NINE - On The Steps Of Olympus
As Hades helped Persephone step out of his black chariot her breath caught in her throat. Even though she had been to Olympus on occasion in the past it always gave her a sense of awe and amazement. She assumed that was what it was designed to do, for where else would the gods live but in a temple as grand as these? She had never seen anything as vast or as beautiful as the decadent halls of Olympus. While Olympus was built to show the might and grandeur of its occupants, Hades castle was built to give off a cold feeling from the outside but a warm and comfortable feeling once inside. She had always felt at home while there, while she had always felt inadequate here. Once again Olympus had done its job.
Olympus was a city amongst itself housing many of the gods in beautiful villas and palaces that gleamed in the sunlight as they towered into the sky. The largest of the buildings was Zeus’ palace of which his many famous rumors came from. Up on Olympus, there were eyes continuously watching, catching every mistake, every slip-up. No one being more notorious than the king of it all. Persephone had often wondered if Zeus simply didn’t care what people thought of him or if he was simply careless.
Remembering this Persephone smoothed out the invisible wrinkles in her dress before she and Hades ascended the stairs together. She couldn’t help but see her clothing as a shield. Today she would have no choice but to use it as a guard, keeping the other gods from seeing her true self. Every goddess wears a mask. The dress was a sexy and powerful looking black dress with gold detailing. It was tight in all the right places and dropped down to the floor with a slit up past her knee. It was a dress her mother would never have approved of, making it the perfect dress for this morning.
“Are you ready?” Hades asked her, stealing glances her way, watching for any sign of worry. He had been watching her all morning. She had assumed he was waiting or tears or anger or any reaction at all. But she had kept all her feelings closely guarded all morning. All feeling except for a loving kiss before they had left. She had been afraid that if she let one slip the rest would follow.
“Yes,” She told him simply. Of course, she was worried but she also knew the trial needed to happen. There was no getting away from it, no matter how she felt. Still, the nerves had racked her all night and into the morning. Nervous of what today would mean for her and Hades. Nervous of what the fates had said. Nervous about seeing her mother again and what she would say. Nervous, nervous, nervous.
He must have known she was anxious because without thinking he pulled her behind a pillar, out of sight of any unwanted eyes. It reminded her of all the times they had to hide in secret from her mother. “Persephone, look at me. I’m going to be right there with you.” He reminded her gently, “Nothing bad is going to happen. Trust me.” As he whispered to her, she looked into his eyes and heard his words. She felt reassured that she would not be alone. That he would not leave her. But there was still a reason for her knees to be weak and her hands to shake.
“I know, I’m just so nervous. I don’t think I can do this. I cannot act as evil as we had planned. It’s just not me, I’m not like that.” She told him as she swallowed hard remembering the fates’ words. She may not feel it now, but her evil is growing. Not today but soon.
“Persephone if you’re having second thoughts about this because you are rethinking being with me that’s okay. I’ll be heartbroken but you know I’d do anything to make you happy, all you’d have to do is ask,” he told her while chucking her face. His words were strong and she watched his expression stay strong as he said the words, but she was the struggle behind his eyes.
He took a second to let her process his words. He was giving her the last way out. A way to not go through with this humiliating trial. A way to be forgiven by her mother. Still, she shook her head no. Telling him that without a doubt she wanted him, no matter what that meant.
Still, he continued, “But if you’re second-guessing yourself because you think you are not capable or not worthy then you need to get that thought out of your head right now. There is no one as powerful as you. You made life grow in the underworld, a place where there is meant to be none.” He quietly laughed. “And not one of these gods are as stubborn as you. I know first hand that when you want something you stop at nothing until you get it.” they both laughed in remembrance of her stubborn attitude that peaks up only when it is unexpected.
“It is true that you are not who you will portray today;” Hades continued. “You are kind, gentle, caring, and emotional. These are all traits I love about you Persephone, I wish others could see them too,” he told her sweetly while he brushed a stray hair back behind her ear. “But you are also a force, determined, and a fearsome opponent, not even I would want to face. Dear, Even your roses have thorns.”
“But that’s just it Hades I’m not a thorn,” she confessed, taking the moment to collect her thoughts. “What I’m really worried about is becoming the evil I will portray. I’ll have to keep this act up for the rest of eternity, Hades. If they smell weakness for a second they will descend on us like a lion on its prey. Even you said they smell weakness as much as they understand power.” She twisted her hands together in his tie as she glanced back up at him, “What if I become someone you no longer want to rule beside?” she asked. Her words made her look away from his hard eyes, scared of what she might see. She felt him collect her into his arms and hold her tight.
“I swear on my kingdom and my life that will never happen. I’m going to spend the rest of eternity loving you, my queen.” While he whispered quietly into her hair she could not help but search for the lie waiting beneath them but could find none.
She could not resist the urge to kiss him after she heard his beautiful words. His words meant everything to her. She would hold onto them forever. “I don’t deserve you,” she replied happier and more confident than she had been all morning.
“It is I that doesn’t deserve you,” Hades replied in truth.
Persephone posed before she spoke next. She had thought about it all night. The possibility that they would lose. The fates had all but guaranteed their victory but something still told her that could always change. They had told her that her happy ending and her mother’s failure were two separate things. She worried which she had agreed to. Fate had always been such a fickle thing. “Promise me you won’t let my mother take me. Even if we lose.”
It took him not a second to reply. Clearly the thought had crossed his mind as well. “Persephone I would rip the world apart for you. No one, not your mother, not any god will ever take you away from me.” Hearing his words empowered her. All she ever needed was to know that he would be there if ever she needed him. Suddenly she was not scared.
“Should we get this over with?” she asked him. He nodded only after stealing one last kiss before they entered Olympus and would be closely watched.
He took a step back to allow her to go first. “After you.” he offered. She straightened her dress one last time knowing she could not once inside. Rule number one; do not show weakness, as far as anyone knew she was emotionless. With as much courage as she could muster, she walked onward up towards the pantheon.