Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Hermes felt it in the air, a sour note, a bitter breeze, the story wasn't hitting the practiced pitches, wasn't crooning the same tune.
The Fates knew it too, and none were pleased. This tale was tried and true, something so old it never missed it's manufactured beats. Sure, from century to century some things were added, others lost, some where changed, and others not but the story beats stayed the same.
He would enter, he would sing, he would lose, he would die. What happened in between those four core elements changed from time to time but they remained.
They all saw him enter but none saw after.
After had become a frightening unknown and more twisted than any had expected.
Orpheus was a poor boy, Hades thought as he watched him struggle through the unwashed masses in his land.
He'd dealt with many a poor boy before and he'd do so until his eternity burned out he mused as the young man became more frantic in his search.
True, this one came for completely different reasons than common crowd; he came for something Hades wasn't willing to give. A contract was a contract and when you became a worker you became one for life.
Still he watched the boy and pondered.
Orpheus wasn't hungry yet, he wasn't desperate yet, he'd never fall for Hades’ tricks at the moment. The Lord of the Underworld was willing to admit that his manipulations definitely worked on only a select group of people, but he knew how to work the living man into his domain.
He could fix that, every human has a breaking point, something that lets the doubts creep in, lets the fear swallow any rational thought. Let desperation and hunger twist even the mightiest of creatures into a shadow of itself. Hades knew how to make a man into a worker because the common nature of one was that they were too scared to become an equal, became pliant to any manner of desecration just for the safety of familiarity.
And while Orpheus was spirited and proud and wholey confident in himself in ways that no other little gnat was. Hades had something for that type too.
He was that type, how disgusting.
It was going to be one of his biggest most audacious projects to date.
He needed time, everything works in time. He'd bend this fickle piece to his will and continue onwards same as always. Hades smirked and came down to play .
Stalking his prey he watched it turn unknowingly into a dead end street. He smirked and turned into the same corner.
He just needed time and a single poisonous thought to undo him.
Persephone came back, the people reveled in her power and all was right with the world. Except no, that couldn't be. Something was off. She turned and looked up the hill to where Hermes was perched watching the tunnel opening with such blatant fretfulness that she just had to soothe him.
She hitched up her emerald dress to her thigh as she trudged uphill getting antsy-er and antsy-er as she went past snow that softly melted under her feet.
Hermes’ gaze never wavered even when she came to stand right beside him. Persephone worried her hands together before she finally turned to him.
“What's wrong? What's happened to get you in such a state? I've never seen you like this Hermes.”
He blinked a couple of times and turned his head to her. His eyes filled with concern and voice dripping with dread.
“Did you see Orpheus?”
Her brow scrunched up as she looked back down the hill to the revelers celebrating Spring and realized something. The poet’s song wasn't there. Persephone frowned but didn't think much of it.
“No I haven't, he seems not to have come to see me this year.”
Hermes turned to her fully distraught.
“Haven't seen him at all? You haven't seen him at all Persephone?”
She didn't see what the fuss was! Sometimes mortals didn't come the first week, some had lives outside of revels. And while it saddened her that her favorite poet wasn't here to greet here it made her happy that possibly he could be with his lover.
Now that was a thought, Orpheus putting down his lyre and devoting himself to Euridyce. Persephone felt the bitter touch of longing at that, a mortal man showing more love for his wife than hers had shown in the past millennia.
Still, good for them. She hoped it was a fruitful and long lasting coupling.
But still Hermes persisted.
“Persephone please , did you see him at all.”
She was shaken out of her thoughts by the honest desperation in Hermes’ voice.
“N-no, I haven't. I haven't seen him all winter nor this beginning of spring.”
She watched as horror spread across the younger god’s face. Something leaden and heavy settled in her stomach as she saw him turn away to look at the gaping maw of the tunnel once again.
“Oh gods…….where is he?”
Eurydice had made a mistake, she was a woman of few regrets so when she had one it haunted her days and nights. This seems to be the one that sets all others to rest however.
Her hands caked in cement as calloused fingers molded the next brick to be put into the oven, to be put on a wagon, to be put in The Wall.
The Wall, The Wall, it seemed to be worshiped as a god unto itself by the people of the underground.
The fanatic whispers, the ceaseless murmmings of “Why do We BUILD the Wall” could drive one insane she thought.
Somehow she persevered.
As long as she could keep up, as long as she could keep strength, as long as she thought of-
The man filled her with anger and despair.
If he hadn't been so self deluded and conceited. If he hadn't cared more for strumming his stupid lyre. If he cared as much as he said he did of her, she’d never had been-
Eurydice sighed. That wasn’t fair.
The fault was his and hers. One cannot exist without the other. She became so hungry she forgot the warning signs, had forgotten how strangers were never to be trusted.
She worked in the factory and pined for her lover.
Can't eat music, but can’t live without it. She missed him. She loved him and no matter how angry she was, she desperately, desperately wishes for-
The worker was nigh perfect.
It was perfect in ways that Hades marveled he'd never be able to recreate.
It followed orders to the tee, stopped at the turn of a dime, and did as it was told no matter what bodily harm befell it.
Ordinary workers had a semblance of self preservation but this one seemed to have lost it somewhere along the road.
Many of his creations were wonderfully fantastical, something made to capture the outside for his fickle wife. From dazzling neon to fossilized warmth to silver scenes made to enchant and delight. But this?
This was a cold hard investment in the betterment of his business. Something exclusively for him .
Sure a few kinks were still left to be ironed out and it still held some semblance of caring for others. But Hades was confident that this too would be sanded out with time.
Everything works with time.
Currently it worked in the most dangerous mine collecting the most premier jewels for Hades’ collection.
It had gone through rigorous trading to get there but Hades was pleased with the results. It's hands still trembled from time to time and he used to hear these noises that one would think was strings snapping. However-
It was almost perfect and Hades couldn’t help but appreciate the product.
He couldn't wait to show it off to his wife. He was almost giddy with excitement at the thought. He knew she wouldn't appreciate the artistry and skill that this took but still, Orpheus is one of his favorite creations. He's given a little credence to gloat.
Summer was on it’s last dying rays as Fall’s bitter wind tousled the fallen leaves. Hades was coming to town and the suitcases were prepacked. Persephone and her group of followers crowded around the steps of the terminal, Hermes looking at her with such blatant worry that she felt herself puff up at it.
She was on a mission.
For once in their long, long stint in marriage Hades was late and that sent down a chill of foreboding down her spine.But the train came anyway just as it always does and he spirited her away. This season would be different though, she knew it in her bones, something was going to be horrendously different.
Persephone sat in the only passenger car on the train, her seat faced Hades’ with a little table barely separating the two. They were forced to either look at each other and engage in conversation or look away in silence.
She hated the silence, she hated his face, she hated how the train seemed to be faster than usual,she hated how slow it actually felt, she hated everything.
She didn't say a word.
Persephone had noticed that her husband was in high spirits since the beginning so she looked at him from the corner of her eyes.
He was grinning, as if he’d finally reached the end to his ceaseless want for more or at least had a new trick up his sleeve that would make her stay in Hadestown even more unbearable. Still, he was in a good mood right off the bat and if she played this right she could nab herself her quarries and squirrel them all out once winter ends.
It was just incredibly off putting to see him so cheerful.
She coughed into her fist to signal she wanted his attention, he merely quirked an eyebrow in response. Persephone quelled the flush of anger at the clear disinterest and was about to speak aloud before she was interrupted by him.
“Darling, I have a surprise to show you once you get situated back home.”
He smiled that sickly tar smile that seemed so far removed from the diamond blinding it used to be that the goddess thought that it was little less than a dream of the past. She nodded and took her chance.
“If I had a helper things would go quicker.”
She appealed to his want of streamlining, of doing things faster for the same or more benefit.
He shrugged at her want, still smiling.
“I could help you-"
Everything seemed to slow, the satisfied smirk washed away. A frown settled naturally on his craggy lips as they both now had each other’s complete attention. Nothing was said as they stared into each other's eyes unblinking, neither breaking contact.
In the end, as it always is want to do, Hades dropped his gaze and sighed.
“Ask one of the Fates then, I’ll ring them u-"
No, she didn’t need the Fates for multiple reasons, it looked like she had to be direct or Persephone would get nowhere in this discussion.
“I want some workers to help.”
The car seemed to chill at that, it took everything in her not to shiver at the drop of temperature.
Hades turned back, eyes throwing daggers into hers as he seethed.
“ My workers? My workers who explicitly work what I desire them too. My workers who are under my contract ? You want them to help you ?”
Persephone rolled her eyes and crossed her arms at his incredulous tone.
“Well then just one, besides am I not your wife do we not share things in equal?”
He huffed at her answer taking the same defiant pose as her neither going to back down this time.
