|Worthy of Love
Author: CultOfStrawberry PM
For so long, Hephaestus has been scorned by everyone else, even by the Goddess of Love herself. But the lame god learns just what love is, how little appearances really count, and that everyone is worthy of being loved.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Chapters: 9 - Words: 52,703 - Reviews: 43 - Favs: 42 - Follows: 26 - Updated: 08-09-12 - Published: 07-16-09 - id: 2697680
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Worthy of Love
I got the idea for this story not long after I started 'Darkness Becomes Her' and realized that there were few, if any real stories about Hephaestus by authors who have decided to honor him with a story of his own. I decided to do some research and investigate his roots and his relationships with other gods. This is a short story – it will only be about 5 chapters. Still, I felt that such a plot bunny could not go ignored, and have gone ahead and written it out.
This chapter serves as a prologue. It centers on the origins of Hephaestus and Aphrodite as a backdrop to what will happen, and what he has gained through his trials and tribulations. As always, any and all feedback is appreciated!
The tales of the gods were widely known to the mortals of Hellas. Often minor details were different or omitted entirely, because mortals certainly weren't privy to all the god's secrets, but some of the myths were pretty accurate versions of reality.
It was widely agreed by mortals – even those who had never lain eyes upon Hephaestus himself – that he was the ugliest of the gods, lame and twisted, loved by no one. Even his own parents didn't want him, and anyone would agree that that was not a very auspicious beginning for anyone, much less a god.
But what caused Hephaestus' deformities? Surely gods were born perfect, with their varied gifts. Sure, some were more handsome than others, but what of the lame god? How could a mighty son of Zeus and Hera be so deformed that not even Aphrodite – the Goddess of Love herself – could love him?
Not long after Hephaestus was conceived, Hera caught Zeus in another one of his affairs, this time with a young Naiad, and the happiness that she had gained from their reunion – the one that Hephaestus was conceived in – quickly turned to bitterness. She felt so betrayed, her husband turning somewhere else already after she had just conceived another child of his. She had taken him back several times, and his eye would wander. But so soon? She took it as a personal affront, this pregnancy of hers. Why did he expect her to carry his seed when he obviously had no compunctions about putting it everywhere else? Her anger and bitterness overflowed into her womb, needing to go somewhere and not having Zeus around to channel upon.
Zeus knew how displeased his wife was, and indeed avoided her through the entire pregnancy. Perhaps if he had faced her like a man and done his best to mend his relationship with her, their son would have escaped the twisted fate that had befallen it at birth.
As it was, Hera's anger manifested itself in a most unfortunate way. When her son was born, she was so shocked that she actually dropped him, and the unfortunate babe wailed as he landed on the side of his head. Even before the drop, his face was red and twisted, and his crying only served to make his face even more hideous. And even after he was bathed, there was still a certain grotesqueness about him. His face was as if someone had formed it out of clay and then shoved their hand into it, smushing it around a bit.
There was also something off about his little body. He wasn't missing anything and had no obvious deformities, but his limbs looked a bit twisted, even what she would call ...off. The fuzz on his head was an unattractive color, reddish-orange, like fire. When Hera placed him to her breast – she was his mother, after all – he had a strong grip, his little fingers digging into her breast as he sucked firmly.
This was not a babe she wanted to flaunt – Ares and Hebe had been much lovelier infants and she was still resentful towards Zeus – so she made no announcement. Quietly she nursed her child, leaving him in the care of nymphs when she went out. Still Zeus made no appearance.
But of course, news got around that Hera had given birth to another child. One by one the gods visited Hera, and were shocked at the unattractiveness of the baby. Everyone seemed afraid to hold him. Not even the gods who saw mortal babies often, such as Demeter or Hestia – had ever seen a baby as unattractive as Hephaestus. A few months after he was born, Zeus finally paid a visit. When he looked at the babe, he laughed and said there was no way it could be his. It was a mere jest – Hera was as faithful as he was unfaithful and he did not doubt that – but he had the unfortunate tendency to make really shitty jokes at times.
