Full Summary: Hades – or Henry, as he's called now – hasn't been the same since his wife, and the love of his life, left him for a mortal. He can't rule over his realm alone. To continue, he requires a queen. All he wants to do now is fade and disappear from the world, but the council, and specifically his sister Diana, have other things in mind. Eleven girls have died because of him. What will become of the twelfth girl?
Okay, so I literally just finished the second book (eek!) and, like all good stories do, I had the urge to see if it had its own little corner of FanFiction. And so here I am. (:
**There will be spoilers. If you haven't read the second book, I highly recommend you do so.**
This is rated T for TEEN, because it is, in fact, a romance. And I'm still debating on whether or not there will be any sort of violence (i.e., fights.)
Just a reminder: This is basically the first book told in Henry's point of view. I will have the book by Aimee Carter next to me to make sure that things are in order, but no, I do not plan on just copying and pasting their conversations. Henry is a pretty thoughtful guy, and I plan on reviewing most of that.
Another reminder: I am not Aimee Carter; therefore I do not own the Goddess Test Series. All characters/plot/etc. go to their rightful owner(s).
The Twelfth Girl
I knew I shouldn't be in this room. It had been hers. Persephone's. It was exactly like she had left it, too – there was even a dress in the corner, a much older style of what the girls ran around wearing today. I picked up the picture of my first, and only, wife. It wasn't a photograph, really. It had been taken before humans had invented photography. No, it was a memory. And it was false.
I liked to pretend that it was real, that she really did look like that. That when she came back to the Underworld for the fall and the winter that she really did look at me the way I looked at her. But I could remember back to those days, when she was miserable, and I hurt from trying to make things perfect for her. It still hadn't been enough. In the memory, her hair was already turning from its wheat gold color to the red it became in the fall. It would then turn black, as dark as my own hair, before lightening up when she left for the spring and summer.
I shook my head and placed the memory back down on the shelf where it had belonged for the last thousand years, and where it was going to stay. Because this girl – the one that my sister, Diana, had brought into this world – barely had a chance of survival. I sighed and ran a hand over my face. I still didn't understand why I agreed to this. Two decades ago, Diana had forced me to not give up. She had told me that she would bring another girl into the world, and that she would be perfect for me. Diana said that she would pass.
Eleven girls had died before they even had the chance to pass or fail. If someone had managed to get through my defenses eleven times, what chance did another girl have? I had changed out my staff. I had interviewed the girls that had died. I had gone through meticulous measures to make sure that my home, Eden Manor, hadn't been broken into. And it didn't turn up anything.
I sighed again and turned to leave. Diana wasn't here, she hadn't been in for the last eighteen years, but if she knew that I was still standing in her daughter's room, wishing that things could've been different, she would be crushed. My sister blamed herself for what had happened between Persephone and me. I couldn't imagine why. It was our own faults. She was a free spirit, and I had kept her caged. I was the reason Persephone had left to live forever with her mortal lover, Adonis.
Standing in the doorway was Calliope. In the older days, she'd been known as Hera. Now, she stayed here at the Eden Manor with me and the rest of them, preparing for the act they were going to put on for Diana's second daughter, the last mortal girl to ever come through these doors. I sighed with the thought of dealing with Calliope. I loved my sister, but I didn't love her. And she'd made it clear to me that she loved me in a way that would not please her husband, my brother, Walter.
"Henry," She said calmly, stepping into the room. She brushed a lock of blonde hair behind her ear, batting her thick eyelashes at me. As the goddess of marriage, she certainly was in a twisted one. Walter was Zeus, and, just like the stories said, he had a series of lovers. Calliope's jealousy had grown with each one. Now she was acting out on her own, taking her own chance at obliterating fidelity. But I'd already told her that she could not even begin to be what I needed. One thing was for sure, though, Calliope was persistent. "I thought I could find you in here."
"Yes, well," I replied, giving her a blank expression. If anything, I needed to get away from Calliope and prepare to endure the next few months. I was determined to keep this twelfth girl safe, if only because she was Diana's daughter. "You've found me."
"Walter and Phillip would like a word with you," She said it in a purring way, lowering her voice and looking at me with wide eyes. It didn't matter what she did, I did not feel any other way towards Calliope than something shared between siblings. Besides, her attempts had gone from being nearly harmless to like this – over the top and, honestly, quite embarrassing for a goddess.
I blinked at her, ignoring her advances. I turned my back to her. "Thank you, Calliope." Instead of trying to figure out a way past her, I flashed out of the room, to the ballroom where the council members' chairs sat. And consequently, where my brothers Walter and Phillip sat, discussing something.
"Brother," Walter nodded to me as I stepped into the room. Eden Manor was mine, and yet Walter still managed to make me feel like I was lucky to be in my own ballroom. All of the stories between us – between Hades and Zeus – had been somewhat true. Like all myths, time had rearranged them, giving us different goals and actions and words. Walter and I had always been friends, but there were times when the two of us fought. Still, I had never tried to take his realm from him, just as he had never tried to take mine. I nodded in return, taking my seat. "I trust that your preparations are going well?" He asked.
