Greek Myths: Artemis and ActaeonbySelena_Kitt©
"I want something, Daddy."
"Anything, precious." Zeus held the wiggling three-year-old Artemis on his knee as they sat on a wooden bench in the orchard, laughing as she climbed him like a tree, tugging at his beard and then kissing his cheek.
"Anything? You promise?" She blinked at him, her little rosebud mouth a pout, her blue eyes wide.
"I promise," Zeus assured her, rubbing his finger under her smooth chin. "That's what Daddies do, you know. We give our daughters everything they want."
"I want..." Artemis began, beaming, her eyes turning toward the woods where she had spent most of the afternoon, listening to the sounds of the hunt and playing with the dryads who lived in the trees. "I want to never be married..."
"Never?" Zeus laughed, brushing her dark curls off her cheek. "Go on, what else?"
"I want to have lop-eared hounds, and I want stags..."
"Stags?" He raised an eyebrow. "For?"
"To lead my chariot," she said, rolling her eyes. "What else? And I want to be a huntress. The best huntress of them all!"
Zeus smiled. "Is that all?"
"And, I want the nymphs and the dryads to be my constant companions," she insisted, pointing to young Melissa, a nymph who was hiding behind them, peeking past a tree and watching. The girls had spent the morning together down by the brook, fishing with makeshift poles. "Forever and ever!"
Zeus kissed his little daughter's cheek, thinking of her all grown-up. "You shall have it, precious," he assured her. "You will never be married, and you will be the best huntress in the land—"
"Ever," she insisted. "The best huntress ever."
He chuckled. "The best huntress ever, then. And you shall have lop-eared dogs and stags to pull your chariot, and all the nymphs and dryads shall serve you for all their days and yours. Is that what you want, my darling?"
"Yes, Daddy," she whispered, pressing her cheek to his, her eyes meeting Melissa's. "It's perfect."
"It really is just as you wished it," Melissa whispered against the gentle swell of Artemis' bare breast. They were lying naked together in the very same woods they had traipsed through as children, watching birds flitting from tree to tree above their heads.
"What is?" Artemis asked, twisting a long strand of Melissa's blonde hair around and around her wrist.
"Don't you remember?" Melissa looked up at her mistress. "You wished that you would never be married, that you would be the best huntress in the land..."
"Ever," Artemis said, and smiled. "The best huntress ever. And yes. It is everything I ever wanted." Artemis cupped the nymph's breast in her hand, her thumb teasing her nipple.
"Am I?" Melissa asked, still searching her mistress' face.
Artemis kissed the top of her head. "You are as always. I know my life not without you."
Melissa sighed happily, her eyes closing as Artemis gently stroked her soft, firm breast. Her nipple was hardening nicely, and although she had spilled nectar twice this morning from her mistresses ministrations, she was ready for more.
Suddenly, Artemis sat, reaching for her robe. Melissa watched, confused, as the goddess pulled it on and slung her bow and quiver over her shoulder.
"Get dressed," Artemis told her in a hiss. "Quickly."
Sensing her urgency, Melissa fumbled on her own robe, standing beside her mistress. Artemis was looking into the woods through the clearing and as they watched, a tall, red-haired goddess appeared through the trees.
"Athena!" Artemis cried, her eyes bright, her dark hair flying behind her as she ran to meet the goddess.
Melissa frowned, watching the two embrace, and bit her lip when they kissed, a soft, more-than-welcoming caress.
"The hunt for the white stag has started." Athena put her arm around Artemis' waist, her hand hugging her hip. "It's going on for three days! Did you know?"
"I'd heard something," Artemis replied, her eyes never leaving the goddess' face. "Are you going?"
"The party has left," Athena replied, glancing over at Melissa and giving her a smile. Melissa's frown deepened and she crossed her arms. "But I thought we could try to catch up with them. They are somewhere in these woods."
"Yes, let's," Artemis exclaimed, sounding for all the world like the little girl that Melissa remembered sitting on her father's knee, her voice high and excited.
"You can come, Melissa," Athena offered with a smile.
"No, thank you." Melissa's voice was cool.
Artemis turned, leading Athena back the way she came. Melissa watched them go, a lump in her throat.
"I'll see you tomorrow!" Artemis called, turning and giving a brief wave.
Finding her way back to the tree, Melissa curled up at the base, tears pricking her eyes. For as long as she could remember, she had been Artemis' favorite. There had been others, of course, but she always came first—until Athena. They had been seeing more and more of each other of late.
They're not lovers, Melissa told herself, wiping at the tears on her cheeks. It's not like us.
Yet, she doubted. The secret looks, the subtle touches, the quiet laughter, it all told her a different story that she didn't want to know the ending to.
"Hello." Melissa started, glancing up at the voice. It was a man—tall, blonde, with a bow and quiver strung across his back. "I didn't mean to startle you. Are you feeling well?"
She wiped at her tears again with a sniff and a nod. "Yes, thank you."