Hera, in a blind rage from her husband's hurtful and callous behavior – and Zeus' insensitivity could rival his charm – took the babe and stormed out of her apartment to one of the several marble overhangs that was built at the edges of the peak, for the view. She hurled her son over the balcony, spinning around to face an shocked Zeus
"There goes your seed. I am done with it." It was on that night that she again banished her husband from her bed, telling him that if he ever tried to seduce her again, whether as himself or in a disguise, she would castrate him.
The unfortunate babe sailed through the air, hurtling down towards the sea. Instead of landing in the waves, he had the extreme bad luck to land on the shore of a small island, on a cluster of jagged rocks. His right leg broke, and he was impaled several times along his chest. Had he been mortal or even demi-god, his death would have been instantaneous. Unfortunately, the Fates were not merciful. He cried and cried, unable to remove himself from his predicament as he was only a few months old. His wails filled the night until some frolicking nymphs found him the next morning, horrified at the sight of the maimed and squirming baby. The ichor that seeped from his wounds indicated that he was a god, and explained why he was still alive after his ordeal.
Tethys was mother of all the lovely Oceanids and various nymphs of Hellas as well as all of the river-gods, and it was to her that her daughters brought the baby. Tethys was a warm and compassionate woman, her heart as big as the ocean itself. Right now, she had no young children of her own, and welcomed the opportunity to raise another baby. She wasn't turned away by the child's twisted and maimed flesh, and felt only compassion for this young god, wondering what kind of parents would be so cruel to do this to their babe. She did not know of him previously, as she was a old goddess, uninterested in the affairs of her much younger cousins, the Olympian gods.
Hephaestus fed from her breast, and she raised him as lovingly as she would raise any son. It was her that had given him his name. Though Hephaestus had healed, his scars remained, a testament of the immense problems between his parents, and his broken leg had healed incorrectly, resulting in a limp. But the grace that he lacked on land was more than made up for his strength in the water. Tethys had taught him how to swim, and several Oceanid nymphs would play with him, being as unmindful of his appearance as their mother was The favorite of his 'aunts' were Thetis and Eurynome, and they often entertained him with stories of the world. He learned of the Olympian Gods, and wondered which one of them had sired him, and why they would throw him away.
Because of his ease in the water, Hephaestus made himself strong. Being near it soothed him, and he found peace in the sound of waves crashing on the shore. Still, there was something that the ocean lacked that had an intense allure to him – fire. As a small child, he liked the lamps and torches, and the fires that the Oceanids would occasionally burn on the shore when they wanted to have fun on the beach. He loved the flame, the heat, the intense energy. He could stick his hand into it – and to the surprise of his adopted family, his hand did not burn, nor did he express any discomfort at all. Gods could not be killed by fire, but they did feel pain, and their flesh would burn before it quickly healed. Quickly, he figured out that he could manipulate it, make it bigger or smaller, and increase the heat beyond that produced by a mere bonfire.
He also showed a talent for making things. He saw the baubles and jewelry that the nymphs had and asked questions about them, and when Thetis saw this, she took him to the Cyclopes that had chosen to be in Poseidon's employ rather than work on Olympus for the other gods. He was enraptured by the tools, the process of working metal and shaping it, the concentration and skill required to complete such an task. The Cyclopes took him into their tutelage, and were impressed by his skill for the craft and his eagerness for the process.
It was apparent to Thetis that Hephaestus had the potential to be a mighty god, given the proper support and recognition. His body might have been lame and damaged, but his mind was brilliant, and his hands were strong and talented. His Gift was a glorious one, and that combined with his natural smithing talent gave him was the only consolation he had for his appearance.
