Once upon a time, two immortals who should have never crossed paths, fell in love. For their love transcended that of the myths, becoming a myth in itself and putting the brightest stars to shame. It burned and writhed, wrought with desire and forged in the darkness. Buried under the thorns of denial, it bit and clawed its way out, fighting against all odds and emerging triumphant.
In the end, their love was their salvation.
They say that everything happens for a reason. People live and breathe and die for a reason, an inexplicable string of events that finally lead to some greater truth. Sometimes we don't know what this reason is, sometimes we don't want to know, because then our world will apart and nothing will seem right anymore. And maybe, we only find out when the time is right and maybe, the time is never right.
So we keep living, eating, breathing, waiting for the day we die, completely oblivious to what the Fates have in store for us. We live, because we have to, because there are people depending on us and waiting for us and loving us. We live for them, even though sometimes we don't know exactly what it is we live for.
I remember the day I first met you. I was young, careless, innocent – the epitome of a child that's been sheltered away for her whole life. But I wasn't a child, or at least, I didn't think I was. I was sixteen, for Zeus' sake, the Age of Reckoning when a God or Goddess chooses their calling. That day, all I wanted was to escape the confines of my mother's clutches.
I remember walking into the gardens of Olympus, completely and utterly humbled by its grandeur. My mother was away, tending to another side of the Earth, far away from where we lived. Recklessness and boredom and an insatiable curiosity drove me to disobedience. In hindsight, this was the day my world fell apart.
Nobody paid much attention to me, until Zeus saw me meandering about like a lost pup. Probably wondering why his daughter, who had remained hidden until now, was carelessly waltzing around Olympus, he took under his wing and introduced me to the Gods. To you.
I remember that nobody expected you to drop by, because you always did your best to avoid your siblings. Grateful for the fact that, for once, I wasn't the only one surprised by this turn of events, I relaxed a bit. Relaxed enough to forget my place and look at you.
There are no words to describe the way I felt at that moment. The way your eyes pierced into the very fiber of my being, caressing my soul – inexplicable and beautiful and moving. I was rooted to the spot, frozen and held in complete awe by you. You were, and still are, the most beautiful God in the history of Gods. I remember your alabaster skin, the way your lips often curled into a sardonic smile, your ebony hair, falling elegantly past your shoulders.
I was whisked away to my home soon after that, my father escorting me back in fear of my mother's inevitable rage. She never found out about my little excursion. Her own little darling, she thought, would never lie to her. But the time I should have spent intently scrutinizing my guilty conscience, was spent on you.
I fell asleep that night with the memory of your eyes weaving its way through my dreams and the sound of your name lingering on my lips.
The second time that we met, it was you who came to visit my home. Once again, my mother was gone, trusting me to keep out of trouble. Believe me when I say that I had every intention do just that. With the sunlight beating gently on my back, I bent to pick a flower for my mother, my hand fisted in my dress. There was a ladybug on the flower, such a tiny darling creature. Funny how you remember the little things when something life changing happens.
And suddenly, you were there. Surrounded by a misty fog, skin as pale as the day I first saw you. I should have been startled, frightened even, but some part of me, in the darkest reaches of my subconscious was hoping (expecting) you to come.
"Persephone." You spoke and I listened, unknowingly entangling myself in your web. "Such beauty I have never known, long as I have lived."
I fell for you in that moment, though I would not admit it to myself. Surely a God like you, so cruel and bloodthirsty, shut away in the caverns of the Underworld would be incapable of loving another being. But even as I recounted to myself all the wretched tales others spoke of you, I could not believe them. The days between then and now blur together, a whirl of memories and feelings and touches and falling.
That was the way I felt around you – as if the world underneath me had shifted in some bizarre way and left me behind to tumble into unknown places. Down dark holes, filled with dark sinister things, but at the same time, bejeweled with dazzling gems. The only tangible thing during those days was you. Your laugh, your eyes, your smile, your arms as they held me close to you during those nights when I ought to have been playing with the woodland dryads and the water nymphs. Nights I should have spent elsewhere, far away from the influence you held over me.
But truthfully, honestly, I didn't want to leave you. Didn't want to have to leave your embraces and your sweet caresses. In the end, you were both my undoing and my salvation.
As we lay on the grass, peering up above at the night sky where stars burst and died and are born again, something took a hold of me. Apprehension tightened its iron grip around my gut, twisting my mind until I began to see dreadful things. For you see, my love, at one point or another, our love would have to pay the price.
In no universe would the Gods ever accept our affair. In no universe is the God of the Underworld supposed to fall in love with the Goddess of Spring. Their vengeance was terrible and swift. When my mother found out, she was livid and convinced Zeus to cast you down back where you belonged, far away from me. As for me, they had another fate in store. They hid me away again, far off in distant lands and they broke me.
Do not begrudge me, my love, for being so weakened by them. The punishment they bestowed upon me was too great and too powerful for me to resist. They poisoned my mind against you, convinced me that you were merely playing a game with me. That I was a naïve, foolish little girl, conned into so called "love." By the time they were finished, I was shattered and resentful, but oh Hades, how could I hate you?
For all the damage that they did to me, they could not destroy my love for you even when I myself tried to suppress it. But deny it, I did, so when you rose up from the ground, tearing the earth and ripping my flowers, arriving in all your dark glory, how could I not be frightened? How could I not remember the awful things they told me, undulating, slithering lies poisoning my heart?
