SIXTEEN - The Creator Of Hero And Monsters
THE CREATOR OF HEROES AND MONSTERS
Without further thought, Persephone took a single step off the marble path and into the fresh dirt. Her eyes closed as her bare feet dug into the soil. Suddenly the stress was gone, the worry and the sadness gone, and she was home. If she could she would walk barefoot for the rest of her life. It was the single thing that made her feel like herself again. She was now the queen of the Underworld but she would always be the goddess of spring.
There were many thoughts that should have been buzzing in her mind, many events she would later think of once she was alone but in this second her mind was clear. She could smell the fresh air, feel the buzz of the growing roses, and feel the warm afternoon breeze on her exposed skin. It was all she needed.
After the trial, after her mother’s exit, and after all the whispers began, she knew she had to get away if only for a moment. Currently, everyone was inside the hall celebrating what they all were calling a success. She knew they were not celebrating her and Hades’ victory, there were still many who if they had the chance would have voted against them. But instead, the gods were using the party as an excuse to elevate themselves. She could not watch it happen, not now, not after what had transpired.
Flashes of the tribunal played over in her mind and she knew she would not be able to push it out of her mind for long. Still, she forced herself not to think of her mother, of her cold eyes, and of her disappointment. Persephone remembered how she herself had acted, of the power she had tried to display, just as Hades had suggested. But it wasn’t an act, it might have started as one but she knew that it had become her who was speaking not the image she was trying to portray. She did not know how but a version much different than her normal self had been hiding under the surface, waiting for someone to let her out.
She also remembered the fates and the words they had spoken to her. She had hoped to prove them wrong but as everyone must learn eventually, there was no outrunning fate. It scared her to think it but she was beginning to think that the power she was starting to feel within her might be the evil and corruption the fates had talked about. Flashes were on constant rotation, her in the fates cave with her voice raised, her mother’s wrist caught in her hand, Poseidon’s smirking face. These were not normal events for her, these were never anything kore would have done. No, these were much darker.
Unexpectedly a voice came from behind her, startling her out of her thoughts, “Where is Hades?” Turning she saw Hera walking in all her queenly glory down the garden steps towards her.
“I believe he’s talking with his brothers,” Persephone said. She remembered watching Zeus and Poseidon whisk Hades off in celebration into the crowd. Although Poseidon had not said a word during the trial she was still wary of him. But ultimately she knew he was Hades brother and Hades had been cut off from his family for so long that she hoped somehow this could bring them closer together. Even if it meant socializing with the God of the sea.
“Oh dear they should not be left alone for long or there might be a small war on the horizon.” Hera laughed as she joined Persephone at the edge of the garden. “You were very brave today, Persephone.”
“You do not call me kore?” She asked the queen of the gods. They had never met before and she expected the goddess to refer to Persephone with her given name. No matter what was used in the trial she knew that all the gods would always know her by her original name. No matter how far she raised she would always be the little goddess of spring.
“No. Persephone suits you nicely. Do you know, It means destroyer?” She said looking out over the immense garden. Persephone quickly remembered everything that had happened since Hades asked her to be his queen, how much she had grown, how much she had changed. “You are now the destroyer and every time they use your name they will remember that. They will remember today and how strong you were. How you stood up to one of the first six gods and won.” Hera did not disguise or hide her words. She said what she meant and regretted none of it.
It had stunned Persephone into silence. No one had ever described her as a powerful being, no one except Hades. “Sorry, I’m a bit out of sorts,” she admitted quietly.
“It is understandable if you’re still in shock.” Hera nodded. She smiled in a surprisingly soothing way that made Persephone remember that this goddess was not only the queen of the gods but also a mother. “A lot has happened, Your life practically changed overnight.”
She nodded in agreement, “But I did get exactly what I wanted, a life with Hades. Or at least as much time as we can have.”
“It has been an important day for you,” She repeated.
“And from what Hades has told me you were a major contributor to it. Thank you, you’ll never know how much this meant to me.” She turned to look at Hera only to find her already smiling as she reached for a flower near her.
“How could I not have helped? Hades is my brother and while he always looks so glum and solemn, when he spoke of a life without you it almost brought tears to my eyes. Mind you I am not a naturally emotional goddess.” Hera spoke as she turned to look at Persephone with a small smile.
“Is that why you helped us?” Persephone asked hopefully. Family had always been so important to her. Even though it seemed so distant at the moment, the person closest to her had always been her mother. She had always wished Hades could have the same relationship with his family. But until her, it had been a long time since he had let anyone close to him.
