This is a one-shot story. I just have a strange fascination with the Greek Myths for a few years now and this couple always interested me more than the rest.

Dark Beauty

The Day Persephone Visits Olympus

At long last, it was finally happening!

For three hundred years I'd begged Mother to take me up to Olympus to see my father, my sisters, my brothers — my unfamiliar immortal family — but she had always refused. If you were to ask why she was that stubborn, all you would receive were excuses. She never told me her real reason but would insist it was, and I quote, "For your own good, Kore, I just want you to be safe."

At this point in my life, it didn't feel like she was keeping me safe. She treated me like I was a human child, all fragile and small. I don't know why it escaped her grasp that I was three hundred years old and at least deserved to be treated as the adult I was, even if I was still her daughter. Naturally, I was always going to be a child to her, but hadn't I grown out the demeaning treatment? I was not the infant who crawled across the floor or suckled from her breast or struggled to read from morning until night. In fact, even ti acknowledge my own vanity, I had grown tall with a rather pleasing, womanly figure. Was it too much to hope that my mother would see me for my own age? Maybe then I wouldn't have to behave so childishly around her, but I had a feeling that that was what she wanted: for me to be her baby.

But I was not a baby.

Not that it ever seemed to matter. She cared for me in her most motherly fashion — some might call it smothering. Despite the fact that she outrightly forbade me to go on Olympus, she often told me of the other gods and goddesses who resided there. Over the years, my wildest thoughts wandered to the people she described. I could only imagine what they would be like from the histories she shared and descriptions of their character and appearance. She spoke bitterly of a few of them, like Eros, or Ares, or Hermes, but mainly Hecate and Hades. I don't know what they did to earn her permanent abhorrence, but she hated them with a passion and refused to tell me anything concerning them. The few exceptions she had ever made only painted the image of hooligan demons in my head.

It bothered me that she was so bitter about our family. She had been closest with her sisters Hera and Hestia, hen she lived on Olympus, but after I was born from her affair with Zeus, her close relationship with Hera had been severed. My mother refused to live on Olympus after that and only returned when necessary. In three hundred years, all I could discern was that my mother and aunt were strained, and I couldn't help but feel guilty over being the reason why.

I pushed these depressing thoughts aside. They would do me no good when I went to Olympus, a truly exciting prospect brought on by my father's own invitation. Why was I even thinking of them? I shook my head, silently scolding myself before I continued humming the lovely melody that Lady Hestia had sung to me whenever she visited. She was the only goddess who ever approached my mother's home. I had a feeling that the others didn't like her all too well. Even the men were distant. And I could understand why. Unless you truly got to know her and love her, my mother was an overbearing pain in the neck.

"Kore? Kore! Where is my daughter?" Mother's panicked voice rang out through our home. The nymphs attending to me jumped at her voice; none of them liked the shrill and sharp tones that went with it.

"I am in the baths, Mother!" I called out to her. As a nymph washed my long hair, my mother entered the bath chambers, her weary face flushed with relief.

"Oh, my Kore," she said sweetly. "I went out into the gardens and you were not there. I wish that you would not frighten me so again!"

"I apologize, Mother. I never intended to worry you," I said, inhaling the scent of roses that wafted around my bath waters. "I was merely starting to prepare for our journey."

My mother's face fell by the smallest degree. I tried not to groan at her. Why was she so determined to keep me away from Olympus? Was there someone who resided that offended her? Or did she not like the idea of me being amongst the male population? Whatever it was, it made her sad.

Mother turned to the nymphs. "See that she is dressed to leave in an hour," she ordered sharply.

The nymphs bowed. "Yes, Lady Demeter," they said obediently.

In a matter of minutes, my skin was glowing and wafting the scent of roses.

Ever since I was a young child, I had a reverent love for roses. Godly roses were different than mortal ones. I could grow them in any color I wanted, from blues and greens to oranges and purples. Occasionally, I chose to make them brown, but mother loved the natural looking kind, like red, pink, white and yellow. My one problem was black. No matter how hard I had tried, I had never made a black rose before. I knew of them from Aunt Hestia, who brought me a single black rose on my one-hundredth birthday, and then my two-hundredth birthday. Funnily enough, they always smelled like vanilla, but she could never explain why.

