The Dark Divine Chapter 3
Hades despised Olympus.
In fact, he made it a point to tell his brother, at least once a visit, how much he absolutely hated this glowing monstrosity. It was too bright, too white, too. . .Olympian.
It wasn't that it was ugly or not well-crafted. No, Athena herself made sure that this would be the envy of every structure known to man or mortal. It was the way it was presented, with an ostentatious attitude that made the Parthenon look like a gas station bathroom. He was reminded of this fact with every step closer he came to its golden gated entrance. Hades never really understood the need for the gates. It wasn't like they had neighbors and privacy was something Zeus abandoned years ago.
The only other complaint he had was it's endless supply of optimists. Olympus was constantly in a state of joy (or at least drunken happiness) and it annoyed him to no end. Between Dionysus' wild parties every other week, Athena's book group, and the insatiable delight gods had for toying with human lives, there never seemed to be a want for excitement nor laughter here.
The only people here that Hades could tolerate, and he uses that term very loosely, was Hephaestus (mostly because he was always quietly tinkering away on a new invention) and Hestia, who had an uncanny love for scrap booking the entire family. Hestia was always pleased to see him, or if she wasn't she hid it better than the others did. She was completely convinced that no matter how much Hades denied it, he was glad to be back home. Stupid, optimistic woman.
Hades set his bike against the wall outside the parking lot, if this party started to go south he wanted the reassurance of a speedy getaway. Ever since Zeus discovered vehicles as a new way to show his wealth the front entrance gained a parking garage that held more luxury cars than an automobile museum. Being gods, transportation was usually fastest when using their powers to just appear and disappear at will, but cars were a more inconspicuous way of traveling in the mortal world.
Shedding his biking attire for a black dress shirt and pants he made his way up to the main house of Olympus, which was directly attached to Demeter's Gardens. Servants were everywhere, carrying trays of tiny sandwiches and other delicate little finger foods. They each had different reactions to him, some were terrified to even look in his direction, and others, the bolder ones, shot him distasteful glances at every given opportunity. This bothered him when he was younger, weaker. But now they were just the norm, just another detail in his predictable existence. As if on cue, a nymph carrying a tray of fruit spotted him walking towards her and all but sprinted in the opposing direction.
Hades rolled his eyes and continued on his way, not even a slight pause in his gait. This was going to be a very long day.
"Are you sure there's nothing you can do?"
"What do you suggest I do, Dem? Ban him from the party? Hades was invited, he's coming, and that's the end of it." Zeus's voice was stern, in contrast to his normal booming, happy tone. What had once been a peaceful brunch on the veranda had turned into yet another debate on Hades attendance to their daughter's birthday party. And after two solid days of hearing Demeter's complaints, whines, and pouts, the king of gods wasn't sure who to strike with a lightning bolt first, Demeter or himself.
Hera flipped the page of her magazine and sipped her nectar, completely uninterested in the dispute between her husband and the plump goddess. Demeter was always dramatic, but whenever Hades was concerned her childishness would increase tenfold. It was becoming rather tiresome for everyone.
Zeus realized that this conversation was getting him nowhere, so he tried a different tactic. "He's really not that bad, Dem. He has his good points like everyone else."
Demeter snorted. "Good points? Like what? How he is rude? How he's cold? How he's . . ."
"You know it's a good thing I don't care much for your opinion, or else some of this might really start to sting." Hades leaned against the open French doors with his arms crossed over his chest, eyes narrowed, and a smirk playing on his lips. How enchanting, being insulted only five minutes into his visit. That was definitely a new record for her. Zeus stood with his arms open in greeting, while Demeter glared at him from her seat at the glass table. "Brother, you made it." He said happily. It was rare for Hades to come to any event on Olympus that didn't directly impact him or the Underworld, so this was a special occasion. His welcoming gesture was ignored by Hades, but it didn't offend him. Hades was never the hugging type.
"Why don't you join us, the party is just now starting so we won't be that late." Zeus offered a chair next to him.
"Actually I'm not staying long, just long enough for the meeting and to give my gift." Hades replied. Demeter's ears perked up at the sound of 'gift'.
"Gift? What gift? Kore said nothing about receiving gifts!" She said accusingly.
"Perhaps that is because she asked for nothing. However, I felt it would be rude to turn up without anything in hand."
"Since when did you bother with manners?"
"About the same time you did, you obviously just hide yours better." Hades retorted cooly. Hera snorted into her drink. Even though she wasn't particularly fond of Hades, she was always pleased when Demeter was put in her place. Ever since Zeus and she had their little fling together Demeter's ego had swelled greatly. After that Hera never really thought of her as her sister anymore. She was just another one of her husband's many harlots. Persephone was a different story. Though she was an illegitimate child of her husband's, Hera had come to like the girl over the years. She was sweet and witty and showed no similarity to her mother other than her love for plants (thank gods).
