Chapter Twenty One
An orange sun hung low in the sky, setting the horizon on fire. Hermes watched as the shadows deepened, a small smile lifting his lips. He wandered slowly to the Embassy, settling himself against one of the pink quartz columns. The glittered, refracting the light in all directions. The shadows did not move.
Sunlight curled around him, creeping like smoke. Hermes held out his arms, a grin painted firmly across his face. “Apollo, old friend.”
“Hermes.” Though he spoke quietly, Apollo’s voice boomed out across the courtyard, unsettling flocks of birds nesting in the forest.
Hermes cringed. He had been expecting this sooner or later; he just hoped it would be later. “You’re going to ask me to leave Kali alone?” Apollo’s jaw worked on a reply, but Hermes wasn’t going to wait for the reminder that he owed Apollo anything. “You’d rather Ares win?”
“She isn’t a prize. She is my daughter!” Sinister music was filling the air around him. The pillar at Hermes’ back reverberated, almost as though it trembled in his wake.
Hermes watched his friend, amused, and reminded him “You used to join in these games yourself, Apollo. Ares is treating her far worse than I am.”
“Ares doesn’t stand a chance.” He retorted.
“Glad you agree.” Hermes smiled and walked leisurely toward the bridge, following their usual routine. He didn’t need to look back; Apollo always followed his lead.
“Hermes…” Apollo faltered, sighing deeply. “You’ll destroy her. I know you; you’ll make her fall in love with you and you’ll break her heart.”
Without turning back, Hermes replied honestly “You pose far greater danger to her than anyone else.”
“She’s all I have left.” He whispered. Apollo placed his hand on Hermes’ arm, bringing them both to a halt. “They grow old and die, while we suffer on. We can never allow ourselves to truly love them. I don’t want her to go through that. Not even with you.”
“Then why are you trying to be part of her life?” He looked harshly into his friend’s eyes and his usually carefree voice was hard. “She lost you once already. Even if you wanted to protect her, she never had a say in the matter. Now you’re back in her life and ruining her opinion of you. How long can you keep it up this time?”
Apollo scowled and dropped his gaze. Hermes’ words stung, but he could not deny the truth in them. He didn’t know what the right course of action was anymore. “She wants nothing to do with me.”
“How can you be so dense?” Hermes said scornfully, teasing “I thought you were all knowing and all seeing?”
“Get to the point!” He snapped, the embers rising in his eyes.
Hermes’ tone was openly mocking and the pale stars twinkled with amusement as he joked “Come on, Apollo. What happened? Did you two have a fight? Did you almost kill her?”
“Look, just cut the girl some slack. I’ve seen how hard you are on her; it’s too much. I know you just want her to be the best she can be but you’re pushing too hard. She barely been here a month.” Hermes shrugged again, leaning casually against the glistening pillar by the entrance of the embassy. “I’m guessing she doesn’t appreciate it. Now you think she hates you, and you’re angry because whatever she said to you is true. You never could accept when you were in the wrong.”
“I…” He stuttered, not knowing how to answer without acknowledging that what Hermes said was true. His golden eyes dimmed. Apollo was glad when Hermes interrupted before he had to respond, even though he knew he wouldn’t want to hear what the thief had to say.
“Kali idealised you when you left, made you out to be this amazing guy. In all honesty, I can see why she’s disappointed. You’re not really living up to that image. She lived in the other world for a long time and now she’s been thrust into this one; everything she thought she knew turns out to be a lie.”
Testing the water, Hermes put his arm around Apollo and laughed “If I know Lynette, she would have told her anything but the truth about this place. She probably didn’t tell her anything at all.”
Apollo sighed wearily, and his temper faded. Instead, his eyes were a regretful yellow. “When did you get so insightful?”
“I think I’ve just been around you too much.” His eyes flashed playfully. Apollo hadn’t denied it.
“Hermes.” Apollo stated, too tired to dance around questions anymore.
“What can I say? When you’re trying to steal a heart you have to pay attention to what makes it tick.” Hermes shrugged modestly, carefully schooling his expression. He knew that seeing into people was one of his greatest skills and it always had been. A thief had to be able to size up their mark at a glance to be successful.
Apollo’s face hardened, dark now that the sun had completely set, and he stated “That doesn’t change the fact that I want you to stay away from her. She is different, special. I don’t want you hurting her.”
“Maybe you’re right; she is different. Maybe this time isn’t the same as the others, Apollo. Did you ever think of that?” Hermes’ eyes were innocent, honest even, but the god of truth always knew.
Apollo scowled, sighing “You wouldn’t be using the epithym root if this time was different.”
Hermes grinned roguishly. “It doesn’t matter why the feeling is there, as long as it is. Isn’t that what you said? We can conjure what we need, until the echo of it becomes real and true.”
Apollo grimaced; that was what he had always said. He no longer had the energy to continue. Some distance from Camelot might help clear his head, he decided. Sighing deeply, he clapped a hand on Hermes’ shoulder and wandered into the simple crystal building.
Hermes watched him go, his grin widening. Apollo still didn’t realise he had confirmed his suspicions. When he did, there would be trouble. But Hermes had always been good at trouble. But his smile faltered when he realised the shadows were as deep as ever. Even though the sun had gone down, and Apollo had left the realm. He felt a shiver and his eyes narrowed; this certainly was an interesting development. “Well, this is an evening of revelations indeed.”
Hades’ voice slid quietly from the shadows. “Epithym root?”
“Hello old friend. Been a while since we could talk outside the confines of Camelot.” Hermes’ eye darted around, looking for the subtle shift in the shadows to find him. It was a game he played often, but his friend’s voice was anything but playful. “You’ve been so busy lately.”
“You would force your desire upon her?” Hades said, ignoring Hermes’ attempt at conversation entirely. He could have been asking about the weather, but Hermes suppressed a shudder; he knew not to trust that veneer of calm.
“Force?” Hermes tried for a laugh. “You wound me. I won’t touch her while she’s under the influence of it. I’m simply building the attraction. She’ll associate the overwhelming sensation with me, and she’ll come to me on her own.”
“I will tell you this only once. You will not use trickery to bend her to you. Conjuring falsified emotions from her will only bring her pain. I will not tolerate it.”
As the shadows deepened, fear tingled Hermes’ spine. “Hades, need I remind you that you have no more claim over her than the rest of us. You cannot sway my actions, or enact punishment, concerning any demigod.” It was a friendly reminder, lest Hades land himself in a difficult situation. But Hermes was intrigued by the unexpected situation. Pushing his luck, he added “Though, I suppose that classification doesn’t include Kali, does it.”
Silence crashed over them. Hermes wondered, not for the first time, if he had misread the limit of Hades’ patience. “Woo her as you will. But if I catch a scent of this drug again, you will wish you could die.”
Hello there! I have no idea how, but it seems I missed out a whole chapter when I was posting these initially. So here you go, a little bonus for anyone that already finished Awakening! If you made it this far, consider hitting the star to tell me you enjoyed it, or drop a comment to let me know what you thought. If you want to make sure you don’t miss the next post, click that follow button to get email updates!