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Arrows and Roses - Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Thanatos held out the thermos his mother had given him, rehearsing the lines carefully in his head before knocking. "It’s cold. I brought you some hot chocolate. Lady Persephone visited a place on the way home that sold chocolate rich in flavour. They told her it makes excellent hot chocolate. I thought you might like it.” 

“Don’t forget to give this to her,” Persephone instructed.

“Mother, if this is laced with a potion of sorts, it won't work. She’s a cupid, she can smell a love potion from miles away. Not to mention they’re also illegal.” He frowned at the thermos. But his mother just shook her head.

“No, it’s just hot chocolate, it’s a nice gesture. And that’s how you start courting her,” she patted his hand and ushered him out of the kitchen.

“What if she realises what I’m doing? Ugh this isn’t a good idea.”

“Stop worrying. It will be fine.”

Suddenly Thanatos found himself standing in front of the door with the cupid's crest right in his face.

He knocked three times and waited. He let out a breath when Alesandro opened the door instead of Erosa. Not that he didn’t want to see her. Of course he wanted to see her, but he was nervous. He was thousands of years older than her and she seemed uninterested in any form of courtship.

“Thanatos.”

“Alesandro.”

Thanatos looked at the cupid who eyed him suspiciously.

“I hear you’re taking my sister out.” The cupid squinted at him.

“Ah, yes, we’ll be doing an assignment together.”

“Mm hmm. Have her home before midnight,” the cupid pointed a finger at him.

“Uh, I will take excellent care of her,” Thanatos managed.

He turned when he heard someone coming down the staircase.

Erosa was dressed nicely, but it didn’t seem enough for the cold weather they were about to receive. 

“Sister! I already spoke to him, I approve,” Alesandro announced. Erosa gave him a small punch to the shoulder.

“Stop it, you’re embarrassing me,” she blushed at his words and looked at Thanatos apologetically.

Thanatos smiled and held out the thermos.

“I thought you might like something hot to drink,” he said.

Erosa took the thermos with a smile. She opened the lid and inhaled the smell.

“Oh my... Where on earth did you get the chocolate? It smells so... heavenly,” she almost moaned, and Thanatos had to check himself.

“A little town in Belgium. We will actually be going there if you wanted to stay a little while longer to get some for your home,” he answered.

She nodded and the two stood there awkwardly at the front of her family’s house. Alesandro looked between the two of them confused by their behaviour, but before he could say anything, Julian appeared and dragged him away.

“I thought this was meant to be a date,” they heard him whisper.

“Shut up Ales, your big ass mouth is going to get you in trouble one of these days I swear,” they heard Julian hiss as they walked out of earshot.

This was going to be a long night.

He held out another coat, one that was much thicker than the one I had intended to wear, so I took it as graciously as possible. Meaning, I fumbled and dropped it.

I had never done one of these assignments before. I only knew what I had heard about from my brothers and father.

In the mirror, I noticed Thanatos watching me with a strange look in his eyes. When I turned, the expression was gone and I shook my head, thinking maybe it was a trick of my mind. Dad told me to listen to Thanatos’ instructions because chances are I will have to do it again in the future. So I looked at Thanatos with what felt like a smile because I was so nervous; I did not want to mess stuff up in front of the guy I like.

It’s funny, I received a message from Khione before asking about the assignment. Word spreads quickly in the family. Apparently someone told her that it was a date and she wanted to know if I wouldn’t mind being snowed in to prolong the date. After ten minutes of explaining, I was able to get her to agree in holding off on the snow storm. She grumbled about perfectly good s’mores going to waste, so I told her to send them anyway, just in case. She squealed and said she’ll be waiting for me to change my mind.

I won’t change my mind… I’m positive I’m not going to change my mind.

When I stepped outside, I looked around at my new surroundings. He must’ve fast travelled to our destination, because one moment, it was sunny outside my home, and now I stood on the sidewalk in the snow.

I watched as tiny snowflakes fell around me. I held my hand out to catch some. I don’t know how long I had been looking at it, but when I turned to Thanatos he had already come back with some chips from a nearby vendor.

“Hot food for a cold day.” He took the thermos out of my hand and passed me a cone full of crisp hot chips covered in cheese and three different kinds of sauce.

“Oh my gods, Thanatos, you didn’t have to.” I looked at him in bewilderment.

He shrugged and ate a chip before walking off, leaving me behind in the snow.

After drawing a mental blank I looked up to see he had gotten ahead of me so I hurried after him.

Thanatos watched her curiously while she played with the snowflakes before darting off to get some food. He looked back at her often to make sure she hadn’t run off. Lord Eros pulled him aside after the initial meeting to tell him to keep an eye on her, she had a habit of wandering off on her own. Thanatos promised him he’d take good care of his daughter and the God of Love nodded before winking at him.

He realised he had missed quite a lot just by watching her from afar. He liked the way her nose wrinkled when she smiled and the way her eyes softened when something new and extraordinary caught her attention.

After handing her some chips, he walked off in the direction of his assignment, checking behind him a few times to see if she was following. Which she was. He had seen dog owners try this on their pets. They’d walk away from their puppy and when the puppy realised they were gone, they’d run after them… wait… wasn’t this conditioning? He almost stopped in his tracks to ponder this some more, but when she caught up to him, he panicked and continued walking to avoid close proximity. She smelled amazing and it was very distracting.

When they arrived, they still had some time to kill before they had to appear. He turned to Erosa, who was staring at him quite intently.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” he frowned. He looked down to check his coat and clothes. Did he have blood on himself again? He kept reminding the servants to wash their hands before touching his wardrobe. Sighing, he started to brush off his coat of anything that seemed out of place when a snowball hit him squarely in the chest.

