Forty–Three Thousand Years Ago
The rose bush pricked me again as I tried to clamber through the branches of the garden, attempting to spy on the meeting taking place between Clio and her mother, Mnemosyne.
Another thorn pierced my skin and even took a feather from one of my wings. It was much easier to sneak about when I was younger. Since I turned fifteen, I shot up roughly two feet in a year, and I was still getting accustomed to my new gangly limbs. The growth spurt made sneaking in and out of places annoyingly difficult.
I muttered a curse which my mother would have blistered my hide for, when a new voice from inside the bush whispered, “You are about as sneaky as a minotaur, you do know that?”
My feet were yanked out from under me, and I landed hard on my stomach, barely managing to contain a loud groan. My eyebrows shot up when I saw the source of the voice.
“What are you doing here, Attie?” I whispered, shifting so we were both shoulder to shoulder, staring out at the meadow below us.
“Solving world hunger. What does it look like I’m doing? Something isn’t right with the little muse and her mother, and I mean to get to the bottom of it.”
I maneuvered myself into a more comfortable position. “I thought you didn’t care.”
Atë turned toward me with narrowed eyes, but they flashed with a hidden emotion, one I recognized after all the years of us sneaking around Olympus causing trouble. Atë loves fiercely, but she’ll never admit such a weakness out loud.
“I don’t care. Obviously I’m just doing my job, as goddess of mischief. You know there are three parts of mischief, freak. One part is knowing your target, one part is laying the foundation, and the last part is sitting back and enjoying the results of the first two.”
I shot her a droll look. “Did you just make that up?”
She scoffed. “I most definitely did. Doesn’t make it any less true,” she elbowed me hard in the side. “Now be quiet, freak, they’re here.”
I opened my mouth to shoot back a snarky comment, but my eyes caught on Clio and her mother entering the meadow in front of us. Just the sight of Clio made my youthful heart pound a little faster in my chest, and my breath catch.
Uh, that’s new. When, exactly, did I start to feel an attraction to Clio?
We’d been fast friends since that banquet years ago, when she and Attie covered for me with YaYa, but I never felt more than friendship towards the two goddesses. Until now.
I dragged my eyes away from Clio and attempted to assess Atë with this new view. Atë is gorgeous: long raven tresses and bright eyes that flash a molten gold when she accesses her powers. I’d heard numerous gods and goddesses whisper about her beauty. Yet…I was unaffected.
Maybe it was just a fluke.
Turning my attention back to Clio, the strange sensation continued, my breath shortening, my heart racing, and I was forced to shift on my stomach to a more comfortable position as other parts of me came alive.
I narrowed my gaze on Clio, assessing her as I had Atë. She was beautiful; her steps innately graceful as she walked by Mnemosyne’s side, her hands folded in front of her demurely. Her hair was lighter than Atë’s, but still dark. Her beauty was more understated, yet it’s her.
Something is pulling me towards Clio.
My head tilted in fascination at the muse, but my eyes narrowed when I saw her mother grasp Clio’s head in her hands, her eyes glowing.
“What is she doing?” I whispered worriedly to Atë.
Atë shook her head, but elbowed me hard in the side again, wordlessly telling me to keep my mouth shut.
Together we watched as Mnemosyne released Clio’s head, and there’s a moment of tense silence before the muse opens her eyes.
Then she started to cry.
I immediately made a move to get up and go to her, but Atë pushed me down, keeping me hidden in the bush.
“Patience, freak, is the secret tool of all tricksters,” she hissed.
Together, in agonized silence, we watched as the scene unfolded in front of us. Clio’s tears streamed down her face, each drop feeling like the lash of a whip against my skin, even more so as she stumbled back from her mother, pure terror shining in her eyes.
“Who are you?” she wailed, again and again.
Atë reached out to prevent me from rising and going to her.
“Now, dewdrop,” Mnemosyne replied, smoothly closing the distance between them, “I just took all your memories for a moment. Here, let me give them back.”
Clio shook her head frantically, the tears still streaming down her face, but Mnemosyne caught Clio’s head in her grip again, and even from a distance I could see the blood dripping from Clio’s face.
She’s using her nails to hold Clio in place, breaking the skin…that bitch.
As Atë and I watched, stunned, Mnemosyne’s hands glowed again, likely transferring the memories back to Clio.
Clio’s lips parted, and a soft gasp of pain slipped from her. I didn’t even realize an answering gasp came from me, until Atë slammed her hand over my mouth.
Clio collapsed to her knees, the tears still streaming down her face, yet Mnemosyne appeared unaffected by the scene. Instead of falling to her knees in front of Clio, holding her daughter to her chest and rocking her soothingly, as my Miteras would have done for me, she gave Clio her back, strolling away from her.
“Same time tomorrow, Dewdrop. You know not to be late,” Mnemosyne coldly remarked, leaving Clio alone in the meadow behind her.
Once Mnemosyne left, Clio curled into a ball, tears trailing silently down her face.
This time when Atë stopped me from going to her, I snarled, “That is our friend, Attie, you can pretend we mean nothing to you all you want, but Clio is hurt.”
Atë’s face darkened with warning. “Don’t lecture me, freak. What would running in there and comforting her accomplish? Hm?”
I gaped openly at her, trying to come up with a suitable response.
“Clio needs to fight this battle herself, freak, she needs to break this shackle on her own, we can show her the wrongness. But we cannot make her cut ties with her mother.”
“But what? If I told you that your relationship with your precious Miteras was unhealthy, what would you do?”
My hands clenched into fists, fighting the instinct to defend my mother against all of her accusers.
“Exactly,” Atë murmured, eyes still on Clio. “You can lead a horse to water, but we can’t make it drink.”
Clio slowly struggled to stand, wiping her tears from her face. She strolled from the meadow, my eyes tracking her every movement. “Atë…”
Atë sighed, and in a surprisingly affectionate move, she ruffled my hair, “My little winged freak, so desperately trying to heal everyone’s heartaches.”
I smirked back at her, but I knew the action didn’t reach my eyes. “The god of love at your service.”
I’ll save you, Clio, I’ll keep you from her.