There will be hints of spice almost to the point of being a little steamy, but nothing explicit since I want to keep this in a T rating. I hope everyone enjoys this, and forgive me for any grammar mistakes or odd word choices, I know they're there, but I'll edit them out when I get the chance. School is one of my top priorities and writing is my stress reliever, lol. Once more, all characters belong to their respective owners, with the exception of Chise, Persephone, and Aristotle who belong to me.

Simon awoke to a familiar weight on his chest. Smiling, he opens his eyes and sees his daughter's brilliant head of red hair spilling out and around her cute little face. He chuckles, gently playing with his little girl's feather-soft hair. It's like this every morning; little Chise will get up, long before either of her parents and sneak into their bedroom until it was time for everyone to get up for breakfast.

Simon turns attention to his wife, Persephone, sleeping peacefully beside them.

Simon found Persephone sitting alone under a tree with a book in her lap. She looked perplexed as she tried to make out the words written on the first page of the text.

Not wanting to scare her, Simon waved his hand, calling out to her, "Good afternoon, Persephone, how are you feeling?" It has been two weeks since Persephone's return and so far she was the happiest girl in all the know worlds. Every day seemed to bring her utter joy, even in unfavorable weather. No matter what the day brought, rain, snow, sunshine, or intense heat, she always found a reason to be happy, and that made Simon happy.

The Phoenix Shifter chirps merrily, shifting over and patting a spot next to her as in invitation. Simon smiles and sits down next to her, "What are you reading?" He inquires curiously, noting the deep red and gold book in her hands. There was a picture of a tall, almost menacing silhouette of a creature with a skull head, and a young girl in a school uniform, staring at one another. "The Ancient Magnus' Bride," Simon read aloud, "I've heard of this one, Orion said it was very good. Do you like it, Persephone?"

She bit her lip and shrugged, looking away in shame. Simon's eyes widen, "Oh, you- um... C-can you read?" Persephone doesn't answer, her face grows flushed with embarrassment. That was all the answer Simon needed. "Here, how about I teach you." She glanced at him from under her bangs with those dark green eyes of hers. Simon smiled, encouragingly, "It's alright if you don't know how to read, my dear." He paused for a moment. Where on earth did that come from? He was starting to sound a little like Cedric. Simon shook his head and gestured to the book, "Would you like me to teach you how to read this?"

Persephone's eyes sparkled with delight and a huge smile overtook her face. She bobbed her head frantically in an enthusiastic yes and then moved closer until their sides touched. Simon's heart did a quick flip in his chest, as Persephone pressed herself close to him, laying the book down on both of their knees and pointing at the first sentence.

Simon had never been this close to a girl before, not like this. Are they meant to smell this good? With each breath he took, his senses were tickled with the smell of vanilla and lavender that it made him feel a little lightheaded. Gathering his bearings, Simon starts to read aloud, leaning closer to her as well. Her soft hair tickling his cheek.

"'Chise was a very lonely girl from a broken home...'"

And thus began their afternoon rituals: reading books together. Persephone, as it turned out, was a very fast learner, she quickly got a good hold on the letters, grammar, and soon could read on her own, but she still sought him out every day with a book in her hands.

Later on, she would teach him Latin.

Simon reaches out to stroke Persephone's cheek. His wife purrs before fluttering her eyes open sleepily, those gorgeous greens content and filled with love that it made Simon's heart skip a beat every time she looked at him like that. As if, he was the most beautiful thing she's ever seen. "Good morning, my love. Happy Anniversary." Persephone purrs louder, nuzzling into his palm.

Happy Anniversary indeed. Three years of beautiful bliss and not a day goes by that Simon wonders how he could be so lucky. Having this life, this family, this second-chance. It feels like a dream, a dream that the hopes he'll never wake up from, and pity the fool who dares to rouse him from his slumber if this is indeed just a fantasy of his own wants and desires of life and love. "It looks like Chise snuck in again," He whispers. Persephone smiles at their little girl and reaches out to pet her back, light stroking their daughter's wings. Chise's wings were not at all like her mothers, they were tiny little puffs of fluff with no flight feathers insight, at least not right now. Their daughter looked a lot like Simon, with her red hair and pale skin, but she possessed Persephone's green eyes, much to Simon's delight.

Simon watches Chise curl against him, sleeping soundly, "She's so beautiful," he whispers, and Persephone nods in agreement. Simon could already imagine what Chise will look like when she's older and he knows that men will fall for her left and right, and he'll have to arm up to keep her safe from any unsavory rats that wish to take his precious girl away. And because Chise ages like a human, it will be too soon for Simon's liking.

Parties were not his style. Simon was mostly a loner, taking a step away from the crowd to be at his own devices. But because Persephone presented him with the invitation, indicating she wanted him to go with her, he could not bring himself to say no. She looked so excited and she wanted him to be apart of it as well.

The party was a celebration of the new year, everyone was excited. They were all gathered in the Protectors' Headquarters with food and drink on display for all to indulge. Music played as well, with many couples and friends dancing to their hearts' content. As soon as Persephone stepped inside, she looked a little scared. She kept glancing down at herself and looking at Simon. Clearly, she wasn't dressed for such an occasion, wearing only her signature clothes of a white tunic and green cloak.

"Don't worry, Persephone," Simon said, taking her hand in his. He couldn't help but notice how soft her hands were. A spark shoots up his arm and goes straight into his chest, giving the redhead a warm, fuzzy feeling that makes him almost want to leave as well. What was going on?

He shook his head and leads Persephone out to the crowd. Many of the Protectors are already present, all wearing nice clothing and greeting the two with bright smiles and "Happy New Year!" The part was supposed to last until midnight when the large grandfather clocked struck twelve and everyone celebrates the arrival of a brand new year, a new beginning for some.

The music picks up, it was a rather slow and soothing melody. Many couples took to the floor, even friends danced together, but Persephone didn't move. She stayed rooted on the floor, looking awkward and out of place. Simon cocked his head at her, watching her play with the edge of her cloak. She would stop every once in a while to watch the couples dance together. Her main focus seemed to be on Orion and Vega, the two wind-walker protectors who clearly have something going on but were either not aware of the other's feelings or they were not ready to admit their growing admiration for each other. Persephone smiled and swayed a little to the music.

"Would you like to dance?" The words left Simon's mouth before he could stop them. It was as if he were possessed again, and suddenly he felt as though he was no longer in control of his own body. Red hot blood floods his cheeks, leaving his face glowing with an apple blush that matched his hair.

Persephone glanced at him, her eyes wide with surprise. She bites her lip again and shrugs, shifting around nervously, "D-Don't know how..."

He smiled despite himself, his face cooling as the blood under his skin finally shoos away, leaving him pale once more. He stretched out his hand, offering it to her as any gentleman would do to a beautiful young lady, "I'll teach you."

Persephone looked hopeful. Simon smiled and nodded, "I'll teach you," he repeats and gently takes her hand. He can't place why he suddenly feels he should teach her anything, but he wants to. He wants to see her eyes glow when she learns something new. He wants to see her face light up with excitement, and more importantly, he wants to be the reason she's happy. This new feeling he has doesn't want to go away. It's new, it's exciting, and a little scary, but it feels good. He feels good and it might lead to something better in the long run.

"Just follow my lead," Simon explained, holding onto one hand and placing her other on his shoulder. Persephone looked nervous as she glanced down at their feet. She shifts a little noticing how close they were and how strong his boots look compared to her sandals and bare toes. Simon chuckles, "Don't worry, I won't step on your toes, I promise." He smiled at her and she smiled in return, making his heart do somersaults. They start their dance, it was slow, following the gentle swing of the beat.

Nearby, Orion and Vega watch the two dance in their little world, with Orion smiling proudly, "I have a feeling we'll be having more dances in the future."

"No doubt," Vega said, she smirks at him, "How long do you think it's going to take before they start courting?"

"I give it a week," Chrysta said, approaching the two, she smirks at Simon and Persephone. The young couple only focussing on each other, completely oblivious to the world around them. "Maybe less if things keep going the way they're going."

"I suppose I'll need to fulfill my role as Persephone's guardian and have a talk with Simon," Orion said.

Vega rolls her eyes, "Persephone is hundreds of years old, she can take care of herself."

"I'm still her guardian," Orion said, "It's my job to protect her. I know Simon isn't going to hurt her, but it doesn't hurt to lay down some ground rules, especially with how easy he's fallen."

"You're right about that." Chrysta laughed, "I never thought I would ever see him fall so hard so fast; he's always been so reclusive."

Vega nods, "Yes, but Persephone has that personality that brings him out of his shell. Have you seen them read to each other, it's adorable!"

Orion looks to Chrysta and gives her a pointed look, "Don't you start teasing them yet. I want to see where this leads."

Chrysta shrugs, "Fair enough, but as soon as they begin courting, I'm going to be using this," she gestures to the two dancing, "And them reading to each other as my weapons."

Orion rolled his eyes and Vega giggled, "I have a feeling this might take longer than a week. How about a month at least," she challenged Chrysta. The crystal fairy laughed and shook her hand, "You're so on!"

Little Chise sighs at her mother's touch. She wiggles a little, snuggling closer to her father. Simon wraps his arm around her, noting how small and light she is, even at two-and-a-half. He kisses her head, waking her up, "Good morning, sleepyhead." Little Chise yawns, rubbing her eye with her tiny fist, earning a gentle coo from her father, "Is someone still sleepy?"

Chise nods and giggles when Simon kisses her head again, "Papa, wa' foo-foo."

"You want food." He translates, and Chise nods, "Plea's."

Simon nods, sitting up still holding Chise in his arm, "What would you like to eat, cupcake?"

Now more awake, she exclaims with her arms open wide, " Pancakes!" Simon nods his head, "Okay, pancakes it is." He looks at Persephone who is also sitting up and stretching luxuriously. The way her body arches like a bow with her large wings stretching out behind her, the many feathers of gold and ruby flutter gently, making Simon's heart skip a beat at her beauty. He really is a lucky man.

Chise pats his cheek with her small hand, "Papa! Wa' foo-foo!" She pouts at him, sticking out her bottom lip. Simon laughs, rolling his red eyes, "Yes, cupcake, don't worry, Daddy will make you pancakes, but you have to be patient okay?" He kisses her head again, earning another little giggle from his little girl.

Something strange was happening that Simon could not quiet place. First, Persephone was staying longer in the Mystic Isles, as she was hardly traveling, but when she did travel, she always came back with a gift for him. The gifts ranged from small stones, usually smooth and soft in color arranged in a bracelet with a strong string threaded through them. Then her gifts changed to something a little more strange. She started bringing him dead things, dead pheasants, dead boars, dead geese. One time she brought an entire 12-point buck to him-also dead.

Chrysta was having a ball, constantly teasing him for these gifts. While Orion looked on rather amused by the situation. Often the male Wind-Walker would have a knowing look on his face, almost as if he wanted to say something but kept quiet about it, much to Simon's annoyance.

Finally, Persephone brought him another buck. Simon had to march straight to Orion for answers.

"She's courting you."

Simon blinks, somewhat stunned. Courting...? Him...? "I'm sorry...?"

Orion chuckles, "I know, it's shocking, but it's fine, Simon. These gifts are just Persephone's way of courting you. In actuality, these courting rituals aren't that far different from what Wind-Walkers used to do. Granted, this happened centuries ago and it was often the males who produced the gifts, but I digress. Persephone has an interest in you."

Simon stared at him for a long time, the words slowly sinking in. Persephone is. Courting him?

Persephone. Courting. Him?

She's courting him?!

His mouth opens and then closes shut, a strange shudder- not of disgust, but rather shock and pleasantry-rushes through him, causing Simon to visibly shiver. Finally, he manages to pull together a decent sentence, "Why me?" Or as close to a sentence as he can make.

Orion shrugged, "I can't tell you, Simon. There is never one answer when it comes to love. If you're not interested in her-"

"I didn't say that!" He exclaims rather suddenly, a terrible blush heating his cheeks blood red just like his hair. "I-I'm just surprised. That's all. I thought she was just trying to be nice to me..." Now that he thought about it, it was a weak thing to believe. Persephone didn't bring anyone else gifts, just him. She always brought him a gift of some kind when returning from her travels, and they were his exclusively.

Orion chuckled, "Well, regardless I believe she has her reason for liking you romantically."

"B-But what reason does she have?" He asked almost desperately, "I don't-" He couldn't bring himself to say anything more, finding his words dying on his tongue. 'I don't deserve this.' 'I don't deserve her.' 'I don't deserve anything remotely close to romance or even love.' That was what he had wanted to say, but for some reason or another, he couldn't bring himself to say it. A selfish voice spoke from the back of his mind, whispering, "What if you do deserve this. Is it so wrong to have it?"

