This is a shitty chapter. Even I know it. But I had to fight writers’ block some way. Sorry, but the first drafts are meant to be shitty.
Also, for the Apollo/Morgana shippers, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Sorry loves :(
My phone buzzed. “Just a second, Apollo.”
Email from: Unknown
I’ll keep it snappy. 7 is a lucky number.
#1 Don’t talk about this to Apollo.
#2 There are two prophecies supposedly under your name.
#2a Not actually under your name (Caelia’s prophecy): As the moon sets, the fatherless daughter of a goddess will take her place by the side of the sun and bright in the sky as a replacement to his wilted flower. With the goddess she cannot reside more than two turns of the moon unless she wants to suffer a fate like the flower’s.
#2b Actually under your name: Women will rise as the daughter does, taking her place as Queen. Girl with no father wrongly predicted lover, she rises with the ashes of the women burnt before her.
#3 Caelia is not, I repeat, Caelia is not dead and she is not who Apollo thinks she is.
#4 All the Olympian goddesses gave birth to a ‘fatherless daughter’ when they realized, they’d never have any respect as a woman. These daughters are supposed to take over from all the men at Olympus eventually. You will be Queen because you were the first and only one they know about.
#5 The prophecy doesn’t lie. Your real betrothed is Zeus. He’ll show you love he never did Hera. Trust me, Apollo has nothing on him. Please, for our plan to work, you can’t tell him.
#6 All of the Daughters of Olympus and the current women in the Council will meet on Sunday in your dorm room (because you’ll be Queen).
#7 You can return to your dorm room tonight safely. Let Apollo know Hermes has promised to stay outside to keep you safe. You can tell him that’s what this message is about. And plus, Boreas will not harm a hair on your head or come close to you ever again. After all, you aren’t a reincarnation of Hyacinthus. Caelia is.
Love from, the Neo-Council.
“Apollo, I…” I stuttered. I didn’t want to lie to him. I had promised, after all. But I couldn’t tell him…
“What is it, dear?”
“I need to go. I just remembered I had a task to finish,” I said lamely.
“Morgana,” he said, brushing my hair away from my face. “Don’t lie to me.”
My heart rate increased, but I forced myself to breathe normally. My mother, as good-for-nothing as she was, had taught me to lie well. “I need to go.” I was a tad desperate. “If you let me go, I’ll…” I thought, tapping my chin, “I’ll kiss you.”
“For real?” he asked skeptically.
What had I gotten myself into?
“For real.” I smiled. “Also, Hermes will be outside my door, you don’t need to worry.”
He let out a sigh in relief. “I’d like to collect my payment before you leave?”
My heart rate, though high enough as it was, accelerated. Even though I was incapable of feeling cold as a goddess, a shiver ran down my spine. He—somehow, knowing that I was frozen in place—moved closer to me and tucked my red curls behind my hair. It was only now that I realized he was taller than me… much taller. I had the overwhelming impulse to measure his height and then mine to compare them.
His hands cupping my face slowly pulled me back to reality. When my lips finally connected to his, I felt an overwhelming urge to push him off me. When my heart began to hurt, I actually did.
“What… what happened, Morgana? Why did it feel so—”
“—wrong?” I finished for him. “I don’t know, Apollo. I… I have to go.”
But the truth was, I did know. I was lying to him and he knew it. The hurt look on his face didn’t deter me as I picked up my purse and ran out of his apartment, shutting and locking the door behind me. I sprinted like I hadn’t sprinted before.
Unfortunately, I ended up crashing into none other than Professor Hermes Martin Jackson. He grabbed my arm, took one look at my face, and then transported us from Apollo’s apartment complex to in front of my dormitory.
“You’ll have to give me permission to enter,” he whispered in my ear. “I am not the god of boundaries for nothing.”
“Come in,” I said, as I shakily pushed the door open, Victoria sitting on the sofa, looking at me angrily.
“What in the ever-loving hell is going on Morgana Narcissa Sallow?!” She stopped as she saw the Professor behind me. “Good morning, Professor Jackson. Do come in. And you—” she pointed a finger threateningly at me— “I am going to kill you for making me worry.”
We all stood awkwardly like that for a second before I walked to the sofa and sat down, a little distance away from the angry Tori. Professor Jackson walked in, closed the door behind him, and sat on the beanbag. “Does she know?” he asked, and I nodded curtly.
“Were you running away from Apollo?” he asked me softly. “What happened?”
I breathed in and out, contemplating telling him. But then, I realized that I needed to get it off my chest one way or another, to make it feel more real. The email only said don’t tell Apollo, so I decided I’d come clean. I told both of them about Caelia, and Boreas, and the message written in my inbox.
“You know, this is actually very possibly true,” Professor Jackson said. “We didn’t even know about you until Apollo saw you on the first day of school and saw the faint glow emanating off you. If you hadn’t come to Alessia, we’d never have found you.”
“You mean, there could be other people like me… other goddesses?” I asked, breathing heavily.
“Hey, breathe,” Tori said, reaching out to wrap my hand in her fingers. “You don’t want another panic attack. Breathe. In… out… in… yes, like that. Brilliant, keep that up.”
“Yes, there could be,” he said. “In fact, the odds that there isn’t are close to nil.”
“How many men are there in the Council?” I asked after my breathing had reached a semblance of normality.
“Apollo, Ares,” he counted. “Dionysus, Hades, Hephaestus, Poseidon, Zeus, and I. Eight.”
“Shit, shit, shit. There’s gonna be a bunch of people in our dorm on Sunday,” I said, sighing. “And will be the Queen of a world I don’t care much for.”
“You’ll be a great Queen, love,” Tori said, squeezing my hand and giving me a smile.
“But I never have a choice in this. It’s not fair!” I replied.
“All is fair in Olympus and the Underworld,” Professor Jackson said. “And you’ll need to accept this reality before the reality accepts you.”
I sighed (I think mom—yes, I could call her that now—was rubbing off on me). “I suppose you’re right.”
“Hey, I’ll be with you all the way,” Tori said. “I’m going to show those blasted Olympians who is boss.”
“That’s not—” he began.
“With all due respect, Professor, get out.”