It was raining again. Three days, nonstop. It was making the Underworld feel even more dark and dreary than usual.
Hades sat in his home office, smoking a cigar, as he watched the heavy downpour outside the large picture window. It was late. He had already exchanged his business suit for a robe and not much else.
"What a mess," he thought aloud, scrubbing a hand down his face. His mind was trying to process all that had happened the past few days. Minthe was gone. Dismissed for hostile negligence. That stunt she'd pulled with Persephone and Tower 4 a few weeks ago was inexcusable and completely unforgivable. He had yet to refill the position of his personal assistant.
Another scandal about Persephone had reached the tabloid headlines. This time featuring that shitty little sun god, Apollo. Persephone was very visibly shaken by this one, unlike the one of her and himself, and rightly so. The photographs accompanying the story were far more scandalous, though blurry. He told her to take some time off, which she of course argued against, but he wouldn't back down this time.
On top of that, he hadn't yet been able to track down the source of the column or those damnable photos, which frustrated him to no end. Unfortunately, this time he had nothing on his side but self-righteous rage because the story came from outside of his realm. Even Hecate was feeling the pressure this week.
Just then Hades noticed a familiar pink glow standing against the drowning darkness of the Underworld. His brow furrowed in worry as he hurried to open the front door.
"I'm sorry! I know it's late! I just didn't know where else to go!" She sobbed.
Hades quickly ushered her inside and dashed off to grab a towel for her. When he returned he noticed a small suitcase behind her shivering form.
"Kore, what happened?" He asked, concern lacing his voice, as he wrapped the dark towel around Persephone's quaking shoulders. When her only response was more tears, he placed an arm around her and escorted her to the kitchen, leaving her bag by the door.
Several minutes and a hot cup of coffee later, Persephone began to calm down. "I'm really sorry for barging in on you like this," she spoke softly. "It's just... it's been a really rough day, ya know?"
"Why didn't you call?" Hades asked just as softly.
"I don't have a phone... I gave it back. I just... I couldn't stay there anymore... I really messed up..." She inhaled deeply. "I lost my scholarship today... which is... fine? I guess?... Hestia saw the article. She was... really angry... Ya know, she took the coat from me last time... This time she said I was giving them a bad image." Persephone never looked up from her coffee cup as she spoke. Her voice was low. Tired. She looked so defeated it hurt Hades' heart.
"You know," he started after a moment, "I can easily get you another coat... and I could help cover your classes... if you want. It wouldn't be any problem at all."
A sad smile painted across Persephone's lips, "I couldn't ask you to do that. You've always been so kind to me - always trying to give me things I don't deserve..."
"Nonsense. Kore, you are the most amazing person I've ever met. You deserve so much more than what I can give you." He reached across the table to brush a wayward strand of damp hair from her face. "If Hestia is fool enough to believe everything she reads in the tabloids-"
"It's true though..." Persephone swallowed audibly and sunk low into her seat. "The article? It's true."
Hades was rendered speechless.
"It's not what you think!" she explained, "I was afraid to tell anyone -- afraid of this exact thing happening... I never wanted it. He... he wouldn't take no for an answer. I thought, maybe if he just got what he wanted he would leave me alone... but he didn't." She was crying again. Not the heart-shattering sobs from earlier, but silent, unstoppable tears trickling down her cheeks. "He kept trying to do it again and I just couldn't take it anymore. It-it really hurt... and... and I love Artemis, but I can't stay there if he's always going to be around."
Sick. That's how Hades felt. His mind and body tore through such a wide range of emotions that by the end of her story he felt like a sinking lump of putrid lead sat heavily in his stomach trying desperately to claw its way out.
When Hades said nothing - would not even look at her - Persephone felt like an idiot. She was embarrassed and ashamed and hurt. She shouldn't have come here. "I'm sorry... for bothering you," she whispered, getting up to leave for the front door.
At the sound of the door clicking shut, Hades snapped back to himself and charged after her. He panicked. "Wa-wait!!" He cried out as he threw the door open. He managed to grab her hand before she made it off the first concrete step. "I'm sorry! Please come back inside." He took her suitcase from her and drew her back toward his house. Toward him.
"I don't want to bother you anymore than I already have."
"Kore, you could never bother me. I was just..." he hesitated, "i-it doesnt matter. Please don't leave. S-st-stay. As long as you want."
Persephone turned and looked at him then, "You don't think less of me?"
"Never. Come back inside. We'll get you warmed up and out of those clothes..." Hades blushed, his eyes wide. "I-I-I mean, n-no! Not-not out of you-your clothes! Dry! We-we'll get you d-dry! I mean You! You can get-"
A smile bled through her sadness, a genuine smile, at his flustered stammering and sincerity. He really was such a dork. A really sweet dork. She hugged him.
When he felt Persephone's arms fling around his waist two things happened. The first was that his mouth snapped shut with an audible click. The shock of feeling her soft body pressed so close to him caused his words to die in his throat. The second was that he now remembered just how little clothing he actually wore and it seemed that Persephone had finally noticed this as well. At least he was wearing underwear.
She realized as soon as her cheek pressed against his bare chest and a crown of blue flowers sprung from her hair. She released him quickly, a dark flush painted over her cheeks and down her neck. "S-sorry," she mumbled in a small voice, "I don't know what came over me." She chewed her bottom lip as she pushed her hair behind her ear.
"Guh-" Hades cleared his throat. "It-it's quite alright," he assured her, bringing his arm around her shoulders to guide her back inside. "L-let's get you out of this cold rain. I assume you remember where the shower and guestroom are?"
Persephone nodded, still blushing at her earlier forwardness. One of these days she would have to get her overt affections under control.
"I'll be in the kitchen making more coffee, should you need me. Would you like anything?"
"Some hot tea, please, if you have any," Persephone requested as she removed her wet coat and shoes.
"I'm sure I can manage something," Hades replied coolly as he turned to leave the room. Once he was in the kitchen he began flinging open the cabinets and scouring the pantries. Tea?! He didn't keep tea! He was a business man! He survived with coffee in his veins! How in Tartarus was he going to make tea?!
Persephone stood in the bathroom looking at herself in the mirror. "What a mess," she sighed. "This isn't at all how my life was supposed to go... at least I can do something about this," she determined, examining her long, stringy hair. She walked back out to the guestroom to her suitcase opened up on the bed and dug around until she found what she was looking for. "Aha! I knew I threw these in here!" She exclaimed brandishing a pair of sharp scissors.
"Okay, I have rosemary, orange peel, and uhh..." Hades looked around his now exploded kitchen, "Aha! Pomegranates! I can make a tea out of this, right? Maybe?" He sighed nervously ruffling his hair. "What in Gaia's name am I doing?" He began filling a pan with water when he heard the shower turn on.
Persephone took her time in the shower, washing away the rain and mud and dried salt from her tears. The warm water felt good. Relaxing. She grabbed her shampoo and lathered it through her now chin-length cropped hair. It still felt strange bathing in someone else's home, but at least here she was safe.
While waiting for the water to come to a boil, Hades decided he should probably put on something a little more modest for his guest. He knew she would never say anything about it, but he wanted to make sure she felt comfortable while she was with him, especially after... He felt himself becoming angry and heard a mirror crack beside him as he entered his bedroom. "Calm down," he willed himself, grabbing a pair of lounge pants from his dresser. "It won't do for her to see you angry, even if it's not directed at her." He sighed, stepping into his pants.
Hades made his way back towards the kitchen when a dark shadow moved in his peripheral vision. "And just where are you slinking off to this late?" He asked his four-legged gatekeeper.
Cerberus just looked at him for a moment and continued walking to the newly occupied guest room.
Persephone shut off the water and grabbed a large, fluffy towel, wrapping it around herself before stepping out of the shower. "I really needed that," she groaned, stretching her arms over her head. "I should really do something nice for Hades letting me stay here... maybe I could make him dinner tomorrow or something." She opened the door between the bathroom and the guestroom and noticed a pair of bright blue glowing eyes staring at her through the escaping steam. "Oh my gosh! I was wondering where you were! How are you my good boy?" Persephone skipped over to the black dog, whose tail thumped excitedly on the bed.
Hades heard the playful yipping of Cerberus just minutes after the shower stopped. Of course that damn dog got to be in there with her while she strode around naked in his guestroom in his house. "Get your shit together," he slammed the cabinet door as he berated himself for the hundredth time. "You are a king, so fucking act like it," he grumbled to himself as he finished putting the kitchen back in order.
When Persephone wandered in, Cerberus trailing behind her, Hades' head was hidden behind a cabinet door. "I forgot to thank you for all of this, Hades," she said walking over to stand beside him. She saw a small sachet sitting on the counter made from a coffee filter and butcher's twine. She felt a tug at her heart and smiled brightly.
"It's really no trouble at... silk..." Hades lost all sense when he closed the cabinet door and turn to look at her. She was an absolute vision. Persephone wore an ivory silk camisole, trimmed with delicate black lace, and the tiniest matching shorts that hugged the curves of her hips and ass like a second skin, topped off with a skimpy silk robe that looked to be part of the same set and did nothing to actually cover her.
Persephone tilted her head, confused for a moment, then remembered her attire, "Oh! Yeah..." she blushed, "Eros said 'a proper lady needs proper night things.' Whatever that means." Hades still hadn't moved. "Is it... I mean, do I look okay? I've never actually worn it before... I can change into something else..." She tugged at the bottom of her camisole while her teeth worried her bottom lip.
Cerberus barked and Hades jolted out of his stupor. "Y-y-you look lovely. Sorry, where are my manners?" He forced himself to turn away from her least he make a bigger fool of himself. "Puh-please, have a seat! I'll bring your tea!"
Persephone sat at the table, Cerberus around her feet, and smiled as she watched Hades fumble with pouring the hot water into a mug for her.
"He-here you are!" He spoke too loudly as he stiffly placed the mug and handmade sachet in front of her. Cerberus huffed and rolled his eyes. Hades glared at his devil dog and sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I'm sorry, I just w-wasn't expecting... uh..." What? What wasnt he expecting? So much skin? For her to look so beautiful? The need to peel her clothes off with his teeth? Dammit, he was an idiot. He inhaled deeply, "Let me start again... Hi, I hope you like your tea. I kind of had to improvise."
Persephone's eyes sparkled as she giggled at his rambling. She had no idea why so many others despised him. As far as she was concerned, he was the best of them all. He even made her a homemade tea bag! She picked up the sachet and breathed in its sweet aroma. "This smells amazing. Thank you," she smiled a smile that was just for him.
Hades grinned boyishly back at her. "Before you attempt to drink it, would you like to know what's in it?"
She inhaled again, letting her eyes flutter closed. "It smells like... oranges? And..." she breathed once more, "rosemary and something else... something deeper and sweet, but... a little bitter..."
"Pomegranate," Hades supplied, still smiling at her. "I hope it's to your liking."
Persephone placed the sachet into her mug and allowed it to steep. "So... were you going to make coffee? Or am I going to be drinking alone?" She smirked, tucking her hair behind her ear. It was then that Hades noticed her now much shorter do. It was cute. He liked it.
"I actually decided that tonight warranted a nice scotch instead," he answered, turning toward his wet bar. "I would offer you some, but..."
"Oh! No thanks! One night of drunken mistakes was enough for me!" She laughed, recalling the night Eros got her drunk and hid her in the back of Hades' car.
"Was it really so bad waking up here?" He turned back towards her, drink in hand.
"No! Of course not!" Persephone exclaimed. Cerberus' head popped up at her outburst and he yawned. His eyes bounced between Hades and Persephone before he stretched and wandered back to his usual sleeping place in the living room. "I mean, I don't think I would've met you otherwise and... well..." she twisted the hem of her robe in her fingers.
Hades swallowed and took a sip of his drink, relishing the warmth as it hit his throat. "H-how's your tea?" He asked, graciously changing the subject.
"Oh!" Persephone had almost forgotten about it. She raised the mug to her lips and breathed deeply once more before tasting it, letting it consume her senses. "I love it," she told him honestly. "It's like a warm hug in a cup."
Hades smiled and relaxed a bit, "I'm glad you like it." He raised his glass to her.
Persephone blinked a couple of times before recognizing the gesture and gently clinked her cup to his.
Hades was warm. Almost too warm. His right arm was numb from being slung over his head for some time while he slept. He knew he wasn't in his bed; he could tell that much just from the stiffness of the material beneath him. The couch then. Not so unusual.
Without opening his eyes he gingerly brought his arm back down and rested it on his abdomen. Strange... one of the dogs must've decided to use him for a bed because his whole body felt weighted down. As his hand tingled back to life he became aware of something soft under his fingers, but not like fur - it was more like... Finally he peeked one eye open and his vision was flooded with pink.
Both of his eyes snapped open and, for a split second, he felt panic edging its way into his conscious, but he managed to regain himself. 'Breathe... Breathe... Okay, Persephone is here. She's staying with you for a while. This is no big deal... what happened last night...' he ran through his memory banks. He remembered the tea and talking about nothing in particular, trying to give her mind break from her nightmarish day. He recalled them talking about movies - specifically one that she wanted to see that he just happened to own a copy of. 'Okay, so we were watching a movie and... and...' nothing else, 'we must've fallen asleep.' He deflated with relief.
What time was it? He glanced around for his phone and spotted it on the coffee table. With his left hand he grabbed it, careful not to jostle the sleeping goddess on top of him.
"Ugh," he groaned. Gods, he did not want to go to work, but he had to. Kings and Death don't get to take days off, but, for a few minutes, he allowed himself to just enjoy the feeling of Persephone's body resting against his. The gentle puff of her breath fanning over his chest. The way her soft skin and her silky pajamas felt under his fingers. The way her small hands rested alongside his ribs. It may have been wrong of him to take advantage of the situation, but he could be a selfish man when he wanted to be. 'Maybe... I could oversleep for once in my life,' he thought to himself as the steady beat of Persephone's heart lulled him back to sleep. "Just this once..."
Persephone slowly blinked the sleep from her eyes. "Huh... it's still dark out," she yawned, trying to banish the fog from her mind. "Oh, right! I'm in the Underworld." She moved to push herself up only to discover that she couldn't. It only took her a moment to realize why. She lifted her head and found herself lying on top of the King of the Underworld with his thick arm draped over the small of her back.
A deep blush flew from the base of her neck to the roots of her hair, which then became littered with tiny flowers as it grew longer. At least he was still sleeping! How embarrassing if he had woken up to her sprawled out on top of him like he was her personal lounger! As she tried to gently wriggle out from under his grasp his arm tightened over her. Flustered and still determined, she blew her bangs up away from her eyes and tried again.
All of her wiggling had managed to stir a particular part of Hades to life. Persephone immediately halted her movements and checked to see if she had accidentally disturbed the sleeping god. "Oh..." she flushed even more upon realizing that he was indeed awake and watching her. "I'm so-"
"Good morning," he greeted, cutting off her apology. "Did you sleep well?"
"Good morning," she replied sheepishly. "I'm sorry I woke you."
"HADES!!" Hecate yelled at him through his office door. "You can't avoid me forever!! WE need to TALK, NOW!!"
Hades unlocked and swung open his door, irritated, allowing her to enter.
"Demeter has been blowing up everyone's phones since yesterday! Apparently Artemis called and told her Persephone ran away!"
Hades sighed, "And why is that my problem? She never called me."
"Are you being serious right now?! How could you even-... Wait..." Hecate's eyes narrowed. "You came in late this morning, didn't you," She accused.
"I-I overslept is all..." He blinked rapidly, rubbing the back of his head.
"You haven't overslept in over 1200 years... Oh my gods, you know where she is!" Hecate poked him firmly in the chest.
"I... may have talked to her... last night..."
"Fates! Hades! How could you be so irresponsible?!" She grabbed the lapels of his suit jacket and dragged him down to her eye level.
"Y-yo-you should have seen her, Hecate. She was so scared and upset. What was I supposed to do?!"
Hecate sighed and released him, dropping her forehead into her hand. "Where is she now?"
"She's at my townhouse. She came over in the storm last night," he looked down at his shoes. "She asked to stay for a while until she could figure out what to do next... Think what you will of me, but I couldn't turn her away. I wouldn't."
Hecate said nothing for a moment, thinking. She sighed, "You swear nothing happened between you two?"
"Nothing at all," he blushed at the memory of her night clothes and waking up with her on his chest, and the awkwardness that followed. "Even if it had, which it didn't, she's already lost her scholarship... Hestia saw the paper."
