The Dark Divine Chapter 4
It wasn't even a full twenty-four hours before Hades was summoned back to Olympus. 'If he thinks I'm going to apologize to that little brat, he's even more diluted than I thought.' Hades thought to himself, pulling his motorcycle into the parking lot once again. He had never seen Hecate laugh as much as she did when she saw the pink icing in her master's hair. If he was to retain any pride for yesterday's episode, apologies were not an option.
The halls seemed quieter than the last time he was here, but that was to be expected. After the small food fight that had occurred the party was cut dramatically short and pretty much everyone had left for their homes. Hades walked calmly through the halls of his brothers and sisters' house.
This was the most he'd been up here since Aphrodite's last wedding anniversary. That entire weekend had been a complete joke. Aphrodite flirted with almost every male present in a scrap of fabric that barely passed a s a dress, and Hephaestus sat stoically at a table playing with a new invention, chatting idly to a drunk Dionysus. It was more of a We Haven't Managed to Kill Each Other party, than an anniversary celebration.
He found Zeus alone peering out the balcony that overlooked Demeter's Gardens below. Hades walked up silently behind him looking out the window as well. He usually didn't like looking at this particular garden, being it belonged to one of his least favorite people, but with the past events fresh in his mind he nearly smiled. Persephone's shocked face was one that would be permanently imprinted in his mind. The brothers remained silent for a while, until Hades spoke first.
"I believe you summoned me." He stated, neither of them taking their eyes off the landscaping outside the window.
"I did." They both stood silently for another minute.
"Would you mind telling me why?" Hades said impatiently. His younger brother turned to face him for the first time today. His brow was furrowed in concentration, which was extremely rare for Zeus and he looked very seriously at Hades, which was even rarer. Then he said the four words that always spelled disaster for everyone, especially Hades.
"I need a favor."
"Miss Seph, look at me!" Danielle shouted doing a lopsided cartwheel on the soft grass of Olympus. Seph smiled at her and received a beaming grin in return. To think that they were here in Olympus again. She usually only saw this place once or twice a year, now it was two times in less than twenty-four hours. After the disaster of a birthday party everyone had left with a new piece of gossip to share and Seph was left with a ruined dress (not that she was too terribly upset about that) and a livid mother to deal with. Seph had planned on breaking the news about her mother's gardenias to her a bit more gently than an outburst in front of everyone. She still hear her mother's shrill furious voice ringing in her ears.
'I cannot believe you, Kore. My beautiful gardenias shredded into nothing but a pile of rubbish! I told you not to invite him Kore, but no. Who ever listens to the mother? I have half a mind to ground you from leaving your room. Are you even listening?! '
Persephone cringed just at the thought of that. The only reason she was allowed here today was because Zeus had summoned her for something, she didn't know what it was and to be quite honest she didn't really care. The kids were staying with her for the weekend and with her mother in no mood to play hostess to two mortals, Seph thought it would be best to take the kids with her to Olympus. The halls seemed uncommonly quiet today, what with everyone leaving with their new story to tell of the already scrutinized goddess. Even her family thought she was a freak.
Watching the two play together was somewhat relaxing for her. She never had any siblings and 'friends' consisted of the nymphs her mother had watching her. They seemed so happy, so carefree, and Seph secretly envied them. What must it be like to be free to be yourself, no worries, no boundaries, just 100% you? After ten years of trying to keep her powers under wraps from her mother, she was ready for any sort of release. 'I shouldn't be complaining, at least not around these particular kids.' Seph thought to herself pulling at a blade of grass.
Henry and Danielle have been through more than any 10 and 7 should ever have to endure. Danielle was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder a few years back when Seph had just moved near the village. The first time she ever laid eyes on their family was the first trip back from the specialist with the news that their baby girl wouldn't see her thirteenth birthday. All of them looked so sullen, so absolutely heartbroken, it made Seph want to cry with them.
But even when their lives became horrid beyond belief they never showed the slightest bit of bitterness or hostility. After being introduced properly, Seph offered to look after the kids when their parents went to work. To pay for all the trips to the city for doctors and then the actual doctor visits, and medicine both of their parents worked almost all day and a few times into the night.
Her mother never really approved nor discouraged her involvement with the kids because they were just that; kids. Saying that they played with nymphs or met a centaur was never going to be taken seriously from a child, so they were the exception to her mother's no mortal friends rule. And ever since the Incident Seph never once fought against that one.
Henry was trying his best to show Danielle how to stand on her head, but to no success. Both of them ended up tumbling on top of each other getting patches of dirt on their hand-me-down clothes and giggling uncontrollably. Seph laughed with them and then suggested a game of hide and seek. That was Henry's favorite as well as her own. Turning around to count her mind unconsciously drifted back to the jerk that ruined her birthday party and almost got her grounded for a few decades. To think that that was the Lord of the Underworld. All the stories of the cruel and twisted Unseen god suddenly made sense now. He had some nerve talking to her like she was some sort of imbecile. At least her mother treated her with some kind of respect. For the most part.
