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Love Like Lava

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It started with a feeling. It was small, at first, tugging at the back at the minds of all the gods and goddesses, be they on Mount Olympus, in the depths of the Underworld, or taking their pleasures in the realm of mortals. A whisper of their own voices told them “something is coming”. Many of the higher-ups, like Hera, the queen of the gods, and Ares, the arrogant god of war, ignored the message – something was always coming, they reasoned, such as the start of a new day. But when the new day came, the feeling grew stronger – something was coming. With each and every passing day, this feeling got stronger, the voices louder until it couldn't be ignored. It wasn't even apparent whether it was a good thing or a bad thing, only that something that was coming. Eventually the lower godly creatures, such as Persephone the demigoddess, and the nymphs and mermaids and satyrs, could no longer hold themselves back, and spoke about it in hushed tones. The conversation moved up higher and higher on the chain until no one on Mount Olympus could ignore it – something was coming.

Zeus, ruler of all the gods, was the most frightened – prophecies had been told that a son would dethrone him, as he had done to his father, and his father had done to his own. Thus he commanded that all the gods and goddesses to scour the mortal lands for the thing that was coming. Perhaps one of the hundreds of ladies he had frolicked with was expecting. So far, no child of his had ever had the power or will to take what belonged to him, but the fear ate away inside of him. When his searchers would return with no news, he would roar at them to search again, holding his fists high as a warning to their next failure.

Soon he demanded the search be spread among the demigods, the nymphs, the mermaids, the satyrs, and all who were not mortal. Days were spent in wasteful looking, and it became mutually agreed that whatever was coming, it wasn’t wanted. The thing wasn’t even here yet and it was already causing so much trouble. Some of the more nefarious immortals thought of killing the something upon seeing it. The more peaceful gods overheard this, and argued that they needed to give the something a chance. One particular argument of this fashion occurred on a large beach that wasn’t too far from Mount Olympus. The angry ones and the peaceful ones argued incessantly, ready to grab their weapons and brutally prove their way if that’s what it took.

But before a sword could leave its scabbard or a spear could be lobbied, they all felt a new feeling wash over their minds. Instead of being told something was coming, now the feeling said something was there. All their heads turned toward the ocean. During their yelling and stomping of feet, a large pink seashell larger than the tallest mortal ever born had slid onto the sand. Silence fell on the group as the seashell opened, and the occupant brushed off sea foam from her dress. After getting herself partially cleaned up, she stepped out of the shell, trying to keep her flowing dress from getting wet. She was a young lady mouse, fur as dark as the furthest depths of the ocean, and eyes shining like brilliant sea shells. Little wisps of hair curled around her large ears, rolling back and forth like waves on a calm day. She then looked up at the mighty gods and goddesses and smiled. “Hello,” she chirped. “Would you mind telling me where I am?”

And thus, the goddess Aphrodite arrived into the world.

~*~

Mount Olympus was an infinite space, defying both time and logic. It was a mystical mountain, forged on the tallest point on the planet, unable to be seen by any human. It reached out into the stars, and stretched across endless floors and chairs, with an infinite supply of food and drink of all kinds. Dark clouds floated in and out of their sanctuary, typically surrounding the most imperial thrones belonging to Zeus and Hera. It was an all-encompassing space, yet at that moment, Zeus thought their home felt very crowded. That probably had to do with the entire trail of gods and goddess following the new figure he was unfamiliar with. Hera wasn't with him, which was good fortune for Aphrodite – most likely she was drinking away her anger and sorrows. Lord Zeus looked down from his throne at the newcomer, and he drew a long breath as he got a good look at her. “What’s this?” His mighty voice boomed, slamming a hand down on his chair in delight. “What is this marvelous creature that has stepped before me?

The newborn goddess blinked up at him. Was she supposed to answer that? She looked behind at her at all the men and women gazing so intensely upon her. “I’m not sure,” she finally responded. “They told me to come up here.” She shrugged, but it was the simple truth. They'd forgotten their quarrel and immediately grabbed her by her tiny wrists, heading right to the mountain in song and celebration. The goddess kept asking important questions, such as who they were and where she was, but her efforts went ignored. After a while, she decided to try and be patient and hope the answers would be delivered.

Mount Olympus has been blessed!” Zeus declared, standing up and waving a hand. “For this is the goddess that surpasses all others! We will redefine beauty in her name and image! Let us all praise and celebrate!” He stomped his foot hard, and as the newcomer heard all the wild cheering behind her, she began to realize Zeus wasn’t exactly talking to her – or listening. He grabbed a handful of clouds, and threw it down on the floor, instantly materializing it to a chair adorned with jewels. “Here shall she sit, as one of us!

