Again, so sorry for the long time between posts... June was a very busy month for me. :P I will try to come up with an update schedule, and try to stick to it as much as I can. :) But, sometimes life gets in the way. :)

Enjoy!

Chapter Ten: The Banquet.

*****

"'Nothing can; nothing will fill this hole in my heart. My joy has simply vanished, just as Hades vanished with Kore into the Underworld… There is not a trace of it left.'"

*****

The crowd broke out into excited whispers and quiet lamentations. Demeter stalked angrily from the arena, and Zeus remained on his knees, in shock and grief. He clutched at the ground, and struck it angrily; it left a deep crack, and the force sent an echoing reverberation throughout the arena.

"How pathetic you look, Mighty Zeus," Thatanos whispered from his concealed spot away from the crowd. "And they call you 'King of the Gods?'"

Surveying the crowd, he saw the shocked expression of Hermes, the wistful expression of Aphrodite and the look of satisfaction of Ares' face.

He continued to scan the crowd, looking for one particular face, one particular resident of Mount Olympus.

When he found her, he wasn't surprised to see that she was deeply hurt by Demeter's council and Zeus' involvement with her.

"Ah, this might turn out easier than I had anticipated…" Thatanos said, a slow and sure smile spreading across his face.

All he had to do now was wait.

***

Persephone stood in front of the wardrobe in awe. The sides from ceiling to floor were lined in the finest silks and richest colors. She noticed that much of the space was filled with linens that could be turned into dresses or cloaks, sandals, jewelry and many ornate pins.

"Is this all for me?" she whispered in the large space. She felt very small compared to the towering stacks and rows of neatly hung fabrics.

"Yes," Hades replied, a small smile on his face. "Most of the things that you see belong to you, Persephone."

"Thank you, Hades. They're lovely," she said, reaching out to the nearest piece of cloth and brushing her fingers against it.

"There's no need to thank me, love," Hades said, his tone amused. "I took the liberty of having them made in softer colors… Most are linen, but a few are made from muslin." He paused and cleared his throat, not used to talking about such feminine things.

Persephone smiled at his hesitation, and brought the soft piece of cloth to her cheek. It was coldly smooth, but she was surprised by the smell it had. It wasn't cold or damp, but instead, it smelled warm, like the sun.

"Oh," Persephone gasped in surprise, inhaling deeply the scent of grass and flowers and happiness. "These smell like the Upper World!"

"Of course," Hades said with a small chuckle. "Nothing can grow down here and live."

Persephone frowned slightly, but decided to hold her tongue. This was puzzling, no doubt, but she didn't want to anger him so quickly again with her questions, like she had back on their chariot ride. She swallowed nervously as she remembered his unreasonable anger at Thatanos' suggestion for a banquet. When they'd arrived at his chambers, he was still seething, but she had asked him what she should wear.

"Hades?" Persephone asked, watching him cautiously, in case he would explode into another outburst.

"Yes?"

"I was wondering… Since this banquet is such an important thing," she said hurriedly, "What should I wear to it?"

Hades' anger quickly evaporated, as he took her hand and led her to the wardrobe, smiling.

Persephone shook her head, clearing her thoughts and looked at the rainbow of colors surrounding her.

"You want me to pick just one? I will never decide," she said with a sigh.

Hades laughter echoed in the small space.

"Pick the one that you like the most, Persephone. I will be happy with whatever you choose."

Persephone bit her lip, studying the racks and rows of cloth. She trailed her hand against the fabrics, reveling in the softness. Her hand stopped on one particular piece, and her eyes were drawn toward the color.

"This one," she said, beaming. "I pick this one, Hades."

"Very well," Hades said, smiling wistfully at her exuberance. "Do you need any help putting it on?"

"No, thank you. I am capable of dressing myself," she replied, her cheeks growing warm.

"Are you sure?" Hades continued, while Persephone pushed him out of the wardrobe and through the open door of his bedroom.

"I have a very good eye for these things, you know," he said with a wink and a wolfish grin, leaning against the door frame.

She gave him an embarrassed smile as she said, "I know you are. That is why you are not allowed in here."

Hades' eyes widened slightly, and his smile grew more pronounced. His response was interrupted by the click of the door shutting in his face.