"Now, I know a fib when I hear one," he said with a smile. "May I sit with you?"
Shrugging, she moved over, making room for him at the base of the tree. They were quiet for a moment, looking out across the clearing. Melissa was remembering how warm and soft Artemis' hands and mouth were against her skin. That just made her tear up even more, and she wiped at her face, trying not to let him see.
"You're a nymph?" he asked, picking a daisy from a bunch gathered beside them.
She nodded, not trusting her voice.
"I am Actaeon, son of Aristaeus," he told her, twirling the flower in his fingers. "My father lives at the edge of these woods, beyond the stream."
Blinking at him, she sighed. "Yes. I know of him. He often comes to gather olives here."
"What is your name?" Actaeon picked another daisy, then another, beginning to string them together.
"My mistress calls me Melissa," she replied, watching him, seeing the resemblance now, the thick flaxen hair, the startling blue eyes. He smiled over at her, picking more daisies as he worked.
"Are you a hunter?" she asked him, cocking her head, interested in the intricate twists and plaits he was making.
"The best hunter in the land," he boasted with a grin, holding up his wreath of daisies. "Here we are, a crown of flowers for a delicate blossom."
She smiled as he placed the circlet on her honey-colored head.
He lifted her chin, his eyes smiling, too. "Now, that's better than tears. Much better."
Melissa turned her face, looking across the clearing again. "You are not the best hunter in the land."
He laughed, stretching out and leaning back on his elbows. "Is that so?"
"It is so," she insisted, touching the delicate flowers resting on her head. "My mistress is the best huntress in the land. She is on the hunt right now."
Raising his eyebrows, he cocked his head at her. "Actually, so am I."
"You do not look like you're hunting," she scoffed, pulling her knees up to her chin.
He rolled over onto his side, his eyes narrowing a little and his nostrils flaring as he looked up at her. "No? You're mistaken..."
She glanced at him, her heart beating a little faster when he put his hand over the bare foot peeking out from under her robe.
"Wh—what are you doing?" she asked, her eyes growing wide.
"Hunting," he replied, walking his fingers up her bare shin underneath her robe.
She froze as his hand found her knee. "Stop that."
"Shhh," he whispered, his palm moving up her thigh, straightening her leg. "You'll scare the game away."
Melissa's heart was pounding in her ears as she felt his fingers brushing the soft, golden fleece between her thighs.
"What is your prey?" she whispered as his fingers parted her, seeking entrance to her sweet temple. No man had ever touched her there, let alone entered that space. Artemis prized the virginity of her attendants above all else.
"You are," he breathed as he found that tender bud at the top of her cleft and began to rub it. "Precious flower."
Melissa moaned as he touched her and spread her legs a little more. He was easing her robe up and she leaned back against the tree as he found his way between her thighs, his breath hot against her sex. She knew it was wrong, but she felt so all alone, and here was this man who just wanted to...
His tongue drew honey from her pot as he sucked and licked her juices. Slipping her hands through his bright shock of hair, she let him pleasure her. The noises he made encouraged her, low moans, as if she were the most delicious morsel he had ever tasted. Melissa sighed and opened wider, gasping when his fingers slipped between her lips and entered her sanctum. No one had ever put anything inside of there before!
"Oh by the gods," she murmured as his fingers began moving in and out, building a slow rhythm that matched her breath. Her hands grasped her robe tugging it over her head and tossing it aside, exposing her tawny body to the sun and his eyes. They both beamed and showered her with light.
His mouth and tongue worked faster now, and his other hand slid up to cup the full globe of her breast, rolling the nipple, tugging a little. She twisted and gasped, her head going back and forth, her eyes fluttering closed. The motion of his fingers was divine, sending shockwaves of delight through her body.
"Oh Actaeon!" She called his name as she felt her climax overtake her, shuddering waves that rocked her like the rolling swell of the ocean against his mouth. Her tremble and quiver went on and on and he never let up, his mouth staying fast against her mound.
When she was spent, he moved up to kiss her, and she could taste her sweetness on his lips. She smiled at him, her eyes half-closed still, feeling weak and faint.
"I am the best hunter," he murmured, disrobing as he kneeled up between her legs. She stared at the full, masculine form in front of her, the broad shoulders and ridged abdomen, the narrowed waist and hips, the thick thighs covered with light blonde hair. Between his legs, a spear rose, waiting to impale her, and she shrank from it.
"Don't be afraid," he whispered as he moved on top of her.
His weight was not as cumbersome as she imagined it would be. She enjoyed the feel of his body, how hard and lean and long he was against her supple softness. He kissed her, his mouth a tender caress, his tongue moving in unison with hers until she relaxed. Then his hands found her breasts, thumbing her nipples as his mouth slanted across hers, the kiss deepening, sending delicious waves through her pelvis.
"Actaeon," she murmured, her hips rocking awkwardly against his, aching for something, but she knew not what. She longed for his mouth again, the sweet, gentle tongue that now made lazy circles around her nipples. "Please..."
