THIRTY TWO - Unspoken Dreams
Mud stuck between her toes but she didn’t mind, she loved the feeling of the soil underneath her feet. She could feel every living thing around her pulse with life as she walked through the forest. The sunlight streamed through the trees, lightly touching her skin. She continued to wander, enjoying the fresh air.
As she stepped out of the meadow and deeper into a part of the forest she did not recognize the sun began to be blotted out. It got darker and darker as the trees around her grew taller and closer together, trapping her from the way she came. She could no longer feel the warm sun but now felt the bite of the cold wind. Still, she did not stop, still continuing deeper and deeper. She had nothing to fear in the woods of her own creation she told herself. Yet still, she felt an involuntary shiver run down her spine.
A warm light flashed behind her, scaring away the darkness of the forest. She turned around suddenly, thinking it was the sun or a way out. But it was not.
Fire. It was a raging fire.
She watched in horror as it consumed everything around it. Spreading throughout the forest until little was left untouched. Burning trees until they crashed to the ground, plucked the leaves from their branches, and turned a forest of green into something black and burnt.
She began to run frantically, trying to escape the disaster the flames were creating. Her feet beat rapidly upon the ground that had been stuck between her toes.
She could feel the pain of being burnt even though the flames did not touch her, and she could hear the screaming coming from the plants as they were consumed by the flames. She fell onto her knees feeling altogether overwhelmed by the death that began to circle her.
A laugh began to echo through the burning forest. The woman’s laugh was much louder than the roar of the fire as if it was just for her. Ringing in her ears only. She did not have to see a face to know who it belonged to.
It was her mother.
Persephone awoke with a start. She sat up in their bed, throwing her covers off and backing up until she hit the backboard. Her breathing was still frantic as she realized it was only a nightmare. That it was not real.
A yelp tore itself from her mouth when Hades touched her arm lightly. In her confusion, she had not realized he was still awake and had been the one to wake her from her nightmare. He watched carefully, concern clear on his face. “Are you ok?” he asked her after her breathing had calmed. She simply nodded her head in response but Hades needed words.
“Im fine,” she told him, not completely sure what else she could say. The dream was still fresh in her mind. She could still feel the burning of the flames and the echo of her mother’s laughter. Still, he watched her as she took steadying breaths, trying to calm herself.
It was not common for gods to have nightmares and even less common for them to talk about them. A nightmare entailed the gods themselves were capable of being scared, that there are forces out there that made fear run down their spines. That was not something any god ever felt comfortable talking about. Being a god meant being the essence all else was afraid of, not the other way around. But this was Hades and she could tell him anything. He was not just any god, he was the one she could rely on for everything. But she did not know what to tell him this time. She didn’t even understand the dream. So she was glad when he did not ask.
Instead, he pulled her into his bare chest and held her a fraction tighter than he normally did. She loved the feeling and the fact Hades knew just what she needed. She rested her head on his chest as she noticed the papers littering their bed. Hades must have been up working late while she slept. This had begun to be a common occurrence for them as they had begun to find a normal routine. She had persuaded him to start bringing work to bed instead of working late in the office, as he usually did. Persuaded wasn’t quite the right word so much as distracted him. After too many nights of falling asleep alone, she had begun to have enough of it and had shown up in his office dressed only in their white bedsheet, that hid nothing from any onlooker. She had demanded he not ignore her any longer and in response, he hadn’t let her sleep for the rest of the night.
Even though it was an impulse and not planned, Hades had later described her as the most beautiful of marble statues. Ever since then he had begun to bring his paperwork to bed and start only after she had gone to sleep. It was a good compromise for the couple.
She had offered to help him with his work but had quickly figured out it was much less than underworld work and more battle plans and strategies. He was gathering information and finding allies for a war that had not even begun. He seemed sure that after Orpheus there would surely be more tests or gods forbid an invasion. He had told her how he believed someone was searching for a reason to invade; looking for weaknesses, shortcomings. He would not let them have the chance. It was clear to her he was worried. It was at times like this she was reminded that at one time Hades had been a fierce warrior and a brilliant strategist in the war against the titans.
She picked up a pile of papers lying closest to her. It was written reports from informants on events on Olympus and other gods Hades had deemed as a risk. When she looked up at him he was simply watching her as she read the report.
“Who do you think it is?” she asked him, needing a distraction from her dream. He had not yet figured out who was behind everything but she didn’t doubt he had his guesses.
“It is still too early to say, I don’t yet have enough information,” he told her.
“But certainly you have a guess. You told me your gut is never wrong, what does it say?” she asked him. He had stacks of papers here and even more in his office, certainly, he had enough information to form an estimation. But still, he remained silent only watching her sadly. She began to push him harder when she finally understood what he wasn’t saying.
Her mother. That was who he thought was orchestrating it all. And he was never wrong. She shook her head, “No. My mother would never.” she told him, her dream at the forefront of her mind.
