Another chapter! Written with a sore throat and a running nose, so I hope you guys will enjoy it! Please like and review. Any ideas for future plot will be welcomed with open arms.
During the days that followed, Persephone’s mind often turned to her kiss with Hades. She’d never before understood the temptations of the flesh, but now she thought that she might. She still blushed whenever she thought back on the way her body had tingled in the most sinful of ways. It would only have been too easy to lose her senses and surrender herself to the feeling, and Persephone wondered if she would have done just that if her mother hadn’t interrupted them. It was probably good she would never have to find out. If she had found herself in Hades’ bed come morning, she would have regretted it immensely. She didn’t want to sleep with him, though she wasn’t completely adverse to another kiss.
To say that it’d confused her would be quite the understatement.
Another, more pleasing, outcome of the kiss was the changed behaviour of her mother. It wasn’t that Demeter had magically become understanding and empathetic, but she did attempt to keep herself in check.
Mostly she was just sulking, and Persephone knew from bitter experience that it was better to just let her brood in peace. If Persephone was the first to bring it up, her mother would take it as proof that she could still guilt her daughter into doing whatever she wanted, and Persephone was tired of being controlled by her mother. She loved her new life. She loved that she had a place of her own and the opportunity to decide how she wanted to live her life. Sometimes she wondered if perhaps it was actually worth it, having to spend seven months underground every year. Wasn’t seven months a year of imprisonment better than eternity, even if said imprisonment was in a more literal sense?
Despite this she avoided Hades completely, embarrassed by the memory of her reaction to him. Avoiding him proved easy, and a part of Persephone rather thought that he was trying to give her space. It was… oddly sweet.
Demeter had obviously taken her threat seriously for she only ever came when invited, and she mostly avoided talking about Persephone’s husband, excepting the occasional biting remark. Persephone thought it as good as it was ever going to get, and ignored them.
She found herself… content.
Wishing that it could stay this way for forever, she knew that it was only a matter of time before she had to return underground. What she hadn’t expected was that she only got five days of tentative happiness, before everything became chaos.
It had begun with Athena bursting into her chambers. Persephone stared at her. Athena was the most dignified of all the goddesses, and she couldn’t even begin to fathom what would make the stately woman abandon her composure like that.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t bad enough for Athena to completely lose control of herself. As she caught sight of Persephone, she seemed to relax ever so slightly.
“I was hoping you would be home,” she said. “You are needed in the throne room. Immediately.”
Persephone nodded willingly, too surprised to do anything else. It was only after she had followed Athena through the hallways of Olympus, and they paused in front of the throne room that she began questioning the summon.
“What has happened that is so urgent?” she asked, unable to hide her worry. It had to be something serious for her father to send Athena rather than one of the servants.
“Your rape,” Athena said with a grim face.
Persephone stared at her in shock. “What?!”
Athena looked back calmly. “Earlier today your mother came to Zeus, telling him that Hades, your husband, has raped you. She is demanding retribution.”
“What?” Persephone croaked. Rape? Her mother couldn’t possibly be talking about the kiss, could she? Persephone had been the one to kiss Hades, and she’d enjoyed it immensely much as well. And even a stolen kiss wasn’t a rape.
Besides, even if Hades had raped her, there couldn’t possibly be a retribution. He was her husband. And how awful it might be, there was no law forbidding him from forcing her.
Mentioning this to Athena, the older goddess nodded with a hard expression on her face. It was commonly known that the she’d had many heated arguments with Zeus, requiring that the Gods should be punished for rape, no matter if the goddess was attached or not.
“Usually not,” she agreed. “But as part of the agreement, Hades can’t force his company on you during your time above ground. Only when you’re back in his kingdom will he no longer be bound by such demands.”
Persephone shivered. It was clear to her what had happened. Her mother had lied about Hades forcing her, though she couldn’t imagine how her mother thought she would ever get away with it. She supposed that Demeter had been a tad too understanding lately. It wasn’t like her mother to just stand back and watch.
Squaring her shoulders, she entered the throne room, trying not to appear like the little child her mother thought her to be. The tension in the room was thick and oppressing, and Persephone wished immediately that she could turn around and leave.
“Father,” she said, ignoring both her mother’s and Hades’ presence for now. Her mother was looking vindictive and triumphant, while Hades just appeared tense. Persephone felt an odd rush of compassion. How awful must it be to be accused of rape when you were innocent?
“Lady Persephone,” her father returned her greeting, making it clear that this was a formal meeting. “I have asked you to come here so that I uncover the truth. Your mother, on your behalf, has accused your husband of breaking the agreement by forcing his company on you. Is this true?”
Persephone hesitated, looking at her mother. How foolish must her mother have been to attempt this?! When Persephone told Zeus the truth, he would be furious. Few things made the King of the Gods as angry as being lied to.
But looking at her mother, Persephone realised that Demeter expected her to cover for her. She expected Persephone to look Zeus himself in the eye and tell him that yes, Hades had forced her. Persephone felt sick at the thought. Hades was many things, but a rapist wasn’t one of them.
But she couldn’t just feed her own mother to the wolves! No matter what she said, someone would get hurt, and in a moment of dizzying realisation Persephone saw that her mother had counted on it. Counted on the fact that Persephone’s love for her mother would make her unable to call her out on her lies.
Risking a glance at Hades, Persephone felt the air knock out of her.
He seemed… resigned.
Like he believed that Persephone would accuse him of the horrible things that her mother had said. He looked as close to defeated as the Lord of the Dead could, and catching her eye, he merely made a slight grimace. He didn’t appear angry or threatening, and Persephone knew that she couldn’t possibly tell such a horrific lie.
