Summary: A retelling of the Greek myths of Hades and Persephone.
Notes: Reference to Greek myth type violence, but no rape.
The Pawn of the Gods
The Abduction of Sansa
Sansa was the beautiful daughter of Catelyn, the Goddess of Harvest. She was a most innocent girl, who spent her days roaming the fruitful lands of Earth. Wherever she stepped, flowers would bloom and all the animals of the field and forest would follow so as to gaze upon her beauty. Like all blissful existences, hers soon came to an end, for life is not a song.
Jaime, the Lord of the Underworld, longed for what he did not possess in his gloomy realm. While his deeds had helped the God of Sky come to sit his throne as King of the Gods, Jaime felt forgotten and unappreciated by the gods. It was no better amongst the people. Although he was formidable in battle, the people of Earth were reluctant to swear oaths in his name, lest failure to fulfill the incurred debt would be repaid in death. They would not speak his name, as if the sound of it was cursed, and they turned their faces when making sacrifices to him.
All of that he could have stood if he could have lived with his sister by his side, but he could not have his sister for his consort. His love must be a secret, for Cersei belonged to the King of the Gods. Her husband was not faithful, giving her cause to leave, but it seemed to Jaime that Cersei would jealously keep her throne on high, because she refused the dark crown her brother offered her instead.
Filled with impotent longing, Jaime turned his face up to the Earth, and who should he spy, but the beautiful, red haired Sansa, bending to pick the flowers that burst forth for her alone over a verdant carpet of grass. He decided he must have her to spite the King of the Gods and his sister. Jaime hitched up his chariot in the dark recesses of the Underworld to his black flanked horses, Honor at the lead, and rode up towards the daylight.
When Sansa heard a rumbling sound below her feet, she began to run in search of her mother, but before she could reach her, a hole appeared in the ground. Out rode Jaime, his blond hair blazing as the sun's rays touched him, illuminating him so that for one moment she thought him the God of Light and not the God of Death. She stopped her running, watching with eyes wide as he road towards her. She screamed out, immediately regretting having fallen for the deception that beauty is goodness, as the god grabbed her, clutched her to his golden armored chest, and rode back into the ground before anyone could see him.
Or so he thought.
"Why me, why me?" she pleaded, as he led her through her new kingdom.
"For love," he said.
She would not understand, but love could make a god do terrible things.
He obtained his little queen through trickery. Such things were not uncommon amongst the gods—more regular than not—and yet, while he may have acquired her through violence, he did not think that he was an unfit consort for Sansa, the sweet spring child. He was strong and not unhandsome despite his years. He laid a vast realm at her feet and untold riches too. There were worse fates she might have met. If she had known his father, if she had been wedded to his cheerless face, she would have known real regret.
She did not quite agree. When he asked her whether she was not happy to be queen, she whispered back, "In life, the monsters win." Like so much nonsense spouted by the Pythia at the Oracle of Delphi.
He chose her to amuse him. Thus far she did not amuse.
She should not be an unfit choice, though she would not have been his first, being too soft and gentle for a proper queen of the dead. Yet, the little beauty deserved to sit a throne and not be tucked away unseen, as her mother wished it. Sansa did not have Cersei's golden, green eyed beauty, but she was too lovely not to be singled out by a god of import. Her hair was like a river of red, skin as pale as cream, and eyes as blue as her father's sky. It was a queenly beauty only just blooming. Having taken her from the fields and pulled her into his black chariot, he raised her up as queen of one of the three realms. In spite of all that loveliness, above she would never be so lucky to ascend to such heights: Cersei would never relinquish her throne in the heavens to a younger, upstart girl and Poseidon's consort already held firm sway over the waters.
Jaime made the girl his. He placed the black, pointed circlet in her curly tresses. He gave her a cold throne and the Underworld to rule. Still she would not smile or speak except for the barest courtesies. Nor would she taste of the delights he offered at his table, her eyes always downcast and her lip ready to tremble. He wished once more that it was bold green eyes that stared back at him, when he sat down to dine.
"Will you not eat, my love?"
