Zeus and Io
Disclaimer: I own very little and certainly not these characters. I stole them, and used them purely for my own pleasure. But don't worry; I'll bring them back. (I think)
English isn't my native language; I'm Dutch, so please forgive me grammar- spelling- and stupid mistakes in general.
Once upon a time in Greece there was a mountain. It was the biggest mountain in whole Europe, so big that clouds covered the top. (Or not, when it was sunny).
On that mountain, called the Olympos, the Gods lived. There were many Gods, because the Greeks liked to have different Gods for different things. For example, if you were in love, you prayed to Afrodite, the love-goddess. And when you hurt your toe, you prayed to Apollo, the God of healing.
But all the Gods thought themselves superior to the others, and they argued who was the most important, who got to live highest on the mountain, who had to wash the dishes et cetera. They needed a ruler. All Gods are immortal, but six were elder than the rest. Three Goddesses, Hestia, Hera and Demeter, and three Gods, Poseidon, Hades and Zeus. While the Goddesses were busy combing their hair the Gods argued.
They couldn't agree, so, in the end, they tossed a coin. (A/N I know coins only have two sides, but this one was very special) Hades became ruler of the underworld, which was called after him the Hades, and Poseidon got the sea. Zeus, the youngest, crowned himself master of the universe. This fitted him well, because he was the most selfish, arrogant and greediest of all. He then married his sister Hera, and a thousand years later, our story begins.
Zeus sat on top of the mountain in a beach chair, stretching himself in the sun. He belched loudly and thought satisfied how well he'd done in life. He had the whole world, and the best place for tanning. But, you know, sitting in the sun all day long doing nothing except being lazy isn't easy. So after an hour or so Zeus stretched once more and peeked over the top of his mountain. The sight was very boring (only a few people working in the fields, their necks burned) so he amused himself for a few minutes by making a giant magnifying glass appear out of thin air and scorching the farmers below with it, like ants. Watching them scream was very amusing indeed, he thought.
When all the people were burned he put his magnifying glass away and turned to the left. His mouth fell open at what he saw and he almost drooled. Beneath him, five young girls were doing the laundry in a little river. After they put the clothes they had been washing away three of them grabbed a ball and started to play. The other two went to sit in the shadow of a nearby tree. Quickly the girls got hot and the three girls playing put out most of their clothes. They were all very pretty, but one sitting in the shadow of the tree beat them all. She had pretty green eyes, and her blond hair fell to her waist. She was the daughter of one of the river gods. Zeus had met her last year, when she was elected 'miss ancient Greece'. Her name was Io, and Zeus was very annoyed she had decided to leave her clothes on.
We've already stated that Zeus was greedy, and not only in food (the most) or clothes (the best), but also in what the Gods called 'mortals'. In fact, no beautiful girl or boy could escape his gaze and his affaires were numerous.
And now Zeus wanted this girl, Io. And there was but one problem: Hera.
No matter how often he tried, he could never get rid of Hera. She was always there, watching him, and in the 897 years they were married, she had changed from an innocent, shy girl to a possessive and VERY bossy wife. But there was no reason why he couldn't try a 534th time, right?
Okay, he was lazy, but if he wanted something, he was usually very quick in getting there before his prey got away. So he decided Hera was of later worry and flew off the mountain. (Yes, Gods can fly). Unfortunately he ate a little too much, and therefore hit the ground a little bit earlier and more painfully than he had expected. But he most annoying part was that the girls were laughing. Laughing at HIM, the master of the universe?
But he had no time for revengeful thoughts now. He got up, straightened his hair, looked at his reflection in the river and went to talk to Io.
'So, darling', he said, in what he thought was his most seductive voice, 'you look really pretty today. Lets go for a walk, hint, hint?'
Io flushed and looked at the ground while all the other girls giggled madly.
'No', she said, 'my father said: never take sweets from strangers and never go for a walk with them.' Zeus sighed. 'But what if we won't go for a walk but for something erm, else?' he tried. Io still shook her head. Zeus flew into a temper. 'who the bloody hell do you think you are, girl?' He yelled. 'Well, I am Zeus, ruler of Gods, master of the universe, and we're going for a walk if you want it or not!' Io paled. She had sometimes heard stories about Zeus and his love affairs when she was eavesdropping on her parents. She tried to get away but alas, Zeus grabbed her and dragged her away, while he made it mist. At least Hera couldn't see him now.
