FIFTEEN - Love And Power
LOVE AND POWER
The words rattled in her head as she tried to make sense of the mayhem that she now found herself in. I accuse Hades of raping my daughter. Never did she think her mother would stoop so low as to accuse Hades of such a thing. Though Hades was always portrayed as a deadly and dangerous god and even liked to present himself as such she knew he could never be as ugly as her mother was painting him to be. She had seen his soft eyes and his gentle spirit, she knew him well and trusted him with everything she was. Her mother saying such things about him made her sick. She could not understand how others in the room were believing these lies. Surely they could see that Demeter was grasping at straws.
“You can’t be serious!” Hades roared to Demeter, his voice shaking even the ground.
As Hades’ anger only grew, Zeus tried to slow down the situation. He understood where this was going in a way no other god did. “Hades before this goes further, do you know the punishment for the rape of a goddess?” he asked his brother carefully.
Hades snapped his head towards Zeus, his anger now focused solely on his brother, furious he would further these slanderous accusations. “These are accusations of a madwoman!” he yelled.
“Do you know them?” Zeus asked again, his voice stern. Persephone worried Zeus was no longer an ally in this trial, he did not seem to be rejecting this claim her mother was making. Instead, he seemed to be taking it quite seriously. Persephone was suddenly worried about what would happen if it came to fruition.
Hades did not answer at first. He allowed his anger to boil inside of him. Then even worse than his yelling he was calm again. “Yes,” he growled out an answer to his brother.
Her world seemed to be spinning around her as she watched everything transpire around her. Persephone heard herself ask before she knew she had opened her mouth, “I don’t, what will happen if he is convicted?” The silence that followed was what scared her most of all. The sympathetic eyes and the silence told her what she feared most.
With what sounded like a tired sigh Hades turned to her, not wanting anyone else to tell her but him. His eyes were heavier than they were before making her suddenly wish he was shouting again. “As punishment for such force, my throne would be stripped away from me. All power would also be taken. My punishment and length of sentencing would be determined afterward,” he spoke plainly. It was the same tone he had used when he spoke of his parents, but now he was describing what could be his fate. In fact only and with no emotions.
She wanted to cry. To scream. To plead.
She wanted to run to him.
She watched him shake his head. He knew what she was feeling, he could probably read it on her face. She was no longer keeping her guard up, she had far too many thoughts flying around in her head to worry about how she appeared. Even now, with everything on the verge of collapse, he was telling her to be strong. That now more than ever they had to rely on one another and trust that they would find a way out. But how could he know that everything would be okay? How could he look at her with such hope? Did he not feel the same doubt hanging over him that she did?
He could lose the Underworld. His beloved kingdom. The place he had made his home. He had spent years pouring himself into his work to make it into the realm it was today. It only worked so well because of him. And now they were going to take it away from him? Who would he be if it was taken? She knew instantly it would destroy him. She could not be the cause of his downfall. Never. She could not cause him that type of pain.
Instantly in her panic, she thought of the fates and what they had told her. They had warned that her mother losing and her and Hades being together would be two different questions. That the two facts were not always mutually exclusive. She now wondered what they had meant and what they had in store for them. She wondered if this was the tragedy that came with being with Hades. She wondered if she was pulling him to a future where they were still together but he no longer had his crown.
She could never do that to him. Never.
Her heart began to crack. She could feel it crumbling, the pieces were settling in her stomach. She held her breath, thinking she might be able to hold it together until this was over. But she didn’t anticipate the way Hades looked at her; with longing and regret and desperation. In those eyes, as deep and as vast as the universe, she could see the lifetimes they might have spent together.
The difference between humans and gods was that humans favored love and God’s favored power. She was raised among the humans on earth, she knew their ways and the things they dreamt of. She knew well how they treasured love among all their riches. But she was also an Olympian raised on nectar and taught by her mother Demeter. Her ancient blood made her favor power above all else. She was also selfish. Selfish enough to want both. Love and power. Sadly enough she was starting to realize they did not come hand and hand.
She stood up and practically ran to the center where her mother and husband stood waiting for her. Her past and what she had thought was her future. “This cannot be. Mother, stop this now. I will not allow it.” she shouted, forcing power into each of her words, willing her mother to hear them. She had learned how important power was to a god and willed it to work now more than ever.
“Kore, honey stop. This will all be over shortly.” Demeter silenced her but Persephone continued to beg her to stop, but she never listened. Persephone’s pleas fell on deaf ears.
Character witnesses were called. One after another. Minor goddesses looking for their moment of fame, nymphes following orders, or beings who were paid well. With each one, it was evident they did not know Hades well, if they had even met him at all. But still, each one spat horrible facts and testimonies about him. They all painted him in a horrible light.
It no longer mattered what she said, there was no point in asking her what had happened. Now that it had been spoken as fact, anything could happen.
‘His job is to take souls willing or not. He is used to using force.’