She was not his love. Nor did he imagine she ever would be, even if she dropped her mind-numbing mourning and embraced her role as queen and consort, for his heart was claimed, and yet, it seemed the thing to say.
"No, my lord. I have no appetite."
He clenched his first—the left, for the right was as dead and stiff as the bodies of the souls he reigned over—and gritted his teeth. He was the God of Death, and yet, he did not wish to be in the habit of killing wives. There was only so long the girl could refuse nourishment before she became a resident here through more natural means, but it was tedious to cajole and beg.
He reached for his goblet, draining the last of the red wine, so that he could manage a smile.
"You must eat. What shall I have brought for you?"
"Thank you, my lord, but I desire nothing."
"Nothing? There is nothing I can tempt you with?"
Home was above to Sansa, though he gave her a dominion of her own. Above, where they did not whisper his name—Jaime—for fear that he might heed their call. But below he wished for his wife to think more kindly of him if not be quite worshipful. He had worshipped his sister from the time they were conceived, and for once he desired such attentions from another, so he did what he could to make it so. He was not violent with her. He was not forceful. He waited.
He needed Sansa to come to him. It was not enough for him to go to her, where she wept in the sanctity of her chambers for the loss of her mother. Such attentions might have one her gentle heart over, but he would not give them. He would not come to her bearing comfort. She must come to him.
Meanwhile, Catelyn, the Goddess of Harvest searched for her daughter on Mt. Olympus. Not finding her, she sought out each of the gods in turn, asking if they had seen the lovely Sansa. None of them had. The goddess would not be deterred and wandered the Earth in search of the missing maid. She searched for nine days and waxing wroth, she destroyed crops, livestock, and anything that came in the way of finding her only daughter.
On the tenth day she came upon the Goddess Brienne, who was able to say that Sansa had been taken, but the goddess could not or would not tell Catelyn who had taken the red haired girl or where she had been taken. Buoyed by a sliver of hope for the survival of her daughter, the goddess consulted the all-seeing Sun, who told her that he had seen Jaime, the Lord of the Underworld abduct the girl.
Knowing she could not openly rescue her daughter from the dark realm from where no one ever returned, the goddess was filled with a burning rage. The world would pay. The gods would see their creations suffer. She brought a living death to the Earth by neglecting her duties. She vowed she would do so until her daughter was returned to her by whatever means. All of the plants soon began to wither and die and the goddess covered the world in snow. Winter for the first time had come. When she had destroyed all the bounty that she and her daughter had once bestowed upon the people, she shouted to the heavens, "All the world will be as barren as my heart."
Hearing her raw, ragged cries from on high, all of the gods and goddesses on Mt. Olympus pleaded with Catelyn to make the earth fertile once again for the sake of the world's people, but she refused. She would bring death to all unless her daughter came back to her, for a goddess remembers.
The King of the Gods, fearing everything would be lost to the goddess' all consuming pain, deigned to visit the dark realm, where Jaime ruled, and ordered Jaime to return Sansa to her mother.
"The girl was not yours to take."
"Why is that?"
"She was an innocent maid."
"That's very good, because I only take maidens for wives."
The King of the Gods puffed up his chest in a display of godly prowess at the Lord of the Underworld's impudence, but Jaime was unimpressed. He leaned against the cold walls of his kingdom, examining the nails on his left hand.
"You did not seek permission."
At that the Lord of the Underworld laughed. "Permission? Do you suppose I should have asked you for permission?"
His voice turned as cool as the air around them. "By what right does one god judge another?"
"It is a mother's right. The girl must be sent back to her mother."
"No. I don't much care for that idea."
Though initially he had found her tiresome and even troublesome, in the short time Sansa had dwelt with him, he had become fascinated by his inability to predict what it was she might say or do. With Cersei there was no mystery and that had always been a comfort. He knew her like he knew himself like two sides of the same coin. But with Sansa he could never be sure. Little flashes of temper and moments of genuine gentleness seemed to arise and alternate without rhyme or reason. Either she was mad or he was for finding the uncertainty intriguing. He was captivated by her un-god-like shyness and modesty without coyness. Her gentleness no longer irked, when it became clear that iron ore underlay the softness of her spirit. She possessed a character not unlike that of his mother, from what he could recall.
