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Hades stood in front of his mirror straightening the sash over his robe and feeling Lexi's absence like a painful bruise. She and Hecate had surely arrived in Olympus. Heracles would have met them at the gates and maybe escorted them to the palace. Based on Hecate's moodiness of late, she was due for a visit, and Heracles never failed to provide her an antidote. Hades glanced up at the portrait over the fireplace, the one of him and Lexi standing arm in arm with Cerberus planted between them. Hades recalled the day the original portrait was removed, the one of him and Persephone. It had hung in that spot for longer than he could remember, and the fact that he couldn't remember only reminded him how long eternity was.

A gentle tapping brought him out of his ponderings and he called to the door, "Come in."

Blythe entered, looking more timid than usual. "Your grace, I thought I might have a word."

Hades turned to assess the nymph. She held an expression that teetered between concern and elation. An unusual combination. "Speak freely, Blythe."

"Well, sire, I thought you might be interested to know that... Well, the measurements I took for Lady Lexi's wedding dress have given me some concern."

"Concern? How so?" Hades abandoned his futile fidgeting and walked toward Blythe, who stood with her back to the open door.

"It's her waist size, sire. There has been an increase from April to now. A rather noticeable increase. I'm not sure what to make of it." Blythe's mouth tweaked into a conspiratorial grin, and Hades knew exactly where she was headed with her disclosure.

"As you recall, Blythe, you took Lexi's measurements after she gorged on a fine meal."

"Yes, I have noticed she has enjoyed healthier portions of late. This could surely account for the difference, your lordship. I mean no disrespect. Our lady has a splendid figure."

Hades nodded his agreement. "She certainly does, and you have no need to apologize for your observation. I have noticed this as well." He smiled wistfully, although he meant this only for himself. "I suggest you take another measurement tomorrow morning, before breakfast."

Blythe sucked in her upper lip and looked at the floor, shuffling her feet nervously.

"Is there something else that troubles you, Blythe?" he asked.

"There is something, your lordship, if you will permit me to speculate."

"Speculate away." Hades reached out and gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

"Do you think Lady Lexi may be... with child?"

Hades' stomach bottomed out when Blythe gave voice to the words he had only uttered inside his head. The nymph had noticed as well. Could spoken words make it true? "I have. But, why don't we keep these suspicions to ourselves for now. Lexi has told me nothing of this, and I don't want a rumor spreading through the palace before she has made her feelings known to me."

"Of course, your lordship. I...er... completely understand." Blythe stammered as her eyes locked onto her feet, which shuffled incessantly beneath her. "I wondered, sire, if I could share my feelings with Fiona? She has had her suspicions as well."

Hades smirked as he assessed Blythe's compliant pose. "You have already told her, haven't you?"

Blythe looked up at Hades, her face the shade of an overripe tomato. "Yes, your grace."

He chuckled. "I trust you and Fiona can keep the secret until Lexi is ready to bring us all into the light. Can I count on you both to do that?"

Blythe curtsied until her knees were almost flush with the floor. "Oh, yes. We will be most discrete. I apologize for the intrusion. I wish you a pleasant day, Lord Hades."

Blythe tiptoed out of the room as if she hoped her presence might be forgotten. Such theatrical creatures, nymphs. Hades continued his morning ritual, only now a smile had found his face. He was not the only one to notice the change in Lexi. Surely, this was a good omen. 

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