Persephone stepped down from her carriage with the help of the dead footman and turned to scoop Adonis up in her arms, lifting him high above her head as he giggled. She smiled warmly at him and turned toward Hypnos's door. "Are you ready to visit Lady Pasithea and her new baby?" She asked the child kindly.

He began to wriggle in her arms. "Down, please, Seph-nee!" He said, chubby arms waving in the air.

"All right," she said, "but be careful." She set the child down and watched him toddle around. He looked at the bright red poppies with wonder and Persephone felt a twinge of sadness, knowing that such beauty was rare in the Underworld. Due to his time spent in the Underworld, Adonis feared little. He was growing up in a world where skeletal guards and ghoulish handmaids were a common sight and had grown used to them before he could learn to be frightened of them. She always kept him close by, leaving him with her faithful handmaidens when her duties called her away. She made sure he stayed in the palace and the garden, only letting him leave when she took him on visits. The only thing that frightened him were the screams of anguish coming from the Fields of Punishment, but she always held him close to her when they passed the place, soothing him with comforting words. She took him on visits to the Elysian Fields as often as she could, and he always laughed with delight at the lovely paradise. She only wished such beauty was more common in the Underworld.

Adonis's eyelids drooped as he gazed at the poppies and various plants. He began to topple over, but Persephone quickly caught him before he hit the ground. "Poor Adonis," she cooed, "I should have known this place would get to you. It makes me sleepy, too, and I'm a goddess! I promise we won't stay long." She walked to the entrance of Hypnos's and Pasithea's cave-palace and called out softly through the curtained opening. "Pasithea? May I come in? I have Adonis with me."

Pasithea's sleepy voice floated out towards her. "Of course you can come in, my lady. Just a moment." Persephone heard soft footsteps approaching. Then, Pasithea pushed aside the dark red curtain covering the cave entrance. The Charity bowed respectfully. "I'm honored by your visit, my queen." She smiled at Persephone at then at Adonis, reaching out her hand to tickle him gently. The mortal baby jolted awake. He seemed surprised for a moment, but his little mouth soon formed a smile and he giggled at Pasithea's touch.

"Hello, Pasithea," Persephone said kindly. "I just wanted to congratulate you and Hypnos on your new baby. May I see him?"

Oddly enough, Pasithea's expression fell slightly and she looked almost nervous. "Um…yes, of course," she said quietly, "Please come in, my lady."

The cave's exterior belied the comfortable atmosphere inside Hypnos's and Pasithea's home. Plush couches, cushions, and ornate rugs covered the cave floor, complimented by gorgeous tapestries on the walls. The cave was filled with sweet scents that always made Persephone feel passive and sleepy. She looked down to see Adonis fast asleep in her arms. Pasithea noticed as well and gave a small smile. "You can lay him down on one of the cushions if you wish, my queen. I don't think he'll be waking up any time soon." Persephone laughed a little and set the boy down, covering him lovingly with a blanket.

"So, where is our newest immortal?" the queen answered expectantly.

Again, that strangely nervous looked passed over Pasithea's face. "He's been napping, but he should be awake by now," she said in a low voice. "I can go get him, if you wish."

Persephone nodded encouragingly and Pasithea left through another curtain-covered opening. Why is she so hesitant? Persephone wondered curiously, I suppose it's natural for a mother to be a bit overprotective. She suddenly smirked at the thought of her own mother. "We'll just have to warn Pasithea of the pitfalls of being too overprotective," she said quietly to the sleeping Adonis.

Pasithea soon reappeared, carrying a blinking child wrapped in a dark blue blanket. She nervously sat down across from her queen, balancing the child on her lap. "This is our new son, Icelus," she said almost sadly, not looking at Persephone. The queen observed the child, but soon shuddered and looked away, suddenly wishing she was anywhere but Pasithea's sitting room. She soon realized how rude she was being and forced herself to look at Pasithea, careful not to glance at Icelus again.

"He's," she began, "Well, he's very handsome." It was the truth. Icelus was a very handsome baby. He'd inherited his father's olive complexion and black curls. Two beautiful, tiny wings covered in soft black down sprouted from his back. Still, Persephone hated the thought of looking at him again. For when she had done so, his dark red eyes had pierced into her own, filling her with fear. Her mind had filled with legions of gruesome, deadly monsters, and she couldn't help but shudder.

