He was a winter wind,
Concerned with ice and snow,
Dead weeds and unmated birds,
And little of love could know.
"You are such a disappointment!" Hades yelled at his adult son Adolf Hitler. Disgust and fury was evident on his face as he observed the man his son had become.
Adolf remained unnerved by Hades' verbal assault, his lips were slightly curled up as his identical dark eyes gazed at his father – making Hades wish to disobey every rule his dear brother Zeus made and end the pathetic excuse for a human being sitting in front of him in an instant.
"I knew you wouldn't like it," Adolf said mater-of-factly.
"Who taught you this filth?" Hades threw the book entitled, "Mein Kempf," at his son who easily dodged it.
Adolf gave a dark laugh and stood from his seat to retrieve his book, "I'm the son of death, am I not? I'd say it's in my nature. You should thank me father, I'm going to give you more work."
Hades felt his insides twist as he watched Adolf. Maria, Adolf's mother, had been a woman that instantly intrigued Hades. She was a rebel and a flirt. Adolf was a rebel in all the wrong ways. Maria had died years earlier- which Hades thought was one of the reasons for Adolf's extreme hate. That and the genetic grudge that even Hades had a hard time resisting. A few bad events- and suddenly Adolf was calling for the extermination of everyone not of a master race.
"You disgust me, you are not my son," Hades could only mutter darkly.
Adolf's strong gaze that was so similar to his own relented, huffing he replied, "Well you were never much of a father."
Hades teleported away before Adolf could catch the glimpse of pain that crossed his face from those true words.
He found himself walking around Chicago as he let Adolf's words sink in. He was a bad father- he was never the cuddly type, the mentoring type, or the stern type. He was bad with kids, especially his own. He loved them (most of them anyway), but there was never a connection. However he knew he wasn't completely to blame for Adolf's descent into darkness, most of his other kids didn't set out to exterminate most of the world just because their father neglected them.
He was still lost in his thoughts as he heard a scream pierce the spring night sky.
"Help! Please Hel-!" Hades spied a group of men surrounding a petite woman. One was holding her from behind with his hand covering her mouth while the others began to grope her.
Disgusted Hades quickly made his way over to the group of humans. He hoped his brother wasn't looking as he summoned skeletons who quickly overtook the men. The woman fell to the ground in sobs.
Sighing, Hades knew he'd put himself in a situation. There was no way he could just leave her on the middle of the sidewalk or the act of saving her would be pointless.
He kneeled down next to her small form and noticed she'd passed out from the shock. He moved his hands and flipped her over gently so he could observe the damage. A small bruise was forming on her cheek and a few more on her neck but besides that she was fine. More than fine- as he observed her more closely. She was beautiful. Her hair was a silky dark brown hair that couldn't resist petting gently. Her skin was a dark olive which her parted red lips complimented with perfectly.
Gently he picked her up in his arms and teleported them to the nearest hotel room. He laid her in the bed and then began the long wait for her to wake up – he was unsure if it was rude to simply leave someone after that ordeal or if he wanted to leave.
She arose at sunrise exactly. She peered around the room confused as she tiredly tried to figure out where she was. When she made eye contact with Hades she flinched and a look of fear filled her features.
"Where am I?" She asked him cautiously in a husky voice - she had a thick Italian accent which combined with her drowsiness, made her words sound like a foreign language.
"A hotel," Hades replied simply. He was starting to think it would've been best for him to not have waited for her to gain consciousness. She looked at him as if he was one of the guys molesting her. "You passed out."
She continued to gaze at him warily but she looked slightly less guarded. "You made those skeletons come."
Hades flinched slightly, she could see through the mist. And she looked intelligent enough that there wouldn't be much sense to lie.
"Yes I did," he said simply.
"You saved me," she said to herself, fear as still evident on her face. Her eyes left his and she bit down on her red lip nervously. Hades watched as she had some sort of internal dialogue with herself. She would mutter something he couldn't hear and then shake her head nervously. He understood though, it's not every day you are almost raped only to find yourself rescued by the walking dead and then waking up in a hotel only in the presence of a dark haggard looking male who admits he can summon the walking dead. He was surprised she hadn't dashed for the door yet.