After a while he threw Io on the ground, intending to do some NC-17 rated things with her. But Io struggled with all her might, screamed hard enough to wake the dead, hit him and bit him in the nose (and more private parts.) Finally Zeus grabbed a sock of his and held it under her nose: for the next fifteen minutes Io was so busy trying to get the repugnant smell out of her nose that she didn't notice what Zeus was doing.
Hera woke with a start. Slowly the Goddess of marriage (which proves that the ancient Greeks had a good sense of humour) opened her eyes, mentally preparing herself for the heavy task of getting out of bed. As the Goddess of marriage, she thought it the first task of every woman to stay in bed till three pm, so that she couldn't bore her husband with the next immense task: picking something to wear.
But this day was unlike the others. It started when she decided to wear her pink bikini and throw Zeus out of his beach chair. Her skin definitely needed to tan. But, surprise surprise, Zeus wasn't in his beach chair. And worse, the whole earth was covered in fog. Hera might had to spend three hours to decide if she was going to wear her green or her yellow dress, but she wasn't stupid. So she added fog to her absent husband, the abandoned magnifying glass and that Io he had been raving about for weeks, and at that point she quickly grabbed her sunglasses and flew off the mountain, scaring a couple of birds as she went.
On earth, Zeus looked up quickly as something with great speed flew right at him, and found it to be his worst nightmare: his wife, in a pink bikini, looking like a slightly overweight cow.
So he did the first thing that struck his mind. He changed Io into a slightly overweight cow. As Hera landed she did her best not to look surprised. She had expected him to be with a girl or a boy, or more. Surely he didn't fancy cows?
Putting on her most inquisitive voice she snapped: 'what are you doing here, what is that cow doing here, why is it all foggy, where did you put the sun lotion?'
'Eh', Zeus said 'I was just out walking a bit (this wasn't entirely a lie) and than I saw this beautiful cow and I thought: what a beautiful cow. So I was stroking the cow and...'
'Alright, Alright', Hera mumbled, 'but you don't need a cow, do you? Why don't you give it to me?' 'Well', Zeus said 'if you insist...' 'I do', Hera said, taking the cow and leaving Zeus to stand alone in the fog.
Hera, who knew very well there was something wrong with this cow, set her in a meadow and ordered Argus, a shepherd, to guard her. There she spent her days sweeping flies away with her tail and listening to Argus who rambled on and on about Dolly, his favourite sheep. Zeus, in the meantime, felt very bad about leaving Io.
Not because he had so much of a conscience, but because she was really beautiful, even as a cow. He spent his days on his luxurious bed, watching 'sex and the Olympos' and tearing leaves of his little calendar, which had a wish or an advice on each day. Then one day, he tore away the second of September and he saw (big surprise) the third of September with beneath it: Advice: Do a good deed.
Zeus wasn't really good at good deeds, but this time he knew one very rewarding: freeing Io. So he sent for Hermes, one of his bastard sons, and told him: 'son, I have a very important mission for you. This quest will lead you to far countries and evil people. Perhaps you will get tired or hurt, but it's worth it. Hermes, my lad, I want you to free Io and help her escape from Argus.' Hermes nodded gravely, understanding the earnest of the situation. He grabbed his staff and his sandals with little wings on them, and flew away before Zeus could blink.
When he arrived at the meadow, he saw Io and Argus immediately. He changed his appearance into that of a minstrel and sat on the grass, waiting. Argus, you must know, wasn't an ordinary shepherd. He had one hundred eyes, and when he slept still two of them were open, and he could still see you. Hermes waited and waited, but even as he slept, there were two eyes open. And then he got a brilliant idea.
He got his harp (being a minstrel) and started to play and sing a song. The song was about all Zeus' love affairs and, as you'll understand, that takes time. Lots of time.
And finally, Argus fell asleep, and this time all his eyes slept. Hermes got up, drew his sword and decapitated Argus.
From the Olympos, Hera was looking. 'What a shame', she thought, 'all those beautiful eyes, what a waste.' So she went down and grabbed as much as she could find and sew them on the fan of the peacock, her favourite animal. Then she looked up again and found that Hermes and Io had almost disappeared from her view. Still mad, she sent a hornet to follow Io everywhere she went.
Poor Io was still a cow, and with a hornet zooming behind her she ran, and ran, and ran, till she came across a very big sea. Her father being a river God, she could swim very well and she swam all the way to Egypt. There Zeus turned her back into a girl and, far from the spying eyes of Hera, made love to her again. But when she got two children, and began resemble Hera more and more, he deserted her. And he returned to the Olympos and his normal live, and forgot all about her.
And I don't know if they lived happily, but their story lived ever after anyway.