Beneath the Darkness: Memoirs of the Fallen

By Katarina Taylor

Seduce the Rose: Persephone

Most of my young life has been spent in these fields, yet I cannot recall a time I have truly enjoyed them. I give the world my smiles, but it has never been gracious enough to return the favor.

Despite that, I cannot be cynical. I am wholly in love with the tales my companions choose to share regarding this world's many treasures. Still, how wonderful it must be to travel her curves instead of being confined to carefully disguised beauty.

No, this is my cage and I the canary.

Mother is quite protective of me, having me under close watch by Ocean's daughters or Hermes, my handpicked and forced companions. Three-hundred years on Gaia and I am treated as a child!

But of course she should worry; after all, I am such a rebellious one.

Twirling a blade of grass between my fingers, I watch as a warm breeze gently pulls it from my grasp and carries it off into the horizon, destined for parts unknown.

If only life were so simple.

When did I allow my perspective to become so dreary? I once believed every second as the most precious of gifts. Now I speak as if it is nothing more than a hindrance.

"Life is a dreary thing." I startled at this. I conceived the brief notion that I was going insane until I spotted a stranger sitting mere inches from me.

His face was shielded from my view by the hood of his cloak, but he spoke in such a manner that I could not possibly conceive the notion of fearing him. It was soft, yet held a tone of authority. Sharp, yet sensual. Simply put, it was unlike any sound I had ever heard, and I was craving more.

"How do you mean, milord?" Oh, say something. Anything.

"Every creature is born to die. They scramble day to day, only to be forced from this mortal realm. They believe it to be worthwhile, but their memory will crumble and turn to dust. Nothing is eternal in this land." He plucked a flower nearby to emphasize his point. I had to hide a gasp of shock. I had never heard anyone speak of life with such disdain.

"I must confess, I have never viewed life in that light. It is fleeting, true enough, but to live amongst such beauty, even for but a moment is worthwhile." I would regard the sound that escaped his mouth as a laugh, but it was too cold and bitter to be considered as such.

"I cannot believe that is how you truly feel. You have been fed such lies since you were a babe. I have watched you here, in this very spot. You look, but never really see. This world gives no beauty to you."

I have always been poor at concealing my emotions and my shock was thinly veiled. How could a complete stranger know me so well?

Naturally, I could not allow him to know this.

"Of course it does! The miles of wildflower, the soft ocean breezes and perpetual warmth - it is all so breathtaking!"

"Your small corner of the world is enough to judge it all as breathtaking? You see artificial beauty before you. However, my light, you cannot be fooled; you find nothing truly alluring in its false charms."

He saw directly through my façade. He was able to discern in a matter of minutes what others have never seen. I knew what he said to be true, and I despised him for it.

"How dare you!" I made a move to strike him, but he easily caught my wrist in his hand. Running his fingertips lightly over my palm, he brought my wrist to his lips, kissing my pulse and flicking his tongue over it briefly. I suppose I could blame it on my inexperience, but I had never felt anything more stimulating. My senses seemed on fire, and when his cool, calloused hand pulled away, I realized just how much he affected me.

And by the Gods, when he finally brought his eyes to meet mine, I was certain I forgot how to breathe! Two storm-grey orbs stared back at me, and I swear I saw lightning crashing in their depths.

This man was as alone as I, of that there was no doubt. It was so openly shown in his eyes that I almost wept with the intensity of it all. The contours and lines of his face showed a thousand lifetimes of disappointments and scars that cut deeper than any blade. I knew then that he had seen things I could never dream of, and he hated it.

"We are but two dreamers in a reality that refuses us." The truth in his words no longer surprised me; it was almost as if he could read my thoughts.

"One who dreams of grander things always has a place in the world." A part of me, a rather large part, wondered why I was bothering to argue at all.

"I suppose that is true, but whether they wish to be part of that world is another matter entirely. Why should one expect to long to be part of a society that ridicules wants and desires not of the norm?" I could see a glint of mirth sparkling in his eyes as he gauged my reaction.

"Cerulean." I could tell from the confusion etched on his features that my response was not the one he was expecting, but I could not pull myself away from his eyes. At first glance, they seem hard and cold as granite, but anyone who chooses to take a moment to search beneath that will find such dazzling warmth and effulgence.

"Pardon?" With his head tilted and the half-smile he gave, it made him look rather boyish, something that suited him well.

