A knock at the door pulls me away from my inner turmoil. I stand up from the couch, looking out the peephole. Morpheus is standing on the opposite side. I let out a shaky breath before swinging the door open, motioning for the Dream God to enter.
“Hi, Morpheus. Thank you so much for coming,” I say.
“Hi, Clio,” he says. “I’m happy to help. How are you two today?”
I look behind me towards the bedroom where Eros is resting. The two of us haven’t spoken much since we agreed to have Morpheus help with the nightmares, the anxiety is eating at us. I look down at my shaking hands.
“Could be better,” I mumble.
“I see that. Do you have a pot I can boil some water in?”
I nod, leading him to the kitchen. I grab one of my medium-sized pots, fill it with water, and place it on the stove. Standing beside me, Morpheus grabs some dried poppy petals from a bag and drops them into the water.
“So,” Morpheus begins, “once the tea steeps and is consumed, it will ease you into the dream world.”
I nod, thinking this through. Before I can reply, Eros comes into the kitchen, his eyes still wild with panic.
“Aren…I don’t know about this,” he says.
I give him a small smile and walk over to him, kissing him on the cheek. “It will be okay.”
“It will not cause anxiety. It will make you sleepy and help open the door to your unconscious mind. Clio will do most of the work and anything that happens there is between us, and only us. It is your choice to speak about what happens or not. Whatever I see will stay confidential,” Morpheus reassures.
Eros rubs the back of his neck. “I appreciate that.”
Morpheus nods. “Go ahead and place three cups out. I will drink only a little.”
I reach up into one of the cupboards, grab out three teacups, and place them beside the stove. Morpheus puts more petals into the cups before pouring the tea into them.
“Go ahead and get comfortable, and I will bring everything over when it’s ready. It should only take a few minutes. It is fast-working as well.”
Eros walks over to the couch in the living room, taking a seat. His leg bobs up and down, his eyes trained on us. His anxiety is amplifying, and I can feel it in my soul. My hands shake as I take a seat beside him, but I need to try to stay calm for him.
Morpheus hands each of us a cup.
“Aren?” Eros whispers. I turn to look at him, and our eyes connect. His are still grey and stormy. Would they ever go back to normal?
“Remember what I told you? My…my darkest,” Eros stutters. He doesn’t have to go on.
“I know, Eros.”
Morpheus returns from the kitchen with his cup, taking a gulp, then coughing.
“I guess I could have waited for it to cool a bit,” he says, before looking at Eros. “You should be in a comfortable position, Eros. Maybe with your head in her lap. Unless you wish to go to your bed?”
Eros takes a sip of the tea before laying his head into my lap. I gently run my fingers through his hair.
“The tea’s effects will be quick. You will find yourself asleep and in the dream world, dreaming as you would any other time,” Morpheus continues.
Eros is already asleep, or at least, I think he is. I can feel him twitching on my lap.
“We will be observers, at least, at first,” Morpheus informs me.
I nod, taking a sip of the tea, taste of poppy tingling on my tongue.
“You are safe,” he says. “We are here to watch your body, and I will be there to protect you in the dream.”
I look up at Morpheus, letting out a shaky breath. “Okay.”
“He is in the dream world. Are you ready to join him, Clio?”
I look down at Eros once more. He seems almost childlike in this state, so vulnerable. I kiss his forehead.
“I am,” I say, closing my eyes. It takes me seconds before I enter the dream world. It is dark at first, and then the scene unravels before me.
“Do you see?” Morpheus asks me. I do not see him, but I know he is there.
“I do,” I whisper.
The dream is set in the apartment that I was supposed to live in with Eros after we got married the second time. When I was Psyche. The night I was captured. I get to see what happened to him. As the dream clears a bit more, I catch sight of Eros. I see gold ichor dripping off his back onto the floor. I choke back a sob, covering my mouth. Seeing him like this is harder than I imagined.
“Princissika?” He stands. I try to yell out to him, saying I am here but I can’t find my voice. It is trapped inside me as I yell into nothing. He collapses to his knees, the pain too strong for him. I clutch my chest. A shadowy figure looms above him, and it takes me a moment before I realize…it’s me. In the imposter’s hand is Thanatos’ scythe, Eros’ blood dripping from it, feathers clinging to the gold ichor. The sight makes me feel sick.
Suddenly, Din and Las appear at Eros’s side. They snarl at her, baring their sharp teeth. That’s my boys. The imposter backs away from them, and Eros stands.
“Princissika, whatever has happened, we can face it together,” he pleads, his hand reaching out towards her. Why? Why would he forgive? If that really was me, why would he forgive? I hear Morpheus say something, but I am too focused on Eros. I need to figure out when to step in.
“Princissika,” the imposter snaps at him, dragging out the nickname. “I always hated that you called me that. You never expected that anyone could not fall in love with you? The perfect God of Love.”
You bitch. She comes closer to him with the scythe, swiping the weapon at the tigers. I can’t seem to find my voice or move. The dream is much too strong for me. I try to move my legs, try to get to him. I want to lunge at the bitch and take her out, but I can’t.
“Well, how do you feel now?” the imposter continues. “Wingless, and soon to be headless, at the hands of the only woman you ever loved.”
Eros falls to his knees. He…he really did give up. The thought stings and burns my soul.
“Gods, you’re pathetic! You can’t even put up a good fight, can you?” she growls.
