Finally broke the damn writing slump, thanks to kalonrain on fanfiction.net (because I just read their in-progress fic “Dark Temptation”). I’ve had this idea in the back of my mind for ages now, but finally got it down in written form. Have a sort-of swaplocked Hades & Persephone AU ficlet. Rated T and soon to be posted to AO3 and fanfic.net.
She awakens from a restless night’s sleep, dreams of an unseen lover still clouding her mind, and so it’s hours later before she notices the round, red mark on her right wrist. Frowning, she concentrates, but the mark remains, stubborn and colorful and reminding her of something…of what, she has no idea. It’s simply a teasing thought at the back of her mind, one even the Goddess of Death can’t pluck into the light and examine.
So she decides to wait, to see what happens; when nothing does, she shrugs it off, having far more important matters to see to than a random red dot on her wrist, even if it appeared there without her willing it into existence. Perhaps her sister-goddess, the all-powerful Zeus (whom she still calls Sally, childhood nicknames and rivalries never being laid to rest between them) has decided to visit this upon her. To give her a mystery to dwell on, or to perhaps lure her up to Olympus for a visit.
Hades (whom Sally still calls Molly, because the childhood nicknames and rivalries run both ways) refuses to give in, if that’s the case. There’s no pain, no itching or other malaise, so whatever it is she can safely ignore it. She’s the Goddess of Death, after all; anything not having to do with the care and maintenance of the souls in her realm is of no consequence. She takes her duties seriously - perhaps too seriously, Sally would say, but it’s no light burden she bears. It would be nice, perhaps, to find someone to share that burden with, but she pushes that thought away. Every assignation or attempt at a relationship more permanent than a single night’s pleasure had ended in disaster, whether with another God, Goddess or mortal.
Alone protects her, she tells herself as she prepares for sleep, not for the first time. Alone keeps her safe.
The next morning she looks automatically to her wrist, and curses aloud when she sees a second red mark, identical to the first. If this is Sally’s idea of a joke or a subtle summons, it’s a poor one, and she’s of half a mind to pop up to Olympus just to tell her so. But no, that’s exactly what Sally would want; being Queen of the Gods went to her head long ago, and Molly refuses to play her games.
However, when the third dot appears the next morning, she decides enough is enough. She’s about to send herself to her sister’s throne and give her a piece of her mind when finally the teasing thought she’s been chasing makes itself known. A seed, she thinks. This is an image of a seed.
But what kind of seed? And why three of them on her wrist? Unlike the other gods who dwell in Olympus and in the mortal realm, she’s never bothered to vary her diet; nectar and ambrosia, the food of the Gods, has always been more than enough to sustain her. So she’s not very familiar with things like fruits and nuts, flowers and trees.
But she knows there are many who do know such things; Gods and Goddesses…and mortals. One of them will be able to identify the seed for her, even if they might not know why they’ve appeared on her wrist, and that will perhaps give her insight into the reason this is happening.
She cloaks herself in her darkest, most elegant gown, takes care with her hair and cosmetics, closes her eyes, and wills herself to the side of whoever it might be that can answer her question with the least amount of difficulty - not her sister, anyone but Sally, she thinks before she vanishes from the underworld and finds herself in a small orchard.
The mortal realm, she notes, and a mortal man, who is rising slowly from where he’d been kneeling on the grass, one hand still outstretched to grasp a fallen pear to place into his basket.
He’s rather beautiful, she notices, blinking in surprise at herself; she thought she’d trained that sort of reaction out of herself millennia ago. His head is a tumble of dark curls, his eyes green-blue and slanted in a cat-like manner, his lips full and plush, his cheekbones sharp, his form slim and fit beneath the dark tunic he wears. His sandal-clad feet are large, as are his hands, although his fingers are long and elegant. There’s a lyre resting against the basket, and she’s not at all surprised that he’s something of a musician as well as a gardener. “Do you know who I am?” she asks, not using the full power of her voice on him. After all, if he falls unconscious she’ll have to go through the tedium of waiting for him to awaken and answer her questions.
Ignoring the traitorous thought that watching him sleep would not necessarily be a burden, she keeps her gaze trained on him.
He nods as he finally makes his way to his feet, his outward impassivity matching her own, and impressing her quite a bit. Surprising for a mortal confronted by any Goddess, but especially the Goddess of Death.
“You’re Death, Hades,” he says, his voice a surprisingly deep baritone for so young a mortal - and he is quite young, just beginning his twenty-first year. She senses that automatically, the way she can tell the age of any soul she comes across, mortal or immortal, that innate ability the one that had caused her sister to offer her the realm of Death to rule over a thousand lifetimes ago.
She reaches out, allowing the folds of her dark stole to fall away from her wrist, and his eyes flicker to the three red circles imprinted there. “Tell me what you see.”
“The seeds of the punica granatum,” he says promptly, speaking a language she knows doesn’t exist yet. “The fruit of the dead.” He’s tugging at the leather wrist-guard on his left wrist, lifting the ties to his teeth in order to pull them free of their knots. He’s worn this for a long time, she can tell, and wonders at both his impossible knowledge and his actions.
Once he finally frees the ties, he removes the entire guard, dropping it to the ground and raising his wrist up for her to see. On it are three identical red pomegranate seeds. She sucks in a startled breath, and he smiles. “I’ve had them since birth. A soothsayer told my parents it marked me for Death, and that on my twenty-first birthday, Death would come for me.”
“And so I have,” she says softly, wonderingly, moving closer to him and resting her wrist against his so that the seeds line up together.
There’s a flare of light, a tingle of heat, and she feels some of her immortality seeping into this mortal boy’s blood. The seeds vanish, and understanding floods through her. She raises her head toward the sky, shaking it and smiling, privately vowing that she’ll find a way to pay her sister back for this - or thank her, one way or the other. “Meddling matchmaker,” she mutters, then smiles softly at her new soon-to-be lover. “Come along then,” she says, holding out her hand. “There’s much you have to learn about the underworld…and, I suspect, much you’ll have to teach me as well.”
“Sherlock,” he says with a half-smile curling his delectable lips. “In case you were wondering what my name was.”
“And you, my dear one, can call me Molly.” She kisses him, and he returns the kiss with enthusiasm rather than skill, and she knows that one of the many things she’ll be teaching him is the pleasures of the bedroom.
After all, he’s been saving himself for her all his life; it’s the very least she can do to repay him for his patience.