In the depths of Tempest, a flash of aether announced a new arrival in the Macarenses Angle.
The Warrior of Darkness blinks, taking a moment to adjust to the sudden change of scenary. Even though she had been here plenty of times, Amaurot never failed to take her breath away. Over and over again she had journeyed here, following a soul deep ache to see the city of crystal and starlight. Each time she would walk aimlessly around, exploring a city both new and old to her, searching for memories she couldn't remember.
(Sometimes she would get impressions - a voice or a flash of color, golden eyes crinkled in mirth - but it's not enough. She's always left wanting for more.)
Today's excursion found her in an undiscovered park in the middle of one of the housing districts. It was a lovely splash of color among the otherwise grey buildings, with vibrant blooms of all colors, and trees that were not unlike the lamp she had brought to the Ondo. These seemed to have leaves of crystal, tinkling like wind chimes when she brushed past them. There were no lamps illuminating the area, but the area remained lit by glowing bulbs in all sizes. Motes of light - fireflies, she realizes - drifted lazily through the air. It created an intimate setting.
She touched one of the flowers. Unlike the ones she was used to, this was made of crystal, but instead of being brittle like she had half expected, it was warm and thrumming with aether. Experimentally, she probed it with her own aether and the petals opened further at her touch, responding to it.
A prickling sensation on the back of her neck alerted the warrior to the presence behind her. It was obvious who it was. Few knew of Amaurot's existence, and only one other person would venture to the city.
She let go of the flower, spinning around to greet him. "Hades."
The Ascian was sitting on a stone bench placed under one of the crystal trees. "There you are." His hands automatically reached out for her when she approached, his presence drawing her in like gravity to a star. Though he had a bored expression, she could see the fondness in his gaze. "What's a hero like you doing in a city of ghosts?"
Stopping in front of Hades, she took his hands in hers, twining their fingers together. "Trying to remember." Even though she had recalled their relationship, nothing else had surfaced.
His hands tighten briefly upon hers. There's reproach, she thinks, in his voice, and an odd mix of exasperation and affection. Its not the first time he's heard her words. "In my experience, lost memories don't just appear when you want them to."
It's not anything he hasn't said before. She knows he's right. Yet now that she knows the truth of who she had been, she is suddenly aware of the yawning chasm that is her memory. Eons of experiences, of a time in paradise gone. It eats away at her everyday. Just how much does she not remember? How much can she remember, with her missing nearly half her soul? "I know that." Frustration seeps into her voice. "But if I could just remember one thing, anything -" Maybe then Hades wouldn't look so troubled in moments he thinks she isn't looking. Maybe she could share his sorrow, lighten it somehow. "I just want to remember you."
Surprise flickers across his face and settles into half pained, half fond expression. Her name leaves his lips in an involuntary sigh but he is otherwise quiet, seemingly lost in thought.
Minutes pass. At first, she's content to wait for him. But when he still remains silent, she can't help but start fidgeting, wondering what he was thinking. Her movements must have snapped Hades back to reality as the man suddenly stands, dislodging their hands.
"Allow me to help." He brushes past, taking a few steps away from her, towards the plants. With a dramatic flourish, he sweeps into a low bow, extending his hand towards her. "May I have this dance, my dear?"
A little confused, she takes his hand regardless. "What are you doing?"
He pulls her close, threading their fingers together again. His other hand settles on her hip while hers gravitate naturally to his shoulder. Their eyes lock. "A dance, dear hero. Surely you've heard of it before?"
It's not what she meant and they both knew it. Still, she doesn't let go, curious and trusting. When he leads, she follows, somehow effortlessly matching his every step with her own. The sight of Hades smiling genuinely - something she is seeing more and more - fills her with joy. A mischievous glint enters his eyes and he suddenly releases his grip on her hands to pull himself back. She catches on immediately and spins away from him. For a single breathless moment, she pauses, hand extended towards her partner - and then she's back in his arms, laughing quietly when Hades catches her. "Missed me?"
The Ascian chuckles. With his arms around her, he switches the rhythm to something milder and starkly different from their previous pace. Pressed close against each other, they sway gently. Hades's expression softens, turning a little vulnerable, a little lost. A tender look enters his eyes. "More than you know, my love."
Hades rests his forehead upon hers, closing his eyes. Still swaying on their spot, he allows his aether to unfurl and wrap around them. It brushes against her own, making itself known and she lets him in, curling her own aether around his.
She blinks, and suddenly she is in another Amaurot. She can still feel Hades holding onto her but it feels different - muted, almost. Distant. And it is not Hades in her arms but someone else. Though the being in her (his) arms was masked, she (he) knows there is only one whose soul was that beautiful hue. It was her, from a time when she was complete. The sight of her own face is what makes her realize these are Hades's memories she is reliving.
(It's not like the Echo. That was cold and impartial, an outsider looking in. This was intimate, a true reliving of memory as Hades himself.
... How precious the memory must be, to remember in perfect clarity after all these years.)
In their little paradise, they hold each other, simply swaying gently to music only they could hear. A few other citizens walk by quickly, hiding their smiles at the sight of a couple so obviously in love. They are oblivious to the passers-bys, lost in their world. The stars shone down from above, but to Hades (her), she was (is) the only star in his eyes. She can feel Hades's (her) cheeks ache from mirroring the other's smile. The emotions that filled him (her) - contentment, love, happiness - there is so much of it in his (their) heart that it feels fit to burst.
(The place the memory takes place in - its an exact copy of the one their bodies are in now, she vaguely realizes.)
Yet above that, she can feel the emotions from the Hades in her time too. Dampened, as if it was hidden behind a veil. Sorrow, pain, fondness for her, happiness that he'd found her again, and love - so much love. It was a mixture of emotions so complicated it made her head spin.
The scene shifts, fading away like a fever dream. Hades began drawing his aether away. Reality slowly bled in, one Amaurot replacing the other. She closed her eyes, disoriented, and when she opened them again Hades's face had retreated, their foreheads no longer pressed together.
"There's no need to cry," Hades says softly, leaning in to kiss her tears away. She blinks rapidly. When did she..?
"I love you, Hades," she blurts out suddenly, overcome with a need to tell him. Briefly she understands why Hades is prone to waxing lyrical, her words feel too inadequate for the scope of her feelings. This time, she's the one pressing against his aether with her own, allowing him to feel the gratitude for the gift he had given. Her love for him that even with a shattered soul, burned bright and strong as when she had been complete.
His face softens, eyes shining with love. "I know." He doesn't need to say the words when she has already felt the depth of his feelings.
The sea above them blocks out any view of the stars, but the ones in each other's eyes are all they need. And so in a city of ghosts and starlight, they dance away.