"Did I do something wrong?" Hades asked, narrowing his eyes at the back of the marching form of his ravishingly fuming wife, as she guided them both in what would appear to be an increasingly secluded area of the woods in Enna.
Her only reply? A shrug.
Or if he would be more precise about it, a huff.
Hades tried to process things. He might be a god, but that doesn't mean he can read minds! And it does take a lot to read women's minds. Especially, when they're in one of their moods.
Previously, reading Persephone didn't really give him a problem, because, bless the Fates, but the woman used to be so transparent. Her face almost always gave her away. However, lately, she had developed the talent of concealing her thoughts to everyone, and THAT had exactly been the constant source of headache for Hades.
He didn't even know when that started.
He understood that it may have caused Persephone a great deal of anxiety to have him and her mother in one place at an extended period of time, and by 'extended period of time' meaning a week long festivities in the mortal lands. But he had already resolved himself to accepting whatever challenge Demeter might throw his way. He knew the woman couldn't stand him. He was prepared to pay the price.
"Based from the glare that your mother was throwing at us while we were walking away, it seems like I did something wrong," he continued, making another shot at a conversation, "Hey, I don't want to get in between you and your mother," he made his case known, "Again."
That earned a laugh from his wife and a behind the shoulder look, "Oh, you already are."
He nodded, "Would you like to elaborate on that?"
Hades murmured, "Okay..."
"Is it going to be like this?" he heard Persephone sigh, "For eternity?" throwing both hands into the air, but not even once slowing down on her stride.
"Would you like to say that loudly?" proposed Hades.
She audibly took a deep breath and then faced him abruptly, effectively stopping him in his tracks.
"My mother..." she began quite unsurely, then planted a hand on her hip, "My mother has prepared a room for you..."
"I gathered that during lunch..." Hades concurred.
"In one of our stables," she finished with a glower.
"Ahh," Hades couldn't stop a reply.
That simple reply actually got her even more agitated, "I know, I know," she fretted, pacing back and forth in front of him, "I obviously wasn't expecting this. I mean, my mother can be quite testy at times... she has her moments... but they're usually justifiable. Trust me. But this one was just plain inexcusable."
"She was planning to place me in the stables?" he clarified.
"Exactly!" she exclaimed, "Can you believe it? I'm so sorry. I should've asked her about your accommodations prior to the feast. I mean YOU gave me a pretty impressive accommodations in your palace... I just thought, or rather, maybe I just trusted her too much."
Hades shrugged, "I don't mind the stables."
Persephone's gaze snapped at him.
"Honestly, I really don't," he replied, thinking that she might need some reassurance on the arrangement, "Believe me, I've slept in more questionable places way back in the day. You know, after the Titanomachy, Poseidon, Zeus and I just went all out and craz.." he stopped when he noticed the glare.
He zipped his lips. 'Why did he feel like THAT one was going to haunt him later?'
"Do you want to head back to the temple?" Persephone suggested, one brow raised.
"No," answered Hades instantly, only because he knew that saying the opposite is going to get him into more trouble. He'd hate to admit it, but the picnic food was actually quite agreeable to him and delectable to his taste.
Although on second thought...
His gaze travelled down Persephone's white gown clad figure with both hands planted on her hips, and his jaw immediately clenched. She looked more delectable than he could remember. He narrowed his eyes at her scowl, and inwardly schemed... now if he can only make the woman agreeable to him.
"Are you sure?" she interrupted his wayward thoughts, "Because it seems to me that you looked more than contented to go back and settle in the stables."
'She IS her mother's daughter!' concluded Hades, watching her, 'No doubt about that!'
Suddenly, an idea formed on his head. He threw his considerable luggage to the ground and approached Persephone, holding her on both shoulders.
"What's the matter, love?"
Hades had to mentally kick himself to stop ginning. He absolutely loved using that endearment. It doesn't only get him an immediate reaction from her - actually he can feel her shoulders relaxing already - it also often solves his troubles for him.
Persephone's probing dark blue eyes lingered at him momentarily with scepticism before she finally gave in, "I just... I mean, is it too much to ask for you and Macaria to enjoy your stay in Enna?" she blurted out, "Mother didn't really have to surprise everyone with those horrid accommodations for you. I seriously thought that she would hold out on your agreement. I never thought that she would..."
"Whatever gave you the impression that I wasn't enjoying the day so far?" he interrupted.
"But, I had just said that mother planned on..."
He caught her gaze, "You really don't get it, do you?"
Her brows furrowed.
"I don't mind anything that your mother throws at me."
She gave a slight shake of her head.
Hades made a little shake in her shoulder, "I'm courting you."
He smiled, "We never really got to that point, didn't we?" he smirked, "We just jumped right straight into marriage."
Her eyes just blinked at him, and then came a delayed "Oh."
"So you see, dear wife," he said, "I don't really object to any arrangements your mother throws at me. Whatever gets your mother's approval, I'll do it," he shrugged, "But since, you've already brought us logistically somewhere in the middle of the woods, I'm already quite intrigued at where you are leading me to..." he informed, "Is this a surprise?"
