The Greek and Norse Gods had lived alongside one another for centuries, though not always comfortably or nobly. There was no blatant ill will between either kingdom but certainly they were not expected to always see eye to eye. Especially when one kingdom had an immature and - … had Zeus for a king. Still, they always made it as easy and best as possible. And when that didn’t work, they turned to marriage.
The grand and elegant hall was filled with the sounds of clinking silverware and voices. There was chattering and laughter, the loudest of which came from the younger gods.
Persephone shrieked with glee as Sif recounted the tale from their childhood of the time they scared Thor into running into his mother’s arms. Thor seemed to hold no resentment as he was laughing along with them, though a little more sheepishly. It wasn’t in his nature to be humbled, least of all by girls.
“Yes, well, I do believe Apollo and I got you back quite well for that little trick.” He gave a nod in Apollo’s direction and the Greek smiled proudly back.
“Persephone’s hair smelled for weeks.” Dionysus interjected; Psyche nodded in agreement beside him, cackling at the memory of the look on her best friend’s face.
“I tried to bat my eyelashes at Loki to fix that little issue but it didn’t seem to quite be his pace of magic.” Persephone smiled good-naturedly at Loki who looked out of place amidst the jovial group of childhood friends. He knew each of them as intimately as they knew each other as they had all grown up together but interacting with them was another matter entirely. He didn’t fit into the mold quite as easily as his brother.
Glancing out of the corner of her eye, Sif noticed the way he shifted uncomfortably at Persephone’s comment. Dark magic wasn’t exactly something one boasted about. She slipped her hand under the table and found Loki’s, giving it a gentle squeeze and she saw him relax.
No one else did apparently (and luckily) as Thor was bellowing for more ale. Persephone glanced up the table and leaned forward. “Hades, would you mind passing down that pitcher before Thor overturns the entire table?” She bit back her laughter when Thor kicked her from underneath the table.
The Greek god, cloaked in darker garment than the rest of the guests, looked up from speaking with Hera quietly in surprise, his eyes locking onto Persephone’s. He paused and for just a second, time seemed to stop before he cleared his throat. “Of course.” As he handed her the pitcher, their fingers brushed and he nearly dropped it with how quickly he turned back to his conversation and avoided further eye contact.
Persephone didn’t have time to dwell when Thor’s hands dove for the pitcher, sloshing some ale onto her. “Thor!”
“I’ve come up with a rather brilliant idea.”
In actuality, it had been Hera’s idea (and not only because it was her domain) but she knew better than to interrupt Zeus and say such a thing in front of other people. She also had a feeling that after some time, Odin and Frigga knew better as well whenever Zeus claimed he had an idea of some sorts (unless, of course, it was a horrible idea).
“Our domains have a good relationship, to be sure, but this would truly unite our kingdoms.”
Odin considered for a moment before speaking. “Go on.”
Zeus settled back, knowing there couldn’t possibly be any reason for this plan not to go through. “Persephone and Thor have gotten along since they were children. It only makes sense for them to be married.”
No look of surprise crossed Odin’s face though a happy smile suddenly lit up Frigga’s face and she took the lead before her husband could. “That sounds like a wonderful idea! It makes perfect sense.”
“I thought you might say that,” Zeus said smugly. “It really is quite an ingenious match, I know. I knew it was– ”
“We can start planning it immediately, after we’ve told them.” Hera interrupted calmly, placing her hand on Zeus’ knee.
“Very well. It’s time my son started taking matters a little more seriously.”
“Oh, I can promise you marriage doesn’t always rein them in.” Hera responded to Odin dryly.
“I’m getting married?! … To Thor?!”
“Gee, thanks, Seph, I didn’t want to marry you either!”
“How dare you not consult me! I am her mother!”
Zeus stared at them, bored of the shouting. “Well, I thought it was a good idea and luckily it’s mine and Odin’s words which go and not yours. The planning will commence immediately. This will be a strong bond for our kingdoms and it is a wise match.” He waited for them. “That’s it. You can go.” He waved his hand.
None of them moved, however. Demeter gritted her teeth and stood her ground. “What a wonderful speech Hera fed you. But I will not allow this. I had every right to be told and conferred with before the decision was made.”
“You don’t have a choice in the matter, Demeter,” Zeus said firmly. “I am your king and Persephone’s father. This is how it has always been done. Your arguing is not going to change anything.”
“I wasn’t spoken to at all, I wasn’t even warned, you can’t – ”
“Mother.” Persephone had stood and was holding on to her mother’s arm gently. She shook her head. “Let’s go home.” Demeter remained stubbornly planted for several moments before finally giving in and filing out of the throne room with her daughter and Thor.
