SEVEN - Pomegranate Promises
She whispered a curse under her breath when she heard his footsteps echoing back down the hall. She was far from ready to see him. He had locked her away like some kind of possession. Like something to take out only when needed. Her mother had done the same to her. It infuriated her that he had done the same.
She knew this was not Hades intention, that all he ever wanted was for her to be safe. A fact that was drastically different from what her mother had done. She had known that after hearing the news of the upcoming trial that his guard would be put up once again and he would hold onto her as tightly as he could. That she had predicted, but not this. He had made her feel trapped. What had hurt her most of all was that he had not listened to her.
She needed more time to cool off before she saw him. Her anger would not be a pretty thing for him once he opened the doors. But she also needed answers just as badly as he had, if not more. She needed to know what her fate would be.
He opened the doors suddenly and stood there without a word. She had expected him to say something along the lines of an apology but instead, it looked like he was waiting for the onslaught that was her anger. He was not an unintelligent god and knew that it was coming.
“Speak. It better be good, for I am furious Hades,” she told him, not moving from her spot.
His only reply was not a complicated one, “I’m sorry Persephone.”
“I would hope you would be!” she yelled, “Never again! Never again will you disrespect me like that!” she vowed to him and to herself.
“I did it to protect you.” He explained to her once again. It did not work earlier and it did not work now.
“There was no need!” she told him standing to her feet from the bed and taking one step towards the man who stood motionless. “Was it worth it? Was it worth my anger?”
“I believe it was,” he told her truthfully. “To keep you safe, any price would be worth it,” he told her. He always told her the truth even when he knew it would only prove to inflame her further. And it drove her mad. She took three more silent steps forward until they were face to face. He only watched her as she approached. His face was calm in the heat of the argument while she knew hers was red with anger.
“Then you are not sorry,” she said slowly to him.
“I am sorry it was necessary,” he said sadly, eyes dripping a bit at the sides. “I’m sorry it hurt you.” she shook her head, not listening to his sad tale. For a second his soft words made their way to her heart but she could not allow them to stay there. She still had more anger to burn. She did not want him to get away with it this easily. Still, his despondent eyes stuck with her and twisted her until she herself felt guilty for starting the fight.
“What did your brother have to say?” she asked, turning away from him hoping the distance would help her.
“There will be a trial.” his voice carried as if he was speaking to a full room and not just her. She was shocked by his words and quickly turned around to see his troubled face that only served to confirm his words. Suddenly the space did not steady her; it only proved to weaken her.
“No.” she shook her head. “That can’t be. There cannot be a trial Hades. You said you could stop this.” she started to ramble nervously, her mind wandering a mile a minute. If not even Hades or Zeus could stop this trial how could there be any hope of victory? She sunk onto the end of the bed. The trial started to sound more and more like a death sentence for her.
“I’m sorry Persephone but it has to happen.” he softly told her as he joined her on the bed, softly cradling her hand. Suddenly her anger was gone; all that remained was her love for him. She could not imagine what her world would look like if she was taken from him after having him so close. Looking up at him she knew life would never be enough without him.
“What will we do? If we lose the trial I’ll never see you again. I don’t think I can leave you.” ever so gently he took his hand and lifted her head to look back up at him.
“What if we win?” he challenged. The possibility seemed too small to hope for. “We will win, I will make sure of it. There’s already a plan in the works,” he told her.
“What kind of plan?” she asked, curious as ever. She sat close to him, hanging off his every word in the hope that it could save them and the life she wanted for them.
“Zeus and Hera are getting as many gods on our side as possible, using whatever means necessary. Your mother has already gathered a significant following but my brother and Hera are confident they can tip the scales in our direction. While they are working their magic in Olympus we will need to come up with unfathomable proof as to why you should be able to stay.” he said, laying out the plan that had been decided on. It seemed that salvation was just at her fingertips.
“Isn’t the fact that we love each other enough?” she asks him.
“Maybe for Aphrodite but unfortunately to convince everyone else it will take more convincing,” he said angrily.
With her curiosity peaked she quickly asked “Like what?”
“We will need to veer the conversation away from you leaving your mother. Which is the topic your mother will want to focus on. She will surely make me sound like the villain in her story. Instead, We need to speak every Olympian’s language, Remind them of their own ambitions and they will be more forgiving and supportive of you ruling here, or else condemn themselves. And more importantly, they will respect you.” he explained to her. She found herself nodding along with his plan, it all seemed to be possible and was beginning to sound like it would work.
She had never been very concerned with the respect of other gods and even now it was not something that mattered to her. All she wanted was Hades. She could not understand why it was so hard for others to understand this. She did not understand why she needed other gods’ permission to be in a relationship. Other gods parried together and there was little to no fuss about it. Why is it so difficult now? Why were she and Hades so different? But she knew all the answers to her questions led back to her mother.