Sighing, Persephone picked the crumpled piece of linen from the place where she dropped it on the floor, and held it to her nose, inhaling deeply. She smiled, before remembering why she was here, and what was going to take place in a few minutes… Her heart thudded in anticipation; would the rest of the deities oppose her as much as Thatanos had?

Shaking her thoughts from her head, she tried to clear her mind, and focused instead on looking presentable for the banquet.

*

Hades sighed in anticipation. What was taking her so long to get ready? Surely, it did not take so long to dress in a chiton?

Unable to take waiting any longer, he stood up, feeling his muscles strain in protest from sitting so long.

He held his breath as he knocked softly on the door. Hearing nothing, he hesitantly opened it, and asked, "Are you…presentable, love?"

"You may enter," her voice said, and he thought he heard a tinge of anxiety hidden within it.

The door creaked open as Hades entered. He searched the room for her, and when his eyes locked upon her, he froze.

She was sitting by a small mirror, placing a last pin into her elaborately twisted hair. The hair she pinned stayed put for a moment, but then it came loose and fell in front of her face.

"This isn't working!" she said, throwing her arms up in annoyance as she stood up. "This is why it took me so long, Hades. My hair will not cooperate today. I am terribly sorry that you had to wait so long, but I only wanted to look presenta-"

"Persephone, stop," Hades interrupted, and she did so, shuffling awkwardly from foot to foot.

"Come here," he commanded with a lazy wave of his hand.

Reluctantly, she obeyed, and Hades noticed how she was still tense and frustrated. Even though she was unhappy, she looked radiant. The chiton that she wore was a light lavender, and it contrasted her brown hair and green eyes wonderfully. A few loose strands of her hair framed her face, and Hades didn't seem to mind as much as she did.

"Here," he said, grasping the lonely pin from her hand, and gently securing her hair with it.

"Don't be upset, Persephone, please," he said when her irritation didn't dissolve. "You look beautiful."

Her green eyes sparkled, as she managed a tiny smile.

"You do not believe me, do you?"

She shook her head, slightly, and felt the heat creep back into her face again.

"I couldn't breathe right when I entered this room, and saw you sitting there. That's how much you affect me, Persephone."

"But, I didn't do anything…" she said, her eyes glued to his dark grey ones.

"You're doing everything right, then," he said, smiling as he repeated the words he told her on the chariot ride.

Her blush deepened; she remembered. Hades gently cupped her face in his palm, and their mouths met, once again…

*

The chariot came to a gentle stop—much different than the first time Persephone rode in it. Hades offered her a hand, which she took, and stepped onto the ground.

It appeared that they were in at the entrance of a long hallway, which was dimly lit. She was getting used to the cold lighting that was here, instead of the natural light of the sun.

Anticipation surged in her abdomen, and for a moment, she couldn't speak. She was fearful that the Underworld Deities wouldn't approve of her being here, which she quickly reminded herself that it was all right if they did, because she didn't want to be here herself. Did she? Was she actually growing used to the darkly lit space? Did she enjoy the attention and company that Hades provided her with?

Her heart sunk when she realized that yes, she did like it here. Even though it was dark and damp, and her mother was not with her, she enjoyed her independence. She liked the fact that Hades was here, with her. She was attracted to him. Her mother would have never let her—

"Persephone?"

Persephone snapped her focus to Hades' voice, and found his expression worried.

"Are you all right?"

"Yes, I am fine…"

"You have nothing to be nervous about. I am entirely sure that they will not oppose my decision in taking you as my wife."

"I know that, Hades. But I still cannot help but feel worried."

Hades smiled at uncertainty, and took her hand in his.

"I will protect you from any harm," he said, seriously, and Persephone became more confident when she looked into his dark eyes.

"Lead the way," Persephone said with a smile, which Hades returned, and they made their way through the rocky cavern, hand in hand.

When they entered the room, Persephone was surprised to see no deities present. There was, however, the most delicious assortments of food, precisely laid out on the table. Her mouth began to water, but her curiosity remained.

"Where are the rest of the deities?"

"It is customary that I arrive first, before they do," he said, and she noticed a smug tone in his voice.

"Here," Hades continued, hastening to her side. "Sit down." He pulled an ornate chair out, and Persephone sat down in it, smoothing her dress with her trembling hands.

