Daphne – PG13
Crystal droplets trailed behind her as she tore into flight. The glittering traces suspended in the air while lightly clutching her hair. Startled by the sudden presence one of the horses wildly whinnied and stamped the ground impatiently folding its ears back.
Another horse reared and Apollo broke out of his trance at the appearance of another form, much smaller than his. And a beauty at that. Apollo was confident she wasn't a goddess, for he had never seen her before - surely if he had he would have remembered.
But he certainly had a lot of unwelcome company lately. She was the second uninvited guest and would have to apologize to him. The sun god pursued her.
Daphne burst through the forest's edge, hastily parting branches from her path after hearing his pursuit close behind her. The shrill call of a bird rang in her ears and her lungs felt raw, burning from shortness of breath at her sudden sprint. In her flight, the fern fronds pulled at her short skirts like fingers; the grass whisked and tickled her ankles between patches of soft moss carpeting the damp sod forest floor. The stain-glassed sunlight fell in fleeting bursts from the high canopy onto her soft features. Deer looked up from the sparkling stream as the water splashed under her feet, charging them to leap between the deep purple leafed branches sharply contrasted bright green blurs in her vision. She dared not look back.
If he caught up with her…
She shuddered at the thought. She wouldn't have the cover of leaf to hide her feelings or the effect he had on her. An anxious hand tore through her hair matching the pace of her run. I vowed not to love again. And here she was falling in love. She was sure of it. And falling in love with a god… of all men, she was falling in love with a god!
Shaking her head as soft tears flowed, Daphne reprimanded herself. Her actions were reckless, going so far as to find the courage to shyly venture that close to him. Was it wrong to love from a distance?
"Wait!" The distance between the two shadowed forms stretched. "Please!" a seemingly desperate cry in Apollo's attempt to keep up.
Hearing his voice sent the burn rushing to course through her veins, driving her forward almost faster than she could carry herself. Apollo followed behind at a considerable distance as his broad shoulders broke branches, the deep garnet cape trailed behind in lofty folds, snapping any unfortunately branches that may have grabbed hold of the material.
Daphne had the advantage. The forest was her home and her slim figure allowed her to be nimble, melting into the shadows and finally disappearing from his view.
Apollo took a knee watching the lilac strands swallowed by the shadows. His breath was uneven as he stood back up and left the place in the illuminated forest clearing. Now that he was deep in the heart of the forest he turned and picked his way back with a noticeable limp.
He snarled at the injury and mumbled under his breath, "She will pay for this."
He couldn't help but wonder why his voice wasn't as harsh as he intended it to be.
Heated wings watched from a distance with an interested eye. Eros liked what he saw. From his vantage point he misinterpreted the scene, saw the mighty god outrun by a woman he seemed interested enough in to injure himself pursuing.
Hovering while laughing to himself the armed god chuckled. "So the one who despises love, dangerously flirts with love, has fallen victim to it, has he?"
A crashing waterfall interrupted the gemstone surface of a placid looking glass as the liquid burst into a light mist, settling to delicately feather auburn features. A line of lazy clouds crowned the majestic slopes and the tall grass bowed over the moving water from the banks as they lazily dragged the surface, rippling out their presence. Small streams glittered amongst the noon sun, trailing along depressions on the face of ancient stone.
"You'll never guess." Eros motioned through panting lips as a sly smile curved them deviously.
A cool voice returned from behind the veil of water. "What did you find out?"
If Eros wasn't mistaken there was interest in her voice.
"Apollo is in love."
The statement sent Aphrodite quickly through the waterfall curtain hiding her presence. The goddess' wet hair was dark with dampness and perfectly complimented her ominous mood.
"He what?" Jealousy unmistakably owned her voice.
Eros was delighted with this sudden outburst. Though his mother's face was shaded with vengeance and frightened him, he couldn't help but feel bliss in thinking that there was no going back now. Aphrodite had no other choice than to help him out with his revenge.