“My, my, Thor, who would have ever seen the day coming?” Fandral said slyly, his lips curving into a smirk as he looked at his prince from across the fire pit. He continued dramatically, “It looks like I’ve lost my wing man because Hogun is far too aloof and Volstaag loves nothing so much as he loves food which is not the most attractive feature.” He looked over at the only female in the room. “Sif! I’m recruiting you!”
“I would rather jump off that balcony.” She responded shortly.
“You’ll bounce right back, obnoxious as ever, as you always do.”
“Can we back to the point?” Thor suddenly interrupted, pausing in his pacing for just a moment to whip his head towards them.
“What was the point again?” Volstagg looked up from his plate of quickly vanishing food, crumbles littered throughout his beard.
“The fact that I’m suddenly marrying Persephone for a start!”
“Then, for a start, we ought to congratulate you.” Loki spoke up calmly, lifting his goblet towards his older brother. “You and Persephone have always gotten along, this was almost predictable.”
“But she’s Persephone!”
“So?” Sif stepped towards Thor. “You’re a grown man and a prince. Getting married was always in your cards, just as it will be for Loki, and who better than Persephone? You will make a fine couple. Give it time, Thor, and you will see.”
Hogun looked up from next to Fandral. “Congratulations, Thor. This… will be good for you.” Everyone nodded in agreement and Thor’s shoulders relaxed.
“It still doesn’t change the fact that I can’t see her.”
“Oh, why not? You’re being absurd, pardon the bluntness.” Fandral asserted, scrunching up his face in disbelief and impatience. “Of course you can. In fact you should.”
“For once…” Sif began, eyebrows rising in surprise. “I agree with Fandral.”
“I knew you’d warm up to me.”
They were interrupted yet again by Thor who groaned this time. “It’s different now.” He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see his brother.
Loki spoke evenly. “I’ve seen you face the toughest of monsters in battle and always come out the victor and stronger. You can do this, brother.” He stared straight at Thor who stared back and the elder brother finally consented and nodded.
“Good.” Loki smiled and put his hand out towards the door. “If the plans have already started, you should see her sooner rather than later.”
Thor hesitated, looked at his brother again, and smiled a wide smile. He was chuckling as he left, clapping Fandral on the shoulder and saying something about still willing to be his wingman. The others trailed after them but Loki called out to Sif, making her stop and turn. When they were alone, he let his walls down. “Do you think about the day I’ll be married?”
“Of course I do. I love Persephone but she has nothing on me.” Loki looked taken aback and Sif laughed. “You’re a prince. Warriors weren’t made to marry princes but…” She smiled at him.
He wiped the smile from her face with a kiss, tender and fierce. “I need to go see someone.”
“Do you think Thor wants to marry Persephone?”
“I don’t think he’s ever thought about it.”
Loki considered for a moment and nodded. “I should be going.”
“Come back soon, Brother! I know how you get!”
Hades smiled as he turned and waved back at Hestia, feeling lighter after speaking with her, as he always did. Turning back around, he had only taken a couple steps when someone suddenly ran into him. He let out a little ‘oh’ in surprise and when he saw who it was, saw Persephone twirling a flower between her fingers, he felt his breath leave him as he clammed up.
“Oh, Hades! I didn’t expect to see you here.” She stood on her tip-toes and looked over his shoulders to see where he had been coming from. “Visiting Aunt Hestia?”
“Ah. Yes.” He replied stiltedly and shifted on his feet. “I, ah, believe I owe you congratulations.”
Persephone forced a nervous laugh, completely unaware of the way he had grit his teeth when he spoke. “I guess? I haven’t really thought about it too much. I don’t really know what to think, you know?”
“No, I don’t.” He said bluntly which took Persephone by surprise. She grew quiet suddenly and felt a blush creep up her neck from the way he was staring directly at her, his eyes an intense and emotional blue. He seemed to recognize the awkward silence and spoke up again. “But congratulations nonetheless. It will be the first marriage between the Greeks and the Norse. Undoubtedly it will be an excellent political match.”
“Gee, you really know how to compliment a girl.”
He suddenly looked taken aback and some color flushed his own appearance slightly. “I didn’t mean…” He stammered, lapsing into a loss for words. “I’m sure it will – I’m sure… I’m sure you’ll be… happy.” The last word was thick on his tongue and seemed unsure. He quickly averted his gaze to the ground and fought the urge to simply disappear back to the Underworld right then and there.