“Never once have you ever shown any interest in, nor wanted, one of my gifts I have given you over the centuries. Why now should you want to partake in my bounty?”
She glanced over and bit her lip. This would take a bit more finesse than she wanted to partake in.
She unfolded her arms and reached over to caress his. In a move she hadn't done since the early times of their marriage, she maneuvered his hands into her own squeezing them gently while tenderly gazing into his eyes.
“Just one worker Hades, millions flock to you night and day. I have scorned your previous gifts but this one I will delight in.”
He looked at her with shock. She hadn't, she hadn't held him like this in an eternity! He knew he was being played but, one worker couldn't hurt.
He squeezed back infinitely more gently than her, and even though they had fallen apart so completely Persephone couldn't quell the extra beat her heart let out in that gesture.
“One worker my love. I will give them to you wholly.”
She smiled victorious as they both gently lowered their hands onto the table. Unconsciously she rubbed his fingers between her own and then pulled away. He made an abortive movement as if to follow her but he did not.
Both began to move away from each other. Hands folding back into each owners’ laps, eyes drifting apart, bodies moving away, they both took their previous positions neither commenting on their closeness a moment ago nor pursuing it. They settled and began entertaining their schemes in the privacy of their own heads.
Once again all was silent in the train car.
The walkways were filled with bodies, each one running in groups, each one a mess, each one a chaos running unknown in the crooked labyrinthine streets.
Eurydice felt like she had to run the gauntlet every morning and night to get to work. Well, what she thought was morning and night.
The unearthly shine of those accursed lights never waxed, never waned. The same intense light was a steady madness that made her want to screech and tear at her own skin. She hated, she ha tED-
Keeping it together.
She had to keep it together.
Keeping it together was harder and harder to do as she pulled her hair through her fingers in a nervous way she never had before she was here .
But she had to keep it together, she knew what happened to non-workers. They see them sometimes in hearses at best in chains at worst. Their screams echoing the filthy alley walls as all tutted and shook their heads, too devoted to “the cause" to see how disgusting and depraved it really was.
Didn't they know that those people could've easily been them? Didn't they know that no matter what they did the inevitability of it all was not excluding them? Working for a merciless God they thought was good and great and loving , hah!
None of them were special, all of them were the same level of drudgery and each and everyone of them were not exempt from that desolate ending of, of screaming and never ending tormen-
Bricks. Bricks and mortar.
Those will definitely keep her occupied. She hoped that the physical fatigue would make her too tired to focus on the emotional stress.
Eurydice hummed an anxious note in the back of her throat, she still worried she was losing the more she held on.
Every day it seemed she was less and less herself, and one day she would collapse and fall apart.
Hades had left his wife at the gates with her promising to meet back at their house with her chosen worker by the end of the day.
That was fine, he'd bring his as well.
He called upon it during midday knowing it would have something of value when it came to rest at his feet. And like the obedient dog it was it came to the call staggered with its burden.
It was coated in dirt and gravel head to toe, its feet bare and disgustingly black as coal from trudging in the depths of the mine, and it was laden with beautiful minerals.
Hades absentmindedly patted its head and it seemed to nuzzle into the touch as the god perused one of the larger rocks in its possession. Humming in appreciation he placed the jewel carefully back in the large bin that it carried.
“A good haul. Very nice, you'll be following me while carrying that.”
It nodded and followed Hades into the black horseless carriage as he sat and made himself as small as possible like it was supposed to.
Hades smiled and again ran a hand through the greasy curls of its dusty hair.
“I'll be showing you off today since you're such a good worker, I think you deserve a treat.”
It preened under his touch delighted it could bring his lord joy as it hugged the its precious cargo closer to his chest.
The snapping noises increased to both of their deaf ears as they rode on.
Persephone was sprinting down the streets. She was ceaseless in her mission of finding Euridyce.
Why Eurydice? It was strategic, where she was Orpheus was to follow one never apart from the other for too long. Collecting the level headed one first also allowed more plans to be made more easily. She loved the poet dearly but sometimes he got so wrapped up in his own head that he forgot that the world itself was still turning.
She'd need Eurydice for this plan to work.
Persephone was running out of time and she knew it, it was near the last hour she found the other woman.
She looked dreadful, sunken eyes that twitched and nervously scanned the roads, hands bruised and calloused, and a sickly thinness that spoke of no food. She looked absolutely horrendous.
Persephone was never more glad to see a person before.
“Eurydice! Eurydice! It's me!”
She called out as she stalked out ahead of the parting crowds.
The girl seemed to jump three feet in the air at the sound of her name and spun to see the goddess in front of her. She held a trembling hand over her mouth as tears formed in her eyes.
“My, my Lady?”
Persephone chuckled wetly and surged forward holding the smaller woman in her arms. The two embraced as Eurydice wept. She held her close until the sobs stifled.
“Eurydice now's not the time for talk but I will explain on the carriage ride back. I promise that this will be righted.”
Warily but determined now that she was in the presence of the goddess she dried her eyes and nodded.
“Thank you my Lady.”
Eurydice couldn't believe her ears when the whole sordid tale came out. She looked down at her hands and felt her eyes dampen once again.
“He….He came looking for me?”
The goddess nodded in assent forcing the vehicle to roar down the twisting roads up a hill.
“Of course the fool did, he loves you.”
Again the woman nodded but her eyes were vacant as the shabby shanty houses on the outskirts of Hadestown passed her by.
“But then where is he?”
Persephone shook her head in defeat.
“I thought he'd be with you.”
They both looked into each other's eyes with worry and fear and then turned to the mansion on hill looming over them
Persephone ushered Eurydice into the foyer and into the main hall before realizing that there was an open door with the light on in the East Wing. The sense of foreboding seemed to double and while she was immortal and powerful in her own right in this one moment she felt terrified.
She wanted to ignore it, was about to continue pushing the other woman deeper into the house away from the room when her husband’s voice called out.
“Darling, I know you’re home. Come to the parlour, I’ve been waiting ever so long for you to return.”
Eurydice scanned Persephone’s face and nodded while slipping her disproportionately small calloused hand in her large soft one. She knew her Lady needed an extra bit of comfort before facing her husband.
The goddess inhaled sharply and snapped open her eyes while taking a tone of indifference.
“I’m coming, keep your pants on. Honestly Hades, you think that I can just pick one from the-”
Sound died in her throat as she heard a sharp gasp from behind her as they both took in the scene.
There legs crossed and lounging casually, with a smirk cutting his face in cruel mockery of a smile, was Hades sat looking like the cat caught the canary in his nice suede chair in front of the fireplace. He gazed at her like he couldn’t wait to see how she’d react to him.
The cause of the reaction stood just to the left of her husband.
It was a man who’d seen better days: shirt so threadbare and dirty it shouldn’t classify as clothing with a set of heavy duty overall drowning his small figure, hands and feet so dirty if looked from far away one would think he was wearing black socks and gloves, faded red handkerchief covering half his face like a muzzle, but the worst thing? The worst thing was his eyes.
There seemed to be nothing going on behind them, brown so hazy it looked like mud with no spark of life. They stared straight ahead unblinkingly into nothing.
The man looked like doll just standing there expressionless.
No one said a word, the only sound was the increasingly ragged breathing of Eurydice as she started to quietly come apart.
Heh, I'm a dumbass and like ending things on cliff hangers. Also did you know that when electricity was created a lot of corporations used it to force workers to continue their job which lead to highten agression and mental dissaray due to the longer hours? A fun tidbit.
A pin could drop in the silence that followed. It was deafening. Before what was said had sunk in to the gods he moved .
Orpheus’ head shot up at the sound of her voice and found her eyes as he seemed to vibrate on the spot from the sight of her. The only thing keeping him from moving seemed to be the quelling look from Hades. The god sighed and Eurydice watched as her love seemed to shrink in on himself and lower his gaze in difference, stifling any motion at the change of breathe from the god.
Hades chuckled derisively while grabbing a wine glass off a little table to his right that hadn't been there before this moment. He moved it in a circular motion until wine appeared into the glass with every swish he made. When the cup was full he drank deeply and met his wife’s horrified stare.
“A few kinks to buffer out still, it can’t be completely perfect after all I only had a year to fix it into something respectable.”
Orpheus twitched again but stayed rooted to the spot. Eurydice opened her mouth to shout something scathing but sound died in her throat as she noticed the chair the god was sitting in was empty.
Hades was suddenly standing dangerously close to Orpheus. He was holding the other man by his face studying him for a moment before turning back to his audience with a smile so saccharine it hurt to look at.
“Still, even if not completely done I think that this one is a success! Wouldn’t you say so my Darling?”
Persephone seemed to snap out of her stupor.
“Hades...what have you done.”
