She feels his touch. He is certain of it. Though his fingertips brush the arch of her cheek with the gentleness of a moth wing, she startles. And she looks at him.
No. Merely in his direction. Thanatos knows better.
She can’t see him. See his black eyes that glisten with longing. See the chiseled lines of his face that ever turns in her direction. See the chest that cages a sense of both passion and despair with every pulse of deified blood. Not yet.
But, for a moment, it seems her eyes somehow reach beyond her mortal perception and find his own. And that moment becomes a suspension of his eternity.
At the sound of her name, she turns, her attention commanded with ease. An angry breath swells in the lungs of the god, slowly released through flared nostrils. He knows this voice. He loathes this voice whose lips he deems so unworthy, they profane every word they speak. But Cassandra runs to this voice with eager, open arms. Arms that entwine about her lover with an insatiable desire.
This, Thanatos cannot bear to witness. The dark wings that rest about his shoulders unfurl with unseen majesty, and lift him into the clouded skies. Fury resounds with each stroke as he makes his way to the Mount– a fury that would have compelled Poseidon to churn the seas with waves that would swallow ships, or blinded Zeus so that the ground below was blackened with each strike of his lightning.
But there are no storms here. Only the burning of his own anger and lust, like fire that crawls beneath his skin, scorching him with each painful breath. As his feet finally come to rest on the ivory steps, he pauses to let their cold touch resound throughout him. He will not let his sisters see him in such a state.
Not if he hopes to get what he wants from them.
They lounge amid pillars of pale stone that only seem to accentuate their own ashen skin. Spidersilk robes cling to their every curve, so thin and glittering it seems they are adorned only with the morning dew. Pointed chins, blood red lips, eyes like cats that glisten gold in the dark, they are both terrible and mesmerizing. On the Mount they are known as the Moirai, yet mortal men tremble at the mention of their names, and so they refer to them merely as The Fates.
“Ah, brother, dear,” Clotho coos, rising to greet him. Her knotted golden curls flow down her back and between her round, white breasts. The spidersilk is unfastened and hangs loosely around hips that would be the pleasure of many, should she ever whisper her permission. Were he forced to choose, Thanatos would deem her the most beautiful of the three.
“Where have you been reaping today?” Lachesis asks, stretching across a pillow so that her body shimmers in the light.
“Palaces,” he replies, kissing Clotho’s forehead. “Battlegrounds.”
Atropos is the last to speak. The firstborn. She smiles knowingly at her brother, the pointed tips of her teeth accentuating her almost animal nature. Thanatos often mused that to look upon Atropos was to see through the eyes of the prey before the hunter. Even now, she gazed at him with something ravenous in her eyes.
“And hillsides,” he admits, softly, crossing to sit at her feet.
“What brings you to Olympus? No, don’t tell me. Let me guess,” she continues, reaching to pluck a fig that grows just within the length of her arms. She rips it from the shrub on which it has ripened, her bite slicing through the meat with a savage zeal. “You want to see a spool cut.”
When he was a child, Thanatos watched in fascination as his sisters worked. Clotho winding the fibers of life, Lachesis reading the intricacies of its destiny, and Atropos waiting eagerly to snip the fragile cord. Some were cut short. Atropos enjoyed those. She would laugh and toss the strand to Thanatos, sending him to reap the soul from the body.
Now, he is weary of the reaping.
“It seems there are no secrets between us,” he replies.
“I do know my brother.” Her lips tease upwards into another hungry smile, and she swallows the rest of the fig. “Clotho! Bring a spool.”
Clotho eagerly runs to the wall where a myriad of spools rest. Under any other hand, there would seem no reason or method to the arrangement. But Clotho knows each spool by sight. The colors she weaves on her spindle are so unique to her eyes that none can hide from her.
“Wait!” Thanatos calls. “I want you to cut a particular spool.”
Clotho turns sharply to him with wide eyes, and his gaze lingers to watch her iris slowly expand until there is but a thin band of pale blue color at its edge. Atropos leans towards their brother, her curiosity heightened, her manner rapacious.
“What spool is this?” she ventures.