She raised her black-furred hand in a small attempt to be noticed. “It’s very nice, but I’d like to ask-”

And her name shall be… Aphrodite!” Zeus continued onward, and the newly named goddess squeaked as multiple arms lifted her up, plopping her into the seat. “Goddess of beauty! And…” Only then did Zeus pause in his incredibly loud speech. He turned his head toward her, eyes transfixed. Aphrodite shrugged again, helpless to his inquiry. How was she supposed to give him any answers when he wouldn't offer any first? But at least having a name was nice. After a moment of intense study between the two, Zeus waved again, his firm hand outstretched. “And goddess of love! All hail Goddess Aphrodite! Let the celebration begin!

And so it was echoed back and forth between the crowd.
“All hail Goddess Aphrodite!”
“All hail Goddess Aphrodite!”
“All hail Goddess Aphrodite!”

Aphrodite sighed heavily, leaning on an open palm and watching the party begin. All right, so today she wasn't going to get any answers. At least everyone seemed to be happy, though for a celebration all about her it seemed to barely include her. Maybe tomorrow someone would finally listen to what she had to say.

~*~

The celebration lasted an entire month, full of drink and feasting. It was difficult to tell whether Zeus was celebrating the arrival of such a lovely goddess or that he was incredibly relieved the prophecy hadn’t been fulfilled. Yet all of the gods, save for eternally jealous Hera who spent her time either drinking heavily or glaring daggers at the new woman, were happy to join in the merriment. As the declared the goddess of love and beauty, they continuously praised her body, her face, her eyes, all which exuded her loveliness. The goddess mostly accepted these things without asking anything, nodding and going along with whatever they were saying. However as the month of partying continued, the goddess felt boredom building up inside of her. She wasn’t rude enough to say so as her tiny feet dangled off her imperial throne, but she was rather looking forward to the whole thing ending. Maybe then she could finally do something.

When the month was over and the gods resumed their lives, Aphrodite hopped off of her chair, and started to walk. It felt wonderful to move again! She skipped, she twirled, she bounced, but it occurred to her that if she dilly-dallied too long here, the others might suddenly praise the beauty of her movement and a whole new party would start. She absolutely had to get away before that nonsense picked up again.

But where to go? No one had ever answered her questions, so when she looked down at the fluffy clouds that made up the floor, she tilted her head in thought. With a wave of her hand, the clouds parted, and she saw the whole scope of the mortal realm before her. Having little to no idea of what was below, she decided it couldn't possibly be any more boring than Mount Olympus. So she jumped.

~*~

The demi-goddess Persephone didn’t notice she had company at first. She was taking a nap on a flowerbed, imagining sordid things between her and her husband. It was one of her favorite hobbies on the mortal plane, and many elaborate gardens had been born whenever she felt like taking a snooze. Today she'd been found a particularly grassy area a stone's throw from a mortal village, and she flopped on her back without hesitation. Later that day, the villagers would find a whole collection of roses, daises and honeysuckles to pick from. As for this moment, when she turned over in her rest, her hand brushed upon a very silky texture. Knowing no flower had such a feel, her eyes popped open, and she looked at her guest.

Goddess Aphrodite was perhaps the smallest goddess to have ever grace Olympus. Since her form was a mouse, this was to be expected – though Aphrodite had heard murmurs during the party that someone named Hephaestus used to be the tiniest. Her black fur was neatly smoothed down at all times, as was her dress, that color of sea foam that always seemed to be flowing around her despite the lack of wind. A pretty little lock of bangs hung from her forehead and Persephone noted that her eyes seemed to change color – perhaps to better suit whoever was looking at her. For Persephone, they were grass green, and the newcomer smiled. “Hello.”

Persephone needed a moment to collect herself – she had never seen someone so beautiful before. She blinked hard, trying to get out of her stupor, but in doing so, she realized exactly who this must have been. “Are sudden entrances your thing now?” Persephone forced herself to sit up, brushing flower petals off of herself. She hadn’t meant to sound irritable, but she had been awoken from a particularly lovely dream. She ran a hand over her head, flattening her white feathers, and her dress squeezed itself against her body to give a better appearance. If one took a better look, they would see her dress was actually made out of thin vines wrapping around herself. “What are you doing here? I thought you’d be having another round back on the mountain.”

“That got boring,” Aphrodite admitted with a shrug. Her eyes kept roaming all over Persephone, curiosity in every blink. Though she was trying to be still, she kept leaning in to get a better look at this and that. “I wanted to come down here and see what we ruled over.”

