Always Winter

June 22, 2012
By FelixThePygmyPuff, Sanford, Florida
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FelixThePygmyPuff, Sanford, Florida
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Favorite Quote:
Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.


Author's note: My inspiration for this came from Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. I've always loved the story of Persephone and Hades and I thought it would make a good story if I brought it into modern times.

Hades

“Persephone! Persephone! Where are you?”

I ran down the hall searching for my wife. The eerie feeling that got when I ran down the familiar halls was worrying. The skulls that decorated the halls seemed to follow my every move.

I ran into the throne room and there sat my throne and Persephone’s both empty. The Furies were there arguing about a new form of punishment and I really didn’t care to hear about it right now when I was searching franticly for my wife.

“I say we take those who murder and throw them in a pit of cacti and if they try to get out more cacti grow forever pricking them and causing unbearable pain!” said Tisiphone. She seemed very proud of herself for coming up with that weak punishment.

“No you idiot! That’s way too pathetic!” said Alecto, “Why don’t we just give them a basket of cookies and send them on their way to Elysium and call it a day Tisi.” She said that with sarcasm dripping in her voice.

“Oh will you two shut up for once!” demanded Megaera, “Don’t make me come over there and break you two up again.”

This started another argument amongst the three of them. I sighed with frustration and left the room. I went outside to look for Persephone out there. I stepped into the chilling air and walked down the path to the Fields of Asphodel. Persephone sometimes would wander down there when she had an argument with her mother and I would find her there and bring her back to the palace to sort things out.

The black dirt was covered with a fog this morning and the dead trees were virtually invisible with all the spirits crowded around them. The spirits usually got out of my way when I walked into the Fields of Asphodel but today they ran up to greet me, mumbling such bizarre things.

One young girl dressed in 1920’s attire came right up to me and said in her whispery far off voice, “Who visited you?”

I stopped and stared at her. ‘Who visited me?’ nobody visited me today…in fact nobody’s visited in weeks. “What do you mean ‘who visited me’ little girl?”

“There was a man that came through here early this morning and he said he was visiting you.” She looked me in the eyes as she said this, which was brave of her because nobody dared look me in the eye when they spoke to me, not even the Furies.

“What did this man look like? Was it another god?”

“No it wasn’t another god. I’ve seen all of the gods and he wasn’t one of them. He was tall and colored, he had a cloak on so I couldn’t see his face. He asked for directions to the palace, I could tell he hadn’t been here before.”

“Did you see him leave?”

“I don’t remember…” her eyes unfocused and I knew she was having a flashback from her life. The dead in the Fields of Asphodel did this regularly. I snapped my fingers and her eyes focused again and she looked at me confused. “L-Lord Hades! What are you doing in here? Is there something I can help you with?” She bowed deeply and stayed there waiting orders.

I sighed. Whatever she was going to tell me was lost and she probably would never remember that conversation or the man. I turned and returned to the palace.

“Alecto! Tisiphone! Megaera! Front and center...NOW!” I barked.

Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera appeared before me and bowed in respect. “What can we help you with today master?” they said in unison.

“This morning there was a man that came into the palace and said he was looking for me, did you see this man?”

“No sire, I have seen no man in here,” answered Megaera.

“What did this man look like?” asked Alecto.

“I don’t know. One of the spirits in the Fields said there was a man that came through there this morning looking for me.”

“A spirit told you this?” she asked skeptically.

“Yes, do you doubt my judgment?”

“No! No, not at all!” she said hastily. Her sisters snickered at her embarrassment. She shot them a nasty look and stuck her blue tongue out at them.

I cleared my throat before any more arguments erupted. “Megaera,” she stiffened when I addressed her, “go fetch me Cerberus.” Megaera left immediately after the words left my lips and returned shortly with my 9 foot, three headed dog. He barked excitedly when he saw me and bounded forward to give me a big slobbery kiss.

“Ugh, gross Cerberus. Cut it out! Sit!” He sat obediently and awaited my next order his tail wagging furiously. “Hey watch the tail you’re gonna knock something over if you don’t watch it.” His tail was dangerously close to knocking over one of the candelabras with lit candles.

His tail slowed down and he started to whimper. Drool dripped from one of his mouths in big, slobbery globs getting all over the rug.

“Are you ready to do some tracking?” He nodded all three of his heads and three times the drool flew out of his mouth and hit the walls. His middle head barked and the other two followed suit. “Alright boy, do you wanna know what you’re tracking?” More slobber flew against the walls as he wagged his whole body. The candelabra flew against the wall as his tail hit it.

He stood and barked, ready to go. “Persephone! Go find Persephone, boy!” As soon as I gave the order he turned and took off towards the Fields of Punishment. I got in my chariot and followed him all through the Fields and through to the River Styx. Once we reached the River he stopped for a moment and sniffed the air and the ground. He circled and searched the area carefully.

Then he did something I’ve never, in my whole existence, seen him do. He lay down.

If he lay down that meant the search was done. He had found what he was looking for. But Persephone wasn’t here. I got out of my chariot and walked over to him. He was whimpering softly. I knelt near his left head and pet him. “Where is she Cerberus?” He stayed where he was.

If she were anywhere he would’ve lead me to her, but he just stopped. Even if she were, by some crazy incident, dead, he would’ve found her. This meant that she didn’t exist. She was gone.

Permanently.

Persephone

I hate school.

Normally people with straight A’s say that they love school and they are going to go to collage and get a good steady job and live their normal life. Me? Nope, you wouldn’t catch me dead saying any of that crap. I just wanna finish and get my GED so that I can get a better job than flipping burgers and the local McDonald’s for the rest of my life. I’m gonna ditch this town as soon as I get the chance.

I wanna explore the world and see things more amazing than I could ever imagine. I wanna go to Greece and see all of the ancient architecture. I don’t know why but I’ve always had a fascination with Ancient Greece, and the Greek gods. For every mythology paper I had to write I wrote about the Greek gods. Most people only do that once, but I’ve done it several times and I’ve gotten an A on each and every one.

Anyway back to why I hate school, today in particular. Today is Homecoming and of course everybody is anticipating the dance tonight and I really don’t want to go but I have to because I was nominated for Homecoming Queen. I didn’t ask to be nominated I just got nominated. Every year since I was a freshman I have been nominated and, to my great embarrassment, I won in tenth grade.

I hate all the attention. Plus that one win got me a mortal enemy and her name is Morgana. She has been shooting for Homecoming Queen every year and somebody else always wins. She hates all the Queens and wants to make their life crap because she is jealous that everybody likes them more than her. It doesn’t surprise me though; she’s a real piece of work.

As I lie in bed waiting for my alarm clock to go off I think of ways to play hooky. I could say I’m sick and run to the bathroom and pretend to throw up.

No, that won’t work because if my mom comes and checks up on me and she doesn’t smell puke she will get suspicious and send me to school anyway.

I could ditch. I mean it’s not like it’s my first time ditching I do it all the time with my friend Matt. Why would this time be any different?

Oh, right…Matt was nominated for Homecoming King. And since this is his first nomination I promised that I would be there for him. My stupid mouth gets me into trouble all the time.

Beep, beep. Beep, beep. Beep, beep.

I slam my hand on my alarm clock and search for the off button with my fingers. When I finally found it I switch off the alarm and sit up. I pull the switch on the lamp on my nightstand and dull light fills the room. I see the pictures on the wall of me and Matt at the fair, one for every year we went, five in total. In my favorite one we were at the fair sitting on a bench and a light snow had covered everything making it look like a little winter wonderland. We were eating a funnel cake with strawberries and powdered sugar on it. That was taken last year.

I wish that every day would be like that, perfect, sweet, and simple. But life isn’t perfect, sweet, or simple. Life is rough, tough, and unfair.

And on that high note I got out of bed and got ready for school. I walked out to the kitchen to find my mom cooking bacon and eggs.

She was a slim woman especially for someone who ate meat all the time and had a desk job. She was small and petite, we were nothing alike physically. I was tall and curvy in all the right places. Sometimes I wondered if she adopted me or I got switched at birth. I knew that wasn’t the truth though because once when I was young I asked her that and she said that she was there the day I was born and I was most definitely hers.

I laughed quietly as the memory resurfaced. She turned and said, “What? Is there something on my butt?” I laughed louder and shook my head. I went into the cabinet and pulled out a glass. Then, I went to the fridge and poured me a glass of orange juice.

“Get out two plates and forks and set the table,” she said as she flipped the bacon and stirred the scrambled eggs.

I did as I was told and by the time I was finished she had the food done and was serving it up. I put my hair in a ponytail before I ate so that it wouldn’t frizz from the steam.

Another difference between me and my mom was that she was a strawberry blonde and tan (thanks to tanning beds) and I had black hair and was fair-skinned. Well mostly everyone in our town was fair-skinned because when you live in Maine it doesn’t get very sunny in the winter. I looked like a living Snow White. In fact that’s what all the adults used to call me when I was young. I’ll bet some of them still call me that when my back is turned.

After breakfast I grabbed my bag and jacket and headed for Matt’s house. He lived a few blocks away from me and he had always driven me to school. I rounded the corner of his street and I saw his car in the driveway heating up. I knocked on the door and his brother Nathan answered the door.

Much different from Matt, Nathan was large and bulky, very muscular. He had a permanent pissed off look on his face. He almost seemed to want to fight everybody. Just to prove that he was better than them. He had a huge ego is what Matt told me. I believed it too.

“Oh, its you,” is all he said as he stood aside and let me through the door. He shut the door behind me and shouted down the hall, “MATT YOUR GIRLFRIEND’S HERE!” I hate it when he calls me that. I open my mouth to correct him again but I was cut short when Matt shouted back, “SHE’S NOT MY GIRLFRIEND!”

He came out of his room and walked over to Nathan and said in a hushed voice, but not hushed enough for me not to hear it, “You and I both know that she’s Hades’.”

“Excuse me? I don’t think I heard you properly Matt, but it seemed like you said that I’m Hades’. Hades is just a myth he’s not real. And anyways, I wouldn’t date him, he’s creepy,” I shudder at the thought.

Nathan smiles and slaps Matt’s arm and says, “Yeah, he’s just a myth and he’s creepy.” He winks at Matt and walks off to the living room probably to play Halo Reach or some other violent game. Matt gestures to the door and we both walk out and get in his Jeep.

As soon as my door is shut I ask, “So what did you mean by ‘she’s Hades’’?”

He pretends to check his mirrors and carefully pull out of the driveway. “Um…I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, don’t give me that crap! You know exactly what I’m talking about. Now answer it!” I demanded.

“It was an inside joke,” he tried pathetically. I gave him my best ‘don’t kid me’ look. He avoided my gaze and stared at the road as we drove to school.

“So…are you excited for Homecoming?” He took a sip of his coffee and continued to stare forward.

“You’re changing the subject.”

“No I’m not! I just asked a different question.”

“Thus indicating that you are changing the subject. I will not answer your question until you answer mine.” I folded my arms across my chest and sat there starring him down until he broke.

“It was just a joke,” he insisted. “I swear I meant nothing by it. I don’t even know any guys named Hades.”

“No.”

He turned his head to look at me, “What?”

“No,” I repeated. “I’m not looking forward to Homecoming. The only reason I’m even going to school today is to support you. This is a big day for you and I know it means a lot to you.”

He looked really shocked by my answer. Like I had never said anything nice to him before, which I have, plenty of times.

“What up with the weird look?” I asked him.

“That was really nice of you. Thank you. I mean it.” He seemed speechless. This was a first for him. In my whole life I’ve never known him to be speechless.

We pulled up to the school and got out of the car. He headed off to first period and I headed to the front office. I volunteer there instead of first period; well it kinda is my first period class. I usually help with the announcements and, if there is one, new students.

Today when I walked in Ms. Bell smiled and waved from the front desk. Ms. Bell is not your average school principal. She is the kind of lady you’d imagine playing soccer for a living, not running high school. Tall and thin and most definitely fit I’d bet she could out run all of the kids on the track team.

“Hello Persie. We have a new student for you. He’ll be here any minute now,” she said with a smile. Just after she finished speaking the front door opened and a blast of chilly air came into the room and, against my will, I shivered. I could feel his eyes boring into my back before I turned.

I turned to meet his cold stare. It’s not like he hated me it’s just that when I looked into those deep, dark eyes I felt a shiver race down my spine. Those eyes looked so familiar and yet so eerily creepy that every fiber of my being screamed that this kid was dangerous.

I don’t know how long I stood there starring into those eyes, but I was brought back by the sound of Ms. Bell’s voice, “Now, Persie, this is Ian Graves and he is here from…? Where did you say you were from again?”

He was still starring at me when he answered Ms. Bell’s question. “Los Angeles.”

“Oh, yes I recall now. Quite a ways away and I’m sure that the climate is quite different from sunny California.”

I had to look away from his eyes for I felt that if I stared too long my soul would be sucked out of me and taken away forever…kinda stupid I know. But that’s the feeling I got when I stared for more than a minute. I turned to Ms. Bell and asked, “Where is his schedule?”

“Oh, right! Ha, ha. I almost forgot.” She ruffled through some papers on the desk and pulled out a schedule and a bunch of papers that his parents would have to sign and return the next day. “Now Ian is going to be in most of your classes because he’s a senior too. So it won’t be very hard to help him find his classes today.”

She handed me the schedule and I looked it over. It looked almost identical to mine:
1.
Front Office Volunteer Work
2.
World History
3.
Trigonometry
4.
Gym




Lunch
5.
World Literature

6.
Chemistry
7.
2-D Art III
8.
Study Hall

I wasn’t all that shocked. In a small town most all the seniors had the same classes, but he was in six of my classes. The only ones he wasn’t in were 6th period and 3rd period.

“Well the late bell should ring any moment now and when it does Pesephone you know what to do. Help Ian figure out what he needs to do.”

“What do you want him to do?” I asked her.

She paused for a moment to think and said, “Well, why don’t we start him on sorting out these papers while you do the announcements.”

I nodded and walked over to the PA system and grabbed the announcement sheet. Ian followed me and looked at the papers that he was to sort.