“We’ll see, I guess.” Persephone managed through the raging butterflies in her stomach. There was something in the way he looked back up at her. She had never seen him look that way at anyone in her whole life of knowing him, not even at Hestia. His eyes held such emotion. She had a feeling if she knew him better, she’d be able to know everything about him, just through his eyes. It made her suddenly feel self-conscious and even more uncertain over what was about to happen. “I should probably… my mother’s waiting for me.” The playfulness had disappeared from her voice.
“Of course, I shouldn’t have kept you, I just wanted…” He fell short again and swallowed nervously.
“You just wanted…?”
“I just wanted to… wish you good luck.” He said slowly, the lie obvious on his lips. “I should really be going now. If your mother were to see you speaking to me… well, your nuptials would become trivial to her.”
Persephone wanted to pry for a moment but she knew now wasn’t the time. She absently wondered if there would ever be a time. She dipped her head slightly, said her good-byes and quickly ran off, glancing back over her shoulder to see him disappear in a black shroud.
When Hades arrived in his domain, he found he could breathe a little easier. He rubbed a hand over his face and sighed. With a clear weight and exhaustion resting upon his shoulders, his cape rippled behind him as he made his way towards his throne room. However, it was not empty as he was expecting it to be.
“Excuse me – ” His voice started to rise with anger at the sight of someone sitting on his throne until he recognized who it was. “Loki. What are you doing here?”
“I thought that would have seemed obvious.”
“I’m not in the mood.”
“When are you ever in the mood?” Loki retorted. “Sometimes you’re as dramatic as my brother.” The glared he received from Hades only encouraged him more. “Speaking of Thor… I have a proposition for you.”
“Your propositions never end well.”
“Tsk, such little faith.” The god of mischief smirked, playing his words on his silver tongue delicately. “No, no. I think you will find this proposition… most inviting.”
“I highly doubt that.”
“Your feelings for Persephone will not go unnoticed much longer with her impending marriage.”
Hades suddenly flushed. “My – ” Gritting his teeth, he stared at the Norse god for several moments until finally speaking in an even voice. “I would suggest you remove yourself from my throne at once.”
Loki didn’t need to be told twice and as he stood, he continued talking as nonchalantly as he had been before. “Now would certainly be the time to claim what you desire, yes? I am aware of how… interpersonal your family acts but this would be your last, true opportunity. But before you think I am suggesting this to you out of pure selflessness, imagine how delightful it will be to cause a little mayhem as well.” He smirked deliciously at Hades, who had now rightfully seated himself in his throne.
“I don’t see what opportunity you’re possibly referring to.”
“Having Persephone as your own, of course!”
“She’s engaged to your brother, Loki. A much better match than to the Lord of the Underworld, I’m sure.” Hades spoke bitterly and shifted uncomfortably in his throne. For once it was not providing the source of power and confidence that he had always relied on. This was a topic he had been seeking to avoid at all costs and had been secure that he would have been able to. After all, it wasn’t as though he had gone around Olympus telling people how drawn he felt to Persephone, how much he had found himself caring for her. Loki had always been clever, however.
“Thor’s panicking. Perhaps you might even be doing them… a favor.”
Hades pursed his lips and for a moment found himself actually considering the possibility. Not of what it would be like to have Persephone as a wife – no, he had dreamt of that many times before – but rather that it could be real. He found his mind getting away from him, his heart starting to race at the mere idea. “I am not saying yes, Loki. But you may speak.”
Loki beamed with mischief. That was all he needed.
It had been several days since Persephone had had her run-in with Hades and still she found that it plagued her mind, replaying over and over again. Whenever she took a breather and stopped thinking about her impending nuptials to Thor, Hades was always right there, immediately snatching up the forefront spot in her mind.
She sighed and twisted the ends of the daisies together, the hot Olympian sun beating down favorably on her. She just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something Hades had been hiding. They had never been particularly close, mostly because he didn’t reside on Olympus. Still, he had always at least been courteous and gentle with her. Not that he hadn’t been a few days ago, simply that it was different. She so badly wished to talk to him again but any time she even thought about sneaking down to the Underworld for even a little bit, her stomach lurched and knotted up uncomfortably and she found herself shaking with nerves. Not to mention what would happen if her mother were to find out.
That was another matter that had become more prevalent on her mind. She had always known that her mother and Hades hadn’t gotten along but it never seemed an issue. She had never gotten to know Hades well enough to pass judgment and knew better than to question her mother at all regarding the subject. Suddenly he had become this figure in her life that was mysterious and intriguing and when she thought of him, she grew even more uneasy about the wedding.