"Gods, what a mess," Hecate braced herself against Hades' desk.
Hades stood quietly for a moment to gather his thoughts. "I was thinking... What if we offered her a scholarship? She could continue going to school and keep her job he-"
"Are you really that selfish, Hades? Her mother is worried sick and wants-"
"Persephone doesn't want to go back to the Mortal Realm! Don't you think I offered?!" His eyes glowed red. Hecate remained silent. "She couldn't grow there... Sh-she's coming back to work in a few days. During that time I want you to do as much damage control as possible and... and see what you can do about setting up a scholarship fund. Just in case. I know she'll want to work for it if she wants it at all."
Hecate tapped her fingernail on the desk, "I'll do what I can... In the meantime, I'm calling Demeter and telling her that her daughter is safe. You may want to call your brother," She suggested as she turned and left the room.
Hades couldn't focus. He was worried about Persephone being alone all day, for a few reasons, also, he just wanted to be with her. He may not get to see her much, or at all, after tonight.
He parked his car in the garage and entered the main house. Immediately, he was bombarded with a mouthwatering aroma that he couldn't help but follow through the house.
A strange emotion clenched at his chest when he saw her casually flitting about his kitchen as if it were her own. "Keeping busy, I see," he grinned at her back, one eyebrow cocked as he took in the mess that littered the counter tops.
"Oh! You're home early!" Persephone spun herself away from the oven, a blush burning the tops of her ears. "I wanted to surprise you... as a thank you for letting me stay," she bit her bottom lip.
"I'm surprised," Hades assured her as he stepped further into the kitchen. "What are you making?"
"If I tell you it'll ruin the surprise," she smirked, crossing her arms playfully, her hip cocked to one side.
"Well it smells delicious."
Persephone smiled gratefully. "Why don't you go keep busy and stay out of my hair while I take care of this? I don't need you hovering," she shooed him away playfully.
"I do not 'hover,'" he protested, "but I do need to make a few calls. I'll be in my study if you need anything."
"No worries, I know my way around," she waved him off.
"I can see that... so did you have an okay day?" He asked, loosening his necktie. "The dogs didn't give you any trouble did they? Cordon Bleu and Russel can be a handful on their own..."
"Not at all! We all got along wonderfully!" She said unconvincingly, the memories of wrestling to give Russel his eardrops and being chased down the hall by an agitated Cordon Bleu dancing through her mind. "Eh heh," she forced a grin.
Hades eyed her skeptically, but allowed her to get away with the deception. "If it's too much I can take them to daycare tomorrow..."
"No- no, I love having them all around! J.P. and I even took a nap together after lunch!"
"If you're sure?..."
"Of course! I don't mind watching them at all! It's the least I could do for you after letting me stay here!"
"Kore, you don't owe me anything for this. I'm more than happy to help," the sincerity in Hades voice was almost overwhelming.
"Thank you, but please let me do this?" Persephone smiled at him, "I need to do something useful."
"Whatever you need," He returned her smile before leaving the room.
He sat in the darkness of his office staring at his cell. He didn't want to make this call. He really didn't want to make this call. Furrowing his brow he glared at his phone for several long minutes as if willing it to combust. Sighing loudly he finally picked it up and scrolled slowly through his contacts until he found the one he was looking for at the very bottom. Zeus. He pressed the call button and held the phone to his ear.
"You have reached the voice mailbox of: 'Zeus! King of the Gods! Ruler of the Earth and Sky!' - Please, leave a message." *Beep*
"Hey, Bird Boy, answer your damn phone!" Hades growled at the recording and ended the call before slapping his phone down on his desk.
About two hours had passed when Persephone stepped into his office. A look of confusion crossed her face when she didn't find him there. She decided to check his bedroom. Not there either. After going through several rooms looking for him, she entered the pool. As soon as she stepped inside she noticed his clothes and shoes stacked neatly in a chair by the door, but he was nowhere to be seen. At least, not until she stepped closer to the water.
Hades could just barely be made out as his form cut across the bottom of the pool. Persephone was in awe of how powerful his movements appeared, like a shark, even obscured as he was by the water.
It was a far cry from playful swimming she had enjoyed with the flower nymphs in the Mortal Realm. She crouched at the edge of the pool trying to get a better look. Persephone was so lost in watching Hades that it surprised her when he crashed through the surface few yards away. She let out a squeaky yelp as she lost her balance and fell backwards onto her rear.
"Kore?" Hades panted out harshly, wiping water from his eyes with one hand. He had been submerged for several minutes and hadn't known she was there.
"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to interrupt - I just came to tell you dinner's ready!" Her words rushed out as though she had been caught doing something she wasn't supposed to.
"How long have I been out here?" He asked.
"I don't know. I went to your office, but you weren't there. It took me about 10 minutes to find you," she told him, still feeling a bit flustered.
"Sorry. I come out here sometimes when I need to clear my head. I should have told you..." Hades explained as he swam toward her.
"No, it's totally fine! I understand," Persephone smiled. "I loved swimming back home. It's very relaxing."
"You know you're always welcome to swim here whenever you want," Hades offered as he hoisted himself from the pool, the glistening water rushing down his body.
Persephone blushed as her large doe-eyes took him in. She had never seen so much of him exposed before, even last night he had been wearing a robe, but now... Now he was fully bared to her, save for his very tight, very wet black boxers. What was this feeling? She had seen naked men before, but she had never felt like this. Her head was light and woozy, like she couldn't get enough air, her heart fluttered in her chest like a hummingbird, and there was a strange quiver just below her stomach. She couldn't even help herself when she reached out to touch one of the many silvery-blue scars that seemed to glow like jagged lightning across his skin.
Hades caught her hand in his just before she made contact and watched her bite down on her lower lip as her wide eyes followed the crystaline drops of water that ran down his torso.
"Kore?" And the spell was broken.
"Oh!" She cried, coming to her senses, "here, let me get you a towel!" She scurried away from him to grab the towel he had set out for himself. "I-I had better go get ready for bed!" She spoke hurriedly as she tossed the towel to him and scampered toward the door.
"Hey! But what about-"
and she was gone
"...dinner," he finished lamely, wondering what in Gaia's name just happened.
Several minutes later, half an hour maybe, Hades emerged from the pool room dressed in his slacks and unbuttoned dress shirt. His bare feet padded across the chilled tile into the kitchen. It was the only light on in the house, but Persephone wasn't there. Of course she wasn't. On the table was his surprise dinner, now cold. It was one of his favorites. How she found out, he had no idea. He ate it anyway. Even cold it was good, but he bet it would have been absolutely fantastic warm.
He knew this was somehow his fault. He replayed the scene over and over in his mind, wondering exactly what he had done to upset her. Was it because he held her hand? She had never seemed to mind him touching her before... and the way she looked at him... almost like... No. Thinking like that would only make things worse. 'Maybe it was a bad idea to let her stay here,' he thought as he carried the plate of cold dinner to his bedroom.
The next morning when Persephone stepped out of the guestroom Hades had already left. She felt terrible for running off like she had, she'd ruined the whole evening. It's just that, well, she had never felt that way before. Sure being around him always made her feel fuzzy and she thought he was charming, and kind, and funny, and she liked looking at his face, but last night... That was different. Something new. It was a bit frightening.
She made her way into the kitchen to clean up the dinner she had unceremoniously left behind only to find that the dishes had already been placed in the sink. Great. Hades had to clean up another one of her messes. At least he hadn't actually washed them. 'How awful would that have been? 'Thank you for helping me, now wash the dishes from your special dinner that you didn't even get to enjoy! Uggh,' She thought, frustrated with herself, as she began scrubbing the dried bits from the plates. "I have to do something to make it up to him..."
Hades entered his brother's office, clearly not wanting to be there. He had finally received a reply from Zeus in the form of a text demanding that he meet with him immediately. "Why exactly did you feel the need to drag me all the way up here instead of just returning my phone call like a normal person?" Hades grumbled.
"My sweet blue idiot, you're looking as miserable as ever... Trouble at home?" Zeus teased.
"Ugh, so I take it you heard?" he groaned, cringing.
"News travels fast... Demeter is not happy. She threatening to come here." Zeus said, taking a seat behind his desk.
"Shit! How in Tartarus does she know?!" Hades dragged a hand through his hair.
"Re-lax. All this stress is making you look old. Besides, she doesn't know that Dear Persephone is staying with you, just that she's somewhere in the Underworld... I don't even think she knows why," the long haired god shrugged and kicked his feet up onto his desk.
"I'm not sure if that makes any of this better or worse..."
"We don't even know what 'this' is. It's all Apollo's word against her-"
Hades slammed his palms down on the desk, "IF I RUN INTO THAT PIECE OF SHIT WHILE I'M HERE, I SWEAR-!!"
"Calm down, Blue Boy, don't break the glass... again," Zeus dropped his feet to the floor and steepled his fingers, analyzing his brother. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before releasing it. "You know I hate seeing you so upset..." he stood and walked over to the small coat closet to the side of the room. "Here," he handed Hades the fur coat he had given to Persephone the first time she was at his house.
Hades slowly took the coat from his brother, shocked, "How-"
"Hera took it back from Hestia as soon as she found out yesterday. I didn't ask for the details, but you know how much my wife loves to rain on someone's parade," Zeus grinned.
"Uuugh! What a day," Hades groaned as he entered his house, fur coat slung over his arm. Visiting his brother was always frustrating, if not humiliating, but this time the mighty Zeus had really pissed him off. 'King of the Gods. Pfft, what a dick.' It's one thing to consider all angles, but how dare he call into question Persephone's integrity!
"B-grade goddess, my ass," Hades huffed. He was exhausted and hadn't even made it to the office yet, there was still something he wanted to take care of first.
"Kore?" He called as he walked through searching for her. "Can we talk? Hellooo?" He peeked his head in each room that he passed until he came to his own. He heard a faint shuffling and cocked an eyebrow before entering. "Kore?" his eyes widened at what greeted him.
There, snuggled on his bed was the young goddess, clutching his pillow in her sleep. Curled around her was Mushroom, Big John, and Fudge, with J.P. at her feet. Hades pressed a hand over his heart for fear of it leaping out of his chest.
He carefully made his way to the side of his bed, his dogs now awake and watching him with perked ears and wagging tails. "Come on, scoot," he ordered them softly. The three surrounding Persephone stretched languidly and moved from their comfortable spots silently, however J.P. made it known that he wasn't happy with this nap time interruption with a single loud BARK!
Persephone's head popped up, her eyes struggling to open when she heard a harshly whispered "Shush!" from behind her. She spun her head quickly at the sound and felt her cheeks grow warm when she came face to face with the intruder.
"Good afternoon," Hades greeted with a pleasant smile.
"Oh! I'm sorry! I didn't mean-"
"No-no, it's quite alright. Is your... I mean, is the guest bed uncomfortable?"
"Oh no, not at all! It's just... umm," she bit her lip.
"Just what? You can tell me, I promise I won't be offended," he urged.
"It's just... I was cleaning and, well, I just... I really like the way you smell," Persephone admitted honestly, still embarrassed at being caught. "It's really nice and reminds me of a warm fire on a cold day... I didn't mean to fall asleep."
Now it was Hades turn to blush. She liked the way he smelled? He couldn't help but recall a time when the woman he thought he was going to marry informed him that he always reeked of death. "I...," he cleared his throat, "Th-thank you," he replied awkwardly. They both remained silent for a moment.
Finally, Persephone couldn't stand the uncomfortable silence and noticed something fluffy in Hades' hand. "What's that?" she tried leaning over to see.
"Hmm? Oh, right! I believe this belongs to you," he presented her with the coat, the diamond buttons sparkling even in the dim light of the room. He saw a strange look cross her features before a wide smile took its place as she flung her arms around him, burying her face into his chest. To his credit, Hades was able to recover quickly, at least on the outside, as his arms automatically encircled her small frame.
"How did you get it back?" She asked against his shirt.
"Hera," he answered smoothly. "I picked it up from Olympus this morning."
Persephone felt even more ashamed of herself for the previous evening. This man had constantly gone out of his way to help her ever since the first time they'd met and how did she repay him? By literally running from him just because of a few strange feelings that she didn't even really understand.
"Hades?" She started, still wrapped in his embrace, "I'm really sorry... about last night." She burrowed further into his arms. It was wonderful there - warm and safe, surrounded by the clean smell of him.
"About that... What happened?" He asked, watching the top of her head. "If it was something I did-"
"No. I was just being stupid... I'm sorry I ruined your surprise... after all you've done for me," she said, still not looking at him.
"Kore," Hades gently lifted her away, "I help because I can and... because I care." He brought his large hands to either side of her face, "I don't expect any kind of reward for it. Alright?"
He could tell she wanted to protest, but instead she replied with, "Alright... but I'm still gonna try." Hades smiled.
After grabbing a quick lunch, Persephone was alone again, Hades having left for work. She stood in the middle of the living room, surveying the dark space. The whole house was much the same, she realized. Stark. It was more like a staged showroom than a home. Even the personal effects were arranged in a way that resembled a museum. Not that there was anything wrong with that, of course, but she had to admit it made her a bit sad.
Hades was nothing like his house. Not really. She saw the front he put on at work. A mask. It matched up with his house rather well, but not the real him. He was warm and expressive and a bit of a mess. She did recall him mentioning something about nosy neighbors; perhaps that's why he kept his space like he kept his persona. Closed off, but visible.
'What a day,' Hades reaffirmed internally as he headed to the gateway to retrieve Cerberus. "I hate conducting interviews," he grumbled to the approaching canine. "Ready to go home?"
Cerberus snorted his affirmative.
"Rough day for you too, huh?" He asked, crouching down to scratch under the dog's chin. Cerberus leaned into his touch. "Eveeen the longest daaaay must have an ennnd," Hades crooned before getting up to head to his car, his loyal companion at his side.
Cerberus bounded his way into the house, skidding to a halt at Persephone's feet. "Hello, my good boy!" She cooed excitedly, dropping to the floor to give him his well deserved neck and belly scratches. "Did you have a good day at work, huh?"
Hades stepped into the room, watching enviously at the attention being bestowed upon his dog. 'Why don't I ever get greeted like that?' he lamented, his lips drawn into a thin line.
"Hi! Welcome home!" Persephone called up to him cheerfully from the floor. "I hope you don't mind," she continued, "but I thought this place could use a little brightening up... I guess I should've asked first."
Hades blinked tentatively before taking in the room. All around were strategically placed vases and bundles of flowers. Various shades of pink, white, and yellow were splashed across the usually monotonous blue hues of his house. It definitely made the space feel brighter. He smiled, amused, and offered her a hand up, "Should I anticipate an unexpected surprise every time I come home, or are you just trying to keep yourself busy?"
Persephone grinned sheepishly, her bottom lip between her teeth, as Hades pulled her from the floor. "That depends on whether you like them or not."
"I think..." he glanced around once more, " they're perfect."
"You really went all out today..." Hades commented as he sat on the couch inspecting the intricately woven flower chain around Cordon Bleu's neck. Each of the dogs had one, as well as having been bathed.
"Not at all. They just wanted to feel pretty," Persephone replied as-a-matter-of-fact while she leaned back against Hades' shoulder. Her hands worked diligently on another flower chain, this one for Cerberus.
"Well you are certainly something else. Not only have you managed to turn the Gatekeeper to the Underworld into a lapdog," he gestured to Cerberus lying patiently on the couch in front of her, "but you've also managed to win over this little ball of rage. I'm impressed," He spoke in awe, allowing the small fluffy dog to settle on his lap.
"There you go! Such a handsome boy you are!" Persephone gushed as she placed the collar of blossoms around Cerberus' neck and ruffled the sides of his face.
Hades smiled as he watched them. "What about me?," he teased, "aren't I a 'handsome boy?'"
She looked over her shoulder at him coquetishly. "Of course! I made one for you too!" she proclaimed as she twisted around to place a flower crown on his head.
He blushed, surprised, and smiled at her fondly. Now was as good a time as any, he supposed. "Uh, Persephone..." he rubbed at the back of his neck, "So, I know you said no more gifts, but... well... I really worry about you being here alone all day..." He paused.
"...Go on," she softly encouraged him to continue, placing a hand on his knee.
"Well, I think... you should have this... just in case," he presented her with a phone he fished from his pocket. "It already has mine and Hecate's numbers in it, and your mother's... you should probably call her... to let her know you're safe. I've been told she's worried."