Before their verbal abuse could resume again, Zeus suggested that they all move on to the party. "Wouldn't want to keep the birthday girl waiting, now do we?" He said ushering them all toward the gates of the gardens.
Even from ten feet away the strong scent of flowers hit them like a brick wall. It looked as if Pan threw up out here. Every available flat surface was covered in some sort of floral arrangement complete with pale pink ribbon and a pink balloon. Delicate white wicker chairs and tables were set up with a few more ribbons hanging from the legs. Cuteness dripped from everything like honey. Hades wanted to be sick. 'I thought this girl was turning twenty, not two.' He thought to himself.
All the typical party guests were present, the major gods and goddesses, nymphs and dryads, even a few water sprites were attending. What really surprised him were the two mortal children he saw by the east corner entrance. He pulled his brother from his conversation with Apollo. "What are those kids doing here?"
Zeus shrugged. "Seph must have invited them. They're probably from that village a few miles from here. She goes to town there with her mother for gardening tools."
"Demeter's daughter got away with inviting mortals? " Hades asked again disbelievingly. Most gods (including Demeter) didn't care much for humans. After the disaster with Tantalus no mortal had cleared security to even get past the front gates.
"Well, she invited you, so her mother was pretty tolerant with her other choices." Zeus chuckled and returned to his earlier conversation. Chatter and laughs floated through the air like bubbles, popping loudly in Hades' ears. All he needed was to find this Persephone, show that he had made the effort to come and leave as soon as possible. He felt around inside his pocket for the little charm bracelet he had brought. Hecate had picked it out since his female shopping skills were minimal at best. It was actually kind of comical if you thought about it. The god of riches having difficulty shopping for women; laughable really.
Hades slouched back against the wall farthest from where Demeter was entertaining the other guests and whipped out his cell phone. If he had to be here, he was at least going to get some work done in the meantime.
Persephone was sprinting up the steps to Olympus two at a time. Since she had to wash off her morning mud bath her entire schedule had been thrown off kilter. Mother was big on schedules, it helped her know exactly where she was at and who would be with her, and if she didn't show up on time Mother would send out a search party. Ever since the Incident, Persephone had either been watched like a hawk or hidden away in the cottage. That was the whole reason they moved here, even though her mother denied every word. There was no one around for miles except for a little farming village.
The village was her favorite thing about their move here. There were a few girls there that looked about her age, but none of them dared to speak to her. Mother said it was jealousy, but they both knew better. Even in small towns like that rumors spread like diseases.
Perhaps that's why she enjoyed spending time with children so much. They were willing to be anyone's friend, the past meant nothing to them. 'Crap! The kids!' Persephone thought to herself. They would be up there all alone with her mother and her other family members. Convincing her mother to let them come was hard enough but if she didn't get there soon they could easily be sent away.
Her pace increased and she tried to tame the ridiculous dress her mother had gotten her. It was much to poofy to be practical and had the most horrid floral print ever made on it. And this was after she had modified it by taking off the three-quarter inch sleeves and the white collar. She could hear laughing from where she was at and her feet slightly lessened their speed.
She had made it.
She could now smell the hundreds of flowers her mother had no doubt scattered over every surface in the gardens. Seph loved flowers just as much as the next person, but the scent of three hundred pink roses smacking you in the face could be overwhelming for anyone. Right before she walked through the daisy covered arch, she took a deep breath and smoothed her bloated skirt down the best she could.
She could do this. Stepping into the sunlight and out onto the brick pathway she saw practically everyone she had ever laid eyes on before and some who she hadn't. It was perfect. There was no way Mother could keep tabs on her with so many others around dividing her attention. She happily walked over to Henry and Danielle, the two children from the village, and hugged them both tight. This could turn into a very good day. "Look Miss Seph," Danielle said holding out her hands while her brother smiled shyly behind her, "We made you a picture!"
Seph was touched. She knew that this family didn't have much between paying for Danielle's doctor visits and taking care of their farm, so this made the gift all the sweeter. "Oh that's so pretty!" She said taking the folded paper from her tiny hands and giving them both another hug.
"I love it, now how about we go see if we can find some ice cream for you two, 'kay?" She pointed toward the long table full of both mortal and immortal treats. Both children smiled brightly at her and ran off towards the promise of sugar. It was lucky for her that they were allowed to come, without them it would it would pretty much be all of her mother's friends. Well with the exception of one.
Seph wasn't sure what had possessed her to invite him, but for whatever reason her invitation had been accepted. It must have been because it looked like her mother sent it. No one would ever listen to a minor goddess. When Hermes had brought back the news he seemed almost giddy with excitement, even more so than usual. It was an odd reaction from someone who had told her so many stories of how Hades threatened his life almost every time he traveled down there. Putting on her most convincing smile, Persephone began to make her rounds through the crowds of people saying how glad she was that they could come. Even her Aunt Hera had made it and that was a miracle in itself. Hera never really cared much for her husband's affairs and even less for the spawn of that affair, but rightfully so. Seph couldn't imagine having a husband that just gallivanted around the world having affairs and children left and right, and then still expected to come back to a content wife.
