commoners.
When Calix turned fourteen, he joined the Republic's special program for plebeians to join the military. Thinking it might be another chance, he signed up and started training as soon as they were chosen. For two years, he and the other plebs trained hard - from running miles and miles to throwing javelins and clashing with swords. Formations weren't that all difficult. Military life, he thought, was somehow more exciting than his old life.
After another four years of serving the Republic, watching from the walls and patrolling, he was called to serve as guards of one of the Republic's consuls. It was indeed an honour to serve the highest in power, but Calix had hoped they'd back him out. The consul was the one who killed his father a long time ago - blamed for theft of the patrician's money. Calix had loathed him all his life. And serving and protecting him was the least that he wanted to do.
He was assigned with two others to watch over the consul's daughter, Valerie Severus. She was pretty, but always locked herself in her room, averting from any attention.
~ ~ ~
Valerie tried not to notice the guards standing outside her room, and had wanted to strangle them for prevaricating her questions. She also tried not to be so annoyed by the one who kept knocking at her door and telling - or demanding - her to get out and have a meal, or have her daily walk. But he was the only one who ever asked how she was doing. Her family never did, nor her friends or the people out there. Solely that annoying guard did. She thought he seemed nice, if only it weren't for his irritating job. She asked his name, but he refused to tell. After a bit of persuasion, he introduced himself as Calix, and didn't bother to answer anything else. In Valerie's morning walks - with Calix as bodyguard - she'd always spill about everything that'd happened to her, not minding if he listened or not.
But when she told her story about her time with her late mother, she swore the guard shed a tear. She asked him about it, and he suddenly burst in tears, saying that he had always missed his mother, who died without him by her side. Valerie comforted him, soothing his pain and grief with words he mustn't forget. And that was the start of a sharp turn in Valerie's life.
Valerie and Calix helped each other. Although he was born poor and wasn't able to enter school, Calix was intelligent. Valerie, although she hated socializing, was great in giving advice. Valerie taught him the knowledge he had missed to know, and he used it against her, pushing her to go speak with people outside. Laughter and tears and joy and sadness - they both went through them together. And Valerie only realized that she wanted him when her father came to announce her engagement with the son of another powerful magistrate. She didn't know what to do. If she told her parents about Calix, they wouldn't let her, and maybe punish him for her carelessness. Both of them hated plebeians. But after all, Calix had hated her family.
Valerie decided to tell Calix all about it, and persuade him to leave the mansion and find another post, when Calix came up to her and admitted what he felt. He loved her, and she almost went crazy in that very moment. They decided to hide their relationship until they could find away out of the problem. Valerie was introduced to her would-be groom. He was nice, rich and handsome, but Valerie kept up the show for the sake of her true love. Unfortunately, they made a mistake. A pretentious adviser of her father caught them both meeting at night in a secret corner near the servants's passage. Using that information to gain more trust from the consul, he spilled them to him.
The consul got angry when he heard of this preposterous idea, but started watching his daughter and the guard very closely. Soon, he found out that what his adviser told him was true. He ordered them both to speak with him, and demanded them to tell the truth. Calix tried to deny, but the consul had seen enough and ordered Calix to be punished by death for having dark notions to his daughter. Valerie cried out and pleaded her father to spare him from any punishment, for she had been the one at wrong. The consul did not listen, and had his guards take Calix to the dungeons and his daughter locked in her rooms. Valerie struggled against the men’s grip, but was still thrown in her room and had her own doors shut in her face. But in her hand clinked the keys of both her doors and the dungeon cells.
~ ~ ~
Calix knew the possibility that they would end up like this, and yet he still did it. He didn’t fight the guards who took him to the prison cell; if ever he did, it would only result to worse things, for him and for Valerie. The cell was dark and cold and he had no choice but to suffer in there. For a week he stayed there, lacking sufficient food and sleep, until the sound of keys rattling and the cell door creaking open awoke him from everything. There was a hooded figure behind the open door, and he had to squint to see its face when it removed its hood from its head.
