A/N: I was actually half way through this chapter before I decided that it sucked and started over.
Though not completely satisfied, I’m happier with how this second try turned out. I wanted to paint Zeus as intelligent, and Persephone as caught between childhood and maturity.
And as an extra treat for the guest who wondered about Hades, I put a short scene in starring him. Enjoy!!
Getting an audition with Zeus turned out to be surprisingly easy. She supposed being his daughter did have some benefits. Nevertheless Persephone hesitated as she stood in front of her father. What was she doing? Running to her father with complaints about her mother as if she truly was the little child her mother treated her as. Maybe she should just go home and apologize.
Except that Demeter had done something horrible, and wouldn’t even take blame for it.
Except that Persephone was dressed in clothes she could hardly breathe in and wasn’t allowed a single moment alone in peace.
Except that she had more freedom trapped in the Underworld than she did with her own mother.
That last thought decided her. She’d been trapped Underground, held against her will, and she still felt more stifled with her mother. This couldn’t be how things were supposed to be like.
“I’m surprised to see you here,” her father said, curiosity clear in his eyes. “I had expected Demeter to take up the majority of your time.”
Persephone knew he was putting it delicately. He’d expected her mother to behave just as Demeter had. He’d expected Persephone to be held in a leash so tight that she would become her mother’s shadow. Just as she’d been as a child.
“Mother and I had a disagreement,” Persephone said slowly, trying to find a polite way to make her complaint. A mature way.
“Regarding your wardrobe?”
Persephone blushed at the reminder, knowing how she must look in comparison to the other Gods.
“Among other things,” she admitted. “I’m not a little child any longer, and Mother fails to see that. I need some time alone to… to grow up and figure out who I am. I won’t be able to do that in Mother’s shadow.”
Zeus didn’t even attempt to hide his surprise. “You’ve changed greatly in your time Underground,” he noticed. “I’m pleased to see it.”
Persephone blushed, unsure if this was indeed the first compliment she’d gotten from her father. She wondered if he’d ever cared how Demeter raised her. If they had ever argued about it. Probably not. Zeus usually didn’t get involved with his bastard children.
“I wish to request a chamber here on Mount Olympus. A place that is just mine. Somewhere neither my mother or my husband may enter without my permission.”
“I have a deal with both your husband and your mother. You are to spend five months with Demeter.”
“I do wish to spend time with Mother,” Persephone said. “I love her. I just… I just don’t see any need, any clause in the agreement, that states that I have to spend every single moment with her. She can come visit. I can visit. Like a normal mother and daughter.”
“Have you discussed this with your mother?”
Persephone blushed. “I’ve informed her of my intentions,” she said, remembering her threat to go to Hades of her own free will. “She disagreed, but I think she understood that I was serious. She will get used to it.”
“And you don’t think that you will change your mind once you’ve talked this over with your mother?”
Persephone hesitated. Her protests had always been like a weak breeze against the hurricane that was her mother. She wasn’t sure if she’d gotten stronger. If she would be able to go against Demeter in all her tears and rage. But she knew that for the first time ever she wanted to do an honest try.
“I don’t know,” she said honestly. “But I’d like to try.”
Zeus nodded thoughtfully. “I will grant your request,” he said, and Persephone sagged in relief. She wouldn’t be able to go against Mother on her own, and by granting his daughter her own chambers on Mount Olympus Zeus made it clear to Demeter that she couldn’t use their agreement to force Persephone home with her.
“However,” her father added warningly. “Mount Olympus is open for all the Gods. The fact that no one is allowed to enter your chambers without your permission, means nothing in the rest of the palace. As soon as you leave your chambers, you may run into anyone of the Gods. They will have every right to be there.”
“I understand,” Persephone assured him. “And I do not wish to avoid Mother. Just have a little space of my own.”
“I was not talking about your mother. Your husband has every right in this palace as well.”
Persephone froze. She’d been promised five months without Hades, and her request might make this impossible. If she had trouble facing her own mother, how was she supposed to face her kidnapper? “But Hades never comes to Mount Olympus,” she stammered.
“He didn’t use to. But he has spent most of both yesterday and today here. I believe that he is planning to spend more time on Mount Olympus than previously.”
“But… but why?”
Zeus shrugged. “I merely have theories. Do you still wish to live on Mount Olympus?”
Persephone thought it over. Every time that she would leave her chambers she would risk running into the man, who had kidnapped her, married her against her wishes, and forced the food of the Underworld down her throat.
But if she stayed with her mother she would spend every waking – and sleeping – moment in her mother’s company.
“I still want to stay here,” she finally said.
“I shall have some chambers readied for you.”
