TWENTY TWO - Beasts of the Underworld
BEASTS OF THE UNDERWORLD
Time continued as it always did and Persephone tried to make the most of it. She knew her time in the Underworld would not be indefinite and because of that, she found herself trying to treasure every day. Most days she spent with Hades in his office learning what it took to run a kingdom, in her garden growing or changing what she had already created, or with Hecate wanding the Underworld trying to keep her out of trouble.
She had been trying to push the problem of the forgotten away from her mind for the past week. She knew that Hades was taking his promise seriously and could see the strain and worry it had put on him. He was stressed but wanting to help and change all that he could without disrupting the balance of the Underworld. He had contracted Charon to patrol more boats up and down the shores to search for any children or souls close to the end of their sentence. And Hermes and Thanatos had teamed up to move more souls that had slipped through the cracks into the Underworld. Thanatos has been meticulous, as only he could be, as he had gone through the records of souls that had been taken searching for any that had not been sentenced. Once a soul was found he sent them to Hermes who then sought them out on the shoreline.
This was all she had asked for, salvation for those who needed it, yet still, she felt like she was missing something. Hades had taken this into his own hands and dealt with every detail himself. She supposed that he had either not wanted her involved in fear of her wanting to do it herself, or because he had been so used to leading with the crown resting solely on his head that he had not thought to include her. At first, she had not minded, but still, she wanted to help. She had a need to get her hands dirty.
So she had tried to forget about them. Days turned to weeks. Still no news. The only difference was that now she could hear the rushing waters of the Styx from her garden when before she couldn’t. She so desperately wanted her own small rebellion. Her divine blood pulsed with the thought of adventure. It was the same feeling she had gotten in the early years of Hades and her friendship. A part of her continued to push her to wander to a place she was not supposed to be. After all, it had been her bleeding heart that had led her into the Underworld first. And even now she wondered where it would lead her to next.
His loud footsteps followed behind her, quickly she turned around to quiet him before anyone heard them. If they were not careful Hades or someone else would hear them and they would be caught. She knew that if Hades heard of them he would have questions for her. His only response to her scolding was an adorable wink while he wagged his tail.
The beast had been following her around in the garden for the past week and a half, during that time she had become very attached to him. Most other beasts tended to stay away from her, afraid of other beings, and mainly kept to themselves. But this one seemed quite social. She was not an expert in Underworldly beasts but this one seemed young and acted curious about everything he came in contact with. Even now as they snuck their way into the castle his three heads tilted in different directions curiously. He, just like her, stood out in the Underworld like a sore thumb.
During the day he never left her side, simply happy to lay down at her feet as she worked in the garden. Each night it broke her heart to leave him alone outside. She knew Hades would never allow a pest, as he called them, into his home. He had told her many times never to provoke them, as they were wild and unpredictable. But if only he could see this young beast’s adorable floppy ears he too would see the kindness it possessed and fall, as she had, in love with it.
Today her weak heart could take it no longer and needed to bring the pup inside. She knew she could not keep him but he looked so cold and she wanted to get him something warm to eat to last him through the night.
They progressed through the main parlor and into the hallway that would lead them to the kitchen if they followed it. The only thing that stopped her was a deep and inquisitive voice coming from further down the hallway. The voice instantly stopped her in her tracts and as a consequence, the beast ran into her leg. Thinking it might be a game it began to play with the end of her dress.
“What in the world are you doing?” the voice asked. She did not have to look to know it was Hades. She turned and caught the sight of Hades leaning against a wall watching her. Had she not been caught red-handed she would have stopped to enjoy the view. While his amused smile said one thing his watchful eyes said another as they found the beast currently rolling on the floor.
“What are you doing home?” she nervously asked him instead of answering his question. He understood she was stalling, trying beyond a shadow of a doubt to distract him from the monster who laid at her feet. He chuckled to himself as he walked closer to her with the same striking smirk gracing his face. “You should be in the throne room working with Thanatos.” she reminded him. They both smiled at one another. Hades’ smile held questions while hers was a telling sort of smile. She had to laugh at least a little to herself, he always seemed to be around every corner.
“Just got back,” he smiled to her as he drew closer. “I was on my way to the office when I heard my wife whispering around the corner. I wondered what type of mischief you had gotten yourself in. Now I’m glad I came to investigate,” he said looking down at the three-headed puppy as it popped out from behind her skirt.
All she could do was laugh at the adorable mess, “Isn’t he darling?” she asked. The puppy was covered in matted dirt and filthy paws from a full day in the garden, letting anyone know that he was indeed a beast of the Underworld. But anyone who looked at any one of his three adorable faces would instantly melt at the lovable beast.
He sighed at her adoration, “Persephone he’s a pest. The Underworld is overrun with them and I’ve warned you to leave them alone. You don’t know where it’s been and It could be dangerous.” he reasoned.
“Hades, does he look dangerous to you?” she asked pointing down the pup as it rolled onto its back, looking up at them with one head tilted one way and the others tilted the opposite. He was all wagging tails and floppy ears.
“I’m a god Persephone, very little scares me,” he replied to her darkly, stepping closer to her, leaving them only a step apart.
“This foundling isn’t one of those that you speak of,” she told him in response.
“He is peculiar isn’t he.” he laughed scratching the back of his head as he watched the puppy’s three heads fight over its tail.
“He has been following me around the garden all week,” she reported hoping it would prove he was not dangerous.
“In the garden? And now suddenly he must be brought inside?” Hades asked.
“Well, I was just going to get him something to eat,” she said simply as if it should have been obvious.
“If you feed him then he’ll never leave you alone Persephone.”
She laughed at his reasoning, “I know, that is the point.”