"As well as they can," I answered, trying to keep the bitterness out of my voice. Walter had done nothing to me. Nothing but beg me to try one last time. This was it. If this girl didn't survive, I would fade, just as I had asked them to let me all those years ago. In three months, I expected to be saying goodbye to a twelfth girl and to be facing whatever came for a god when the people no longer believed in him.
Phillip looked over at me. Phillip had never really had a wife, yet he had managed to control his realm without troubles. He was Poseidon; his job was to care for the oceans of the earth. There honestly weren't any stories that showcased him with a wife. It had always been Walter and Calliope, or Persephone with me. How had he managed to make it through without the council eyeing him the way they did me? Granted, my job as overseer to all that happened in the Underworld was a little more complicated than that of Phillip's, who spent the majority of his "free" time trying to figure out how to send a message to the humans to keep the oceans clean from debris. "Diana will be arriving in Eden in the next few days." He said.
"I'm aware of that," I replied.
"Is the manor on lockdown?" Walter asked, glancing at me with his eyebrows raised. He was the youngest of us. I was the oldest. Yet he was the leader of the council, not that I could really complain. I was good at my job, and he at his. But his façade that he was the oldest and the wisest had been gnawing on my nerves for centuries. The rest of us kept ourselves quite young – from me to Calliope, who couldn't be seen with her husband without looking like she was his granddaughter.
"It is," I told him. "It has been for quite some time now. All of the rooms have been searched. The majority of the staff that will be in close contact with the girl are one of us." I told him. I intended to keep Theo around her at all times, and, if Ava could ignore her urges to be the prettiest and the most wanted girl around, I wanted her there, too. Hopefully Ava could make friends with Diana's daughter.
"Well, this is something new, isn't it?" Walter asked, settling into his chair. I looked at Phillip, who was nodding quietly to himself. It certainly was different. Never before had the entire council showed up just to test the girl. It had always been just a few of them. But now they were all going undercover as ghosts, as the dead that had been given a second chance at the Eden Manor before going to the Underworld. Walter, as stoic as he wanted to be, would stand below me for the first time in a long time. Phillip had already staked a claim on the stables. Ella and Theo hadn't wanted to be separated, but I needed Theo to watch over the girl with hawk eyes, and be ready to heal her if anything went wrong while Ella played the role of her dressing maid. Irene would teach her, and James would eventually lead her here. It was all planned out. To the hope of the council, it would all work out like a well-oiled machine.
"Yes it is," I agreed. "And here's to hoping that it all works out." I said it blatantly, not trying to put any sort of emotion behind it. If I did, they would all see right through it. My brothers were well aware of the fact that I had tried to give up. I had tried to fade. They were the ones keeping me here. They would probably not appreciate the attempt, even if it was well faked.
"Henry," Phillip said, calmly, as usual. "We don't want to see you fade. All we ask is that you try."
"I've been trying for nearly a century, Poseidon." I replied angrily. It happened sometimes. When they continued to push, I eventually snapped at them. Walter and Phillip remained unsurprised, their expressions blank. I worked to make mine exactly like theirs. "And, when this twelfth girl is dead, I hope you look back at this and wish that you would have just let me fade."
# # #
I hadn't talked to my sister in years. It was hard to talk to her, with her in her mortal form. Besides, she was supposed to be sick. She was supposed to be on the brink of death. If her daughter really was as compassionate as the council hoped, Diana would not be able to sneak away from her to speak to me. Even so, I knew Diana's plans. And I knew her hopes.
Diana never failed to blame herself for what had happened between Persephone and I. She always pointed out that she was the one who had pushed Persephone into an arranged marriage with me against her will. But we were both hoping that she would learn to love me, just as I learned to love her. Instead, my love had turned her away. She had turned to the others for comfort. And that was when I lost her. She was bitingly unfaithful to me, while all I ever did was try to please her. And for some reason, I couldn't stop trying to please her, the way Calliope had for Walter. And unlike Calliope, I couldn't find it in me to punish Persephone's lovers. Especially since the first one of them was my own brother, James.
James was destined to take my spot of Diana's daughter failed. If I faded, he would become king of the Underworld. I imagined that he would have to start looking for his own queen, since I'd needed one. But that wouldn't be a problem for him. James had been worried for a long time about his own status. He wasn't one of the original six. His father was not Cronus. And, due to that, less people knew who he was. There was a fair amount of people that knew of Walter and me, but Hermes – James's ancient name – was only remembered in silly cartoon movies showcasing the gods as something they were not. And so he had worried that one day he would fade because people no longer remembered him or believed in him.
Without humanity, all of the gods would be lost. All, supposedly, except for me. Those that had died needed someone to watch over their souls. And as the god of the Underworld, it was right in my description. I knew James wanted my position. He was the next in line for it because he knew so much about it. As god of travel and messages, he was always searching in places he shouldn't. And, long ago, the Underworld had poised itself as a blank page on his map. Now, he knew his way around nearly as well as I did. If he did get my position after I was gone, he would have no problems with it.
But I didn't want him to have it, not really. He'd already taken so much from me. Persephone was my wife, yet she was his lover. It had become increasingly difficult to look at him and know that he was with my wife. Persephone had never loved me, not the way she loved her mortal. Not even the way she loved James, a toy to her at the time.
