What's your take on the world ending for the Greek Gods? Or when they cease to be relevant to mankind, and what happens to them? Would Athena, Aphrodite and Artemis take the streets and march for Pride? Would Demeter be the manager at a zoo?
Time passes. The world changes. Temples fall. People now speak their names as if they are fairytales.
The gods are dead.
Apollo’s chariot lies broken and forgotten in the ruins of a city no one knows the name of anymore. He watches the sun crawl across the sky of its own volition, without him to push it forward.
“Do you miss it?” Artemis asks him, appearing by his side. They stand at the top of a sparkling glass building, almost the same as ever. She walks among the mortals more than he does, she always has, and She’s dressed like one of them. Tight clothes and half her head shaved, sparkling gems curling up the delicate shell of her ear. She looks like one of the teenagers that fill his concert stadiums.
He thinks of the way his chariot threatened to escape his grasp every morning, the oppressive heat of the sun beating down on him, the burns and the undercurrent of fear that one day he would lose his grip on the reins and plunge the world into darkness.
Apollo leans his head on his sister’s shoulder. The sun rises slower without him, but it rises just the same. “No. Not really.”
Hephaestus’s workshop has evolved with the times – from a volcano base to a modern lab, but always a workshop bursting with creation. The cyclopes are still his best assistants.
Aphrodite steps over discarded parts and expertly walks around frantic cyclopes carrying bubbling concoctions. Her dark hair is swept up in a bun and she wears chunky glasses and a blood red pantsuit that almost hides the fact she’s the most beautiful woman to walk the earth. “I have a client, try not to blow up the house. Again.”
“Yes dear,” he says, but doesn’t looks away from his soldering. She hadn’t expected him too. His prosthetics are off and on the floor besides him, and he’s seated on a too-tall chair to compensate for the loss of height.
She reaches out and carefully touches the corner of his eye. Crow’s feet have started to work their way onto his face. They’re getting old. “It’s the couple that’s fighting because he wants kids and she doesn’t want to carry any kids but doesn’t want to say that. It would probably be easier if I just told them to adopt and threw them out the window.”
“Yes dear,” he repeats, sparks flying. A few land on her, but she doesn’t burn. Of course.
She moves her hand up and pushes it through his hair and resists the urge to pull him from his work and abandon her own so they can make out on his worktable. “I love you.”
Aphrodite turns to leave, but Hephaestus grabs her wrist and pulls her back. He holds up a single copper lily, the edges of the petals still glowing with heat it had taken to shape them. He carefully slides the stem into her hair so it sits at the base of her bun. He grazes her bottom lip with his thumb as he pulls his hand back to his side. “Yes dear.”
She makes imprudent deals to control an earth that no longer falls under her domain, and she enacts her revenge against the mortals in whatever way she can. They have forgotten her, forgotten the earth, and in their ignorance they seek to destroy it.
She shakes the bedrock and splits it open, but still they do not learn, and as the temperature of the earth rises so does her temper.
The sea is not hers to command, her power is of earth and of earth alone, and even now she gave more than could afford to lose to keep her grasp on it. But these mortals do not learn.
Demeter goes to the sea and makes an inadvisable bargain. She goes to the crumbling remains of Olympus and makes an even worse one.
Typhoons and hurricanes whip across the land. If they seek to destroy her, she will simply destroy them first.
Hera sits on a pure white couch in an elegant mansion, smiling for the journalist seated across from her.
“What do you think is the most influential decision you ever made?” he asks, “If you could pinpoint the success of your business to one moment, what would it be?”
She tilts her head as the light of the camera flashes. “Why, divorcing my husband, of course.”
“Would that be your advice to young women hoping to be as successful as you?” he asks, “To not get married?”
Hera thinks of thousands of years by Zeus’s side, and how little it got her. She thinks of Hestia’s men, and Artemis’s women, of Hephaestus’s love for Aphrodite, of the way Hades softened the sharpest of Persephone’s edges.
She says, “Do not get married to someone who makes you less than you are. If you are not a better person for being together than apart, then do not be together. It’s as simple as that.”
