"You are nothing but a bastard!" Persephone screeched at Nico, her face red from screaming. Her stepson was at the edge of her garden, fists clenched and eyes-so like his father's, her husband-burning with anger. "A blight! A stain that should have never been!"

"I am a son of Hades," Nico growled. One hand hovered near his sword, as if he intended to strike the goddess down with it. Ah, but he had another weapon-words, that cut the heart better than a blade: "And you know what else I am? I am the son of the woman he loved."

The wife of Hades howled in rage and threw a potted plant at him. The demigod dodged just in time, and the pot broke on the wall behind him. Persephone's heart was racing, and breaking, at the same time. How dare he bring her up? How dare he imply her husband didn't love her? Of course Hades loved her! She was his wife. Surely, she was the most loved, out of the Big Three wives, she knew she was. Hera was vindictive, and not the loving wife and mother she pretended to be. And Amphritite, well, she was cold to everyone, even her own son-and at least they had children! Neither of those two would ever dream of letting their husbands' bastards into their home, especially not when they were childless themselves, and that showed how much the spring goddess cared, how much she loved Hades, to put up with his son.

But sometimes Persephone stopped thinking of the boy as another demigod, as Hades' son, and started thinking of him as that woman's bastard.

"You think your mother was so special!" Persephone screamed at the boy, who was as rooted to the spot as her plants were. "Do you know how many of your brothers died in that stupid war? Caused by your other siblings? Do you know who many other women thought they could take my place as Hades' wife and queen? That woman was no different. She was just a toy! Something for my lord to play with! You and your sister were just collateral damage!"

Nico stared her down, and oh, how she hated his eyes. They were his father's eyes, black and souless, eyes that bore into your heart, just like his father (his father her husband). And Persephone knew Hades liked looking at Nico and seeing himself in the boy, a living testimony to his parentage, so all who saw him would know he was off-limit's: his father's precious hero. But what could Persephone boast of in the boy, this boy who was not hers? She couldn't pretend, looking at him and knowing he was a demigod, a mortal child-because if she and Hades had a child, it would be a god, immortal and hers forever, but Nico was a demigod, mortal in the adjective sense of the word, and not hers. He could never be hers.

Not that she wanted him to be her son. Of course not. He was a prideful, ungrateful, insolent little boy who cared not a lick for her. Why should she love him? She didn't, obviously. Would his indifference to her hurt so much if she did? Would she berate him so much for his mistakes? She hated Nico.

(But to hate, one must also love)

(To be hurt, one must first care)

"And how long has it been since my father last played with you, Persephone?"

That was the final straw. With a cry like a banshee, the goddess flung herself at the child, who stepped back in total shock. He wasn't ready for this attack, and so his stepmother was able to wrap her delicate, beautiful, strong hands around his skinny throat. Nico tried to claw at her hands with his fingers, but they turned into leaves.

"I will show you, ghost king!" she raged. "I will show you! You are an insignificant little weed! Do you remember? When I turned your into a dandelion-our family spat? Good news, you can rejoin my garden!" Persephone threw the boy down, and that's when he finished his metamorphisis, becoming, once again, a dandelion. Persephone screamed at the plant, the boy, the bastard weed,

"I am above you! I am the mistress, I am a goddess. How dare you put yourself above me? How dare you make me into nothing? I am everything to him! I am his beloved wife, and you are an accident! Do you think he loves you? Do you think he cares for you? No! I hold his heart in my hands, and I will give you no piece of it!"

Nico-the-dandelion couldn't respond, of course, but Persephone felt his emotions seeping into the soil, poisoning it with rage and indignation. The goddess of flowers gritted her teeth. Plants do not feel. Plants do not think. They live, but are empty things that produce oxygen and make life pretty. This one should be no different.

"While you have obviosuly given him ears, it would be nice if my son had arms and legs, and I guess a head and body wouldn't hurt," a dry voice said from behind her. Persephone whirled around to see Hades, Lord of the Dead, her husband and Nico's father. She flushed bright red, and started stammering until Hades cut her off, looking annoyed.

"Do it now, Persephone." Persephone narrowed her eyes and clenched her fists, but with a nod of her head, Nico-the-dandelion became Nico-the-demigod again. He shook himself off and spat out a bunch of dandelion seeds. As he glared at his stepmother, and she glared back, Hades sighed and rubbed his aching temples. He had heard their argument from his throne room, and had decided it was time to intervene before his wife made Nico a permanent guest in their home. He said,

"Persephone, you are my wife. Nico, you are my son. You both...live here (for lack of a better word), and unless you two do something, you are going to kill each other" (no one mentioned how that was impossible for Persephone and very likely for Nico) "and that cannot happen. Therefore, you must figure some system out. There must be something you agree on, something you can count on while in each other's company."

Boy and goddess looked at each other, and each could read what was in the other's eyes:

I am not nothing.

A.N-Yay, another PJO fic. This is the first time I've done something with Nico though. I've been thinking about him a lot, and have read some great works about him (mainly crossovers w/Kane Chronicles. The best are by Asilda, where Nico becomes the host of Anubis.) I've also been thinking about Persephone, and her relationship with her stepson. Surely she and Nico have clashed more than the one time that left Nico with roots.

I'm wondering if I should add on to this, with Hera/Juno and Amphritite. Part of the inspiration came from the thinking how all demigods, in the original meaning of the word, are bastards (children born out of wedlock). I figured Persephone would totally use that in her tirade.