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tried to reach deep

June 2019



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tried to reach deep

fic: Endymion

Title: Endymion
Series: Hetalia
Character/Pairing: Greece/Japan
Rating: PG?
Word count: 3582
Author's note: kink meme: Greece/Japan, sleeping beauty. Notes are at the end.

There's a lot of tales about him, the youth called Endymion. It's said that he was a stargazer, a shepherd, a poet, a dreamer, a philosopher. He has been in love with the stars, the sky, but mostly the moon for which he sleeps eternally for.

But these are in essence, tales. Nothing more, nothing less.

Through it all, there is one truth: a boy turned man who fell asleep one day and never awoke.


In the underworld, lies Hypnos' court. The river Lethe runs through it, for forgetfulness and dreams go hand in hand. Guarding the entrance, attending with amphora when needed is Aergia, goddess of sloth. She yawns as she works, stooped and dreary, half-lidded with sleepiness. It falls over all members of Hypnos' court. Her sweeping is listless, bringing up poppy dust to float through the heavy air.

The man lies on an ebony bed of poppies and black feathers, his eyes open in a drugged sleep. Day and night, sunrise and sunset, twilight and dawn the god of sleep comes in. He has two small wings at his head, and the face of eternal youth. He leans down and strokes the face of the beautiful youth who has not fallen under the spell of the moon, but sleep, who has taken a liking to him, and offered him solace in a dark time.

And what of Greece the country of legends? A tale, a myth. Like Pegasi and gods, it has been swallowed up in time.

Constantinople has fallen. They are Ottoman territory now.

So sets the sun on the house of the gods, the once great.

Deep beneath the earth with unworshipped gods lies their country, fast asleep. In sleep, there is no pain, in sleep, he is free from the world, and floats weightless above the stars on a bed of poppies and feathers. He sleeps knowing that they are under Tourkokratia. He sleeps remembering heroes and gods and a mother long gone.

He dreams and the world is vast and unknowable. Phantasmagoria, whimsical or wise. Phantasos and Morpheus are his companions. Phobetor skulks around the shadows, showing hints of the Tourkokratia: the paidomazoma, children lead crying away from their homes to become a one of the hated conqueror, spouting their god, their words. They pay fealty to their hated enemy, with gods and the glories of Constantinople as little more than a faraway memory, as seemingly far as gods and winged shoes upon fleet-footed heavenly messengers.

(Phobetor rarely comes, for Hypnos has favored him, and he limits Phobetor's powers. But he still finds ways to make his presence known.)


Years pass. The year eighteen-fourteen comes and passes. Revolution comes as faint gunshots in the dreams, dark shapes and shadows beyond the light, the memories, the dreams scented with poppy. He is free of what has driven him here, and yet bathed in the river Lethe, he can no longer remember what he has left behind him.

The poppy dust flows through and above his gaze they look like stars have attached themselves to the ceiling. He counts them, wishes on them idle wishes he forgets soon after in his half-sleep in the land of the dead and dreaming.


In eighteen-ninety-nine, diplomatic relations are opened with a far off country, one who has ever so recently come out from the shuttered windows, the closed doors of isolationism.

And when he arrives, curious to find of the person he has heard of, there is no one to meet. It is a slight, and yet instead of simply feeling ignored, he feels confused. It hasn't since ancient times that he's heard of one of his kind disappearing.

That night, he dreams of a beautiful man trapped not in a castle, but under brambles and earth, deep below in a far, dark world lit by captured starlight.


There are more talks the next day. He absently rubs the bellies of cats, leaves out fish for them and politely listens to the discussion. It is only when the day is almost done that he leans before a tortoiseshell, looks eye to eye and asks quietly. where is he?

The cat looks back, enigmatic, seemingly innocent. It begins to lick itself, and Japan pretends to have lost interest.

Japan has lived in his own world of gods of myths, he has witnessed them, smiled politely at exaggerated retellings, when he knew the hero for a crook and the supposed fair maiden to be little more than a glorified prostitute. He has talked to animals, traveled with monks and inspired some of those tales of his own.

He is not without his own devices.


For three days he pretends to ignore the tortoiseshell. He brings it fish with the others, and strokes it when they gather around his feet, but he only watches it out of the corner of his eye.

