HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL: A SUBTERRANEAN ROMANCE (Καταχθονιο Επος Ερος : Αθανατη Ελπις Ξαναγεννιεται)
a Disney's Hades fanfic by quantum witch © 1998
Rating: M - language, violence, sexual situations
Summary: A "Disney's Hercules" sequel - In which Hades' kingdom is in danger, an immortal witch wants control, the Fates predict a miracle & Hades falls flaming-head-over-smoking-heels in love. The usual stuff of myth.
Disclaimer: This particular version of Hades and characters from the Disney movie and TV show. This story, this version of Persephone and other original characters are owned by me. The general mythology is public domain for which no one owns the copyright.
Notes: The two years of research that went into this story has been included as author's notes at the end of the story. There is also a "responses" page, where I answer various questions posed by reviewers and so on.
Further note: Any Greek language usage is grammatically incorrect in every possible way, but I do at least know how to find the words in my lexicon and the definitions are reasonably accurate.
Artist Note: Cover illustration is my own work, titled "Wedding Dance", and is a scene from the story.
ILLUSTRATED STORY: disney-hades. dreamwidth. org (note: you must delete the spaces in the address before you copy/paste link)
(In which Cupid plays with his dangerous chemistry set, Persephone is thrust into the limelight of Olympus, and Apollo gears up his hormones.)
1 : DIABOLIC SIMPATICO
It was just another perfect day on Olympus. Same as the days, weeks, years, in fact the millennia before. Except for a minor disturbance about five weeks ago, things almost never changed.
The minor disturbance in question -an unsuccessful coup attempted by Hades to overthrow Olympus and usurp Zeus' throne - had been quite a topic of conversation for days afterward. The damage caused by the rampaging Titans had healed completely, but of course clouds tend to bounce back into shape without any special help.
At first there were heated suggestions to hunt down Hades and bring him to justice, but Zeus had vetoed this. Though he too had been surprised and angered at the assault, he believed it to be just one more in a long line of things his brother had done to get attention. True, it was by far the most drastic thing he'd ever done, but it was obviously the biggest plan Hades could have made. And since it had failed utterly, the big baby had run home to sulk.
Hercules had brought news of Hades' complete defeat, how he'd knocked him into a pit of fire. Zeus was sure they wouldn't see the Lord of the Dead around for quite some time, and even if they did the dark god had no more aces up his sleeve. There was nothing more he could do to threaten them all, ever again. However, to allay any fears, Zeus made a formal decree: Hades was prohibited from entering Olympus proper, and officially bumped off the Great Council.
The other gods agreed with this wisdom. And now things had resettled into the usual routine of lazy recreation and blissful indulgence, just the way everyone liked it.
However, the whole incident had caused one deity to really think about Hades' motives, to start contemplating what his personal feelings might have been, to recall his long sad history of isolation. The one deity had even begun to sympathise with the dark god of the Underworld, something no one else had done.
That one deity was Cupid.
Though he never pretended to understand what went on inside Hades' mind, nevertheless he, of all people, could spot the lonely soul with ease. So he began to formulate a theory, which led to a plan of action. Something that might change Hades once and for all, and bring Olympus permanent peace and quiet...
Shoot Hades with a love arrow, and let the chips fall where they may.
Okay, he wasn't quite so cavalier about his job as that. People may have thought he was, but he truly cared about the finer points. He was often the scapegoat for a disastrous relationship, but it was always one that he either had no involvement with in the first place, or one that went on much longer than intended. Humans, though, often blamed the gods for every tiny little thing that went wrong. He was used to it.
His powers were also quite capable of affecting gods as well, and that usually meant he was catered to outrageously. Gods preferred to make their own decisions, and he was one god who could make a decision for them, whether they liked it or not. He found this amusing, since he had never intended to use his powers on another god in the first place (though occasionally Zeus still tried to blame an errant arrow for his own stupid actions). But now there was justified reason to do so.