When the King of the Gods appeared to him, Jaime did not love the girl, but he found himself wanting her more for himself and less for revenge. Until his king spoke yet again.
"I demand it. Your bitch of a sister does as well."
"She does not favor the match. She will not let me sleep with her ranting."
"I see then. The queen troubles herself about my little affairs here below. Why did you not say so at once?"
Revenge did have its sweetness.
Jaime decided he would return Sansa. Not to honor the King of the God's demands, but because the notion of keeping faith with the girl's mother when they all expected betrayal from the Lord of the Underworld amused him more than he could say. Although, being as selfish as any Olympian god, he would not return her without some promise of also keeping her. They wouldn't expect it of him. Violence they imagined him capable of, but not cunning. He would prove himself his father's son.
Jaime sat opposite the young beauty, as was their nightly habit, with a spread of temptations before them on the table. As usual, she did not partake. If she ate, she was his. Perhaps the girl was not as stupid as her empty chirps made her seem if she suspected that the crown and the throne were not enough to make her his for all eternity. And while he was disappointed in her every time she reminded him of who she was not, he hoped that if…when she became truly his, he might come to forget the sacred sanctuary of his sister's thighs and be at peace.
"Something to eat?"
"No, my lord. Thank you."
He had warmed to her, but not she to him. He frowned, his brows drawing together in godly displeasure.
"You are such an infant, have you not learnt any words other than no and thank you?"
Yes and please panted from her soft lips would be a better use of breath.
"Yes, I have and you know them well. Take me home."
She was not cowed, she stared back at him boldly enough.
"Would you like to see your mother, sweet wife?"
Her blue eyes, lovely enough, but still not green, flashed. A brave little thing, she was not usually so careless as to betray her feelings. The misstep was brief. Composing herself, she quickly hid her hopefulness under a veil of pale red lashes.
"I have agreed for it to be so. I have vowed that you shall be returned to your mother. Are you not thankful?"
He could see her hands, clutched tightly together in her lap, shake.
"Yes, my lord."
"Surely your concerns over your figure don't matter now," he teased, sliding a dish of blood red pomegranate seeds towards her with a leonine grin.
The pomegranate was his sister's fruit—the symbol the people above depicted her holding, a symbol of fertile blood and bloody death. It grew in the orchards of his realm in great abundance, and it was the fruit he would most like to see his little bride feast open. She did. Happy that she was soon going to see her mother again, Sansa, who was ravenously hungry by this time, ate six pomegranate seeds from the dish that Jaime offered her. He watched her press each seed passed her rosy lips, her tongue darting out, and he pictured his sister's face screwed up in fury at his unexpected cleverness.
When the King of the Gods and Catelyn came to get the girl, Jaime led her forward towards the light, his dead hand pressed into the small of her back. She didn't flinch from his touch, as was her wont, for she felt certain now that she was going home.
"She is yours to take," he said, taking Sansa's delicate hand in his. "But I must have her back. She has eaten of the food of the dead. She cannot dwell above forever."
The goddess lunged, nails extended to scratch his face and rend his flesh, and the girl went weak in the knees at his words. He moved quickly to catch his little wife, preventing her fall, but as she lay senseless in his arms and he looked down at her innocent, pale face, he regretted his selfishness for the first time since his creation. Too late.
The King of the Gods restrained the goddess' passion by means of his Olympian strength, holding her back from attempting any more harm upon Jaime.
"Do something," she frothed, clutching her own throat, as if miming what she would like to do to the Lord of the Underworld.
"Give it true, Jaime. Did she eat?"
"Yes. She tasted of the pomegranate."
The goddess screamed, splitting the air about them with her cries until the King of the Gods shook her together and demanded that she listen.
"It is a nasty business, but if the girl has eaten, there is nothing I can do. She must stay six months in the Underworld. The other six she will live with you."
