Hades could not have felt more joyful than he did the moment Lexi said 'I do'. The birth of his children might compare, but Lexi's unwavering love had granted him life, or at least a life worth living. She had given him more than he ever dared hope for, including the freedom to walk among his fellows. His heart sang.
It wasn't until Lexi's smile vanished and worry lines appeared over her eyes that his song stopped, and Hades was forced to follow her gaze. When he saw Rhea's spirit standing next to the bier, his stomach plummeted. He wanted this day to be one Lexi would remember with fondness, just as he did, and it only took one look to know Lexi was feeling far from joyful.
While many of the gods were unable to see Rhea's spirit, it was clear some could, especially the titans. Each one stood from their chair and watched as Cronus left his position to greet Rhea. Hades' hand was suddenly being tugged by Lexi as she followed Cronus over.
"How was she able to leave Elysium?" Lexi said in a whisper.
"I do not know. This is a first for me, and that is saying something."
When they arrived to stand with Rhea and Cronus, the two titans were exchanging a tender gaze, although Cronus appeared to be suppressing deeper emotions that he was unwilling to display in front of a large audience. Lexi gently placed her hand on Cronus' arm and leaned in to kiss his cheek, which nearly did him in, but she turned to address Rhea before the dam broke.
"I'm so glad you were able to come to our wedding, Rhea, but I think I speak for everyone when I ask how you managed to leave Elysium?"
Rhea wore her perpetually cheerful smile as she conveyed her thoughts. "I have a theory. Would you like to hear it?"
"When I first arrived here, I brought with me all the preconceived notions I had about the underworld and how it worked. I knew the heroes and fallen gods were relegated to Elysium, so I made no effort to leave. Then, after your second attempt to reunite me with my body, I felt confused for a good while, and I wandered the fields and forests for many turns of the hourglass until I came to the bridge at the river. The bridge looked unfamiliar at first, so I simply walked over it because I was unaware it could not be done. Since then, I have been reclaiming my memories and exploring the underworld. It is only a shame I did not do more exploring when I had my feet on the ground. It is quite lovely here."
Despite the fact that only a few in attendance were able to hear Rhea's spirit voice, the assembly remained silent as the proverbial grave.
"Perhaps you were able to leave because you are a titan," Cronus suggested. "No titan has ever entered the underworld in spirit form."
Rhea lifted her hand to his face and nodded. "Perhaps. Or perhaps it has been possible all along but no one wanted to leave. I can attest to the hypnotic effect the Elysian Fields has on one's spirit. But, despite my desire to return there, I was drawn here." She gestured to her prone body beyond the curtain of the bier, and Hades felt Lexi's hand tighten around his.
"My dear Lexi," Rhea said as she captured Lexi in her loving gaze. "I know you are worried I will lose myself to the unknown if you attempt to reunite me with my body, and I am not asking that you do it for me, because I am at peace, but I am willing to take that risk to comfort those grieving at my loss, and I understand the flower garden is in terrible shape. While I feel there are signs all around guiding us, if it is not meant to be now, it may never be. It is not proper for us to question the methods of Gaia, but I would like to offer these words before we proceed. Our gifts are unbreakable and omnipotent. Power like that can corrupt the mind. Never take your power for granted, Lexi, or you may lose sight of your reason for being here."
Lexi's expression shifted from ominous to radiant as she pulled Hades closer. "Your words speak volumes, Rhea, and as I am now the queen of the underworld, I will consult Hades before I make a decision of this magnitude."
Hades watched as a smile spread across his mother's lips, and shortly after, she bowed her head to Lexi. "I respectfully defer to your prudence, your grace."
With a firm tug, Lexi led Hades toward a pillar at the far end of the dock. The view from that vantage overlooked the shoreline of Olympus. Hades had already scouted the location, deciding it was one of his favorites, and Lexi's presence made the view all the more breathtaking.
"I love you, Hades," she said as she overtook him with a passionate kiss. She indulged herself until her conscience interfered, and she pulled away, glancing surreptitiously at the spectators. "Will you support me in this? Should I take the risk?"
"And what do you feel is the risk, my love?"
Lexi hesitated, but her courageous, uncompromising spirit had already made its choice. Hades knew this, and at that moment, he wanted to sweep her off her feet and never let anyone look upon her magnificence, but Lexi was not meant to be whisked away and indulged. She was meant to remain among the gods and mortals who benefited from her presence.
"I believe Gaia has a hand in this," she said. "Rhea is right about the signs. We need to heed them."
Hades let his eyes rest on the sapphire necklace that had been placed around Lexi's neck. He remembered the day he bought it for her, a gift to remind her how precious she was to him. When he lifted his gaze, he took in her sapphire eyes. "You have my support in this."
The next thing Hades felt was Lexi's lips against his cheek, accompanied by a spark that quickly blinked away, but the intent was there. With her hand clasped firmly around his, Lexi led Hades back to the bier, where a good number of gods had gathered. In a gesture of respect, many returned to their chairs until only Hades' siblings remained. Despite the increase in numbers surrounding Rhea's body, Lexi approached with calm confidence. She extended her hand to Rhea's spirit and waved the other at the curtain, sweeping it over the bier with a brief but potent wind.
Not a word was spoken from the slack-jawed spectators. They were held in a moment of awe as Lexi reunited the spirit of Rhea, titaness of Olympus, to her corporal form. As Hades watched his mother's fingers flutter against her chest and felt a tug on his hand where Lexi clasped it, he realized with great clarity that he had finally found true happiness in his eternal life.
YOU ARE READING
Let's say you found true love. And say you had eternity to spend with that lover. So what if he was the god of the dead and you had to manage his dysfunctional family. You would still count yourself lucky, right? Join Lexi and Hades in the third and...