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Persephone and Hades

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Heaven and Hell were words to me.


 A field of sunflowers, burnt by the Sun that melts. She's alone with her dark horse and he's far away, watching. Waiting.

Lietuvos Respublika, The Kingdom of Lithuania, The Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

She was Home. Not his Home, but someone else's. Once, a long time ago when the World had knights who fought dragons and priests who condemned witches.

She dismounts and he glimpses at her legs and for the first time in his large life, he sees her flesh bared of her uniform.

The Warrior Queen. She wore an armour once.  The Defender.  And before then, she dressed her rags with a silver platter and guarded her brothers with a sword too big for her. The Protector.

She whispers to her horse, leaning her face against his. And leaves.

The Baltic Crusades, The Pagans, The Christians.

She never cried, never trembled. One night he had seen her leaving flowers and blackberries in the broken, crumbled, ashen houses.

She walks, taking her time, boiling under the sunlight, bathing in gold and red and orange. Her fingers brush the pollen. Her feet are caked with the dark, brown soil.

When she steps into the forest, he steps out of the shadows and feels the sunrays and the pollen and the land. He feels warmth, hotness.

He wonders if her skin burns too.

She wanders into a lake, the waters a dull green, a green too cold to match her eyes. She leaves to the other side, her skirt drenched with the icy dirtiness and freckles of brown. She smells like Earth and wood and spoilt waters.

She stands and then she's sitting in a fallen tree-trunk amongst the many fallen tree-trunks. Amber and scarlet leaves are scattered all around her as if she has walked from Summer to Autumn.

Blackness and shadows, a green mist and yellow-eyed wolves. She's silent, still. Serene. They approach her, nestling their heads in her neck and under her arms. One departs, one remains.

She frees her hair from their braid and the sight of her long curls is new to him. She turns to him, her eyes the same green as always, green like moss, green like a Summer's leaf, green like emeralds. "Welcome, Bielaruś."

She was always calm and steady and solid, as calm and as steady and as solid as the hand on the hilt of her sword that wasn't too big for her anymore.

The Moon is high on the sky, Full and silver and glinting with harsh blotches of darkness. He sees blood in its abyss and he tells her.

She laughs as a response and his eyes go wide. She never laughed, never once in her lifetime. He smiles, he hears its depth, its darkness, its abyss. He hears her heart and the blood it pumps and the blood that stains the Moon.

"Do you like wolves, Bielaruś?"

"They're good hunters. They take good care of their families."

She smiles and pomegranate juice drips from her lips, "Yes, they do. I love them very much."

"I love them so much, I dream of being one."

"Would you help me with that —Nikolai?"

He hates her, he hates Lithuania, he hates she called him by the name only Brother Ukraine can call him by. He grasps her hands, he grasps her throat, he drives her lithe, weightless body to his chest.

"You don't hate me, Nikolai. If you did, you'd have killed me a long time ago."

"Yes," he replies "Yes, I will help you."

She is naked and dancing and high on the Moon's glory and the lake's spoilt, dull-green waters. She takes his hands and lets him twirl her around in circles, like the ones made of stones in the cold ground.

Her skin burns like the Sun, like the Summer, like the early Autumn, like the late Spring.

He is Winter, her Winter and hers completely. His fingers leave frost on hers, the blood of his veins falls like melted ice droplets on the blood of her veins.

He is naked like she is and he is dancing and he is high on her lukewarm scent and the forest's soulless darkness. He embraces her and lies her on the stones and he marvels all the scars she has on her body.

Kievan Rus', The Mongols, Mother Russia, The Soviet Union.

He always belonged to someone. He once was hers, too.

"Look at me, Nikolai." And he does, tears mingling with hers and he enthuses at her clear green eyes turning into yellow.

"I know you well, Nikolai. And I'm sorry."

"You were there —Regina. You never froze as I did."

She smiles again and he sees bloodied fangs, "No, you didn't. The Winter is yours, it always has been."

"Are you Winter, too?"

She kisses him and her bloodied fangs cut his tongue.

She never answers.

They run away, one Season after another.