*The parts of this with gods and goddesses instead of cats are based on the Greek myth about Demeter and Persephone and why the seasons change. I changed it a little to suit my purposes.*
Demeter, goddess of harvest, smiled at her newborn daughter. She was at her peak of happiness. The infant cooed and played with Demeter's hair, and Demeter could feel Zeus looking down from Olympus. He was unable to be there at the birth, being busy with his duties as king of the gods and not wanting to anger his true wife, but he was watching just the same. Demeter held the child high above her head, as if offering her to the Olympians. "I name thee Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus!" A lightning bolt flew down from the heavens and hit a patch of flowers. They exploded and rained down on Persephone. Demeter smiled, knowing it was Zeus's gift. "Thank you, mylove."
"Hold on, Demeter, you'll be okay, breathe, breathe..." said Jennyanydots.
Demeter took a ragged breath. "I'm...trying... Where's...Munkustrap?"
"Bombalurina went to find him."
Demeter was about to answer when she felt a burst of pain. "Aaah!" she cried. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
A silver streak, followed by a panting Bombalurina, rushed to Demeter's side.
"Oh Heavyside, Demeter, I didn't think it would be today! I was helping Old Deuteronomy with something..." Munkustrap was practically in hysterics.
Bombalurina wasn't much calmer, but she hid it better. "Hey Dem, how's it going?"
Demeter gasped. "It hurts!"
Munkustrap glared at Jennyanydots. "Demeter is in pain! Can't you do something!?"
Jennyanydots smiled patiently. "Munkustrap, birth is a natural process. Now calm down. You're the last tom I'd suspect of NFS."
"Nervous Father Syndrome."
"I'm not nervous! I'm just..." He sighed. "I'm nervous."
Demeter smiled weakly. "Don't worry about me, Sweetheart, I'm doing fine. In fact, I think..." Her smile evaporated. "YOW! It's coming!"
Jennyanydots rushed to her. "All right, keep breathing... steady... PUSH!"
Holding tightly to Bombalurina and Munkustrap's paws, Demeter pushed as hard as she could. She felt the tiny bit of life that had been with her so long leave her, entering the world.
Munkustrap sighed in relief and awe. "Demeter, she's beautiful. What are you going to call her?"
Demeter washed the kitten thoroughly before replying. The mite's gray and gold fur gleamed in the sun. With a heart filled with love, Demeter said, "Persephone."
Persephone grew into a lovely young goddess, and Demeter loved her more every day she lived. Often she would stare in wonder at how she had grown from her first day of life.
One day when Persephone was picking flowers, the ground in front of her split open. As she recoiled in terror, Hades, god of the underworld, sprang up.
"Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus, come with me to my kingdom and be my bride!" he called in his awful, earsplitting voice.
"Never!" said Persephone, running behind a tree. She sent a desperate prayer to Olympus. "Father Zeus, help me!"
As Hades dragged Persephone into the open earth, Zeus heard her prayer. "I must go to my daughter!" he said to his wife, Hera.
"Your daughter?" Hera said acidly. "Which one? Which stupid, half-mortal brat needs you? DON'T ANSWER THAT! You will not go!"
The earth closed, and Persephone was in the underworld.
Persephone was now ten months old, and the young toms were beginning to be attracted to her. She liked the toms as friends, but was not sure that she was ready for a serious relationship. She discussed the matter with her best friend, Bombalurina and Tugger's daughter Veldira. Veldira had been born the day after Persephone, and they had been raised practically as twins.
"Vel, I need your help. I think Osycus wants me to go out with him, and I really don't want to," said Persephone. Osycus was Cassandra and Alonzo's son.
Veldira looked up from grooming her red-gold mane. "Why no? I thought you liked him."
"Well, I do, but not that way. So what do I do?"
Veldira shrugged. "I don't know. But if you don't want him, I'll take him!"
"Persephone! Veldira! Dinner time!" called Demeter.
Veldira winked. "Race you!" she said, and took off for her home.
"Hey, no fair! Wait up!" called Persephone. She was almost caught up when a tall, thin ginger cat pounced on her.
She stared up into the grinning face of Macavity. "Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Munkustrap, come with me to my lair and be my mate!"
"Never!" said Persephone. She tried desperately to escape, but Macavity had her pinned down. "Veldira! Mom! Dad! Aunt Bombalurina! Uncle Tugger! Hel-"
A furry paw covered her mouth.
"You're coming with me," Macavity snarled, and carried her to his lair.
Demeter was devastated when she learned of her daughter's kidnapping. She raged at Zeus, "Why can't you get her back!? She's our daughter, Zeus! Please, bring back my daughter..." She broke into sobs.
"As long as she eats nothing, she is free to leave," decreed Zeus.
