Hey, I love your gods&monsters series, could you write something about Apollo? ^Preferably something with a positive vibe, something romantic... But that's totally up to you, anything about Apollo makes me happy
Apollo has many sons.
He only ever has nine daughters.
He has his first when he’s young, too young to know better.
Daphne is beautiful and coy, and leads him on a merry chase. He catches her, and finally silences her laughing mouth with his own. They sleep together, and she leaves bite marks up his neck.
Her father, the river god Peneus, finds out about them. Apollo had not known it was secret. Peneus is a hard, selfish god, and he slits Daphne’s throat for her impurity. Better a dead daughter then one who does not listen.
Apollo finds out too late. He arrives to Daphne dead on the side of her father’s riverbank, stomach swollen in a way Apollo doesn’t remember it being the last time he saw her, which was – which was – it couldn’t have been that long, could it?
He cuts open her stomach, throat too tight to call for his sister’s help, heart too tight to bear anyone else looking at Daphne’s slack, bloody face.
The child is still warm.
The child is still alive.
He cannot bring himself to bury Daphne, to sentence her to an afterlife beneath the earth. Instead, he transforms her into a large laurel tree, so her beauty will remain eternal. He presses a hand against her trunk and says, “My hair will have you, my lyre will have you, my quiver will have you.” Apollo looks down at the baby, too small, tucking into the crook of his arm. “Our daughter will have you.”
He calls her Calliope. Their daughter weaves laurel leaves into her hair every day of her life.
When he is older, but not wiser, he gets drunk on the top of Olympus. It is not the first time, nor the last, but this time it is different.
This time Hestia, goddess of the hearth, of warmth, of family, places her delicate hand around the back of his neck and leads him to her rooms.
Months later, he lands his chariot, the sun finally set. His arms are shaking, and his legs are covered from burns when the sun grew tired and tried to consume him, but could not. Hestia stands before him, something held in her arms. “What’s wrong?” he asks roughly, throat dry and the skin of his lips cracking. Hestia rarely leaves Olympus.
“I am no mother,” she tells him, and he doesn’t understand until she places a warm, squirming bundle in his arms. He holds it to his chest automatically. “Her name is Terpsichore.”
She leaves before he has the chance to question her. He looks down, and the baby has his golden eyes and her dark hair. “Hello, little one.”
Calliope is fully grown now. Apollo leaves Terpsichore in her care, and promises to come when called.
“Yes, Father,” Calliope says, rolling her eyes as her little sister grabbing fistfuls of her curly hair. There’s an ink smudge across her face, and her home is bursting with books. He should really talk to Athena about letting Calliope use one of her libraries.
He kisses both their foreheads before leaving.
Apollo falls in love with a Spartan prince, graceful and strong and with a wide, pretty mouth. He falls in love with a mind that can match him, with a smile that leaves him breathless. Hyacinth captures his affections and attentions utterly, and for a few short years Apollo is enchanted, for a few short years Apollo feels a love deep in his chest that is only surpassed by the love he has for his sister.
Then Hyacinth is killed.
He shows up at his daughters’ door, and Calliope and Terpsichore take one look at him and usher him inside. He can’t bring himself to speak, but he’s covered in blood that isn’t his own, is pale and shaken and mourning.
They clean him and care for him and settle him to bed, although he cannot bring himself to sleep.
Less than a week later, there is a mortal woman there looking for him. Her eyes are red, but she stands tall and her lips are pressed into a straight line. A toddler who shares her dark coloring clutches her skirt. “I am the Princess of Sparta, and wife of Hyacinth.”
Apollo hadn’t known Hyacinth had a wife. He hadn’t asked. Surely he would have noticed – but then again, perhaps not. Love makes people stupid. “I am sorry for your loss.”
“As I am sorry for yours,” she says in return, which surprises him. “Sparta must have a prince. I am to be remarried.” She brings the little girl forward, and she can’t be more than a couple years old. “This is Urania, the child of myself and my husband. I have been ordered to kill her.”
Apollo flinches. He knows such things are done, but – she is Hyacinth’s daughter. “I will take her.”
She smiles. “I thought you might.” She kisses the girl on both cheeks, hands her to Apollo, then leaves as quickly as she’d came.
