fire is coming Who: Rafael [Freyr] & Isobel [Persephone]. What: One god offers another some advice. Where: Dreamland. When: At niiiight!
Persephone opened her eyes to find she was surrounded by a field of grain. Such things were not unfamiliar to her, as a child of a harvest goddess; a light wind made the golden ocean ripple, waves mirroring a blue sea in the distance. One hand passed over the heads of grain surrounding her, making her feel almost at home, even when she knew she'd passed into another's domain. It was something one grew eerily used to, after being carted back and forth between the living and the dead; and now especially, having visited so many other places inside the minds of those who had been claimed as vessel for her and her kind.
She half expected to see Demeter, and could not deny the fact that she missed her mother to some degree; she remained in place for a moment, looking down over the slowly gyrating wheat before her, savoring its familiarity. Then she glanced up, looking around to find whose land she'd stumbled into now. Some distance ahead, a solitary figure stood at the crest of a hill. He was naked but for a thin loincloth, and both it and his flesh were the same bright gold as the grain and sun that surrounded Persephone.
A cloud passed over the sun, and the stranger's light seemed to dim in response. Still he turned, and with a smile, greeted his visitor. His hand raised, palm out, toward her. The sun briefly winked approval at them both. He crossed the distance between them in no time at all. His smile was brighter when he reached her side, as though his gratitude for having a visitor overwhelmed him with joy.
"Hello," the stranger said. "I don't believe we've met. I'm Freyr." He bowed to her, politely, in spite of his utterly informal state of dress.
Had she been anything other than Greek, the goddess of spring might have been taken aback by her host's presentation; instead, she merely smiled wryly, grabbing handfuls of her blue robe to curtsey to him in return. This Freyr was familiar, in a way; though which vessel was his did not immediately come to mind.
"Thank you for the warm welcome, Freyr," she quipped, letting her robe fall to her feet. "My name is Persephone, and if it's not too forward to say, I like your field." He inclined his head, a gracious smile playing over his lips. Her eyes glanced away for a moment at the rich expanse of grain around them, her hands moving passively to fold in front of her. "I feel we've met in other places, though. Are you familiar with Pax Letale?"
"All too familiar," he answered. His smile clouded like the sky overhead. "I have met others from that place. Not all of my meetings have been particularly pleasant." He studied her face, searching each detail with a lingering gaze. He recognized her, though he could not have said from where. He moved closer, until they stood a mere arm's length apart. "I am bound to one, now, who lives in that place. I can't say all of his meetings have been pleasant, either. But what is your experience of it?"
"The same as yours," she answered. "I have met many, in many different worlds; some from far off places, while others are as familiar to me as my own hands. How and why we are here, now, I do not know, nor can I say I care, particularly. We are as we always have been..." Her eyes moved over his face, trying to place who his vessel might be.
"Where we are now, the one who houses me is called Isobel. Which vessel is yours? I feel that I know you, from somewhere."
Freyr beamed brightly. "Yes, that's right.... I remember you from quite recently. Your Isobel brought my Rafael a gift. She's been a great help to him of late." He reached out to her, a warm touch of reassurance that traced lightly down her arm. "They seem to have both been through quite a lot. I am grateful they found one another; he seems happier when his friends are around. I hope that we might be friends, too, in light of this. Perhaps we can both help them through their trials.
"How is she faring, your Isobel?"
She caught his hand, lacing those warm fingers between her own; it was a familiar feeling, even if she'd never met this particular deity before.
"Well," she said, smiling back at him. "I had to step in, of course, to help adjust things a little, but that is what we gods do, no? Our purpose, you might say. Though I've always held that a lighter touch is better than what some of my relatives might be pushed to say." Her thoughts turned briefly to the one time she turned a girl who'd had the gall to ensnare her husband's attention into a small, sweet-smelling plant; she knew that even she was capable of poorly thought decisions. But this, what she had done to her vessel, was not one of them. Her brow furrowed a little as she thought back to Isobel's memories of Rafe.