“And you started with me?” Persephone’s frown on her beak grew larger. She was not one to be ruled over – she had gotten more than enough of that from her overprotective mother.

“No. I wanted to know what these were.” Aphrodite pointed to above Persephone’s head.

Persephone glanced up – she wasn’t surprised to see the incredibly tall roses that had grown during her slumber. They had hunched over so they could coat her with petals, but now that she was up, they had started to shrink down in respect. “What, you’ve never seen a rose before? I thought you were the all-knowing symbol of love and beauty.” She smirked in a bit of a mean fashion, but it stopped when Aphrodite shrugged again.

“That’s what they say,” Aphrodite replied casually, picking up one of the rose petals and twisting it around her fingers to inspect it. She would've eaten it if Persephone didn't look at her with wide eyes, and so she let it drop back to the ground.

Persephone also picked a rose petal up, and rubbed it between her fingers. It smeared red on her fingers, which she used to add blush to her cheeks. “They’re called roses. Since I’ve got rule over plants like my mother, they tend to pop up whenever I think of someone I love.”

Aphrodite plucked a whole rose for herself, admiring it. “It’s very pretty.” The rose appeared to bow in her hands, the thorns falling off one by one in reverence. She seemed a little disappointed that even plants were treating her as super special.

Persephone hesitated, studying Aphrodite's bizarre expression. She'd heard a few things from her mother about Aphrodite – but come to think of it, it had all been about her beauty. Nothing else of notice. Nothing about her personality, nothing about her intelligence, not even if she preferred red over blue. With a rare dash of humility and pity, Persephone sat on her knees and straightened herself up, in order to start over and make a proper introduction as one immortal to another. “My Goddess name is Persephone. My chosen name is Daisy.” She lowered her head respectfully, as did all the flowers in tune with her.

Aphrodite looked up the rose, having started to pick its petals for herself. She had wanted to see what the “inside” of a rose looked like, but the concept of different names threw her off. “What’s a chosen name?”

Persephone – Daisy, rather, now stared twice as hard. Hadn’t this newborn goddess been told anything? Then it hit her hard – this really was a newborn, in the biggest sense of the word. “Sheesh,” she muttered under her breath. “All they did was tell you that you look good.” She began to stand up, making this decision more out of annoyance than real responsibility. “Look, if you want to hang out around me, you’re going to learn how things work. First off, the chosen name is what you give yourself after Zeus gives you a name. It’s what you allow your friends and family to call you, those that mean something to you.”

Aphrodite brightened considerably, dropping the forgotten flower and clasping her hands together eagerly. “Does this mean we’re friends?” The partygoers had been nice, in a way, but they weren't exactly what one could call friends. If what she thought of the concept was true, then she desperately wanted a friend.

Daisy almost said no. She looked down at the tiny goddess, whose innocent eyes sparkled with discovery. The dear probably didn’t have any actual friends. Daisy clicked her tongue and then held her hand out. “Yes, we are. Now come along, you’ve got a lot to learn.”

The two goddesses went out into the mortal world, one teaching the other. It shocked and angered Daisy that her companion had been told so astonishingly little. Daisy hadn't been at the party, as she'd chosen to never visit Olympus. Her mother, Demeter, had gone to the celebration the first couple of days, more out of obligation more than anything else, and she had only seen a few glimpses of Aphrodite. Each time, she told her daughter, Aphrodite had been sitting on her new seat while the gods poured gifts at her feet, telling her how beautiful she was. Daisy now realized that was the only thing they did to her and with her. They hadn’t treated her as a new member of Olympus, but instead as more of a trophy, something to admire on the mantle. This made it difficult to teach at first, as Daisy continued to assume that Aphrodite would know the simplest of things, yet Daisy would only be rewarded with a head tilt.

Thankfully, it turned out Aphrodite had a personality under her naivety. She was cheerful and pleasant, able to find happiness in the smallest of lessons. She cared deeply for others, even those she just met, and she eagerly enjoyed each new thing she learned. Yet she was so bored of all those men and women who slobbered at her feet and told her she was pretty, pretty, pretty...yes, she got the idea but what else was there? She didn’t even like being worshipped. Daisy found herself being drawn to the dear, although she couldn't tell if this was actually friendship or pity. Either way, Aphrodite was happy.