"No. Absolutely not. There in no way I'm am looking after that, that. . . child for seven months!" Hades ranted at his brother. The nerve of that idiot, asking Hades to welcome the one person who managed to vex him to no end into his realm. He might as well put a welcome mat on the front door and set up an ad in the personals column inviting the rest of his family in.
"It's only till the next equinox. Besides she's always wanted to travel a bit." Zeus argued following his brother out of the room. Zeus was still faster than his brother even though Hades' legs were physically longer than his own.
Hades snorted. "I highly doubt the Underworld is what she had in mind." He went on. "That woman, no, that girl hates me and I am not exactly enchanted by her either."
Zeus jumped in front of him trying to block his exit. "C'mon she the sweetest thing you'll ever meet once you get to know her."
"I have no desire to get to know her anymore than Aphrodite has a desire to shave her head ." Hades replied trying to step his way around his brother. This had to be some sort of joke, a ploy for Zeus's amusement.
"You won't even know she's there." Zeus offered.
"That I highly doubt."
Hades was still unable to pass the stubborn god in front of him, but he could almost see where he had parked his bike from their place on the balcony.
"She has dark powers."
Hades blanched. Persephone, daughter of Demeter, having dark powers? The mere thought was practically laughable. The girl, when she wasn't throwing food, was about as evil as a newborn kitten. There was not even a remote possibility that she shared the same powers as he did. He remembered yesterday how happy and carefree she was, no, still not even possible. This was most definitely a joke.
"Oh yes, I can easily see how Demeter's precious Kore would be considered a threat to society." Hades retorted sarcastically leaning against the rail on the balcony. "I mean look at how she wields that jump rope, absolutely deadly. And Hera only knows what sort of sinister plots she coming up with in between games of hopscotch."
"I'm serious!" Zeus insisted sounding more like a six-year-old than a centuries old king of the gods. Hades rolled his eyes.
Once Zeus saw that Hades wasn't going to believe him he swallowed and tried to figure out the right words to explain. "There was an. . ." He searched for the right word. " . . .incident."
"What could she have possibly have done to deserve going to the Underworld? Did she take candy from a stranger?"
Zeus paused. He really didn't want to have to tell what she did, especially with it being pretty much the last person that didn't hear about it, but it seemed he had no choice.
"She tried to kill someone, Hades."
Now Hades was sure this was a joke. A warped, insane joke. From what he understood Hades had experienced Persephone at her very worst. She was stubborn, opinionated, and didn't know when to quit speaking. But murder was out of her league. Actually petty thievery was out of her league, murder was in a whole different dimension.
"Are you sure?" He asked, his family was known for their talent of exaggeration.
"Yes, quite sure. She turned a mortal boy into a plant."
"Now that's not. . ."
"It was during a frost."
"Then she set the greenhouse on fire." They both became very quiet after that.
It was a well known fact that there was nothing more deadly than a scorned teenage girl, but this seemed a bit drastic for anyone. After their long awkward pause Hades spoke, quieter this time. "Have there been any more of these 'incidents'?"
"No, just the one. After that Demeter moved them to that cottage a few miles from here."
"How did mother dearest take the news that her daughter was a potential threat to humanity?" This was what had really interested Hades. Zeus laughed nervously.
"I don't think she really 'took it' at all. She refuses to even speak about it and anyone who does faces the wrath of Mother Nature herself and you know firsthand how bad that can be."
Hades sure did, he had been in Demeter's target of abuse for almost two decades now. Zeus continued. "Dem has always been melodramatic and protective when it came the Persephone, she even has a different name for her Kore, I think it is, but now she's going too far in order for this to stay under wraps; by keeping her away from everyone that is."
"I'm still not seeing how sending Persephone to the Underworld is going to solve the problem."
"Ever since the Incident Seph's powers have grown with each day. She does her best to keep them concealed in order to keep her mother happy, but you can tell it's starting to wear on her. Sooner or later something will upset her again and she'll lose control. This is where you come in. With your realm being the only known place for these kind of powers being controlled all you would have to do is to take her home with you and teach her."
Zeus seemed pleased with himself for coming up with this plan. It seemed almost foolproof. Almost. Hades stood there in awe of his brother's stupidity. What made him think for a minute that Persephone would go along with this or better yet her mother? From the sounds of it having the Goddess of Spring in the Underworld for seven months seemed like the perfect plan to get himself a millenniums worth of grief from Demeter and her followers.
"She's alone here and scared of herself and of what others will think of her. Surely you of all people could understand that." Zeus said not quite meeting Hades eyes.