It was disgusting what she was looking at and she wasn’t talking about the boy’s outward appearance. She never really cared for that sort of thing, most gods can look into mortals and see what they truly are.
When she had first seen the poet he was a sight to behold: embolden gold cords fixed straight to the center of his soul like steel, strong in its certainty, song like a harp never wavering, and always, always playing. He was a beautiful could-be light that had attracted others to him like flies to honey. He had peasantry and royalty listening him for his nourishing songs, he even had the ears of Hermes and herself on him and his musically inclined soul. It was so bright and big she had thought he could fit the world in it.
Now though? Now it was like someone had reached in and snapped each glowing thread individually, painfully and left the others to try and compensate for the loss. It was like denying a creature its purpose in life and making sure that it could never even try to reclaim it. His soul was unraveling at the seams which made him grey and dull. Orpheus’ soul was withering away in front of their very eyes with every single moment and it was utterly revolting.
She had seen her husband’s workers and how they’d been crushed and reworked into Hades’ turning wheel, but it was all impersonal, he never forced them to stay before they signed. It was all a by-product of what was chosen, it was their belief that had done them in. Hades let them have a choice no matter how two faced or heavy handed it was. But this was, this had been personal, this couldn't be justified in those terms, Persephone could take not even the illusion of comfort in the idea that there was a chance given .
And it made her all the more horrified.
When she stepped out of her head and back into the situation she saw that her husband hadn’t let go of the boy’s face. It was unsettling how pliant, how docile, Orpheus was in Hades’ grasp. It spoke of multitudes Persephone didn't even want to fathom in this moment.
Her heart clenched and she took a step forward, eyes narrowing.
“Hades this is sick , this is the epitome of every terrible thing you’ve done since you started this whole mess! What the hell-”
And without even acknowledging her he just.
He shushed her, like she was an unruly child, he had the gall to shush her.
She was l i v i d.
While the two gods had it out neither of them noticed that Eurydice had left her spot next to Persephone and was making her way towards Orpheus.
She reached her hand out while murmuring comforting nothings, making her way closer and closer.
While it hurt to act like he was a flighty animal it seemed like he was receptive to the treatment. He didn’t say anything back or move towards her but he did look up again, and what she saw made her heart pound faster.
There he was, he was there and he loved her. She could see it the way his eyes shone like they hadn't before when she walked in the door. It was like she lit the life back into him, and she knew, she knew that her eyes were doing the same.
Eurydice teared up as she came even closer, she missed him, she missed him so much, like he was a gods damned missing limb. He was a part of her as much as she of him and she wanted so much to just hold him like she used to. To be as close together as possible in an embrace she wouldn't let go, not this time.
She barely grazed his elbow when everything went wrong.
One minute she was on the ground the next she was hanging in the air. Hades had grabbed her by the wrist and held her so they were face to face where she saw his amused contempt as he lazily drawled his words.
“Now young lady, didn’t your mama tell you not to touch things that don’t belong to you?
Eurydice glared at Hades and tried prying her hand from his grip but it held fast. He pulled her closer to his face as he cooly gazed at her with eyes burning fire under the veneer of apathy. She felt so small and insignificant and weak under that glare that she winced closing her eyes at the onslaught.
“Now little miss, I need you to know that you can’t touch it, it’s not yours.”
Her eyes snapped open and she growled.
“ He. Orpheus is a person not an it.”
Hades tutted, like she was misinformed , like he was simply stating facts.
“Sure it is.”
She seethed, she wanted to rage, to scream at his face, to hurt him like he hurt-
A high pitched whine echoed through the room and again everything was silent as it hauntingly sounded around the parlor until it started up in earnest.
The animalistic crying didn't stop, in fact after the first it became louder and louder the longer everyone stayed fixed to their spots.
Orpheus was keening in agony and grasping at Hades’ suit, not in a way of anger but of pleading. His eyes begging the god to have mercy, please, mercy, with eyes damp with unshed tears and a pitiful whimper.
Her heart fractured at this, this brutalized version of her love. He was as if someone had taken everything from him. Everything that made him, him and she knew, she knew that it was all Hades’ fault.
Hades sighed, long and drawn out for drama’s sake at the sight of its groveling.
He squeezed her wrist for a bit of intimidation and then put the girl down and pushed her back towards his wife. After glaring at them with distaste Hades turned towards the source of the miserable yapping.
His creature was such a poor, wretched thing. It constantly needed reassurance and talking to, definitely one of his need-ier creations, always taking up extra time with useless trivial things like support and kindness. But still, Hades was nothing if not a provider so he comforted it, petting it's head and talking to it in low tones.
“Oh hush now, it's your fault for all this mess. If you hadn't reacted like you did nothing would have blown out of proportion like it had. Now cease this noise, there’s no need for it. You're only upsetting yourself over your own failures.”
He heard his wife make a choked sound in the background and absently thought maybe he should check back in with the other two but he was too preoccupied with this little ritual to care.
His worker did take a lot of effort to maintain but it was all worth it for moments like this where it settled in his hands, like they were the only things that could make it loose and compliant and happy. He continued to stroke its hair as its whines died out and it relaxed completely and utterly under his will.
Hades smiled. If he seemed to enjoy these little moments nobody needed to know.
Yeah this is gonna get like way worse before I even attempt to make it slightly bearable.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Soooooo.....I might actually be scheduling these things now? Like after this week Sour Note is only updating monday and thursday. Enjoy the last week of sporadic updates!
It was fascinating, in a repulsive way, how Hades interacted with Orpheus, Persephone noted as she heard and saw more of his soul fall away.
She felt sick to her stomach and knew if she wasn't trying to stay strong she would have screeched at the disgusting words and actions of her husband. That being said, she looked down at Eurydice and how motionless she was, maybe she should have.
What could be going on in one’s head at a moment like this? How do you reconcile the image of a loved one with their warped reality?
Persephone looked at her husband and she realized that you can’t. That they have to become seperate people in your head before you can even begin to unpack their changes. She had loved him, and she knew that he loved her too back then. Even now in his twisted warped way he loved her. But now, with their marriage in shambles, this never ending shit show he created, and the possibility of him doing this to more people it was time to let the past die. To shuck the old feelings and memories of the husband she loved and realize that he had become something she could no longer defend or ignore.
Now was the time for action.
Eurydice had been holding it on her own for as long as she could walk, she had been independent ever since she was twelve, she knew when to cut her loses, she knew which battles to fight and which to not.
That had all been turned on its head when she first met Orpheus. Something about him from the third time he showed her that he valued her, that he wanted to get to know her and love her as she is and not the way he thinks her to be. Somewhere in that beginning he had made her realize it was going to be him. It was going to be him and she didn’t mind it as much as she thought she would. That she was ready to do in sickness and in health, through bad and good, that she wanted it.
Well she had thought that.
Things changed and Eurydice couldn’t abide by his apparent lack of concern when winter came. The doubts become more prevalent the longer resources dwindled and concern fell on deaf ears. She had fallen back into old habits just like he had and they drifted apart. And now here they were:
In one of the worse situations she could never have dreamt of.
She had thought nothing would hurt more than the bone weary fatigue and mental duress of factory life, but looking at Orpheus? That hollowed her out in the worst of ways. She couldn’t even move as she watched in morose silence while Hades palmed her lover like someone would pet a dog. That he touched him with his filthy hands.
Eurydice didn’t know how to fix this, how can she even begin to try? What good would she be? She had already left him once, how was he going to trust her again?
She sniffled and wiped her eyes, just as she started sinking even further in her misery she saw that Orpheus opened one of his eyes in her direction. Eurydice held eye contact with him, she couldn’t. She couldn’t give up just yet, he had tried to meet her half way in the Underworld and even now was trying to reach her in his own way.
Resolve filled her, Eurydice was going to get them out of this.
She had to.
Hades could feel his wife and her little human peon scheming, they were loud in their silence and he knew that it would be an annoyance for both of them to team up. However he was not a man to go back on his word, he’d let them try.
Hades sunk his fingers into its hair and he grinned crookedly, his worker didn’t even wince. He knew that they would try to get it out of his grasp, would try and revive the old Orpheus from the dead.
It would be fun to watch them fail.
He detached his digits and made a small hand motion, it snapped to attention and stepped back to the original position it was in before the others had come in. That made it all the more amusing, how can they think that the inferior Orpheus was better than this product? He’d never know, and Hades knew that his worker could never change back.
“Well, this went in an entirely different direction than I thought it would.”
Hades drawled as he sauntered over to Persephone hip cocked out completely assured in himself.
“Still, good a time as any to ask what you think and get the paperwork ready.”
Her fist clenched with an audible crunch and only then did Hades notice something had changed in his wife.
Persephone had always been loud in her displeasure, had always made her grievances known. She’d been loud and upset ever since he started improving his home but she never did anything about it. To him, if she really was that upset she would’ve done something instead of just playing with his workers and cutting productivity. But, the way she seemed to be suppressing her rage had never happened before in their entire time together.
