Fandom: X, Greek Mythology
Characters: Hinoto, Kakyou
Summary: "And I will love you till the stars crumble, a far less idle threat than most at lovers parting." The story of Selene and Endymion, as shared by another.
Author Notes: There's a point where the writing jumps from flowery and purply to less flowery and purply, but still detailed.
"I will love you until the stars crumble, which is a much less idle threat than is usual for lovers on parting." Luthe to Aerin, The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley
He dreamed, as always, since the first time he'd been branded a man under the rising sun, of the long streams of fair moonlight shifting to strands of silver hair, eyes as violet as the shadowed side of the silvery disc smiling down at him. He dreamed of her even when others clamored for his attention, and his dreams consumed him, as dreams that are meant to be did.
Kakyou stood, though whether in dreams or reality was never quite clear to him, at the window facing east. He'd claimed it in the terms of the good luck of the rising of the sun, but in reality, he watched for his fairer counterpart, rising up in her silvery chariot to crest the heavens until she sank back away into the horizon at the break of dawn.
To love a goddess who had sworn away the affections of mortals, men had been struck down for less, but he could not help it. Yet he was less foolish than those who hunted said goddess for a chance to gaze on her. Though it was a lonely life, he was content to simply look on her light, and dream of her when he slept.
Right now, the last lights of the sun god stained the ground a peculiar mix of gold, magenta and tangerine, coloring the grass below a thousand varying shades of dying light, and the first star of the night had peeked out cautiously from Yasha's cloak of night, a tiny shard of light glittering in the east. He tightened his fingers slightly on the window frame, watching for the first lines of light to break the solid expanse of deep blue, and exhaled once as the thousand flickering lights of grass dimmed away.
Another star winked into view, slightly blue-tinged, and then another, as the last pieces of day drained away like water from a broken glass. Kakyou breathed out again, finding his heart speeding up in anticipation of that one moment in which the sickle (and it was a sickle shape, he'd watched it far too many times to mistake that shape on the shifting patterns from which she drew light) moon would first break the edge of the sky.
He could hear, dimly like one hears a heartbeat, the soft muttering of others retiring from their day, seeking sweet rest under her light, but he put them out of his mind again. Foolish, yes it was, to seek indulgence for a single moment each day in a borderline obsession with a goddess who would refuse him even if she knew of his existence, but some such things were just necessary.
At last, even as the day's light truly failed and vanished, the sun god seeking his rest just like all the other mortals that worked and walked under his light, the first tip of the moon broke the horizon, and he forgot breath, forgot anything that wasn't watching her. Though it was in fact slow in the sight of others, it seemed only an instant between when her horses left the gates of the heavens, and when they had ascended to soar across the great arc of the sky.
Soft moonbeams lay on the ground like finest silk scattered carelessly, broken into translucent crystal spiderwebs that shattered in the dark of the distant forests, and spinning out across the fields in the footsteps of dancers abandoning the constraints of the stage.
While there was no great choir or swell of music to accompany the sweeping spread of moonlight, it was all the better for the silence, as it seemed to freeze the world into an illusion of what it might be after all of them had long perished.
But at last, he had to turn away from the window, stop standing there with his hands clenched so tightly they might have been as white as the moon up there. And strangely, even though he'd slept the day away, he felt...tired. Drained, like Kohaku and its magic kisses had imbued him with the need to sleep, and fall into dreams.
“Sorry, Lady of the moon.” he said as he almost stumbled away from the moon and towards his bed, suddenly unable to keep himself awake and fixated. “I think I will have to admire your rays tomo...”
He couldn't even curl up under the blankets properly before sleep and dreams overtook him.
He dreamed in white and silver and that faint pale shade of blue that was the true color of snow, of a world where everything looked as if it were spun from marble. It was odd; usually his dreams were not so distinctly dreamlike, having far too much reality leaking in, or maybe his reality was nothing but a dream. Always warnings, always omens and portents and of not taking the risk for fear that it might turn out bad.
Strangely, so few tales were of taking the risk and having it turn out. Always, always they were nothing but warnings, and shame. Don't do this, and don't do that, and don't even dream of doing this or you're doomed.
