(TYIP) D A P H N E

He’s always slightly taken aback by the sun when he splits earth open. It’s all too bright, too alive, grasses and greens and small flying creatures. But he ventures unperturbed, his resolve clenched between his teeth along with his sanity, barely hanging on despite the chirps of ugly little feathered things.

He finds her loitering between her maids, dressed in the colors of blossoms and the trinkets she brings back to their realm when she returns. When she feels his approach she turns to him, a gasp preceding his name as it leaps from her throat. She hurries, smiling, and he finds happiness in her eyes, glimmering beneath sunlight before she throws her arms around his neck. It takes all he has not to give Demeter a demeaning look, and instead he only whispers a greeting into Persephone’s ear.

“I’m here for my wife,” he tells Demeter. Then, dryly to taunt her, “Mother.”

“Perish the thought,” she replies.

‘Perish yourself,’ he scoffs under his breath.

Persephone has flowers in her hair; daphnes. She told him about them when he last ascended to take her back, a story about the girl who was yearned for, so desperately desired that she had to be saved from it, turned into a flower with curved petals. He considers his position as his wife slowly tears away from his arms, the loss he feels again though she’s coming back to him after; that frailty, that fickleness, far more suited for mortal than for the King of the Dead.

“Do you really have to go,” Demeter pleads, and before he could say anything, his wife finds his eyes with hers and glares.

“Oh, Mother,” Persephone chimes, releasing herself from him after a pout. She goes and, dragging her hands down her mother’s forearms, “You know I’ve no other choice.”

Demeter’s sorrow brings down the flowers around them, and his wife winces as the ones in her hair turn crisp and brown and black. He could tell they were the ones she liked the most, and that she wanted them alive to take home.

“Now,” she continues, tender (she may be feigning, or not; he’s never sure, never understood why anyone would coddle Demeter willingly.) “You know I shall be back before too long.”

And she is going to, when the time comes; his entire affair with her is a practice of reaching out then letting go, a burden of restraint that he’s taken upon himself. It’s never mattered to him what Demeter thinks, how she twists her curses around her tongue and spits them out at him— it doesn’t bother him the slightest that Persephone’s attachment to the world below is sewn to his name, the lord and his realm.

But wasn’t it she that called? The memory wanders sometimes inside him; her soft hands as she knelt to earth and ripped the grasses and flowers by the root, then whispered to the blot of carnage she left, “Hades, King of the Underworld, would you ascend and claim me yours?”

He’s never been one to be called often, his name too damning to leave cowardly mouths. But she’s a tender thing, too delicate for the demand she breathed— so when he tore earth open he waited for a fright, but he was only met with awe— her eyes round and surprised, and her lips parted.

“Well,” he said to her then. “Come.”

She stood and shook the dirt from her robes, breathless with soft laughter. “This was… unexpected,” Persephone said.

“It’s not often that I hear my name whispered from your world,” he told her. “Let alone so blatantly called.”

“And you heeded in a beat,” Persephone teased. He was walking her down the dark steps, the path extending because he willed it to. “Are you lonesome, Lord of the Dead?”

He felt her eyes on his back as they descended, and tried not to let her gaze irritate him. “I like to think that I am accommodating,” he professed, and the sound of her amusement caught him off guard; she’d noticed the quip enveloped in his words, and laughed for him without fear.

So she barged uninvited into his realm and his being, and she seeped into him, washed over him, became his, and she was so unlike him, all soft curves and waxen features, so sweet it sickened him; the flutter of her skirts when she sat on the wretched ledges of the underworld, the trail of flowers she left in her wake.

“I’m tired of it,” she told him once, after she’d learned how to disappear from Demeter, slandering him with the sin of stealing her away. “Being in my mother’s shadow, always.” Then, when he said nothing back, she raised her head from where she’d tucked it on his shoulder, and reached for his jaw to turn his face towards her. “I want more, power and freedom, and to rule. I want to be Queen.”

“Is that why you called on me?” Hades asked.

“It was,” she replied in honest, drawing her face closer, closer, until she nudged it against his, her eyelashes quivering across his skin. “Do you feel betrayed?”

“You assume too much of what I feel,” he said, bluntly.

“Will it be too bold to assume that you want me, too?”

“It shouldn’t be,” he told her. “You’ve done,” his voice dropped as he tipped her chin towards him, his touch dark and ardent and barely restrained. She held his gaze until, “Far more insolent things to me,” he continued.

“Did I, now?” She was trying to feign her ease still, but he felt her flutter beneath his touch. “Tell me what I’ve done.”

He didn’t know; there’d never been anything taking more of him than governing his realm. He was a thing of abyss — he was born into it then consumed by it, then it was made his. Her arrival was intrusive, meddlesome, not how her laughter swept him when he forbade her from bringing flowers into the Underworld, and not how Cerberus took a liking of her in seconds, it was something more, an unnamed greed inside him, the desire to consume endlessly, to devour.

