Pluto was trying extraordinary hard not to blush.
She was a Lord of the Underworld for Terra’s sake. Lords of the Underworld were dark menacing creatures of death who definitely did not turn bright red when their best friend insinuated that their extremely annoying neighbour had been flirting with them.
And yet her cheeks were not intent on cooperating.
Or her ears. Or her neck.
Actually, rubies were probably a point she could use in the ‘Freya was definitely not flirting with me, can we please just stop talking about this and get rid of the flowers’ argument. They were walking along the shore of one of the underworld rivers for a reason. That reason being the multitude of tiny red flowers that just wouldn’t go away.
“She stole my ruby!” Pluto blurted, stomping her heel firmly on a red cowslip, “that’s clearly just being antagonistic and not at all flirty.” When she lifted her foot again, the flower bounced up like she’d never stepped on it. Not only was Freya intentionally growing flowers on her side of the river but she’d someone managed to make them magical too.
She was probably watching from her side of the river. Snickering.
Pluto had tried everything to get rid of them. Even hellfire. HELLFIRE. As in burns literally anything it touches type hellfire. It had worked for a few weeks then, when she’d taken her flame covered hellhound for another lovely walk through the invading cowslips, nothing.
Flowers turning to ash then reforming as she watched.
So she’d called in the big guns. Which had turned out to be a terrible mistake. Her best friend had very different priorities.
“I don’t care that she stole your ruby,” Persephone said, pointing at Pluto, “That’s basically a classic excuse to see you again. Anyone who talks to you for more than five seconds knows how passionate you are about rocks. Her keeping that rock is basically begging you to come back.”
“Or,” Pluto said, “and I’m just throwing the idea out here, she’s a jerk-face valkyrie goddess who takes pleasure in annoying me.”
Persephone shrugged, “It’s not like there’s a lot to do out here.” Then she gave Pluto the side-eye, “I’ve already gone over the Greek underworld gardens dozens of times, you could always let me look at your…”
“My rocks!” Pluto cut her off, “Mine. Your flowers are pretty and all but their tiny roots will hurt my rocks and break them up and then how am I supposed to finish cataloguing everything? Keep your plants in your own underworld.”
Rubbing a hand over her eyes, Persephone shook her head, “See? Five seconds and we’re right back to rocks.”
“Rocks are cool,” Pluto mumbled.
Persephone raised her hand, “I’ve heard the speech. They’re fascinating. I got it. I’m not really feeling up to hearing it again.”
Pluto looked up from where she’d been grinding another flower under her toe at the exhaustion ringing Persephone’s words.
Persephone wasn’t what one would expect to be wandering around in the underworld where usually only those associated with death and dying dwelt.
In a land full of dead things she favoured flowers in her red hair and a simple tattoo sleeve of moving vines with growing blooms of colour. The flowers turned when she walked as though they could still see the sun. The goddess of spring. Happy to spend most of her time in the Greek Underworld with her husband Hades.
Always smiling. Mildly terrifying.
And uncomfortably pale.
Just as being a Lord of the Underworld gave Pluto certain abilities, so too did being a spring goddess help Persephone. Her complexion was always amazing. She constantly looked like she’d just stepped out of a bath made of dew drops and the scent of slowly unfurling flowers.
Except today. Today her best friend looked like she was wilting in the world without light. Edges of her skin seeming pale, arms folded around herself like she was trying to curl into a ball. Even the tattoos on her arms were drooping, small petals drifting downward to fall out of sight past her wrists.
Gods didn’t get sick.
Pluto took a step forward and said, “Seph? You feeling okay? You look kind of droopy.”
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” Persephone gave her a small smile, took a deep breath and stood taller, “You’re sure you can’t just talk to her?”
Pluto shook her head, “She stole my ruby. And she wasn’t even sorry about it and she’s all confusing with her tallness and swords and magic and ridiculous face with subpar golden flower crowns. Plus she got me on a technicality. She offered to get rid of the lilies and I said, ‘yes, please and thank you.’. I just assumed that meant she’d get rid of the flowers. But no,” Pluto pointed emphatically to the flowers at her feet, “she literally just got rid of the lilies. I haven’t even been able to focus on Gilgamesh with this out here. It’s like I can feel the tiny evil roots breaking up my rocks with their flowery growth. Plus she called me adorable. Adorable! Me.”
Persephone’s smile only grew, covering the paleness of her skin.