And yet, he almost felt brave enough to try and take the risk.
He dreamed in white and silver and that faint pale shade of blue that was the true color of snow, of a world where everything looked as if it were spun from marble, and he was certain that the dream was more than a dream.
“So you're starting to wake up.” A voice said from behind, low and chiming and sweet, yet with the faintest hint of a pack of hunting wolves buried in the chime. Caught in the moment of hesitation that chained him to reality, Kakyou turned, and was aware of how out of place he was when everything about him was gold.
The first thing he saw was sleek silver hair. Long hanks of it stretching from the goddess it hung from to end many feet away from her small body. It gleamed brighter than the pale world around him, casting rays of ethereal light onto the ground. She was clothed all in white, the better to keep her shrouded in this mysterious place, and her violet eyes gleamed with the true strength of the gods.
Just like when he'd first really known that he'd loved the goddess of the moon, Kakyou forgot how to breathe. Forgot how to even want to breathe. She was glorious, more beautiful than he'd dreamed. And he had no clue why he was dreaming of her.
All of the sudden, he realized he was gaping rudely at her, and dropped into the deepest bow he could, pressing his forehead to the ground in respect. “I apologize for my rudeness, my Lady.” he said hurriedly, and swallowed, preparing to be struck down for his insolence.
Instead, there was the sound of soft fabric scraping over stone, barely a whisper in and of itself, and the even quieter sound of hair sliding over the earth, long enough to reach for the earth from atop her great chariot. “Please, do not bow before me like that, she said, the cry of hunting wolves vanishing from her voice, “I would not have brought you here if I planned to strike you down.”
Cautiously, he looked up. The goddess herself looked down at him with concern, curtains of silvery hair falling down around them like a waterfall of glittering stars. When their eyes met, she smiled, just a tiny bit. That small action made his heart speed up, and he was sure that he blushed, something he was surer of when her smile brightened a little more.
Carefully backing away so that when he sat up properly, he wouldn't hit her in the chin, he remained on his knees in front of her, aware that despite her kindness, she was still a goddess, and still to be treated with respect.
She watched him too, with impassive eyes, and they seemed to glow like the sky that encircled her halo of light. Like dreaming snakes, her hair seemed to move on its own, coiling around the ground until it was in relaxed piles near her, radiating a soft dreamy light. “Do you know why you are here, Kakyou?”
A part of him melted to hear the way she said his name, from anyone else it sounded rough and odd, from her it sounded like an incantation, but he couldn't spend too much time dallying on such simple things, not when he didn't know whether or not it was a singular experience. “No, Lady.” he said, meeting her eyes, but trying to not appear confrontational.
She smiled like there was a secret he should have already guessed, and took one of the long locks of hair into her hand. “Perhaps that is as it should be.” she answered enigmatically, and fine silver hair fell through her hands like shattered moonlight. “Most guess foolishly, and appear foolish in the undertaking. It is, perhaps, better to wait until a further experience to judge a singular action, is that right?”
If he wasn't mistaken, there was almost a challenge in that sentence, another meaning to the phrasing, that would indeed, judge on a singular experience. And almost like that, in that strange quality of infinite knowledge that dreams have, the answer came to him. “Judging only after multiple experiences is wiser in some ways, but who is to say that all things must be judged that way? Some things need only be experienced once to understand the beauty and horror behind them, just like the first snow.”
Her smile grew, pleased. “A far better answer than most. And I do agree. Some things can be understood in that first interaction. Although I do assume that you would not consider our meeting that way.” There seemed to be almost a warning in there, the faintest echo of a hunting pack behind it.
He smiled in return at her. “I cannot judge all of the aspects of you from one meeting. Or from any amount, a goddess is many, many faces and choosing to assume that you are only a few is...disrespectful to say the very least.”
And she laughed at that, a warm sound that tinkled like silver bells in moonlight. “You are as intriguing as you appear!” she exclaimed in almost childlike joy. “I see now that I was very wise to encounter you in the world of dreams.” Then some of the joy faded. “But my journey ends, and my brother's begins, and I must now return you to the land of the waking.”
