seulrene- hadestown au

like spring that suddenly comes (i keep feeling like love will come too)

Joohyun rests her cheek against her fist, feigning boredom as her eyes track the way the boy trembles before her. She crosses one leg over the other and watches the boy bring his instrument to his chest and inhale a shaky breath.

 

“Queen of shadows…. Queen of shades…” the boy’s tremulous voice echoes in Joohyun’s cavernous throne room made of blinking fluorescent lights and jagged pieces of obsidian. Her eyes flick to Seulgi’s back, the black velvet of her shoulder-less dress cutting a devastating silhouette. She always dresses in black when she stays with Joohyun now. Like she’s in mourning.

 

“Oh, it’s about me,” she mutters against her fist with a huff. And still Seulgi refuses to turn around and look at her.

 

“But she fell in love with a beautiful lady. Who walked up above in her mother’s green field.” Joohyun’s jaw clenches. Of course he’s heard of the stories. The stories of the queen of the underworld meeting her bride and trapping her in a cycle of never-ending waiting and separation. She sees the way Seulgi’s bare shoulders stiffen beneath her curling dark hair. In another season long ago, Joohyun would have reached a hand out and soothed the other woman with her touch alone.

 

Instead she sits on her throne, watching this quivering boy sing his last song before he’s separated from the woman he loves.

 

But then she hears a melody so old that she thinks she is mistaken. She frowns and it is then at last that Seulgi turns back and looks at her with a brow creased in confusion. Joohyun doesn’t even realize she’s standing until she hears the clack of her heels against the black marble floor.

 

“Where did you get that melody?” she chokes out, her voice thick with an emotion Joohyun had thought she’d forgotten how to feel.

 

“Let him finish,” Seulgi says quietly before Joohyun can take another step towards the boy. She stills at the command from her wife and lets that wretchedly familiar melody transport her away from this place.

 

To the rolling fields of golden wheat that had swayed with the gentle winds of an eternal spring. Joohyun had been so young then. Unfamiliar with the sight of the world above, bathed in the light of the sun. She’d smiled at the sprawling expanse of life before her until she saw someone kneeling at the edge of the field.

 

It was a girl in a dress of deep green like the emeralds Joohyun sometimes found in the mines of her kingdom. Despite being a god, Joohyun was helpless to do anything but stare, transfixed as she watched the girl scoop lush flowers from the earth into her wicker basket. There was a tenderness to the way she gently handled each plant and Joohyun had wondered what it must feel like to be touched like that.

 

“Oh.”

 

Joohyun realized with a slow blink, that the girl was half turned toward her with a wide brimmed sun hat covering the upper part of her face. But she could see enough from the bottom half alone that she had a beautiful smile.

 

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were waiting there.”

 

With sure fingers, the girl untied the fastening of a bright red ribbon from under her chin and let the hat fall. Joohyun swallowed as she met kind brown eyes. Her hands clenched and unclenched in the deep pockets of her trousers.

 

Come home with me, she nearly said. Instead she rocked back on the heels of her boots and pointedly gestured with her hand at the seemingly never-ending expanse of green and gold around them.

 

“The gardens here are beautiful. I don’t often get to see this sort of thing in my kingdom.”

 

“You must be the guest my mother spoke about! I wanted to grab flowers for you before you came,” the girl explained as she rose to her feet, holding her basket in one hand and her hat in the other.

 

“Thank you. There aren’t many flowers where I’m from.”

 

The girl tilted her head in confusion at the words. And Joohyun had felt relief that she’d not asked for her to run away with her to her kingdom of coal and ash. How could she have dared to wish to trap this girl in such darkness for her own selfish desire?

 

“That’s what my mother said. It’s why I wanted to give you as many as I could before you left.”

 

Joohyun smiled at the words, watching the way the girl let her hat fall to her feet as she reached for a bright yellow flower at the top of the pile.

 

“Here.”

 

Their fingers brushed and Joohyun almost flinched at how warm the other woman was. But instead Joohyun brought the flower to her face and delicately inhaled.

 

She did not realize until much later that she had hummed out a quiet tune as she had sniffed the flower. It was only when that girl had become her wife and giggled the tune into her ear as they danced under the light of a flickering candle in their bedroom.

 

“It was a song from my heart, I suppose,” Joohyun had mumbled into her wife’s ear while nuzzling against the slightly taller woman’s temple. She’d only received a delighted laugh in reply as they continued to sway in the lightness of the earlier years of their love for each other.

 

Joohyun stands shoulder to shoulder with Seulgi now, watching the boy croon his ballad that makes her chest ache. She wrenches her gaze away and stares at the other woman’s profile, watches the way her eyes fill with tears. All Joohyun has been good at lately is making Seulgi cry.

 

And then the boy sweetly sings out the melody once again. Her song for Seulgi. 

 

Joohyun is helpless to do anything but repeat it back, her voice rough from how long it has been since she’s sang like this.

 

Seulgi flinches at the sound, her tears trailing down her round cheeks. But she turns more fully to meet Joohyun’s gaze as she raises a hand, palm up.

 

Swallowing, Joohyun, Queen of the Underworld and guardian of all souls of the dead, past and future, feels tears well in her eyes as she holds her wife’s hand at last and sings for her.

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