THIRTY NINE - A Old Flame Long Forgotten
OLD FLAME LONG FORGOTTEN (2,704)
When morning came Persephone found her anger hand not dissipated while she slept. So instead of going to breakfast with Hades as she always did, she turned off towards the gardens. Hades did not say a word though he knew exactly what she was doing. He only sent her off with a cased kiss and promised to see her in the afternoon.
She had instantly known where the nymph would be. She was raised around more nymphs than gods while with her mother. The nymph would definitely be in Persephone’s gardens. Nymphs mostly didn’t like to be indoors for too long and much preferred to be wandering amongst nature.
In many ways, Persephone understood why people had thought she was a simple nymph because she enjoyed the same activities most nymphs did. In fact, the beautiful morning made her want to stop to appreciate it. She would have probably taken a walk through her garden just to soak up the feeling of the wonderful Underworld morning had there been different circumstances. But her morning had been ruined by the nymph. There would be no enjoyment until the woman was gone from the Underworld.
It infuriated Persephone further once she saw the nymph in her garden smelling a beautiful rose, just as she had expected. Not even the shades trespass into her corner of the Underworld. Not because she had wanted to keep them out, but out of reverence for their queen. It seemed the nymph felt very comfortable here already. She had practically already moved in. Daring to touch things that were not hers.
She had not wanted to confront her last night during dinner. It would have only proved to her mother that she was juvenile and a child. Willing to throw a fit at the slightest inconvenience. It would have also shown a weakness she knew her mother was searching for. But now in the garden, they would be alone. Now she could say all the thoughts that had been boiling in her mind since the moment that nymph batted an eyelash at Hades.
Her dress dragged through the mud and dirt as she made her way to the nymph but she did not care. There was only one thing on her mind. Minthe turned around when she heard Persephone approaching. She smiled with all of the grace one of her mother’s nymphs would be expected to. Unfortunately for her, Persephone was unaffected by her dazzling smile.
“Your majesty.” Minthe nodded with respect.
“So much respect and attention for tradition now but I wonder where this attitude was during dinner?” Persephone asked, allowing her hand to rest soundly on her hip. If the nymph thought she had gotten away without endangering Persephone she surely knew now that she did not.
“I’m not sure what you are asking,” Minthe asked in what Persephone thought was a sickeningly sweet voice.
“You very well know what I am insinuating,” Persephone said, not able to hide her anger. “I will not hide my intention from you nymph. No, in this I will be very clear.”
“I see. I can only imagine you are referring to last night’s dinner,” Minthe said as if it was not painfully obvious.
“And all the other moments I have caught your eyes wondering.” Persephone threatened.
“I can assure you my intention was not to humiliate you,” she said, making Persephone laugh at the idea that she had acted without knowing this would have hurt Persephone. She easily could have cornered Hades when they were alone, and yet she had waited until Persephone had been mere feet away. She had waited until there was no way Persephone wouldn’t have seen.
“Humiliation is not the emotion I am feeling right now,” Persephone told the nymph darkly, feeling the heat of anger raise up. “My feelings begin with rage that someone such as yourself believed it was their place to touch what is mine. And then pity for you to have gone after a married man without the slightest feeling of guilt to your conscience.” Persephone said taking a large step towards Minthe’s directing. She had to commend the nymph for not backing down as she had expected. Minthe had a terrified look on her face and her eyes continued to shift and look uncertain, but still, she did not take a step away.
“That is where you are wrong my lady, I feel nothing but shame for what I have done,” she admitted. This could not have shocked Persephone more. She had prepared herself for the many ways Minthe could have responded to Persephone but admitting her guilt right away without being pressured was not one of them. She had expected deceit and more of a fight, not an easy admittance. Even though Minthe had just admitted to a crime any other goddess would have punished her for, the nymph continued to speak, “This is not the way I would have preferred it to happen. I respect you as a goddess but even you must know that you cannot be queen here for long.”
