Chapter 1 : She Sits On Her Throne
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The truth is, as much as all the mortals hated the fact that their lives were so complicated, they loved it. If none of that drama was there, then they would all be bored. There would be nothing to talk about, nothing to do, no reason to visit people. Everything would be about as interesting as watching paint dry. And that’s exactly what Aphrodite felt like she was doing: watching paint dry.
She’d been sitting up on Olympus for ages and ages with nothing to do! She’d sat in her throne with her chin resting on the palm of her right hand for two days straight, just trying to find something interesting. The problem was, all of these mortals looked so uninteresting and boring, and she felt like nothing that she did would make any part of them more fascinating. They all wore such bland colours and they all blended in with one another. They all looked the same.
For the past two days she’d been looking down at the ground through the clouds and just watched everything. She waited for someone interesting to come walking by, she waited for something to happen, but nothing did.
Aphrodite leaned back in her chair, gave a sigh and held her hand out for a drink. It was immediately brought to her by a wind spirit who bowed before leaving the goddess alone again to the thoughts that she didn’t have. Aphrodite set down her goblet, gave a sigh and went back to looking down at the humans. She scowled at the cloud blocking her view and using her hand, she moved it out of the way.
What she wouldn’t give for some sort of entertainment.
“Aphrodite, my dear, there you are!” Anything but that, Aphrodite thought to herself. She grimaced at the sound of the voice before forcing a smile onto her face and turning towards Hephaestus. Good gods, he really was an ugly man. None of the power that Aphrodite had would ever change that.
She wasn't entirely sure why she had married Hephaestus in the first place, after all, the two of them had absolutely nothing in common. There were days where she put quite a bit of thought into exactly why she had agreed to marry Hephaestus and the truth of the matter was that it was what everyone else expected of her. She didn't see him as anything beyond a brother and a friend and had no romantic feelings towards him. At all.
“Yes, Hephaestus, how can I help you?” Aphrodite asked with a sigh and got down from her throne. She hugged Hephaestus briefly before pulling away and looping her arm through his in a friendly way. He was hopelessly in love with her –it was damn near impossible not to be– but Aphrodite just didn’t feel the same way.
“I was wondering if you wanted to come with me and see what I have built,” Hephaestus said eagerly. Aphrodite gave him an apologetic look and a sad smile even though she was anything but sad.
“I am sorry Hephaestus, I cannot, I am frightfully busy and I am afraid there is no room for me to see anything that you’ve built.” It wasn’t that she didn’t love Hephaestus, she did, but the man was just so damn dull that it was hard to see him as anything except a brother or a friend. He didn’t like what she liked, he never took her anywhere exciting, all he ever wanted to do was sit in his room and tinker away with his metal. And as much as Hephaestus liked her, he paid barely any attention to her at all.
“Oh, alright, I understand how it is,” Hephaestus said, his smile fading little by little. Aphrodite hadn’t meant to make him sad and she hadn’t realized that it meant this much to him to show her what he’d made. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to go and take one look at the machine that Hephaestus had made. It would make him happy if she went and besides, he was a genius, perhaps he really had built something interesting.
“I suppose I could make some time and come and see you in your shop later today, would that be okay?”
“You do not have to do that you know,” Hephaestus said.
“Heffy, I will be there, I promise,” Aphrodite said bringing out the nickname that she had for him and squeezing his arm. Hephaestus grinned at her, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and went on his way. Aphrodite couldn’t stop the small smile that was spreading on her face and shook her head softly. The sound of a whistle caught her attention and she looked up trying to find who it had been.
She glanced at the door of the throne room and saw Hephaestus with his head sticking in the room and his lips pursed. He pointed towards the ceiling, winked at her and was gone. She looked up and watched in wonder as a bird made out of metal flew towards her and landed on the palm of her hand. It opened its beak and the most wonderful music Aphrodite had ever heard came from the bird.
It was absolutely amazing. She could’ve sworn that Hephaestus didn’t have it with him when he was with her. Had he really put it together that fast? Heffy may not have been her ideal man but he was certainly amazing and anyone who didn’t think so was a total idiot.
