Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Daughter of Apollo - Chapter 5

The Daughter of Apollo
Chapter 5: Heracles and His Labors
My first week living in Forks was better than I thought it would be. I attended school, made a conscious effort in participating in class, hung out with Angela and her small group of friends, and just generally had fun. I even trained a bit everyday so that by the time summer came, I wouldn’t be rusty for the mock battles I knew I’d be taking part in. It was peaceful in Forks. So peaceful, in fact, that every day for the past seven days, I had watched the sun rise and set. I never got a chance like that when I was living with RenĂ©e.
But that’s what worried me. The town of Forks was just too peaceful. Being what I was, a half-blood, there was no such thing as too peaceful. There was always trouble, always a fight to fight and a monster to kill. I mean, right after Kronos’ army was defeated, another Great Prophecy sprung up. It was just the way life should be.
“Really,” I muttered to myself. “No such thing as peace…”
“What was it you said, Bella?” Jessica, who was babbling on about the Sadie Hawkins Dance the school was organizing, stopped in her tracks to question me. She cracked a smile. “Did you say something about the dance? Are you like, excited too? I know I am!”
I had to blink a few times before what she said processed in my ADHD addled brain. “Er, I suppose I am,” I began slowly. I was never a fan of dances, discos, balls, or anything of the sort. I hated dancing, mainly because I had two left feet. “Who are you taking?” I asked conversationally. I felt bad that I was ignoring her before.
“Well,” Jessica burst into a fit of giggles. I rolled my eyes and caught Angela’s amused smile. Her nose was buried deep inside a thick book, though obviously she was listening to her friend talk about the dance. “I was thinking of asking Mike – he and I have this on and off thing going on since freshman year – but have you seen Tyler lately? He’s super duper hot…”
I nodded my head vaguely. Personally, I didn’t think Tyler was hot, but who cares about my opinion? Besides, I didn’t want to offend Jessica and her taste in guys. Tyler was no Adonis, but he wasn’t a Hephaestus either.
My first class for the day was English, so when Mr. Mason (a man in his late thirties, signaled by the receding hairline) entered the small classroom, Jessica had to hurriedly leave to make it in time for her own lesson. That is, Spanish. It was a blessing to my ears when Mr. Mason began the lesson, otherwise I would have taken out my saxe knife and threatened Jessica with it if she wouldn’t stop talking. All she does was yammer, yammer, yammer… it’s pretty damn annoying.
“All right, class,” Mr. Mason said, acquiring the attention of everyone seated with his authoritarian voice. “Today we will be learning about…”
Like the textbook half-blood, I zoned out from the lesson and busied myself with the much more interesting patterns of the wooden desk in front of me. The desk in my room was made from wood as well, though Charlie had taken into consideration my accident prone self and covered the thing with thick acetate. It would be just my luck to still get a splinter stuck in my finger even though the desk was covered like that. I groaned, imagining the embarrassment that came along if – not when – I get splintered.
“Ms. Swan,” Mr. Mason halted his pacing by the chalkboard to look at me – well, more like glare, “do you have anything against today’s topic?” His eyebrows were raised mockingly.
I cleared my throat, buying myself some time. I had no idea what the topic for today was. I scanned the room for help – I didn’t know what I was looking for, a pegasi with cue cards draped over its body flying outside the window? Fortunately, the answer came to me in the form of writings on the chalkboard. “N-no sir,” I stammered out. “In fact, I’m looking forward to discussing,” I read what was written on the board, which was surprisingly easy to read, “Heracles and his Labors.”
Mr. Mason’s glare slipped away to be replaced by an astonished look. I blinked a couple of times; did I do something wrong? I repeated that question to the person sitting to my right. He was a guy with ear-length blond hair that draped over his head in curls, and when he answered me, he was looking at me in the same way as Mr. Mason was, only he was much more discreet about it.
Apparently, I had translated (unintentionally, might I add) the ancient Greek characters on the board. The teacher had only mentioned discussing tales about demigods in Greek mythology, not the title of that particular topic. Suffice to say, I had dug myself into a hole that I was half afraid I couldn’t climb out of.
“Ms. Swan, h-how did you know what it – what did you – just, how?” stuttered Mr. Mason.
“Umm,” was my intelligent reply. “I pulled the title out of a hat?” When the man didn’t look convinced – I mean, my lie didn’t even make sense – I sighed and chose instead to tell a half truth. “Actually, I’m familiar with the tale. My er, friend has a copy of the story and I uh… you know, read it.”