“How do these get sorted?” his voice surprised me. I expected a deep, gravely, not-so-nice voice and instead he’s got a low, musical voice. I quickly explained the order that they were to be separated in.

As he started I turned on the PA system and said, “Good morning West Grove High! Today we are going to have a fun day! Now please join me in the Pledge of Allegiance.” As I recited the Pledge I noticed that Ian was looking at me from the corner of his eye. When I finished I said, “Thank you, you may be seated.” I continued to give the announcements and when I finished I turned the PA off and sat down in one of the desk chairs.

“Why were you looking at me when I was reciting the Pledge?” I asked Ian, curious.

“Curiosity killed the cat,” was all he said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

He just smirked and continued to sort the papers as if nothing was said. That pissed me off. “Hey! I’m talkin’ to you! Pay attention and answer me.”

Then the weirdest thing happened, he turned to me and I saw his eyes flash red. His face clearly explained that he was pissed. Through gritted teeth he growled, “Don’t. You. Dare. Yell at me.” I felt my eyes grow wide and I shied away from him. I was scared witless.

He turned back to his work and a few seconds later Ms. Bell came in to check up on us. I assured her that we were fine and that if we needed anything we’d go straight to her.

I started to do my odd jobs that I normally do and when I finished all of them I went to check on Ian. He wasn’t at the front desk where I left him so I left to go look for him. I passed one of the conference rooms and I heard voices. I lightly pressed my ear against the door and I heard Ian talking to somebody.

“Nyx, I need you to shadow-message somebody for me,” Ian said.

“Hades you know I’m not Hermes or Iris. Why do you insist on shadow-messaging all the time?” complained a woman. Wait! Ian was talking to a woman named Nyx? Why did she call him Hades? That was the second time today that I’ve heard the god’s name.

“Because it’s faster than Iris messaging and Hermes is in class right now. Will you send my message through or not?” He seemed to challenge her.

“Fine. Who do you want to shadow-message?” she sighed in defeat.

“Demeter.”

Wait! I know that name! Demeter is the Greek goddess of the harvest, but she’s just a myth.

Then it hit me.

She’s probably just named after the Greek goddess just like I’m named after the Greek goddess Persephone. Duh, I felt like an idiot.

Just then the door flew open and I fell into the conference room. I lay there, sprawled on the floor and when I stood up I noticed the room was empty. There was no one in here except for Ian and me. And, boy, speaking of Ian, he was truly pissed off. His eyes flashed red again.

Well, I had a reason to be snooping. He ran off and didn’t tell me where he was going.

I decided to take the offense and ask him the questions before he got the chance to ask me why I was eavesdropping. “What the heck are you doing in here? This is off-limits. Anyways you were supposed to tell me when you finished sorting the papers.”

“I had to make a quick call,” he answered simply. The pissed look had vanished from his face replaced by a steely, I-don’t-care-what-you-think look.

I grabbed for something to say, but there was no rule saying that you couldn’t make a quick call when you’re done volunteering in the front office. I gave up and said, “Well, make it quick. I’ll be waiting at the front desk.” I turned and walked out. As soon as I crossed the threshold the door slammed shut behind me.

I sat in the lobby playing games on my iPhone for the remainder of the period. Ian never came out of the conference room. When the bell rang he came out and we headed to 2nd period without a word.

I walked into World History and sat in my assigned seat. Matt was in his seat next to mine. He leaned over and said, “Wow! You look awful. What happened?”

I pointed towards Ian standing at the front of the room talking to the teacher. Matt followed my finger with his eyes. When he saw Ian a look of confusion crossed his face. “He’s a new kid,” I explained.

“Oh. Where is he from?” Matt asked. His eyes were still glued to Ian.

“He said that he’s from L.A. but I don’t believe him.” I don’t know why I said that last part, but as I was saying it I knew that it was true. I didn’t believe that he was from L.A. even though it sounded alright to everybody else.

“Well where do you think he’s from?” Matt looked at me and awaited my answer. He put his elbow on the desk and turned to face me. His eyes were alight with curiosity.

“Hell.”

Matt scoffed. “Hell? He doesn’t look that bad to me. In fact he looks really…friendly.” He said it but his eyes portrayed shock. As if I had guessed right that Ian was from Hell.

“Ha! ‘He looks really…friendly’. He is most certainly not friendly. He’s rude, and mean, and course, and…and he’s a jerk!” I couldn’t believe that Matt though that Ian was ‘friendly’.

“Well, sounds like you two had a little fight. What happened? Did he not want you as soon as he saw you like all the other guys around here? Were you insulted by that?” he had a joking tone in his voice when he said that. He was mocking me and I hated it when he did that, and he knew it.

“No he didn’t want me as soon as he saw me and, no, I wasn’t insulted by that. We had a…little incident. That was all.” I turned back to the front trying to show Matt that I wasn’t going to tell him any more. The thing is, Matt doesn’t stop until he’s ready to stop. This can be really annoying at times and really helpful at other times. Right now was one of the annoying times.

“Matt, I’m not going to tell you so don’t even try it,” I said before he could even utter a word.

The late bell rang and I heard him turn to face the front. Mr. Griffin stood up and addressed the class, “Hello students,” he waited for the collective answer of “Hello Mr. Griffin.”

“We have a new student today. Everyone this is Ian Graves. Ian, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself. Say, where you’re from, you’re favorite hobby, and you’re favorite part of World History.” Mr. Griffin gave Ian a smile and sat back down at his desk.

Ian looked at the class for a moment then his eyes rested on me. He began to speak, never breaking our gaze, “I’m Ian Graves as Mr. Griffin already told you. I’m from Los Angeles, California. My favorite hobby is…” he dropped his gaze and seemed to think for a minute. His expression looked almost sad from here. It could’ve been the distance or the lighting, because I’m sure he would never look sad. He’s got too high an ego to look sad in front of everybody.

“…playing fetch with my dog.” A few people laughed at that and Mr. Griffin shot the class a stern look. “And finally, my favorite part of World History is that my introduction is history.”

The class laughed openly at that last remark. I even had to try to keep a straight face. Mr. Griffin stood up and said, “Thank you Ian for letting us get to know you better. Now if you’ll take a seat next to Morgana there, Morgana raise your hand, we will get started.”

Morgana raised her hand and Ian walked, no, he sauntered over to the empty seat next to her. She gave him a dazzling smile and flipped her perfect brown hair and held out her hand for him to shake. He took her hand and shook it politely.

“What a piece of work,” muttered Matt.

“I know she’s really something.” I glared at the back of her head hoping that my eyes would shoot lasers and blast her head right off her shoulders.

Whoa! Where did that come from? I’ve never liked Morgana, but I’ve never wanted to blast her head off. So why did I want to now?

Ian looked back at me and Matt as if he heard what we were saying. I gave him a ‘What?’ look and he turned back around.

Thankfully class wasn’t as long as 1st period was. When the bell rang I gathered my stuff and walked to the door. Matt was right on my heels and so was Ian. I turned in the hall and said to Ian, “You don’t have my third period so I can’t walk you there.”

“Well who does?” he asked in that wonderful voice of his. I thought for a minute and as I saw Morgana walk out of the room I said, “Morgana.”

She turned and regarded me with utmost hate. “What do you want Snow White?”

“What is your third period?” I bit my tongue and held back a string of colorful words I could use to describe her.

“Trig, Dummy,” she sneered.

“Good! Could you be a dear and escort Mr. Graves to his next class…that’s Trigonometry for you Dummy.” I replied with as much of an attitude, maybe even more, than she gave me.

Her eyes lit up when I said escort, the whore. A big smile grew on her face and she answered sweetly, “Of course I will. Come right this way Ian. You are going to love Trig. It’s so much fun. Of course I’m not really good at it…” She talked all the way down the hall and around the corner. Ian had to follow her or he would get lost, but I could see him tune her out.

I smiled as I walked down the hall to Biology II. One free period without him would be amazing. Let Morgana entertain him for a while, I was through with it. Until my free period was up then I would have to deal with him until sixth period. Matt was keeping pace with me and he was unusually silent on our way to Biology II. I looked at him from the corner of my eye and he seemed to be thinking about something really hard.

“Whoa, what’s burning?” He looked at me curiously. “Seriously, I smell smoke.” I sniffed the air like a dog. With every breath I drew closer to his blonde shoulder-length hair. “I think it’s coming from you. Are you thinking again?” I asked playfully.

He rolled his eyes and tried, pathetically, to hide a smile. “Yes, I was thinking again. I’m a bad boy. What’s my punishment this time? Sent to my room? Not allowed to talk for three minutes?” he was being sarcastic with me, which was really cute when he did it.

I smiled and thought. Then I responded, “You have to pay for the ice cream today. And I want extra hot fudge.”

“Oh, no! Not the extra hot fudge! You’re gonna buy me out of house and home.” he mocked me.

I playfully bumped into him and he bumped me back. “I think you can afford extra hot fudge Mr. I-Get-Money-All-The-Time-From-My-Rich-Family.”

“My family’s not rich. The only rich one is my Uncle. And he’s a jeweler.”

“Alright, Mr. I-Deny-That-I’m-Rich-All-The-Time.”

“Hey will you quit it with the long name thing?” he complained.

“Okay, okay, Mr. Complainer.” I smirked at him and he just pouted a little.

Class went by fairly fast, which kinda irritated me `cause that meant that it was time to go deal with Ian again. I headed down to the gym and as I passed the Trigonometry room Ian shrugged off the wall and joined me.

I stared straight forward and tried not to look at him.

“So how was class?” he asked trying to make small talk.

I ignored his question for I had decided in Bio that if I ignored him he would ignore me and I would be okay with that.

“Class was good thanks for asking. I got a seat next to Morgana again. We had to compare our notes and solutions to forty problems. That wasn’t so good. She’s really bad at math and claims that she needs a tutor. And lucky me she asked if I would tutor her because I’m so good at Trigonometry.” He waited for a reply but I would not humor him.

“I can tell you how many times she flipped her hair over her shoulder and how many times she smiled at me…” no response from me, “Fifty five times and seventy two times. I think that she was trying to flirt with me.”

“No really?” I said sarcastically. “You’d have to be really blind not to notice that she was flirting with you. She only likes you because you are new and don’t like me.” I looked back ahead of me and said nothing else.

“Who said I don’t like you?” he asked softly.

That caught me by surprise. I stopped and looked at him. When I met his eyes I saw them flash purple. Not red like earlier, purple. I could feel myself getting caught in his gaze. I had to look away to think straight again.

“What do you mean ‘who said I don’t like you’?” I whispered.

“I mean exactly that. Who said I don’t like you? Name one person.” he whispered back.

Persephone

I can’t believe he just said that. It was almost like he was confessing that he liked me.

Well, I had some news for him. I most certainly did not like him. He was just like them, like all the other guys in this town. I frowned and stomped into the gym and went to the locker room to change.

When I came out in my uniform I pulled my hair into a ponytail. He was sitting on the floor still in his jeans and Tee. He looked up when I walked in; he smiled and waved at me. I looked away, disgusted.

I sat down on the opposite side of the gym and waited for Matt to come out of the boys’ locker room. I could feel him looking at me and I resisted the urge to look back. Matt came out of the locker room, to my relief, then and upon seeing me he came over and sat down beside me.

“Why are you over here all by your lonesome?” asked Matt, breaking the silence.

I was about to answer when Coach Gibbson walked in and puffed on his whistle a couple of time signaling that we had to line up alphabetically like always. I stood and walked to my usual spot and awaited further instruction. I was in between two guys who have been panting over me ever since kindergarten, Oliver and Rich. They are both on the wrestling team and on the football team, and I swear, that every chance they got they showed off their muscles to me. Like I’m interested.

“Alright ladies and gents, we have a new kid today. I’m sure you’ve met him before in your other classes so I won’t bother with introductions. Ian go stand in between Heather and Jason.”

Heather and Jason moved aside to make room for Ian. Ian walked over to the empty spot and turned to face Coach Gibbson.

“Alright, I’m gonna pair you up. What I say is final, no changes, no re-dos, and no exceptions. Aaron, you’re with William.” Aaron and Will both exchanged smiles. “Heather, you’re with Savannah. Richard, you’re with Jason. Oliver, you’re with George.” And so on and so forth until there were only four people left, Matt, Ian, Quinton, and me.

“Quinton, you’re with Matt. Which leaves Persie and Ian.” I stood there in shock. This day just kept getting worse and worse. I could feel the jealous glares from all the other girls as I stood next to Ian.

“These people will be your partner for the rest off the semester. Get to know them like you know yourself. Any questions?” He looked around and when nobody raised their hand he gave a satisfied nod and said, “Today we will do the mile run. You are in charge of cheering on your partner and keeping record of their time. Once your partner has finished their mile you will start your mile and your partner will keep your time and cheer you on. Got it?” A few people nodded and he said, “Let’s go.”

Everybody headed off to the track with their partner. Ian kept by my side as I walked to the track. I saw Matt and I picked up my pace to catch up with him.
Unfortunately Coach Gibbson saw me trying to catch up with Matt and blew his whistle. “Kore, stay with your partner.”

I frowned and waited for Ian to catch up to me. Ian caught up and said, “Your last name is Kore and your first name is Persephone? Did you know that you had two of the Greek goddess’ names?”

“It’s just a coincidence. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Maybe it means what you think it means, but you don’t want to admit it.” He had an I-know-what-I’m-talking-about tone.

“Oh? And just what do I think it means?” I looked at him, questioning his know-it-all attitude.

“That you are the Greek goddess Persephone,” he said, then, to rub it in, he smirked.

I felt my jaw drop. “I’m Persephone? The Queen of the Underworld? Daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and wife of Hades, Lord of the Underworld? Ha! You’re tripping on something `cause I’m no goddess. I’m just a normal eighteen year old girl who wants to finish high school so that she can travel. I’m not that Persephone, just because my name is Persephone doesn’t automatically mean that I’m her.”