"Your Rafe is certainly struggling. Have you thought about giving him a helping hand?"
He shook his head. "I guide him toward pleasant dreams when he allows it," he said, "though recently he seems more inclined toward nightmares. In truth I'm not quite certain what else I can do." He squeezed her hand. Golden-brown eyes flitted over her face, searching her expression for any answers hidden away there. "If you have suggestions, I would be very grateful for them."
Persephone frowned, dark brows drawing together over concerned eyes.
"I don't know if you'd wish to visit my treatment on your vessel," she finally said, slowly. "I... Isobel had too much to think on, and nowhere to turn. Or, that was simply how she felt. So I remove some of the issue. Maybe too much, but my touch is rusty," she admitted, shrugging her shoulders. She tugged Freyr forward, and they began to walk through the field, the grain swaying before them like supplicants. "How do you think your Rafael would fare with something like that? Losing memories?"
Freyr's smile faded. He looked down to the grains that moved beneath them, the way each blade seemed to curl around Persephone's feet. The field liked her, it was clear; it responded as warmly to her as it ever had to him. It set his mind at ease, and allowed him to more thoroughly consider her suggestion.
"If I could pinpoint which memories," Freyr said, "that would be ideal. But too much, and I'm afraid he'd end up right back where he is now. He may need the memories of the bad experiences to stop him repeating them." He shook his head. "He gives too much of himself, too often. He has help now, but even a strong community can only do so much."
The spring goddess made a sympathetic mmm, her eyes drawing toward the sun in the blue sky. Her free hand rose to shield her eyes.
"Perhaps he can be urged to protect himself not solely for himself, but for those who care for him. Sometimes people must look outside of themselves to find value, if they refuse to see it in themselves." She glanced back at Freyr with a questioning look. "Together, those friends and his memories would hopefully teach enough of a lesson that he would learn it, truly.
"Though it is mortal to err and err again, is it not?" A slice of smile curved her mouth, like an amused but chastising parent. "Their memories rarely become long enough for them to understand what it is they've done wrong."
Freyr chuckled. "Too true. Seventy, eighty years… it's hardly enough to learn anything. I suppose it's no wonder they keep making mistakes we've all seen before." He drew a deep breath, basking in the smell of sunshine and golden, growing things. He looked to his companion, seeing both reflected in her, and found himself newly gracious for her having visited. As they walked he continued to mull over her suggestions, and found himself latching on one.
"Protecting himself for others," he echoed. "Now that is a tack that might work. I will do what I can from here to guide him in that direction. Perhaps your Isobel could do the same."
"It is something she needs to learn; she, like your vessel, has stretched herself too far, too thin, for others. There is a merit in sharing the burden, especially with those who claim to care. I think she has been puzzling that out as she tries to remember who she is; only time will tell if my experiment works or not.
"But Nature will do what it does, and what fails is a lesson in itself. I certainly hope that this won't be the last time we will see each other because something was unfixable." She frowned in Freyr's direction, glancing down at their entwined hands. Rarely before had she felt such a familiar presence, almost like looking into a mirror.
"Nothing is unfixable." Foolishly, or perhaps only because he so badly wanted it to be true, Freyr genuinely believed this. That belief shone bright on his face. With his free hand he raised her chin, looking down into her bright, gleaming eyes. "They will get through this," he said. "Together. With us. And you and I will see one another again. We must discuss how our experiments turn out, after all. If there is anything I can do to assist you, you'll let me know somehow, won't you?"
She smiled, nodding. "Of course. It's always good to compare notes. For now, though," she glanced away, taking in the whole of the scene around them. "Will you show me where I am? This is beautiful, and it so reminds me of home. I'd like to stay awhile, if that's all right with you."
His nod was almost a bow, gracious and slow as he welcomed her into his sunlit fields. Her hand in his, he led her forward, and introduced her to the many comforts of his home.