Hades, God of the Underworld, wasn’t generally a particularly smug deity (especially when one compared him to his insufferable siblings).
He liked being God of the Underworld. It might not be high profile like Zeus and Poseidon, he might not be the most popular god, but it was quiet (his freaking name meant ‘unseen one’). He had the whole wealth of the world, a beautiful bride who had brought life to his dreary realm, and two beautiful daughters.
Life, for the deathless God, was good, despite the unconventional arrangement where his wife visited his mother-in-law for three months out of the year.
He didn’t like that part. When Persephone and the girls left him for three months, all alone with nothing but all the dead, a subterranean castle full of shambling servants, and his three-headed dog Cerberus, he generally pouted for most of the time Persephone was away.
In fact, he preemptively started pouting several weeks before his wife actually left.
He turned to his wife as they lay, snuggled together in bed. “It’s been millennia.” It was beneath his dignity as the God of Death to run his lip out, but that didn’t stop him from making puppy dog eyes at the lovely goddess by his side.
His wife pulled her rich curls out of the way and listened with hooded eyes. “Couldn’t your mother reduce the time? Maybe just one month per year?”
“She’s already giving you more time than she did in the beginning love.” Her unlined brow creased for a moment. “But I will speak to her. Perhaps Mother will allow us to re-negotiate the deal.”
“Do you think she might?”
Persephone kissed his lips sweetly. “Perhaps. Though you might consider the cost. My mother is the Goddess of the Harvest…she is the very embodiment of balance. She won’t be inclined to give up her visits cheaply.”
He pulled her down to the one million thread count sheets that were woven by the Hesperides out of the apple blossoms they guarded. “I have the wealth of the whole world my love. There is no cost too high to keep you by my side.”
Three weeks later, Hades paced in the marble halls of his domain. His wife had left for her mother’s house, intent on renegotiating.
The smell of apples, freshly cut hay, and baking bread filled the antechamber.
“Demeter.” Hades wasn’t particularly enchanted to see his mother-in-law. Her fury at Persephone’s abduction had never really abated. She also always had wheat or some other farm fresh produce literally on her person, and it was just a bit declassee’. His wife, on the other hand, smelled of flowers, which was far more appropriate for a goddess.
Demeter looked down her rather handsome nose at him. “Hades. My daughter tells me that you wish to bargain for even more of my time.”
“She is my wife.”
“She is my daughter. And she has duties on Earth that she cannot neglect. She might be the Queen of the Underworld, but she is still Goddess of Spring.”
Hades poured wine for both of them, and the goddess accepted a cup. “She could take a new title. Gods do it all the time.”
Demeter paused. “She could.” Then she met his eyes and raised one golden brow. “But why would I allow it?”
Hades paused. He could offer her the riches of the underworld, but it would never be enough.
She snorted. “You were once better at bargaining.”
He shrugged. “You have the only thing of worth in the entire world when you keep my wife and daughters from me.”
She met his eyes, and he remembered for along moment that he had stolen his wife from this goddess…and she was not known for her forgiving nature.
“Very well. I have a proposition for you. If you grant me access to the underworld at my discretion, to come and go as I please, then I will allow my daughter to take on a new title that will not require her to remain on Earth three months of the year.”
“She can stay with me.” Hades wanted to make certain he wasn’t being tricked…Demeter’s smirk was entirely too self-satisfied.
The goddess nodded.
“What title will you allow her to take?”
“Any title she chooses.”
Hades grinned. “Done.”
Demeter cackled loudly and snapped her fingers as an avalanche of luggage fell on top of him. “Then show me to the guest room. Persephone will be home after dark.”
“What is she doing?”
“Taking over my position as Goddess of the Harvest, of course.”
“Because I wanted to retire and spend time with my daughter and my grandchildren before they grow up and start building little mini-pantheons of their own. What did you think I was training my daughter for as Goddess of Spring? I am the Goddess of Balance, of seasons. If there is anyone who knows when it’s time to retire, it’s me.”
Hades snapped his jaw closed, because it had been open long enough to dry out his mouth. “My wife knew.”
Demeter started redecorating his antechamber with a wave of her hand. All of the imposing black marble and gold inlay was gone. Everything was done in roosters and checkered print.
She smirked at him. “As I said before, she’s my daughter. I have no idea why you thought that apple had fallen far from the tree.”
Vanessa Wells lives with her family deep in an enchanted forest (in Texas). Her hobbies include writing, drinking tea and coffee, reading, writing some more, and cooking. She battles daily infestations of plot bunnies…and dust bunnies, but that’s another matter entirely.
Vanessa is the author of the Seventeen Stones Trilogy and the Topeka, TX Chronicles, and the AREA 52 short series.
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