I had always wanted to grow one for myself, but they would die the next day and it was impossible to revive them. According to Aunt Hestia, they needed fresher soil, soil found lower in the earth, and Mother was not willing to get me any. It was a shame. I dearly craved the mysterious rose...

"Come, my Lady," a nymph said, distracting me from my thoughts.

I followed the nymphs to my bed chambers. There I created a bouquet of tiny white roses which they braided into a crown in my hair once it had been properly dried. Rather than combing it up, I insisted they let my dark hair fall in waves passed by shoulders and back. They then laced up my feet in comfortable sandals and robed me in a beautiful chiton that hugged my body in a way that was both innocent and alluring. In the very fabric, the images of blooming flowers met my eyes, and my skin almost glowed in the sunshine. I had no need for make-up. My beauty came naturally as it would any other goddess.

"Kore?" my mother called, and I groaned internally.

Honestly, wherever had she scrounged up that nickname? It had no relation to the one father had given me as a babe. Wasn't Persephone a beautiful and enchanting name? It rolled off the tongue more elegantly than Kore, which sounded like it belonged on a mortal. Aunt Hestia had once told me that Mother disagreed to the name because it was suggested by Lady Hecate, citing that a goddess of springtime and light should not be named a destroyer! But Father had grown fond of the name and insisted that I would be Persephone. And there was nothing Mother could do to stop it. I only tolerated Mother's nickname, Kore, because it made her happy.

I, on the other hand, was less than thrilled.

"I am in my chambers, Mother!" I called back.

Mother entered my chambers, already dressed to go to Olympus. She wore an elegant green chiton and had her dark hair tied up in a neat knot at the top of her head. She looked very beautiful, and older version of myself. I smiled as she gasped at my dress and then my hair.

"Oh, Kore, you look absolutely stunning!" she exclaimed, enfolding me into a warm hug. "You all may go," she told the nymphs who bowed and left the room. "Right. Well, I see that we are both presentable. It is time to be off."

My heart picked up at the speed of a humming bird's wings. My mother took my hands into hers and a light glowed around us. My very essence felt light and free as it soared through the air, gaining speed and growing higher as we flew in Olympus's direction. It didn't take very long. Within minutes we were at the tall golden gates that opened at my mother's touch. She led me up a stone road that ran from the gates to an incredible and enormous palace made of marble and gold.

As we walked, I looked around keenly, drinking in Olympus's magnificence.

Lush green grasses ran for miles. Tall trees bearing fruit shaded the ground from the sun. Temples were scattered all around us, accompanied by smaller homes for Olympus' residents. Nymphs danced about, chased by men I could only assume were gods. Our path led us by a small lake toward the grand palace. Flowers bloomed at the edges of the roads. Birds flew, small animals—pets, most likely—pranced around, playing with their masters. Even the people who passed were amazing. Gorgeous women who danced and sang, handsome men who flirted or just chatted with them, tugged at my hearts.

Mother caught on to my lingering eyes and pulled me away from them.

Our stroll to the palace was fairly enjoyable. Passing residence bowed to Mother and smiled at me, sharing kind greetings before continuing their merry way.

I gasped as a small boy appeared overhead, small wings sprouted from his back. His pale blond hair reflected the sunlight, with a delightful grin, he waved down at us. Before I could wave back, Mother tugged me closer to her side, her eyes gleaming with dislike.

"Pothos," she said. "Shouldn't you be with your mother?"

The boy, Pothos, rolled his eyes. "Mama is otherwise occupied. And besides, she allows her children free reign to go about as they please."

There was a cutting edge in his tone that made my heart stutter. And the way he looked at me... like he felt sorry for me...