She looked up, jolted from being unexpectedly disturbed from her thoughts. “Thor? What are you doing here?”
“I… meant to come see you a few days ago but…” For once in the god’s life, he sounded unsure and anxious.
“I understand.” She finished for him kindly, hoping to put him at some sort of ease. They were going to get nowhere if they were both too nervous to get a full thought out. She pushed herself up from the ground and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been well, thank you.” He cracked a smile and Persephone couldn’t help but smile back, despite the way her stomach was fluttering. “I have been thinking of you.”
She felt a flush rise to her cheeks. “I…” Words escaped her. She had been thinking of him, of the upcoming wedding but right now the only thought that came to her was Hades. “There’s a lot to think of.” She finally said and looked away to avoid seeing that look of hesitation cross his face. She was brought back to him when she felt her hand being pulled towards him.
“The more I think of it, the more it makes sense. Our marriage.” His hand was gentle on hers. She had expected it to be coarser, with thick skin from the leather handle of Mjolnir. She absently wondered what Hades’ hands felt like.
“It was certainly a surprise.” Her voice was a tremor, her entire body deflated. She was certain this was not how she should be feeling. It must have only been jitters. They were normal, she told herself. Her lips tightened into a smile. Thor would be a good husband. “But I think you’re right.” She saw the way Thor relaxed as she spoke and a breath escaped her. “We have gotten along our entire lives, this is good.”
“Oh, I am glad to hear you say that.” He lit up and then took her by the arm to lead her down the path. He was much larger than her and could easily steer her with as much as a nudge. She went willingly, however, but looked over her shoulder at the last moment to glance at her abandoned daisies.
A good night’s sleep was the best cure, they always said. As sunlight streamed through the window, Persephone began to stir awake. Her arms stretched above her head as she kicked off her blankets. Smiling came naturally. Her eyes fluttered open and she inhaled deeply. Everything felt more at peace. Her marriage to Thor no longer loomed ominously over her head like a threatening cloud, ready to cause storms and rain at any moment. As she rolled over to rest her eyes for only a few more moments, a flash of color caught her gaze. Blinking, she pushed herself up and reached a hand out to grab the piece of papyrus that was attached to the bouquet of flowers.
“Persephone, good luck.” She whispered the words as she leaned back into her pillows and turned over the parchment again and again. That was all it said. Her mind immediately jumped to her conversation with Hades. Her stomach churned as she slid further down the bed. “Good luck.” She repeated as she furrowed her brow. “That’s ridiculous.” Her breath quickened for a moment before she shook her head. “They must be from Thor.” The conclusion she came to was unconvincing, even to herself, but it made the most sense and she simply didn’t have the patience to accept any other possibility.
After staring at the piece of papyrus for what she would later deem an unnecessarily long time, she threw off the covers and tucked the parchment back into the bouquet. She paused for a moment and let her fingers trace the edge of a petal. The bouquet was gorgeous. Flowers had always been a cliché gift for her but there was something about this bouquet that made her lips curve upwards into a smile. She told herself it was because she had never thought of Thor as the thoughtful type.
Satisfied with the answers she had been providing for herself throughout the morning, she began her daily ritual of getting ready. She was planning on visiting Asgard today.
As she was finishing putting her hair up, one hand reached out to open the door and she had to stop herself short when going to step outside. “Sif!” She cried out in surprise. “What are you doing here?”
The raven haired Asgardian warrior’s smile fell a little. “Did I come at a bad time? I probably should have let you know I was coming first. Though I hadn’t actually planned it.” She rambled a bit before deciding to just settle with an inquisitive but friendly look.
“I was actually on my way to Asgard. Please, come in!” Persephone stepped out of the way and allowed her childhood friend to cross the threshold. It hadn’t been Sif who Persephone had been planning to go and speak to in Asgard but upon seeing her, it struck Persephone that this is precisely who she should talk to.
“Would you rather we both go back to Asgard?”
Persephone hadn’t thought of it. Wondering for a moment, she ultimately decided against it. “No, no, it’s really all right. You’re here already anyway! Would you like anything?” When Sif had told her “just a drink”, she made her way to the kitchen to fetch water.
“These are lovely flowers!” Sif called through to Persephone, tracing a finger along the petals. “Who are they from? Are they congratulatory flowers?”
“There’s no name but I think they’re from Thor.” Persephone’s smile was wide as can be as she emerged and they both sat at the table. “We had a lovely talk and we’re both feeling optimistic about the marriage.” It sounded convincing and that had to mean it was genuine. Seeing Sif had sent away the previous doubts she had harbored concerning the flowers and who they were from. Seeing Sif reminded her of Thor and of Asgard and the duty that had now fallen onto her shoulders and that she could be happy with said duty.