Was it wrong to pursue love? Is he ready for love?

Simon needed time to think. No, he needed a lot of time to think. Excusing himself politely, the redhead stepped out and went for a walk to clear his head.

Another voice speaks from the depths of his consciousness, this one sinister and angry, "You don't deserve love, Simon the Silent." And with that voice came memories of his past actions, the times he attempted to kill Princess Sofia. The times when he killed others, destroyed lives in general, and liked it! How can anyone like him deserve love?

He sighed and grabbed his head, a terrible headache beginning to form in his right temple. He can feel the two voices, one soft and hopeful, whispering beautiful promises to him, and the other, harsher voice, angry and bitter with the world they are in, arguing and fighting for dominance inside his mind.

Simon will need more than a day to clear his thoughts.


A few days pass by with no answer in sight. Part of him wants to pursue a relationship with Persephone, and the other doesn't. The other is angry and scared to try. What if he messes up? What if he does something that causes her to attack him again. What if he manages to ruin his chances at love because of his past.

Then there is Grimtrix. Does Persephone even know Simon and his grandfather worked with that man? What would she say to that?

He can't bring himself to think about it, it's too much!

Somedays he wants to seek her out and beg Persephone for a chance to love and be loved by her. Other days he doesn't even want to see her for fear of having a mental breakdown.

He opts to just keep himself locked up until he can understand his own feelings.

All the while, Persephone continues to leave gifts outside his door.

A few weeks pass afterward, twelve to be exact. About four months. Simon knows this because after the first two, Persephone stopped dropping off her gifts, and none have shown up since. Why?

She was so persistent in giving him gifts that he thought she would never stop and now she hasn't given him anything in a while. The answer is obvious, he doesn't want to believe his chances are gone, but they are. She must have moved on.

It shouldn't pain him this much to let her go. He can't bring himself to bear hurting her like this. Surely, Persephone can find someone better right? Someone who will treat her well and give her all the love she deserves. She's been through so much, it would only make sense that she finds someone much better than him.

Yet, no matter how much Simon tells himself this, he can't ignore the terrible ache in his chest, like a fierce knife had pierced through his heart, leaving him to bleed out in gushes.

There is a knock on his door. It's Orion, the Wind-Walker looked worried. "Orion, what are you doing here?"

"I wanted to talk to you, may I come in?"

Simon nodded and opened the door wider. The redhead stutters a little, "How is Persephone?"

Orion sighed, "That's who I wanted to speak to you about, Simon. Listen, I understand if you're not interested in Persephone, Simon. She's-"

"I didn't say I wasn't interested." Simon said, "I care about her a lot."

"Then why have you been avoiding her?" Orion questioned calmly. "I have spoken to Persephone, Simon. She isn't upset if you don't wish to have a relationship with her, but she's hurt that you've been avoiding her for months now. Has she done something wrong to upset you?"

Simon's heart cracked. He had hurt Persephone... "I-I'm sorry, I just... I thought she could do better."

Orion sighed again, "Simon, I'm not going to tell you to pursue her just to make Persephone happy. I know she will be fine. She's a strong person."

"She is." Simon agreed, a hollow hole forming in his chest. Right, where that dark mark had been. Right where Persephone had healed him. She healed him...

Orion pats Simon's shoulder, "You're a good person, Simon. I know you still feel guilty over the things you've done, but you are a better person. You not only made amends with Cedric and Sofia, but you have also fought to overcome your past misdeeds, despite those who still believe you're evil. There comes a time when you have to forgive yourself and open up to something that's both scary and amazing. If you continue to look to the past, chances are you'll miss your future."

Simon swallows, the back of his eyes beginning to sting, "I don't know if I'm enough for her."

"If you weren't enough, she wouldn't have started pursuing you. I believe Persephone is smart enough and mature enough to make her own decisions."

"You definitely sound like her father," Simon smiled earning a smile back from Orion. "I-I'll speak to her tomorrow if that's alright. I doubt she'll want to see me right now."

"Persephone isn't as feral as you might think, Simon. She's very much a sweet person, she's just confused about why you are avoiding her, but I'll let her know that you're not upset with her."

"Thank you."


Tomorrow arrives too soon for Simon. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't bring himself to settle down long enough to sleep and wound up tossing and turning most of the night.

Persephone constantly on his mind. Her face, her eyes, her expressions, her wings. Everything about her continued to replay itself over and over again in his head. All of their encounters, even the few times she spoke, her voice like wind chimes to his ears.

Daybreak came too soon. He awoke at the first thin rays of light pushing themselves in through his curtains. Simon rolled away to stare at the wall in wonder, somehow making out odd images in the single coat of paint. He felt achy and tired, muscles strain as if he had done a full-body workout. He doesn't want to leave his bed, too ill to move. Yet, the image of Persephone sad and potentially crying made him want to get up and go to her. He rose from the bed, ignoring the sour feeling in his stomach.

He gets up and dresses, opting for a pair of black pants with dark boots and a white button-up shirt. He no longer felt the need to wear impeccable clothing, in fact, it's been a while since he had. A new change to his new life and hopefully more changes will be made soon. Positive changes.

Finally ready, Simon went to his door to leave, but as soon as he opened it he found Persephone waiting patiently outside. Her head was down, eyes focused on her sandals, with her hands folded neatly in front of her. She wore her usual attire of a green cloak over a white and gold tunic, with her wings folded nicely against her back, the red and gold feathers spitting out small bits of ambers that died off as soon as they are spit out into the air.

"...Persephone." He breathed, suddenly a loss for words. His mouth goes dry and he can't find anything else to say at that moment.

Slowly she lifts her head to meet his eyes with her own deep forest ones, "Simon." The way she said his name, was like a rush of cool air on a hot summer day. It left him almost refreshed and as he stares at her Simon can't help but notice that smell again: Lavender and vanilla. Persephone's natural scent likes to shut down his brain.

They stare at one another for a long time. Simon can feel his heart beating in his chest, he can hear it pound between his ears as he struggles to say something, anything to this beautiful creature before him.

"May I come in?" Her voice is like a gentle bell that rings sweetly in his ears, casting him under a moonlit spell. Simon finds himself suddenly bound to her will. He steps back and nods, "Yes, come in."

She steps in, her head still low. It's almost like she's an imposter, Simon thinks, like she's someone pretending to be Persephone, but he knows that's not the case. This is Persephone, the girl he's falling for day by day. He can't pinpoint when it started exactly, part of him believes his affections for her grew the day she healed his scar, at least it opened the doorway to his heart just the width of a finger, and then the door opened little by little throughout their encounters together, throughout his observations of her.

The silence they share is overwhelming. The two stand-alone together in the small room of Simon's home, quiet and patient. Neither wanted to speak first, waiting for the other to break the quietness suffocating them.

Finally, Simon decides he should be the one to speak, after all, he was the one who hurt her feelings, apologies were necessary. "Persephone, I'm sorry for avoiding you these past few months. I was just upset with-"

"Me?" she asked, her voice tentative and soft. Her eyes drop to the floor in shame but gasped when Simon takes her jaw in his tender hand and guides her eyes to his, "No. Persephone, it isn't you. I just didn't know you felt that way about me. You have to understand that I'm not a good person. At least I wasn't in the beginning. My past is dark, it's cold, and it's full of hate and death. It took me a long time to come to terms with it, I'm still coming to terms with it, but I never once, in my life thought I would find someone who has feelings for me. I avoided you because I didn't want to get your hopes up. I don't want you to see me as this wonderful, loving person when I've done so many terrible things. I've hurt people, Persephone. I was a terrible person in the past." Fear laced his voice as he said this, the back of his eyes starts to burn. There was one final thing he needed her to know before anything else could occur. "M-My grandfather and I, w-we worked with Grimtrix in the past."

Persephone's eyes explode wide open. She stepped back. The action felt like a punch straight through his stomach. Simon struggled to gather his wits and continue, unable to meet her heartbroken eyes, "I'm sorry, "he said, feeling as though he were on a time limit, the seconds ticking by were on a fast countdown to zero, and with it fell his chances to be with this girl. "It happened years before I met you. Before I came to the Mystic Isles. Grimtrix hired my grandfather and I to hurt Princess Sofia. We helped him give her the Mark of Mayhem."

She glanced away, shaking.

"Persephone." He wants to touch her, to make sure she doesn't fade to ash but keeps his hands close. "I-I know that you probably hate me for this, but I don't want you to pursue me without knowing this part of my past. You deserve to know this if you are interested in courting me." He paused to watch her shake some more, her heart shattering into a million pieces. "I'm sorry," he said, daring himself to step closer, "I understand if you need time, or if you don't want to see me anymore. I won't hold that against you, and I can only hope you can forgive me. Please understand that I am not proud of the things I've done in the past, and every day I wish I can take it all back, but I can't and you need to know this..."

She stepped away again, drawing her wings closer, and then turns away, walking out of his life. Probably permanently.

Simon didn't go after her. He wanted to. He wanted to race out and stop her, beg her to stay and talk to him. He stays rooted in his spot watching the front door close shut with a quiet click. As soon as the door shut, whatever was keeping Simon standing let go and he crumbled to the ground, sobbing into the floor. Pathetic. He was a pathetic man. Even now his past still returned to bite him in the rear, but unlike with Cedric and Sofia, this felt worse. His future, his hope had just left the house, and he will probably never see her again.

He carries Chise into the kitchen and sets her down in her highchair. Persephone comes in and kisses her daughter's cheek, earning a happy little giggle from her, and then goes to Simon to kiss him as well. Simon smiles feeling on top of the world with how soft her lips are.

"Foo-foo!" Chise yells, beating her little hands in the air.

"Don't worry, Chise, I'll make pancakes!" Simon tells her, slightly miffed that his daughter is ruining the moment, but that annoyance quickly fades as Chise laughs, her red hair, tied in pigtails, bouncing as she moves. How can he ever be upset with his precious little girl? Oh, dear, Chrysta was right. Chise does have him wrapped around her little finger.

Three days. Three days passed since he told Persephone the truth. He had not wanted to, he knew it was a bad idea, but he did it anyway and he was left in a constant state of pain. Every heartbeat felt like someone was stabbing him in the chest. He thought about her constantly, and every time he did his eyes would stink with tears, leaving him broken and alone. He wants to remain alone forever. Just be an old, sad fool struck with grief and regret, permanently affected by the happenings of his past that will ultimately lead to his own demise.

Then came a knock on his door.

Simon didn't want to answer it, he knows it's Orion wanting to speak to him again, probably check on him to make sure he's doing okay, even though he broke his adoptive daughter's heart into a billion little pieces.

Or maybe Orion wants to punch him in the face for hurting Persephone. Either way, he doesn't want to answer the door.

The knocking continues for a little bit longer before someone speaks, and the voice definitely doesn't belong to Orion or any of the Protectors. "Simon."

Simon's heart jumps right into his throat, and before he can even think, he's on his feet and walking briskly to the door.

Persephone is standing outside, looking out of place. She fiddles with the edge of her cloak again, pulling out loose threads. "Persephone," Simon breathed, he doesn't know what to expect from her. Is she here to kill him? Is she here to punch him? Did she accidentally leave something behind and wanted to get it back?

Without warning, Persephone steps into his private circle and loops her arms around his neck, pulling Simon into a hug, squeezing him tightly. "Persephone," Simon gasped, overtaken by how warm she is, how perfect she feels molded against him, and holding onto him so tightly that he doubts she'll let go anytime soon.

Sadly, she does let go and steps back, her eyes flicker with tears, "Simon," she whispered, "I love you."

All at once, he feels too heavy to stand. Simon stumbles. One knee gives out and he's bracing himself on the doorframe to keep from falling over. Those three words. Three. Simple. Words. Held the power of the universe and were crashing onto him like a tsunami. He can't breathe. Colorful spots dance across his vision.

"You... love me?" He's surprised he can talk right now. Thankfully those spots go away so he can see Persephone nod her head. He shouldn't ask why, but he does, "Why? Why do you love me? What ma-made you fall in love with me?"

At this she smiled, "You understood me. You know what it's like to be broken. To lose everything you knew and struggle to start over. I fell for you because you were broken, just like me. We were broken people, but we somehow found a way, to move past our scars, cuts, and missing pieces. I love you, Simon the Silent."

He opened and closed his mouth several times, once more laying his weight on the doorframe as her words continue to crash on him with every syllable spoken. Tears cloud his vision and he pushed himself to stand upright, reaching out to take Persephone's hands in his own, noting how warm and soft they are. "I don't deserve you..."

