Chapter 10: Hades' Promise
Hades waited a full ten seconds before turning to look over to Persephone's hiding place, wondering what was running through her mind. He could imagine resentment directed toward her mother, betrayal perhaps because of her nymph "friends", frustration perhaps because of her lack of freedom, or even something plain and simple as anger at the way everything had played out.
Sighing, he stepped from the black marble dais and crossed the room. He hadn't imagined the kind of isolation she must have grown up in. Hades was used to being alone, most of his family residing on Olympus. But even surrounded by the other deities on the mountain, Persephone was friendless. His brows drew together as he wondered whether or not she'd already known her companions reported to her mother. On one hand, this was only a painful reminder that none of her friends had been by her side because they'd enjoyed her company, and on the other, this was an incredibly rude awakening; honestly, he didn't know which was better. But either way, whether she'd been living with the knowledge that her companions were merely extra eyes and ears for her mother, or whether she was finding herself viciously enlightened and suddenly alone, he would be there for her. She had someone now who was with her by choice, and damn it, he was going to make sure she knew she could rely on him.
As the god approached, Cerberus stood, revealing Persephone sitting on the floor with her knees to her chest. She looked very small in his dark, oversized robe, her dark hair falling to the floor like a curtain around her body. Hiding with her forehead pressed to her knees, she looked so young, and it made his chest ache. What was she thinking now?
"Sunshine?" he murmured, dropping to his knees beside her. A little awkwardly, he put his hand on her shoulder, sliding it down to rub her back. He felt her take in a deep, shuddering breath and realized that she was crying. He'd already left her to cry alone for so long, this would not do. Reaching out to her, he wrapped his arms around her body and drew her into his lap. Finally she moved, wrapping her arms around him and burying her face in his neck. The silent tears he felt trickling down to his collarbone were heartbreaking, and he held her tight, rocking gently. Few knew him to be, but Hades could be compassionate. He'd seen this before, listened to the broken sounds of sorrow being soothed away by another. He would do his best to soothe her.
Persephone sniffled into his shoulder, and Hades suddenly felt a lump in his throat. "I liked to pretend they liked me sometimes," she mumbled into his shoulder, her hands fisting in his robe. "I would speak to them as if they were listening because they were interested. I could never tell them anything important but... I knew she'd picked them for me, but I liked to think, I wanted to pretend they weren't... Telling her everything. That they were there to be companions who would not endanger me, not to be... To be... Spies."
Hades closed his eyes, having nothing to say to that. They'd just fought because of this, hadn't they? She'd worried that he was only with her because his father had given her to him. She'd been so upset because she'd thought he'd picked her because he'd been drawn to something in her, and for a moment it had seemed as if again her life was being written by her parents. She knew better now, but now Hades understood why it had upset her so.
"They did not deserve you," he finally whispered, kissing her hair gently. "It may not be much, but... You still have me. It was not your father who brought me to you. I came to you because you, Persephone, are wonderful, and warm. I will ensure your mother does not find you here—even if you do not wish to stay here with me, I have the power to ensure that you are not found at all."
"And... If I wish to stay with you?"
Hades paused to draw back from her, putting two fingers beneath her chin to tilt her head up. Tears clung to her lashes, making her eyes sparkle as she looked up at him. Her cheeks were damp and rosy, lower lip plump and pink from being worried between her teeth. Even in tears, she looked so beautiful in his lap. She was so trusting, so at ease with him, one of her shoulders bared where his too-large robe had slipped off her smaller frame. Unease pricked at his stomach, and a doubt slipped into his mind. Was she only with him because he'd picked her? If she'd grown up knowing she was alone, was she only so infatuated with him because he'd chosen to pursue her? It would explain how he'd so easily swept her off her feet, explained the reason why she'd been so eager for a man who'd been alone for countless centuries. She was young, inexperienced... Perhaps she was only with him because she knew nothing better.
Guiltily, he pushed that thought aside. No, he had to give her more credit than that. That was a dangerous thought to entertain, and he refused to allow himself doubts now. "You can stay here as long as you want. Your mother will not find you until the time comes that you wish to be found," he assured her, dipping his head to kiss her lips gently, hands moving to cup her face with all the tenderness he could manage.
When he drew back he wiped her tears away with his thumbs, unable to resist returning the small, watery smile she offered him then. "Now Sunshine, what is it you'd like to do now?" he asked then, resting his forehead against hers. He loved the way she smiled a little self-consciously and looked down as she considered his proposition. "Yes?"
Her voice was small, but he could tell from the tone of her voice that she had something in her mind already. Still she was looking down, her hands around his neck playing with each other in a tentative gesture of timidity. It was just getting her to tell him what exactly it was. "Maybe?"
"Something... Something naughty."
Hades took a deep breath at her response. Ah, the things she could do to his stomach. He almost felt young again, all full of butterflies. Leaning in to kiss her neck, he murmured into her ear, "Well, what did you have in mind?"
So it's been a really, really, really long time since I've updated. But here it is! Also, AN IMPORTANT NOTE TO RETURNING READERS: CHAPTER SIX HAS BEEN CHANGED. There's an important bit in there about pomegranate seeds which would've led to something in the end, but I didn't like where I was going with that so I went and edited that bit out. So... Something important, but not something too big.
Anyway, thank you for reading. I appreciate your patience with me. I'm sorry for being such a temperamental writer, I'll try to be better about this in the future. Please review, I hope there are no lapses in character here. I'll update again when I can!