"You can't be evil and you won't hurt me because you saved me, although my Mama says witchcraft and things like that is sinful."
Hades stared at her intrigued at such a naïve statement. He was dangerous. What he did wasn't exactly witchcraft but he doubted her mama would appreciate him nonetheless.
"Can I trust that what I said is right? You won't hurt me?" Her intense brown eyes met his equally intense gaze.
Hades smirked slightly and nodded. "What's your name?" He asked her.
Hades almost flinched. Just earlier he'd thought about another Maria in his life, one who after a bitter love affair was about contribute what love they had as a an oncoming mess of death and destruction.
"That's a beautiful name," Hades replied to be met with a more beautiful sight. She smiled at him and dimples appeared on both her cheeks.
"Thank you, what's yours?"
"That's an… interesting name," Maria looked at him suspiciously, "You're not really him are you?"
Hades was supposed to lie and say, 'of course not,' but he was having a crummy week anyways. A crummy year if you included the fact that while one of his children was about to commit mass genocide another was going to die soon by the fault of her delirious mother. So really, he could care less if he angered his little brother by revealing himself.
"Yes I am."
Maria's eyes got bigger and some of the earlier fear returned. She avoided his eyes and bit her lower red lip hard.
"I said I wasn't going to hurt you didn't I?" Hades asked calmly, trying to ease her nerves.
Maria met his eyes again and nodded, "You did." Instantly she eased up a bit.
Hades smirked at her naivety. Some men would probably find her an easy target – which was probably the reason she needed saving in the first place.
"How is it possible?" She asked him suddenly, "If what you say is true."
Hades shrugged, there was no point in wondering why he existed he simply did. Perhaps it was because mortals had such short lives that they constantly questioned the metaphysical and the meaning of existence. Hades would be a liar if he said he never did – but after dealing with death daily he just accepted the world as it was.
They must've sat there for at least an hour with Maria running questions by him as Hades truthfully answered all of them the best he could. It was therapeutic revealing secrets that he normally didn't. His other Maria never knew who he really was – Adolf only found out after a few run in with monsters in his teen years.
"So, what brought you to Chicago?" Maria asked.
Keeping the spirit of being truthful with her he replied, "My son has become insane and wants to exterminate most of the world, so I came to this city to think."
Maria was silent before replying, "That's unfortunate."
Hades laughed out loud which earned him a startled look, "It is."
Maria's stomach growled and Hades was reminded that they'd spent most of their morning chatting away. She was probably starving. Quickly he phoned the downstairs lobby and ordered breakfast for the two of them. While he waited for the food Maria took her time re-freshening as best she could in the bathroom.
When their food arrived they sat down at the table in the suit and began to eat. He was halfway through a sausage when he met Maria's surprised gaze.
A blush appeared on her cheeks, "I didn't think you eat because you're a god and everything..."
Hades couldn't hold back a sharp laugh and Maria's blush spread throughout her face.
"Of course I eat," Hades said and he took a large bite of the remainder of his sausage for emphasis.
Maria laughed to as they finished their meal.
As they sat at the small round table with empty plates an awkward apprehension came up between the two. Hades was enjoying Maria's company and didn't want her to leave. Of course he barely knew anything about her, they'd only talked about him all day. And now he was curious.
He didn't have to worry for long when she asked, "Can I see you again sometime?"
"I was hoping you'd ask."
Maria's cheeks turned pink again and he was graced by her dimpled smile. After a few more minutes of Maria asking him questions about being a god she left, leaving him an address and phone number.
A week or so passed before Hades decided to see Maria again. It wasn't like he missed her, he just felt he needed to know that the naïve girl he'd saved wasn't dead. Though that itself was a lame excuse considering he could simply go home and find out.
So on a Tuesday night he spontaneously appeared at the door of her apartment and with a knock he was greeted by the sight of her dimpled cheeks.
"Hades!" She said surprisingly and honestly happy to see him. That itself was a rarity. She was probably the only living person on the earth happy to see death at their door.
"Hello Maria," he said. The corners of his lips raised in a small smile from the contagious happiness she exuded.
