Hades watched his daughter as she sat, unruffled, sipping her tea as if this day were any other day. Only the tight grip of her hand on the cup revealed her anxiety. If this were someone else, he would be worried at their lack of anticipation for the upcoming event, but this was Rowena –perfect serenity became her.
In contrast, his wife was a bundle of nerves. She paced the length of the room restlessly, without regard for the silk of her emerald dress that whipped around in the air as she turned a sharp one-eighty and continued on.
"One would think you were the one experiencing the Initiation, my dear," Hades commented.
Persephone shrugged. "Oh, mine was easy," she said dismissively. "Thanks to you, of course. It was obvious what I'd do."
"In any case, this should be an experience," Rowena said, speaking for the first time that day.
"Speak for yourself," her mother grumbled. "This isn't even my own Initiation, yet I'm nervous as anything." She had barely completed her sentence when there came a knock on the door. "Finally!" Persephone muttered.
Casting his wife an amused glance, Hades called out, "Come in."
A servant girl stood there. "Your Majesties, Your Highness," she said, bowing. "Lord Hermes is waiting in the Throne Room."
Hades nodded his thanks, and the girl left, fading away into the shadows easily. Glancing at his family, he sighed a little. "Let's get this over with."
Hermes stood in the center of the Throne Room. Rowena had seen him before, though never had any personal dealings with the messenger god, also nicknamed Prince of Thieves. He wasn't particularly tall, perhaps an inch or so taller than Rowena herself, with a lean build. His skin was tanned golden-brown from the sun, golden curls gleamed, and sky-blue eyes scanned the hall.
When he spotted them, he gave a curt nod in acknowledgement –gods weren't known to kowtow to others. "Lord Zeus summons Rowena, daughter of Lord Hades and Lady Persephone, to Olympus for her Initiation."
Rowena's spine stiffened at the word "summons". "I accept," she said coolly.
Hermes nodded. "Come, then," he said, holding out a hand. Then he hesitated, turning to Hades. "If I may have your permission to transport out of the Underworld, Lord Hades?"
"You may," Rowena's father replied.
Rowena lightly rested her fingertips on his arm. A moment later, she experienced the now-familiar sensation of falling –a side effect of transportation. As she would only become a full goddess after her Initiation, she wasn't yet able to transport on her own. She had, however, experienced it more than once before, as her parents would transport her along with them –it was possible to take others along using transportation as long as they remained had skin contact.
Stepping discreetly away from Hermes, Rowena looked around her to see that they were standing outside a huge stone building, the only structure in the field. Her heart nearly stopped when she realized where she was.
She was to be Initiated in Olympus' Great Hall –a hall designed to hold all the gods and goddesses that ever existed.
Why had her parents not told her? And why didn't I ask? She thought despairingly. To discover now that she was to have her future decided in front of all the other divine beings sent her already-wrecked nerves careening around drunkenly.
Of course, she couldn't totally blame her parents. As a rule, gods could not tell of the Initiation, and what would happen. She knew only that young gods- and goddesses-to-be emerged from their Initiation as full goddesses, with new, official titles and duties. I might not get to stay in the Underworld anymore, she thought, and her heart squeezed painfully at the thought. For all that most people –other gods included- thought that the Underworld was a dank and gloomy place, it was her home, one she had grown up in for the past fifty years of her life. She knew the ins and outs of it like she knew no other. Perhaps it was influence from her life in the Underworld, but in dealing with vengeful souls sent to Tartarus, she understood that life wasn't always pretty, or a dream. Olympus seemed, to her, too perfect to be real. She couldn't imagine how she would manage to live here for the rest of eternity.
To take her mind off her worries, she turned to the god still standing beside her. "Lord Hermes, if I may ask a question?"
"When does my Initiation begin?"
He considered. "Shortly. Your parents should be in by now –we'll just wait a little more for those who habitually scoff at punctuality. Aphrodite, for one," he added.
Rowena smiled. "I'm sure I can imagine why."
He looked at her. "Relax," he said. "I can't tell you anything about the Initiation, but I can promise that my father doesn't unleash hell upon the Initiated."
Her smile turned wry. "That might depend on one's definition of hell."
Hermes chuckled. "Well, not the Tartarus kind, at least."
She blew out a breath. "Thank you, Lord Hermes. That makes me feel so much better."
Hades and Persephone appeared inside the Great Hall. Gods and goddesses stood, sat or lounged around, talking idly as they waited. At the end of the hall was a raised platform on which twelve chairs had been placed. Though the scene was informal, they knew they had to at least acknowledge their host.
With Persephone on his arm, Hades stepped forward to greet them. "Good day, brother," he said, addressing Zeus directly.
The King of the Gods looked them over, and to their credit, neither Hades nor Persephone so much as winced when Zeus raked his eyes along her frame in appreciation. "Welcome back to Olympus, brother; Lady Persephone. It has been too long."
"Indeed," Hades replied. "But then, the dead have their own agenda."
"You have been busy, then?"
"Certainly, Lord Zeus," Persephone said with perfect politeness. "We regret that we had not visited sooner."
"Mm. In any case, you are here now. We have much to catch up on, brother –perhaps we shall meet and catch up soon."
It was a discreet dismissal which neither missed. "Of course, brother." As quickly as manners would allow, they retreated.
When they were a safe distance away, Persephone cast a dark glance in Zeus' direction. "Pervert," she hissed.
"That about sums him up," Hades said, amused.
Remembering, she flushed a little. "I'm sorry –he's your brother, isn't he?"
"In a biological sense, yes. I don't like to imagine we are very alike, personality-wise."
She smiled up at him radiantly. "Oh, you aren't," she assured him. Then she glanced towards the entrance of the hall.
"Rowena will be fine," he told her. "She's our daughter, isn't she?"
"But I think of my Initiation, how different it would have been if I hadn't already known…"
"See, I knew you would thank me someday for abducting you," Hades said lightly, trying to distract his wife from her maternal worrying.
Then the Hall quieted suddenly. Zeus announced in a booming voice, "Let the Initiation ceremony of Rowena, daughter of Lord Hades and Lady Persephone, begin."