That was the only word he could think of to describe the boy he saw.
Apollo was a sun god, he spent the majority of his time in the clouds. It wasn’t hard to people watch. In fact, he rather enjoyed doing so.
It had been a couple months past though that he’d spotted who’d far and away been his favorite mortal to gaze upon in his long history.
He was a prince.
Specifically, of the kingdom of Sparta. Son to King Pierus and Queen Clio. With waves of brown hair and a powerful physique from the training he underwent as a Spartan.
Apollo had first taken notice of him when he’d gone to burn offerings at the temple of the Sun and the Moon.
That is the temple of my sister and me.
He vaguely took notice when people made offerings to him, and when they prayed to him, he’d listen to a few here and there unless he was otherwise occupied.
Hyacinthus had come and made his offering, typical temple fare, and Apollo had felt immediately taken.
Though tempted, he’d yet to make any sort of attempt to contact the young Spartan.
Apollo currently was looking down upon Hyacinthus as he made his way out the palace gates, a quiver of arrows and his bow over his shoulder, with a spare bag in his hand.
Is he going hunting? But he didn’t take his horse…or maybe he’s going to that place again?
Apollo watched as he walked into the forest behind the palace and began idly pacing down the paths.
That is until his nuisance of a little brother decided it was in his best interest to interrupt.
“Yo! Whatcha watching there?”
Apollo let out an exaggerated groan as he felt a skinny arm fling around his shoulders. “Hermes, what now?”
His brother glowed with a bluish tinge, matching his blue-tinged blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. He had his winged cap on, with his matching sandals and toga, though the strap of the said robe had come undone and was currently fluttering about his waist, exposing his lean physique. He grinned, flapping the wings at his feet to bring himself to his brother's height.
Apollo was tall when it came to the true figures of the gods, and to no-ones surprise, the aura surrounding him was like the strength of a thousand roaring fires. His hair floated about his head, golden waves lit aflame by his power in a halo framing his face. His truest form was heat incarnate, so he supposed this was to be expected. A pure white toga enveloped his muscular frame, pinned and adorned further with gold, though he wasn’t a mountain of muscle like his father or Ares, he sported a good deal more in his appearance than a god meant for speed, such as Hermes.
Irritated, Apollo batted Hermes’s arm from his shoulders.
The god spiraled once in the air, staff held lackadaisically in his fingers. “Don’t be such a downer! C’mon, what’s got you so fascinated, you didn’t even hear me coming!” Hermes threw his arms around his brother again and looked over his shoulder at just what Apollo had been so focused on.
“Huh…? A human?”
Apollo rolled his eyes, moving away from the edge of the clouds and striding back into the hall of his palace.
A grand golden structure atop the clouds, mirrored at the back by a place of white marble of cobalt where his twin dwelt.
The two of them shared almost everything, two sides to the same coin, and at the moment, he was sure Artemis was off on the mortal plain somewhere amongst the woodlands. That’s where she hung out most times when her nightly duties were done.
“Hey, c’mon! Who is that guy?” Hermes hopped up and down at the railing at the palace, looking down upon Hyacinthus with squinted eyes.
Apollo pointedly ignored him, so Hermes came zipping over, sweeping up a large mirror from the wall as he went.
He held it up, a blue glow enveloped it, and Hyacinthus appeared from the foggy glass.
“Cut it out!” Apollo responded by shoving the mirror away.
“Just someone who caught my eye, now what are you doing here?”
Hermes sighed while shrugging. “Is it so wrong to come to visit my favorite big brother?”
“I’m older than you?” Apollo asked, not even caring for the answer, just trying to get the topic away from Hyacinthus.
“I think so?” Hermes replied, putting a finger to his chin, before snapping his fingers. “Hey, I see what you’re doing!”
Apollo chuckled. “Worth a shot.” He hummed before flopping back onto a chaise lounge set out on his balcony.
Hermes flittered around above him. “C’mon, c’mon, promise I won’t tell anyone!”
“If you tell Aphrodite I’ll murder you, she’d absolutely ruin everything.”
“Why would Aphrodite be the exception!? And does that mean someone has a crush?”
Hermes dropped onto the chaise next to him, a more genuine expression overtaking his face.