His name dripped with venom as she glared right through him.
“I’m fixing this.”
He stared at her in bafflement.
“Fixing what? There’s nothing to fix.”
Her fingers unclenched and spasmed but he stood his ground.
“There is no need to be worked up over noth-”
“ Nothing?! You can’t possibly believe that this is nothing!”
The room grew silent and dark, shadows swirled at the edges of the room as the fire started to burn out.
“You’re making a scene Persephone.”
She laughed mockingly at him.
“As scene? That’s what’s wrong to you in this situation? That I’m mad at you and yelling? There’s only two other people here and this is my house too, I’ll make a damn scene if I want to!”
Hades opened his mouth to argue his wife’s frankly uncalled for behavior when the little human woman stepped between them.
Humans were never very interesting to him, they only came to him at their dreggs completely burnt out and disgustingly simple to trick. He only ever had a challenge when the boy had come, but other than that it was never interesting. Eurydice was the same in a long list of simpletons who’d come in and worked for him, barely a blip on his radar. But here she stood, trembling in all her limbs, steel in her eyes and courage in her heart.
“Give me back my husband.”
What an idiot.
Eurydice was never the confrontational sort, sure she’d pull up her sleeves and get into it if she had to but never by choice. Never as her first option. Yet here she was, picking a fight with the King of the Underworld, her Boss. She could die or something even worse could happen.
But she had already made her decision to reach back, she wasn’t going anywhere this time.
Hades looked up and down at her with distaste. That was fine, she didn’t care what he thought of her. Eurydice squared her shoulders, lifted her head, and once again demanded him to do as she asked.
“Give me back. My. Husband.”
Hades scoffed and turned away.
“Now why would I give you my prized worker? Production on precious gems and metals would go down and I don’t think anything you had in mind would benefit me in any way.”
“But I do.”
They both startled at Persephone’s voice. She frowned in Hades’ direction as she came to stand next to her.
“I have something you want. If you let them go I’ll spend three extra months with you every winter.”
Eurydice’s heart seized. The ramifications of the Lady of Spring delaying for more than a month in Hadestown were of life and death to people living on top, not to mention a personal loss on behalf of Persephone herself. It could ruin the careful balance of the world.
The god chuckled at this however, seemingly nonplussed at his wife’s declaration and its implications.
“DarlingI love you, and I would love to spend more time with you, but we both know that you would never, could never do that. Anything more than a month and I’d have Demeter hazing me night and day.”
Persephone seethed at this but Hades was untroubled by her wrath as he put his attention fully on Eurydice.
“Also, it wasn’t you who asked. So let me inquire little lady, what could you possibly think would interest me in any way that I would ‘give you your husband back’.”
She had to think of something fast, he was right she had nothing of value in this life or before it that would interest him. However, Eurydice knew that no matter who the god was there was one thing they all shared in common, one trait that didn’t change. They were all gamblers, it was just a risky gambit to see if he would take it.
“I, I offer you a wager.”
Hades blinked, a bit stunned at that.
A wager, he hadn’t had a wager in, goodness it’d been since the whole stick nonsense with his brothers. It’s been millennia since he had a wager. His eyes narrowed, he wouldn’t be taken for a fool like he was then, but still a wager .
“A wager you say? Huh, you’ve appealed to my curious nature little songbird.”
His loomed over her and grinned from ear to ear.
“What did you have in mind?”
She bit her lip, she couldn’t believe that worked.
“If, if Orpheus can sing a song that moves you. You have to let both of us go.”
It was simple, she thought, an absolutely simple premise that she knew Orpheus would deliver. He’d been singing songs so good that he had kings and gods in his back pocket asking for a simple tune. She had absolute faith in him. If anyone could move Hades’ stone heart it would be him.
Eurydice didn’t notice something was wrong until Hades’ shoulders started moving up and down, until he started making what she would describe as wheezing sounds.
The God of the Underworld was full on choking with laughter, tears sprung from his eyes as he finally let a laugh loose. She looked at Persephone in confused fear but even she seemed disturbed by the display.
He howled in delight clutching his sided and tried to catch his breath it took ages for him to actually cease. As he finally calmed down he wiped a stray tear from his eye and sat heavily into his chair letting a gust of breathe out as he did so. His smile became downright devilish as he continued to chuckle quietly.
“You know what? That is an excellent bet. I’ll take it, I’ll even be generous! You get six months and time to discuss among yourselves as long as you still report for work every other day.”
His eyes shone with malicious mirth.
“Of course if you fail everything is to be as it was and you’ll have little to no contact with him or Persephone.”
Eurydice was now incredibly unsettled.
That laughter followed up by easy acquiesce after vehement negative responses? This was a trap, this had to be a trap, but she couldn’t see any pitfalls. Her stomach flipped, something was wrong, he shouldn’t have agreed, she had to find something else to entice him with. She couldn’t take it. If this went sideways she’d be all alone again. She couldn’t handle being alone again.
But it was all she had.
And Hades knew that. He’d fooled her again.
He smiled that cat-caught-the-canary smile and lifted his hand up.
“So little miss, do we have a deal?”
She swallowed and glared into his eyes giving him the firmest handshake she could muster.
“It’s a deal.”
Persephone had moved them to a little apartment closer to the foot of the hill after she scooped both of them out of the mansion without a second glance at her husband. Her face was grey and withdrawn as she carried the packets of paperwork Hades had given to her onto a little desk with a forceful thwap .
The amount alone was a headache and a half to deal with but, she looked over to Eurydice holding Orpheus’ hand as they slowly made their way in, it had to be worth it. The couple entered the main room and Eurydice marveled at its size and furnishings.
“You’re letting us stay here? Are you sure?”
Persephone scoffed and patted the contracts.
“Of course I am! This place is close enough that Hades’ will be comfortable and I can visit you more often. Besides it’s the least I can do.”
Eurydice turned to her husband elated with the news.
“We can live together again!”
But he said nothing back.
She frowned and moved in closer scanning him.
“Orpheus? Why, why aren’t you answering me? Are you upset?”
The man in question seemed to snap out of his daze and shake his head vehemently. Eurydice’s brow furrowed.
“Then why aren’t you answering me?”
He grew hesitant and Persephone came in closer as well. The poet had been uncharacteristically quiet their entire encounter, except for that keening sound that she never wanted to hear again. He gestured in roundabout way but neither understood his anxious hand motions. Orpheus seemed to realize this and shyly pointed at Eurydice’s hands.
“You...you want my hands?”
He nodded, bashful. Now that was the old poet, he always became a little flustered mess whenever it came to Eurydice. Persephone watched in amusement as he took Eurydice’s gently in his own.
He seemed to marvel in the weight of her hands in his and caressed them softly, Eurydice teared up and smiled at him talking in low tones and clasped his. The two lovers only had eyes for each other which made Persephone feel like she was intruding on their moment. She tried to busy herself in the paperwork but and was succeeding for a moment until she heard a strangled gasp from the two.
She turned back and saw that Eurydice was away from Orpheus now, looking at him with disbelieving eyes. He looked at her and her distance and drew into himself. What had happened?
Eurydice saw this and came back shakily cupping his face.
“No, no I wasn’t, it’s fine I.”
She drew a breathe in to center herself.
“I just need to see it Orpheus, can you let me see?”
He searched her face before leaning into her touch with a slow nod. She breathed deeply and exhaled loudly as she began to undo the knot of the handkerchief around Orpheus’ head.
She had wondered about that, he always wore it around his neck like a signature. A bit of frivolity in his normal ordinary clothes. He had disclosed to Persephone once that he had liked the material because it made him stand out, a bit of red in his monochrome outfit.
Eurydice struggled with knot until Orpheus just ripped it, he ripped it clean off, destroying the fabric he held so dear. But that wasn’t what surprised Persephone. No it wasn’t just that.
His mouth was sewn shut .
In neat little rows looking so innocent, like they belonged on a piece of professional clothing. Persephone felt bile hit the back of her throat and she raced out of the room while she heard Eurydice break into hysterics.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
I have sneakily done two chapters.
Eurydice was coming apart.
She’d been fooled. Again.
She had thought, she had hoped, that they would be able to get out of this. That she'd finally regain everything she's lost in one fell swoop. She had hope.
And like it had been the past year, Hades had taken that too.
He'd taken her freedom, her peace of mind, her fucking individuality. She couldn't remember a damn thing that she used to enjoy up top, she couldn’t remember how life used to be . There was veritable blank where her life used to be. What had she done, did she have accomplishments she was proud of? What did the sun feel like? What did rain? What colors were her favorite? What foods did she like? What was she? It was all ash in the wind, a fog that could never be lifted from her mind. All she thought about now was how tired she was, how hurt she felt.
