Loved By Death; Chapter 7

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When Persephone had been a little girl she had dreamed of what it would be like when she grew old enough to live on her own. She imagined how she would always have bowls of sweets on every table, how she would wear clothes in every colour of the rainbow and how she would be able to stay up for as long as she pleased.

Then, after she’d gotten old enough to realise that Demeter was never going to allow her to move out of her childhood home, her dreams had died a quick, but painful death.

Now, however, they’d resurrected, and for the first time ever Persephone discovered what it felt like to decide things on her own.

She decided when she wanted to sleep, what she wanted to eat, whom she wanted to invite for a visit, and what to do with every second of every day. Well, almost at least.

For the one thing that Persephone hadn’t taken into consideration was her mother.

Demeter hadn’t let her daughter go without a fight. She had tried to order Persephone home, she had scolded, tempted, cried and even attempted to simply move Persephone’s things to her own cottage without Persephone’s knowledge. On own memorable occasion she had told Persephone how she would simply die if Persephone left her. How she would stop eating and starve to death if Persephone didn’t immediately stop this childish nonsense.

Persephone wasn’t unmoved. Several times she reconsidered her decision. She didn’t want to make her mother unhappy, and even though she knew her mother was merely being melodramatic with her threat of self-starvation, Persephone still felt so terrible guilty. Her mother had missed her so, and now she only saw Persephone for a five or six hours a day. Perhaps she truly was a terrible daughter.

But it didn’t change the fact that she was… well, not happy, but optimistic. Whenever she asked Demeter to leave it only took half an hour before she was free to enjoy her own company. She’d never tried that before. When she had lived at home Demeter had always decided when they were to spend time together, and whom Persephone would spend time with whenever Demeter was otherwise occupied. And when she’d lived with Hades, she’d never known when he would come knocking at her door asking for a talk.

Though, admittedly, her time Underground was the first time she had truly tried being alone for any longer period of time. It was unusual for a girl who’d always been watched, but Persephone knew that she could easily get used to it.

Here in her father’s palace, however, she could spend hours in her own company. Hades had, as promised, sent her a new copy of the book Demeter had burned, and Persephone discovered a new-found fondness for sitting quietly by herself, reading. Demeter had always preferred gardening, which meant that Persephone preferred gardening, but in her own chambers Persephone could have all the books she desired. She wasn’t unhappy.

If she had one complaint, however, it was Hades.

He simply refused to allow her to forget about him.

He never came to her chambers. She wasn’t sure if his agreement with Zeus forbade this, or if he was merely being polite, but Persephone wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

And whenever she saw him around Mount Olympus, she always simply turned around and walked the other way. He never followed her.

But she couldn’t stop him from sending her gifts. Tons and tons of gifts. She wondered if he was trying to buy her, and wasn’t sure if she was supposed to feel insulted or not. She hadn’t had enough experience with the opposite sex to know what was considered offending.

He sent her books, clothes, jewellery, perfumes and even sweets. He send her silk and flowers and gems and odd little trinkets she’d never seen before.

Under her father’s protection Persephone felt safer than she had Underground, and decided to accept most of the things that he send her. Except the jewellery, which she always sent back. Even she knew that jewellery was a gift someone gave to their lover. They were not lovers. They weren’t.

She’d never tried acquiring anything of her own, and when Demeter had offered to help, her mother had tried to decorate Persephone’s new chambers exactly like her old childhood home. Persephone had put her foot down when Demeter had brought along a collection of plush animals.

But thanks to Hades her bed were covered in silk in the most sinful red, her floors were covered with the most plush carpets found in the human world, and her closets were filled with colourful garments. Adult stuff.

Persephone now only wore white whenever her mother came visiting, and she began to rub oil in her hair and spray perfume on her wrist. For the first time Persephone felt what it was like to be a woman, and she knew she’d been pretending to be a child for far too long.

If there was one thing however, that Persephone wished that she could change, it was the constant guilt she felt. It wasn’t overwhelming, but more like a nagging little thought at the back of her mind.

She mostly felt guilty over her mother’s obvious grief, but a little part of her also felt bad whenever she saw Hades’ clenched face when he saw her spot him and walk the other way.

She often saw him on Mount Olympus. It seemed he spent as much time there as Demeter did.

Which is why she assumed it was inevitable that the day came where she could no longer evade the inevitable second meeting.

She had been walking deep in thoughts, once again contemplating whether or not she was making the right choice accepting Hades many gifts, when she had suddenly walked into a firm chest. Looking up, startled, Persephone stared directly into her husband’s black eyes.

“Hades!” she exclaimed, stunned.