I looked forward and marched silently to the track. When I got there I started to stretch. Ian followed suit and copied my stretches. When I finished stretching I stood straight and turned to Ian. “I’m gonna run first. Don’t say anything while to me while I run. Go get a timer from Coach Gibbson and tell me when to start,” I said sassily.

Ian walked off to get a timer and when he returned I was on the track waiting for his que to start. He raised his left hand and counted down from three. When he reached one I prepped to run. His hand changed to a thumbs-up and at the same time his right hand started the timer. I started with a jog to warm up then after one lap it morphed into a run.

When I had finished my mile I stood in front of Ian panting. “So how did I do?”

“Fifteen minutes and thirty seven seconds. Pretty average.”

“Good, go tell Coach my time and then you can run,” I gasped trying to catch my breath. Ian turned and walked to Coach Gibbson. Matt came over to me, still partially out of breath, and said, “Hey you finally finished. I thought you would be there forever.”

I bumped my shoulder into him and said, “Well not all of us fly through it like its second nature.” He laughed tensely. Ian strolled over and handed me the timer.

“Just start it whenever you’re ready,” he said as he walked onto the track, careful not to get in the way of the other runners.

I waited a moment then I called, “Go!” I started the timer then I turned to Matt. “So what was your time Flash?”

“Huh?” He was watching Ian run around the track.

“I said, so what was your time Flash?” I repeated.

“Oh, um, nine fifty five. What was yours?”

“Wait! You said ‘nine fifty five’?” He nodded. “I have no idea why you don’t just join the track team. You’d be amazing! We would win every meet and your picture would be on the Wall of Fame.”

He laughed. “Yeah, I can see it now. Matt Nomad on the Wall of Fame because he’s a fast runner. My dad would be so proud.”

“Who is your dad? I’ve never met him.” It was an innocent question, but I felt that I was prying a bit when Matt’s face fell. “Oh! You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to I was just curious.”

“Nah, its not that, it’s just that…” he hesitated, “he’s a really important person. He’s kinda like the head of the family in my family.”

“Wow! That’s really cool.” He looked at me sideways, like I said something bizarre. “What?”

“No one’s ever said that to me before.”

“Oh, do you want me to take it back? Because I can,” I threatened.

“No, you don’t have to take it back. It just made me feel important when you said that, that was all.” He smiled at me and I couldn’t resist smiling back.

I heard someone clear their throat and I turned my head to see that Ian was standing there waiting for me to stop the timer. “Oh shoot!” I fumbled for the timer and when I finally got a grip on it I stopped the timer. “Sorry, how long have you been standing there?”

“Two minutes and fifteen seconds.”

I did the quick math and went to Coach Gibbson to tell him the time. We had five minutes left of class so I decided to go inside and change back into my regular clothes.

When I came out Matt was talking to Ian and it looked like they were having a serious conversation so I just headed to my next class. Matt could guide Ian.

I didn’t see Ian for the rest of the day and that was fine with me. I waited outside by Matt’s car for him so that I could go home and get ready for tonight. Matt came strolling up a few minutes after I go there.

“Sorry I kept you waiting I was talking to Ian. That guy is really…cool.” He opened the car door for me and I got in. He walked around to the other side and got in before he said any more. “He’s got some really neat things about him that are just so cool, I mean that-“

“Matt, you sound like you giving me a sales pitch. Did he tell you to tell me all of that?” I cut the crap and went straight to the point.

“Yeah, he did. He really likes you Persie. I think that you should give him a chance.”

I groaned and rolled my eyes. “Matt, he’s just like all the other guys in this Godforsaken town. He only likes me because I’m pretty. He doesn’t even know me. I want a guy who likes me for me.”

He looked really put out when I said that. He turned on the car and pulled it into reverse. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. I know what you want and…I just want you to be happy.” He looked into my eyes and he looked sincere.

I smiled. “Thank you for trying though, but next time let me tell you that I like him before you try to give me the sales pitch. You’re the best friend anyone could ever ask for.”

He smiled back, but it didn’t reach his eyes, then he turned and pulled out of the parking lot and on to the road. I decided to make it up to him. “Hey Matt, do you have a date to Homecoming tonight?”

“No,” he looked at me briefly.

“Good, because I was wondering if you would go with me. You know as my date.” I tried to make it not awkward, but I think I did a terrible job at it because I was as red as a tomato. I could feel it.

His face was a true mask of shock; he did not see that coming.

“Um…well, I uh, um…yes?”

“Are you sure? I don’t want you to feel like you have to go with me because I’m your friend and that’s what friends do. I want you to want to go with me because you really want to go with me. If that made any sense at all?”

“Yes, yes. I will definitely go to Homecoming with you. Um, what time do you want me to pick you up?”

“Say, six thirty?” I calculated the time in my head to make sure that six thirty would be a good time.

“Okay, six thirty it is.” He looked like he was shocked by the events that just occurred. I didn’t blame him; I was still trying to figure it out myself. He pulled into my driveway and parked the Jeep.

I turned and looked at him. “Thanks.”

“What for?” he asked.

“For everything. For being there for me when nobody else was and for not being one of the boys that drool over me.”

He smiled and held back a laugh. “Your welcome. I will gladly do it any time.”

“You still owe me that ice cream with extra hot fudge and I expect it after Homecoming,” I said as I opened the door and got out.

“Anything for you Persie. You say the word and I will do it.” He smiled and waved as he pulled out of the driveway.

I walked inside and I saw my mother in the living room watching a TV show. Probably Ellen.

“Hi mom,” I said rather cheerily considering my day.

She looked at me and answered sweetly, “Hello dear. How was school? Make any new friends?”

She asked this question every day and usually I just mumbled an answer but today I had an actual answer. “Well, he isn’t exactly a ‘friend’ but he’s new.” This caught her attention.

“Oh, then what is he? Is he cute? Do you like him? Does he like you?”

“One question at a time! He’s on the verge of enemy. He’s kinda attractive in that bad boy/dark, creepy way. No I don’t like him. Yes he likes me, just like all the other guys.”

“What’s his name?”

I sighed, “Ian Graves.”

“Oh, sounds creepy. I see what you mean by the bad boy/dark, creepy guy thing. Where’s he from?”

The questions just had no end. “Look mom I’d love to stay and tell you all about Ian Graves, but I have to do some homework and then I have to get ready for Homecoming.”

“Right! I forgot that that was tonight. We’ll talk later.” She winked at me just before I headed to my room. I rolled my eyes. Sometimes my mom was hard to live with, but I couldn’t seem to live without her. So I guess I’ll just have to deal.

I sat on my bed and pulled out my planner and started on my homework. Halfway through Chemistry I looked at the clock on my nightstand.

Holy cow! It was five thirty. I had one hour to get ready. I had to take a shower, do my hair, and get dressed. I jumped up out of my bed and headed straight for the shower.

After my shower I set my curling iron on the counter so that it could heat up while I got dressed. I got dressed in a pair of jeans and a button down blouse. I walked back in the bathroom and plugged in the hair dryer and started drying my hair. When my hair was dry I started to curl it.

It took forty minutes to curl my hair which meant that I had ten minutes before Matt showed up. I went to my room and pulled on my dress and picked out a perfume and sprayed my neck and wrists.

I walked out into the living room to wait for Matt and of course my mom was in there camera at the ready. She snapped a few pictures of me as I walked down the hall. “Mom,” I complained, “Do you have to take pictures? It’s just Homecoming.”

“Of course I have to take pictures. This is your senior year and I want these to have when my baby moves out and I don’t have anything to remember her senior year by,” she pouted.

“Fine, you can take ten pictures. No more.”

The door bell rang and I turned to open it. It was Matt. He looked amazing in a black tux. His eyes widened when he saw me and I saw his face start to turn red. I smiled and stepped aside and let him through. When he was in the living room I thought my mom was gonna have a heart attack.

“Hello Matt. Don’t you look handsome. Are you driving Persie to the dance?”

He cleared his throat and replied, “Well, I’m kinda taking her as my date.”

My mom’s eyes practically bugged out of her head, “Oh, when was that arranged?” She looked pointedly at me for I didn’t tell her that Matt was taking me to Homecoming.

“This afternoon on the way home from school. She asked me if I had a date and when I said no she asked if I would go with her, as her date.”

“That was very nice of her…I want a picture. Go stand by the door.” We did as we were instructed because we knew that if we ignored her she would turn on the waterworks. We took seven pictures before I had to stop her.

“We have to go mom. I’ll see you later.” I grabbed Matt’s arm and guided her to the door.

“What time will you be back?”

“We’ll be back before midnight Ms. Kore,” Matt reassured her.

I heaved a sigh of relief when we got in the protection of his Jeep. “I’m so sorry about that, but you know how my mom can be.”

He laughed at my apology and said, “Don’t worry I’ll live. Your moms not the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered. My dad when he’s pissed and my uncle when I piss him off are the scariest things I’ve ever encountered.”

“Who is your uncle? I’ve heard about your dad, but I’ve never heard about your uncle. Is he like your dad?”

“Which uncle I have several?” he avoided the question with another question.

“The one you were just talking about.”

“He’s…um, a force to be reckoned with. Let’s just say you don’t want to piss him off. Although I’m sure he wouldn’t do anything if you pissed him off he’d just smile and laugh it off. I think the worst thing that he would do is show you that he’s pissed and maybe threaten you, but it would be an open threat.”

“Wow, your family has anger issues.” That was the first thing that popped into my head and before I could stop it, it was out of my mouth.

He just chuckled and just kept driving. He didn’t comment on my comment. It was like he knew that what I said was true. I wondered if he had anger issues as well. I’ve never seen him really angry, whenever he was with me he was always smiling and laughing. That made me curious as to what he would do if he got really angry.

I didn’t really want to find out though. If he was scared of his family then I was scared of them as well. Suddenly this whole Homecoming thing didn’t seem like a good idea after all. We sat in silence for the rest of the ride.

When we parked, like always, he opened my door for me and helped me out. It was colder than it was when we left and in the strapless dress I was already shivering. The October air was humid and chilly and the cold went straight down to my bones. He noticed the goose bumps on my arms and took off his jacket and put it on my shoulders.

We walked into the gym where the dance was being held. There was a balloon arch and there was a sound system that was moved in here from the theater. All around the ceiling hung streamers and balloons. The decorations were kinda cheesy just like they always were.

Matt lead me further into the room and we made our way over to the makeshift dance floor. An up-beat song was playing and most of the people just bobbed around, not really dancing. Matt asked me a question but I couldn’t hear him over the music. “What!?” I shouted over the sound.

He leaned down and said in my ear, “Do you want to dance?” I nodded and he grabbed one of my hands and started to dance with me. We really didn’t keep to the beat or in rhythm of each other but it was amazing fun. I couldn’t stop laughing.

I was having a great time, until I saw Ian.

There went my happy evening with Matt. I looked away before he saw me looking at him and came over to greet us. Apparently he saw us though because he came over to us. I groaned to myself and it was just my luck that they paused the music to do something when I groaned so Matt and Ian heard it. I grinned sheepishly when I realized that they heard my groan.

“You look nice Persephone. That color looks really good on you,” he said, complimenting my peach dress. I’m pretty sure that I looked terrible next to him. He was wearing a black tux with a grey dress shirt under the vest and jacket. It looked Italian and very, very expensive. I probably couldn’t have afforded it even if I saved money for a whole year.

“Thank you, that’s a very nice tux. Is it Italian?” I asked politely.

“Yes it is Italian. How did you know?”

“The silk vest and it just has an expensive air about it,” I replied.

“Oh, well I will see you later.” He nodded to Matt and gave me a departing smile then turned and walked over to the beverages.

“Hello. May I have your attention?” said Ms. Bell from the stage. The music cut off and every one turned to face Ms. Bell. “Thank you. I would just like to welcome you all to West Grove High School’s annual Homecoming.” A couple people cheered. They were probably freshmen.

“Well I hope that you are having a great time so far. And now we are going to announce this year’s Homecoming King and Queen. Can I have the nominees come up on stage please? The nominees are: Morgana Middleton, Persie Kore, Matt Nomad, and Jonathan Baker. Please come up on stage.” Matt took my hand and led me up to the stage.

When we took our place on stage Ms. Bell spoke into the mic again. “Give it up for our nominees.” There was massive cheering. Morgana waved and blew a kiss into the audience. Ms. Bell took an envelope from a teacher and addressed the crowd once again. “Now for the moment you all waited for: our winners are…” dramatic pause,

“…Persie Kore and Matt Nomad!” Everybody cheered wildly and clapped. A teacher came over and placed a tiara on my head, a sash around my chest, and a bouquet of red roses in my hands. The teacher came back and placed a crown on Matt’s head and a sash around his chest. He turned to me and he smiled. I could see that his face was turning a deep shade of red. I laughed at his shock and the color of his face.

“Yes, congratulations Persie and Matt. I’m so sorry Morgana and Jonathan, maybe next year.” Morgana looked close to tears and Jonathan looked very disappointed. They left the stage and headed into the crowd. I could see Morgana run to the bathroom, followed by her friends. “Now, the Homecoming King and Queen will step out onto the dance floor and perform the traditional first dance.

Uh, oh. This was gonna be awkward; I just knew it. I followed Matt off the stage and a path was cleared for us all the way to the middle of the floor.

I placed the roses on the ground near the edge of the ring and turned to Matt. I walked to him and placed my right hand on his shoulder and he took my left hand in his. The DJ started up a slow song. It was I See the Light from Disney’s Tangled.

I love this song. We started to dance and as we swayed in a circle I realized that I was happy here in his arms.

“All that time never even knowing just how blind I’ve been” those lyrics spoke exactly what I felt. I felt that I was blind in not seeing how Matt was always there for me, always will be there for me, and was here for me now.

“All at once everything looks different now that I see you” I mouthed that last line along with the song. Matt smiled at me and I felt the blood rise to my cheeks. I looked away in embarrassment.

“If she’s here its crystal clear I’m where I’m meant to go” Matt mouthed along with Flynn Ryder’s voice.

“And at last I see the light,” we mouthed together.

