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What Lingers in the Darkest Spring

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Persephone was a proud woman, constellation, and god. She was the queen of darkest spring, but who knew what lingered in the waters of that well? Who knew but her, what could be found beneath the surface, swimming like the morals of a story? Who knew, but her, what it was like to walk in shadows with a regal man lingering in her footsteps, dark and beautiful as the souls that swirled around them?


Who knew death but the life beside it? 


Persephone was a proud queen, but she too had known the rage of despair. She’d watched the constellations around her become parents, and watched those children suffer the weight of dying stories. She’d watched, and waited, and wondered, and stared into the water of the deepest spring in the universe. 


She could not bear a child. This was fact. Her stories did not allow it, and her body couldn’t take it. The story wouldn’t change just because she tore holes into the light of the stars around them. 


But she could still have a son. 


The first time Kim Dokja called her Mother, Persephone’s hands shook. The second time, they were steady, but her heart beat twice as fast as it should. Her smile was too wide, she thought, but she let it grow wicked and loving without care. She had never thought to have this. She had never thought anyone would fit into their story the way Kim Dokja fit into their family. 


Persephone was a proud queen, and so she didn’t flinch from her son. The depths of her shadow stilled when she shook, and went quiet when she learned to tease and laugh. Her husband had never been called Father before either.


It broke both of them in different ways, and was more precious than any knowledge.  


She thought that maybe Kim Dokja hadn’t been called son in a long time too. She thought, on the days when a screen followed her from room to room, and Kim Dokja accomplished impossible thing after impossible thing, that he needed to be called son more. 


She wanted to have the time to call him son. 


There was a shifting behind her, dark and billowing. It was a quiet entrance for a quiet man, for a man that was shy to the world but never with her. 


She didn’t turn back before she spoke, and the waters whispered around her fingers and pooled beneath her feet. 


Who knew what lingered in the deepest corners of the human mind, but her?


“He doesn’t need a firm hand, I think, not like the other heirs. He is a cut above them. What he needs the freedom to change the world.”


“He will have it,” Hades answered, and a hand curled out of shadow to brush across her cheek. It lingered for a moment, unspooling in the air between them like a thread of fate. 


There had been so much fate between them, and so much happiness. There were lifetimes of love dancing between them. 


Persephone was a proud queen, and she was proud of her husband to. 


The story of that love, spilled free, for a quiet moment. It told of sharing meals together, of walking with him in her shadow and knowing he stood ready at her back, of turning their eyes on a small incarnation in a forgettable planet and watching him grow. 


Their stories were woven so closely now that she couldn’t tell where his memories began and her’s ended. She didn’t want to. 


What was a spring of life without a source of death, after all? They were life and death companions, and ever would his darkness stand next to her months of life. 


Foolish, to think her son would be any different. 


“That he will, my husband. And he’ll have more too. It wouldn’t do for our heir to have anything less than the best,” she said, and caught the edge of his story with her finger. It swirled over her nail, delicate, supple, more powerful than anything known to the gods of Olympus. 


They had really never understood <Underworld>. They never would, she thought, with the same disdain she gave to uninteresting meals and poor wine. The finest things in life were hard for plebs to understand, but she couldn’t write them off. They were dangerous too, even if they were fools.


It wouldn’t matter, not when the rocks were crumbling under the feet of dying constellations. It wouldn’t matter, with Kim Dokja achieving impossible things with every breath. 


Hades just hummed in reply, eyes lingering on her face. They didn’t look afraid, because he so rarely looked afraid, but they did look quietly concerned. She smiled back, and it felt wicked. 


“Oh don’t worry, my king. It won’t be anything too terrible.”


A few well placed garter belts perhaps, and maybe a few more words to that man her son seemed to think so highly of. They may share the same story that spun between her and her husband, but Persephone wasn’t impressed by him yet. There was plenty to do for the incarnation to prove his worth. 


And he’d better, if he wanted Persephone to tell him her son’s… preferences. A mother knew best, after all, and though she hadn’t been a mother long she would do that role justice. 


Persephone was a proud queen, and she wouldn’t do any tasks by halves. Hades took a step closer, fingers pressing against her arm until she leaned into the spill of shadows around him. It was a quiet place, this, and she had never minded the quiet. 


But she wanted to see the life and laughter of her son too. She wanted to see him smile, surrounded by the family who cared for him as they cared for him. Persephone would ensure that happened. She would do everything, for the star that had touched the stories in their hearts so dearly. 


She was not afraid of death, because she alone knew what lingered in the darkest spring. 


It was the fate of the dying, to watch stories vanish and fade away into nothingness. It was the fate of the damned, to try to reach out for them, to scrape together a semblance of relevance like dogs fighting for bare bones. 


It was the fate of parents, to be proud when their children’s stories shone brighter than theirs ever could. 


Persephone looked at Kim Dokja, and thought she might be the proudest mother of all.