And so, the young winged god worked all night to prepare for the attack. He dragged out his entire arsenal, deliberating over the caliber of arrow to use. He carefully mixed the love potion to be inserted in the arrow's tip, since the chemistry between people was the most important factor. The formula had to be just right. He had many, many types of potions, and some were standard fare he could use for most humans: Infatuation, Devotion, Crush (used mostly on high-schoolers), Unrequited, One-Night Stand, etc. Sometimes he felt like his own mother, with her line of commercial cosmetics and perfumes. He couldn't afford to have it wear off too fast, since Hades was a tough case to crack. So he chose the most powerful and enduring potion of all.
When all was ready, he sat cross-legged on a cloud chair in his mother's sumptuous home (Cloud Nine) polishing up the ErosArrow™ that he'd filled with the potion and chuckling to himself mischievously. When it was buffed to a suitably high gleam, he held it aloft, declaring, "Aha! It's done!"
His mother Aphrodite was lounging redolently on her cloud sofa, while waiting for her workaholic husband Hephaestus to finally leave the forge and come home for dinner. In the meantime, she was reading the latest comedic scroll by Aristophanes, and had been chuckling occasionally herself. Mostly, though, she loved seeing her own name in print. When her son spoke aloud, she raised a perfectly-shaped eyebrow at him. "Why so excited? It's just an arrow."
"Looks can be deceiving," Cupid said, waving the purplish-red arrow at her. Then he began to pitch his product effusively. "This one is very special. The tip is filled with a time-release capsule of undiluted True Love serum! Guaranteed to melt even the coldest, hardest heart, in time. This, Mom, is a real super-arrow!"
He struck a proud heroic pose, wings extended, arrow held to the sky, as if awaiting the requisite heavenly choir to strike up and spotlight to shine down on his grand achievement. Unfortunately his cherubs, the Muses, and Apollo were all busy elsewhere.
Aphrodite stifled a laugh. Then she stretched her tall rosy form, fluffed her long gold hair and arose from her couch, though it still mistily clung to her generous curves, of which there were plenty and then some. "Interesting idea," she said sincerely, coming for a closer look and smiling indulgently at her son. "Should be good for those really hard-headed cases. Like I always say, everyone deserves to experience True Love."
"Couldn't have said it better myself," Cupid grinned slyly. His infamous dimples deepened and his eyes twinkled from beneath maroon bangs. Which should have been ample warning of the mischief he planned.
"So, who's the guinea pig?" Aphrodite queried, not noticing the gleam. "Some grouchy old king who's never been in love with anything but his own power?"
"You could say that...," Cupid drawled innocently, adding almost as an afterthought, "my target is Hades."
It took a full three seconds for that to register properly in Aphrodite's mind. The first second, she merely nodded, not truly aware of what she'd actually heard. The next second, she turned to stare in disbelief at Cupid. The third second reduced her to hysterics, leaning against a pillar and laughing herself nearly sick.
His pink skin flushed red, he said in a tight voice, "It's not funny."
She righted herself, wiped away mirthful tears, and looked more closely at her son's face. "Oh, my gods... You're serious?" she nearly choked on the question.
"Yes, I am!" he declared heatedly. "It's my theory that if he had known True Love, he never would have become so evil."
"Your 'theory'? Oh, please!" Aphrodite rolled huge lavender-blue eyes framed with long curling lashes. "This is Hades you're talking about. I don't know if he's even capable of love, 'super-arrow' or not."
Cupid narrowed his own violet eyes at her. "So... you think I can't do it, is that it?" The challenged tone should have been a second warning.
And she missed it as well. "I did not say that!" she protested.
"You do doubt me, don't you?" he demanded, pointing a finger at his mother accusingly. His feathers ruffled angrily.
"Oh, stop it," she frowned, putting a tiny crease beside her perfect lips. "I just can't imagine any girl who'd want Hades to be in love with her... Can you?"
