Hey guys!

New multi chapter fic in response to the challenge "Everyone Has A Story" on the Gazing Into The Mist Forum. The link is on my bio if you want to check out all their amazing topics.

This is going to be eight chapters long so please follow and fav this fic too! Also, I've never written a fic based on Zoë so please review and tell me what you guys think of chapter 1!

So, about this chapter, I realize that, while there isn't much information about Zoë, it is stated that it was Atlas the one that helped Hercules obtain the golden apple. However, I thought it would be interesting how this lonely girl managed to be fooled by a seasoned hero so I gave the story a twist. Also, I'm aware that Zoë's language and dialect changes a lot over the course of her story so I've decided to stick to plain english in order to make the story as cohesive as possible.

Hope you guys like it!

Chapter 1. "The One That Got Away."

Rain slowly gained strength as it fell on the Gardens of the Hesperides during that late afternoon just before sunset, soaking everything with its refreshening, reviving quality. Wind began to pick up, cold settling as a clear sign of the quickly departing summer. The gardens were surrounded by an atmosphere of expectant silence, as if they knew somehow that things were about to change, the thin layer of fog adding to that slightly unnerving characteristic.

Zoë, daughter of Atlas, guardian of the Garden of the Hesperides, stood behind a trunk, unbothered by her long, dark brown, loose hair soaked by the falling rain. Her long, white, Greek was pressing against her lean form, so cold was beginning to reach her, yet she could hardly feel it. She was undeterred by the cold, the water, and the incoming darkness as she silently reached up towards her quiver, trying to ready her bow without alerting the intruder of her presence.

Her duty was clear, to drive any intruders away from Queen Hera's tree of golden apples. She had been especially honoured by this assignment and she would fulfill her duties regardless of the consequences.

Yet, as Zoë aimed her bow at the stranger, she couldn't help but feel a connection with him, as if he was meant to play an important part of his life. The man in question was tall yet lean, his dark hair contrasting nicely against his white tunic and purple cloak, his leather sandals hitting the ground silently as he ran sneakily through the gardens.

Zoë's eyes narrowed and an amused smirk made its way onto her lips.

It'd be fun to defeat yet another man.

Zoë exited her hiding spot and walked silently towards the stranger, her bow ready, her eyes out of reflex opening wider in order to counteract the blurriness caused by the fog and the rain, even though she wasn't affected by them.

And then, she stepped on a fallen branch, the creaking sound echoing through the gardens.

Before her, the man stopped, straightened, and looked back at her.

Zoë scowled at her own mistake before releasing the arrow she had notched into her bow. The man rolled onto the floor, easily dodging the arrow, and stood again to charge at the Hesperide. Zoë wasn't cowered by the bold move though, and she quickly reached up into her curls, grabbing her hairpin and quickly transforming it into her sword, Anaklusmos. She met his knife into midair with her sword, and both rivals stared at each other with shock.

After a short, silent moment, the man smirked, his blue eyes twinkling with interest. "Well, well, well. A maid who can fight."

Zoë growled at that and punched the man on the jaw only to push him away roughly and attacking him with Anaklusmos before he had the chance to regain his footing. Miraculously though, he was able to block her attack, and the pair fought relentlessly for a few minutes, making it look like a complex dance filled with twirls, parries and blows.

At last, Zoë pushed herself onto his space, throwing blows at the stranger as quickly as she could in order to destabilize him. As he leaned back unconsciously in order to protect himself from her sharp weapon, Zoë quickly knelt and swept her leg under his feet, literally sweeping him off his feet. The man fell with a grunt and Zoë quickly took the chance, kneeling on his chest with her knees and legs trapping his arms against the ground and Anaklusmos pressed against his throat.

"Who are you and what do you want?" Zoë demanded forcefully, ignoring the stranger's smirk.

"May I say, my lady, that you are the most beautiful girl I have ever laid eyes on?" the stranger replied, unbothered by the rain that was by then pouring directly on his face, and stared right at the girl above him with what he clearly intended it to be charming smile.

Zoë's scowl deepened. She pressed her sword closer to his throat. "You have not answered my question, thief."

"Very well. My name is Hercules, son of Zeus," Hercules replied, his smile widening as Zoë gaped at him in shock, "I take it you have heard of me, then."

"Of course, your prowess and skills are legendary," Zoë replied as she stood, watching the demigod before her as he stood too and shook off his tunic. His eyes were unmistakable, a classic trait of a child of the King of the Gods. "I apologize, my lord. I acted hastily in order to perform my duty."