The day was almost over when they walked into that small mortal village, the sun sinking into the earth. Mortals could not see them unless the goddesses wished for it, and for now, the two were content to be hidden. Daisy had been leading Aphrodite to the local temple, which worshipped the god of war, Ares. “See, when we have temples, people come here to pray to whatever god is housed there.” This temple was the tallest building in the village, and murals on the walls depicted famous battles. Aphrodite didn’t care for it. The murals were ghastly in their depictions of the loss of life, and instead of praising a victor, the paintings praised the actual taking of lives. She could smell dust and rotted animal meat from within and she grimaced.

“Sometimes they ask us for favors, or guidance,” Daisy continued, ignoring Aphrodite’s disgust, though she too found the temple to be quite garish. “Or they just thank us. Since this is Ares’ temple, they come here to ask for his help when they know a fight is coming.”

“What if whoever they’re fighting also prays to him?” Aphrodite asked, stepping away from the temple that seemed to tower over her in a superior fashion.

“Usually, whoever makes the best sacrifice gets the win.” Daisy now started to notice Aphrodite’s displeasure, and tried to think of a way to change the subject while still teaching her friend. “I suppose when you get a temple made, they’ll come to you asking for good luck on their weddings, since you're the goddess of love.” Then she paused. Here was another lesson in a lesson. “A wedding is when two people-”

“I know what a wedding is!” Aphrodite suddenly interrupted, whipping her head around.

Daisy stopped, startled. Aphrodite had to be told what certain animals were, what rain was, and even the names of gods she already met. “…You do?”

“Oh, yes!” Aphrodite was getting cheerful again, but it was much more than before. She was rocking on her heels, hands clasped together. “I know all about them. That’s when two people pledge their love for one another with a special ceremony. They declare how much they care for each other with their family and friends present.” She placed her hands over her chest, as if she was the blushing bride. “They exchange golden rings which become a symbol of their love to whoever they meet. They vow to love only each other, for the rest of their lives. And everyone there celebrates their unity.”

Daisy’s eyebrow quirked up. “You didn’t know what roses were, but you know that much about weddings? Who told you?”

“No one told me. I just know.” Aphrodite shrugged. It had come as naturally to her as breathing. Was this really so strange? She was afraid for a moment that she had offended her first and only friend, and began to twiddle her thumbs as she waited for Daisy's response.

Daisy mulled over this for a few seconds, rubbing her beak in contemplation. True, most gods knew automatically about whatever they ruled over – Daisy knew everything and anything about seeds and trees, but she had assumed Aphrodite had only been given the title goddess of love due to her beauty. “Aphrodite, do you know what a scroll is?”

Aphrodite shook her head. “No.” It seemed to bother her that she didn’t know it, frowning.

“Do you know what a date is?”

Instantly Aphrodite was full of wonderment and excitement, hands clapping twice as she babbled on. “That’s when two people want to test their love by going out into the world and spending time together! That way they can see if they want to spend even more time together!”

“What’s a dog?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s a love letter?”

“That’s when a person expresses their heartfelt emotions through writing! Sometimes it’s a secret! They write it out on a…” She then paused, eyes moving left to right, as something clicked together in her mind. “Oh, they write it on a scroll, don’t they?” She even mimicked the action, looking at Daisy for approval.

Daisy nodded but her mind was elsewhere. Though the gods had definitely idolized her beauty too much, they had gotten one aspect of it right. For one reason or another, Aphrodite knew everything about love, and as long as something was connected to love, she would know that too. It was bizarre, but Daisy couldn’t help but find some amusement in it. She chuckled, a few petals falling off of her hair. “You’re a little weird, you know that, right?”

Aphrodite blinked. “What’s ‘weird’?”

“…What’s a honeymoon?”

“Oh! That’s when the married couple decide to continue celebrating their newfound unity…” And on and on Aphrodite rambled with Daisy visibly holding back laughter. At least she was eager about the subject which people would pray to her over. She could think of a few gods who loathed their duty, and theirs tended to be a miserable existence. But Aphrodite was in love with love.

When night finally fell, Daisy lamented she had to return home before her mother threw a fit. Aphrodite asked why she didn’t live on Mount Olympus, and Daisy’s face momentarily turned dark, her eyes cast away. “It’s not exactly a welcoming place for me and my husband, like it was during your party.” She said quietly, rubbing her arm. “Some of us aren’t allowed to stay there...and others choose not to stay at all.” Her voice was bitter, harsher than her first moments of sarcasm when she met Aphrodite. The mouse could understand not wanting to stay there, given the boredom she felt, but she didn’t know why there was such acidity in Daisy’s voice. There was history, but Aphrodite could see this wasn’t hers to discover yet. Instead, she tried to make the situation happy.

“Well, before we go, I chose a name.” She smiled, rocking back and forth on her bare feet in anticipation.