For three days he seemingly immerses himself in the culture: sampling the fresh market and native dishes; sunning himself with the cats; hearing the local tales. He pretends to not notice that the tortoiseshell has been following him all this time. As dusk approaches in purple velvet and gold, a black cat slinks out from between the whitewashed buildings.

He follows, the cats pretending to not notice, he pretending to not be following them until they are out of the city and into the streets beyond. He follows until his feet hurt, and they come to the base of a massive black rock. About it, the cats skirt. Japan murmurs I'm too old for this and lowers himself down, the rocks scraping at him as he went inch by agonizing inch.


It is called Yomi in his lands. The place where Izanami no Mikoto fell, and became death. Izanami turned putrid and hateful in the depths of Yomi. He thinks of Greece's own tales of this: Eudydice caught by the snare of the underworld, left by one last mistake of turning back to see the face of his love too soon; and Sisyphus, who could cheat death, but not for long, and was punished to eternal fruitless drudgery.

He will purify himself, but he does not fear death, for as a land Yomi has no hold on him until his people have fallen. It may try, but it will not succeed.

The air is damp, thick with the smell of death. There are tales of ghosts and skeletons, demons to pull him under, but he does not fear. He has faced oni before, the difference in possibly monsters does not dissuade him. The place is dark, but he has a long memory. He murmurs words and a flame hovers over his hands as he walks into the lands of the dead. He has known enough priests and Onmyouji to pick up the tools of the trade, and not all of them have died with the legends. He knows better than to step into the waters, whatever they are. The first river he comes across is a dull, grey one, murky and cloudy. There are stones between it, and he takes his only choice to use them as a path, hoping they do not sink beneath him.

He feels the cold permeate his boots, moisture soaking through. It is an overwhelming sense of melancholy that comes over him. It is like drowning in icy water. Still, he goes on, despite the feeling of hopelessness which makes him want to curl behind the rocks and die.

But he does not give in. The farther he gets away from the stream, the less the melancholy affects him, until he is almost normal again. He notices ghosts hovering above him, their faint lights showing more of the path other than his flame. He murmurs prayers as he goes on, steeling himself to take each step.


The second river is ruddy, possibly from the thick riverbed clay, and yet it smells sulphurous, bubbling in places. For this, there is a bridge of bone already being corroded, with femur planks dissipating in the water below.

Not all ghosts are of the lamenting, innocuous sort that serve as lanterns. He sees them come up from the river, fiery creatures of hate intent on pulling him down with them. They are thinly transparent gaping maws, with burning eyes. There are five in all. They close in, and Japan calmly removes the katana from the sheath at his waist. He uses it in ceremonial aspects, such as solidifying alliances. Long ago it was blessed by a priest so that it can cut through the incorporeal as well as the tangible. It is deceptive, seeming a regular, even plain katana. Even the sheath itself, has absorbed the prayers so much as to instinctively push back obake.

The ghosts in question seem to pause, but only for a second. These are fueled by hate, and no longer feel fear, or have anything to lose in this state. When they descend on him, he slices a half-moon shape. On his lips is a prayer of release, so that perhaps they too will find another life in their cycle, and leave this state of purgatory. Two fade to nothingness, their anger dissipating like embers which water has been cast upon. Still, three remain, and if anything, they become more enraged by this.

They come in, and he sees a vision of his katana against China's back. He does not flinch, does not let them shake his composure. They coalesce together, a cloud, a sheet thrown over him. He feels his skin burn. He slices a circle around him, hearing their last death knells as they fade to nothingness, and he hopes, another rebirth.

Japan only takes a moment to catch his breath before he crosses. He does not falter, holding tight to the bone sides as it creaks and moans beneath him. With each step, he hears the cries of the dead, the lost ones, and his hands shake as he tries to compose himself, to keep his stoicism unchecked as he walks the bridge which seemed so short then, but now is so very long.


The third river he follows rather than crosses. It is silvery, casting a strange light. There is no bridge to speak of, but in the distance he can see a cave, so he follows it until he reaches the enclosure. There are no ghosts here, benign or otherwise, and only the river lights his way. He could bring up the flame again, but he doesn't want to tire himself out needlessly.

