She had only ever known the intimate caresses of the sunlight, Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus. Goddess, child immortal.
She had only known the sweet kisses of her dear nymphs - friends, protectors, teachers.
She had only ever known the soft, loving, embrace of her mother. The Queen of the Harvest, the land, and family.
However, Zeus… King. God of Gods. Her father. He had, had very little to do with her upbringing, but she loved him nonetheless… as he had allowed her to come into this world.
She embraced this world with all a child's love and adoration, desiring to see and feel more of nature, to experience it in all its fullness.
She had been nothing but a child, really.
She had not hidden from anything that the world had offered. But Demeter, Demeter had kept much of the world hidden from her. But the Fates weave as they will, and Gods create and destroy possibilities with mere thoughts, not concerned with the effect their actions shall have. They can afford not to.
The flowers had been so beautiful that day. Persephone had wandered through them, heavenly blue eyes alight with immortal fire as she surveyed with great joy all of the beauty the new day had to offer her.
"My Lady, my Lady!" the nymphs had called to her, laughing and dancing in the field. Twisting, turning, leaping, marvelling in the beauty of nature about them and glad in each others company.
Persephone watched and felt laughter rise, bubbling forth unrestrained and she ran to them, dark hair billowing behind her and white gown moulding to the shape of her body with careless disregard. Her footsteps were light over the fresh grass, and so it was that she danced with them there in the morning sun. A child unaware of the danger the world offered, a maiden ignorant to the appeal the supple movement of her body had – ignorant to the fact she had caught a suitor's eye.
But he was no ordinary suitor. How could one expect him to be?
He had heard her sweet clear laughter while passing, returning to his home and bitter darkness. His horses had been the first to hear the young woman, and had veered northward towards the group, red eyes trained on her figure, pawing at the air with powerful legs, screaming with a fury that their master could not understand. He knew they were loath to continue on their path home, and that if he had perhaps tried to move them, it would have been a great effort, even for him.
It was lucky that he did not wish to move from his present spot.
He had watched the small company with great curiosity, his breast aflame with a feeling he could not name, and his skin tingling with a rising lust. A lust for the delicate woman who danced slowly, seductively in the sea of flowers.
The young Goddess' movements however, were not made in a consciously seductive fashion. Nor did she wish them to be. She had no mind for what was pleasing to men, or what could heat their blood. Her desires were clean, untainted by the flesh. She wished for nothing but to dance and laugh in the day, to be content. And so it was that she was unaware that the dance the nymph's partook in was sensual by nature – being tactile and emotional beings themselves. Nymphs however were not as highly-sexed as the tales suggested. Yes, their senses were keen, lancing and they devoured every experience deliciously slowly, enjoying every moment of it. But, one could take that as they willed.
And so it was with dancing. Their bodies were alight with passion, reflecting the state of their inner mind. Reflecting their love for the day and for their Goddess child, Persephone.
Persephone wasn't sure what had made her stop dancing – but she had.
She wasn't sure what had made her wish to wander away from the group – but she had.
She wasn't even sure what had made her answer that strange call – but oh, by the gods above, how she had.
How she wished she had not.
His voice had sparked something within her however. A curiosity, perhaps. It had been smooth, silken, lilting with inflections she had thought impossible. Calming yet bewitching.
She had never before heard such a voice.
"Child…" it had whispered to her. A call, a summon. She had looked over her shoulder in surprise, but had seen nothing but the distant forms of her friends across the field. Her hands stilled on their construction of the wreath of flowers, and she rested it on her knee as she sat silent, thinking she had imagined that gentle whisper. She bowed her head thoughtfully then when no other sound came, and continued on with her work.
She completed her crown with no other interruptions and smiled proudly upon her work. Marvelling at the beauty of the milky white flowers, and thinking she would wear this crown forever as a sign that she was indeed daughter to the Harvest. She placed the wreath upon her head, upon hair the colour of a doe's fur. It was an earthy brown that when it caught the light of the sun, glowed golden, as if responding to the gentle touch of that sun's fingers.
"Persephone…" the voice was louder this time, and now she stood, a little fretfully, small gentle hands clasping the sides of her dress tightly. She looked back over to her friends and shifted uneasily when she noticed they had drifted further away from her.
She should not have wandered off!
"Beautiful Persephone…" the voice whispered again, this time seeming to come from her right side, and not from behind her.
"Who calls my name in such an intimate fashion?" she asked the stranger, confusion marring her smooth features.
"Come child, and see for yourself." She walked forward a little, her eyes brimming with both fear and curiosity. She still could not see the allusive stranger, and she had now wandered further from her friends.
"Where are you?"
"This way…" the voice said urgently, now from in front of her.