“Thor? Really?” Sif looked over her shoulder back at the flowers and with an expression of doubt, turned back to Persephone.
“You don’t… think so?”
“Thor’s not really the flowers type. And if he suddenly became the flowers type, we would know about it from the inevitable and incessant bragging he would insist upon to express how gallant and romantic he is.” She waved her hand dramatically. “Or he’d be in an absolute panic about how you would receive and react to the flowers as he has been nearly pulling his hair out over this marriage since it was announced.”
All of this came at Persephone quite at once and hit her with a considerable amount of force. First, she was now confronted with the issue again of who the flowers were from. Sif knew Thor better than Persephone in many ways and she was quite comfortable with believing and trusting her on this issue. Secondly, she had known Thor was nervous about the sudden development in their relationship, just as she had been, but Sif made it sound far worse than Thor had ever expressed to her. Then again, one thing she did know about Thor was his aversion to conveying anything that even remotely looked like a weakness. Suddenly everything had become complicated again, all because of a bouquet of flowers.
“…Persephone?” The goddess jumped as a hand waved in front of her face and she turned her eyes towards Sif once more. “Are you all right? You got lost in thought there for a while.”
“What? Oh! Yeah, of course! Just… curious about who the flowers are really from then.” Well, it wasn’t a complete lie. In fact it wasn’t a lie at all; it was simply leaving bits and pieces out.
“They didn’t leave any name at all?” Sif drummed her fingers on the table at the shake of Persephone’s head and hummed softly. “Odd that they wouldn’t want you to know who they are with such a nice gesture. Unless they want you to guess…”
“Maybe.” Persephone suddenly didn’t want to talk about this anymore. “But it’s not that big of a deal. They’re lovely and I’m grateful to whoever brought them.” She smiled a tight smile, urging Sif with it to leave the flowers alone.
Sif had no trouble understanding what Persephone had been implying with that smile. “He’ll make a good husband, you know. Thor. You and I both know how much he’s grown up. When the day comes for him to rule Asgard, he will do a fine job of it.” She held up a hand as Persephone started with a comment. “I know you know. But you’re scared – and allowed to be. I’m just trying to help take some of that weight off your shoulders by reiterating it.”
Persephone pressed her lips together and bowed her head slightly in appreciation. “I’m glad you came to visit, Sif.”
“I am as well.” Sif responded with a bright smile. “You mentioned you were on your way to Asgard. Would you like to accompany me back? Undoubtedly there are… several there who would want to see you.” She made a pointed note to leave out the obvious implication of Fandral’s name who had been trying to win Persephone’s heart since childhood and (not so) secretly lamented about her marriage to his Prince recently. Granted, Fandral made dramatic gestures about nearly every Greek goddess.
Persephone considered for a moment. “I think I better not. I’ll see everyone soon for the wedding and your visit turned out to be all I needed.”
Psyche delicately placed a flower in Persephone’s hair and smoothed down any pieces of hair that were sticking out in odd places. Once finished, she turned her head to gaze in the mirror. Persephone was doing the same. Both girls held their breath, mesmerized and caught in their own thoughts regarding the day. It wasn’t until Psyche squeezed Persephone’s shoulders out of affectionate habit that both girls jumped and laughed nervously. “You look stunning,” Psyche said in a soft tone, unable to stop fussing with her hair. “No one will be able to take their eyes off of you, least of all Thor.”
Persephone could feel herself flush a deep scarlet without having to even look in the mirror. She turned slightly in her seat to look up at Psyche. “Is this really happening? Am I… getting married? To Thor?”
The blonde smiled eagerly and nodded. “You are. And you can, too.” Psyche moved a hand down to grasp one of Persephone’s. Psyche had always been one of Persephone’s closest friends, if not the closest, and yet today her presence couldn’t dispel the butterflies from Persephone’s stomach as usual.
Just as she was about to say something, there was a light knocking on the door and Psyche was on her way to answer it. Persephone didn’t pay any attention to whoever it could have been or the conversation until Psyche called her name. “Apparently there’s an issue with the decorations. I’ll be back soon, all right?” Waiting only for a moment, Psyche quickly slipped out and shut the door behind her.
Persephone turned back towards the mirror and stared, unblinking, at her reflection. Alone with her thoughts. Not the ideal situation she had hoped for today. Still, she found herself unable to simply dismiss all the thoughts that were flooding her mind and instead was left with the option to confront them head on. There was one in particular that kept jumping out in front. The conversation she had had with Sif only a few days ago had been on her mind ever since. She was grateful for it and yet it also made her nervous and queasy and unsure if she was really fit for this.