"Yes," he whispered, moving up on her now, spreading her slender thighs with his own. His erection felt enormous as he pressed against her flesh, seeking entrance.
"Oh, no!" she cried, feeling the fat, bulbous head peeking inside of her, finding its way. There was a stretch and burn as he pushed forward, sliding the length of him deep inside. He groaned and she did, too, but not in pleasure. She could feel a strange wetness on her thighs as he began to move.
"Melissa," he murmured into her hair, burying his face in it as he moved on top of her. The burning sensation was fading, and for that she was grateful. He rocked her gently in his arms, watching her face, shifting his weight. His hips began to move in slow circles, and—oh! He was rubbing the length of his shaft over the glistening jewel at the top of her slit. She gasped when he found it and he smiled, doing it again and again, his eyes on hers.
The friction of their bodies rubbing, their hips grinding, sent her riding a fast moving spiral toward the heavens. She had never felt anything like it, even with her mistress, and she moaned and gripped his shoulders, arching against him. He was thrusting harder now, faster, moving more easily through her tight, swollen flesh. Opening herself to him, she took him as deeply as she could, wanting more and more.
"Almost there," he groaned, his muscles tight against her. Her sex was throbbing, aching for release, and she wrapped herself around him, squeezing. "Ahhhhh sweet Melissa!"
She felt it coming for her, and then it took her, quaking through her like the earth was moving below them. Her body was fluttering and trembling and gasping under his and he drove into her with a growl, surprising her with his violent thrust forward. Then he was spilling his seed, bright bursts of white hot fluid filling her womb.
When he rolled off of her with a sigh, she found herself staring up at the bright sky above them with wonder, like she was seeing it for the very first time. He kissed her arm, her elbow, the closest things to him, his fingers tracing circles on her belly.
"Do you want to walk down to the stream to clean up?" he murmured.
She sat up on her elbows, looking down and gasping at the sight of blood on her thighs. Glancing fearfully over at him, she touched the ruddy fluid, looking at it on her fingers, a horrible realization slowly dawning.
"What have I done?" she whispered, her voice shaking.
They both heard the sound of twigs cracking behind them and jumped up. Actaeon was reaching for his quiver.
"What have you done, Melissa?" Artemis asked, her voice low and trembling with rage as she stepped around the tree and into the clearing.
"I'm sorry!" The blonde fell to her knees, holding her hands out to her mistress, but they were covered in her own virginal blood.
"I should kill you for this," Artemis murmured, coming forward and standing over the sobbing girl.
"Please have mercy," Melissa begged. Artemis had killed other attendants who had not held their virginity sacred, she knew. Why should she be any different?
Out of the corner of her eye, Artemis saw Actaeon pulling his bow. Before he could let the arrow fly, she had pulled her own and with a quick shot, knocked it out of his hands, splitting the limb.
Actaeon stared at her, agape. "Who are you?"
"I am Artemis, goddess of the hunt," she told him with a sneer. "And you are no great hunter. You are a thief."
They could hear the sounds of a hunting party nearby, horses hooves pounding and the barking of dogs.
"Please don't harm him," Melissa begged, tugging at the hem of her mistress' robe. "Kill me if you must, but please... do not hurt him."
Artemis set her mouth in a grim line. "It is worse than I thought."
"You will not touch her," Actaeon growled, stepping toward Artemis with his fists clenched.
"You believe yourself to be such a great hunter?" Artemis asked, her eyes flashing as she turned to the young man. "See what it feels like to be the hunted."
Melissa felt a wave of heat pass over her, a bright flash of something, and Actaeon was no longer standing beside her. In his place was a fine, white stag, its eyes wide with fear, its nostrils flaring. It bucked and pawed the ground beside her, waving its big head.
"Actaeon?" Melissa whispered, turning her eyes to Artemis, who nodded once.
"The white stag!"
They heard the cry and Melissa shrank against her mistress as the barking hounds flew by followed by the pounding hooves of horses. The stag that was once Actaeon began to run, but he never really had a chance. The hounds were on him, more than a dozen, their teeth and jaws ripping into his flesh, the weight of the pack taking him kicking to the ground.
Melissa sobbed, holding onto Artemis as they watched the proud animal fall and saw the light go out of its eyes. The hunting party sounded the horn, cheering at their victory.
Artemis knelt beside her lover, her thumbs wiping at the girl's falling tears.
"I love you, Melissa," she whispered, kissing the girl's forehead and then standing to go claim her prey.
Author's Note: No, this isn't Bulfinch's version, although there are two versions of the Actaeon myth, one claiming that he saw Artemis bathing and she punished him by turning him into a stag to be torn apart by his own hounds--the other claimed that he was simply boasting about being the best hunter in the land, and for that, he was punished. Artemis called all her attendants "Melissa" and did kill those who did not keep their virginity sacred. I like to think it could have happened this way...