Okay, I know I said this was a one-shot story, but I guess I would be lying now, so it's a two-shot, I guess. In actuality, I've always wanted to do my own take on Hades and Persephone, but I honestly didn't think I should try it since I wouldn't be able to update as frequently as I would for my 'Demigods and Wizards' story. However, I decided to update one more chapter and then I'm done. Perhaps I'll do a full story about it later, but not now.

Dark Beauty — Aftermath

Beauty of Darkness

Another day passed by and yet I could not forget him.

I watched as Helios drove his sun chariot across the sky. Standing with him was his apprentice, Apollo. From what I heard from Mother, Helios planned to retire from his role of the Sun deity and wished for Apollo to take his place. Selene had followed Helios' decision and chose Artemis, Apollo's twin, to be her successor. I smiled as the two men called down to me from their chariot and I waved up at them. My friends giggled eagerly at the sight of Apollo and watched attentively as they chariot rode out of sight.

I sat in the meadow with Agathe, Elsabe, Helicia, Ilana, and Libbi, my tree nymph friends. They danced around in their yellow and green chitons, singing their favorite songs and gossiping about the mortals in the town only a few miles from here. For as long as I have known them, they have always acted this way. I myself have joined them in their giggling and singing in the past, but not today. Not this week. Not this month. I was sure that they noticed my sudden absence in their conversations. They have tried to change that, but nothing they speak of is interesting to me anymore.

I know Mother worried over me — over this sudden change. I wanted to tell her what was wrong, but she wouldn't understand. I knew her view on the matter. She would take any measure to ensure that I move on and live the life she wanted me to live. I could not bring myself to laugh or smile as much as I did before. My thoughts wandered further than they ever had before to the dark brown eyes that haunted my dreams.

The afternoon crawled by and my thoughts would not change. Ilana and Libbi were disgruntled with me. For two hours they had tried to engage me in flower-weaving, but I had rejected the idea. I held the flower buds in my hands and marveled at their softness; at their colorful petals ranging from red to white. But I did not want these flowers. There was only one flower I wanted, and it was currently hidden in a box beneath my bed.

Helicia tried to persuade me to sing, but whenever I opened my mouth, only a faint whisper would come out. I did not want to sing. Agathe and Elsabe tried to persuade me to dance, but whenever I got me feet, I found myself walking in circles, unfeeling towards the melodies they danced to. So, in a way, all my friends were disgruntled with me. They did not see why I did not want to play.

"Kore? It's time for dinner," Mother called out from the kitchen window.

"I am coming, Mother," I call back, grabbing at my skirts so I could run for the front door. Agathe, Elsabe, Helicia, Ilana, and Libbi followed in my wake, still miffed with me for my lack of participation. I did not care about that. I ate my dinner in silent, refusing to join into their conversations. I could not block them out now, so I was left to listen to them

"Athena and Poseidon are arguing even more than they had before," Mother announced in a voice that suggested that it was an outrage. "The last time I was there, they would not stop bickering over that incident with Medusa."

"Do you think Lord Poseidon fancies Lady Athena?" Elsabe giggled. "The way he reacts to her emits all the signs of interest."

Agathe and Helicia giggled in agreement. Even Mother had to smiled.

"Now, now Elsabe, I do not think my brother would be pleased with such an accusation," Mother said, but she was still smiling. "However, before the rivalry with Athens arose, he was quite smitten with her."

This had all the nymphs giggling again. I remembered what Poseidon had been like when I had visited Olympus. He had been lively, humorous, and handsome. His hair was black and brown, completely unruly, and his blue-green eyes always glowed with mirth. He was so happy and eager; so full of life. And then there was Athena. She was beautiful, stunning, but stern. Her silver eyes seemed to calculate everything and her black hair was braided down her back in a meticulous line. Her smile was kind, but fierce, and she did not seem like the sort of person who would laugh often. It seemed appropriate that they did not get along. They were nothing alike.

"And did I mention Ares? He and Enyo got into a dispute about who was the better fighter," Mother said, rolling her eyes. "They started a battle right there in the throne room. Poseidon and Athena stopped arguing long enough to pull the siblings away from each other."

"How is everyone on Olympus?" I asked suddenly. "I have not seen them in so long, and I dearly miss them."