“And it’s like the fog is lifted”

“And at last I see the light,” again we did this together.

“And it’s like the sky is new,” I mouthed along with Rupunzel’s voice.

“And it’s warm and real and bright and the world has somehow shifted. All at once everything looks different now that I see you, now that I see you.” We finished the song together.

Everybody cheered when the song was over. I turned and picked up the bouquet of roses and then I saw, out of the corner of my eye, Ian storm out of the gym. I could’ve sworn that I saw his eyes flash green. I was bothered by his hasty exit, I have no idea why I was I just was.

Matt came up behind me and put his head near mine. “What’cha looking at?”

“Ian just left. He looked upset.” I looked at Matt and then said, “I’m going to go see what’s wrong.” I was about to start walking to the door when Matt stepped in front of me.

“Why don’t you let me talk to him. It could be a guy thing.” I couldn’t argue with that so I simply nodded and let him leave. People surrounded me and flooded me with congratulations. I tried be as polite as possible as I made my way to the door of the gym.

I stepped out into the crisp, cold air and shivered. I looked around and when I didn’t see them I started to walk around the building. I heard voices coming from the right side of the building. They were arguing in hushed voices. I could tell that is was Matt and Ian when I stepped a bit closer.

“Hermes, do you have a death wish?” Ian asked.

Who was Hermes?

“No I don’t Hades,” answered Matt.

Why was he calling Ian Hades…in fact that was the second time I have heard Ian be called Hades. What was going on!?

“Well you are sure acting like it Hermes. You know that Persephone is my wife, not yours. If you keep flirting with her I’m going to give you such a beating that you will have a black eye for the next century.” Ian sounded pissed off. I could almost see his eyes flash red like they did earlier today.

“I-I can’t help it Hades. I love her, and I think she loves me back. She’s not the Persephone that you knew Hades. She has changed.” Matt/Hermes whispered to Ian/Hades.

Were they role playing? That was the only thing I could think of to explain their really bizarre behavior. I’ve never known Matt to role play though. Not even when I begged him to play Dungeons and Dragons with me.

“Impossible Hermes! You are just jealous that Zeus gave her to me and not you. I’m the only one that was ever true to her. I’m sorry nephew but she is mine, I can’t live without her.”

If I wasn’t so confused I would’ve went ‘aw’, but I was eavesdropping and I did not want to get caught.

“Please Hades, let her choose for once. Let her have the chance to pick who she wants to be with. If it’s not you then don’t throw a fit, you had her up until eighteen years ago.” Matt sounded like he was begging Ian.

“Zeus will not be happy to hear that you are trying to barter with me, ultimately trying to change his choice. Do you want to be the subject of Zeus’ wrath?”

I couldn’t sit there anymore. I had to figure out what they were talking about. I took a deep breath and stepped out into their view. Matt’s eyes widened when he saw me and Ian didn’t look shocked at all. Like he knew that I was there the whole time.

“Would someone like to explain what the heck is going on?” I demanded of them. Matt didn’t look like he was going to say anything and Ian just stared. “Hello! I’m not speaking Ancient Greek somebody answer me,” I practically shouted.

Ian opened his mouth to speak but before he could utter a sound Matt blurted, “I love you Persephone.” Ian shut his mouth and cast Matt an evil look that made me shudder.

“I heard you say that earlier Matt, and I’m flattered, I truly am. I just want to know what all this talk is about Zeus and Hades and Hermes, and she’s mine, and she loves me, and blah, blah, blah. What is going on!?” I repeated.

This time when Ian opened his mouth words came out. “You are Persephone…the Persephone. I am Hades, the Hades. And your little friend Matt is Hermes. We are gods and you are a goddess. You were taken from the Underworld eighteen years ago and put into a human body. In that body you grew up and Hermes has been looking out for you for sixteen of the eighteen years.”

I stared at him like he was nuts. I turned my head to look at Matt and he had a guilty look on his face.

Oh. My. Gods. They were telling the truth.

“So, wait, you think that I am the Persephone? Are you sure you’ve got the right girl? There could be hundreds of Persephones everywhere. She might not even be named Persephone.” I couldn’t believe their story. I just couldn’t. It was impossible.

“Your name is Persephone, your last name is Kore, you were just crowned Homecoming Queen, you look nothing like your mother and yet you know that she is your biological mother. These are not coincidences. You are Persephone. You are my wife, Queen of the Underworld. Please you have to believe me,” Ian begged me. I saw his eyes flash purple again.

I shook my head. This isn’t real, this is a dream, I can’t be a goddess. I looked at Matt, Hermes, whoever he was, for answers, but I realized that I didn’t even know him. How could I trust him with anything? All these years he lied to me, all these years meant nothing to him. He just wanted me for Hades.

Hot tears found their way down my cheeks. Matt leaned forward to wipe them away. I shied away from his touch. He looked hurt, I knew that that must’ve hurt him a lot, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get out of there, fast!

I turned and ran towards the entrance of the school. By the time I reached the road tears were freely running down my face. I didn’t care.

I lived five miles from the school. I was wearing high heels and I didn’t have a jacket. Soon the cold air was making me shiver violently and the back of the heels were biting into my skin and rubbing it raw.

I got maybe one mile from the school when a familiar Jeep pulled up beside me and kept pace with my frantic running. He rolled down the passenger window and yelled over the Jeep’s engine. “Persephone, stop!”

I kept running and ignored him. I never wanted to see him again. He was a liar and a jerk.

He stopped the Jeep and turned it off. I could hear him get out and run up to me. He ran in front of me and tried to grab me as I passed him.

“Don’t touch me you jerk!” I shouted at him.

“Persephone! Listen to me! I was gonna tell you later, when you were ready.” He kept pace with me.

“Oh, you didn’t think I was ready to know that I’m some Greek goddess? How very trusting. At least I told you everything and kept nothing from you!” I stopped to shout at him and a fresh wave of tears made their way down my already tear streaked face.

“I did trust you. I wanted to tell you earlier, but Zeus made me swear on the River Styx not to utter a word about you being a goddess until Hades gave the okay.”

He expected me to believe this too? I’ve had it with his bull crap. I pulled my hand back and struck him across the face.

SMACK!

The sound echoed off the trees. He looked up at me in shock; his left cheek was turning a bright red.

“Leave me alone Matt, I hate you,” I said clearly.

I walked past him and left him standing there in the road.

I opened the door to my house what I thought was thirty minutes later. My face was freezing, my fingers and toes numb, and my whole body shaking so violently it was hard to walk straight. My mom was on the couch in the living room watching Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. It was later than I thought.

She stood when she saw me and a concerned look crossed her face immediately. I must’ve looked terrible. “What happened?” she asked with worry.

“I’m fine,” I croaked. “I’m going to take a shower and go to bed, please leave me alone.”

She nodded and sat back down watching me go to the bathroom.

I looked in the mirror after I shut the door, and gods, I looked terrible. Make-up streaked down my face so I looked like a scary clown. My hair was tangled and wind blown. My dress was torn and dirty, all in all I looked like a broken hearted teenage girl.

I peeled off the dress and started the shower and while it warmed up I started taking down my hair. Pins littered the sink when I was finished. I stepped into the shower and let the hot water warm me up. After I was clean and warm I turned off the water and wrapped myself in a towel and headed to my room for the night.

I dressed in a pair of sweats and a tank top and crawled under the covers. My mind wouldn’t slow down. It kept replaying the events of the night. I was uncertain of how I was to react.

How would a normal person react if they found out that their best friend is a Greek god, the new kid was also a Greek god, oh, and they were a Greek goddess? How does one react to that?

I lay there for a while and pondered. Somehow I fell asleep though and when I woke it was still dark out. I looked at my clock and it read 3:21 a.m.

Ugh, it was way too early to be up, especially after a night like last night. I looked around my room. My door was open; my mom probably came in to check up on me sometime last night. I turned onto my other side and I noticed that my curtains were billowing in the wind.

Wait, the wind?

My window was open. It was shut when I fell asleep and my mom wouldn’t’ve opened the window; it was too cold outside. I pulled the covers off of me and walked to my window. I looked outside and I saw nothing out of the ordinary. I pulled my head back in and shut and latched the window. I got back in bed, but before I could go back to sleep I saw him.

Hades

Persephone just about jumped out of her skin when she noticed that I was in her room. I had to resist the urge to smile when I saw her jump.

“What are you doing in here!?” she demanded as she covered herself with her blanket. She acted like I was some sort of stranger. Well to her I was.

The thought saddened me. Before she was goddess-napped we shared everything together. I trusted her and she trusted me.

A memory popped into my head just then. It was a sweet memory. We were walking in the Isles of the Blessed and greeting the spirits there. We walked hand in hand and she looked truly magnificent in the light of the lamps lining the streets. Her black hair blew in the light breeze of the Isles and it looked like a silk curtain.

Gods I loved her.

The memory faded and I was brought back to the present.

“What are you doing here?” she asked again.

I sighed and responded, “I’m here to take you home.”

She looked at me oddly. “I am home.”

I shook my head and chuckled. “You think this is your home? Ha, this place is far from your home. Your home is Mount Olympus and the Underworld. That is your home, not this dump.”

She looked insulted by my description of her room and said, “This dump is my home. I can’t make it any clearer. I’ve lived here my whole entire life and I have no intentions of leaving until after graduation.”

“Tell me then Persephone, have you ever truly felt at home here? Did you ever find yourself wondering what it would be like to live elsewhere? Somewhere not in this world?”

I could see something light up in her eyes; she knew exactly what I was talking about and it was true. She had found herself doing that stuff. She knew it, but she didn’t want to admit it.

“Come on.” I gestured to the window. She looked at the window then back at me.

“You’re crazy! I’m not going anywhere with you after what I heard last night.” To prove her point she rolled over and tried to ignore me. I stared at her still figure for a few minutes. She turned over to face me and sat up. “Just out for mere curiosity where were you planning to go?”

Her curiosity was what I liked about her most. She always gave into it. “Well I was planning a nice stroll through the Isles of the Blessed. We used to walk through them all the time remember? The last time we did was the day before you disappeared.”

She looked at me and then down at her blanket. She fiddled with her hands and then said, without looking at me, “You held my hand. The lamps had just turned on and they cast a shadow on your face…I always liked it when your face was half shadow, half flesh.”

“You do remember,” I breathed. She looked up at me and I saw the familiar Persephone. Her eyes held love and something else, knowledge. She knew who I was and who she was. I gestured to the window again and said, “Shall we?”

Her face shadowed over and then the familiar Persephone was gone, replaced by the Persephone that sat before me. “Well, I’ve always wondered what the Isles of the Blessed look like. Are you going to trick me into eating three pomegranate seeds like you did last time?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. At least she was starting to believe that she is Persephone. “No, I will not trick you I promise. You can come and go as you please.”

She nodded and thought about my offer. It was an offer she couldn’t refuse.

“Have me back before tonight,” she said as she got up and put on a sweater. She slid her boots on her feet and headed to the window. I opened it and said, “After you.”

She climbed out and I followed. It was cold out here, but it didn’t affect me like it did her. She was already shaking. I grabbed her hand and led her to the road. When we reached it I let her go and turned to her looking her in the eye.

“Try not to freak out,” I warned her.

She looked confused but nodded. I turned away from her and put my fingers in my mouth and whistled loud and shrill. My whistle echoed off the sleeping houses and the trees. I waited for a minute and then I heard in the distance a dog’s bark.

I braced myself for an attack and then I was hit.

He hit me full in the chest and pushed me to the ground and pinned me there. He licked my face with all three of his heads. I was covered in slobber in no time. “Ach, Cerberus! Get off me, boy.” He got off of me obediently. I stood and wiped as much slobber off as I could.

I turned to look at Persephone. Her mouth was wide open in shock. “Persephone, I said don’t freak out. He won’t hurt you I swear. Cerberus, lay down,” I heard him lay down. “See?”

It took her a few moments to say something, but what she said surprised me.

“Fluffy.”

“Come again?” I asked.

“Fluffy,” she repeated.

“Yes he is fluffy. You can—“

“No. I mean, it’s Fluffy from Harry Potter. Hagrid’s three-headed dog,” she answered.

“Oh, that Fluffy. He doesn’t exist you know. He was created from the legend of Cerberus.”

“Can I call him Fluffy?” she asked me. I looked at Cerberus and he was too busy sniffing a tree to notice that we were talking about him. I looked back at Persephone.

“Um, I don’t think he’d like that. He’s got a huge ego.”

“Can I pet him?” She looked cautiously at Cerberus. He was marking his territory on five trees at the same time.

“Cerberus!” I hissed. He put down his leg and came trotting over. “Sit.”

He sat and Persephone warily approached him with her hand held out. His middle head leaned forward to sniff her hand. He sniffed her for less than a second then all six ears perked up and all of his heads leaned back to the sky and howled.

That howl was his ‘I know you’ howl. I looked at Persephone and she had jumped back at least two feet. She was stiff and her eyes were wide.

“It’s okay Persephone. He’s just saying that he knows you.” In fact to prove my point Cerberus stood and all three heads started to lick Persephone’s face.

“Ach! That’s gross! Get him off of me, please,” she begged as she tried to fight off all of his heads.

I laughed at her reaction; she usually doted on Cerberus, especially when he licked her. “Cerberus, heel.” He came over and sat on my left. His three heads started to pant.

“Why did you call him here?” she asked, wary of his tongues.

“He’s our ride to the Underworld. Well usually I would ask Hermes to take me, but I understand that things are kind of sore between you two.”

She scoffed, “Ha, ‘kind of sore’ is an understatement. I can’t believe that he lied to me for sixteen years. I hate him.” She mumbled that last line to herself.

“You shouldn’t hate him. He had no choice. My brother made him swear on the River Styx to never speak of your being a goddess until I gave the okay. If it was anybody’s fault it was Zeus’.” As soon as those words left my mouth a bolt of lightning shot across the sky and the thunder followed shortly after. I looked up at the sky and scowled. “Zeus, don’t be such a cry baby. Man up and take your faults!”