Kakyou stared at her for a second, in that dreaming wonder before the answer came, and some of the sensation in his body spoke no more of polite kneeling, but of the warmth of fabric beneath his cheek. Courtesy drove him to more polite speech as the strong light surrounding her dimmed some. “Lady, I thank you for this meeting. Perhaps, if it pleases you to think so, we may meet again.”
Her smile returned to the more enigmatic form that he was used to seeing on the statues of her temples. “Courtesy that formal does not suit you. I will see you again, dreamer of dreams.”
He was haunted by the memories of violet eyes as he slipped away from his dream, and was blinded by the sunrise.
That dream stuck with him throughout the lengthening days, as the amount of time that he could see the moon in the darkness faded to only a few scant hours, and though there were no more dreams like that, it somehow managed to stay more vivid than all of his time in the waking world.
He wanted to believe so badly that it was real, that the moon goddess had deigned to actually reveal herself to him, announce herself as being intrigued by him, but he couldn't quite. Despite all of his faith and adoration, he saw no reason why a goddess who was so brilliant and loved would show herself to him.
And yet, there was a part of him that did believe. The same part that pined for the silvery light, that refused to dream while she wandered across the sky. That part that at first had seemed so small, and yet now that he'd dreamed, turned out to be most of himself, or at least most of what mattered.
How strange then, was love when actually faced with the object of its affection? Everything suddenly made sense in completely different ways than they had before.
Now he understood why the goddess of love was both worshiped and feared. Her gift could both save and destroy at a moment's thought.
And of course, unlike the love shared between two mortals, he had been foolish enough to fall in love with a goddess who could never truly reciprocate.
And yet, he still dreamed of an impossible chance, even though it would never be.
Truly, he was a fool.
Kakyou fought his way through the days that seemed to hold less and less with each passing sunrise, golden beams cutting through the sky and bringing a new struggle to make it through. The glory of the spring god's return to the world above the shadowed underworld failed to cast any meaning on him, and the flowers and flourish of life went unnoticed by him.
It was one of those longer days, the glow of the sun fading fully out later, the radiance of the god's return to his home casting brilliant amber waves of light over the whole world, as the sky bordered a contradiction of blue flickering from celeste at the western horizon, to a deep blue that blended with the purple of oncoming night, and though he wasn't expecting there to be any magic of the goddess who even now must have been harnessing her glittering steeds and preparing to begin her own flight, he waited still, but what for, he did not know.
Slowly, as the first stars crept free of Night's dark cloak, glittering vainly for all to see, a silvery light began to glimmer at the gates to the heavens, gathering strength in the deep.
Her graceful chariot took flight into the sky, and the moon crested the edge of the world, climbing up the steep tilt of the sky's bowl, and he smiled, wanly.
Like the touch of frost, moonbeams began to dance over the earth, again coloring it silver in the dark, her warm light banishing more shadows than the noonday sun ever did, and they seemed to slip and slide closer to him, like wolves on the hunt.
Though logic and reason could not dictate why he chose that, he stretched out one hand towards the dancing light, and it leaped to pool in his hand, and he could have sworn that he felt the soft skeins of hair gathering in his palm.
Energy leaped through his body; an electric charge more addicting than the beckoning of a storm, and he grasped tightly onto that memory of sensation, looking up at the full disc that grew paler and paler as she left the horizon, and joined the field of stars high above, looking like she was where she really belonged.
The strands of imaginary hair in his fingers seemed to coil tighter about him, and the night wind fluttered in through the window, blowing strands of his own golden hair across his eyes. Like desire, sleep seemed to be wrapping about him again, and common sense demanded that he lie down before he hurt himself. Gladly, he was possessed of just enough common sense, that though he nearly tripped over his feet, he lay back down, and the dark tide of dreams swept over him.
Again, he was in the world of white, glittering traces of silver and blue deepening the land until it seemed like more than a dream. Light rippled above him in pearlescence shimmering across in a brilliant band that spanned the breath of the heavens, and the whole world glowed around him.