Thanatos takes a breath. He has so seldom spoken the name.
It is more sacred to him than the throne of Zeus.
“Cassandra,” he finally whispers. And Atropos smiles.
“Cassandra,” she echos, whispering each syllable of the name with a slowly, pointed strike. Her eyes close as she inhales deeply, shuddering from some wicked pleasure that begins in her chest and pulses till it reaches her lips. “That name holds beauty. Seduction. The fall of mortal men. Don’t you think?”
Her eyes cut to Clotho sharply, and the youngest Fate quickly returns her focus to the spools before her. It’s only a moment before she’s found it. The wrapping is sparse, a testament to the youth of its mortal echo. But the strands are a rich shade of amber. Deep. Golden. Like honey fit for the altar of a god. This bespeaks greatness.
This bespeaks destiny.
Clotho’s hand gently takes the rod at the edge of the spool, and pulls it from its place amongst the others. She frowns as she turns back to her brother.
“Why, Thanatos? This one is so lovely! It took a great deal of time to weave this shade!” Her lower lip extends in a childish pout. Were he any other man, Thanatos might contemplate pinching that lip between his teeth to teach her a lesson.
Were he any other man, she might allow it.
“And it is quite masterful,” he begins, crossing to her so that the spool barely separates them. “That is why I simply must have it for myself.” He playfully brushes the tip of her nose with his finger, and she smiles once more, relinquishing the rod into his own hands. Even when they were young, Clotho was the first to give in to his whims.
He takes a steadying breath and turns again to Atropos. Her lips hold neither the curl of a smile, nor a frown. Her face is cool and still, like deep water. But her eyes dance with a craving that Thanatos knows all too well. The deep, innate desire to end. To sever. To cut the strand he carefully extends to her.
“Well?” he gently asks.
She glances up at him with a coy smile, and snatches the spool.
“Why not?” she replies. “Fetch my shears.”
Her hand extends elegantly towards a table, where the shears sit waiting. He feels himself tremble with every step, until his hands clutch the nestled blades. Something that speaks deeply to him. A last exhale. The final flutter of eyelids. The penultimate beat of a heart. There is a finality in their touch. As he places them into the grasp of his sister, Thanatos feels the breath pulled from his lungs.
His eyes widen with fear as her own narrow with intention.
“Go,” she tells him. “By the time you reach her, it will be done.”
He hurries from their presence, the sound of their laughter drifting along the steps behind him as he vanishes from sight. His heart begins to quicken, and he runs, leaping into the air as he reaches the last step. As he vaults into the sky, he finally breathes with ease.
“At last. You are mine,” he tells her, knowing she cannot hear. Not yet. But soon.
Thanatos returns to her with a speed only Hermes could even hope to match. Desire pulses through every fiber of his being. A pure desire that the tainted mortals below cannot even fathom. Every thought, every impulse is governed by the need for her. For her eyes to finally be opened to him. For her lips to finally feel his touch. And as he draws nearer to the stone house where she lies with her lover, he finally feels uncaged.
Until he hears her cry. It cuts through him like a kopis, the blade slicing open his chest so that the hand of an enemy might pluck his heart from amid the caging of his ribs. Her voice rises above all nature, its wail filled with an ache that he will never comprehend, and that chills him in its foreboding.
Thanatos enters the chamber, the walls holding no power to keep him out. And he sees her, bent over the body of the man whom he so often envied. She grasps at her lover with white knuckles, as if her fingers could pull life from somewhere deep within him. But his body is cold, and his eyes are glossed.
And he looks at Thanatos with terror.
The chest of the god fills with fury once more. His ire is not stoked by the fallen soul before him who now waits to be ferried to the river Styx, but rather the sisters who reach through the aether. He can hear the laughter of his sisters echo through his thoughts once more, their presence taunting him with a sadistic pleasure.
“What have you done?” he demands.
“Sorry, dear brother,” Lachesis sighs. “But she is not meant for you.”
“Besides! The spool is much too pretty!” Clotho adds amid her giggles.
“But don’t take it so hard,” Atropos scolds him. “I promise you this… since you cannot have her… no man ever will.”