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In the time of which gods and demons reigned as a terror over humans, a gorgeous creature made his home in the clouds. He was built like a mature young man, save for his pointed ears that stuck out slightly behind his brilliant red hair. His skin was as white as porcelain; from every angle he looked like a chiseled marble statue that moved with the breath of life. Day after day, he would lounge in his seat among the clouds, his wings fanning out lazily behind him as he watched the humans. He would often imagine himself as one of them, daydreaming about working in their fields or walking in their cities. But what he was most curious about was their ability to love. Each day that passed, the longing to be human made his chest ache to the point where he could no longer bear such suffering.
He finally came to Zeus, and, kneeling before him, pleaded for Zeus to allow him to become human and walk amongst them. Zeus took pity on him for he knew he meant no harm, but denied the request. "It is not safe for you on the humans' land. You must stay here." Zeus then sent him on his way. Crestfallen, he slowly made his journey back home.
Upon walking through the clouds, he nearly fell through a gap in the sky. Looking down, he saw a young girl. She was slight in stature, and very young indeed, with beautiful golden curls and soft green eyes. She was a rare sight in the world of the humans. He stared at her for hours, watching her care for her parents and tend to the fields. His heart ached for the beautiful girl.
After a month, he could take it no longer. He jumped from the sky and fell into the forest just outside of the girl's home. When he came to, it was dark. The moon shone its face brightly and the stars twinkled in the heavens. "What have I done?" he breathed, tears welling up in eyes. He had never felt the cold or seen the black of night. His body ached with cuts and bruises from the fall, and when he went to stretch his wings -much to his horror- he realized they were gone. It was then he discovered he had become mortal. He leapt out of the shrubbery with pure joy and excitedly ran about the forest. He loved how he felt the muscles rippling under his skin and the air rushing into his lungs with each breath. He shouted and laughed with such happiness, he hardly noticed the young girl behind him.
"Sir?" she asked, holding up a lantern, "Sir, are you alright?"
He stopped suddenly, feeling quite embarrassed that she had heard him. "Yes," he said timidly, ducking behind a tree.
"Why do you hide, sir?" she asked, walking towards him.
"Stop!" he said, holding up his hand. "I am not clothed; I do not wish for you to see me like this!"
She smiled and left, returning a short while later with a soft pink fabric. "I spun this myself a few days ago. I was going to make a dress out of it, but you may have it." He gratefully took it and wrapped it around his chest a few times, then once around his waist before letting the rest of it hang about his hip. "What is your name, sir?" she asked after he had come forth. She pushed a lock of golden hair behind her ear. "My name is Valentine, sir."
"Valentine," he repeated, then answered, "I do not have a name." She gave him a strange look and said, "Sir, if I may, shall I give you a name?"
She thought for a moment.
"Sir, I shall call you Cupid."
Night after night, Valentine would come to meet Cupid in the forest and listen to his stories about being immortal. She would bring him fruits and cheeses and wines, but Cupid's favorite thing was the apple. Valentine laughed at him one day because she had noticed that he'd fallen into an apple tree when he came down from the sky.
Days passed, then weeks, and Valentine's visits grew longer and longer, 'til she scarcely came out of the woods at all. They were falling in love and Cupid was the happiest he had ever been.
Valentine came home one evening to tell her parents that she was going to marry Cupid. Her parents protested , but she collected her things and left the village. Valentine's parents went to the local temple and prayed that Zeus would bring Valentine back and send Cupid to Hades for stealing their daughter. Zeus heard their prayer and made Valentine return and brought Cupid back to the heavens. When Cupid awoke, he blanched at the sheer terror of being surrounded by clouds and Valentine nowhere to be seen.
Zeus stood before Cupid, fire raging in his eyes. "I told you not to," he boomed.
"I loved her," Cupid whispered, eyes welling with tears.
"Do you want to see what's become of Valentine?"
Cupid stared at Zeus, eyes wide.
Zeus parted the clouds between him and Cupid, showing the world below. A war raged overnight, destroying the village in which Valentine had lived. In front of her burning house, Valentine lay dead with a black and red arrow in her back.
Cupid reeled in agony. Tears fell through the clouds, landing on Valentine's body. An apple blossom bloomed in her back.
Turning back to Zeus, Cupid's usually bright red eyes now glittered a fierce gold. "Why?" he growled. Zeus met his challenging stare. "You disobeyed," he responded. Cupid collapsed at Zeus' feet, sobbing uncontrollably.
"Valentine," he whimpered. "Valentine. . ."
After eight months of grieving, Cupid finally had control of himself enough to face Zeus again. Upon kneeling before him, Zeus gave Cupid a bow and a quiver of arrows. Cupid's rage almost got the better of him, until Zeus explained. "This bow was made from the wing-bone of a demon, strung with hair from Hades himself. Cupid took the glistening white bow, carved intricately with vines and apple blossoms and wings. The black hair sparkled brilliantly as it caught the light.
"These arrows are specially designed just for you," said Zeus, taking a few from the quiver. "These are to make mortals fall in love," and he held up a pink and gold arrow. "These are to make immortals fall in love," and he held up a silver and white arrow. "These," cautioned Zeus, "work on both kinds." He held up a black and red arrow. "They curse one and keep them from ever finding love. They will be forced to live in solitude for the rest of eternity. Use them wisely," Zeus urged, and handed the quiver to Cupid.
By now, a new village was beginning to grow in place of Valentine's old home. Cupid descended to Earth for a second time (this time with permission), and walked among the forest's natural beauty being reborn from the destruction. He watched the young couples, occasionally shooting one or the other with pinkish golden arrows, until he saw a group of boys surrounding one girl. Cupid watched from afar, trying to get a glimpse of the local heartthrob. After a while, Zeus summoned him back to the world above and as he left, Cupid caught sight of a head of long blonde curls and soft green eyes.
"What's wrong?" Zeus asked Cupid.
Cupid shook his head, saying nothing.
The next day, Cupid returned and managed to get the young girl's attention. He lead her into the same forest that he had met Valentine. "I was watching you yesterday," Cupid murmured, leaning close to her. She giggled, pushing a golden lock behind her ear. "Whats all the excitement about?" he asked, stroking her hair. Her likeness to Valentine pained Cupid. "Well," she began, "One of them is to be my husband. They were trying to get me to choose which one." She giggled again.
Cupid took the bow from his shoulder.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I am the Harbinger of Love," he smiled. "Where do you live?" he asked.
"I live in the house at the edge of the forest."
Cupid plucked a bow from his quiver. "What is your name?" he asked.
"My name is Valentine."
"You should get back to your suitors," Cupid said, and strung the arrow into the bow.
This Valentine nodded and turned to leave.
"You are not my Valentine," Cupid growled and shot the arrow into her back.
Valentine fell to the ground, arrow jutting out sickeningly.
It was black and red.