Apollo groaned. “Fine…maybe a bit…I’ve never even spoken to him, though.”
Hermes crossed his arms. “And why not?”
The sun god scoffed. “Last I checked, these stories don’t normally have happy endings, and I’m not in it for a hook-up.”
“Tell that to Eros and Psyche!”
“That was one time out of eternity! And she almost died like…twenty times!”
The younger god frowned, floating up from the chaise to circle around to his brother's other side. “Well, what could it hurt? If you aren’t in it for a hook-up, then problem number one for most of us would be out of the way.”
Apollo hesitated, looking out over the railing before standing and walking up again. Gazing down, he narrowed in on Hyacinthus and saw that he had climbed a rugged mountain path and arrived at what had been Apollo’s second guess.
When things grew to much for the eldest prince, it seemed he’d retreat to a secret spring only known to him.
Him and the gods that is.
A spring ran through the middle of the green grassy field, from a small waterfall that gave a tranquil sound through the area, falling into a large swimming hole before cutting across the field.
A lovely place, where the young prince seemed to have decided to take an afternoon nap, ditching the quiver and bow, laying on the grass with the wind teasing its fingers through his hair.
Apollo was so taken by him laying there that he didn’t notice Hermes smiling at him with a dopey expression till it was too late.
“You’re in deep.”
The sun god straightened up, gripping at the railing. “Yeah, yeah, if you tell anyone, I’ll burn you to a crisp.”
“You’re normally not so harsh, Apollo,” Hermes commented, before patting him on the shoulder.
“Get down there! Pull a disguise and see what he’s like, who knows, maybe you’ll find something you never knew you were looking for.” He then encouraged
Apollo hated to hear Hermes pretend to be wise, he was more clever, far less to do with wordplay and matters of the heart.
Regardless, he took the advice.
“Fine…” He took a deep breath, and when he exhaled, his hair dropped to his shoulders and grew shorter from the explosive fiery mane it had been before. Raking his hands through it, he caused his bangs to vanish, then closed his eyes, glowing gold, and reopened them to a warm chocolate brown. Brushing at his toga turned it from sparkling gold to a dull green, and shaking his hands out drew a brown cloak from midair, and he threw it about his shoulders.
Finally, he inhaled again, and brought his aura into himself, hiding the visible evidence of his status as one of the most powerful Olympians, as well as causing his limbs to grow thinner from the muscle once defining them, still strong but far less than before. Finally, he crossed his arms and caused his stature to shrink, making himself several inches shorter.
Hermes gave him a thumbs up. “Wouldn’t be able to tell you from a peasant if I tried!”
Apollo shook his head as he walked towards the railing again. “Don’t let me catching you spying, alright?”
“Wouldn’t dream of it! Good luck!”
With this, Apollo jumped and made his way to earth.
Sometimes I wish things were simpler.
He’d fled the castle grounds again after irritation growing over his father's nagging on him, having turned away yet another suitor.
It wasn’t his fault. The girl was an insufferable brat with the voice of a cat being strangled. He wasn’t persistently turning women away just for the hell of it, after all.
So after he’d finished his training for the day, he’d come to his usual place of escape and was gazing up at the blue sky, listening to the waters of the stream wash away his stress.
A few hours here was always enough to rejuvenate him for the coming weeks.
That is until he heard a stick crack from somewhere nearby.
Sitting bolt right up, he scanned the area, seeing no one, until a shadow became clearer through the trees.
A young man, appearing around his age, with well-cut features and shoulder-length blonde hair, poked his head from the greenery.
Upon spotting Hyacinthus, he didn’t seem at all surprised, and for half an instant, Hyacinthus swore he sensed something unworldly about him.
The feeling was fleeting, though, and the prince brushed it off on merely being startled.
“Who are you?” He demanded, although not harshly, as he stood up.
The young man came the rest of the way into the clearing, revealing himself to be of ordinary dress with a satchel over his shoulder and a traveling cloak folded in his elbow.
He bowed slightly. “Your majesty, my apologies for interrupting you. I was just hired as an apprentice groundskeeper for your gardens, and I saw you making your way out here. My curiosity got the better of me.”
