“I adore you most ardently, my love,” he professed, standing at the shore of the sea from which she rose. “But you have duties. You must get married. I understand. I give you my blessing. I am forever your humble servant.”
“Alexander,” a booming, feminine voice called. The object of his confession materialized on the sea, gliding towards the shore, her red robes flowing behind her. Her curly black hair was poufy, just how he liked it, and her pink eyes were crinkled around the edges, filling up with tears.
She hugged him as she had never hugged anyone before. She didn’t want to leave him, but her father was adamant that she got married and soon. She had millennia to live, why he suddenly desired her matrimony was beyond her. Her tears fell, as salty as the water from which she was born, on his shoulder. He would cherish that shirt until the day he died. And him? He could do nothing except stand there and hold her. It was surreal.
“Lex,” she whispered, clutching his shirt. “Lex, listen to me.”
“Tell me, love,” he said, and how she enjoyed the word love rolling off his tongue. He was the only one who had ever called her that and the only one she would ever allow to call her that. It sounded permanent. Transcendent.
“I need to ask a huge favor of you,” she said. “I know I shouldn’t, but I… I can’t, Lex. I can’t do it.”
“What is it?” he asked, already resolving to do whatever it was she asked of him.
“Hyacinthus,” she began but broke down into sobs. He caught her as they both fell to the ground, sand gritting into their skin and uniting them in the physical pain that paled in comparison to their hearts.
“Yes, love? What about Hyacinthus?”
“He is going to be reborn,” she sobbed. “He’s going to be reborn as my daughter.”
“I don’t understand.”
“She’s going to be Apollo’s betrothed,” she continued. “And… if she lives with me, she’ll…” it took her a while to calm down enough to finish that statement. She gulped. “She’ll die as Hyacinthus did. I can’t let my first child die, Alexander!”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” he asked, cocooning her with his frame as if he could protect her with just his body. “No mother deserves this fate.”
“Don’t I know that?” she asked bitterly. “Take care of her. Please. You’re the only one I trust,” she replied, wiping the tears from her eyes and standing up.
“I’ll give her the life she would have had with you,” he replied decisively, standing up and taking both her hands in his. “I love you, Aph, and if it were in my hands, I’d-”
She put a finger on his lips. “Shhh… Don’t make this harder than it already is. As a return for taking care of my daughter, I’ll wipe your name from the history books.”
“Alexander the Unnamed,” he mused. “I like it.”
They both exploded into teary giggles. Three hours later, she arrived at his doorstep, wrapped in pink silk with hair as fiery as her predecessor but as obstinately curly as her mother’s. Her eyes, they glowed as pink as the robes she was wrapped in. The only thing written on the note near her chest was, ’Name her Morgana. You know why.’
And he knew why all right. He knew exactly why.