In the 21st century, there is a mansion that stands alone on a vast and beautiful plot of land in Greece. A raised plateau where mist always seemed to be rising or falling and parties could be constantly heard. There was an elaborate driveway which no car ever went up or down, but horses instead emerged and returned. Upon these horses rode the elite people of society, all named after the gods of ancient Greece, or so the rumors go.
The gossip is not completely wrong; the people who enter and leave the mansion share the names with the Greek gods, but not because of their similarities. It is because they are the ancient Greek gods.
Zeus, the owner of the mansion now, lives with his wife Hera in the master suite. His two brothers, Poseidon and Hades, live in their own respective quarters, Hades to the left and northwest room of the dining room, Poseidon to the right and northeast. In the hallway that brings one to the room of Hades, another hall forms that leads to the room of the female goddesses. Aphrodite, Athena, and Artemis all share this room together. In the hallway that goes to Poseidon's room, one branch of hallway goes further back and directly east. This is the room of Hephaestus, where he may smith in peace. The hallway that has both Poseidon's and Hephaestus's rooms also has one more room, to the southeast. Apollo and Hermes share this room, for they are good friends and enjoy having this arrangement. Ares also stays in their room, but more often than not he is involved in designing the newest video game and rarely leaves his section.
Every morning the eleven deities rise and come together for a meal. Usually the younger deities go out and sometimes attend school, but only for a few years at a time so as not to arouse suspicion. They never attend the same school twice. The older deities go and enjoy the city life, often partying all morning at the bar Dionysus built decades ago and still runs.
This is where we start our story, on a normal, typical, sunny morning.
Zeus slowly crept back into the bed he shared with his lovely wife just as the sun was rising on a lovely end of summer day, thinking that he had not made a sound when he had left or one when he came back. He inched the sheets up and slid into bed, smiling fondly at his wife and gently caressing her cheek. He started when he saw that she was glaring at him, lips pursed.
"You went out again to fool around with a mortal, didn't you, you fiend!" Hera was not very quiet, no matter what the hour when it came to her husband's philandering with the local women. Her beautiful chocolate colored hair was tied up in a braid that fell over her hip, her form nude and covered only by a sheet.
Zeus cringed when he realized that at breakfast everyone would be able to mock him for being caught cheating once again by his jealous wife. With long silver tresses tied at the nape of his neck, a long beard, muscular form, and golden bands around his upper arms, it was no mystery why the women fell for him, but why he was not satisfied with his lovely wife was the better gossip by far.
In Hades's room, the god was just thinking of going to bed when he heard his brother's wife howling with anger. Hades, who worked as an undertaker when he was not with his half-year wife Persephone- who still detested him after all this time- was crowned with exceedingly long raven colored hair, gray tinted flesh, a sunken face, and a lithe form that was often garbed in black button down shirts and matching slacks with steel-rimmed glasses on the end of his nose. His room had no windows, the walls black, the floor a matching color, his bed a coffin; but there were candles around at all times in case he had a visitor that gave the space an eerie but almost welcoming glow.
Getting up to join the family for breakfast, he swept his hands through his hair and began down his dark hallway, feet making no sound. On his way, he ran into the sprightly Artemis, who seemed quite angry once again.
"That blasted Aphrodite," she started, hands curling into fists, "always hogging our bathroom in the morning and killing us all with the stench of her perfume! She has no respect for the fact that I have to get up and go to school! Oh, good morning Uncle Hades!"
Artemis, sweet and friendly to her favorite uncle, gave his cheek a kiss and joined him in his walk to the dining hall. She was dressed in the uniform that her school made her wear, which happened to be a knee-length black skirt, a white blouse, gray vest, and loafers with knee-high socks. Her hair seemed to forever change from brown to gold, and there was a quiver of arrows slung across her shoulder, her silver bow in her hands. There was a powerful and fast looking dog chasing after her heels and jumping back right before he caught up to them, to which neither Artemis or Hades paid any attention.
"Good morning, dear child," Hades smiled at Artemis, a very rare thing for him, but something he bestowed upon his favorite niece. He gave her head a little pat, then opened the door for the dining hall for her. Artemis entered and took her seat, seeing that Apollo had been up practicing his archery as well, for his golden bow and quiver of arrows was on his seat, and he sat staring at the door which lead to Zeus and Hera's room.
Hades sat next to Artemis, who sat next to Apollo, then both looked at the door as well.
"How long have they been at it?"
"Well, I only came in a few minutes ago, to hear Aunt Hera wishing she had never married Father once again." Apollo sighed, then played with a spoon, swirling it around his coffee and making it bubble with heat. His golden locks fell into his pale face, pure yellow eyes fixating on his sister as he smiled, wearing the male uniform for their school, a white button down shirt, black slacks, gray vest, and loafers.