Persephone cradled the shiny new phone carefully in her hands. "I... I don't know what to say... I'll pay you back for it, I swear!"
"No, please. Don't worry about it," he implored, his large hands cupping around her small ones.
"I told you, I expect nothing in return."
Persephone didn't much like the idea of Hades bestowing yet another free gift upon her, but the look in his eyes was begging her to accept it. She certainly didn't want to cause him any disappoinment. "Thank you," she laid her head affectionately on his shoulder.
Hades reclined against his headboard, still wearing his dress shirt and slacks, as he poured over a pile of applications in the dim light being cast by the lamp on his bedside table. He looked up when he heard a faint tapping at his door. Before he even had time to respond the door cracked open slightly and Persephone timidly peeked inside.
"Are you busy?" Her voice was small and weary. "Do you mind if I come in?"
"Not at all," he replied, shuffling the papers into a more orderly stack before setting them aside. "Is everything alright?"
Persephone shook her head, "I just don't want to be alone right now." She stepped fully into the bedroom, an arm crossed over her ribs. Hades could tell she had been crying, even in the dim light. "I just got off the phone with my mom," she explained.
A look of understanding melted over his concerned features, "I'm guessing she was pretty pissed that you're staying here."
"I sorta left that part out," she winced, "I told her I was staying with a friend from work..."
Hades nodded. "Do you want to talk about it?" he offered, gesturing for her join him on the bed. "I know Demeter can be a little... difficult."
She sighed heavily as she climbed onto the bed and settled beside him, "Not really... I mean, I know I messed up... a lot... but, isn't that part of learning? This is my first time being on my own. It's a lot to figure out."
"I'm sure your mother just wants what she thinks is best for you-"
"She wants me to come home... She says the Underworld is no place for someone like me."
"Well, she isn't wrong... but that's a decision you have to make for yourself."
"I'm so confused. I want to stay, but... it seems like all I do is cause problems everywhere I go... I don't fit in anywhere..." Persephone hugged her knees to her chest.
Hades watched her empathetically. He knew exactly what it felt like to be an outlier. "Hey," he bumped her shoulder with his elbow, "for what it's worth, I think you're doing okay... considering..."
She huffed out a laugh, "Thanks... Can I ask you a question?"
"You usually do..." he side-eyed her suspiciously, "is it a personal question?"
"Maybe a little," she looked at him guiltily.
He sighed, "Go ahead."
"What were you like when you were my age?"
A strange, far away look fell over Hades face. When he was 19 he was still inside his father's stomach. He had only been alive a couple thousand days before being eaten - he still had nightmares of it. She didn't need to know that. "Stupid," was his answer.
"Oh," she knew he wasn't being honest, but she let it go. She saw the pain in his eyes. "So... not much different from now, huh?" She teased, poking her tongue out at him.
"You know I could easily push you off this bed," he threatened playfully.
"You wouldn't," she challenged impishly, tucking her legs beside her so she could bring her face closer to Hades'.
"And what makes you so sure, little goddess?" his face inched ever closer to hers.
"Because you like me too much," she smiled easily then turned and settled her head on his lap, using his thigh as a pillow.
Hades' brain short circuited.
"This is nice," Persephone breathed out, snuggling closer, "you're really comfy."
He wasn't sure what to do, so he did nothing. He just sat there, unmoving. Silent. Afraid that even the slightest disturbance would shatter this seemingly fragile dream. He didn't even want to blink for fear that she would disappear if he took his eyes off of her.
Eventually, Persephone's breathing evened out. It was obvious that she had fallen asleep on him. This was apparently becoming a habit. One that Hades truthfully did not mind.
He carefully repositioned himself back against his headboard and glanced over to the forgotten application forms. He could deal with those tomorrow. For now the only thing he cared about was the small goddess resting on his lap.
The next morning Persephone was already in the kitchen when Hades drowsily wandered out. His hair stood up at odd angles and clothes from the previous day were rumpled, having been slept in.
"Good morning!" Persephone greeted cheerfully. "Thank you for not kicking me out last night... Did you know you snore?" She smirked.
"I do not," he yawned, rubbing both hands over his face. This makes twice now that he slept peacefully through the night, both times were with Persephone either on or near him. 'Could be a coincidence,' he tried to convince himself unsuccessfully.
"Hmm... Anyway, I'm making breakfast! Or... at least I'm trying to... I've never made these before..."
Hades was finally awake enough to take in his surroundings. There was an acrid smoky aroma staining the air, some kind of mystery goop smeared and splattered across the countertops and in Persephone's waist-long hair, and pile of something that resembled charred throwing disks in the trash can. He couldn't help the velvety laugh that escaped him as he walked to her side.
"And what exactly are you trying to make?" He asked as he wiped a powdery smudge, what he assumed was flour, from her cheek.
"Pancakes," she frowned at the skillet in front of her. "Artemis always made it sound so easy..."
Hades raised an amused eyebrow and began rolling up his sleeves before casually waving her over, "Stand aside, you. Let a master show you how it's done."
"You know how to make pancakes, oh mighty king?" Persephone teased as she moved, watching him lower the heat and pour the batter into the hot pan.
He said nothing, but soon he cockily slid his gaze over to her without turning his head, readied the skillet in his hand, then flipped the pancake perfectly in the air, catching it once more.
Persephone's eyes went wide. "Woah!! That's amazing!! Can you teach me how to do that?"
Hades chuckled and moved to the side to let her back at the helm. It took a while for her to get the hang of it. Her first attempt stuck to the ceiling. Another smacked Hades in the face. Eventually, though, there were enough successfully made pancakes to qualify as breakfast for two.
"Hecate!" Hades called out to his advisor as she passed. "When you get a minute can you come to my office?"
"I was actually coming to look for you after dropping these files off," she turned to him, "I'll be up in few minutes."
"Oh good! Mind if I walk with you then?" He asked all but bouncing up to her.
"Not at all. So how is Persephone? I take it you two had a good morning?" she smirked.
He blushed, "Am I that obvious?"
"Hades, you're practically giddy."
He shrank into himself a bit, "I can't help it. She's so amazing, Hecate... She... I don't know, it's hard to explain... Just being around her... It's like I..."
Hecate just smiled knowingly. It was actually really cute that the fearsome Lord of the Underworld got so flustered over the young goddess. "I'm glad things seem to be going well," she interjected as she handed her files off to a purple nymph. "I was actually coming to talk to you about her. Demeter called me this morning to ask if I knew the 'work friend' her daughter was staying with..."
Hades winced, "What did you tell her?"
"Only that I know her friend quite well and that she has nothing to worry about... That being said, she doesn't have anything to worry about, right? I put myself on the line here," she glared, tone sharp.
"No-no! Nothing to worry about..." The two of them entered the elevator.
"Hmm... I wonder though, if Persephone might like to have her own space? She's always had to live by someone else's rules..." Hecate paused, allowing the wheels to turn. "Hey! Don't you have a recently vacant apartment?"
"I hadn't actually considered it... Maybe..."
"If she had her own place she could have a better chance to figure herself out, she is still quite young. Also, Demeter would be less likely to show up unexpectedly."
"Both good points," Hades conceded as the elevator doors opened on his floor. It was eerily still and silent without some occupying the front desk.
Hecate had another idea. "So, when does Persephone come back to work?" she asked as they exited the elevator.
"Uhh... tomorrow, I believe."
"That tabloid caused quite a stir downstairs. I'm afraid she may be a little uncomfortable with all the attention."
Hades' face fell. He hadn't even considered that. "You're right. That would be a problem... We can't exactly fire everyone just for being assholes..." he sighed, crossing his arms. "What do you suggest?"
"Well," Hecate pretended to think, "Oh! Why don't you offer her this position, at least temporarily? Give everyone enough time to find something else to care about."
"That... could actually work. Only a few people are allowed up here and no one has to know where she's been assigned to. Plus I do need an assistant... Yes, this sounds like a solution to a few problems! This right here is why I like having you around," Hades expressed triumphantly.
Persephone had just stepped out of the shower when she heard a knock at the bathroom door. She hastily wrapped a towel around herself before calling out. "Wh-who is it?"
"Seriously?" Hades replied. "Are you expecting someone else?"
"Oh! I didn't know you were home! I'll be out in a few minutes," she answered, running another towel over her short hair.
Hades waited in the living room with Big John, giving her some much appreciated ear scratches. He was a bit nervous, but then again the young goddess always made him nervous. This was a different kind of nervous though. Another something new.
Persephone emerged from the steamy bathroom several minutes later wearing only a too large tshirt, socks, and panties.
Hades stood abruptly and was aware of a strange whining noise grinding between his ears. He realized it was him. 'She has to be doing this on purpose, right?'
Persephone tugged at the bottom of her shirt, "I wasn't expecting you home so early..." was her only explanation. "You were looking for me?"
He closed his eyes and tried for a charming facade to hide his... discomfort. "Indeed I was. I was wondering if you would be interested in joining me for dinner this evening?"
"Dinner? You mean like a date?" she asked, cocking her eyebrow.
'Shit.' "I was thinking more like a business dinner," he forced a smile, "Since you'll be coming back to work tomorrow Hecate and I thought it might be good to discuss a few things with you."
"Oh! Will she be there too?" Persephone bounced slightly on her toes with her hands clasped in front of her chest.
Hades gulped and broke out in a sweat as his eyes were drawn to the hem of her shirt creeping up her smooth thighs. "Nnnooo, ju-just you and me... i-if that's alr-right."
"Of course!" Her eyes sparkled.
Hades took a few minutes to freshen up while he waited for Persephone to get ready. Teeth brushed, a spritz of cologne, a freshly pressed shirt, and, as a final touch, a pink flower in his lapel. 'Real subtle, you big idiot,' he criticized as he inspected his reflection in the large windows around the living room. Just as he was about to tear the flower from his jacket Persephone emerged. He froze.
She was positively stunning - from her silky hair, done up in an elegant french twist with small white flowers adorning her temples, down to her peep-toe heels. The dress she wore was simple - a classic, light coloured off-shoulder sweater dress - but the way it clung to her curves was sinful.
"I hope this is okay," she smiled, holding her arms out to her sides for approval. "I've never been to a business dinner before."
Hades sucked in his bottom lip, trying to maintain his composure. How was it that every single time she enter his space his whole being was rendered completely useless?
Persephone began to grow nervous as the man in front of her remained silent. She delicately cleared her throat.
"Oh! Um... Yes! You look... sssufficient," he slid his eyes awkwardly to the side, embarrassed. He was over 2000 years old, for fucks sake! Yet here he was acting like a hormonal teenager meeting a girl for the first time. Pathetic. His brows furrowed. "Excuse me a moment," he rushed past, leaving Persephone to stand by the window, perplexed.
Hades entered his bedroom and collapsed down on the corner of his bed. 'Why is this so hard?' he wondered as he scrubbed his hands down his face. How in Gaia's name would he be able to keep it together if she accepted the position as his personal assistant? Images of them fooling around in his office - of her splayed out across his desk, of her kneeling between his legs while he sat in his chair, of him pressing her against the window from behind - forced their way into his mind. He shook his head fiercely trying to dislodge them from his brain.
Persephone stood in the same spot, her arms folded protectively over her stomach, wondering what exactly just happened. She stared at her reflection in the glass. He seemed to get upset as soon as he saw her, but she wasn't sure what she had done to make him that way. She felt the burning sensation of tears prickling around her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. She tilted her head back and looked to the ceiling. 'No crying. Not this time,' she scolded herself and released a deep breath.
Neither were sure of how long he was gone, but when he finally returned, Hades saw her staring at the ceiling with her back to him. "Persephone?" he approached, "Are you alright?"
She turned to face him and he could see that her eyes were glassy. "Hey..." she started with a subdued voice, "I'm really sorry... for whatever it was that I did..."
"What? What do you mean?"
"I don't know what I did to upset you, but..."
Hades was taken aback. "Kore, you didn't do anything to upset me," he assured, gently placing a hand on her shoulder. As soon as he touched her bare skin he withdrew his hand. "I'm just being an idiot," he muttered, ashamed of himself.
Her exposed shoulder tingled where he touched her, briefly though the contact was. "So... you aren't angry with me?" she leaned toward him, placing a hand on his arm.
"Of course not," he reassured. "In fact," he began digging in his breast pocket, "I think you should have this." He presented her with a beautiful diamond tennis necklace.
Persephone stared at the glittering chain of gems in disbelief. "N-no, I couldn't!" she tried pressing his hand away with her own, "Hades, this is... it's way too much! I don't-"
"Please?" he asked easily. "It will look much better on you than it will at the bottom of my dresser drawer," he persuaded.
"But I...," her cheeks lit up with a bright blush.
"Consider it an apology for my earlier behavior..." They stared at each other, unyielding. "I won't take no for an answer," Hades insisted.
"You're very persistent, Your Majesty," Persephone sighed, slowly giving her back to him.
"I am," he smirked, draping the necklace over her collarbone and deftly latching the safety fastener.
"20 percent," she whispered over her shoulder before turning to face him with a smile.
"Oh wow!" Persephone exclaimed as they pulled into the restaurant parking lot. Her eyes were wide with awe as she took in the impressive building. Three storeys of glossy, white trellises that resembled the light refractions of water, back lit with bright LEDs that shifted subtly from lighter to darker shades of blue. "This place looks amazing! And it's a restaurant? It looks like a nightclub!"
Hades leaned across the console of his car to peer out the passenger side window. "It is, indeed, a restaurant. Granted, it is the nicest sushi place in 3 realms."
"Well now you're just showing off," she teased over her shoulder.
"Maybe a little," he smirked. "Shall we go in?"
Persephone nodded. Hades stepped out of the car and walked around to open her door. He offered his leather gloved hand to her, which she graciously accepted and stood from her seat, adjusting her fluffy white coat. She then threaded her arm through his, "You said it's just a restaurant, right? So why is this place so big?"
"Each floor offers a different dining experience," he explained. "Level 1 is where they offer hibachi and traditional dining. It's rather loud and... peopley; I try to avoid it. Level 2 is where we'll be. It has a sushi bar, standard tables, and private rooms for those who prefer calmer atmospheres. And lastly, level 3 has three separate banquet halls reserved for parties and whatnot."
Persephone listened raptly to each word as Hades described the restaurant's layout, then up ahead movement caught her eyes. She tucked herself close into his side, hiding.
He looked down at her, concerned. "What's wrong?"
"There's a lot of people out front... I don't know if..." she shrank further into the fur coat protecting her from the cold.
He understood. As much as had happened since the article was published it had only been a few days. "I'm sorry, I wasn't even thinking... It won't be an issue though," he promised, changing direction.
Persephone looked confused as Hades pulled out his cell phone and made a call.
"Hello, Gorgyra. Would you mind doing me a favor? ... No, not really," he smiled and glanced down at the young goddess on his arm. "Yes, I'm coming around back... Thank you," he said, ending the call.
"Who was that?" Persephone asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"That was an old friend. She's letting us in through the back," he explained. "She worked for me for a while, but dreamed of owning a restaurant. I may have helped her out a bit."
"Oh, I see," she poked her tongue out at him and waggled her eyebrows.
"Stop that," he scolded playfully, "I have not had as many 'sordid affairs' as you seem to believe.
"Aw, you're never going to let me live that down are you?" She pouted as they reached the back door of the restaurant.
"Never," he swore just as the door opened letting them in.
They sat on the floor inside the private dining room, their shoes by the curtained door. Persephone was definitely feeling the chill in the air, having shed her coat. Hades noticed her shivering occasionally.
"A bit," she nodded.
"When they come to get our drink order I'll ask for a blanket. Would you like to borrow my jacket until then?" he offered.
"I'll be okay, thank you," Persephone smiled, shaking her head. Just then, an orange-skinned daimon with a single large eye entered the room.
"Good evening, my name is Hektor, and I'll be your server. Can I start you off with any drinks or appetizers?" He introduced himself pleasantly.
"Good evening, Hektor," Hades replied. "I think we'll start off with a hot green tea, two waters - no ice, and a kotatsu, if you don't mind."
"Of course, your Majesty," Hektor nodded before leaving to room.
"Wow, so everyone knows who you are?" she knew he was king, but she had never been anywhere with him aside from work and his home. It was a bit sobering.
