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His Persephone

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Vasily Borgov was a man of discipline, who would always be at the right place at the right time, his schedule as efficient as it was effective. Yet here he lingered, in this vacant hall where had been beaten for the first time in years, idly playing through his defeat over and over again.

He had played a game he could be proud of, even if it had ended in his loss. Somehow it brought him great joy to see her win. She was sharper and deadlier than before, as if she had been honing herself for him. He had to be her target; after all he held the crown of chess, the title of World Champion.

She would look good with it, just like she looked stunning in every outfit he’d ever seen her wear. Her beauty came from within and shone through her eyes; like a beacon from a lighthouse, guiding lost sailors to port. His life had always been the sea that was chess. On stormy nights, during pleasant days, his dedication to his craft had not wavered.

Until her, it had been enough. Now he wondered what it would be like to moor his ship in her harbor.  

It infuriated him, the fact that she had regressed him to a barbarian. A gentleman would be faithful to his wedding vows, he would honor his family with devout loyalty. A better man would not allow his baser instincts to overwhelm his sensibilities. 

If her body was all he was attracted to, perhaps he might have been able to resist. He would have diverted his passion into physical exercise, until he was too spent to ache for anything more. 

He desired her mind even more. Each time they met across the board, her games would haunt him for weeks on end afterwards, even on the occasions where he had decimated her thoroughly. Every time he sat down against an opponent, he wished it was her who sat in front of him instead. 

Yet, still, he craved more than her mind and her body. He wished to possess her very soul. 

He wanted to watch her nimble fingers glide the wooden pieces across the board, while she channeled her heart and soul into them. He wanted to hear the way her breath halted sometimes when she was waiting for him to respond, as if she had put the rest of the world on pause and focused on him alone. 

Elizabeth Harmon gave her entire self over to the game and it was breathtaking to experience firsthand. He could never get tired of chasing the high that came from clashing with her over chess.

Such passionate play was not something he could practice himself and he envied her for it. He had been brought up to play serious chess and there was no room for emotion in his game. It was his stamina and his study that gained him his current standing among grandmasters.  

His stoic demeanor and lethal skills on the board earned him the fear and reverence akin to a death God. Like Hades, God of the underworld, who ruled over the souls of the departed and sat on a throne of bones, Vasily’s own throne was built from the crushed egos of his opponents. Though his own reign was time bound, it felt like it had been an eternity since he had any company atop the pedestal he had crawled onto.

He’d been living in the cold, dark hell that was Moscow, the shadow of the Kremlin following him abroad in the form of his so-called bodyguards, when his gaze first fell upon her. Elizabeth was more than a mere mortal. She was the living embodiment of youth and passion, a soul whose inner fire burned so brightly that direct viewing could blind a man. 

She brought color to the greyscale vision he had grown accustomed to. Her vermillion hair was the shade of rich red used in the art of Ancient Rome, an enduring flame from the eternal city. Her eyes were pools of dark amber, preserving in their crystalline depths all the agony and ecstasy associated with chess. Her brightly colored wardrobe had been a reminder that she hailed from the land of freedom and endless optimism.

She flew across the ocean to land upon his bleak shores, the plane acting as a chariot for descent into the darkness. Her limo was a ferry, carrying her down the rivers of the underworld. Elizabeth was his Persephone, his perfect match, and their union would bring balance to the cosmos. All that remained was delivering the pomegranate seeds that would keep her where she belonged, where she would be treated like a queen and worshipped like a goddess.

He told his driver to take him to the hotel, informed his guards he’d be having a nightcap with Luchenko and dismissed them, a luxury he could exercise in Moscow, where his flight risk was minimal. He’d seen her walk into her room previously so he approached the door leisurely, ready to continue to the end of the hall should anyone enter the hallway.

Three doors down from the corner suite, he halted in front of a gold plaque labelled '#46' and knocked thrice.

There was a moment's pause before the door open to reveal her clad in burgundy pajamas, hair slightly ruffled like she'd been tossing around in bed. Her face held a look of surprise.

"Why are you here?" she asked him, her voice a whisper.

