A/N: Egads, I finished something!  Sure, it's short…I don't want to hear it.  Short is how it should be.  A thought that just came to me one day…how *would* Hades feel on the second day of Spring?  And I had to write it.  I can't help it, I love Hades.  He's so awesome.

  Okay, so the title is Scottish Gaelic, and it means, of course "The Spring."  Why Gaelic?  What does Gaelic have to do with anything?  Well, nothing, except that it's awesome.  The last bit of inspiration, not to mention any physical description, came from this awesome watercolour of Hades and Persephone, which can be found at her website," www[dot]sandara[dot]net/anime/hades_persephone[dot]jpg"   That's a link directly to the image, but be sure to browse the rest of the page as well!  Heh, they look like Meier and Charlotte from Vampire Hunter D…that's so cool…

Don't forget to review!

An Earraich

"The mirror melts, I'm somewhere else, inside eternity,

Where you, on outstretched wings, sing within

The Garden of Everything.

Where memories call to me.

Backward dreams, or phantom reality?

They call to me…call to me."

-Maaya Sakamoto and Steve Conte

            I love the autumn.

In the mortal world it means the coming of winter, of cold, often of death, but here, it makes little difference.  Here, death is never more apparent than in springtime, and I swear it is colder as well.  The first day of spring marks the day she leaves for six long months, and thus completes the paradox of my life…alive in winter, and dead in spring.  It will always be thus, until the day this ridiculous compromise is brought to an end.

It is these dark thoughts which fill my head now, a mere two days after she said her teary goodbyes and departed for the world above, as he comes before me.  A mortal.  Persephone was surprised the first time she saw a mortal here in this world of the dead.  I find it surprising how often they come.  Olympus only knows which one of my idiot relatives helped this one out.

He is a fair boy…it seems they all are…but his face is haggard, his clothes are dirtied, though he bears no teethmarks.  I can't help but conclude that the affections of my watchdog are too easily bought.

I know who he is.  I know why he's here, but I'm in a foul mood, and a sadistic part of me takes pleasure in his obvious fear, and so,

"Well, boy?" I ask sharply.  "What is it?"

He blinks, dark eyes widening a little in fear at the tone in my voice.  Nevertheless, he gathers his courage, bows before me, and manages to speak with only a slight tremor in his voice.

"P-please forgive me, my lord, for intruding upon you, I…my name is Timaeus, and I…I come to beg mercy for my betrothed, who was taken from me but two days ago…her name was—"

"Ismene."  He looks up in surprise.  "Yes, I remember," I continue.  Two days.  The day Persephone left was the day Ismene came…how could I forget?  Oh, how short a time ago I held her in my arms…so recently that it seems I can still feel her next to me…and how long from now it is until I will hold her again.  Anger fills me, and my fists clench.  I stand suddenly, long black robes and silver hair hiss around me as I do so.  Timeaus draws back in surprise and more than a little fear.

"What then, mortal," I sneer derisively.  "Have you come to rescue her from the horrors of the Underworld?  Of course, you must realise that she lived a virtuous life, and her reward now is to spend eternity in paradise.  Do you not think that perhaps she does not want to return to you?  What can you possibly offer her that heaven cannot?"

I regret the acid words as soon as they leave my tongue.  His eyes widen, then his gaze drops.  Slowly, his hand comes up to clutch his chest, and a single tear drops to the black marble of the floor.

Sighing, I put a hand to my forehead.  I feel almost like crying myself.  By Delphi, I didn't mean to lash out like that.  I didn't mean to crush him so.  I didn't mean…to prove them right…

"Hades is a cruel, harsh, somber god.  Hades feels nothing, and only cares for what may be gained."

Oh, if they only knew.

If they only knew how lonely it is here, how I longed for companionship, friendship, anything…how I longed not to be feared but loved, like my bretheren on the Mountain.

If they only knew how my heart stopped beating when I first saw her.

I had first met her as a baby; even then, something in my soul had called out to her.  But years passed, and I forgot her, until…until that day…that beautiful blue day.  She was there, dancing.  She was sunlight and rain and green and life and everything that is forever denied me, and I wanted her so much in that moment that I hurt.  And for the first time since I could remember, it was no longer the empty ache of lonliness, but a full, burning ache…for the first time, there was something within me.

Of course, the start of it all could have been better, as I'm sure you know.  Everyone knows that part of the story, how evil Hades stole the beautiful Persephone from her field and held her against her will...