Teary-eyed, Demeter rushed to save her daughter. She went straight past Cerberus, the three-headed dog guardian of the underworld, into Hades's kingdom. In the meantime, the earth grew bare and cold, a sign of the harvest goddess's despair.
Demeter's ears pricked as she detected Persephone's voice. "Persephone? Is that you?"
Veldira burst in. "I won! Come on, slowpoke." She looked behind her. "Persephone?"
Demeter's heart thumped. "Veldira," she said quietly, "where's Persephone?"
"She- she was right behind me... I don't know what happened..."
Bombalurina shot Demeter a look. Together they said, "Macavity!" They grabbed their mates and ran off, searching for the Hidden Paw.
"Welcome to my kingdom, daughter of above," said Hades. He gripped Persephone's shoulders tightly.
She struggled in his grasp. "Mother! Father! Someone! Help!"
"Scream all you want," Hades sneered, "no one can hear you from here. And even if they could..." His voice trailed off as he looked meaningfully at the guardians of the underworld.
"My parents could defeat them any day," said Persephone bravely. "MOTHER!"
Hades winced as a distant voice reached his ears. "Be strong, Persephone."
I'm coming!" "Cereberus!" snapped Hades.
"Yes, Master?" said the three-headed dog, bounding from the underworld gates.
"Go dispose of that goddess!"
All three heads grinned. "As you command, Master!" He ran off, sniffing with his three noses.
"Welcome to my lair, daughter of my enemy," said Macavity. He scratched his trademark "M" onto Persephone's shoulder.
She struggled in his grasp. "Mom! Dad! Someone! Help!"
"Scream all you want," Macavity sneered, "no one can hear you from here. And even if they could..." His voice trailed off as he looked meaningfully at the rats and henchcats.
"My parents could beat them any day," said Persephone bravely. "MOM!"
Macavity growled as a distant voice reached his ears. "Hold on, Persephone, we're coming!"
"Hissraagh!" snapped Macavity.
"Yeah, Boss?" said an orange female henchcat, running to his side.
"Go take care of those Jellicles!"
Hissraagh grinned. "Sure thing, Boss!" She ran off to collect some other agents.
Hades sighed. "Finally, we can be alone!" Persephone trembled with fear, anger, and something else. "What are you going to do to me?"
"Do? I'm not going to do anything, yet. But there's something I want to tell you." Hades smiled gently. "I love you."
Persephone closed her eyes, and strange emotions ran through her. When her eyes opened, Hades was staring into them. She gasped at the unexpected warmth and sincerity she saw. Persephone took a deep breath, and tears sprang into her eyes. "I love you too."
Hades grinned and held out a pomegranate. "Come share this small feast with me," he said. "We will soon have our wedding."
Persephone took six pomegranate seeds and held them as if for a toast. "To us," she said, and popped the seeds into her mouth.
On Olympus, Zeus shook his head sadly. "Now she is not free to return."
As the pet door swung closed, Macavity turned to Persephone and grinned wickedly. "Ah, little Persephone, Munkustrap will pay dearly for you!" His face distorted, thinking of his longtime enemy. "That stupid, goody-goody, Jellicle slug!"
"Stop that!" Persephone cried, breaking free of Macavity's paws. Her face took on a reddish tint in her anger. "Pleas, don't say things like that about my father."
"Aw, poor wittle Phone doesn't want me to insult her daddy," said Macavity with false and sarcastic sympathy. "How about this? Your mother is a paranoid freak of nature! Your aunt and uncle flirt with anyone that comes their way! Your cousin-"
"STOP THAT!" screamed Persephone. She collapsed on the floor, sobbing with exhaustion, anger, and fear.
Something in Macavity's frozen heart melted. He had heard so many sobs in his life, seen so many broken lives, but none had ever touched him the way this beautiful gray-and-gold queen's did. He walked over and nuzzled her awkwardly.
"Don't cry, Persephone." Persephone looked up at him. "Why would you care?" she asked in a voice choked with tears.
"I..." A vision formed in front of Macavity's eyes: Demeter, her eyes full of fear, cowering in the exact same spot as Persephone. I put that fear there. he thought. He looked at Persephone, fear beginning to form in her own eyes. I must not do that again. "Don't be afraid."
"How can you say that? You live to make others afraid of you! My mother... Sometimes it scares me to even look in her eyes. This might kill her. Why can't you just leave my family alone?" Persephone's voice broke as she started sobbing.
The visions flew thick and fast. More of Demeter, always fearful, Bombalurina, mocking, Munkustrap, his eyes burning with anger, Old Deuteronomy, sorrowful, his mother, that faint shadow that he was never quite sure he actually remembered, Persephone. Most were of Persephone, as a kitten, as then, as old, happy, sad, angry, fearful, loving. Macavity held his paws to his head, trying to shake the visions away. "NOOOO!" he yelled, throwing himself on the floor. The last vision he saw before he blacked out was of a beautiful goddess on the arm of the god of the underworld.
