Disclaimer: I don't own any Greek myth, gods or goddesses. But then, can anyone truly ever own anything?

"The Seduction of Hades"

By Lady Parsley

Chapter One - The Favors of Goddesses

"Did you truly think that I should be a virgin?" She had to laugh as she watched the disappointed farm boy lace up his sandals and readjust the drape of his clothing. His sun-bronzed skin was a choice accent to his well-cut features and chiseled face. Just like all the other farm boys who came to seek fortune from Demeter by bedding down her beloved daughter, Persephone. She propped her head up on an arm and lifted one copper eyebrow at the mortal beside her. "Come now... Truly?"

He paused in the act of knotting his sandal thongs. "In all honesty... Yes."

She shook her head. "Think on it thusly: I am the goddess of beautiful flowers; ripe, succulent fruit; soft, pliant grasses; balmy, perfumed breezes..." She rose up on her knees behind him and brushed her tapered fingers along his broad shoulders. A trail of warm kisses led from his neck to his ear. "And yet, somehow, I am presumed by you to be a virgin. To your mind, should that make sense?"

"I should not presume anything from a goddess." His averted eyes and clipped tone only caused her to laugh again.

"You should not, mortal, but you did."

"I shall make no such mistake in the future."

Her large green eyes blinked, the warmth rapidly leaving them. "Have I angered you somehow?" she asked, her own tone becoming clipped. He would dare feel used? Was it not he who suggested the tryst and now he is the one to feel slighted?

He turned to face her. "Praises are sung to you; the innocent blossom, the eternal child…"

"Mortals and nymphs sing said praises at the behest of my mother," she interrupted him. "As it is she who wishes me to remain the 'eternal child.' It is not as I would have it." Her tone was quickly turning from clipped to furious and she began to rise from her knees to face this offending fool.

"Perhaps you should consider emulating your mother's wishes, Persephone."

"Do I look the child to you?" she demanded of him, planting her fisted hands on her hips as she grit her teeth together in fury. He shook his head but did not look at her and this only served to feed her mounting anger. "Farm boy!" she commanded. "Cast your gaze upon the goddess before you, not the grass 'neath your feet!"

He immediately shifted his eyes to Persephone. It was not fear behind them, but disdain; a look she had seen before, more often than she would have cared to. It had been in the eyes of every disillusioned man who thought he could bend the virgin goddess to his whims. She had tired of this look long ago.

"Know you this, foolish mortal; I am no trembling maiden. I am not the blushing child-woman my mother would have you sing your praise to. You cannot impress me with your clumsy fumbling, and sweet words will get you only foul luck!" Apparently, not so much a fool as to stay in the presence of an angered goddess, the farm-boy ran from the meadow, still only half dressed. Persephone screeched harsh words and curses after his fleeing form.

Blessings for a bountiful harvest, ha! She thought. He should count himself blessed if I do not blight his crops! She settled herself back on the grass and retrieved her tunic. She continued grumbling to herself as she set about replacing the wreath of flowers in her auburn hair and fastening the cloth around her ample, curvaceous body. "My mother also calls me lithe and delicate!" she shouted after her long-gone paramour. "Do I seem fragile and waifish?"

"Certainly not," came an unexpected male voice from behind her, which caused her to jump. She turned to see a handsome young man, dressed in the clothes of a traveling merchant who continued, "Delicate, delectable, decedent, intoxicating, invigorating, irrepressible, inescapable; these words may do you some justice. But never 'fragile and waifish.'" His eyes glittered with the same sparkle that was in his charming smile.

"My lord Hermes," she greeted him with a knowing half-smile. Any mortal woman would not have seen through his disguise, however, Persephone had been subject to the overused attractive merchant façade many times and found it amusing now and again. "You are a welcome change from the company that has chosen to keep me of late."

"Truly so? I thought the fashion was to keep a well-shaped farmer's son continually at your arm." With a flash, Hermes cast off his disguise to reveal himself. The striking Messenger clad himself with the lightest silk drape that hung loosely from his hips. The winged sandals at his feet shone in the sun, as did his dark brown hair, which was shorn closely to his head. He sat next to her, stretching out his legs before him and crossing them at the ankle.

"Oh, nay not," she replied as he settled himself. "'Tis now the time to bedeck oneself with a well-crafted god ling."

"I am indeed behind the times!" he exclaimed in exaggerated concern. "It does not bode well for the god of the crossroads to be unaware of current fashions. Zeus should cast me from my office at once!"

"Mayhap he should," she said, a modicum of seriousness entering her tone. "Then it might be possible for me to meet with you more than once in a century! Am I truly being courted by you? Or is this merely a passing fancy?"

He took one of her hands, bending over it in apology. "Of course I am courting you. I am the only god in the pantheon bold enough to do so!" he added with pride. "But you know that Zeus continually keeps me busy, delivering his messages thither and yon, issuing summons, consulting with the oracles..."

"Oh, is that how it is now termed? Consulting with oracles..." She raised an eyebrow at him in mock disdain.

"Well, one must attend to the grateful natures of one's servants."

"One certainly must," Persephone said as she stopped her cloth draping and robe fastening for a moment to look at the handsome charmer with a bit of seriousness. "My lord, Hermes?"

"Yes, favored child?" he returned, moving closer to her and entwining her in his arms.

She briefly shuddered at the mention of being called a child yet again, but let it pass. "Think you that love shall ever find its way to my heart? Or shall I forever be destined to--" She could not finish as a tear slid from her emerald eyes and lined her round cheek.

