Hades sat in the den; Persephone perched on his lap. They stared into the blue flame flickering in the fireplace, both lost to old memories. Demeter, his sister and the mother of his wife, had spread many lies about their meeting and elopement. If Hades was to be with Persephone, Demeter would ensure he looked as villainous as possible. If Demeter couldn’t have her daughter, she would at least have pity and sympathy. The Rape of Kore, they called it. They used his wife’s old moniker, something Demeter knew her daughter hated. Not many were allowed by Persephone to use it, and those that did use it were barely so allowed. Hades recalled the first moment he had met his wife.
Hades walked through the forest, enjoying his break from the unending darkness of his home. The sun shone softly, the sweetness of new and old growth riding the breeze. It was a pleasant day, warm, but not oppressively so. The forest was untouched by mortals, a place wild and free. The trunks of the trees around him were thick enough not even Cerberus would be able to close her mouths around one.
The sounds of rolling water called to him from ahead, open sunlight beckoning. He obeyed the summons, picking his way over the forest floor. Coming into the light, he blinked away the spots as his eyes adjusted. Looking around, he saw he’d stumbled upon a meadow with a small stream cutting through the far side. Wildflowers grew true to their namesake, colors cascading in the gentle wind. Though, this was only noticed after.
His attention was immediately caught by her. She sat by the stream, singing softly as she let the water flow through her dangling fingertips. Her hair was thick, luscious black, draping down to the ground, pooling around her. Her skin a deep brown, kissed by the sun. A proud jawline offset her full lips and pert nose. The part of her that caused his breath to catch and his stomach to flip was the part currently turned to him. Her eyes stared questioningly into his own, dark brown, almost black. Her eyes were framed by a thick set of lashes, her brows furrowed.
Hades had not realized her singing had stopped almost the instant he had entered the clearing. It had taken time for him to process just what he was seeing. Just who he was seeing. She had to be a river nymph, a creature of his brother’s court. Or perhaps a wood nymph, belonging to Pan. This woman was too unearthly and beautiful to be a mere mortal. Her head tilted, her lips moving, and only after a few beats did he realize she had spoken.
“Wh-” His voice broke, and he coughed to clear his throat. “Who are you?” He choked out; his own voice unrecognizable to him.
“I asked first, asshole.” She crossed her arms, tilting her chin up defiantly at him.
Hades couldn’t answer, a grin spreading across his face at her reply. He didn’t think anyone had ever called him anything rude to his face.
“Your Majesty?” A voice broke through his thoughts, rudely bringing him back to the present. He growled lowly, not liking to be disturbed during his private time. Persephone soothingly rubbed his shoulder, standing from his lap.
“It’s okay, I’m sure it’s nothing, my sweet.” Her voice was a healing balm to the aching cracks of annoyance. He let out a sigh and stood, bending down to kiss his wife. She melted into his arms and soon a throat was cleared from the door.
“What.” His voice was hard and cold. The steel of his core glinted sharp as he raised his gaze to the interloper. The interloper swallowed loudly, making the proper obeisance before standing straight, his eyes trained on Hades’ feet.
“Your Majesty, I beg your forgiveness for the interruption. It appears the judgements for this day are not over.” His voice was high and nasally, a small quiver showing his fear. Hades felt smug at the fact. He wanted his people to fear him. If they feared him, they would not intrude on his piece of paradise, and therefore not reveal it to those unwelcomed.
“Can those three idiots not do it themselves?” Hades barked, releasing Persephone finally to grab a drink.
“Your Majesty, I apologize, but they sent me with strict orders that you must attend.” The messengers voice shook more now, and Hades had to fight the fierce grin wanting to stretch his cheeks. He poured a bit of Ambrosia into an iced cup, taking a sip before responding.
“You ca—” He stopped the casual dismissal on the tip of his tongue when he felt Persephone’s hand on his shoulder. Turning to her, his gaze softened, the unspoken question floating between them. Then his wife chose to speak for him.
“We will be there shortly. Remind the judges their King and Queen will not be interrupted by anyone but them any longer. If they have need of us, then they will bring the words themselves.” Her voice was sweet and soft, a deep song to his gruff bark. Many underestimated his wife, but she was the sharpest and most cutting person he had ever met. The messenger seemed relieved however and paid the parting obeisance before practically running out the door.
Persephone took the glass of Ambrosia from his hand and swallowed down the remainder, setting the empty vessel off to the side again.
“You must learn not to shoot the messenger.” She softly chided.
“I wasn’t even being mean.” He defended himself quickly, “That was going to be the nicest I’d ever sent one of their messengers away.” His voice, though deep and masculine, still held a hint of a pout.
“Any words that come from you when you’re disturbed will never be nice, you beast.” She patted his chest, her lips grinning wide as she teased him.
“A beast, am I?” He feigned mock offense, clutching a hand to his chest where she’d touched. “Well, I should show you just how much a beast I am.” His eyes lit with playfulness, a growl rumbling in his chest.
“Oh no, you don’t!” Persephone stepped back, eyes wide, holding her hands out in front of her, “We need to see what the judges want! There’s no time for this.” Her warning did nothing to stop his advance.
“I don’t give two shits what the judges want. Those three are idiots a—”
“Exactly! They’re idiots and they need us to make sure they do their job right!” She cut him off quickly, still backing away, now rounding the chair they had sat in, placing it between them.
Hades sat back with a grin, crossing his arms over his chest as he let his gaze wander over his wife. The moment her stance relaxed, he flicked his hand, the chair skidding away, then hooked his fingers, Persephone flying into his embrace with a startled squeak.
