Silena stares at the bracelet that lies in her hand.
It is pure silver, with a delicate chain, and a small charm in the shape of a scythe, the blade sharp enough to cut skin. Bitterly, she thinks that something so beautiful should not hold such a terrible purpose. The bracelet should be ugly, twisted, a blight to the eyes- but it is as beautiful as the bearer. In another time, Silena might have laughed at the irony. But now only a resentful smile twists her lips.
"Am I doing the right thing, mother?"
Behind her, Aphrodite laughs, a sound delicate and cruel. "Right? It doesn't matter to me if you are doing what's right. You are doing it for love, and that is enough."
Her mother, Silena thinks, is beautiful too. Silena wonders why she is the only one of her siblings who truly understands what lies beneath that beauty.
Silena's hand closes around the bracelet, her manicured nails digging into her palm. There is a painful feeling in her chest.
She stares into the mirror in front of her (cabin 10 is full of mirrors) and looks at the reflection of her mother behind her. Aphrodite is wearing armor, a perfectly polished silver, with a royal blue cape that falls to the floor. Near the chair where she sits small vegetation is beginning to grow abnormally quickly. Her dark hair flows freely around her tanned face, which, though bare of makeup, is as stunning as ever, and her proud features gentle but composed.
Aphrodite looks very different from the last time Silena saw her, years ago, and Silena wonders at the change. Was it sudden, or had it been gradually built up over the years? Had her mother appeared to her yesterday, would she have looked different?
"And you won't tell anyone? You're really not going to warn the others?" Silena doesn't know why she asks. Maybe, she thinks, it is because more than a little part of her wishes that they would know, that she would be stopped.
Again her mother laughs. Silena hates the sound, though it is like music to her ears. Everything about Aphrodite is enchanting, and Silena hates it.
"You really are interesting, just like your father. Why would I tell? It makes thing so much more exiting!" The goddess smiles. "Really, dear, this is some of the best entertainment I've had in ages! War really does make the best love stories. Now, I'm afraid I'll have to go. Ares has been in such a good mood lately, and I do want to take advantage of it." Aphrodite says with a saucy wink.
She stands with an easy grace, the flowers that have slowly been growing around her bursting into full bloom as her feet touch the floor. Silena idly wonders who will be the one chosen to clean up the mess this time. Aphrodite walks past her daughter, but stops at the door, her hand resting gracefully against the handle. When she speaks, it is in a way that Silena's mother rarely chooses to show, and Silena is reminded that not all love is foolish, or shallow, or romantic.
"I know that you do not hold much affection for me; few who truly understand love do. But whether you think this is right or wrong, you have always followed your heart, and have shown that you truly are a daughter of mine. One of my favorites, in fact. Be comforted in the fact that no matter what you decide, you do it for love. And who could blame a daughter of Aphrodite for that?"
For a moment, her mother's form flickers, but Silena won't understand what it is that she sees until much later. Now, though, it fills her body with warmth, the pain in her chest easing, and the furrow in her brow lessens. The door swings open, Aphrodite vanishing in that mysterious, godly way that most gods seem to like, and Silena Beauregard is left standing among the flowers. Roses and anemone, she notices absently.
She opens her hand and looks at the bracelet that lies on her palm, and though she's been holding it for hours the metal is still ice-cold.
"For love," she says, and slips the silver bracelet on.