A note for those reading: I rushed this but I was going for the same vibes as when you get a dog and your dad says he's not going to be the one to take care of it and then he and the dog end up bonding. The gods used are part of the Armenian mythology, which is interesting but also really hard to find information on.
“Astghik, why is there a tiny mortal in the temple?”
Vahagn loved his wife, but sometimes the things she did made no sense. After the fall of the Pantheon, she maintained some fame with Vartavar, a day that was once used to worship her, now a Christian feast and a day of water warfare. She had her hands deeply rooted in both the past and the present, while her husband preferred to stand to the side in the new age. The mortal, however, was taking things a step too far.
“You were the one saying we should get a pet.” Astghik didn’t look up from her book as she spoke. The mortal stared up at Vahagn with wide eyes.
“Yes, but I thought we’d get a dragon or a dog or something.” Vahagn crossed his arms, “Where’d you even get this?”
Astghik put a tasseled bookmark on the page she left off on and set the book aside, “From a shelter of course! Where else would I find a mortal? You can’t take the ones off the street because you don’t know who they belong to, and they’re too young to take from the buildings where they’re birthed. Therefore, the only valid option is to adopt from a shelter.”
Vahagn pinched the bridge of his nose, “Astghik, do you know how difficult mortals are to raise? They need at least twelve years of training, constant attention, and three meals a day.”
“Well it’s not your mortal, is it?” Astghik scooped the mortal off the floor and cradled it in her arms, “It’s mine! Her name is Ani and I’m not returning her to the shelter. So you can go get yourself a dragon or a dog, but this pet is mine.”
“How many millenia has it been since we married? You never wanted a mortal before!”
“Well I’ve never been to a mortal shelter before. Really, you’re lucky I only have one. I would’ve adopted everyone there if I could have.”
Watching Astghik hold the mortal, Vahagn knew there was no argument in the universe that would make her give it up. He sighed, “Fine. You’re in charge of it though. I expect it to be housebroken, trained, and quiet.”
Astghik let out a delighted squeal, “Oh, she will be! Give it time and you’ll come to love her as much as I do!”
Vahagn gave a noncommittal grunt and left the room.
The issue with being married to the goddess of love and beauty was that Astghik was never satisfied with Valentine’s Day. She claimed that her domain was being torn apart by commercialism, and that love was being turned into a Hallmark plot. Vahagn didn’t know what Hallmark was, but every year since the creation of Valentine’s Day, he attempted to give his wife something to show his continued support and love. However, with her being the goddess of love and beauty, finding something worthy of her was a challenge. On February fourteenth she was always busy, leaving the entire day to Vahagn and his schemes. This year, however, the mortal was at home.
“What do you want?” Vahagn looked over at the mortal. The mortal stared back with wide eyes.
“I’m a bit busy. If you want to go out you’ll have to wait until I’m done.”
The mortal reached out slowly and took the spoon Vahagn was using to stir the frosting for the cake he was making.
“Hey, no, give that back!”
The mortal shoved the spoon in their mouth defiantly.
“You dare test the god of thunder, mortal?”
The mortal pulled another spoon out of the drawer and handed it to Vahagn. He took the spoon and sighed, “Do you want to help me? I’m baking for Astghik. You seem to like her.”
The mortal nodded.
“Can you speak?”
The mortal shrugged, and Vahagn frowned, “Alright, don’t tell me then. Do you have any idea what I should do for her other than the cake?”
The mortal left the room and came back with several papers tied together with string. It handed the papers to Vahagn, who flipped through.
“This is by far the cheapest thing I have ever seen. These coupons aren’t even valid at stores.”
The mortal crossed its arms and Vahagn held his hands up in surrender, “If you want me to give these to Astghik I will, but I doubt she’ll be very impressed. Now, if you help me frost the cake I will let you have the bowl.
As it turned out, the mortal had a sweet tooth, and as much as he wanted to deny it, Vahagn found himself becoming more comfortable with the idea of having a mortal in his house.
Astghik just wanted to go home and go to sleep. Instead she was surprised by her beloved Vahagn and her dear Ani sitting on the couch together eating an entire bowl of frosting.
“Seeing you two might just be the best Valentine’s gift anyone could have gotten me.” Astghik threw her bag on the floor and crashed onto the couch with Vahagn and Ani.
“Why don’t you get comfortable. The mortal and I will go get your surprise.”
“Oh gods.” Astghik put her feet up on the coffee table, “Please tell me it’s not a statue of me again. I’m so tired of statues.”
“It’s not a statue.”
Vahagn had been very proud of the statue he had commissioned a few years ago, but if Astghik didn’t like it, then he wouldn’t press the issue. He signaled to Ani and the two of them went to the kitchen. Astghik watched as they came out with a cake between them.
Love Is Real.
The frosted letters were reassuring to the goddess who was losing hope in her domain.
“Just the cake this year?” Astghik teased.
“Well the mortal made you this.” Vahagn handed his wife the coupon book, and Astghik spent the next few minutes flipping through and making a wide variety of cooing noises as she read each coupon. Both Vahagn and Ani watched her in anticipation, and finally Astghik set the coupon book down. She stared at the two people who had gone out of their way to make an ancient immortal feel appreciated again and spread her arms wide.
“Love is real!” Astghik declared. Ani dove into her arms and it turned into a hug. Astghik made eye contact with Vahagn over Ani’s head.
“I know you and Ani have been getting along.”
“The mortal and I have been doing no such thing. I’m still very against it living in our home.” Vahagn crossed his arms and put on a stern expression.
“You can’t lie to me, I’m the goddess of all love, not just romantic.” Astghik laughed as the realization dawned on her husband and he struggled to cover up the fact that he was fond of her sweet Ani. Perhaps she would go back to the shelter and pick up a playmate for Ani sometime.