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as the world changes, we don't

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It's the end of another era, and the gods stand witness as their temples are swept aside and Olympus degenerates into a thing of myth.The nymphs are dancing, free of their rivers and their trees at last, and the mermaids have already shed their scales and run down the shores in search of a mate they can't kill with their voice.

One by one, they turn back into their original forms. Thunder booms its last ruling on this land, and a handsome boy's face turns into sunlight and melts into it. The waves come high, scaring the peasants, and many will swear there was a man's laughter before the seas calmed.

"Stubborn to the end, the old man," a woman says.

The man next to her chuckles, and as the ocean retreats, his dark eyes turn to gaze at her.

She defies description, though her skin bears the faintness of the ocean's foam and a look from her eyes would still force a mortal to their knees. Her first steps were met with adoration, and she became the favorite daughter too easily, slipping into the role of favored child above the sun and the moon themselves.

There will be no easy retreat into memory for her. No matter to which god's name their lips pray, people will always worship her in the depths of their hearts.

They call her Love, they call her Lust.

He calls her sister - and lover, as well.

Love and War have ever been good companions.

"Will you stay?"

Her delicate shoulders move up and down, a whisper of a movement.

"I will," he tells her, though she hasn't returned the question. War never stops, but he can. The others always were called to witness the beauty of this world, while he would arrive into the middle of carnage. His ears are full of the cries of the dying and the shouts of the victorious, and each has always believed they fought on the right side.

He is curious whether their moments of peace were worth fighting for.

"Do you remember," she says, her voice sure and louder than he's ever heard her, "how we met?"

An introduction to her new family, and he'd stolen her into his bed at the end of it. Centuries have passed since then, and marriages and children and bedmates - a thousand stories told about them.

But he remembers every moment with her.

It had been years of wildness. Of sweet turbulence. In his arms she had become storms and earthquakes, passion at its rawest, and he had met her with equal fervor.

They could have changed the world - don't Love and War always change everything around them? - so they were pulled apart. She was tamed, dragged into intrigues and petty skirmishes, and taught to shun him as the others did.

But that was later.

"You wore white," he remembers. The blood in his hands had tinged the cloth with red marks, but she hadn't shied away. Not then.

She wears darker hues now, and jewels in her hair instead of humble flowers.

He comes closer, catches a strand of blond hair between his fingers and with rare gentleness dislodges the emerald adorning it. "You were beautiful," he tells her honestly, tossing the polished rock to the side.

She smiles.

It's the only smile he's seen since they realized their time as higher beings in this world had passed. Does she mourn, as the others did? Perhaps not. She was never like the rest of them, for all they welcomed her as one.

She is a secret craft of the seas, untouched by god or man until she allowed it.

If he kisses her, she will be marble against his lips.

But she kisses him instead.

"For old time's sake, my dear?"

She shakes her head.

Ah, well. For the new world that's already rising around them.

There are the whispers of wars that will be started in the name of love, and the love that will bring healing after the dead have been buried.

Together they can change the world, yes.

"Come with me," she says, and he nods.

The world can wait.


The End