"As any worthy guardian should do," Hercules replied warmly, and gifted her with a cheeky smile.

Zoë refused to look away even as she felt her cheeks colouring. She looked at their wet clothes with a sheepish glance. "Let me invite you inside, my lord, it cannot be comfortable to carry on your journey with your clothes in such a foul state."

Hercules looked up at the rain before shaking his head with amusement. He gestured at the opposite direction. "What is done is done, my lady. There is no use in wasting time on such a small thing as clothes. Please, walk with me."

Zoë nodded, transforming her blade once again into a hair pin and placing it on her locks. She picked up her bow from the ground and began walking, Hercules following her. "May I ask what is your business in my garden, Lord Hercules?"

Hercules raised a hand almost apologetically. "Please, my lady, I must ask that you call me Hercules."

"If you call me Zoë, Hercules. I am not a lady, after all, only a nymph," the Hesperide replied, "Now, you were going to tell me about your visit to my gardens."

Hercules nodded and told her the story slowly, discoursing all the dangers he beared in life, his training with the centaur Chiron and even his relationships with the Olympic Gods. As he spoke about Hera, Hercules described the madness he was caused by his feud with the Queen of the Gods, and how it had resulted in the death of his family. His way of talking was passionate, almost poetic, and it made anyone around him forget anything but his storytelling. Before too long, almost without noticing, it was Hercules who led their stroll, and Zoë who followed in a deep, mesmerized trance.

"I am greatly sorry for your loss, Hercules," Zoë said softly, but Hercules shook his head vehemently.

"I do not care for apologetic words, Zoë, not when I am at fault for my family's murder. In consequence to my wrongdoings, Queen Hera has requested that I complete twelve tasks of her choosing, in order to atone for said crimes," Hercules replied, his voice masked with sad determination. He opened his arms suddenly and gestured before him. "Which is why I am here,"

Zoë followed his gesture, her eyes widening as she noticed they stood a few yards from Queen Hera's tree of golden of apples. She narrowed her eyes accusingly at the hero beside her. "You tricked me. You want to steal one of the golden apples!"

Hercules raised his eyes apologetically. "Of course not! Queen Hera asked that I fulfill this task for her! How can I steal any of her precious belongings, if it was their owner herself that asked me to retrieve them? Besides, I would never desire to cause you any trouble, my dear friend."

Zoë's eyes softened at that. She debated internally for a few minutes, but quickly decided that Hercules was probably right. He wouldn't cause him any harm and if he was there by the hand of Queen Hera herself, then she needed to help him. Like he said, they were friends.

Finally, the Hesperide nodded and smiled thinly at the hero beside her. "Very well but you need to promise me you will defend me if I get in trouble over this. Also, you will need to run why I distract Ladon. Once he feels your scent, you will not stand a chance."

Hercules frowned. "Who is Ladon?"

As if on cue, an enormous dragon with a hundred heads flew from the tree onto the ground, proceeding to roar at the stormy sky.

Hercules gulped. "Oh."

"Do not concern yourself, Ladon trusts me," Zoë replied. She then hesitated but eventually reached onto her locks, extracting her hairpin once more and turning it into Anaklusmos. She handed it to Hercules. "Here. You will need this to cut the apple from its branch."

Hercules took it respectfully and nodded gratefully at the Hesperide. "Thank you, Zoë."

Zoë merely nodded, not trusting herself to speak as she realized they wouldn't get a chance to say goodbye once Hercules managed to obtain the apple, as he would have to run before Ladon or her sisters caught him in the Garden.

After she took a few steps forward, she suddenly froze on her step and looked back at Hercules. "Once you get the apple, take Anaklusmos and run. I will distract Ladon so it does not follow you."

Hercules nodded and smiled charmingly at her. "Do not concern yourself, my dear friend. I will visit you once I am done with my quest."

Zoë smiled thinly before rushing through the last yards towards the tree, calling Ladon as she neared it. She smiled as Ladon approached her, and took him slightly away from the tree, always caressing his scaled nose. Ladon would never let himself be baited away from the tree, but Zoë and him had always had a close relationship, herself being the only one allowed to feed the poisonous dragon by hand.

She couldn't speak that time, though, overcome by a feeling of uncomfortable dread, as if she was only now realizing the bad choice she had made. She forced herself to ignore those feelings, though, and slowly talked to the dragon before her about her day, forcing herself not to look at the tree in order not to be caught by its guardian.

Between the rain and the wind, she couldn't hear Hercules, not even if she tried, so she soothingly caressed her dragon friend, while thinking of the nice friend she had managed to make, and forcing herself to ignore her aching heart at not even being able to say goodbye at him.

