Disclaimer: the myth is like… older, man. Really old… do I need a disclaimer?
Teaser: Hades dreads the coming of Spring
Warnings: an innuendo or two, and no respectable work is rated K
The Return of Persephone
Her hands are locked now in the coat of the dog, three heads lounging in her lap. Even Cerberus is calmed in her presence, beautiful, silent lady of gold-passion silk.
Moonbeams and sunrays contrast the locks of her hair that flow pass the silky perfection of her dress. Her eyes are watery and light, different from the darken corners of her Lord's fortress.
And he? Her Lord, high Master? Dark man of death, sitting on his throne of thorns. He watches her quietly, hands spread out on armrests before him, eyes dark and powerful burning holes into her back.
She does not look at him. Dark man. Husband. Kidnapper. Raper. Molester of her childhood, husband of her body. Her fingers are absent and distant, eyes staring into the darkness that hints at the hem of her dress. Darkness that is not all consuming of her yet. Not yet.
He stands, paces. Evil, wicked, twisted man. Her mind whispers to him, a curse of damnation. He laughs, unfazed and jaded. What does he care of curses? He is curse. He is the name that evokes fear. He drags souls, immortal souls, down to the very depths of his kingdom.
Lord Hades, Master of Death, Lord of the Underworld, knows of curses well.
Now he is learning of something that is bright, distant to him. Of a shining light that burns in the corner of his kingdom, singing a potent song that sears his deathly skin.
It is she who commands the light, bringing it forth from the very pigments of her skin. It is in her, this light of light. Purest, unbreakable, damning. When her ocean blue eyes slip across the dark halls of his palace the light is called forth from the darkest crooks. They scream at her, dancing at her finger tips.
Touch me, touch me, they sing. We've been in the dark for so long. Beautiful, Childe, you must touch us.
Her lips move, red like the seeds of the pomegranate that damned her to months of darkness. Calling the light to her, this Childe of the Earth. Her hands—a pale contrast to the dark bends of the room—reach out, drag the light out from whatever deep carves it hides in. She holds it to her breast, lets it seep into her skin, allows it to rest inside her heart.
Child. Innocent. Barely woman. He thinks of her sometimes in those terms. Scarcely does she understand the ways of men and women. Her eyes are brilliant and innocent, wells of purity that shine like Selene against the dark of Uranus. The nymphs who tended to her during her time in the Light have braided flowers into her and the scent of them still linger on her, valiantly and cruelly reminding her of what it had felt like to be a part of it all… to have Helios kiss her face, to dance with the Muses, and to hug the Green Woman as flowers bloom against her feet.
The Green Woman who mourns for her now—weeps bitter tears over a daughter, spilling salt onto the earth; dry earth, as dead and hollow as his kingdom now—kept her secret. Zeus's eyes never fell upon her in want or need. No lust touched the ancient, wizened depths of his jade irises. Green Woman had kept her locked away, away from prying eyes who would find and want her.
Then he thinks—he, Lord Hades, bringer of death thinks this—temptress. Vixen. Siren of my soul. She is damned, she thinks, but she never considers that damnation of his own immortal life. For what is his life now, without her bright eyes in it? Empty and bitter… hollow without her, useless… just as everything had been useless before. An illusion of an immortal life.
When she is under him there is passion, but it sparks only slightly. For a moment she clings, her soft, willowy breath fanning his frozen skin. Her body shudders in denial against the want even as her breath sighs out. It dies in his hands—like everything is this damned, dank world—and he cannot message it into her bones again. She looks away, opening her body to him. Her mind is not opened. She has slipped into it, returning to the green fields of her youth. Thinking of the flowers. The scent that haunts her skin intoxicates their nostrils as the flare of passion deepens and dies… she remembers it in yearning and he in panic.
He tries not to touch her now. Hades thinks he will burn, burst into flames. His Vampire-skin has so long now denied the light… what would become of him if he tried to grapple for it with his frostbitten fingers?
There is light on her skin and it only burns brighter and brighter as the Underworld—his life and hearth and home—tries to turn her from her Mother's world, the world of sunshine and flowers and poppies growing in the spring. The Light, a voice says in his head, is not for you… for what are you? A damned man, Darkness Everlasting.
But… Hades thinks as he looks upon her, his Child-Bride and Queen. But—
There is something different in her now. Her motions have become slow and careful, but he can tell the change. Hades has trained himself to take note of her subtle movements. Everything about his Child-Bride—soul-mate, wife, siren—is subtle. Before her steps were light and airy, that of a child's, and now she is slow and weighed down with the things that bother adults in time, even gods.
But it is different. The light that is in her eyes is blazing, a passionate fire. It wells in her breast and bursts forth in a brilliant range of iridescent light, burning away the cold for a sheer, wondrous moment before settling back down onto her skin, hers and hers alone. Hades would mold it to fit his purposes, but it is not his time.
