In the underworld

The next morning I woke up very early and dressed silently, thinking about what was to come. I didn't know if I was actually ready to meet them but at the same time I couldn't wait. I wanted so much to see him that I was willing to suffer rather than waiting.

Hermes went to pick me up while the sun was rising. We walked silently in the gardens until we were out of Olympus' gates. Then he took my hand and I felt everything whirling around me, I felt my body becoming light and evanescent, my feet leaving the ground. When I touched the ground again, a little dazed, I found out we were in a sort of cave where a few sunrays filtered from a small opening.

Hermes was beside me, still holding my hand. –Now I will accompany you, Cassandra- he told me softly –You shall remember that you will not be able to touch him… any of them. I'm sorry but this is something even Hades can't repair- I understand- I answered, my voice a bit unsteady. "Follow me" he murmured with his sweet voice, and I complied. We walked along a stone corridor until we finally came out from the cave. I could se we were standing in a green meadow surrounded by trees, under a cold but clear sky. This was not what I expected and I turned towards Hermes, surprised. He smiled, understanding my thoughts: "The Underworld is not so different from the Earth, after all. Now, Cassandra, turn right and walk: you'll find him in a few minutes."

"Aren't you coming?"

"I would never dare. I'll come to pick you up in a few hours."

With a smile he turned and disappeared. I followed his instructions until I could see him. Him.

He was sitting under a tree, his back against the trunk, and from that position he couldn't see me. I stopped silently, watching him from afar. I studied the black, short hair, the dark skin, his slender but muscular figure, his strong hands distractedly playing with the glass. I stood still for several moments, fighting the urge to run and hug him because I knew I wouldn't have been able to hug him.

When I was able to catch my breath I went on. He turned towards me and stood, smiling. Oh, Gods, his smile. "Cassandra!" he cried happily, running towards me. He lifted his arms as if he was going to hug me but then suddenly put them down. I murmured his name and the I couldn't speak anymore.

"Cassandra, you're more beautiful than ever! You seem to glow, my sister. What did they do to you?" he told me appreciatively, looking at my figure. He obviously knew that I had become immortal.

"It's a silly thing to say but I am so happy. I missed you so much, Hector."

"I know, my dearest. I missed you too"

I forced myself not to tell him about the war, about my personal sufferings and about our family; things he surely knew better than me. But it was him who asked me.

"How have you been lately, Cassandra? It shouldn't have been easy for you…"

I told him about the end of the war (omitting as much as I could) and about my first days on Olympus, and I talked and talked until I almost forgot where I was and I felt as if I was back in Troy, almost expecting to see the old walls and the streets around us.

"You shall thank Apollo for me, my dear. He has been very kind with me, taking care of my body. And he was kind to you as well in the end…" he added carefully.

"I will thank him. But now tell me about yourself, about… here!"

"Well, it's fairly similar to Earth, as you can see" he said shrugging, as if he was talking about the weather "and I have met our family" he added with a soft quiver in his voice. "The most hard thing is that we cannot touch each other and that we rarely have… the desire to touch each other anyway. It's… awkward."

He probably understood that I, instead, actually had the desire to touch him, because he dropped the subject almost immediately.

"I'm so happy you've been allowed to visit us, Cassandra. The others will be happy as well."

"Where are they?" I asked softly.

"Follow me" he answered entering the brush. We walked together for some moments until we found ourselves in a small glade. My family was there.

My mother and father, Astyanax, Polyxena, Paris… they were all there.

They surrounded me asking questions and prying me; it should have been normal but coming from them it was not. I was so used to be ignored by the most part of my family that I didn't know how to react to this.

I sat among them and started to tell what had happened to me; I could feel that my words seemed cold and detached, that, unlike with Hector, I was merely telling facts and not a single one of my emotions. But I could not share myself with them, with those fifteen pair of eyes looking at me. Fifteen pair of almost unknown eyes, by the way. It was good to see them, of course, but I wasn't able to be on of them. Not before and most certainly not now.

Hector seemed to perceive my uneasiness because he dragged me away very soon, promising that I was allowed to visit them at any time and that I would have been back soon.

We returned where I had first found him and we talked a little more. About how he felt guilty because he believed he should have striven to prevent the war. About how I have felt useless and frustrated for all those years. About how he was happy of the time we had spent together during our life.

Finally I felt Hermes' presence approaching. I took leave of my brother, struggling more than ever not to hug him, and went back in the cave where Hermes was already waiting for me. We didn't exchange a single word along the street; I was in no mood for talking and he seemed to understand that well.

Even if I had just seen them and talked to them, now I felt terribly alone. I felt as when I was about to become a priestess, back in Troy, and I had to spend a month without being touched by anyone before my consecration. I suppose you don't understand how important is a human – or godly- touch until you are deprived of it.

Suddenly I became aware that we had already entered Olympus' gates and that we were almost in front of my door. Hermes looked at me with gentle, understanding eyes and then hugged me tightly, like a brother. I needed a touch – anyone's touch- and I accepted it gladly, holding myself together as he held me.

"See you later, Cassandra" he said softly when we parted.

"Thank you" I whispered to him.

-O- -O- -O-

My first months on Olympus went on like this. I often went to visit my family, slowly getting used to them and to their intangibility. I got acquainted to the gods and I felt free to read and learn as I had always wanted, I also found some friends.

Sometimes I was still taunted by horrible dreams but I tried my best not to think about them; luckily they were unfrequent and they become even more unfrequent over time.

But something was missing.