She shakes her head and steps closer, incredibly close he can count each eyelash surrounding her beautiful eyes. "Deserve me or not, I love you. My feelings won't change." She pulled away to press one hand to his chest and the other to hers, "My heart belongs to you. Do you accept my courting?"

"Yes." The words came out instantly in one little breathless gasp. Persephone trembles, her eyes flickering with tears, she closes the distance between them by wrapping her arms around Simon's neck, hugging him once more, happy tears rolling down her tan face and mixing with Simon's. They both lose the strength to stand and kneel to the ground, still holding on to one another tightly, never wanting to let go.

"I love you too," he whispered into her shoulder, "I love you too, Persephone. I'm sorry I took so long to return your feelings."

"Worth it," she whines, nuzzling into his shoulder, "Worth all of it."

"I have something for you,' Simon says, smiling at his wife. They sit at the family table, Persephone pouring maple syrup on Chise's pancakes, with the little girl clapping her hands in excitement. Seeing Persephone's curious look, Simon reaches into his pocket and pulls out a lovely, crystalized rose. Persephone gasps, her eyes widening. Simon grins, "I asked Chrysta for help on this one, it's not easy to find these kinds of flowers, but they are supposed to last forever and can never be broken. What do you think?"

She beams at him and takes the flower, feeling the smooth, cool pedals, and scratching at one of the crystalized thorns. "Beautiful." She smiles at him, her face bright and loving.

"What is marriage?"

The question took Simon by surprise making him do a double-take, "M-Marriage?" Persephone nodded her head, "I heard a song. 'First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.' What is marriage, Simon?"

His face burnt like a million suns, red hot blood rushing to fill his cheeks. "W-Who was singing that?"

Persephone points behind her, at the Protector's headquarters. Simon's stomach instantly drops and he groans aloud, "I'm going to kill Chrysta." It wasn't uncommon for the crystal fairy to tease them. In fact, all the Protectors have been teasing them, but to go so far as to include that silly song, it was getting ridiculous.

"It's nothing to worry about yet, my love." He said to her, smiling. "Marriage is a very powerful and long-lasting event that is typically for those who wish to share a life." That was the parody version at least, but he would rather not get into the real details of marriage just yet. He and Persephone have never discussed marriage before or anything past courting. Simon had assumed Persephone wasn't interested in that part of their relationship, but since she asked him what it was, that means she didn't know much about marriage.

"Have you ever heard of marriage before?" He inquired her and was met with a slow shake of her head, "No?"

"No." She repeats, "Phoenix Shifters doesn't marry, we mate. We court and if the courting works well then Phoenix Shifters will mate."

Simon blushed, "M-Mating? That's quite a big step. In humans, we court, marry, and the-then mate. Though I supposed marriage doesn't exist in your culture, does it?"

Again she shakes her head, "No. How does marriage work?"

Again, Simon blushed, feeling his heart hammer hard against his ribs. Swallowing, he struggles to keep his tone even and educational, "W-Well, it typically starts with courting, getting to know someone, l-like us. Then the husband proposes to the wife and they get married with a ceremony and gather their friends and family to partake..." Again, just a parody version. Simon isn't too sure if that's all of it or not. He doesn't have experience with marriage or weddings or anything of the sort. He only knows about it because people talk. They talk and talk and talk, some brag about their engagements, others recall the beautiful wedding of their relatives, and older couples recount their weddings as this magical moment that will forever be in their memories until the day they die.

He knows that women typically wear white dresses, and men wear black suits. There is supposed to be grooms' men and bride's maids, as well as a maid of honor, flower girls, ring bearers, and so on. He tries to think of anything else he could add but finds himself unable to continue, feeling he might be lying to Persephone.

Speaking of Persephone, she is watching him, drinking in every word he spoke. She nodded her head, seemingly understanding what he said, at least he hoped so because he's not too sure if he's explaining it right or not. "I see," Persephone said, "Courting, then marriage, then mates. Correct?"

"Yes?" He tried, he really tried but in the end, he doubts he's explaining this right. He feels he's ruining this for her, that he's messing this up somehow. How can he know anything about marriage anyway? It's not like he's been to many weddings in the last 20+ years of his life. Sure, he's read about them, and again, people do talk -but it's not like he's ever experienced being married before.

He looked at Persephone, the Phoenix Shifter is in deep thought. Simon immediately imagines her in a beautiful white dress, her hair all dolled up in a bun or something similar, maybe she'll wear a veil or maybe they'll do without a veil. She might wear makeup, something to accentuate her eyes. She would look stunning in a wedding dress...

Simon blushed again, throwing the image of his girlfriend in a wedding dress deep, deep down into the lowest part of his mind. Now was not the time to be thinking about marrying her. At least not yet... Would she even want to get married? The thought never crossed Simon's mind before today, but now he can't stop thinking about it. She would make a beautiful bride...

The young family walked out to the beautiful morning, bright, sunny, and warm. Simon smiles as he watches his wife spread her wings again, little Chise in her arms, cooing at the sight and trying to use her own wings as well. When Persephone starts to flap her wings, the air swelling beneath them, Simon's heart does a dramatic drop, a jolt of panic rushes through his veins as his wife lifts herself and their child from the ground. He manages to keep himself calm, knowing that Persephone is only teaching Chise how to fly just as her own mother had done. It was the right of passage for Phoenix Shifters.

When she first did this, Simon had freaked out and raced beneath them with his arms out, ready to catch Chise if she were to fall. Thank goodness that didn't happen, but Persephone was not happy with his overprotectiveness. He knows better now. Chise is in the safest of hands and Persephone will not hurt their child.

Still, he keeps his eyes out just in case, watching the two fly high in the skies keeping close to their home at his request. Chise's happy squeals of delight echoing across the Isles, her little arms span out, feeling the air rush through her fingers. Not for the first time, he wishes he can join them, but Simon isn't a flyer and he has yet to master a spell that will allow him to fly with them. Maybe someday...

Weeks passed since Persephone inquired Simon about marriage and the redhead could not put her questions to bed. The thought of them getting married continued to resurface again and again in his mind, popping up all the time. And the more he thought about it, the more appeal he got from it. He started thinking about where a wedding could be held, who to invite, and so on. Part of him felt frightened by how okay he is on the subject. Why was he so eager to marry her and so soon? Was it soon though? They have been together for a while, and plenty of couples, especially the famous princesses wedded their spouses much sooner than most would. Princess Ariel was ready to marry her husband within a few days. Princess Cinderella had only one dance with her prince and they were married within a day or two afterward.

Needless to say, perhaps they were moving too slow, not fast. It was when Simon glanced down at his naked finger that he realized what he wanted and what he was going to get if she'll accept him that is. His hand felt unnaturally light without a ring. He wanted it, wanted to see it sparkle in daylight, more importantly, he wanted to see a ring on Persephone's finger sparkle brilliantly, showing everyone around them that she is an honest woman, and she is all his.

He'll need to prepare though. He must do this properly. They have been courting for long enough and now he'll need to finish this with the proper arrangements. First thing first, find Orion, ask for his blessing, and then get a ring for Persephone. A nice ring with green emeralds that match her eyes. Those beautiful green eyes that go on for miles, and miles into vast, fertile jungles of unknown proportions with secrets that he can only hope to uncover.

Persephone descends, her wings expertly flutter until she and Chise land lightly on the ground, the little red-haired girl still squealing in delight. She starts to reach out to Simon, eager to be held. Simon chuckles, taking his daughter into his arms, "Did you have fun with Mommy, cupcake?" Chise eagerly nods her head, her own tiny wings flapping against her back. He smiles at her and kisses her cheek, earning another happy squeal from Chise, all the while Persephone stands close, smiling at the two, her heartwarming at the sight.

Orion didn't look at all surprised by Simon's request, in fact, he actually looked pleased. "You want to marry her?"

Simon nodded his head, "Yes, if I can have your blessing."

"You have my blessing," Orion suddenly smirked and called out to another part of the room, "Chrysta, you owe me lunch!"


"I told you it would be much longer!"

There was a mock-angry groan before Chrysta came out, looking a little upset. Simon groaned as well, palming his forehead, "Don't tell me you were placing bets, again."

Chrysta snickered and shrugged, "We couldn't help it. You two are so sickeningly sweet together, we were wondering when you'd finally tie the knot. I voted in about two weeks after you started courting and Vega said a few months. Orion decided it would be much longer and I guess he was right." She shot Orion a semi-annoyed glared. Orion shrugged before smiling at Simon, "I'm happy for you two, congratulations."

"Thank you," he said.

"When are you going to ask her?"

Simon rubbed the back of his head, "I'm not sure yet, probably once I get a ring." At this Orion laughs, "I don't think you'll need to worry about that."


Orion smirked knowingly, "You'll see."

Simon left soon afterward, perplexed by Orion's rather ominous words, but the redhead shrugged it off, choosing instead to go for a walk to think things through. He needed to find a ring, a nice ring, one with emeralds on it. He can probably conjure one, but he'll have to be careful that Persephone doesn't-

There is a sudden woosh and Simon finds himself tackled to the ground by the Phoenix Shifter. "Persephone!" He exclaimed in surprise, his girlfriend giggled at him, looking more excited than usual. Simon chuckled, "You're awfully cheerful today, did you have a good flight?" She nodded her head before grabbing his hands and pulling him put to his feet. She then reaches into her cloak and produces something small and takes his left hand and exclaims, "Wife!" Before sliding a crystal ring on his finger.



"P-Persephone, what are you doing?"

"Wife," she repeated, bouncing on her feet like an energetic child, "You're my wife now."

It takes Simon a moment to finally understand what she's saying and with it he blushed hard. Simon sighed, "Persephone, I'm the one who is supposed to-" he doesn't finish his sentence, the words die off his tongue as he looked at her. She looked so happy and excited, he can't bring himself to correct her on the matter. Besides, what did it matter if she proposed or not, they apparently both wanted to the same thing. Simon shrugged, "Oh well, you did your best. Though I would also like to do this right," he sinks to one knee, holding her left hand in his, "Persephone, will you marry me?"

She blinked at him once before screaming, "Yes!" And tackled him again, earning pearls of laughter from her new fiance.

Persephone smiles at him, as they watch their little girl race through a field of flowers, plucking a few and then carrying them back to them. She looks too proud of herself, Simon can't help but chuckle at her, "Whatcha got cupcake?"

"Fowers!" Chise exclaims and starts braiding them together to form a crown that she places on her head. "Awe," Simon says, "You look cute, Chise. Did Momma teach you how to make flower crowns?" His daughter nods enthusiastically, little pigtails bouncing on either side of her head.

Persephone giggles and fixes the flower crown when it starts to slip off Chise's head.

Simon smiles at the vision before him, his heart burning with nothing but love for his two favorite girls.

"Persephone, may I ask you something?"

His fiance hums, turning away from the stars to look at him. They were sitting outside watching the midnight sky. Supposably a meteor shower was going to happen sometime around midnight and Persephone was eager to see it. She cocked her head curiously at him, noticing his hesitation. "It's rather personal and I apologize for bringing this up at such an unreasonable time, but this question has been bothering me for a long time."

"Yes?" She asked waiting patiently.

Simon drew in a deep breath, "Grimtrix was after you because your heart can give someone immortality. Is-is that true?"

She blinked at him and looked away out into the distance, "Yes and no."

"Yes and no?"

Persephone shrugged, "It's complicated. A very long story." She hugged herself then and Simon felt like a terrible person for making her feel so uncomfortable. He reached out and wrapped his arm around her, pulling her close to his side, "You don't have to tell me, my love. I'm sorry for upsetting you. I shouldn't have said anything."

Persephone shakes her head, "No, you need to know this." She shifted around to face him, a serious gleam in her eyes. "Simon, I love you. And I always want to be with you. You are my fiance, my soon-to-be husband, and the person I choose to be my mate. However, you must understand that Phoenix Shifters live for a long time. We live for hundreds if not then thousands of years.

"When a Phoenix Shifter meets 'the one', they perform this ritual that binds their souls together as one, allowing them to literally share life. The bond that is created is emotional and spiritual. We can feel what the other feels. When one dies, the other usually follows. My father died before my mother and Grimtrix killed her before she could pass away naturally.

"The reason many believe it is our hearts that give immortality is because of this. There have been times when a human and a Phoenix Shifter mate, and typically the Pheonix Shifter will help them perform the ritual for them to share a life. As far as I know, it's also the only way they can have children, considering that Phoenix Shifters go into heat once in a century."