"Do not worry, love," Hades said, grasping her hand once again.

She offered a small smile in response, one that was full of nervous excitement.

"Are you comfortable?"

Persephone nodded, wondering why he asked.

"Then let us not keep our guests waiting any longer, shall we?" he responded, and snapped his fingers.

The noise echoed slightly in the empty room, before being replaced by a several swirling masses that condensed into deities. At once, all of them began to speak, their voices a sharp contrast to the silence only a moment before.

"Thank the Gods," muttered a god sitting opposite Hades with white hair and olive skin. "What took you so long, Hades? My boredom was imminent."

"I did not know that the God of Sleep could become bored, Hypnos," Hades responded with a chuckle. "Surely you could find something to occupy your time? Taken a nap, perhaps?"

"Very funny. I haven't heard of that one before..."

"Ah, Hades. You've plucked a flower out of thorns, I see," said another deity, whose dark skin glistened in the pale light. Her eyes were a startling blue, and Persephone thought they would look quite frightening if she was angry. But only a motherly kindness shone through in her eyes, something that she didn't expect to see here of all places. Her smile was wise and knowing, and Persephone blushed at her statement.

"Oh, look. You made her blush, Nyx," said a god sitting closest to her. His golden hair and chiton was shining like Apollo's chariot, and when he beamed at her, his teeth glistened like the sun. Persephone noticed that each of his fingers held a ring in place. She thought it very odd that his eyes were covered with a embroidered cloth, and yet, he could tell that she had blushed.

"Stop it, all of you. You're making her uncomfortable," said Hades, but his attempt at reprimanding them was only half-hearted.

"We wouldn't want that, would we?" asked the only god that Persephone knew in the room, and his voice was dripping mischief. Thatanos would look handsome, she mused, if he didn't look so cold and emotionless.

Hades said nothing, but Persephone could hear his jaw click together, and that said more than any words could have.

"Do not be so heartless, Thatanos," whispered the only goddess who had not voiced anything. "Do you wish her to speak to us at all?"

Persephone smiled at the goddess, and was surprised to see that her face shifted and swirled, like a mirage. The goddess did not smile back; instead, she looked hurt, but Persephone could not understand why. Had she offended her?

"Why don't you tell us your name, dear?" asked Hypnos, with an encouraging smile. Persephone glanced nervously at Hades, who smiled warmly in response.

"I am Persephone," she said, shifting nervously in her seat. Her cheeks grew hot once again, as she struggled to think of something more to say. "It is nice to meet all of you."

"Her voice is lovely, Hades. It is a shame that I cannot see her appearance…" sighed the god who seemed to drip jewels. "Though, I am certain that with a voice like that, she must be lovely as well."

"Thank you—" Persephone began, but then realized that she knew not his name. She looked at Hades, whose eyes widened in understanding.

"Ah, how foolish of me. Let me introduce you to the Deities of the Underworld," Hades said, rising from his chair. "Hypnos, God of Sleep, Nyx, Goddess of the Night, Plutus, God of Riches, Hecate, Goddess of the Crossroads, and Thatanos, God of Death," Hades said quickly, pointing to the respected deity when he said their name. Sighing, he sat back down, and smiled at Persephone.

"Do you think you can remember them all?"

"I will certainly try," she replied, which caused a collective chuckle to spread throughout the room.

"Persephone…" drawled Thatanos. "That is quite the unusual name for a maiden from the Upper World, is it not?"

Persephone's stomach tightened. What was Thatanos trying to do?

"I-I suppose that it is. Hades is the one that suggested the name, but the name that my mother gave me is Kore."

"Hmm… 'The Maiden.' It is a fitting name, I believe. I wonder though," Thatanos continued with a smirk inching across his face. "Does it still describe you now, Persephone?"

"Thatanos…" Hades growled, his face livid, his hands clenched.

Thatanos ignored him, eyes glued to Persephone.

"W-What do you mean?" Persephone asked, not fully understanding what Thatanos was trying to say.

Thatanos chuckled, before saying, "It would seem that you and Hades are becoming quite comfortable with each other. If you do not keep to yourself, Persephone, you will not be the same person you were before. It would shame your mother… What would she think of you now, eating with the Underworld Deities, while she has not eaten for days?"

