Persephone dumped a cupful of black grains into the crock pot and heard them hit the ceramic with a musical tinkling noise. Cooking had become a form of escape for her ever since arriving in Olympus. It felt like it put her back in touch with the mortal realm. Handling the results of the harvest, creating something with them. Thankfully, Artemis had been only too happy to allow her to take over the kitchen. It seemed that before Persephone’s arrival there was a lot of instant food hurriedly eaten between work and sleep. She liked that aspect of it too, being able to give back to her friend. Thank her for her hospitality.
She took to cutting carrots and celery, adding those tiny cubes to the pot as well. She peered into the appliance and sighed. Probably overshot the amount again, but at least this soup froze well. She began dicing an onion to be added to the mirepoix, eyes watering and stinging.
“Careful there, Persie. No good trying to cut something you can’t see.” Large hands covered her own, guiding her actions, the body they belonged to pressing her roughly into the countertop edge.
Panic rose in Persephone’s chest, hot, fast, and volatile. Dropping the knife, she turned within her captor’s embrace, scraping her hip hard against the counter.
Anyone but him.
Apollo smiled his predatory smile down at her and pressed his weight into her body to trap her more firmly in place and placed his hands on the counter to cage her in. He leaned down into her neck, trailing his face into her hair and shivered. Persephone felt the sick rising in her throat like high tide, viscous and burning. Good. Maybe if she vomited on him, he’d finally leave her alone. Apollo ground his hips into her, and she felt a fresh horror dawning as his body betrayed his thoughts.
“Let me go.” Persephone strained through gritted teeth.
“It’s been too long. You’re my girl. No one can stop us, you know.” Apollo grasped her face with thick fingers and forced her face to his. He smashed his lips to hers in a mockery of a kiss. Persephone pressed against his chest with every ounce of strength she could muster as Apollo redoubled his efforts, arms crushing her tight against him.
Persephone bit his lip.
She tasted ichor and knew he couldn’t misinterpret this for an amorous move. Apollo gasped and leapt back from her, and she took her opportunity to round the island, putting the large expanse of countertop between them. Apollo placed a hand to his mouth and inspected his blood covered fingers. His eyes flashed golden with a rage barely leashed.
“You. Little. BITCH.” He ground out; lip raised to expose his teeth in a feral snarl. Suddenly, his face softened, his smile turning subtly cruel. “I can handle that.” He muttered and began humming. His voice came to her gradually, in waves, an ebb and flow of layered notes that was unaccountably soothing. The golden hue of his eyes began pulsing in time with the sound emanating from deep within his chest.
Persephone swayed and caught herself on the counter’s edge. Her head felt as though it was slowly filling with gossamer fabric. Her gaze felt locked to Apollo’s gently flaring eyes, the golden light sweeping across her skin and into her like the final rays of sun on a warm day. She felt an echoing siren call rising in her blood. This is comfort. This is what you need. I can give you everything you need. That didn’t seem right. She knew there was a reason that wasn’t right, but the thought couldn’t land in her brain at the moment. It flitted about the top of her thoughts like an errant songbird, chirping reminders that she couldn’t understand.
But something could.
She felt them first around her calves, the sinuous movement wrapping lower, edging ever outward. Her powers answered the call radiating from Apollo in the only way they could. The soft sounds of new, green wood shifting across the floor the only sign that anything at all was occurring. He was entirely too enthralled in his attempted seduction of Persephone to notice when the vines began to work their way around him like a neatly fitted cage, a hair’s breadth of space between his flesh and the supple wood. Persephone was dimly aware of the visual, her gaze still wholly captivated by his.
Without warning the vines crashed into his flesh as though drawn closed around him by a phantom pull cord. Apollo’s eyes instantly regained their normal purple hue and the fog lifted from Persephone’s mind. She delighted in the panic she saw etched across his face and took control of the vines herself. She pitched his body forward, slamming his head into the edge of the countertop before forcing him to the floor. She slowly rounded the island to stand over him, watching his struggle to breathe as the vines continued to constrict about his chest.
“I am not your girl, Apollo. I never will be.” She stated, voice low and words precise. She could not be misunderstood in that moment, awash with her own power and firmly of the upper hand.
Until she wasn’t.
Apollo’s skin suddenly began glowing, a slow crescendo that culminated in him blazing like the sun itself. Persephone staggered backward, blinded by the god before her. He took advantage of her momentary lapse in control to snap the vines encasing him and leapt to his feet. The remnants of the vines flickered and smoldered on the floor, threatening to start fires in earnest. He rose, uncoiling from the floor like a dark monstrosity and stepped slowly forward, crushing one of the flaming branches decisively underfoot.
“Then you will be NO ONE’S girl.” He spoke low in his throat, quietly, but his malicious intent came through loud and clear.
This fight was for her life.