Sif was right – Thor would make a good husband. Persephone merely wondered if he would make a good husband for her. Being childhood friends did not automatically make them compatible as husband and wife. Not to mention all the similarities he had to her father. The jokes had always been made that Thor was in so many ways more like Zeus than Odin but it was only upon being faced with the prospect of marrying him that it hit her just how true it was. She scrunched up her nose at the thought before leaning forward and resting her forehead on the top of the vanity. Suddenly the thought of marrying Thor gave her a sinking feeling in the pit of stomach as if her confidence had been stripped away from her.
She was broken out of her train of thought with a knocking on the door. Sitting up, she turned quizzically and called out to whoever it was to come in. Psyche surely would have just come in. Perhaps it was Artemis. Yes, it must have been. Artemis undoubtedly would knock. The person who walked in, however, shutting the door behind them, wasn’t Artemis at all. They weren’t even close. “Hades?” Persephone found herself slowly standing up, lips parted in surprise and she became unexpectedly very aware of her appearance in the wedding dress.
“Pardon the intrusion.” Hades started towards her and then stopped and she was acutely aware of the way his eyes were roaming. “You look… beautiful.” The word came out in a whisper, as if it was sacred upon his lips and she found herself abruptly looking at the floor, the blush rapidly taking its place once more.
She finally managed a shy but sincere ‘thank you’ before looking back up at him. She swallowed nervously and felt her stomach twist. “And thank you for the flowers as well.” A trace of confidence laced itself back into her voice.
“Ah, so you figured out they were from me?”
“It wasn’t hard to tell.” She had convinced herself they were from Thor but admittedly her first thought had been Hades, as much as she had tried to dissuade herself from that. “They were beautiful. But… what were they for? And how on Olympus did you get them into my room?”
Hades chuckled and she noticed how at ease he seemed to be and it surprised her when it suddenly brushed away some of her own nerves. “I think the answer to your first answer is quite obvious given the card. As for the second…well, it helps having someone I’m close to and who’s particularly supportive of me on Olympus.”
Persephone didn’t even need to think about it. “Hestia.”
“So…” Persephone looked around the room. “What are you doing here now?” She said it curiously; she didn’t want to sound accusatory in any way or make it seem like she was trying to chase him out. In fact, that was the last thing she wanted. It took her a little by surprise but genuine curiosity was getting the better of her and for all the times he had been on her mind over the past several days, the chance to talk to him was much more than just appealing.
“Ah. That is… a trickier question.” He shifted on his feet and took a few steps, surveying the room, not looking her in the eye.
“I fear this may be my last and only chance. I, ah, had some… help securing my chance to be able to talk to you…” He didn’t mention Loki by name but the implication was there enough. He gestured to the room, to the fact that they were the only two people here. “Alone.” He finished and instantly took note of the way she seemed taken aback. This wasn’t going to be easy.
“Your last chance to…?” She felt the butterflies in her stomach start to thunder but she could not place why. There was something in his tone. His hesitation and gentleness, his fear and timidity, the fact that he was being so talkative at all. She took a step forward. “Hades, what is it? What’s going on?”
He looked straight at her when she moved closer to him. He visibly drew a breath, keeping his eyes locked to make sure they didn’t waver or let himself get carried away with imaginings. “Persephone, how do you… feel about marrying Thor?”
“I… feel I don’t have a choice? I’ve come to understand it’s a sensible match. I think – I hope – it shall bring me happiness.” She saw from his expression that it wasn’t what he had been hoping to hear. She felt like she needed to make amends for whatever reason. She swallowed. “Of course I don’t know anything for sure. I’ve never really thought about marriage, least of all to Thor. I mean, he’s one of my best friends and I’ve grown up with him but to think of kissing him? Or marrying him? It was – ” Then she realized she had started babbling and immediately stopped. She flushed and looked down, conscious of all that she had just said and mentally kicked herself, asking why over and over again. It was something she really needed to work on.
Hades was dumbfounded at how to respond to the onslaught of information she had just given him. All her words raced through his mind and were lost in the chaos. Sentences started to not make sense and any semblance of understanding the situation at hand had become false. He opened his mouth to speak several times but nothing came out. He was at a complete loss until –
“I love you.”
At first Hades wasn’t sure who said the words but the look on Persephone’s face cleared that up in an instant. He blanched and looked away, panic taking over his entire body.
