A/N: This did not turn out quite like I wanted it to. I have a feeling that it's terribly flawed, but I also know that it's not going to get any better, and, frankly, I am tired of working on it or otherwise having it sit around my computer. The Rin/Shiemi world is ridiculously lacking in fanfic as it is, so I might as well give my contribution, where I can.
The thing is, the myth of Persephone is complicated. It involves kidnapping and (most likely) rape, and I absolutely did not want to romanticize that or make it somewhat okay (even though it's been done over and over... maybe especially because it's been done over and over)... and I'm afraid I did not succeed. That is why Shiemi is not kidnapped, but chooses to wander out of her garden. Again, this story is flawed, and its message is flawed. Oh, well.
Disclaimer: I do not own Ao no Exorcist&characters. Boy, do I wish.
And all that I can give you
Is an open door
Supply Shop – True Cross Academy
There's a story he heard once. It's a bit foggy, really, and he can't exactly remember where or how he heard it in the first place. He has a feeling it was in class, and it's not like he has ever paid much attention in class anyway (there's a reason he dropped out after junior high after all). So, there this story (or maybe a myth? He can't really tell.) and it's about a princess (or maybe a goddess?) of flowers (or maybe of spring?), a girl so radiant that nature blooms at her feet as she passes. There's the Princess of Flowers, and then there's the King of Hell. Or maybe the God. It doesn't really matter. The king sees her one day and falls head over heels for her. So he kidnaps her and brings her to his palace in Hell (that's not the word the teacher used, but he can't remember what it was…)
Well, obviously the king, or god, or whatever the fuck he was, was a huge asshole. You don't just kidnap a girl because you think she's pretty. Even if she's the goddamn goddess of spring, and even the bees buzz around her as if she were one giant, sweet-smelling flower.
You don't just kidnap girls. Rin might be a thug, and a criminal, and a demon (that's what he's been told, at the very least) but he wouldn't kidnap a girl.
There's just one thing that stuck with him, about that story.
It's the image of him, the King of Hell, the God of the Underworld (that's the word!), standing there in his darkness, shadows blooming at his feet like flowers do at hers, hellfire to her bees. He's looking at her, and she's not looking at him. They're different as night and day. And yet they're connected.
No, it doesn't make sense to him either. Not until he accompanies Yukio on a mission, and they stop to buy supplies on the way.
Garden of Amahara – Somewhere in Infinity
The Garden of Amahara reaches out to him, with long fingers that smell like all the flowers in the world. Not a coincidence, as every plant that God ever put on Earth now surrounds him. All the flowers are in full bloom. Insects busy themselves around the sweet buds, and their hurry is a pleasant buzz in Rin's sensitive ears.
The Garden of Amahara unfolds before Rin, son of Satan, Prince of Hell, and restraining his flames not to harm anything is barely a flicker at the corner of his mind. No effort at all.
And it is Satan's blue fire that engulfs him, that flickers in his hair and along his limbs, as it is fitting of the heir of Gehenna. Not that Rin's father is ever going to die. That has always been out of the question.
Whatever Rin is doing in the Garden is questionable, however. It's for Yukio, as most things with Rin are. He is standing at Rin's right, as he so often does, and his eyes survey the garden coolly, from behind clear black-ringed glasses. His gaze is much different than Rin's, more analytical; it does not merely look in barely-controlled wonder at bright colors and soft textures, but stares them down and assesses them for their purpose.
Yukio's studies bring him to Amahara from time to time. There are things that you can only find here, and Yukio has a thing for peculiarities. This time, however, it might be a little different. Yukio does actually need a little help (and how smugly has Rin's heart soared in being asked for it!)
Well, demons are always rather unwilling to be caught and experimented on, even if they do take the form of a plant.
"Keep your eyes open, it could be anything," Yukio says, without looking at him. "We should scatter."
Rin scoffs and takes out his katana, but does not unsheathe it yet. He's always found a special pleasure in swords, katanas especially. It's part of the reason why he likes to take on Knight Exorcists the best. "Right. Scream if you see anything."
He can practically feel Yukio's eyes roll. "We'll see who screams first, Ani," he says.
Rin's lips pull back to uncover his pointed teeth, halfway between a smile and a sneer. "Game on, Yuki!"
They part ways. Rin does try to keep focused on the task at hand (really, he does!) That means trying to sense the demonic aura of the particular creature they are looking for: a dekalp, who possesses trees and other vegetation. Easy job.
Except Rin does not have the highest attention span. And there is just so much to look at, in this lush world of plants and flowers and trees and bushes. Rin has never been a huge fan of gardens, but Amahara is different. There is everything and anything: if it's not the rich colors of the crown of a flower, that demand his attention, there is the tendrils of sweet and fresh and pungent smells that forcefully pull at his senses. And then he turns, and huge carnivorous plants are engulfing what seem to be oversized wasps and it is just simply the greatest thing he has ever seen. And Rin has seen great things. Great and awful and wicked and sickeningly beautiful things. There is to say that he has lived in Gehenna for fifteen years.