“You said my name as it is,” he replied, instead. “With no title or moniker in sight.”

“I thought that liberty was mine to take.”

“It is,” he told her. “And so is this Kingdom, in darkness and death and its long, tired suffering.” Withdrawing from her, he cupped his hand and a pomegranate fell into it. He dug his fingers in and broke it in half, the crushed seeds bleeding down his arms, staining his robes; beckoning.

“Is this your marriage proposal, my King?”

Seven perfect seeds were placed into the heart of her palm. “You know the meaning of this,” he told her, his words sharp and clear-cut.

Her resolve lined the innocence of her irises, and had he allowed himself to, his gaze would’ve turned tender at the sight; but he didn’t, he waited for her to eat all seven of the seeds that will draw her to him for eternity, watched as she crushed them beyond her little lips, and when she swallowed the last of them, “There,” she said. “Does this make us married now?”

Before he could hold back he smiled; an unfamiliar feeling lodging itself behind his ribs, and she took his expression as a yes, and never held back since, not her affirmations of love nor her laughter, and “my stern-faced lover,” she would call him, “would you smile a little for me?”

(Oftentimes he wouldn’t, but she would never let it go, she had her ways and her methods; and before too long he’d yield, her mirth a ghost left on his lips, and she’s so lovely and insufferable, leaving him muttering, “cunning thing,” when he realizes that he’s thoroughly lost this battle.)

Their union hadn’t been received well by anyone, and Demeter’s rage was an unexpected hinderance that killed off the mortals by taking away their crops. And while they’d decided to continue deceiving, (‘How do you like the idea of resuming the act? The naive little girl stolen away by the ruthless King of the Underworld?’ she’d asked), Zeus intervened, asked for Persephone to be given back.

He’d no intention of obeying; he wasn’t beneath his brother, and he wasn’t beneath Demeter, and the realm of the Dead was vast enough for however many mortals she would end up killing in her fits. “Give her back to her mother,” Zeus had told him, and Hades’s silence bore destruction and apocalypse, expanding and knowing no bounds, a vicious hunger to bring the entire world to its feet.

It struck him that there it was, his flaw, clear and glaring, his possessiveness to the extent of gluttony. He wanted no hand in anything that was his, nothing to touch the underworld he governed and its inhabitants, and he had never wanted anything over that, not before she came along. But a shift of shadows in him brought the thought of what she was, and he couldn’t tell if it was the voice of reason or some other thing, but he saw her flesh, so tender his touch could turn her to mist.

So instead he surrendered her to her will.


“Mother had to kill all of my flowers,” she whines, flicking the dead petals from her hair as she skips down the stairs before him. “I hope you’re not rejoicing that I won’t be able to weave them into that hair of yours.”

“I am doing just that.”

She laughs, producing a living flower from the folds of her peplos. “You forget that I am the daughter of life and the harvest.” And the flowers propagate in her hands where she’s cupped them, so much that they spill onto the steps beneath. “Do you know what they spell? These petals?”

“Eternity.”

“You remember!” Persephone chimes, peals of laughter sinking into the walls of darkness around them.

He’s never forgotten; not the stories she told him about trees and earth and deepening roots, how she’s life’s daughter. He’s never forgotten anything with her— how she’s never been the pure girl all thought she was, and yet she was sacred, his insufferable love leaving him in a trance and ruined, their lives a secret hidden in the soft lines on the corners of her eyes when she smiles.

She gives him a knowing grin, then calls his name.

Hades, let’s go home.

Flower prompt: Daphnes— immortality

E U R Y D I C E

Owing to the Sun’s mournful song, hearts flourish in Grief and Death, and in the other dwellers of the Underworld.

Harpies and centaurs cease their horrors. Hecate eases her burden and the Erinyes their punishments. Even Cerberus tore away with no command, and had all six of his ears lifted, alert. Old wandering souls stilled, solemn after centuries of wailing. They had been searching for meaning or purpose, a reminder of life; maybe in this mortal, they see it.

Orpheus’s is grief that touches even them— these wicked, hideous things, these feared strays. They have no empathy to speak of, no awareness nor heart, but hers had longing roots; it was one beating still. While the guest  fills their realm with the strings of his lyre, that heart breaks at music like dimmed sunlight.

She looks to her companion, finds his features tense and stern. He governs so, and it is the way things are. His subjects are empty, nothing but bones, bare and made of smoke, their ribs covering hollowness as devoid as the Underworld itself. Some were humans once, and upon their arrival they would retain their form— phantom flesh and skin, but not for long.

