Your myth retellings are gorgeous. Would you tell another please? Maybe something with Hermes?
Pandora is made from earth, shaped by the hands of Hephaestus and made in the image of his beloved wife. Aphrodite gifts her with grace and charisma. Athena teaches her to weave and bestows cleverness upon her.
She stands in front of Hermes, and the god frowns and touches her with a single fingertip on her chin, moving her head one way than the other. “They’ll eat you alive,” he says, and she doesn’t understand.
She tilts her head to the side and smiles a vacant smile. All of the cleverness in the world will do her no good without any context. “We are the same,” she says, pressing a hand to Hermes’s chest. She is made from earth and has the skin to mach. He is a celestial god, and his skin is the same rich shade of brown.
He did not ask to be born any more than his mother asked to bare him. His creation, just like hers, is at the whims of Zeus. All for some little lost fire, all because Prometheus wanted his people to be warm, and, well, he is the god of the thieves after all –
So he gifts her with deceit, with selfishness, with cunning. Her smile leaves her face all at once as she’s filled with self-awareness. “He’ll be angry with you,” she says, “I am not what you were supposed to make.”
“Gods have short memories,” he says, and doesn’t bother to hide the contempt in his voice. “Do not worry about me, gifted child. You have larger problems than my fate.”
He has turned her from something pure into – something more like him. Her face darkens even further as her perfectly crafted mind slots all the pieces together, and he can’t help but find her lovely. It’s how she was made, after all. “I can’t stop it, can I? Whatever they’re planning for me to do?”
“No,” Hermes says, “but now you might be able to survive it.”
“Will I want to?” she asks, and he doesn’t answer. She doesn’t expect him too.
She hides from everyone, lives in a cave at the edge of the city. The gods had called her the first woman, but that’s not true, she can see.
There are women. They smile and laugh have work roughened hands. She aches to join them, but she has the beauty of a goddess. They will know. If she joins them, they will know she is not of them, and it will set into motion whatever trap Zeus has planned.
She is not human, not in the same way, molded from clay by a god’s hands. But she is of humans, and not eager to bestow upon them the harm she’s destined to bring them. She bathes in streams where only nymphs reside, steals into the city in the cloak of night and pilfers from the baker’s trash.
“When they said they sent my brother a wife,” a low, amused voice says too close behind her one night, “I had not expected a begger.”
She whirls around, hard bread clenched tight in front of her, an incredibly inefficient shield. Her breath catches in her throat when she sees him, dark and tall and eyes like the night sky. He looks like Hermes. Like her. “Who are you?” she demands. They’re in an alley corner, and of her gifts flight is not among them. She’ll have to fight him to get away.
She’s not afraid of him. Maybe another mortal would be, cornered in the middle of the night by a man she doesn’t know. But she’s no normal mortal woman, and besides – he has something comforting about him, like the hearthfire attended by Hestia. Something warm.
“I am Prometheus,” says the man, and no wonder he reminds her of fire. “What do they call you?”
“You are meant to be in the deepest pits of Hades’s realm,” she snaps, and shifts her grip on the stale bread so that she can throw it at him. He’s the whole reason she’s here to begin with, him and his thievery.
He shrugs and walks closer to her, watching her like one would watch a wild animal. Good. Here, in this dark alley where no one would find a cooling body until morning, it is he that should be afraid. “Gods forget,” he says, “and Hades had grown cold in his place beneath the earth.”
She pauses, considers. “You stole fire for Hades?”
“No,” he corrects, “I stole fire for the people. But Hades benefited as well. Enough that he was willing to forget the terms of my punishment.”
“What do you want?” she asks for the second time. “Why are you here?”
He stops, too close to her, “The question is why are you here?”
She steps into his space now, following him as he backs away from her, “I am here because of you, fire-stealer, because gods may forget but they do not forgive, and I am the punishment they have unleashed upon the world.”
“What a punishment you are,” he says, looking at her lips, and she forgets to hate him only long enough to kiss him.
Hermes watches her, watches them. He doesn’t know Zeus’s plan, if this is part of it or not, but he watches her, and he worries. He thinks it is, he can see Aphrodite’s magic clinging to Pandora, but he doesn’t know why.
He would go to his mother, but she’s always difficult to find, Gaea preferring to live in streams and rivers rather than face the man she bore a son for. But his mother’s father, on the other hand, is always in the same place.
“Grandfather,” Hermes greets, touching lightly down onto the earth, “How are you?”
“How am I always, boy?” Atlas grunts out, legs and arms straining as he holds up the sky above the earth. “Tired.”
Hermes lips quirk up the corners. Some days, he thinks he’s more Atlas’s grandson than he’s Zeus’s son. “I need some advice, Grandfather.”
Atlas raises an eyebrow, “I’m listening.”
So Hermes tells him everything, from beginning to end, because he can’t figure out what his father’s plan is, but Atlas might. He’s known the man for longer, at least.
Atlas nods, slow, and says, “A bride of gods, a gifted child. I can think of only one reason to create such a child.” Hermes waits. Atlas sighs and says, “There is a jar, within Olympus, that becomes sealed when it leaves the realm of the gods. After that, only a being neither mortal nor celestial may open it.”
“What are they planning to put inside?” Hermes demands, heart spiking. What are they planning to unleash upon the unsuspecting earth?
His grandfather smirks, “It doesn’t matter. What matters is this – what are you going to put inside?”