“It is not, Father,” she said, and both Demeter and Hades stared at her in shock.
Zeus seemed the least surprised of the three, though Persephone thought she saw a glint of astonishment in his eyes. “Lord Hades has not forced you?”
“Not into sharing his bed, no.” Her words were loud and clear, and Persephone was thankful that her voice didn’t shake.
“Kore,” her mother broke in, catching her eyes. “You don’t have to be scared, Kore. I promise you, he will not be able to hurt you for telling. I’ll protect you. You trust your mother, don’t you? You trust that I’ll do what’s best for you?”
Persephone took a deep breath. “No, mother,” she said. “I don’t. I wish I did, but to accuse an innocent man of rape? How could you do this?”
“Innocent?!” Demeter shrieked. “Hades?!”
“At least of that particular crime!”
Demeter spun around to face Zeus. “You see!” she screamed. “You see how he has corrupted her, how he has brainwashed her?! Your daughter! Tortured beyond recognition! How can you just let it be?! Let it continue?!”
Zeus stood up, face tight with fury. “Persephone, Lord Hades, you are both free to go. I am afraid, however, that a small chat is in order with you, dear sister.”
Persephone walked out, casting a last glance at her mother as she did so. Her mother looked betrayed and angry. Everything that Persephone was feeling.
As soon as the door was shut after them, a thunderous roar sounded behind them, and Persephone cringed, thinking guiltily of her mother who was still inside. But Demeter had brought it upon herself, and what had Persephone been supposed to do? Go along with her lying and deceiving? Punish a man for a crime he hadn’t committed?
She had no doubt that, in Demeter’s mind, the answer was definitely yes.
Hades cleared his throat, and Persephone jumped, having entirely forgotten that he was there.
“Thank you,” he said.
Persephone stared at him in incomprehension. “For what?”
“For not siding with your mother.”
“You were worried?” Persephone asked, wondering what Zeus could possibly have done, even if it had been the truth.
“Not about Zeus.”
Persephone frowned in confusion. “What were you worried about then?”
“I worried that I would have to hear my wife call me a rapist.”
Persephone felt a surprising amount of hurt upon hearing this. “You really think that I would do such a thing?” she asked.
Hades looked at her thoughtfully. “I didn’t use to. But then your mother came with her accusation, and I thought that even Demeter wouldn’t be crazy enough to do so without your backing.”
“Oh.” She wondered if she should feel angry that he’d called her mother crazy. She didn’t. She fidgeted nervously. “How have you been?” she asked awkwardly, trying to ignore the furious shouting in the background.
“I have been fine. And all is well with you?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. You?”
He looked at her, something like amusement flitting across his face.
“Right, we did you,” she muttered. “I, eh, what have you been up to? Or down to, I suppose, being in the Underworld and all. Except I suppose it’s just a saying, so I should say up to, shouldn’t I? Perhaps. I’m just going to stop talking now.”
Hades grinned, and Persephone felt the same weird tinkling she’d felt when he’d kissed her. She wondered if she wanted him to do it again. It’d felt nice.
“Mostly just my duties,” Hades said, confusing her for a second before she remembered that she’d asked him a question.
Persephone frowned. “That’s always your answer, though. Don’t you ever do something else?”
Hades looked amused. “I like to read. And I’ve found myself spending an disproportionate amount of time thinking about you.”
“You are my wife. And my feelings for you have hardly been kept a secret.”
Persephone blushed. “No, I suppose they haven’t.” She glanced towards the door. “Mother is going to be so angry when she comes out.”
“My dear sister has been prone to angry outbursts before, yes.”
Persephone sighed. “I wish I didn’t have to deal with her afterwards,” she admitted. “She will demand an explanation for not backing her up, and I don’t think she’s going to find telling the truth to be a reasonable one.”
Hades held his hand out. “Would you like to leave?” he offered her. “Demeter will most likely calm down a bit if you give her time. Waiting for her, however, serves no good purpose. Besides you have hardly done anything wrong. You shouldn’t be punished for her deceit.”
Persephone stared at the hand in suspicion. “And go where?” she asked.
“Not the Underworld if that’s what concerns you. I was thinking the Royal Gardens. I know how you like flowers.”
Persephone hesitated. Looking at flowers did seem more tempting than waiting for Demeter to come scold her and try to make her feel guilty. Even if it was with Hades. She wondered if he would attempt to kiss her again if she said yes.
“You don’t like flowers, though,” she said.
Hades shrugged. “I don’t mind them,” he said. “And I like the company.”
Persephone hesitated, searching his hopeful face for any sign of deceit. Finally she put her hand in his. “Just for a minute,” she cautioned him.
Hades grinned down at her, happy and broadly. Persephone tried not to stare.
“Just for a minute,” he promised her. “Or two.”
Persephone found herself smiling. “Well, I suppose three wouldn’t hurt either,” she said.
Hades bowed slightly over her hand. “Your wish is my command.”
An involuntarily giggle escaped Persephone, and Hades appeared pleased with himself.
Letting him lead her to the gardens, Persephone allowed the shouts behind her to die out as Hades told her about the flowers of the Underworld and what they were used for.
She supposed that they were one thing to look forward to.
Not to mention getting away from her mother, another stubborn voice persisted.
Persephone forced it away. She enjoyed her mother’s company. Mostly. Occasionally.
And perhaps, the voice inside her continued. Perhaps going back to the Underworld would mean another kiss or two.
Blushing, Persephone avoided Hades’ searching glance, but if the young goddess did walk a little closer to him, Hades wasn’t the kind of man to point something out just to potentially have it be taken away again.
He just enjoyed it while it lasted.