Callisto sits behind her on the bed, working the tangles from her hair with her fingers.
“So tell me about Paul.”
Artemis blushes; Callisto kisses the nape of her neck where it flushes red. “That’s my lady,” the nymph says, laughing. “Still so modest.”
“He’s...nice,” Artemis says at last.
Anyone else would pry for details, but Callisto just devotes her attention to a particularly troublesome knot. “It’s about time you had someone nice.”
“But I don’t know what I’m doing,” Artemis whispers.
Callisto clucks her tongue. “That’s never stopped you before.”
“But what if--”
“You won’t.” Of course she knows the question. Of course she’d say that. “You just won’t.”
“What if it’s not enough?” Artemis’s voice is softer still, her hands clenching at the bedspread. “If I...if I don’t...”
“Has he said it’s not enough?” Callisto punctuates the question by tugging a little more than is necessary. When Artemis doesn’t answer, she adds, “I didn’t think I’d been away long enough for you to get stupid, but I guess I was wrong.”
Artemis spins round at that, her temper pricked, but Callisto just sits there smiling, her hands folded neatly in her lap and the red flower of blood against her chiton standing out in silent accusation.
Artemis’s expression crumples. “I didn’t mean...It was supposed to be mercy.” Her hand shakes as she reaches out, fingertips just brushing the center of the stain, right over Callisto’s heart.
The nymph catches her hand and raises it, pressing her lips to the center of her palm. “And it was. Now let me get a better look at you.” She draws all of Artemis’s hair down over one shoulder and smiles. “Artemis Kallistê.”
The goddess flinches.
“Hey now,” Callisto murmurs. “Don’t be like that. Not now, not when I have to go.”
“Stay,” Artemis says, halfway to begging.
“I never could. But you already knew that.” Callisto leans in and her lips brush Artemis’s in a dry (chaste) kiss. “Orion says hi.”
Artemis cries out and reaches, but there is nothing there, only the darkness of her room and her own breathing too loud in the silence.
(Her hair is never this neat when she wakes. She knows who to thank.)