Stomping her foot, Pluto crossed her arm, “I am not adorable. I’m terrifying. She may have looked calm but she was really quaking in her armour.”
“Because you threatened to pummel her with rocks?” Persephone
Pluto crossed her arms and lifted her chin, “I’m a terrifying Lord of the Underworld. It happens.”
“You got worked up again and accidentally made rocks float didn’t you?”
Heat flooded her face. Lords of the Underworld did not blush.
“She walks really quietly!” Pluto said, “Anyone would have been startled.”
“I was right there when your blushing face came bursting into our home raging about your new neighbour.” Persephone sat slowly between the blooms, “She’s hot. You got flustered. There was flirting. She has magic. You ran away.” Persephone said, “It happens. You should totally go talk to her again. When was the last time you talked to a pretty girl? Too long.”
Pluto flopped down next to her, covering her face with her arms, “I talk to you and Cupid.”
“Girls night doesn’t count.” Persephone said. Something soft brushed over her face and when Pluto moved her arm, she found Persephone grinning down at her. Still pale. With a red cowslip tickling Pluto’s chin, “I mean a date.”
Pluto groaned and covered her face again.
“Please don’t tell me it was Victoria,” Persephone continued, “because that was ages ago. Or was it Kali? I suppose we could always call Prosperina. She seems eager.”
“Just. The flowers. For my rocks. Please. Make them go away. As my bestest friend who happens to have her own magical flower spring goddess powers. Please.” Pluto threw her hands in the air and let them drop into the flowery field.
The red flower landed on her chest as Persephone threw it at her, “Just talk to her.”
“Flowers. Please.” Pluto said.
“I’ll let you put a garden on the west lawn.” she continued.
She could literally hear Persephone’s pout. Quite frankly, Pluto was surprised she’d made it this far without being hoisted up a tree or something. Her friend was usually a tad more forceful in her methods.
As she was also stubborn, the resulting arguments meant that Pluto had once spent a week with tiny sentient shrubs following her every step like ducklings until she apologized to Hel for taking a piece of her kingdom. Persephone said it was rude to steal.
Pluto maintained that the really cool Norse rock had just happened to fall into her pocket.
She’d caved once the shrubs had started clogging the hallways.
“How far would you say my place is from here?” Persephone asked out of the blue.
Pluto shrugged and started shredding the petals of the flower on her chest, “Half an hour?”
“Anyone staying with you right now?” Persephone asked.
“Just the souls,” Pluto said, “Mors is out with the whole death thing and the diraes are on vacation. Everyone else is busy. Father’s probably trying to bust out of Tartarus again or something.”
“Great,” Persephone jumped to her feet, “let’s take care of this then.”
“Really?” Pluto scrambled after her, jamming the remains of the flower in her pocket.
Persephone cracked her neck and took a deep breath, “Sure. It’s about time anyway.”
Before Pluto could ask what in Terra that meant, sparks of the palest pink began pouring from Persephone’s fingers. They bubbled up, cascading like a waterfall off her hands to sprinkle over the red flowers. The sparks carried on, sinking into the flowers as their light glowed visible through the thin outer layer. Magic zipping up and down the phloem.
For a moment nothing happened.
Then the flowers withered. Curling inward until they were nothing more than a tight ball and shrinking away into nothing with only a small sizzling pop and the faint scent of spring to remind her that they’d been there.
Pluto twirled on her heel, smile cracking her face and eyes going wide as the sparks zipped down the river and flowers wilted in their path. They left nothing behind but her bare, beautiful rock. Slightly pocketed from the roots.
Nothing a good polish wouldn’t cure and time would take care of that for her.
She spun back around to thank Persephone and froze when the goddess came into view.
Persephone had gone white, any remaining shreds of colour dissolving from her face as her eyes went flat under Pluto’s gaze. She wobbled slightly on unsteady knees. Pluto dove forward, grabbing Persephone by her arms. Her eyes widened as the tattooed vines turned black under her touch.
But when Pluto’s gaze jumped back to Persephone’s face, her friend’s smile was wicked.
“Hades is on Olympus.” Persephone said.
Then she crumpled in Pluto’s arms, leaving the god straining under the weight of the much taller goddess.
Pluto’s head spun. This didn’t happen gods didn’t just die. They couldn’t. Sure you could stab them in the chest but. They didn’t. Just fall over. There were rules and they were immortal and just no. Her hands pulled Persephone tighter, uncertain of what else to do.