The knowledge sent a cold stake through Simon's heart, "D-Does that mean we won't have children?"

She shrugged, drawing herself closer, "I don't know. Magic is strange." She glanced at him, a tiny whimper coming off her lips, "Are you upset with me?"

"No," he shook his head, "I'm not, my love. I'm just surprised is all. Does that mean, I'll have to perform the ritual with you for us..." Persephone shook her head, cutting him off, "No, I can't ask that from you, Simon." She smiled tearfully, "I love you, and I want to be with you, but I won't force you to live an unnatural life span. Humans aren't meant to live longer than a hundred years at most. We Phoenix Shifters live for much, much longer. I will stay young and you will age."

"Persephone, that's terrible. Are you sure this is what you want? Why didn't you tell me before?" He's not mad, for the life of him he can't bring himself to be mad. It could be because he's more worried than upset with her, worried that in a few decades he'll be gone and she'll be alone.

Persephone shrugged, "I don't know. I didn't think it mattered, but since you asked, I felt you deserve to know the truth, sub alis spiritum meum." Her words sent pleasant shivers down Simon's spine, making him smile despite himself.

Sub alis spiritum meum. Wind beneath my wings.

"You'll end up alone," he whispered taking her hand in his and laced their fingers, "I don't want that for you."

"Dying is easy," She said, "Living is hard, but I will live for you, Simon. I love you. I want this life with you, and if it means you'll pass away long before I, I will cherish these moments all that I can."

"...And what if I want to share that life with you. The ritual, it can bind us together."

Persephone shook her head, "I won't make you."

"You're not making me if I'm insisting, my love."

She looks at him, really looks at him deep in his eyes. Then she smiled, "Think about it, don't immediately jump into this, Simon. You have time, you will always have time. Please, enjoy this life now as a mortal before asking us to perform the ritual. I can wait. I will always wait for you." She smiled at him hopefully, "Perhaps, someday, there can be a spell to reverse it. That way I can live the same life span as you. Magic is strange, but I don't want to live with regrets. Even if you were to pass away sooner than I, I would always cherish these wonderful moments with you, my love."

He smiled at her words and leaned in for a kiss, "I love you, Quod spiritus in aerem." The air that I breathe.

"Orion," Persephone greets with a hug. The Wind-Walker smiles and returns the embrace, before letting go and scooping up little Chise. "Hello, little one, how are you today?"

Chise laughs, playing with the flower crown she made. Orion smiles and looks at the two, "I'll watch her for you, so you can enjoy your anniversary."

"We really appreciate that, Orion," Simon speaks for both of them. He kisses Chise's nose, "Be good for Papa Orion, okay cupcake?" Chise nods, taking her role seriously. Persephone kisses Chise on the cheek whispering a quiet, "Love you," before Orion takes Chise into the home.

The wedding was finally here. Simon stood in a small changing room, adjusting his suit and pulling out wrinkles from his clothes. His heart pounds heavily in his chest, anticipation coursing through his veins. He catches himself in the mirror and briefly freezes. He looked both the same and different. His eyes were still red, but not as vibrant red as they had been all those years ago. One would say they looked more of a softer shade of red that can appear brown too. His skin was still pretty pale, but at least he wasn't ghostly pale, and his hair was still blood red, but he can see a change within him, one that has taken years to accomplish. There had been so much going against him, and now...

Now he feels he's accomplished the impossible.

"Simon, are you in there?" Sofia asked outside of his door, her voice accompanied by a gentle knock. "Are you decent?"

"Yes, you can come in." He said and smile in greeting when she does. Sofia beams back at him, "You look ah-mazing!"

"I feel ah-mazing," he chuckled earning a giggle from his dear friend. Princess Sofia was wearing a pink dress that swept down to her ankles. Her amulet hung low, just below her collar bone, twinkling in the morning light. "I'm so happy for you guys," She said, "I just saw Persephone and she's-"

"Please don't tell me what her dress looks like, I can't know until I see her on the isle."

Sofia rolled her eyes, "I was going to say she's gorgeous. Don't worry, Simon, I'm not going to tell you what her dress looked like. I understand the tradition."

He smiled, "Thank you. I won't lie, I'm a little nervous about this. I feel as though I'm in limbo right now."

"You have cold feet?" She asked and then smiled, "It's okay, Simon, everyone feels this way on their wedding day. Don't worry about it okay. You'll do fine." She stepped closer to fix his tie, "I know this feels crazy, but don't overthink it okay. This is your day, your and Persephone's day, so enjoy it."

He smiled, "Thank you, Sofia. I appreciate that."


Simon stood at the altar next to the pasture. He doesn't have the best man, mostly because he's not too familiar with anyone to call them his "best friend". The only one wh can think of that could be a best friend would be his Persephone, but she is currently away and won't be out for a few minutes. He feels his heart going a mile a minute, causing an intense beating to pound between his ears. Cedric and Sofia, along with their families sit down in the front row, and seeing them eases Simon's nerves a little.

Finally, the music starts playing. At the first chord, Simon straightens himself out, standing with his head up high, watching and waiting. The flower girls come out, spilling pink rose peddles and rice on the isle' whine red carpet.

Then he saw her. His heart squeezes tightly in his chest as if cupid's fist was holding it in an iron tight grip as the pure vision of beauty strolled out slowly towards him, being walked by Orion. With each step they took, Simon felt all of his nerves sing in delight.

Persephone wore a beautiful white off the shoulder trumpet-mermaid gown of silk and lace that pooled around her feet, with a lacy train pulling behind her. She was a goddess. Simon could hardly breathe, his mouth opened slightly but there was no airflow. He was too caught up to even think about something as natural as breathing. For just a fragile moment a dose of fear shot through his veins, causing him to grow tense in anticipation. What was he anticipating? Simon wasn't sure. He can't help but think something, somewhere might swoop in and take his bride away, or wake him up from this dream.

Thankfully neither happen and Orion gracefully transfers Persephone over to Simon. Her gloved hands that reached her elbow felt soft and smooth on his own and made his heart jump again. Simon breathes in relief, the tension he felt washed away by his bride's gentle touch.

Persephone smiles at him, there is a hint of makeup on her face. He can see traces of dark eyeshadow that brought out her eyes, and ruby lipstick that made her pretty lips stick out and look even more kissable than before. The pasture begins his speech, talking and talking on and on, but his words were mute to Simon as the redhead continued to stare at the image of perfection in front f him. Persephone never took her eyes away from him, in fact, she stared intently at him. Then for a split second, her eyes flashed gold and he knows she's peering into his mind, reading his thoughts. Simon doesn't hold back his feelings, in fact, he pushes everything he sees, feels, knows out into the surface of his mind for her to know. The knowledge that he saw her as this beautiful angel brought tears to her eyes. Simon smiles at her in return, lipping silently, "You're beautiful." So as not to interrupt the pasture.

Persephone blushed and lipped back, "So are you."

Simon's eyes flickered with tears.

A lone cough from the pasture catches their attention, the older man gestured to Simon, "Do you have any words you would like to say to your bride?" Words? Oh, yes, words, he needed to say words. "Y-Yes," drawing in a deep breath he looked back at Persephone and any words he memorized immediately fell into some mental hole, never to be seen again.

"Simon?" The pasture urged gently, "Any words?"

Simon swallowed and licked his lips, taking Persephone's hands and squeezing them, "Persephone..." She smiled at him, her eyes shining like stars. Simon became lost for words again, but he quickly snapped out of it. "Persephone, when we first met, you were a totally different person. I remember when Orion asked me to speak to you and my initial thought was, 'It won't hurt', but it turned out that it did hurt."

A few of the guests chuckled.

"Yes, it definitely hurt, but that was my fault. I had touched your wing and you felt you were being attacked. However, we moved past that and somehow we became not only friends but lovers. I fell in love with you the moment you finally opened up and allowed me to see that we're not so different after all. Both you and I came from different backgrounds and both of us had suffered in some way. We were broken people, struggling to pull ourselves together and start anew in a strange world we were unfamiliar with.

"I had done a lot of bad things. I won't deny it. When I first arrived at the Mystic Isles, I was a badmouth brat with no care for anyone other than myself, but as I got to know everyone and learned more about myself, I realized that I wasn't truly evil, I was the product of my environment. My grandfather groomed me to be a heartless person but that didn't mean I had to be. I want to do good by those I care about, and I want to do good by you, my love. This moment, right here and now, isn't a new chapter, it's a new book, and I want to begin this book by saying 'I do.'"

She blinked, "I do?"

Simon nodded, "Yes, I do."

Persephone's eyes widen and she beams brightly, bouncing on her heels, "I do! I do!" Suddenly she lunges forward, her arms wrap tightly around Simon's neck, and her mouth slots into his catching her new husband off guard. Simon catches Persephone's weight in his arms, hands on her waist. He then happily melts into the kiss with a content hum.

Pasture blinked at the two a little dumbfounded, "You know we're not at that part yet. We still have several more steps to go!" Neither Simon nor Persephone seemed to hear him, too caught up in their moment. The pasture rolled his eyes, "Okay, fine. I guess we'll just skip to the end. I now pronounce you husband and wife, just keeping doing what you're doing I supposed." He addressed the crowd, "Okay everyone, they're married!"

The crowd burst into cheer, with many shooting up from their seats to clap and throw rise at the new couple.


Entering their new home, built several months ago with the help of the protectors, Simon and Persephone explored each part of the small house. It had three bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a dining room, with a large back yard and front yard. It was a nice, cozy little love nest for a couple just starting. Simon opened the final door which led to the master bedroom, the bed was large and neatly made, with a dresser set and small closet. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Persephone wring her hands together nervously, a pink blush blooming across her cheeks.

It took him a moment to realize why, and his own face grew red as well. This is their wedding night, and usually, wedding nights are for... Consummating a marriage.

He looked at her and notes how her dress hugs her body perfectly. However, as much as he wants to... "Persephone?"

She looked at him and smiled weakly. Simon reached to cup her cheek and she leaned into his touch with a soft sigh. "My love, ar-are you nervous?" She bit her lip before nodding, "Yes."

Simon nods back, "I-I am too. Listen, my love, we don't have to do anything tonight, or any night if you're not ready. I know that most people say that honeymoons and wedding nights are reserved for that, but if you're not comfortable that's okay. I-I will admit I've never experienced this kind of closeness with anyone before."

"M-Me either." She whispered, laying her hand on top of his, "I love you. I trust you."

His eyes soften, "I love you as well." He leaned in for a gentle kiss, that seemed to cool down their nerves. They pull away once and then kiss again, this one a little more passionate. Simon reached to hold her close, loving the way she fits perfectly against him as if they are made for each other. "We are made for each other." He whispered as an answer to his thought. Persephone hums in agreement, bringing him down for another kiss. Both of them growing hungry for more. Her hands move from around his neck to squeeze his shoulders and start a curious trail down his chest, plucking one of the buttons of his shirt open and moved to kiss his neck.

Simon pulled away, catching her by surprise. "My love, are you sure?" She nodded her head, "Yes."

He kissed her again, reaching around to unfasten the buttons on the back of her dress, "If there is anything you don't like, you need to tell me." She nods and hugs him, leaving a trail of kisses down his neck, "Make love to me, Simon."

He groaned and pulled her dress down, "I love you."

Simon walked beside Persephone, their hands together and swinging between them. He smiled and presses a kiss to her cheek. She smiles in return. Simon gestures to a tall hill up ahead. "Someone said that there is supposed to be a meteor shower tonight. I thought you would like to see it." His wife beams and nods. They hurry to the hill and sit down, with Persephone snuggling close, her head tucked beneath his chin. Simon sighs, wrapping his arm around her while Persephone's wings curl around them both, acting as blankets against the chilly air.

Simon gasped at Persephone's body, lying motionless on the ground, a pool of blood soaking beneath her. "Persephone!" He cried and rushed to her aid, reaching out to touch her, and pulled back when he felt how cold she was.


"Good work, Simon. I was beginning to have my doubts." Simon's heart froze into cold stone at the voice, the voice he never wanted to hear again. He turned his head, eyes narrow into slits, standing not too far away was Sylvester the Steadfast, smirking. "What did you do to her, you monster!" Simon roared, he picked up Persephone's body, holding her close, trying to shield her away from his grandfather.

Sylvester laughed, "My dear boy, you really are dense aren't you. I haven't done a thing. She's dead because of you."

Simon cried, shaking his head, "No, that's Impossible, I would never-"

"Oh, but you have. Do you honestly think you deserve this life, Simon? Do you think that simple apologies and a promise to 'do good' will fix the things you've done? Face it, I'm still part of you, and that part of you no matter how hard you try to bury will never be truly gone. Look at her, she was so full of life and loved you to pieces. She gave you a life that you never knew you could have, and you killed her for it." Sylvester smirked, "I'm so proud of you."