His ways were born from from loss and necessity. Early, he realized that only reign over this abode is one with no remorse. He has never been passive, but has honored a decision and a responsibility when he was given the Underworld, and an agreement when she gave herself to him. That responsibility he made entirely his, ruled with virtue and the weight of circumstance, and under his laws all was equal. True to his old self, he remains sober and restrained— the most disciplined of his brothers. But she knows that in part, his dispassion is an act; she knows that, under that exterior of steel and ice, he is no stranger to tender perceptions.

So, “Will you not give him a chance?” Persephone asks.

“It is unheard of,” Hades simply retorts. It is a cold, dry aggravation, not like the vicious wrath that often follows those who try to leave the Underworld. “Soon he shall fall hungry and eat from this realm,” he continues, looking at Orpheus in the distance. “Then they will become reunited for eternity.”

“She still bears the marks of the viper,” she says at length. “What a painful death that must have been.”

“And what mercy is there in sending her to live and die again?”

“She deserves a gentler death, a swift passing in old age,” Persephone presses, her palms facing upwards, gesturing at the delicate, grieving melody. “Listen! How loved she is!”

“Compassion is unbefitting to the Underworld,” he tells her, and harshly tucks what else he wants to say between his teeth. His brows are drawn together, casting a flinty shadow on his eyes. He is not angry, she realizes with delight; he is doubting. Hades is dreading that soon, he will yield.

Stifling her amusement, “is it now?” she playfully says. “Strange. I hear its Patron would ascend to earth to seek his consort if her return was delayed by so much as a single day.”

After earning an exasperated sigh, Persephone holds her hand to his chest, finding the steady thump underneath. She wonders if the Ichor running through them both will endure all the coming eternities; she considers death and its decisiveness, the finality.

“They call us immortals,” she tells him. “Do you believe we are so?”

“No,” he says, simply, his black eyes tight on Orpheus. “The desire to be brought my Father’s doom upon him.”

He was the oldest of his siblings, but is the youngest now— the last to leave the bleak shadows of their Father. Persephone muses, runs her hands through the streaks of silver in his hair. Like mortals, he is ageing, his features etched deeper with lore and conflict.

“Can you bear the thought of parting?”

His eyes then find her, and he rises from his seat. “From Demeter? I’d be elated,” he says dryly.

She laughs in surprise. “Well, I like it, the notion of the end. It would bring closure to you and me when we grow tired of ruling.” In the lines of his face she notices an old, wistful sadness. There was no trace of it when earth first split in half and she saw nothing but darkness and his figure, beckoning silently. None of that sadness adorned his face until she began disarming him, undoing that tenacious exterior and finding the truth beneath. It came with his affections, with the solemn acceptance of an inevitable conclusion. Smiling, she continues. “I hope that should Death come, it comes for us both.”

“Yes,” he says, easing.

“You will have to pass first,” she teases. “You are accustomed to waiting..” Her words are split apart by giggles when Cerberus arrives and circles her legs as she pet his heads. “Besides, I do not want you to wind up like poor Orpheus.”

He gives in to a gruff chuckle. “Are you planning my demise to become the solitary ruler of the Underworld?” He says, his voice lighter and lined with mirth, and his gaze gentler. She knows that that is his truth, finds it with an old familiarity when he claims her with the names of red gemstones.

“I could be,” she retorts, considering the unspoken proposal all that time ago. Seven pomegranate seeds that she, with thorough awareness of what they meant, ate with no hesitation. “You should let him take his wife and go,” continues Persephone afterwards, turning her back to him and letting the hound lead her back to the music. “We all know you couldn’t afford another competitor for Cerberus’s affections.”

 

 

 

 

 

P E R S E P H O N E

When he retreated to her chambers, to the regality of her silks in rubies and emeralds, “Come,” she would say. He’d heed to her defiance in his realm, the reminders of her mother, and of her other life. Like himself, he would offer no words, just the comfort of his presence and the weight of his reign, lighter now that he’d allowed her some of it.

He didn’t need her to contain him, only desired her to, and when he lifted his gaze to hold her own, she was met with the realization that she’d grown possessive of it. There was death and suffering in his world, fear and grief and hunger, but she made it hers, that and the thread of affection lining his eyes when he saw her, the light barely softening the stern world-weariness in them. It was hers, and she’d so fiercely claim it.

“I depart tomorrow,” she said, and the words hung heavy between them. “With the first bloom, and the last of the winter winds.”

“Maybe I shall go blind in rage, too,” he said, “like Demeter.”

She laughed. “How will that change your Underworld, then? No winter will daunt your dwellers.”

“It will become a joyous place, until you are back. Feasts and drink for the souls,” he told her dryly. But when the Underworld brimmed with her laughter, she noticed a smile tugging at the severe corners of his lips.

“That will surely upset Zeus into returning you,” he continued, and right then, she wished upon Earth misery as cold and eternal as the Underworld’s.


Incomplete drabble because who can think? Not me, so here’s whats going on in the underworld today (in Australia maybe)