For a half-second, Cupid opened and shut his mouth, trying to find a suitable response. How could he have skipped the most important detail? In his pursuit of the perfect formula, he'd neglected to find the perfect girl. Well, this just sucked. He slumped, sighed and admitted the truth. "Good point."
Aphrodite was glad he saw the wisdom of her words and the error of his ways. Sometimes his enthusiasm carried him away, and she felt he needed reminding of the fact that his powers, though massive, were still developing as he aged. However, she unwisely decided further persuasion was needed, and said, "That's right. Every goddess knows Hades' reputation all too well. We'd all rather stay single for eternity than have to be stuck with him..."
Cupid flinched as the salt poured over his wound. "All right, you've made it clear," he grumbled.
"I mean, frankly it would take a goddess who's never met him," she continued, oblivious to her son's pointed stares, "who's been locked away on an island or something her whole life, to even start thinking about-"
"I get the picture!" he finally shouted, which stopped her in her tracks.
"No need to yell." Aphrodite looked at him in surprise.
Further discussion was interrupted by a cacophony of voices outside their door, in the courtyard of Olympus. The voices were mostly curious and friendly, but it was still unusual. Almost nothing new ever happened on Olympus (if you didn't count recent months) so this was something to grab their interest. The two love deities shelved their differences for the moment and stepped toward the door.
Outside, a fairly large crowd had gathered around Demeter, who was waving them all forward. She was delighted by everything that had transpired of late. Not only had she made a momentous decision in her own life, but she had also become a full Council member instead of merely an alternate, taking over the seat once held (unjustly, she felt) by Hades. And now she had news that would shake the gods, but in a good way.
"Attention, gods and goddesses! I have an important announcement, one that's long overdue." The green-skinned full-bodied earth mother, lush as the very fields she presided over, dressed in a forest of green, a corn-leaf headdress atop her autumn-orange hair, smiled as everyone grew quieter. "Two days from now, as you know, is the celebration of First Harvest, that midway point between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox. And I'd like to inform you all... that this past Springtime was my last one."
This led to gasps of surprise and worry, whispers of confusion. But Demeter just held up her hands and silenced them again.
"...Because," she continued, "as of next year, my daughter Persephone will take over as Goddess of Spring!" With a gentle push she produced said daughter, who had been semi-hiding behind her mother's ample frame.
Persephone grinned nervously, waving generally to the crowd. She really, really didn't want to be there and wished she could melt through the cloud floor, then realised she probably could, but would never hear the end of it from her mother afterward.
Demeter went on, smiling at her child. "Most of you have not gotten to know Persephone, and I do apologise for keeping her to myself for so long. I've been a bit over-protective, I suppose."
Persephone, turning her head slightly away, rolled her large eyes ironically. Oh, boy, if they only knew the half of it...
Demeter resumed, unaware. "But until she returns to our secluded island home of Nysa, let's please make her feel welcome on Olympus!" She opened her arms wide, encouraging everyone to welcome her daughter into the bosom of their society.
The gathered gods applauded and milled about, greeting and congratulating the young goddess on her appointment. Persephone wished fervently for another Titan to wander by and start a ruckus, anything to distract the crowd so she could run for the hills.
Cupid watched Persephone closely. He'd met her a few times, but the last time he'd actually paid attention had been several years ago, and she'd really grown up since then. She'd always been lovely, but now she was easily as beautiful as his own love goddess mother. With bright golden skin like sunlight, wide eyes blue as a cloudless morning sky, knee-length blazing-scarlet hair capped by a pink flower-shaped headdress, and a lissome figure in flowing white chitonion, nearly covered by a modest rose-coloured peplos pinned at the shoulder... she was a total babe. But he knew, better than most, beauty wasn't everything.
He'd been looking more at her reactions to the situation, and he seemed to be the only person aware of how uncomfortable she was. The looks she angled at Demeter said she hadn't chosen anything for herself, and Cupid knew how stubborn the elder goddess could be. He was willing to bet Demeter still treated her like a little child, which she clearly was not. He was also willing to bet the younger goddess would do nearly anything to get out from under her mother's green thumb.