"I told you, I'm -"
"I know, I know. It's just so... weird, right? I mean, I know who you are, but I've only ever thought of you as my friend and, I guess, my boss; not really a king."
"Obviously," Hades gave her an unamused look as she cut him off. She had a habit of doing that. "But speaking of work..." he paused when he heard their server come back to the room, this time with help.
"Excuse me," Hektor expressed as he quickly cleared the table. He then set up a portable kotatsu by placing a small, flat electric heater beneath the low table, covering the table with a plush blanket, and securing it with a second tabletop that locked into place. He explained how to operate the heater and replaced the items on the table before retrieveing the tea and water from the server assisting him. "Have you decided on dinner?"
"Oh! I haven't even looked at the menu! I'm so sorry!" Persephone exclaimed.
"It's no problem at all. When you've made your decisions, please just place this card outside your door and I'll be by shortly," Hektor placed a plastic tent card on the table and excused himself, leaving them alone once again.
Persephone hummed as she hunkered down under the blanket, drawing it over her arms.
"Good?" Hades asked, smiling as he watched her burrow into the warmth.
"Mhmm... this is nice," she said dreamily. "... You were saying something about work?"
He smirked, "Maybe we should order first."
She looked at him seriously, "I've never had sushi before... It's fish, right?"
"Mm, some of it. There are vegetarian options, if you prefer," Hades leaned over the table with a menu, pointing out different rolls he thought she might enjoy. "Order anything you want to try. The company's paying for it."
Persephone chewed her lip as she read over the menu. Ultimately, she decided on 3 rolls: oshinko, veggie tempura, and wakame.
Hades chose several fish nigiri as well as a few simple vegetable rolls just incase her adventurousness didn't pay off.
After they had placed their order, he poured a small cup of hot tea and nudged it towards her. "So," he started, "I was thinking, well, actually it was Hecate's idea... What would you say if l offered you a position as my personal assistant?"
Hi all! I haven't actually had anyone ask, but I just wanted to share it anyway. This is the conversation Hades had on the phone with Gorgyra.
"Would you mind doing me a favor?"
"What's the matter, Hades? Need a date? *Hahaha*"
"No, not really," he smiled and glanced down at the young goddess on his arm.
"Let me guess. You need a table."
"Yes, I'm coming around back."
"*Huff's a laugh* I'll meet you at the door."
"Thank you," he said, ending the call.
"What would you say if l offered you a position as my personal assistant?"
Persephone stared at Hades, her face scrunched in confusion before she began to giggle. Then her giggles grew into full on laughter. "You- your joking, right? I mean... you can't really be serious?" she choked out.
"Well, no... I was being quite serious..." He mumbled, twisting his napkin between his fingers.
Her impetuous laughter slowly died away as the reality of his words settled over her. "Wait... really?"
"Why?!... I mean can barely type! I'm not even that good with a computer! I wouldn't even know-"
"It would only be temporary," he placatingly interjected, trying to soothe her frantic outburst, "at least until..." Hades stopped and straightened his posture when he heard Hektor arrive with their food.
The orange daimon announced his entry, having heard some of their exchange, and quickly arranged their sushi on the table, pointing out what was what before asking if anything else was needed. Hades politely thanked and dismissed him.
"...Can I think about it?" Persephone asked, unsure, as soon as they were alone.
"O-of course..." he watched as she began poking at the sushi in front of her with chopsticks. He tried to contain the adoring grin that started to spread across his face. "Ha!" He barked inadvertently when she tried to stab a piece with the sticks. "Would you like a lesson on how to use those?" he offered with a smile in his eyes and laughter in his voice.
"Ugh, yes!" she growled. "How does anyone eat with these things?!" She gripped the sticks in her fist like a knife.
"Here," Hades scooted his way around the table on his rear, grateful no one else could see his undignified maneuver.
First, he tried showing her how he held his own. She fumbled and wrinkled her nose in frustration at the fallen sticks.
"Close," he encouraged. "Try this instead..." he said taking her hand in his. He gently posed her fingers and placed the sticks, one at a time, in her grasp.
Persephone felt a thrill shoot through her arm and down her spine when his fingers caressed hers. All she could do was stare at him while he tried to explain how to make the chopsticks move.
Hades looked up when she didn't respond and blushed. When had their faces gotten so close? He cleared his throat weakly. "Y-y-you should try it," he whispered hoarsely, still holding her hand in his.
"Try what...," she breathed as she inched closer, her eyelids drifting low. She could feel the heat of his nearness dancing on her skin, his breath ghosting over her lips, so close she could almost taste him on her tongue.
CRASH!! The cacophonous sound of smashed dishes and shouting ripped them from their daze. Hades jerked his head up to stare at the ceiling, feeling as though his heart were about to burst through his ribs. Persephone kept her gaze down as she tried to collect herself, her eyes flitting from her lap to the sushi to her now much longer hair that tumbled from her updo. What just happened?!
"Thank you for dinner! Too bad I couldn't get the hang of chopsticks though. Maybe next time!" Persephone skipped out of the restaurant, clinging to Hades' arm.
He laughed, "Next time? So I take it you enjoyed the sushi?"
"Most of it... please don't tell anyone I ate fish," she whispered secretively as she swung herself in front of him.
"You have my word," he chuckled.
"I really liked that blanket thing, what do you call it again?" She asked, reassuming her position beside him.
"Yes, that! Maybe I should save up for one since it looks like I'll be staying in the Underworld for a while!" she chimed enthusiastically.
"That reminds me..." Hades stated as they reached his car, "I have one other thing I would like to discuss with you before we head home."
"Oh yeah?" Persephone turned toward him curiously as he opened the door for her.
"Here we are," Hades declared as he threw open the door to the empty apartment. "Huh... Well, it used to be fully furnished, buuut I guess Minthe decided to take what she wanted," he said surveying the barron room. "It doesnt really matter. I doubt any of it would've been to your liking," he ushered Persephone inside before following and shutting the door behind them.
She looked around the hollow space, feeling a bit uncomfortable. "So.... why did you bring me here?"
"Oh! Well, I wanted to offer it to you," he explained, walking past her to the large picture window. "It was brought to my attention that you might prefer having your own space for once and it would probably go over a little easier with your mother... I will continue the monthly payments, of course, and, obviously, supply more furniture-"
"Are you.... I mean, do you want me to leave?" Persephone asked, stepping slowly towards him. "I-I know I kind of just dumped myself into your lap - I never meant to be such a burden! I just didn't know-"
Hades was shocked. "No, Kore, you misunderstand," he laid his hands on her shoulders, "I'm not asking you to leave. I just- I thought maybe you would be happier..."
Persephone placed her own hands over his wrists, holding him there, and rested her cheek against his knuckles, "I... I don't want to be alone... I want to stay with you... if that's okay?" Her large, soulful eyes pleading with him.
"Of course you can stay. As long as you want, remember? I just thought you might like a little more freedom... not that I'm keeping you hostage or anything," he attempted to lighten the mood as he brushed the pad of his thumb over the apple of her cheek.
She huffed out a pitiful laugh and stepped into his warmth. "I like being with you," she blushed, touching her forehead to his chest. "You don't treat me like a child or some dumb village girl... You let me be me, just the way I am."
"We-well... I li-like you.... ju-just the way you are," he smiled dopily, a heated blush dusting his cheeks and the tips of his ears.
"I like you too," Persephone smiled, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye.
Outside, raindrops began to fall as a lone, dark figure watched their embrace from the street below.
Meh, I'm not super happy with this chapter (or the last few, tbh). I've been dealing with a lot of stuff lately and I've just been so tired. I'm sorry for that. I've really been phoning it in. I may go back later and try to fix those chapters, but for now I just want to keep going forward. I promise I will do better with the next one. Thank you, all 💙
Hades chased Russel through the house while Cordon Bleu lounged lazily on the sofa. "Oh come on!" he griped as the spunky pup dashed into his bedroom and clamoured under the large bed. "Get out from under there! You're going to make us late!" he swore as he crouched on all fours and reached as far as he could towards the difficult canine. "Gotcha!" He managed to grab Russel's hips and carefully dragged him back into the open. "I know you aren't excited about daycare, but Ms. Persephone is starting back to work today and you can't be trusted."
A loud "Bark!" was Russel's reply.
"Ugh, now my suit is all wrinkled," Hades complained, carrying the squirming dog back into the living room.
Persephone emerged from her room, dressed in a simple white dress and pumps, just as he leaned down to pick up Cordon Bleu with the arm not already holding Russel. She couldn't help herself from staring at his ass as he bent over. She blushed and bit her bottom lip as she walked closer. "Oh, here! Let me help," she reached for the small white dog when he straightened back up.
Hades gratefully handed off the grumpy fluff ball into her arms. "Have you seen Cerberus this morning? He's usually ready to go by now."
"Yeah, I saw him wander outside after breakfast. He's probably still in the courtyard," she explained as she nuzzled the growling Cordon Bleu. "So... I was meaning to ask... would you mind giving me a ride today? It's just, it's still sprinkling out..."
"Oh, I assumed you'd be riding with us every morning while you're here... though I suppose I should've asked... You know what they say about assuming..." Hades joked as he strode to the door leading to the garage.
Persephone grabbed her long cape-like coat and followed after him. He was placing a wriggling Russel in the backseat of his chosen car for the day when she caught up to him. "Thank you... I don't mean to be such an inconvenience."
"What?" he turned to face her, shocked.
"I mean, I know you must be getting tired of me always being around. I know you're busy."
"Kore, I would never think of you as inconvenient. I consider it an honor that you even deem me worthy of your presence," he responded as he gathered Cordon Bleu from her and set him in the back of the car as well.
She smiled meekly, "I know you're just trying to make me feel better, but thank you."
Hades only watched her solemnly. It wouldn't be appropriate to tell her how happy he was when she was around, so instead he changed the subject. "Soo.... have you given any thought to my proposal?"
"Wha?" That certainly caught her off guard.
"For the position as my P. A.?" He elaborated, opening the passenger door for her.
"Oh! Uhmm... I... don't think it would be a good idea..." Persephone winced as his face fell. "Don't get me wrong! I'm grateful for the opportunity, but... I don't want any handouts or special treatment... not to mention you would definitely get tired of being around me all day, heh..."
"Well... if you're sure," he stepped away and opened the garage door with his fob. Cerberus came bounding in, stopping just sort of reaching the car. Hades immediately recognized his posture and pointed sternly, "Don't. You. Dare... AHH!" A shower of water flew in all directions from the rain soaked dog as he shook himself dry. He was looking quite pleased with himself when the irritated god glared back at him. "You just earned yourself a walk to work."
The ride to work was awkward, but uneventful, with Hades sulking in the driver's seat while Persephone reached behind herself to give scratches and praise to the 3 "good boys" in the back. There was no way her Cerberus was walking to work in the rain; an argument that she had fiercely fought and won.
After dropping off Russel and Cordon Bleu, then bidding Cerberus a good day, the two awkward immortals made their way into Tower 1.
"Ha-have a good day," Persephone called out with a small wave as Hades stiffly made his way toward the elevator.
He nodded back at her, but otherwise didn't acknowledge her. He didn't see her crestfallen expression as he boarded the elevator.
Hecate was waiting in the lobby to welcome the pink goddess on her return. She watched the pitiful exchange with curiosity before making her way over. "Persephone, dear, how are you? It's so good to see you back!"
"Hecate!" she quickly greeted with a hug, masking her sadness. "I'm actually really glad to be back! I could use some normalcy after the last few days I've had!"
The clever blue goddess smiled strangely. "I bet. Well, I'm sure everyone will be happy to see you. Hermes has been especially worried."
"Oh, well maybe I'll see him at some point today," Persephone smiled in return. In truth, she wasn't ready to see anyone or answer any quetions. She planned to stay hidden in the library, buried in paperwork, for as long as possible. She continued to stand there smiling until it became awkward. "We-well... I suppose I should be getting to work. Shades won't coordinate themselves, heh!" She awkwardly excused herself to head for the library.
Hecate continued to smile and waved at her retreating form as she hurried away.
Hades groaned as he slammed his back against his yet unopened office door, dragging his hands down his face. She had yelled at him. True, she had not been so angry as she was that day with the reporter, but sweet Gaia, her temper did something to him. She was so small and soft and innocent that when she became fiery it was just so... so.... Ugghh! He just wanted to... do... something.
"Ah! He-Hecate! H-how long have you been there?!"
"Not long... Want to tell me what all that was about?" she asked, reclining against the empty assistant's desk.
"How about why the Goddess of Spring looked so upset?" she unenthusiastically inspected her fingernails.
"N-not really..." he began to sweat.
"Wait. How... how did you get up here so fast?"
"There's more than one way to get around in this place," she answered cryptically, her sharp eyes now focused on him. "So tell me... How was dinner?"
Hey there! Due to recent LO chapter events (I won't go into details bc it's a fast pass chapter) and because I've seen more than one person argue this position in the FB groups I felt the need to clarify something...
I do not support the theory that being yelled at is Hades' kink. He does not get off on angry women coming at him because he is a sweet blueberry muffin and is very fragile, also like a blueberry muffin. He only finds the idea of Persephone's wrath so sexy because she is so good and so kind literally all the time. I mean, seriously, who among us doesn't feel a little something every time our pink cinnamon roll goes all red-eyed!?
Ok, end rant. No one has asked about this to me as of yet, but I wanted to address it before the next chapter drops. Thank you 💙
Persephone was well aware of everyone watching her as she walked down the corridor. She could feel their eyes boring into her. Some judging, others questioning. They all felt the same. It hurt. 'Shoulders back. Chin up,' she told herself, "I won't let it get to me. I can do this." She marginally increased her pace as she neared the library door. At last, "Sanctuary," she breathed in relief as she tucked herself inside.
It was well into the lunch hour by the time Persephone ventured back out into the hall. Her arms were overflowing with folders and scrolls detailing the lives of newly arrived shades that were now awaiting judgement.
The corridor was empty now, save for a few creatures who were either working through lunch or eating at their desks. Still, she kept her pace quick and focused.
Hecate exited the elevator holding a single sheet of paper. Her meeting with Hades had taken considerably longer than she had anticipated and she was starving. She frowned at the announcement in her grasp. "Guess I'm having a late lunch today... Persephone! Where are you headed?" She called out, seeing the young goddess heading in her direction. Maybe the she would like to join her.
Persephone slowed to a stop as she neared her friend. "Hey, Hecate. I'm just taking these down to Aeacus and Rhadamanthys for judgment," she answered over the pile in her arms. "Did you need me for something?"
"Hecate!! I need to speak with you!!" an irritated red nymph in a tight black dress burst through the front entrance. Persephone scrambled to regain her arm load as she jumped at the unexpectedly loud *BOOM* of the door.
"Oh sweet Zeus..." Hecate rolled her eyes, "not this again..." She turned and greeted her tartly, "Minthe, to what do we owe the pleasure?"
"Seriously? It's been almost a week! How long am I supposed to be on suspension?! I demand my job back!" she strutted up to the slender goddess as though she owned the place. She needed her job back, dammit! How was she going to reclaim her sugar daddy if she wasn't even allowed near him? He already wasn't answering her texts or returning her calls!
"Minthe, as I told you over the phone, I'm afraid you're not welcome on these premises at this time-"
"Is that so? And just how is His Majesty getting by without someone around to tie his shoelaces for him?" Minthe crossed her arms hautily over her chest and cocked her hip.
Not missing a beat, Hecate grinned in a delightfully deranged manner, "Oh! He has an assistant!"
"What?!" Minthe shrieked, rabidly throwing her fists to her sides, "Who!?"
Hecate was unphased, her unsettling smile never waning. Without turning from their uninvited guest she spoke to the pink goddess beside her. "Ms. Persephone, once you've dropped those off, would you be a dear and make about 400 copies of this for me, please?"
"O-oh! Uhmm..." Persephone managed to awkwardly grab the paper with some difficulty.
"I know Hades has you super busy orchestrating his schedule and what not, but I'm afraid I'm running late for my next appointment. Thanks!" Hecate blinked once and again addressed the livid nymph, "The position has been filled... Ta!" She turned on her heel and walked coolly away, a smug look of satisfaction melting over her features once they could no longer see her face.
Minthe stood rigid, shaking with fury, her fists clenched painfully at her sides. The look of pure hatred burning in her eyes could turn a mortal man to stone.