Artemis and Apollo, twin godlings who were almost identical, were born from one of Zeus's affairs. Instead of calling Hera their mother or step-mother, they simply referred to her as Aunt. Hera had never quite adjusted to it, but she had to make due with what she could get. She would not, however, allow their birth mother, Leto, to enter the mansion, still feeling very sore about what had happened between them all.
Hades sighed and shook his head, then looked up as the door leading to the east wing opened and out came Poseidon. The god of the sea stood tall and broad, with wispy white hair that appeared to be almost blue and was always moving about down his spine, navy jeans on his legs, but no shirt for his torso. He sat down and nodded to the other three at the table, then smirked at the door where the screaming was still going on. "I take it they're still going at it?" All three nodded and looked to the door again.
From the common room came Ares and Athena, both arguing once again. Athena, with long golden hair that twisted and curled down to her waist, seemed quite upset with something new that Ares had been working on. Ares- with short dirty blonde hair often left to do as it pleased, glasses on the bridge of his nose to help him see the computer screen, a black shirt hugging his chest, whatever he grabbed from the pile for pants, and sandals on his feet- was not so good with computer programming and often asked Athena for help and was angry that his sister wouldn't tell him what sort of bug she had put on his computer to make him actually work for his company. Athena had a pet owl who stayed on her shoulders, but sometimes hopped around the breakfast table, begging for scraps and hooting cheerfully.
"Good morning Aunt Athena, Uncle Ares," Artemis cooed, trying to quell their tempers. Both looked at the young goddess and frowned for a moment, looking away from each other. They did agree that arguing in front of the younger gods was not appropriate, so they would have to settle their differences another time. Ares sat by Poseidon and the two began to talk of video games to work on, and Athena sat on the other side of Hades, quietly pondering what to do with her morning.
Aphrodite, who had finally finished her morning routine, sauntered out of the west wing hallway and smiled at Artemis. "Oh, I'm sorry; did you want to use the wash room? Unlike you, who has no figure whatsoever, us adults must look our best if we want to earn money." Aphrodite dressed in beautiful silk dresses that hugged the right places and flaunted her figure in the best possible way. With strawberry blonde hair that came almost to her ankles, she was regarded as the best sort of model that the world could ask for.
Artemis glared at the woman and the two stared angrily at each other until Hades cleared his throat, then gestured for Aphrodite to take her seat. She sat next to Ares and played with her hair until the door of the east wing opened again and Hephaestus came out, covered in soot and ash. Aphrodite jumped up and ran to her love, holding onto his arm and cooing lovingly into his ear. Hephaestus was ten years older than Aphrodite, according to her, and his ash colored hair was tied back to keep it out of his face. He was the only god that anyone knew of with a limp, and he was not very attractive by anyone's standards. No one quite understood the relationship between the two, but if they were happy, the world could continue spinning. No one really wanted to see Aphrodite and Hephaestus angry at each other again, like the time that he caught her in bed with Ares. Poseidon eventually got them out of that sticky mess.
As the door closed, Hermes bolted out of it, taking his seat next to Apollo and slapping him a high-five. Hermes was in a year below Artemis and Apollo at the school they attended, was the track record holder, and very popular with everyone. The twins and Hermes made up the "godly trio" of the school, and it was no wonder why. The story that was passed around was Hermes was the cousin of the twins, and they all lived with Zeus, Hermes' father, Artemis and Apollo's Uncle. No one wanted to get into the story of how the trio was actually half-siblings because of Zeus and his affairs, so some things were fudged. The rest of the made up story was that the family were aristocrats and had all decided to live together for the fun of it, taking in the twins when their mother had died and left them alone.
The nine gods sat talking and laughing until the doors to the master suite opened, and Zeus and Hera came out together. Hera looked livid and sat next to Athena, who began to sympathize and talk of better things, while Zeus finished the circle and sat next to Hephaestus, looking sheepish. Aphrodite giggled and looked at Zeus knowingly, reminiscing on her own affairs.
"Well, good morning everyone," Zeus said after a moment. "What are everyone's plans for the day?"
The trio quickly answered school and sports and friends all at once, Hades muttered something about sleep, Athena mentioned school as well, for she was the history and philosophy teacher at the school the younger gods went to, Ares grumbled about fixing his computer and glared at his sister, Poseidon talked about seeing Dionysus, Aphrodite twittered and leaned on Hephaestus, and her lover looked at Zeus and shrugged.
Breakfast was very casual, with the youngest gods laughing over someone who thought they would become popular if they dated Artemis. It was a well known fact that Artemis had no love planned for any day, but no one could seem to figure out why.
"They would do better to try and woo Apollo," Hermes quipped, in which Apollo blushed and laughed, giving Hermes a light punch on the shoulder.