This time Persephone heard a bite in Minthe’s words she had not heard before. her words sounding like a threat to Persephone. “So you are waiting for me to return to the surface? Are you daft enough to think I will let you stay here alone with my husband?”
“You misunderstand me, my lady.” the nymph shook her head at Persephone’s accusation. “It is believed you will not be returning to the Underworld. There are whisperings and shrouded plans already beginning to form. All circling around you.”
“Me?” Persephone asked. This was a shock to her system. Of course, she had known someone was poking and testing their power but to threaten that she would not be allowed to return to Hades was much more than she had expected. She had always thought that if it came to war she would have nothing to worry about as long as she could fight besides Hades. But now even that was threatened. The more she thought about it the more Persephone realized that this was not even sounding like a threat anymore, this sounded like a plan.
“Yes, many forces are beginning to move and many alliances are already formed. They are waiting for the chance to get you away from Hades. You could feel the change in Olympus if you visited more often. But of course, this cannot be news to you my lady.” the nymph said, turning her perfect nose up at Persephone.
Of course, she knew Persephone had heard nothing to this degree. She had only her own assumptions until now. But even now Persephone did not have proof all she had were the wicked words of a nymph who wanted her throne. There would be no reason for Minthe to warn her about the coming invasion out of the kindness of her heart. Persephone knew she had said these things to dig at Persephone and to make her uneasy. But Persephone also knew there must have been an alternative motive hiding behind the nymph’s dark eyes. Call it intuition or Hades rubbing off on her, but she had watched the nymph and she knew there was more than what the nymph was saying.
“And where do you fit into this nymph,” Persephone asked, changing the topic to something that suited her more. When she said the word ‘nymph’ instead of the girl’s name she said it as if it were a curse, something evil that needed to be expelled. It was all she could conger, she still could not bring herself to speak the woman’s name.
“Where the fates have always destined me to be, by Hades’ side,” she said as if it were the simplest truth. Persephone instantly tightened her fists in anger, she did not like the easy way Hades name slipped from her lips. It only reminded her that the girl had years of practice saying his name in the most seductive of ways. “When you have gone up to the surface and do not return, as many predict, Hades will have me to turn to for comfort.”
With the thought of her in Hades arms, fire practically scorched her skin. She could feel the flames licking at her from underneath her skin but did not mind the pain it only fueled her. It was then she swore to herself that this nymph would never be allowed to escape her punishment.
Touching him was a punishable offense, speaking these words were quite another matter.
“And you think you, a simple woodland nymph, can satisfy the needs of a god?” she taunted allowing her anger to speak for her.
“I have in the past. I see no reason for that to change. I expect there will not be any challenge to it.” the nymph smiled proudly. Long gone was the woman who had confessed her guilt, now stood an ambitious woman fully aware of what she was capable of. “You speak with such beautiful words of mine and Hades unrequited love but I wonder if that is in hope or if it is a statement of a desperate wife who has been kept in the dark. Hades and I were lovers long before he set eyes on you and we will be lovers long after you are gone.” she must have seen Persephone’s demeanor because her smile changed from one of pride to one of satisfaction. “What is the matter? Are you rethinking every conversation? Every kiss? Did he tell you that you were his first?” she laughed.
But the look she had seen in Persephone’s eyes was not one of heartbreak or of despair. Her words had affected Persephone greatly, but there would be time for tears later. What the nymph had done was remind her of who she was, how powerful she was, and who she was married to. Hades, the king of the Underworld and the god who shrank under no man’s gaze. He would not let the words of a small pest affect him, instead, he would study her and allow her to show him any weaknesses. He would remain calm and he would ultimately destroy her. Because Hades never let anyone threaten him and those he loved. And neither would Persephone.
