In my mind’s eyes, I could feel all the thoughts and things I had to finish before spring came. So much to wrap up before I went back to the mortal world. Clean up the apartments and move the flowers to the garden, spend some time with Cerebus, make sure all those who had petitions were heard and addressed. I had to make sure that the curses of men were tended to, that those who cried out in anger and fear and cursed the mortal man were recorded in my absence.
There was also the prison. I needed to be certain my work was done, as well as getting the arrangements in place to finish what I had started. Hades and I hadn’t discussed the rebuilding of the prison, but I assumed he had his own plans.
I chewed my lip as I made a mental checklist, there was much to do. I had to close up the office of Transitonem for the Underworld offseason. I hadn’t gotten a receptionist yet to keep appointments on the books. I would have to worry about that in September. And I needed to hire a new receptionist when I got back to the God Complex.
“Persephone.” His deep voice cut into my thoughts, even the way he said my name was pensive. “Did you hear what I said?”
Blinking, I looked up. Helios sat on the floor across from me, arms looped over the bars as he leaned into them.
“I am sorry. I…” I took a breath, pausing for a moment. “I did not.” If anyone was to come across us, I would look very undignified. I sat on the stone floor of Tartarus, arms resting on drawn up knees with my crown hanging from loose fingers.
“I said yes. If they allowed it, I would do it.” Helios watched me with those all-seeing eyes, golden in the dark of the prison.
At first, it had been my promise to Selene that kept me coming to the prison for my visits. Every day I would come and we would talk. Or I would talk and he would listen. By the fourth visit, I had the chains removed. He was here of his own will. They were not necessary. The first visit after they had been taken away, I could see his shoulders less bowed, his head less shamed.
After those first few visits, I came for myself as much as him. There were precious few to talk to here that weren’t working for myself and Hades as King and Queen. Coming into the prison gave me time away from the ins and outs of ruling the underworld and time to just talk with someone. Sometimes we didn’t have a lot to say. I would watch him as he wove sunlight with his hands, making tapestries and patterns with the threads.
Other times, it was as if he had practiced a speech before I arrived, sharing more words and thoughts than he had the day before. As if he had hoarded the vowels and consonants until that moment and they came spilling out.
We spoke of Selene, and how she was adjusting to coming back to Olympus. Of the changes in Olympus and what Zeus was trying to accomplish. I told of him of the changes he had no doubt seen during his escape and how the mortals had evolved while we slept. How the world had become so much more than we had remembered.
A few times, I even found myself talking of the change in myself. How I looked forward to the spring, not because I was leaving the Underworld, but because I wanted to find out who I was now. Each day at the end of our talk, I would find myself hoping even more that Zeus would approve of the rehabilitation program. What I had started here with Helios told me it could work. A friendship had begun to bloom, almost as ripe as the one I shared with Selene, and I hoped I could give her back the companionship of her brother once again.
“I don’t see where they would say no.” My voice bounced off the stone wall, making it echo in my ears. “I have say as Queen here. I rule as much as Hades does. My only hurdle is Zeus. But I think if I lay it out just right. He will accept it. That means there might be rules. And he might have stipulations. Are you okay with that?”
In his quiet way, Helios nodded and I smiled.
“Good. “ I leveraged myself up off the floor and placed my crown back atop my head, the heavy iron and dark filigree contrasting against my almost silver hair. “I hope they agree. Because I have to leave for the mortal realm soon. I will miss our talks if they say no.” I crossed the distance between us and took one of his hands between my own. “I want to do what is best for you, Helios. And I think you are truly ready to soar again. We all make mistakes, and say and do things in bad judgement or in the heat of passion, I know I have said and done things of late I am ashamed of. But we will find a way to get your freedom. I promised Selene. And I promise you, too.” I leaned in, placing a soft kiss against his forehead where it rested against the bars and smiled again. “Rest well. I will visit again tomorrow.”