"Now, now, behave, brother dear!" A grown man flew up next to Pothos, and my heart fluttered in amazement. He was utterly beautiful! His curled hair was golden as the sun, muscled skin firm, lips pink and smooth, and brown eyes filled with mischief. He laughed as the child evade his attempt to capture him, and they flew about in circles, engaged in a game of tag. He caught sight of us staring and winked at me.

Mother's eyes grew darker and he chuckled.

"Come now, Demeter, I mean her no harm!" he called as he rose higher in the air. "No need for conflict, is there?"

"Keep away, Eros!" Mother called back. "And tell the other Erotes to do so as well."

He was Eros, the god of Love? Son of Aphrodite and the leader of the Erotes? Dear me, Aunt Hestia's description of him did him very little justice!

"No need to tell us twice!" Pothos replied, sticking out his tongue at her before flying off with a yell. "Brothers! Guess who has not changed at all!"

Eros nearly tumbled from the sky with laughter. He waved and swooped off in Pothos's direction without a second glance. Mother glowered after them, fuming beneath her breath as she led me quickly towards the palace. Mother never liked Aphrodite or any of her love-powered children. She always said they were gods of gratification, and the worst sort to mess around with.

"Well, well, if it isn't Demeter and her daughter!" a voice called from the top of the palace steps. "I hardly recognized you, big sister."

Standing on the topmost stair was a tall, lithe man in blue tunic encrusted with sand dollars around his waist. His dark hair, marbled with lighter brown streaks, was an unruly mess under a crown made of sea shells. He moved with swift grace as he strolled down the steps to greet us with a kind and playful smile. His eyes were a shimmering mix of green and blue. The glowing trident in his hand gave away his identity. Mother sighed and gave him a reluctant hug.

"Poseidon. I did not realize you would have arrived so soon," she said curtly. "You always were rather forgetful of time."

"I prefer to think of it as free-spirited, sister," Poseidon replied; his voice cooled and no longer met the cheerful gleam of his eyes. "Zeus demanded my immediate presence. After all, it is an especially important day."

Mother ticked at his words. "Am I to assume that HIS presence was demanded as well?" she asked distastefully. "Such a shame. The last thing I wanted to endure was his incompetence."

I had never seen such a cheerful demeanor turn so incredibly cold so quickly as it did on Poseidon's face. I was overcome with a strong scent of sea air as he twisted his trident around in his hand.

"Am I to assume that you will be ever so abhorrent in his presence as well?" he asked, mimicking her tone. "Such a shame. The last thing I wanted was to endure your inability to be cordial."

I wanted to die of secondhand embarrassment, standing beside mother as a fresh blush overtook her cheeks.

"What have I told you about being so childish!" Mother scolded him.

"What have I told you about being so peremptory?" Poseidon asked. "And you have the blatant nerve to wonder why you are so unpopular here. You would think that, after all these centuries, that you move on from what happened. He was young when—"

"Oh, spare of me of your nonsensical ramblings," Mother said. "You and I both know he still does whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases. He and that Circle of his!"

I quietly took a few steps back and glanced around. I spotted a few nymphs staring at us, giggling when they realized I had noticed them.

"They'll be the death of me!" Mother continued.

"Ironic," Poseidon replied, sounding amused again.

"This is no joking matter!" Mother snapped. Poseidon raised an eyebrow, clearly unimpressed. Had it been I to received Mother's venomous glare, I would have been cowering already. He must have had centuries of practice to roll his eyes at it the way he did now. "I will not have that imbecile around my daughter!"

With a weary sigh, Poseidon shook his head and turned his gaze toward me. "It is a pleasure to see you again, Lady Persephone," he said. "I am Poseidon, god of the sea. I only saw you once as a baby. I see that three hundred years with your mother has not brought you to the brink of insanity. I do not know how you have survived in her presence all these years. You have my warmest congratulations."

He took my hand into his own and placed a swift kiss on my knuckles. Mother practically began fuming as he hurried off towards the lake, stopping beside a goddess with long red hair. I was not sure whether to laugh or not.