"Thatanos!" Hades shouted, but he only shouted the painful words louder.

"What would she think of you, Persephone, forgetting about her past, her own mother, to grow comfortable with a stranger that abducted you? How do you think she would feel if she saw you, dressed like an woman, when you are really nothing more than a child?"

"That is enough!" Hades roared, his voice making the rest of the deities flinch.

Persephone's heart quickened with fear. What if Thatanos is right? What would my mother think of me? Would she hate me because I enjoy being here?

Her eyes welled with tears as she remembered how scared and frightened she was when Hades first stole her away… Thatanos' words struck some wounded place deep within her heart, and her own guilty conscience caused her to sob. She hastily covered her eyes as she fled from the room, not listening to Hades' pleas to stop as he ran after her.

"How dare you, Thatanos!" cried Hecate. "You should be ashamed of yourself, saying those things. I am disgusted with you and your sick sense of satisfaction that you gained from making Kore cry!"

Thatanos only smiled. "It is for the best. You will see, Hecate. It is only for the best…"

***

Thatanos was a cunning god. He knew the ins and outs of Mount Olympus better than most of the Olympians. Thus, it was a fairly simple task to walk from the arena to the Hera's personal chambers. All he had to do was wait for her to return, and ask his favor.

"Good evening, Hera," he said, when she entered her room.

Hera gasped, spinning around, a hand to her chest in surprise.

"Thatanos," she said, her eyes narrowing with suspicion. "What do you want from me? Surely, there are many other duties that need your attention?"

Thatanos walked slowly towards her, smiling.

"How much do you love your husband, Hera? Or a better question: How much do you want to make him hurt?"

*****

Author's Note:

Thought I'd include a little section about the Gods and Goddesses I've introduced. :) Feel free to skip over this if you want; it's just some research and things I've found.

New Characters: :)

~Hypnos: God of Sleep, and Twin brother of Thatanos. (I made them look like opposites, hence Hypnos having white hair/olive skin, while Thatanos has black hair, white skin. :) ) His mother is Nyx. (which I may or may not include in this story. Not sure.) He is also very reluctant to help Hera with her plans, which I will keep and throw in later. :D

~Plutus: God of Riches. He was blindfolded (or blinded) because Zeus wanted him to randomly choose who became rich, and not have any biases. I made him blindfolded, cause I thought it'd be cooler. But I still made him able to "see," because he's a god. Aren't they all knowing. :P Also, he is said to be a child of Iaison (a mortal) and Demeter, which would make him a half-brother to Persephone. :D (It's also said that he is a son of Hades and Persephone, but I didn't think that would go well with this story. :P)

~Nyx: Goddess of Night. (Hence, why I made her ebony skinned. :) ) I also imagine her to be very motherly, and very scary if she's angry. (kind of both sides of "Nighttime" in my head, at least.)

~Hecate: Goddess of the Crossroads. I thought that this would be very interesting because Hecate is also the one that helped Demeter, so she knows both sides. She's also a companion to Persephone, and I think that I will keep this true to the myth. She can act as sort of a link between Persephone and the Upper World. :D

~Thatanos: Ah, how I love the villains of the story. :D I mean, he's the God of Death, right? He has to be ruthless… :P You get a glimpse of his plan, which will all be revealed later. (hehe.)

~Hera: Goddess of Marriage. Known for her extreme jealousy of the women that Zeus had affairs with… Not much to her character yet, but I'll build on it in later chapters. :D

***Oh, also. A "chiton" is just a rectangular piece of cloth, secured by pins or sometimes rope. All you have to do to wear it is wrap it around yourself, and secure it. That's why I made Hades a little impatient; it really doesn't take more than a few minutes to put on. :P

That's all for today, folks!

Phew, this was an exhausting and exhiliarating chapter to write. :D I think that I definitely need more "action" things happening. I'm usually not the best at writing about "he walked here, she sat down, he smiled" type of thing. Dialogue just works better for me, somehow. :P

All reviews are loved and returned when I have time! :D (any suggestions how to make the "action" stuff more realistic would be appreciated a lot! :D)

Thanks all for reading, and let me know what you think! :D

~AvidWriter-92

All works: © AvidWriter-92. Fictionpress User I.D. 717443. 2010.