“That’s not fair! You can’t go using your underworld magic to catch me!” She struggled in his grip, “We agreed that we won’t use unfair advantages with each other!” She let out a breath and relaxed into his hold.
She turned to look at him, bringing her arms up and around his neck, pulling his face down. She blinked slowly at him, her lips parting as she wet them with a sweep of her tongue. He was hard as steel the moment her eyes met his, everything about her setting him aflame.
Hades laughed with gusto at the words of this gorgeous nymph.
“Did you just call me an asshole?” He asked incredulously, throwing his head back as he roared with laughter.
“I did because you’re being one!” Her voice was stern and scolding. His laughter died down and he looked back to her. A rush of heady desire blindsided him.
“Hades.” He spoke his name as he strode towards her, stopping several feet away. Closer, he could see a smudge of pollen on her cheek, and a swelling bug bite on her shoulder.
“What?” She asked, her voice sounding slightly dazed.
“You asked who I am. I answered because I hope you won’t view me as an asshole all the time. I’m Hades, and you are?” He lowered himself to the ground, crossing his legs facing her.
“Oh.” She’d been cut off from the argument she had been sure to come, and now it seemed she needed to reorient. “I’m K—” She paused and seemed to think a moment before coming to some sort of decision. “I’m Persephone.” She stated proudly, and Hades wasn’t sure what had led her to make her words a declaration, but he loved it. The fire in her eyes was something he wanted to stoke for a long time. Forever? No. He shook his head, frowning slightly. Where had that thought come from?
“It’s nice to meet you Persephone. Why are you out here all alone? There are plenty of beasts in the forest that I’m sure would think you’d make a lovely snack.” The words came out without his permission, and he wanted to smack himself for it. His tone had been dripping with entendre, something that would make Zeus proud.
“This is my home.” She spoke plainly, shrugging.
“Your home? This meadow?” He looked around, seeing no place he would define as home.
“The meadow. The forest. The fields. The world, really. I live where things grow, and things grow where I live.” His curiosity was growing amongst other things at her words.
“You have no place that is your own?”
“No, but I also belong to no other than myself because of that. I am free and that is enough.” Her words held a hint of shadow, her eyes lowering from his face to the ground. He decided she would be free forever no matter what he had to do.
“What are you? A nymph?” He asked mostly to see if his guess had been correct. Apparently, it hadn’t been according to the affronted look on her face.
“A nymph?! You—I—How—Do I look—” The pitch of her voice rose as she stuttered over the thoughts racing in her mind.
“It was a guess.” Hades rushed to soothe his new companion, having meant no offense. “I just did not see how such beauty could be mortal.”
“I’m a goddess you shit!” She stood, and he noted her hair reached her knees. Then her words processed, and he looked up at her, confusion marring his face.
“You’re a goddess?” His incredulous tone only incensed her further.
“Of course, I am!” She practically screeched before she waved her hand in front of her, and Hades found himself bound suddenly in vines, lifting into the air. The hold on him was tight, on the verge of painful. He opened his mouth to speak, to offer apologies, when another vine shoved itself in between his teeth, gagging his words.
“You will speak no more you oaf! I am Persephone, daughter to Zeus and Demeter. I am a goddess of fertility and I will not be mistaken for a nymph. Of all the—” Her words cut off as she growled, starting to pace around him. He found his mind had caught on the word fertility, and like an idiot, thoughts of just how fertile she was started invading. His body reacted appropriately, and in his bound position he could do nothing to hide it.
“I now understand why mother wanted to keep me hidden. If the world is filled with men such as you, then I want no part.” She stopped pacing in front of him, flicking her hand. The vines responded to her unspoken command, moving him to his knees before her.
She advanced until she was nearly pressed against him and bent to glare right into his eyes. He had never been more aroused in his life, and this was surely not the right time nor place for it. If his mind had been present, he could easily wilt the vines to free himself, though even if his mind were not elsewhere, he wasn’t sure he’d want to free himself from her grip.
“Mortals.” She seethed dismissively, narrowing her eyes. Her breath blew across his face, smelling of honey wine. The word cleared his desire-addled brain, and he bit down on the vine, letting his own godly gifts show. The vine in his mouth wilted, blackening and turning to dust in an instant.
“I am no mortal, goddess.” His voice was rough and deep with testosterone. “You would do well to check that temper of yours.” Her face fell slack, her mouth falling open in shock. Ah, she appears to have run out of words. With a grin, he wilted the rest of the vines and stood, towering over her at full height.
“You forget there are those much older and more powerful than yourself. You are beautiful, but unfortunately daft.” He brushed his tunic off, ridding himself of the black dust. “I have those killing themselves for a moment of my time,” He inwardly laughed at his little joke, “But you seem to not know just how precious my time is.”
“Wait. Hades.” She finally spoke, blinking quickly. “Like…” She looked down at the ground between them, and finally noticed his physical state. “Why the fuck is Hades in my forest with a hard-on after I tied him up and yelled at him?!” Persephone jerked her head back up to meet his eyes, her face adorably flabbergasted.
Their lips gravitated closer, Hades’ eyes closing in preparation for the meeting. He suddenly found himself held in the air, bound once again in vine. Blinking, he just looked at her, his thought returning from his cock to his head.
“Remember, you were the one who made the rule about unfair advantages, love.” Persephone spoke with a laugh, bouncing up on the balls of her feet to press a quick kiss to his lips. He returned the kiss, then let out a heavy sigh.
“Fine, let’s go see my idiot judges.” He rolled his eyes, defeated as she lowered his feet to the ground and released him.