She stayed there for hours. Eventually, the rain stopped and the fog dispersed, so it was a starry, clear night when Zoë finally departed that spot of the garden towards the comfort of a warm bath and her bed. So deep in thought she was, that she didn't even notice her sisters surrounding her until the oldest of them spoke.

"Behold, my dear sisters," Hesperia said, startling Zoë as she exited the shadows before her, so similar to Zoë herself, her stance regal yet grave. "A traitor in our midst."

Zoë took a step back as the other Hesperides walked into the moonlight also, and gulped, willingly trying to remain hopeful.

Hercules was her friend, after all. He would help her, just as she helped him.

The silence was complete in the room reserved for important audiences.

Hesperia, as the oldest of the Hesperides, sat regally on the throne kept for when their mother, the goddess Hesperis, chose to visit her daughters. Their sisters Erytheia and Aegle stood on either side of her, their faces inexpressive as their older sister had taught her. The youngest Hesperide, Arethusa, which was also the closest one to Zoë, stood slightly apart, her eyes set on Zoë with apprehension.

Zoë stood before them, her clothes and hair once again dry. A satchel and her weapons rested against the wall near the door behind her in the case that she was found guilty. She knew a servant had been sent after Hercules in order to get his testimony but still, Zoë quivered, not with fear, but with barely restrained anger.

How did her sisters dare summoning a trial against her? How could they turn their back on her like that, after what they had gone through?

By then, she could barely feel any weariness at being awake in the middle of the night, nor was she sensible to the cold lingering within her by the long hours she spent under the freezing rain. Hot anger boiled inside of her, feeling her with rage at being so utterly humiliated.

At last, Zoë straightened, squaring her shoulders and locking her hands behind her back. She stared directly at Hesperia with narrowed eyes, all of that combined with her loose, luscious curls and black orbs making her look reminiscent to a member of royalty.

Hesperia stared back calmly, her voice even against her sister's rebellious stand. "Is there anything you would like to say in your favour?"

Zoë frowned. She had been trying to do so for hours. "Hercules confirmed he needed to get a golden apple under Queen Hera's command. What was I supposed to do? We have never stood against the will of the Olympian Gods."

"Yet you have failed your duty, sister," Hesperia replied, "If there was any way we could prove your story, this would be much easier for us all."

Zoë's voice hardened. "If you could wait for what the story our servant will bring, sister, then you would have a way to prove mine."

Hesperia chose not to reply, but glanced at the door on the other side of the room, her eyebrows raising as a servant opened the door and bowed deeply to the leader of the Hesperides. "Ah, there he is! Come, tell us what this demigod son of Zeus has said about my sister's claims."

The servant didn't look at Zoë as he hurried towards the group of sisters. He bowed deeply at the four sisters before him before standing up as well a few steps to Zoë's right. "Hercules has spoken to me, my lady. He has stated that he did saw Mistress Zoë by the gardens distracting the dragon Ladon so he took that opportunity to steal that apple. He claims to have never spoken to Mistress Zoë."

Arethusa sighed and covered her eyes sadly as the other three glared at Zoë. "Oh, Zoë."

Zoë's eyes widened by the betrayal, only then realizing how foolish she had been by trusting a man she did not know. The only thing left was to fight in order to obtain her own justice so she glared at the servant murderously before looking at her sisters with accusation, pain, and outrage in her eyes. "That is not true! Why am I not in possession of Anaklusmos anymore then? Hercules is clearly lying!"

"You could have thrown Anaklusmos in the garden once you saw your mistake, making us spend centuries looking for it," Hesperia replied, her voice dropping to a threatening whisper, her mind made up once she heard the servant's condemning words. "How can we believe you?"

Zoë's voice dropped too, shaken by what she was hearing, by the betrayal of not only the man she had believed to be her friend, but also her own sisters, her own blood. "You would rather believe a man who you have never met rather than your own sister?"

Erytheia and Aegle dropped her eyes onto the ground as an uncomfortable, heavy silence fell on the room, and tried to take themselves away from the scene unfolding before their very eyes. Arethusa gazed between Zoë and Hesperia with tearful eyes, willing herself to speak in her sister's favour but also, fear at her oldest sister striking her heart. Finally, realizing which one was greater, she sunk her head shamefully, silently releasing the tears she had been withholding.

Hesperia stared right into her fallen sister's eyes, her eyes not betraying any emotion at expelling her own sister. If she was at pain by her actions, Zoë would never know. "That is exactly it, sister. We have never seen him."