Urania watches them with big liquid eyes that she got from her mother. He stays with his daughters for a year after that, playing with Urania and watching Terpsichore dance and listening to Calliope’s beautiful poetry. Urania loves the stars. She stares up at them each night, and Apollo patiently explains the name of each one.
When she is fully grown, he begs a piece of ambrosia off Hestia and feeds it to her.
Urania is his daughter as surely as if his blood ran through her veins. He cannot bear to watch her age and die.
Marpessa chooses Ida over him, but it is too late. She already swells with his child, and he could use that to keep her. He could force her to stay at his side, she loves him, she said so, it would not be such a cruel thing.
But she is not wrong in her assessment. Apollo is immortal, and will not grow old with her, will not change with her, will not die with her. Ida will.
There’s fear on her face, and he thinks she deserves it, for proclaiming to love him and choosing another. But he is not interested in keeping her captive for a lifetime.
“Have the child, and give it to me,” he commands, “and I will leave you to your life.”
Ida is furious in his jealousy that Marpessa will bear a child for Apollo before she bears a child for him, so there is that comfort, at least.
Artemis delivers the child to ensure it goes smoothly. She’s beaming as she holds her niece. “What will you call her?”
“You choose,” he says, running the back of his finger over the babe’s soft cheek.
His sister considers the squalling child for a long moment before she says, “I think you should name her Thalia.”
“Thalia it is,” he says.
She’s mischievous, and reminds him of himself on his worst days. She grows, and pulls pranks on nymphs and deities. Her older sisters are constantly straining to keep her out of worse trouble.
He gets a frantic message from Calliope that Thalia has gone missing, and he eventually finds her at the edge of a scorched battlefield, the soldiers long gone but the bodies and stench remaining. He’s furious at her for going to a place so dangerous, but when he marches up to her he sees something that he hadn’t expected.
She’s hallway through a story about pranking a wood nymph that he knows is at least half lies and a quarter exaggeration. Curled up on the ground, clutching his stomach as he laughs so hard he can’t breathe, is Ares.
Apollo hasn’t seen the tormented god of war this carefree since he was a child.
Thalia finally notices him, and cuts herself off, paling. “Oh, uh. Hi Dad.”
Ares is downright giggling. “Hello Thalia,” Apollo crosses his arms and glares, “You shouldn’t go wandering away from your sisters.” She winces and nods, ducking her head to look up at him through her eyelashes, doing her best to look contrite and innocent.
It might have worked, if Apollo hadn’t taught her that look himself.
He sits down on the ground next to Ares, who doesn’t acknowledge his presence beyond shifting enough to use Apollo’s thigh as his pillow. “Well,” Apollo says, “keep going.”
Thalia lights up and launches back into the story, and when she finishes she continues into another which is mostly true and somehow even more ridiculous.
Because he’s an idiot with a death wish, Apollo ends up spending a month with Hecate in the underworld. He stumbles out one night when she falls asleep, because he feels if he doesn’t leave now there’s a possibility that he never will.
One of the most horrifying moments of his life is looking for the way out, and finding Hades instead. The god of death looks to him, walking around naked in his realm, to the direction he came from, and says, “That was you? Are you crazy?”
“It … it was a good time,” he says faintly.
“Obviously,” Hades shakes his head, and slices his hand down in the air in front of them, creating a doorway for Apollo out of his realm.
Apollo gives him a clumsy salute and steps through.
Roughly a year later, he’s playing his lyre when a little girl with black skin and grey hair and eyes appears in front of him. It’s terrifying enough that he accidentally snaps one of his strings.
“Lady Styx,” he says, voice higher pitched than normal. “Is there something I can help you with?”
The child snorts and reaches her hands into absolutely nothing and pulls out a baby. She holds it out to him. “Hecate says this is your problem now.”
Improbably, the babe already has a mouth full of too-sharp teeth. Her eyes shift between every color, unable to decide, and there is something a little too knowing about her face for one so young. Artemis says he too was born knowing too much.
A child of Apollo and Hecate can only be a mistake, something that will never fit quite well among others of her own kind.
He sighs and take the baby. “Very well.”
“I like the name Clio,” the child goddess says before leaving him.
Thalia tells him it’s too small and to give it back. Urania is fascinated, and takes over most of the child’s care, which is likely for the best since Calliope is neck deep into a new epic, and would be cross if she needed to pull her attention from it to rear a child.