"I think that this person must be very dense, or very new to the school," Artemis added, to which the boys nodded. She looked up at Hades, who smiled at her and sipped at his tea, then stood and offered his niece a ride to school. Artemis perked up, then waved to the others and quickly tied her hair back, ignoring Aphrodite's tutting and grabbing Hades by the hand to drag him through the sitting room and out to the stables. No matter how old they got, Artemis and Aphrodite still acted like children when they argued.
Hades had a very particular horse, a creature that was midnight in color, but who often appeared ghostly and ill. Hades climbed onto his bare back before he helped Artemis to sit before him. Slender arms wrapped around the young goddess's waist to take the reins as the girl leaned back against her uncle, smiling up at him as he gave her forehead a kiss and left the stable.
The ride to school was always enjoyable. Hades would tell Artemis about the famous people who had been brought to the underworld so she could inform the school, ask her about how hunting and archery were going, and give advice to any questions she had. Today though, Artemis would ask one of "those" questions.
"Uncle Hades, what is it like to be in love?" Artemis looked up at her uncle as a strange flush appeared on the gaunt man's cheeks, and he looked down at her and smiled awkwardly.
"Ah, let me think Artemis, how to explain..."
Many, many years had gone by since Hades had kidnapped Persephone from the world above to his dark and dismal kingdom below and tricked her into eating seeds from a pomegranate fruit. Demeter had her way though, and her daughter had been returned, but for six months of each year she stayed with the lord of the underworld, mostly in her own chambers, rarely visiting him, if at all. Hades brought his horse to a stop by a lake and helped Artemis down, letting the beast wander and graze, scaring any animals off with its looks.
"Artemis, to be in love is a wonderful and powerful thing. To only love one person your whole life... um, or, un-life I suppose, because we are gods, is a very depressing thing. You see, I am bound to Persephone, but it has been centuries since she came to stay with me for six months each year. Now I do not believe I am in love with her, as I was before. I think I was caught in a spur of the moment sort of thing. It is very lonely where I work, you know, and she was a breath of fresh air."
Artemis sat down on the bank of the lake and watched the swans that were swimming around. They were confused as to whether they should go over to Artemis, who they recognized for the beautiful goddess she was, or to stay away from the god of the underworld and reject their goddess. They swam around in circles instead, pondering their instincts.
"But Uncle Hades, can't you release Persephone from the bond that you two have if neither of you are happy?" Artemis played with some wild flowers and looked up at her uncle, who returned the gaze thoughtfully.
"I could at any time remove the bond we have. It is not as if the bond was ever consummated, but I would be alone again, and I think that I would rather hold onto someone who does not love me than be alone forever."
Artemis frowned, then grabbed Hades's glasses and flicked him gently between the eyes. "Uncle Hades! That's horrible! I'm always around if you ever need company, and the other gods are as well! You can't just assume that no one will talk to you if you do something that will make both you and Persephone happy!"
Hades looked quite startled and blinked quickly at his niece, then grabbed his glasses and smirked, giving her temple a kiss. "You're adorable, Artemis. I will ponder what you have said, alright? But we must get you to school now. You have a mythology test today, don't you?"
Artemis sighed and nodded, then took Hades's offered hand when he stood to help her up. She climbed back onto the stallion and felt Hades slide into place behind her, resuming his hold on the reins and urging the horse quickly to the school.
Back at the mansion, Apollo and Hermes were making their usual bets again. Hermes bet Apollo that he would get to school before him, and Apollo, always enjoying the games they played, agreed to the challenge. The bet included a week of offerings from the temples, which seemed to be making a comeback in society. With a hand slap the two gods raced off, Apollo on his white and gold stallion, Hermes on foot. Athena followed behind on her dust colored mare, her owl tucked into a small bag that hung low around the goddess's neck.
Hermes got to the school -just as Hades was giving Artemis a kiss on the forehead and telling her that he would tell her his answer that night after dinner- but he quickly turned around and ran to Apollo, jumping on his horse and grinning. "Beat ya, that's a week of offerings for me from you!"
Apollo groaned and let his horse come to a stop near Artemis and Hades. He watched the two thoughtfully for a moment and said to Hermes, "Hey, you don't think those two..."
"Artemis and Hades? Hm... Now that you mention it..." Hermes smirked. "What's wrong Apollo, jealous that your sister looks at someone with loving eyes who isn't you?" Hermes knew that deep down, Apollo was deeply jealous that his sister could love anyone more than him, and he fought hard so that his twin would never leave him. They watched Hades leave the school grounds, with a lot of the Gothic-type girls swooning after his "vampire beauty" and looking at Artemis with envy. Only when Hades was gone did Apollo speak again.