She grabbed his arms and pulled him into her apartment. It was elegant with a feminine flair. It was dark, but not in the way Hades normally perceived it. It was an accepting dark, like the starry sky.
"I've been thinking about you Hades," she said still smiling at him from her cup of coffee as they sat next to each other on her small black couch.
Hades sipped his coffee without replying.
Maria soon launched into the "game" of a million questions. Hades answered all of them honestly and was met with acceptance from her.
"You don't mind at all that I'm basically the god of the underworld, hell, whatever you want to call it?" Hades finally asked her the question that had bugged him the most. He typically never revealed who he was- it wasn't the best conversational topic for picking up women.
"You said you wouldn't hurt me," Maria replied honestly, "Besides, when I die I'll know the boss."
They both laughed and continued talking through the night. When Hades left he was awarded a kiss on his cheek. So in order to protect her he decided to cut all connections.
Winter was over and Persephone returned to her mother in Olympus. Hades found himself alone in the underworld. There really wasn't much excitement down below. When 99% of the population is dead the remaining 1% can quickly become an annoyance after thousands of years.
Brooding in his throne room he suddenly felt a scream in his mind. He knew this scream and instantly teleported to the surface – to Maria.
He found himself in a hospital. Doctors were running around as Hades tried to find her. Invisible to all others he made his way around looking for her, still hearing her screams in his head.
"We've got two victims of a car crash. Male and female," said a passing nurse.
Hades followed the nurse and doctor to a room flooded with doctors around Maria. She was badly injured, Hades could tell just by looking at her bloodied form but also by the ringing and screaming filling his head. She was dying, and would be gone soon.
"It's not your time," Hades said to her quietly – none of the others in the room could see or hear him as he made his way next to her. He placed his hand on top of her head, staining his fingers with her blood. The screaming and ringing stopped instantly and her eyes flashed open. Her dark brown eyes met his as she gazed at him dazed.
"Don't" she muttered weakly.
The doctors looked amazed as the woman they had probably thought was a goner spoke. They didn't know what her words meant as they attempted to assure her that they had to help her.
But Hades knew, and he didn't leave her side at all this time.
She woke up days later, all the while Hades stuck around. Her dimpled cheeked grin was pained as she gazed at him. Hades had found out earlier that the man she was with had been her fiancé.
"You didn't leave," she muttered weakly to him. Hades held her hand in his – fascinated by how cold they were.
"I said I wouldn't," Hades replied.
She laughed softly before wincing in pain, "But you also said you wouldn't hurt me… Don't leave." She whispered the last part begging.
Hades knew the last thing she needed was stress, so he lied, "I won't." As soon as Fall came he would have to leave – that was a promise he could never break.
Her recovery was fast – mainly because of Hades. She was out of the hospital walking with a limp after a month. Hades didn't break his false-promise during that time. He was always there, only for her and invisible to everyone else.
They returned to her small apartment. And spring quickly turned to summer as they spent their days together. Maria revealed her relationship with Matteo – the fiancé who died in the accident. Hades didn't feel jealousy towards the man – only sadness that the man who had made Maria happy was gone.
It was obvious that Maria wanted him to fill that void but Hades was reluctant. He cared for her but he'd be damned if he would hurt her more. Nothing good happened to him and by association Maria would be thrust into that luck. However, he couldn't bring himself to tear away from her so soon – it wasn't fair that he the eldest child be forced to live in the shadows. Hades needed the light too, and for now Maria was that light.
"Mama, isn't Hades handsome?" Maria asked the frail woman whose house Maria had managed to drag him to.
Hades could tell Maria's mother's time on earth was almost over, but that didn't stop her sharp tongue.
"You better not be doing anything with him Maria!" muttered the old woman in Italian, "He gives me the creeps."
Hades had to hide his smile, and Maria couldn't stifle her own laughter. If the old woman only knew.
"I've been looking for this for years!" Maria clutched the small figurine of a fluffy puppy to her heart and smiled her dimpled cheeks at him, "This is perfect for my collection."