I have no idea what I was thinking. I just thought I would try to make him smile again. What I failed to consider was his work clothes. I bit my lip when he looked at me with a bewildered expression.

“What was that for?” he raised an eyebrow at me.

I wanted to grimace. Fantastic. Now I have to explain the concept of a snowball.

“I don’t know? I just wanted to break the silence?” I actually did grimace. It came out as a question rather than an answer. Perfect, now he was going to think that I’m weird.

“Well, you did a good job. Consider the silence broken.” He brushed off the snow before looking at me to smile. Wait what? It worked. He smiled.

“Well I do pride myself on being such a conversationalist,” I joked. I watched as he bent down and scooped on some snow. With his gloves he pressed it into a snowball and I watched in both interest and horror as he imbued it with magic.

Damnit. This could only go two ways, it was about to get real interesting or it was going to hurt like a mother—

“Heads up!” he warned. He threw it at me like a baseball pitcher and ducking had no effect, that thing followed me when I hit the ground.

“Oh it is on Reaper!” I got up and dusted myself off. Nocking an arrow, he looked at me with alarm.

“Don’t worry, the arrow isn’t loaded, but it will hurt just so you know.” I winked at him. He ran for cover but that wasn’t going to work. My arrows were sure and straight and my arrows aren't regular arrows. They're specially designed for both gods and mortals when charmed, but because I didn't charm the arrow, it couldn't penetrate the skin. I aimed carefully, my breathing steady. I should aim for his foot. No no, his knee! I should go for his knee!

I aimed a little higher and released.

Thanatos, being a god, the arrow would just bounce off him, but it would still hurt. Almost like being shot with a paintball. In the same place. After seven times.

Never in my life have I heard a man make such a noise. The man yelped.

I couldn’t help but bust out laughing.

“Are you… okay?” I wheezed between laughter.

He knelt down, cradling his knee.

“I want to say yes, but that would be a lie, and my face won’t be able to hide it,” he winced.

Filled with a little guilt, I dropped my bow (my father would kill me if he saw me do that) and walked over to him.

I offered him my hand and he took it. For some reason, I could feel the warmth in his hand through our gloves. Which was unusual, I thought reapers were always cold.

I let go of his hand after realising I had been holding it for a while and looked around.

“Where are we going exactly?” I asked.

“A retirement village, it’s just over there.” He pointed at a cluster of homes across the road.

But something else caught my eye.

Two youngsters, standing together just off to the side. They were just staring at each other, both of them holding coffee cups. Suddenly I felt it. A contract. It didn’t happen, considering contracts were assigned before anything could happen, but when a cupid appeared at the right time and place, a contract presented itself.

Let me quickly explain the contract. For most of the time, us cupids are given what we call a 'contract'. It tells us which people to shoot and who to pair them with. There are three different coloured contracts. Silver, Gold and Pink. Silver is reserved for affectionate love, selfless love, and playful love. Love reserved for nature, friends, bed buddies and puppies and kittens. We are not responsible for what people call 'players' (or vegans and animal activists).

Gold contracts are reserved for Sexual love, Maternal love and Self love. Our gold contracts are strict and must be followed to the exact point. These are a priority over the silver contracts. The results of these contracts lead to small differences in the world. Power couples who change and make a mark in history. If one of the people in the contract falls in love with the wrong person, or if they fall in love at the wrong time, awful things can happen. Romeo and Juliet for example (little fact, it was a true story). One of my cupids had a hard time dealing with that mistake. And never underestimate maternal love. Because when a child is adopted by the right parents, lives are changed.

Pink contracts are the most difficult. It's hard to explain. But pink contracts are for those with soulmates. Unfortunately not everyone has a soulmate. Sometimes people find happiness with multiple different people, sometimes at the same time. Which I don't really have a problem with. That's my brother's responsibility. I'm in charge of the Pink contracts. It takes years of planning to complete one Pink contract because on several occasions, I have to get the parents together to get one of the people in the contract, and on a few of those occasions I even had to get the grandparents together. Like I said, years of planning.

Now you have to remember that not everyone is lucky, there aren't a lot of cupids even though I said there were many of us. You see, there are 7 billion people living in this world and only a couple hundred cupids to go around. If we could give love to everyone, we would. But we have rules. We learned from the past. Back then, before rules were made, it was chaos. Rival kingdoms were at war, enemy families were killing each other, it was awful. Nowadays, we are more careful than anything. But now I'm off track.

I felt my wings unfurl behind me, the bow I had dropped earlier reappeared in my hand. I felt the pull. I couldn’t resist even if I tried.

As I got closer I could feel the emotions rolling off them like waves. Especially the young girl. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster. Almost like flying.

I took out my binoculars and I took a quick peek into their hearts.

Looking at the cracks in their hearts, it was fairly easy to determine they had been broken by not one love in their life, but two. In both the girl and the boy. I felt bad but the pure elated joy they felt just being in each other’s presence told me that they wanted to move forward but found it difficult to take that next step. Just a little sprinkle of love dust and they’ll be right as rain.

I beat my wings gently, a chilly breeze coming off them. To the trained eye, one could see the pink dust coming from my feathers. I watched as the two shivered from the cold.

If I could make it breezy enough, they would have no choice but to cuddle… I couldn’t help the small giggle that escaped. I slapped my hand over my mouth and watched as they looked around. I may be invisible, but that doesn’t mean they can’t hear me. I beat my wings just a little more gently and I reveled in sweet victory when he pulled her in for a hug, completely forgetting for a moment about the man waiting for me metres away.

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