Persephone actually blushed.
He liked it, "So, it IS a surprise!"
She pursed her lips, then nodded, "Yes. Supposed to be."
He laughed. He couldn't help it. She looked so embarrassed about something. "Well, what is it?" he asked.
Persephone tilted her head to her left.
It was only then that the view settled into Hades. There at the edge facing a rumbling waterfall was a homely, comfortable cottage with a small flower-filled garden sprawled across its backyard.
Hades glazed his look back at Persephone, his brows raised in question.
"It's small," she downplayed, even though the size of it was twice larger and more lavish than any normal cottage, "But the construction was my idea. Of course, I asked help from the nymphs... You can stay here while you're in Enna. It's comfortable inside. It's no palace, but you'll find it agreeable... I hope."
"Your mother..." he aired.
"...will never know," she assured, "I charmed it."
"You charmed it?" repeated Hades with incredulity.
She seemed oblivious to his reaction, "Yes, I charmed the place," she confirmed, "Including the entire area by the waterfalls and the entire path in the woods leading to the cottage. I've tested it. My mother couldn't sense it even if she tried to."
Hades raised his head up in amazement.
She looked at him with question, "What?"
He took the few steps that separated them, dug his hand into her hair, and acted on something his mind had long been fantasizing about for the last seven months: he kissed her senseless.
Hades tossed his head riotously like a child followed by a rowdy whoop as he resurfaced over the clear warm waters by the waterfalls, laughing, and then languidly floated on his back, his face greedily meeting the warmth of the sun.
"How long has it been since your last dip into the waters in the mortal lands?" quizzed Persephone, observing at the far edges by the waterfall.
She seemed to be more entertained watching him dive into the waters than joining him.
"Long enough," he answered with a smile on his lips, his eyes still closed.
"Figures," she replied, amusement in her voice.
He pulled himself up, and turned himself to her, asking, "How long have you been planning about the cottage?"
Persephone's eyes twinkled with a hint of mischievousness while she was comfortably perched atop a large stone, her white dress hiked just above her knees to give way to her bare legs, kicking gently by the waters. "For a while," she replied.
Hades laughed. "For a while?"
His wife shrugged guiltily, "Well, I may have been tinkering about it for a few months..."
"A few months..." Hades repeated as he raked a hand over his wet hair. He can't explain it, but he felt ridiculously more than a little flattered that Persephone would go on to such lengths to have a private place for him in Enna. A place that will not set her mother's maternal alarms on hysterics with his mere presence.
'Although,' he thought 'His invisible helmet could do the exact same trick if ever he felt like visiting Persephone in Enna, but now he would NEVER admit that to her seeing the efforts she's made.'
Hades studied his wife's relaxed stance by the waters' edges before inquiring, "What do you think would it take to convince you to join me here?" he invited as he swam backwards towards the direction of the falls.
A smile spread across her lips. "Give me a reason why I should."
"Why?" he returned, "Well... let me think... So you can enjoy this lovely afternoon dipped in the warm waters in this incredibly amazing waterfalls in Enna with an incredibly amazing man..." he stopped and corrected, "GOD. An incredibly amazing god. A dip in the waters with an incredibly amazing god."
She chuckled, "Is that you're proposal?"
"Yes," he grinned, "A shamelessly indecent one."
Persephone threw her head back in laughter, "I told you I didn't bring a swimming attire," she excused, "People will be speculating if I return with wet clothes when we head back to the festivities."
"Shocking, right?" Hades teased.
She tilted her head at him, "I'm serious."
"That's why it's indecent, honey," he defined, "Just take your clothes off and join me."
That certainly placed a thought into her head, for she was considerately silent for a while before a resolute look painted into her face, "Alright," she gave in, "Turn around."
"What?" he exclaimed.
"Just turn around!" she instructed.
"It's not as if there's nothing that I haven't..."
She was firm, "Hades, it's either you turn around and I join you, or I won't!"
Hades cooperated unenthusiastically, throwing both hands in the air as he swiftly turned around, "Alright! Alright!" he scoffed, "You're such a prude."
"I heard that!" she chimed in.
Hades raised his head to the top of the waterfalls to distract himself, "That's because you were meant to hear that."
"Seriously?" she remarked behind him, "Are you seriously engaging me in a fight while I am taking my clothes off to join you in a secluded waterfall just a few distance away from my mother's own temple?"
"Well... if you put it that way," he uttered, "But you do have to understand, milady, we haven't seen each other for like months! Six... seven..."
"Eight!" she barked behind him, with a hint of irritation at his uncertainty on their exact months of separation, "Unbelievable!"
"Eight, it is," he returned. Ofcourse he knew how long they've been apart. He just wanted to push her buttons. He detested to admit it, but he missed irritating her just more than a little bit.
A low murmur suddenly interrupted his thoughts, saying, "Turn around."