He pondered over the two or three times he'd seen her at various get-togethers with the gods, and recalled Demeter's habit of leaving quite early. The most recent time had been thirteen or fourteen years ago, at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (gods, what a disaster that was). If he remembered correctly, Hades had shown up for a short while, arriving just about the same time Persephone was being dragged home. Cupid had a sudden sharp memory of how the dark god's eyes had widened when he'd seen her... how he'd stared almost unblinking, silent and breathless, a look of sweet pain on his face, until she was out of sight... how he'd hinted casually for information about her afterward...
Hey, wait a minute... Hades had never looked at anyone that way before. Now, what was it Aphrodite had been saying...? And what had Demeter said just moments ago...?
No way was this a coincidence!
Cupid was one of the few gods on somewhat friendly terms with the Fates, and had occasionally done a bit of dirty work for them (though he didn't often discuss it with anyone else). Years ago they'd told him that, one day in the future, he would have to do something no one else would approve of. That he would 'strike the heart of death and bring it to life'. He narrowed his eyes, thinking. The God of wintry Death... the Goddess of lively Springtime... And what a mixed-up name she had. Persephone. Life and light, combined with sacrifice and killing. What had Demeter been thinking when she'd named her daughter? Probably not this.
Yep, karmic needlepoint was stitched all over this one.
A huge grin spread across his face like a hungry wolf at an all-you-can-eat wild game buffet. "Talk about divine intervention," he chuckled half to himself.
Still standing beside him, Aphrodite had of course viewed the scene in the Olympian courtyard differently, and no such thoughts had entered her mind. In fact, her most prominent thought had been, What a shame, she's so pretty and that outfit really doesn't flatter her at all. I should give her some fashion tips...
But when her son spoke aloud, she spent another three seconds in contemplation. The first, nodding blankly; the next, her eyes grew wide in realization; the third, she nearly gave herself whiplash as her head snapped in his direction, an absolutely horrified gasp on her lips. "You... wouldn't... dare!" she hissed.
Cupid, already halfway to where he'd left the super-arrow lying, laughed. "She fits the profile like she was made for it. In fact, I'm sure she was."
Aphrodite frantically followed him, whispering harshly, afraid they'd be overheard. "No way! Demeter would kill you!"
Cupid merely grinned, shrugging nonchalantly. "Hey, I risk it all for love, don't you?"
She just groaned, holding her head. "Oh... oh, gods, nooo... this is not a good idea!"
He looked at her with a serious face then. "You said it yourself, Mom. Everyone deserves True Love." He dared her to contradict herself.
"But... yeah... well...," she faltered, searched for some way to take back her own deepest-held philosophy, and couldn't find one. Then she spoke more firmly. "This girl just can't be the right one for him! She's obviously too young and way too innocent, and she doesn't deserve a lovestruck Hades dragging her off to the Underworld! Hell, no one does." She dared him to prove her wrong.
But Cupid knew he was right, he sensed it with every beat of his interfering, match-making little heart. The Fates had put this in his path, and he agreed with their decision. His mother just wasn't giving things a fair chance. Shaking his head, he said, "Too young? Not. First of all, she's clearly old enough to be making her own life decisions. Have you forgotten how I lobbied six years ago to get the age of self-reliance changed? Twenty-one was just way too old. Even mortals are considered adult long before that age."
There had been a majority Council meeting before which Cupid and Hebe, the goddess of Youth (and Age), had presented a most convincing argument. To allow all gods of his generation an earlier release into adulthood. The age had been moved back to fourteen, which truly made sense because that was the time at which their full powers began to manifest. Cupid himself was now nineteen, and hadn't been willing to wait any longer for his own apartment and a little privacy.
"Yeah, yeah, I know," Aphrodite rolled her eyes at her son. "You go your own way, do your own thing, have your own space... So how come you spend half your time in my house, eating my ambrosia, using my laundry facilities?"