The walk is not long, the underground a wasteland, like the pictures of the moon. He hears drip drip drop of moisture, and sees stalactites and stalagmites like fangs. He has seen them fall too, but thankfully, it has always been after he has passed.

When he at last comes to the cave, he finds sleeping at the front of the cave a woman holding a broom, poppy dust gathered in her tangled hair. He steps over her and into the cave, lit as though someone had woven starlight into the walls. It is a far cry from the horrors he has heard and witnessed from the dead, and he walks on, through the cavern until he reaches what he has been searching for all along.

The man is lovely there, lying in his ebony bed of poppies. Japan looks on him, his eyes open, and yet asleep. Sometimes he blinks, and yet it is as if he is far away, dosed into dreams and reeking of opium. He wears clothes as if he were in far distant times, sandals, and a short loose chitron in white cloth cinched at the waist with a tie for a belt. He is strong, and Japan runs his hand over him as he walks closer to the sleeping country who has not existed as anything more than the Ottoman Empire's lands for hundreds of years.

He leans down — what compels him, later he cannot say – and presses a kiss to the man's lips. His heart beats faster as lips meet. He does not expect to feel the lips move against his, but they do, to his surprise, reciprocating the kiss. A tingle flows through him, and it feels as if the spark of energy, the rapid heartbeat in his chest has spread between the two of them. The two cats, tortoiseshell and black observe him, almost smugly perched on the side of the bed. The black cat has been here often, for black fur is rubbed onto his clothes.

It is not correct to say that the man's eyes fluttered open, for they already were most of the time, but they did clear. He looks up, confused.


He clears his throat, and searches for the word.

"You are Greece," Japan says.

"Greece no longer exists..." he says in a sad monotone. "Homer....mother, they're all gone. Greece is Ottoman territory and better to not exist at all than to be under the control of him."

"The past of Greece is no longer here, but you, the present are. Your people have fought for you. Will you hide away forever here?" Japan holds out his hand, and Greece takes it, almost curiously as he emerges from his cocoon. Feathers and poppy petals fall away from him, as well as the dust which permeates the whole cavern.

"It's hard to deal with people, and easier to simply pull in and hide away, but it won't do any good. Eventually you will have to wake up and face what life has become and do your best to meet it head on," Japan says.

"He offered me help and I took it....You see, the Ottoman Empire killed my mother, and then enslaved me...." He blinks, surprised that he remembers. The touch of Japan's hand breaks free the river Lethe, which never fully works upon countries, and the drugged state of sleep he has lain in for many years.

"I was having a very nice dream...." Greece says. "I've seen you before, but I don't know who you are."

"I am Japan, land of the rising sun," he says.

Greece nods. "I saw you a lot while I was dreaming..."

"I too, saw you once. Perhaps it was what set this all in motion," Japan says.

Greece smiles, sleepily and Japan can't help but want to smile too. It's a strange feeling, but Greece brings it out in him. However, the happy moment is interrupted but a snort. He looks to the starlit cavern, the sleeping woman at the front.

"Aergia," Greece says. "Goddess of sloth."

Then she won't be much trouble, he thinks.

"Will the god who brought you here give you trouble?" Japan asks. He wonders if his chants will have the same effect upon a god, even an amorphous one like the god of sleep. Even his blessed katana may fall short to a deity.

"No...it's night. He will be busy," Greece says.

"Then we must hurry for it is a long journey back, and we must make it before nightfall," Japan says.

Greece takes his hands, and in the light of the hovering ghosts, they make their way towards the surface.


It is the gentle greying of dawn that Greece comes into, blinking. His once olive skin has turned paler from the exposure of the cave, something not quite so noticeable in the starlit cavern. He is slowed by muscles that are stiff from lack of use, but not atrophied. These things pass more slowly with their kind.

"I must have sleepwalked," he murmurs, looking up into the sky.

"Perhaps," Japan says. He steps beyond Yomi and back to the path. The black cat and the tortoiseshell regard them boredly as if to say is that all? They turn and walk on towards the city, and Greece and Japan follow suit.

