TWENTY EIGHT - Truthful
He said not a word as he stood motionless in front of her. She could see anger clearly written on his face; eyebrows hard, jaw clenched, and a scowl reaching out to her. He was fury, stone, and rage all wrapped together. She could do nothing but watch him as she stood in front of the river bank. Shocked by his presence, like a child with her hand caught in a cookie jar.
She knew he was mad, anyone with eyes could see his temper resting just under the surface. While his anger stung, the look of betrayal hiding behind his eyes weakened her until she broke completely. Hades had never asked much of her, but he had asked her not to bring the forgotten across the river Styx. Hades had very few people in his eternal life that he could trust, everyone he had ever loved had left him more battered than before. His mother, his father, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon. But not her, she was never supposed to be the one to cause such pain.
And yet she had still gone behind his back. And yet here they were. She had done something she knew would hurt him and worst of all she had done it selfishly for herself.
“Not. One. Word.” He said to her before she had a chance to speak. His voice was cold and unemotional.
His furious eyes never left hers as he spoke to Thanatos who was patiently waiting beside him. “Thanatos take the woman and her child to the judges than see them safely to Elysium.” his voice as sharp as a blade never leaving any room for argument. All parties were silent, feeling the king’s fury.
Persephone glanced at Thanatos who looked carefully towards her but there was nothing he could do. He looked to her apologetically as he took the mother and led them towards the judges. Not risking the wrath of his king.
“Hades please just allow me to explain-” she pleaded with him once they were alone but he held up his hand, stopping her.
“NO, YOU WILL NOT.” he raised his voice to her for the first time in their relationship. “NOT A WORD.” when she did not speak he turned and began walking back towards the castle.
This time she did not follow.
He may be mad at her but she was his wife and would not be commanded like one of his subjects. She had crossed a line, she knew it, and he had every right to be mad at her but not like this. When he turned and saw her standing in the same space he left her, his demeanor did not change, he did not even miss a beat. He simply began to walk back to her. At first, she thought he had come to talk with her. She soon noticed he was not slowing his approach. She saw his fists tighten and his brows pull together and knew he was in no mood for talking. When he reached her he simply bent down to grab her around the waist and throw her over his shoulder only to begin his walk back to the castle over again.
“Hades put me down!” she yelled furiously at him. It seemed one way or another Hades had expected her to follow him, whether it was willingly or forcefully. The god of the underworld always got what he wanted. Still, she banged her fists against his back. Her suborn side showing threw. She tried to roll off his shoulder but he had a tight grip on her.
“I said not a word.” He answered her, slapping her on the ass in reply to her struggle. She could only shriek in response. “We will talk when we are home and in private. This is not the place,” he growled making his way back to the castle.
Even after she stopped fighting, even after they passed watchful maids, and even after she asked one hopeful last time he still did not let her down. Not until he had shut the doors to their chambers. This time he did not look at her even to glare. No, this time he only paced the floor. Back and forth. “Explain. Tell me why you have done such a reckless thing.”
“It was not reckless,” she argued but immediately regretted it. She should not be antagonizing him. An angry Hades was bad enough without her pushing him any farther. Yet still, she knew what she did, although reckless and selfish, was not stupid. It was important. Maybe to no one else but the mother, the girl, and to Persephone. But still important.
“No?” he raised his voice once again, spinning to look at her. “Putting yourself in danger isn’t reckless? Going behind my back and defrauding the laws I have enforced all these years isn’t reckless?” he asked her.
She felt herself shrink into herself although she did not think he noticed, “I wasn’t in danger.” she mumbled as if it was an acceptable answer.
“Oh no, how could i have forgotten? You had the goddess Styx to protect you!” he laughed at her reasoning. Persephone looked up at the mention of the goddess’s name, her curiosity once again peeking through.
“She was the one who told you?” she asked Hades. She had wondered how he had known where to find her. She should have known better than to trust such a large secret to a goddess she had only just met. There were no secrets on Olympus, she shouldn’t have expected anything different in the Underworld.
He stilled once more, “That’s what you’re worried about? No, she didn’t give away your secret.” he told her, first harshly than all together his face softly saddened. “I woke up to find you gone. When i could not find you anywhere i thought your mother had come and taken you, or worse. Or worse!” he yelled, hitting his fist into the wall, smashing and cracking the wall in the process. “I thought I lost you. I was out of my mind, Persephone. Only to find you have betrayed me like this.”
“I didn’t do it to hurt you, that was never my intention.” she pleaded with him. She had wanted to tell him from the beginning, she was always going to tell him. He had to know that she didn’t do this to hurt him. He had to believe her. She pleaded with him to know that this was not a betrayal.
His face was stern when he roared, “But that was the result.”
Silence filled the room. Separating the two, making the confined space feel like a chasm. She did not know what to say. She was beginning to see that what she had done might not be forgivable. Might not be undoable.
Hades took a deep breath, trying to calm himself as he stood on the other side of the room. “This isn’t the first soul you’ve smuggled behind closed doors, is it?” he asked her. It hurt her to see him jump to business first and ignore the gaping wound in their marriage.
Once a king, always a king.
“It’s not like that, Hades,” she said, pleading with him not to put up his shield, not with her. She would not know what would come of her if he began to keep her at arms distance.