As Clio ages, she stays just as unsettling and strange. Hephaestus shows up around the time she starts breaking into Athena’s libraries, even though stunts like that get people worse than killed. “I don’t know why she gave her to me,” Apollo says as they watch the teenager devouring a stolen tome on the history of the Persian Empire. “Hecate raised you, I don’t understand why she didn’t want to raise her actual daughter.”
“You’re a better parent than she is,” he says thoughtfully. Apollo gives him an unimpressed look, but he says, “I’m serious. Your girls are turning out to be quite lovely – all of them.”
“Of course they are,” he says, nose in the air, but grins when Hephaestus elbows him the side.
By the time she’s an adult, Clio is easily one of the most accomplished scholars to ever exist. She and Athena regularly get into academic debates that last weeks, and scare off anyone from daring to come closer.
She stays strange, and too smart, and Apollo loves her utterly.
Apollo is lying on the beach when a large wave overtakes him and drags him into the sea. He struggles for the surface, but can’t seem to shake the waves, and is dragged to the sea floor. He’s a god, so he won’t suffocate, but he’s terrified when the water drags him down to Poseidon’s palace and deposits him in front of his wife. “Apollo,” she says, “I can see what your daughters will become.”
He has no idea what she’s talking about. “Excuse me?”
Amphitrite grabs his jaw and pulls him closer. He doesn’t dare resist. She looks into his eyes, then smirks. “The god of prophecy doesn’t know that which he has wrought. How … ironic.”
“Is it?” he wonders. He really hopes she doesn’t kill him.
“Quite,” she smirks, and with a flick of her wrist she’s naked before him. “I wish for one of your daughters to be mine as well. Lay with me.”
“Uh,” he says eloquently, because Amphitrite has never given her husband any children, he hadn’t even known she could. If he sleeps with her, Poseidon might kill him, regardless of how many people the god of the sea sleeps with that aren’t his wife. But if he refuses her, she might kill him, and it’s not like having sex with Amphitrite is any sort of hardship. She’s as gorgeous as she is terrifying. “Okay.”
He’s deposited back on the shore the next day, feeling oddly used.
If Poseidon has any opinions on Apollo knocking up his wife, he doesn’t voice them.
Amphitrite doesn’t foist the baby upon him as soon as she’s born. Instead years pass, and one day a dark skinned, amber eyed sea god shows up at his door. There’s a teenager at his side, who has Apollo’s coloring and Amphitrite’s bone structure, and hair that shimmers golden-green in sunlight. “Glaucus,” Apollo greets warily, “and who might this be?”
“I call her Erato,” Glaucus says, “I’ve raised her since birth. It’s time for her to join her sisters.”
Erato is not as terrifying as her mother. Instead there’s a sweetness about her that she must have gotten from Glaucus. She’s shy at first, and spends many days looking out into the sea. But his daughters are persistent, and soon she’s laughing and joining them. There’s something dreamy about her, and she loves love, writes romantic ballads and beautiful poems, so much so that Aphrodite commends her talent.
Erato is also the most like him in the area of her love life, meaning she leaves behind a constant trail of heartbroken men and women.
Calliope complains about the constant wailing around their home, and Clio proves she has some of her mother’s talent with magic when she casts an unplotable spell around their home so former lovers stop following Erato home. Of course, she forgets to tell both Apollo and her sisters about this, and it’s very confusing for everyone until Clio remembers to tell them where the house is.
His daughters’ home is a place of constant music, poetry, and literature. He thinks he’s starting to suspect what Amphitrite was talking about.
Not all hunts are easy things.
Apollo feels the moment his sister is wounded, the arrow through her abdomen as painful for him as it is for her. He’s in his chariot, and he can’t leave it, if he leaves his chariot unattended the sun will consume it, and then consume the earth. “Calliope!” he snaps, and his eldest daughter appears by his side.
“Father?” she asks, huddling into him and away from the sun. “What’s going on?”
“Artemis is hurt, I have to help,” he says urgently, and places the reins into her hands. “You can do this.”
She pales, but steps forward, keeping a white knuckled grip on the chariot. “Go.”