She shook her slightly.
Head spinning, she looked for anyone who could help. Mors gone. Hades on Olympus. Charon a boat-ride away. Souls useless.
Then the words burst from her lips when she realized who the closest god would be, “For Terra’s sake!”
She didn’t bother with knocking. Pluto barrelled through the large wooden doors, leading with the shoulder that didn’t have her best friend hoisted over it, and started shouting the second she got in the building, “Who knows about dead people?”
The hall was grand and large and covered in stones of all kinds but Pluto didn’t notice anything except the long wooden table in the center. She just rushed over and carefully put Persephone’s body down.
Magic sparked over Pluto’s fingers as her hands hovered over Persephone, trying to find somewhere to land. Anywhere. Do anything. But rocks are not people and the magic had absolutely nowhere to go. She felt the panic fluttering in her chest and crushed it with a boulder.
Just don’t think about how gods can get lost in the nethersphere for forever and never ever come back and how gods weren’t just supposed to collapse like that and why did this always happen and why didn’t she bother learning something about dead people after the last one? Yupp. Definitely do not think about those things.
“If it isn’t the terrifying Lord of the Underworld herself,” Freya’s husky tone washed over her with something that felt alarmingly like relief. Which was completely understandable considering that she was so out of depth in this situation that her emotions were probably just horribly confused.
Freya kept talking, “Was there a problem with the flowers? As requested, I did take care of the lilies. I do love cow slips. Beautiful flowers. And I picked the colour just for you. Red suits you.”
Pluto’s brain couldn’t even supply a witty comment or call herself terrifying or tell Freya what exactly she could do with her stupid invading flowers or stolen rubies.
She just spun around. One hand dropping to clench Persephone’s lifeless fingers, useless magic jumping over the other. Useless. Tiny. Simply there.
Her tongue moved, trying to come up with words but the only thing her brain could conjure up were emotions. Fear and panic and terror and all things a Lord of the Underworld shouldn’t be feeling rising into her face. Culminating in the tiniest broken word spilling from her lips.
For a moment Freya seemed frozen. Except her eyes, widening just slightly from beneath the golden flower crowns and blonde hair. Darting over Pluto’s face.
Then she was across the room and leaning over the other side of the table across from Pluto before a more articulate word could be spoken.
Where Pluto’s hands had flailed, Freya’s were precise. Death not frightening and something horribly normal in her movements, as though her hands were used to these actions. Muscle memory taking over. But even as Pluto slowly turned back to the table, Persephone’s fingers still tight in her grip, her eyes caught the sword still sheathed at Freya’s side.
A warrior goddess.
Death something to be expected. Seen on the battlefield every day.
“What happened?” Freya’s words snapped her back. Eyes meeting her own, intense and burning.
“I don’t know!” Pluto said, squeezing her friends hand harder, “we were down by the river looking at your ridiculous flowers because I don’t know what you did to them but not even hellfire makes them go away anymore so I figured that maybe my BFF would know because she’s good with flowers too except she just kept saying that you were flirting with me and then I got all confused but then she said she’d handle the flowers and I was like ‘yes. good. do that’. So she started to use magic and when I turned back around she’d gone all pale and shaky and basically passed out and she’s dead and now she’s not breathing.”
The word seemed to prompt a reminder in Pluto and she inhaled sharply. Taking a breath she didn’t need but that the body still craved.
Freya’s voice was calm as she pressed two fingers to Persephone’s neck, “Gods don’t need to breathe. She might not be dead. It’s probably just an overuse of magic.”
Then Freya’s brow twitched slightly. Fingers pressing down more firmly.
“Oh Terra,” Pluto took a step back, only her grip on Persephone’s hand keeping her from running across the room, “she doesn’t have a pulse, does she? We still need pulses. Persephone’s dead. Terra, she’s dead. She just dropped dead. Gods don’t do that.”
“Wait? Persephone?” Freya’s hand fell away and her eyes shut down, hiding anything else, “Oh come on. And here I thought something was actually wrong. Seriously? All this because I grew flowers on your side? Not even Odin went this far.” She crossed her arms over her chest, “You get a round of applause for that performance, that cute little face fooled me. Doesn’t look like you have a cruel bone in your body.”
Pluto leapt forward again, jamming her hand against the non-existent pulse, “What are you doing? Help her!”