As first impressions went, I liked Poseidon. While he had not been exactly amicable with my mother, he certainly had a sense of humor and a very passionate way to speaking. I could not say it had not been embarrassing to hear them argue, and while I was agitated on Mother's behalf, I also could not say she did not deserve it. Whenever Mother didn't like someone, she treated them horribly. That led me to wonder as to whom they were talking about.

Without further ado, Mother marched up the remaining stairs and across the open balcony to the palace entrance, leaving me to scamper after her. Once I was inside, it was clear that we had entered a grand throne room. My jaw dropped in amazement at what I saw.

It was the cleanest, brightest room I had ever witnessed in my whole life. The walls were pearly white, adorned with torches filled with golden flames. Twelve golden thrones curved into a semicircle, each sitting on a small platform before a wide, decorated pillar. Six sat to my left while five sat to my right, and from the titles emblazoned on each of them, they belonged to each of the Olympian gods. The highest one of all crackled with tendrils of lightning, and I did n't need to read the plaque to know it belonged to my father.

"It's beautiful!" I whispered softly, stepping forward for a better look.

I turned to the thrones to my right, identifying Mother's throne first, right beside the throne of Queen Hera. I saw her likeness on the pillar behind her throne, elegantly poised with agriculture growing all around her. But my attentions were caught on the two pillars beside Athena's, the ones belonging to Artemis and Aphrodite.

If Artemis was anything like her depiction, a portrait of a young girl with such wild, bloodred curls and silvery eyes, a vision of a huntress under the full moonlight, she was more beautiful than me. Unlike mother's gentle elegance, her portrait was fierce and confident. And Aphrodite's was far more enchanting than words could describe. Magnificently gorgeous with a shimmering paint that brought a multitude of colors to her hair and eyes from different angles, it was hard to believe that it was only a portrait of the goddess and not the actual woman. These two goddesses could be rivals of beauty, but one was a goddess of love while the other was a goddess of virgins.

"Kore, what are you looking at?" Mother asked. I turned around to see her standing next to her throne. Before I could answer, someone else did.

"Why it appears that she is admiring the pillars," a woman said. I turned and saw Lady Hestia walk up to us, smiling. I could feel a delighted smile of my own grace my face and I hurried forward to give her a hug which she returned whole-heartedly. "Hello, my dear."

"Lady Hestia," I greeted her. I almost did not recognize her without her usual brown hair. Today, it was bright, gingerly red. That was a benefit of being a goddess or god: you had the ability to alter your appearance however you pleased.

"Hestia," Mother said, nodding at her sister. Hestia pursed her lips and nodded back. That was odd. She usually got along well with Mother.

"I was just outside with Poseidon. He seemed rather upset. You would not happen to—" she started, but Mother cut her off.

"Of course," she grumbled. "What has he said about me now?"

Hestia shook her head in disappointment. "Grudges will get you nowhere, Demeter. Zeus will not tolerate any of this foolishness. Not today."

She sounded angry. I rarely ever saw her like this. Hestia was always kind and calm whenever I saw her. I'd only seen her angry once, and it hadn't been too bad. But this seemed worse.

"So he is already here, I assume?" Mother asked dejectedly.

"That is correct, and he has promised to be civil," a man said from behind us.

I whipped around to see a god in a white tunic and golden breastplate standing before us. A long white cape fell down his back and a golden crown was placed on his dark blond hair. He looked very young, just ten years older than my seventeen-year appearance, but looks could be deceiving. His smile was filled with warmth and charm, and his sky blue eyes were shining as he looked at me. It was Zeus.

"My daughter," he smiled as he approached me. I curtsied before him but he pulled me into a comforting hug anyways.

"Father," I smiled up at him.

I was happy to see the pride and joy in his eyes. There was a difference in seeing this from a mother and a father. From the father, it made me feel like a young girl, but not a child. Just a young woman who had just made her father very happy.

"My Persephone, it is amazing to see how you have grown," he said, his voice warm and cheery. "You are no longer the little cherub who bounced on my knee."

