THIRTY SIX - Dark And Deadly Things
DARK AND DEADLY THINGS
Hades nodded along as Thanatos rambled on as only he could. He was going over the weekly reports of the Underworld’s intake of souls. Hades had always required it but at this moment he could not remember why.
His mind seemed to come back to Persephone as it always did, this time he wondered what she was doing while with her mother. He had seen her in the garden from his window. Demeter and the nymph she had brought with her followed Persephone as she walked them through her garden. Hades had smiled as he watched her wave her hands animatedly around her as she spoke, no doubt excited to show her garden to someone who appreciated plants as much as her. He had always tried to be interested in her work but he could not tell the difference between any of the blooms, not as she could. Still, he always tried and she had always said she appreciated his effort, but he knew she wanted to discuss her passion with someone who understood. He hoped her mother had been kind to her, he knew how excited she had been for her mother’s visit. It meant everything to her.
Suddenly a knock echoed from the door, interrupting Thanatos. Hades frowned, Thanatos had been his last meeting for the day and if it was Persephone she wouldn’t have knocked.
Hades nodded for Thanatos to open the door and when he did it showed the cold expression of Demeter, waiting on the other side. “Could we have a moment?” she asked although he doubted it was a question.
Hades nodded, “I’ll find you when I’m done here Thanatos.” he said dismissing the god to leave. If Thanatos could have run out of the room any faster he would have.
“I’ve been expecting you to come and find me,” Hades said as he watched the goddess sit in one of the chairs in front of his desk. He had assumed Demeter had a thing or two to say to him in private. While they had spoken in the garden they had yet to speak on the topic without Persephone there. They both had things to say that would only upset her if she was present.
“Yes well, I think you and I should finally have that talk the both of us have been waiting for.” Demeter agreed, folding her hands in her lap.
“Does Persephone know you are here?” he asked wondering where his wife was, if not with her mother.
She shook her head, “My daughter is getting ready for dinner.” he did not miss when she emphasized that Persephone was her daughter and not his wife. He neatly put away the papers that cluttered his desk as he waited patiently for her to say whatever she had come to say. “You’ve played your cards well,” she said coldly.
He looked up at her trying to decipher what she had meant but all he could read was her clear hate for him. Still, she remained calm in her hatred, clearly a calculated move. He must have been right when he assumed she had come here for a purpose.
“Excuse me?” he asked her, he was not loving what she was insinuating.
“You and your brother have me right where you want me and I commend you for it. I took you to trial and I lost, I’ll admit it. But it’s time for this all to come to an end.” her eyes were cold and calculated which Hades had expected. He knew her as a ruthless and vengeful goddess. But he had never seen her so desperate.
“Demeter, this is not a game to me,” Hades said, his fist clenching. The fact Demeter saw Persephone as an item that could be owned angered him.
“Oh, of course, it isn’t,” Demeter said laughing at the idea. “I get it. Name your price,” she said.
For the first time in years, he was shocked into silence. He had known Demeter would come to him, to threaten him or beg him he had not been sure but he had not expected this. He could have never foreseen Demeter offering to buy Hades’ wife from him. How could she think he would allow her to.
“My price?” he asked, shocked and angered Demeter would think he would be willing to sell off his wife. He had previously thought Demeter was simply selfish but now he knew that she honestly didn’t know that Hades truly loved Persephone.
“What will it take to get my daughter back?” she nodded. Her calm exterior and her blatant disrespect of Persephone was all it took for his anger to bubble over. Abruptly Hades stood from his desk while simultaneously slamming his hands against the top.
“Demeter, Persephone is not for sale and she will never be a possession. She will. Not. Be. Bought. She is her own woman and comes and leaves the Underworld as she sees fit, the reason she won’t visit you is your own fault.” he told her angrily, pronouncing each word slowly. “Demeter, i love your daughter and if you don’t understand that then fine i can accept it but i will not be insulted in my own home. That i will not accept.”