It was Valerie. With just a finger on her lips to signal him quiet, she took his hand and led him up the stairwell and into a hidden passage on the wall on the top of the stairs. The passage went down deeper with a spiraling stone staircase. More corners and intersections led to even more confusing mazes of cobblestones, but Valerie had led them safely to an old, rusting grate blocking their way to the outside. Calix pulled a lever, and the grate grinded as it went up to give them passage. They ran into the night, and when they were far enough, Valerie burst into tears while Calix held her upright. With what she had just done, surely her father would punish her severely if he found her. And Calix promised to keep her safe.
Valerie decided to leave Rome behind, she’d told him, and she would rather stay in a far place with him by her side. Calix so much as agreed, and boarded a ship that was to sail in the morning towards Greece. This bond of love was strong enough that an Elder erotiad found it worthy of having an entity to symbolize it. She created another one of her kind, and named her Samirah. Samirah, like her couple who was now residing in Greece, was very happy yet careful about her surroundings. Her mood follows Calix and Valerie’s love, and it was mostly as bright as the sun in a clear, blue sky. The couple knew about her existence, and they took her in as if their own child. They knew all the stories and reality surrounding Samirah, so it was no problem for them to believe such things.
The couple soon had three children, the two eldest fond of Samirah. However, when the two kids grew older and the Calix and Valerie had their third, Samirah thought it was better for them if she left – less worries and troubles. Valerie had wanted her to stay, but Samirah told them that she would want to also see the world and travel it, exploring new things and the like. Calix understood, but it took time for Valerie to understand, too. When all were in good thoughts, the erotiad said her goodbyes and left to discover a whole new world out there for her.
Troubles in trail
Samirah was a very different person once she stepped out of Calix and Valerie’s sights. She was impulsive and really, really naughty. She traveled around Greece, staying in inns or on tree branches. Then she’d get to play with all the handsome boys she’d spot within her sights – make them fall in love with her and she’d try to catch their heart then leave them. The reactions on their faces were all she needed – they were priceless indeed. Weird enough, for she didn’t take love the way it should be taken. She played with it, some trait she should never have.
There were men who were smart enough to realize the mess Samirah was creating amongst them, and some of them prayed to the gods to punish such acts. Meanwhile, Eros had been watching, watching and noticing Samirah. How dare she do those when she herself was someone to appreciate love? Love wasn’t something to play with, and so he gave her a lesson that she surely wouldn’t forget. Eros had done these things millions of times; this was a piece of cake. He wanted to show her how love could be so dangerous. The god of love made Samirah fall in love with one young man, Eyvindir, and made the man fall in love with her, too. However, Eros made a fair-haired lad named Xanthe fall in love with her, too; he was to be a rival of Eyvindir.
Samirah found so much happiness in Eyvindir. The cared and loved each other so much they’d give either anything, but Xanthe was not someone who backed down easily. He tried all things: talking to her, giving gifts to her, serenading her and anything else good that he could think of. But Eyvindir always found his way through her heart and took it – took it far away from Xanthe’s reach. Samirah started to hate Xanthe for his ridiculous and hopeless acts, and decided with her love that they’d move far from the wretched city they were in. But one day, Xanthe showed up on their secret space – a little garden atop a cliff that overlooked the blue sea. He confessed to her again with so much feeling that Samirah’s heart was moved a little. Still, Eyvindir was the only one who would ever have her love.
Nevertheless, Xanthe was too full of ire that he did what was the only thing in his mind: eliminate Eyvindir. And so, in front of Samirah herself, he lunged at Eyvindir and tried to strangle him. Eyvindir moved away and punched him. They went and grasped whatever they could of each other, trying so hard to pull the other one down. Meanwhile, the erotiad screamed for them to stop, too scared to do anything. Not even her charm-speak could break through their walls of anger. She felt worthless, she felt so much like a coward that moment, and she didn’t know what to do but cry. Cry and plead, like it could help solve everything. One wrong move from either of them and the other might be severely harmed. And that was exactly what Xanthe was thinking.