The real truth was that Frank didn’t have a copy of the book (he was never an avid reader). However, he did retell to me Heracle’s tale way back when I was twelve. It was part of the whole familiarize-myself-with-my-newfound-family thing.
“But Bella,” interjected Eric, “you’re dyslexic. How can you read a book like that?”
“Just because I find it difficult to read doesn’t mean I can’t,” I snapped. Eric flinched and tried to look away, but I did not release my hold on him, so to speak. “If you must know, I listened to an audio book while I read the book. It took me over three months but hey, it’s Heracles.”
“And who is this Hera-cleats guy?” piped up another student, this time a porcelain-skinned blonde whose name escaped me at the moment.
I would’ve answered and corrected the ignorant girl, but the guy whom I was sitting beside to jumped the gun. “He’s a son of Zeus and a well-known hero or demigod. You’re probably more familiar with his Roman counterpart, Hercules.”
The porcelain-skinned girl gaped at the guy and nodded dumbly. A few seconds passed and the silence spell that had taken over the classroom was broken. Mr. Mason resumed his teaching, the girl turned to face the front again and I, well, I wouldn’t say I went back to daydreaming, but I certainly wasn’t paying attention to the lecture.
I was in a good mood for the following two lessons. Even Jessica’s yammering didn’t bother me during Government, and I even encouraged her multiple of times. I knew I’d be regretting it come lunchtime, but I didn’t care. A good mood was a good mood and I’d rather not stare a horse’s gift in the mouth, or something like that.
Trigonometry class flew by in a blur wherein I just stared off into space. In Spanish class, we learning about something I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of, though I have a hunch that it was about food. It was torture, seeing as the lunch bell was scheduled to ring in about half an hour. I mean, how can I pay attention to a topic talking about food in a different language, when in just half an hour’s time, the bell will ring to signal lunchtime? Besides, I looked forward to stretching my legs. The walk to the cafeteria wasn’t long, but anything was better than sitting behind a desk. They were simply too restricting.
When the bell rang at last, I was one of the first people to leave the room, despite the fact that I sat near the back. I was so focused on making my way to the cafeteria – towards the food – that I missed my name being called.
“Bella, can you even hear me?” A loud tinkling of bells was calling my name. I paused mid-step and something collided with me from the behind. “Oh, sorry,” the person apologized. “I didn’t mean to walk into you, but you just stopped abruptly there.”
“Then it should be me saying sorry,” I said. I helped the girl up, because it was a girl who bumped into me, not a brick wall like I presumed. She had short spiky black hair and elfin features, and she was grinning broadly at me. “Hm, I haven’t seen you around here before. Are you a new student?” I asked.
“Actually…” The girl giggled. “I think you’re the new one around here. You just don’t know me because my family and I – there’s five of us altogether – have been absent the past week. A terrible bout of flu.” She bobbed her head emphatically. “Didn’t want anyone to catch the virus from us so we stayed at home.”
“Oh, all right.” The girl somehow reminded me of Jessica, only in a good way. “Well, I’m Bella, by the way.”
“I know that,” the girl said seriously, traces of laughter gone from her face. She began walking and I followed after her, knowing that our conversation was not finished. “My name is Alice Cullen,” she said finally. She was looking at me as if I was supposed to recognize the name, but the only Alice I knew of was a round girl from the Dionysus cabin. This Alice certainly wasn’t round; she was as thin as they come.
“Well, er,” I didn’t know what to say. “Hi, Alice?” My greeting came out as a question. Lucky for me, Alice chose to ignore it because she just continued on walking, leading the way to the cafeteria. When we were right in front of the double doors, Alice whipped her head around to look up at me. She then asked if I would like to sit with her and her family.
That offer caught me off guard.
“Actually, I kind of planned on eating lunch with Angela,” I said regretfully. “Perhaps some other time.”
“Oh, pretty please?”
All right, who could resist those woeful looking eyes of hers? Not only were they an incredibly pretty shade of topaz, but they were just so – well, doleful. I couldn’t resist it, even though I knew it was just the classic puppy-dog look. Alice sure used it well.
“Fine,” I sighed. “I’ll sit with you. Angela would just have to understand.” I was glad to have a reason to avoid Jessica, if I were to be honest to myself.
“Yay!” Alice’s countenance did a one-eighty. Now she was as excited as can be. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oh, I can’t wait for you to meet the rest of my family, though you’ve met one of us before. I’m sure you and them would get along awesomely. Just don’t mind Jasper when he tries to ensnare you in a discussion. When I saw him in second period, he was all smiles because the new student was well equipped about the Greek mythologies. It’s a hobby of his, really, talking about the myths and legends and such.”
