Um... the title's got nothing to do with the fic, really. Sorry 'bout that. It's from the poem 'The Valley of Unrest' by Edgar Allen Poe. Anyway: Femmeslash, slash, language, non-linear, Alternate Universe, character (assumed) death, and, um, explicit content. Heh.

#insert 'stddisclaimer.h'

Perennial Tears (Descend In Gems)

by Incendiarist

Ash nazg durbatul√Ľk, ash nazg gimbatul;

Ash nazg thrakatul√Ľk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.


She hates rings.

To her, they're a symbol of oppression, of the power a man can hold over her.

As if she needed - or wanted - reminding.


("Do you have to go?")

Sigh. Frown. Nod.

("Promise me you'll be careful, won't you?")

Smile breaks. Clasp in arms. Chaste kisses.


She doesn't remember when it happened; when she stopped daydreaming about having a perfect little life with perfect little children and a perfect little house and a perfect husband - not little, because in her daydreams, he was tall and powerful and had the most amazing brown eyes that she thought looked just like the colour of dark chocolate, and the most wonderful thick hair that was somewhere between blonde and brunette and shone golden in the sunlight...

Maybe it had something to do with puberty. Maybe she reacted differently than the rest of the pre-teen girls in the world did.

Or maybe it happened earlier, back when she realised why her step-mothers never stayed around.




She pants.

("...oh, gods...")

Sticky heat.

Sliding, sliding, deeper, deeper...



("I love you.")

'French' kiss. Living up to her name.

("I love you, too.")


She thought she was in love.

Hell, maybe she was. Maybe he had been, too.

Or maybe he just played her like a piano, beautifully, flawlessly...

All simply to mock her.

It's not like it hasn't happened before.


It wasn't that she didn't appreciate the male physique, rather, she found that she also appreciated the feminine form.

Right. That must have been it. She wasn't - queer (she thinks of the word with a tinge of disgust, drilled into her by her father) - she was an artist. Artists found beauty in beautiful things; in well-crafted things. She shouldn't have been ashamed by it.

It was a natural reaction, is all.


There aren't storms on Valentine's Day anymore, they've noticed.

Athena's finally shut up.


Green light, unnatural shine.

Voice grating, ethereal.

Prophetic nightmare, she's terrified.

("What did I say?")


She's wearing a chain made of sterling silver around her neck, a small charm in the shape of a spear hanging from it (pun intended).

Her lover has the same, the charm a paintbrush. It doesn't quite fit in with the necklace, the leather strip with the wooden beads, but no-one comments.

They all know better than that.


She's sobbing. Hasn't come out of the cave in days. Won't eat.

("She must be worried sick.")

Missing, they'd said. The Labyrinth, they'd said.


She's painting.

Memories spin through her mind, and she's controlling the brush subconsciously. What the canvas will portray upon completion is anyone's guess.


They've both been screwed over by men, both paid the price for it.

They find peace within each-other; flowers will always find ways to grow in the most unlikely places.


Nico's smiling. Really, honestly smiling, for the first time since - probably - Bianca's death. She'd never known him all that well, so she's not sure, but she knows that this is the first time since that he's been so damn happy.

She figures that if love can do that, well, she's got to admit she's a little impressed.

Nico fucking di Angelo was smiling, for the gods' sakes! It's a fucking miracle.




("What do you mean, no? He's from a very respected family, good money...")

Narrowed eyes.

("I meant exactly what I said. You don't control my life.")


Pencil and a pad of paper. Light sounds of scratching, of an exhale blowing away left-over lead, squeaks from a throat that's long since dried up from tears, and she still can't stop crying.

Finally it's finished, and red eyes brighten a bit, the ghost of a smile plays over chapped lips.

She puts away the sketchbook after a few minutes, and lays down. For the first time in weeks, she doesn't cry herself to sleep.


("Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.")