But what no one knows is how her will changed.  How, in that time we spent together here, she began to feel a deep affection for me, so that she was (miracle of miracles!) sorry to leave when Hermes came for her.  How, in that first winter we spent together, that affection deepened into love.  How she walks with me for hours through my gardens of jewels and tells me all about the children we will have together (if indeed, I ever allow it).  How, now, when she leaves, I am awake all the night before holding her as she weeps for the time we are to spend apart.

Suddenly, I see her life-green eyes before me, I hear her gentle voice in my head.  I berate myself for my cruelty, for…for somehow blaming this mortal, this unknowing mortal, for all the ills of my…long existence.  She whispers to me, and I know what I must do.  I know what she would want me to do.  I must wait six months, and though they seem like eternity, Timaeus would have to wait years, decades, to see his Ismene again.

Moving to sit in my throne so that I am not so intimidating by my height, I soften my voice, and speak.

"Timaeus."  He looks up, wary hope creeping back into his eyes at the change in my demeanor.  "The love between you and Ismene…it is a rare thing, and perhaps the only thing missing from Elysia.  I spoke cruelly before.  Even here in the Afterlife, she yearns for you, and she would not be happy until she could see you again.  Go.  Wait at the entrance to the Underworld for a day and a night.  At sunrise on the second day, if you have waited faithfully, your betrothed will come to you, and you may live out your lives as you wish, until such time as I call you back once again.  When that time comes, however, it must be forever.  Will you do this?"

He seems a changed man.  His eyes brightens, his face lifts, and, forgetting propriety, he surges to his feet.  "Yes!" he cries enthusiastically.  "Yes, I will!  Of course I will, thank you, Lord Hades!  Thank you!  Please, only tell me what it is you wish, and I will do your bidding for the rest of my days."

I shake my head sadly.  "Only be a good husband, boy.  To find someone you can love is a blessing.  Cherish her."

He nods slowly, looking a little perplexed, as I suppose he very well might be.  One might expect that kind of talk from Eros, but surely no one ever expected to hear it from Hades.

Nevertheless, he agreed, and I wave him off, and I am finally left in peace…  But time to ponder the events of this day will come later.  There is work still to be done here before I rested, and so I beckoned the next soul forward to be judged…


            It is quite late as I finally return to our chambers.  The days; judging ended sometime ago, but I have spent hours walking in my gardens, seeing again the places I last walked with Persephone.  The memories bring me comfort.  Timaeus is waiting.  He will wait until Ismene comes.  I smile, pleased with the results.

            To smile, to laugh…things that were once alien to me, but she has changed all that.  Happiness still seems so fragile a thing, but slowly…I am learning not to fear it will forever depart, and even as I hate this separation, I know that I will see her again, I am happy to know she is thinking of me…Perhaps the time will not be so unbearable after all.

            I move to her vanity, and my fingers travel over her combs, her brush, which still clings to a few strands of silky auburn hair.  We both cling to the bits of her that never leave…

            "Persephone," I say alloud, reveling in the speaking of her name, "You would be proud of me.  I have helped a man today, a man who had lost his love.  I suppose some might say I should not so easily give up the souls of my domain, but…she will have time enough here.  Her death came too early as it was, and so…I thought of you, Persephone, and I knew it was what you would have wanted.  When you return, I shall tell you of it in truth.  Or perhaps you already know, my love…"  My head tilts to the side, regarding my reflection in her mirror.  A thin face, pale skin…silverwhite hair topped with a jagged crown of black metal, and blood red eyes, which, I fancy, glow just a little.  I chuckle.  It's no wonder mortals find me so terrifying.  But I please her, or so she says, and I know she wouldn't lie to me.

            I undress, and crawl into our bed.  Tomorrow means one less day between us, and that is always good reason to sleep soundly, though my dreams are never as sweet when she is gone.

But…her pillow still smells like her, and…if I close my eyes, I can see her face next to mine.

            Six months.  I can wait six months, and who knows?  Perhaps before next spring things will change.  I can always hope.  Even I am not to old to hope.

            I fall asleep, the sweet scent of flowers, and rain, and Persephone surrounding me.

"A love like ours, a starry flower,

Through seasons and centuries.

As rivers reach the sea, you'll reach me,

With songs of your symmetry"

-Maaya Sakamoto and Steve Conte

End Note: If you want to know when I update, tell me, and I'll put you on my  mailing list!  Thanks to Andy for proofing it!