Persephone took a nervous step in the direction she was facing, putting more distance between herself and seething nymph, never once taking her eyes off of her. She then took another step, and another, and another, until she was safely inside the elevator.
Hades looked up from his desk and squinted into the adjacent room when heard the elevator door open. Thinking it might be his food delivery, he slid his glasses onto his face and announced his location, not bothering to get up from his paperwork.
"H-hey," Persephone greeted timidly as she stepped into his view.
He stood immediately, "Kore? Is everything alright?"
"Uhm... I guess..." she stepped forward into his office, "Are you still mad at me?" she tucked a strand of short hair behind her ear.
"This morning... you wouldn't even look at me after we left your house... I'm sorry that I yelled at you,"
Hades walked around his desk and placed his hands on her shoulders. "Kore, I wasn't angry. I was... distracted."
She smiled sheepishly. "Well that's good because apparently I'm your new personal assistant."
His eyebrows rose in surprise, "You changed your mind?"
"N-no, not exactly..." she started when the elevator doors opened behind her. It was a young looking yellow daimon.
"Delivery for Lord Hades?"
They sat on either side of Persephone's newly assigned desk, food cartons spread between them. "So, what do you think?" Hades asked between bites of his Chinese takeout.
She delightedly lifted her face from her plate, chow mein noodles suspended from her lips.
He laughed and passed her a handful of napkins. "That good, huh? Lucky you I ordered the veggie one today... Why didn't you take a lunch break?"
She gulped down her mouthful of noodles and poked at a piece broccoli with her fork as she answered. "Well, you know how it is... the work really piles up when you've been gone for a few days..."
Hades watched her for a moment to see if she would say anything else. She didn't. "I don't understand why you're lying to me," he told her sadly.
Persephone sighed heavily, "It's not that big a deal..."
"Did someone say something to you?"
"Well, no. Not exactly..."
"Is that why you decided to take the job as my P. A.?"
"No, that was all Hecate's doing... She just kind of made me your assistant all of the sudden." She remembered the deadly look of malice on Minthe's face, but thought better of mentioning her. Truth be told she was glad the nymph was gone. She didn't like feeling happy about it, but she loved having all of Hades' attention to herself now that his ex-lover wasn't around. Emotions were confusing.
"I see... Well, I'll definitely appreciate the help. I'll try to take it easy on you until you get the hang of it," his lips quirked up into charmingly crooked grin.
"Thanks... Speaking of help, where is a photocopier? I need to make copies of this for Hecate. About 400 of them," Persephone slid the paper over to him. It was the one he had been working on with his advisor just before lunch.
"Hmm, well that's interesting," Hades said as he looked over the paper. "Have you looked at this?" he passed in back to her.
"No, I didn't think it would be very professional to peek..." she read over it then. "An Underworld scholarship?"
"There's a copier just on the other side of that wall," he nodded, gathering his trash from her desk. "Oh, and before I forget," he reached across the desk and placed a small, oddly shaped shell in front of her, "it's a fortune cookie. They taste awful, but you break it open and it's supposedly tells your future or something like that." Then he stood and excused himself before walking back to his office.
Curiously plucking the fortune cookie from the desk, Persephone gently cracked open the crispy confection. Inside was a tiny slip of paper that read "You will be hungry again in an hour."
"O-oh! Mmm, Hadeeesss~," she mewled, "That feels so good... Ah!" Persephone buried her fingers into the pillow tucked beneath her head. She hissed, her entire body going tense, when his long, thick fingers hit a particular spot.
He chuckled deep under his breath, "The way you're acting you'd think you've never done this before."
"I ha-haven't... Ohhh, please don't stop!"
Hades smirked as he watched the small, pink goddess writhe under his ministrations. He couldn't get over how tiny she was in his hands and was definitely filing this away in his memory. "You know," he drawled as his large hands worked their way up and down the slope of her calf, "at some point it's going to be my turn and I intend to collect, Ms. Kore." He should've offered her a foot massage a long time ago.
"I'll rub whatever you want, just *gasp* don't stop," she pleaded before biting her lip as his thumbs worked out another stiff muscle in the arch of her foot.
He almost faultered then, blushing as he waited for her to catch her unintentional slip, but she never corrected herself. Perhaps she hadn't realized just what she had offered -- he sometimes noticed that she didn't always understand perverse double entendre; or maybe she was just so far gone in her own pleasure that she wasn't thinking straight. Either way, her words and her sounds, along with the way her soft, curvy body was sprawled before him on the sofa, shot a steady current of electricity straight to his groin. Thank Gaia she was too preoccupied to notice how she was affecting him.
"And just how much longer am I to continue?" He husked, his voice sounding much needier than he expected.
"Mmm, forever," Persephone hummed, "This is your job now." She was joking, of course, but oh how nice would it be if Hades was always so eager and willing to touch her? To be honest she was surprised when he had suggested the massage after they arrived back at his house, but she figured he had noticed her limping, even though she tried hiding it. Stupid shoes. But it isnt like she could just fly around all day though. In an office building it was rather obnoxious.
He huffed out a laugh, "As tempting as that sounds, I'm afraid I have other pressing matters to attend, like making dinner... The best I can do is five more minutes."
Persephone stayed curled up on the sofa, at Hades insistence, while he prepared a modest dinner for two. In her hands was a copy of the scholarship announcement from work. The requirements for maintaining it we're minimal: 3.5 or higher GPA, keeping her attendance up, and at least one extra curricular activity or an Underworld internship -- not a single word about swearing an oath to eternal anything. Basically, her life wouldn't have to change and she had a sneaking suspicion that it was made that way with her in mind.
"Hey, Hades!" She called to him in the kitchen, "Did you ever go to college?"
He poked his head through the door way, "Not really, I never had the time. I did take a few business and accounting courses a while back (centuries), but for the most part I just had to study on my own." He stepped fully out of the kitchen, drying his hand with a dish towel.
Persephone couldn't help but notice that he had rolled his sleeves up his forearms. The simple change always made her belly flutter, but she couldn't pinpoint why. She unconsciously drew her bottom her lip between her teeth.
"Are you having second thoughts?" Hades asked as he made his way further into the room.
"Hmm? Oh, no-no, I was just curious," she glanced down at the paper again. Unfortunately she didn't really have a choice. College was the excuse she was using to stay. "I guess I should start figuring out what to write my essay about... I haven't had a lot of experiences..."
"You could always write about how you hussled the King of the Underworld in a game a of chess. Not many can make that claim," he teased.
"I could, but it wasn't as impressive as you make it sound," she countered, her tongue peeking out from between her lips.
Hades feigned offense, "You're lucky you're a guest in my realm, young lady."
"And what would you do to me otherwise, Your Majesty?" her voice curled with something a little more than innocent playfulness.
He gulped. It wasn't fair that she had this power over him. Made him forget how to think. Made his heart skip a beat. Surely it wasn't healthy. Just as he opened his mouth to reply there was a solid knock at the door. He looked toward the noise, "Are you expecting someone?"
Persephone shook her head, worried that her mother may have learned of where she was staying. She got the feeling he didn't get a lot of visitors when he told her to stay put. She could see the uncertainty in his eyes before he turned and walked to the door. That didn't stop her, however, from peering curiously around the back of the sofa.
When Hades got close enough to see a bold colour against the darkness outside, he knew exactly who it was. "Minthe?" he drew open the door slowly.
"You've got some nerve!" she accused, trying to unsuccessfully maneuver her way inside.
"Me?" he hastily blocked the door way with his body.
"You know, it's one thing for you to dump me, but then you give that little tramp my apartment and my job?! Oh yeah, I know aaalllll about that! Tell me, have you managed to buy your way into her pants yet? Or is the little bitch still holding out," she spat, poking him in the chest. She was full of venom today and there was no room for sweet-talk.
"Believe it or not, not everyone is as callous as you. Some people actually appreciate thoughtful gestures, not expect them. A man could go bankrupt trying to buy affection from you," he wasn't sure where his own poison was coming from, he generally tried to keep his composure during verbal onslaughts, but the way she spoke of Persephone had him seething.
"You're a real piece of shit, you know that?" Minthe reminded him, as if he needed it. "So I fucked up, big whoop! We're supposed to be fucked up together, remember?!" she shoved him, causing him to sway back on his heels. It was then that she noticed the flower arrangements behind him. Hades had never kept flowers before, "Hang on! Is she here? She's in there right now isn't she! What? It's not enough for her that she fucked a sun god?! Guess I've got to give her credit though, for a new girl from the Mortal Realm the little slut sure gets around." The large windows began to rattle. She felt a shift in the air around her before threatening swirls of electric blue crackled in front of her. Her face and ears fell when she saw the angry endlessly black god standing before her. She knew she had crossed a line.
"Minthe," his voice was as dark as his skin - deadly, "I will say this only once. Leave. Now." His sharp, jagged teeth bared at her menacingly, daring her to to do anything else.
She had never seen his anger directed at her like this before and did not need to be told twice. Shakily, she took several steps backwards, too afraid to look away. Once she made it down the steps and had a clear line of sight to the driveway, she bolted.
He closed his eyes and shut the door. 'Deep breaths. Calm down,' he coaxed. The space around him settled and his skin shifted back to his usual blue. Slowly he turned from the door, almost bumping straight into Persephone.
"Hades? Are you okay?"
She couldn't sleep. The clock on the nightstand read 2:16 a.m. and Persephone sat, wide awake, against the pillows in her borrowed room. Her mind kept running through the encounter with their surprise visitor. She didn't actually see who was at the door, but she swore she heard Minthe's name. She could only guess at what was said to make Hades so angry. The image of his otherworldly form was still fresh in her memory. It was both terrifying and beautiful the way his skin became an inky canvas of stygian abyss and glittering stars. She wondered if he would have felt different to the touch. Colder, perhaps; maybe even warmer? The way the energy in the room had swirled around him had sucked all of the air from her lungs -- breathless, but not just from the actual vortex. She had never seen that side of him before. It was as frightening as it was glorious. She wanted to see it again.
A strange sound stirred her from her musings then. At first she wasn't sure she'd heard anything at all, but then the noise came again. Low, deep, and droning. Persephone slid over the edge of the bed and padded quietly to her door. She hesitated only a moment before pulling it open and stepping into the hallway.
She silently followed the sound through the house. It didn't take her long to figure out it was coming from Hades' bedroom. Cerberus greeted her with a pitiful whine just outside the doorway.
"Shhhh. It'll be okay," she whispered, placing her hand comfortingly between the loyal canine's ears.
With a shout Hades bolted straight up, connecting with something hot and solid. His breathing was rapid, as was his heartbeat, his entire body was shaking, and cold sweat poured from him like a fountain. It took a moment for his frenzied mind to catch up to what his senses were telling him. Safe. He was safe and... there was a someone holding him. "K-Kore?" he panted, his voice trembling.
"I'm here," Persephone whispered softly against the shell of his ear, while her delicate hands skated up and down his sweat slicked back.
Fiercely, he grabbed her to him and buried his face into her neck, grounding himself. The motion caught her off guard, but she found herself surprisingly undisturbed by it. She simply drew him further into her embrace, combing her fingers through his damp hair and allowing him time to compose himself. Admittedly, he remained there in her arms far longer than he actually needed.
"I'm sorry," he finally muttered into her collarbone, "I didn't mean to wake you. I wish you hadn't seen me like this... or like before..." He kept his head down against her shoulder, unable to face how he feared she saw him now. A monster. Like everyone else.
"Hey, It's okay... I have nightmares too," her voice was soft and velvety, like a flower petal. "I understand if you don't want to talk about it, but if you do... I'll listen."
Hades pulled himself away from her and took a deep breath before opening his eyes. She was looking at him, but there was no disgust or fear; all he saw was worry in her sparkling features. She cared. He closed his eyes again and flopped back onto his cold, soaked sheets with a depreciating huff.
Without another word, Persephone crawled up beside him and laid down close, but not touching, and watched him drag his large hands down his face. She thought about offering to stay, but decided she wasn't going to give him the option of suffering alone. Instead she surprised him by taking one of his hands into both of her own. She cradled their joined hands over her heart and closed her eyes.
Several days later things were, more or less, ordinary. They never mentioned the nightmares or Minthe -- they just went about doing what was becoming normal for them.
Persephone stood over her desk gathering up a large stack of mortal files that had been dropped off earlier. The recently judged shades were ready and waiting for their eternal assignments from Hades. The small goddess managed to arrange the precariously tall heap of folders in her arms and quickly scampered towards his office slamming straight into the towering god.
With a yelp, Hades immediately lost his balance, his feet becoming tangled with hers as he tried unsuccessfully to steady his young intern. The teetering pair crashed ungracefully to the floor together, sheets of paper fluttering and falling around them like gigantic confetti.
"Ooww," Persephone awkwardly pushed herself up onto her elbows, locking eyes with the king whose face was only inches from her own. Her first thought was that he looked very handsome with eyeglasses, even askewed as they were. Then the realization of their compromising position bloomed across their mirrored features and a crown of blue burst around the top of her head.
He was completely frozen, unable to even think, when he found himself caged between her exquisitely thick, warm, and surprisingly bare thighs. There was a sudden thrill below his belly and he wanted to die. He wanted to bury himself deep inside her. He wanted to touch her. Everywhere. All at once. He wanted. Oh gods, how he wanted. He also wanted to apologize, but the only sound he could make was the needful groaning inside his mind.
She couldn't breathe. Her skirt had become bunched around the tops of her thighs during their tumble and she could feel an unfamiliar pressure against her core. There was a heat pooling within her that she had never experienced before. She found herself aching to push harder into the solid body pressing down on her. To pull him tighter onto her flushed body. To cling to him and hold on for dear life as she explored this unfamiliar pulsing at her center, but she was too afraid to move.
Their attentions instantly snapped to the elevator doors on the other side of the room when they drifted open to reveal an unsuspecting Hermes and Thanatos.
"HEY-yyyyeeeeeee," Hermes greeting quickly morphed into a mortified keening, "Weee'll come back later!" Hermes frantically began slamming the 'door close' button repeatedly.
A derisive "ugh" was all they heard from Thanatos as the doors smoothly slid shut.
Persephone slowly brought her gaze back down to Hades. "I, uh... I like your glasses..." she managed softly in an attempt to break the tension.
"... Tha-thank you..." he squeaked.
It took a lot of convincing from both of them, but Hermes and Thanatos eventually accepted their version of what had actually happened before they arrived on the 99th floor.
Thanatos didn't particularly care once the truth of what he had walked into proved to be rather boring, at least from an outside perspective -- not even worth the gossip. The only reason why he was even there was to schedule a quarterly meeting with Hades.
Hermes, however, had been looking for Persephone as well. "Delivery from Olympus! Invitations, to be exact. Zeus is hosting a party in two weeks and specifically requested that the two of you attend!" he announced, passing a golden envelope to the bewildered goddess.
"Requested? My brother doesn't make requests, he issues demands.," Hades grumbled, reluctantly accepted his envelope with a sigh.
Ok, first off I really want to apologise for how long it took me to post this one. I really struggled with it. I must have rewritten it at least 3 times.
Secondly, we're starting to get near the end of this little adventure. Only around 4 chapters left, maybe 5 depending on how it goes.
Now, without further ado, I hope you all enjoy :)
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.
"You invited Apollo?! Seriously?!?!" Hades shouted across the room as soon as he saw his brother. His eyes glowed red with fury and a black cloud of energy curled around him as he marched angrily in his direction.
"Hades! You made it!" the god greeted, completely ignoring his older brother's ire. "And where is the lovely Persephone? Did she not come with you?"
"Why the FUCK did you invite that PRICK?!"
Zeus sighed, not wanting to bring down his own good mood by discussing it, "Look, it's a banquet for all the gods. I couldn't exactly make it a banquet for all the gods except Apollo-"
"Of course you fucking could, you're the fucking King of the Gods! You do whatever the fuck you like all the damn time!!"
"Well, maybe I like to see you get pissed off too. It isn't fair to poor Poseidon if I only invite the guy that he hates."
"I hate you," Hades seethed through clenched teeth.
"You love me! Now, tell us all about your new live in, and don't leave out any of the juicy details!" Zeus nudged him with his elbow.
"She's been staying with you for about a month now, right?" Poseidon squeezed between them, also interested in hearing about his brothers' escapades.
Hades bristled, in part because of their implications and also because he secretly wished he did have something worth keeping from them. "There's nothing to tell," he grumbled, "I'm just helping her out." Indignantly, he turned to watch the party below and became increasingly worried with each passing second. Where was Persephone?
