There was once a demon hunter who had two sons, both lovely, but the elder, Dean, excelled his brother so greatly that beside Sam he seemed a very god consorting with mere mortals.
It may well be believed that the goddess would not put up with this treatment. As always when she was in trouble she turned for help to her son, that beautiful winged youth whom some call Cupid and others Love, against whose arrows there is no defense. neither in heaven nor on the earth. She told him her wrongs and as always he was ready to do her bidding. "Use your power,” she said, "and make the hussy fall madly in love with the vilest and most despicable creature there is in the whole world."
And so no doubt he would have done, if Venus had not first shown him Dean, never thinking in her jealous rage what such beauty might do even to the God of Love himself.
What happened, however, was not what she had counted on. Dean did not fall in love with a horrible wretch; he did not fall in love at all. Still more strange, no one fell in love with him. People were content to look and wonder and worship—and then pass on to marry someone else. His brother was splendidly married, to a queen. (I believe her name was Jessica.) Dean, the all-beautiful, sat sad and solitary, only admired, never loved. It seemed that no one wanted him.
This was, of course, most disturbing to his parents. His father finally traveled to an oracle of Apollo to ask his advice on how to get him a good spouse. The god answered him, but his words were terrible. Cupid had told him the whole story and had begged for his help.
Accordingly Apollo said that Dean, dressed in deepest mourning. must be set on the summit of a rocky hill and left alone, and that there his destined husband, a fearful winged serpent, stronger than the gods themselves, would come to Dean and make him his husband.
"You should have wept for me before," he told them, "because of the beauty that has drawn down upon me the jealousy of Heaven. Now go, knowing that I am glad the end has come.” They went in despairing grief, leaving the lovely helpless creature to meet his doom alone, and they shut themselves in their palace to mourn all their days for him.
On the high hilltop in the darkness Dean sat, waiting for he knew not what terror. There, as he wept and trembled, a soft breath of air came through the stillness to him, the gentle breathing of Zephyr, sweetest and mildest of winds. He felt it lift him up. He was floating away from the rocky hill and down until he lay upon a grassy meadow soft as a bed and fragrant with flowers. It was so peaceful there, all his trouble left him and he slept.
He woke beside a bright river, and on its bank was a mansion stately and beautiful as though built for a god, with pillars of gold and walls of silver and floors inlaid with precious stones. No sound was to be heard; the place seemed deserted and Dean drew near, awestruck at the sight of such splendor. As he hesitated on the threshold, voices sounded in his ear.
He could see no one, but the words they spoke came clearly to him. The house was for him, they told him. He must enter without fear, bathe, and refresh himself. Then a banquet table would be spread for him. "We are your servants," the voices said, "ready to do whatever you desire."
The bath was the most delightful, the food the most delicious he had ever enjoyed. There was pie. While he dined, sweet music breathed around him: a great choir seemed to sing to a harp, but he could only hear, not see, them.
Throughout the day, except for the strange companionship of the voices, he was alone, but in some inexplicable way he felt sure that with the coming of the night his husband would be with him.
And so it happened. As the sun set, the voices ushered Dean into the bedchamber. They urged him to get undressed and make himself comfortable under the sheets of a bed fit for a god. Dean did as they said and soon found himself all alone. As the candles burned down to nothing, the room became black as pitch. Dean couldn't see his own hand in front of his face. He knew when his bridegroom entered the chamber by the soft sound of feathers rustling. Dean felt his husband's weight on the bed.
"Don't be afraid," the unseen man or creature said. When he heard his voice softly murmuring in his ear, all his fears left him.
"I'm not afraid," Dean asserted. He knew without seeing him that here was no monster or shape of terror, but the lover and husband he had longed and waited for.
"Are your eyes open or closed?" Dean's bridegroom asked.
Dean wasn't sure. In the pitch blackness, he couldn't tell.
"Close them, because I'm going to kiss you now." Dean closed his eyes tightly and felt a firm hand on his cheek, turning his head slightly. A heartbeat later, lips met his in a kiss that radiated heat throughout Dean's entire body. Hands caressed his chest, and for the first time in his life, Dean knew what love felt like.
With kisses and touches the two lovers got to know one another through the night. When he grew bold enough, Dean even touched the softly feathered wings he knew his lover possessed. Dean found he liked to tug at the feathers, and that this seemed to please his lover. Yet kisses, hungry touches, and feather play alone would not satisfy them all night. When the time was right, Dean allowed his lover into the most vulnerable part of himself, and thus the marriage was consummated.
To be continued...