While annoyed at having lost the secrecy of his little hideaway, Hyacinthus couldn’t be mad, so instead, he looked the young man over harder.
“Recently hired, you say? What’s your name?”
He swore he saw a moment of panic flash in the mysterious man’s eyes before he replied.
“A…Alexios, your majesty.”
“Alexios…and from where do you hail?”
A glimmer of mischief slid across Alexios’s gaze. “A place very far from here.”
Thinking it a bit strange he’d avoid naming his home, Hyacinthus decided to let that go and beckoned him closer.
“Then come and sit, since you’ve already roused me.”
“Hope you’re not mad,” Alexios replied, seeming more laidback as he came, and they both sat on the grass side-by-side.
The prince looked to the clouds. “No…perhaps the gods knew I needed some good company.”
At this, Alexios smiled in a way you’d think he knew all the secrets in the world
“You’re happy,” Hermes commented as Apollo shed his mortal disguise with a single flourish of the cloak he’d conjured. After this, he walked into the palace and flopped back onto his chaise with a ditzy sigh.
“That was the best afternoon of my life…damn sunset, if I hadn’t needed to lower the sun, I would have stayed longer.”
Hermes hovered over him with an impish grin, and finally, Apollo shoved at him with a bark of laughter. “Ok, ok, thanks for making me go.”
The winged of the duo now crossed his legs mid-air. “So, you gonna go see him again?”
Apollo nodded. “Day after tomorrow. Can’t wait.”
“Can’t wait for what?” He jumped at the sight of Artemis, his twin, leaning on a pillar that led into their home. Long white hair hung in whip-like braids down her back, woven with blue ribbon. Her pale bale robes gave off an iridescent shimmer similar to that of the moon itself.
“And is that Father I hear calling? Gotta run!” Hermes tried to escape the awkward conversation sure to ensue, but Apollo seized him by the wrist.
“You’re not going anywhere.” He snapped.
Artemis raised an eyebrow, and it only took a few minutes to fill her in. In response to this, she merely shrugged. “Do what you want, just don’t go overboard too soon…besides, this isn’t really my thing, not like I’ve got much advice to give.”
Hermes sighed with relief that she wasn’t mad at being kept out of the loop, although Artemis was usually rather cool and detached.
With this out of the way, all Apollo had to do now was eagerly count the hours till he could raise the sun again, then return to Hyacinthus’s side for a few hours longer. Perhaps it was wrong for a god to be giddy, but he honestly couldn’t wait.
Hyacinthus didn’t know what to think.
It had been several weeks since Alexios had come into his life, and he couldn’t remember how he’d survived without him. Perhaps he really had been sent by the gods.
He was oddly tight-lipped on matters to do with himself, but he didn’t feel it was due to any dishonesty.
Alexios got a clouded expression whenever Hyacinthus asked after his past, and Hyacinthus would hate to lose whatever relationship they’d formed.
It would be agony to lose him, especially now, with his father being more aggressive than ever.
It had resulted in today, him angrily storming from the castle despite several guards and his father attempting to stop him.
The damn old man won’t leave me alone! Why the hell should I marry any of those foreign swains? None of them have impressed me even in the slightest, why should I be forced to spend the rest of my life with them?
He was so angry he could feel his eyes watering, and yet, when the idea of spending the rest of his life with someone emerged, the only face in his mind was Alexios.
Alexios, with his warm, expressive eyes, pleasant level-headed demeanor, who treated him with such tenderness as compared to the harsh conditions he’d grown used to thanks to the traditions of his home kingdom.
He’d looped about the forest a bit to ensure he wasn’t being followed before making his way to the field.
And the sight made him swear Alexios indeed was sent by the gods.
He was lying in the grass, hands tucked behind his head, and he seemed to appear here just when Hyacinthus needed him most. The rays of the sun were filtering perfectly through the trees in a way that made his golden hair seem to glow. Delicate unblemished skin and soft hands…Hyacinthus paused, then wondering just how Alexios could be an apprentice groundskeeper.
He was awfully pretty for the profession and didn’t seem to sport any of the necessary rough calluses or scrapes and scars you’d think would come with it.
Not that any of that mattered to the prince at the moment, as he climbed down from the rocks that surrounded this place and kept it from broader discovery, still with tears blurring his gaze. He didn’t notice the slippery moss of one of the rocks until his foot was already gone from under him.