And how would she feel when she found out it was a mere excuse of a woman that Apollo had fallen in love with? A simple river nymph - not even a goddess - was her competition… not even competition, she had won the god over while Aphrodite had failed miserably and been made a public scandal. Eros nearly giggled with wicked glee. Oh, how she would play right into his hand... and he wanted to watch.
"Why don't you come and see for yourself?"
Daphne sat looking at her reflection in the clear waters flowing by. She sat with one foot on the rock, her knee drawn to her chin as she combed her hair with a hand, the cool stream hugging the one ankle she dipped languidly in the waters. Her heart pounded remembering the chase several days earlier and reminded the maiden of the foolishness of her actions. She dare not venture to that part of the forest again.
As the swell of the waters silently assured her of her decision she heard dry leaves crackling and looked up alarmed.
"Please," their eyes met. "Please, don't go."
Daphne's moved gracefully to stand on the rock while making sure he never strayed across the waters, her position poised to fly. The intense desire to run overwhelmed her… so why wouldn't her feet let her?
"I only wish to speak with you."
She dare not say a word, too afraid to betray herself with the action.
Apollo stood perfectly still in position, afraid that the smallest action might send her running again. She had started to invade his dreams, her form fading in and out of view as she seemingly haunted him. He could not stand it anymore, awaking uneasy that morning he had ventured back to the familiar spot of the forest, sweeping out further to find her.
Her eyes wandered over his form, damp bangs clung to his forehead as his chest rose and fell with the rhythm of her own breathing. It was apparent he had been in a hurry in his pursuit that morning. Deep bronze eyes looked intently into hers, complimented by flushed features. He had come all the way out here to find her.
"Why were you watching me that morning?"
Daphne's eyes widened at the question.
"W-who would not be intrigued by being in the presence of a god?"
Apollo took a step forward in the brook as Daphne delicately steadied herself with arms to the side. Her feet still would not allow her to move.
"Someone like you, to whom this forest is home… the way you moved and hid yourself… you were nearly invisible." Apollo cautiously took another step. "Was that the only morning you watched me?"
Her hesitancy answered his question.
The nymph's eyes quickly cast down to the ground as her feeble voice issued forth. "Forgive me."
Another step forward and the sound of altered waters filled her ears.
"Don't come any closer!"
"Have you ever been in love with a god?"
Daphne dare not answer the question. She swiftly tore from her position on the rock and only got a single foot on the ground before she felt her arm being pulled back.
"I cannot – "
She gasped as his lips pressed to hers cutting off her words. She stood at first petrified with fear in his embrace before allowing the warmth of his tender touch to slowly melt her into his arms. His cloak wrapped around them while the brook swirled past their ankles.
Aphrodite's eyes burned with malice as she watched the scene from a distance. Eros sat watching the expression unfold on her face, so intent wallowing in his victory that he was startled when Aphrodite suddenly stood and turned nearly off balance, totally undignified in her burning fury.
"Where are you going?" Eros recovered from his sprawled position.
The goddess of love harshly swatted birds into flight descending to the edge of the forest. "He'll know exactly what it's like to be in love and be left."
Eros hovered at her side like a lapdog. Her tone held him intrigued, but he was distracted by the thought that he had wanted her to help him in his revenge against Apollo... but the overwhelming nature of her reaction had surprised him - and caused him concern; she was seemingly consumed with spite. Indeed, the nature of her reaction suggested that she would be taking charge.
She bit her lip angrily. "We have to ensure he's in love with her."
The armed god lagged with his jaw open. She was completely taking over his plan... and she wanted Apollo to be in love? He was no longer in charge, but he was really helpless to do anything about it. He utterly required her help. When had the tables turned against his favor?
"What do you mean?"
Auburn hair swayed as her heated features turned to face him and her lips pressed into a thin line. It seemed she had a favor to ask.