"I'm nothing like you!"

Sylvester chuckled and snapped his fingers and a terrible, but familiar pain pierces itself into Simon's chest., "Take a look, my boy." Simon struggled to catch his breath. His shaking fingers reach to unbutton his shirt and look down. When he did his heart froze. Nestled in his chest was the dark mark, pulsating and sending wave after wave of pain throughout his being, making him convulse. Sylvester chuckled in delight, "You'll never be rid of me, Simon."

Simon gasped as he sat up in bed, shivering in a cold sweat. Fear like ice water shoots through his veins and Simon frantically tears off his shirt to examine where the dark mark had been. It was gone, and so was his scar. He turned to his right and found his wife fast asleep next to him. Simon sighed, touching his heart, feeling the way the organ pounds beneath his hand. It's not the first time he's had nightmares like this one, but it is the first tie he's had one with Persephone in it. That's what made it so horrible.

A soft touch on his arm broke Simon from his thoughts, he jerked away on instinct, only to realize it was Persephone. "I'm sorry, my love, I didn't mean to wake you." He said quietly, trying to coax her back to sleep. "Go back to sleep, my love."

Persephone shook her head," Nightmare?" She asked and Simon bit his lip. He didn't tell Persephone about his nightmares, mostly because he didn't want to remember them. He hates when he has to relive his actions through his dreams or see his grandfather, the monster who raised him, be a constant reminder of his past.

"Simon?" Persephone shifted closer, reaching out to hug him. Simon sighed returning the embrace, feeling her warmth against him, a reminder that he is here and that she is safe. "I'm okay, love. I'm sorry for waking you."

"Do you wish to talk about it?" She asked.

Simon bit his lip, looking down at his lap, "It was about my grandfather." He whispered, tone hoarse, "And you were there too. I don't know what happened, I just found you on the floor and you were hurt. My grandfather was there, and he said I was the one who did it. I was the one who killed you in my dream, and..." Just the idea of hurting her left an ice pick in his heart. Tears well up in his eyes and he started to shake, "I d-don't know what I would do if something like that happened." He glanced at her, growing desperate, "My love, i-if I somehow revert, please, please don't-" He doesn't get to finish as Persephone shushed him with a kiss.

"You won't revert," she said, her voice strong and unwavering. She took one of his hands and kissed his knuckles, "I trust you. I know you won't revert, Simon."

He whines, "But what if I do. It happened before when I was possessed by him. What if I hurt you."

"You won't hurt me, Simon. You're too strong," she said again, shifting closer, her arms go around his neck and she kisses him. "I love you."

Simon hugged her in response, pressing his face into her shoulder, "I love you too." His wife hums, shifting again, this time sliding onto his lap. Persephone kissed him once more, reaching up to touch that special spot behind his ear that she had found the second time they made love. Simon let out a deep groan, "My love, you don't have to-." But Persephone shushed him, pulling away- not away, their foreheads were touching and he could see her smile, "Let me love you. Let me remind you that this is real and you don't need to be afraid anymore." Her eyes then flickered with uncertainty, " Unless you don't you want me right now."

He smirked despite himself and made her gasp in surprise by pulling her flush against him, allowing his wife to feel that her earlier actions had their desired effect, "My insatiable little minx, I'll always want you."

She smiled and kissed him again.

Simon and Persephone snuggle close together on a large hill, staring up at the navy blue skies, watching as hundreds of stars shoot over their heads, making them gasp and coo in awe. Their fingers laced together, enjoying the other's presence as they watch the stars shine above them beautifully.

It was their first Valentine's Day together as husband and wife, just a few months after they got married. Simon and Persephone both agreed they would attend a bazaar since Persephone has never been to one before and it's been years since Simon attended one.

The bazaar was held in Enchancia, both thought about visiting the castle to surprise Cedric and Sofia, but felt that the royal sorcerer and princess were out enjoying their own Valentine's Day.

Persephone gasped in delight as she watched many people, couples and children, busy themselves with bargains, selective treats. She had never seen so many people gather in one place before, even on their wedding day there had only been close friends. Simon smiled at her, "This is the bazaar, people come here to buy ingredients, toys, and in some cases," he gestured to a few stands with older men and women, sitting down large cards with strange images and a crystal ball, "They offer services in telling your future as well."

Persephone beamed, growing giddy at the prospect of seeing so many new people. There was so much she wanted to do. She grabbed Simon by his sleeve and pulled him along, earning a surprised laugh from him as they explore the bazaar.

A few hours pass and somehow Persephone lost her husband. She couldn't remember when she let go of his sleeve, it may have been when a young magician started doing magic tricks to entice potential customers to his stand. She bit her lip searching through the crowds for any sign of red hair.

"Awe, do my old eyes deceive me, or am I in the presence of a Phoenix Shifter?" A withered voice called out to her, making Persephone jump in alarm. An old woman sat behind a large table with a black and blue blanket laid over the top of it. The blanket had pictures of the moon, sun, and stars sewn into its fabric, with strange symbols bordering it. She beckoned Persephone closer, "Come here my child, I don't mean you any harm."

Persephone grew tense for a moment, her eyes flashed to peer into the woman's mind, and seeing nothing but a desire to talk, she lowered her guard a little and approached.

The older woman smiled, her long white hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail with some parts braided. She reached out with her knotted fingers to touch Persephone's hand and lifted it to see her wedding ring. "My, oh my, you are a lucky young lady. Allow me to introduce myself, I am Mrs. Goodberry- yes I know it's a funny name- and I specialize in all sorts of magic. I never thought I would meet a Pheonix Shifter in all of my years, but I'm so happy to know that there is at least one still alive." She turned Persephone's hand over and traced the lines of her palm, "Oh I can see you've been through a lot and have recently gotten married. The man you are with is a wonderful person who you love dearly, correct, child?"

She nodded, intrigued by this woman's observations.

Mrs. Goodberry smiled, "I can also sense you are eager to prove yourself to him. He has made you so happy these past few years that you wish to give him all that you have."

Persephone's eyes widen. How did she know that?

"Not to worry, child, I have just the solution. Here!" She reaches under the table and pulls out a golden apple, it was the size of a normal apple except it was shimmering like sunlight with six-pointed white stars covering it. Persephone had never seen such a beautiful thing before in her whole life, she gasped wanting to reach out but remembering that nothing in life comes free.

Mrs. Goodberry gestured to the apple, waving her hand around it in a whimsical manner, "This beauty is special, my dear. It has the power to grant one's heart's desire. Eat the apple and anything you wish for from the bottom of your heart will come true." She grabbed Persephone's hand and gave it to her. "Here, take it, no charge. Consider this a wedding gift and a hope for the future of you and your loving mate."

Persephone stared at the apple and looked at the woman.

"Persephone!" That was Simon calling her, she quickly turns around and waves at him. Simon sees her and rushes over, "My love, don't disappear on me, I was worried." He looked down at the apple and gasped, "Where did you get that from?"

Persephone started to gesture to the old woman, but she and the table were gone. Persephone blinked and looked back at the apple before turning to Simon and presenting it to him, "Valentine's Day gift."

He blinked at it, not sure what to think, but took it anyway. He could not sense anything strange about it, it felt like a normal apple, but its appearance was very strange, nothing he's ever seen before in his life. "Amazing, did you buy this?"

Persephone shrugged. She wasn't sure if she technically did or not. The woman said it was a wedding gift so probably not. She makes a gesture for Simon to eat the apple, "Eat." She said and Simon looked at the apple once more and shrugged. He takes a large bite and his tongue is flooded with a strange taste, nothing bad but definitely odd. "This is interesting." He said, still trying to place on what taste this has, but eventually shrugged it off. If this made his wife happy he'll gladly eat a hundred of these bizarre fruits.

Persephone didn't respond, only watched him eat the apple until only the naked core was left. Simon didn't eat any of the seeds that looked like regular apple seeds, deciding to pocket them for safekeeping. Golden apples were strange and he wanted to learn more about them once they get back home.

He looked at his wife and felt a sudden surge of warmth grow within his chest. "We should get back unless you want to stay a little longer." Persephone shook her head, she was done for the day and was eager to get home and eat, her stomach growled, and thankfully they had plenty of food back home. She gestured to Simon's pocket, curious about the seeds he had collected. "I figured I'd keep them and find out what kind of apples these are. I've never seen anything like them before." He said, patting his pocket. "We can plant them in our backyard if you would like."

Persephone smiled and nodded her head.

The two went back home. Along the way, Simon began to act a little strange, he was becoming a lot more affectionate than normal. While Simon was an affectionate person he only ever acted in such a way when it was just them. This time, however, he was caressing her and holding her, and pressing kisses to her cheek whenever he saw the opportunity. When they arrived home, he immediately kissed her in a way that stole her breath away and left her wanting more. She doesn't know what had gotten into him. Perhaps it was the holiday as Valentine's Day is a celebration of love. Whatever the case, Persephone wasn't about to complain. She happily melting into the kiss that soon gave way to something more.

Neither were aware of the apple's magic fulfilling Simon's greatest desire.

Simon noses Persephone's hair, "Happy Anniversary, my love." She giggled and noses him back, a happy purr rolling off her throat. She then reaches into her cloak and pulls out something sparkling and beautiful. Simon's heart jumps into his throat when he sees a golden apple, the same one Persephone had given him that Valentine's Day two-and-a-half years ago, the night they made Chise. Does this mean...

"Happy Anniversary, my love," Persephone parrots, offering him the apple.

Two months after Valentine's Day, Persephone started to feel ill. She grew tired, nauseous, and was always a little light-headed. Simon was very worried about her and summoned a medic to help. There was not a lot of knowledge about Phoenix Shifters, but Orion had been the one to suggest the medic, explaining that he specialized with Wind-Walkers and could potentially find out what was wrong with Persephone.

Simon stayed by his wife's side as the medic asked a series of questions, from appetite, to sleep schedule, and so on. The final question was very personal and it made Persephone cock her head in confusion. "When was your last flow?"

"Flow?" She asked, confused. Persephone looked at Simon for answers, but he didn't quite get it either. The medic coughed and said, "Your flow, as in your menstrual cycle. Do you remember when you last had one?"

Simon blushed and Persephone did too. "Um, Phoenix Shifters don't have a monthly cycle, I'm afraid, they go into heat once a century. W-Why do you ask that?" Simon asked. The medic shrugged, "I just wanted to rule out any possibilities. The symptoms you described sound similar to a pregnancy. Do you think you two could be expecting?"

Simon's heart jumped at the idea. He wanted children, but Persephone had explained it would be close to impossible unless they performed the ritual to share a life, and even then it would be decades before either of them could try. "I- I doubt it," he said, a little sad by the knowledge. He grabbed Persephone's hand and squeezed it gently, "I don't think pregnancies are an option right now."

The medic hummed and said, "Well, how about we do a test just to make sure. I want to be as thorough as possible."

The couple nodded their heads. The medic had Persephone lay down on the sofa and expose her belly. He cleaned his hands before applying pressure to her lower abdomen, causing Persephone to squirm and whine with discomfort. She bared her fangs when he didn't let up and hissed, making the medic jerk back in alarm. Simon glared at him before cooing at his wife to calm her down, "It's alright, my love. You're okay."

Persephone was not happy. Still glaring at the man, she hissed at him once before rising to her feet and storming out of their home. Simon sighed and gave the medic a stern look.

"My apologies, I wasn't trying to cause her any discomfort, I was merely feeling for a bump. Phoenix Shifters and Wind-Walkers are very similar and both begin developing a bump much earlier than humans."

"Well, try to be a little more respectful next time. So, what is your diagnosis, is she going to be alright?"

The medic smiled, "I'm afraid your wife is going to be sick for the next nine months, she'll go through several changes from cravings, to mood swings, and will develop a glow around her as well."

Simon blinked, taken aback by what the medic said. The man smiled at him, "Congratulations, Simon, my assumption was correct. You're going to be a father."


Persephone was mad. Very, very mad. She stormed out of her home, her wings ruffled with irritation. She took to the skies to clear her head, flying through clouds that soaked her clothes, cooling her off a little. She tore through the skies at speeds that most birds can never achieve, not even Wind-Walkers could match her aerial skills. She flew for a few minutes before she heard her mate calling her from the ground below. Persephone turned and flew down, landing outside their home. Simon came racing out, looking like a wildman. Before she could react, he swept her up in his arms, spinning them around in circles, laughing as he did. When he set her down, he grabbed her face and kissed her as if his life depended on it.