Macavity opened his eyes to see Persephone with terror in her eyes. As he forced himself to stand up, the terror receded. It was replaced by something he had never seen before. "I thought you were dead," said Persephone.
Macavity laughed bitterly. "That would make you real happy, wouldn't it?"
Persephone looked thoughtful. "No. It wouldn't."
"You want to kill me yourself, then?"
"No. I don't."
"Your father?" Surprisingly, Macavity felt no anger when he thought of Munkustrap.
"No! I don't want you dead!" Persephone gasped at what she had said, and covered her mouth with her paws. Her eyes were wide with disbelief at her own emotions. Suddenly she knew why she didn't want to go out with Osycus.
Macavity stared at her incredulously. "You really don't want me dead? After all I've done to you and your tribe?"
"No," Persephone said softly, "I really don't."
Macavity and Persephone stared at each other, the light of first and true love shining in their eyes.
Demeter burst in as Persephone swallowed the sixth pomegranate seed. "No! Persephone! You ate! Now you're trapped here!" she cried.
"Don't worry, Mother. I like it here. Here I am queen," said Persephone, talking to Demeter but gazing up at her beloved Hades.
"Persephone!" Demeter's grief caused wind to howl and snow to fall. The last plant life on earth winked out.
Persephone was torn between her mother and Hades, and Hades felt it. He proposed a compromise. "She only ate six seeds. How about she lives with me for six months every year and with you for the rest?"
Demeter dried her tears. "That could work," she said hesitantly. "But when she lives here the world with grow cold and the plants will die, and all the world will know the cruelty of Hades."
"He isn't cruel, Mother. He is kind, and I love him!"
"Oh, my daughter, my only daughter, the light of my eternal life, please come home!" wept Demeter.
"I will do as Hades said, live with you for six months every year. But it is not your time now, Mother. Right now I want to live with Hades."
Demeter raised her arms. "So be it." The earth opened, and air swirled in, carrying withered leaves with it. The wind began to moan. "Farewell, Persephone," Demeter called as she drifted back to the outer world Persephone clung to Hades as the earth closed once more.
Demeter sniffed the air. "This way!" she whispered to Munkustrap, Bombalurina, Rum Tum Tugger, and Veldira. She ran off in the direction of Macavity's lair.
Suddenly, a group of henchcats pounced on them. "You ain't goin' nowhere," said Hissraagh, the leader. She had Demeter pinned down.
"Get away from me! I have to get to my daughter!" Demeter fought to get away, but it was of no avail.
"Ya think I care? Sheesh, where's your brain been lately?" Hissraagh extended her claws towards Demeter's face. "One more peep outa you and these go right inta your eyes."
"Careful, Demeter," whispered Munkustrap. A large brown henchcat clawed his nose. "Yow!"
Bombalurina gasped. "Don't get paranoid or anything, Demeter, but Macavity and Persephone are right behind you..." Demeter's eyes showed the fear she dare not voice. *Everlasting Cat, don't let him hurt her,* she prayed desperately.
"Don't worry, Sephie, we won't let him hurt you!" called Veldira.
The henchcat holding Veldira down snorted. "You're not really in a position to say that, are ya?"
"That's enough!" thundered Macavity. "Release them!"
Hissraagh's eyes widened. "Release them? Whaddaya mean, release them?"
"Exactly what I said. Let them go."
Shaking their heads in disgust, the henchcats released their prisoners.
"Hey, watch it!" said Tugger as one of them swiped angrily at his mane. "It took me hours to get it this way!"
"Ha! So you admit it!" said Bombalurina.
Demeter cut in. "Excuse me, but has anyone noticed that Macavity still has Persephone?" She turned to Macavity. "Give me my daughter," she said with a deadly calm.
Macavity cleared his throat. "Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that..."
Persephone grasped Macavity's paws. "I want to stay with Macavity," she said.
Demeter's eyes grew wide in astonishment. "No... he cast a spell on you... he hypnotized you... he... you..." She looked from Persephone to Macavity, not wanting to believe what she already knew. "You're... you're in love?"
Persephone and Macavity nodded.
"No! He's too old for you, he's evil..." Demeter's voice trailed off. "Oh Heavyside," she said in anguish. She buried her face in Munkustrap's fur.
He stroked her gently. "Persephone, are you sure this is the right choice?" he asked his daughter. "And Macavity. Ever since I've known you you've been my enemy, and the enemy of all Jellicles."
