A/N: A lightly revised version of a story I wrote for AP English 12. The assignment was, by using elements of existing myths (characters, basic plots, or themes), to create an original or modern spin on a Greek/Roman myth in a creative work. In other words, to write mythology fanfiction. It was one of the few times I received an A+ in that class and I'm rather proud of it, so I figured I'd throw it at the internet for further review.
If you're not familiar with the story of Psyche and Cupid, this story won't make sense to you, as it takes place between the major scenes of said myth. A quick google or wikipedia search for "Psyche and Cupid" should clear up any problem, if you're so inclined.
Warnings include a small reference to homosexual love, as exists in the Greek/Roman myth canon, and liberal interpretations running amok. Hope you enjoy!
Cupid and Psyche—Zephyrus' Story
"Let me make this perfectly clear. You want me to... what, exactly?" The seemingly young man strained to maintain a straight face.
The flaxen-haired youth glowered. The expression was a foreign and strange twisting of such fair features. "You know very well that you didn't mishear me." A scowl followed this statement.
"Oh. All right, then," the first man responded, and fell over promptly, unable to contain his wild laughter.
It was some minutes later before his giggling had died down to levels acceptable for continued conversation. The man wiped tears of mirth from his eyes, sat up straight, and attempted to school his expression into something moderately respectful, as the situation dictated; he failed quite dismally, but he did try. "I'm sorry. Please, continue."
Sometime during the man's shameless merriment at his expense, the youth's expression had slid into a deadpan. "Pray tell, Zephyrus; what did you find so amusing in my request?"
A good look at the boy's face effectively shattered Zephyrus' already shaky mask of dignified calm. He began to chuckle again, and laughter permeated his words. "You have no idea..." He adopted a falsely reverent air. "The Great and Powerful God of Love and Desire; son of Venus, the most beautiful goddess of all; the god who has soiled the reputation of Jupiter, unremorseful, forcing the King of the Gods to fall in love time and time again..." He paused. "What happened? Did you pierce yourself with one of your arrows by accident? I doubt even your aim is bad enough to shoot yourself accidentally..." Apparently the mental picture this provided was too much for Zephyrus. He doubled over again, howling at the absurdity of it all.
Cupid's expression darkened further. "I am not about to be the laughing stock of the likes of you, Zephyrus. Or have you forgotten that I could fill your love life with suffering without so much as a second glance?" His face lit up with a façade of innocence. "How would you like to have the most wretched maiden alive fall madly in love with you?"
"Oh, please, would you do me such a service? Sadly, there aren't many maidens who want to wed a being whose only corporeal form is that of a horse."
Enraged that his threats were so scorned, Cupid nearly silenced the other God with a lead arrow. He then halted, enticed by a sudden thought. "Of course, your love life managed to fall into shambles without my help, didn't it? Remind me to thank Apollo for that some day." Zephyrus' laughter caught in his throat and died. Cupid smiled in satisfaction. "It's too bad I can't thank Hyacinthus myself, isn't it... But, alas, the Underworld is not my territory."
Zephyrus turned and stood to face Cupid, all merriment drained from his motions, demeanor decidedly cold. "Tell me what you want, Cupid, and then leave."
Cupid outlined his plans. An hour later he left with Zephyrus' promise to help secured.
Zephyrus had to admit, if only grudgingly to himself, that he could understand why Cupid had fallen for the maiden. He could see, despite the distance, and even though she was wracked by sobs, that she was the loveliest mortal he had ever laid eyes upon. It was obvious why Venus would want her locked away from the world and suffering--she would be too beautiful under any other circumstances.
Zephyrus sighed and stood up, flowing down from his perch atop the cliff looming over Psyche's rock, the place where her family and friends had left her to the mercy of a 'winged serpent.' He smiled to himself. What a disappointing winged serpent he made. He tried to make his chains of wind slither down the cliffside rather than flow where they pleased and nearly laughed at the ticklish sensation.
The maiden looked up when his gentle winds brushed against her, currents of air caressing her face dry. She relaxed into his embrace as he lifted her upwards, cradling her form close. Eventually closed her eyes and she sank into a deep sleep. Well, he thought in mild surprise; that makes things easier. Unawares, Psyche slept on as her carrier sped toward her new home, traveling much faster than he was supposed to while the girl was in his care. Cupid can stand to deal with things not going entirely his way, Zephyrus thought coolly.
The approaching castle was breathtaking. Pillars of purest gold, elaborately shaped, held a vast ceiling of ivory and citron-wood aloft; silver designs interwoven with the gold created animal figures on the walls; the babble of a fountain echoed from inside the entrance hallway. The floors were especially magnificent, a fantastical kaleidoscope of jewels of every color and luster. Glimmering in the soft sunshine, small patches of multicolored light ensured that shadows would never form in these rooms.
It was all rather overdone, Zephyrus regarded dryly, setting Psyche onto a couch overflowing with down feather cushions. The girl sighed, setting more comfortably and hugging one of the pillows close. It was as if she were illuminated, the very light drawn to her form, unable to resist touching her face.
Zephyrus smiled. She was a dear little thing, and seeing her lying so still and peacefully as she slept, such a contrast to her hysterical grief on the rock, made him take an unexpected liking to the girl. He found himself wishing her well, and kissed her forehead softly in blessing before departing, dissolving into the breezes and drifting away.
It was a few months later when Cupid showed up at Zephyrus' cave on Thrace. Zephyrus' expression went frigid as the other god walked into his dwelling unannounced. "Yes?" It was less of a question and more of a demand.