With Thetis' encouragement, he made the trek up to Olympus, no easy task for a lame god. But he still made it, and showed up at the gates. He certainly did not have an appearance of a god – he was unable to stand completely straight due to his weak leg, he wore the clothes of a blacksmith, and he was homely! Hera came to see the commotion at the gate, and was stunned to see the lame man outside. Even though he had been but a few months old when she had thrown him away, there was no mistaking that flame-colored hair, or his rough appearance.
The young god did not miss that sudden flash in his mother's eyes. His analytical mind registered it and he knew that he had found his mother. He had a long-ago memory of that face, vague yet clear, and here she was. Instead of welcoming him, she turned him away along with the others, louder and more vehement than the rest of the group of gods.
Appalled by this behavior, he was even more appreciative of the care that the Oceanids had given him when he had been growing up. They encouraged his talent, delighting in the pretty things he made for them as well as praising him lavishly, and would swim with him and have games and races with him in the water. He, a homely orphan, had been taken in by a Goddess who had absolutely no reason at all to have been so kind to him.
But Hera's rejection hurt him deeply, far more than he cared to admit. The young god was not satisfied to let this insult pass, and in the privacy of his own forge, away from the eyes of the nymphs, he created a magnificent golden throne, adding Hera's most favorite symbol – peacocks – as a motif to the valuable metal, making a gift that was undeniably for the dignified goddess. This present found its way to the outside of the gates, and such a lovely gift did not go unnoticed when the sun came up. It was carried inside and set up, and Hera's eyes brightened as she saw the lovely gift. She wondered if it was from Zeus as a way to ask for forgiveness. She did not feel like forgiving him, but hell, she'd take the throne anyway.
The other gods watched as Hera sat down, and commented on how fitting the throne was for her, how regal she looked in it, and what not. And not one of them was lying. It truly was a beautiful chair, and completely fitting for Hera, its style matching hers. But when she tried to get out, she found out that she could not. It was recalled that Hephaestus wore the garb of a blacksmith, his hands strong and callused. Hermes was sent to the island where Hephaestus lived, and asked him to come to Olympus and release Hera.
"I owe that woman no favors, she is not my mother." he replied grimly. Perplexed, Hermes brought this message back to Hera. It was all too clear that her rejection of her son had earned her this punishment, and she remembered that night she had hurled him, deeply hurt by her husband's words. She knew that she would have to acknowledge the situation and felt guilty for her past tantrums that damaged an innocent child. So she sent back Hermes with another message.
Only then did he come to Olympus, and before he would release his mother, demanded to know who his father was. Once that was done, he demanded that they publicly acknowledge him as their son and give him an honored position. He had no desire for affection or love from his parents, for Tethys and her daughters had done a wonderful job of raising him. Nor did he have desire to be worshiped like Aphrodite or Apollo. But he knew that he could not go on making pretty jewelry for all time, and wanted to see what kind of foreign things he would see, who he would meet, what would inspire him to make wonderful new items or inventions. The world was full of opportunities to learn from, and he was determined to take advantage of it all.
The origins of Aphrodite were often disputed by mortals. Some said she was born from Ouranos' severed genitals after Kronos tossed them into the sea. Others said that the sea magically gave birth to her, sea-foam coalescing into the goddess of love and beauty. Her name did mean wave-born, after all. Others said she was the daughter of Zeus and a nymph named Dione. Like many of the other myths that surrounded the gods, mortals often did not know the whole truth, or the truth at all.
Dione was an Oceanid, one of the myriad children of Oceanus and Tethys. She was a lovely nymph, fair of hair and eyes unlike most of her darker-complexioned brothers and sisters, but like them, she enjoyed frolicking in the sea. One day, Zeus noticed her sunning herself on an small island, and was captivated by the golden-haired beauty. He was especially lonely, having not yet gained his wife's forgiveness after his latest indiscretion.
At first, Dione was reluctant to accept Zeus' affection. She had no desire to become Hera's next target, but after especially ardent wooing from the King of the Gods, she relented.