Hades didn't understand her fond admiration for the little dogs she had littered around her house. Especially since she was allergic to them, but he loved how passionate she was about it. And later for her birthday in July he bought her the rest of the set.
Summer was almost over and the feeling of dread that had occupied Hades's mind was becoming too distracting. The days leading up to his unannounced departure grew nearer he tried to end it with her- it was best to end it when she wasn't too attached.
"You know I'm married?" Hades asked the rhetorical question. As per Maria's million questions game they'd already discussed his marriage and even his lovers and children.
"Yes," Maria said as she worked on a pot of Spaghetti sauce. She prided in the fact that it was just like her mama's.
Hades sighed, although it was discussed and he explained that Persephone was okay (well as okay as a woman he kidnapped and forced to marry could) with all of his mistresses. Maria was not a fan of sneaking around – although the most they did was sleep in the same bed. And it was sleep, not the metaphorical kind. Hades was putting up his best efforts to keep things from turning romantically. Making Maria the first friend he'd had in millennia.
"She is expecting me soon," Hades tried to break the news as gently as possible. Maria had the tendency to casually remind him about his promise of not leaving her. An unrealistic promise he was going to break today.
Maria paused her stirring and glanced at him frowning slightly.
"She comes back from Olympus in two days."
Another long pause between the two and Hades could tell Maria wasn't going to take the news easily.
"I think it is best if we don't see each other anymore." That got her attention. She abandoned the sauce and walked over to where he was sitting at the kitchen table.
"I'll wait for you," Maria said desperately. She grabbed his shoulders roughly and leaned down so their faces were level. "I'll always wait for you." Her hands moved up to cup his cheeks and she leaned in. Their lips met and Hades was amazed at the feeling of her warm lips brushing across his cold lips.
They remained embraced and once Hades could feel his thoughts coming back to him Maria had ended up in his lap and their arms wrapped around each other. Both holding onto each other tightly.
Hades knew nothing he could say would make her believe he wasn't good for her.
The remaining two days together were spent as if the conversation and kiss the day before had never happened. And in the final hours of their time together Hades could tell Maria was on edge.
"Let's go to sleep now," Hades suggested after silently sitting curled up in each other's arms silently for hours.
Persephone would be expecting him in the Underworld at midnight. And he knew it would be impossible to leave Maria if she were awake.
"Thank you Hades," Maria whispered against his chest as they laid in bed wrapped in each other's arms. "Thanks for saving me and being here. Even if you go I'll always remember you."
Hades stayed silent, holding her tightly. He wasn't good with words and holding her was the only comfort he could give her.
He left in the morning, returning to Persephone, returning to his duty.
Life returned back to normal. He managed his duties well, he tended to his wife and mother-in-law/sister. And he tried as best as he could to forget Maria.
In reality he was going crazy. Normalcy was what he dreaded because it reminded him of what he missed in her. He knew Persephone picked up on his bad mood - as much as he tried to please her he had accepted long ago he never would be able to. His rashness had caused him to hurt her too badly.
"You should honor your wife more," Demeter said grumpily as she munched on a few articles of food Hermes had brought her and Persephone the other day. They didn't want to have to stay down here longer than needed.
"I try," Hades replied as he listened to her munch on an apple.
Demeter huffed, "Try harder! Anyone can see that you don't want to be down here! That you're bored with her! Perhaps, you should've thought of that before trapping her here in the first place."
Hades didn't exactly regret forcing Persephone down here. He regretted her displeasure and the fear she still had of him, but the company during the darkest times had always helped him. It as just now that he'd had a taste of true happiness he couldn't help but want more. He'd fallen into his own trap - he'd eaten the pomegranate seeds of Maria's love.
Spring arrived after a boring winter. Demeter and Persephone returned to Olympus and Hades returned to brooding. Had it not been for the irritated council of death insisting he take a break on the surface he wouldn't have been there.
"Help!" He had been walking around the more solitude streets of Chicago when he heard that voice.
Quickly he located her with his eyes. She was screaming as she held on tightly to her purse while trying not to fall over in her high heels. Rushing over to her the man who was attempting to steal her purse looked at him before deciding it was best to run away.
"Hades," Maria said trying to catch her breath.