Taking a calming breath he remembered that Persephone had asked him to be civil and he planned on fulfilling the promise he had made. He could almost laugh at how much he had changed just from having her in his life. Years ago he would have let his anger run away with him. “We both love her and we want what’s best for her, whether we agree on what that is or not. I have bent over backward this weekend for her, because I know she loves you and so desperately wants your approval. Now I know you and I will never see eye to eye and I am not a foolish enough man to hope to be friends. I am willing to look past your usage of Persephone for her because she believes you deserve a second chance. She wants me to forgive you, of that, i can tell you for certain i will never be able to forgive. But I can be passive while around her because it is killing her to see us fight. I am willing to swallow my pride for her, I’m willing to get along and be civil with you for my wife’s sake. Can you?” he asked.
He remembered how his pride had always gotten in the way with Persephone and his love. Whether it was early on in their relationship when his pride stopped him from telling her how he really felt. He also remembered more recently when his pride had hurt her the most. When his pride had gotten hurt by her expedition with the forgotten causing her to think he wanted her to leave. He had vowed, never again. She was infidelity more important than his pride.
He watched as her calm exterior deflated as she was quickly filled with anger. He had guessed she would not take his proposal well, and so when she began to yell he simply sat back down. He calmly watched the woman become the goddess he had always known her to be.
“You are just like your brothers, causing mayhem, kidnapping women and doing who knows what to them, then tossing them aside when they don’t sparkle to your eye anymore. I’ve seen it done for millennia and I will not see it done to my daughter.” she spat at him in anger. He had prepared himself for curses that would not matter to him, but it hurt him to be compared to his brothers. He had heard the whispers of what Zeus does to the women who fall into his view or what Poseidon does to his wife. He had worked so hard to be a better husband to Persephone than his brothers were to their own wives. He knew no one’s opinion mattered but Persephone but could not help the sting that Demeter had caused. “You call me a criminal for how I chose to parent but it will never matter what I have done, for you are a monster. You are a dark man, a god pieced together by dark and deadly things.”
“Better a monster than an arrogant god.” Hades smiled darkly when he saw Demeter’s reaction. “I am not my brothers. I treat Persephone and will continue to treat her as a queen, as a goddess, as my wife and the women I love should be treated,” he said spelling it out as clearly as he could, leaving no room for her to doubt.
“Everyone who meets Persephone loves her, you are nothing special,” She dismissed quickly. “Lusting after her because she is beautiful is not the same as love. Your selfish desire to have her does not justify what you’ve done. You have trapped and tainted her for the rest of her life.”
“I will not dishonor you with lies. In the beginning, it might have been lust but truthfully it has been much more than love for quite some time Demeter,” he confessed to her. How could he have not been attracted to her at first sight? It was the main reason he always held her so close while in public, protecting her from wandering eyes, and he could never bear to go long without touching or holding her. “Please if you believe nothing else-”
“You hardly know her,” she interrupted.
“I know Persephone like the back of my hand, I would know her anywhere,” he told her. It dawned on him that neither he nor Persephone had explained their rather unusual love story, meaning Demeter did not know that he had known Persephone for thousands of years and had loved her just as long. “I do not like to be challenged by anyone, least of all another god, but you are her mother and being as all parents should, protective of their child. I clearly cannot prove my love for your daughter but I can tell you with certainty that I know her very well.”
“Do not be shocked when i do not believe you.” Demeter laughed in a mocking way.
He took a deep breath as he tried to put his mind into order. Whenever he thought of Persephone his mind would fill with all the qualities he loved about her all at once, it was hectic and he would have it no other way.
“She’s… kind. Truly kind, without being so just for the sake of manners, and generous without expecting anything in return, which is rare amongst Olympians. She’s curious, trusting, and sees the best in people, even when they don’t see it themselves.” he smiled knowing this was what had made him fall for her originally. He almost didn’t see the way Demeter fidgeted in her seat but certainly saw the ghost of a smile that fell upon her face. She too knew this of her daughter. “She’s affectionate and whimsical and… and so stubborn when she wants to be! I know I could not possibly know her as well as you. You’re her mother who has known her for her whole life. But I want to know her. I want to know everything about her. I wake up every morning looking forward to knowing her more deeply, to learning one more fact I had not known. With every new thing I learn I have fallen more deeply in love with her.” he told her bearing his soul bare. He was not used to being so vulnerable to anyone other than Persephone but when he started talking of his wife he could not stop.