"Hey, the light is better over here for my work," he protested half-heartedly, "and besides, this isn't about me. It's about Persephone."
"Right. And the way you want to ruin her whole life." She crossed her arms, still unconvinced.
"Well, what would you know about her life?" he crossed his arms right back. "You've probably never even talked to her, have you?"
Aphrodite wavered again. "Well... no... but..."
"Once again, looks can be deceiving. So let me be the judge," he said gently. He knew his mother was still unsure. But then she couldn't always sense things like he could, the subtle ways people were right or wrong for each other. In fact, he had a few ideas about her own love life that he'd learned to keep to himself, since she never appreciated his comments. She might have been the Love and Beauty Goddess but she spent her time making the atmosphere of love better or worse, not finding the proper combinations. That was his area of expertise, and she knew it.
"But," she tried again, "it still should be fairly obvious, especially to us, that she's a virgin goddess. Maybe not official, but definitely innocent and untouched." Her eyes narrowed at her son, and at the thought of Hades. "And although many men, both gods and mortals, may fantasise about taking such a thing from a girl, that doesn't mean the girl wants to give it... Right?"
He sighed, knowing she was right. So he compromised in a way that he still could win. "Yeah, yeah. Okay, okay. How about this... I talk to her awhile, get to know her better, figure out what sort of things she's wishing for her life. You know I can see right through people, if I want to. Part of my powers, seeing the true desires of others... Right? And then, if I still think she's the right choice - which I do - I go stealth-radar target Hades, and no one will ever know I'm involved."
She looked at her confident, smiling, sincere son and felt her heart sink. She realised too late, he was absolutely determined to shoot Hades, had been all along. And now that he'd chosen the intended object of affection as well, there was no stopping him. She also knew what he said was only fair. Hades probably did need a little love in his life, in fact it might be the very thing to improve the dark god's overall mood. She couldn't personally recall Hades ever having been in real love before. Although he'd certainly had a case of the hots for her a few times (hadn't everyone?), and while he'd been pathetically unsure of himself at first, eventually he had become more obnoxious, though never pushing beyond what she could tolerate. Strange, she thought, perhaps he wasn't a total brute in every respect. But still, this instant case of Spring Fever (pun intended) might be dangerously unpredictable. And she too was a mother, and could sympathise with Demeter on that front. She seriously doubted the earth goddess would thank them for matching up her sweet young daughter with such a dark and bitter old coot. And though no one had really seen Demeter lose her temper, such a thing would probably push even the mildest goddess over the edge.
Her face registering her concerns, she sighed, "I dunno..."
Cupid, misreading her hesitance, thought she was still challenging his efficiency. So he said, "And... I'll bet you a century's worth of Hebe's finest nectar I can pull this off." He grinned widely, challenging her right back.
Aphrodite shook her head. Let him find out for himself, the hard way. But he'd better not come crying to her when all hell broke loose, literally. "I can tell I'm gonna regret this," she said softly, "but... okay."
"Yes!" Cupid hooted, shook hands with his mother over the deal then did a little victory dance.
Aphrodite sighed and moved to the doorway. "Well, you better get going," she said lightly with a grin. "Looks like Apollo is already putting the smooth moves on your little target."
"What?" Cupid squawked. He dashed to the door, in time to see the brawny purple-skinned part-time sun god suavely smiling at the young goddess, the scent of intended conquest practically oozing from his pores as usual. Persephone's expression of infinitely-polite barely-concealed revulsion was clear to Cupid but completely overlooked by Apollo. And by Demeter, who stood by chattering happily at them. When Apollo took Persephone's delicate hand in his own beefy meathook, bending to kiss it lightly, Cupid actually fumed.
"Hey, ya big over-sexed jerk! I saw her first!" he scowled. Half-running, half-flying, the love god scampered out to join and interrupt.
Aphrodite, still standing in the doorway, watched the tableau with a sense of doomed amusement. She sighed, her bosom heaving expressively. "This is turning into a loooong Summer."
see author's research notes in chapter 20