The only thing, the only thing, that had gotten her through ceaseless misery was the faded memory of Orpheus.
She didn’t remember it all, she couldn't, but she remembered enough to keep him real to her and not just a figment of her imagination.
Eurydice remembered the weight of him in her arms as they embraced, the way his smile curled just to show off his dimples , how his instrument calloused hands had felt on her skin, how he seemed to lighten any room he was in just by existing, and his voice.
It could all fade away (his hands, his smile, his name ) but she would never, ever, forget his voice. Dripping like honey from an overburdened hive, she could drown in his dulcet voice. Even when she had no time for him she would listen to a note or two because they seemed to envelope her in a calm she had never known.
Eurydice knew that he had sung differently when she was around. He made his music different for her because he loved her, he didn’t want it to be like every other time he sang and she used to hear the difference.
His voice got infinitely kinder and gentler whenever he was with her, telling her he’d never hurt her. His voice that seemed to grow animated and more jubilant around her, telling her that he was always happier next to her. Orpheus acted like she was a real life Muse coming down to inspire him, and he showed this every time he looked at her as if she was this precious gift he couldn’t believe he could ever receive.
She remembered that.
But it all feels like lies now.
Orpheus looked like a broken promise, this new person didn’t align with what she remembered at all. Every preconceived idea of him was shattered in just one up close look.
His hands blackened and calloused rough and harsh to her skin, face used to frowning and worrying never to be seen smiling with a mouth mangled beyond all recognition, and a voice never to be heard again. It was all wrong, he was all wrong and she didn't know ho to fix it.
So she wept bitter tears.
Eurydice wept for the unfairness of it all, she wept at being cheated, she wept for the loss, she wept for the now.
She didn’t know how to stop.
Persephone wiped her mouth and looked up from the sink.
The thing that looked back at her was bone weary .
She was tired of these games, she was tired of the hurts, most of all she was tired of Hades.
She didn't want to deal with this anymore. She wanted to go home.
Persephone’s hands tightened around the edges of the sink.
Gods she just wanted to go home.
Like always Hades had found new ways to alienate and disgust her, this was just the latest in a long line of awful.
It cut deep, it hurt sharp, that once again there was less and less of Hades and herself at the end of the day. That every day they spiraled farther into the abyss.
She looked back down into the drain, she couldn’t stand to look at this stranger anymore.
Persephone did not recall the last time it was tolerable in Hadestown let alone like her home .
She questioned what she was even doing here. This was going to fail. In six months time Orpheus was going back to the mines, Eurydice to the factory, and Persephone would get off scot free. Leaving behind all the misery and sorrow for the top side where she’d try to drown out the wailing masses of below’s anguished silent screams. It was what she was good at, apathy at its finest.
She didn’t have to worry about anything she didn’t want to, she didn’t have to care, she didn't need this.
She took a steadying breath and slackened her death grip on the sink.
Persephone was not that kind of goddess, not now, not ever. She could never close her heart off, she was the epitome of a bleeding heart. She couldn’t even pretend at apathy for long in the top side or below without feeling the crushing need to bring levity and comfort to both. She couldn't give up now, especially on her favored human, they'd have to find a way somehow.
Persephone knew all about changing, she was spring personified, and while this was a big change that no one wanted it had to be dealt with. There was only one problem.
If Eurydice couldn't accept her husband and look past these forced changes then they were all doomed.
He was awful and that’s why she left.
His Lord had said that in the beginning, repeated it ad nasueam when Orpheus was too proud to admit his wrong doings.
He was awful and that’s why she left.
Orpheus did not like reflecting back to the-time-that-was-before but his mind strayed there anyways. He remembers when he was disobedient and wrong and awful . When he had thought that he knew everything, that he was helping Eurydice by taking her away from Lord Hades.
He was awful and that’s why she left.
Foolish, foolish, foolish. That was what he was. His Lord was right in his assessment of him, that he was the reason she had to seek a better source of safety. That he could not provide for her. All he could was an empty house and emptier promises. She had left him by her own volition for all the right reasons. Eurydice left him for Lord Hades' safety.
She was never happy, he was holding her back, he was wrong and Lord Hades is right .
He was awful and that’s why she left.
Orpheus is not proud of what he did before, the way he screamed, and hit, and denied denied denied. As if denying the truth was going to make it not fact, as if he was right where the literal god was wrong. He had the gall to spit on the kindness offered to him and lashed out. Lord Hades had been disappointed then and told him if he was to act like an animal then he was to be treated as one. Orpheus is not proud of the-time-that-was-before and he never will be.
He was a stupid fool back then.
It was awful and that’s why she left.
It took time and patience and forgiveness on the part of His Lord. He was ever so patient with him, but in time he grew to understand the truth, accept it for what it was. He could not fathom the amount of patience His God must had to have put up with his nonsense after he finally took the words in.
It was awful and that’s why she left.
The truth had hurt him, had shattered him, had left him cold and shacking and wailing, but it was necessary to feel that hurt. Lord Hades did not want him to feel pain but it was the only way.
This was the only way it would learn its lesson.
It was awful and that’s why she left.
Orpheus was not good for her, he never was. It was clearer after that with a few more well placed nudges in the right direction. Orpheus was just….he was just awful . He was no good to anything or anyone, he had nothing to offer, nothing to give. Which is why he is so grateful, was indebted, to His Lord for his kindness after opening his eyes.
It was awful and that’s why she left
But I have a use for you.
Orpheus was useless and was taking up space before Lord Hades had taken him in.
He’d been given clothes, food, lodging, and a reason to be.
His Lord truly was great in his mercy and benevolence.
But Orpheus was still awful . After all he had been given, after his Lord had shown him a new way of living, Orpheus was still awful.
A couple of days into his work and Orpheus messed up.
It was a simple note that permeated the air and it softly grew until it was a full-fledged song.
A song that had ruined the working atmosphere.
Orpheus wishes he could’ve just clawed his throat out and been done with it then and there. He had sung in the mine, he had cut production down, he had bothered the other workers. He had been so embarrassed that first time as he was given a reprimand and was rightfully punished for his transgressions. He had thought he could quell it, that there would be no next time, that he was done and that he could be good.
He was wrong.
It kept bubbling out of him like a tide that heeded no call, song came out of him in no matter what he tried to do. Then things started to get worse.
He was careless one day and hummed a simple tune as he worked a diamond out of the wall. He didn't notice.
The co worker next to him was watching him as he sang and he didn’t notice. He didn’t notice.
Lord Hades was waiting for him in his room when he came back from his shift. He comforted him. He was gentle.
Orpheus did not want gentle, he wanted to hurt hurt hurt. He wanted Lord Hades to make him disappear. Please help him.
He had gotten the man next to him killed.
I'm awful and I don't know how to stop.
His Lord had heard him and had generously given him a choice, a choice that Orpheus immediately took. Lord Hades smiled down at him, very happy with his answer. Orpheus sat up straight as His God held his head, he liked when he pleased his Lord.
Lord Hades continued to smile as the thread went into the needle, he smiled when it split skin, he smiled when blood spattered the bed linen, smiled when Orpheus' eyes were so full of tears, he smiled as Orpheus shook.
“We’re all done now.”
He ran a thumb over Orpheus' still bleeding mouth. Lord Hades pressed a bit harder over the tender flesh making more blood ooze out of the threadwork. But this was what he wanted, he pressed closer as the pain gave him catharsis and His God chuckled and ran blood speckled hands into his hair. Orpheus was happy.
He is awful but he can be useful.
Things had begun to pick up after that, seemed to settle into the new, and Orpheus was content with his life. Enjoyed His God's quiet praise every time he had done good work, was relieved at the blessed monotony of work, and whenever he felt low or had done wrong he pressed his fingers at his mouth hard enough to draw blood and let out a sigh at the relief. He was happy.
And then Eurydice.
AND HE WAS REMINDED THAT HE IS AWFUL.
She hates him. He knows she does, she should, she she-
Is holding him, is touching him, is talking to him, isisisisis.
He has never forgotten how wonderful she is, how sublime, how ethereal, how incandescent in her beauty she is. He loses himself in her presence as he did Before.
He forgets his simple truths, he forgets hurts, he forgets his Lord, he forgets everything.
Orpheus just holds her hand and drinks her in, just marvels at her, because he loves her, has never stopped loving her, I lov-
He watches as she falls to her knees clutching the scraps of his handkerchief in her hands,
thattouched, and weeps as Lady Persephone rushes out of the room in what appeared to be disgust. She wails, her tears cause his heart to spasm in pain as each falls, she does not look up. He feels so foolish, he's embarrassed.
He’d forgotten he was awful.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Okay everybody, once again the schedule from now on is Monday and Thursday! Hope you enjoy!
