Twirling Apparitions

The first time it happened Hercules couldn't tell that he was only dreaming. It had only been two days since Hera had murdered Deianeira and the children, burnt them alive with flames that had scorched them from existence with almost no trace to prove they'd ever been there. Before, when they had been safe and alive, Hercules had though his hatred for Hera could be no greater than it already was – he was definitely wrong about that. Although he wished this was not the way he had to find out that it was possible for him to expand that hatred. There was a dark emptiness inside of his chest and it gripped him like a vise, refusing to let go. Breathing was a chore and Hercules would give anything to just lie down and never get up again. But first he needed to destroy Hera. Then he could give up and let this go.

It had only been two days. So when it happened, although he was dreaming, it didn't feel like it. Deianeira was standing before him, her beautiful hair flowing past her shoulders wildly as it always had. Her eyes twinkled with the same mischief that had always been present. She was clothed in the flowing white gown that she had been wearing when she married him. A wreath of wild roses encircled her head gently, resting there like a celestial crown. Hercules felt his breath catch. Here she was, like she had promised. Deianeira was not dead after all and it had only been a horrible nightmare. There she stood, hand outstretched, waiting for him to join her. A smile lit up her mouth curving the edge and showing the dimple that creased her right cheek.

With no hesitation Hercules took her by the hand, twirling her around into a green meadow that seemed to have always been there; although he hadn't noticed it before. Then again, when she was near nothing else ever caught his eye. To him Deianeira was the stars, the moon and the sun combined, illuminated ten times brighter. So they danced and spun, moving together without a need for music of any kind. His music was the quiet breath escaping her lips and the soft, gentle wisp of noise her feet made as they connected with the grass underneath them. After what seemed like forever, she halted their movements; carefully, with what almost seemed like hesitance, she glided her hand to rest upon Hercules' shoulder. Deianeira slowly moved her palm to caress his face. She only had enough time to say the important things. "I love you and someday this will be real. One day it won't end. Until then I will return to you and we will dance in each other's arm, waiting for that day."

Hercules startled awake gasping and drenched in cold sweat. His heartbeat was racing and it took awhile for it to calm down sufficiently. It was just a dream, she was still gone. The space next to him on the bed was empty, cold and perfectly pressed without her to indent shape into its crispness. Running his rough hands over the vacant space, his heart clenched in true pain. Nothing was going to bring her back. All that was left to him was empty justice. Hera would pay and so would anyone else who stood against him. Bathed in rage he fell back into sleep, biding the hours until daylight. Then his quest would begin.

Even after the anger abated, grief crept in and he returned to the goodness of who he was before, Hercules would still have the dream. Not every night and not again when he was so filled with rage. But every so often when she could, Deianeira would creep in to his dreams and they would dance like twirling apparitions until daylight stole her away again. Never did a man ever love a dance more than Hercules loved the one in his dreams.