Not surprisingly, she became pregnant. By the time she had found out, Zeus had made up with his wife. But the young Oceanid bore no resentment. She did not love Zeus, and so could not have her heart broken by what she had known would happen. Nor was she angry that she was pregnant. After all, she had taken as her lover the most virile and powerful of the gods, and she had indeed wanted a child of her own. Zeus had given her an opportunity.
Discreetly, she informed Zeus of that fact, and also let him know that he need not worry. She had no interest in blackmail or stirring up trouble, and the much-relieved god was all too happy to let her retreat to her island and raise the child as her own.
When Aphrodite was born, Dione could not help but think that she was the prettiest baby she had ever seen. The babe's cheeks were rosy, her eyes as blue as the sea, and her hair a couple of shades lighter and more golden than her mother's. When Zeus slipped down for a visit, he exclaimed at the infant's beauty. Of course, he had to take the babe to the Fates, to see what lay in the future for her.
Dione did not want to go – she was afraid of the Underworld. Zeus was all too happy to take the babe – he had already had three children with Hera along with quite a few others from his Titaness cousins – Mnemosyne had given him nine lovely daughters, Eurynome had given him the Graces, Themis had given him Astraea and the Horae, and of course, there was Athena from his ill-fated consort Metis, not to mention all the other sons or daughters he had by mortals and goddesses alike. With all the children he had, his trips to the Underworld were little more than inconvenient and mildly unpleasant occurrences to him – the Underworld was completely different from Olympus – but Hades was fair and honorable, and he had never met any trouble on his many journeys.
Many men – and gods – preferred sons, but Zeus wasn't at all bothered by the number of goddesses he had sired. He had sons enough with divine or mortal mothers, and daughters gave him less trouble.
Of course, the King of the Gods had no idea of just how much trouble Aphrodite would cause in the future. No one would imagine that the lovely little baby that he presented to the Fates would one day break as many hearts as she won. Even the prophecy they had issued for Aphrodite hadn't indicated such.
"Mortals will see her as the embodiment of love."
"Countless men will desire her."
"But one should not be confused with the other."
Nothing dire. Love and desire, what of it? Who cared if one was confused with the other? After all, did one not desire the one they loved? So Aphrodite was returned to her mother and Zeus returned to Olympus.
Life with Dione was quiet – too quiet for Aphrodite. Ever since she could walk, she wanted to be the center of attention. When she was little, she loved being doted on by the nymphs. She hated being alone, and constantly demanded a playmate, something not so easily procured on a small island. Already Dione saw undesirable traits in her daughter.
Aphrodite was selfish and self-centered. If one of the nymphs that visited Dione had some pretty bauble – a pearl bracelet or sea-shell earrings or some other pretty accessory that caught the young goddess' fancy, she would demand it. Zeus had given Dione quite a few gifts when he had been wooing her, and once Aphrodite learned of them, she demanded these too – a jewelry set of earrings, necklace, a girdle, and a bracelet made of gold and aquamarine by Hephaestus – and nothing else would distract her from these baubles which matched her eyes and hair so well. She hated being told no or refused in any way, so when Dione had sharply informed her that the jewelry set was not for her, Aphrodite threw a royal fit, storming outside and refusing to come to the house for several days.
Dione was an attentive and loving mother. She could not be faulted in her steadfast attempts to steer her daughter in the right direction. But no matter how many times she said 'no' or tried to teach her child patience, humility, modesty, or thinking of others, she hit a wall. Aphrodite was as stubborn as she was beautiful, and it was this beauty that led Dione to keep Aphrodite on the little island she was born. Heaven forbid that Aphrodite learn of her own beauty before she had some modesty drilled into her, and with the younger goddess' stubbornness, this looked as if it would never happen. She had a mirror, another gift from Zeus, and kept it hidden out of sight, knowing that discovery would only lead to trouble.
