Hi, I just wanted to say the the gods & monsters series is one of the most wonderful things I've read. I know that some already have Hades in them but could you please do one about Hades and Persephone meeting? That would be amazing, thank you
Apollo comes to her, warm and smiling. He likes her body, its gentle curves, the flawless skin, how it shines with the youth and strength of spring. He is the sun and she is the earth, and it is from his rays that she gains her strength, and it would be expected of them to love each other. The god is golden, from his skin to his hair to his mischievous eyes, and there is not an inch of him that is not as lovely as the rays of sunlight peeking through the leaves.
Kore is not stupid. She knows Apollo does not linger, that she will be a wife in name and little else; he will lie with her and worship her and then grow bored of her.
Hermes comes to her, eyes sharp and hands gentle. He likes her mind, her acuteness, the way she views the world as a gem cutter would a raw emerald. He is wings and air and she is firmly rooted in the earth, she is as far from him as one can be, but his skin and hers are the exact same shade and she finds the shape of his mouth pleasing. She likes the way he considers her his equal.
But Hermes is meant to fly, spends his time carrying messages for Zeus and meddling in things that ought not to be meddled in. He may be a fine enough man, but he’s no husband.
She has two offers – each from powerful gods, each attractive and clever. There’s no reason she should find them both as unappealing as congealed chicken fat, yet she does.
“I do not often find you alone,” a deep, feminine voice says, and Kore suppresses a sigh as she turns to greet the approaching woman. She sits deep in the forest under a blossoming apple tree, but this is not her dominion alone.
“I am not often alone,” she concedes, observing the blood soaked goddess. “I’m assuming none of that is yours?”
Artemis doesn’t have enough hair to toss it over her shoulder, but she runs a hand through it, pushing it out of her face and streaking it copper in the process. “Of course not. I hope you weren’t too attached to the bucks of this forest.”
“Animals are not my concern,” she answers, “Besides, I am the goddess of spring, and therefore am born from death. It would be foolish of me to reject that which bore me.”
“Funny you should say that,” she says, “since all of Olympus is gossiping about how desperately you seek to leave the sanctuary of what bore you.”
Kore raises an eyebrow. Artemis is clumsy with her words, but she supposes the woman has never had a need to be otherwise. There are few as transparently straightforward as the huntress. She smiles, “Perhaps it is more funny, dear cousin, how easily the words prison and sanctuary become entangled.“
Artemis crosses her arms and sucks her lower lips between her teeth. “No,” she says finally, sobering, “I don’t think that’s very funny at all.”
Kore arranges her skirts around her, the green of the thread and that of the grass nearly identical. “If you’re here to plead your brother’s case for my hand, I’m willing to listen.”
The huntress snorts, derisive, and Kore raises an eyebrow. “I would not recommend my brother’s hand,” she says, “There are other parts of his anatomy which leave many satisfied, however, if that falls within your interests.”
“I am a more desirable bride as a virgin,” she answers instead of saying that the thought of touching a man she does not love makes her skin crawl. Artemis laughs as if she just told a joke, but if so Kore is ignorant of the punchline.
She does not know if she could love either Hermes or Apollo, at least not for the eternity that marks a god’s impossibly long life. It would result in a rather lackluster love making, which is presumably their main goal in pursuing her.
She dislikes her options. Behind her is the gilded cage of her mother’s overprotectiveness, and ahead of her lies the gilded cage of a loveless marriage.
“Kore,” Artemis says, frowning, “if – if you are to defy Demeter, you must go someplace that she cannot enter, a place where her magic cannot reach you.”
“Where might that be?” Kore asks dryly, “She is as I am – all that grows from this earth is our domain. Perhaps in the sea I could hide from her, but Poseidon is no friend of mine and has no reason to grant me asylum.”
Artemis shrugs, a wry twist to her lips. She cracks her neck on either side and walks back from where she came, but not before calling out over her shoulder, “I guess there is no such place Kore, goddess of spring, born of death and Demeter.“
Kore is still for a long time, staring at the place where Artemis stood.
Perhaps she is not so clumsy with her words after all.
Slipping away from her mother’s watchful eye is always monstrous task, even more so since the rumors of her proposals, but she manages. She finds the River Styx and follows it against its current, walking past and through all the warning sign that she’s gone too far, ignores the prickle along her skin as she crosses the threshold from this world to the next.
Almost immediately she comes across a hooded figure standing besides a small boat. “Charon,” she greets confidently. She tries to catch a peek under his hood, but he tilts his head away from her and manages to give the impression that he’s frowning at her even though she can’t see his face. “I need passage across the river.”
“You are not dead, lady goddess,” he says.
She holds out a shiny gold coin, “I can pay.”
“You are not dead,” he repeats, “You may not be ferried across.”
She nearly snaps at him, but instead takes a firm hold on her temper and thinks. Charon did not say she was not permitted to enter the underworld, only that he may not ferry her across. She peeks into the rushing river. It’s so powerful and fast that it churns grey foam and the water itself looks black, or perhaps that is simply whatever lies beneath. She skims her hand across the surface and the skin of her fingertips comes away burned and blistering.
“May I swim?” she asks.
“There are no rules preventing the impossible,” he tells her, but his shoulders stiffen as if he’s grown nervous.
Kore is not nervous. Either she survives and manages to enter the underworld, or she dies and Charon will have no choice but to ferry her across.
She sheds her gown – it will only weigh her down and get in her way. “My lady goddess,” Charon says, and Kore would almost say he sounds panicked. “Please do not –”
She jumps into the river.
It burns all over, white hot pain that makes her want to scream, but she has no interest in discovering what would happen if she were to swallow any of this supposed water. The current fights against her at every turn, and her muscles bunch and strain to not be swept away. It’s improbably difficult, the most difficult thing she’s ever done, but she grasps the edge of the shore with peeling hands and heaves her bloody body unto the ground.
Her entire body is one throbbing wound. Perhaps she should have listened to Charon before diving headfirst into the river, but it’s too late for regrets.
“Are you insane?” a thunderous voice demands, and then she’s being lifted by strong arms until she’s settled against a muscular chest.
She forces her eyes open, and the man glaring down at her has hair the color of the night sky and skin as pale as bone. His nose is long and sharp, his mouth wide and thin. The only bits of colors are his eyes, a green so dark that at first glance they look black. She raises a hand and cups his face, and the water clinging to her doesn’t seem to hurt him the way it hurt her. “Hades,” she says, and everything pains her just as much as before but his skin soothes hers. The skin on her palms comes away healed.
He’s angry with her, but his touch is gentle. There’s not a stitch of clothing on her, but he doesn’t glance or grope, only pulls her against him and uses the sleeve of his robe to clear the burning water from her face. “Yes, insane goddess, I am Hades.”
She had not meant to meet him, only to hide among his realm until she could think of a better plan. But she likes him already, an instantaneous and childish feeling, one she can’t remember having before.
She turns into his chest and lets out a pleased sigh, content to go wherever he brings her.
“They call me Kore.”
gods and monsters series, part vii