That was kind of pushing my luck but right now I didn’t give a crap about Zeus and his ego. Persephone looked at the sky curiously.

“He’s really up there? Zeus? All this time I thought he was just another myth.”

“He’s really up there, and he’s probably really pissed at me for that last comment. We should get going before he aims next time.” I turned and looked at Cerberus. “Lay down.” He lay down and put his heads in his paws. I looked back at Persephone. I held out my hand and she cautiously grabbed it. I helped her climb on Cerberus’ back and then I sat close behind her.

I could smell her shampoo, it smelled like cherry blossoms. I wrapped my arms around her waist and I felt her tense up at my touch. “It’s okay,” I whispered in her ear. “You can trust me.” She relaxed slightly and I smiled. At least she was being open minded.

“Cerberus, lets go home.” At my words he stood and turned in the direction that he came from. He took off like a catapult and we were racing through the streets of West Grove, Maine. We headed west at over fifty miles per hour. Our speed increased the more we ran. When we reached sixty miles per hour I leaned forward and pressed Persephone’s and my body against Cerberus’ back. He went faster and faster, never growing tired, and never slowing down. I looked up and I saw the countryside of Montana fly by us. We were going much faster than three hundred miles per hour. I pushed myself forward slightly and shouted in his far left ear, “Do it Cerberus!”

He barked and then I felt the air around us stop. The sky turned dark and it felt like we were running on air, but there was no movement to indicate that we were running at all. The world around us disappeared and we were surrounded by darkness. I sat up and I pulled Persephone up as well. Her hair was a mess and she looked frightened by the dark.

“Are we there yet?” her voice shook.

“Almost, you see that light come towards us?” She nodded. “That is where we are headed.” As the light got closer and closer I pushed her back down and I lay on top of her just before we broke free from the darkness. Cerberus started to slow down and when he reached a much more reasonable speed I sat up and pulled Persephone up as well. We were in L.A. I watched the sleeping suburbs fly by as we raced to the heart of the city. He slowed to a trot and waltzed right up to a funeral home. He lay down and let us dismount.

I lead Persephone to the front door. She looked at it with wonder. “This is where you…I mean we live? No offense, but this place is a dump! And you called my room a dump.” I chuckled softly at her.

“This is not where I live. This is where you get to where I live.” I opened the door and inside there were people, or rather spirits, all over the place. They were playing on their cell phones, listening to their music, talking to one another; telling each other about their lives. All in all everything that they wouldn’t be able to do when they reached their final destination, the Fields of Punishment, Elysium, or the Fields of Asphodel. Persephone looked around the place curiously. She couldn’t see the spirits until she entered the Underworld. I just hoped that she wouldn’t faint when she did see them.

I walked through the crowd and headed to a room in the back. Persephone followed closely behind me. I opened the door and when I stepped through I saw the River Styx and a whole bunch of ferries loaded with spirits. Persephone gasped and grabbed my shirt and held on to it tightly. He eyes went wide and her jaw dropped slightly.

“Ghost. Ghosts. There are ghosts everywhere.”

“Yes, they won’t harm you though. They can’t even see you. To them we are the ghosts.” I lead her to a much smaller boat that was made out of bones and small gems.

“Are those bones?” she whispered. I had no other option but to tell her the truth.

“Cerberus likes to dig up things when he’s bored. He found this when we were in present day Greece. It was made for me as a sacrificial offering in ancient times. Those bones are human.”

“That’s disgusting. Are those rubies?” She knelt down and studied the side of the boat.

“Yes, they are. If you want I could give you some. I have plenty in the palace.” I offered her as she stood up and dusted off her knees.

“Um…I’m not sure how my mom would react to a guy that I hate giving me rubies for free. Let alone if that guy was Hades.”

I held out my hand and helped her into the boat. When she was seated I stood at the back of the boat and grabbed the oar and started to push us down river. Once we caught the current I didn’t push as much, but let the river take us where we needed to be. I reached down and grabbed the lantern that was sitting on the floor and handed it to Persephone. “Can I trust you to light this and not set the boat or yourself on fire?” It was a rhetorical question, but I guess she took it literally.

“I guess you can.” She looked around for something. “Got any matches?”

I grabbed a lighter from my pants pocket and handed it to her. She lit the lantern and we were surrounded by soft light. I pushed again and we got a little burst of speed as we neared the beginning of our journey. I set the oar down and grabbed the lantern from her and hung it on a pole jutting from the front of the boat. She observed her surroundings. Her mouth hung slightly open as she took in the blue-grey walls. The texture on the walls seemed to move with the flow of the river, like gentle waves. The walls seemed to have a life of their own.

“So pretty,” she breathed. I looked at her and she stared in awe of the beauty before her.

“It gets better,” I whispered to her just before we turned a corner.

I knew what was waiting on the other side.

Beautiful fields filled with Asphodel flowers and spirits lay to the left. The fields seemed to stretch on and on forever, with no end in site. The spirits ran over to the River Styx to greet us from the banks. She raised her hand hesitantly and waved to them. We rode the river for two more miles until we left the Fields for more walls.

“That was…wow.” She looked at me with awe still glowing in her eyes. “They looked so nice and welcoming. It’s a shame though, their deaths.” She turned sad then and looked straight ahead.

“Death is one thing that you are going to have to get used to here. It’s inevitable…well except for the gods. We are the only exception.” I hated to be so frank with her, but if she was to ever accept who she was she would also have to accept where she lives.

“Does it get easier?” She turned and looked at me. I could see the sadness etched on her perfect face. “Seeing and being surrounded by the dead?”

“You do get used to it. I got used to it way before you did. I have lived here my whole existence. These spirits are my only company, except for you.”

She nodded and looked back at the river. We sailed for ten more minutes and then the river forked off to the right. I steered us to the right into the River Lethe; the River of Forgetfulness.

The river was murky and it didn’t seem to be water at all. In fact there was no water at all in the River Lethe. The whole river was just memories. Memories of those passed and forgotten memories of those still alive. I looked over into the swirling memories and a memory had floated up near the top. It was a memory of a child in her mother’s arms. The child had been crying and the mother did everything she could to comfort her crying daughter.

I looked up just in time to see Persephone reach into the memories. I lunged forward and snatched her hand away from the river just before her fingertips skimmed the memory. She looked up at me in surprise.

“What was that for?”

“Don’t touch the river,” I warned her.

“Why? What will happen if I do?”

I looked at her then at the river. “Do you know what these are?”

“It’s water. What else would it be?”

I kept my gaze on the river and as I spoke another memory arose to the surface. “This is not water. These are memories of the deceased. This whole river is made entirely of memories. That is why it is called the River Lethe. The River of Forgetfulness.”

She looked at the river in awe and wonder. “These are all memories? Why can’t I touch them?”

“If you touch the River Lethe you will lose all of your memories. You will remember nothing of who you are, where you are, how you came to be there. You will become a blank slate. I doubt you’ll be able to talk at all.” It was a harsh truth but it was indeed the truth.

She scooted further into the boat and away from the river. She kept her arms inside the boat for the rest of the trip.

We floated up stream for about thirty more minutes. She occasionally looked into the river to see all of the memories. One time she turned her head quickly away from the memory that she was looking at blushing. I smiled and casually looked to see what she saw. Once I had found what made her blush I smiled even wider.

“Is it embarrassing to look at other people’s personal lives even though that person is dead?” she asked, still blushing. Her face was as scarlet as a rose.

“Yes and no. I usually don’t look into the river so I don’t see those memories often and I usually visit my own personal memories when I am feeling lonely or sad.”

That made her blush more, she knew what I was talking about. She just looked down at her lap and stayed silent for the rest of the trip.

I don’t know how much time had passed when I felt the current pick up speed. We went faster and faster the further up stream we went. I told her to grab the side of the boat and to hang on. I put the oar into the river and pushed us with the current. We picked up more speed.

The boat started rocking side to side as the memories hit us in waves. None of them landed in the boat or touched us though. They stopped as if they had hit glass and slid back into the river. Poor Persephone started to look a little green in the face.

I looked into the distance and I saw what I was looking for. A waterfall.

I pushed us faster and faster towards the waterfall and when we were two feet away I put the oar back in the boat and sat down just in time for us to plunge over the side. Persephone screamed and held on as we plummeted towards the water.

We didn’t crash or tip or break the boat, in fact, we evened out just before we hit the water and we came down with a light splash. Persephone stopped screaming and her eyes were wide as she held on to the boat with a death-grip. I stood and approached her.

“Persephone, you’re okay. See we made it all the way down without crashing,” I said in a soothing voice as I tried to pry her hands off the boat.

She let go of the boat after much prying and comforting words and lost the wild look in her eyes. She looked around and saw that we were near a bank. I put the oar back in the water and pushed us toward the bank. Once we surfaced I pulled the boat on to the shore and helped Persephone out.

She stood on wobbly legs and stepped out onto the solid ground. I lead her up a small hill covered in Asphodel flowers. When we reached the top of the hill I heard her gasp.

The Fields of Asphodel stretched on and on forever before us. In the background stood a magnificent dark palace. To the left was the beautiful Isles of the Blessed; cut off from the Fields of Asphodel by twelve foot tall iron gates. And to the right just beyond the Fields of Asphodel were the Fields of Punishment.

I took Persephone’s hand in mine and lead her to the left towards the Isles of the Blessed. As we approached the iron gates I felt her hand squeeze mine. I stopped and looked at her. “What’s wrong?”

She hesitated, “I remember this place. I don’t know how, but I do. It’s all so weird.”

Hope flooded through me. “Really? You remember this place? That’s wonderful!”

She nodded, “Yes, I think I am finally remembering who I am.”

I smiled and looked back at the gates. I took three steps toward the gates and then I pushed a button located in the middle of the left door.

“Hello, welcome to Elysium. My name is Margaret how can I help you?” buzzed a voice from a speaker on the door.

“Hello Margaret, this is Hades. If you would be a dear and open the gates that would be marvelous,” I said to the clearly bored speaker.

“Oh! Of course Mr. Hades, right away sir,” she said in her most perky voice.

There was a small buzz and then the gates opened wide. I gripped Persephone’s hand tighter and lead her through the gates to the beautiful islands on the other side. The lanterns were lit and a soft glow covered all of the beautiful houses and spirits.

The spirits here seemed just a tad bit more solid than the spirits elsewhere. They seemed less transparent and distant.

She gasped at the beauty of it all and she pulled her hand out of mine to go explore the islands more thoroughly. I followed her silently as she greeted all of the spirits. She paused to smell all of the flowers and when she sniffed the red and white roses she smiled.

While she was preoccupied with talking and smelling I picked a couple of the roses. I tapped her back and when she turned I handed her the small bouquet.

She looked from the roses to me and back again. She took the roses from me wary of the thorns and smiled. “Thank you, they’re beautiful.” She smelled them again. “Why did you pick them?”

“Because you smiled when you smelled them and I wanted to see you smile again.” That was cheesy I know, but it was the truth. I loved it when she smiled.

“That was a really cheesy line, but you know what’s worse than saying that line? Believing it.” She smiled and blushed a bit.

I had to laugh at that. She had thought what I was thinking and then she confessed that she fell for it. Ha! That was hilarious.

She laughed when I had started and we both just laughed together. We didn’t laugh at each other, we just laughed with each other. I wanted to pause this moment and cherish it forever.

She turned and continued her walk when she had laughed it all out. I saw that she occasionally smelled the roses while she talked.

When the lamps started to go out I reached for her hand again and whispered in her ear, “We might want to get going if you want to be back before nightfall.”

She looked at me and said, “It’s been that long! Wow, I must’ve spent longer than I intended here. I wanted to go see the palace as well and maybe the Fields of Asphodel.”

“There will be other times I assure you. We can come and go as often as you want. I am glad that you like it here.” I tugged on her hand and lead her back to the gates.

When the gates had shut behind us I lead her back down to the boat. When she stepped in and sat down I pushed us off of the bank and stood at the back and steered us down river.

The trip wasn’t as long or as bumpy as the trip in. As we passed an opening in the cave that we traveled in, we passed another river. Only this river was made entirely out of fire.

Persephone gasped and looked at me for an explanation.

“That is the River Phlegethon. The River of Fire. That river flows into Tartarus and leads to the darkest corners of the Underworld. You have heard of Tartarus before right?”

“Yes I have heard of Tartarus. Isn’t that where your father and all of the evil creatures are held prisoner?”

I nodded and looked at the entrance to Tartarus in disgust. If it were silent enough I would’ve heard my father cry out in fury and the monsters slam themselves against the walls. They never learned, even after all these centuries.

I looked back at the River Styx and steered us further away from the River Phlegethon.

“Will I be able to see all of the rivers when I come back?” she asked curiously.

“Sure if you want to. There are five rivers and they are very long, and much like the River Lethe, they can get pretty bumpy.”

“What are their names?”

“Archeron, Cocytus, Phlegethon, Lethe, and Styx. Styx and Phlegethon were lovers and then when Phlegethon died he became a river here. When Styx died she asked the gods to turn her into a river as well, so we did and now she runs parallel of Phlegethon.

“Phlegethon and Cocytus flow into Archeron. Cocytus is the River of Lamentation or the River of Tears. Archeron is the River of Pain. These are the five rivers of the Underworld.”

I looked at her and said, “Any questions?”

“Yes, one: why is the Underworld so doom and gloom?”

Was she serious?

I tried to resist a smile as I answered, “Well, it is the Underworld. What did you expect? Bunnies with cookies?”

“Well no, but that would be nice. I’m starving!”

I reached into my pants pocket and pulled out a small package of a golden food. I unwrapped it and broke off a tiny sliver and handed it to her.

She took it cautiously. “What is it?” She carefully analyzed the gold food.

“Ambrosia. You only need a tiny amount because you are human, but since you’re still part god I don’t think that it will burn you up.”

Her eyes widened. “You don’t think? What if it does?” panic laced her voice as she tried to hand back the Ambrosia that I gave her.

“If it does then your human form will burn away and you will take on your natural form.”