“She was mad and certainly unhappy, but she would have let this go by now,” she said, needing it to be true. Her mother could not be the cause of their worries. Of such destruction.
“Darling,” Hades stopped her as he tucked some of her hair behind her ear, “Have you ever known your mother to let anything go?”
Persephone felt stunned. She didn’t know what to say. His words made sense and it was logical why Hades thought it was Demeter. But her mother, the woman she had grown up with, while filed with anger and contempt, could have never orchestrated this. If it was true it meant her mother had set Orpheus in front of her and had allowed, or even wanted her to damn him and his love. It had been two weeks since the mortal left and Persephone still could not stop herself from repeatedly checking on him. Every time she did, she would hope to see at least some change, but there was only ever despair.
Was her mother capable of this type of destruction?
If Hades was right this was only the beginning.
She shook her head, sure her mother could not be behind what had the lookings of becoming a war. Her mother was angry and malice but she was never evil. “No my mother would never.”
“You might be right.” Hades sympathized but his tone told Persephone he definitely wasn’t agreeing with her. “She might not be the mastermind behind this but at the moment all the facts seem to lead to her,” he told her. His words betrayed her but as his hands wandered her bare thigh she felt her breath falter. She reminded herself he was not trying to hurt her but protect her. And yet she still felt like she needed to defend her mother.
“Then you need to look closer. She wouldn’t do this.” Persephone told Hades once again. Her voice wasn’t as strong as even she began to doubt herself.
“I’m just trying to be prepared for anything,” he replied.
“Fine. Be prepared, gather your forces, and make your plans. But know my mother had nothing to do with it.” she did not doubt her mother was furious with her. It had been clear her mother would hate Persephone for years for what she had done. But Persephone was still her daughter, wouldn’t she allow her to be happy, even if it wasn’t with her?
“Persephone. I just want you to be prepared if my suspicion turns out to be true.” Hades told her, his hand holding hers calmly.
“I don’t think anything could prepare me for that,” Persephone whispered. “I always knew she would be upset but i don’t understand how a mother could hold so much anger towards her daughter. I can’t imagine anything that would make me hate my own daughter.” Persephone said to Hades. He instantly pulled her closer to his side, cupping her into his much larger body.
“You are not your mother. Our children will only feel love.” Hades told her.
“Do you ever think about the children we might have?” she asked. Thinking of Hades with a baby in his arms made her smile.
“I dream of them constantly.” he smiled. They had talked about children enough for her to know he wanted some eventually but she had always assumed that time was far off.
More recently she had found herself becoming more afraid of becoming a mother. Afraid that if they had a child she would become her mother. Demeter’s love had not only trapped Persephone but had also dragged her mother into a jealous and controlling place. She had heard stories of her mother from long before her birth, she hadn’t always been the same woman screaming in a garden. It was her daughter who had made her so desperate. It was that type of love that scared her.
Persephone didn’t want that for any daughters she might have. Even though she and Hades would probably not have a child for years to come. Even though she did not have a baby to hold in her arms, she already loved it endlessly. She knew she would do anything for them. And she knew she wanted them to be happy and loved.
She knew any child they had would eventually do something they would disagree with. Something that made them want to yell in a dark garden. Whether it be fall in love or run away. Persephone knew her temper, she knew she would do anything to get them back, she could easily imagine herself desperate to keep them close to her. But Persephone also knew there was nothing her child could ever do that wasn’t forgivable, nothing could cause her to seek revenge. As her anger always did it would subside and when it did she hoped she would be able to see why her child had made that choice. She may never agree with them but she would always love them and want the best for her child.
That was how she knew her mother could never be a part of this horrible conspiracy. She was sure Demeter was mad and would forever hate Hades for taking Persephone away, but a war? Never.
The goddess famous for giving life to the earth was not able to cause death.
Persephone shook her head more sure of herself now, “You’ve only seen the bad parts of her. You’ll see. She is not trying to destroy us, she may be mad but she is still my mother.”
“You are not your mother. She spent years trying to make you into another version of herself but no matter how hard she tried it could never work. You are too good.”
“There is a little good in all of us Hades, you just have to give them a chance,” she told him. She looked up into his eyes as she laid her head back down on his chest. The warm blankets and the sound of his calming breaths were causing her to become tired once again.
“I am an old god, I have not seen much good in any Olympian. Not for a long time.”
“My mother said the same about you and she was wrong. You have so much good in you. You’ll see, she does too.” Persephone said, a large yawn interrupting her sentence. Hades’ chest rumbled lightly with laughter.
“Alight my queen, if you say so,” he whispered a kiss onto her forehead as she closed her eyes once again.
She knew Hades was a skeptical god who was always suspicious of everyone, with good reason. But she had to somehow convince him that her mother was innocent. She had to clear her mother’s name and rid submission from her.
If it was for him or for her she did not know.