Alice took my hand and pulled me behind her, talking all the way. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise because she was talking that fast.
“Look, you can see the rest of my family there!” She pointed at a table in a corner. It was surrounded by extremely beautiful people, all varying in looks and features, yet all looked alike. Perhaps they were blessed by Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Surely no mortal could look that great without being blessed – or cursed, as Tori, a daughter of Aphrodite herself, told me once.
“Guys, why don’t you introduce yourselves to Bella here,” prompted Alice as she sat down beside Jasper. He draped his arm around her and kissed her on the forehead lovingly. I tried to reign in my surprise. Their relationship must be going really well to have Alice call Jasper family.
“Er, hi…” I murmured, waving a hand. I wasn’t sure if they heard me or not but either way, Jasper smiled and introduced himself. He didn’t need to bother though. I already knew who he was: that guy from my English class. His barely controlled excitement hiding in that smile was slightly disconcerting.
“Why, hello there, Bella,” he said. “Fancy seeing you here. Care to join us for lunch? My name’s Jasper Hale, by the way.”
“I know,” I replied politely. I averted my eyes from his beaming face and looked at someone else, anyone else but him. They – my eyes – landed on another guy, the one sitting next to Jasper, not the one in front. He was large and brawny, and very well-developed in the strength department, for sure.
“Hi, Bella,” the guy said. He was smiling, which revealed two deep impressions on either side of his face. Dimples. That guy has dimples. Well, I certainly don’t see that everyday. “I’m Emmett Cullen.” I nodded my head to acknowledge him. “And this,” he continued, “is my gorgeous girlfriend, Rosalie Hale.”
It took a lot for me to tear my eyes away from Emmett’s terrifying muscles, but in the end I was able to do it. The name Rosalie was very familiar to me, though I couldn’t in my life think why it was so. The Rosalie in front of me now was indeed gorgeous. She had long blonde hair that fell over her shoulders in waves, much like mine, but mine was more curly than wavy. That, and my hair was brown, not blonde.
“It’s nice to meet you, Rosalie,” I said softly.
Rosalie, glowing with what looked like was pleasure, tipped her head at me and said, “It’s nice to see you, Bella.”
What she said confused me, but I tried to not let it show. Did she know me from somewhere? Did I know her? Still puzzled, I looked at the last person in the group to introduce himself. His boyish looks make it seem that he was the youngest, but the depth in his eyes told me otherwise. He had fine bronze hair that stood up on all directions. The lines, the curves of his face seemed like it was drawn by an artist, he was that handsome.
He could give Adonis a run for his money. In fact, move over Adonis and make room for this classical beauty.
“Hello,” Mr. New Adonis said, smiling tightly. My heart, I think, skipped a beat when I heard his voice. It was deep and velvety, and it sent shivers throughout my body. Not the kind of shivers I get when I’m battling a monster. This was the good kind, the kind I get when one of the sons of Aphrodite flirted with me – of course, that only happened that one time and I was thirteen then. Sadly, I never saw Leo again after that summer. The children of Aphrodite weren’t powerful enough to attract monsters, so they didn’t need to come back to Camp for protection. Of course, Frank was an exception to that rule.
“Er, hi,” I stumbled out. I could feel a steady blush crawling into my cheeks and I furiously wished for it to stay away. Go away, blush! Go!
“I’m Edward Cullen… and you’re Bella.”
Even though my heart was behaving oddly and my face was as red as a tomato, I still found in me the courage to raise an eyebrow and say, “I think I know my own name, Edward.”
I sighed internally. His name just flew from my lips. I could say his name again and again… but I won’t. They could overhear me and that would be – not embarrassing – but mortifying. I’d rather face a Minotaur with just a pencil for a weapon.
“I do apologize,” Edward said, grinning. One corner of his lips was quirked up adorably. I couldn’t help but stare at it – wait, I think Alice was saying something.
“Yes, Alice?” I said distractedly.
“Bella, aren’t you going to sit down and eat? You’re eating lunch with us, or have you forgotten?”
Laughter erupted from the group, and my face was painted red anew. Hurriedly sitting down on the only available seat (which happened to be beside Jasper and slightly in front of Edward), I folded my arms in front of me and ducked my head. I muttered something about not being hungry and just sat there. On the down side, I really was hungry. On the up side, Jasper was engaging me in a deep discussion about various Greek mythologies, much to Alice’s amused vexation. The mythologies weren’t really myths, but how should a mortal like Jasper know?
Lunchtime turned out to be rather enjoyable. I look forward to spending more time with my newfound friends.

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