“My Lord.” Someone had spoken from outside their private quarters. It was then followed by a solid knock on the door.
Hermione moved her legs to the side of the bed and stood up. The black silken sheets fell from her waist and exposed her naked arse to her husband as she walked barefooted inside the room. Her amber eyes swept over to the scraps of white fabric on the floor – the remainder of what used to be her nightgown before Tom had shredded it to pieces.
She caught him staring at her and at the strips of cloth with a smug look on his face while he admired the view in front of him. He wasn’t ashamed of his actions and neither was she, as she stood there in nothing – confident and appealing in all her natural glory. She broke their eye contact and shook her head at his cocky demeanor.
She had a strong feeling he would rip her clothes once more if they had resumed the night’s activities. So, she reached for her silk robe hanging by the lounge chair and slipped into it as she tied the knot in place. Voldemort had followed suit, donning his robe after pulling on his loose trousers.
“You may enter,” he replied to the direction of the voice once Hermione had finished securing the garment around her body.
A man with a black cloak over his head hesitatingly stepped foot inside the room. He wore a menacing mask, the shade of ash. It was decorated with intricate silver patterns that covered his face while he bowed in submission before the Dark King and His Queen. The dead mortal was a Death Eater, Hermione had learned – a title designed for Lord Voldemort's loyal servants. These were the souls who pledged their allegiance to the God of Death, bound to serve and obey him for all eternity.
“Amycus, I assume this matter is of importance. Otherwise, heed my words. I am greatly unforgiving as you have disrupted me and my wife’s moment of solitude.” The Lord of the Dark Realm spoke in an even tone. His steely gaze did not disguise the grave consequence that would follow if his servant’s ignorance was proven true.
Amycus flinched but maintained his composure. “There are two living men in the kingdom, My Lord.”
Tom contemplated this information – it certainly was not new. Many mortals sought their deceased loved ones in the Underworld, time and time again only to fail miserably. The reason was simple. It was not in their power to resurrect the dead and bring the body back to the world of the living. But still, it did not dampen their spirits nor their drive, woe to those who had been cursed by the power of love.
“Such foolhardy fellows,” he sighed to himself in disinterest. “Who are they and what do they want?” The Dark Lord inquired even though he was already prepared for the answer.
“They are known as Theseus and Pirithous, My Lord – followers of Minerva, the Goddess of Harvest. They came for Our Queen.”
A wicked smile graced Voldemort’s lips when his assumption was proven wrong. This was an interesting turn of events . His sister was quicker than he had anticipated. Although, devising the next course of action was turned into a halt as Hermione broke his train of thought.
“Mother thinks she can persuade me by sending mere mortals to escort me back to the Upper World?!” Hermione’s agitated voice filled the chamber. “How dare she make a mockery of my abilities as a goddess??!” She was beyond enraged upon this discovery. When would Minerva stop treating her like a child? Her insults would not be tolerated any longer. She should learn never to underestimate her daughter.
Hermione felt the golden bands warmed her skin as it materialized on her arms. Her eyes made a trail to the beautifully woven metals encrusted with stones. It snaked around her limbs, peeking from the sleeves of her robe. Her slender fingers reached up and absentmindedly began stroking her jewelry. This was just a taste of the cruel damnation she could produce with her power.
Unlike the Goddess of Grain, who was the Bearer and Giver of Life… The Dark Queen was destruction – the Purger and Destroyer of Life. Much like the dismal fate that had befallen the nymphs, who were transformed into nothing more than a part of her accessories. Perhaps taking the lives of those meddlesome pests wasn’t enough to prove a point to her overbearing mother.
“Shall I handle this matter?” Voldemort titled his head to the side as his gaze settled on the goddess. He could feel her unblinded fury sinking into his bones. Her rage held all the power of the scorching Sun and it swallowed him. He saw the murderous flames roaring in her amber eyes, ready to ignite anything she came in contact with. In her veins flowed a dark, puissant force of energy that complemented his own. He marveled at the sight – this smoldering, majestic creature that was his wife.
“No, My King.” Hermione knew there was no need for him to seek her permission. Nonetheless, the gesture was greatly appreciated. “But, if you’d be so kind as to welcome such remarkable guests, while I make myself presentable before I come and join you.” No one missed the rich sarcasm her lips had uttered as her nostrils flared and her breathing became labored. She was trying to diffuse the fires of wrath and hatred that were combusting inside her.
“Very well, My Lady.” The King of the Underworld nodded at her decision.
He turned to his servant. He had almost forgotten about him, while he looked at the man who appeared uncomfortable with their presence. “Prepare a banquet for our visitors and inform them of my arrival as Hades is always a gracious host.” He ended his words and a predatory smile lifted the corners of his mouth.
“As you wish, My Lord.” Amycus bowed and exited the chamber at once.
Hermione retreated into Voldemort's private bathrooms. The light inside was soft and artificial, lacking the warmness of the Sun she was used to. The walls were lined with large tiles of the most exquisite onyxes and the floors were made of the loveliest jades. The vanities were crafted from gold and white gold and the counters were created from the most brilliant aquamarines. It was a beautiful symphony of different colors. Like the Dark Lord himself, the bathroom was just as she had expected – functional and bare of any frills or unnecessary comforts.