"Seph, there's someone here that you need to meet!" Zeus broke her out of her thoughts and waved her to come over to where he and a dark-haired man were standing.
Hades was mentally preparing himself for what was probably going to come skipping over towards them. Another golden-skinned, light-haired, minor goddess that tripped over her own daisy chain and thought that a square root was a gardening term. Hades glanced down at his phone to check the time. . .again. It seemed that the Fates were playing with him, and making time run slower than normal.
"You called for me?" The voice struck a chord of recognition from within him. It couldn't be. No, it was practically impossible. Looking up from the screen of his Blackberry, he saw her. Princess, the girl from this morning. She looked very different now that she was dry and clean. Her golden red hair was pulled back in a braid and the dress she was wearing had a repulsive floral pattern on it, much like everything else in the room. But it was her eyes that caught his attention again, they were that odd shade of green, but instead of glowing with the fire he had seen this morning they were extinguished. She looked back at him. But didn't show any signs of recognizing him. Now it was time to have some fun.
"Hello, Princess." The eyes were suddenly back on full force and her head snapped up to meet his.
"You!" She exclaimed taking in the towering figure before her. It couldn't be. It was practically impossible that this was the same man from this morning. He looked so different in his black dress shirt and pants and, if she didn't hate him so much, she would almost say he was handsome.
Zeus was completely oblivious to this exchange and smiled brightly at the both of them. "Oh, you've already met?"
They replied simultaneously. Hades confirmation of their meeting would mean that she'd have to relive the story of how and when they met to everyone, including her mother, who was still blissfully unaware that her gardenias had been massacred this morning. Zeus had a peculiar expression on his face. "Which is it? You either know Hades you don't."
Hades opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by Persephone's last ditch effort of watering down their meeting.
"I wouldn't say we know each other. We've only met this morning." She said trying her best to brush it off and hope that any other topic would come up. Hades wasn't about to let it end there. This could prove to be the most entertainment he's had in centuries.
"Yes, and I have a question for Miss Persephone," Hades mused, "Do you greet all men in only a bathrobe or is that just for me?"
Persephone wanted to die. Not only did the Lord of the Underworld just insinuate that she was a whore, but now almost everyone around them had stopped their own conversations to listen in on the show down between Hades and the young Goddess of Spring. Even Hera looked mildly interested as to what was occurring. Seph's cheeks burned scarlet, but she still managed a reply.
"Only those who insist on disturbing me up at some ungodly hour of the morning."
"If I remember correctly, you were the one who was disrupting my morning ride."
"Then your memory has been altered severely, because I was only trying to have you turn onto a different path. Preferably one that didn't run right through my mother's gardens."
"I had no intention of destroying your mother's precious flowers, that was just a perk. If I had taken the road it would have taken me another hour to arrive, then where would I be?"
"Well it wouldn't be here and that would be an upside." She said cheekily. Murmurs swept through the crowd that had formed. No one had dared speak to Hades like that or if they had they didn't ever speak again. Hades was losing what little patience he had reserved for this occasion.
"Believe me Princess, no one wants to be here less than I do."
"Then maybe you should leave."
"That's most intelligent thing I've heard you say all day."
" I've yet to hear anything of the sort from you."
"This is a waste of my time as are you."
"Well, don't let me stop you."
Hades smirked. "No one stops me, least of all you." He said before making his way towards to exit.
Seph was still fuming. How dare he? How dare he come to her party and then embarrass her in front of everyone she knows. She would not let him get away with this. Looking around her she spotted the cake on the nearby dessert cart. Not even bothering with a plate she grabbed the cake and shouted out to Hades.
"Oh Hades," She sang, winding back her arm, "You forgot your cake!" And released her pitch. A flash of white and pink soared through the air before landing squarely on the back of Hades head. The crowd let out a collective gasp and Seph even thought she saw one of the water nymphs faint. Hades stiffened and turned slowly away from the exit to face her, wiping the excess icing from his hair. His eyes were ablaze with a rage filled flame that struck everyone to their core.
"You know Princess," He said snapping his fingers which caused the punch bowl to hover, unbeknownst to her, in mid air over her head.
"I think I liked you better wet."
With another snap the punch bowl dumped its' entire contents on the top of Persephone's head, instantly soaking her from head to foot. She let out a shriek from the shock of the cold drink being emptied on her person, and then spit out what had leaked into her mouth. But before anyone had time to react to what had happened Hades was already stomping out the exit and starting for the parking lot.
'I should go to parties more often.' Hades thought wryly to himself before swinging himself over his bike and beginning his journey back to the Underworld. Today had, indeed, proven to be most entertaining for everyone.
Except, perhaps, one Miss Persephone.