"I was not a cherub!" I protested, but he was laughing. It filled the room in such a way that soon we were all laughing with him.

"Did we miss a joke?"

I pressed my fingers against my lips as nearly a dozen other gods and goddesses entered the throne room, most of whom I recognized from the pillars, along with Poseidon and Eros, who had retracted his pearly wings.

"Ah, there you all are!" Father said. He smiled at me. "Your brothers and sisters have waited years to meet you, my dear."

Father moved to stand between Poseidon and Hestia, both of whom had been in whispered discussion. I felt Mother move behind me as if she intended to ward away my siblings off before they could get the chance to speak.

"Oh, are you not the most precious thing?" I almost stuttered as the living likeness of the beautiful portrait behind me came to stand right in front of me. Golden hair in endless ringlets and glittering brown eyes, the goddess Aphrodite was far prettier in person. "And so beautiful! It is wonderful to finally meet you, Persephone! I am Aphrodite!"

"P-Pleasure to meet you," I said, blushing as she kissed my cheeks.

"Definitely precious!" Aphrodite continued. "I believe you have already been acquainted with my Eros," she added, indicating to the blond beauty standing behind her, whispering to another god with messy, dirty-blond hair. "And that's my other son, Anteros. I would introduce you to Hedylogos and Himeros, but they are currently trying to discover where Pothos disappeared to."

Mother clucked her tongue disapprovingly. "He would not be a problem if you kept a better eye on him."

Aphrodite simmered sweetly. "I have no need for that, Demeter. My boys never venture far. And that reminds me, husband, stop tinkering with your metals and come greet your sister!"

I had not noticed the other man standing behind Aphrodite, fiddling around with a piece of bronze. He was not very handsome, but he had kind gray eyes and thick curly bronze hair tied at the nape of his neck. His skin was covered in burns and scars, and he walked with a limp.

"Nice to meet you," he said in a hoarse voice as if he was not accustomed to talking. "I am Hephaestus."

"God of blacksmiths and forges," I recalled. "It is nice to meet you, too."

He offered a small smile and continued to fiddle with the metal piece.

"He can be quite shy," Aphrodite said as he limped off toward his throne. "And Ares, where is he? Eros, Anteros, where is your father?"

I heard Mother shuffle behind me and fought against an exasperated sigh at the inkling of her disapproval. I was no stranger to the fact that Aphrodite and Ares, the god of war, were lovers in spite of her marriage to Hephaestus. I glanced at said god, who had seated himself on his throne, his attentions entirely focused on his 'tinkering'. Either he had not heard what Aphrodite said or he didn't care.

"Are you alright, little sister?" I blinked as I realized someone was hovering over me, quite literally. I stared at the grinning god with flyaway, light blond hair and mischievous pale green eyes. Unlike Eros, his wings were on his sandals, not his back.

I grinned at him. "You must be Hermes."

"Indeed, I am," he replied cheerfully. "Well spotted. Messenger of the gods, at your service."

"Yes, and he has an incessant need to fly everywhere." I turned to see my half-sister Artemis stand beside me with another tall, blond male who was the younger, splitting image of my father, except his smile was more seductive. Artemis was so pretty, it was heart-breaking. I shivered at the wildfire burning in her eyes, far more intimidating that I had expected. "Hermes, you do know legs were made for walking and running."

"And dancing, big sister," Hermes said with laughter, giving off an energetic air. "And even, well, this!" And without further ado, he performed a few backflips in midair that amused everyone except Mother.

"How indecent," I heard her mutter. I giggled softly.

"No, 'indecent' is someone having the nerve to raid my temple and hiding every one of my musical instruments all over the palace," the blond said, glancing at Artemis.

She rolled her eyes. "No, it is not! Especially after someone had the audacity to steal all my arrows and trick my handmaidens into a mudbath to get them back."

"It never would have happened if someone had not—" he continued.

Hermes landed beside me, his eyes glowing with anticipation. "And here they go again. You might want to step back."