Everyone looked up at me in surprise. Lately I had not joined in their discussions, so they certainly did not expect me to join in now. I even surprised myself, but I needed to think of something else for a while.

"Most of them are quite well," Mother said hesitantly. "I have not spoken to Hera and Dionysus at all the last time I was there, but they are in good health. Your father is the same as always, but he sends his greetings. Hephaestus was in the forges the entire time I was there, so I do not know anything recent with him. Aphrodite asked about you. I think she is considering getting you a husband." Mother grimaced as she said that. I raised an eyebrow at her.

"I do not think marriage is a topic I want to speak of," I said quietly. It was the truth. Marriage would mean tying myself to one man forever. And there was no man I took an interest in, except for one. And he would never marry me; I was sure of that.

Mother looked relieved. "That is what I told her, but she was insistent," Mother went on. "Hermes was a nuisance. How the other gods put up with him, I do not know. I think he has made a scheme against me with Eris. She never liked me..."

Mother went on an on about the trouble with the other gods on Olympus. Apollo was suffering from a resent heartbreak over a nymph named Daphne. Artemis had turned a man called Actaeon into a stag for spying on her while bathing. Zephyrus and Morpheus were fighting over Iris. Again. Aunt Hestia was going to visit in a week's time. By the time dinner was over, I was reeling over the information I had attained from Mother. I took a long warm bath and went to bed.

Well, almost.

I closed the door behind me and hurried quietly to my bed. I knelt down beside it and pulled out a long silver box from beneath my bed and rested it on my pillow. Lifting the lid, the scent of vanilla and pomegranate wafted into the air. Why it smelled that way, I did not know. I reached out my hand and picked up the delicate black rose that was hidden within the box. It was a gift I had received from Hades, the God of the Dead. Sitting in the box was the bracelet he had given me. I picked it up and ran my fingers over the beautiful jewels.

The minute Mother and I had returned home, she had ordered me to dispose of my gifts, but I could not bring myself to do so. They were just so lovely, these tokens from the gorgeous god. I would never have forgiven myself if I had gotten rid of it. So I kept it a secret from Mother's eyes, hidden away beneath my bed. Every night I would pull the box out to see the flower and bracelet. The flower never aged or wilted. It remained new and unharmed in the velvet box. Reluctantly, I placed it back inside the box and tucked it under the bed again. I could not risk Mother entering my room to see them here.

Quietly, I curled up in my bed and rested my head on my pillow. Hypnos' magic seemed to enter my room and seep into my bones, pulling me to slumbers that were out of my control. I was sure that Morpheus would play his games and give me the dream that haunted my nights.

This was a moment I had been dreading all day. The minute I closed my eyes, I fell into the old dream I had had for every night since my first visit to Olympus.

I gazed up at the full, silvery moon that glowed down at me from the velvety black canvas that was the night sky. Constellations danced around the sky as time passed, changing their positions as the moon fell further towards the west. I sat by myself in the meadow, running my fingers lightly over the soft white roses that bloomed out of the darkness. I held out my hands and staring at the silvery glow that washed over my skin. The cool night breeze swept my hair back out of my face.

My friends and my mother were absent from the scene. I started humming to myself as I laid back on the soft grass; it was laid out like a bed made specially for me, surrounded by soft, sweet-perfumed roses the color of shadows. Their essence was heady of vanilla and pomegranate, sending a delightful fragrance into the night air with a scent that made me hungry. I felt at peace by myself here. I closed my eyes and inhaled the delicious scents in one deep breath, holding it all in my lungs until I could no longer. I repeated the pattern five more times, sure that I was alone.

"Why, I say, there seems to be something entertaining here," a man's voice said lazily. The sound of his voice ran chills down my spine and my heart picked up. I knew that voice. I knew those words. My eyes opened wide to meet dark brown eyes the color of soil. Then I saw the nose, then the face. My heart nearly stopped.

"Hades," I whispered, gazing up at the dark god before me.

I knew he was not really here, but it felt like he was. My eyes trailed over his tall, lean body. In the silver moonlight, his dark olive skin was rich and smooth. In the night wind, his dark curly hair blew about his head in an ethereal beauty. He was wearing the black tunic I remembered seeing him in on Olympus, and his arms and hair were still decorated in gold and jewels. He smirked at with his charming white smile as he sat next to me, so close that he almost touched me.