Freya snorted, “Why bother? She’s definitely dead. If only we all could just fall over and go quietly. I’m not playing this game again. Mock someone else.”
She’s definitely dead.
Pluto’s chest started pumping, inhaling sharply between words but never exhaling. Her hand jerked back, flying to her own chest as she said to no-one in particular, “I killed her. I actually killed her.”
Her chest heaved as the words flowed on, unstoppable. Matching Pluto’s whirling thoughts, “Something had to have gone wrong because she just dropped and there was nothing like fire or spikes or poison or anything that could have killed her because I checked. I checked first. I checked. I checked so much after the last dead one. Everywhere. Rivers. Fields. Rocks. I checked. She’s so clumsy. She gets new bodies all the time. Cause she just trips and hits her head or something. All the time. So I checked first. There was nothing.”
Apparently not needing breath didn’t mean her body couldn’t hyperventilate.
“She just died. that doesn’t happen.” Pluto spat the words, “What if she’s lost forever and we never get her back and everyone just forgets her and it’s all my fault. I couldn’t even help her and what do I tell Hades? Terra, I could’ve saved. why didn’t i. never do. and just she’s dead and-”
She couldn’t breathe. She didn’t actually need to breathe but her body was screaming out for it and her lungs wouldn’t move. Wheezing but coming up with nothing. Blood pounded in her ears and her hands started shaking. Her tongue felt like it was covered in rock dust.
Words stalling in her throat with the breath.
“Pluto.” Freya said and suddenly she felt a light pressure on her palms. Soft and a little bit warm. Rubbing small circles across her life lines. “It’s going to be okay. Everything is fine. This happens to some gods. It’s not your fault.”
Pluto’s eyes shot up, peering through the waves of dark hair that had somehow fallen in her face.
She couldn’t see a lie on Freya’s face.
Her eyes were kind, “I’m sorry I said that. I just assumed you knew about spring goddesses and that this was a cruel,” Freya paused then continued, “payback for all the flowers I’ve been sending your way. I’ll explain. I promise. I just need you to breathe. It’s not your fault.”
Pluto managed a sharp inhale. Eyes locked on the goddess in front of her.
Avoiding the one lying prone on the table.
“There you go,” Freya said, “let’s try it again. A little slower this time.”
Thumbs still slowly rubbing against her palms.
“You’re Roman right?” Freya asked, voice almost a melody.
Pluto managed a nod.
Freya gave her a small smile, “A baby god then. Of course.” If she wasn’t busy trying to breathe, Pluto might have been insulted. But Freya continued, “Such a new pantheon but so much power already. You wait, one day I bet Rome will soar higher than the rest of us did.”
Pluto could see herself in the golden reflection of Freya’s crown. A hundred versions of herself looking out through the petals.
But all that mattered were the words flowing over her. Tone soft from Freya’s mouth, “I forget you know. What it’s like to be young. Some of us have been around for so long. Egypt. Sumer. Norse. Others. We haven’t seen a baby pantheon in so long. Just coming into your own.” Freya’s gaze turned slightly more piercing, “they’re saying that you’re all just inverted Greece but,” Freya peered down at her, “you’re not, are you?”
Pluto shook her head. Emphatically.
“Keep breathing,” Freya encouraged. Then she slowly exhaled, followed by an inhale. Repeating the pattern over and over.
Matching her breath, Pluto finally managed to choke out the question, “Persephone?”
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Freya repeated with a small smile, “she’s a spring goddess. If you’d get your head out of the rocks once in awhile you might know what that meant.”
Pluto shot her a look, blowing the next exhale right in Freya’s face.
The corner of her mouth twitched up, “There’s that terrifying Lord of the Dead again.”
Pluto just squinted at her. Still breathing.
“Fine, fine,” Freya said, “Spring goddesses have a couple of unique characteristics. The main one being that they’re spring goddesses. They’re a literally embodiment of the season. Seasons change. Flowers flourish and then die. So too do goddesses who share their power. The details vary by pantheon but every single one has a story about one of the gods descending into the underworld. Persephone. Dumuzi. Osiris and so on. You could even make the case for Inanna. It was just your friend’s time. Likely the extra exertion didn’t help but she knew what she was doing.”
“So,” Pluto hated how small her voice sounded, “she’ll be fine?”