He kisses his forehead, and goes to his sister. Her huntresses have set up an honor guard around her, defending and dying as cruel faced giants draws closer. “ARES!” he screams, and he doesn’t know what they’re fighting for, what this war is about, but it doesn’t matter. “WE NEED YOU!”
The god of war appears, and he’s clearly come from some other battle, covered in mud and other worse things. He throws himself into the battle, but it’s not until they gain more aid that the tides turn in their favor.
He first sees Erato on the field, water swirling around her as she slices through them all, the power of her mother making her golden eyes glow. Clio is at her back, the glittering magic Hecate passed on to her filling her hands.
Thalia has long curved knives flying from her fingers, and all who face her don’t figure out they’re dead until she’s already left them behind. Urania is letting loose arrows against the giants and though she’s not his by blood, not a goddess by birth, none would know it watching each of her arrows hit true and take down another enemy.
Terpsichore uses her honed abilities of dance differently here on the battlefield, twirling and ducking around enemies with her sword flashing as it slices through all who go against her. Celestial fire licks up the sword, and the daughter of Hestia and Apollo is laughing as she dances through the battlefield.
He wants to yell at them, to tell them to get off the battlefield, to get to safety. But it is thanks to them that the fight is being won, so he says nothing.
Ares looks around, grimaces, and catches Apollo’s eye before he disappears from the battle. They must be invoking his name. Apollo is only grateful he managed to stay as long as he did.
The giants are all dead by the time Apollo manages to make it to his sister’s side. She’s pale and covered in blood, her huntresses seated around her and trying to stop the bleeding. “What were you thinking?” Apollo demands, grabbing her hand and pushing her hair from her forehead. Terpsichore comes forward and lays her burning sword against the wound, sealing and cauterizing it at once. Both Apollo and Artemis scream
“They – took – a – child,” she pants, leaning in for his touch, for his comfort, and he has never been able to deny her anything. He pulls her up, biting back a scream at the pain that rips through them both, and props her up against his chest. “A – nymph’s child. Zeus’s child. They killed – it’s mother. That – that sort of injustice will – will not be – tolerated.” She lays her head back against his shoulder, tears leaking from the corner of her eyes, and Apollo almost wishes the battle were not over, because he wants to murder something.
“I’ll get it,” Erato says, and a moment later she returns with a toddler in her arms. She has the copper skin of Zeus, and pale blonde hair. “What do we do now? Zeus does not care for his children.”
“I think it’s time you became a big sister,” Thalia says, and Erato looks stricken. “Right Dad?”
He looks to his sister, who nods. “I can think of no better place for her. She cannot stay with me – a hunting party is not place for children.”
“Very well,” he sighs. “Does she have a name?”
The girl attempts to hide behind Erato’s hair, then says, “I am Euterpe.”
“Welcome, Euterpe,” he says.
It’s then that the sun finally sets, and Calliope stumbles into existence next to them. She’s covered in deep, bleeding burns, but it’s not as bad he feared it would be. She’s certainly faired better at her first time driving the chariot than he had. “What’s happening? Is everything all right?”
“We have a new sister,” Thalia says brightly, even as Clio rushes forward to tend to her burns.
Euterpe, thankfully, seems to inherit none of Zeus’s madness. She has a singing voice like a clear bell, and soon surpasses even Calliope’s talent with the lyre.
He knows, technically, that Euterpe is his half-sister. But it takes him no time at all to regard her as his daughter, to love her with same simple ferocity as he loves her sisters.
For a while, all is well, is quiet. His daughters are all fully grown, accomplished and beautiful.
Then Demeter corners him when he’s walking through quiet city and pins him against an alley wall. “If Amphitrite thinks she can one up me over this,” the goddess hisses, “she’s sorely mistaken.”
At least this time he knows what’s going on when Demeter starts pulling her dress off. “You can’t raise the child,” he says. He’s not adverse to laying with Demeter, although at this rate it looks like there will be less laying and more standing against a rough alley wall. But Demeter only knows how to love in a way that crushes all it touches. He won’t let her do that to his child.
“Fine,” she snaps, “Now get moving.”
He’s vaguely terrified the whole time, and it mostly reminds him of his month with Hecate. He’s left alone and naked in the alleyway an hour later.