Before I had a chance to ask why, Mother's hands gently grasped my arms and tugged me away from the arguing duo just in time to avoid Artemis's sudden dash passed me and Hermes to the thrones, chased by the blond god with so much enthusiasm that they were laughing, not fighting. I gasped in shock, having only been moments away from being run over.

"Artemis and Apollo, the twin archers," Hestia said quietly, her lips trembling. "Regardless of their personal views, they love one another dearly. And they love to play and tease one another relentlessly. Under Zeus and Leto's influence, they act quite a lot like children at home, but on the earth, they are much more civil and mature."

Mother had rarely ever described the dynamic relationship between my elder twin siblings. I had always envisioned Artemis as a graceful, strong goddess who roamed the night with her attendants, completely segregated from men, and that Apollo was a god deeply endowed in his music and prophecies. I suppose such things happen when I had little to go on. I certainly never thought that they would have been on such good terms, especially since Apollo was the god of bachelors and Artemis was the goddess of virgins.

Artemis leaped onto the nearest throne, keenly dodging out of Apollo's reach. Someone chuckled behind me and I glanced around to see Eros staring at her with a sullen sort of longing, his brother Anteros laughing at his expression.

"Oi, get off, you two lunatics!"

Clinking metals drew my attention to the god and goddess emerging from the open entrance. The god was a towering height, enough that I felt foolishly small, with bulging muscles under his full armor, short, curly bronze hair, and tanned skin covered in scars. There was something sourly exasperated in the curve of his mouth and calculating eyes as he shook his head at the twins. I admit I was immediately frightened of him and the tense air he gave off.

"Peace, brother, they are just playing." The goddess beside him was not as tall as him, but she too wore full battle armor and held a spear in her hand. She had long black hair braided down her back and pale, almost white, silvery eyes that looked like they could see through your soul. If gods had souls.

"Ares, there you are!" Aphrodite exclaimed. "And Athena! I should have known the both of you were sparring again."

"We were," Athena replied, her eyes falling on me with cool contemplation. "And this must be Persephone. Father said you would return home for the day."

"Who?" Ares asked, glancing at me with little interest. "Ah. Another sister. Yes, I remember now."

I wasn't sure how to describe it, but I had a feeling that Ares didn't think I was interesting enough to show any attention. He was far more interested in getting Artemis off his throne. That look in his eyes was distantly similar to the one mother gave me whenever I tried to wheedle my way into doing something she did not approve of; like I was just a child trying to be older than I was.

"Pay him no heed," Athena said as Ares walked away, absently patting Poseidon on the shoulder as he passed. "Ares is not the most sociable of gods, even compared to Hephaestus. But I am pleased to finally be acquainted with you, Persephone. I hope you enjoy your stay here."

The small twinge of disappointment in my chest eased up at her kind smile.

"She might enjoy it more if I had been allowed to host actual festivities!" A young, slightly pudgy god wearing a long purple tunic sauntered up to us and threw an arm over Hermes's shoulder. His long, curly hair was raven black and held back by a wreath made of grapevines.

"Any excuse to stir up a celebration, eh, Dionysus!" Hermes teased. "You are so predictable, baby brother!"

Apollo finally conceded defeat and returned to our group, throwing a lazy arm over Dionysus's with a quirky smile. Mother had explained that, besides Aphrodite, herself, Hera, and Poseidon, the rest of the Council was filled with Father's children with other women. But right here in front of me, they behaved in the way I had always thought full-blooded siblings would be.

From the corner of my eyes, I realized that Mother had stepped closer to me, her eyes trailed passed my half-siblings. I followed her gaze to a woman standing beside my father, bearing a strong resemblance to Poseidon and Hestia. She had long, gingery hair and glittering gray eyes. She caught sight of my mother and nodded in greeting, but when she saw me staring at her, too, she offered a small smile.