He sighed knowing her far too well, “This isn’t the first time you’ve fed him out of the castle’s kitchen, isn’t it?”
“I might have done so every day this week,” she confessed, mumbling the last part, “And sometimes I leave him something at night.”
“Darling, what are we to do with him? We certainly can’t keep him.” Hades asked her.
“Sure we can, he could be useful.” Persephone quickly replied. She had spent all week thinking of lists of reasons to keep the pup. She knew that to stay in the Underworld every being had to have its purpose.
“Him? How?” Hades asked, tilting his head to the side, almost mimicking the beast, “He’s so small.”
“He is still young and he will grow. When he gets bigger he could help guard the gates or the palace against unwanted visitors. Surely more security could not be unwanted.” Persephone told Hades knowing his weakness for privacy.
“You mean he gets bigger?!” he asked, surprised.
“Just give him a chance, I know you’ll grow to love him,” she told Hades while closing the gap between the two. Her hands ran a path over his chest, she felt his heart race a beat faster than before. Softly she whispered to him as temptingly as she could, “If you let him stay I’ll even let you name him.”
Once again his smirk returned, stealing her breath away. She hoped he would always have this effect on her. Toying with her some more he made a show of thinking hard about it, although they both knew she had already decided for the both of them. He hemmed and hawed until he gave her his answer, “If it really means that much to you then I guess he can stay.” she smiled immediately but just as quickly he leaned in to whisper in her ear, “but i might need a little more incentive then just naming the beast.” she could not suppress her joy, a childlike giggle escaped her before she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him showing her thankfulness.
“Oh, thank you! I know you’ll love him once you get to know him!”
“I very much doubt that.” he laughed.
Later that night Persephone found herself playing with the puppy atop their bed. One of the beast’s heads was playing tug a war with the second, while the third seemed only interested in chewing a bone Persephone had given them.
Hades entered their room only to stand there watching the puppy roll around in the blanket. “And just like that, I have been replaced by a monster.” he chuckled, walking over to his wardrobe. He took off his jacket and began to undo his shirt buttons.
Even though she knew his words were only in humor she still saw a slight pout grace his face at the thought of it. She laughed at his childish behavior, didn’t he know how obsessed she was with him? “Well if you were this cute maybe I wouldn’t have to replace you.” she laughed at the actions of the puppy now clawing at the blanket.
“You mean I would look better with three heads and fur everywhere?” he asked. Now that he was shirtless he turned to look over at her. Once again she was speechless at the sight of him, he was effortlessly handsome. She smiled up at him knowing she never wanted him to change, no she loved him as he was; shirtless.
“On second thought I like you just as you are,” she told him, crawling to the edge of the bed, closer to him. He watched her as she got closer to him. “Have you thought of a name?” she asked.
He shook his head smiling down at her, “No, i haven’t decided as of yet. I’m afraid I had more pressing matters to attend to today.” he told her, turning to grab a blanket off the end of the bed and dropped it onto the ground next to the burning fireplace.
“What are you doing?” she asked him curiously as she watched him.
“Making the beast a bed,” he told her as if it was obvious.
“On the cold ground?” she asked. The puppy had already started to fall asleep on the bed. He was so small she did not think he would take up too much space.
“It’s by the fire, he won’t freeze,” Hades told her, returning back to her as she knelt on the edge of the bed.
“But I was thinking he could sleep up here,” Persephone said innocently.
“On our bed? I don’t think so.” Hades laughed with a dark look in his eyes. She knew that look well, but she was still not prepared for him to flip her backward onto the bed. She landed with a scream only to be distracted when he made his way on top of her. After kissing away her surprise he whispered to her, “The only male I want in our bed is me.”
His words made her melt instantly. “How primal.” she laughed. In response, he kissed her as if it was all he could do, as if she was the air and he was suffocating. She kissed him back with just as much passion. Only pulling back when she needed air as he continued to kiss up her neck.
It was hard to concentrate with his assault still continuing, but if she was anything she was a stubborn goddess. There would be no way she would let him distract her from the problem at hand. She knew his tricks and would not be fooled this time, at least until he had agreed. “It is his first night here.” she felt him slow his assault and sigh into her neck in frustration, “Just this once?” she asked him as he propped himself up onto his elbows to better see her.
“If we let him tonight then he’ll want up tomorrow. Besides he’s used to sleeping in the open Underworld, he will be fine by the fire,” he told her, still she stood her ground. She could not let the small beast sleep alone, she could not bear it. She gave him the softest eyes she could, pleading with him to allow the puppy to stay. Sighing hard he gave up once again and shook his head. Thanking him she kissed him madly.
She ran her fingers through his hair, pulling at the roots gently, “I’m glad he’ll be here with you when I’m gone.” she said silently. She had not planned to say her thoughts but still, she did not regret them. Both of the god’s faces somber up as they remembered that soon she would have to leave.
He kissed her shoulder and looked down into her eyes, “I’d rather it was you who was with me.”
“Me too.” Nodding sadly she agreed, “But he’ll remind you of me when I am gone and I will rest easier knowing someone will be keeping an eye on you.” she giggled at her own attempt to lighten the mood. Hades needed no one to look after him but she was afraid he would be lonely and close into himself once again. Hopefully, the small beast could be of some comfort.
“I won’t need any reminder of you.” he told her somberly, “Any moment without you means you are a constant torture on my mind. I could never forget the beautiful goddess in front of me,” he told her, kissing each of her cheeks before his lips met hers.
“Nore I, you.” she agreed. How would she be able to get through the harvest without nights like this, she had become quite accustomed to them.
“Let’s not talk about the inevitable, not while I still have you in my arms,” he said as he held her closer than before. She agreed wholeheartedly as her legs wrapped around his waist. She sank deeper into love with the god of the dead.