Zoë took a step back, stricken by the sudden grief place on her. She glanced at each of her sisters in turn, desperately trying to find an ally, just one of them who would take pity on her and stand by her side.

Not one of them spoke up.

Zoë closed her eyes, tears rolling down her cheeks as she was forced to face the gravity of her situation. Out of sheer naivety and little knowledge of the world around them, she had let herself be fooled by a traitor and had failed while performing her duties.

She didn't deserve to be forgiven and honestly, she could hardly forgive herself as she thought of her fatal mistake.

When Zoë opened her eyes again, they were filled with nothing but strength and courage. She nodded at the leader of the Hesperides. "You have made your choice, Hesperia, so get on with it. Do not keep me waiting uselessly."

Hesperia regarded her sister silently before raising from her mother's throne. Her voice seemed to boom regally as she declared the fatal words, "Zoë, Daughter of Atlas, Guardian of the Hesperides, you have failed your duties as a member of our Garden. I, Hesperia, daughter of Atlas and leader of the Hesperis have listened to your testimony and I declare you guilty of your crimes. You are hereby expelled from this territory. I do not ever want to see you here again."

Zoë glared at her sisters before stalking away. She grabbed her satchel, hung her quiver across her back and was out of the door without looking back one last time at the family who loved, despised and denied her.

Hopefully, she would never have to see them again.

The following month passed by her in a blur.

Zoë thanked her stars every day that she had practiced her skills as a warrior religiously, as her bow had been saving her life on a daily basis during her time in the woods.

Things had been repetitive, mundane and solitary ever since she was expelled from the garden. She'd been hunting and trying to find shelter during daylight, barely sleeping with her quiver close to her during nightfall.

Everyday the same routine.

It was exhausting, fighting to survive every day without a fault.

She tried to be always on the move, always distancing herself from those who betrayed her, her mind eternally placed on the man who was to blame for everything that happened to her.

Always praying to the gods. Hoping almost desperately that one of them would free her from this maddening impasse reigning on her life.

One night, as she was carefully trekking through the woods, she began to be painfully aware that the sun had already set behind her. She knew that she needed to find shelter as soon as possible or otherwise prepare herself to spend the night up in a tree in perpetual alertness while she prayed that the leaves and the darkness were enough to cover her.

Then, she heard a howl.

Zoë stalled, frozen in mid step. The howl didn't sound too far but she knew that they were fast, much faster than a simple human like she had come to be ever since she left the gardens and therefore, resigned her immortality.

She knew they surely had picked up her scent already.

Immediately after that fact dawned on her, she began to run in the opposite direction, knowing nothing she did would be enough to survive the predators unless a miracle happened, but still determined to fight with every ounce of strength she possessed to survive, to prove the fates that her time hadn't come yet.

The forest was a dull green blur around her, silent except for her light, fast steps, her tired gasps and her rapidly beating heart.

She briefly wondered if there was any creature witnessing her escape, whether they could her heartbeat as loud as she did.

As a river suddenly showed itself flowing merrily before her, Zoë was filled with instant relief. She reckoned that if she was able to cross the river, then she would stand a chance of the predators losing her tracks.

As she placed her feet on the shallow waters, though, the biggest wolf she had ever laid eyes on, materialized itself by the other side of the river, its silver eyes set on her.

Zoë didn't take her eyes off the wolf, not even as she felt two other presences behind her, their strong, intense scent filling up her nostrils.

She was surrounded.

Her time had come.

Zoë could almost hear the Fates laughing at her, mocking her for her ridiculous belief that she, a mere, simple, irrelevant human, could modify her destiny on her own.

Stupid old hags.

There was only one thing left to do if she was to keep her honour and pride as she left the Earth and fought for her place in Elysium once she reached the Underworld.

So Zoë sank onto the ground on her knees, indifferent by the cool water wetting her skirts, her eyes set on the advancing wolf.

If she was to die, she would so bravely.

As the wolf lifted a paw over the transparent waters, it suddenly perked up and gazed behind Zoë, immediately after bowing its head and backing away. Just then, Zoë heard steps behind her and, before she could turn, someone spoke.

"It appears we have found ourselves a new recruit."

Zoë turned around in a hurry, her eyes widening at the group of girls before her, all of them wearing silver clothes, their bows prepared just in case.

Zoë then focused on their leader and gulped.

She knew the name of this group and their leader.

She was before the presence of the Hunters.

And it was their leader, Lady Artemis herself, the one who had spoken.

She had prayed, and the gods had answered.