But in one of her bouts of boredom and impatience, Aphrodite went through her mother's things – her own trinkets and treasures had failed to amuse her – and discovered the mirror. She was only ten years old, but she was immediately captivated by her reflection. Never had she seen such beauty in her mother or all the nymphs she had seen through her entire short life! No one could think Dione or her sisters were in the least bit ugly, but the little goddess was so captivated that she actually stared at herself for several long minutes, her little fingers trailing along the delicate jaw that complimented her little heart-shaped face.
It didn't take long for Dione to find out about her daughter's discovery. She caught Aphrodite preening her hair, combing and twisting it in front of the mirror, thinking that since her mother was visiting some nymphs, she had time enough to play with the mirror. Not only that, but she had also donned her mother's prized aquamarine jewelry, and despite her tender age, she had the allure of a fully-grown woman. Zeus had shared the Fate's prophecy with her, and Dione realized with a sinking heart just what it meant.
Everything that could be considered a bauble – the mirror, jewelry, combs, pins, anything that glittered or sparkled was immediately confiscated and hidden in a spot that Aphrodite hadn't been able to find despite spending another decade on that island and exploring every little bit of it. She was deaf to her mother's lectures on virtue, and dreamed of what the world was like beyond the island. Puberty brought to her exciting new sensations in her body. Her breasts budded and her hips widened as her waist remained tiny, and she would often run her hands along her naked body just for the pleasure of being touched.
And when she explored the area between her legs, the warmth that had ensued was addicting. Puberty without boys – she barely knew what a 'boy' was – was frustrating. And Dione was no help. When asked about that warm feelings, her mother simply told her that nice girls did not touch themselves – a desperate tactic by Dione to stop her daughter from discovering her sexuality before she was mature enough to deal with it in a dignified way – but her attempts at teaching patience and other virtues that Aphrodite had no use for only exacerbated her desire to get off the island. The young goddess did not know what her own unique gifts were. How could she, when the only male she had ever seen was her father on the few visits he paid her mother?
She was the daughter of Zeus. When she was little, she hadn't known that, and had merely thought that her mother's visitor was another friend. She assumed that perhaps her father had been some mortal sailor or one of the male Onceanids. But not long before she reached the end of the second decade of her life, Zeus had revealed this fact to her by accident, in a aside comment to her mother that Aphrodite had just happened to hear – why, I'm so proud to have such an lovely girl as my daughter – and oh, the look of dismay on her mother's face was priceless!
Now Aphrodite knew who her father was, and she was determined to use that to her fullest advantage. This little island had nothing for her. And she didn't care if her mother would be sad. It was all Dione's own fault, keeping her here, bored and lonely, constantly lecturing her on things like patience and humility. Hah! She was a goddess, the daughter of mighty Zeus, and great-granddaughter of Gaia herself. She would go and claim her place on Olympus. She was beautiful – she had seen reflections of her now considerably blossomed self in the tide-pools around the island – and proud. She would have all the attention she needed and wanted so badly, and she would find out if being with a boy was all it was cracked up to be. Her mother could rot on this island for all she cared.
There was a large scallop shell in one of the island's many tidepools, it had drifted there a couple of years ago and had been a curious oddity for Aphrodite to amuse herself with. Anything that washed up on the island's shores had given her momentary distractions, but this large shell, cream-colored on the inside and mottled blue-purple-gray on the outside, would now serve a much more useful purpose. She had never seen any shell so big, though she had seen many varieties. From the back to the front it was as long as her leg from waist to toe, and width-wise, it was about a foot longer.
If she had known or found where Dione kept all her pretty things, she would have stolen the entire hoard just to spite her mother. As it was, she climbed aboard the scallop after pulling it out of the tidepool and pushed off. She curled up when it became night and fell asleep, excited about the world she was about to discover and how it could please her.