It did the trick and Daisy looked back at her with a relaxed expression. “What is it?”

“Everyone in the party commented on how small I was. So I thought I’d go with Minnie. Like 'mini'? Is that all right? Do you like it?”

Daisy smiled as well, a flower blossoming on her shoulder, one that Minnie had yet to learn the name for. “I like it. It suits you. Come see me again, okay? It’s embarrassing to have a high ranked goddess know so little.” Yet even as she said such a thing, her face was soft, speaking to her real friend. Daisy had tried not to make her into one, yet there Minnie was, taking a piece of Daisy's heart without meaning to.

They hugged each other, and Minnie was very happy to have such an extended vocabulary because of this fun girl. She liked Daisy very much. As she made her way back to Olympus, she figured out why – Daisy had simply been real with her. She said what she honestly thought of Minnie – that name was growing on her more and more with every minute – and even expressed negative emotions to her. It had been a thrill.

~*~

Here she was in Olympus again, and every god and goddess that noticed her stopped what they were doing in order to gawk. Slack jaws, wide eyes, throats swallowing, she had become used to the looks and noises. Those that could speak praised her, but did not speak to her.
“Hail, Goddess Aphrodite!”
“The sun shines on the beauty of Aphrodite!”
“I can die, now that those eyes have gazed upon me!”

Blah blah blah – that had been another thing Daisy had taught her, and Minnie giggled as she remembered. She almost thought about telling the passersby her chosen name, but then decided against it. If they hadn’t bothered to tell her such a thing existed, why bother sharing it with them? She found her throne, once again adorned in extravagant gifts, and brushed them off to sit down. Gods and goddesses didn’t need to eat, but Minnie enjoyed the act of eating. It had been another way of learning. She picked up a fresh batch of purple round things – she’d have to ask Daisy what they were next time - and popped one into her mouth. It was juicy and sweet, and Minnie enjoyed them.

“Sooo, someone’s been around my temple!” a loud voice rumbled above her, as Minnie had been ready to eat another purple circle. She knew that voice well – this had been one of her constant visitors during the party.

Ares, the god of war, was bigger than her in every sense of the word. Now only did he tower above her as his temple had, his girth said he had probably eaten more of the purple rounds than the world had to offer. It was difficult to tell he was a feline, given that his hot red helmet hid his ears, and most of his body was the same way – covered in shiny red and gold armor as if he was expected to fight in the next second. But you could see his face well enough, as his yellow eyes bore down on Minnie.

“I guess I did,” Minnie answered, rolling a purple round in her fingers.

Ares laughed at that, banging his fist against the plate on his chest, and so made himself even louder. “That’s a good eye you got there! Makin’ sure you done seen the best temple for the best god around! It’s a real amazin’ temple, ain’t it?”

“Well,” Minnie tried to be honest, moving around so she was sitting upright and politely, “I only saw it because Daisy…Persephone was showing me around.”

Ares seemed to ignore certain parts of that sentence. “Persephone! She’s up and around?” He rubbed his hand under his chin full of stubble. “Guess it ain’t time yet for that husband of hers ta drag her back down below…Ya might wanna stay clear of her, or a pretty thing like yerself might get kidnapped!”

Minnie’s brows knit together. “She didn’t mention anything like that.”

“Well, who would?” Pete found this funny, making his loud, banging laugh again. “Havin’ ta hitch up with the god of death, that’s probably worse than death! Get it? HAR HAR HAR HAR!”

Minnie didn’t laugh, and instead popped several round purples into her mouth in order to have an excuse. She didn’t like this lesson. She didn't like Ares. “I like her. She’s my friend.”

“Aw, now don’t go poutin’ like that… Course, even when yer poutin’ yer the prettiest thing around!” He slipped an arm around Minnie’s shoulders and his armor was cold. She shivered. “I’m just lookin’ out for ya. We gotta take care of our new goddess. Hey, let’s have another round for the most beautiful gal in the realm!” He raised a fist to his passing brethren, and they cheered for Pete’s enthusiasm. “You just sit tight and I’ll go getcha a good drink, gorgeous!” He squeezed her tightly in a one-armed hug that smelled of blood, before bounding off.

“I don’t want…” But it was useless, and she knew it. With a loud sigh, she declined to eat any further. She eased back into her seat as another party began to start up, thanks to Ares. Those that noticed she had started to nap praised that even asleep and curled up, she was as beautiful as ever.

“All hail Goddess Aphrodite!”
“All hail Goddess Aphrodite!”
“All hail Goddess Aphrodite!”