A choked shout escaped his mouth, but that was all before he spun, in an attempt to catch himself with his hands, and instead fell right into Alexios’s arms.
“Ah…my prince, I had a feeling you’d drop in today.” He said, speaking low because of their closeness, humor tinging his voice.
“H-How did you…?” His eyes flicked from where Alexios had been sprawled entirely unaware of him in the grass, to the softened expression before him, the face that had moved as if he’d known Hyacinthus was going to fall.
Then, though, their closeness seemed to click with Alexios, because he sputtered slightly. “S-Sorry if I overstepped…just didn’t want you to get hurt.” He murmured, beginning to let go.
Just now, it was like everything made sense…the reason why he couldn’t stand any of those women, even if a few were reasonable candidates.
Hyacinthus wasn’t sure what he was doing, but he couldn’t let go now that it made sense, and in a sudden fit of yearning, he pulled their lips together.
It was rushed and off-center, but upon a second pass, they slotted together far more perfectly.
His heart did a dizzy little spin when he felt Alexios’s hands find his waist and pull him closer.
No desire to push him away.
They finally did break the kisses, which had grown steadily more frantic the few seconds they were going on.
A breathless smile was upon Alexios’s lips.
“…am I to take that as a thank you? In that case, perhaps you should fall more often…”
Hyacinthus gave a soft laugh. “I think I finally understand.”
Alexios raised an eyebrow. “Do you now?”
They both laughed, neither making any attempts to pull away.
“Would…it be ok to try this?” Hyacinthus asked.
Alexios, for just a moment, seemed torn. The clouds flicked behind his eyes, and for a moment, the prince faltered.
“I…I mean if…” He began to voice the doubt when he heard the groundskeeper's voice come with stronger enthusiasm.
“Yes. If you’d have me.”
Hyacinthus lost himself all over again in his voice. “…at this point, if I have you…I feel I’ll have the world at my fingertips.”
If he couldn’t understand how he’d survived without Alexios as a friend, Hyacinthus would never be able to comprehend how he’d ever managed without him as a lover.
It was mind-blowing, what they shared, and every moment they were apart, all he did was dream of when they’d next be together. It wasn’t only intimate; in fact, it barely ever was. It was closeness, and softness, and tenderness, and perhaps he adored it so because, after all the weight heaped upon his shoulders by the expectations of his people and his father, it was nice to have someone desire nothing more than to take care of him.
Today was no different, laying in the shade, listening to the trickling waterfall, his head resting in Alexios’s lap as the other absentmindedly combed his fingers through his hair, his other hand twined in with Hyacinthus’s, resting on his chest.
It was bliss.
“Hm?” The other gave his one-tone reply after a heartbeat, it seemed as though he’d been lost in thought.
“Do you have family?”
Another few seconds went by, and Hyacinthus feared he’d ruined the peaceful mood.
After all, he knew quite well Alexios didn’t like to talk about his homeland or his family, having dodged questioned on the former, and never brought up the latter.
But after all that had happened between them, Hyacinthus was determined to learn.
To his surprise, instead of avoiding it, Alexios gave another soft hum, then spoke. “I do…I have many siblings…so many I sometimes lose track of them all…” He gave a chuckle after this.
“Really?” Hyacinthus asked.
“Yes…then there’s my mother…my father, and my step-mother…my aunts and uncles…I have quite a lot of them as well.”
Hyacinthus cracked an eye open, looking up at Alexios’s face.
He seemed troubled at the thought of them, and Hyacinthus could be mistaken, but the hand intertwined with his own seemed to be holding him just a touch tighter.
“…would they not like me? Us?”
Alexios hesitated before he found words again. “Some would not…some would. My little brother is the one who convinced me to keep seeing you at all.”
“Did he? Does he live nearby?” Hyacinthus asked.
“No, but he’s a traveller…delivering all sorts of things between towns and kingdoms. I met him when he came to Sparta for business, and told him about this, after our first meeting. He encouraged me to come back.”
“I’ll have to thank him then.” Hyacinthus joked.