Diana wasn't appalled at the news. The majority of my brothers and sisters had lovers. And most of the time, they had been in plain sight. Persephone's unfaithfulness to me wasn't all that strange at the time. For a goddess. A human woman would have been persecuted. But even so, Diana had been upset. She had always been my favorite sister, and I hoped that I was her favorite brother.
There was a knock on my door. "Henry?" It sounded like Calliope. Why couldn't she leave me alone? I thought that I'd made our stance clear. She could not – she would not – be my queen. She didn't even have the fraction of the love that I had for Persephone. She opened the door and stepped inside.
"Yes, come in," I said, adding a little bit of sarcasm to my words. I wasn't sure if Calliope picked up on it, but if she did, she didn't say anything. She closed the door behind her and went to sit next to me on the bed. Abruptly, I stood up, and moved to the window. She followed as I leaned against the sill.
"You don't have to do this, you know." Calliope told me quietly. "Another girl will just cause more trouble. You might as well find someone that doesn't have to do the tests." She added. I kept my eyes from looking at her. "For example," She began. But that's where I cut her off.
"Calliope, I already told you that I was not going to make you my queen."
"I didn't say I needed to be queen of the Underworld," She said, her nose wrinkling slightly. "All I'm saying is that I'm here for you. You don't have to even try to care for another girl. Constantly bringing new girls in is not healthy for you." She put her hand on my arm, and I shrugged away from her.
"Please, Calliope. Don't cause any more trouble." I told her quietly. She stood there for a moment, and then she huffed, heading for the door.
"Don't say I didn't warn you." She added right before she opened the door and closed it behind her. I heard the sound of her heels as she walked away. And then I leaned on the sill of the window and looked out over the gardens of the manor. Diana had always loved the gardens. Without her care for the past eighteen years, they'd grown wary. Upon her return I was sure they would brighten up.
# # #
With this girl, I wasn't sure what to expect. At the beginning of my century of searching, I wasn't too excited about it. But I'd had some form of hope. After Ingrid, the first girl, died and the culprit never found, my hope started to shrink. And with each girl that had passed through these doors expecting immortality and that had left as a ghost, it had disappeared a little more. Diana's daughter would be my last hope to staying alive. But I wasn't sure I had hope anymore.
This whole thing was orchestrated much more than what I could have imagined, though. With my brothers and sisters nearby and staying close, they would be able to judge the girl to the fullest extent. And this time, I didn't have to choose her myself. Somehow or another, she would come to me. And then I could bring her into the manor, like I'd done with eleven others.
"I don't like this." James said, standing beside Ava. The two of them had come along with Dylan and Irene – they were planning to become part of the girl's school system. James, Ava, and Dylan were going to pose as students. But James was already starting to have second guesses.
"It needs to be done," Ava replied, brushing a lock of blonde hair over her shoulder. "And it shouldn't take too long. The autumn equinox isn't far from now. That'll be the start of her six months."
Dylan was surprisingly silent. He was usually the type that I would consider a go-getter. As the god of war, I would have painted him as a fellow that would want to have the first round of attack. He'd want strategy. But strategy and thought was Irene's domain. Still, she was silent as Ava and James debated back and forth.
I tuned them out. I didn't need to hear their plans. I would know them all eventually. Walter was intent on making sure that this worked. I couldn't care less if it did.
"Henry, are you listening?"
"Hmm?" I asked, turning to face them. Ava had her hands on her hips, and she was glaring at me defiantly.
"What do you think about it?"
"What do I think about what?"
"You weren't listening," She said. "I was asking you what you thought about me bringing her here before the autumn equinox. We can see if she's even worthy to be immortal."
"What does it take nowadays?" James asked with a snort. I ignored him, focusing on Ava.
"I don't care how you bring her here. But I'll know the moment she sets foot on Eden Manor." Ava opened her mouth to say something. Knowing her, it would probably be to argue.
Irene cut her off. "Ava, we'll figure it out, okay?" Like always, she was the embodiment of wisdom. She had a calming sort of attitude. But she could change on the dot. In one moment she could be preaching about morals and life, and the next moment she'd be ready to take down an entire army on her own. "Let's just leave Henry alone. He's got a lot to think about."
Yes. I did have a lot to think about.
Like how to keep Diana's daughter alive.
On my own standards, this is a pretty short chapter. Sorry for that. Be looking forward to longer stories in the future.
As for this POV, I found this more challenging than I'd expected. In my mind, Henry is sort of… angst-ridden. I was hoping that I conveyed that without being whiney. We shall see!
As always, I ask that you review and favorite this story. Hopefully this story will take off, but I will be honest and say that I have several stories that I'm writing, and sometimes it takes a while before I upload. As long as inspiration strikes, though, you could hope to find an updated chapter. (:
Once again, please favorite and review this story. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comments and criticism are both accepted, though I ask that you don't go completely nutso on me. And anonymous reviews are turned on, so I expect all reviews to avoid unnecessary roughness/arguments.
Thank you all for reading! Peace (: