Η Πρόταση του Νάρκισσου
I have stood for thousands of years
and have not faltered;
The day I met you, my legs shook.
The Meadows of Asphodel were filled with life and happiness, even though they were inhabited by the souls of the dead. The Shadows had found the peace they were seeking and after their sorrow-filled tears had ended, they managed to make a new beginning for themselves. Although they would prefer to be in the world of the living with their loved ones, they were well aware that death is the fate of every human. So, they waited patiently to be reunited with them in the halls of Hades.
They gleefully welcomed the God of the Underworld and the woman who stood by his side, accepting them with warm smiles and open arms. They instantly surrounded them, wanting to introduce themselves to the Goddess that managed to make Death smile.
Finally, after all these years of loneliness, their Lord had found a Goddess to call his companion. Such an important event required a huge feast –the Underworld had rare occasions for celebrations like this and the Shadows wouldn’t let Hades’ finding his Queen go unnoticed.
They worked quickly and tirelessly, lighting huge fires and cooking exquisite meals to honor the two deities. The souls that had learned how to play music in the world of the living began to create beautiful melodies, creating a joyful atmosphere in the fields.
A child approached Persephone offering a crown made of white Asphodelus and the Goddess of Spring lowered her head for her to place it upon her head. Looking towards Hades, she blushed when she spotted a gentle smile on his softened features.
“My Lady”, a woman approached her, “Try this one!”
She looked inside of the clay bowl, smiling when she spotted a kind of honey pies. Reaching for one of them, she thanked her and raised it to her lips. Before she could take a bite from the sugary heaven, a hand stopped her forcing her to drop it to the ground. Looking up in surprise, she came face to face with Hades’ darkened eyes.
“You cannot eat that, my sweet”, he warned her, tucking a wild lock of hair behind her ear.
“Why not?“, she asked confused.
“Should someone taste fruit born of the soil of the Underworld, they shall be forever bound to the kingdom of the dead.”
She looked at him in bewilderment, before furrowing her eyebrows in thought.
“Then, what have I been eating since I came here?”
He laughed at her words, caressing her rosy cheek.
“I had Thanatos and Hecate bringing you food from the world of the living, my love”, he let a gentle kiss on top of her forehead, “I would never willingly bound you to this wrenched kingdom of mine.”
“Why?“, she asked again.
The idea of being forever bound to Hades didn’t sound too bad in her ears.
“Because it would mean that you could never enjoy the warm sun rays on your skin and the petals of flowers on your fingertips. You would never be able to see your mother, your brothers and sisters, your friends ever again. You would be bound to live a life in the darkness of my kingdom and the company of the dead, without any chance or hope to ever return back to your home.”
He sighed deeply, before gazing into her emerald orbs, distinguishing a few tears that she wouldn’t let escape her.
“I may be a selfish man, my love, but I would never intentionally hurt you. You are a Goddess of life –your place is among the living. I will not bind you somewhere you do not belong, just to keep you by my side. I want you to have a choice and tricking you into staying will not make me more loved into your eyes.”
She gave him a watering smile before she pressed her lips on his. It wasn’t a passionate neither a fiery kiss, but a loving and compassionate one. She wanted to thank him for being so thoughtful of her and putting her needs before his.
Her mother always said to her that men were treacherous and untrusty, but the God of the Underworld had proven to her that there are exceptions to that rule. No one is the same with anyone and therefore, should be judge according to his own actions and not the sins of others.
When they drew apart, he watched as a pearly tear left her eye and caressed her cheek. Kissing it away, he took her face in both his hands.
“Now now, my sweet, I will have none of that.”
Standing up with his dark robes falling around him, he offered his hand to her.
“Come with me, my love. It is time I show your surprise to you.”
Putting her smaller palm in his, she let him pull her up and guide her away from the celebrations. They passed by dancing souls and running children until the sound of music became nothing but a distant sound in their ears. In front of them lay the Meadows of Asphodel with their green grass and white flowers, reminding to Persephone that beauty hides in simplicity.
They walked for quite some time towards a destination unknown to her, but she didn’t mind it. She trusted the God of the Underworld more than she did her own self –she knew that he would never hurt her and he had proved this to her time and time again.
She let her fingers caress the white flowers as they walked by them, having never seen them before this day. So focused and intrigued she was by them, she didn’t notice where they had arrived.
“What is this place?“, she asked Hades as soon as they entered the low wooden door.
She looked around at the empty land surrounding her, before looking up to him in curiosity.
“This is your garden, my love”, he gave her a gentle kiss on her forehead, “You can use it as you please.”
Her eyes widened and her heart was beating quickly inside of her chest.
“A garden? For me?”
The God of the Underworld hummed in answer.
“I thought that having a garden with your creations in it would make you feel more at home. You haven’t used your powers in a while, it must feel uncomfortable.”