"Take her," Jaime said, handing over the limp girl to the grasping hands of her mother.
He almost dreaded the thought of having Sansa back if it was to be like this. All he ever wanted was his sister. Not a blue eyed girl with a shewolf for a mother. But love makes the gods do terrible, terrible things.
The Completion of Sansa's Trickery
In the six months Sansa had spent above with her mother amongst the fields bursting with life, she found herself wanting what she had not expected to want. Sansa wanted to be a queen. Jaime had made her a pawn, when he snatched her from her flower picking, but she vowed that when she returned to him, it would be as a true queen, not a piece in the gods' games. To complete her task, she sought out Petyr, the God of Mischief and Liars and Thieves. Knowing how fond he was of her mother, she suspected he would teach her the tricks she needed to fool her fearsome husband into being her pawn and steal his heart. Petyr did. As the moon waxed and waned, she became skilled in deception and thievery. Until she was forced to trick him as well, for he too wanted to lay claim on her, make her a substitute for her mother, punish her mother, whom he lusted after. But Sansa would not be any man's tool.
When the day came for her to return to her husband's realm below, she created a mask of still beauty that did not reveal her thoughts, placed it over her face, and went to the Lord of the Underworld wearing the shy look of the same untutored maid he had once stolen from amongst the flowers.
Jaime did not greet her with his usual self satisfied smirk. He did not come to greet her at all at the river that marked the edge of his kingdom. He made her come to him, and when she approached, he sat on his throne unmoved with one leg outstretched and a brow cocked. He looked displeased and she could feel anger simmering beneath his golden façade.
"My lord," she said, climbing the steps of the dais and kneeling at his feet, her pale hands spread over a plain, grey tunic edged in white that felt right for this gloomy place, more so than the red in which he clothed himself.
He sat forward, his elbows perched on the arms of the throne, and he narrowed his eyes at her. "Are you going to swoon?"
"No," she assured him softly, looking up through her lashes at him and then shyly back down at his feet.
Placing her hand lightly on his knee, she asked, "Will you not kiss me and welcome your wife home?"
He tipped her head up and stared into her purposefully vacant blue eyes, but he must not have seen what he wanted to see in them, for he thrust her chin away. Petyr had warned her: the Lord wanted his sister and he took you out of spite. It may have been Sansa's novelty that drew him in before she left but she would need more than a little of Cersei's regal bearing and sharp edge to claim him for her own, so that she might reign over both his realm and him.
She made herself indispensible. She assisted him in curses. She walked the boundaries of the Underworld with Cerberus at her side. She tended the fruit that grew in the fields. She insinuated herself into his life without complaint, though he gave her little in return. Finally, she came to him dressed in red instead of her usual grey or white, her red hair bound back in strips of gold. He sat on his throne, staring out over his haunted kingdom, and she banished the servants that hovered nearby to wait incorporeally upon their lord with an impatient wave of her hand.
"What are you playing at?" he asked, when she stood before him and began to raise her tunic about her creamy thighs.
"I am your wife."
"A stolen wife."
"Yes, and I demand payment for your sins against me," she said, as she climbed into the throne with him, straddling his legs.
"The gods always demand payment. I demand payment in pleasure, my lord."
"You are a maid," he said, digging his fingers into her thighs. "Are you not?"
It was no mean trick that she came to him still a virgin: Petyr tried more than once to end her maidenhood.
"Yes, my lord."
"Then there will be little pleasure in it for you."
"Then I demand a blood oath. My maiden's blood spilt and your word freely given."
"You'd trust to my honor, sweet wife?" he asked, as her hand closed around his neck and she raised herself up over where she could see him straining beneath his blood red tunic, wanting her in spite of himself. She had his attention now. "You're still an innocent if you do."
"Take my innocence."
His hands fixed at her waist, holding her still above him, as his eyes narrowed in an unvoiced threat.
"Swear there will be no other women beside me. I will tolerate no other. Swear it."