When he finally pulled away, as oxygen became a necessity, he gasped at her, tears running down his face, "We're going to be parents."

"Parents?" She squeaked, "How?"

"I don't know, but he said you're pregnant, my love." Simon said, he kissed her again, one hand resting on her belly, "I can't believe it, but I'm so happy. We're finally having our own little ones, this is a dream come true!" He grabbed her again, hugging her tightly, crying as he does, and whispering how much he loves her. Persephone forces herself to smile, putting up a positive appearance, all the while her heart sinks into her stomach, "The apple."

Simon blinked at her, cocking his head, "Apple, what apple?"

"The golden apple," she said, "It grant's the heart's desire."

Simon gasped at her before he smiled and grabbed her face to kiss her, "Thank you, thank you so much!"


Simon had to make an errand run, promising he'll return as soon as possible, but insisting it's important. He kissed her goodbye and left with a dance to his steps. Persephone didn't say anything, she smiled sadly behind him and laid her hand on her stomach, wondering if she is capable of taking care of a child.

Simon returned an hour or so later with books. Lots of books, all stacked up to his head. Books on babies, books on parenting, books on pregnancies, books on everything parenthood he could get his hands on. Persephone grew nervous when he pulled out a book about multiple births. "I just want to be prepared." He said to her, followed by a kiss to her stomach, " There have been twins in my family, but I promise I'll be the best father for you, little one or little ones."


Word spread about Persephone's pregnancy. There was no hiding such big news, as Simon was quickly becoming the center of attention, fawning over Persephone and reading his books almost religiously. If someone were to ask where Simon was, they would hear, "He's doing his homework." A joke among the Protectors as Simon was doing his best to learn all that he could about parenting and raising a family. He took notes, jotted down what he learned as if he were cramming for an exam.

He monitored Persephone like a hawk, making sure she ate the right things, and avoided the wrong things, especially with too much sugar. If someone offered cake Persephone could only have a slice, any more, and Simon would start to worry.

It was cute at first, but Persephone was starting to get a little irritated. Like now. "My love, I don't think you should be flying in your condition," Simon said to her that morning, just a few weeks after they learned of her pregnancy. "It could be bad for the baby."

Persephone glared at him, "The baby is fine. Let me fly."

He sighed, running a hand through his red hair, "I just want to make sure you stay safe. Please be careful and stay inside the Mystic Isles." Persephone smiled and kissed, him, "I will." At least she had some of her freedom, but soon she won't be allowed to fly. She wants to cherish her ability to soar for as long as possible. Flying gives her a sense of freedom from her worries, a sense of control, and allowed her to forget that she's carrying something precious inside of her that she hopes she's strong enough to protect.


Persephone blinked down at her stomach. It was starting to grow a little, a slight bump pushing out. She looked to her reflection and turned sideways, It was hardly noticeable far away, but up close, and with a detailed eye, one could start to see the forming of a baby bump. She eyed her reflection for a moment before spotting a small, round pillow on their bed. It was a wedding gift from Sofia, a white pillow with dark pink lace written in cursive that read: "And they lived happily ever after..." Red hearts were sewn around the words. Persephone wasn't a sewist, but she could tell that the princes spent a lot of time making that pillow for them.

Persephone picked it up from their bed and slipped it under her tunic. When she turned around to face the full-length mirror, the difference was almost frightening. It was almost like she had transformed into another person. She looked older and sadder too. She knows she should be thrilled, but for the life of her, Persephone could not bring herself to be happy. Could she do this? Will she be able to take care of her own child? What of Grimtrix, that mad man was still on the run, likely off torturing innocent people for his own benefit.

What would happen if he caught word that Persephone was expecting? Will he seek them out and murder her family again?

A sharp gasp made Persephone jump. The pillow she had hidden under her tunic slipped and fell to the floor. Turning to the source of the noise, she found Simon standing in the doorway. His eyes were wide with awe and a second later a few joyful tears slip out. His face breaks into a watery smile and he walks into their bedroom and kneeled to the floor, coming down to eye-level with her stomach. "This is real," he whispered, reaching up the caress her abdomen, "This. This is all real." He pressed a kiss to her belly before looking up at Persephone. She smiled softly at him and nodded.

Simon choked and pressed another little kiss to her belly, "You're going to look so beautiful. I can't believe we're doing this. I can't believe we're going to be parents." He sniffed and pressed his forehead there, sobbing quietly and whispering more praises to both her and their child, "I love you. I love you both so much. There is so much I want to teach you, so much I want to show you, my little one. I promise I'll take care of you both. I won't let anyone hurt either of you. I swear, I won't let anything ruin this second chance." He finally pulled away to smile at her, his face glowing with so much happiness Persephone found herself beaming back at him.

Simon wiped his tears away before standing up. He took Persephone in his arms and kissed her "Thank you, my love. Thank you so much."

Persephone returned his kisses, trying her hardest to look happy. She couldn't, wouldn't take this away from him. Simon wanted a family of his own, and while Persephone was terrified she will gladly drown out her fears for his happiness.


Three months was when the nightmares started coming. They always involved Grimtrix chasing her through the maze with a knife in his hand. Persephone would run as fast as she could while following an infant's scream somewhere in the distance. The piercing cries yanked her heart and flood her veins with desperation. Behind her Grimtix laughs, wielding his knife with a devious glint in his eyes. Just before he swipes at her, Persephone would wake up in alarm, gasping quietly to herself, her heart racing inside her chest. She would immediately touch her stomach, noting the slight swell growing.

Simon would wake up, disturbed by her restlessness, and ask her what was wrong. She couldn't bring herself to answer him, scared he would get upset with her. The baby made him so happy, she wanted him to continue to be happy, even at the expense of her own happiness.

One night it got so bad, she awoke to Simon shaking her wake, begging her to open her eyes. "My love, it's okay, calm down, you're having a nightmare." When Persephone finally woke up she lunging forward to hug him and hide her face in his nightshirt. Simon coos and shushes her, rubbing her back as he does, and whispering words of comfort until her sobs settle to quiet whimpers. Persephone sits up, and Simon wipes her tear-stained face with his sleeve, "Please talk to me."

"Just a bad dream," she whispered, trying to ignore the terror trembling in her bones. Simon frowned and shook his head, "My love, I know it's not just a bad dream, you've been having nightmares every night for almost a week. Please, tell me what happened."

She shivers again, beginning to break. "I'm scared."

Simon rubbed her back, "What are you scared of, my love?" She finally forced herself to look at him, "I'm scared I'm not ready. I'm scared that Grimtrix is going to return and hurt our baby. And if not him, then someone else. I'm scared to be a mother. I'm scared, Simon. Is it okay to be scared?" She gasped when he hugs her, squeezing Persephone close. "Yes. Of course, it's okay. I'm scared too."

Her eyes widen. She pulls away, "But you're happy. You're happy that we're having a baby." Simon nodded his head, "I am," he said, "I'm very happy that we're going to have a family, but I'm scared too, my love." He touched her cheek, wiping a lone tear with the pad of his thumb, " I worry every day that something might happen to you, to our family. I worry that I won't be a good parent. I worry that our children will find out about the things I've done and hate me for it. But, Persephone, nothing is going to happen to our baby." He reaches to caress her stomach, "I won't let anyone hurt you or them."

"I don't want them to be broken, Simon," she whispered, "I don't want them to be born broken."

"They won't," Simon assured, "When our child is born, my love, we are going to be amazing parents. We are going to give them a wonderful life that is filled with love, and happiness. They won't be broken; they'll be perfect because they are ours. And I know you won't let anything happen to our baby, my love. You're an incredible fighter. You stopped Grimtrix when he attempted to kill you. You survived your own renewal cycle and showed the whole world you're afraid to fight back. You are a strong person, Persephone, and you won't be alone in this, because I plan on spending the rest of my days right here beside you, loving you, helping you, and being your husband. You're not alone."

She cried, "I love you."

Simon kissed her tears away, "I love you too."


The one thing Persephone hated about pregnancies was how eager everyone was to feel the bump. It was a normal reaction for most, but it frustrated her to no end. When Sofia invited them to a party in the Enchancian castle, Persephone had been close to six months pregnant. Her stomach was large and round and it made her feel like she was holding a planet under her tunic. Simon loved her stomach, he loved laying his head on it and listening to the baby, or touching the spot where the baby was kicking. He lovingly kissed the area where he thought the baby's head or cheek was while cooing and whispering promises to their child as if their little one could hear him. His promises were always about how much he loved them, how he will always protect them, and so on. It made Persephone's heart soar because she knew he would give the baby the world if he could.

"Persephone, how are you?" Sofia asked, hugging the Phoenix Shifter, being mindful of Persephone's stomach. Persephone purrs, squeezing her friend back, her face glowing brighter than before. "You look so beautiful,' the princess gushed. Simon came up behind his wife and wrapped his arm around her, kissing her cheek, "She is. We're very excited about our first child."

"I'm so happy for you both!" Sofia said, smiling down at Persephone's growing stomach, "How far along are you?"

"Six months," Simon said proudly as he rubbed his wife's belly, "We're still thinking of names." Simon's grin brightened when the baby started to kick against his hand, "They're kicking!" Sofia gasped and looked at Persephone for permission, Persephone nodded and Sofia laid her hand on the Phoenix Shifter's stomach. She giggled feeding the baby bump against her hand, "Awe, they're super active. Cedric, do you want to feel the baby kick?"

Cedric blinked and glanced at Persephone and Simon. Both nodded their heads and the royal sorcerer touched the spot again. He immediately gasped, his eyes widening in wonder, "Oh my, they sure are causing a ruckus aren't they?" Persephone nodded her head again before the smell of food caught her nose. She sniffed the air, her mouth-watering. Lately, her cravings had been all over the place. She giggled a little at the memory of Simon's expression when she ate cucumbers dipped in icing. Speaking of icing, she could already smell the frosting on the cupcakes nearby and was eager to have a taste of them. Nudging Simon she gestured to the table full of goods nearby and walked to it, leaving her husband to catch up with Cedric and Sofia.

She grabbed a plate of delicious finger food and was about to eat, when someone approached her, "Excuse me, but are you that phoenix girl everyone has been talking about?" She blinked and look to see a young lady in front of her. She possessed dark blue hair and green eyes, and a witch's hat with a dark purple gown that had accents of green, and blue.

Persephone nodded.

She grins, "Wow! I've never seen a real Phoenix Shifter before! I'm Lucinda, by the way, a friend of Sofia's! Is it true you almost dropped Grimtrix in a volcano?"

Persephone nodded again and the witch starts to wiggle in excitement, "That's so cool! And wow, you're pregnant! How cute!" She reached down and laid her hand on Persephone's belly.

Persephone bit back a hiss, wanting to be as polite as possible. This Lucinda did say he was friends with Sofia, so surely it wouldn't hurt to have someone pet her stomach. Lucinda moved her hand to touch a sensitive spot on the side of Persephone's belly and Persephone's reflexes kicked in, forcing her to let out a feral hiss that made Lucinda jump away in alarm.

"Is there something wrong here?"

Persephone immediately stopped hissing and rushed to her mate. Simon hugged her as she dove her nose into his neck, trying to calm herself down. He cooed, rubbing her back, all the while Lucinda eyed them strangely, "All I did was touch her stomach, and then she started hissing at me like a beast."

Simon frowned at her, "My wife is not a beast. Please refrain from doing that. Persephone doesn't like it when people touch her." Lucinda frowned but nodded and walked off, clearly a little annoyed. Persephone frowned, watching her leave, a knife of guilt pierced her heart. She didn't mean to act like a beast, but she didn't like it when someone outside of her family, touched her. Simon, Orion, Vega, Sofia, and Cedric were the only ones allowed to touch her.

"My love, are you okay?" Simon asked, touching her cheek, "I'm sorry I wasn't here to stop her."

"Am I a beast?" She asked, out of the corner of her eye, she can see Lucinda talking to someone and glancing at them every so often. "No, darling, you're not a beast. It's okay," Simon said, "I know you don't like it when strangers touch your stomach. You were only acting on instinct."

Instincts sound like something only a beast would have. Was she a beast? Just a creature that had no moral compass outside of basic necessities? Simon hugged her close, kissing her forehead, "Don't let her bother you, 'Seph. If you're not comfortable with someone touching you then it's your right to tell them to leave you alone"

"Sofia's friend," she whispered, voice dripping with guilt. Will Sofia be mad at her for hissing at Lucinda? Simon shook his head, "Don't worry about that, my love. Sofia will understand." He kissed her again, "And you are anything but a beast." She purred in response and nuzzles her head beneath his chin, sighing when he rubbed her belly, soothing away any discomfort she had from Lucinda's unwanted touch. She remembered the protective look on Simon's face when he shooed Lucinda away. Phoenix Shifters were incredibly protective of their mates, but to have Simon, a human, become so defensive over her, she found herself craving something different than what was on the buffet table. Persephone nuzzles him again, whispering close to his ear, "I'm hungry."

