I knew my cheeks turned red as I looked across the table at him. My heart beat twice as fast. Hekate jerked her head at him, meeting my eyes with a smile.
“Do we need to ask you know who?” Morpheus whispered across the table.
“No. We do not,” I said at the same time I heard my father behind me.
“Just shut up and kiss her, Morph. She ain’t property.”
I braced against the edge of the table, and leaned over towards him, cheeks burning red with anticipation. I looked up at him, and in that moment, I had to ask myself if I had remembered his eyes being so violet before. Around us, the voices turned into murmurs, and then the rapid beat of my heart in my ears drowned them out. His cheek was cool against my trembling fingertips as I touched his face. My nerves had peaked at that moment. I was not the most experienced goddess on Olympus. When it came to me, my mother’s overprotective streak was legendary. But at that moment, I wanted this more than anything. My eyes fluttered closed, and I leaned into the kiss, his lips warm against mine. I stood on my tiptoes to reach him. My right hand slid around to the base of his neck, feeling the softness of his hair tangle amongst my fingers. At the touch of our lips, the dam broke free inside me. The feelings and emotions that I had kept frozen for so long, melted as my heart filled with warmth. Cracks appeared in the walls I had built around my emotions as I felt his lips curl into a smile against mine.
“Sweetheart,” Morpheus spoke, his voice gentle as he looked down at me, “we are not alone.” He took my hand between his and held it gently before whispering, “That was…amazing.”
“Magical,” I replied breathlessly, knowing I stood starry-eyed in the midst of the waking dream and not caring.
Out of breath, and still in a daze of pleasure, I heard Eris’s name called next to have the arrow spin, and Eris watched with a smile. “Well,” his manic grin slipped for just a moment when the bolt stopped, “Morpheus.” Eris crossed over to him.
“Oh, this is going to be a clusterfuck for the ages,” Daddy muttered from the bar, giggling before downing his drink. “Eris is going to wreck him.”
“For the game?” Morpheus whispered with a wink in my direction.
“For the game,” I nodded back with a smile.
Eris shot me a wink and a smile before he wrapped his hands around Morpheus’s neck and pulled him deep into a kiss. We stood around, watching and waiting, Eris holding on tightly to Morpheus, the kiss seeming to linger longer than anyone else’s. Though there was no taint of jealousy, I still found myself chewing my lip. My eyes darted around the room before I coughed and raised an eyebrow at them. Without even looking in my direction, Eris held tightly to Morpheus and raised a finger with the obvious intent of, just one second.
Either the alcohol had gotten to me, or the euphoria lasting from the first kiss, I laughed and shook my head. “By dad’s backside, Eris, you have guts.” My younger sibling released Morpheus with his own laugh, backflipped, and pirouetted on the spot.
“Ass, Persephone…just say ass!” Hekate said, her voice tinged with humor and exasperation.
It was then I knew exactly what to do with my wish. I picked up my brass lamp and stepped away from the table.
“Hekate, can I give you my wish?”
Resplendent in her costume for the night, Hekate turned towards me, her eyes so much darker than when we were younger; time and life had changed us both. “Of course.”
I gently placed the lamp in her hands, holding them in mine as I looked up at her with a smile. Wishes were meant to be granted. All the stories tell us that. The wish is grand or meant to bring the holder joy, to get what they want, or to spur them to greatness. For me, I had known the moment the thought came to me that there was no better wish. No person more deserving, and nothing in this immortal life I wanted more.
“Hekate. My oldest and dearest friend, my sister, I wish for your happiness.”
She looked at me, stunned. That was the only emotion I could read on her face as we stood in the middle of the room.
“The fuck?” There was Daddy, eloquent as ever in the middle of a moment that I approached with all seriousness.
“I…,” Hekate paused as she looked down at me, “don’t know how to grant that wish, Seph.”
“I know,” I replied.
