The Goddess Legacy
Page 20

 Aimee Carter

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At last I took his hand and squeezed it, trying to memorize the way it felt in mine. “I’m going to make sure Zeus can no longer hurt anyone. Not me, not his children, not humanity, anyone. And I want your support.”
Wariness flashed across his face, but he’d already promised me anything, and he nodded. “Of course. Whatever it takes.”
I sniffed and wiped my cheeks once more. He pulled me into a hug, and I buried my face in his shoulder for the last time. Whether or not I was invited to the Underworld as his guest, it would never be the same, not with Demeter’s daughter watching our every move. Not when he could never return the love I felt for him, not without doing to Persephone what Zeus had done to me. “Thank you,” I said softly. “I love you.”
“As I love you, forever and always,” he murmured. “Never forget that.”
I nodded. Nothing in the world could ever take those words away from me, not even my own broken heart.
* * *
I needed seven votes. Seven votes to overthrow Zeus’s rule, seven votes for me to step up and take his place.
As of the moment I returned to Olympus, I only had three. Hades, Ares and Hephaestus were loyal to me, and there was a chance I would be able to lure my sisters to my side. But Poseidon was firmly in Zeus’s camp, which meant I would have to sway one of the children.
I approached my sisters first. I hadn’t seen Hestia in a very long time, and though we both sobbed through our reunion, I didn’t feel guilty for leaving her behind. She’d never had any trouble finding company, and having vowed chastity, marriage and children would never get in the way of her relationships with our siblings. She was happy—maybe happier than all of us. And the ugly, twisted part of me that Zeus had created hated her for it.
Demeter sat in the corner as Hestia and I greeted each other, and once we’d finished, she cleared her throat. “As thrilled as I am that you have returned to us, Hera, why did you ask for both of us to be here?”
I gave her a withering look, but I couldn’t afford anything more. “Zeus has control of the council,” I said. I didn’t need to attend meetings to know that. “And I suspect your voices are no longer heard.”
“Here to campaign?” said Hestia with amusement, but I leveled my gaze at her, and her smile faded.
“I am Zeus’s equal. His domain is mine as well, and we both have the capacity to rule. After everything Zeus has done to our family, I want to make it right. I want to give you back your voices. Your power. The respect you deserve.”
My sisters watched me closely, their expressions giving nothing away. If I couldn’t convince them, I would have no choice.
“Hestia, you want to keep peace within the family, yes?” I said, and she nodded. “The only way to do that is to restore the original council. Perhaps we can keep the others on as…advisors, but we must reclaim our rightful place as rulers.”
“But Zeus—”
“Zeus will have no say, not if we have the most votes,” I said.
Demeter furrowed her brow. “You’re suggesting a coup?”
“I am suggesting we restore order, sensibility and respect. Nothing more. A coup would mean a war, and none of us wants that.”
“But in order to avoid it, we must give you power,” said Demeter.
“No,” I said with more patience than she deserved. “In order to avoid it, we must redistribute power among the six of us, equally, as it has always been. If we are successful, Hades has agreed to return to the council as a full-time member.”
“Hades supports this?” she said, her surprise in every syllable.
“Hades supports fairness and unity. Hestia? What do you think?”
Hestia crossed her arms over her full figure. She too had aged—had Poseidon, as well? Were Hades and I the only ones who remained youthful? “If what you’re saying is true, then I would be supportive of reverting to the way the council was intended to run. Equally among the six of us.”
“Thank you,” I said, and I squeezed her hand. “Demeter?”
I could see the hesitation in her eyes, the uncertainty on her face, the doubt in the way she hunched her shoulders—she was going to say no. Why? Out of loyalty to Zeus?
Swallowing my pride, I knelt on the floor before her, taking her hands exactly as my dear husband had the day she’d revealed her pregnancy. “Demeter. Sister,” I murmured, and her gaze locked on mine. “Let us be whole again. Not just you and I, but all of us. We won’t cast Zeus out—simply restore order. Simply fulfill our duties to humanity, the same ones we fought the Titans for.”
Still her indecision remained. It was a pity I couldn’t use my abilities on my siblings, at least not without them knowing—but I didn’t want to force her hand. I wanted her to choose me because she thought it was the right decision.
“I’ll bless their marriage,” I said quietly. My last bargaining chip, though offering it made a knife twist in my gut. “Be our ally, and Persephone and Hades will be happy.”
At last she crumbled. “All right,” she said quietly. “You have my vote.”
I rose and kissed her cheek. “Thank you.” She would never have my forgiveness, and I would never be her sister again no matter how I addressed her, but if she did this for me, I would stick to my word and bless Hades’s marriage.
“We still don’t have the numbers though, even with Ares and Hephaestus,” said Hestia, and I straightened.