Hades instantly did what he was told and was greeted with the most magnificent view that has welcomed him ever since arriving in Enna, Persephone immersed in the cool waters, her shoulders just slightly above the surface, hair tumbling gloriously around her, breathtakingly naked, the ray of the sun flatteringly radiating against her skin. A goddess in every inch of her being.
The woman was just perfect.
Persephone grinned at him. She knew exactly her effect on him. She swam closer, wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing herself into him with a gentle kiss. "Thank you," she uttered.
He was so taken aback, he was just able to mumble back, "What?"
Persephone angled her head adorably at him, answering, "For braving Enna and putting up with my mother."
Hades coiled his arms freely around her waist, declaring in all seriousness, "I will put up with anything for you, milady."
She chuckled, throwing her head back, "If you keep saying that, I'd believe you."
"It's true," he protested.
Persephone wrinkled her nose at him, "Just a second ago, you weren't even sure how long we haven't seen each other."
"Eight months, one week and two days," he grounded out.
Her response was enjoyably gratifying. Persephone went slack jawed, wide-eyed, and rendered utterly speechless.
"Well...?" he asked, as she ducked her face away from his gaze, "You're blushing!" he taunted.
"You really don't have to say anything like that!" she complained.
"But you are!" he pushed.
"You're only making me more embarrassed!"
Hades laughed. He can actually hear his laughter echoing around the woods. He had never felt this happier and contented in his existence.
He tilted her chin to face him and planted a kiss on her lips, "You don't have a reason to be embarrassed," he pulled her closer, glancing around Persephone's humble version of paradise and suggested, "Somebody who can create a place like this for her husband... doesn't have any reason to be embarrassed at all."
She smiled, "Really?"
"Really," he assured.
That somehow comforted her and she continued, "You know, I was earlier thinking if we can bring Macaria along..."
Hades nodded, "I was actually wondering why you didn't..." he confessed, "Macaria missed you so much, the girl's been following you around all day. She seemed to be competing with your shadow!"
Persephone bit her lip, "Exactly," she answered in a low voice, looking quite guilty, "And I thought, well... I thought, if I'd bring her along, then I wouldn't be able to have you all by myself..."
Hades raised his head, "Ahh."
"I thought, maybe Macaria can come with us some other time," Persephone reasoned.
"I like how you're thinking, wife," he consented with a playful squeeze on the bridge of her nose.
"I'm being selfish, aren't I?" she suddenly frowned.
"Now stop that!" he shook his head. "Just stop that thought," he captured her face, insisting, "We'll have Macaria with us here another time. Is that agreeable?"
Her shoulders slumped however, "I feel like such a horrible mother," she murmured, "I'm so horrible. I just so wanted to resume where we left off back at the River Lethe..."
She didn't seem to hear the surprise in his voice because she still went on, "...It's always on my mind these days, it's pathetic. That's the only reason I purposely set out not bring Macaria along. It's just... so pathetic!" she threw a hand in the air, gazing at him, "But really, it's been eight months, Hades. Eight months," she repeated as if the first one hasn't registered on him already, "It does have the tendency to drive one crazy."
Hades was left staring at her for a good second before he uttered, "Great," he said with a swift nod of his head, "Let's focus on that."
"What? Did you just..."
He interrupted her with a kiss, a sure way to silence her. After sensing that he had her in a state of breathless compliance, he held her in arms length, declaring, "You are not a bad mother, Persephone. In fact, you're the only mother Macaria knows. This is not neglecting her, this is called spending your time with me, your husband. And I intend to enjoy every second of it," he announced, "Now if you mind, I'd like to continue my wonderful time with my wife whom I am so ridiculously pleased to discover had prepared this amazing cottage for me to stay in while I'm in Enna."
By the time he was finished, her eyes were already gleaming as she stared at him, "You are pleased with the cottage?"
"Ridiculously so," he admitted.
She pressed closer, whispering into his ear, "You know, you can visit here whenever I'm spending half of the year with mother... any time you want."
"Any time I want?" he mimicked.
"Persephone!" he tried to sound as if scolding her, but missed it completely with a grin, "Is that a proposal?"
She laughed and returned what he said earlier, "A shamelessly indecent one."
Hades gazed at the graceful curve of her neck that was left open to his access, and dropped a trail of heated kisses, "I like indecent," he concurred, gently biting the lobe of her ear.
"Mmm..." he mumbled, his mind already busily playing out a wide variety possibilities that he can do with his wife with the short amount of time that they have before returning back to the festivities.
Her fingers had coiled around his back, "Hades," she repeated, "I want a child."
"With you," she grounded.
Hades swallowed hard. 'Holy Olympus! This is NOT happening again!'
Her hands were already travelling down his chest, her lips finding his ear, tracing his jawline and then teasing his mouth to open for her. He closed his eyes when her tongue found his and quickly pondered with his increasingly muddled mind, 'He has one heck of a long discussion to take with his wife!' he ramified, 'Later. That will have to be settled LATER for he was more than half crazy to be with his maddeningly ravishing wife...'
And, later, may the Fates be on his side on this matter!
Or so may the gods help him!
*** F I N ***