Xanthe pushed the fight near the edge of the cliff, and Samirah kept yelling at them to stop. Although Eyvindir wanted to stop, he would totally be killed by Xanthe if he did. Realizing that he was trapped between Xanthe’s strong body and the deadly cliff behind him, he had no choice but to fight the man. Unfortunately, Xanthe was swift, faster than he’d ever be. Giving him a wink, Xanthe pulled a tricky step and flung Eyvindir over his back. Eyvindir almost got his footing back but the ground beneath him suddenly cracked. The edge broke and he fell with the loose rocks.
Samirah let out an ear-shattering scream, and, with blind rage, she took the sharp tree branch near her and buried it deep in Xanthe’s back, all her hatred and sorrow and pain she had flung into that deadly piece of stick. Xanthe’s eyes were wide as he faced her, and he genuinely smiled, a really sad smile, before following his rival down the cliff. Samirah fell on her knees, breaking apart bit by bit, tear by tear.
She spent the next days living simply, but wretchedly broken. She always thought about what she could’ve done that very moment, what she should’ve done to stop them. But she was a coward, a miserable, miserable coward. She lived on that thought, and the world continued spinning without her in sync. Samirah had then felt a tug in her heart, a tug that somehow called her back to where she came from. She followed it, and went back to Calix and Valerie. But they were not there. Not even their children were there. She asked around, and people only told her about last year. Because during that past year they died. They died together, smiling at each other before they both closed their eyes. It had been years since Samirah had left them, and she felt guilt. Guilty for not being able to be with them. For not being able to say goodbye to them. For not being able to walk them to the threshold of death.
She felt like the world’s most forlorn person and worse.
~ ~ ~
The Common Era came, and Samirah still hadn’t got over everything. There were sincere people who crossed paths with her and tried to help her, but she was too deep in her own silence, drowning out all the noise that surrounded her. One time, when she was in Argos, the silence let her in reality for a short moment that she heard someone shouting a name, and took her by the shoulder to face him. He called her a name she never heard of. Was it Mishael? It seemed so. She took him in, and examined his face. He was young, but his eyes were old, ancient even. But she found him handsome, and knew in an instant that he wasn’t an ordinary mortal. But she shrugged him off and told him that he had mistaken her for someone else, and walked away. Walked away, and wasn’t relieved when he didn’t follow.
Samirah stayed in Argos for more than a while, wanting to keep being in the spectacles that watched athletes compete in many arenas. When she was observing discus-throwers, the same man who called her a different name had sat beside her, and he seemed shocked to realize who was beside him. Samirah asked about him and who Mishael was. The man introduced himself as Gavriel, but he didn’t ponder over ‘Mishael’. Samirah supposed she was someone he had a history with, and found it hard to talk about her. So she stayed silent about that. But Gavriel broke the silence and told her he was a nymph, and erotios. Samirah was surprised, and admitted to him the same thing.
Samirah found comfort in Gavriel’s company. She knew he had a bad past, but that was all. Though he was secretive, he was fun and cheerful, wanting the atmosphere to be filled with everything but anything related to sadness. But she’d only let him in her life that far enough – friends would be better.
But she’d burst to him; she’d always cry in front of him, for he reminded her so much of Eyvindir, even though Gavriel looked nothing like him. And in the end, he’d always comfort her, whispering words in her ear that always made her feel better. He’d make her laugh and forget all the troubles she’d been going through. Sometimes food was a delight. But she wondered about him, how he was doing. She felt like a bad friend, making him her lamp in the night but she couldn’t be the stars in his dark skies.