"No," he admonished. "Weep not." He stroked her hair and pressed her closely to him. "You are not fated to forever dole out favors to unimpressive farm boys. I promise, soon, lovely, lonely Persephone shall love with passions yet unknown to gods and mortals alike." He pressed his lips to hers, his oath still warm in his breath.

"You want what?" The breezes played their frantic games with Aphrodite's long, dark, scented tresses, as she looked half-amused and half-confused at the godling at her feet. Hermes rolled his eyes and repeated his request.

"Please, I beg of you. Goddess of Love and Desire, grant me the heart of Demeter's daughter, Persephone. Make her love me as no other has ever loved and I vow I shall be a kind master over her." He flashed a warm smile to the goddess as she moved in closer to him. She smiled knowingly, her glance full of erotic promises. Her lips lightly brushed his, allowing a tiny bit of passion's euphoria to pass from her, something that would normally scatter the mind of a mortal being. After only that moment, she pulled slightly away.

"No," she whispered.

"No?" Hermes sat blot upright, confusion and shock written starkly across his face.

Aphrodite rose from her throne and swept past him, draping flowing about her, and seated herself at a large mirror. A comb appeared in her hand and she began to brush the wayward curls away from her face.

Hermes sat blankly for a moment before rising to face her. "I... don't understand."

"That much is obvious. I am aware that the word is not usually a part of your vernacular, but as I have said: no. In other words, it is a negative response to your humble request."

"But there is no reason I can find for this small favor to be granted."

"Small favor?" Aphrodite turned, leaving the comb to finish its work alone. "You begged for the love of Anitera of Athens. You promised you would be a constant beacon to her. And then, you tired of her and she throws herself into the Aegean. So much for the 'constant beacon!'"

"Anitera was driven senseless. Well, she was senseless from the first. But Persephone--"

"And then, there was Galetarian of Crete. You know, it is not every day that heart-broken women bury themselves alive, but she managed it. I must give her credit for that."

"Yes, she was industrious, but Perse--"

"And lest we forget all six of Hestia's Virgins..."

He opened his mouth to argue, and closed it, looking down at his winged sandals. "Ah."

She raised one finely arched brow. "Have I made my point clear, Hermes?"

"Most thoroughly," he muttered, then lifted his head to argue once more. "But Persephone is a goddess and therefore--"

"And therefore immortal. Once you tire of her, there is no burying alive, no leaps from high cliffs, and no angry mobs coming to punish her for blasphemy. Only mourning and pining for all eternity. Funerary flowers shall grow at every crossroad. All messengers will be cursed with horrible deaths. To say nothing of what will happen to all of your temples. Not only that, I happen to like the child. I do not wish such a plague as you to be caste down upon her."

"But there is no fear that I shall tire of her this time," Hermes protested. "As she is a goddess, she shall keep me ever enthralled!"

She stared at him for a moment. "Think you that I have just emerged from the sea this day? My answer is still 'no,' Hermes."

"What manner of errand shall I perform?"

She rolled her eyes, turning back to the mirror, though she could still see his pleading form reflected behind her. Now that arguing had failed him, he was turning to bartering with a healthy seasoning of groveling thrown in for good measure.

"What service shall I give?" he continued. "Shall I send flocks of the most beautiful mortals to your temples and shrines?"

"I can do that already. I have said 'no,' and I mean 'no!'"

"Very well. I shall spend the rest of my days begging at thy feet."

Aphrodite paused at the prospect of Hermes groveling and begging without respite for the rest of eternity. So now he was turning to threats. She pinched the bridge of her perfect nose to stave off the oncoming headache. She really did not wish to do this... But as she was about to open her mouth, an idea struck her. Carefully, she schooled her face so the evil smile would not reveal itself to its unknowing recipient.

"You may NEVER beg another favor of me, Hermes."

A low smirk spread across his lips and the shine returned to his eyes. "I would never dream of it."

"Ever!" she emphasized. "There is meaning behind this," she said as she returned to her throne.

"I shall be ever vigilant to her."

"I am certain of it," she intoned, really not wishing to hear it anymore. "Go. Next you see Persephone, she shall be yours. Leave my sight, else I change my mind."

"You are the most gracious and generous of all the--"

"Flattery and lies, swift one. Go now." And he was gone.

A well-hidden crafty smile now spread across the goddess's face. Oh, she would make certain he would never ask for another heart to be his. "Eros," she called to the open air. "Eros, my lovely boy! Your mother has need of you and your talents!" No sooner had the call left her lips than did the love god appear. Feathered wings carried his magnificent form lightly to the floor.

"Mother, you called?" His mischievous smile mirrored that of his mother's.

"You heard the favor that I have bestowed upon Hermes?"

"Not like you to relent, Mother. I was shocked."

"Nor is it like me to pass by an opportunity to teach over-arrogant godlings a much needed lesson."

"Ah! There is your motive! Tell your obedient son your divine vengeance."

"Such a sweet charmer. I have taught you well."

"I have taken your lessons as truths to be held to the highest, and they have served me accordingly."

"Flattery on your part will get you everywhere... As you well know, obviously." Her eyes sparkled with mischief. "Now on to my plan..."

To be continued...

Author's Note: This is my first fanfic that I have written without the official help of my co-writer. For the record, I will NOT be following the myth to the T, this is my own interpretation. Constructive, helpful criticisms are encouraged; flaming me will get you the karmic beat-down stick. Love you much!