THIRTY ONE - This Eternal Life
THIS ETERNAL LIFE
It was hours until Hades returned to their room. Hours that left her even more time to contemplate what she would say. Her thoughts only left her in deeper despair as she had become more and more certain the night would be ending any other way except happily ever after. She knew there could be no fixing what she had already broken.
Some things, once shattered, can not be fixed.
Hermes had convinced her not to run away from her problems, and she had agreed. She was beginning to understand what it was to be a powerful goddess, one worthy of respect. Part of wielding such an honor was being responsible for the actions she made. But he had also told her that Hades would forgive her, that his love would overpower his anger. Of that, she knew better than to believe.
The moment he opened the doors to their room she looked up instantly, hope alight in her heart. He would always have this effect on her, whether he was in love with her or not. Her eyes would always find his, even within a crowded room, even if it was just them. But what she saw was less than love. It was not hatred, but there was still a sadness in his eyes she was not accustomed to seeing.
He said not a word as he sat next to her on the bed. They both seemed to be weighed down by the words that would eventually be said. When he turned to her she could not even meet his eyes, worried he could see she had been crying. It was not hard to see the evidence because she hadn’t spent long trying to hide it. Her eyes were puffy and red and she was sure at least one tear had dried on her cheek before she could whip it off.
They had shared many intimate moments and she had always shared every little thought and detail of her life with him. But at that moment, sitting in a darkened room, tears evident on her face, she felt the need to run and to hide. She could not handle the thought of him watching her cry.
Instead of mentioning her weakness he simply and silently pulled a leaf from her hair. As he studied the leaf, now resting in his palm, all she could do was utter an explanation, “I was in the garden.” Of what had transpired while in the garden she did not say. He needed no more but the evidence of her dried tears.
“Yes I know,” he said, still studying the leaf. She guessed just like her he needed something to do with his hands as he avoided eye contact. “I saw you from my office window,” he told her. She could feel her cheeks turn to roses as she found herself slightly embarrassed that he had seen her. Still, she simply nodded.
Silence encased them as they sat together while also being completely alone.
All at once, they both started talking, seeing no point in drawing out the pending conversation.
“I should not have left like that.” he said as she also said, “I’m leaving in the morning.” both stunned at the other choice of words they looked at each other quizzingly.
Hades’ voice deepened as he spoke next, “You are not leaving.”
“I thought you would have been pleased,” Persephone asked quietly, confused why he sounded upset. She was only trying to help him.
“Why?” Hades asked, his voice booming once more, “Why would I want you to go?”
“You-” Persephone began but her voice broke, stopping her before she could finish. “You were so mad and so hurt. I did not think there was anything I could do to fix what had happened. What I have done. The least i could do is leave so as to not be a constant reminder.”
“Oh Persephone,” Hades shook his head. He groaned into his hands, before he ran them through his hair in frustration, “I do not think there is anything that could turn me against you.” Persephone felt stunned by his words. Perhaps Hermes was right. Maybe Hades would find it possible to forgive her.
“Not..not even this?” she asked, shocked by his words. This was not what she had expected. She thought he would be thankful when she told him she was leaving. Instead, he seemed almost regretful. “Hades, what I have done, it is not forgivable,” she told him as if she had to remind him.
The contrast between them was painfully obvious to her at that moment. She had once thought of them as two sides to the same coin. But now she saw how different they truly were. When he had left, no matter how mad he might have been, he had learned that they were worth the fight. That no matter the trial he would endear it. But what had she decided? She immediately doubted their ability to overcome. The moment something happened all she wanted to do was run. What a horrible contrast. She would be eternally thankful she had not left when she first wanted to.
“Maybe not for some gods but I am not just any god. I’m the king of the Underworld, and you are my queen. Fuck, I love you and that is all. That is all that matters in this life.” Hades said looking back at her from his hunched-over position, elbows resting on his knees. “You have no idea how much you mean to me. What happened… it hurt, to say the least. But this will not be our end if i have any say in the matter.” He looked at her intently, making a vow out of every word.
Persephone looked away, not letting herself fall for what her heart so desperately wanted to believe. “But, you were so mad.”
“I was. I left so i wouldn’t hurt you or worsen the problem at hand,” he nodded but turned so he was facing her instead of the wall, “I only needed time to calm down.” Silence followed him. She could not believe what he was saying. All she could hear was the sound of their shouting echoing off these same walls mere hours ago.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you that mad before,” she said remembering their argument. They both had raised their voices at one another. It was a night she never thought she would see.
“I hope you never will again,” he replied. When she looked up at him all she saw was honesty and regret. What he had to regret in this situation she could not know.
“Are you-” she began to ask but stopped unsure if she really wanted to know the answer. “Are you still mad?” she finally asked.
He studied her before he answered, eyes never leaving hers. “No, not mad. i don’t think i ever really was,” he said instantly.
“If it helps I heard what you said and I will never let it happen again. My whole life if i wanted to do something i needed to do it myself. I’ve hidden everything from my mother and I felt like I needed to do the same to you. Not because i don’t trust you but simply out of habit. I know I should have told you. I should have told you everything.” she confessed to him, swallowing hard, “I promise i will not lie to you again. I am sorry. Please forgive me.” she asked only wanting to go back to how it was between them. She knew she would never again lie to him, instead, she knew she wanted him in everything she ever did. All that mattered to her now was Hades’ forgiveness.