“That’s exactly what this is. You’ve lied and snuck around instead of coming to talk to me. Never lie to me Persephone. Never hide things from me. I may not always agree, but I would rather be disappointed than lied to.” he said, hurt clear on his face. “I thought you knew. I didn’t think It needed to be said,” he noted softly. He then cleared his throat as if trying to once again move the problem away. “Now tell me so i can fix this. What other souls have you smuggled into the Underworld without my knowledge?”
“This was the first,” she told him truthfully.
“Persephone,” he said her name in warning. He thought she was lying to him. It broke her heart he did not trust her at her word. Even though she did not fault him for it.
“This was the first time I swear it!” she promised, “You think i am lying,” she stated bluntly as her voice broke. He may be wearing his mask but she never would with him, even if it was only pain and regret.
“I don’t know anymore,” he said truthfully. It felt like, now, the truth was only meant to hurt her.
“This is all it took?” she asked him sobering to the idea. “One misstep for everything we have built to fall apart?”
“Misstep? Do you think this is a small problem? There are a process and rules that need to be followed for a soul to be let into the Underworld. You are the queen and can no longer be so weak-willed. I know you want to help the forgotten. I know you wanted Orpheus and Eurydice’s love to conquer all, just as our love did. But this is the Underworld and not every ending can be a happy one.” he said to her
He then looked down at his hands. Though they were empty he looked at them as if he saw something else. “Believe it or not, I want the same. I am not as cruel and unfeeling as you must think I am. I just know better than to sneak around in the middle of the night. This is not just a misstep this is a huge leap in judgment.”
“But what was I to do when the system did not work?” she asked, pleading with him to understand.
“You talk to me! You have a problem and you talk to me!” he said desperately, “Not deal with it underhandedly. We could have figured this out together.”
“If i would have come to you, you’re telling me you would have let me?” she asked knowing the answer.
“You know I’m trying to find suitable solutions. If the precautions i have set up did not suit your standard you should have told me,” he argued.
“No hades.” she stopped him, repeating her question so he could hear her more clearly. “If I would have asked you, to walk among the mortals, would you have let me?” she asked again, already knowing the answer. Although he had bent to her wishes he had still not changed his mind. He watched her as she too returned his challenging stair.
He answered immediately, “No.”
“That is why I did not seek your approval,” she told him. She knew him well by now and knew he would have never allowed it. When she had broached the subject before he had said the same. And after the subject had been left ignored for so long there was little else she could have done.
“How could i? Damn it Persephone, those are criminals, murderers, and rapists. There is a reason no one cared enough to buy passage for them.” he yelled looking at her from the other side of the room. “Gods, they could have hurt you. I thought you understood the dangers.”
“I do. I’ve been safe, Hades. I only took a woman and her child.”
“That still put you at a huge risk, anyone could have grabbed you,” he argued relentlessly.
“You don’t understand, I had to,” she said desperately. Persephone understood what this kind of confession would lead to. She would have to tell him about the prophecy. She would have to follow the truth. There was no way to be forgiven, no way for Hades to trust her again unless she was truthful about it all. She would need to tell him everything.
“Had to?” Hades scoffed at her words, “No one was making you do anything Persephone.”
“The prophecy,” she spoke the word she had been hiding for far too long. “I had to because of the prophecy.”
Hades stilled, taken back and confused by this new information, “What prophecy?” he asked.
“The one the fates gave me the night before the trial,” she told him, unable to do anything other than ring her hands together nervously. Soon he would know just how much she had hidden from him. He would also know how tainted she was. How evil she was. He had stuck his neck out to be with her, risked everything, and now he would know how regretful his decision was.
“They gave you a prophecy? What else aren’t you telling me?!” he asked angrily, beginning to pace the room again, “What did they say.”
“When I went to them, I asked them to allow you and I to be together, to fix it so the trial would end favorably for us,” she told him, looking up to see him staring at her. This he already knew. “They agreed. But warned me that if I chose you evil was sure to grow and with it my destruction as well.”
It was silent as the weight of her words weighed on them both. “You should have told me.” he simply said.
Truthfully she answered, “I didn’t want to worry you.”
“I would have preferred it to this feeling.”
“There is nothing you could have done.” she reminded him. The fates were clear that once the pattern was set a fate would be unweavable.
“This is not how you deal with a prophecy. Besides I could have helped you through this. If you had told me then maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation now.” he told her simply, as his words tore at her heart. “I’m not oblivious to the fact that I’m not right for you, that one day this will end between us. But until that day comes I will do everything in my power to protect you. Because, divine god or not, I would not survive if something were to happen to you. I just ask that you let me. I would do anything if it made you happy, except if it put you in danger. And that’s exactly what you have done tonight.” he finished speaking as he sighed heavily, showing the night’s stress clear on his face.
His stone-cold exterior re-emerged as he straightened. “We will finish this at a later time once I have calmed down and before I say something further we will both regret,” he said walking to the doors. Suddenly her world was crumbling.
“Where are you going?” she asked desperately, taking the first step towards him she had all night.
He turned to answer her “To do damage control.”
Suddenly she was desperate to follow him, for him to forgive her, for this night to be forgotten. “Hades I’m sorry. I won’t go out again, I promise. I’ll fix this.”
He was now at the door but he did not turn, “Not this time, you cannot fix this.” he had no anger or malice in his voice but also no love in it either.
He left without waiting for her reply.