Though they were drastically different from one another he could see himself spending the rest of his eternity with no one else. They were like fire and ash; so similar. Yet still so different. She was beautiful and lively, and he was lost, scared, and totally in love with her.
“By the gods! You love her… don’t you.” Demeter asked, shocked by his words.
“Yes I do.” he nodded in response.
“For once I think I believe you,” Demeter said soberly as she stared down at her hands in shock of her realization. Suddenly Hades saw her for what she was; not an angry goddess, not the goddess of the harvest, but as barren ground; Hard, Unyielding, and Childless.
“I’m glad. Hopefully, we can just put all this behind us,” he said trying to cut the tension that was draping the room.
“I am not done Hades.” Demeter stopped him. He automatically knew he had begun to relax too soon. He had forgotten how important Persephone was to Demeter, she would never give her up. “I understand why she picked you, you love her and see her for the beautiful girl she is. I now have no doubt you are both in love and now that I’ve seen you two together i truly believe you are made for each other,” she told him as if she would not object to their union with her next breath. “But kore can also be naive and stupid in handing out her love. I’m afraid you are just as naive if you believe I will put this behind me. She is my only daughter, I cannot lose her. And if I give up my pursuit that is exactly what I would be doing. I cannot stop the winter because then I will lose my daughter forever.” Demeter told Hades with pure determination in her eyes, the same look that Hades matched just as intently. He did not like the way it seemed not to affect her as it did with everyone else, “I will get my daughter back.”
“I am afraid that is where you are wrong,” Hades asserted simply. He meant every word as he spoke them. “You do not govern Persephone’s life. Not anymore.”
Demeter’s fists clenched in irritation, eyes igniting passionate flames, “Say that again?” she challenged as if she was not talking to Hades, a man who had never backed down from a fight.
“Persephone is a true goddess and a queen. No power, no thone, no mother could ever hold her back. She is stronger than you.” he did wait to see her reaction, although he was sure it would have been entertaining. Instead, he got up from his desk and walked to the door, opening it. She watched him angrily and did not stand immediately. “I’m sorry we could not come to an agreement.”
Within an instant she was standing in front of him staring him down, trying to look intimidating as he towered over her. “The winds are changing Hades and your brother will not always be able to save you.”
His face hardened with her threat, “I do not take threats lightly Demeter.”
“Nore should you.” she agreed. “There will be a day when you will look upon the wasteland, that will be your life when i am done with you, and wish you had taken my offer,” she growled at him before storming down the hallway.
Slamming the door Hades returned to his desk followed by a sigh. He covered his face with his hands, unable to finish his work after a conversation like the one he just had. A knock echoed in his office and he knew immediately who it was. His nosy assistant who would never mind his own business. Without giving permission Thanatos peaked his head in the office.
“I thought I told you I’d come to find you,” Hades mumbled, not having to look up to know who it was.
“You did, but I’m afraid patience does not easily come to immortals. How did it go?” Thanatos asked.
Hades had to laugh at the question. “Judging by the threat she gave me when walking out, not well,” Hades told his friend but looked up as he realized something he had originally looked over. “But it did end differently than I suspected.”
“How so?” Thanatos asked.
“I expected her to make threats and yell at me, that part wasn’t surprising,” Hades said and Thanatos nodded along with him. “But her threat was not simply cold, she was also calm when she said it. She meant it. She is definitely planning something.” Hades said, his voice lowing in anger. His suspicions were correct that Demeter was the one moving the pieces behind the curtain. She was plotting for their demise. Persephone was wrong and his heart suddenly sunk in the realization that he would eventually have to tell her. It would break her.
“What do you want to do about it,” Thanatos asked, shaking Hades from his thoughts.
He thought about it but knew instantly what he needed to do. He could not act without being provoked, that he knew. It would hurt Persephone so much if her husband and mother were at war. He needed more proof before he could act. “Send Hecate to get close to her, to gain her trust, and to find out what she can.” Thanatos disappeared following his boss’s orders leaving Hades alone in his office once again.
He would soon have to send Persephone to her mother for six months. The thought began to rot him from the inside. It would be hell for him to let her go, but worse now that he knew Demeter was dangerous to them. He will be damned if he allowed Persephone to leave without being in control of the situation or at the very least informed.