Pasithea sighed. "It's all right, my lady," she said, "he's my boy, and I love him," Her brow lowered, "but I can't deny his eyes are frightening. In fact, just being in the same room with him is unsettling."

The goddesses were interrupted by a terrified, miserable wailing. Persephone started, and swiftly turned her head to see Adonis, tossing fitfully in his sleep. She stood and quickly scooped him up, rocking him gently in her arms. "Whatever is the matter, Adonis?" she cooed softly. She glanced at Pasithea, who was looking down at her son grimly. Persephone reluctantly lowered her gaze to Icelus and gasped. The red-eyed child-god was gazing intently at Adonis, a cruel smirk growing on his face. Persephone shuddered again and looked away.

"Icelus," Pasithea said firmly, "Leave Adonis alone! Why must you be such a difficult child?!" She sighed in exasperation and closed her eyes. "I don't know what I'm going to do with him! Morpheus and Hypnos seem to be the only ones who can bring him under any semblance of control!"

Persephone forced a smile. "Oh, it's alright Pasithea. I don't blame you. I suppose I'd better take Adonis away from here though." The two goddesses hastily said their goodbyes and Persephone left, almost as eager as Adonis to get away from the strange new daemon.

The nymphs of Enna loved Adonis. He giggled as they ran through the fields of flowers, playing games of tag and blind man's bluff. Persephone sat contentedly and watched with her mother in the shade of a tree, her knees pulled up to her chin and a smile on her face. She sometimes wished that she could bring the boy to Mount Olympus, but she had decided against it. She didn't have permission to bring a mortal to the gods' city, and it would be difficult to keep Adonis a secret in the mountain's busy atmosphere. Persephone knew how angry Aphrodite would be if any Olympian besides Demeter found out about Adonis. So her mother had agreed to spend their time together at their old home in Enna. It was a perfect arrangement. Persephone enjoyed the privacy and peace of Enna, and Adonis had the freedom to run and play without fear of detection. She couldn't help but smile at the irony. She once felt trapped in Enna, but it was the one place Adonis could be free to explore without fear. The Underworld was a dangerous place for a mortal, and the boy was forced to spend most of his autumn and winter months hidden away in Hades' palace.

Demeter smiled. "Well," she sighed, "I suppose young Adonis is the closest thing to a grandchild I'll ever have. Not that I'm exactly disappointed you haven't had a child of your own yet. I'm not sure I want my precious daughter carrying the offspring of that demon."

Persephone glanced at her mother with a hurt expression. "'That demon' happens to be my husband, and for your information, we have tried before to have a child. It just never happened," she finished sadly.

Demeter pursed her lips, "You mean that oily dastard of a brother of mine actually made you…"

Persephone rolled her eyes. "He hasn't made me do anything," she protested, her face turning pink, "and for Olympus' sake, we're married, mother!"

Demeter scowled and turned back to the happy scene before them. After a brief silence, Persephone spoke again in a thoughtful tone, "Actually, I'm beginning to wonder if Hades is capable of having children, being the king of the Underworld and all." Her eyes saddened as she continued to look ahead. "Although," she began again a few moments later, in a more hopeful voice, "We haven't been married all that long. Only a few centuries. Maybe we'll still have a chance.

Demeter didn't answer, but she reached for her daughter's hand and held it gently. Mother and daughter fell into a companionable silence, peacefully watching the golden-haired child dance in a circle with willowy nature spirits.

As Adonis grew, he quickly learned three easy steps to surviving in the Underworld. Number One: Stay in Hades' Palace or the surrounding gardens unless accompanied by Persephone. Number Two: Never eat Underworld food. Only eat the food delivered by Hermes, and Number Three: Stay out of Hades' way. Though now an adolescent of fourteen, he found that these lessons still rang true. He sometimes wondered how he, a mortal, could even survive here. He supposed it helped having Hades' permission and Persephone's blessing. The goddess used as much of her power as she could to ensure he stayed some semblance of healthy. The special food Hermes delivered also seemed to perk him up as well. He decided there must be some magical substance in it to help keep up his strength. Staying in the palace as much as possible also helped. The atmosphere there was much less toxic than it was outside, though he sometimes became stir crazy and went for walks in the garden. The atmosphere of the garden, though gloomy, also seemed relatively non-toxic, though Persephone advised him to stay there no more than an hour at a time.

