The Iron Queen

In her first winter, she returned with arrows for Medusa, took up her husband's staff, and declared the Kraken needed to be released once more.

Six months in the underworld passed at both a crawl and a blink. Every so often, the Lord of the Dead paused his work to inquire as to the position of Apollo's chariot – for some reason, they watched her now, perhaps to ensure the bargain was fulfilled. When the chariot was nearly positioned over the mouth of the River Styx, she returned. "What would you know of beauty?" he would ask the vindictive mortals years later; the day Persephone returned to her kingdom, she brought with her two things. The first, a treat for Cerberus – a bribe, he supposed, considering how difficult it had been for the pup to let her go the last time, and arrows that she left at the temple of Medusa.

Athena could condemn the girl all she liked above; in her kingdom, she would keep the fools at bay as best she could.

He thought nothing of it at first; rumors had been swirling from Olympus to his world since her return. They favored words that held no meaning, trying to equate his stealing of her with his brothers' favorite past-times. There was no point in pressing the issue; her return was of her own will, and that was enough.

The Lord of the Dead waited patiently, his palace cleared of spirits appealing their judgments. Six months became a repetition of life in the time it took for a grain of sand to grace the other side of the Styx. Everything in the underworld felt her presence as soon as she left the banks of the other world. When she appeared, wearing her chiton the color of new roses, he smiled.

Before she even reached her throne, she spoke, "You love me, Lord Husband?"

"You ask while knowing the answer."

She paused at the steps of their throne, six months of emotion crossing her lively features in the time it took to breathe. She ascended slowly, taking her rightful place at his side, and locked their hands together. The warmth of her skin rivaled Apollo himself.

"Do you trust me, then?"

He might've been amused, had it not been for the way she stared – unrelenting, just like her mother. "Why do you ask this of me, Persephone?"

Perhaps the Fates smiled upon the irony of it all, but when she allowed herself to fully straighten, to allow the power of her words to carry through the room like her own verdict, her husband was grateful she didn't yet possess the power to carry out the task on her own. "Release the kraken."

Had it been anyone else, he would've laughed. Under her regal stare, there was only conviction. The embers of hatred stirred anew in his chest. "Who has wronged you?"

Her jaw set, and for a moment, her eyes betrayed her innocence. Her grasp on his hand rivaled her grasp on his heart. "You know of how my mother searched for me," she began. Her composure quelled the renewed flame only slightly. "You know of what mankind endured and what became necessary for Olympus." She paused – perhaps she thought he knew the story in full. He had half a mind to remind her he had been with her the entire time, though he hadn't had the luxury of finding out what transpired in her absence. Charon was not much in the way of conversation.

"My mother went to the edge of the sea, and Poseidon, unrelenting, did as he has done before with the girl on our banks." Though her voice remained calm, her grasp could've crushed stone. He reciprocated. "She gave birth to a winged horse."

She held no animosity for these new children, that much was sure; for their sire, however, had Persephone possessed the power of the dying as easily as she did that of life, surely Poseidon's oceans would be empty.

"I cannot promise the result you desire."

There had been a spark of darkness in the life-bearing goddess since long before she came to their domain. Had he been anyone else, she might've turned down her eyes and let them well, played the innocent and gentle maiden, disappointed, but not unsure; with her husband, she met his eyes and nodded slightly. She did not care, so long as the message was conveyed. Her wrath had been incurred, and Demeter – precious, solitary, Demeter – would never deliver the proper justice on her own.

Justice seemed to be the underworld's prime export.

He sighed, though mostly for dramatic effect. Controlling his child would not be difficult, though he could not say the task was entirely effortless. Demeter did not particularly like him – for obvious reasons – Persephone was the queen, and her command transcended. Hades rose and guided her hand to the double-pronged staff. When she'd taken it in her own, he rested his hand at the small of her back. "What do you desire, Praxidike?"

Her eyes, greener than the Elysian Fields, beheld the staff in all its glory. As though it was made to suit her hand as well, she lifted it, just an inch, and drove it back down to the floor with enough force to cause tiny cracks to usher from the point of impact.

"Release the Kraken."

His hand pressed flush against her spine while her fingers clutched the heavy, patterned hilt. The child had never been commanded by another, though as she turned to him, her concern was evident. His hand wrapped around hers, "You need no encouragement, Persephone. He is yours, as am I."

As he withdrew, the power of her will consumed her completely. Her fingers relaxed, now sure of their strength, her chiton lengthened, darkened, and her crown of flowers became a halo of iron. Word would reach them later that a fisherman's island suffered the brunt of her wrath; nymphs and naiads would cross the banks and be permitted to the Asphodel fields without her review. For the first time, the power of their fear mingled with their prayers to aid her strength. Persephone, Praxidike, ruler of the underworld.

His brothers were probably deluded enough to think she hadn't claimed the power for herself.