Persephone wound vines about her hands, heavy with sharp thorns and crouched, ready for whatever attack Apollo would levy against her. She had anticipated a flurry of movement, quick and violent, but he simply smiled that terrible smile and reached for the simple kitchen knife lying forgotten on the cutting board. He tipped his head to each side, neck cracking in response. Dread pooled in Persephone’s stomach. He was enjoying this. Maybe more than attempting to seduce or rape her. She slowly backed away, trying to plan her next move.
Apollo caressed the handle of the knife and idly ran a thumb along the blade. The corner of his mouth rose as the answering cut appeared in his flesh and he placed the thumb into his mouth, sucking the golden liquid from it. He raised his gaze to meet hers. His eyes were empty now, blank and terrifying.
“Sharp. One should always keep their tools in good repair.”
Persephone began weaving brutal vines about herself, creating a bastion of safety. He was between her and the door. How had she allowed that to happen? The best she could do would be to defend herself, and she would.
To the last.
Apollo approached her; his pace unhurried. Any onlooker would suppose he was the very picture of calm and control, but Persephone could see the muscle in his jaw slowly ticking like a clock counting down to an impending explosion. She continued weaving herself a cage of sturdy vines but had only reached mid-thigh. Making the thicker ones took time, time it seemed she didn’t have. She flicked her panicked gaze up to Apollo’s face.
He was nearer now.
Apollo lazily extinguished the flaming remnants of Persephone’s constricting vines as he came across them, stalking slowly across the floor.
The hiss of smothered flame.
Persephone racked her brain for a plan, any plan, that could get her to the doorway. Her phone was in the living room. Foolish. If she survived this, she would never be without a phone again. She briefly considered summoning Hades, but she had wrapped herself to her hips in thick, mature vines and couldn’t bend to reach the floor.
The vines needed to grow faster.
Persephone’s time in Olympus flashed through her mind. The Panathenaea. Eros. Waking up in Hades’ house, the one bright sweet memory. Her heart ached to call for him. Movie night. Apollo taking her by force. Hestia reprimanding her. Minthe baiting her. Had a single soul ever shown her unadulterated kindness in her time here other than Hades?
She poured every ounce of her power and energy into speeding up the process and resorted to making thinner, smaller vines, but more of them. She began to weave them across the front of her body like a shield, praying to the fates that it would be enough. She heard Apollo chuckle evilly from the other side of the small barrier.
“Not enough, Persie” she heard a dark voice say softly from just the other side of the vines right before the blade of the knife came slashing through, cutting her handiwork cleanly in two.
“You can’t stop me. Some ‘B’ grade goddess from the mortal realm? Really. I’m the god of the fucking SUN.” He spat at her, showing his true intentions. Persephone knew he had never really wanted her as anything but a conquest. Something to claim. Something to control. He was close enough now for his breath to coast over her skin, hot and sour. Persephone gagged and turned her head to the right. He grabbed her face again, this time digging his nails ferociously into her cheeks. He turned her head to face him so fast and hard she heard her neck crack. Oh gods, was he just going to break her neck, after all of this?
Apollo released her face, pulled back his fist and drove her head into the wall behind her. Persephone’s vision alternated between red and black flashes while the pain rocketed through her head. She raised her vine covered hands to drive the thorns into Apollo’s face and he met her defense with a slash of the knife along her forearm. Persephone couldn’t pay any attention to being cut. She needed to live.
She slashed at his face again, this time catching him clear across his eyes and down his left cheek. Apollo roared in pain and rage, driving the point of the knife into her shoulder. She continued creating vines to whip at him and driving the thorns into him, but she could no longer hide how weak she was becoming. He had let her exhaust her powers trying to build a cage. Foolish. Should have stayed moving she thought dimly as Apollo captured one of her hands in his. He dragged the blade of the knife across her palm, cutting loose the thorn covered vines she had grown there. She screamed as the blade bit into her palm, ichor running down her arm in hot rivulets. Persephone raised a vine up behind him, swaying like a cobra, and swiftly wrapped it around his throat. Apollo’s eyes grew wide as he flailed behind him with the knife, attempting to sever the offending creeper. He laughed, loud and rough when he succeeded in subduing it. He snarled and lunged towards Persephone.
Why are all my vines crumbling? She wondered hazily as she fell to the floor. The change in position alerted her to the fact that something was present in her body that shouldn’t have been. She slid down the wall to a seated position and tentatively touched her abdomen to inspect the invader. The wooden handle of the kitchen knife shuddered with each breath she took, the blade lodged deep in her belly. She looked up at Apollo, her jaw slack, eyes pleading.
“No one’s girl.” He said flatly. His eyes flashed gold for a split second as he smiled darkly and turning on his heel, he left the room.
Persephone coughed and felt the telltale warmth of her golden life’s blood oozing from her lips. She dropped her head to her right shoulder and saw the rapidly growing pool on the floor beside her. Her vision was blackening around the edges. I… I failed. Her thoughts were far away now.
With the last of her rapidly waning strength, she weakly slapped the ground twice in the puddle, splattering herself with sparkling death.