He couldn’t take it back now. He couldn’t pretend he had said something else or meant it in an entirely different context. Those three little words hung in the air between them with the weight of the world. He took another breath. This is what he had come to do. Just a few more steps. “I love you.” He repeated the words and they sounded more natural this time. He said it with conviction and looked at her when he did. He was letting his walls down and it terrified him. “I’ve loved you for… years. And I had to tell you before…” He waved his hand to the room. “This.”
It was Persephone’s turn to be at a loss for words. She knew he was telling the truth. What surprised her so much about the confession, however, was how much it didn’t surprise her. This is what had been gnawing away at her. Before she could say anything, he continued.
“I know this isn’t the most opportune moment. I know Thor is… much better suited to you. He is young and handsome and a prince. He is much more personable than I and you know him much better. I simply… couldn’t let this go unsaid any longer.”
Persephone shook her head and smiled sadly at him. “You shouldn’t sell yourself short like that.” Hades moved his head back at her comment and a flash of hope cross his face. She fidgeted at the sight, unsure if that was what she had been intending. What struck her most about this very surreal moment was how… calm she felt. She was sure the proper response would be to absolutely panic over being propositioned with love on her wedding day by a man other than her fiancé. There was something that drew her into Hades and she recalled all the times she had spent thinking about him since her wedding to Thor was announced. Everything became clear — how nervous he had been around her, the flowers, the brush of their fingers at the banquet.
It made her breath catch in her throat. Hades’ lack of a queen, of a wife, had always made her wonder, even if it had been subconsciously. It was clear now why as she took particular note of the way he spoke, his belief of his own stigma on himself laced throughout his words. It made her heart reach out to him.
“I have no… expectations by telling you this. I understand you will be marrying Thor this day. Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you that I believe you would make a… fine queen but I finally know I need to. This is unfair to you, I know, and you can forget this entirely once I leave, I just – ”
“I don’t want to forget,” she blurted out.
She hardly knew what she was saying herself. She looked at Hades and couldn’t shake the sudden desire to find out more about the Underworld, what it must be like to have been alone for all this time, what it would feel like to kiss him. These weren’t the thoughts she should be having before her wedding but logic had vanished the moment he told her he loved her. And the moment she found she wasn’t surprised by it and wasn’t scared by it. The moment she suddenly found her heart fluttering the way it never had around Thor.
“I don’t want to forget. About right now or what you said.” She took several steps towards him, so close she had to crane her neck to look up at him. She was wringing her hands together and she couldn’t place the look on his face. Panic, hope, fear; all the things she was mirroring towards him.
He hesitated in fear of scaring her off or that he was latching onto false hope. “What are you saying, Persephone?”
“I-I don’t know! I… I…” And then she did exactly what she shouldn’t do on her wedding day to another. She grabbed the fabric of Hades’ robes tightly, knuckles turning white, and pulled him towards her to kiss him hard. His immediate shock was evident by his gasp and how he froze up. When he registered what was happening, she was enveloped by his arms and her breath was kissed out of her. She melted into him and pressed close, her pulse racing, her heart pounding, her knees buckling. She felt a jolt of pleasure in the pit of her stomach and her lips spread into a smile against his.
That smile vanished as they pulled apart, their breaths intermingling in their pants, and was replaced by a look of shock and feeling of dread over what had just happened. Hades matched it with his own look of confusion. “Ohhhh gods, that did not just happen. We just kissed – ” She gasped. “You just stole my first kiss!” She swatted him on the arm.
“What? You kissed me!”
The truth dawned on her. “I just had my first kiss,” she whispered to herself. She didn’t whisper about the part where it had been a really nice first kiss. “My first kiss was going to be this wedding! I’m about to get married, Hades, and I – ”
“You don’t have to.”
“ - when all I really – ” Persephone suddenly stopped herself and looked back at Hades, finally recognizing that he had spoken. “What?”
“You don’t have to get married to Thor.” Hades repeated himself and looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
“What? Yes, of course I do! It was my father’s decision. Remember him? You know, king of the gods and all.”
“Yes, I know him quite well. Brother and all.” He mimicked the hand motion she had made, as well as the tone of her voice and then frowned. “Persephone, I’m a Lord in my own right of my own realm. A realm that is very noticeably missing a queen. You can still get married today. Just not to Thor.”