Persephone patted her hands on her dress after washing up and giving herself the pep talk of a lifetime. The wet lines immediately disappeared along with her over all frumpled look. She had to be at her best for this, the time for action is now. She marched back into the main room to the exact same scene she left in only Eurydice was no longer heaving great sobs off her chest but quietly crying into her knees.
Orpheus stood a few inches away watching her with a vacant stare, hands twitching at his sides, his mind was obviously in a different place then his body. He didn't seem to be taking anything in as she easily glided by him to Eurydice. It was unnatural how still and lifeless he was but that could be addressed at a different time.
Persephone knelt down to next to Eurydice and put her hand on the smaller woman's back, rubbing it in small comforting circles. She needed to pull Eurydice out of this situation so that she can regain some composure.
“Eurydice, Eurydice . It’s okay, I got you, need help standing?”
She pushed herself and the smaller girl up from the floor muttering comforting words and slowly shuffling them out of the room. Before they left completely she turned to look at Orpheus.
He was actively looking at them now, out of his trance like state and watching them both in what seemed like guilt. His lips down turned and eyes questioning her, asking her what she wanted him to do. She worried her lip and tried to think of something to say.
Orpheus only responded to orders, she had noted that whenever Hades or Eurydice talked at him. Whenever there was a direct action demanded from him he’d do it with no hesitation. This brought chills down her spine, at the amount of control they had over the boy.
How much can Hades make him do?
Persephone straightened herself up and gazed at him with as much authority she could muster. She needed to outdo her husband, she had to seem like she was most in control or Orpheus would just do whatever Hades said. She opened her mouth.
“Orpheus, you are to stay there until I come back. Only when I say you can leave can you move from here.”
She watched as he stiffened. His scuffed worker boots clicked together and he stood there like a statue. His eyes again seemed to glaze over and Persephone’s heart clenched at the sudden loss again.
It was for the best, she could only deal with one problem at a time, she’ll come back. She thought to herself as she moved herself and Eurydice deeper into the apartment.
Eurydice felt like she was in a haze, she felt soaked, miserable and untethered. The only thing keeping her upright was goddess at her side and even then everything felt far away. Her head kept asking the same question.
What was she going to do now?
What was she going to do?
Every plan she tried to make from the start of this mess all the way to now had crumbled into dust. There was literally nothing to go off on, she was all on her own with no way to move forward. The one thing she had thought she could count on, that was stable, was gone. Orpheus is gone.
Orpheus is gone.
She felt a hand on her cheek and more forceful words were in the air. She tried to focus but the fog wasn’t lifting, she couldn’t hear, she couldn’t think, she could do nothing except breathe. It was all she could do, that’s all she had. Her body felt so far away and Eurydice just wanted to curl up and let the darkness take her. She wanted to just lay down for however long it took until things made sense again or until it would all go away.
She felt a soft thing cushion her head, her eyes instantly started feeling droopy. Eurydice felt entirely wrung out, it was time to stop, it was time to let go.
Eurydice quietly feel asleep on a soft bed with the goddess of Spring watching on in concern.
Persephone only got up when she knew for absolute certain that Eurydice was fully asleep. Once confirmed she started down the corridor. It was silent as a grave as she weaved down the corridor and past windows, she had taken Eurydice to separate guest room.
Her original plan was to have the two live in the same room, but due to these circumstances she didn’t think having them in close contact would benefit either of them with how they reacted to each other.
They just needed to cool down from this initial fright, they’d pick each other up after this.
They had to.
She arrived back to the main room to where Orpheus stood in the exact same spot that he was in when she left. He didn’t move a single centimeter. Persephone walked into the room and sat down at the table near the kitchen. She sat there hoping he would come on his own volition but he didn’t.
His head picked up and his eyes were wide and waiting, gods he acted like he was more dog than human. She pushed past those misgivings and gestured to the table and the extra chair across from her with a strained smile.
“Can you, would you like to sit down with me?”
Something flashed in his eyes. The look was undecipherable but it seemed Orpheus was even tenser than before. He took one heavy step after the other, watching her reaction, until finally he sat in the chair.
He didn’t look up at her. She squirmed.
“Eurydice is, she just needs time Orpheus. She’s just overwhelmed, she’ll be okay.”
He still didn’t look up and seem to become smaller with every word she said. She bit her lip and wrung her hands together. This silence was making her nervous. She had to say something. Just before she almost left entirely, Persephone recalled her little acquisition before leaving the room she left Eurydice in. She pulled out the items from her dress pocket.
“Oh, I know you can’t audible talk now so I grabbed you these.”
She slid the pen and paper across the table to Orpheus who finally looked up. He looked up and down at her and then back to the gift, almost as if he couldn’t believe she’d gotten it for him. After a long moment where she thought he wouldn’t pick it up he grabbed the pen and wrote in shaky, tiny script.
The smile that came to her face after that was genuine and could be heard in her voice.
The two sat in the comfortable quiet as Persephone waited for him to finish his next sentence. His hand was slow and his brow was furrowed if it weren’t for those damned stitches on his mouth she knew he’d be sticking his tongue out in concentration. It reminded her of whenever she’d see the poet writing his next song: every line carefully considered, every letter vetted, every word imbued with a certain meaning. She felt vindicated that Hades hadn’t taken that from him.
What is going to happen next Lady Persephone?
She pursed her lips and folded her hands on the table.
“Well first off, I’ll be seeing you off to your room where you’re going to sleep. After that, well, tomorrow you both can figure out what to do.”
He frowned more heavily and wrote back in haste.
What do you mean about tomorrow?
Persephone was surprised at this question and tilted her head in confusion.
What does he mean what do I mean? It’s straight forward.
“I don’t understand your question Orpheus.”
His hand twirled the pen in an absentminded way before he continued writing. The way he worked his lip around the stitches made her shudder at how little he appeared to care for the openings.
What am I to do tomorrow Lady Persephone? What is my task?
Her eyes narrowed at that, why would he want to work? Maybe he just needed clarification. She waved off his question with contempt.
“Nothing, tomorrow you don’t have to work. Hades said it himself and I’ll hold him to it.”
She heard the pen scrape harshly into the paper and she saw Orpheus frantically writing on the paper in fear. Her stomach dropped at how agitated he became. She dreaded the reply she was going to get. When he was done she took in the manic words on paper and how Orpheus seemed to be quaking in the chair and taking laboured breaths.
Have I done something wrong? Is Lord Hades angry at me? Lady Persephone, I can’t be useless I need to work please tell Lord Hades I didn’t mean to do anything that upset him I promise please I’m not I can’t be useless Lady Persephone please
The rest was a frantic scrawl completely illegible which made her skin crawl. She was so involved with the paper that she didn’t notice Orpheus having a panic attack until he started making sounds and scratching things.
The chair she was sitting in scraped the floor with her sudden standing as she rushed over to boy. He started to scratch at the stitches in his mouth and pulling his hair. Persephone struggled to force his hands away all the while hearing him wheeze in distress.
“Stop! Stop it, stop it Orpheus, STOP THIS INSTANT!”
Her voice boomed in the tiny room, and Orpheus ceased all movements in her arms. She took a minute to compose herself and untangle herself from Orpheus’ limbs. She grabbed his wrists before he could pull away and stared into his eyes.
“Tomorrow you will not work. And that will be fine. You will not work and do whatever you so choose to do. Now we are going to take you to your room, you are going to bed and it. Will. Be. Fine. Understood?”
Orpheus tried to look anywhere other than at her but she wasn’t budging, she wouldn’t move until she had confirmation. After a while he just closed his eyes and nodded, she relaxed and let go of him. She ran a hand across her face, gods this was a mess.
“Okay. Okay then, lets go get cleaned up.”
Orpheus was despondent after the hysterics he shown. He just followed her to the other room without hesitance. It made her all the more wary of the silence, how can someone swing so violently from mania to docility? It wasn’t natural. Persephone shook those thoughts from her head, dwelling on such things didn’t help the current situation. Still she was... unnerved.
“This is your room.”
The boy didn’t even lift his head he just stood there quiet, Persephone worried her lip. She had to be direct.
“I want you to enter it, you’ll be living here from now on.”
The hands at his side twitched in an abortive movement, Orpheus looked up dejectedly but continued forward.
He walked past her until he came to a stop, Orpheus stood in the middle of the room and turned back towards her. She could see the question in his stance:
She wanted to tell him to do what he wanted. She wanted him to make decisions for himself. She wanted him to take an active role even just for a little bit. Persephone didn’t know how to express the want in a way that wouldn’t set him off. She just wasn’t made to handle a person’s entire chain of actions, and she didn’t want to.
But if she didn’t then Hades would.