She averted her gaze away from his, looking around at the empty garden that was waiting for her in order to blossom. It was a sweet gesture from his side, but she couldn’t help but feel stressed.
It has been years since she could grow anything beautiful with her powers. She had destroyed many of her mother’s fields with those awful black branches she was creating. It made her feel useless and a lesser deity. What kind of Goddess was she if she couldn’t use her powers as she was supposed to?
She tucked a strand of auburn hair behind her ear and played with her fingers –a nervous habit that she had since she was a kid.
“I-I cannot accept your gift, my Lord, no matter how thankful I am at your offer”, she couldn’t bear to look him in the eye.
Hades furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. Had he done something wrong?
“Isn’t it to your liking, my love? I can make it larger if you’d prefer it.”
She sighed to herself, shaking her head negatively.
“The garden is perfect as it is, but I...”
The words wouldn’t come out of her mouth. She didn’t want to seem weak in front of him –she was already considered a minor Goddess in the eyes of many, she couldn’t bear the thought of him changing his mind about her. It would definitely crush her and hurt her immensely and she wasn’t ready for something like that.
But this was her Hades that was standing in front of her, looking at her worried and confused. He knew her since she was a child and grew to love her including her flaws and all. She couldn’t hide the truth from him forever.
“You what, my sweet?“, he took hold of her chin and forced her emerald eyes to focus on his silver ones.
Taking a big breath to relax her nerves, she finally uttered the truth.
“I can’t use my powers.”
He looked at her in disbelief, trying to understand what she was talking about. He could remember how gorgeous her blossoms were when she was just a kid. How was it possible for a Goddess that showed such great powers at a young age, not to be able to use them when she was grown?
“At all?”, he asked her after a few moments of silence.
She nodded half-heartedly, confirming his words.
“Since I was nine years old”, she mumbled quietly,” The only thing I’ve been able to grow was those horrible black branches with sharp thorns that destroyed my mother’s fields.”
His silver orbs softened at her explanation.
“Ever since I left?”, he realized with a saddened smile, caressing her cheek lovingly.
“I don’t know what happened, Hades. I just couldn’t create anything beautiful, no matter how much my mother tried to help me. It is so frustrating!“, she let a nervous breath escape her, “What kind of Goddess cannot use her own powers? It’s so ridiculous.”
She tried to quickly wipe away a few angry tears that escaped her, only for more to come out of her eyes. She didn’t want him to see her like this, but she could no longer keep it inside of her. Bottling her feelings all of these years, she couldn’t help but let them loose now.
“You do know that a deity’s powers are connected to her feelings, don’t you, my sweet?
“What does this have to do with me, my Lord?“, she asked in confusion.
“Everything”, he answered, “Persephone, I don’t know what happened during my absence, but your feelings affected your powers. The black branches were connected to your emotions, wanting to show to the world what you were experiencing on the inside.”
Her mouth opened slightly as she realized what he meant.
“I am so sorry, my love.”
He took hold of her hand and placed a kiss on the back of it.
“You have nothing to apologize, my Lord.”
“Oh, but I do”, he hugged her tightly to him, “I caused you sadness and grief with my absence and it affected your powers immensely. I should have seen it coming.”
She let her fingers comb through his long black locks, wanting to comfort him. He shouldn’t have to feel guilty for something he had no control over.
“Even if you had foreseen it, you wouldn’t be able to stop it. Zeus’ anathema didn’t leave you much of a choice, my Lord.”
His silver orbs darkened at the reminder of his brother’s curse, making him hug her even tighter. He didn’t want to remember all these lonely years and their painful memories.
He looked into her emerald gems, relaxing instantly.
“Is this how am I supposed to be? A Goddess without powers?”
He shook his head negatively, turning her around to face the empty garden.
“Try to use them.”
She looked at him behind her shoulder, ready to refuse. He wouldn’t have any of that.
“Close your eyes. Feel the earth beneath your feet”, He murmured to her ear.
She sighed and followed his instructions.
“Focus on what you’re feeling and let it fill your whole being. Let it take a form in your mind. Turn it into reality.”
She let herself feel what she always did when he was around her –pure and unconditional love. She let it fill her body as different memories of him replayed in her mind. Memories of smiling, speaking, hugging, and kissing with one another. So, many memories clouded her mind, moving around faster and faster like a movies’ film.
And as they moved at a quick speed and she was unable to watch each one of them clearly, she felt them take a different form. She stretched her hands automatically in front of her and when she opened her eyes, she saw that they had managed to turn her thoughts into reality.
A white narcissus greeted her, making an excited squeal and a bright smile to appear on her face. Hades smiled at her joyful form, before plucking the delicate blossom from the ground and twirling it in his hand.
“Power comes from the inside.”
He kissed her forehead, before offering the flower he loved the most to her.
She looked from the white petals of the blossom to his silver orbs.
End of chapter 27!!
Title Translation:“The Proposal of Narcissus”
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Until next time!!