Simple, but not easy.
Leaving Zeus was the hardest thing she’s ever done.
Persephone isn’t forced to spend half the year on the mortal earth anymore. She goes when she pleases, which isn’t often.
Sometimes she’ll sit by Artemis’s side while she brings a new life into the world and holds the warm, wriggly child first. She visits hospitals and makes the flowers bloom out of season, and spends long hours sitting under the sun and feeling it’s warmth touch her face.
Hades left his realm rarely before, and even more rarely now. More people are being born than ever, meaning more people are dying than ever. Their realm is massive, comprising of all the dead of several millennia. Hades and Hecate spend their days as always – desperately trying to expand the realm so that they don’t all have to live on top of each other.
“Have you heard?” she asks one day, seated on his desk and leaning across it so he can’t work on the latest draft for another level of their realm. “The gods are dead.”
He gives up on attempting to tug it out from underneath her. “Are they? That’s odd, none of them are here.”
Persephone doesn’t bother to hide her smile. They haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe they never will. But when death comes for them, as death does for all, it will be to Hades and Persephone’s door they are brought. Hades himself will usher Gaia and Amphitrite into the underworld, when the time comes.
That time is not today.
“Darling, I really do need to work on this,” he ineffectually tugs on the map again.
She pushes him back into the chair, climbing on top of him and pressing their foreheads together. “No, you don’t.”
“No, I don’t,” he agrees, and obligingly moves his head so Persephone can nibble at his neck. He manages a whole thirty seconds before going, “I mean, I really do, Hecate said if I didn’t have a plan by the time she leaves for the mortal realm tomorrow, I’ll either have to wait until she gets back or do it by myself, and I’d really prefer to do neither–”
Persephone kisses him to shut him up, twisting and pushing them through the realm so they land on their bed. “I’ll help you finish it later. Focus on me now.”
Hades doesn’t answer, but he does flip them so he’s above her and reaches below her skirt, so she’ll take that as agreement.
Hestia sits around a bonfire, watching a group of teenagers get drunk and dance around the flames. They’ll never be younger than right now, never feel as much love for each other as they do right now.
She is besides an old man who warms his hands from the fire coming from an abandoned trash can.
She lies on a bed as a girl lights two dozen candles around it as a surprise for when her lover gets home.
She watches a young man make dinner for his boyfriend for the first time and burn the chicken on both sides. They eat it together anyway.
She sits on the kitchen counter when a sister takes out a pie from the oven, made special for her little brother’s birthday.
She is there when a father ticks the thermostat up high in freezing dawn of morning so it will be warm by the time his wife and children awaken.
Most people don’t have hearths anymore. But there is warmth, and love, and for Hestia that is enough.
As their names fade from existence, as his name is called less and less on the battlefields of mortal men, the more Ares sleeps.
He falls asleep in too tall trees and on park benches. He sleeps in seedy motel rooms and naps in every one of Athena’s libraries. He sleeps curled up on a chair in Aphrodite’s office, and on the floors of a lot of veteran resource centers. As fast as he can tell, that’s the most they help any veteran.
Still, his favorite place to sleep is the underworld.
He goes knocking on Orpheus’s door, who is always willing to play for him. “Hades is here,” Eurydice says, “Would you like to me to go get him?”
He shakes his head, “Persephone is home. I wouldn’t want to intrude.”
Eurydice and Orpheus share the same look of faint disapproval, but neither of the say anything, for which he is grateful.
He lies in the soft grass of the garden Persephone made, and lets Orpheus’s playing lull him to sleep.
Later, he’s woken by strong arms picking him up and holding him against a familiar chest. He doesn’t even have to open his eyes to know who’s holding him. “I can go,” he yawns, his actions at odds with his words as he pulls himself even closer the warmth coming off the king of the underworld.
“No,” Hades says. “Stay.”
Ares lets out a content sigh as Hades presses his lips to his forehead, and he’s not great about touch, about people laying their hands on him and getting in his space. But Hades has always felt safe, felt like home.
The gods are dead.
Long live the gods.
gods and monster series, part xiv