Journal entry #37,296.
Written by the fires of my library; late evening.
I,001 Nights was beautifully calligraphed over Hekate’s invitation. It surely lived up to the name: the atmosphere and decor were delightful, as was our hostess. But while the trappings of triumph hung around us, over most of the Titans being recaptured, there was a shadow that moved despondently among us.
Erebus was not present, at least not mentally. He was clearly in significant pain, and while I would not retract what I said, I empathized with him. This event brought the Prime no comfort, not while Atë was locked away. And it had devolved into a game, with Erebus as its first victim. Decidedly acidic after his kiss with Clio, I finally got him to say what was on his mind.
Skotadi sat in Tartarus, whilst the rest of us mingled as if we had righted the world once more. It was as if nothing had ever happened, and playing childish games was the best option at present. And while I told Erebus that life goes on, I would be a liar if I said that I did not feel a similar ache. No, it was not right. But it was what we must do. Erebus was all too happy to leave when I offered to take him on an escorted visit to see her.
The nerves between the two of them lit up like the stars in the skies when we arrived, so I kept to myself: I owed that to Atë, at least. It was not my place to eavesdrop. When Atë was done, however, she was done. I knew she was in pain, but I could do nothing for either of them. We returned to Hekate’s party, where to my relief, the game was being cleared up. I was just in time to see Persephone approach Hekate, and for a moment, I felt as if time paused.
This was the first time she and I had not attended an event, or been in the public eye, together. As husband and wife. Persephone’s grace and charm had not dulled, and she spoke to Hekate with as much adoration as she did when the dynamics had been reversed. I was…proud to have known her intimately. I was grateful for her patience and her caring nature and had nothing but goodwill towards Persephone. So hearing her wishing Hekate and me happiness, her hand within Morpheus’, was a monument to the woman and to the times changed. I…I had hope, which has been escaping me for a long, long time. I appreciated it a great deal.
It was then that Zeus, my ever-charismatic and somewhat drunk brother, rose beside me, a glass in his hand. “A toast!” he decreed, “To happiness! Of bonds forged and solidified by deed. A drink to the future!”
He has made many toasts in our lifetime, a majority of them in a similar vein. But this one, I felt it. His words came to heart, and once again, the spark of hope flickered within me as I took a drink alongside everyone else he has called home. Knowing that Zeus was in it for the long run, even as a reminder, was a familiar pull that always sat comfortably with me.
My chest tightened when I saw Hekate call Clio and Eros to the front. Her kiss in my office still fresh in my memory. The energy with which she came at me was unforgettable, and traces of her magic still lingered within that room. I would not tell her they do. Not until she came to terms with her own mind and heart. Her toast, however, to my niece and nephew gave me pause for a moment. It was unlike her, in any form, to utter such words, and yet tonight she did so. I kept it in my pocket for examination later – there was more to it than just Clio and Eros.
The moment, unfortunately, did not last long.
Eris’ wish, to have love sent to Atë from where we all stood, made the leaves in my garden shrivel. I could nearly liken it to the times Persephone left the mortal realm for mine. In that moment, I became very aware of two things: one, Hekate, in her all-encompassing fortress of self, had deliberately left herself open to the pantheon by giving out those three lamps. Which, when I realized it, was highly unlike her. Two, Eris should hold no form of destiny or fate in their hands. Ever.
The room was almost instantly divided, and while it reminded me why I was usually content with brief bursts of enormous company, I had peered into the genuine natures of some in attendance. On this, I will reflect later, but it was not all I had assumed it to be. In the eye of this brewing storm was Hekate. I will not say it was obvious, but stating rules to an immortal of chaos and then proceeding to give them free rein was very high on the list of things one should never do. Hekate is a woman of duty and honour, and though I respect this a great deal, I wish it had not been so that night.
I watched as Hekate attempted to put her foot down, as Eros suggested she help free Atë from Tartarus, as Persephone broke the surface of calm and vehemently cursed. I was also visibly reminded that the Witch Queen was a daughter of Zeus as she split the gallery floor with a thunderous anger she could have only ever received from her father. This chaos, the rising tensions – it was melting down much too quickly. Before I could even consider a plan of action, my brother spoke up.
Once every few thousand years, he reminds us it was him that took down Kronos, our father. Not by explaining it, not by boasting about it, but by his demeanor. Zeus was deep into his cups by this point of the evening, that much any could see. But the moment skotadi’s name left Eris’ lips, the lights dimmed within the King of Olympus.
I was all too aware that he was burdened by guilt. Regret and grief have been anything but kind to him, but he had chosen to bear this burden alone, until that evening. It had been far too many moons since we had even hinted at our parents, at the blight they had left upon my siblings and I. And yet, Zeus roared now, to the entire family, that he was the one to carry the guilt. He alone had the heavy weight of sacrifice, of duty. Of family.
There are very few things in my long life that I regard as something I would go back and change, but if I could relieve my brother of this, I would gladly do so. I would never tell him I felt the same, that I wanted things to be different, because that is not our way. And Eros…by the twin hells, that boy. There is a time and a place to attempt to neutralize anger, but that was not one of them. To Zeus’ credit, he did not harm a single person in that room physically. But it did not take a doctor to see the pain in both his and Hekate’s face when she made to correct his blanket statements of duty shunned.
The Bolt left behind, our leader leaving his family – that sealed many deals. Many fates. Many ideas. And I was left in his wake, torn between duties: to ensure Hekate was taken care of, and to take care of my brother and his throne. Not once, in all our history, has he given in, so to see him like this is…painful. But even painful is not the correct word. I did not blame him for his emotions, nor his actions. I would, however, speak to him with Poseidon on what he needed. Because the throne? The throne was an ailment to him right now, and nothing runs smoothly when the King is ill. I wished Poseidon had been there.
Before I could make a move, Eros was on the Bolt, and a chill vibrated through the fabric of my being. No one touches the mark of the Kings. No one. And yet once more, my nephew took it upon himself to try to redirect royalty at his whim. I left Eros no room to negotiate. I was already biting back anger at his careless comment on keeping Zeus’ sigil for himself, and why he was giving it to me, as if he had a choice in the matter. Then suddenly, I had my brother’s world in my hands. Now, instead of Zeus coming to save us, we must go to save him. I, at least, owe it to him to try. I would not abandon him.
My job and responsibilities to the throne overrode any idea of looking after Hekate. I saw her, bent over in her chair, hands over her face, and for the first time in my life, I prayed that she would be all right while I was gone.
With one last glance around the room, I exited, Zeus’ anger in my hand.