He looked out over the long stretch of empty world, and saw no traces of the goddess he searched for. Turning round, there was still nothing, and the emptiness began to creep within his heart.
The brilliant light began to pulsate, flickering to different shades of silver as he looked back to it, and he saw what looked like a chariot ascending the heavens, cutting across the bands of light before vanishing into the horizon.
Then there was a soft laugh behind him, tinkling like the bells to call the night, and he whirled around.
And she stood there, all in white again, smiling softly at him. “Welcome again, dreamer of dreams, Kakyou.” She said, watching him from eyes that seemed to gleam with all of the shades of the night.
His throat dried up, and he bowed to try and cover the second attempt it took to respond, “Thank you, Lady.”
She chuckled softly. “You are consistently polite, even when in dreams.” Her voice conveyed a quiet pleasure, the belling of hounds behind it muted. “It is...refreshing.”
He looked up at her cautiously. “I try, lady. There's no reason to offend a god.”
Her laughter was more throaty, the second time. “Indeed, though many would forget that. Though the myths tell otherwise, many of us can take accidental offense quite well. It is purposeful offense that we take...less well.”
He didn't miss the implication. Even though she favored him, she was still a goddess.
She waved her hand across the barren ground, and a soft rug appeared, silvery fur glimmering, and he recognized it as the pelt of the moon beast she slew to gain the chariot back when he stole it. “You may sit.” she invited, and sunk onto it herself, and he caught a glimpse of a slender ankle as she arranged the streams of hair behind her.
He slowly sank to the rug as well, and felt fur that he couldn't imagine could be so soft under his legs and feet. She smiled as he did, and looked straight into his eyes. “Do you know why you are here?”
He shook his head slowly. “The only thing I can guess is that you called me here for a reason.” He said, trying not to look directly at her to see her reaction. He could see her mouth purse as he avoided her gaze, and shut his eyes against the retribution undoubtedly to follow.
Cool fingers touched his chin. “Do you really see me as so terrifying? That you must shield yourself from my face to answer at all?”
Kakyou could barely breathe at the feeling of her fingers on his face. They felt astoundingly...human. “I favor you, Kakyou.” she said, her voice warmer. “I would not strike you down even if I did not for not understanding why I call you.”
He swallowed and nodded slowly. “Yes...lady.”
She lifted his chin up further so that he could no longer avoid her eyes. When he met her gaze, he could see a thousand shades of purple that lined the night sky. “Kakyou...” she said again, and he was suddenly aware of all the shades and multitudes of her. “Brave dreamer.”
He was caught betwixt bewilderment and desire. She was not the goddess of love, but she had just as many emotions as the many changing moon. And he was trapped in the tides.
Her face took on a shade of confusion, not the kind that trapped him, but one that seemed to wonder if what she was about to do was really the right thing. “Tomorrow night, when the sun has vanished, I'll send a star for you. Follow the trail, and you will understand.”
He could only nod slowly, but her fingers tightened almost imperceptibly. “Swear to me, Kakyou, that you will do this.”
“I...” he stopped and took a breath slowly, so that he wouldn't fail to finish “I swear to you, Lady, that tomorrow night, I will follow your star.”
Her smile was fading into the stars, but he heard her last words clearly. “You may use my name, Kakyou. I am not so mercurial as my uncle of the underworld, that I would not grant anyone the use of my name.”
He thought he answered her, but he was awake before the words finished leaving his mouth.
When it came time to leave, he didn't tell anyone. A lord leaving for a late ride around his grounds was unusual, but not call for suspicion. He'd been out and saddled since the sun had begun to sink into the far west, but it wasn't till the twilight that he saw the sign she had spoken of.
From the east, a shooting star raced across the sky, before ending at the hills not more than a mile from the edge of his lands. Though it seemed to vanish on further, he knew that those hills were where she wanted him to go.
“Lord?” his guard captain asked. “What time should we expect you to return?”
Kakyou smiled down at him, though he wasn't about to answer that it would probably be never. “Sometime later this evening, after the moon has reached her zenith.”