Every night he appeared in my dreams. A beauty made of pure darkness. I was a goddess of light. I should not be attracted to him, but I was. Every night was a new fantasy. Mother would never approve if she discovered my thoughts about this particular god.

Hades did not speak at all. He stared at me with those mysterious dark eyes, freezing me to the ground. Slowly, he reaches out his hand and takes my delicate one into his own. Through this dream state I remembered what it was like when he actually held my hand in his own. His skin was warm and — not exactly soft, but slightly calloused. The effect of his touch made me blush, in memory and in the dream. I watched as he lifted my hand to his face and gentle planted a kiss on my hand.

My skin burned from his kiss and a desire built up in my chest. Unlike my memory, my dream-Hades loved to taunt me. He kissed my hand again and again, trailing a line from my hand to my shoulder. A blush crept up my neck to my chests and he traced his soft warm lips over my collarbone. I made to sit up but his hand reached out and held me down on the ground. He trailed his kisses to my cheek which was probably tomato red. He chuckled and pulled away.

I sat up in a daze and looked at him in shock. My heart hammered at the sight of the Lord of the Underworld. I would never have guessed this was what he looked like. When I was a child, Mother rarely spoke of Hades. She had even forbidden Father and Aunt Hestia to speak of him. I supposed that at some point in their histories, Mother and Hades had a falling out that couldn't be explained. Whatever it was, she hated him dearly for it. Whenever she did speak of him, she made him sound like a horrid and hideous demon born from the very pits of Tartarus. She even said he had horns. Hades looked nothing like her descriptions. He was a gorgeous deity. I will confess that I have no idea of his true personality, but he did not seem as terrible as Mother suggested him to be.

I sat there, admiring his visage. I yearned to know what he was really like. I did not want to base my liking of him from only his looks. I knew Mother would never leave me in his presence, no matter who with me at the time. It seemed that Hades would always be a pure mystery to me. My eyes fixed down to the small scar on the left side of his lip. It was so faint that you would would dismiss it completely unless you truly focused on it. Gods did not usually keep such blemishes on their skin. They would heal them away. The only exceptions I knew of were Ares and Enyo, the war deities. They kept their battle scars as trophies.

Hades looked back at me and took up my head again. I savored the feel of his warmth on my skin. I watched as he came closer to me, only surveying me with seductive curiosity, exactly the same way he did when I had first met him. A blush kept up on my face again and he flashed another enchanting smile. He was my first infatuation. I would not call it love for I did not know him. Yet, somewhere in my soul, I yearned for it to be love. Yet it could never be so.

Every morning I woke up more dazed that I usually would be. My thoughts would drift to Hades, and then to Hecate, the goddess who accompanied him to Olympus and back. I could not understand why, but I was not very fond of her. Seeing her next to Hades made me uncomfortable. I wondered whether she was the woman who held his heart. She looked like the deity that would be his perfect queen: dark, mysterious, gorgeous, and seductive, just like him. If she was, I envied her. I was sure any woman to ensnare his affections would be envied by everyone.

Thinking about him sent new questions running through my head. He did not look like his siblings, though he resembled Poseidon through his lips and nose, and Aunt Hestia through ears and eye-shape. I wondered whom he inherited his beauty from. I had seen Rhea on Olympus during my departure and I knew that it could not have been her. She was fair-skinned with blond hair and light brown eyes. It must have been from his father, then.

"Kore, Kore where are you?" Demeter called out.

"I'm in the kitchen, Mother!" I called back. Agathe and Elsabe were setting out the table while Helicia, Ilana, and Libbi were outside picking fruits.

Mother walked into the kitchen briskly. "Oh, yes, there you are," she said sweetly. "Hestia will be joining us for dinner tonight, so be sure to wear your best dress."

"Yes, Mother," I said. She kissed my forehead and went outside into the garden to talk to the nymphs.

I went back to washing the vegetables. Then Agathe went ahead to cut them. Mother never trusted me around knives. They thought they were too dangerous for me to handle. I was three hundred years old, and yet she treated me like a child.

I was not a child!

I sighed and decided to go get a chalice of water when I heard someone knock at the front door. Elsabe went to answer it and started giggling when she saw who was on the threshold.