She eyed me and the Ambrosia then with much hesitation she popped it into her mouth and chewed slowly. She swallowed and when nothing happened at first she looked at me and said, “Well what happens now? I’m still hungry.”

I held up a finger. She gasped a little when the Ambrosia had taken effect.

“Hungry now?” I asked kinda mocking her.

She shook her head and looked at the Ambrosia that was still in my hand in wonder. “That was amazing! No wonder you gods eat that all the time. It was delicious.”

“You can only have small amounts though.” I took a big bite of the Ambrosia and swallowed the sweet, thick food. It almost had the consistency of bread.

“Don’t rub it in my face that you can have loads of that amazing food and I can’t!” she pouted. Her bottom lip stuck out slightly. It was a new face that I had never seen on her, and quite frankly I thought it looked pretty…hot.

I took another big bite just to annoy her. She frowned and looked away. We finished the journey back to the port and then I led her out into the funeral home’s lobby.

“Oh my gods. When did all these gho—I mean spirits arrive?” She looked around the lobby and took in all of the spirits lounging about as if they weren’t dead.

“They’ve been here you just couldn’t see them until you entered the Underworld, now you can.”

“Will I be able to see them all the time now? Even outside of the funeral home?” She seemed wary of what I might say.

“Not if you don’t want to. Only my sons and daughters can see them and communicate with them on a daily basis. And of course me and all of the other death deities.”

“You have kids? How many? Who are their parents? ...Are any of them mine as well?”

I laughed. Of course she wouldn’t remember this part of the Greek gods’ role. “Yes I have kids. I think I have ten worldwide. I won’t tell you who their parents are because of confidentiality. No the demigods are not your kids as well.”

“Oh, the demigods.” She gave me a look then she said, “I leave for eighteen years and you go and hook up with ten women! Ha, see if I leave you for more than four months again.”

She stomps out of the funeral home and right out onto the street. I stare at her with an open mouth in complete astonishment.

This was a new Persephone. She never minded before when I had affairs with mortal women. I guess it was the human in her. She was jealous.

A male spirit around the age of sixty approaches me and says sympathetically, “Women, you can’t live with `em, you can’t live without `em.”

I glare at him and he backs off.

“Persephone! Come back please. I can explain everything.” I follow after her and catch up to her rather quickly because she has no idea where she is or where she’s going.

“What is there to explain? You slept around like you always have. You’re just being who you are and I just have to deal with that. Yes it’s not my ideal type of relationship, but if it worked until eighteen years ago I guess it’s just going to have to work now.”

I am speechless.

She made me think that I was going to get into big trouble and then she goes and turns all reasonable on me?

Women are confusing! Especially goddesses.

“What!? I thought you were mad at me. Are you mad at me? Because I would totally understand if you were mad—"

She put her finger against my lips when I started to ramble. I stopped instantly. This was as close as she had come to me since the night before she disappeared.

I closed my eyes and relished her touch. When I opened my eyes she had leaned forward a bit. I hadn’t realized how close we really were until now. Her body gently pressed against mine and with her face even closer now I thought she was going to kiss me.

I cupped her face in my hands and turned it upward so that all I would have to do was close that small space between us. She had moved her finger from my lips. Her lips parted as I got just a breath away.

I couldn’t wait any longer. I closed the distance quickly and pressed my lips to hers. She gasped as my lips met her soft, warm mouth.

I was in pure bliss when suddenly she pulled away gasping for breath.

“What’s wrong?”

Persephone

What just happened?

My head throbbed as a tidal wave of memories hit me like a ton of bricks.

They flashed in my mind quickly. One moment they were there then the next moment they were replaced by more memories. I felt like I was reliving my life in fast forward.

I gasped for breath when they had finally stopped.

“What’s wrong?” Hades asked me. Concern laced his voice and I knew that it was urgent that I answer but I couldn’t get my mouth to work with my brain.

My lips tingled from that short kiss and it felt like my face was on fire; I was blushing so much. Hades grabbed my arms and shook me a bit. My face turned up to his and I could see the concern that had laced his voice clearly etched on his face. “What’s wrong Persephone?”

“I-I don’t know…”

“You know if you didn’t want me to kiss you, you could’ve just said so. I wouldn’t’ve done it.” Disappointment was etching itself on his face now.

I had hurt him.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I wanted to kiss you just as much as you wanted to kiss me, believe me.” I looked down at my scruffy boots. “It’s just that when I kissed you–this is going to sound bizarre–I remembered.” I looked up at him just in time to see astonishment cross his face. Wow he was getting easier and easier to read!

“Everything,” I finished. “Everything from the moment I was born to the moment I disappeared.”

“You remember?” The truth didn’t seem to sink in at first; I could see him try to digest what I just said.
I stood there wondering when he will realize that I just said that I remember everything. Especially sharp was the memory of my rape.

“You raped me from my garden. I was there minding my own business and the next thing I know the ground opens up and who pops out? You do and you take me to the Underworld!

“Granted I did like it there with you and I wanted to stay forever but my blasted mother wouldn’t have it. So I—“

“You forgot that I tricked you into eating three pomegranate seeds.” He finally said something a slow smile spread on his face.

I blanked for a second. I did forget that he tricked me into eating three pomegranate seeds. I guess that even a goddess’s memory had holes.

“Yes, you did trick me into eating three pomegranate seeds. I can’t believe I didn’t remember that. I guess I was just so upset that my mother had to go and ruin things for me.”

“How did she ruin it?”

“She took from the poor humans and she took you from me! I hated her for that. She just can’t grow up and let me live my life.” I could feel a pout form on my lips.

“You wanted to stay? That’s funny because you acted like all you wanted was just to get away from me. And when your mother convinced Zeus to free you for two thirds of the year you acted so ecstatic.”

“I didn’t want to let myself get my hopes up that I may just fall for this guy; that this one would, by some miracle, be different than all the others who tried to woo me. But you were different. You didn’t want me because I was beautiful, you didn’t use me then throw me out. I knew that you cared, truly cared, about me after I had left. I had caught myself wishing I was back in the palace with you to my right.”

“I did care…still do. I will never stop loving you, you need not worry.” He cupped my face in his hands again and rested his forehead on mine. He whispered something in Greek and I knew instantly that he said, “I love you Persephone.”

”I love you too Hades.” I whispered back. It sounded odd in my ears and a moment later I realized that I had said that in Greek.

I knew Greek?

I guess that it was just part of my goddess self. I instantly knew Greek. I wonder what other languages I could speak…

He closed the distance between us with another kiss. This one I could enjoy because I didn’t get an onslaught of memories.

His lips were surprisingly warm for the god of the Underworld. And soft as well.

I ended the kiss and looked at the setting sun. “I need to get home to my mortal mother.”

Did I just call my mother a mortal?

Wow I really was turning into a goddess.

Hades nodded and it seemed that with great reluctance he walked back into the funeral home.

Was he just ditching me? I had no idea where I was or which direction home was. I didn’t even have my wallet!

I take back everything nice I ever said about him.

I turned to start towards the sound of the beach, but a hand landed on my shoulder. I turned to face Hades.

“Where do you think you’re going? I thought you said that you wanted to go back to Maine? If you want to take a walk on the beach though I’m sure you could do that, but you won’t be back home before nightfall like you wanted.”

He wasn’t ditching me!

A smile lit up my face. “Okay, so where is Fluf—I mean Cerberus? Aren’t we taking him back?”

He tried to hide a smile and replied, “He’s working right now and he can’t leave. We are going back to Maine via shadow travel.”

“Oh, yes, shadow travel. What is shadow travel?”

He smiled a bit more openly and said, “Remember when time seemed to stop and we were surrounded by darkness on our way here?” I nodded, it was a fresh memory so of course I remembered. “Well we are going to do that again.”

He grabbed my hand and turned to face the empty street. “Nyx is going to hate me for this; this is the second shadow travel in one day. I’m not going to be able to do this again for at least a month.”

“Nyx is the goddess of what exactly?”

“Night, shadows, and darkness.”

“Oh that explains the darkness of that tunnel. Are we going to have to walk all the way there? I don’t think that my poor feet could handle any more.” I looked down at my sore feet. My feet throbbed in my boots and I could tell that if I didn’t soak them tonight they would swell to the size of Texas by tomorrow.

“It’s not that far a walk.”

I gaped at him. “’Not that far?’ We’re talking about walking from one end of the U.S. to the other and you say that ‘it’s not that far a walk’! It may not be that far a walk for a god like you but let me remind you that I am in a mortal body. I can’t handle that kind of exertion. I’m gonna have to sleep and—“

“Persephone! You’ll be fine. It will take ten minutes tops. I promise you. In shadow-travel time means nothing. We could walk all the way to China from here and we will feel as if we were just walking for two hours.”

I looked at him skeptically. I had reason to believe and I had reason to not believe him.

His eyes didn’t lie to me though. He was looking at me intensely. I saw his eyes flash purple again.

“Why do your eyes do that color flash thingy?” I asked him intrigued.

“What color flash thingy?”

“Your eyes flash different colors. When I first met you they flashed red when I yelled at you in the office, and when I was eavesdropping on your conversation with Nyx. They flashed purple when you asked me if anybody told me that you hated me, and just now they flashed purple. And when you stormed out of Homecoming I swear I saw your eyes flash green. Why do they do that?”

He looked at me as if I were speaking a foreign language. “My eyes flashed red, green and purple? That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that. Are you sure it’s not just a trick of the light?”

“Yes, I swear that it’s all true! I saw it with my own eyes. It was, in no way, shape, or form, a trick of the light.

“I have a theory on that as well. I was thinking about it on the way here and on the way to the Isles of the Blessed. I think that your eyes flash the color of your mood. For instance; they flashed red at me because you were mad. They flashed purple because you cared about me or you were telling the truth; I still am trying to figure that one out.”

“You forgot green,” he murmured.

“Oh, right! I think that it flashed green because you were jealous,” I said matter-of fact-ly.

“Jealous! Ha, my dear is an understatement. I was dying watching you two have a little romantic moment. I wish with all my might that I was in his place last night.” His eyes flashed green again.

“You did it again.” He looked at me confused. “Your eyes just flashed green again. It’s kind of flattering to know that you’re jealous over me.” I smiled at him coyly.

He frowned. “Let’s just go, it’s not getting any lighter out.” He turned to face the empty street again and then he said, “Nyx, come to me!”

The shadows on the sides of the buildings and under cars all moved to the middle of the street as if pulled by a magnet. The shadows stood and took the form of a beautiful young woman.

She was tall and slim. She had small hips and breasts but she totally pulled it off. She wore a black evening dress with a plunging neck line that descended all the way down to her navel exposing a bit too much skin.

“What do you want Hades? I was in the middle of my date with Apollo! This had better be good.” She had a snappy attitude towards him. I didn’t blame her if she was called in the middle of a date.

“You and Apollo? That’s kind of ironic don’t you think? I mean he’s the sun god and you are the night goddess…that’s just too funny! Does Erebus know?”

“Erebus does not need to know! This is between me and Apollo.”

A smirk formed on his lips and he said, “I don’t think that your husband would like to hear that his wife is flirting around with Apollo.”

“You shut your mouth Hades and tell me what you want before I return to my date without helping you!” Her temper was rising as was her voice. Her eyes were turning a stormy shade of grey.

Hades chuckled and said, “I just wanted you to open up a shadow tunnel to West Grove, Maine. Do you think you can handle that without blowing your top?” I couldn’t believe he was taunting her! It was so obvious that she was pissed and he was pushing it.

She groaned and rolled up her non-existent sleeves and spread her arms wide. When her arms were fully open a tunnel of darkness appeared. I tried to look beyond it but all I saw was black; endless darkness that seemed to stretch on and on forever.

She turned back to Hades and said with a threatening finger, “Next time summon your own tunnel! I know that you know how to do one.” And with that last threat she tuned into a shadow and disappeared into the other shadows.

Hades gave a satisfied grin and turned to me. “Ready?” I looked at him like he was crazy.

“Why did you piss her off? Why did you taunt her when it was evident that she was already mad at you!? She could’ve – I don’t know! – blown us to bits!”

He threw his head back and barked out a laugh. “’Blown us to bits?’ Ha! I can’t imagine her having the guts to even consider blowing us to bits. I am one of the Big Three. She can’t do anything to me.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not and she could blow me to bits if she wanted; I’m sure.”

His voice turned softer and less mocking, “Not if I was around to protect you; and I will always be around for you.”

“Thank you Hades. Now can I go home, I mean, back to Maine?” I said hastily before I gave into the urge to kiss him again.

“Yeah, sure.” He held out his hand and I took it without hesitation. He led me into the tunnel and once we were in it the entrance closed up behind us. We were swallowed by darkness. It was so dark in there that the only way I knew that he was still with me was by the touch of his hand in mine. He started to walk forward and I followed cautiously behind him, like a blind man. I squeezed his hand and he squeezed mine reassuringly.

“Hey, you’re fine.” I felt his breath against my ear as he whispered that into it. We had stopped walking. I felt his teeth graze my earlobe when he said, “I won’t let you go. You’re safe with me.” I felt a shiver race down my spine at the contact.

He pulled his head back, but it didn’t stay back long. I was trying to “see” him with my ears when I felt his lips touch mine briefly. It felt like ninety percent of my blood flooded into my face and I thought it’s a good thing that it is dark.

His lips traced my jaw, from ear to chin and back. His arms circled around my waist and he pulled my body against his. He placed another kiss on my lips and let this one linger a bit longer. I pressed my lips firmly against his and stood up on my tippy-toes. He wrapped his arms around me tighter and kissed me deeper.

I stopped the kiss between us and took a step back. My breathing was a little fast and so was his. He grabbed my arms and pulled me into him; as if he just couldn’t let go of me yet. He rested his head on my hair. I smiled into his chest and breathed in the spicy, dark scent of him. His hand traced its way down my side to rest on my hand. He laced his fingers in mine and stepped away from me.

“Let’s go before I get tempted to just stay here with you forever.”

Gods that voice was so sexy!