"My Lord?" she calls softly, her voice the Spring. Eternal Daughter of the Sun, married to the darkness. There is irony there.
It calls to her, Hades can see it in her eyes. Her mother is singing and the Earth is living now, flowers blooming in rows, in an explosion of flowers, an array of light shards, a synopsis of a Mother's joy calling her Daughter to the warmth of her bosom.
His hands wrap around her thin shoulders, sheathed in cotton. Hades is surprised that his hands are not burned. But if his hands had caught fire, he does not think he would let her go. He cannot let her go. She is his. The Fates had decreed it long before he took his first breath, eons before he caught sight of her beneath that tree in the Light of her Mother.
There are songs in her eyes. Songs of the Spring. Every solstice it calls to her, puts life into her limbs. And every next solstice, Death returns to her, claiming her his bride. And she goes for that, she knows, is her destiny.
He notices the flowers woven into her hair have come alive, radiant, wonderful blues and purples and reds…
Light bursts from the very corners of his realm. Like gold dust, it floats to the floor. A Mother's beacon for her child. Let her go, it sings to Hades as it dances around their feet. His grip does not relinquish. She is mine now.
Cerberus, proud-watchdog he is, prowls the floor. Sniffing nose examining the ground, he growls at the light. No you cannot have her, he says in his dog-voice, six glowing eyes beady and angry at the light. For she is ours.
If it had been in his power, he would not let her go. He would lock her in his embrace and drown out the light until all they remember is darkness and each other. But that is not the deal. He will have her, and then the Mother will have her. That is the deal. Hades must abide.
Hermes—silent, boyish messenger—arrives on the wings of the light, sandals flying him to the ground. His smile is wicked and twisted, hinting of Zeus's features. He watches the exchange, calm. The Spring will wait moments more… Hermes will give them time. He is a trickster, but not cruel. His smile is curved and mischievous. He laughs in good fun at the Dark Man foolish enough to be moved by love—poor, poor, man! he thinks, you fool—and does not notice Cerberus snarling in the dank corners, teeth long and sharp and yellow.
Hades cares for neither of them now. Not now. He holds his Lady-love in his arms and she burns like a star before it is snuffed, a burning sun coming into the cycle of a white dwarf. Life returns to her limbs, warmth seeping into her skin and dripping onto his.
"I will wait," he tells her, drawing her close. She stiffens, draws away. He cruises his lips along her skin, burning with the light and Love. Oh damn you, you wretch. Damn you Eros… how dare you strike me and not her?
"My Lord… Hades—"
"Forever. Return to me." He releases her, the pain breaking him. He turns away, not wanting to look upon her anymore. It hurts. Every time she slips from the world of the Dead and into the world of the Living. It is a visible pain, ripping at a soul he long ago thought destroyed.
She does not answer and he knows she is leaving, taking the long, dark stairs that even now burst with light, singing at her coming. Hermes heralds Persephone's return, flying ahead in joy and the stairs retract the light, sending up a wave of passionate fire to signal the beginning. Oh yes, the stairs will sing-song, oh yes come to us. To the light… to the light…
"My Lord…" a voice whispers. Hades thinks himself mad, some poor victim of Eris. He turns, faces her. There is no illusion, no creation of madness. It is her, his Life-Bride, Wife of his Soul, Lady of the Spring, Queen of the Dead.
No more words. She steps into him and crushes him with her light. Crushes. He is encompassed with it, luminous, phenomenal life-light. He will sing soon. Sing with joy and light and wonderment. His fingers curl into her hair.
This is living. This is living.
Her lips are burning as they meet his and passion is a halcyon presence that whispers: in do time. Soon… soon… oh yes, everything will be soon. And I am happy… the wonder of happiness…
Drawing away, her fingers trail down his lips, leaving him with the taste of Spring. In the darkness, in the cold-dead winter, he will remember the taste of the Spring. And he will think of her.
"Persephone," he says and says no more. She smiles at him—women now, Vixen, Siren-girl—and turns. The light calls to her and she cannot ignore it, but she looks back at him as she never had before. Promise to return, to slip into his arms, to come back to him with the taste of Spring still lingering on her skin.
He returns to his seat, smiling even as the darkness drowns the light. It will be there, too, he knows for when she returns. He will wait for her, for what else can he do? She is his life-mate, his Child-Bride.
With a smile, Hades—Lord of the Dead, Ruler of the Underworld—settles into his throne of thorns. He stares into the darkness and images the light that will return.
The cold returns to his skin.
"Foreknowing all bounds of passion, of power, of art,
Mastered but could not mask his deep despair,
Even as she turned with Hermes to depart,
Looking her last on her grim ravisher,
For the first time she loved him from her heart"
-"The Return of Persephone", A.D. Hope
Notes: God… I love Greek myths, though I was never actually into the Hades and Persephone. I was more of an Iliad girl and Ovid poem-reader myself. But hey, this is actually a fun subject to right on. Plus, A.D. Hope rocks my socks off.