"What were you doing walking around Chicago? You could go to anywhere in the world, why here?"
Before Hades could reply Maria continued, "You say you don't want to hurt me, but I think that's a lie. You don't want to hurt yourself. If you returned for me only in the spring and summer I would be happy, but for you to leave me forever. That's your selfishness, don't blame it on me."
Maria's voice was a higher pitch and her face was a bright pink from her angry rant.
"I'm not good for you Maria. I could only taint you."
"You foolish god, you already have. It's too late for me now," she still looked peeved but her arms wrapped around his waist and they kissed.
"You are too stubburn for you your own good," Hades muttered after they pulled away. Her smile shined brightly at him and he couldn't help but smile back.
That spring they became lovers. It wasn't a hard transition but Hades found it both comforting and scary in how much trust and love he gave to Maria. Something he normally kept bottled up or let out glimpses of to Persephone. However he was content. Because of her unlimited free time, being a child of inheritance, she had a large amount of hobbies that he tried to do with her.
"Gentler my love, you don't want to break the brush," Maria whispered in his ears as she leaned in from behind him to grasp his hand in hers. "Like this." She moved her hand and together they completed what was supposed to be the sea of flames.
One of Maria's many hobbies was painting. She was a natural – him, not so much. His river looked more like he had spread ketchup and mustard on canvas. As much as he tried to follow along with her hobbies painting wasn't working out for him.
"You'll get better with more practice," Maria said thoughtfully but when Hades turned to look at her he could see she was trying to hold back laughter.
Music was something that could be shared by the both of them. Unknown to the other gods, Hades had picked up a few instruments throughout the centuries. Apollo, the more appealing god, was announced as god of music and knowing he couldn't really compete with him Hades decided to not share his love of music with anyone, until he met Maria.
Maria revealed that when she lived in Italy her parents bought her a violin and forced her to play. After she was a teenager she rebelled and cast away the instrument but it wasn't until she reached adulthood that she began playing for herself again.
"Tell me if you know this song," Maria said during one of their many late night music sessions. She held up her violin in position and started playing Salut d'Amour. Hades did in fact know this song – he was actually at a concert where it was first performed in 1889. He stayed quiet though and watched her play, awed at her talent and at the way her features would reveal every fluttering emotion in the music as if she were projecting exactly what the artist felt when he composed it.
After she finished Hades placed his hands on the piano and began playing the piano accompaniment. She laughed, "Of course you would know it. You know everything… Except how to paint."
They played together late into the night only stopping when her upstairs neighbor came to their door threatening to call the police.
When Maria announced she wanted children Hades was hesitant at first – he still wasn't sure if one day she would announce that she'd rather find a mortal lover to settle down with. But night after night when she returned to his arms he finally accepted her decision.
"I'm pregnant!" Maria announced as she pressed her head against his chest, "I'm so happy."
"Are you sure you're ready for this?" Hades asked gently. He wasn't too surprised she was pregnant already; it was him that suggested she go to the doctor in the first place.
Maria's brown eyes met his, "Of course, I can't wait to be a mother. And I can't wait to see you as a father. You will be a good father I know it."
Hades was doubtful thinking of his three sons- Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin- that were sure to cause a lot of trouble in the coming years. But he didn't want to ruin her good mood, "I'm happy too."
Bianca, that was the name of Maria's grandmother and now the name of their infant daughter. He had since returned to the underworld because of his promise to Persephone - only visiting Maria as she gave birth to their daughter. The actual birth went smoothly - the god that oversaw death helped Maria push new life into the world.
He was happy that she looked just like her mother.
A few years later they had a son together, Nico. Maria had a harder time carrying Nico and as soon as he arrived Hades could see a smaller version of himself. And he could only hope that by being in their life even a bit would make sure his son didn't succumb to despair like so many of his other children did.
Years passed and every spring and summer he would visit Maria. He ignored Zeus's concerns about being close with the mortals and simply enjoyed his new family. They were all his light in what was his endless life.
They wanted them dead. Zeus, Poseidon, the other gods - his family! They wanted what only light he had in these crummy times to die. Even Persephone in her jealous anger warned him it would be safer to kill his children now before he got too attatched.
