The two weeks leading up to Zeus' banquet flew by with dizzying speed. The party was in two days and if it hadn't been for Hades calling in a few favours Persephone wouldn't have even had anything to wear for the occasion. As it was, the imposing god held quite a bit of sway over the other deities, even without being very popular among them. It was for that reason that he was able to work out a deal with Rhapso, a minor goddess who owned a very stylish ladies' boutique in Olympus.
Persephone stood back from the mirror, turning this way and that while examining her reflection. It was pretty, but the first dress she'd tried on was still her favorite. "It's just as well... This one's way too expensive," she mumbled to herself as she unzipped the back. Just as she stepped out of the dress there was a light rapping at the fitting room door.
"Everything okay in there?" came Hades' voice from the other side.
Startled, she instinctively grabbed the loose garment to her chest, "Yes, everything's fine!"
"I just wanted to let you know we've got about 20 minutes before Rhapso throws us out."
"Okay, I'm just about finished. I'll be out in a few minutes," she assured him as she looked around the small dressing room for her own discarded clothes.
Hades nodded, well aware that she couldn't see it, and made his way back out into the shop. He meandered aimlessly around the displays and clothing racks, trying unsuccessfully to stop himself from imagining what each article would look like on the pink goddess. It became a problem when he accidentally wandered into the intimates section.
"Oh, sweet Gaia..." He breathed when his eyes fell across a skimpy little item that was barely more than a few strips of lace. He was just beginning to feel a familiar tightening in his groin when he heard the fitting room door click open. He quickly readjusted himself and fled the incriminating area.
"I take it you found what you were looking for?" He greeted when Persephone exited the fitting room corridor wearing a large smile.
"I did! Simple, but fun," she continued to grin. She hoped he would like it.
Persephone was starting to get nervous as she clipped her stockings into her garter belt. The party would be starting soon. It would be her first time in such a large crowd since moving to the Underworld. She wasn't ready to deal with all the looks and questions she would surely receive. Oh gods... What if he was there?
"Stop that," she scolded herself before shimmying into her dress. "You're just getting yourself worked up... besides," she fluffed her pixie cut, "Hades will be with you. It's not like you'll be alone..." She stared at her reflection in the full length mirror. Who was she kidding? She knew she couldn't cling to his side without drawing even more attention and questions. She sighed. 'Time to act like a mature, grown-up woman instead of a frightened child,' she straightened her posture.
Hades straightened his bowtie for the tenth time in just as many minutes. It wasn't even crooked, he just couldn't stop fidgeting. He hated going to these not-so-little shindigs that his brother felt compelled to host. At least he wasn't attending alone this time -- except that he still basically was. As much as he wanted to say that Persephone was his date, he knew that he couldn't -- for several reasons. With a sigh he looked himself over once more before leaving his bedroom.
"Oh wow! You look so handsome!"
Hades looked up at the enthusiastic declaration and felt his heart skitter at the sight of the young goddess. His eyes slowly drank her in. She looked as though she was glowing with the way the light hit her lustrous charmeuse dress. It was simple, as she had said when she bought it, if not a little short, but certainly not shorter than the dress she had been wearing when they met. In a word she was beautiful, wrapped in shimmering ivory silk that practically melted over her body, with long slender sleeves, and a scooped neckline that gracefully swept across the tops of her breasts.
"You look..." Gorgeous. Radiant. Enchanting. "Nice." Gods, he was an idiot. A big stupid blue idiot.
"Oh... Thank you...," the light in her eyes dimmed slightly, but she never let her smile faulter. "Hey, would you mind helping me with this? I'm having trouble with the clasp," she held up the diamond necklace that he'd given her.
"Not at all," he strode over to her and took the necklace from her outstretched hand.
"Thanks," Persephone slowly turned her back to him, just as she had the first time he put it on her.
"Oh!" She turned her head quickly at the noise and saw Hades standing there with a shell shocked expression on his face.
As soon as she had turned away from him his entire body went stiff. His wide, unblinking eyes followed her spine down the bare expanse of her smooth back. Backless. Her dress was backless, the material dipping so low that he could even see the dimples just above her bottom. And speaking of her ass, Holy Hera! She looked like a ripe peach that he desperately wanted to sink his teeth into, with a rouched back seam that cupped each full mound in a way that made him jealous that it wasn't him draped over her instead. His fingers itched with the need to touch her. To dig his fingers into the plumpness of her flesh and pull her flush against him. To press his nose into her hair before trailing down to the juncture where her neck met her shoulder and just... just...
He felt a sharp pop in his hands and heard her far away sounding gasp. Apprehensively, he dragged his gaze to his fists and realized with horror that he had snapped her necklace in two. "Shit! Kore! Wait-wait here, I can fix this!" he panicked, retreating back to his bedroom.
Persephone remained standing there, only a little upset about her necklace, grinning triumphantly.
Together they rolled up to the large mansion where the banquet was taking place. Persephone had been basking in the boost to her confidence until the shiny black car came to a stop in front of the entryway.
"Would you like for me to drop you off here? That way you won't have to walk so far." 'And I won't have to look like an even bigger fool' Hades added in his head, still suffering his mortification from earlier.
"What? But... They have a valet..."
"No one drives my car but me... and you that one time," he grumbled, side eyeing her. He noticed her fidgeting hands. She was biting her lip again too. He sighed and proceeded to drive forward to the parking area. He supposed he couldn't blame her for being nervous. Even he was nervous and, as Hecate had pointed out once before, stuff like this doesn't affect him in the same way it does her.
"Okay," He faced her after parking the car and shutting it off, "remember I just gave you a ride because it was on my way and we only see each other occasionally at work. Right?"
"Right," she nodded seriously. "No new rumors. No more ammunition for the papers."
"Right," he paused for a thought, "I suppose we shouldn't walk in together..."
"But I..." her gaze dropped to her lap and she sighed, "I guess you're right..."
"You go ahead. I'll be right behind you," Hades smiled reassuringly.
Persephone shifted eyes to him with a playful smirk.
"No-nuh-not like that!" He stammered louder than he intended, a blush welling up in his cheeks.
Hades courteously held the door open for her before entering himself and stiffly bee-lining for the staircase. Persephone unintentionally following behind as she made her way over to the refreshment tables. As they crossed the expansive room Hades spotted Apollo leaning against a far wall. His countenance quickly shifted to something much darker than the simple distaste of being there.
Persephone immediately noticed the change in his demeanor and followed his line of sight with her eyes. She swallowed uncomfortably, at once feeling uneasy, as soon as her gaze landed on him. In her peripheral she saw the imposing god beside her take a step in his direction. Reflexively her hand shot out to stop him. "Don't... Please," she implored, just loud enough for him to hear her over the thump of the music. "If he tries anything... let me handle it. Okay?"
He looked down at her, his bright red irises almost glowing, "Kore..."
"Please?" she begged, her hand flat against his abdomen. "Maybe... he won't even see me," she offered him a smile that didn't reach her eyes.
Hades watched her pitifully and sighed before looking back at the sun god, only to find he was no longer there. 'Shit.' "Kore. I have to go see my brother... I don't want to leave you alone down here, but..."
"I'll be fine! Surely there's someone here that I know..." her eyes raked over the colourful spectrum of party guests, "I'll just... mingle... You go do whatever you need to!" She was a terrible liar, but he really did need to speak with Zeus.
"Of course!" she smiled brightly, but it was obviously fake.
"I promise I wont be long. The sooner we can leave, the better."
Persephone nodded. She sent a small wave his way as he turned to head upstairs and, before she could even lower her arm, a purple hand landed on her shoulder.