‘He is evil.’
‘He is death.’
Hades stood silently as each one said their piece. He was deadly quiet. Not even speaking up when they spoke the most dreadful lies about him. These were no longer whispered rumors about the god of the dead, they were now being spoken in court for everyone to hear. They were spoken as truth. They were evidence that Hades was corrupt. Persephone could not hold it in herself but he simply stayed quiet. He was waiting for his turn to speak, his turn to rebuttal every lie they uttered about him.
“Mother no more,” Persephone pleaded with her to stop. She was now pulling on her hand as she would have when she was a child. She would do anything to save him from her mother.
Ignoring her she persisted, “He forced my daughter into the Underworld and locked the gates behind her-”
“Stop!” she yelled over her mother. Now it was Persephone who was desperate.
“I will not rest until he is punished.”
“Mother!” she shouted into her face causing her to pause. Never had she confronted her mother so blatantly but it was what she had to do. She had to stop her mother. She knew that if she didn’t Hades would certainly be tried and convicted. This was no longer about them living together happily. This was now about saving what she could. He was now her only goal. She knew he would hate what she had decided to do. He would despise it. But there was no other way to save him from this but to throw herself in front of the blade. After all the role of the queen was to protect the king. “He is a good man. Please, do not do this to him. If it is me you want then I will go with you. But leave him out of it.” she bartered with her mother.
There was no longer a court. There were only three people that mattered. Hades, Persephone, and her mother. Everyone else had simply faded into the background.
Instantly, Hades was by her side. His calm exterior is gone, now his emotions were clear. He was furious and terrified all at the same time. “Persephone no,” he demanded. His tone left no room to argue. It was not a request but a command.
Turning to him she studied his face knowing it might be the last time she had the opportunity to do so. She wished she could have seen his smile one last time and not this face of worry. But even then he was still stunning. “I cannot let her hurt you,” she whispered to him.
“I cannot lose you,” he argued in a low voice. His hand came up to cup her cheek. It was such a bold show of affection she had not expected it from him but savored it all the same.
“I might have a compromise.” a voice broke out. When Persephone followed the voice she saw it was Athena who had been studying the situation as if it were a puzzle she had not finished yet. “Demeter’s charge is unlikely to go away. If pursued further it would likely stick. True or not. But Demeter, your daughter is not a girl, she is a goddess in her own right. One who has eaten the fruit of the Underworld, a pledge that cannot be undone. What I propose is that Persephone spends six months in the Underworld with her husband, ruling by his side, then six months on earth with her mother growing the harvest.” Athena said once again laying out the solution as if it were a calculus problem. How simple she made it sound. Persephone marveled at how easily Athena had found a solution where she herself had found none.
“Unacceptable,” Demeter yelled, not enjoying having her victory taken from her. Persephone knew her mother did not take well to people who disagreed with her. She knew her mother saw Athena as a new enemy who now needed to be silenced. Her method being intimidation. But her mother would be unsuccessful in intimidating the goddess of war.
“Demeter!” Zeus yelled thunderously. “I will remind you one last time who’s realm you are standing in. It will do you good to remember that. Athena is helping you and yet your desire blinds you from seeing it. This is the only way you will get your daughter back.” he explained to her clearly making sure she understood. “Even if you are successful in convicting Hades, the Underworld will still need a ruler to govern and keep affairs in order. Because Persephone has eaten the fruit of the Underworld and it has accepted her I would be inclined to give the privilege to her. Meaning you would never see her again. You have made a mess today and from the looks of it, you think you can come in and get exactly what you want. But you cannot.” he told, clearly tired of the proceedings that seemed to have dragged on longer than he had expected.
“I have made my ruling. Persephone, step forward,” Zeus ordered. Persephone hesitated until Hades squeezed her hand to reassure her. She remembered back to before the trial when she had been too angry with him to return the gesture. Now she knew better, now she savored the opportunity to return it. “I think every God here knows of your bravery and sacrifice today. I think they all agree with me when I say that I underestimated you. You will return with Hades and rule there for the remainder of six months, then you will travel up to live with your mother, at the marker of the summer solstice.” he ordered washing his hands of the problem.
This was not what they had originally wanted, and earlier this morning she would have been devastated to hear the news. But now she could not stop her smile as it stretched from ear to ear. She no longer cared about what others saw. She would be going home with Hades. Nothing else could matter.
“Thank you,” she nodded to Zeus. But before she could run into his arms she was stopped by her mother’s harsh glare. Gone was her mother who had braided her hair as a child, there was no motherly love leftover. There was only ugly hate meant solely for Persephone.
But this was who her mother had become. Even now when she was losing her daughter the most important thing to her was power. Presentation. How others thought of her. She would not fall to her knees begging or offer up everything, she would not even cry for her daughter. Hades was right. All that mattered to her was the loss of her divine power.
Without another word, Demeter stormed out of the hall slamming the doors behind her.