Alexios hummed, still wearing a vague frown, and Hyacinthus gazed up at him with further concern. “If it bothers you, we won’t talk about them again.”
Alexios shook his head. “That’s just the thing, there are so many of them, each individual would have a different thought on us, but as a whole…I don’t know what they’d think. I doubt they’d care, in all honesty, but I suppose it wouldn’t matter.”
Hyacinthus bit his tongue, another question having occurred, so he spoke it. “Are you the eldest?”
Hyacinthus let out the breath he’d been holding, because that would have been a crushing weight, to know both of them were holding their families line.
“But…the only one older than me would be my sister. She is my twin, older only by a week…but, some argue we aren’t the eldest at all. Some say another of my brothers is oldest, then there are rumors that my other sister may be older, but she was born to another woman, so that’s not something I’d know, and the ones born to my step-mother are all over the place…”
Apollo knocked his head off the trunk behind him. “…it’s very complicated.”
Hyacinthus’s eyes widened. “It…seems to be so.”
How do you lose track of who’s oldest?
He pondered but decided it was better not to ask.
“…why do you want to know?” Alexios then asked of him.
Hyacinthus hesitated. “It’s just…I feel I know you so well, and yet I know nothing about you. Your homeland, your family, your childhood…aspirations and setbacks, you’ve shared nothing of that with me. I feel I’ve poured my heart out to you, maybe at the beginning just to ease my own frustrations, but after that, it was just because I wanted too. Yet…you’ve told me nothing.”
The hand in his hair stilled for the first time, and Hyacinthus regretted bringing this up. “Just…perhaps another time, I…”
He grasped at the hand in his tighter. “I don’t want to ruin this.”
Alexios didn’t say anything, and the troubled expression on his face didn’t fade for a long few minutes. Hyacinthus was cursing himself internally for starting this conversation and ruining such a perfect afternoon, and was also searching for the words to say to right things.
I knew. I knew he didn’t like talking about his family, and I brought it up. How stupid am I, just because venting my frustrations makes me feel better doesn’t mean he’s the same, to expect him to tell me everything is ridiculous, I just…
“My prince…I can’t tell you…no, I hope you’ll never need to know…if you did, it’d put you at risk…if something happened to you…the sun might never rise again.”
Hyacinthus sat up, turning to face Alexios.
That was a severe statement to make, and to compare his existence to the sun in Alexios’s life was by far one of the most romantic things he’d ever heard, but for it to be said in such a somber mood brought down the reception.
Little did he know how literal that statement could become.
A bitter chuckle came from Alexios’s mouth. “…and besides…”
He lifted his gaze to meet Hyacinthus’s eyes, a weak smile playing on his lips. “…if you knew…you’d never see me the same way again.”
Not if he knows our stories.
The words echoed in the speaker's mind.
Hyacinthus, of course, was hearing none of this, and reached forward to grasp the hands of the other. “Please don’t underestimate me…if you’ve done some terrible thing, then I refuse to believe it was for the wrong reasons, and if it was, then you’ve clearly grown past it. You’re…you’re easily the kindest person I’ve ever met…I’ve never met anyone who treated me like this.”
Alexios tilted his head. “Don’t flatter me, my prince.”
Hyacinthus, frustrated, brought their lips together in a quick, pointed kiss.
When he pulled back, his eyes were afire with determination.
“I’m not. I’ve never loved anyone like I love you.”
It was the first time those words had escaped his lips, and Alexios seemed short of breath for a moment, before his eyes rimmed with tears.
“I didn’t think…things would ever go this well…I’m glad I came to see you.”
He said, rubbing at his eyes to clear them before he stopped short yet again.
“…if I tell you, then you must promise not to tell anyone else…this, it feels like balancing on the edge of a sword.”
He looked almost remorseful as he looked to Hyacinthus again, matching his eyes.
“Sounds exciting.” The words were barely a breath from the prince's mouth, moving closer, yet closer to each other.
A moment saved for hammering heartbeats, and Alexios spoke again. “If after this, you fear me…I’ll leave without question.”
Before Hyacinthus could inquire upon such an ominous oath, Alexios closed his eyes, and when he reopened them, they were on fire.