She stared into a wall-mounted looking glass. It was encircled by strands of silver and bronze, interlaced together like vines. She extracted the robe from herself and watched the material pool on her feet. Her empyreal flesh shone like a beacon and without the garment concealing her body, there was nowhere to hide.
The mirror showed her not as the pure, innocent child her mother had always known before. The traces of that girl never lingered anymore. In its place was the image of a confident, beautiful woman and inside she was filled with rage, allure, destruction, power, and ambition.
She ran a finger over the frame, feeling its cool ridges and smooth grooves as she continued to gaze at her own reflection. Slowly, she slipped into the white dress she had worn when she first met Tom. Somehow the soft, loose garment felt foreign on her skin and Hermione strongly despised it. The gown clung to her shape in a way that did not resemble the goddess she had now become.
To the world, there was a time when she was just little Persephone. The apple of her mother's eye with the exuberance of youth in her veins. Oh how she vividly remembered that day when Minerva was especially hard on her and how angry she was at her domineering mother.
"Hermione! Hermione!" Minerva feverishly shouted as she tried to keep up with her daughter's quick steps. "Don't you dare turn your back on me!" She scolded, gathering the hem of her long gown in her hands to keep herself from tripping.
"Leave me be, Mother!" Hermione irritatedly shouted back and continued her swift strides, ignoring her mother's protests. "I don't want to do this anymore!"
"How can you even utter those words?" The Goddess of Grain questioned while she followed Hermione into the forest. "Our gift is both an honor and a privilege. You are my daughter, whose light step upon the dry, brown hillside is enough to make the soil fresh and blooming. This is your destiny!"
"I am old enough to make decisions for myself, Mother!" Hermione retorted with all the rage she could muster. She did not want Minerva or anyone else to dictate her life any longer. "I am not like you. I don't merely wish for the flowers to bloom at my feet, for the Earth to bear fruit at my touch, or for the soil to become fertile at my will. I dream of things much larger than myself or you."
"You are blinded by your innocence and youth." Her mother spoke with disappointment and shook her head, dejectedly. "You must stop these illusions of yours, at once! Why do you disobey when your mother knows what’s best for you? What is it you plan to achieve?"
"Power and the freedom to create my own fate," Persephone boldly replied as her vibrant brown eyes fixed pointedly at Demeter.
Although, the goddess was not impressed with her daughter's growing disrespect. She raised a brow at Hermione. "You are the Goddess of Spring, born of the Earth and the Child of the Sun. If you will not embrace your destiny now, someday you will."
"No, Mother. In time, it is you who will understand." Hermione disagreed with her words and promised this to Minerva, eager to put this discussion to an end. "Now, if you would please give me a moment to myself. I know you must be thinking of sending the nymphs to come and collect me but I am no longer a child. Their deaths will fall in your hands if they decide to meddle in our affairs once more."
Minerva was taken aback. Never had she imagined that her own daughter… the child whom she cared and nurtured, birthed from her womb and suckled from her breasts would threaten her in such a way – a girl as sweet and loving as Hermione. The Goddess of Harvest did not know how respond so she decided to leave. The expression on her face was unfathomable. Her heart grew heavy and she became terribly afflicted with what had transpired.
Now, Hermione was in her isolation. Free to do as she wished with no hesitancy or uncertainty clouding her vision as she took away nature's gifts. One by one, she poured her animosity and fury, sending a grievous famine upon the Earth. The dry seed remained hidden in the soil. The once green lands of the Upper World were no more than ashes and coal. The air was heavy with the smell of burning smoke that hung in a haze, obscuring the blistering heat of the Sun. The sight was an enormous, spine-chilling, monochromatic canvas.
All that remained was a bed of jet-black flowers that appeared unharmed. Curious, she stepped closer toward it. The peculiar plants continued to stand tall and proud as though the goddess’ anger had no effect on them, whatsoever. The petals were a shade of the darkest coal and each were surmounted by golden, trumpet-shaped crowns.
"Why are you unaffected by my wrath?" Hermione asked the flowers in genuine interest. She brought her knees to the ground and lifted a slender finger to caress the stem. She knew that neither she nor her mother had created such a plant.
A spark of dark magic unlike anything she had ever experienced before, tingled her fingertips when she came in contact with the petals. Like an eager parasite to a willing host, the ominous aura latched itself onto her body. She let the darkness corrupt her, allowing it to destroy the light and purity of her very essence. She felt the foreign magic fused with her own. Just a taste of its power left her invigorated, refreshed, and whole. The majestic black flowers were like an open invitation to the wondrous things Minerva had hidden from her all this time and Hermione craved for more.
"These are the Dark King's creations…” Hermione concluded, “...the narcissus flowers.” Her face broke into a wide, Cheshire grin. Her hands moved of their own accord, plunging into the soil of Gaea and pulling the narcissus from the Earth.