I blinked my eyes, which were extremely out of focus for some reason. I took a few seconds to reorient myself. I was in our throne room on Parnassus, propped up in my own throne. It was the middle of the day. Bright sunlight contributed to my visual complications. Too much light for the throne room. Which used to have a roof. I was aware of people crowded around me, mostly sisters, maybe Aphrodite, too.
And Apollo. The voice was his. The hands on my shoulders, holding me upright in my throne, were his. The face full of both concern and relief was his.
“What happened?” I asked. My voice was groggy. My mouth was parched.
“Do you know where you are?” I recognized Calliope’s voice. She was home! Artemis must’ve brought her back along with Leto.
“Parnassus,” I said.
“Do you know who you are?” asked Apollo.
For the first time in almost a thousand years, I knew exactly who I was. I was dying to ask Calliope all about leading our sisters to the mind archive, and what the rest of them had experienced after turning their keys. But now wasn’t the time, so I simply said, “I’m Thalia. Calliope, do you remember, too?”
“Shhh, take it easy,” Calliope soothed as she stroked my arm. “You’ve had a rough couple of days.” I accepted her answer for the time being. We could catch each other up later.
“Right, she’s had a rough couple of days,” I heard a derisive snort behind the wall of Muses.
“Beroe,” I said, craning around my sisters to locate the source of the voice. “Are you okay?”
“All here,” said Beroe. “Well, almost all,” she grinned as she held up her right arm. The stump was healed over, but it looked like the hand was gone for good.
“I’m so sorry,” I said “It’s all my fault.”
“No, it isn’t,” said Beroe. “Hephaestus explained everything. The wine didn’t work because Poseidon was under my enchantment when he drank it. I still don’t know how he got unenchanted. Or Dionysus. But, for whatever reason, it looks like my marriage of convenience is going to be pretty convenient after all.”
“Where’s Hera?” I asked, deciding now wasn’t the time to claim credit. I had all of eternity for that.
“She should be waking up any time now,” said Apollo. “Athena and Artemis took her back to Helicon. I don’t know how she’s going to react when she remembers Zeus throwing her out, but I’m sure Athena has a plan for every possible contingency.”
“What about everyone else?” I said.
“Zeus welcomed the rest of the Twelve back to Olympus after they pleaded for his pardon and swore allegiance to Leto,” said Calliope.
“Even Dionysus,” said Beroe. “He just had to promise he’d never bring his wife there, which is more than fine with me.”
“What about Hephaestus?” I said.
“He and Hera don’t have that great of a history,” said Aglaea. “It wasn’t hard to convince anyone that he’d ally with Leto over her.”
“And your family?” I said.
“I got Asclepius, Epione, and the rest of their children to a constellation,” said Apollo. “For their safety, I can’t tell anyone, even you, which one.”
“Good,” I nodded. “So. Our house is destroyed, Beroe’s missing a hand, who knows when your son and his family can come back to Earth, Ixion’s stuck to a burning wheel in the sky, and Hera is probably out for blood, but hey, at least Zeus lived happily ever after.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” said Apollo.
“I’m trying really hard to avoid a ‘your mom’ comeback right now, but I may not have the strength to resist,” I said.
“I’d expect nothing less,” said Apollo, “though I should remind you that my mother is a sleeper agent waiting to turn on Zeus the moment Athena gives the word. But that isn’t what I meant. There’s a reason Zeus forgave everyone so easily and is making such a fuss over his new queen.”
“And that is?” I said.
“He’s hoping no one figures out that he used his last lightning bolt yesterday.”
I grabbed Apollo and kissed him for all I was worth. He pulled me to my feet, kissing me back. I was vaguely aware of a chorus of sisterly squeals, but I didn’t care. In that moment, I felt certain that Apollo was mine and I was his. Nothing could take that from me. Nothing could spoil this perfect moment. Nothing.
“Oh,” said Beroe, “and there’s more good news! Mom, you want to tell them or can I?”
“Do I not know this either?” said Apollo.
“We wanted to wait until Thalia woke up so we could tell you two together,” Aphrodite smiled.
“Our family’s back together!” said Beroe.
Into our midst appeared a figure and face I hadn’t seen for years. One I had once hoped never to see alive again. One who had been responsible for what, after all the events of the last week, I still considered the most miserable summer of my life.