The next day, the island of Cyprus came within view, and it was far larger than the island she had spent her entire life on. And as the shore drew nearer, she saw many figures – and not the curved ones of women. The waves crashed around her, churning seafoam around her shell. Her pale tunic clung to her body, and she peeled it off so she would not have to deal with the damp, clinging garment. Her heart beat more wildly as the figures on the shore became more visible – most of the men were young, with nicely-tanned skin and dark hair. Most of them chad stripped off the upper part of their clothing so they could work more comfortably, their sweat-dappled chests and arms glistening in the sun and showing the bulge of their muscles.
At this, the area between her legs flushed through with that familiar, dizzying heat. When the first man to notice her – a handsome youth of seventeen or eighteen – waved at her as he approached the water, she smiled and waved back, knowing that her life would be forever changed.
This was an excellent opportunity to make a first impression, and she would take full advantage of it. Gracefully she rose to her feet, keeping carefully balanced in the middle so the shell would not tip over. Her golden tresses shone almost silver in the sun, and her pale, rosy flesh dappled with drops of seawater, making it appear as if diamonds sparkled on her skin. Her flesh had not one single blemish on it, and her limbs were beautifully formed, slender and graceful in proportion. Her nipples had hardened from the coolness of the sea-spray, and her lips curled up into a pretty little smile as she saw the men abandon their boats and nets, approaching her, some of them dropping to their knees in awe and worship.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Aphrodite stirred up trouble as soon as she arrived at Olympus. She did not hesitate to say who her father was. By then, Zeus and Hera had been separated for a good while – quite a few decades, actually – so the Queen of the Gods merely responded to this bastard child with uncaring. Zeus was surprised but delighted, his lovely daughter was here! She was immediately proclaimed the Goddess of Love and Beauty, and nobody could argue with this.
But trouble soon followed. The young Goddess was a shameless flirt and tease, but she also took on lovers, alternating between letting them love her, and teasing and tormenting them. She would giggle when men fought over her, and after many complaints from the female side of the family (along with a few males!), Zeus was forced to decide that Aphrodite needed a husband. Naturally, just about every god volunteered himself for what they saw as a fantastic honor. Hephaestus was one of the few who did not submit his name – the Goddess of Beauty would never marry a ugly and lame god!
Zeus carefully reviewed all the submitted names. He could have simply chosen one at random, but he realized that Aphrodite needed a good, steadfast husband who would hopefully be able to rein in her lascivious ways. What kind of person fit the bill?
Hephaestus was a hard worker. He did not gossip, and generally kept to himself, spending much of his time in his forge, but Aphrodite loved pretty baubles and Hephaestus was just as skilled with fine detailwork as he was with larger projects. He was honest, reliable, and completely trustworthy – something that Zeus had to admit he found refreshing in the face of his other sons' behavior and affairs. So his decision was made.
Nobody could have been more surprised than Aphrodite herself, who threw a huge tantrum when she was told who her father had chosen for her as her husband. She threw a sobbing fit and threatened to leave Olympus forever and deny them the joy they gained from her Gift. But Zeus remained firm, for he knew that Hephaestus would be the best choice. Hopefully having such a husband would teach her some temperance and tolerance. Hopefully being the key word here.
Mortals and gods alike know that this marriage failed. Aphrodite was an completely unfaithful wife, but it wasn't for Hephaestus' lack for trying. He hadn't expected to end up with the beautiful goddess as his wife, and his good sense caused him to nearly turn his father's offer down. But Aphrodite's beauty captivated him, and after so long of being looked down and pitied for his appearance by his brothers and the other gods, he would be the envy of them and hopefully gain some respect by having the most beautiful of the goddesses as his wife.
But the marriage was a joke, and none other realized it more than poor cuckolded Hephaestus. The ceremony meant nothing to the reluctant bride, and she cavorted with other gods, namely Ares. It was no small source of irony – the Goddess of Love and the God of War, fiercely attracted to one another and coming together again and again amidst their other lovers. She would love – and eagerly bed – just about any other male, god or mortal, except for Hephaestus himself. The gifts he made for her were selfishly received and he barely received any thanks, if at all, for his efforts. He bore this all in silence, knowing that Aphrodite had been forced into the marriage and that he was no prize himself. Aphrodite never understood or appreciated how lucky she was to have a husband that actually put up with this shameless infidelity. He continued trying to win her over, showing her his loyalty, showering her with gifts and tokens, and giving her the sweet words that Ares was incapable of giving.