She never came over to talk to me, but from the glimmering crown on her head, there was no guessing her identity. She was Hera, Queen of the Gods, and Father's wife. My heart panged in sympathy for her. It must have been difficult to welcome another child born to her husband from an affair with another woman, namely her own sister. In her eyes, I shouldn't have existed. I wondered if she blamed me for it, or did she blame my parents?

But the gods were enjoying themselves immensely, lost in discussions that I listened to more than joined, though they still tried to include me. Just as I began wondering why I couldn't have had the chance to visit sooner, the sound of clinking footsteps entered the room, causing everyone to fall silent. Artemis and Apollo both glanced over my shoulder and their faces brightened. Hermes waved and Poseidon broke into a wide grin. But when Mother saw them, she grabbed me and pushed me behind her back. I heard a woman's tinkering laugh, and a deep male voice joined her.

I couldn't even protest when I heard a woman's tinkering laugh and a deep, rich voice joined her. It was so distinctive that I was shocked into silence.

A shiver ran down my smile. I had never heard that voice before in my life, but the moment I had, I stirred a heart-racing thrill in my chest. I couldn't help but want to hear more of it. His voice was deep but velvety, and hidden in its midsts was a soft, mysterious purr. It stood out from every other person I had spoken to since my arrival. Dark and enchanting... it reminded me of shadows under the moon.

"Why, I say, there seems to be something entertaining here," the man said lazily, his voice running chills down my spine. I tried to look over Mother's shoulder, but she shielded me further, not wanting to expose me to whoever it was.

"Ah, who is that?" the mystery woman asked.

I heard someone whistle and then Hermes' voice hiss, "Now is not the time for that, Apollo!"

"Aw," Apollo groaned miserably. Artemis groaned.

The woman laughed again, this time loud enough to alert me that she was in front of Mother. Frustrated, I peeked out from behind Mother's shoulder to see who it was. My heart froze.

Standing in front of my mother was a glorious goddess of darkness, maybe. Her hair was pitch black and streaked with bronze, curling in ringlets down to her waist. Her arms were painted with thin vines and she was wearing beautiful jewelry, more than all Mother had at home. Her skin was pale but glowing, and her eyes were red, like blood. Her lips were painted the same exact shade. She was dangerously enticing. I could see why Apollo whistled. Her dress was form fitted, revealing her every curve just like Aphrodite. The way she moved was seductive, like a feline approaching prey. She frightened and fascinated me all at once.

"Hecate," Mother said coldly, and I stifled a gasp. Hecate lived in the Underworld; she was a goddess of magic and witchcraft. Mother loathed her for reasons I did not know. The goddess looked past Mother towards me and smiled, not in a frightening manner, but curiously.

"And who is this?" she asked. Mother tried to hide me but the goddess reached out for my hand. I half expected her skin to be ice cold, but her skin was warm and soft, gentle as water. "Pray tell, what is your name, child?"

Being called a child shook off my fear. I sighed and said, hoping I didn't sound irritated, "My name is Persephone, my lady."

Hecate smiled wide, two of her teeth protruding from her mouth like small fangs. "Ah, yes, I remember when I suggested that name. It means 'destroyer'. With beauty like yours, you could destroy men's hearts without trying. I pity them."

Her words made me smile as she released my hand. She walked off towards her companion who was standing next to Father and Poseidon. I had forgotten about him until now. And I can guarantee you this: For as long as I live, I will never forget him.

If Eros was beautiful, this god's attractiveness was far more beautiful in comparison. Eros's looks were of the Light, and this one was clearly of the Dark. That made his much more mysterious and enchanting. My heart fell hard.

He was tall and lean, with softer muscles that the other gods, but still strong. His skin was dark olive toned, smooth and flawless, radiating a seductive darkness that made me tremble. He wore a black tunic that fell to his knees. He was adorned with gold from his wrists and biceps to his neck and hair; they were braided into thick black ringlets that fell only an inch above his shoulder. His eyes were dark brown, sparkling with a deadly charm that no man should ever be capable of. His chiseled features glowed in the light and as he smiled, I was dazzled by the pearly whites. He looked right into my eyes and I wanted to faint, but I held my ground.