He cursed at his foolishness. He should've fought against that pact that had signed his own children's lives away. Quickly he entered the door to his apartment.
"Papa!" Bianca hugged his waist tightly and Nico smiled at him from his pile of toys.
He smiled gently at his daughter, the more she grew the more she looked like the mirror of her mother.
"Where is your mother Bianca?" Hades asked as he stroked her dark hair gently.
Her smile never left her face,"Getting ready for your date." Hades fwent to her room where she was still applying makeup. She looked beautiful in her black dress gown- it was a shame their date night would have to be canceled. But if everything went according to his plans her and the children will be in the Underworld with him, safe from harm. She smiled brightly at him.
"We have to leave now."
Hades took them to a lush hotel in Italy. It was the only place he could think of at the top of his head. Zeus and Poseidon were probably close behind. He was still in their domain after all.
"Please, my dear. You must come to the Underworld," Hades voice was panicked, he could feel them getting closer. "I don't care what Persephone thinks! I can keep you safe there."
She smiled her dimpled cheeks at him, "No my love. Raise our children in te land of the dead? I will not do this."
There was that stubbornness again that he had loved - but now was surely going to lead them only into harms way. "Maria, listen to me. The war in Europe has turned the other gods against me. A prophecy has been made. My children are no longer safe. Poseidon and Zeus have forced me into an agreement. None of us are to have demigod children ever again."
She looked at him confused, "But you already have Nico and Biance. Surely-"
"No!" He snapped at her, he never yelled at her before and he noticed her slight flinch, "The prophecy warns of a child who turns sixteen. Zeus has decreed that he children I currently have be turned over to Camp Half-Blood for proper training, but I know what he means. At best they'll be watched, imprisoned, turned against their father. Even more likely, he will not take a chance. He won't allow my demigod children to reach sixteen. He'll find a way to destroy them, and I won't risk that!"
"Ceremente," said Maria, "We will stay together. Zeus is un imbecile."
At any other time I would've smiled at her insult for my brother but I was too worried and that little remark probably wouldn't help the situation now. Especially since they were here, I could feel Zeus radiating above and Poseidon further out in the sea.
"Maria, please. I told you, Zeus gave me a deadline of last week to turn over the children. His wrath will be horrible, and I cannot hid you forever. As long as you are with he children, you are in daner to."
Her dimpled cheeks appeared again, "You are a god, my love. You will protect us. But I will not take Nico and Bianca to the Underworld."
They were doomed, she was doomed. There was only so much he could do and this he knew he could not fix easily. His heart was pacing and he knew time was almost up. He thought furiously of every option he could think of. He had to save them.
"Then, there is another option. I know a place in the desert where time stands still. I could send the children there, just for a while, for their own safety, and we could be together. I will build you a golden palace by the Styx."
Her musical laugh filled the hotel lobby, "You are a kind man, my love. A generous man. The other gods should see you as I do, and they would not fear you so. But Nico and Bianca need their mother. Besides they are only children. The gods wouldn't really hurt them."
Hades frowned, "You don't know my family. Please Maria, I can't lose you." And it was scary how true it was, he couldn't. She was the only happiness in his world - to not have more springs and summers in her company would truly be the closest he could get to dying.
Her fingers gently grazed his lips and Hades wanted to kiss her badly.
"You will not lose me," she whispered softly. His children were laughing as they ran around, Zeus was above him and Poseidon on stand-by. "Wait for me while I get my purse. Watch the children."
Hades was about to go outside and approach his brother to ask for more time when he felt the bolt. Shouting desperately at Maria, he quickly put up a shield around him and the children an instant before the hotel exploded. The mist dissolved before his eyes and he saw her on the ground. Blood stained her clothing and burns marred her beautiful olive skin.
As if mocking him lightning flashed in the now unconcealed sky and thunder roared.
Perchance he half prevailed
To win her for the flight
From the firelit looking-glass
And warm stove-window light.
But the flower leaned aside
And thought of naught to say,
And morning found the breeze
A hundred miles away.
Also if you read my other story, How We Met, this is chapter 7 in that series.