A stream gurgled away directly in front of her, and she wondered if she was being summoned by some type of water nymph. "Come…" the voice urged once more, and as she moved forward, Lord Hades, God of the Underworld removed his helm of secrecy. The helm that insured his invisibility when he worked in the world above on such rare occasions. Persephone uttered a shocked gasp, the light in her eyes blazing with confusion as she beheld the stern Lord of the Dead.
She knew not his name however, nor what duties he buried himself in, but she knew he was an immortal. That had been clear from the first.
He was tall in his gait, menacing, dark of hair and eye, the shadow around him growing, reaching out, stroking the hem of her gown, and sandaled feet. She shivered, even though the sky was clear, and sun was warm. A smile swept across that face, and she saw how handsome he was. A beautiful deity, but somehow a fearful one. His eyes were like deep pools, as dark as coal, and his skin was pale, smooth like alabaster. The contrast of light and dark was astounding to Persephone, who had only ever seen the neutral, earthy colours of the land around her. She had not seen a being so white and dark all at once.
"Who are you?" She said in a quiet voice, stepping closer to him absently. His smile widened as he studied her.
"I am Lord Hades, Persephone." Her name flowed from his lips in a manner strange to Persephone, as if the use of it alone was a caress. She narrowed her eyes in wonder.
"How is it that you know my name? For I certainly did not know yours, before this moment."
"I heard the nymph's call to you, and they called you Persephone, mistress, goddess immortal."
"I am those things of which they called me… but we did not see you. How came you to be here? You are the God of the Dead; you do not wander under the light of the sun or moon." Hades nodded slowly, dark eyes flashing.
"I do not."
Persephone looked sad, and said then with childish simplicity, "You must be very sad…" Hades raised a brow in wonder, although his mind was occupied with other thoughts around the girl. The flow of her hair, the sparkle of her gentle eyes, the elegant and graceful gestures she made with her delicate hands as she spoke… and her soft curvaceous body calling to him from beneath the filmy material of her gown. He stepped towards her with a sharp intake of breath.
"Are you sad?" she asked softly, not aware of the swift turn of his thoughts.
"My Lady?" he asked in return, taking another step forward. Persephone did not notice.
"Are you sad?" Hades considered the sympathetic gleam in her eyes and gave a sad smile.
"Yes. And lonely…" he answered in a soft murmur. Persephone's eyes shone with sorrow for the dark Lord.
"You should come into the sunshine more, My Lord." She said simply.
"You can never be sad or lonely in the light of that smile." She explained with an affectionate glance towards the sky.
"You have a beautiful smile, My Lady." He had said with a husky tone in his voice. Persephone saw how close he was to her, and her eyes widened as a cold hand, like the touch of ice followed the line of her jaw. She suddenly felt very small, and very vulnerable.
"I… I am my mother's daughter." She said softly. "If my smile is beautiful, it is because of her quiet influence." Lord Hades ignored this, and moved closer still.
A warning twisted in her fair heart, and she shook his hand away, and stepped back quickly.
"I shall return now. My friends will miss me, and I dare not cause them any distress." Hades looked angered at her rejection, and glanced towards the small group and then back down to the shivering youth before him.
"Your friends dance happily in the light of the morning sun", she wondered at the bitter note in his voice at this. The word 'sun' seeming to twist his lips up ward's in a snarl. "Do not heed them, they care not if you come and talk with such a man as I."
Persephone refused to move forward, instead, she backed away with a shake of her head. "Nay, I wish to return to their company."
"Halt!" the word was as powerful as if he had grabbed hold of her arm and ceased her exit that way, but after a brief pause she was running back towards the group, her heart pounding in her chest as she heard the cry of his black steeds and the hammering of their hooves on the dry earth. She raised her arms above her head frantically, and called out in distress.
"Sisters! Sisters!" she called to them, not linked by blood but closer to her heart than any real sisters could be. "Help me! I run from peril like the sun from the night, save me!" The nymph's, hearing their Lady's fair voice crying out in such fear, spun and gave cries in wonder and terror at the dark force that followed close behind their mistress. They ran like the wind towards her, courage burning in their dear hearts, anger drowning their minds.
Persephone saw with relief their turn of attention, and reached out grasping hands towards them, wanting to fall into their safe embrace, to be kept concealed from the God that pursued her.
Strong hands grasped her waist as she neared her friends however, and she felt with wonder her feet leave the ground as she was lifted into the chariot, a wail of anguish tearing from her throat.
"No!" the nymph's cried in misery, "Dark Lord, return alone to your fiery grave! Leave our Goddess here where she belongs! Take not her innocence and heart, for if she loses that, we too shall surely fade!"
Lord Hades did not answer their pleas; instead, holding the Goddess close to his breast, he opened the gates of the underworld with a resounding crack of earth splitting, and disappeared into the dark gloom, the ground closing after him like he had never been, leaving nothing but the wails of lamenting nymph's in his wake.