Aphrodite made her way back to her seat, set the bird down on the arm rest and went back to looking at the mortals. Things were better than they were before; she had the bird to keep her company now and music to listen to. The bird knew a surprisingly different amount of songs from every genre. She suspected that Hephaestus had known the actual reason as to why she’d said no to seeing his invention. It wasn’t that she was a horrible liar but somehow that man always managed to see through her.
“Aphrodite, are you in here?” came a loud and deep voice. The smile that spread across her face was a reflex. Every time she heard that deep voice it made her happy and she always enjoyed spending time with the man who it belonged to.
“Ares!” she cried and ran towards him with her arms open. He caught her in his arms, a surprised look on his face and held her tight. Aphrodite pulled back so that she could see Ares’ face and smiled up at him happily.
“I take it you are glad to see me then,” Ares said, smiling down at the most beautiful woman that he had ever laid eyes on. It wasn’t saying much because Aphrodite was indeed the most beautiful woman in the world.
“It has been so boring for the last couple of days; I have had absolutely nothing to do and no one’s life to meddle with. I need someone to keep me company,” Aphrodite said to Ares.
“Oh, I am sure Hephaestus has been stopping by to see you,” Ares said bitterly. Aphrodite didn’t miss the resentment in his voice and couldn’t help but smile a little to herself. She found it so sweet that Ares was jealous of the fact that she was married to Hephaestus.
”He has, but he is not you, Ares,” Aphrodite said. The expression on Ares’ face softened and when he looked at Aphrodite there was love written all over his face. Then again, Aphrodite could’ve just been charming him to feel that way. “Why won’t you give him a chance?”
“Why won’t I give who a chance?”
“Hephaestus, that’s who.”
“Because he has got you!” Ares exclaimed staring at Aphrodite incredulously.
“Need I remind you that I am a woman, not an object to possess, Hephaestus does not ‘have me’ and neither, for that matter, do you,” Aphrodite snapped. If there was one thing that she could not stand, it was men treating her like she wasn’t an actual human being. Oh sure, she hadn’t minded this before but time had gone on and Aphrodite had changed with the times.
“Sorry, I forgot you are going through a phase,” Ares said and paled as he realized what had just come out of his mouth. Aphrodite went from annoyed to angry and then to downright livid. Her hair began to crackle with energy and float around her, her fists were clenched at her side and it looked as if she was going to punch Ares in the face. Ares may have been the God of war but Aphrodite could still beat him in a fight.
“A phase, is that what this is to you, a phase?” she asked Ares in a low voice. Everything about her said “I dare you to repeat what you just said.” Ares gulped and backed away from her as she advanced forwards. “Do you have a problem with me going with the times? Is there an issue with me changing with the world?”
“Not at all, I simply meant that -“
“Get out,” Aphrodite hissed at Ares and turned her back on him. Everything was silent for a moment but then the sound of footsteps echoed around the hall and when Aphrodite turned around, Ares was gone. She gave a cry of frustration and went back to seat herself at her throne.
Complicating everyone else’s lives was one thing, complicating her own was an entirely different matter. Watching other people solve everything in their life was entertaining, watching herself go through everything one blunder at a time made her want to tear her hair out.
Back to square one it was then. Aphrodite stared down at all of the boring people who wore the same clothes, walked the same way, sounded the same, had the same hair colour and sighed. When had humanity gotten so boring? Everyone used to be different and full of life. You wouldn’t come across one person who looked the exact same and here there was a country with people that looked like clones of each other.
It was becoming more and more difficult to amuse herself every day. With another sigh, Aphrodite decided that she really was quite bored of this particular country that she was looking at. Their accents were already beginning to get on her nerves and she’d only been watching this place for two days. She needed something different. She never did go to see Hephaestus that day despite what she had said.
For the next week or so, all Aphrodite did was travel around the world and watch people to see if she could find anyone interesting. She spent two to three days watching over each country before moving on to her next destination with an “ugh.”
Eventually, Aphrodite ended up in England in the exact same spot that she’d been in last time. No one had bothered her for several days; no one had even entered the throne room. Except for the wind spirits bringing her drinks and food, Aphrodite had been all by herself.