“Partly,” Hera confirmed. “I wanted to help my brother by making up for any misgivings that might have happened in the past,” Hera confessed reminding Persephone of the scars Hades had. “But there were other reasons as well. With every marriage I bless, I am always reminded that not all couplings are, how should I put it… fated to be happy ones. Not all men stay true to the wives and not all women love their husbands. Lies and deceit poison most marriages before they even start. But it’s been centuries since I’ve blessed one like yours Persephone. And as a god, it is even more unheard of. I speak from experience, marriages of gods are almost never happy ones.” The Goddess told Persephone without her voice wavering. There was no feeling in her eyes.
The goddess did not look upset no matter how upsetting her words were. Persephone wondered if this too was an act, the same clever mask the fates had described, one crafted through centuries of pain. She thought of Zeus and Hera, how their thrones sat next to each other, and how they walked in together, but there was never any love shared between them. She remembered the tale of Zeus and Hera, the king and queen of all the gods, and now she knew the rumors were true. They whispered that the reason Zeus never got called out on all the shit he has done was because of Hera’s cleverly crafted lies and hidden truths. She was the one who made him into the king of the gods and was the one who kept him there. It all made sense seeing him up on the throne today, he did not seem like a driven man. But she was the one who needed control. That control was what Zeus gave her in return for her hand in marriage. Because without power she would never love him.
“I’m glad you can have what I could not. Happiness is something we queens seldom ever find.” Hera smiled in her direction. So sad, Persephone thought for the goddess of marriage to be cursed with such unhappiness. “My mother was the first to teach me that and I believed it for so long but I hope you will be the one to break the cycle. I think Hades will make you very happy.”
“He already does,” Persephone said as she returned the goddess’s smile.
“I was not sure about your feelings towards him until I saw you today. You were willing to give up everything for him,” Hera said but Persephone still heard the question in her voice.
“Have i not already given everything that was mine to give? My mother, my home, my family.” Persephone knew her choices today would forever echo in her story, forever changing it but she also knew it would never be something she could regret.
“No, that was different. You offered to go back with her. It has been a long time since I have seen true sacrifice like that.” the queen of the gods commented.
“I would do anything for him.” She said in all honesty.
“Yes, I can see that,” Hera answered her before turning to look straight at her, studying her. “But I have some advice for you, my dear. Never give up a crown. For anyone. Especially a man.”
“It was not like that,” Persephone said in defense. She had not come for a crown, she had come today for Hades. To save Hades she would have given up more than her just throne. “I was trying to spare Hades the brunt of the punishment that was coming to him because of me. I was trying to save him.”
Hera hummed under her breath after hearing Persephone’s explanation. “I would not let that spread,” Hera told her like it was the most valuable piece of advice she could have given. “It seems he is your weakness and no one should be able to detect your weakness so easily. This is Olympus and you are now a powerful goddess. You will learn the game soon enough. One whisper of truth can crumble empires, destroy lives, reveal monsters.” Hera told her. Hera was the weaver of tales and Persephone knew she could manipulate anyone’s story to make them a hero or monster as easily as she could bat an eyelash.
Persephone didn’t have time to respond to the goddess because through the doorway to the garden appeared Hades with a slightly drunker Zeus hanging off of him. “Hey! There are our queens! Hades I found them!” Zeus shouted walking over to the women as Hades followed unimpressed by his brother’s antics. Persephone noticed their third brother was missing but decided to save the questions for a later time.
“Already breaking into the nectar I see,” Hera greeted the men who had clearly opened a bottle or two while they were gone.
“Just helping my little brother celebrate his victory.” Zeus laughed as they arrived at where the women stood. Hera and Zeus looked at each other like two competitors sizing the other up with unemotional stares. Still, he put his hand around her waist and pulled her close to him in what seemed to be an affectionate gesture, and she did not resist. “What do you say brother should we get the festivities started?” Zeus asked Hades.
Hades smiled at his brother and Persephone reveled in his happy demeanor. She knew he was relieved from the results of the trial but he also still seemed to have his guard up. She smiled knowing he would always be this way. Always hiding his true self away from prying eyes. Hiding from everyone except her.
He pulled her into his arms before he spoke, “No, we will be leaving shortly, we have some celebrating of our own to do,” Hades said and then kissed her neck. She was shocked he would say such words in front of others. He loved to make her blush and now that he could do it in public he was enjoying it.
“That’s my brother!” Zeus chuckled at the couple, his eyes on her made her feel uncomfortable. Suddenly Hades straightened but did not loosen his hold on her waist.
“Oh come now Persephone, you two must stay!” Hera pleaded as if the two had always been close friends.
She tilted her head up behind her to meet his awaiting eyes, “One drink?” she asked. She had wanted to stay if only for a short time. While she could never see her and Hera and being friends she saw the beginning of a partnership.
He smiled back down at her unable to deny her especially today after their victory. “Ok, one drink.” He said. She heard Zeus yell in excitement but did not hear anything else as Hades leaned down to nibble on her ear and whisper, “But after that, we’re going back home and I’m locking you in our room.”
This time she blushed all the way to her toes.