Chapter One: Play With Fire
The cold wind splintered her skin as she fought her way through the arctic winds. Her body was starting to stiffen slightly from the harsh air, whipping against her skin. She hugged the fur close to her as she approached the mountain where she would soon enter into her dark abode. Within mere moments she started to see the torches of light, signaling to the goddess that the earth was shifting to allow her entry to her destination. The bright smile was long gone from her lips as the thought of returning to what she called “home” crossed her mind. But still she walked further, almost running toward the opening in the bottom of the mountain to seek cover from the winds.
Before she knew it, the earth was closing behind her. The wind was no longer blowing against her skin. Out of breath, the goddess stopped, leaning against the cool rock to let herself rest momentarily. Still, she held the fur to her body, clutching the soft fur in her fingers. She closed her eyes, slightly thankful for the earth keeping her safe once again from the approaching winter winds. Every year it felt more and more cold but still she made the same trek to the mountain that opened to let her enter into the world beneath. She would return to the darkness and did her best to keep her head held high as her mother taught her.
As soon as her legs could travel again, her feet begun to move. It wasn't long that she found herself walking the path toward the large dark fortress that she called home. Her eyes glanced down toward Erebus, the place where souls first went after their deaths. A sight she was used to but still felt uncomfortable with. She took a deep breathe, turning her gaze to the entrance to the 'Black Palace', as she called it. Torches lit up the dark colored rocks that lined the entrance, causing a glow against her skin.
The palace was unusually quiet; that worried the young goddess. Normally she could hear the orderings of her husband to the others, especially to Charon and the Fates. She didn't even hear the footsteps of the others as they ushered around the fortress doing their daily chores and errands. But nonetheless, she continued on, quickly seeking out her chambers. She longed for the warmth of her bunk and the roaring fire that seemed eternally lit within the pit in her chambers. The soft flesh of her fingers caressed the hard wood as she pushed open the doors to her chambers. The doors closed quickly behind her as she let the fur fall from her body in a heap at the top of the stairs before descending toward her bed.
“You are late.” The words came so quick, so harsh that she jerked around by the sound of the familiar voice. Her eyes searched the dimly lit bedchamber. Hastily she scanned before the shadow within the corner of the room became clear. The silhouette slowly moved forward becoming a figure. Her eyes quickly narrowed at the sight.
“So I am.” She said with a shrug as she watched the figure appear completely, stepping into the light of the fire that roared in the center of the room. His long dark hair cascaded over his shoulders, the black locks flowing like sheets across his pale skinned arms and shoulders but through the opening of his hair, she could see his unjust upon his face. “What's it to you?” She grumbled.
Letting out a slight growl, “You are my queen, my wife. I demand your reasoning.”
“You do not own me, Hades. I may be your queen but that is it.” Persephone snarled.
Within seconds, Hades had moved to her side, gripping her wrist in his hand. Persephone struggled against him, trying to slip her slender wrist from his large hands. The goddess of spring was no match for the god of death and riches. Through the struggle, he gripped her other wrist and pulled her to him, his gaze bearing into hers.
“You dare to speak to me with such coarseness. Hear me now, my queen: I am the king. You will adhere to my will or you will join your ancestors in Tartarus.” Hades warned his wife.
Instantly, Persephone was trying to hold back her trembling hands. She feared Hades at times like this. Other times she took pity on the god who seemed so incapable of love. At this moment, she wanted to throw him in the river Styx and watch the lost souls tug at him.
“Let me go.” Persephone demanded as she finally slipped one wrist from his grasp but with his other, Hades pushed Persephone back causing her to fall onto the platform beside her bed. She landed on her bottom and her hands, breaking her fall slightly. Cranking her head upward, her eyes were filled with anger.
Hades looked down upon his wife, “You will learn obedience goddess. My brother promised me a wife and a queen. You will be a queen to your subjects but to me, you are my wife.” With that, Hades turned on his heel and stormed out of the room.
Persephone turned her head quickly, looking downward as she let out the breath she seemingly had been holding in, causing her to gasp hardly. In minutes she had pulled herself from the cold stone floor and fell back against her bed. She curled into the fetal position, hugging her hides against her body. Persephone closed her eyes, wishing she could wake up from this nightmare as she slowly slipped into sleep.
The feeling of warmth licking against her body woke Persephone from her sudden yet deep slumber. She begun to stir as she felt fingertips against her skin. Her eyes fluttered open slowly before she turned her head to the side to see what the intrusion was. Slightly surprised, it was Hades. His strong, calloused fingertips caressed Persephone's soft skin where he had grabbed her before. She watched him as he seemed so in awe of her. His pale fingers were a stark contrast to her tanned olive skin. Slowly she reached out for his fingers with her own, bringing his fingers to her lips to kiss.
“My sincerest, my darling.” Hades' raspy yet lulling voice came. “I did not wish to frighten you.” He leaned in, kissing the back of Persephone's shoulder gently. “Months away from you have driven me to my darkest depths.” Hades admitted to his wife.
Persephone sighed heavily. “As a god of the dark I would never expect you to be gentle, my love.” She whispered before kissing his palm.