Where in Olympus did that impulse come from?

Who was he?

"I should have known your absence would not last," Mother grumbled. "Yes, well, everyone is here to meet—"

"Persephone," he guessed. I shivered as I heard him say my name. It rolled off his tongue in perfect syllables. No one could ever do that! How in Gaea was he doing that? "Yes, I can see for myself, little sister." He said the word in a mocking tone.

Sister? Mother didn't have many brothers. There was Father, Poseidon, Chiron and—oh... He was radiating darkness, of course! It should have been obvious!

"Hades," Mother managed to hiss out. Hades stepped forward. I could see Aphrodite's eyes trailing after him and I was riddled with jealousy. Hades didn't pay her any attention. Father followed him and stood next to Demeter as if getting ready to restrain her if anything happened.

Hades, God of the Dead and Lord of the Underworld, stood in front of me with the sly elegance of a panther. His smile was kind enough, but there was something seductive about his lips that captured my attention. There was a tiny scar on the left side, barely visible. This small blemish seemed to increase his looks rather than decrease it. He reached out a large hand and captured one on my small ones in his own.

The moment his skin touched mine, heat crept up around my ears and cheeks. He lifted my hand to his lips and gave it a small kiss.

It marked my skin, burning me with pleasure; the light-headed feeling would not leave. For an embarrassing second, I wondered what those lips would feel like on mine? My blush darkened as he winked at me. I couldn't help but smile at him. He released my hand and looked directly into my eyes. I could look into the warm soil color forever.

"It is time for me to take leave," he said softly, each word he said piercing my heart.

I didn't want him to leave. His smile widened as me as he backed away and I was tempted to follow him. He looked at my hand and took it back into his own. I felt something entwine around my fingers and wrist like a snake, but I couldn't move.

"For you." That was all he said.

Hestia took a step forward. "Surely, you can spare a few more hours, Hades," she said, giving his hand an affectionate squeeze. "The Underworld will survive a day of your absence."

"I fear Thanatos will not," Hades replied. "Charon's sole survival depends on Hecate's presence." Said goddess laughed and slapped his arm with warm humor.

"Well, I hope you'll visit again, soon, brother." Father placed a strong hand on Hades's shoulder, and a moment of silence passed between them, their eyes locked curiously on each other. But then Father stepped away and allowed Poseidon to hug his brother farewell. Hades smiled again and my heart fluttered, but he paid no attention to me as he and Hecate approached the doorway, both of them attracting shadows from every direction on the floor and walls.

I felt Mother at my side, asking questions but I couldn't hear her. Slowly, I unfroze, breathing deeply. Who would have thought that was the god of the dead. From the way my mother spoke of him, I would have expected him to be far different.

"Kore? Kore, do you hear me?" Mother asked frantically.

I nodded, my thoughts a little distant. "I hear you just fine."

Whatever she said next, I didn't bother to listen. I felt something on my hand and lifted it to eye level. My heart beat quickened and a gleeful smile graced my face. He had given me a flower and a bracelet. The bracelet was pure gold with rubies and emeralds in vine patterns, but I didn't pay it much attention. My eyes were on the flower.

It was simply radiant. The green stem had woven itself around my fingers, and the thorns were far from my flesh. I felt a single tear fall at the sight of the petals. I had tried to create such a beauty before and it never worked. Hades, a King of Shadows as much as the king of the dead, had given me something I always wanted. And I would always be grateful for it.

For the first time in my life, I had fallen in love. In love with a man Mother most definitely wouldn't approve of. His gift would be mine forever, and his face, his voice — they would never leave my memory. I looked at my hand and smiled with joy. Hades had given me a Black Rose.

The following above was written out of boredom, but I hope it was enjoyable.

I never liked Demeter much, she always annoyed me in stories. I just thought I'd try to write something new. I'll get to continuing the other stories I've written, but I couldn't resist writing this. I wanted to call it "The Black Rose" but thought against it.