Persephone spent the next thirty minutes detailing all the items and furniture to him in hopes that it would spark some interest that would finally make him interact the room. He didn’t, in fact his gaze became more insistent after she stopped speaking. His eyes screamed at her:
What do you want me to do?
It felt like something was crawling all over her skin. The alarming amount of passiveness and overall submissive attitude was giving her hives. She wanted to shriek at him, wanted him to do something. Anything. Why didn’t he just do something!?
She took in a calming breath and then let it out.
Fine, if he wanted something to do, if he wanted orders , she’d give him some. Persephone pointed at him and tried to sound as authoritative as possible.
“Clean yourself up, take care of the wounds you’ve inflicted upon yourself, take a bath, wash away that grime on your hands and feet until you can see skin, clean your hair, and then go. To. Bed.”
The second she stopped talking he was already taking off the boots she’d given him and was walking into the bathroom. She sighed the minute he left, feeling dirty herself. She listened to the running water and held herself.
Persephone had never liked telling people what to do, yes she was what some would call bossy or demanding but she never actively made people do things just because. For good reason too, she felt exhausted corralling both of these humans all day.
She couldn’t be here tomorrow, Orpheus would just look at her for more tasks and orders and never do something for himself and Eurydice would stay hold up in her room. Persephone needed them to interact but it wouldn’t work if she was making Orpheus confront his love. They needed to do this on their own without Hades or herself meddling.
Still, it couldn’t hurt to help. Persephone conjured up a medium sized journal and ink pen and placed it on top of Orpheus’ bed, neither would run out of pages or ink allowing his to write indefinitely if he chose to. She then snapped her fingers and grabbed a handkerchief that materialized from the air.
It was a bright red, just like the old one, she glanced at it and then tied it around the journal and pen. Hopefully Orpheus would use the little gifts she had made, hopefully being the key word.
She took in the room and contemplated going back to Eurydice for a moment before deciding it was best to go. She knew that it was midnight and the humans were going to sleep. She collected herself and made her way out of the room. Persephone quietly left the apartment and made her way into Hadestown proper, her bar still needed her. There were other mortal workers to help. With one last glance she got into her horseless carriage and drove off into the lights of the city ahead.
Orpheus scrubbed his skin raw.
The water was disgustingly black with all the coal and dirt that accumulated on him. He narrowed his eyes. Wash until you can see skin. He doubled down and scrubbed harder. Until the water was clear, until his tender skin could be seen again, it hurt like all things do but this was good to hurt like this. The kind of hurt he could control, the kind of hurt he deserves, Orpheus kept scrubbing and thought.
What had he done wrong?
It had to have been something he’d done or said, Lord Hades wouldn’t punish him in this way if he hadn’t done something . Lord Hades had aalways been fair in his punishments and this was not like the regular ones he usually earned. Staying still, being unproductive, not having work. He hopes Lord Hades hadn’t realized how useless he actually is, he hopes that he will still have some use to his God, had he finally become obsolete?
What had he done wrong?
The water turned red.
Orpheus realized that the black on his feet had finally been washed away. He poked at the soles of his feet, the violent rubbing had caused the skin to break. He prodded harder at the injuries until they began to bleed in ernest. Orpheus let out a content sigh.
He’ll figure out what he had done wrong and make amends in time, his Lord was very forgiving and if he had become obsolete that just meant that he served his God well. Orpheus wiped away the blood on his feet and stood up. His weight caused his feet to sting with every step he took.
He needed bandages.
Eurydice had awoken to rustling in the main room, she blinked her eyes open slowly but didn’t get up. Her limbs felt heavy and everything felt like too much, opening her eyes was hassle enough. The rustling had graduated to banging and Eurydice struggled to find the strength to rise from the bed.
The noises ceased but now Eurydice became anxious. She had to get up, she needed to move, why couldn’t she? It took time and all her willpower but she somehow had pushed herself to an upright position.
Her head rushed, her vision swam, black dots filled her sight, and her stomach turned. She closed her eyes and tried to will away the nausea and oncoming headache. Once she settled her nerves Eurydice tried to push herself to stand up.
That was a mistake.
The minute she had left the safety of her bed and was in an upright position she felt faint. Her knees buckled and she crashed into the floor. Eurydice went down with a yelp and hit her head, causing the barely there headache to evolve into a full blown migraine. She laid there stewing in her hurt and anger, Eurydice hated to feel this weak, hated how upset she felt.
Before she could try to get up she heard feet rush down the hall and Orpheus slammed her door open. Her eyes widened at how breathless and worried he looked at that moment. He then looked down taking in her prone form and slid into the room.
In a rush of adrenaline she immediately tried to get up herself but found herself still inflicted with the migraine causing her to only tip over. Orpheus had come to a stop near her, hesitant probably from the last interaction with each other, ugh she hated how she reacted. Eurydice had been running on fumes and let her broken up emotions pour out of. She didn’t have it in her to tilt her head up and look at him eye to eye so she kept her head down and grunted at him.
She paused and closed her eyes more forcibly trying to shield herself from how vulnerable she felt.
“I can’t get up.”
Orpheus took great care in picking her up, which only fueled her inadequacies, and deposited her back onto her plush bed. Eurydice finally opened up her eyes, slowly to let them adjust, and saw Orpheus completely.
He had a handkerchief covering the bottom half of his face again which only left his large honey brown eyes visible. He gazed at her, eyes concerningly wide and worried at her state. Which only made her mad, she turned away and stared at the wall trying to avoid him as much as she could. After a few seconds he seemed to understand her want for solitude as she heard him get up and leave.
She continued to glare at the wall as the door clicked shut, she curled into a ball and held her knees to her chest. She was upset at him for coming in at all and upset at herself for sending him away. Eurydice wished that her head could once again be clear and her body would listen to her.
I'm worried that I've made the characters way to wild in emotions that contradict each other but I feel it's justified due to the absolute wack mental states they're all in. You can yell at me on my Tumblr and not just the comment section at tboltrashbro!! I enjoy everyone's comments and questions and I hope you like next Monday's update. Thanks so much for reading!!!
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
Hades sat in his office in the heart of the city and read reports about the overall net gross of the year but to be honest, his mind was wandering. Staring so intently at the words on the page made them meaningless, he frowned and rubbed his eyes in tiredness, perhaps it was time to take a break. Just as he was going to put the papers onto a pile in the left hand corner of his desk his wife came crashing into the place.
He quirked an eyebrow at her as she slammed the double doors shut. Her beautiful face blemished with a scowl so fierce it twisted his insides. She loomed over his desk in an obvious attempt at intimidation but Hades remained nonplussed. Persephone would talk when she wanted to and he had more important things to think about. Such as what to eat for dinner.
Just as he was about to pick up the papers again she smacked her hand on top of the stack impeding him. Irked by her childness but trying to remain collected he sighed and looked up at her in contempt.
“Darling. To what do I owe the pleasure of your company at this hour?”
Her face darkened and her nails tore into the paper. He frowned, he was going to have to reprint those.
“What did you do to him.”
Hades rolled his eyes at her demand and leaned back in his chair. Once, this amount of attention to another man would’ve enraged him. It would’ve caused him no short amount of anguish and insecurity at the idea of his own imaginary inadequacy. Now though, with the knowledge that the “man” in question was absolutely devoted to him and him alone and would never ever even think of betraying him?
Hades had never felt more secure in himself.
He lounged in the chair feeling self satisfied and smirked at his wife as she fumed in front of him.
“You’re going to have to be more specific with that.”
He could hear her teeth grinding as she gnashed them together. Hades let his mind wander back to what his worker once was and frowned.
Little devil. So spirited, so self righteous, it was absolutely disgusting how the boy had thought himself better than Hades. Honestly he did the world a favor teaching him humility and his place. Besides it was much more comfortable in his hands than it was in its own. Which brought him back to his wife.
“Tell me Darling, how is my worker? It must be in a state right now.”
For half a second her face broke out of its stoney anger, a moment of true despair ran across her face before it doubled down in fury. He actually marveled at how the vein in her neck didn’t just pop with how it strained.
“That is none of your concern.”
Hades smiled, his worker must’ve caused a scene that had disturbed her greatly. While the reaction itself was funny he never sought out to hurt her. Perhaps that might need to be addressed at a later date, maybe even punished. He played around with the idea before figuring that whatever it was doing to itself was punishment enough. His worker is probably writhing in his own inferiority, so proactive his worker was, Hades didn’t even have to do anything anymore it punished itself for him.
“Of course it is, it must be in a frenzy at this point poor thing. If it isn’t in correct form by the end of the day its production might go down tomorrow.”
His wife’s shoulders raised and Hades knew that if she could, she would’ve destroyed him where he sat. As it was now however he continued to look at her balefully as she seethed in front of him.
“That’s what you care about? How productive he’s going to be?! Nothing else?!?”