“What is the common ambition of all gods?” she asked.
“Power,” he told her as if it was the answer to all their problems. “They all speak in power plays and a power struggle is one thing they all understand. And there is nothing more respected on Olympus than a victor. Nothing more virtuous than ambition.” She nodded agreeing with what he said. She remembered watching different gods as they walked around with a sense of confidence. Confidence Persephone did not have. Were they all faking it? She remembered Aphrodite walking through Olympus as if she already owned every heart. She did not second guess herself she just was. Powerful.
“I’m not following. How is that a plan? How will this save us?” She asked, suddenly worried about how guaranteed his plan was.
“They all see you as your mother has painted you; a victim. We need to instead make them fear you. Instead of being a minor flower goddess, you will be both the goddess of spring and queen of the dead. We make them believe that to cross you would be a fate worse than death. You will be the queen of the dead and they will fear you more than they fear me.” he told her while stroking the back of her hand with his thumb as he held it, sensing her worry. “They’ll never dream to take you away from me because you will be a force unto yourself,” he said before kissing her softly.
“That is not who I am, Hades. They’ll never believe me. They will see how weak i am and take me away from you.” she said sadly as tears began to form in her eyes. He took her into his arms as soon as he heard her voice crack.
“No. Never,” he promised as he gently wiped the fallen tears from her cheek. “Persephone, believe me when I say no one will be taking you from me. Now that we’re together I’m not going to let anyone separate us. Never again. We’re going to create a fairy tale the whole world will believe. After today they will whisper that you have always worn strength and darkness equally as well, half goddess and half hell. As if they were the ones who had seen it first as if you weren’t the one to show them. For you are that strong if only you would allow yourself to be. Trust me, i have seen it.” he told her with not even a hit of a lie on his tongue.
She took a deep breath willing her tears away, “It will work?” she asked quietly.
“It has to. I’m not taking any chances,” he told her. She was silent as she thought of their plan. If she could keep the act up it could work. But could she be believable? Who would ever believe her to be powerful? He interrupted her thoughts with a quiet whisper, “Persephone,” Not quite a question but still asking.
“What if it doesn’t work?” she answered him, letting him hear her thoughts. “What If no one believes me? What if we do all this work and all this panning and it is for nothing.” she paused thinking of her one true fear. “What if my mother wins?” he took her hands into his much larger ones once again.
“I swear to you, I will not allow you to be taken from me. Even if your mother does win, i will do whatever is necessary to keep you with me,” he swore to her.
She smiled nicely to him, not doubting for a second that Hades would battle every Olympian if it came down to a fight. He was not a man who would give up on something that he wanted. She just hoped it would not come to such a bloody conclusion. Unfortunately, her doubt still showed on her face.
“I might have an idea, come with me,” he said quickly standing up and pulling her along behind him as he rushed out of the room. She followed him as she would follow him anywhere. They walked out and into her garden, deeper still into a grove of trees. He brought her to the one in the center, the one that never responded to her powers, the one that still remained bare.
“I’ve dreamt of this for many years.” He told her. Though she didn’t understand his smile she loved how bright it was, lightening the dark grove of trees. “I was going to wait, to make sure it was the right time for something of this magnitude,” he told her.
“What is it?” she asked.
“The Underworld always demands commitment, it is not a form that is momentary or fickle. While you are its queen and ruler the Underworld is more complicated when it comes to things of this nature. This tree is tied to the heart of the Underworld, that is why it is in the center. To eat fruit from here would mean you are one of the same. It would tie you to my kingdom. Permanently.” he explained to her, eyes never leaving hers, watching her reactions to his words. “You will always be my wife and my queen. But you could eat the fruit of the Underworld and become the true queen and rule by my side. If you did, you would let the Underworld know without a doubt that you were the ruler of it.
“It would also mean that you could not leave. That no matter how far you were you would always be brought back to me. Not even your mother could undo this. For you would be as tied to it as it would be tied to you.” Hades stopped to look at her, he almost looked pained for what he was about to say. “For that reason, if you do not want to do this Persephone, this is the time to say so. You still have time and do not have to make this des-” understanding what he was trying to say she suddenly cut him off by kissing him. She knew he would not want to pressure her into anything and she tried to communicate how much she loved him for it into her kiss.
“There is nothing I’ve ever been more sure of.” She told him as their lips separate just a fraction. Again his smile lit up her surroundings.
He softly took her hand in his and placed her palm on the barren tree. The moment she touched its branch it began to bloom. First, the leaves grew, then came a single pomegranate. Hades turned to her as if asking one last time if she wanted to continue.
“Be sure this is what you want,” he warned her. Without a moment’s hesitation, she took the dagger from his side and cut the fruit in half. The king watched her take the fateful first bite out of the fruit. She met his eyes with a bit of juice dripping from the corner of her mouth.
It was the sweetest taste she ever could have imagined.