When you threw me over your shoulder, all I could think was that you merely wanted me because I was a prize. I thought that you wanted to harm me, to bring me to the depths of Tartarus and torture me at your own leisure, mocking me for ever believing that you actually loved me… and for reciprocating those feelings, empty as they may be. But when you brought me to a lavish room, comfortable and fit for a queen, I only resented you more. I grew more suspicious as the days passed, never doubting for one second that you were nothing more than a scoundrel and a thief.
For some unfathomable reason, you let me believe that. You were as cold as I expected you to be, disenchanting and charming at the same time, but always so aloof and distant. Though you had never spoken a harsh word to me, you also toyed with me in your own special way. You were an enigma, a puzzle that I felt determined to solve. It was your apathy towards me that finally sparked my curiosity.
"Persephone, what are you doing hiding in that corner?" Your voice was regal and cold, business and music mixed into one. "May I assist you in any way?"
And sardonic, I often mused. As if life was a never ending sarcastic joke to you. I told myself that it aggravated me, but if I'm going to be honest, I'd have to say that I admired that about you.
"I was curious to see how you dealt with the dead…" I hesitated, stepping forwards into the greenish light. "Mother always said you were a harsh judge."
You scoffed, the first hint of a smile I had ever seen on your face since my descent into underworld gracing the corners of your lips. "Your mother never thought highly of me. You shouldn't believe everything Demeter tells you."
That smile, it opened something up inside of me. Something welled up inside me, bursting through my carefully built walls. Memories and feelings and touches and falling.
It was as if I was reliving everything; every single moment I had spent with you, spent crushing down into the very deepest corners of my memory, washing over me in waves. And it felt like I was falling through something both familiar and strange, wonderful and absolutely terrifying. There were your eyes and the feeling of your hands on my hips and the warmth of your breath, tickling my neck as you whisper my name.
"Hades, why did you bring me down here?" I managed to choke out, pushing aside painful recollections for another time. Another place.
A pause. "I think you know why."
"No, I don't –," I began.
"Stop." Your voice faltered unexpectedly, silencing me in a way that nothing could. "Stop lying to yourself and just look at me."
I did as you said, shifting my eyes from wall to wall, to every crevice in the ceiling, to every spider in the corners, before I was able to fully look you in the eye. Your expression was unreadable, a tidal wave of emotions that spoke more than words ever could. I felt myself falling, falling into darkness, into your eyes, into your arms, into blessed sleep.
Groggy and confused, I woke to the sight of you pacing the room, with a frenzied look in your eyes. Despite myself, I had to take a moment to admire your physical beauty for a minute, before I could let reality seep in and take hold. My memories may have been altered, but one part I could remember all too well is the way your aesthetic qualities completely mesmerized me.
"You're awake." You drawled, the same collected calm I had grown so accustomed to settling on your features.
"How very observant of you." I muttered under my breath. "What are you holding in your hand?"
You looked down, a quizzical smile gracing your face for the briefest of moments. "A pomegranate. Would you care for some?"
"No thank you. I know what happens when you eat the fruit of the Underworld."
The bed creaked underneath your weight as you settled down beside me, close enough to touch. I could feel the warmth radiating from your body and I thirsted for it. I wanted to feel you wrap your arms around me, just as you used to do when our love was simple and we were unafraid. A part of me needed that, desired it with every cell in my body, but I denied it that pleasure, recollecting the horrid myths my mother told me about you.
"I want to offer you a choice." You spoke so quietly, I almost couldn't hear you.
But I did, and despite myself, my curiosity was piqued for the second time that night.
"A choice between what?"
"Between everlasting life with me as your husband or…" You paused, your brow furrowing endearingly. "Or the chance at freedom."
"Freedom." I echoed quietly.
It was instantaneous, a sudden urge to feel you against me taking over my mind, my body, my spirit. Inhibitions melted away as I shifted even closer to you. You tensed beside me, eyes following my every movement warily. I twisted my torso to face you, looking into your eyes without fear.
"Kiss me." I demanded, my voice nothing but a hoarse whisper. "Please."
Into caverns of velvety blackness to skies painted pink with light, like soaring into paradise only to drop unexpectedly into the dark and deliciously wicked bottom of my soul. Euphoria. Ecstasy. Bliss. Uninhibited pleasure and pain mixed into one as I recounted all the time you told me you loved me, held me in your arms, kissed my tears away.
"Six seeds." I said in between kisses. "Six months with you, six months with my mother."
Instantly, as if my touch singed you, you pulled me away from you, holding me at arm's length. There was something hard in your eyes, a mixture of fiery determination and startled hurt.
"Never again. I'm not letting you go ever again." Harshly tugging me back in, you dug your fingers into my waist, as if making your point. "Be my queen."
"I am your queen." I replied breathily, tangling my hands in your hair. "But I am their daughter. The mortals need me, whether you want to admit it or not."
"Oh, but I don't want to admit it, my queen, my love, my heart. How it pains me to think of you leaving my side."
Rolling my eyes, I disentangled our limbs and shuffled away to the other end of the bed. "Don't be a child, Hades. I want you just as much as you want me."
I moved a little closer, inching towards you second by second. When I was close enough to kiss you, I swooped my head down so my lips rested against your ear.
"I love you."
Three words, eight letter. One simple phrase, a lie, a declaration – overused and commercialized. But there is still a profound beauty in it, both simple and complex, that refuses to be ignored. In that moment, when our hearts were at war with our better nature, when pride battled against our emotions, I felt myself falling all over again.
Falling for you and your unwavering strength, the darkness in your soul and the light too, for the many times you comforted me and kissed my tears away. To love you is to live and I will love you until the end of time.