I bit my lip to keep from saying anything stupid as we walked hand-in-hand to a faint light at the end of the endless tunnel. I don’t know how long we walked; all I know is that it was way too short for me. I wanted to stay in there with him forever. Just to walk hand-in-hand with him was fine for me.

As we re-entered the world of light he squeezed my hand and led me out into the light.

I squinted my eyes and let them adjust to the brightness of everything. After being in the dark for so long my eyes got used to it and now it seemed to hurt them when I got into dim light. I looked up at Hades to see how the change in light affected him.

Of course he didn’t show any sign of discomfort. He was probably used to it. I looked at my watch and it read 6:30 pm. I grinned; I was within curfew.

We walked through the town and headed to my house. I caught a few interested stares on the way. At first I wondered what they were staring at and then I realized that Hades and I were still holding hands. I tried to pull my hand out of his without stirring suspicion, but when have any of my plans ever actually worked? He noticed off the bat and he also seemed to know the intentions of my movement because he squeezed my hand and refused to loosen his grip.

I swear the guy just wanted to embarrass me in public!

All was fine until we passed the one locally owned diner in town. I looked into one of the windows to see Morgana and two of her wannabe’s there with her; all staring in open-mouthed shock. I felt the blood rush to my face and I turned my head quickly to avoid their murderous glares. Hades saw our exchange of glances and raised our hands to wave at her, a polite smile on his face.

When she saw our intertwined fingers I thought her head was going to burst. I tried to pull our hands down or at least to get my hand away from his. Hades stopped and looked at me confused, “What’s the matter, baby?”

“Are you trying to get me killed!?” I stared at him with wide-eyed shock my voice was near hysterics.

“What?” he chuckled, “No, I’m just trying to be friendly is all.”

“Hades, since when have you ever cared about being friendly?”

“When we’re in public I need you to call me Ian, please. I do try to be friendly most of the time…others just make it hard for me.”

“The key in that sentence is ‘most of the time.’ You are, by far, the foulest tempered guy I know. It seems that you just go looking for fights half the time!”

He looked very amused by my statement. He just couldn’t wipe that smile off his face…not that I wanted him to. That crooked smile was so hot and it melted me every time. (Don’t tell him I said that!)

“I guess you haven’t met Ares then. Well you’ve met him before, but I mean here.”

We started walking again to my great relief. “Here? What do you mean by that?”

“You know, here.” He gestured outwardly to the buildings and people. “In West Grove.”

My eyes must’ve widened in surprise because he couldn’t help but laugh at my expression. “Here?” I squeaked. “You mean that Ares is here? In West Grove? Oh my gods! Who is he? Do I know him?”

He chuckled and answered, “Well I don’t know if you know him or not. I do know that he is going by the name of Nathan ‘Nate’ Nomad. He lost the bet with Hermes and so Hermes got to pick the last name this time.”

“Ares is Nate.” I looked at my feet and tried to piece it all together. Sure it made sense; Nate was always mad and always wanted to fight with someone…but Ares? Wow that was such a stretch! I’d always imagined Ares as this big guy dressed in battle armor wielding a bloody sword. Not some teenage guy playing Halo all the time. Who knew that Ares was such a video game nerd?

“You look like your congregating verbs into Latin. Although you already know that language fluently enough that that wouldn’t be much of a problem. French would be more like it. You don’t know any French that I’m aware of.”

“I do know some French…I took a few classes in middle school and in freshman year. My mom was considering a job transfer to Quebec so she suggested that I learn the language.”

“Vous parlez du français?”

“Oui, jes fais. Vous fait combien sait?”

“Je sais assez pour obtenir par,” he said with a smirk.

I smiled back, “Very clever. I never thought that a Greek god would know the French language.”

“You’re one to talk.”

I stuck my tongue out at him and walked on. He kept pace with me easily; his long legs matched my long-legged pace. We reached my street before seven and as we approached my house I saw someone sitting on my porch.

Once I stepped onto the driveway I knew instantly who it was. It was Matt, my former friend. I sighed heavily and I walked up to him. “What do you want?”

He stood and I could see his eyes were a little blood shot. His hair was rumpled and he was wearing the tux that he was wearing when I last saw him. All in all he looked awful.

My heart ached to see him so upset and to know that it was my fault just made it hurt all the more! I had to concentrate to keep my face emotionless.

“I wanted to apologize. For not telling you who you are when I knew, as your best friend, that it was kinda my job to tell you that. I just feared the wrath of Hades and my fear over took my loyalty. I guess even us gods have weaknesses.” He kept his eyes on my face and I tried not to crumble under the pitiful gaze he was searing into my mind. I wanted so bad to just go and hug him and tell him that everything was going to be fine.

“I forgive you.” My voice broke and he saw what I was trying so hard to hide. I smile of hope lit up his face.

I couldn’t control myself anymore and I crumbled. I closed the few steps in-between us and fell into his arms sobbing.

This was not how I planned things to go…I was supposed to be the one comforting him not the other way around. Yet here I was sobbing into his chest as he smoothed my hair and apologized again and again.

Once all the tears had dried I stood and wiped my face with the sleeve of my jacket. “Thanks, I think I needed that.” I turned to Hades and said, “Sorry you had to see that, I guess me and Matt, I mean Hermes, are better friends than I thought.” I gave him a sheepish grin.

“I don’t mind as long as Hermes knows his place.” That last little bit was said as a threat to Hermes. I looked at Hermes to see how he took that. He raised his hands in a surrendering gesture.

“I know my place Hades, trust me.”

Hades wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me closer to him. “Good and don’t you dare forget it.” He walked me to the front door and kissed me lightly on the lips. I could feel myself blush. He stepped back and brushed his hand against my reddened cheek. “Take care, my queen. I love you,” he said that in Greek again. He turned and grabbed Hermes by the jacket and led him off my porch and down the street. I could see Hermes waving at me all the way down the street and then around the corner.

I opened the door and stepped into the warm house. I kicked my boots off at the door. “Hey mom, I’m home!” I called.

I walked down the hall and into the living room. “Mom? Are you home?” I looked into the living room but she wasn’t there. I searched her room and mine and the kitchen. On the fridge was a sticky note that read:

Persephone,


I’ve gone to the store, no worries. I will return at 7:30 tonight. You were so tired last night I just let you sleep in. If you are hungry there is food in the fridge. Eat up.






I love you lots,








Mom



I smiled and took the note off the fridge. I looked in it for the food that she claimed was in there. I pulled out some lunch meat and made myself a sandwich. I sat at the couch in the living room and watched the evening news. I heard the door open at seven thirty sharp. “Hey mom!” I stood and walked to the door.

“Hey honey,” called my mom from the kitchen. Her arms where full of groceries. She set them on the counter and turned to hug me. She pulled back from the hug and held me at arms distance with a look of curiosity etched on her face. “Why do you smell like a musty cellar?”

“I-I don’t know. I think I should take a shower.” She nodded in agreement and I left the kitchen and sniffed my clothes. I did smell a little musty.

When I got out of the shower I got into a pair of comfortable pajamas and went out into the living room where my mom was watching a rerun of I Love Lucy. I sat with her and watched the mayhem unfold before us. When the episode was over my mom turned off the television and turned her attention to me, “So what did you do all day? Sit about and sleep?”

“Um…I, ah, went somewhere with a, er, friend,” I tried to cover up my lie as best possible.

She raised an eyebrow and looked at me skeptically. “Oh, really? And who is this friend?”

“He’s the new guy at school.”

Her eyebrows shot up nearly to her hairline, “A guy? Do you know this guy? Is he nice?”

“Yes! He is very nice, and a total gentleman.”

A sly smile traced the corner of her lips and I realized what I just said. “Do you like this boy?” she said mischievously.

I felt myself blush. There was no way I could lie again. “Yes, I do.”

“I knew it! What is his name? Where is he from? What year is he in?”

“Mom! Mom, slow down. His name is Ian. He’s from L.A. and he is a senior like me.”

“Is he smart? What kind of grades does he get?”

“I don’t know. He just got there Friday. I’m not a stalker.” I stood and left the room before the questions got even more awkward. I went into my room and lay on my bed. I was so exhausted that I didn’t even know it until I lay down. I rolled onto my side and wrapped the blanket around me. I felt my eyes slowly close and then I slept a dreamless sleep.

Persephone

I woke to the sun in my face. I rolled over and covered my face with my pillow. I lay there until I was fully aware of myself then I rolled over to look at my clock. 12:34 pm. I slept for, like, fifteen hours. I sat up slowly to let myself adjust to prevent vertigo. I looked around and then when I realized certain needs I got out of bed. I walked out into the living room after my needs were fulfilled. My mom was on the phone with somebody and just waved when I walked in. I tried to smile at her but all I could manage was a grimace-like smile.

I grabbed a bowl and some cereal from the pantry and the milk from the fridge and a spoon and sat at the table and ate my breakfast. When my mom hung up she walked into the dining room and said cheerily, “Good morning, well afternoon. You slept in quite late. Were you still exhausted?”

I nodded and ate another bite of my Captain Crunch cereal. I ate in silence while she watched me eat. We sat in silence for quite a while when the phone rang. She stood and went to answer it.

I could hear her say, “Hello…yes she is here. Let me go get her.”

She walked back in the room and handed me the phone saying, “It’s some guy named Ian.” She smiled and winked at me, I guess she remembered the name.

I put the phone to my ear and said grumpily, “Speak.”

“Well you sure sound happy to hear me,” his response was sarcastic and I wasn’t awake enough to apologize for my rude hello.

So, naturally, I responded with sarcasm as well. “I know, don’t I sound just ecstatic.”

He laughed his low laugh and then said, “Well I called wanting to know if you wanted to go back to the Underworld with me.”

“No I’m too tired to go right now and I really want to see Her–, I mean Matt. I want to make sure that I patched everything over with him.”

His voice held a hint of jealousy, “I see, well just call me when you want to go. I guess I’ll see you at school tomorrow…by the way nice pajamas.”

“How do you know I’m wearing my pajamas?”

“I can see you. How do you think I got your phone number?”

“I don’t know I just figured that it was a god thing…”

“I’m shadow-messaging you right now. I can see you but you can’t see me.”

I blushed a bit, “That is kinda stalker-ish you know.” The air around me shimmered and I could see, as if I were looking at a TV, a room that was poorly lit and a bed that was messy. Hades was sitting on the bed and looking right at me. He was wearing an Avenged Sevenfold T-shirt and a pair of black jeans. I put the phone on the table and looked at the image in wonder.

He smiled and waved. I stared at him for a while then I muttered to myself, “That is so cool.” He smiled and winked at me; I realized that he could hear me as well as see me. I hung up the phone and said to him, “How did you do that?”

“Well me and Nyx talked about it last night and she showed me how to shadow-message, shadow-travel, etcetera, etcetera. So now I can talk to you whenever I want.”

I nodded and said, “I’m okay with that as long as you don’t peep at me without my knowing.” I raised a threatening finger and he just smiled crookedly.

“Why, you scared? We are married after all.”

I hate that massive ego of his…

“No, just don’t okay,” I had to cover my embarrassment quickly.

“Sure…so you got plans with Hermes?” I could detect a hint of jealousy in his voice.

I rolled my eyes and replied, “I’m hanging up now…just how do I hang up?”

He smiled that amazing smile of his and said, “You have to break the image.”

I sat forward and put my hand through the image. It literally felt like I was grasping smoke. I waved my hand around and the image cleared. I stood and headed to my room to get dressed.

After I dressed and as I was walking out the door I called over my shoulder, “Mom, I’m headed over to Matt’s. I’ll be back later.”

I heard her response just before I shut the door. I walked down to Matt’s house. It was so strange being here as if nothing had changed, but knowing that everything had indeed changed.

His Jeep was in the driveway so I knew that he was home. I walked up to the door and rang the doorbell. The door was opened a few seconds later.

I looked into the face of Matt. He looked so tired still and he looked almost defeated. “Oh hey, come in.” He stood aside for me.

I walked into the ever so familiar hall and I headed to the living room. He followed closely behind me. “So what are you doing here?” he asked hesitantly.

I turned to look at him and I said, “I was worried about you. I know that this is just as hard for you as it is for me and I feel…bad.”

He made a disgusted sound, “You feel bad? Why do you feel bad? You have your precious husband.”

“May I just remind you that I only just found out I was married two freakin days ago! Anyway who said that I wanted to be married in the first place? Last time I checked I was in a new body, so that goes to say that I am no longer married to him. As long as I am in this body he is not my husband unless I want him to be!

“There now you made get all mad!” I tried to choke back the tears that threatened to escape my eyes. I always cry when I’m upset. I wiped away the few tears that had managed to escape and as soon as Hermes saw the tears his face softened.

He reached for a tissue that he always kept in his jeans for an emergency like this. He handed me the tissue and as I wiped my face he said, “Look, Persie…I’m–I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry. I guess I just got a little–I don’t know–it’s nothing. Never mind. Forget I said anything.” He looked down at his hands that where folded in front of him.

“Is Mr. I-Feel-Sorry-For-Making-My-Best-Friend-In-The-Whole-Entire-World-Cry feeling better now that he apologized?”

He looked up at me with a partial smile on his face. “You know how much I hate the long name thing.”

“Well is he?”

“Yes he is. I am truly sorry.”

I held up my hand. If he got started he would keep on apologizing until I beg him to stop, then he would apologize for that. It could go on for days and days if I didn’t stop it now. “You are forgiven, now can we just put the past behind us and move on with our lives?”

“So…you’re not married to him?”

“Nope.”

“Does he know?”

“No, I haven’t told him yet. In fact I didn’t even know it myself until I said it to you.”

“So you’re still open game?”

I laughed, “I can’t believe that you are comparing me to some sort of wild animal that men hunt just for the heck of it! I thought I knew you better than that. I am no animal that is still ‘open game’.”

“I wasn’t comparing you to an animal! In fact I meant it as a compliment.”

I looked at him skeptically, “Really? A compliment?”

He nodded vigorously. I sighed and decided to accept his weird compliment. “Thanks, I think.”

