I woke to the sound of Actaeons screams.
“You filthy, disgusting, plague ridden animal!” I heard Zeus before I saw him. I scrambled from the bed, pulling on my discarded chiton as I did so. I could still see the warm imprint of where Actaeon had been laying only minutes ago. Outside, Actaeon was sprawled on the pine needles, his face bloodied. Zeus, was standing over him, his toga splattered red with blood.
“Zeus, father, what have you done!” I screamed and rushed to Actaeon. His beautiful face was disfigured, his multicoloured eyes full of his own blood.
“You, stupid little wench! What did I tell you about humans? You are NEVER to mix with them! After Orion I would have thought you would have learned your lesson!” My father struck me round my head, and I fell next to Actaeon. He couldn't open his eyes, but his hands found mine and we held on tight. “I made it abundantly clear that if you were ever on earth with a man again, I would personally kill him!”
“No! No, father please! My mother, my mother, you fell in love with her, and you weren't supposed to! You were already married! You cannot help who you fall for father! It was me, all me, punish me, not Actaeon!” I was shaking, the horror of what could happen to Actaeon because of me filling me, drowning me.
“But, that's the best way to punish you! Get rid of this...this flea! His is not immortal Artemis, he is human! He is nothing, NOTHING!” he kicked Actaeon with his golden, blood stained sandalled foot. “And you shall never forget what I have taught you.” I howled and pulled Actaeon into me. “You cannot protect him, child, he is doomed.” Zeus grabbed him by his hair and lifted him onto his feet. “You! You took a Goddess's chastity from her. You have spoiled her, she is now impure, at least Orion had the sense to keep a goddess such as Artemis untouched!” I staggered to my feet and wept and wept, screaming that it was me, me, me, not Actaeon, that I had done all, that he hadn't wanted to disobey a goddess, but Zeus fell deaf to my pleading. He grabbed Actaeon by his soft curls, and forced him into a kneeling position. I looked into his eyes and saw, not fear, not anger, I saw acceptance. He was not screaming, he didn't beg. Instead, he looked into my eyes and seemed to try and tell me something. I tried, I tried to see what it was he was trying to tell me, but then Zeus pushed something into Actaeons mouth, and his eyes closed in pain. I was made to watch as horns sprouted from my beloved's head. He grew fur, his arms turned to legs, and his hands and feet to hooves. I watched as, because of me, my love turned into a stag. Zeus picked him up, and threw him into the pen behind Actaeon's house. The pen where he kept his hunting dogs. I watched, as he became dog food. My screams became silent as I ran out of breath and collapsed to the floor weeping tears that never came. “You are never to speak to men again, Artemis, no men except gods. This never happened. Actaeon came across you bathing, and you turned him into a stag and his own dogs got him. You are still chaste, understand? You will never speak of what truly happened ever again. You are to forget that dog, never think of him again. Come back to Mount Olympus with me and live as if nothing ever changed.” My howls stopped after that. What is the point of howling, when there is no loved one to hear you?