Popping a grape into her mouth lazily, Aphrodite looked down on Charing Cross Road and frowned when she noticed the strange empty space between two buildings. Maybe these mortals weren’t as intelligent as she clearly thought if they were all overlooking something that obvious. And in fact they were all indeed overlooking the space. No one even turned their heads to stare at the spot where there obviously should have been a building, it seemed like everyone had gotten used to it being there.
And things got even stranger when one of the humans walked towards the empty space and disappeared right in front of her eyes. Again, no one seemed to notice at all, it was almost impossible. How did you miss someone disappearing in broad daylight!
“APHRODITE!” Hephaestus yelled loudly bursting into the throne room and nearly landing on his face. Aphrodite was so startled she knocked over her plate of food and nearly fell out of her own seat.
“For Olympus’s sake Hephaestus, you scared the living daylights out of me,” Aphrodite snapped putting a hand over her heart.
“You need to see what I have found,” Hephaestus breathlessly. He was positively beaming at her; it was like he had just discovered time travel or something like that. Then again, he was always happy to see Aphrodite.
“Hephaestus, if it’s another of your inventions,” Aphrodite began in a tired voice. She really wasn’t in the mood for something else that Hephaestus had built.
“Yes, yes, I know, they are all stupid and boring and nothing you want blah, blah, blah what else is new?” Hephaestus replied rolling his eyes in exasperation and waving his hand dismissively. “This will actually interest you though.”
Aphrodite sighed, looked up at the ceiling of the throne room before walking towards her husband slowly. As soon as she was within reach, he grabbed her hand and practically dragged her behind him as he made his way to his office. Aphrodite’s jaw nearly dropped open in shock when she caught sight of the room. There was a lot more stuff in it now than there had been when she’d been there last. Hephaestus was a quick worker.
Hephaestus wasn’t paying any attention to his inventions that were littered across the room on and underneath piles of scrap metal. He was looking at the big screen hanging from his ceiling that had a view of Charing Cross Road but with a little something extra that Aphrodite’s view didn’t have.
“Aphrodite, look,” Hephaestus said pointing at the screen. If she’d been in shock at everything in the room, Aphrodite almost keeled over from what she saw on the screen. The image was so similar to what she had been looking at only minutes before yet it was so different.
“Is that . . . “
“Charing Cross Road, you bet,” Hephaestus said with a huge grin on his face.
Instead of the empty space between the two buildings, there was an old, rundown and black looking pub with a sign hanging from it that said The Leaky Cauldron. Perhaps this was the reason why people ignored the space, they didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary and they couldn’t see the building there so they didn’t pay any attention to it. Only a select few people seemed to know that the pub was there.
“And this is the exact same view that I had?” Aphrodite asked.
“The very same,” Hephaestus agreed. “That’s not it though, look at what is behind it.”
He pointed towards the back of the pub where there was a dumpster and a wall. Aphrodite looked beyond the wall and stared at what appeared to be a whole different world hidden from most people. It was an alleyway, except instead of going straight, it was diagonal. Everything in the windows was bright and colourful and all of the people walking up and down the street wore colourful robes, pointy hats and some even carried owls and cauldrons. Some of them were waving their wands around levitating things above people’s heads while owls flew over everything else.
“What is this place?” Aphrodite asked the wonder clear in her voice. This was just all so incredible. All of this had been there and she’d never even noticed it once in all the time that she’d been looking down at the road.
“Well, I was talking to Athena,” Aphrodite made a face at the mention of her name, “and according to her, this was all hidden by a certain type of magic that we are assuming is done by the people in this pub or walking up and down that street. According to what Athena observed, all of those people are witches and wizards, young and old.”
“Is that all that of them?”
“Well, no, there’s obviously a lot more living across the country and hidden away from us. These are just the ones that are out and about. According to what Athena and I found out, this place,” Hephaestus said, pointing towards the people and the cramped shops, “is called Diagon Alley.”
“Clever,” Aphrodite muttered to herself out loud. “The whole street goes in a diagonal direction and they call it Diagon Alley.”
“Yes,” Hephaestus distractedly, “and this here, is called Knockturn Alley,” he went on to point at a little alley that was quite dark compared to the rest of the street.