Macavity took a deep breath. "Look, I understand that you're angry, but I can change." He looked at Persephone. "For Persephone, I can do anything." Demeter looked up squarely into Macavity's eyes, something she had not done since he had cat-napped her so long ago. She saw that he was telling the truth. "So be it."
Macavity's face broke into a grin. For the first time, it held no trace of evil. "Thank you," he said simply, and hugged Persephone.
Persephone kept her promise, and when her time with Hades was up, she went to live with Demeter for six months. As she emerged from the underworld, the sun began to shine brightly, and everywhere plants sprang up and burst into bloom.
"Persephone!" sang Demeter, running to greet her daughter. She laughed joyously and danced around in circles. She called to the nymphs and dryads, "Come out of your flowers, your trees! Persephone is home!"
Persephone allowed herself to be swung around, but reminded Demeter, "Only for six months, Mother. Only for six months."
From that time forward, when Persephone lives with her mother it is spring and summer, but when she is in the underworld with Hades it is fall and winter.
Macavity followed the others to the vicarage wall. "So I really get to join the Jellicles?"
"If Old Deuteronomy says so," said Munkustrap. He eyed Macavity warily, still unsure if he should trust him. He knew that Demeter felt the same way.
She still jumped slightly whenever she heard Macavity's voice.
They reached the vicarage wall. "Here we are," said Veldira as they jumped up.
Old Deuteronomy was curled up in a catnap, so Tugger went over to wake him up. "Hiya Deut. Someone wants to talk to you."
The large, gray tom stretched and stood up. "Hello Tugger, Bombalurina, Munkustrap, Demeter," he said, nodding to each of them in turn. "Veldira, Persephone, Maca- Macavity!?" Old Deuteronomy's eyes widened. "You've captured him at last?"
"Not exactly," said Munkustrap. "He's going to be Persephone's mate." "Persephone's- is this some kind of joke?"
"No. We're really in love," said Persephone.
Macavity nodded his agreement. "And I'll change. I swear by the Heavyside and the Everlasting Cat that I'll change."
Old Deuteronomy recovered from his initial shock. "Look into my eyes, Macavity." Macavity obeyed, and Deuteronomy probed his soul. After a long moment he raised his eyes. "His soul is pure."
Demeter let out a sigh of relief. She had worried for Persephone's safety, but she knew that Old Deuteronomy was right about Macavity.
"Will I be living in the Junkyard now?" asked Macavity.
"Either that or you must find a human who is willing to be owned by you and Persephone," answered Old Deuteronomy.
Macavity glanced at Persephone. "I don't think I could change that much," he said.
Persephone nodded her agreement. "I'd rather stay in the Junkyard too," she said. They talked a bit more with Old Deuteronomy, then left the vicarage wall.
Persephone and Macavity made their new home in a rundown old wagon that had recently been thrown away.
"Good luck, Persephone," said Demeter. "And good-bye."
Six months later...
"Hold on, Persephone, you'll be okay, breathe, breathe..." said Jennyanydots.
It was a day somewhere between winter and spring when Persephone had her first litter. "Just a little longer," encouraged Veldira. "It'll be over soon."
"I sure hope so!" gasped Persephone. "YOWCH!"
Macavity rounded the corner. "Persephone? What's wro- Everlasting Cat! The kittens!" He grasped Persephone's paws.
She forced a smile through her pain. "Hi Macavity. Ready to be a dad?"
Macavity's smile was also a little forces. "Of course, as long as you're okay..." He turned to Jennyanydots. "She will be okay, won't she?" he asked anxiously.
Jennyanydots sighed. "Toms! They're all the same! Why can't they understand?"
"Understand what?" asked Macavity, confused.
"That just because Persephone is going through something painful doesn't mean that she's going to die!"
"SHE'S GOING TO DIE!?" screeched Macavity.
"NO! That's what I'm trying to tell you!"
Persephone moaned. "I hate to interrupt, but my kittens aren't exactly patien- OW!"
Jennyanydots turned back to her patient. "All right, steady, steady...PUSH!"
Persephone pushed as hard as she could until all three kittens were out. Then she lay still for a while, panting.
"Are you okay, Persephone?" asked Macavity.
Persephone smiled. "I'm fine." She nuzzled her newborn kittens.
"What are you going to call them?"
As Persephone thought, a warm breeze drifted out of the ground. The sun shone brightly and the flowers burst into bloom. Persephone of the underworld was coming home to her mother.
The breeze fluttered around Persephone's ears, as if whispering into them.
Persephone silently thanked her namesake for the names of her kittens. "This one," she said, pointing to the red-and-gray female tabby, "will be Nymphalyta. This one," she pointed to the gold, gray, black, and red female calico, "will be Drydilidina. And this one," she pointed to the entirely bright red male who was curled up in a ball, "will be Pomegranate."