“Thank you, father.” Persephone hesitated. “Would it be possibly to get some new handmaidens as well? Someone Mother hasn’t picked out?”
“Of course. But Persephone?”
“I will not stand between you and your mother. Every issue Demeter has with this she will discuss with you, not me. Are we clear?”
Persephone bowed her head, recognizing a dismissal. “Yes, father. And thank you.”
She left the throne room feeling more secure of her freedom than she had when she’d entered.
Hopefully this new-found confidence would remain during her next meeting with her mother.
Hades was in a bad mood.
It was only just yesterday that he had said goodbye to his wife, but he was already frustrated, furious, and, quite honestly, terrified. Hades was under no illusion. His wife hated him with as much burning passion as he loved her.
He could only imagine how Demeter would take advantage of that hate. He wondered if Persephone had already seized to consider him a man. Perhaps he was merely a monster in her eyes now.
Giving her up had been a terrible idea. Horrific. If it hadn’t been for his duties to the mortals, he would have chanced a war with Zeus. He thought his odds were pretty good.
But he’d let Persephone go, and since then every waking moment had consisted of worrying whether or not he’d lost her for good. Not her body. He knew that she was forced to return to him in five months. But every chance of her ever warming up to him was perhaps lost. Every chance of a returned love.
So it was safe to say that Hades was in a rather foul mood.
He dreaded the next time he saw his wife. Would the loathing in her eyes have evolved to abhorrence? Had her hate of him turned into utter repulsion? He knew that he would be able to read the answer the next time he looked her in the eyes, and so the King of the Underworld lived in terror of that moment.
Not that it stopped him from spending every moment he could spare away from his duties at Mount Olympus; hoping for a glimpse of his wife.
He knew that it was a long shot. He knew that Demeter wasn’t likely to allow Persephone any place where they might run into him, but he would lose his mind if he didn’t go somewhere where there was at least the chance of running into his wife, how minuscule that chance might be.
He knew, logically, that Demeter wasn’t going to allow Persephone out of her sight during their time together. He also knew that he wasn’t going to run into his wife just because he roamed around in Zeus’ palace. She wasn’t going to magically appear before him.
Except suddenly she was there.
“Persephone,” he whispered, his mouth catching up on the situation before his brain.
She looked like a deer surrounded by huntsmen, a prey terrified of his predatory behaviour. Hades vowed to prove her wrong.
“My Queen,” he said, bowing. “I am surprised to see you here.”
Persephone blushed, the colour on her skin as bewitching as ever. “I was just talking with Father,” she finally said, and Hades felt pleasure surge through him. Not only was she talking to him, but the dislike in her eyes seemed no stronger than before he’d let her go.
Perhaps all hope wasn’t lost.
He allowed his eyes to roam her form. Her eyes were as lovely as ever, as were the way the golden hair curled around her heart-shaped face. He frowned. Her body, however, was completely covered by the most unflattering clothing he’d ever seen, and he only needed one guess to know who’d orchestrated that.
“You seem well,” he said because she did. Though scared, she didn’t appear miserable.
He was slightly disappointed. How nice it would have been if she would dislike her time above ground. And how lovely it would be if she would have missed the Underworld. If she would have missed him.
Persephone didn’t answer, not that he’d expected her to, and Hades tried to come up with something new to say.
“Are you enjoying your time above ground?” he finally asked.
She shrugged. He tried again.
“Have you forgotten anything back home that you would like for me to send to you?”
She shook her head, before suddenly hesitating. “The book about the Underworld…”
“I’m afraid I lost it,” she admitted. “It would be nice to have another copy if possible.”
Hades grinned, unable to hide his joy. It was the first request of hers that he could grant.
“Of course!” he said enthusiastically. “I shall have someone give it to you personally. So that your new copy isn’t… lost as well.” He had a good idea of what – or rather who – was the cause of Persephone losing the first one.
Persephone nodded, looking uncomfortable. “Thank you,” she said, and Hades felt his smile grow. She’d thanked him. She’d never thanked him before.
Persephone cleared her mind, clearly feeling awkward. “I should… I should go. I have… I have something I need to… go to.”
He nodded graciously, knowing forcing her to spend any more time in his company would hurt more than it would benefit. “Of course,” he said calmly. “I suppose I may see you around.”
Persephone shrugged, and Hades knew that his wife would go out of her way to ensure that didn’t happen. That was okay. She didn’t seem to hate him any more than before, she’d asked him for something, and she’d thanked him. It’d been a wonderful meeting.
Perhaps when she returned home they could discuss the book together. Like friends.
He scared quite a few servants that day, unused as they were to see the Lord of the Underworld smile.