Persephone gasped and quickly spun when a purple hand came down on her shoulder. "Artemis!" She exclaimed with wide eyes and a hand pressed over her pounding heart.
"He-hey, Perse...," The goddess greeted nervously before taking a deep breath, "Look, I'm... I'm really sorry about..."
"What?! I can't hear you over the music!" Persephone shouted to her former roommate over the booming beat surrounding them.
Artemis glanced around the busy room, locating a door that lead into a courtyard behind the refreshment tables, "Let's go outside!"
The noise from the party sounded more like a muffled thrumming once beyond the doors. It was pleasant out -- balmy and soothing -- a decided contrast to the turmoil swirling inside the two goddesses perched on a marble bench.
"Persephone," Artemis started, her hands folded tightly on her lap," I'm really sorry about... what happened with my brother... I didn't know..."
"...It's not your fault," she replied somberly, "I never blamed you, but... I just couldn't stay there with him always coming around, ya know? I didn't feel... safe, anymore."
They sat in an uncertain silence as the minutes slowly ticked by.
"Sssoooo...," the moon goddess eventually attempted, "I hear you're staying in the Underworld now?"
"Ye-yeah," Persephone tucked a small tassel of hair behind her ear anxiously, "I'm staying with... a friend... from work."
"A friend from work?" the purple goddess cocked an eyebrow sceptically. "You know, if you want to come back with me, you still have a room there... I-I told Apollo he isn't allowed to come around anymore..."
"But... he's your brother..." The pink goddess placed a sympathetic hand on her friend's arm.
Hades was beyond ready to leave. He disliked parties at the best of times, but between his idiot brothers and having to share oxygen with the asshole who hurt Persephone, he was over it. Not to mention his anxiety at not having seen her since they arrived; his only consolation being that he had seen said asshole wandering alone through the crowd.
It took several minutes to find her, still in the courtyard with the moon goddess. He waited by the door for a while before going outside, giving them more time to talk. He knew she was missing her friend and worried about where they stood she moved out.
After several minutes, unable to stand the upbeat pounding in his ears any longer, he finally breeched the doors. "Persephone?... I'm about to head out. Are you still wanting a ride?"
"Hades," Artemis bristled. It was as cordial a greeting as she could manage. "I can give her a ride home."
"Oh! No, thank you, Arty. I mean, it's on his way and I probably should be going too. I have work in the morning," she quickly stood from the bench. "Here!" She pushed her phone into her friend's hands, "give me your number and we can grab lunch sometime!"
It was the newest model. "How did you get this?" Artemis asked curiously, side eyeing Hades. She knew how unlikely it was that the young goddess bought such an expensive item for herself.
"Uhh... It's... my... work phone! They gave it to me when I told them I didn't have a phone anymore," she tittered nervously. It wasn't technically a lie.
Persephone trailed a few steps behind Hades feeling much more at ease after talking with Artemis. Sure, she still wasn't comfortable staying in Olympus, but at least she was on speaking terms with her friend again. She smiled happily to herself.
Without warning, a firm hand snatched her by the arm and whipped her around. "I thought I saw you here. What the fuck, Perse? I told you you were MY girl. What made you think you could just run off to the Underworld without telling anyone, huh?"
Persephone jerked her arm from his tight grasp, ripping a seam in her dress, and whirled around frantically to locate Hades in the crowd. She managed to meet his enraged, fiery gaze right before Apollo aggressively grabbed her shoulder from behind.
Everyone around them stopped instantly, the lively music still thumping, and all eyes turned to see Apollo's head snapped to the side.
Persephone's hand throbbed with the burning ferocity in which she struck him. Her once elegantly cropped hair, now entangled with angry thorns, danced savagely around her head. Her bright eyes darkened with the colour of blood. "Never. Touch me. Again."
The sun god slowly turned his head towards her with a vicious sneer on his face, "How dare you, you wretched little bi-"
"Apollo!" Artemis' voice called assertively from behind him.
He growled low in his throat then huffed out a dismissive "fuck this" and stomped away. Persephone glared venomously at his retreating back as he crossed the room and disappeared from sight.
Hades was already at her side, reaching out for her, but he stopped himself mere inches from touching her. Everything had happened so fast. "Persephone," he said uneasily, "are you alright?"
The young goddess blinked a few times, tears welling up in her once again vibrant rose coloured eyes. Still feeling Apollo's phantom grip on her arm, she sluggishly turned to Hades and whispered, "I want to go home."
They sat silently in the car for several uncomfortable minutes, neither knowing or wanting to speak. Hades woefully watched Persephone from the corner of his eye. He felt like absolute garbage. Never in his life could he remember feeling so low as he did right now. Unable to protect her, again. Unable to help her. Completely worthless.
Persephone felt numb. The adrenaline had worn off, her body was exhausted and her mind vacant. She cradled her aching hand, her thumb absently rubbing over the dull sting. She never even attempted to wipe away the tears that stained her cheeks.
Eventually Hades shattered the silence. "H-how, how's your hand?"
"It hurts," she replied listlessly. Her voice sounded far away even with her sitting less than two feet away from him.
The awkward quietness stretched between them again as he tried to think of how to word his next question. "Do you..." gods, this hurt to ask, but it was for the best. "Would you like for me to take you home now? I can have your things sent to you."
Persephone turned to look at him, her eyes refocusing as if realizing he was there for the first time since they walked out of the building. "What?"
"You said... you wanted to go home... I-"
"No! I-I mean... I meant... your home..."
Hades was stunned, but the shock immediately melted back into heartache "I don't think that's a good idea... This makes twice now that I didn't protect you."
"I don't need you to protect me! I just need you!" her eyes widened as the confession sprung from her lips. "T-to be here... I need you to be here," she quickly tacked on, hoping to spare herself the embarrassment.
He tenderly brushed the stray strands of hair from her face, tucking them behind her ear, "I'm here."
"How was the party last night?" Hecate inquired curiously as she entered Hades' office.
"Don't ask," he glanced at her without lifting his head, currently face down in his hands. His hair was disheveled and looked a bit greasy, as though he'd been tearing at it all morning.
"That good, huh? Did you sleep at all? You look terrible," she leaned against the corner of his desk.
"Apollo was there..."
Hecate's eyebrows hitched slightly, but she said nothing.
"She was right behind me... and I failed her... again," he sighed, leaning back in his chair. He could feel the sting of tears in his eyes again and tried blinking them away before they fell.
The slender goddess wordlessly gave him time to compose himself. "Was she hurt?" She asked after a few moments.
"Not physically... Her hand was a bit sore after she hit him," he huffed out a pitiful laugh.
"Good for her," she closed her eyes and smiled proudly. "... Is that why she's out today?"
"I gave her the day off. I don't want to be here myself, so I know she could use the rest..." Hades pulled a pack of cigarettes from his desk drawer and lit one. "I might leave early... just to make sure she's ok," he released a lungful of smoke.
Hecate nodded, "I'm sure Minos and I could take care of things here if you wanted to leave right now."
"I don't want Minos doing my job," he inhaled again on his cigarette, "He already has an ego, last thing he needs is a power trip." Smoke slithered and curled out from between his lips as he spoke.
"I'll take care of it. You need to go home. Take care of yourself... and Persephone. I'm sure she doesn't want to be alone right now."
'I just need you to be here' He recalled her words from the night before. 'Fuck.' "Hecate, why is it... that I can't do anything right when it comes to her?"
"Because you're an idiot," she teased fondly, placing a hand on his shoulder, "but, if it's any consolation, I've heard that being in love makes you do stupid things." She pushed herself off of his desk and made her way to the door, stopping just before leaving, "For what it's worth, I don't think you failed her. And I'm sure she feels the same way."
Hades watched as his friend walked out of his office. He took one last puff from his cigarette and smashed it down into his ashtray.
His house was dark when he arrived. No light leaking from under any of the closed doors, no lamps, nothing. The whole place felt... wrong. Even the flowers that Persephone had kept up around the house had drooped. The only sign that she was even still there was her coat hanging by the door.
Hades greeted his dogs one by one as he sought out the seemingly elusive goddess. Methodically, he checked each room growing more and more anxious with every vacancy. There was only one place left where he hadn't looked...
When he pushed open the door a sudden relief washed over him at the gentle sounds of someone swimming in his pool.
"There you are," he called out, his voice echoing off the cool dark tiles. "For a second you had me worried," he continued walking to the edge of the water.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to... I just wanted to feel... weightless, ya know? It's kind of boring swimming alone though... Hey! You should join me!" Persephone swam over where he stood and folded her arms over the tiles at his feet.
It was then that he realized she wasn't wearing a swimsuit -- or any form of top, for that matter. He blushed brightly and turned his head. "Uh... Kore? Where's your swimsuit?"
"My what?" she tilted her head, looking perplexed. "Oh! I think I remember Artemis talking about those once... I don't have one, so I just wore my panties. I figured they're basically the same thing," she shrugged.
As she spoke, Hades nervously removed his tie and began unbuttoning his dress shirt with fumbling fingers.
Persephone watched with anticipation as each button popped open until the crisp shirt fell from his strong shoulders.
"Here," he offered, holding the garment out for her to take, "you should put this on..."
She blinked up at him in confusion, but slowly dragged his shirt into the water to slip it on. It was excessively large on her. She managed to get the first few buttons fastened, but decided to tie it at her waist once it became obvious that it would be too long on her. "Can you help me?"
Hades slowly turned back to her and wasn't sure if seeing her wearing his shirt was better or worse than her being naked -- especially being that his shirt was white and now very, very wet. He inhaled deeply to collect himself and knelt down to her.
Persephone lifted her arms out of the pool, "I'm having trouble with the sleeves."
He couldn't help the amused grin that crept across his face at the saturated sleeves pouring over the tips of her fingers like twin waterfalls. Keeping his attention solidly on his task, he was able to roll both of the sleeves above her elbows. "Think that will work?" He asked as he made to stand again.
"Wait," she managed to catch his fingers before he pulled completely away. "Aren't you gonna swim with me? I'm... well, it's kinda lonely out here," her eyes dipped bashfully before looking back up to him, hopeful.
He heard that screeching sound in his head again. That one that made itself known every time he knew he was about to cave and make a fool of himself. *"Πιθανώς θα το μετανιώσω," he muttered under his breath before consenting anyway.
She released his hand with a smile and swam back from the side of the pool as he removed his shoes. She never took her eyes off of him as he straightened and began to unfasten his belt and trousers.
"Do you mind?" he cast a look in her direction.
"No," she shook her head, a delighted sparkle in her eyes. "... Oh! Sorry," she blushed, turning her back.
Hades smirked and shook his head. Gods help him.
Persephone stayed facing the other way, staring at the rippling surface of the pool, until a surge of water crashed over her from behind. With a squeal she whipped around to face her attacker only to see that she was alone. Suspiciously she peered through the blue depths of the broken water. She couldn't see him anywhere. All at once she shrieked as two firm hands grabbed her around the waist and suddenly she was airborne, having been tossed from where she tread into the deeper end of the pool.
When she sputtered to the surface, she could hear his boisterous laughter bouncing around them in the echoey space. As hard as she could, she hurled a splash at him. "SCOUNDREL!! 100 PERCENT!!" she screeched playfully.
"I couldn't help myself," he wheezed, using his hands to shield himself from her retaliation, "The opportunity was too good to pass up... Besides, you're not bored now, right?" He grinned at her, a genuinely happy expression. She could even see his dimples!
"Yeah, well you better watch out 'cause.... Hang on... How come you get to swim in your underwear? That's not fair!"
"Ah, you still seem to labor under the impression that I subscribe to your ideological sense of fairness," he said haughtily, his eyes closed in a vague sense of pretension. When he received no reply, he peeked his eyes open and glanced around. Persephone was gone. Oh no! Had he gone too far? Was she upset with him? He hadn't heard her leave... Before he could make a move, he was suddenly dunked underwater by two small hands on his shoulders.
Hades resurfaced quickly, ignoring the burn of water in his nose, and set his sights on the mischievous young woman. "Are you sure you really want to go up against me, little goddess?" he swam towards her slowly, like a predator stalking it's prey.
In reply, she spat a stream of water at him like a fountain and giggled.
They were both exhausted. Persephone had her arms wrapped around Hades' neck, him holding her up, as they continued to float. He couldn't remember a single time in his life when he'd had such a good time. He didn't even know he was capable of having fun, but here he was, completely worn out from playing games and laughing with the small, pink goddess in his arms.
She was practically laying on him, but was too tired to feel embarrassed about it. All she felt was calm drifting lazily under the eternal night sky of the Underworld in the arms of it's eternal ruler. "Hey," she started softly, "do you remember a few weeks ago when Minthe came over?"
He tensed. "I do..."
"I... I saw you change..."
He cringed, waiting for the inevitable.
"Is that something you can do whenever you want? Or do you have to be angry?"
Well that certainly wasn't what he was expecting. "Uh... I can do it whenever... Why?"
"I dunno," she shrugged, "I would just like to see it again sometime. Up close... It was hard to tell from where I was, but you looked like the night sky. It was amazing."
Hades felt himself blush. He didn't want to tell her that it was a trait he had inherited from his father, so he didn't. "...Maybe someday."
Persephone nodded, allowing herself to settle against him once more. Her eyes drowsily followed the water droplets that ran down the jagged scars that crisscrossed his torso. "Do they hurt?" She murmured again, tracing a scar that danced over his collar bone with a single finger.
"...No. Not anymore... Not for a long time now," Hades replied, his voice husky -- tired -- almost a whisper. "Do they bother you?" He turned his face to look at her, his eyes a striking deep red.
"Not at all...," her breath whispered across his cheek. "I think you're beautiful...," she drew closer, like a moth to a flame. "like a storm...," she breathed, then languidly pressed her lips against his.
*Πιθανώς θα το μετανιώσω - "I will probably regret this/it"
(I know Persephone was a junior Olympic swimmer and does, in fact, know what a swimsuit is. I took some liberties... Or maybe she wanted to know what poor Hades would do 😉)
Okay! I made a deal with myself that I would get this chapter up before a take a bit of a break (no worries, it's just for a week). I have my very first craft festival coming up this Saturday and I need to devote all of my time into getting ready for it. I already have the next chapter planned out, though not written, but hopefully you guys won't have to wait more than a few days after my show.
Much love! 💙💙
I hope you guys are strapped in and ready for this rollercoaster ride!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Oh gods, what had she been thinking?! She was so stupid! Stupid, stupid, STUPID!! She sobbed erratically, full-bodied hiccups wracking her crumpled frame painfully. How could she have done that?! He didn't want it! Hadn't responded at all! Just like when Apollo had done it to her! She bawled. How could she have done that to him?! How could she have kissed him?! Everything had been so perfect and... And now it was ruined!! And it was all her fault!! She wailed even harder, tears no longer falling at this point, as her small body quaked against the bottom of the door.
"Kore!" Hades called frantically from outside her bedroom. He had barely the forethought to grab his trousers, now hanging loosely around his hips, as he ran after her. "Persephone! Please open the door." He twisted the handle only to find it locked. "Please... let me in..." His head thumped against the door.
She shook her head back and forth wildly, whipping her impossibly long curtain of hair around her. She couldn't answer him. Her throat was too raw and her breathing too rapid. Her head felt fuzzy, like static. Panic was setting in. She couldn't face him. What would he say? What would he do? Would he kick her out? Would he- she jerked backwards with a gasp as two large, gentle hands cupped her face. She looked terrified.
"Kore... Oh, Kore... αυτό είναι λάθος μου," he brushed his thumbs over her tear-stained cheeks. She felt hot in his hands. Too hot. She was burning up. Her chest was heaving with ragged breaths and he could feel her racing pulse beneath his fingers. He had to get her to calm down before she passed out. "Sweetness... I need you to breathe," he coaxed, "Just take a deep breath..."
She could hear his voice, but couldn't make out his words. His tone was soothing and his eyes were kind, worried, but she was too far gone to comprehend or respond. All she could do was hold on and hope she didn't float away all the while wishing that the ground would swallow her.
He felt her fingers fold weakly over his wrists, but she hadn't settled down. He had to do something to stop her hyperventilating. He hesitated only a moment before making a decision. Slowly, so slowly, he leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers.