If he had been loyal to his sister all these many years, he might do the same for her. That would make her more powerful than Cersei, the Queen of the Gods herself, who could not for all her power stop her consort's wandering gaze and disloyal body. Sansa would make a cult of her body, her husband its sole devotee. She would defeat them both with lies and kisses and the sweetness between her thighs.
He moved his tunic aside, exposing himself to her. Being a maid, she blushed but did not alter her course, as his green eyes stared back at her with cold indifference.
"You know I can't swear it."
"Then you will not have me," she said, feigning a struggle against his firm grasp that she orchestrated so that she might collapse against him, pressing her lithe body against his.
He stroked her hair, no doubt wanting it to be as golden as his own. For all her trickery, there were some aspects she could not change.
"She is everything to you, but you will never be everything to her." Her words angered him and his gentle touch turned to fury. He fisted her hair, twisting it tightly, exposing her neck.
"Careful, little wife."
"You have thought of it, haven't you? Taking your wife to bed? With your eyes closed, you won't know the difference," she whispered. "Swear it and you will have my body and my devotion. I will give you what your sister never will."
He entered her without vowing a word, lowering her body over him without warning, and she hit him in the chest with her closed fist, for he was right: there was no pleasure. Not at first. By the end, however, as he came towards his completion, he saw to her, pulling pleasure from her body with an insistent touch where they joined, and when he spilled his seed, ripples of bliss ran through her unlike she had ever felt before.
Her eyes had been closed, and when she opened them, she saw the red marks, the scratches of an angry wolf, that she had drawn on his golden shoulders, where his tunic did not hide him from her. Had his eyes been closed too?
"You waited long enough to come to me," he murmured, drawing her to his chest and pressing a kiss to her temple.
With one hand as dead as the spirits that filled their kingdom, his touch was surprisingly gentle for a God of Death. What was he playing at? Were they both to playact for six months of the year without a chorus to provide commentary? Even if she was very good at acting, it might prove wearisome. She bit her lip, worrying that nothing would ever be real again.
No, she thought. There was something true yet to seize. If she could not love him, only the power he offered her, his progeny, she could love. She could feel it in her belly, where the child would grow, the certainty that she was born to be a mother. She would teach it to be better than them both. That was greatness.
"I won't make you wait again," she promised, nudging his neck with her nose like a kitten, not a wolf.
He stroked her hair again, and she considered spitting venom to make him twist her hair again, but perhaps the time for sharp edges was past. For now.
"You're mine." He said it like a vow, she thought. "Blood has been split and you're mine."
It was. It was the vow, surely.
"And no one else's, by Jaime," she promised, feeling the ache he'd caused between her legs pulse, as she swore a blood oath and invoked the god no other dared to name.
After her six months passed below, Sansa climbed up towards the land of sunlight, so that the world might bloom again and bring forth its bounty to feed the living. There should have been some joy in returning home to her mother, where she would no long have to act a part, but she found herself pained, as if a god held her heart tight in his grip and would not relent in squeezing. She clutched her chest and looked back at what she left behind. The fields, the groves of trees that cast shade over already an already dark land, the glimmer of spirits, floating aimlessly, the pair of thrones in the distance, and Jaime standing with his arms crossed over his chest, his face unreadable in shadow behind the river that marked the boundary of their kingdom. She did not care to leave her realm or the dead shades over whom she ruled. She did not care to leave her lord husband.
I love him, she thought with regret.
Trained by the God of Lies himself, Sansa was a very good actress. So good she had fooled herself.
The Birth of Zagreus
The Queen of Death did not know her husband's seed took root in her belly until she was above with her mother, and thus, she brought back news of an impending birth, her body heavily swollen with child, when she returned to her consort's gloomy realm. With cheeks too rosy for a queen of such a kingdom, she whispered the words in his ear that he had to have guessed upon laying eyes on her, and pressed his hands to her belly. Sansa did not think him as pleased as she imagined he would be, upon hearing of the gift she would give him.
"Are you not happy, my love?"
"As happy as I might be," he equivocated in godly fashion, while tracing her new curves with his hands.