Freya rolled her eyes but her thumbs still moved across Pluto’s palms, “Just get in touch with that husband of hers and he can bring her back as soon as he finds a new body. Right as rain.”
The boulder that had been crushing her heart crumbled. The tiny pieces of rock fading away almost as though they’d never been there. Almost.
But Lords of the Underworld don’t worry about tiny slivers of leftover rock.
Persephone was going to be okay.
Then Pluto’s breath caught for a whole different reason.
She’d just had what might have been a panic attack. In front of her arch enemy. Her irritating neighbour with the ridiculous face who’d just been mean but then kind of nice about calming her down and still had her favourite ruby stashed somewhere in this building.
This would not be good for her image.
Subtle topic change time.
“Speaking of rain,” Pluto said, “You know what even magical underworld rain doesn’t put out? Hellfire. You know why I had a lot of hellfire? Flowers. You know what doesn’t apparently doesn’t kill magical flowers? Hellfire.”
Nailed the topic change.
Freya raised an eyebrow, “That is a lovely series of facts.”
“You know what would be even lovelier?” Pluto kept going, “If I didn’t have to go out and corral raging storms of hellfire because flowers keep popping up on tHE WRONG SIDE OF THE RIVER.”
“No idea what you’re talking about.” Freya said.
But her eyes were dancing.
Pluto freed one hand and pointed a finger right in her face, then dropped it to her side when she realized the digit was still shaking, “This isn’t funny. I literally temporarily killed my best friend because you’re just insistent on shoving flowers in my face every five seconds. Like why? Why do you keep doing that? What’s the appeal? There’s so much room on this side of the river. It’s completely unnecessary. You definitely owe Persephone an apology or something because the nethersphere cannot be fun.”
“She’ll be fine,” Freya waved her off, “it happens.”
“She died.” Pluto said.
“The corpse is on my table,” Freya said, “I’m aware.”
Pluto’s nose scrunched. Dead bodies, now that she wasn’t worried about trying to stuff her friend’s soul back inside them, were gross.
Apparently Freya caught the expression, “You’re taking that back with you by the way.”
“What. No.” Pluto took a step back, accidently drawing Freya with her. One set of their hands still linked.
Their gazes met then dropped as quickly as their hands did.
“I suppose I could keep it,” Freya crossed her arms, “Might make good fertilizer.”
Pluto shuddered, “I’ll take it. Never mind.”
“I don’t mind. For being the underworld, we don’t get near enough bodies down here,” Freya said.
“I’ll handle it.” Pluto repeated.
She looked at the corpse but didn’t move.
Freya seemed more than happy to do it for her. Smirking, the goddess turned to the table and grabbed the body. She held it out to Pluto who grimaced but slowly accepted the weight back on her shoulder.
She didn’t even know what she going to do with it. How was she supposed to approach that conversation with Hades? ‘Hey. Your wife decided to die again on the edge of a river because my ridiculously attractive neighbour is trying to drive me insane with flowers. Sorry about that. Here’s her old body back.’
Rocks were so much easier.
“Can I have my ruby back?” Pluto asked, settling Persephone onto her shoulder.
“Really is a one track mind with you,” Freya said, “I believe that I’m the one who just did you a favour? Letting you drag your corpses in here and all.”
She might have a point.
“You stole it,” Pluto said, “Favours need not apply. I’m just trying to get what’s rightfully mine back.”
Freya shook her head, “Funny, I remember that you threw it to me as a gift. Which I accepted. Now it’s sitting back on display and after I spent all the time moving the furniture around to accommodate it, well, I’d hate to have to give it back.”
Persephone started slipping off her shoulder and Pluto strained to pull her back up. Better make this quick. Persephone was not the lightest goddess, “How about the flowers?” Pluto said, “can you get rid of those.”
“Consider them a gift,” Freya said, “you give me a ruby. I give you flowers.”
“I don’t accept.” Pluto said.
That would be the worst gift exchange ever. Ruby stolen and then flowers foisted on her.
For a moment, she thought Freya was going to smile but the goddess only said, “Very well. Rude. But very well, I’ll with-hold the flowers until you accept them.”
Pluto’s jaw dropped. Then she stammered out, “So you’ll get rid of them?”
“Please don’t drop that corpse on my floor,” was the only response she got before Freya pushed her out the door.
But when she crossed the river, the flowers were gone. Their only survivor the half-shredded red bloom she’d slipped into her pocket.