I could hear Eros somewhere in the crowd. “What a lame wish. At least Aren’s was respectable.” That cut me deep. I felt the deep darkness inside my soul. I had tried to do something good, to do something worthwhile, and it had become a joke to some.
“Shut it, Diaper boy.” Dad did have a special way with words.
Ignoring the banter and laughter behind us, Hekate hugged me tightly, and I returned her embrace. It took me back again to our childhood. The bond we had before, though changed, was rebuilding anew.
She stepped away. I smiled at her as we both pretended not to see the tears welling in each other’s eyes. Clapping erupted around us. My eyes caught movement to the right, and I turned to see Hades raise his glass toward us in a toast. My wish encompassed them both, and I could not want more for the two most important people in my life. I wanted them to find happiness, and if it was with each other, then all the better. I nodded back to him with a smile before I searched the crowd for Morpheus, looking for my own new path and possibility of a new future.
Like all parties that involve drinking, glasses were raised and toasts given. Daddy toasted the future and those new paths. Hekate toasted Eros and Clio, to love finding itself again. It was warm, happy, and a moment we all enjoyed.
What happened next, well, as mortals say, this is where it went off the rails. Eris and his wish. Eris used the moment to grandstand and push where he shouldn’t. Eris sent the whole thing crashing down around our heads. Why did he have to choose here and now to make the move?
Eris wished for the family to share their love, to send their love to Atë in Tartarus. I, more than anyone, knew how much Atë needed it. How much she needed our love and our family. But here and now? To call Hekate out on the spot? To throw back in her face something kindly given, when Eris knew how much the release of the Titans had personally cost her?
I felt all the negative and sick emotions rise in me. This was not the time!
“I don’t feel very good,” I muttered, grasping at Morpheus’s hand, my feet cool against the stone floor of the gallery. I knew the request Eris made would anger Hekate. This was not the time or the place to play that card.
“I’m not asking for all to be forgotten and forgiven. I know that is impossible,” Eris continued, quite aware of the turmoil he was causing. “Just that feeling that you had once, to be returned, if just for tonight.”
“I cannot grant that,” Hekate’s tone was flat. “It’s beyond my scope and against my nature.”
“Then help set her free, Katie,” Eros added with raised brows as Eris locked his gaze on her.
“I cannot free Atë from the necessity of her consequences,” she reiterated, staring them down. She looked between nephew and sibling. “I’ve already said I will not seek vengeance. I SURRENDERED that.” The word was spit like venom in her anger.
This was wrong. Wrong time, wrong place. Why could they not see that? I stepped forward, trying to interject myself between them. “Eris. Eros. Please. Stop.”
“I’m not asking you to cast a love spell. You’re not creating something from nothing. These are emotions that already exist within us,” Eris slid home another verbal dagger.
“Hekate did a wonderful thing tonight. Please do not do this here and now.” I wanted them to let it go. I felt the anger rising, the frustration that they chose now to target Hekate, to trap her within her own generosity. Coordinated, chosen, manipulated, they trapped her in a way that she could do nothing without losing face.
“If not, now, when? She said I had only tonight.” Eris looked at me, and with those words, I could no longer take it. I felt the anger rush out of me like a storm, the storm that was never, ever good.
“For FUCK’S sake, leave her alone!” I screamed. “Just leave her alone!”
“STOP!” Hekate’s voice was like the crack of a whip, the thunder rippled through the room from her words, and the floor of the gallery split open.
I staggered back, slipping on the cool marble, feeling Morpheus’s arm there to steady me. I clung to it like a lifeline. This was not right, and the frustration caused waves of emotions I had already let flow too much that night.
Holding her hand out for the lamp, Hekate looked at Eris, her dark eyes cold and her face unreadable. “I am a daughter of Zeus. My word is like stone. Is that your wish?”
“It is.” Eris had the grace not to look triumphant.
“Why can’t those of us willing to send that love, be allowed to do so? Those who don’t wish to participate, don’t. Just channel the willing, Hekate,” Morpheus added his voice to the request. “Surely, she could benefit from that.”