It was wet and salty and tasted of anguish. So different from the leisurely kiss she had given him in the pool. She was clearly surprised. He could feel her trembling lips beneath his, but at least she had stopped gasping so violently for air.
"Ha- Ha- Hades?" She stared at him with wide, frightened eyes when he pulled away.
"Kore..." He cooed, wiping away the fresh tears that leaked from her bloodshot eyes, "What happened? Why did you run?"
"... Be-... Because... I... I..." She started crying again, though much calmer than before.
Hades felt his heart breaking, but he didnt know how to fix this. So he placed a tender kiss to her forehead and waited, with his lips resting over her brow, for her to settle down once more.
It was several seemingly endless minutes later that Persephone finally slumped against him. She was exhausted, her whole body spent. It wasn't long before a chill settled over her flushed skin and she shivered.
Hades immediately felt her tremors and glanced around the room for something to warm her with. He wasn't wearing his jacket -- not even his shirt. That's right... She was still wearing his shirt. It was wet and now icy cold to the touch. He frowned, determined, and slowly eased himself away from her. He stood and walked the few steps to the bed where he grabbed the blanket and threw it around his shoulders before settling beside her, his back to the wall.
"Come on," he whispered, bringing her easily into his lap. Once she was comfortably curled against him he brought the thick blanket around her, cocooning her in his warmth. Better, but it wouldn't help much until she got out of those wet clothes. "Kore?" he swallowed thickly, almost afraid of the answer and knowing he didn't deserve to even ask, "do you trust me?"
At first she didn't respond, he thought she might have fallen asleep, but then, ever so slightly, she nodded.
He breathed deeply against her hair and nervously moved his hand to the collar of the shirt she wore, "We need to get this off before you get sick." Carefully, Hades trailed his fingers down the front of his borrowed dress shirt and, one by one, released each button until he came to the knot at her waist. It was difficult to untie with one hand and he fumbled more than once before Persephone placed her own hands over his and freed the knot herself. Together they peeled the clingy material from her shoulders and Hades tossed it away from them with a plop.
She whimpered then. A small, pitiful sound. A broken sound. Hades thought he was able to make out the word "sorry."
"Try to get some rest... We'll talk soon," he soothed, tucking her head under his chin as he cradled her closer to his chest.
Persephone's head was pounding. She felt awful, sick even, her entire being was all out of sorts. The pressure inside her skull was making it near impossible to focus on anything else, but, despite the ache, she could remember most of what had happened before she succumbed to her exhaustion. To put it mildly, she was ashamed of herself. Ashamed. Embarrassed. Disappointed. For what she'd done and for how she reacted. Childish. Dumb village girl. She curled herself into a ball on the bed she now rested on and sniffled.
"He-hey, no...no more of that... Please," Hades warm, velvety voice soothed from somewhere nearby.
She froze, then felt his hands smooth over her hair.
"I think you and I need to talk," he whispered, now kneeling directly in front of her so that they were face to face.
With a wince, Persephone peeked open one glassy eye and looked pitifully into his. "My head hurts," she whimpered.
"I'm not surprised. You've been through quite a lot... Here," he reached over to the nightstand and brought a glass of water to her. "Can you sit up?"
She slowly rolled onto her stomach so that she could muscle her way into a propped position on her elbows. It was then that she realized she was naked and blushed. "Hades?... Where are my clothes?" She rasped.
"Oh... Umm... We-well, you... you see...," he lowered his eyes to the mattress before clearing his throat, "Aft-after you calmed down, you were so cold... Your clothes were still wet, so... I helped you take them off... I didn't look..." He swallowed hard, keeping his head down, too nervous to make eye contact.
"Oh... Thank you..."
He lifted his eyes to hers, surprised.
"For taking care of me... even after everything...." she felt the sting of tears again and couldn't stop the few that fell from her lashes. "I'm really sorry... I didn't-"
"Kore... Don't..." He lifted the glass of water to her again. "You're going to get yourself all worked up again... Drink this, I'll be right back. I promise."
Persephone took the glass from him, still feeling weak, but she managed a few sips before Hades stood and headed out the previously locked door. Wait a second...
True to his word, he was back within minutes, now wearing sweatpants. In his hands he had her bathrobe, a small bottle, and what looked like a pack of crackers.
Persephone was sitting up against the headboard with the blanket pulled up to her chest waiting for him. "Hey... How did you get in?.... Before?"
"I have my ways," he answered cryptically. "There really aren't many places I can't get into. Just a perk of being me." He set the crackers down next to the half empty glass on the nightstand. "I brought you a few things. You need to eat something and take one of these," he handed her the pill bottle, "and your robe." He gently laid the garment over her lap and turned so she could slip it on.
"... Why are you doing this? Why are you being so kind to me?" She asked, pulling the robe on and tying it in place.
"What do you mean? Why wouldn't I?" his back was still facing her. She found it easier to talk to him this way.
"Because, of what I did..." her eyes dropped to her lap in shame. "I don't deserve it."
"This is all my fault," Hades lamented, slowly turning toward her again. "Kore, you did absolutely nothing wrong," he inhaled deeply before releasing it. It was time to come clean. Time to be honest. Damn the consequences, because this was killing him and she deserved to know. "The truth is...," he sat on the edge of the bed, his eyes downcast, unable to look at her as he confessed, "I think... I'm in love with you."
She couldn't answer. There's no way she heard him correctly. She must still be too tired. Her mind is playing tricks, right? "... Don't tease me," is all she could manage.
He snorted dismally. "I wish I could say I was...," He looked at her then with watery eyes, "I've never felt like this about anyone, but... you're so young, Kore. You're still figuring yourself out. You're still learning how the world works. You don't need a fucked up old man like me dragging you down with my bullshit."
She sat and listened to him. He look and sounded so sad. So broken. She once again felt the prickle of tears before they silently slipped down her cheeks. "Hades?... I... I've never been in love before... so I don't know if it's love or a crush or something else, but I know I like being with you... I like the way I feel when I'm around you and... when I look at you... o-or touch you... my insides get all fluttery and my chest feels tight and... and... I just..." she crawled over the bed toward him and draped herself around his broad shoulders, "I want to be with you."
αυτό είναι λάθος μου = this is my fault
She had hustled him again. That was the only explanation for why he was standing with her in the middle of a popular downtown ice cream parlor. He was actually feeling a bit salty about it. He had explained his concerns, argued every logically sound reason for why they couldn't be together, and yet there they were: playing hooky from work for a whole day so they could go on an official date. Torn between delight he didn't deserve and frustration he didn't want he just sighed, unsure exactly how to feel about it all, as he watched Persephone press her hands and face to the glass in wonder of all the different flavours.
"Which one is your favorite?" she asked him without taking her eyes from the buckets of colourful frosty dessert.
"I dunno... coffee, I guess..." he shrugged, "maybe bourbon butter pecan... What about you?"
"Don't know. I've never had ice cream before," she said with a hint of curiosity to her voice.
Hades blinked a few times in rapid succession. It was so easy to forget sometimes just how sheltered she was and without hesitation he turned to the Nymph behind the counter, "We'll take 4 ice cream flights with one of every flavour."
Persephone turned her head then and looked at him in disbelief. Had he really just ordered her one of everything? "That's really not necessary!"
"What? Come on, you're 19 years old and have never had ice cream? That is completely unacceptable."
"You are a guest in my realm and my home. It is my duty, as King, to make sure you get everything you need, and right now you need to sample all of the ice cream flavours available in this establishment."
She huffed a smile at him, but it didn't reach her eyes. He was doing it again. Pushing her away. Talking to her like nothing had changed between them. It was subtle, but it still hurt.
He knew what he was doing, recognized it for what it was, of course he did, but it seemed that he couldn't stop himself. So many months of keeping her at arms length, or at least trying to, and so many centuries of being alone... It was a hard habit to break. He was going to have to do better than this. She deserved so much better.
After he paid they waited silently, awkwardly, for their order. The Nymph hastily filled the small waffle cones with ice cream and set the flights one by one on a tray. Thanking the server, Hades asked Persephone where she wanted to sit and followed as she lead the way to a corner booth.
"I'm sorry," he sighed, setting the tray on the table. "I tried to warn you, I'm no good at this."
"It's ok," she flashed a small, genuine smile at him as he sat across from her. "I don't really know what to do either. This is my first date... I'm a lot more nervous than I thought I'd be..." Biting her lip, she glanced around at the few other people in the shop, "Are you afraid of what people will say?"
"Not about me," he admitted softly before nudging the tray of samples toward her. "Better get started before it melts," he quirked his lips into a crooked smile.
"Where to next?" Hades asked, his breath puffing in front of him like smoke as they strolled back to his car. He looked expectantly at the small goddess latched onto his arm.
"You tell me, Your Majesty. This is your kingdom, as you so often remind me," Persephone teased, feeling much more at ease than before.
He cocked his eyebrow playfully at her. "Well..." He drawled, "We have an aquarium just a few blocks that way, and there's a museum just a bit further. Of course, it wouldn't be much to see for you since you grew up in the Mortal Realm..."
"Are there any gardens or parks?"
"Unfortunately, not much actually grows here. It's too cold, for one, and without sunlight-"
"I bet I could figure out a way to grow something that could withstand the cold!" she perked, all but bouncing in excitement before she remembered herself, "I mean... If you're okay with that..."
"I believe you could," he smiled at her warmly, "Technically, you already have once."
"Oh yeah... That was in self defense though. Not for fun."
"Fair point... Tell you what, when we get back to work tomorrow I'll look around and see about finding you a place to make a garden. I'm sure the residents would enjoy it."
She smiled. "So what else is there?"
"Mm, there's ice skating and bowling-"
"Oh! Can we do that?!"
"No-no, the other thing! Ice skating! I've read about it, but I've never actually seen it. It's too warm in the Mortal Realm; the water never freezes."
"I suppose we can go for a few rounds, but only if you promise to tell me as soon as you start getting too cold."
"I promise!" she bounced enthusiastically on her toes.
He chuckled. "Hm... It's been a long time since I've been skating. Maybe I won't be too rusty..."
He was rusty. It took him a few slips and falls, but eventually muscle memory took over and he was gliding with the best of them across the ice.
Persephone opted to sit on the sidelines so she could watch everyone else, especially Hades, drift over the frozen rink. Some were incredibly skilled, zipping along at a fast pace or twirling about gracefully, others were a bit shaky on their feet, or average at best, but everyone seemed to be having fun.
When Hades made his way back around to the gate, he held his hand out with a grin, beckoning her to join him. "Are you just going to sit there the whole time watching or are you going to skate with me?"
She blinked her large eyes at him and smiled brightly, "You'll stay with me, right? Don't run off and leave me behind." She wobbled over to the wall on shaky legs as she tried to keep her balance on the blades.
"I would never," he grinned devilishly, opening the gate for her.
"You'd better not," she leaned playfully over the short wall separating them with half lidded eyes, placing her hand in his offered one, "I would hate to have to raise your scoundrel level again."
He blushed and felt his heart skitter at her touch. "We-well we wouldn't want that, now would we?"
As soon as Persephone stepped onto the ice the moment was lost. Hades immediately pulled her against his chest to keep her from falling. "Whoa, careful," he chuckled, trying to steady her with one arm around her waist.
"How do you make this look so easy?!" she cried, feeling his hand slide up her back and down her arm. "No-no-no-no-no, what are you doing?! You promised!!"
Hades grinned at her amusedly as he started to slowly drift away from her, holding her small hands tightly. "I'm not leaving you," he reassured her, as her upper body stretched toward him as far as she could before she realized he was pulling her with him. "Try to stand straight. I promise I won't let go."
"Ha-Ha-Hadeeesss," her voice trembled.
"Come on, I know you can do it," he encouraged.
She whimpered and shut her eyes tight as she tried to straighten, her whole body jerking occasionally as she felt her balance slip.
"You're doing great. Now open your eyes..."
She did. They were standing together in the middle of the rink, arms length apart, while everyone else continued their fluid movements around them. "I did it!"
"You did," he beamed proudly, "Now, come to me."
The triumphant light in her eyes dimmed slightly. Just because she was standing did not mean she could move.
"Kore, I'm right here... If you want me, come get me."
Only one more chapter, guys!
Chapter 19: Fan Art
This is not a chapter update (I'm sorry! Forgive me!) I've been working really hard on the last chapter and it is proving to be quite a challenge, as I've never written a love scene before and I want to make sure it meets expectations (yours and mine). In the meantime, please enjoy this fanart I drew when I should have been writing! (I needed to take a break.)
Ooookay. This is it. The chapter you've all been waiting for, or dreading as the case may be. This chapter does include a very lengthy sex scene and I have never worked so hard on writing anything in all my life. I stopped counting rewrites after the 8th one, and that was a few days ago. My best friend told me to just go ahead and post it because I'm my "own worse critic" and "it's probably fine," so we'll see.
I truly hope you enjoy this, but if you don't I hope you enjoyed everything up to it. And now without further ado, here is the last chapter of "As Long as You Want"
It was quiet as Hades pulled his car back into the dimly lit garage and killed the engine. Persephone sat beside him with a calm, but far away look in her eyes. He just assumed she was tired. It had been a long, but overall enjoyable day. After their cozy ice skating session, everything between them had felt a lot more natural -- more comfortable.
They teased, they flirted, they sampled food from each others' plates at lunch, and walked arm-in-arm as they explored the aquarium. Of course there had been a few incidents with paparazzi as they made their way around the city. Unfortunately, it was to be expected. At least they had managed to enjoy an intimate candlelit dinner before their day-long date came to an end. But now it was late as they arrived back home and Hades was more than a little unsure of how to proceed. He'd not been on many first dates, even with a life as long as his, and never with a woman that was already living in his house.
"... Sssooo..." Hades drawled staring at the steering wheel still gripped in his fists as he tried to think of something charming and clever to say. "We're back..." He cringed. Nice. Real smooth. Idiot.
"Mhmm," Persephone grinned, drawing her bottom lip between her teeth. "I guess... we should go in?"
"Yeah..." he looked over at her and held her gaze as though there was something else he wanted to say. Instead he flashed her a crooked, almost apologetic smile and got out.
Her eyes followed him as he rounded the vehicle to her side and popped open her door, offering his leather-gloved hand to her. She readily accepted, gracefully standing to bringing herself face to face with his bowed form. "Thank you," she spoke leaning closer to him, her voice as soft as a flower petal.
"You- you're welcome," the flustered god stammered as he brought himself back to his full height. He shut the car door with a soft *whump* and motioned for her to lead the way. The click-clack of their shoes was the only sound echoing around them as they walked across the garage.
"I... had a really good time today," she said looking over her shoulder.
"Good... I did too," he agreed as they reached the door.
"Hades," she spun to face him, shoulders and back ramrod straight, head held high, as if she were preparing for battle. "I..." she faultered before taking a deep breath and trying again, "before this is over... I really want to kiss you!"
Surprise was evident on his face as he watched a vibrant heat bloom over her face and neck. With a hesitant nod he slowly dipped his head down to hers, hovering so close that they could feel the warmth radiating from each other's skin. A shaky breath passed through his lips and he carefully pressed his mouth to hers in a simple, chaste kiss.
It ended quickly. A delicate thing that left Persephone bereft and wanting. She had not even had a chance to savour the feel of it before he vanished. But then his lips returned melding over hers again, and again, and again, drawing her bottom lip between his teeth like he had imagined doing so many times.
His tongue swept along the plumpness of her lower lip, so soft and sweet -- she tasted like sugar from their dessert. With a sigh her hands fastened around his head, keeping him there as she drove her mouth harder against his in a possessive rhythm. A deep moan rumbled in his throat as he pulled her closer, his fingers clutching at the fabric of her dress.
It was so... exhilarating. She became lost in the heady feel of their kiss, so deep and hungry, as she breathed in his smouldering scent, like the flames that burned inside her. Intoxicated, she plunged her own tongue into his mouth with a satisfied hum. Her hands fisted viciously in his hair, pulling him closer, holding him tighter, molding her body to his like plaster.
He was burning up. Even in the coolness of the Underworld he felt like his body was on fire, tightening with a need so carnal and savage it almost frightened him. "Kore," He rasped, breaking through her cloudy mind as he pulled away from their searing kiss.