The boy sighed and perched on a bench. It really was a sad excuse for a garden, but it was the best that Persephone could manage. At least the Pomegranate blossoms and crystals brought some color. The autumn and winter months inched slowly by while the spring and summer months passed much too quickly. He missed the world above and the many wonders it held. Perhaps he could ask Persephone to take him exploring in the caverns. As often as she could, the queen of the Underworld took him far from the Palace and the Asphodel Fields to the crystal caverns on the edge of the Underworld. The caverns didn't compare to the sunny world above, but he did enjoy looking at the various cave formations. Very occasionally, when Hades was in an extra good mood, Persephone managed to convince Hades to allow them to visit Elysium. But these were rare and precious occurrences indeed. Hades didn't approve of mortals in Elysium.

An unexpected sound jolted Adonis out of his gloomy musings. He blinked in surprise as he recognized the sound of laughter. The boy jumped up and made his way deeper into the garden, eager to see where the sound was coming from. He came upon one of the most unusual sights he'd ever seen. There, in front of an odd sculpture, the king of the Underworld was chuckling in satisfied amusement. The boy froze and stared. He had always been afraid of Hades, though that fear had lessened somewhat over the years. Hades had never paid much attention to him, and as long as Adonis stayed out of his way, the god gave him no trouble.

Adonis recognized the sculpture. It was the one with a handsome young man sitting on one side of a bench and looking utterly horrified. He had always found it rather creepy himself. He couldn't fathom what Hades found so amusing about it. The lord of the Underworld abruptly turned to leave, freezing as he caught a glimpse of the adolescent mortal boy. Adonis continued to stare at the god in bewilderment. Hades recovered from his surprise and scowled frighteningly down at Adonis. "And what, pray tell," he growled, "are you gawking at?"

Adonis blinked, and then quickly looked away with a cough. "Uhhh…nothing. Nothing at all, my lord."

"Good," Hades nodded. As he turned and walked away, Adonis thought he saw a slight blush of embarrassment on the god's cheeks. The boy shook his head as he watched Hades leave. Perhaps the Underworld king had finally cracked.

The more Adonis grew, the more Persephone adored him. The boy had grown from a precious baby to a handsome young man, and only in the space of eighteen years. She smiled to herself as she walked into the throne room, where she and Hades held court. She sat down next to her husband and stared ahead, mind anywhere but her duties.

"You're late," Hades grumbled as he glanced sideways at her.

"Am I?" she mumbled. "My apologies."

Hades' eyes narrowed. "This is the fifth time in a row," he said seriously.

"Huh," she said with disinterest, "is it now?"

Hades sighed in exasperation. "Persephone, we can't go on like this! We barely spend any time together anymore!"

Persephone finally looked at him, her expression annoyed. "What on earth are you talking about? We're spending time together right now!"

"We may be holding court right now," he countered, "and you may be here physically, but it's all I can do to make you pay attention for two minutes at a time!"

"Oh, you're imagining things!" the queen said irritably. "Everything is normal."

"Is it?" Hades asked in a quiet, dark tone. The couple sat in silence for a few moments before Hades abruptly spoke. "When is Aphrodite coming by to take the mortal away?"

Persephone jolted out of her daydream. "What?" she asked almost frantically.

"That blonde mortal. Adonis. When will Aphrodite come and take him away?"

Persephone looked at her husband fearfully. "But she can't! She can't take my Adonis away!"

"Your Adonis?" Hades questioned, "As I recall, he was never meant to be your Adonis. You were just keeping him safe as a favor for Aphrodite, remember?"

Persephone blinked. "I suppose it started out that way. But things are different now! I've raised him from a baby! She can't have him now!" Persephone's voice grew louder as she continued to speak. She jumped from her throne and headed for the door. "If you'll excuse me, I must go see Adonis. I want to make sure he had enough to eat this morning!"

"Persephone!" Hades growled, "Come back! I need you here!" But his queen had already vanished through the door. The lord of the dead sighed heavily and rested his head in his hands.

Persephone was in Enna when she found out. She and Adonis were walking side by side through a forested area, silently enjoying each other's company when they overheard two forest nymphs deep in conversation.

