The battle was over. Straggling remnants of the Trojan army were being rounded up and, under Odysseus’s direction, treated with mercy. Athena had ordered Greek warriors to go to all of the temples outside the Trojan walls and be sure that the priestesses and priests were not harmed. When Poseidon showed up with his army of Oceanids and began ripping apart the walls, the three goddesses, rolling their eyes, moved to a safer position in the grove of ancient olive trees.
Hera was restless and kept jumping at every twig crack and leaf flutter.
“What is it with you?” Venus asked. “The war’s over—we got what we wanted.”
“I realize that. We very visibly got what we wanted, clearly showing that the three of us orchestrated all of this.” Hera waved a hand sweepingly at Troy. “At any moment Zeus will awaken from sleeping off the exhaustion caused by our days of magnificent lovemaking and he will learn of our interference here. Angry is an understatement about what he will be—and you know how he is when he’s angered.”
“Wow, you exhausted him? Well done you!” Venus said.
Athena sighed. “Love missed the point, as usual.”
“I didn’t miss it. I just liked the other part better,” Venus said.
“He’s going to be so angry,” Hera said softly. “And we’d been getting along so well, too.”
“Then there is nothing to do but to make sure Zeus does not hear of the parts we played here,” Athena said.
“What do you suggest?” Hera said. “And keep in mind I really don’t think I can keep up the sexual calisthenics. For a few days it was fun. For eternity it would be…” She paused and grimaced. “Painful.”
“We’ll simply bespell them,” Athena said.
“Huh?” Venus said. “Bespelling the genitals of the King and Queen of Olympus is going to be far more difficult than—”
“Would you please get your mind off everyone’s genitals? I’m talking about the Trojans and the Greeks. It should be no problem if the three of us join our powers. Let’s wipe the mortal’s memories clean of everything that happened after the berserker was killed.”
“Could we really do that?” Hera said, beginning to brighten.
“I don’t see why not,” Venus said. She gave Athena a considering look. “You know, all this sex is really having an excellent effect on you. Of course I hate to say it again, but I told you so.”
“While it pains me, it does appear that you were right.” When Venus’s face blossomed into a victorious smile, she added, “This time, that is.” Then the gray-eyed goddess looked out on the battlefield. Her eyes were unerringly drawn to the tall warrior she loved so dearly. Not raising her voice above a whisper, she said, “Odysseus, come to me.” Even from that distance she could see that he looked at her, smiled and began closing the distance between them.
“Why are you calling him? We’re supposed to wipe their memories,” Hera said.
“Not his,” Athena said. “I don’t care about the rest of them, but Odysseus will always remember everything.”
“It’s only right,” Venus said. “She loves him. Messing with his memory would dishonor what they’ve shared together.”
For once Athena smiled at Venus with genuine appreciation. “Thank you, Goddess of Love.”
“Not a problem, Goddess of War.” Venus gave her a snappy little salute.
“So if we wipe their memories clean, what are we going to put in place of what really happened?” Hera said.
“We could blame it on Poseidon,” Athena said. “He’s already here and obviously has issues with the Trojans.”
“No, everyone knows that he couldn’t touch the Trojan walls until they were breeched. He made that deal decades ago with King Laomedon. If it could have been broken, he would have done so by now. Plus we really don’t want to anger the sea god. You know how ugly it can get when the seas are in turmoil,” Hera said.
Then Venus burst into giggles. “I’ve got it! And it’s perfect. Remember the stupid Trojan horse that that ridiculous author made up along with the whole Achilles’ heel thing?”
“Of course we remember it. It’s just like that horrid rumor about the three of us starting the Trojan War.” Hera shuddered. “It’s simply unconscionable!”
“Well let’s use the asinine rumors and the verbose fictionalizing to our benefit. Let’s zap the Trojan horse into the city and put that memory in the mortals’ minds,” Venus said.
“It’s brilliant,” Hera said.
“I do like it,” Athena said.
“What is a Trojan horse?” Odysseus asked.
Athena smiled lovingly at him. “And we’re giving Odysseus credit for thinking of it.”
Athena and Venus shrugged.
“Whatever,” Venus said. Hera nodded.
“What is a Trojan horse?” Odysseus asked again.
“I’ll explain all of it to you later,” Athena said. “Right now perhaps you should step aside.”
The three goddesses joined hands and together they walked onto the ravaged battlefield. As they got closer to the Trojan walls, the goddesses began to glow with combined power. Each woman’s voice rang throughout Troy, washing the mortals like a cleansing rain.
“Our task is complete. The Trojan War is done,” Athena began.
“But the memory of we three shall fade with today’s setting sun,” Venus said.
“And with the dawn new memories and a new era will have begun,” Hera concluded.
Then the goddesses raised their arms and, in perfect accord, flung their powers out to Troy. A massive wooden horse materialized just as, behind them, the sun set into the bleeding ocean.
“Well, that’s that,” Venus said, brushing her hands together as if wiping off the crumbs of a job well done.
“I have to get back to Zeus before he wakes up,” Hera said. “You know, this has invigorated me. I may be ready for some more calisthenics.” She lifted her hands to bless them. “Goddesses, it has been a pleasure.”
“My Queen,” Venus and Athena said together, bowing respectfully as Hera disappeared.
“I really should explain everything to Odysseus,” Athena said, her eyes already seeking out her lover.
“Go with Love’s blessing, Athena,” Venus said.
“Thank you, my friend,” Athena said, and then she hurried away.
Venus sighed happily, thinking about her virile husband, Vulcan, who she had definitely not spent enough time with since this whole adventure had begun. Already her mind was humming with the romantic rendezvous she would plan for that very night. “Hera was right—I feel invigorated,” she said. “After all, Love does adore a happily ever after.” Venus lifted her smooth arm and, with a snap of her fingers, disappeared, leaving a cloud of diamonds that turned into fireflies that filled the silent grove like beacons of hope.