Her eyes shot open, stunned and ashamed of her ravenous behavior; like a starving mortal set before a feast. Embarrassed, she looked away. "Hades..." she squeaked through a bruised pout, her fingers still twisted tight in his hair, "I didn't... I mean, I thought... I... I'm so sor-"
He surged forward, crushing his mouth to her swollen lips. It was his turn to be ravenous. Teeth clashing, tongues dancing, hands pulling. He had never felt such a fire burn in his veins and if she wanted more then he would gladly give it to her.
Her legs locked around his torso as he hoisted her small body up against his and the silky ends of her growing hair brushed over his wrists. She felt the hard surface of the door press into her back as his strong hands, sheathed in soft leather, gripped and kneaded the backs of her thighs.
She moaned into his mouth when her center rolled against his abdomen. "Hades..." she keened, breaking away from his lips. Unable to stop, he trailed wet, open mouthed kisses across her jaw. His teeth closed around her sensitive earlobe, shooting a steady current of need to her pulsing center.
The song of her gasps and mewls bounced around them, electrifying his senses. Heat rushed through his groin, constricting, as her nails scraped and tugged at his scalp while her curves pushed and pulled against him like the tide. He grunted dropping his head into the juncture of her neck. A shudder ripped through him when his own body bucked against her and he froze.
Everything stopped, save for their ragged breathing and rapid heartbeats. It was too much. He needed to calm down. He needed to let her go. Needed to remember all the reasons why this was a terrible, horrible idea, but he couldn't seem to recall any.
"Please," she whispered, so softly he could barely hear her cottony voice over the blood rushing in his ears. Persephone slid her hands to either side of his face and lifted him from where he hid against her shoulder. Her eyes searched his, darkened with lust and need and something else -- something softer. Her thumbs coasted over his cheekbones. "Don't stop," she breathed, pressing a slow, melting kiss to his lips.
Hades eyelids drifted shut once more, reasons be damned, as he allowed her to stoke the embers of his flame. Pulling. Probing. Pulsating.
"Take me inside?" her lips feathered over his.
He shivered. With a nod he opened the door without releasing his hold on her thick thighs while she feasted on his neck and jaw. Tasting. Biting. Stroking.
"Where would you like to go?" he rumbled, his voice husky and raw as he carried her through the dark house.
Her toes curled as she tightened her legs around his waist, feeling his hardness nestled at her core. "Your room..."
His stomach fluttered and a thrill of lust pulsed through his cock. The world around him felt surreal, like he was floating through a dream. Were they really going to do this? Did she know what she was asking? Was she ready? Was he?
A shiver buzzed through him as he felt her teeth drag down the thick column of his neck and he stumbled along the stairs. Focus. Slow breaths. Her lips closed over his throbbing pulse while her inquisitive tongue stroked his salty skin, sending a low groan up his throat as his body once again thrust against her. "Gods, Persephone..." he hissed through his teeth, "you're making this... really difficult..."
"Do you want me stop?" her hot breath caressed over his jaw.
"No," he turned, claiming her mouth again as they reached the door to his bedroom. He kicked it shut just as her fingers slid to the knot of his tie. He continued forward until his knees bumped the foot of his bed. Twisting around, he fell backwards onto it, bouncing once, with Persephone straddling his waist.
She broke away from his lips so she could look at the god pinned beneath her - trembling, breathless, wanting. She did that. She made him feel that way. It made her feel powerful, confident -- a true goddess.
Hades reached up to cradle her rosy cheek, but stopped when he saw that he was still wearing his gloves. He grabbed the tip of the offending barrier between his teeth and pulled until his hand came free, letting the glove fall from his lips. His naked palm was so warm even against her flushed skin. "You're sure you want this? With me?" his thick voice rumbled.
She leaned into his touch. "Ever since I first met you," she admitted, letting her own hand climb up to lace her trembling fingers with his. "It's just... all my life I've had to do what others wanted... I'm so tired of having to be 'good' all the time... and now, for the very first time in my life, I get to do what I want and... and I want to be with you... If that's alright." Already knowing his answer, she curled over him and pressed a heated kiss to his lips, tugging at his lapels until he sat up.
The silk tie ripped from around his neck. She was so bold. Even now when he could tell she was nervous, but she refused to let it slow her down. He loved it. Gripping her hips tightly, he dragged her forward until her heat was pressed firm against his arousal. The pressure was delicious and a duet of moans escaped into each other's mouths.
Her fingers worked quickly to pop open the buttons of his jacket and waistcoat before pulling his shirt free from his trousers. "You wear so many layers..." She fussed when his shirt became scrunched within the elastic prison of his suspenders. "Are you trying to keep me out?"
"No..." He chuffed, "Just everyone else." He was only half joking. With one hand he began unfastening the buttons at his collar, working his way down, while Persephone released the ones at the bottom. Their fingers met in the middle and the garment fell open.
Once again she found herself enamoured with the sight of him - so wild looking beneath a stuffy business suit. She raked her hands over the jagged scars that arced like lightning across his chest.
His skin burned where she touched, ignited by her palms sliding over his body to push the unwanted clothing from his shoulders. Her efforts to undress him effectively trapped his arms behind him, displaying him fully to her curious gaze. He squirmed beneath her in anticipation, wanting so badly to touch her again.
Her feather-light touch ghosted over his chest and nipples, raising goosebumps over his skin as she explored him. She had never really had the opportunity before, not like this. Her eyes were alight with wonder as she poked and smoothed and rubbed anywhere she could reach. Her fingers tickled over his belly, causing his muscles there to jump, before skimming over his hip bones, following the defined V down to where it disappeared into the waistband of his slacks.
Hades watched her with baited breath as she studied him. Hopefully he would pass her inspection. He sucked in gasp when her fingertips dragged along the inside of his trousers. He couldn't help the way his muscles quivered beneath her attentions. "Kore..." he sighed through clenched teeth when she pressed her palm over the hardness straining behind the zipper. He bucked into her hand, his eyes screwed shut against the sensation.
It looked like he was in pain, but he didn't tell her to stop. She wrenched open the button of his trousers and lowered the zip, slipping her hand behind the last barrier hidden beneath his suit. A tight, garbled sound escaped his throat as she cradled him. He was very big, much like the rest of him, and hard, yet soft, like a sheath of smooth velvet over a thick steel rod. She stroked her hand slowly up and down his length, rubbing her thumb over the dripping head. His weight sank against her with a breathy shudder. "Are you alright?" She whispered into his ear.
"Fffuck," he hissed, grinding into her hand. Her hold on him was so soft, so delicate, so gentle, and he was so unused to a loving touch that he wouldn't last long like this. "W- wait," he choked out between frazzled breaths.
She stopped immediately and released him, pulling her hand from his boxers. "Did I do something wrong?" She worried, bringing her fingers to her chin.
"No," he groaned, "Not at all." Hades pulled his arms free of the suit still holding him captive and tossed it to the floor in a crumpled heap. His hands returned to her soft figure and pulled her forward so that he could ravish her mouth again.
She pressed flush against him, rolling her curves along his bare chest. She gasped, breaking apart their kiss with a smack. Needing something solid to ground her buzzing mind, she fastened her lips just to the side of his throat.
With a groan he dropped his face to her shoulder and inhaled her flowery scent as his fingers skated up her sides and back until he reached the zipper at the back of her dress. Pausing for a moment, he waited for her permission before peeling her dress apart.
Persephone sighed into his hair as her dress fell open and he pressed hot, open-mouthed kisses to her prickled skin. His large hands dragged their way under the hem of her dress, pushing the slinky material, inch by inch, up her soft, petal pink body.
His hands felt different, she realized, and remembered he was still wearing one glove. "Hades..." she stopped him with a half-lidded gaze and drew his leather wrapped hand between them. "I want you to touch me," she whispered, slipping the glove from him and tossing it aside.
His eyes glowed with an intense hunger that made her squirm modestly. He watched her as he slowly skimmed his knuckles up her curves until he reached the dress still bunched around her ample bosom. His wide palms flattened against her ribs and pushed under the material, stretching it as he fit his hands over her velvet-soft breasts for the first time.
She wasn't wearing a bra, the little minx. A devilish grin curled over his face when he realized and swiped his thumbs across her nipples, causing her to arch into his touch. Her sensitive peaks hardened under his attentions, puckering against the pads of his thumbs as he rolled over them. The sight of her gasping, wriggling form grinding back and forth over his thighs had his mind and body humming, but it wasn't enough. He needed to see all of her. Wanted to watch her perfect body writhe in his lap as he touched her. As he made her come apart with his bare hands.
Caught up in his own selfish, lust-addled mind, he fisted one hand around the garment still hiding her from him and swiftly wrenched it upwards, forcing her arms over her head as he tore it off of her. Her shocked cry snapped his attention back to her and the reality of his actions. "Shit! Kore, I'm sorry! I... I just got... I got so... I just... Fuck! Are you okay?" he hugged her to him, cradling her head to his chest.
"I'm okay," she released a shaky breath, "I'm okay...you just surprised me is all... I'm okay." She placed a kiss to the inside of his neck and eased back. "It's okay... Keep going," she encouraged, nervously guiding his hand down her breasts and over her soft belly to the small triangle of lace at the apex of her parted thighs.
Stealing a gentle kiss from her, Hades carefully brushed a knuckle along her seam hidden behind the gauzy filigree. His gaze bounced anxiously from his hand to her face -- Gaia forbid he screw up again.
There was no distress in her features as he continued to caress her, but she did eventually become impatient, pressing against his hand. Taking the hint, he pulled aside the elastic of her panties and swiped a finger up her center. She was soaking wet, practically dripping. His eyes rolled back into his skull as the hot, silken pleasure of her wetness coated his fingertip. "Fuck... Persephone," he groaned, burying a thick finger into her core as he slammed his mouth desperately against hers, swallowing her euphoric keening.
Digging her fingernails into his shoulders, she rode his hand with wanton abandon. Hips rolling and shifting against his palm as her silky walls clenched around his finger, seeking relief from the pressure building inside her. Sparks of white-hot pleasure exploded behind her eyelids as he slipped another finger into her slick entrance, stretching her. "Ha-Hades," she pleaded, trying to gain more friction from his palm.
Sweat beaded at his temples as his own hips jerked and bucked against back of his hand, trying in vain to get closer to her. The building tension in their bodies was becoming too much. Removing his hand from her, he allowed himself to fall backwards onto the bed with Persephone still straddling him. They feverishly stripped away the remaining layers of clothing between them until there was nothing separating them but air.
Hades took his time to appreciate the gorgeous goddess on top of him. He raised himself up onto one elbow and brushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "You're so beautiful," he whispered, easing her down into a firey kiss, letting his hand roam over every inch of her he could reach.
Releasing a sigh, she let her body chased after his touch, her heat grinding over his impossibly hard length, increasing their friction as her need grew. She glazed him from tip to base with her wet desire as her hips slid forward and back along his cock. "It's not enough," she whimpered into his mouth, her hands grasping at his sweat slicked skin.
Reclining back to lie flat on the bed, he wrapped his large hands around her hips and dragged her up his body, never breaking the scorching wet contact between them. He rubbed his thumb over her slippery bud and positioned his weeping tip at her entrance, coating himself in her lust.
Unable to stand the torturous pull any longer, she shifted her pelvis and pushed onto him, crying out as he stretched her wide.
A groan tore from his lips when she sank onto him. It was all he could do to remain still and watch through slitted eyes as she took him in, inch by agonizing inch. His breathing became labored and his fingers trembled, digging into her flesh where he held her.
Forward and back, forward and back, up and down, rocking slowly she worked her way over his thick cock until he was fully sheathed inside her. Tears slid from the corners of her eyes as she released a shuddering breath.
"Kore... Are you alright? Are you hurt?" He breathed, alarm colouring his ecstasy.
"You feel so good," she sobbed. "I- I didn't know... it could feel like this."
He sighed shakily and eased her down so that he could hold her against his chest. They stayed like that, simply relishing their closeness, until she could no longer keep her need at bay. She pulsed and squeezed around him, bucking her hips against his. He released her from his embrace, letting her sit up, her hands splayed across his broad chest as she rolled over him again and again and again. With his hands on her hips, he allowed her to set the pace, content to enjoy the exquisite feel of her soft, tight body quivering around him.
"Hades... Touch me," she whispered in a voice that was so much like a prayer that it nearly ended him right then and there.
He slid his hands up her sides and back down, worshipping her, with one hand descending lower to smooth over her hipbone letting his thumb rest over her center. He teased her bud with delicate strokes until she jerked impatiently against him. Instead of increasing his pressure he grinned, gripping her hips and grinding her down onto him while thrusting his own hips up.
"Oh!" she exclaimed as electricity shot up her spine and dipped into her belly as Hades took over their rhythm.
Again and again and again, he hit the sensitive bundle of nerves at her center while his heavy cock pistoned in and out of her heat. A chorus of moans and ragged breaths ricocheted around them in the dim room, growing louder and louder as their sweat slicked bodies continued to rock against each other in a quickening tempo. Heat prickled along her neck and chest as a tightness curled within her.
Rocketing forward, Hades sucked one of her breasts into his hot mouth, suckling and biting and swirling his tongue over her sensitive nipple while he pinched and plucked the other between his thumb and forefinger.
Clutching desperately at his head, her body arched into his mouth as her lilting mewls became breathy, high-pitched cries until the tension coiling inside her finally snapped. Her body crested over him as her walls gripped almost painfully around his length and he continued to buck against her.
With a strangled shout he erupted inside her, grunting breathlessly as the pulsating aftershocks of her orgasm milked him through his own.
For several minutes they didn't move -- completely spent and boneless, basking in the afterglow of their lovemaking. Hades pressed a kiss to her sweaty brow, but that was about all he could manage through the cloudy haze of his climax.
Persephone simply hummed against him, her entire body thrumming with a tingling pleasure as her breathing began to even out. She was exhausted, but satisfied. Lazily she lifted her head an slanted her lips over his in a sloppy kiss as she felt him slip out of her. "That was... incredible," she slurred with a dazed grin. "Was it... okay?"
'Okay?' In all 2000 years of his existence he had never experienced such intense feelings for or with another person, living or dead, and she wanted to know if it was 'okay?'
"Kore... Persephone..." he purred, nuzzling her hair, "It's never felt like this before... I've never..." He paused, realizing right then that he truly had never felt like he did when he was with her, even before the sex. Honestly, he didn't think he could go back from it, knowing how it was to be with her. Living together, working together, flirting and playing together, and yes, the sex was incredible too. He knew he wanted all of that with her. All of that and more. Always.
"Stay with me."
Persephone sat up and blinked at him, watching as he seemed to be lost in his own thoughts. "What?"
He followed after her, rising to look into her eyes. "I know there isn't much that the God of the Dead can offer the Goddess of Spring, but..." he thought of things he knew other women liked. Things they often asked for or expected from him. "I can get you nice clothes made from the finest materials or... if... if you want jewels, I can make you sparkle like the night sky. You can have power and-"
"Hades," she lifted her hand, flustered and wondering where all of this was coming from. "I... I don't need fancy clothes or jewelry or anything like that..."
His face fell. Of course she didn't. He knew that. There really was nothing he had to offer her. He felt foolish. A heaviness began to settle in his chest and he looked away. Perhaps he could just blame his sentimentality on the moment and spare himself.
"But," she continued, twisting her hair around her fingers, "You already said I could stay with you, right? You said for as long as I want..."
"I did," he nodded.
"What if..." She worried her lip between her teeth, thinking. "What if there is something else that I want?"
He turned his gaze back to her then, curious of what she might ask for, if not the things he'd already offered. "Name it." There wasn't much in this world that he couldn't aquire, one way or another.
"What if... I just want you?" she smiled hopefully, her bottom lip tucked between her teeth.
He was confused, to say the least. No one had ever wanted him before -- not really. Nobody wanted a broken, fucked up god -- only the things he could get for them, but he had never been able to truly deny her anything. Especially not when she looked at him like that. Like he had the power to grant her any wish she desired. "Done," he said with finality as he pulled her into his lap and pressed a firm kiss to her lips. He could feel her smile into it and he couldn't help but smile back as his lips brushed over hers. "I'm yours. For as long as you want."
Chapter 21: Important: Note from Author
This is not a chapter update, but since this has by far been my most popular fic AND after the devastating events of Episode 76 (no spoilers) I finally decided that yes, I will be starting a sequel.
I'm working on the first chapter right as we speak, but it might not update as quickly as this one did, nor will it be as long, but I hope you all enjoy it just the same.
For the title I'm thinking "How About Forever" cuz, you know, "As Long as You Want" 😉