There were signs of his love of which she had come to believe in, whether by means of deceit or no. Rarely did he leave her unattended, insisting upon a constant guard, and when they were alone together, he was more reliably gentle than was generally his practice as they coupled. She promised herself that while she already knew herself a mother, her consort would know himself a father when he held their child in his arms. Theirs would be a much loved child.
She did not suspect the source of his anxiety, which caused him to have her followed by Cerberus wherever she went within the Underworld's groves of trees, until it was too late.
Her child was brought into the world of the dead alive and kicking with his father looking on, for he refused to be parted from her side, though birthing was women's work. With golden hair and sharp green eyes, the babe looked so like his father that Sansa thought her heart would rend with loving them both. Jaime named him Zagreus the Hunter, Capturer of Animals Above, and God of the Underworld and anointed his head in oil.
"He is perfect," Sansa said, resting her weary head in the lap of her husband.
"You are perfect," Jaime insisted.
All of Jaime's kisses were for his wife, who he held tight to instead of the babe, but in her fatigue the new mother did not notice the father's distance.
When she no longer gave the babe suck, Zagreus was entrusted to the care of the Titans, like the King of the Gods before him. While this should have been the greatest honor for the child of Jaime and Sansa, the outcome was of the darkest kind.
Jaime's sister was jealous of the pretty Queen of the Dead, jealous of the child that shared the features of her and her brother, while coming from Sansa's womb. She did not like that Zagreus would be Jaime's heir or that he loved his wife enough to make it so, when Cersei had thought his heart would only ever belong to her. She persuaded the Titans to kill the child in the hope that by severing the tie, her brother would return to loving her alone.
The vain little babe was gazing in a mirror, admiring himself, when he spied the Titans standing behind him with wicked intent in their eyes. He fled, changing form—first a wolf and then a lion—but he could not outrun them forever, for the Titans were ancient and strong. He was caught. They tore him to pieces and devoured him regardless of his plaintive, babish cries.
When Sansa heard of the violent death of her child, she wailed as her mother once had wailed for her, and demanded that her husband give her justice.
"It was that vile sister of yours. Bring me her heart on a platter. I will eat it, as those monsters fed upon our babe."
But he was deaf to her pleas. Instead of riding above in his black chariot, the way he once did when he snatched her from the fields, he petted her and kissed her reddened eyelids and pinned her arms to her side in the vain effort to stop her thrashing and mournful cries.
"Sansa, my love, she did not take you."
"But she killed our babe. Our sweet, golden babe."
"I could not have stood it if she had succeeded in taking you. My sweet wife is safe. I will keep you safe."
But Sansa did not care for her safety. She only cared for her child and vengeance. Too late she saw that she had been wrong: Jaime would never come to love a child, for while her love was boundless, his as intense as it was limited in the form it could take. Once he bestowed that love upon his sister, then Sansa contrived to redirect that love upon herself, but there was no room for a third.
It would do no good to have him swear another blood oath. Jaime would protect her with his dying breath, but she needed more than a golden guard. Seeking out the King of the Gods, Sansa poured her sorrow into his divine ear. Disliking the affection his queenly consort bore the Lord of the Underworld and the jealousy her act implied, he would have happily punished her, but it was not within his powers to humble the queen, so he turned his fury on the Titans and smote them with a lightning bolt, turning them to ashes.
The King of the Gods was not the only god to concern themselves with the death of Zagreus. Sansa's mother, Catelyn, though not initially pleased at the thought of the treacherous Lord of the Underworld's seed taking root in her daughter, would not countenance the destruction of her grandson. The Titans may have been naught but ash, but her powers could be directed at more than vengeance, for she was the giver of life. She trusted that she might use her powers to end the sorrow of her daughter. Gathering whatever pieces of Zagreus that she could find, which had not been eaten by the Titans, she assembled him together and brought him back to life.
Resurrected, the babe was returned to Sansa's arms and she was never parted from him again, and while she ruled six months every year in her consort's kingdom, sitting the throne, leveling curses, warming the bed of her husband, and loving him, she never forgot that the love he bore her was not enough to save her child.