“Will you take me there to see it?” Aphrodite asked, turning to Hephaestus with an excited look on her face. He fidgeted uncomfortably and couldn’t seem to look Aphrodite in the eye.
“Well, no, not at the moment. You see, you do not exactly fit in with how they act, so you would, quite frankly, stand out like a sore thumb.”
“I stand out anyway,” Aphrodite said, completely dismissing what Hephaestus was saying as utter nonsense.
“Oh, I’m sorry, let me clarify, you would stand out even more than usual and in a very bad way.”
“So, are you telling me that I cannot ever go and visit this place?” Aphrodite asked, bringing out the fake tears while pointing at the screen. If there was one thing that she knew it was that men hated crying women and would do anything to make them stop.
“No, I never said that, you just cannot go down there yet. We need to get things prepared for you so that you can fit in,” Hephaestus said, completely ignoring the fact that Aphrodite looked like she was about to start wailing. “You are more than welcome to stay in here and watch the screen though for as long as you want.”
“Thank you Hephaestus,” Aphrodite said, patting his shoulder and turning her attention to the screen. The biggest shop in the place seemed to be a joke shop that appeared to go by the name of Weasley Wizard Wheezes. It had a giant head on the front of it that kept lifting a black top hat and making a bunny appear and disappear. It was the one shop that caught her attention and kept it.
Oh sure, all of the other ones were all really interesting but this particular shop was definitely the most fascinating. No matter how close Aphrodite got to the screen though she just couldn’t see what was inside that damned shop!
“Hephaestus, can you zoom in on this?” Aphrodite called over her shoulder. A few clicks later and the picture had zoomed in on the shop so that Aphrodite could see what was going on in there. Fireworks were going off, Frisbees with teeth were flying around the place, people getting sick, people growing pimples on their face, people fainting and then awakening again. You name it, it was all there. It didn’t take a lot to imagine what all the sounds that everyone in that shop was making.
“Hephaestus, I need to get down there,” Aphrodite said.
“I told you, you cannot go-“
“Down there, yeah, I got it, but please get me down to that shop eventually!” Aphrodite said with a longing tone to her voice. The place looked like so much fun; it was everything that Aphrodite had been missing.
For the rest of the day, Aphrodite didn’t notice anything except for the shop. She was unaware of people leaving the room or entering it. She didn’t hear any noises or see anything besides what was on the screen in front of her. Everything in the image was getting darker as the sun set and Aphrodite only snapped out of it when a man with bright red hair stepped out of the shop wearing purple robes.
His name tag said George Weasley so Aphrodite assumed that he was the owner of the best thing that she’d seen in a while. She looked him over and stopped and stared when she got to the side of his head and saw that he was missing an ear. She looked to the person next to him who was a girl with coffee brown skin, with dark hair and was sitting on her broom lazily and hovering in place. She seemed to be wearing some sort of uniform and judging from the padding that the girl had on, it was a uniform for a sport.
A smile that no one had seen in days broke out on Aphrodite’s face. She had a devious look to her as she stared at the man and woman who were clearly chatting to each other like they were old friends. It looks like she had just found the people that she was looking for. There was something about the man that just made him like her and there was something about that girl that made it look like things would get a little bit rough.
“HEPHAESTUS!” she yelled as loudly as she possibly could. She waited for the sound of his footsteps to come nearer and stop next to her before turning to him with that same devious look on her face.
“I have found the people I’ve been searching for.”
“Alright, whose love life are you going to be messing with now?” Hephaestus asked sighing and sitting down on the edge of a nearby table.
“Them,” Aphrodite replied pointing towards the red-haired man and the woman on the broom. She was going to make that couples life as complicated as possible before everything worked out in the end. It always worked out in the end; there was no other way for things like this to finish.
Now if only her own life would stop being complicated and sort itself out.
A/N: you know, I'm going to apologise right now for starting another story but I couldn't help myself and it just had to be done! I'm excited to write this because it's slightly different and I think I'm going to have a lot fun writing this! Anyway, thoughts are always helpful. Thank you to my wonderful beta-reader Laura (maraudertimes) for looking this over for me and straightening it out!
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