Hekate looked about the room, looking at each person. Calling forward those willing to send their love to Atë. Forming a circle around Hekate were Eros, Morpheus, Eris, and Clio. Morpheus turned to me. I was frozen. I knew what this would cost Hekate, what it would do to her. I was all for redemption. I had even argued it with my father, set on doing it even should the Kings say no, but this was not the time or place. As I hesitated, Zeus threw the bottle on the floor, shattering it into a million pieces.
To say my father’s anger is epic once provoked is an understatement. And in this case, copious amounts of alcohol, too much jovial debauchery, and bringing up Atë and her imprisonment pushed it over the edge.
“Everyone shut the fuck up right now!” he yelled. “I want silence!” Storms rippled in his posture, lightning coursed across him as he dressed us all down right there. Every one of us was guilty of what he said. “You think it’s simple, don’t you? Your sadness, your grief. You think it justifies you. The Titans killed mortals. They destroyed cities. They ruined what we were trying to build. You ignore it all until you can make a claim for something you never cared about.”
Zeus glared at us all, standing around in our finery, arranged around a room full of beauty and excess. “Do any of you even know why Atë released the Titans? Hmm? Who here among you knows why?” His words were harsh, as he meant them to be. “Speak now.”
“She released them because of you.” Clio stepped forward.
“Yes. Yes, she did.” He sobered for that moment. “So tell me, who here among you has to live with that guilt? Live with that burden? With your compassion, your sadness. Everything that happened with Atë was my failure. My vanity. I failed her the same as the Titans, my parents, failed me.”
We stood listening. I was too stunned to speak. I had never stopped caring, never stopped loving all of my family. But I was just as guilty of these thoughts as the others.
“She shouldn’t be punished. She should be in here with us NOW. But I am the ONLY one here who knows how to do my DUTY.” The word was an attack on us all, even if he did not intend it to be.
“That is NOT true.” Rising from her chair, Hekate faced him down with anger. “How could you say that you are the only one that knows how to do their duty when that is ALL I have ever done? Even at my own cost. I destroyed myself for duty.”
“We all have our crosses to bear, daughter. Every one of us, but yours do not cause empires to fall, mine do. ALL of this. I don’t want it. Because of the COST Hekate, the COST!” Lightning crackled as he pulled the hairpin from his braid and threw it to the floor. “You want it. Then fucking take it. I want nothing of it any longer.” With those final words, he literally stormed from the room. He left us standing in his wake, bruised, battered, and broken.
Hades took the hairpin from Eros. With stoic nobility, he nodded to the room and stated simply, “I will summon Poseidon, and we will speak to him.” He lingered but a moment before he vanished from the room.
Everyone broke back to their private conversations, discussing what had happened and what would come next.
“Morpheus, release the dream before you leave. Unravel it,” Hekate commanded. This whole night had been her idea, and what had begun in fun and revelry ended in disaster, chaos, and anger. It had left her drained.
Beside me, I heard his voice, that same tone filled with wonder removing the dream from us all. “The dream that was awake once more is asleep. The true you rejoins the world; the illusion is gone.” With those simple words, the surroundings changed, and everyone was back to where they had been when this began. For that moment, I wanted to cling to the fantasy, to remain in that dream world and hold it tight, for what it held even in its anger and turmoil, was less for me to fear than the dreams that had come to me in recent days.
“Thank you for coming. I’m afraid the party is well and truly over.” Hekate dismissed us with a simple statement, “It’s closing time, please. You don’t have to go home, but you fucking can’t stay here.”
Those were the final words I heard as I clung to Morpheus for stability. Leaving the party, I leaned on his strength, feeling drained, overwhelmed, and desperately tired. His arms held me close, keeping me on my feet as we, and everyone else, filtered out of the room, leaving behind the destruction of a good deed gone to rot. Hekate picked up the pieces left in our wake.