A/N: Welcome to the story. Hope you enjoy.

Prologue: The Return

She came into the sun, a pale trembling thing. Her skin was so translucent that they could see the path of blue veins running from her temples to her neck and across the alabaster length of her arms; her feet, tiny like a child's, peeked demurely out of the blue gown. When she moved it was with the uncertainty of a lamb.

Hermes stood to one side, his winged sandals glinting in the dawn, looking no worse for having traversed the land of the dead. He extended a hand to the girl, his bronze skin unspeakably healthy against hers, and waited, patiently, while she descended the steps of the carriage. It had carried her here to the sunlit lands, and now it loomed behind her, preternaturally large, casting a square shadow.

To Demeter, it looked like a coffin.

A hand, male, suddenly reached out from the dark interior and caught hers, crushing it between broad fingers. Demeter saw her daughter look back, an indescribable look crossing her face as cool lips pressed against the skin of her hand. She tilted her face, as if listening – and her lips moved as she replied, slowly; that same unreadable look again. Then, turning back, she descended the last step and stood, blinking in the bright sun, her smile nothing more than a little wan crook of the mouth. The bones of her face turned her hollow cheeks into shadows.

Demeter ran to her daughter.

"Kore," she wept, feeling bony shoulders beneath her hands; her daughter, her love, her pride, reduced to this.

Her daughter's tears, flowing down her cheek.

"Kore," she could only say, after so long, so much pain and death and madness.

The earth groaned behind them; the dark carriage was leaving. She held tighter to her daughter, whom she had failed to protect while there was still the chance – but to her surprise, Kore extricated herself from the embrace, stood still and silent after the retreating shadow.

"Daughter," Demeter frowned. And her Kore bowed her lovely head – she was so young, still so small; a girl – and when she turned to face her mother, the look on her face was wistful.


Her daughter's voice had changed. It was deep, dark as the caverns in which she had been prisoner; washing over Demeter like the autumn gales over the barley – strong, like her own, that of a god come into her place.

Demeter's confusion must have shown on her face; for Kore laughed (tears still falling down her face), and kissed her mother's cheek.

"Demeter; mother," said her young daughter, "My name is Persephone."