"Well, let's eat."

"Not for food..." she leans her head up to blow hot air on the shell of his ear, causing him to grow tense as heat coursed through his veins, "P-Persephone..." He blushed, his eyes darting around the room full of potential observers. He hoped his face wasn't as red as it felt. He should be used to her insatiable habits by now, which was just as spontaneous as her food cravings, but Persephone always found a way to catch him off guard. Not that he had anything to complain about...

She winked at him and left for the exit. Simon smirked and followed her. Oh well, he wasn't much of a party person anyway.


Simon awoke to Persephone playing with his hair. She twisted the red lock around her finger and admired it, her eyes aglow with contentment and love. Simon smiled, reaching out to her, and pulled her close, "What are you thinking about my love?"

Persephone hummed, continuing to play with his hair, feeling the way it flows between her fingers. "I want them to have your hair," She said and tucked the strand behind his ear. Simon hummed, considering it and frowning a little, "You want them to have blood red hair?"

His wife smiled and shook her head, "Not blood red, they're ruby. Your hair is the shade of rubies. Just like your eyes." She caressed his cheek, "I've always loved your hair. It reminds me of a time, long ago when I was small, my momma and papa took me to a cavern that was full of precious gems. My momma picked up a large rock that appeared old and nasty. It looked just like any other rock, but then she turned it over and there were rubies. I never saw anything like it before. When I look at you, I remember that moment in the cave and it makes me happy."

Simon smiled at her and laid a quick kiss on her lips, "I'm glad. It's my job to make you happy." He slipped his hand down to touch her round middle, "You've made me so happy." Persephone hummed in response, laying her hand on top of his, "Good." She sighed and nuzzled his neck, falling back to sleep. Simon kissed her forehead and returns to sleep as well. Happy to know that his family is safely tucked away between his arms.


Persephone felt a shape pain scratch across her belly, digging deeper into the center of her abdomen, making her gasp in surprise. Her husband, Simon, had been picking up the dishes when he heard her. "'Seph, is everything alright?"

She nodded her head, rubbing her stomach, the medics had said the baby wouldn't be due until later but she feels as though she's going to burst any day now. Simon had been on edge for the past month as Persephone's due date came closer and closer. "I'm fine," she said and rose to kiss him. Simon sighed, holding her stomach between them. She noticed, that every chance he could get, he would touch her middle as if trying to make sure it was real. Given what she knew about her mate, it made sense that Simon the Silent wanted to keep his family safe and out of harm's way. He had so much going against him and so much to overcome, of course, he would want to make sure they're real. Persephone laid her hands on top of his, rubbing his knuckles, "We're real, my love." He shivered at her voice, wrapping his arms around her and holding her tightly. "It feels like I'm dreaming and that at any moment I'll wake up and all of this will be gone."

"I know," she whispered in reply, "I'm scared of that too." She reached up and dove her fingers into his red hair, making him sigh again at her loving touch, "This is real," she said, "We are real, we are here, and we are yours." He smiled, tears filling his eyes. He kissed her again, before kneeling to kiss her stomach, "I love you both so much. Do you think this will be our only child?"

"Do you want more children?" Persephone asked, curiously. Simon nodded, "I would love to have another one, if possible. Of course, if we only have this one, I'll be happy regardless." He kissed her stomach again, whispering, "Can you hear me, little one. Daddy loves you and Mommy with all of his heart." His eyes brighten when he feels the baby kick against his hands, "I think they can hear me!"

Persephone giggled and rubbed her stomach.


Simon didn't want to leave his beloved behind, but Orion and the other Protectors needed his help. He looked at Persephone, "I shouldn't leave you here, my love."

"She'll be fine, Simon," the medic in charge of Persephone said, "She isn't due for a few more weeks." He was an older man, much older than the person who announced that Persephone was pregnant. "I'll keep watch over her, while you're away, and if there is any trouble, I'll use the Enchantlet that Orion was kind enough to lend me." To prove this, he lifted his wrist displaying the Enchantlet. Simon sighed in relief, though this hardly did anything to calm his nerves. He looked at Persephone once more, drinking in her features and trying to reassure himself that everything will be fine.

Everything will be fine.

Everything will be fine.

He has his doubts. He didn't want to leave, but he owed the Protectors so much he couldn't bear the thought of abandoning them when they needed him. Persephone smiled and caressed his cheek. Simon leaned into her touch, trying to stretch their seconds into minutes. He kissed her, his hand touching her stomach once again, reminding himself that they are here, they are safe, and he'll be back soon. He will. "I'll return as soon as I can, my love." He bends down to kiss her belly, "Daddy will be back soon, little one. Don't cause your mommy too much trouble."

The medic rolled his eyes, he was used to seeing overeager parents, but Simon was taking his role a little too seriously. The sorcerer looked at him, "I can trust you to take care of them?" The medic sighed, "Yes, Simon, we'll be fine. Now hurry along, the longer you wait to leave, the longer it will be for you to return, and I hear there is supposed to be a nasty storm later this evening."

Simon nodded and soon left after that. Persephone glanced at the medic who smiled at her, "Well, if it's all the same to you, my dear, I'll prepare myself some tea. Would you like a cup, my wife usually drank Oolong when she was pregnant with our twins."

Persephone smiled and nodded her head.


A few hours passed, and Persephone could sense something was amiss. The babe in her stomach was becoming restless, kicking around as if trying to break out. She often looked at the medic for help but he insisted that she wasn't due yet and she should just relax, contractions were normal and it was nothing to worry about. However, Persephone knew her body, she knew that the baby wasn't going to wait for very long, especially not for a few weeks. He or she was eager to see the world and very, very soon.

Outside, thunder was blasting, making a ruckus. It scared her a little, made her jump every so often. She didn't like thunderstorms because of how easy it would be for her to get hit by lightning when she flies. Her parents would warn her about flying through storms, telling her how dangerous they were. She winced again, another contraction tightening her abdomen muscles, making her gasp in discomfort, and whine. The medic was sitting close by and glanced at her, "Remember your breathing, Persephone." Oh, she wanted to castrate him for his know-it-all attitude. A feral growl rumbled in her throat as she glared at him.

He winced. Thankfully someone had knocked on the door. Persephone hurried to answer it, believing it was Simon, only to see it was someone else. "Hello, is Jim here?"

The medic, Jim, came to the door, "Yes, what is it?'

"I'm sorry, I know you're supposed to be watching her, but my wife is going into labor right now. Our midwife isn't available and you're the closest medic I could find."

"Did her water break?"

"Yes," the man said, "Please, you need to help them, sir."

Persephone whined, touching her stomach. This man couldn't leave her alone, not when she was due. The medic glanced at her and looked back at the man, "I'll be right there." Persephone glared at him, narrowing her eyes, her claws sharpening with the urge to scratch his freaking eyes out. "My dear, I understand you're concern, but I assure you that you're not any closer to labor than you were yesterday. I'll be back, I promise."

The two men hurry out, leaving Persephone alone. She growls, her sharp nails biting hungrily into the door frame. If only it were his eyes...


Simon blinked, sensing something was wrong. He couldn't quite place it, but something in his gut told him Persephone needed him. He shook his head, "You're just overreacting," he said to himself, "She's fine. She's in good hands..." But was she? What if something happened, what if she was hurt. There were so many possibilities, and Phoenix Shifter pregnancies hadn't been documented, so there was no telling what was going on. Finally, he couldn't take it. "Orion!" He called out, "Can you please contact the medic to make sure Persephone is okay."

Orion nodded his head, they were almost done anyway. He activated his Enchantlet and both he and Simon soon got in touch with the medic. The older man sighed, looking exhausted. "Yes, yes, what is it?" He asked.

Simon frowned, narrowing his eyes, "Is Persephone, alright?"

"She's fine," the medic said, "I'm afraid I had to take care of another patient, but she's fine."

"Where is she?" Simon demanded, "Did you take her with you? Let me talk to her."

"She's still at the house, but I promise you she's-"

"You abandoned her!" Simon's eyes glowed red with rage, something inside him snapped. "You're supposed to watch over her, you idiot! What if she goes into labor!"

"Simon, please calm down. There is no need to get upset. I assure you that in all my medical experience-"

"Does your medical experience involve Phoenix Shifters?" He demanded, fist clenching. "How dare you! How dare you abandon my wife and leave her alone. I swear to the stars, if anything happens to my wife or our child, I'm going to make you regret it!"

The medic immediately paled at the threat. He glanced at Orion who sighed, "If you're finished, go back to her, please."

"Never mind," Simon huffs, already rushing to pack up their belongings, "I'm going back there myself, I won't leave Persephone alone!"


Another contraction hits Persephone, sending her crumbling to the floor. She winced, rubbing her stomach, whining to herself, and wishing her mate was here. Something warm runs down her legs, spiling to the floor. She gasped already knowing what it was and crying out when another contraction hits, this one much worse than the first ones. Oh, she was going to kill that medic for leaving her like this. She was going to kill him and toss his body into a river.

She grinds her teeth, forcing herself to stand up again, wings beating to keep herself stable enough to walk. Persephone's instincts were kicking in now. She needs to go to build her nest, needs to prepare it fast, and then bear her child. She hates that Simon isn't here, mates are supposed to be present when offspring are born, but she can't go to him because of the storm. It sounded nasty out and the wind was picking up with rain pelting the windows. A lightning bolt blasts nearby, making the walls tremble. She can feel the vibrations, and the static made her feathers stand on end.

Persephone made it to her and Simon's room, and quickly tore off the bedding, arranging it into a proper nest before settling herself down in the center just as another contraction hit, this one much worse than the others. She cried out, tears running down her face, it felt a though she were being ripped apart from the inside out.


Simon cursed the storm, it was getting worse by the second. He looked at the Protectors, "Please, we need to hurry."

"We're moving as fast as we can, Simon, but we have to be cautious. It's dangerous to fly in this storm."

Simon wanted to stomp his foot like a child, throwing a temper tantrum, "I know, but I need to get back to Persephone. I don't know how to explain it, but I feel that she needs me."

"We'll get there soon, Simon, "Chyrsta said, "Just try to calm down alright, rushing us isn't going to make this any better."

He knows that, but he also knows that Persephone is alone and probably scared.

Simon stares at the apple in his hands, before meeting Persephone's gaze, "Are you sure?" She smiles and nods, "If you are."

He smiles and steps closer, pulling his love into a warm hug, "There is nothing I want more than to have another baby with you, but are you sure? The reason I ask is that you were so scared when we first learned about Chise."

Persephone nods again, "I'm sure." Simon grins and bites into the apple.

It took them hours to make it back. As soon as they landed, Simon raced off to his home, ignoring the yells from Orion and the others, as the storm was getting worse and it was too dangerous to go on foot. He didn't care, his focus was to get home to Persephone. Part of him felt he was being overly dramatic, but another part, the part that he felt was linked to her said he needed to hurry.

Thunder and lighting clash together in the dark skies. Rain pellets on his head, drenching him and soaking his clothes. Simon continued running, pushing through the pouring rain.

Soon he saw his house and that gave him a sense of hope. He raced down the hill, tripping on a rock and falling into the mud. He gets up again and runs some more. Simon managed to yank the front door open and slam it shut behind him, breathing hard to catch his breath. His arm aches from his earlier fall, but he ignored it.

The house was dark and silent. The only noise he heard was from the storm outside. A growing dread pools into his stomach as he casts an illuminating spell to light up the area. He goes through the living room, checks the kitchen, and then head for their bedroom. The door was shut and locked. Simon cast another spell to undo the bolt and the door creaked open at his command.

He managed two steps into the darkroom before someone grabs him and slams Simon into a wall. He gasped feeling whoever it was holding him by the collar of his shirt. A blast of lighting fills the room with blue light allowing Simon to see the fury eyes of his wife. "Persephone!" He gasped, and immediately she lets him go, her eyes widen in shock before she attacks him with a hug, shaking and crying.

Simon shushes her, rubbing her back and kissing her head, "I'm here love. I'm here." His heart broke at feeling her tremble within his arms, "Oh, my love, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have left. Are you okay?"