“So you are in love with him.” Persephone said cooly before letting a small laugh escape her, “You have come a long way for a man, Although i have no right speaking, i have traveled the path to the Underworld many times to get to Hades. The only difference is that I was going to my husband and my lover. You are just chasing a fantasy, An old flame long forgotten.” she spoke calmly before taking steps forward to meet the nymph closer. It was refreshing to see her look uncertain once again. “I am a forgiving Goddess, I know how painful it is to have someone in your heart but cannot have them in your arms. A love unrequited or not, that is a painful fate, one I will forgive if you leave. Now.”
She saw the nymph look away and fidget under her gaze but still, the nymph did not move, “Make sure this is a fight you want to start. Do not be prideful enough to think a mere nymph can stand against a goddess.”
“Have you forgotten what I said? Forces are moving and alliances are forming,” she said. At first, Persephone thought she had said this as a last attempt at a threat, but then the nymph smiled wickedly again and a sickening feeling settled over Persephone. “I am not here alone, mere goddess.”
It took only a moment for Persephone to interpret Minthe’s evil words. She had not fully seen what the nymphes part was here. There was of course a much greater plan in the work. One she had been too naive to see. One she had been blinded to. Too caught up in her anger to understand.
She swallowed down the sadness that had enveloped her when she had begun to understand what the nymph had meant. Once again she put on her brave mask. “So my mother has sent you,” she said to clarify but the nymph remained silent, still painted in her prideful smile. Her silence was also her answer. Persephone nodded understanding the magnitude of this new information. “And she is gathering troops. You were only her first attack.”
“Her last try at a compromise.” Minthe clarified. “She was hoping if you saw that your husband could so easily be swayed you would give up this rebellion. I am not here for you, I am here for Hades, let him go. Because let me give you a warning of my own, this is not a war you can win.” Minthe warned feeling safe under Demeter protection. But she was in the Underworld now and Persephone had been raised by Demeter. She remembered who she was and who her mother had raised her to be. Suddenly the nymph and her threat looked small.
Persephone narrowed her eyes and clenched her fist “Do not challenge me. Do not think you’re important. If a nymph is lucky their name will be written in the footnotes of history. But you, my dear, will never be loved, never be worshipped, never be avenged. Not like a god. God’s shape and form history to their liking. I am immortal and I will live forever. But you, for touching that of which is mine, I will make sure you are not one of the lucky few. No one will remember your name.” Her words were as smooth as her footsteps as she took the final step forward so they were now nose to nose. “You wish to stay in the Underworld so badly? Then so be it.”
Persephone did not give Minthe time to grasp her final threat before snapping her fingers. She finally let the anger consume her as she felt her magic working. Both her anger and power worked together heightening each other until they were inseparable. She could feel all of her flowers grow back as thorns. She watched with pleasure as the nymph’s feet began to turn green and then into a thick stem. Slowly the woman was turned into her natural form; a mint plant. This time Persephone had made sure there would be no returning to her human body. For the things she had done and the words, she had said she would never again take one-step words Hades or lay a single finger on him. She would now be trapped in her natural form, never able to turn back to her human form.
She could not stop the smile that spread as she smiled politely down towards the small mint plant, “Hades is mine.” She left the plant to grow and to forever be placed in the middle of her path.
Her hate did not sizzle away instead it feasted its eyes on its next target. Her mother, Demeter. Hades was right, she should not have trusted her. She was the one behind the plotting and would be the one that declared war against them. She had tried and failed to rip Hades away from her and now it would be the beginning of the end for her mother and her. There would never be harmony between them, she knew that now.
Cruel mothers are still mothers. They teach and nurture their children to become as corrupt as them. They make their children into war. They make them into rebellion. They teach them the truth of the world, early. And then they are shocked when their children come back with crowns of their own, with power far beyond them as if their mother had not taught them to be the deadliest piece on the board and to never apologize for it.
Persephone had been watching and learning for far too long, now it was time to act.
She would make her mother regret her actions. Even if she had to become the evil it took to destroy her mother.
If evil was what it took to be respected then so be it.