A flash of light.
Muffled sounds and words coming from above, all surrounded in a cloud of haze.
The feeling of sheets beneath her and the weight that they carried.
Persephone couldn’t see or feel much, but it felt like the fuzzy edges of what she could see were closing in on her, morphing into the awful shade of purple she had come to resent so greatly.
She felt the way the air seemed to stop in her throat.
The way her chest tightened more and more on each inhale.
Had the walls moved closer? Everything seemed closer than before.
The purple grew closer and closer still.
It was all she could see.
She sank deeper into the sheets, trying to bury herself in the mattress below.
Then the bed gave out beneath her leaving her to fall endlessly
Until she awoke and sat abruptly upright in bed,
Hand grasping at her heart
It felt like she couldn’t breathe.
She knew she was panicking but in her vision there were still spots of purple.
Still muffled sounds of someone’s voice.
“ mrasephone? ”
“Kore, can you hear my voice, love?”
She recognized it as her husband's voice. She was at home. In bed. With her husband. In the Underworld. Persephone felt her chest loosen a little, felt her shoulders grow less tight, but kept her hand gripped over her heart and felt her pulse still racing.
“My love, are you okay with me touching you?”
Although Hades was familiar, the idea of arms around her still felt suffocating. She shook her head no, wrapping the arm not placed over her heart around herself and rubbing it in his stead.
“Alright love, just focus on the sound of my voice, okay? We can do the breathing exercises Chiron gave us?”
“Okay, I’ll talk you through it now, tap twice on your arm if we need to try something else. Let’s breathe in for 4 counts, out for four.”
Kore started breathing in deep, the air not coming in quite smoothly, but with hiccups in between.
The tightness in her chest and arms loosened further.
“Out… Two… Three…”
She uncurled her hand from its fist and laid it flat overtop her heart instead, pushing the air out of her lungs as she did so.
“Four. You’re doing great love, one more time? In… Two… Three… Four…”
They continued on like that for a while, and Hades’ voice became like a drone in the background as Persephone focused on letting go of as much of her body tension as she could with each count. Chiron had been able to tell how tense and terrifying nightmares like this were for Persephone and correctly guessed that Hades would be good for decompressing.
It was nice to have someone there to talk her through nights like this. She turned her head to look at her husband’s face, seeing as if for the first time the kindness in his eyes.
“Feeling better, my love?”
Persephone nodded, moving closer to Hades and grabbing his wrists. She twisted herself around and sat in his lap, his front to her back, using her grip on him to twist his arms around her like a shield. Once satisfied, she placed his right hand over her heart where it beat, laying her hand over top of it.
Hades bent down to kiss the top of her head.
“Do you want to lay down and sleep?”
Purple flashed again through Persephone’s mind. She shook her head no again, trying to get Hades’ arms to wrap tighter around her instead. He seemed to understand what she wanted, opting to give her a tight squeeze and tucking his head down to rest against hers. She always felt so comforted in Hades’s arms, and with the way his blue skin surrounded her completely she felt as if she was completely shielded from anything that could harm her.
She focused her vision on the way her bright pink arm contrasted with his blue one.
“Do you think if we were able to have a child that it would be purple?”
At this question, Hades proceeded to hold her even tighter, as if trying to absorb her pain into his own skin. He rested his head on her shoulder now, kissing her cheek before replying.
“I thought you were going to make me a fire baby?”
Persephone could hear the stupid smug grin in his voice as he spoke, remembering the exact conversation he was alluding to.
“That was a MISTAKE I NEVER SHOULD HAVE SAID THAT.”
Persephone began swatting at Hades’ arms playfully, feeling the deep rumble of his laughter against her back. She even chuckled a little herself, but mostly she just loved the way her husband laughed.
“Well, if you ever do want to make me a fiery heir you can make it any colour of flame you want.”
“Noted, thanks,” Persephone replied with a smile and laughter in her voice. Now that she'd laughed a little, the tightness seemed to have completely disappeared from her body.
Hades tilted his head down slightly, kissing at the juncture between her neck and her shoulder for a few seconds. He moved slowly down towards her shoulder, placing kisses on the way, then moved back up her neck, under her chin, and up her cheek, peppering kisses on every part of her face he could reach.
“Mm, that feels nice, love.”
Persephone turned her head to face him, leaning in to plant a gentle kiss on her husband's lips. She pulled back, looking up into his eyes, smiling at him.
“Anything you want is yours, my love, you know that.”
Hades moved in to kiss her again, moving his right hand up to hold her face gently as their lips met softly once, then twice, then three times. Persephone turned around in his lap, straddling him and caressing his face once more. His hands floated in the air around her, waiting for her to move him where she wanted him. While still kissing him, she grabbed his hands and placed them on her hips, and from there they travelled up and around her back, holding onto her gently.
He moved his head down once more, back to laying sweet kisses all over her neck and shoulders. From there Hades looked up at his wife with reverence, as if he was near dead with thirst and the kiss of her lips had given him a sip of water. Her eyes met his, looking from one eye to the other with so much love.
She leaned in to kiss him again, and he wrapped his warm arms around her, enveloping her completely. This time she deepened the kiss, reaching towards the back of his head and threading her fingers through his hair. Their heads tilted just a bit more, both lost in each other’s embrace.
The minutes passed and Persephone felt her closed eyelids grow heavy with exhaustion. She didn’t want to stop feeling her husband’s arms around her, the touch of his lips, the comfort all of this brought her right at that moment. However, she was tired, and her Hades would be there in the morning to do it all again. She began to slow down their kisses, turning them into short pecks that she left on his lips. At the pause, Hades yawned, the late hour dawning on him as well.
“I think it’s time we go to bed,” Persephone whispered, wrapping her arms around her husband's neck.
But instead of letting her go and settling into bed normally, he decided to fall dramatically backwards, keeping his grip on Persephone and taking her down with him as they both flopped onto the mattress below. At the impact, they both laughed again, and his wife swatted again playfully at him for dragging her down. She settled there on top of him nonetheless, laying her head on top of his heartbeat as he adjusted his arms around her.
“I love you,” she said, looking up at Hades once more.
Hades leaned down again to plant a kiss on her forehead.
“I love you too, my queen.”
At this, she smiled, allowing her eyes to close as she listened to the rhythm of Hades’ heart. Her mind was at rest as she slipped peacefully back into sleep.