Title: that would be my first death

Characters: Acheron; Peitho

Relationships: Acheron & Peitho (Original Character)

Summary: Acheron wants to know if his sister ever regrets becoming a priest.

Warnings: Peitho (formerly Asterodia) is an OC and one of the fourteen priests of Elysion.

Note: past viewpoint

Song of the chapter: Black Swan, BTS


Acheron would never forget the day he was sworn in as a priest of Elysion.

He still remembered the incense burning, the burning scent of spices almost cloying in his nostrils, the smoky scent different from the oils used in anointing corpses. The robes he had been given, with small baubles that had the emblem of Elysion hanging from the belt, little weights that kept the cloth from slipping around.

He remembered stepping up to the fires in the pyre, holding a pair of worn sandals – shoes he had worn before, when he wasn't truly of Elysion. It was a symbol, something to represent his old life. The left sole was more worn than the right, but the right was ripped, near the heel. They had served him well.

Acheron tossed the pair of shoes into the flames without hesitation. The fires started as if his throwing the shoes inside had surprised them, but embraced them nonetheless, and slowly began to devour them, starting their efforts to reduce the old sandals into ash.

The fire felt hot on his face, and as he turned, on his exposed neck. Cybele smiled, Sephira at her back, and he had a new name now. That was the day he was reborn as Acheron, priest of Elysion.

The one thing he couldn't remember was what his name had been, before. It wasn't a name given to him by his parents, whoever they were. Perhaps it had been the orphanage that named him, a kindly matron who was devout but not of Elysion, raising children who had no parents, either because of death or abandonment.

A name he abandoned when he became Acheron, and never once looked back.

"Why is that important?" Peitho asked, wrinkling her nose. And it said a lot about just how beautiful his sister was, that even a frowning visage with squinted eyes like she'd just seen something disgusting was still an image to behold.

A frowning woman, still so breathtakingly beautiful, and every word that escaped her mouth was blunt and callous like a hammer to the head. A beauty with the personality and patience of a boar.

Acheron sighed. Wrong person to reminisce to.

Peitho apparently realized what he wanted, and she made some kind of an effort to be accommodating. She straightened out her frowns and swept a hand through her silver hair, to get it out of her way. "Do you miss it?"

Some kind of an effort. Peitho would never be Sephira. They were different, as much as night and day, and to expect Sephira's quiet and compassionate empathy from Peitho was to leap off a cliff without taking measures and not expect serious harm.

Not to say that Peitho did not care for him or have her own method of comforting. Peitho just had a way about her that was provoking, an intense, ferocious gaze that offset what would have been a very delicate appearance – like daffodils, maybe, or the reflection of the moon on the surface of the water. Her descendants always seemed to inherit either her appearance or her personality, and it never failed to be disconcerting, to see someone who looked like her act so differently. Acheron still reminisced about one of her granddaughters, who had been very meek and yet her grandmother's spitting image.

But Peitho was their sister and perfect as she was, and none of them wanted to see her change her ways, even when she picked fights with them. To those within her boundaries it was a challenge, always insisting that they be their best selves, and a reminder for them to push her as well.

To her enemies, it was an attitude that taunted them – dared them to get on her level or die trying.

It was provocative, said one of her former lovers. A lord of some place that thought he could tame the fierce woman, thinking her a nymph that could be caught and made his. He called Peitho a worthy challenge.

Acheron stifled a snort at the old memories. The poor sucker hadn't realized Peitho was a storm wearing human shape until she'd chewed him up and spat him out and left him pining after his 'one and only love' for the rest of his days while she never once looked back.

"No," he said honestly. He never did. Back then, as the orphan with the unknown name he had been, all he wanted was to become a priest of Elysion, craving a place where he wouldn't just be feared and shunned but had the potential to be something more. Maybe that was when his talent in illusions had truly become something pronounced, impressive. Acheron never regretted it. "But I wanted to know about what you thought."

Because while they all had their own stories, Peitho's was arguably closest to Sephira's. Maybe Cybele's was even closer, but Cybele was dead, so Peitho's was closest.

And since he didn't dare speak to Sephira about what she had given up, he went to the closest person he could.

Peitho twirled a strand of silver hair around one finger, and Acheron waited patiently. It didn't take long for a reply. She was far too quick a thinker to need long to organize her thoughts, even when they required that she dip into memories she didn't care enough to consider in a long while.

"I like being Peitho more than I like being Asterodia," she said at last. "Even when I was doing things I never imagined needing to do, I liked being Peitho, priestess of Elysion, more than I liked being Asterodia, some girl born and bred to marry Prince Endymion so I could carry his sons and give birth to fine princes. I still hate doing the washing, but if I had to make that choice again, I wouldn't think twice."

"You're still terrible at washing clothes," Acheron noted, thinking back when he was still a boy and yelling at her about how she sucked at the chores. Admittedly, back then he had been filled with a bit of boyish idiocy, overcompensating for the fact that Peitho had been born from nobility while he was an orphan. Peitho had never taken that lying down, and they fought a lot – but they also had each other's backs, before and after.

Strange how he'd never been so abrasive towards Sephira.

Well, not really. You couldn't not love Sephira. It was impossible, like forever defying gravity. He might try to jump, try to fly in the air like birds, but it would never last long.

Peitho reached out and rubbed her knuckles into his skull. When he hissed in pain and glowered, she smirked.

"And Sephira chose the same, remember," she reminded him.

Acheron let out a huff at her perceptiveness. She didn't need the Sight to be insightful.