"Of course not! She can like who she wants! But that's her uncle!"
Hermes stared at Apollo as if he was a loony. "Zeus and Hera are married. They're brother and sister."
"I... I know..."
"And you want to marry Artemis one day, don't you Apollo?"
Apollo was blushing a dark shade as Hermes laughed at him. The quick footed god jumped off the horse and ran over to Artemis, poking her under the ribs on either side so he could hear her squeak with surprise, which she did, much to his delight.
"Hermes!" She ran around, chasing the god for a bit before he jumped up and climbed a tree so he was just out of her reach.
"Hey Arty," he said quickly, ducking an arrow she shot at him, "you going to make a move on Uncle Hades?" He emphasized Uncle and watched Artemis blush, smirking and clapping. "Lookie lookie Apollo, Artemis is finally blooming into a young woman!"
Artemis was about to shoot Hermes in the throat, silencing him and giving away their secret, when Athena laid a hand on the young goddess's shoulder and glared up at the messenger god.
"Enough," she said icily, watching Hermes shrink from his aunt's stare. Slowly he climbed down the tree and mumbled an apology, then scurried off to Apollo, the two of them going into the school, soon surrounded by fans. Artemis and Athena walked together silently, Artemis wondering if Athena thought that she liked her uncle as well, Athena pondering if she should give a pop quiz in class today or not.
The school that the gods attended and taught at was a three story building built in a circle, with a large domed library in the center of it all. There were books upon books there, lounge areas, and a computer lab all on the three floors, a spiral staircase winding up the very middle of it all. The exterior of the building was made of bricks, the inside painted a light green shade with imitation marble floors, deep green lockers, and bright lights in the hallways. The cafeteria was on the first two floors of the left side of the circle when one walked in the main doors and the gym to the right. The main offices of the principal, vice-principal, guidance counselors, and everything else were straight ahead when one walked in. The actual classrooms took up the rest of the school, with a lounge for the seniors on the top floor in the back of the building. It was stocked with the newest games and gaming systems, couches, a computer, TV, DVD player, and boom box. Everything was brought in by the students, so nothing was actually damaged, or else there would be lots of fighting in the lounge and it would be closed.
Artemis went to her Mythology class, which she had first, taking her seat in front of the teacher, Mrs. Bach, who had such an unorganized desk that Artemis often reorganized it for her while the woman taught. It was obvious that Artemis was the favored student of the class, for she always had something to help the woman out. A DVD of the movie they were going to watch instead of the VHS, insightful words to a myth that was being told, fun projects, and she was a wonderful story teller. She also could brew the perfect cup of coffee for Mrs. Bach, so she was often allowed to do as she pleased.
Mrs. Bach was an older woman with the spirit of a younger female. She taught with enthusiasm, and there was only one time in which Artemis could ever recall the teacher getting angry. Incidentally, it was about Artemis and Apollo. The two were arguing about a myth that was being told, and instead of just taking the shushing they got, they stupidly talked back. It was not a good ending, and Artemis spent a long time calming the angry woman down.
"Today we have a test, so I expect you all to do your best." Mrs. Bach looked at Artemis and Apollo, who looked at each other and smirked. They had a lot of fun on their tests, being as honest as possible with them.
Mrs. Bach passed out the test and Artemis glanced down at it, sighing inwardly as she picked up her pen and began to answer questions.
When the test was over, Mrs. Bach looked at Artemis and Apollo's tests and sighed, shaking her head at their answers. She never knew what got into those twins' heads.
Which god or goddess has a history of cheating on their lover?
Well, there's Zeus of course, but no one can really blame him for cheating, Hera never gave him a child, and trust me, he's been trying to get her to for ages. But Aphrodite cheats on Hephaestus all the time, she just doesn't like to admit it since he found her with Ares. I was too shocked to go see it myself; I was having more fun with Hades anyway.
Artemis always had such... wonderfully imaginative answers, as did Apollo.
Which son did Apollo let drive his chariot?
What? I never let any son drive my chariot. I don't even have a son! Jeez, I know I spent a lot of time being a playboy, but I havesomeclass! Oh sure, I fooled around with a couple people, but it was never serious, and they were never the person for me in the end! But really. I never let any son drive my chariot because I don'thaveany sons.
Mrs. Bach sighed, not really sure what to do with the two of them. She'd have a talk with Ms. Pallas. Sure she found it odd that the children and their relatives all shared the names of the gods, but she had other things to worry about at the moment than weird coincidences and odd parents who gave their children strange names.
"Artemis, be a dear, do you still have that copy of O Brother, Where Art Thou? We'll need it starting tomorrow."
"Sure thing Mrs. Ba-... Mrs. Bach... Let me organize your desk..." Artemis let out a sigh. She had just organized that desk a couple days ago!