Cupid sighed. "I have another favor to ask." When the other did not respond, he took this as acknowledgement to continue. "Psyche is distraught with the need to see her sisters. The two have come to mourn the 'death' of their sibling, and I have not the heart to keep Psyche from them, even if it may be my own undoing..." Melancholy overtook his features, almost as out of place on them as the ill temper had been months ago.
At this Zephyrus perked up slightly. It looked as if Cupid had finally realized the darker side of being in love, the havoc he and his arrows could wreak. It was about bloody time.
"Will you help me?"
Zephyrus quelled the instinct to respond, 'go jump into an abyss'; instead, he said blankly, "And what would my motivation be?" He wouldn't say it outright, but he was not in the mood to bend to an insufferable god's demands, least of all after their last encounter.
Correctly guessing at Zephyrus' reasoning, Cupid played his final card, hoping it would be strong enough to sway Zephyrus' predisposed mind. "Well, then; would you be willing to do this, if not for my own sake, then for Psyche's?"
Naturally, Zephyrus thought. The one thing he knows will work... An agreement to help, once again, escaped his lips before he had time to reconsider, but not before Zephyrus could let out a small sigh.
Could the two sisters do nothing but complain and bicker? It was the question of the century, as far as Zephyrus was concerned. On and on and on about Psyche's undeserved fortune, while they 'suffered' through their less glamorous lives... He hadn't known it was possible to delude oneself so completely.
"And what did she ever do to deserve this wealth and a god for a husband?" demanded the oldest, wrought up by her own tall tale. "People come from every land just to lay eyes upon her for all of her life—"
"—And she even turned others away from the gods! Remember when those followers of Venus began proclaiming that Psyche's beauty surpassed that of the loveliest goddess—" broke in the younger.
Zephyrus did his best to tune them out. This proved partially unsuccessful, as their grating voices grew into louder and louder outraged screeches. He tried blowing colder, faster winds over them. Fruitless. If anything, their voices grew more ear splitting. He even toyed with just dropping one of them, but decided against it, somewhat unwillingly, on the principle that if Psyche loved her sisters they must have some good in them... right?
He found himself wishing uncharitably that the two sisters had transgressed the bidding of one of the Olympians, and would have to be punished for their wrongdoings. While that would solve the potential problem they represented, it wasn't likely. The more the pity.
...And now they were ranting about how Psyche must think them daft, weaving such an outrageous lie; first her husband was young, now her husband was an older man. She couldn't even keep her story straight—it was as if she didn't know what her husband looked like! Zephyrus nearly laughed at this comment; the sisters would probably never know how dead-on their guess had been.
Psyche sat on a stone overlooking the stream, silently weeping in dismay. She had lost everything, her newfound life, her home, her beloved husband, all due to her own folly. Pan's words echoed in her ears: 'Do not weep for your lost love, but pray to Cupidos, the god of Love, and win his favor; this, surely, will ensure your love's return.' She wept even harder at the thought, for how was she, whose beloved was the god of Love, supposed to win her beloved back by praying for Cupid's favor? Her sobs carried the weight of heartbreak.
Invisible, Zephyrus looked on the poor girl from above. Rarely had he ever felt this helpless. He wanted to console Psyche, but who would want to hear words of comfort brought to you by the wind? To her they would seem empty, meaningless without a face with which to associate them.
Psyche looked up as a familiar warm breeze flowed around her. It seemed to reach up, drying tears from her flushed cheeks, while finger-like tendrils of wind ran through her hair, stroking her sympathetically. She leaned into the west wind's embrace slightly, somehow understanding who and what it—he—was.
That night Psyche fell into an exhausted sleep at last, worries alleviated by the gentle wind that did not leave her side until dawn.
The wedding party was undisputedly the grandest celebration the heavens had experienced for centuries. Bacchus himself prepared the festivities (not to mention the extensive selection of wines), and Apollo, deciding that music was in order, soon took up his lyre, to which many of the assembled were dancing. The overjoyed couple, now eternally husband and wife, were surrounded by smiling faces, who were eager to get to know Psyche and offer their congratulations.
Zephyrus smiled at the beaming expression Psyche just couldn't contain. He slid through the crowd to her side, intending to offer his best wishes as well.
Psyche turned to face the god when she noticed him from the corner of her vision. She had never seen his face before, but there was a familiar air about him... A soft, warm breeze seemed to coil around him, tendrils escaping to run through longer strands of hair or make loose clothing billow. "Zephyrus?" she asked hesitantly.
He bowed with a flourish, bending to one knee, taking her hand and kissing it. If possible, Psyche's smile grew wider. As soon as Zephyrus was on his feet, she leaned forward and embraced him, much to his and the other guests' surprise. "Thank you..."
Bemused at the situation, Zephyrus went with his first instinct, which was to say, "Glad to be at your service," with a slightly wry grin. His next comment was cut off, however, when a pinprick of pain came from his arm. He noticed a lovely maiden on the other side of the crowd, flowers of every color woven into her hair. Zephyrus had a sudden suspicion. He looked at Cupid accusingly. The other god looked away, whistling innocently in an entirely feigned way. Psyche watched the exchange with barely concealed mirth, then pushed Zephyrus over to the maiden, near the dancers.
Zephyrus sighed, resigned to this new twist of fate. At least Cupid hadn't lived up to his promise about falling in love with the most 'wretched maiden alive.'