He nodded, and stepped aside. Kakyou let his mare trot daintily through the gates barring his castle from the rest of the world, then broke into a gallop the second he could. She was a strong horse, practically flying over the ground towards the hills, her white tail streaming behind her. As he covered the leagues before the end, he could see the moon rising from the east, a silver disc just beginning to wane back to the slivered crescent of her bow. Spurred on by the knowledge that she was waiting for him, he only reined in his horse to a trot when even her power began to falter, and they were not so far from the hills.
The trail of the star seemed burned into his eyes, and as he looked into the hills, he saw where it must have ended, a cave covered by vines with a few little white flowers peeking out from the dark. He knew as clearly as he knew anything that it was where she was waiting for him.
He got off of his horse when they were close enough that he could walk, and looked into her large, dark eyes. “Go back home, Daydreamer.” He told her, before moving over to remove the saddle and blanket from her back. “Go home.” he repeated, gently pulling her bridle over her ears, leaving her free. Hopefully they would understand what had happened, that he had not been killed or kidnapped, he had simply left.
She whuffled into his hand before tossing her head, her mane white against the dark, and started to walk back down, a beacon in the night. He watched her go until she completely vanished, but he knew that she would find her way back just fine.
Then he turned around to the cave. From closer up, he could see that the vines were threaded with hill grass, hanging limp and untamed over the mouth, and many starflowers littered the ground around it. It had a feeling of age and solitude to it, and an aura that spoke of something touched and loved by the gods.
He knew that it was where he would understand his destiny, at last.
The moonlight washed around him, her chariot risen high enough that the rays could touch the earth. While it had no true physical effect on him, the emotional power of it gave him strength to take those first steps towards it.
He pushed the vines aside as he stepped in, and he saw silvery trains of hair along the ground even before he walked in.
She was waiting for him, and as the vines closed out the outside world, the glow around her increased until the cave was bathed in moonlight. “So you came,” she smiled at him, sitting on the same rug that had been in his dreams the night before.
He bowed to her, though he never quite looked away. He couldn't. “You asked it of me, so I came.”
Her laugh was the tinkle of bells and the bay of hounds mingled. “Honest, perhaps even to a fault,” she said, and stood up. He had never noticed how small she appeared, how little her hands were, until she touched his face again. “But that is one of the things I admire of you.” She guided him to sit on the furs with her, and he felt like there was a power of a different kind than hers, seeping into his bones.
“I asked a boon of the king of the gods, and he granted it to me.” she told him, her violet eyes steady and watching him intensely. “A boon of immortality for my chosen. And he granted it to me at the cost of you never leaving this cave. As long as you remain within the vines, the fates will not touch you, and you will not age. But should you step out, your body will change to all the years that passed outside, and you will turn to dust.”
And again, he couldn't breathe. “You...you want me to stay with you?” he asked, stunned and shocked.
Fortunately, she took his question well. “You amuse me, and you interest me. And it is sometimes lonely to be immortal. Though I cannot make you a god alongside me, I can give you the choice to stay. If you did not wish to accept, you could turn around and leave and choose a mortal life.”
He could turn back, he knew that. He could walk away and return to a life of monotony and solitude, waiting each day for the moon rise. But it wasn't what he wanted. He wouldn't turn away. “I'll stay.” he told her, meeting her eyes solidly. He was still afraid and uncertain, but he was beginning to understand the goddess of the moon, and the woman she was as well.
She smiled at him, and some of the intensity of her gaze softened. “Then there's just one more thing you must do to accept your immortality,” she said as she leaned forwards, gently tipping his chin up.
“Wh-what's that?” he asked, suddenly nervous for different reasons than before.
She laughed and shifted so that her face was so close that he couldn't look away from her eyes. “Say my name, and not just lady.”
He barely was able to say “yes, Lady Hinoto,” before her lips met his, and he melted into eternity.
Sous les nuages de la nuit
je marche vers la clairière.
D'un éclat argenté je la vois,
Elle porte les voiles de l'éternité,
son auréole embrasse les étoiles, ma lune.