They talk along the way. Simple exchanges of culture. A tale of a god, a story of death cast between them. When they reach the city, it almost seems too sudden as the light of day burns their eyes. Greece takes his hands in his and holds them very tight and says a tender thank you.... which is charged with feelings more intense than Japan usually allows himself.

Japan nods. "I am glad to have met you, Greece-san."

"And I...."

Greece looks around the city, how much of it has changed in the years he has been gone.

"I have a lot to get to, it seems," he says. "I should get started right away..." He looks to the sea, the rising gulls and harbors beyond. "But only when you must return to your native lands."

"Yes, thank you," Japan says. They still clasp hands, even when the need is no longer there. It would be impolite to wrest his hands free, and Greece does seem determined to keep a hold on him, so Japan does not raise a complaint.

"We'll meet again, won't we?" Greece asks.

"Certainly. We have diplomatic relations, now."

"Is that what they're calling it these days? I've been asleep for a while, you see...." He's looking at Japan in a way that reminds Japan of France's charming overtures, but with a sweeter, less predatory feel.

Japan flushes slightly and clears his throat. "After washing and changing your clothes, perhaps some library time to reacquaint yourself. Of course, the majority will be finished later on, but simply to point out the new customs so we may conduct ourselves with honor during this important occasion."

Greece nods. He seems unhurt by the polite rebuff, for which Japan is glad for. It would be unpleasant to have him turn sulky, as some nations were wont to do.

He walks through the streets until they find the black cat and the tortoiseshell in the market. They let out an indignant nyoo! as if to chasten him for not buying them for not buying them fresh fish in four-hundred or so years.

"I'll have to get you some later," Greece says, rubbing at his eyes. "I've no current money on me...."

Japan reaches to his small change purse where he has procured some of the currency should need arise. The purse is red, and embroidered with a cat raising its paw. Greece smiles.

"Thank you...and it's very nice."

Japan nods, and they feed the two cats, buying more as several other strays come.

"These cats seem to remember you from before," Japan notes. The black one purrs as it tears into the fish. The tortoiseshell is more fastidious.

"Are they gods?"

Greece strokes one absently, and nods. "Something like that."

After being fed, the cats walk on. "Perhaps we should head back to the diplomatic residence, Greece-san. I'm sure they could provide

"That's lost too, huh...." But Greece does not argue this point, and Japan realizes he would be unlikely to argue at all, for he is the most languid entity Japan has ever met this side of an opium den.

From what Japan can tell, Greece's people are by comparison, lively and high-spirted. Perhaps it is the older times, the memories of his mother that adds solemness to his calm.

When they reach the house, Greece strips down with little thought that Japan is still in the room. Japan flushes and looks away, the sight of his body already burned in his mind. If his face was beautiful, then his body is just as much so, with strong, wide shoulders. When he leaves, the rush of feeling Japan has attributed to magic remains, and his heart beats so fast that it feels arrhythmic. When he returns, the strange disorder of his heart only grows worse,

When he comes out, some time later, his hair is wet and clinging to his face. Japan finds himself flustered under the calm with no good reason why to.

"Is something the matter?"

"No, it's nothing."


Japan enjoys every moment of the trip after that. It is serene, not dull, and when he leaves, there is an odd trace of regret, a strange sense of melancholy. The next few days upon reaching his homeland are spent in a funk. He works on his garden, and wonders why he cannot shake this off, or why thoughts keeping going back to Greece.

And Japan can't help thinking to himself, perhaps a little wryly, that it seems one can't break an enchantment without feeling the side effects.


The god lingers in the room, seeing the footprints leading out. He could curse the land who took his charge away with bad dreams, but he will not.

Every night, and often through the day Greece will be back. And then he will be free to stroke his hair, to watch each perfect breath of a youth who didn't fall for the moon, but another country.

All he has to do is wait, and as a god, he has all the time in the world.

chitron: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiton_(costume)
paidomazoma: literally 'child gathering' Islamic law dictates that non-Muslims communities give up one son in five to be raised as a Muslim.
Tourkokratia: "Turkish Rule" A term used for the historical period of Ottoman Greece.
Phobetor: god of nightmares.
Morpheus: god of dreams which revolves around human forms
Phantos: god of dreams which revolve around objects/illusions/crazyass dreams.
Hypnos: god of sleep.