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"Medusa?"

Looking up from her tattered copy of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Medusa saw Athena nearing her. The nervous goddess took a seat on the chair across Medusa, and the cold breeze in the balcony where they both stayed urged Athena to cross her toned arms to warm herself. 

"Aphrodite's hosting a party tonight," Athena began cautiously.

"You don't even like parties," Medusa commented, bringing her aviators-covered eyes back to her novel.

"Yeah, but... I like her," Athena admitted with a frown. "Will you come with me? It's just a wine and cheese thing; it won't be like those wild parties you hate."

Flipping a page, Medusa shrugged. "You know I don't do parties either way."

"There are probably a bunch of cute guys and girls going."

"Whom I'd terrify when my sunglasses and beanie accidentally come off again? Yeah, that seems absolutely enjoyable," she replied mockingly.

Athena's flawless face was painted with consuming guilt once again. "I'm sorry. Back then, I didn't know—"

"Stop." Medusa set down her book. "You've apologized a thousand times. I forgive you, and it's all good, okay?"

"I'd take it back if I could, you know."

"All you gods were complete assholes a couple millennia ago anyway. It's okay."

Athena's jaw clenched in remorse. "Really, I'm sorry."

"No use in feeling terrible about what's unchangeable. It's unproductive anyway." Medusa slid back her chair, signalling she was about to stand up. "I'll go with you tonight, but you owe me. Also, I can't promise I'll be fun to be around."

Athena finally broke into a smile. "You're always fun with wine."

Medusa laughed lightly. "Dionysus can screw off." She stood up and took her book with her. "I'm going for a walk. I have to prep my introverted ass before going to Aphrodite's."

"I never know where you disappear to when you say you're going for a walk. We're literally in the middle of this populated city, and you hate people."

"Not so wise after all, then," Medusa chuckled. "There's a plethora of secret places in the city. You're just too caught up with Aphrodite to even bother to look," she teased before leaving the goddess alone in the balcony.

After a 15-minute walk, Medusa finally arrived at her favourite spot in the city: an inconspicuous forest-like garden by a long-abandoned mansion that no one bothers to visit anymore. It was dominated by tall, fruitful trees and numerous, colourful flora that made the breeze incredibly refreshing and the sight absolutely gorgeous. Because no one else knew about the place, Medusa could relax and finally take off her aviators and beanie after keeping them on for days, and nothing pleased her more than the freedom in that.

She found her usual reading spot by a clearing, where she once left a picnic blanket she could lay on back when she first stumbled upon the place. With the isolation, peaceful silence, and fresh air that smelled of vines and citrus, it was the perfect spot to read and rest. The only sound to be heard was the light rustling of leaves, and it just improved the ambience by a hundredfold.

Medusa sat on the blanket with her back on a tree trunk, and smiled at the perfection of the moment as she brought out her novel from her leather messenger bag. She paused to inhale and take in her surroundings, then began reading.

She was in the middle of the seventh chapter of the novel when the lovely sound of a humming woman disrupted her silence. In a panic, she quickly rummaged her bag for her aviators and beanie, but she was too late: the approaching woman already reached her vicinity.

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