Then she’d find herself finding him, looking for his presence beside her or somewhere around her. It was terrible. She’d push him away from her mind, but he’d always come back, spinning inside her head. No wonder she always missed him. To try fulfilling that, she asked Gavriel to train her, into weapons and techniques and such. The erotios was surprised, but after some time of pleading, she finally made him agree. Well, self-defense was a reason she could use to hide the real thing.
Gavriel insisted on giving her the bow and arrow first. Her first aim was perfect, to her surprise, but the next ones failed. Though he commented that they were better than most beginners, which made her blush. Idiot.
Samirah found training an everyday activity – with Gavriel or no – and it worked out in making her forget everything else once again. The past is past, Eyvindir and Xanthe were gone, Calix and Valerie were gone, and her old life was gone. It was time to start a new one and be a new person entirely – a person not easily broken and a person full of hope and courage. Yes, she’d be that person. She wondered if Gavriel had already changed himself, too, from all that he’d been through (though she didn’t know what they were).
Again, she hadn’t noticed the years passing by. People whom she met young were now walking with canes or sitting on a chair for years, staring at nothing, or buried in the soil. And there she was, young and ethereal. At least, she wasn’t alone surviving it.
They both moved to upper Europe, settling in Sweden, enjoying the cold, when war broke out in Rome, spreading throughout Italy and through Greece. Then, she felt like she couldn’t hide it. She knew she promised herself not get involved with anything ever again, but this was different. It broke all her codes in her life. She wanted to love again, to feel the happiness it gave her over again, but this time, she threw away her oath to herself and promised to never let go. To never let go of that happiness again.
She timed for the right chance to tell Gavriel everything – who she was then, her past, and who she was now. And she timed for the right chance to spill all her feelings to him.
She met Alvar, a young native, and she found him interesting. She knew he was flirting with her, and she played along. She’d take glances at Gavriel, but something hurt in her when he seemed like he didn’t care. However, one day, the erotios talked to Alvar, and in their snapping, Gavriel punched Alvar real hard that blood spurt from his nose. Suddenly, claws and fangs grew from Alvar, and he lunged to strike at Gavriel. Immediately, she pulled the spear décor on the wall and aimed, aimed at the lion-bodied monster that was once Alvar. She threw and hit it on its side and it roared. Then everything happened so fast that her eye couldn’t follow. The manticore, she thought it was, displayed its scorpion tail at her and threw spikes at her direction. Then somebody pushed her down to ground, and a scream pierced through the silence. She gathered all her senses and took everything in before the second ended.
Samirah distracted the monster with all the spears on the wall – throwing them or jabbing them at it – long enough for her to drag herself and Gavriel out the back door. They rolled down the hill and landed before the cold water of a lake. Hesitating for a bit, she threw both of them in the water and stayed down, surfacing for a really short while to take some air. Gavriel was still breathing, thank goodness. He took the spike that almost hit her and blacked out from the pain. When Samirah was sure the manticore was gone, sure that it decided not to jump in the freezing water, she swam to the shore and checked if the erotios was alright. She didn’t feel the cold when she felt the heat of Gavriel’s breath on her ear.
~ ~ ~
She found a safe place in the forest nearby. She immediately gathered many wood as she could and created a fire to warm them both. She found a tree with a huge leaves and cut one to give Gavriel as makeshift blanket. When she made sure he was warm, she set out to find food. Fruits, thank the gods, were abundant. When she came back, she found Gavriel staring at the sky above them. She ran, dropped the fruits beside her, and broke into tears, holding his face. He whispered her name so quietly that she barely heard him, and his eyes closed again once more.
Samirah panicked. But he was breathing. Probably the poison hadn’t worn off completely, yet. She stayed calm, and ate some of the fruits she found in the forest. They were all edible anyway. Then she stayed up all night to look out for danger, creating makeshift spears from the branches she found.