“There is nothing you could do that I wouldn’t be able to forgive.” He sighed heavily but did not look away from her, “We both have things to be sorry for. What is important is that we will grow from this.” the second he said the words he pulled her in closer. His hands touching her was better than any feeling she could have imagined. Especially when she thought she would never feel them again. When he leaned in and kissed her she would have thought it was a dream if it weren’t for the sparks she felt all the way to her core. “Will you stay?” he whispered onto her lips.
The answer she already knew, “If you will have me,” she told him. She would stay for however long he wanted her.
“I would have it no other way.” his smile gleamed beautifully, contagious as she felt her own smile appear.
While in her bliss she remembered the sad reason for their conversation was far from over as her demons appeared once again. She had been young and naive in their marriage to think keeping secrets was a way of protecting them, but now she knew better. She had been stupid enough to keep secrets from him once and would never let it happen again. She had made a promise and she had every intention of keeping it.
She spoke softly, not wanting to upset or ruin what little happiness they had found, “If i am to stay I need to say something,” she paused, unable to find the words. He sat quietly, listening to whatever she had to say. He too knew they had much to discuss before morning. “I know you feel it was dangerous but I would like to continue smuggling souls into the Underworld. This time with your blessing. I don’t wish to hide it anymore but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel it is any less important.” she told him as he watched her, letting her practically see his thoughts bouncing around in his head.
“I am not surprised,” he said finally, giving no indication as to what he truly thought. “I had a feeling this is what you would want.”
“I feel like i need to do this, Hades. I need to do something good for once,” she said referring to the last couple of months but mostly referring to Orpheus. The prophecy was looming over her only showing the holes she had been hiding in her character over the centuries. All she wanted was to put more good into the world than she currently was. “Some of those people have done nothing to be guilty of except for being poor,” she said, not wanting to use the mother and her child as an example as it was still a fresh wound.
“Yes, I am aware.” Once again Hades ran his hands through his hair in frustration, but this time he looked back up at her with a saddened look upon his face. She suddenly felt the need to take everything back, to do anything to make him smile once again. “You act as if I am ignoring them. Condemning them to a life upon that shoreline. Charon is under strict orders to pick up any children as soon as they are seen, the rest I try to get to as soon as the time is permitted. It’s not like I am ignoring them, Persephone! I have no choice! I am a god but that does not mean i am all capable.” he said, his voice broken as if he too was weighted down.
She could tell he was becoming self-defensive. She had never wanted to make him feel like he was failing or that she was blaming him. On the contrary, she would never. She knew he was a good man and that if he could, he would save every soul. People often assumed from his cold demeanor that he was the one with the cold heart. But Persephone had seen it with her own eyes and had always known; Hades was the one with the softest heart among them. She had never meant for him to feel like he was anything less. He would never have to defend his actions to her. This was about her. Not him.
“I didn’t say that,” she said, trying to calm them both down. The conversation was starting to escalate into something ugly and dark. She knew because it was starting to resemble their last conversation. Now that she knew there was hope for them she would do just about anything to save the relationship that was beginning to rip at the seams. “We’re letting this get ahead of us again.” She took a deep breath before continuing, “All I’m saying is I want to help these people.” he nodded agreeing with her but did not say anything beyond that. Instead, he stood up from their bed, leaving her to watch him as he began to pace the floor, clearly conflicted. She couldn’t see his face but his silence began to creep to her.
His decision came to him as he turned to her quickly, “If i cannot stop you then at least let me come with you.” she had no words that could express how surprised she was. Out of everything he could have said this was not one she had expected. He came to sit back down next to her, this time closer. When he held her hand she could not stop the small smile that met her face. “You are devoted to life, there are a million reasons for me to love you, but in this eternal life, this is mine. I should have never made you feel like you couldn’t be yourself around me. I should have never expected anything else and it was wrong of me to ask it from you. If this is something you need, it is yours.” he spoke, truth in every syllable. She felt incredibly lucky to love this man and have her love returned. “But i still can’t stomach you being defenseless and alone. If you must be in danger, let me come with you.”
“Hades-” she started but felt her shock choke her, “What of the laws? If I am found out then you can excuse it as my youth but if they found out the king of the Underworld was breaking his own laws there would be an open revolt. I cannot ask you to do this for me. This is my mess.” she said, loving him even more for offering. He once again proved that she could never deserve him. He wanted to sacrifice all else for her to be happy when just hours ago she was sneaking around for selfish reasons. She regretted everything but it still stung her how much she had done to wrong him. He might have forgiven her but she had yet to forgive herself.
Surprising her he lifted her by her waist so she now sat on his lap facing him. Face to face. Chest to chest. She was now so close that when he spoke she could feel his breath faintly on her neck, “Persephone you are more important to me than all the kingdoms in the world.” he paused only a second to kiss her neck, making her shiver, “More important than the Underworld.” this time two kisses, “Or my throne.” so many kisses. “Please let me do this for you. I’ve had time to think about it, tonight cannot solely be put on your shoulders. It is equally my fault, you did not feel like you could come to me with this and that is equally what is breaking my heart. I meant what i said, i want it all Persephone, the good and the bad.”
Persephone felt a tear on her cheek, “Are you sure?” she asked once more while looking at Hades. She had to be sure he wanted to do this. It was not an easy decision to make.
Hades nodded, always being the man with his mind made up. “I’m not leaving you. not again. Not this time.” this time it was her to lean in to kiss him.
That night they held each other as their world shrank until it was only them. Until they knew the world around them was going to disappear out from under them.
They held onto each other.
Onto everything they had.
Onto everything that mattered to them.