Hyacinthus’s heart stuttered in his chest as he stared into the depths of swirling melted gold that had become his lover's eyes. His hair was growing longer, lighting up and lifting from his shoulders, longer and wilder into a mane that circled his head in a halo of fire. He was becoming more immense, from a figure slight and about Hyacinthus’s height to someone half a head taller, with muscles coming to define golden-toned skin. The plain green toga he’d sported so often was rippling, turning softer than silk, white decorated by golden borders and a large shoulder pin with the emblem of the sun. The aura surrounding him was fire incarnate, so much so the heat in the air grew palpable.
After seeing this all, only one thing could cross Hyacinthus’s mind.
So this is why he always leaves at sunset.
His stomach overturned, and if or not he meant it, he pulled away, putting a short distance between the two of them. It was only inches, just enough so they were no longer touching.
“…Lord Apollo.” The name escaped his lips before he could stop it.
Alexios…no, he wasn’t Alexios, not really…gave a sigh.
The god of the sun.
Not only was he one of the most powerful Olympians, but Hyacinthus knew well the stories of the gods. They took what they wanted, no matter what it was. Mortals had no right to deny them, they controlled every aspect of their plain. Apollo had come here expecting something from him, and Hyacinthus felt his hands tremble as he was forced to consider if or not he’d delivered.
Yet…Alexios, as he’d been, had never pushed for anything further than what they’d had. The tenderness he’d held towards the Spartan prince had felt unparalleled.
If Lord Apollo, yes, this was Lord Apollo, had come here wishing to use him for his own satisfactions, he wouldn’t have bothered spending months treating him so kindly.
“Why?” It was the next thing that escaped his throat, choked, and he was quickly summing up all the different ways he’d been disrespectful to the deity before him in these past months.
Apollo, still sitting reclined against the tree, let a somber smile appear.
“Because I liked you,” Apollo replied, and Hyacinthus refused to believe something so simple.
Apollo, the god of the sun, of music and medicine and prophecy, had disguised himself, lowered his godly appearance, referred to him in such a respectful manner, and spent months keeping up the ruse…because he’d liked him?
“You…did? But you…you didn’t need…you could have taken whatever you wanted. I couldn’t have stopped you.” Hyacinthus managed.
Whatever his mind was doing at the moment, it wasn’t thinking rationally.
He couldn’t tear his eyes from Apollo, and it was then something surfaced in those otherworldly eyes.
“I would never harm you. If you had wished me gone the day we met, I never would have returned. I was…fascinated by you…I couldn’t say why. I came to know you, and get close to you, because I wanted to. If it grew into something greater, then so be it, but if not, that was alright with me.”
Apollo pulled up a knee, resting his elbow upon it and propping his cheek upon his hand.
“…it’s far to easy to take what you want as a god…but if I had to give an answer, what I wanted from you was just this…resting under the tress holding you…hearing your troubles every day, thinking I’ve been able to comfort you in some little way. That’s all.”
A few more seconds ticked past.
Hyacinthus swallowed, though his mouth had gone dry, but before further words could be found, Apollo spoke up again.
“If this changes your feelings, I wouldn’t blame you. At the same time, I wasn’t going to lie to you…not when you wanted to know.”
“I…wasnot expecting this.” The prince said bluntly.
Apollo smiled, a bit lighter this time. “Then, I did my job well.”
His expression went serious again, and the god spoke. “Then…if you want me to leave, it is your decision. As I said before, it is your choice…no matter what happens, I will leave you unharmed.”
But if you left, I’d be devastated.
And really, it had never even been in his head to ask Alexios…no, Lord Apollo, to leave. His life had been a death march before they’d met, and to lose him would be nothing short of a tragedy.
Albeit hesitantly, without the confidence he’d shown before, Hyacinthus closed the distance between them.
The look on Apollo’s face was like the clouds clearing from a previously overcast sky.
“You don’t fear me?” He asked.
“Depends…do you burn?” Hyacinthus replied, putting a touch of humor to his voice.
Apollo shook his head softly, a smile grew upon his face as he offered his hand out. “Would you like to find out?”
If Hyacinthus couldn’t understand how he’d managed without Alexios as a friend, and couldn’t comprehend not having Alexios as a lover, then a time before loving Apollo himself was something unfathomable indeed.