"I had to see you," he replied in her native tongue.

She drew in a shaky breath and step aside to let him in, locking the door behind him.

"My 'friend' from the State department would lose his mind if he knew you were here," she told him, arms crossed against her chest as she watched him step further into the room.

He let out a small chuckle in response and saw some of the tension seep out of her shoulders. 

"Yeah," she continued. "He'd think you've come to tell me you want to..." She mouthed the word 'defect' wary of any listening devices hidden in the suite.

If that were the case, he might have simply whispered it in her ear during their embrace, the thunderous applause of the crowd acting as the perfect cover for such an approach. But he doesn't tell her that. He can't follow her to her homeland, but he hoped she might be persuaded to meet him halfway.

"I think you have your board flipped," he told her. She was clever, his Elizabeth. Surely she would be able to figure out his meaning. He could see the wheels spinning in her tilted head, as she regarded him with the same kind of scrutiny he had seen her apply to chess. 

"Are you here for the king?" she asked, walking over to a desk to pick up the piece he had handed her hours ago. 

She came up to him and offered it back. He took her hand, a mirror image of their last exchange, and told her, "No. I came for the queen."

The confusion in her eyes, gave way to a flush of red on her face and she bit her lips. He reached up with his other hand to gently tug the bottom one free with his thumb, hand lingeringly gently on her jaw.

"Why?" she repeated. As if she could not believe he would want her. As if any one who witnessed her in all her raging glory would not desire her.

"Why? Why does my heart beat for you?" he clarified, feeling her squeeze his hand as she held his gaze with her own. "Without you, I am in endless night. With you, I see the sun."

She glowed brighter still under the moonlight filtering in and he wondered if his eyes were playing tricks on him. She withdrew her hand and the king fell to the floor, in what seemed to be slow motion, as he wondered if she would withdraw.

It clattered to the carpet with a barely audible thud.

"Oops," she uttered, looking between him and the piece.

He bent down on one knee to retrieve the fallen King, only to have her cupping his face, tilting it upward. 

"Show me," she commanded. She left the rest unsaid, trusting him to know what she meant.

He happily obliged, gently pulling down her pajama bottoms and showing her the worship she deserved.

Vasily could not get enough of the taste of her, sweet yet musky. The moans she let out now became his favorite sound in the whole world. In this moment, she was his entire universe and he wanted to set off the big bang for her, so that she would never be able to forget him or what he gave her right here, kneeling on the carpet of this hotel room, a stolen moment on the night of her greatest victory yet.

She stilled him before he could achieve that goal, however and gestured for him to lay down. With some maneuvering of tangled limbs, she offered herself to his devotion once more, while she worked to undo his pants. He renewed his efforts, but found himself distracted by her reciprocation.

Slowly he found a balance between giving and receiving and she did as well, the two of them connected at both ends, forming an infinity loop with their bodies. This was a moment of ultimate unity, perhaps the closest he could get to tying his soul to hers in corporeal form and he let it burn vividly in his mind so he might hold onto it in the event of her absence.  

Their climax was an explosive one, that made him see stars and wonder if he had died and gone to heaven, for such was the blissful ecstasy that flowed through him. It was made all the more special by her reaching her zenith at the same time, allowing him to feast on her nectar, as she did his own release. 

In the aftermath of their union, he realized that perhaps it was him who had swallowed the pomegranate seeds. He could not imagine a life without her, not after what they just shared, but he wasn't sure if it was the same for her. It was unlike Vasily to doubt himself or his abilities in any respect, but he had to know.

"Will you stay?" he asked her, as she stood and pulled her pants up.

"Do not ask me for what you cannot give," she told him softly, lending him a hand to help him up.

He sighed and accepted, making himself presentable as well. 

She retrieved the gifted king from the floor. "I think I'll hold onto this. You'll just have to come get it from me next time."

His heart beat so loud she could surely hear it. He wanted to cherish her again, over and over, to celebrate the promise, but he knew he had to leave now, if he wanted to be discreet.   

"Until then." He bid her farewell with a kiss to the hand that held the chess piece and his heart.