It was the dim truth but she had come to love this man who abducted her, forced her to stay in this hell for a short while, even causing her to want to stay at times. But her husband, her king, was not the easiest person to please.
“Must you be so cruel?” Persephone asked, her eyes looking up into Hades'.
“I do not mean such cruelty.” Hades sighed. “You are my queen, Persephone. I can not fully enjoy my kingdom without my queen.” Hades replied.
Slowly his fingertips were dragging down her side to her hip where the slit in her peplos revealed the delicious top of her thigh, his other hand was unfastening the golden rope that kept the cloth by her shoulder together.
Persephone's breath quickened, her eyes slowly closing. Hades hands were slow and agonizing but the expert touch of his fingers made the wait worth her while. It was nights such as these when she would have given anything to be with her husband forever. She would do anything for the man she called her king. But these nights also tore her to pieces more and more for the want to no longer leave her love grew.
But something that night wasn't right. In the midst of her ecstasy, Persephone's eyes slighted her, playing tricks on her. When the peak of their passion was over and Hades went to fetch wine for them to drink, the moment he left her side in their bed, she swore the man that looked into her eyes was that of her father. She merely shrugged it away as sleep won it's battle and her slumber came once more.
When she awoke the next morning, Persephone was disturbed by loud shouting coming from down the hall. A voice boomed so loud that it shook her bed. She sat up quickly, pulling her black peplos over her and left her room to see what the fuss was. Quite hastily she found Hades in a bit of a heated argument with Hermes. Persephone stood in the corridor, leaning against the cool stone wall to hide from her husband or Hermes from spotting her as she listened to their boiling discussion.
“I do not care who has threatened my dear brother, Father is incapable of escaping his bounds. Zeus and I made sure of that when we sent him and the rest of the titans into their abyss.” Hades growled.
“My liege, I am merely doing as father has asked of me and I do not think this is something to breathe lightly about. If Cronus and the others escape, you and Zeus will be the first they will seek out.” Hermes warned his uncle.
“And you may assure my brother that they are well kept and tightly bound.” Hades boomed once more.
Even his words made Persephone jump slightly.
“Father still wishes to seek council with you, my king. It is important for you to reassure him yourself for I am merely a messenger.” Hermes sighed. “Please, call for me when you are ready with your answer.” With that, the god was gone.
Persephone frowned. Answer? Answer for what?
“Come out, dear wife. I feel the pulsing of your heart.” Hades suddenly spoke.
Persephone slowly moved down the corridor, revealing herself. The look on Hades face made her a tad frightened. He didn't seem pleased one bit.
She approached him with caution. “I apologize.” Persephone said softly before placing her palm gently against his cool skin. “I did not mean to pry.” Persephone tried to smile a little.
Hades shrugged her fingers from his skin. “You wish to make matters worse after last night?” Hades growled.
“What do you mean?” Persephone asked, confused now. “I thought-”
“You know you must return before sundown and yet you still come back when the moon is high. You have duties as my wife and as Queen of the Underworld. Your duty is to be at my side when you are needed.” Hades' voice seemed to grow louder with each word. “You are young, my queen but you need to learn your place in my kingdom.”
Persephone was at a loss for words at that moment. Last night he seemed so gentle and loving... maybe too gentle. Her heart beat begun to beat faster as she tried to wrap her mind around then and now.
“What happened to my husband? What happened to last evening?” Persephone asked. “You mustn't play these tricks. I am not as soft as you like to portray me to be, Hades and I will not take your incessant erratic behavior!” Persephone shouted.
Hades' hand flew to grab Persephone's chin. “You raise your voice to me?”
Persephone pushed his hand away. “You are a cruel and viscous god.” Persephone whimpered as the tears glittered her eyes. “I am not one of your souls! You wanted me here! You wanted me to love you! You fool.” Persephone wiped away one eye with the back of her hand. “How can you take someone away from love and warmth when you yourself are so incapable of such feelings!” Persephone shouted once more.
Softly, she let out a sob. But just as quickly as she let it out, her hands covered her eyes. It was only mere seconds later that she felt his embrace causing Persephone to flinch.
“I am sorry.” Hades sighed as he pushed her hair away from her face. “I am a fool.” With that he kissed her forehead.
Hades often wondered where the rage had come from and toward Persephone. She was every bit right. He forced her to stay and for what? For a king to abuse her? For a husband to neglect the very fiber of her being?
“I worry, my love.” Persephone whispered through her tears. She looked up into Hades' eyes. “You wish for me to be the queen you need but yet you dismiss my every wish unless granted by you. Let me be the queen that you need me to be without question.”
“You must understand, dear Persephone, it is not easy for me to show the same love and want as you or as mortal men do, but you are right.” Hades cupped her swollen face in his palms. “I do not wish to make you despise me anymore than you already do.” Hades cracked a slight smile, wiping the tears from her cheeks.
“Nights like the last you confuse me more and more.” Persephone whispered once more.
“Last night?” Hades asked curiously. “When you had returned?”
Persephone shook her head no. “When you woke me.”
“I didn't wake you last evening, Persephone.”