Eros bows his head as the imposter raises the scythe. I manage to break the hold of the dream. I run at her and tackle her to the ground. She looks up at me in surprise, her eyes glowing black as night. The imposter pushes me onto my back, the stem of the scythe pressing into my neck. I gasp for breath and kick my legs. It takes me a second to grip the scythe, pushing back with all my power. The imposter is thrown away from me, and I quickly stand. I watch as she slowly morphs into a group of imps. Their smiles are bright on their faces.
“Fuck you!” I spit, stabbing the first one in the gut. It lets out a piercing squeal as it’s life force is drained. I pull the blade from it and turn to the next. The imp bares its fangs at me, and I swing the scythe, slicing its head clean off. I drop the weapon, my breathing ragged. My shoulders are heavy as I turn to Eros. His head is still bowed, waiting for death. I collapse to my knees, crawling to him with tears rolling down my cheeks.
“Lykos?” I mumble. I hear Morpheus say something, but I can’t comprehend.
He lifts deadened eyes to look at me, and I cover my mouth.
“You can take my head, Princissika, it’s yours,” he mutters.
My lip trembles as I fix a strand of his hair. He was really going to give me his head…
“Lykos, I am not taking your head.” I point over to the imps. “It’s over now.”
Eros’ eyes slowly flicker. “A-Aren?”
I give him a quick nod, and unable to hold back any longer, I wrap my arms around his neck. “It’s me.”
His arms enfold me into a tight hug. “You…you saved me.”
“He needs to see the truth before waking up. So he knows for certain the dream was just a dream,” Morpheus whispers.
I nod at Morpheus’ words, before turning my attention back to Eros. “Yes, Lykos. I never ever would hurt you.”
“I-I…,” he stutters, cupping my face in his hands. “I…I see you, my soul.” A tear rolls down his face as he presses his forehead to mine. “I see you,” he whispers.
The dream slowly fades, and before I know it, I am back in our living room, my face hovering over Eros’. He blinks slowly, curling into my lap. My cheeks are damp from my tears.
“Did…did it work?” I ask.
“Yes,” Morpheus says, “and now, anytime that dream should visit you, you will always see the truth, and Clio will kick ass every time. I have a feeling there is no need for that particular dream again.”
“Thank you, Morpheus,” Eros says.
I look up at the Dream God. “Yes. Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome.” Morpheus smiles. “I’m glad to help. Should I leave the two of you alone? Do you want me to help clean up the remains of the tea?”
“I can clean up,” I say, looking back down at Eros. “Thank you again.”
“Anytime,” Morpheus says, exiting our floor.
I kiss Eros’s head. “How are you feeling?”
“I…I feel strung out,” he says, squeezing his eyes shut. “You…you saw it.”
My heart still stings from what I saw. When he gave up, it broke every inch of my soul, but when he realized it wasn’t me, when I saw his face, that whole process was worth it.
“I did,” I whisper.
He shakes his head, tears rolling down his face. A sight I never thought I would see. Eros was always so confident and playful. I didn’t think I would see him so…broken. Laying down beside him, I move his head to my chest.
“I know, Lykos.”
His body shakes. “I…I-I wish I…I could take the memory from you, and I’m a fucking monster for wishing that.”
I run my fingers through his hair soothingly. “You are not a monster. You have never been a monster.”
He continues to shake in my arms. “I am! Because I want you to forget! I’m sorry, Aren…you must hate me.”
I stay silent for a few minutes, closing my eyes. I didn’t even think. Eros knows how many times my memories have been manipulated, and he hated the fact that he wanted to do the same thing my mother did to me. I press my lips to his forehead. I understand why he wanted to do it. He didn’t want me to blame myself for the events that transpired.
“I will never hate you, Okay? I promise you that,” I whisper, “I love you.”
His eyes connect with mine, shining like a child’s when they want reassurance. “Even now? Knowing everything? You…You still love me?”
“I still love you, and I always will. Even after everything.” I smile at him.
His eyes continue to tear up as he leans in, kissing me hard. “I love you so fucking much.”
I giggle. “I love you so fucking much, too. Now, you should try and sleep.”
He laughs, brokenly. “I’m…I’m scared, Aren…”
“I know, but I am here if you need me.”
He stands up, taking my hand and leading me to the bedroom. His body is still shaking, and I hope that a good night’s sleep will help. He pulls me onto the bed, slipping us both under the covers.
“I…I need you…” he says. “I…I need you to sing me to sleep.”
I tilt my head, smiling. “What would you like me to sing?”
He pulls me close to his chest, resting my head on his heart. The rhythm is still a little frantic. I close my eyes, trying to soothe him with my love.
“W-what would you sing to Thavsma if she needed it?”
“Well, she does like those Disney movies…”
He stays silent, and I assume that will work for him. I think for a moment, and the first lullaby that comes to mind is from the movie Tangled.
“Flowers gleam and glow…” I sing, running my fingers up and down his chest. Once I am done. I look up at him.
“Really? Tangled? That is your choice?” he says, smiling softly.
I scrunch my nose. “I was going to sing that new lullaby from Frozen Two.”
He laughs softly, stroking my hair. “I can sing to you, Aren…”
“Please do,” I whisper.
His voice drops low as he sings. Eros’s voice is very soothing, and I find it hard to keep my eyes open. I smile brightly as I keep my arms wrapped tightly around him, drifting off into a peaceful sleep.