She pulls back and whines quietly shaking her head, then turned around to her nest area and pulls on his arm insistently. Simon followed her without question. Inside the nest laid a tiny, tiny thing, so small it almost looked impossible to be real. It was a small, pink creature that looked to be molded from candle wax, laying quietly in the center of the bed, all wrapped in Persephone's green cloak.

Simon gasped, "Is, is that our-" He looked at Persephone who nodded, her eyes flickering with tears and her lower lip trembling with worry. "S-She came early..."

Oh no. Simon's heart stutters, tears come to his eyes. He had read about premature births, they happened and most of the time the infant doesn't last long. He starts to tremble too, reaching out to grab his child and stare at her little pink head, small as his palm, with her face wrinkly and loose, like she didn't fit into her own skin.

But she was beautiful. Simon trembles, feeling so much love boiling inside him as he stared at his child. Their child. He pressing a kiss to the baby's head, noting how warm she is. He looked at Persephone who appeared so tired and scared, his heart broke at the sight. "My love, you need to lay down and rest. I'll watch her."

Persephone shook her head, struggling to contain her sobs, "No, she's too weak. She'll die soon..."

An ice pick stabs him in the chest. Their first child probably wasn't going to make it. Premature births had a fatality rate of 85%. He looked down at his daughter, seeing the way she opened her mouth to gasp for air, her tiny nostrils flaring with each inhales. She looked like she was struggling to breathe. He starts to cry. Persephone does too.

They climb into Persephone's nest and lay down. Simon hands the baby to Persephone who hugs her close and then he hugs them both; pressing a gentle kiss on Persephone's cheek and on their daughter's little pink head.

Despite Persephone's refusal to sleep, she eventually gives in to her exhaustion. Simon sighed and stared at their little one, the infant was still so tiny and pink and impossibly vulnerable. He wished he could fix this, if he had a golden apple he would wish for his child to be healthy. He closed his eyes and hoped that his daughter will survive the night.

However, he remembered something important about premature births. It was something called "Kangaroo Care". He remembered that because of the preterm babies dying for several reasons, lack of attention, infections, and so on, people started copying what a kangaroo mother would do, the skin-to-skin care was praised for improving preterm infant health.

Carefully, so as to not wake up his wife, Simon sat up and took off his shirt, he carefully unwound the cloak covering their baby and pressed her to his chest. Skin to skin contact was important, according to his book. He closed his eyes and hoped beyond hope that the books he read were right. She was so small in his hands. He was scared he might hurt her somehow. Looking down at her, he smiled weakly, watching in fascination as her breathing began to settle to a much calmer rate, no longer gasping as she had been doing earlier.

His heart swelled like a balloon with so much love for this tiny, tiny creature, he could hardly contain it. His daughter was so small and so sweet, she was like a little pink cupcake. "Please stay strong for us, cupcake. Stay strong for Mommy and Daddy." He holds her close for the next few hours until Persephone awoke. She sat up and stared at them both, looking tired and worried, before reaching out to their baby. Simon hands her their daughter and Persephone brings the baby up to nurse her.

Neither one says a word. There was nothing to say. All they could do was watch her and hope for the best. At first, their daughter refused to latch on, which seemed to frustrate Persephone. She started to break down, sobbing quietly.

It was hard for him to watch. But finally, finally, their daughter latches on and drinks her fill, which gave them some hope. However, they still had to get through the first night. As soon as the baby stopped suckling, Simon, brings his daughter close, pressing her into his skin, allowing her to feel his heartbeat. Persephone moves closer, resting her head on Simon's shoulder and rubbing their daughter's back. "Chise," she said and glanced at him, "I want her name to be Chise."

"Chise," Simon repeated, stroking his daughter's little arm between his fingers. He smiled at the name, "The Ancient Magnus Bride, I'm surprised you remember that, my love." She smiled at him, "Was the first book you taught me." Simon smiled and kissed her, being mindful of the precious little infant he still held.

The two took turns with Chise. Simon would hold her to his chest so she can feel his heart, and when Persephone was ready she would bring Chise close and try to feed her. At first, the infant was reluctant, it would take several minutes to get her to latch on, which brought both parents to tears, fearing their child would end up starving herself to death. Thankfully she did eat, and grew ravenous over the course of a few hours, much to Simon and Persephone's relief.

Neither slept for the entire night, to focus on their daughter and her fragile health. Every once in a while, one would dose off but quickly snap out of it when hearing Chise's weak gasp of air. The sound breaks their hearts. Chise just needed to make it for one night. One whole night.


Daybreak came at a slow, frightening pace for the little family. Simon and Persephone continued to watch their daughter, whispering to themselves and her that she was strong and she just needed to keep being strong. Thankfully, Chise's breathing got better as did her appetite. Simon watched with absolute love as his wife nurtured their daughter, humming a lullaby while Chise drank her fill. He wrapped his arms around them both, pulling his family into a hug, and kissed Persephone, then bending down to kiss Chise's tiny head. "She made it through the night," he whispered in awe. Persephone smiled and nodded her head, tears misting her eyes. They were exhausted but happy. If Chise could survive this night, then hopefully she can survive many more. They could only hope.

Their moment of clarity was ruined, however, by a knock on their front door. Simon frowned, and looked at his wife, she looked absolutely exhausted, like she was going to fall asleep at any moment. Poor thing. Not only did she give birth all alone without anyone to help her, but she must have been so frantic with Chise being a preterm baby. Knowing how difficult it is for preterms to survive, Simon could tell that the stress of it all had taken a toll on her. "You should rest, my love," he whispered, kissing her cheek, and easing her to lay down, her arms still holding onto Chise, keeping her close to her heart. "I'll answer the door and see who it is. I won't be gone long, I promise." He swiped some of her hair aside and smiled at her, "I'm so proud of you, my love. I hope you know that."

She smiled tiredly and nodded before dosing off with Chise tucked safely in her arms a little pink thing against Persephone's tan skin. Simon couldn't resist kissing their heads again. His heart doing leaps in his chest. He's a father. He, Simon the Silent, a former villain, is officially a father. There was nothing in this world or the next that could take away the joy he felt with this knowledge. Looking back on his life, from the time he followed his grandfather to the day he asked for Cedric and Sofia's forgiveness, the idea of love, marriage, and parenthood had never crossed his mind, but now he cannot imagine how he could survive so long without them. He doesn't want to.

Simon pulled on a clean shirt and answered the front door. The first person to greet him was Jim, the medic who had been in charge of Persephone. He smiled sheepishly and offered Simon a weak wave, "Good morning, Simon. How is Persephone?" His answer came as a hard punch in the face, that sent him falling on his rear. "That's for abandoning my wife, you idiot!" Simon yelled, his magic flaring into his hands. He stomped out to the yard yelling at the medic for his negligence, "She was all alone! Do you have any idea how scared she was? Did you even think for a second she needed you or did you just not care!"

"Simon," Orion called. It was then that Simon realized that Orion, Vega, and Chrysta were present as well. He glared at the medic, a magical surge glowing his hand red, "Well, what do you have to say for yourself?"

"I'm sorry," the medic said, he stumbled to his feet, woozy from the punch that left him with a black eye. "But I believed she wasn't due for a few more weeks. Is she alright?"

Simon seethed, grinding his teeth together, "She went into premature labor."

Everyone's eyes widen. The medic paled, all color washed away from his face. "O-Oh, dear... Well, I better hurry and take a look at-"

"I don't want you anywhere near her," Simon snapped quickly, blocking his way, "I doubt she'll want to see you either. You put my whole family in danger, and while I understand someone else needed your attention the least you could have done was ask someone to watch her, instead of leaving her to give birth on her own. You're lucky she and our daughter are fine."

"It's a girl," Orion's eyes widen. Simon nodded at him, "Yes, her name is Chise. Pronounced as 'Chee-Say', Persephone was very specific about that." He glared back at the medic, "She almost didn't survive the night. If we had lost her, I don't know what I would have done."

"I'm sorry!" The medic pleaded, " But, please, if you'll allow me, I would like to take a look at both Persephone and your daughter to make sure they're okay. Premature births have a high fatality rate."

Simon bit his lip. As much as he hated to admit it, the medic was right and it would be a good idea to bring in someone with experience to take a look. However, he didn't want this guy anywhere near his family. He looked at Orion, "Is there anyone else who can take a look, I don't want him anywhere near her."

Orion smiled and nodded, "Yeah, I can send for someone else." He looked at the medic, and the man sighed in defeat, his head hanging low. Without any further hints, the medic left the group. Simon nodded, good riddance.

"Can you two grab Gail? "Orion asked Chrysta and Vega. The two Protectors nodded and flew away. He then turned to Simon, "But are you sure they're alright?"

"I think so," Simon said, "Persephone is exhausted, she had to do this all on her own. I shouldn't have left her there, I knew something was going to happen, but I-"

"Simon, don't blame yourself. No one could have predicted this outcome." Orion said, he smiled, "But I'm glad they are okay."

"Me too," Simon smiled, his eyes soft with relief, "I would ask for you to come in, but I think it would be safer to wait for the medic to tend to Persephone and Chise. Speaking of which, I need to get back to them."

Orion smiled, "I'm happy for you two. How does it feel to officially be a father?"

Simon took a deep breath and smiled, "It feels strange, but a good kind of strange. I can't describe it, but it's a wonderful, light feeling. I honestly can't believe it, but I'm so happy." Orion nodded his head, he could understand what Simon meant, while he wasn't a father himself, he still loved Persephone as his daughter, and now he was going to act as Grandfather to their daughter, Chise. "I'm glad you're happy, Simon. I wish the best for you and your family. I'll leave you to see them."

Simon smiled, "Thank you, Orion, I appreciate that."


Simon returned to his bedroom and found Persephone awake and holding Chise, cooing lovingly at her. Simon's heart skipped a beat, he slowly walked in and sat down beside his wife, wrapping an arm around her and pressing a kiss to her cheek, "How are you feeling?" She smiled in return, still looking tired, but he can see her glow. She nuzzled him while purring contently. That was all he needed to know she was happy. They were a happy little family.

Simon rolls off of Persephone and pulls her close so she lays her head on his chest. Persephone purrs happily, her body feeling pleasantly sore and sated. She hums, kissing his jaw and neck, all the while he caresses her back, both relishing in their afterglow. "I can't believe we're going to have another child," Simon grins, he kisses her sweaty forehead "This is amazing!"

Persephone giggles and nods. Simon hugs her, loving the way she fits against him. He kisses her nose, "Do you think it will be a boy or a girl?"

"What do you want?" She asks in return, drawing circles on his chest, "Heart's desire, my love. I don't mind either."

"I wouldn't mind having a son," he says, reaching down to rub her stomach. His wife lost most of her belly fat after giving birth to Chise, due to her eagerness to fly and move as soon as possible. Simon could not wait to feel their little one kick under his hand just like Chise had done, "I already thought of a name for him, if we have a boy, that is. I was thinking Aristotle would be a good name. What do you think?"

"Aristotle?" Persephone repeated, "The Greek Philosopher?"

He smiles and nods, "Yeah, I was reading about him the other day and I couldn't help but like the name. What do you think, love?"

She smiles and nods, "Love it." And she presses a kiss to his cheek. Simon chuckles, "I love you." He smiles at her, caressing her cheek with his thumb, "I still feel like this is all a dream. That soon, I'm going to wake up and this, everything, will all be gone. "

Persephone shakes her head, "I am not a dream. This," she puts his hand over her belly, "Is not a dream. Chise is not a dream. You are not dreaming, Simon, you are living."

He smiles at her, "You're right, I am living. I'm living the dream." He laughs when Persephone playfully smacks his shoulder. "Ow, hey, is that any way to treat the father of your children?"

Persephone giggles, and squeaks when he hugs her and starts covering her face in kisses. Simon smiles, "Just think my love. In a few months, we'll have another one. Chise will be a big sister. I wonder how she'll react to that..." A look of dread covers his face, "Oh my, she'll probably want to know where babies come from. We can't tell her the truth, she's too young to know."

Persephone smiles at him, "We'll tell her that we wanted another baby."

"She'll ask how."

"We say we make our babies from love."

Simon blinks, a little surprised "Well, that's technically the truth. I mean, we love each other and we want another child..." He didn't get a chance to finish as Persephone immediately rolls on top of him, catching her mate off guard. "Stop worrying about Chise and let's get to work." Simon laughs, "You're insatiable, my love." He gasps when she grabs his face and gives him another heart-stopping kiss. Persephone nips his lower lip when she pulls away and stares at him with those beautiful eyes of hers, half-lidded and dark with lust. "Only for you." She says and kisses him again. Simon groans happily as they succumb to their pleasure.