He smiled at my confusion and led me into the living room where Nate or should I say Ares, was playing yet another violent video game. He looked up briefly to see us enter the room. Nate returned his gaze to his game and said, “Hey! Look who’s here. How are you Kore?”

“I’m fine Ares. You know I never really got why you played those games all the time until I found out who you really are. Now it makes perfect sense.”

He smirked at me and paused the game. “So, I heard that Hermes let the cat out of the bag.”

I replied, “Well, technically, I over heard the conversation between Hades and him. So technically Hades let the cat out of the bag.”

Ares said to no one in particular, “What the heck, Hades? I wanted to see her face when she was told who she really is.” He folded his arms in an almost childish way across his chest.

Hermes chuckled nervously. “No you didn’t. You wouldn’t want to be within a three mile radius of her when she found out. She had a temper that would put you to shame Ares.”

Ares cocked an eyebrow at Hermes, then looked at me with his eyebrow still cocked. “Oh, really? Is that so?”

Hermes nodded. Ares puffed out his chest and said, “Then I guess you haven’t seen me really angry, Hermes. If you thought that she could out anger me then you must have selective memory or something. I am the god of anger and war. And don’t you forget it!”

“You’re also the king of big egos,” Hermes muttered under his breath. Ares pretended not to hear that. Ares picked up the remote control again and continued to play the game. Hermes motioned for me to follow him. We walked down the hall to his room. I had been in it a thousand times before but somehow this time was different from them all.

Was it the fact that I knew he was a god?

Was it the fact that he told me he loved me?

Was it that I was falling for Hades and this felt like some form of cheating on him?

Whatever the reason, I was kind of uncomfortable in Hermes’ room. I looked around the familiar room hoping that the uncomfortable feeling would ease up. The bed was a mess, as usual. The floor was clean except for a few things here and there. His shoes were thrown on the floor of the closet. For a guy Hermes had the most shoes ever! I guess that is what to expect when he is the god of travelers… and thieves. I didn’t want to ponder on that last bit.

Hermes plopped down on his bed and pulled the chair from his desk up to the bed so that I could sit closer to him. I reluctantly sat in the desk chair and looked at Hermes.

“Where did you go yesterday?”

“Um, well, Hades wanted to show me the Underworld in hopes that I would remember who I was.”

“Did you like it?” he asked.

I shrugged, “Sure, it was pretty and all. The trip to the Isles of the Blessed was scary.”

He smiled at that. “Hey dork, what’s with the smile?” I asked jokingly.

“Aw, nothing,” he said, but I knew that wasn’t the answer. I finished it off for him in my head, Just hoping that you hate it down there and never want to go back.

“Have you ever been to the Underworld?” I asked putting the spotlight on him.

He scoffed, “Of course I have! I’m the one who transports Hades and the gods to the Underworld. When they called me the god of the travelers that meant, not only for the humans, but for the gods as well.”

“Oh, well I didn’t know that… do you like it down there? I mean, do you think that it is pretty, or what?”

He paused for a moment and seemed to consider my question. “Well, I do think that it has its own charm, but there is no way in the Underworld that I would ever want to live there. Visiting is more than enough for me.”

I looked down at my hands as we both fell silent for a few awkward moments.

“I am really sorry that I didn’t tell you that you were a goddess before two nights ago,” he mumbled.

“Hermes, say one more thing about that stupid night and I will kill you!” I threatened. “I don’t want to hear it. I know you were forced not to tell me and, honestly, I’m glad you didn’t tell me. I don’t think I would’ve believed you. So from now on we don’t mention that night, got it?” I raised a threatening finger at him.

He saluted me and said in a smart aleck tone, “Ma’am, yes ma’am.”

“Good, now. On to a much better subject…” I trailed off. I didn’t know what to talk about! Usually conversations between him and I were easy; unthinking, and definitely not awkward. Which is what this was turning into.

“You don’t know what to say do you?” he asked straight up.

“Yes I do! I need some water,” I said real fast as I stood up and made for the bedroom door, which Hermes had closed after he came in. Which, by the way, that made the situation even more awkward!

“Okay,” he replied as he grabbed one of his manga books off his desk and began to read it. I opened the door and walked down the hall to the kitchen as fast as my legs would carry me.

Once I got in the safety of the empty kitchen I leaned against the counter and took several deep breaths. I closed my eyes and thought, There is no need to be awkward. He’s just a friend. He’s only Matt–Hermes… whatever! I sighed when I felt a headache coming on from all the unnecessary thinking. I didn’t think Hermes would mind if I took some Advil with that water that I was supposed to be getting.

I pushed myself off the counter and opened a cabinet door and grabbed a cup. As I was reaching in for a cup, guess who graced me with his presence? None other than Ares!

“Hey, need some help? I know the glasses are up top and you might not reach them…” he trailed off as I closed the door with a cup in my hand.

“You were saying?”

“Okay, well I guess you don’t need help with getting a glass, but I will get the lady what she wants to drink.” He grabbed the cup from my hands and asked me, “Que dérize vous boire?”

“Water.”

“Is tap okay for the queen or does she prefer a bottled brand?” he asked semi-sarcastically.

“Well, now that you ask, I would like some room temperature sparkling strawberry flavored water,” I batted my eyes at him, “if that’s not too much to ask.”

He flashed a dazzling smile at me. “Of course not m’lady.”

I leaned back against the counter as he opened the pantry door and grabbed a bottle of sparkling water. As he leaned over I couldn’t help but notice just how fit he was. I never noticed before. I don’t know why that was…

I caught myself staring and forced myself to look away before he turned around to face me. He stood up and turned and smiled. “You’re in luck this is the last bottle of strawberry flavored sparkling water. I think it was Hermes’, but I don’t think he’ll mind if it was for you.” He winked at me and set the bottle on the counter and proceeded to unscrew the lid and pour it in the glass.

“While you’re up, can you get me some Advil too?” He shot me a curious look. “I have a headache,” I explained.

“Sure thing.” He handed me my glass of water and reached into a cabinet and grabbed a bottle of Advil and gave me two little pills. “Here you go. Anything else for you, my queen?”

“Yeah,” I said after I took the pills with a swallow of the water. “Why are you acting so weird? I thought you didn’t really like me. I thought you only liked your violent video games.”

He smiled at me and laughed softly. “Is that what you think? Well, I’m not all that thick. I do like you, a lot.”

Now he was starting to scare me. “Really?” I asked, disbelieving.

“Yes. For some time now, too.”

“I have to go,” I said abruptly. I grabbed my glass and took another long drink then set the half full glass down on the counter and grabbed the bottle. “Thanks for the drink and Advil. Tell Hermes that I left.” I turned away and walked out of the kitchen. If he called my name I ignored him.

Once I was out in the streets I sighed and started to walk.

Not again! Another guy was hitting on me! I swear, was I cursed or something? Cause I really hated it. A lot!

I didn’t know where I walked I just walked until my mind was clear of all thoughts. I walked for half an hour before my brain was blank when I saw Hades stopped on the sidewalk across the street a little ways ahead of me. I looked to the right and left down the deserted street and crossed in no hurry since there was obviously no cars coming for a while.

I got to the other side safely and proceeded down the sidewalk. The closer I got to him the more I realized that he wasn’t alone. He was talking to someone. About five feet from him I recognized who it was that he was talking to. It was Morgana, and she was flirting with him.

You wanna know the worst part?

He was flirting back.

I stopped and stared.

Why? Why was he flirting with her? Did he totally forget about me?

Morgana noticed me first and gave me an evil smile over Hades’ shoulder. Apparently Hades saw the smile as well because he turned around to see me standing there on the sidewalk with my mouth slightly agape.

“Hey Persie,” he smiled. What nerve!

“’Hey Persie’!? What the Tartarus is wrong with you? Why are you flirting with her? Am I not good enough anymore?”

Morgana scoffed, “Honey, you weren’t good enough to begin with.”

I shot her a look that said SHUT UP. “I wasn’t talking to you. Now get your big fat nose out of my conversation!” I practically yelled at her. I turned my attention back to Hades. “Well? Got an answer or are you just gonna stand there like the stupid bimbo you are?”

Hades opened his mouth but I cut him off, “Never mind. I’ll leave you here to flirt with your new girlfriend since yesterday obviously meant nothing to you.” I turned on my heel and stomped off down the street. I could hear Morgana and Hades talking.

That–that… loser! I hate him! Curse you Hades, curse you down to the deepest, darkest pit in Tartarus.

I could feel the hot tears make their way down my face. I couldn’t believe I was crying again. Twice in one day! That must be a record of some sort for me. I heard footsteps rapidly approaching me and I fought to compose myself. I wasn’t about to let anyone see me cry. I felt them get closer and I wiped my face with the sleeve of my jacket. A hand came down and landed on my shoulder, stopping me.

I didn’t need to look to know that it was Hades. “What do you want; to break up with me formally so that you can go after Morgana? Too late, I got the message.” I wiped my eyes again.

“Persie,” he said softly, “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“If you didn’t mean to hurt me you wouldn’t have been flirting with her in the first place.”

“Persie listen to me,” he begged. I refused to look at him, but I listened. “I was just doing what I normally do. You usually don’t get mad when I hook up with mortal women.”

I turned towards him a look of disbelief plain on my face. “Hook up? You were gonna have sex with her?”

“Isn’t that what the term means nowadays?” he asked simply.

I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe the words he was saying. He was going to have sex with my worst enemy. He wasn’t even ashamed to admit it.

Men are such dogs at times!

I turned around and walked down the street. He followed closely behind and called my name out repeatedly. I ignored his voice and desperate pleas. He had gone too far this time.
“Persephone! Stop, I order you!” his voice called with undeniable authority.
I stopped but not because I wanted to but because I had no choice. It was like my feet were glued to the sidewalk. I willed myself to move but I couldn’t seem to find the right trigger in my mind to control my legs.
“Turn around”
I reluctantly did so. I could now have at least limited control of my legs. They only seemed to want to do what Hades wanted them to do.
“Now, let’s talk about this. Why are you so upset about me hooking up with a mortal?”
I sighed frustrated. “Well before we get on that subject can I please have my legs back under my control?”
He nodded and I felt the full control of my legs come back to me. It was like all the blood rushed to my legs and they felt a little wobbly. “Thanks,” I mumbled.
“I hate to do that to you, baby, but sometimes I have to, to make you listen. Now tell me why you are so upset,” he said calmly.
“Well, first off, you were flirting with Morgana and you know I don’t like her and she, sure as Tartarus, doesn’t like me either! You kissed me yesterday and told me that you loved me and then you called this morning asking me on another date and now… now you’re just being a jerk. You want to have sex with her and leave me in the dust. I mean, did I do something wrong? Was it something I said?”
“Oh, now I get it. You don’t know about them do you? Or at least you don’t remember.”
“Know about whom?” Who didn’t I know about? Was he hiding yet another thing from me?
“The demigods. You know half mortal, half god. Us gods hook up with mortals and thus create the demigods. I’ve always done that Persephone. You never seemed to mind until just now so I didn’t think anything of flirting with Morgana.”
“So what was your plan exactly? Flirt with her, maybe knock her up, and then what? Ditch her and leave her with a baby to raise on her own? Ian that is really low, even for you.”
“Well I’ve been doing it for centuries why change the routine now?”
“I may hate her but that is still cruel. She’s only a mortal and how can a mortal girl that isn’t even eighteen yet raise a demigod baby on her own?” I asked of him hoping to make him see some sense. Naturally he didn’t.
“I’ve gotten younger girls pregnant before and they did just fine. She would be fine if she had a baby at this age anyway. Plus, think about it, it’s not like she wasn’t going to get pregnant before marriage anyways. You’ve said so yourself.”
“Ian, there is a difference between a mortal child and a demigod child. I’m sure that demigods are harder to raise than a mortal child. And by the way, how old was the youngest girl you got pregnant.”
He laughed nervously and kind of avoided my gaze. “Oh, no I’m not telling you. You’d flip.”
“Then you shouldn’t have said anything to begin with, now spill.” I waited patiently for his answer. When he saw that I wasn’t backing down he sighed and hung his head.
“Thirteen,” he murmured.
“What!? A thirteen year old! Are you out of your mind? How could you?”
“This happened in B.C. times Persephone. It wasn’t uncommon for thirteen year old girls to get pregnant. And anyway her family thought it was a blessing for her to be carrying the baby of a god.”
I looked at him like he was a total stranger. “I still don’t like you flirting with Morgana. I definitely don’t want you to ever flirt with her again.”
He sighed, “And why not, may I just ask?”
“Because you can do better than her, and I don’t like you going around flirting with mortals while you are my boyfriend.”
He rolled his eyes, “You just don’t understand do you? It’s part of being a god. It’s a way of life for us, we’re famous for it and, by Zeus, we aren’t going to stop anytime soon.”
“So I don’t mean anything to you? You can just go off and have kids when my back is turned and you think its okay? I asked you not to and you’re still going to? I thought I knew you better than that.”
“Persephone you barely know me. You lost all of your memory of me.”
“Gee thanks for reminding me; as if I didn’t feel bad enough already. I’m trying to get my memories back. But I see that I don’t know you. I’ll just leave you alone and let you do your own little thing since it’s obvious that you don’t care about me anymore. Maybe those eighteen years made you realize that you liked being a bachelor.” I turned and walked down the sidewalk.
I expected to get further down the street than I did. But Hades stopped me yet again. He was so persistent sometimes, and that bugged the heck out of me.
“What do you want? I’m done with you and your stupid history.” Tears fought to escape from my eyes again.
Gods what was wrong with me today?
Don’t you dare cry like a baby, Persephone. You are way better than this. You’ve handled much worse. I thought things like that to myself and the tears disappeared.
“I love you Persephone. I’ve never loved anyone as much as I’ve loved you. I want to stay with you forever. If you don’t want it, I won’t have demigod children until you say I can. I swear this on the River Styx,” he said all of that in Ancient Greek and then he took my hand in his and turned me around and sealed the deal with an incredibly sweet kiss.



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