The time that she had been most kind to him was when he had crafted her her golden girdle. She had asked him to make her a wondrous belt that would have all love her upon sight.
What more love or attention did Aphrodite need, especially when she so callously discarded her own husband's affections? Still he made the wondrous girdle, hoping for some attention for having fulfilled a specific request. It was not enchanted like everybody else believed, for Aphrodite was enchanting enough on her own. Her eyes lit up when she saw the gift, and he earned a gracious smile, a kiss, and a soft pat on the shoulder before she demanded to try it on immediately. As soon as she saw her reflection in her full-length mirror – another gift from him – with the splendid girdle around her naked waist, he was quickly forgotten.
And so on it went.
However, one night, he overheard her complaining about him to the Graces, her oftentime companions as he limped toward her apartments – she refused to settle for anything less than a luxurious apartment of her own, far away from her husband's hot and sooty forge – with a gift in his hands for her, hoping to win a bit of affection with a surprise gift. He had spent so much time and thought on this newest gift, a beautiful necklace with a rose-quartz – one of Aphrodite's favorite stones due to its soft pink color – pendant in a setting that was shaped like doves, her favorite animal. He was used to hearing that he was ugly, but her insults were personal and much deeper. How could a Goddess of Love be so hateful? With a broken heart, he tore the necklace apart and dumped it in front of her door, where she would find it in the morning.
Pouring out his anger and frustration to Hades – a man who rarely came to the surface, but was Hephaestus' mentor and ally – and the Lord of the Dead suggested that he take revenge, instead of simply annulling the marriage like the smith-god originally had intended. He had thought that simply ending the marriage would be best for her – she had never been happy with him – but then he recalled her cruel words, and her lack of gratitude or appreciation for his efforts to please her, and her disregard of his loyalty and kindness. All of his hurt boiled over into anger, and he devised the infamous golden net that would trap her and Ares. They were humiliated before all the other gods, and even after that, Aphrodite did not change her ways. She was just glad to be rid of her ugly husband, for she had no desire at all to be associated with him, and bore Ares quite a few children.
Hephaestus sought no new bride, and retreated further into solitude, finding solace in his creations and the companions of the Cyclopes.
And so Hephaestus was the mysterious God of the Forge, ugly and lame, former husband of Aphrodite, discarded son of Zeus and Hera. What merit he had on Olympus was earned entirely on his own, and even if he wasn't pleasant to look at by gods who were accustomed to beauty and grace, nobody could deny his skill, and were fortunate to own all the magnificent objects he had created. He had wrought the thrones of the Twelve, the dozen gods that made up the council that ruled over the rest of the deitic population of Hellas. He was responsible for the creation of Hermes' winged helmet and sandals, Aphrodite's famed girdle, Apollo's chariot, Eros' bow and arrows, Zeus' new scepter, Athena's breastplate, Ares' sword and helmet, and once in a while, a lucky mortal might receive something from him.
Due to the time he spent in the forge and his marvelous creations along with his apparent disinterest in women, the gods assumed that Hephaestus' only passion was his craft. It had never occurred to anybody, least of all Aphrodite, that he might be lonely, that within his twisted form was the heart of a man who needed and desired to be loved just like anybody else.
I hope you enjoy the backstory I made up for Hephaestus and Aphrodite. I used the outline of the classical myths and did my best to flesh them out and give them details to make these gods and stories real. Though Aphrodite will not appear as much in the rest of this story, I felt that her backstory was just as much of a important part of this story as Hephaestus' own, and an integral setup for the events that are to follow.