Hades was hovering and Pluto couldn’t blame him. She could feel his presence, all slim and tall and mysterious, standing just outside the door as Persephone pulled Pluto into a hug.
Safely in a new body.
Pluto hugged her back, probably harder than necessary. As if the action could affirm that her friend was still in there. Still alive. This body was thicker than the last but the extra oompth seemed to fit the goddess as her eyes smiled the same as they always had. Skin glowing with colour. Bandages on her arm from the new set of tattoos healing. Identical to the old.
She could just spot the tendril of a cowslip poking from behind the linen.
Apparently Persephone could sense the hovering too, “I’m sitting. I’m sitting.” she yelled at the door, “calm down.”
Then she turned to Pluto as she dropped into the nearest chair, “He’s always like this at first.”
“You scared me,” Pluto said, “I can’t imagine how he feels.”
Persephone winced, “Sorry about that. But,” her eyes brightened, “how was the goddess of sexy mysteriousness? Happy to see you.”
Pluto rubbed her temples, “Please tell me you didn’t let yourself die in my arms on a riverbank just so that I’d talk to the annoying neighbour who definitely wasn’t flirting with me.”
“Course not. Hades is listening. That would be horribly irresponsible of me.” Persephone said but the twinkle in her eyes said exactly the opposite. So did her reputation as the Queen of Meddling. “But with the happy coincidence, anything to share?”
For a moment Pluto’s palms felt like they were burning with a phantom touch, “Nope,” she choked out, “absolutely nothing. Just told me that I was being crazy and spring goddesses are supposed to die. Then insulted my rocks and told me to get out more.”
Technically not a lie.
“Mmmhmmmm,” Persephone said.
Pluto did not like the smile on her face. Why was everyone always smiling these small sneaky smiles around her like they knew something she didn’t? She knew things. She knew lots of things. Like how obsidian is technically volcanic glass and could probably make a pretty good knife or how quartz is basically everywhere and needs to just chill or how there was definitely a lot of copper on Cyprus that she’d just happened to purchase a summer home on.
She knew things.
No need for sneaky smiles.
“I’m sorry for scaring you,” Persephone said at last, “but I really did think she liked you and since I had to go soon anyway…” Persephone shrugged, “let me make it up to you. Those flowers are for you.”
“Flowers?” Pluto tried not to groan.
Persephone pointed across the room. The entire building was covered in flowers, creeping in through the large open windows to sprawl across every available surface. But these flowers were cut, sitting in a large pithos of water.
They were almost red roses but the blooms were so tiny. As though someone had tried to capture something enormous in the smallest space possible. A bud that was actually a full flower.
Dutifully, Pluto trotted over and picked up the vase, “Gee, thanks.” she said.
Waving her off, Persephone said, “Don’t give me that. Just say thank-you and accept the gift.”
“Thank you.” Pluto said the words as mechanically as possible.
She should have known better.
Persephone’s smile turned into a smirk faster than she’d ever seen as she said, “You know, I’ve never seen anything quite like them. I was so impressed when they showed. Roses, easy enough. But I have no idea how she got them to grow so small and that shade of red is just so vibrant, it’s not a colour I usually see.” Persephone gazed at the blooms, “Kind of looks like something I might find in one of your rocks. She must have put a lot of work into making them. I’ll admit, I was disappointed when I read the tag and saw your name on them.”
Pluto almost dropped the pithos.
“Please,” she said, “please tell me that you designed these as a thank you.”
Persephone didn’t even bother to look guilty, “Card’s in the top”. She gave Pluto a wink, “and you said she didn’t like you. Totally worth dying intentionally for.”
If Pluto wasn’t holding a pithos full of evil flowers, she might have strangled Persephone.
Fortunately Hades seemed willing to do it for her. He burst through the door, “I knew you did it on purpose. We talked about this.”
Persephone just blew her husband a kiss as he glowered, giving Pluto a chance to dig the card out of the flowers. She read it once. Twice. Then crumpled it up and threw it at Persephone before sinking back onto her chair.
“I’m going to kill you myself,” Pluto muttered.
“As long as you invite me to the wedding,” Persephone said.
The words on the card were simple but Pluto found them engraved across her brain anyway,
“As lovely a gift as a corpse is, I understand that one traditionally sends flowers.”
When Pluto went home, the cowslips were still gone. But the entire bank of the river was covered in tiny red roses. Ruby red roses.