Nine months later, a baby is delivered to his door by a nervous wood nymph. His daughter still has the squashed appearance of a freshly born baby. “She didn’t waste any time,” he comments, settling her into the crook of his arms. “Does she have a name?”
“Polyhymnia, my lord,” the wood nymph says, then bows before fleeing.
He brings her to the home where all his daughters live.
She grows, and she’s the spitting image of Demeter, of Persephone back when she answered to the name Kore. Her voice is lower than Euterpe’s, but just as pretty and when they sing together it’s the most beautiful sound he’s ever heard. She’s quiet, and thoughtful, her big brown eyes watching all around her with a measured stare.
Polyhymnia asks after her mother, something none of the others had done, and Apollo doesn’t know what to say. The truth is too callous, but he can’t bear to lie to her. Instead he begs an audience with Persephone, and says, “Your sister asks after the mother you share. I don’t know what to tell her.”
Persephone has no advice to offer, but she starts spending some of her time outside of the underworld with Polyhymnia. It is enough, and her questions stop, and Apollo tries not to feel guilty that he never really answered them.
Cassandra is unlike any woman he’s ever met, unlike any person he’s ever met, and the flames of love and passion burn inside him in a way they haven’t since his Hyacinth died.
She’s bull headed and irritating, and whenever he tries to complain about it Artemis rolls her eyes and his daughters laugh at him. He supposes he’s not doing a very good job hiding that he’s in love with her. Not even from her, because at one point she crossly asks if he’s ever planning to do anything with her, or if she should accept the offer from the butcher’s son.
They don’t leave her house for five days.
She is curious, hungry for knowledge, hungrier for it then she is of him. She wants to know impossible things, wants to be an impossible thing, and so Apollo laughs and takes her hand and says, “I will make you a bargain. I will give you the gift of prophecy, if you will grant me the gift of your hand.”
He’s never take a bride before. He hasn’t wanted to.
Cassandra is screaming and laughing, and she throws her arms around his neck and kisses him until she’s breathless. He takes it as a yes.
That’s when everything goes horribly, incredibly wrong.
It’s too much, all the horror she sees is too much, and Apollo tries to tell her to focus on the good, to see the happiness of the future. But she can’t, gets too caught up in too many wars, and she wastes away in front of his eyes even as her stomach swells.
He tries to take back the gift, tries to save her, but he can’t. It cannot be ungiven, and his headstrong, vivacious lover fades before his eyes. He only manages to alter it, to change it so no one believes the horrible things she cries to prevent the horror people feel when she looks at them and screams the way that they’ll die.
Artemis helps deliver their child, but halfway through her face goes pinched and worried, and Apollo knows that Cassandra won’t make it.
“I’m sorry,” he weeps, kissing her gaunt face, feeling the sharpness of her cheekbones under his lips, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know this would happen. I didn’t want this to happen.”
She looks at him with glassy eyes, barely reacts when Artemis places their child on her chest. There’s a growing pool of blood under her, but she can’t be saved, she will die, here, now.
Apollo wonders if she saw this coming.
She blinks, and meets his gaze with a sharpness and awareness he hasn’t seen for a long time. “She is your last daughter,” Cassandra says, “Melpomene is the last daughter you will have.”
He kisses her, his last chance to do so.
She’s dead before his lips leaves hers.
Apollo tries to flee, to run from the claws tearing apart his heart, but Artemis doesn’t let him. She yanks him back and pushes Melpomene into his arms. “You can’t leave,” she says harshly, “She needs you. Your daughter needs you. You’re not allowed to run.”
He crumples, leaning his head onto his sister’s shoulder as he sobs, and her calloused hand grasps the back of his neck. Melpomene is stuck between them, soft and warm and alive.
Melpomene is Thalia’s other half, her best friend, and they do everything together. Her dark hair is a mass of unruly curls just like her mother, her laughter is just like her mother’s.
She, like her sisters, is his pride and his joy.
Apollo has nine daughters
Calliope, who reigns over written epics.
Terpsichore, who reigns over dance.
Urania, who reigns over astronomy.
Thalia, who reigns over comedy.
Clio, who reigns over history.
Erato, who reigns over love poetry.
Euterpe, who reigns over song.
Polyhymnia, who reigns over hymns.
Melpomene, who reigns over tragedy.
They are known as the Muses.
gods and monster series, part xxi