“Lady Persephone.” He bowed to her, and Persephone couldn’t bring herself to simply walk away.

“Lord Hades,” she murmured, correcting her earlier overly familiar address of him. She hesitated. “You seem well,” she said, because she didn’t know what else to say.

His eyes smiled down at her, and Persephone felt an unknown little jolt in her stomach.

“So do you,” he told her. “You look beautiful.”

The admiration in his face made it clear that he meant it, and Persephone felt herself blushing. She supposed the garment she was wearing in deep blue silk was quite the improvement from the last time he’d seen her.

“Thank you,” she said, awkwardly, wishing her mother had allowed her to spend more time with men so that she would know how to speak with one.

She shook her head. This wasn’t a man. This was Hades, her husband, and he loved her, and she hated him. It didn’t matter what she said to him.

“You’ve been to Mount Olympus a lot?” she said, her tone transforming the comment into a question.

“Yes, I have been hoping to run into you,” he told her calmly.

She stared at him. “You spend hours here every day!”

“Yes.” He seemed unable to understand her confusion.

“And I’ve been avoiding you.”

There was a slight movement at the side of his lips, and Persephone wasn’t sure if he was hiding a smile or a grimace.

“I am aware,” he told her.

“Then why do you still come?!”

“I have still gotten to see you, however shortly.”

“Oh.” Persephone wondered if it counted as a confession of love. She should know. He’d certainly given her enough over the last year.

“You shall see me in four months,” she finally said. “Can’t you wait?”

Hades smiled at her. “Four months can seem like a blink of an eye, or an eternity dragging by. I am afraid, however, that in this case it is rather like the eternity passing by.”

Persephone looked down awkwardly, wishing that he would just leave her alone. It was so much easier before she started feeling guilty for being rude.

“Are you enjoying your time above ground?” Hades asked her.

“Yes! I mean, yes. Father has been so very generous allowing me to stay here.”

Hades didn’t seem impressed. “You’re his daughter. It would have been low, even for Zeus, to turn you away when you only have the blood of the Gods flowing through your veins. He should have offered you your own chambers centuries ago.”

Persephone merely shrugged, unused to criticising the King of Gods, and Hades thankfully changed the subject.

“And your mother?” he asked, his tone just barely showing his dislike. “Is she well?”

“Yes,” Persephone said and didn’t mean to say anything more, before the words suddenly fell out of her. “She’s a bit tiring though,” she said.

Hades elegantly raised an eyebrow. “Indeed?” he murmured.

Persephone blushed. “I mean, just a bit, you know? And it must be hard, having me move away from her and everything. I can’t blame her.”

“I can,” Hades calmly stated. “It is about time my sister learned to let things go. Especially the people she loves.”

“You are hardly one to talk,” Persephone noticed icily before she could check herself.

Hades, however, merely smiled. “I suppose you have a point,” he said calmly, and Persephone couldn’t help but note how very different his reactions were to Demeter’s excessive ones.

“Mother can be vexing,” she admitted, saying more than she’d ever allowed herself to say out loud. “It’s like she wants me to forever stay a little girl.”

Hades looked at her and there was heat in his eyes. “And you are certainly no little girl any longer,” he said lowly, as his eyes swept across her form. His fingers reached out and gently touched the skin along her jawline. “You’re a woman now. A very lovely woman indeed.” He tipped her face upwards.

“You’re being improper,” Persephone whispered, her voice oddly hoarse.

“Why? I’m your husband. Complimenting you is hardly scandalous.”

Persephone opened her mouth, about to tell him in no uncertain terms that his compliments weren’t well-received, when a certain someone beat her to it.

“HADES!” a voice shrieked.

Hades smiled calmly at his sister. “Yes, my dear Demeter?” he asked.

“Don’t you dare touch my daughter! Don’t you dare! She is mine! She is mine for now, and you’re not allowed to touch her, to defile her with you vile hands, to… to seduce her!”

“Mother!” Persephone gasped, shocked that her mother could think so little of her that a single compliment would cause her to forgive everything.

Demeter grasped her arm, and Persephone gasped in pain as Demeter dragged her along with her.

“Don’t you dare talk to that man, Kore!” she demanded.

Persephone wanted to tell Demeter that she couldn’t dictate whom she could or couldn’t talk with. She also wanted to point out that ‘that man’ was her husband. A finally she wanted to demand her mother to release her of her painful grip.

But her mother was furious, and a little part of Persephone was still terrified of her.

“Yes, mother,” she answered bleakly, unknowing at the time that a seed of rebellion was slowly, but steadily growing inside of her.

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