"Lady Demeter, you have a guest," she called out between giggles. I came out to see what amused her and saw none other than Hermes standing in the doorway. His curly blond hair was windswept and his silver-blue eyes twinkled when he saw me.

"Ah, Persephone, it is a pleasure to see you," he said with a warm smile. "May I be so boldest to ask of your good health? Many of the gods have been wondering and worrying about you in the company of your erratic mother."

"I am quite well, thank you," I reply graciously, suppressing a smile. "And may I inquire as to your health?"

"Very well, indeed," Hermes chuckled. I remembered what he had told me on my visit to Olympus. He liked to be extra-formal for fun. I must admit, it was quite humorous. The two of us fell into silent laughter as my Mother made an appearance. We straightened up quickly so she would not suspect our teasing.

"Lady Demeter," Hermes said, bowing respectfully to her. "You appear in good health."

"Thank you, Hermes," Mother said stiffly. "May I ask why you are here?"

Hermes nodded. "I am here on the behalf of Lord Zeus, Lord of the Sky and King of the Gods," Hermes said, sighing at the use of the title. "He has sent his invitation to all the gods of Olympus to be present on the seventh day of Maimakterion—"

"We will not attend," Mother interrupted him. "I never do, as you well know."

Hermes sighed. "Of course, I am aware of that, Demeter," he said. "But this invitation is for Persephone as well. And Lord Zeus believes she should have a say on whether to attend or not. He pleads that you have no interference."

Mother's face turned red with rage. "If I do not attend, then neither will she!"

"Attend what?" I asked. "What is this invitation?"

"It is nothing you should concern yourself in, Kore," Mother said stiffly. "Do go and help Agathe and Elsabe in the kitchen."

"But Mother—" I tried to protest.

"I will not be questioned, Kore, please go," Mother said sharply.

"Hmm," Hermes spoke up. "That will be quite a report I have for Lord Zeus. He did hope that you would be lenient to Persephone on this matter. He will not be pleased with this treatment."

I almost believed that Mother would throttle Hermes, but instead, she glared at him fiercely.

"You have no right," she said.

"In fact, I do," Hermes said. "Lord Zeus specifically asked me to tell him the events of this encounter."

Mother's eyes widened and she turned away, muttering something that she rarely ever said in my presence. "Very well, then, tell her," Mother grumbled. "But the choice will not be changed."

I glanced at Hermes. "What is the message you were sent to deliver?"

Hermes smiled at me. "Lord Zeus, Lord of the Sky and King of the Gods," Hermes sighed at the use of the title again, "has sent his invitation to Lady Demeter and her daughter Persephone to be present on the seventh day of Maimakterion for the Grand Celebration in honor of the birthday of the Eldest Son. Do you wish to attend?"

"A birthday celebration?" I asked in surprise. "Mother, that does not sound like something we should miss!"

Mother pursed her lips and said, "Considering whose birthday it is, I say we must."

"I do not want to be disrespectful," I disagreed. "I would be deeply hurt if someone refused to attend my birthday celebration. I agree to go."

"Persephone!" Mother protested, but I kept my eyes on Hermes.

"You shall tell Father that I will be there," I said.

Mother started ranting, but after fifteen minutes she realized that there would be no changing my decision.

"I shall be present as well," she said reluctantly. "Now, be off with you!"

She turned around and marched to the kitchen. Hermes chuckled lightly.

"Always so dramatic," he commented.

I smiled as he bowed and turned to leave. "Hermes," I called out. He turned to me. "Out of curiosity, whose birthday is it?"

He laughed. "I should have known you would not have recognized the title of the eldest son," he said with a grin.

I pouted and he laughed again. "May you please tell me?"

Hermes pulled his cloak over his tunic and his caduceus poked out from underneath. "The celebration is held for the eldest son of Kronos and Rhea," he said. "Can you guess who that is?"

My heart skipped a beat. The moment he said those words, I knew the god he spoke of. A shivered at the thought of seeing him again, and this time on his birthday. It was no wonder Mother threw a fit. I knew whose celebration it was.

I took a deep breath and muttered the name that made my heart tingle with anxiety and excitement.


So, that is the last chapter for this story. I promise that I will consider writing a full story, but I have a lot on my plate right now.