The words hit Persephone like a ton of bricks and she stared at him, dumbfounded. “Marry you?” And she regretted the way she said that the instant his face fell. She hastily reached for his hands without thinking about it. “That’s not what I meant!” She forced a nervous laugh. “I only just came to terms with marrying Thor – sort of – and it’s all a little overwhelming? Don’t get me wrong, Hades – ”
She was stopped by his lips in another searing kiss and immediately found herself giving in. She dropped his hands, not realizing she had still been holding them, and moved her own hands into his hair. She wasn’t sure how it generally went with kisses but she felt she could safely say that her second kiss was even better than her first. And that she could easily get used to kissing him. When he pulled away, hands resting gently on her hips, she felt herself in a daze. Here she was thinking kisses only left you breathless in stories.
“Marry me, Persephone. Become my queen.” Hades whispered. She smiled to herself as she rested her head against his chest. Yes, that sounded nice. She would be a queen instead of a princess. She frowned suddenly at the thought of everyone waiting outside of this room, of Thor and Sif and her mother – oh gods, her mother. If she hadn’t been okay with her marrying Thor, Persephone couldn’t imagine what her mother would do if she surprised everyone by marrying Hades. Now it was all getting too complicated and was she really considering marrying Hades –
He squeezed her hips lightly, making her jump and she looked up at him and saw that look on his face, the one that had I love you written all over it and yes, she was really considering marrying Hades.
“Yes, I’ll marry you.” She whispered back, not believing she had just said that but grinning like mad anyway. He matched her smile and kissed her again. This kiss was more tender, like a promise and she knew she had made the right choice. Even when he suddenly wrapped his cape around her and disappeared both of them to the Underworld without warning.
She looked around wildly. “You just kidnapped me from my own wedding!”
The fallout from the new wedding that had taken place beneath everyone’s noses was, as Persephone had predicted, immense. Her friends and siblings overtook her with confusion and questions about when her affair with Hades had started, if he had tricked her, how it felt to be Queen. Odin and Frigga were shocked and disappointed and demanded from Zeus how this could have happened. The worst, however, came from Demeter. She was livid. She ordered her daughter be returned to her at once for the Underworld was no place for the Goddess of Spring, especially with a man as vile and wretched as Hades who snatched Persephone away against her will. Persephone knew her mother would never understand and so a deal was struck. She would spend winters in the Underworld with Hades and summers on Olympus with the rest of her family. It wouldn’t be easy but she was confident it would work out this way.
“Something tells me I’m supposed to be angry with you.”
Persephone looked up suddenly from gazing at the pond. “Thor!” She quickly pulled her feet out and stood, nerves washing over her. This was the first she had seen him on her own after she, well, left him for another god. “Are you? I mean, obviously. That’s a silly question. Of course you are. And you have every right to be. I wasn’t sure I’d ever even see you again. Oh. Have you come to tell me that this is the last time you’ll be seeing me? Because that’s okay. I mean, that’s your choice. It would suck. I still care about you and you know, like, I was hoping we were still gonna be friends and all. We had that wonderful prank planned for – ”
“Persephone, Persephone!” He chuckled and smiled as though it was the easiest thing in the world. She felt her shoulders relax at that smile and the blush hit her instantly as she realized she had been babbling again. “I am not angry with you. I still care about you very much and Dionysus absolutely has no idea what’s going to hit him.”
She let out a very noticeable sigh of relief. “Oh thank the gods, this has been eating away at me. It was all kind of chaotic afterwards and so unfair to you but I had been so nervous to talk to you.”
“Well now you know there’s no need for that. In fact, I should probably thank you.”
“I didn’t realize it until after the fact. I do care about you, very much, which is no lie. But… marriage perhaps is not what I would have chosen for myself. I think it is something I can deal with later. You will make an excellent wife, of course, just not for me.”
“Ah, so we should thank your brother then, as well?” She smirked.
“No, no, that would only serve to wound his ego. If he knew he had actually helped me, he would be disappointed.”
“At least that’s how it would seem.” She shot him a knowing look and his silence was enough of an admission for her. “Surely he’s pleased with the mess he helped to cause, though?”
“Oh, you know Loki. He’s never quite entirely pleased with anything.”
She smiled and grasped his hands in hers. “I’m so glad we can still be friends.”
“As am I. And I… cannot pretend to understand this sudden development between you and Hades, especially when you could have had me, but you seem happy.”
“I am. I don’t expect many people to understand it. I don’t even understand it fully myself! But it feels right.” She shrugged and grinned goofily despite herself. The feeling of being freshly married and crowned a queen definitely hadn’t worn off yet.
He conceded and bowed his head for a moment. “Then it seems things worked out as they should have.”
“I think so!” She looped her arm through his and steered him to begin walking. “Now, about Dionysus.”
“And how he is absolutely in need of a lesson and some comeuppance? I couldn’t agree more. I was thinking a chariot and peacocks…”