"Are you serious? Hades fathered a demigod child?!"

"I know! It's shocking. The mother is a Scythian princess, they say."

"Does Queen Persephone know?"

"I don't think so. I think everyone is afraid to tell her."

"Well, it will come as a nasty surprise, but it's not like this sort of thing doesn't happen all the time. She should be thankful that he lasted this long."

Adonis turned to see the Underworld queen frozen in shock. He gently took her hand. "My Lady?" he asked softly. Persephone spun around and raced through the forest, leaving Adonis behind. She only stopped when she came to the cottage and burst through the door.

Demeter had just returned from a meeting on Mount Olympus and was sitting on a sofa, a troubled expression on her face. When she saw her daughter's tearstained face she smiled sadly. "You know, don't you?" she stated gently. Persephone burst into sobs, throwing herself into her mother's arms. Demeter stroked her hair and spoke softly. "I just heard today when I was on Mount Olympus." She rolled her eyes to herself. "Aphrodite wouldn't shut up about it."

Persephone shuddered in her mother's arms and continued sobbing. "How could this happen?" she cried, "I thought he was different!"

Demeter scowled. "I told you that Hades is no good! How could he do this to my little girl?! I should march right down there and give him a piece of my mind. Don't worry dear, I'll make him suffer!"

Persephone sniffed and broke away from her mother, doing her best to compose herself. She finally managed a watery smile. "Thank you mother, but that won't be necessary. Could…I mean, would you mind if I went outside for a while? I just want to be alone right now."

"Of course, dear," Demeter said kindly.

Persephone left the house and walked for a while, stopping when she came to a brook. She sat down with a heavy sigh and miserably watched the water bubble merrily. The sky lit up with a red-orange glow as the sun began to set. She turned her head when she heard footsteps approaching, managing a small smile when she identified her visitor as Adonis.

He quietly sat down next to her, concern etched all over his face. He took her hand and kindly spoke. "My lady Persephone, is there anything I can do for you?"

She looked away as she felt tears forming once again in her eyes. "Thank you, Adonis. Just having you here with me is enough." She blinked and wiped her eyes. Why can't I get ahold of myself? Hades isn't worth it! Not when he betrayed me like that!

Adonis cleared his throat awkwardly, "I'm sure Lord Hades regrets his actions. He loves you, I know it."

Persephone lowered her brow angrily. "I don't care if he regrets it or not," she muttered. "Besides," she began with a small smile, "I don't need him. I have you after all."

Adonis smiled back nervously, and Persephone was suddenly struck with how beautiful he was. "I don't think you mean that. I'm sure, given time, you'll ahhh-!"

The young man was suddenly cut off as Persephone pressed her lips to his, wrapping her arms tightly around him. She kissed him for several long seconds, then broke away as suddenly as she had begun, turning away with a blush. "I…I'm sorry," she hastily said. She sprung off the ground and ran back towards the cottage, leaving a very bewildered Adonis behind.

Persephone and Adonis didn't speak again of the incident at the brook. When Hades arrived to take them back to the Underworld, Persephone greeted him with cold silence. After her initial glare, she did her best to avoid looking at him altogether. Once the luggage was loaded, the threesome boarded the carriage, speaking little as it rattled along.

As soon as they reached the palace, Persephone ordered the servants to take her things to her sitting room, and then she made her way to one of her garden's benches, resting her head in her hands. It wasn't long before she heard approaching footsteps. She didn't look up as her husband joined her on the bench, heaving a great sigh.

"I know why you are angry, Persephone," he said in low voice, "and I know that 'I'm sorry' hardly makes up for it, but I truly am. I don't know what else I can say."

A long silence followed. When Persephone finally spoke, she uttered one nearly inaudible word. "Why?"

After a moment, Hades answered. "I suppose I've grown so fond of your company, it pains me to be alone."

Persephone gave him a sharp sideways glance. "I'd say I was sorry, but it's not my fault I can't be with you all the time," she said in a hard voice.

Hades sighed. "For a while now, it seems even when you're here, you're not with me."

Persephone stood and glared. "No! No more excuses, Hades!" She snapped, tears forming in her eyes. "You betrayed me, and I never want to speak to you again!" She stormed away, leaving a silent Hades behind her.