“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”
Paradise Lost, John Milton
The extravagance was enticing. How could it not be?
One look around the candlelit room and she saw jewels and coins, sweets and wine, more than she would have ever been allowed to have at home. More than she'd ever seen in one place. It was a dark collection that reminded her of home and Nell's both. The dress had called to her, had invited her inside and she'd given in, but the rest… she knew indulgence in such dark gifts should be forbidden. Still, it felt as though she was playing a part, the dress came with shadows and treasures, and her hands ached to touch the things laid out before her. Her mouth watered at the smell of the foods as she drew close to the table. The temptation was so strong and her heart hammered in her chest, torn in two by desire and reason.
The creature from the mirror was frightening. The fear in her chest at the sight of him was nearly as great as her concern with how much she wanted to give in to the decadence around her. But Lili was a princess, and if nothing else, she knew how to deal with groveling men, men who wanted her attention, wanted her hand, wanted… her.
"Sit," he asked her; it was almost a gentle request, polite.
She turned her head to look at the enormous chair nearby. It would be easy to sit, to rest her shaking legs, to relax. But the table looked as if it might swallow her up, the chair so large she might lose herself in it completely. And she was no simple woman to be commanded about. In her chest, her heart pumped so fiercely she wondered if it wasn't visible , her dress certainly revealed enough of her skin, if it were so.
"I prefer to stand."
"Sit!" His voice boomed and the whole world shook.
A moment later and he was soft again, while she stood before him a rattling mess beneath a quickly cracking façade.
"Or stand… as you wish. I wish," he continues, "to simply sit with you, and talk."
"Talk?" Her question is anything but simple. She pours all her mistrust, her fears and doubts, and even the slowly creeping wonder of this place, into that simple syllable.
He responds, as if he knows what's in her mind already. He know how tense she is, how her legs ache from standing, how she feels drawn to him even as she is repulsed by him. It's everything she longs to hear, from Jack -- not from him -- from Jack -- from him. He speaks to her but his attention is not within his words. His eyes are fixed on her, his lips fold around words hidden by the ones he speaks.
His words are kind. They speak to her of love, but beneath the rumbling voice there's a whisper of something base, something dark, something powerful. There is no denying that she wants to give in to him. Princess or no, he commands and she wants, no needs, to obey.
She stares across the table at him, having followed him to a large ornate chair without notice. She stands at its side and he demands she sit. The pull to the seat is almost irresistible. Ever a princess, she perseveres while her defiance continues dwindles despite her best intentions. The balance of her heart tilting undeniably as she is attracted to the decadence, and weight of hunger building under her skin. A breeze whispers across her, traversing a path directed by the gaze of Darkness. It's a caress that wends its way down the skin revealed by her dress.
The monster speaks of food and wine, and yet her breath is caught between his words. Heat is blooming across her chest where his his gaze has taken on the weight of soft hands on her breasts.
A glance down reveals to her nothing. Her dress remains as it was, hugging her body in the very model of grim indecency. Yet even as Lili looks down at her scandalous neckline, the sensation worms it's way down to her belly. It's magic. An illusion. It's a seduction of words creeping under her skirt, warmth settling between her thighs. He is still there when she looks up, waiting for her, in the same heartbeat both too close and too far away.
Her head feels light, everything is faded and soft around the edges, even her thoughts feel as though they're drifting out of reach. She thinks of Jack, of the Unicorn, of home and each image is interrupted by her pounding heart and the words reaching out to her through the darkness. When he speaks, it rumbles in her chest and the stirs the fire in her belly, commanding all of her attention.
She remembers the night not so long ago when after one of her father's late parties, she snuck a bottle of wine back to her bedroom. She had drank it all, lounging in front of the fire in her room until the wine warmed her further, both inside and out. In fear of sickness, she had stripped down to her small clothes and leaned against the stone near the window until her skin prickled like gooseflesh. Every inch of her body had tingled, but her mind had felt very far away like each of her thoughts were too slippery to grasp. It is the same now, head too full of thoughts she cannot hold on to.
The air feels thick, too warm to be comfortable for long and it makes her breaths shallow, soft, and her body is heavy to move. She wants to relax in the chair like a rag doll, to dangle her legs over the edge to cool. And then she's leaning against the frightening tableau of creatures that make up the surface of the large chair, her hand creeping over the arm ready to press her body into the contours of it.
"Sit," he tells her and this time, she doesn’t think herself able to resist.
Lili stares at it as though it might pull her in, watches at the seat seems to roil with the need of some hungry creature. Darkness' breath is ghosting over her, hungry and waiting, ever attentive. They are both holding their breath, waiting for the other to give in to something…
She's laying down, engulfed in softness and shadows. Pinpricks of candlelight are far in the distance, and wherever she is it's quiet, save her own heavy breaths. She feels the air on her bare chest and it moves, sways, caresses and then it's not just breath. Arching up against the warmth that surrounds her, flesh pressing to flesh, and his body forms a cage she's pleased to inhabit. She can't see them, but she feels it when his horns pierce their marriage bed and her hair spread out like a curtain around her head. All around her is the weight of the creature -- her unholy husband -- Darkness, an immense presence creeping into her like smoke. And when they are consummated she cries, not of fear or sadness, but in shuddering pleasure.
A drawn, spasming breath follows and she's crouched, both hands clinging to the arm rest of the infernal chair, fingernails cracking, joints white under the pressure. A laugh bubbles out of her, gathering the attention of every creature in the room. And either their black hearts worship the sound, or they stare in fear at the woman who could be their undoing.
From the bowels of the expanse below their wedding chamber, pained whinnies echo up. Her laughter ceasing, she grins and whirls to face the horned beast -- her husband -- Darkness -- her captor.
Her lips curl and in her mind she sees a gift, hears it calling to her, begging for her.
A wedding gift.
"I hear a throat begging to be cut."