by Jane

Hello, Ania.

I'm sorry I haven't been by recently. Life's been hectic.

But, I need you today. I miss you so much. I could talk to you, and you'd put things together for me. You always knew how to make things work out right. I don't know how to handle this without you.

Herc lost Deinaneira and the kids last night. They were murdered in their beds. Hera killed them. Just for spite. She hates Hercules so much. She can't touch him because of Zeus' decree, but what she's done now is worse than killing him. I know. Nothing in this world hurts as badly as losing those you love with your whole being.

Oh, Ania, I want to hold you. I want to touch you and put my arms around you and cry into your hair, and feel your love and wisdom and kindness. I want you to tell me what I can do to help Herc.

He's destroyed. You should have seen him this morning. He was just sitting there, staring out into nothing. His eyes...his face...such sadness. His voice broke as he told me what happened. I couldn't breathe at first. Such cruelty, even for Hera! How can she find pleasure in causing him such unbearable pain? I don't...I *can't*... understand it.

I tried to ask him how Zeus could have allowed such a thing. It was the wrong thing to say. I always say the wrong thing. I need your counsel so much. Herc got so angry. He screamed at the gods. He's filled with hate. I've never seen him that way before. He's left, now. He's gone off to destroy Hera's temples. By himself. He wouldn't let me come. Even with tears in his eyes, he told me to stay behind, that it was something he had to do by himself. He asked me to understand. He told me I was the best friend he'd ever had, and still he wouldn't let me go with him.

I don't feel like a friend. I don't want to stay behind. I'm scared for him, for what he may do. Ania, he doesn't care about anything anymore, except vengeance. He needs someone with him. He won't take care of himself! Who can know what Hera will do? I'm so worried about him.

I'll miss them too, you know. They took me in and made me one of their family when I lost you and the boys. I don't think I would have made it, Ania, without Herc and Deinaneira and Alcmene. It just hurt too badly.

Beautiful Deinaneira. She was so full of life and love. You could almost touch the love she had for Herc and the kids. She'd have willingly given her life for any of them, but to have it taken away so brutally! It's not fair, Ania! This should never have happened! Herc idolized her. A part of him is dead now, too. I know. There were times I'd think she could actually feel when I was missing you especially, and she'd always give me a big hug. It would help. I'll miss that.

Klonus had become such a fine young man. He was tall and straight, an image of his father. And so kind. Aeson had Deinaneira's beautiful hair and her sparkle in his eyes. He was always happy and playing. And Ilea...oh, gods! Not little Ilea! She was just four years old! She was always so glad to see me. "Uncle Iolaus!" she'd cry, and run to me with her little arms reaching out to me. I'd pick her up and she'd give me a big bear hug....

Oh, gods, Ania. This hurts almost as badly as losing you and our children. Please, help me. I need you, and Herc needs me, and I don't know what to do. Ania, Ania....

Well, my beloved one, I must go on. Talking with you has helped me, I think. I'll do all I can here to help Herc, for when he comes back. He has to come back. While he's gone, I'll do my best to handle things for him, to try to do what he'd do if he were here. It's the least I can do, for now. Maybe something else will come to me, later, and I'll do that, too.

Right now, I guess I'd better go to the tavern, and tell our friends what's happened. They'll want to know.

Ania, I love you. I will love you till my dying breath. Hug the kids for me, and tell them Daddy loves them with all his heart, and misses you all terribly.

I'll be back. I won't let so much time pass between visits, either.

Goodbye, my love. Know you are in my heart always, so I carry you with me everywhere I go. It's all that keeps me alive.

I love you.

Go on to the next story in the challenge.

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