Hades' grip tightened on the balcony edge, but his eyes were far away. Yes, he understood. He understood being alone and afraid of himself. He knew that very well. To be the odd man out, the outcast in your own family, the freak. This all was very familiar to him or at least it was at some point. Somewhere along the road Hades had desensitized himself to the snide remarks, the outlandish rumors and most of all: the whispers. The whispered criticisms that shoot across peoples' minds and tongues like poisoned arrows. Persephone didn't deserve that, attempted murder or not.
He was used to the stares and whispers that followed him, Persephone was not. And by the time her full powers came in, her life up until that point will be like a dream. Hades looked out onto the rows and stacks of flowers and vines that covered Demeter's Gardens. Seeing the garden reminded him of the first meeting they ever had on the equinox.
They had all stared at him. Everyone of them looked at him like he had horns coming out from his head and Hades had no idea why. As he walked down the marble aisle leading up to where his brothers were sitting on their new thrones he heard the thoughts passing through the others' heads. It was the only thing that he hadn't mastered yet, how to block out thoughts in others' minds. It didn't really bother him in the Underworld since there were very few people to listen to other than Charon and the souls, but here it was like an earthquake. Unavoidable and unexpected. Words bounced around in his head: Dark, strange, evil. They came at him relentlessly, not even pausing long enough for the sting to turn into pain. For hours he sat there pretending to give a damn about what his siblings were saying while he was revisiting every comment, critique, and remark like an old battle scar.
Hades scrubbed his face with his hands before replying to his younger brother. "If I'm going to do this, you had better not call me here for anything and I mean anything. No parties, no meetings, and so help me Hera if there's one more wine tasting. . ."
He didn't get to finish the last thing on his list because of Zeus's loud booming whoop of victory. Now Hades knew where Hermes inherited that trait from.
"I'll need my energy for my. . ." Hades didn't quite know what to call her. She wasn't a prisoner, not really a hostage, and he outright refused to use the word 'guest'. That was a word used only for those who were invited willingly. Before he could even say another word Zeus started in again. "Now when you tell her. . ."
Hades stopped him right there. "What do you mean when I tell her? Surely you have already spoken to her about this."
"Define spoken to."
Hades slammed his fist onto the balcony. "Dammit Zeus, you always do this. Why must I always be the one to deliver bad news?"
Zeus shrugged. "You have more practice than I do and it's not really bad news, it's more like unexpected."
Hades couldn't argue with that. Being the bearer of bad news was obviously just another one of the unspoken obligations of the Lord of the Underworld. "Fine, fine. But what does Demeter think of all this?"
"Now see that's the other part that I forgot to mention. As far as Demeter needs to know Seph is staying at a camp in New York and I'd really like to keep it like that." Zeus rubbed his hands together nervously. Hades shook his head. Only Zeus would think that lying to Demeter about the whereabouts of her daughter was okay.
"You are unbelievable." He said and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"I think I'm willing to live with that if you are."
Hades was still grumbling to himself as they made their way down the stairs into what was becoming Hades' least favorite place on the planet.
Seph was running again, only this time she had a completely different reason. "I'm gonna catch you!" She shouted and chased after two squealing children around the fountain in her mothers' garden. But all of them stopped dead, if you'll forgive the pun, when they saw both Zeus and none other than the Keeper of Souls himself coming towards them.
"Uh kids, why don't we get packed up. I'm sure your parents will be home by now." Seph said trying to gather up the kids' jackets and the book bag they had brought to keep some toys and spare clothes in, as well as the emergency medicine for Danielle. But it was not any use, by the time she had loaded everything into the overstuffed book bag both of the gods were already there.
Pushing herself up into a standing position she avoided looking at any one of them directly. Both kids had congregated around her as soon as they saw that there were others coming near. Although they didn't know exactly what was going on they did know that most of the people here didn't like them. At all.
Zeus explained that it would be best if a servant took the kids home now, because of the personal nature of the conversation, and then left the room before Hades could. Seeing that the mortal children that Persephone had invited the day before were still with brought a sense of dread to Hades. It was bad enough he was going to have to babysit a twenty-year-old for seven months, but he was drawing the line a making his realm a mortal day-care center too.
There was also something about the girl. He could see that her life line was fragile, but it was impossible to see how much time she had left, only Thanatos and the Fates knew that. That was probably one of his least favorite parts of being the judge of souls. Judging children was the most difficult task he was forced to complete each day.
No sooner had the thought crossed his mind did he feel a tugging on his long black trench coat from a frail little hand. He tilted his neck down so he could see the smallish redheaded girl looking up at him. A nymph servant had come to collect them, but the child insisted that she talk to Hades before she left. Not quite sure what to do he crouched down to her level and tensed as whispered in his ear.
A few feet away Seph was trying her best not to hyperventilate. Danielle was probably going to be destroyed on the spot just for getting too close. How was she ever going to explain that to her mother? But much to her relief and surprise Hades simply nodded and stood, while the little girl that pretty much owned Seph's heart waved back at and walked off with her brother.
Now it was just the two of them.
And, for some reason, Seph wasn't afraid.