The beauty of Amahara, however, has that slightly peculiar edge. There is the sick and disturbing – and it has a certain terrible beauty in its own right – and then there is the delicate and the pure, and it is to that Rin is not used at all.
There is to say that he has lived in Gehenna for fifteen years.
Soon enough, he forgets he is in fact looking for something. If he were able to admit it, Rin would think it the exact reason why Yukio has been so hesitant in asking for his help. And to be fair, Yukio (although Rin doesn't know) has never hoped for his brother to help in finding the demon. Blue flames of hell can be useful, however, in subduing said demon.
They never find the dekalp that day.
What Rin finds, as he wanders the half-hidden tracks in the underbrush, and carefully built gravel paths that cut through rows of buds, is something much more akin to the pure and innocent at which he has been so awed earlier.
She announces herself with a rustling of leaves, and a wisp of a scent so human that Rin stops on his tracks for a moment.
She is just around the bend, and she's leaning over a flowerbed, her thin fingers digging into the soil and coming out stained deep brown. Clad in traditional clothing, pale blond hair brushing her shoulder and sticking to her forehead, she wears a smile so peaceful it seems eerie to him. He's lived in a world of grins and sneers and smirks. Sweet, good-natured smiles only happen in private corners of his memory, in a childhood long gone, when Yukio still cried on his shoulder and hid behind him for protection.
She looks as imperfect and beautiful as one of the flowers she's bedding out. He does not dare move, in fear he might break whatever fragile equilibrium has come to exist between them; the son of Satan and a little dirt-stained princess of flowers, in the Garden of Amahara. It's no use: her leaf-green eyes rise to meet his hellfire-blue ones. They widen.
Then, she screams.
"Are you a demon?"
"… A bit, yeah. Do I look scary?"
"Some. But not as scary as I thought. Sorry for screaming."
"Hey, I can be plenty scary! Not my fault I'm handsome… and don't laugh! I'm not supposed to make you laugh."
"You're supposed to scare me?"
"Yes. I'm very scary. I'm the Prince of Hell."
"Well, you scared me earlier. But I'm not really scared anymore. I'm Moriyama Shiemi."
"Are you the Princess of Amahara, Moriyama Shiemi?"
"… A-a princess? Me? No, I'm just the gardener."
"Tough luck. Kidnapping a princess would have looked cooler on my curriculum."
"You're not going to kidnap me."
"Oh. How do you know I won't?"
"Because you're a nice person."
"A nice person? What part of 'I'm the Prince of Hell' made you think I'm a nice person?"
"You can be the Prince of Hell and be a nice person. You can't help where you're born."
"… Were you born here, Shiemi?"
"Oh, yes. I've always lived here."
"And do you like it a lot?"
"I love it. The Garden of Amahara is the most wonderful place in the world."
"How do you know?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you've always lived here. You never left. For all you know, there could be a place more wonderful than Amahara, and you'll never see it."
"Do you think there's a place more wonderful than the Garden of Amahara?"
"I think there are lots of wonderful places in the world… and I think you're right. I wasn't going to kidnap you."
"I knew you weren't."
"But listen, here. You could come with me anyway, if you want."
"… To a place more wonderful than Amahara?"
"Yes. I'll find it, I promise!"
"… You should tell me your name first, though."
"It's Rin. Okumura Rin."
Moriyama Household Garden – Exorcist Supply Shop
Rin has barely touched the damn thing. It's true! He was staring at her, the little girl in the Supply Shop's garden, and he reached out without really thinking about it. He barely grazed the gate. Just barely.
But the whole thing hummed down to its dark-iron bones, and came crashing down with a loud clanging sound.
And now the little girl in the garden is looking at him with wide, green, terrified eyes.
She whimpers, "D… demon!"
She doesn't look like a goddess of spring, because goddesses don't have dirt under their nails, or fingers covered in cow dung. But he doesn't doubt for a second that she is, in fact, one.
He just doesn't say it, because it would be weird.
And she is screaming at him already. ("Don't come in here! STAY AWAY!")
That is definitely not gonna help.
So, obviously, he decides that charging in forcefully is the best option, because he is not a demon (well, he isn't. He's half and half).
She doubles over in panic, and there's something that's definitely not right with her legs…
And that's how he winds up being her gate-repairing cheap labor. No, again, this does not make sense to him either.
It still doesn't when, hours later, he finds that he cares immensely whether this one girl blames herself for her grandmother's death. Or when he finds that he does want to break that demon's face, so that it will stop hurting her.
And it still doesn't when, the morning after, she takes her place beside him in their Cram School classroom. He can't fathom that he's part of the reason why she has left her small, safe house garden.
And of course there's the dekalp, and Yukio, and her legs, and her grandmother… But there's also Rin, gripping her shoulders and hovering close, so close, shouting at her to pick herself up and find the Garden of Amahara.
He just can't fathom that he was the one to steal her from her garden.
I pushed away a summer breeze.
I want the promise of a real spring,
Free and born again.
Old emotions are coming back to me...
-Persephone, Third Eye Blind-