This conversation was going nowhere and Hades was getting bored with his wife’s hysterics. He stood up and took his coat of the rack on his left and started to put it on. She looked at him in disbelief as buttoned it up, he regarded her with disinterest when the last button was fixed.
“Darling, it’s a worker . Nothing other than its working value matters, you know this. Why is this one different?”
She looked like she was about to scream, but to his surprise she held it in. She matched him in cool disinterest and for half a second Hades actually felt a bit of fear. She studied him for a moment.
“Well what about you? You've never put this much effort into any other worker you’ve ever had, why him? Why waste all this time, resources, and effort on Orpheus? There has to be a reason, so what makes him so special to you?”
The boy screamed and thrashed and spat. He yelled himself hoarse and tried to headbutt Hades any chance he had. The god’s nose scrunched up in distaste, acting like a feral animal was deplorable.
Still, everyday Hades came in and sat down and watched as Orpheus conducted himself like a wild beast tugging at his chains and screeching. He sat a bit away from him, where the boy’s wild flailing couldn't reach him and began to speak.
Everyday he watched and talked Orpheus would deteriorate, from yelling, to speaking, to sobbing, to whimpering, to despondency. Sometimes the boy would just curl up and shake, Hades found those days more enjoyable as no sounds were made to annoy him.
This was all a means to an end of course, he wanted to prove that nothing was indomitable, Hades wanted to prove to himself that Orpheus was wrong. Besides once all this unpleasantness was over he'd have another worker. That was all.
(When Orpheus began to grow quieter Hades grew nearer, confident that the little mortal would no longer try to lash out, and one day he was close enough to touch . Hades began to think of that day as the start of his worker because of the way Orpheus reacted to that simple contact. It was an idle action, he wanted to see what would happen so he just reached out. His hand rested in the dirty curls, Hades fully expected for the boy to pull away to bare its teeth and yell. Instead it nestled into the touch, completely against its own will as was shown when half a second later it reared back and away stunned and disbelieving it had done that. The face it made when it realised what it had done was funny, but Hades was intrigued, he wanted to do that again. He wanted that reaction again. And when it was finally his Hades derived enjoyment out of how much his worker melted at simple touches, pats on his head, hand on his shoulder, foot on his ribcage, any physical contact and it derived pleasure. Hades liked that his worker liked those simple touches, he liked being able to give comfort. He wanted to.)
Hades blinked and took in his wife’s irritated countenance, he finally just shrugged.
“It was a challenge and I was bored Darling, nothing more.”
The thumping was back.
Eurydice opened her eyes warily listening to the thuds echoing across the empty apartment. She shifted closer to the wall and curled up, she knew she couldn’t hide away forever, that she had to face this now, but she felt like she was stuck. Every thought and action so slow and draining that her body ached. Eurydice had never known this kind of stillness and it upset her to want to do something, to want to act, and found that she just couldn’t. She felt trapped in her own body.
The thumps had died off again but this time she steeled herself and got up.
Her head still felt foggy and her limbs felt heavier then they had on the three day work bender her factory had endured months back. Still, Eurydice pushed through she couldn’t stay in her bed forever, even if she really wanted to.
The door gave a low groan as she pushed it open, she stayed on the door’s frame slightly out of breath before curling her hands into the wood and shoving off.
The hall was dimly lit making her squint and stumble about, she laid a hand on the wall to keep herself aware of her surroundings her. The main room was even darker so when the wall ended she waved her hands in front of her trying not to accidentally bump into anything.
If Orpheus was in these rooms before why hadn’t he turned on the lights?
Just as she made it to what she believed was the other side of the room, something moved. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw a dark figure glide behind her, getting closer. Eurydice’s heart stopped beating when the thing was directly behind her. Just as it was about to touch her she immediately swung her fist in the shadow’s direction. There was a sound of the punch connecting and small grunt that sounded like, oh, oh no.
Orpheus stood there stock still not even moving from the impact watching her with something unidentifiable flittering through his eyes. She clutched her chest and doubled over letting the adrenaline drain out of her.
“Gods above! What, what are you doing in the dark Orpheus? You scared me!”
Orpheus immediately left her side leaving her alone again, her chest felt pangs for a different reason. Did she finally drive him off? She did hit him quite hard and yelled at him and told him to go away. Was he going to stay away?
She didn’t want to be alone.
The lights came on suddenly and she jumped from the change, Orpheus stood near the wall switch gazing at her with concern.
He looked so tired, even more tired than before. Even though he looked much cleaner then when he came in, there was a sort of rawness to him, patches of skin that were a bit too pink or red. Without the dirt it seemed that he had lost some definition. As she scanned his figure she noticed his face was even more gaunt than before, but that’s when she saw it. Eurydice saw that his cheek was already bruising green near his eye and that had to squint due to the swelling.
She hit him.
She hit Orpheus, she hit him.
Her head kept turning in circles like it did yesterday. This was a mess, she was a mess, everything was wrong . And he kept looking at her with, with concern! As if he didn’t care that she hurt him.
Eurydice had to plant herself firmly into the now, for her own sake and sanity. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and walked towards him.
He didn’t move, he didn’t flinch, his eyes never wavered from her. Either he knew she wouldn’t hurt him, and gods above she prayed that he knew that, or he didn’t care if she did. That thought made her heart drop into her stomach because of how likely it actually was.
Her hand cupped his face and his eyes widened in surprise. Eurydice felt guilty over her previous explosion of emotions and their adverse effects on him and her but she couldn’t dwell on that, she had a problem to fix.
Her thumb skimmed over the bruise lightly so not to hurt him. She frowned at it, she caused that. She did that. Just before she was about to pull away Orpheus pressed his cheek into her thumb, hard. Eurydice startled at the sudden act and took her hand away quickly from his face.
“No! Don’t do that! You’re going to make the bruise worse!”
He stared at her uncomprehendingly, and she sighed.
Eurydice shouldn’t have yelled at him like that. Maybe he just wanted to get closer to her, sometimes when she was in the factory someone would bump her shoulders and suddenly she would yearn for a touch or two. Maybe that’s what he was doing, trying to seek comfort.
Slowly, to make sure he knew what she was doing, Eurydice grabbed his hand and squeezed it gently in her own. He reciprocated hesitantly as if afraid she’d take her hand away suddenly again. She lowered her eyes, gods she keeps messing things up doesn’t she?
“Let’s go get something for that bruise.”
Orpheus sat near the table on a comfy chair with a piece of cloth filled with ice pressed to his face. (“Keep that on your face so the swelling goes down, I know it’s cold but it works!”)
Eurydice had said that it would help the pain go away which left him confused.
Why did she want it to stop hurting? Wounds or bruises were usually left alone as a remembrance for what he’d done or failed to do and he was to learn from that experience. It also brought catharsis, to feel the sting of pain and know that after it healed up he’d be forgiven. That he had been justly punished and the release of knowing that his failings were rectified.
Sometimes the pain even felt nice.
But it didn’t matter what Orpheus thought right now, if Eurydice wanted to do this he’d let her do whatever she wanted.
Still, he pressed the ice harshly into his cheek even though he couldn’t feel the pressure anymore. Maybe this was a new way of punishment, maybe Eurydice hadn’t forgiven him. Perhaps that was why she puttered about looking for healing salve, because she was still upset with him and wanted him to know it.
He shuffled his booted feet and thought about his transgression. She had been so frightened in the dark and he had just wanted to help but, he scared her.
Orpheus had scared Eurydice.
He deserved more than a strike to the face for that sin. He’d already messed up before by upsetting her with his awful self and now he scared her. His fingers dug into the meat of his palm, that was unforgivable.
Orpheus continued to watch her move through the shelves and knew that he’d punish himself later since she seemed adverse to him doing it directly in front of her. (No! Don’t do that!”)
Still it was strange, the way her eyes seemed to get warm and concerned when she looked at him. The way she carefully applied the salve onto his face, how close she was to him. He felt so soft suddenly, under her touch, the way her attention was solely on him, how she made him feel warm.
He felt something unfurl in his chest and hesitantly reached out. Eurydice watched him carefully as she continued her ministrations and for half a second his hands faltered.
Who was he to get to hold her? How could he think that he deserved to?
But his greedy selfish nature won out and he placed them on her wrists.
Just for a second he wanted to stretch this moment, for just a bit longer. To have here with him, even for just an instance. This warmth, this love, it was, it was something he hadn’t felt in a long while. Orpheus wanted to keep this fragile moment for just a bit longer.
He opened his eyes, he hadn’t realized he closed them, and saw Eurydice smiling softly at him. She came closer and rested her forehead to his and whispered things so softly he couldn’t hear, but that didn’t matter. Orpheus closed his eyes once more, heart pounding the same beat for however long they rested on each other.
I mean, it's kinda like fluff?