She didn’t know when she fell asleep, but she found Gavriel beside her eating one the fruits she had gathered. Without any warning, she screamed his name and embraced him tighter than she opted. Surprisingly, he didn’t pull away, and she didn’t let go.
After a few minutes of making sure they were alright, she asked why he fought with Alvar (when they thought he was still Alvar). If it weren’t for the fight, the monster would’ve probably attacked a bit later and would’ve given them time to realize he was a monster. Gavriel responded, but it was like he was prevaricating her, but then he gave a valid answer after some babbling. An answer that totally made her heart skip more than one beat.
He said, “I just couldn’t bear the thought of you being with someone else. How much more the sight of it? I guess I’m just being selfish, but that’s what I honestly feel. I thought I was lying to myself, but it was so real I believed it. And although I swore that I won’t ever love again, it’s probably in our nature to never say such things. I totally believe that, too. So, it’s basically because I love you, Samirah. Whatever you or other people, or even my mind, says, I really do.”
The silence that came felt awkward. So she broke it by admitting the same thing. She loved him, too. Gavriel suddenly took her face in his hands and kissed her. She was so stunned, but she kissed him back when reality dawned upon her. She broke her oath to herself, and now she was probably the happiest girl in the world.
Memories in trail
It felt like her life started all over again, like she didn’t know what it felt like to be broken, to be in pain. There were problems, lots of hindrances, but she surpassed them all. She felt like she could do anything with Gavriel by her side; finally, someone who could change her world entirely. And with those, he had just started doing so.
Time flew by so fast that she now got used to accepting how short mortal lives were. No matter how many friends she’d make, they’d surely leave her. She just hoped he won’t leave her, too, in any form.
They’d travel around the world, they’d play as nobles and trick some people (though not harshly), they’d fight the odds together. And they’d always win. Sometimes, jealousy arose, like when she spotted Gavriel talking with an attractive girl down an alley in Elizabethan London and was smiling like the girl had just told him the most beautiful thing in the world. He came home late that night, and she didn’t talk to him for days. He’d pleaded with her to listen to him. Then she’d know that he was having a tricky bargain with the girl to get an ancient pocket watch that had caught his attention in an auction. He took it out, and was one of the prettiest things she’d seen. He gave it to her, and he really did mean to since he laid eyes on it.
Sometimes they’d fight over small things, like which house they’d take, which country they’d visit after which, which event should they attend in. Silly things. Then there was this one time when they visited an island in the Pacific and met a rogue drakon. Like how in the world did a drakon get there? It chased them – through the forests and the shores and the village borders. It was probably very hungry. It almost got Gavriel and wounded him badly. Fortunately he could still shift into a dove, and they flew away until they reached the other end of the island.
Some demigods happened to live on that side. They found the two of them on the shore, Gavriel bleeding dangerously. A child of Eileithyia numbed the pain he felt, and calmed him down through when her companion, a child of Phlegethon, cauterized his wounds. The demigods made them stay in their house for the whole length of time it took to heal Gavriel’s wounds. They thanked the demigod couple, and soon left the island, going back to Europe.
Wars and plagues came to and fro, but she and Gavriel had done their best to avoid them, and they somehow survived them, too. While staying in London years after the Victorian Era, they heard about a camp that sheltered demigods and provided a home for them. The couple decided to check it out, and they sailed to New York after the terrible world wars. The camp was pretty hard to find, but they found it as they searched through the forests of Long Island, meeting some nymphs who showed them the way. The camp was simple yet it did provide a haven for demigods. However, it was constantly attacked by many monsters, and their deaths cost the lives of many of the demigods. With no further ado, they helped defending the camp by watching by its borders, using their weapons to fight off ridiculously large monsters.
Until Zeus created a protective barrier around the camp to shield it from the dark, to commemorate his own daughter’s sacrifice and have what happened to her not be upon anyone else. Since then, Camp Half-Blood became the perfect haven for the demigods, and Samirah and Gavriel still lived in its lush forests.