"Your eyes. When you look into the sun, they – they turn cerulean." I turned my face away, hoping to hide the blush I knew was adorning my face.

When I dared to lift my gaze to his face, he still held a look of shock, but quickly masked it when he noticed me.

"I take it by your knowledge of my eye color that you agree with me?" His tone was cool, but his gaze radiated warmth.

"Indeed, milord. It seems your wit and intelligence far surpasses my own."

"I have yet to lose a battle, milady." He stood, bowing gracefully. With his cloak fanned out behind him in the setting sun, he gave me the impression of a phoenix, risen from the ashes to grant me a new life.

"I would not doubt that. Men are creatures of arrogance, after all." Never had I spoken to another in such a manner. I should feel reproachful, but I was too at ease.

Any other man would never allow themselves to be spoken of in such a way, especially by a woman. I could not help but feel that he would welcome this uncommon occurrence for this man was anything but ordinary.

His unlikely response was a low chuckle, sounding oddly similar to the purr of a wildcat.

"You are not accustomed to speaking so freely." It was a statement, not a question. I blinked, taken aback. He only smirked, sensing my surprise. "You must never be shy with me. I can feel the fire in your spirit, but you must fuel that." He leaned closer to me now, his breath tickling my skin. "Even if you are only able to do so with me."

I could feel the breath leave my body as the reality of his words sunk in. This would be far from a one-time meeting. He desired to keep in my company, and I could share myself, truly share myself! He wished to know me and not the shy innocent I was forced to portray.

"I have no doubt you understand this is something I have longed for, so I must ask: how is it you seem to know me so well?" I shuddered involuntarily as a cool breeze passed through the valley. The quickly setting sun alerted me to how late it had become.

"As I have told you, my light," He unclasped his cloak, draping it over my shoulders, "I have been watching you for some time. You…intrigue me." His words, simple as they were, struck a chord deep within me.

Brushing away stray bits of dirt and grass from his robes, he extended a hand to pull me up as well. I stood mid-chest to him, as he easily cleared six feet in height, and I stopped at a mere five feet.

Even in the crimson sunlight, his skin was so pale it was almost ashen. He was not overly muscular, but nor was he thin. He had a healthy build, yet he was lanky. A look that made him all the more appealing, indeed. He kept his face uncharacteristically shaven. This vision of rare beauty was completed by wild hair the color of onyx which was much shorter than the current style deemed appropriate for a man.

Somehow, the look suited him, for he does not seem the type to abide by society's rules and restrictions. No, the only guidelines he follows are his own.

The longer I stared at him, the deeper I could feel myself falling into him. And if I could stop, I made no move to do so.

He dipped his head, his lips brushing against my neck before resting against my earlobe. I inhaled sharply, the sensations coursing through my body entirely foreign.

"Unfortunately, I must take my leave." My heart sank ever so slightly at those words, but the sadness was short-lived as he soon had me in his arms, holding my body flush against his.

In my attempt (albeit a rather feeble attempt) to create some distance between us, I could not help but feel his body underneath the flimsy cloth of his robes. It was then that I understood with perfect clarity why the muses so often described a man's body as polished marble. A work of art.

Exquisite perfection.

My internal worship was interrupted when his lips descended and captured my own.

I let out a small gasp, but was quickly silenced as he seized the opportunity and slid his tongue into my parted mouth. His tongue swirled and glided around my own before pulling away, ending the dance as quickly as it started.

"'Til we meet again, my beauty. I trust you shall be thinking of me." He gave me a ghost of a smile before disappearing into the night.

Who was that man? Surely, he is no mortal, and I have never spied his face on Olympus. Yet there was something about his presence that commanded such power, something I have only ever felt among the eldest of the Gods.

"Persephone! Where are you, child?" Mother's voice wafted through the fields to me, her body materializing soon after.

Another, fiercer wind flew past, but I did not feel the cold.

The cloak. I wrapped it tighter around myself and caught his scent in the cloth; I could not keep the smile from my face.

When Mother finally reached me, she seemed more than slightly annoyed. And for the first time, I truly did not care.

"What is that…rag you have, dearest?" She disdainfully shook a finger in my direction.

I merely shrugged, smiled an enigmatic smile and we began our journey home in silence.

Twirling a loose piece of the cloak around my finger, I realized that I never learned his name, but this thought did not bother me. I will see him again. He will return to claim what is his.