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Lexi's mouth was dryer than a dustbowl in a drought, but she continued to tell her story as Hecate, Rhea and Persephone sat around her bed listening intently. All the while, young Alex ran up and down the infirmary with a sheet flapping behind him. The nymph on duty appeared somewhat distressed by his antics.

"Then Gaia spoke to me," Lexi told them. "She asked me to promise to fulfill her prophecy, the one that has me succeeding Zeus. She said the health of the gods of Olympus depended on it, as did the mortals." The three goddesses appeared to believe her, which made Lexi wonder. Why did they choose to believe her when Phoebe had been given the gifts of an oracle? "She also said Hades and I were meant to unite. The god of death and the goddess of rebirth. Together, we complete the cycle of life." She reached for Persephone's hand, feeling the warmth of her skin as well as the warmth of her friendship. "I know we have talked about this before, Persephone... How Hades deserves to have a mate who is not always distracted by her duties. I will strive to keep my promise to Gaia while also keeping my commitment to Hades."

"I know you will, Lexi," Persephone offered. "I have felt it from the moment I met you."

Hades walked in carrying a tray of food, and the three goddesses lifted their heads to look at him.

"Why are you all wearing guilty expressions?" he said as he set the tray down. "Should I be worried?"

Hades didn't appear to need a reply as he pulled up a chair and began stirring something steamy in a bowl. Lexi's mouth started to water as the scent of potato soup hit her sinuses. The food at the palace infirmary was better than anything she could get in a mortal hospital.

"I hear you went to the palace of titans to speak with Cronus and your brothers," she said. "How did that go?"

"It was enlightening. And a tad messy."

"Oh? Did Zeus lose his temper again and destroy some priceless artifact? I don't see bruises on your face, so I assume you stayed out of it."

"It was a nymph. She walked in with a full tray just as Zeus was divulging something of paramount import. After a swift and tidy clean up, I was finally able to sate my hunger." He spooned soup into Lexi's mouth, forcing her to swallow before she could get her next question out.

"What was Zeus divulging? Can you indulge us?" Lexi glanced at the three goddesses sitting around the bed, anticipation written on their faces.

Hades spooned more soup into Lexi's mouth, making them wait until he had returned the spoon to the bowl. "For the moment, I have been asked not to indulge or divulge."

Rhea reached across the bed and smacked Hades' arm lightly. "Then why bring it up in the first place? Honestly."

Persephone stood and called for Alex to join her, which he did by way of bouncing over on the empty infirmary beds. "I must take my leave. I need to get Alex home before he completely frazzles the staff. I expect we will all hear of this paramount news when your sons are ready to share it, Rhea."

"Oh, I expect Lexi will be hearing it before any of us," Rhea said. "Let me know if you need anything, Lexi. Anything at all."

Rhea stood and took Alex's hand while Persephone held the other, and together they directed the rambunctious god out of the room. That left Hecate, who arranged her satchel over her shoulder as she lifted out of her chair.

"Well, since I am sure to be left out of the loop, I suppose I should return home and see what kind of trouble Ink and Lisbon have gotten themselves into at the palace. Do you have a message you would like me to relay to them, Hades?"

"You can tell the nymphs to expect Lexi and me for breakfast."

"Do you think it wise to move Lexi so soon after such a serious injury?"

Hades kissed the small red bump on Lexi's head where just two hours before there had been a bloody bandage. "Do you think you will feel up to going home after a good night's sleep, my love?"

Lexi didn't care where she was, as long as Hades was near, and she pointed to the bed beside her as she voiced this. "If you agree to sleep next to me, I am sure I will be more than ready."

Hades offered Hecate a shrug that made him look like an impish boy rather than an all-powerful god. "The lady feels she will be more than ready."

Hecate shook her head, looking resigned. "Who am I to offer sage advice to two stubborn gods? I will see you both in the morrow."

"Oh, Hecate," Lexi called as Hecate made for the door. "Will you tell Lisbon the legacy council was approved. I'm sure she will be happy to hear some pleasant news."

A smile found Hecate's lips as she nodded her assent, and Lexi couldn't help grinning after her. Hecate had relaxed her stance on the new council, and agreed with everything Lexi had to say during their respite in the infirmary. Lexi didn't foresee any more silent treatments from Hecate, ever. After Hades made sure Lexi finished everything in her bowl, he dropped the spoon into it and leaned forward to stroke her cheek.

"Poseidon took me to the grove to see the damages," he said. "He told me you asked him to follow you and Zeus, and he witnessed Zeus strike the tree out of anger. He claims to have run nearly as fast as the lighting, but the limb came down so quickly, even Zeus did not have time to react. Part of me wishes I had not gone to the grove, but I was glad I did. Odessa was there, as well as many others. Each of them left gifts and shared their stories of you. Everyone I spoke to sees you as a young Gaia who has come to walk among them."

Lexi felt her face flush as Hades smiled lovingly at her. "I had a foreboding there might be trouble. That's why I asked Poseidon to follow us. Zeus was angry about Ink and Lisbon refusing to return to Olympus."

As swiftly as his smile had come, it disappeared, and Hades' eyes flashed like sun flares. "Irrespective of Zeus' reasons, his actions were inexcusable. Poseidon admitted he would have pummeled Zeus into the dirt then drown him if he had not been concerned with rescuing you first. Apparently, Zeus fled the scene after Poseidon told him to fuck-off, but he did manage to catch up with Zeus later and the two exchanged blows."

Lexi lowered her eyes, wishing the situation had not become so complicated. Hades never referred to Zeus by his given name, and she hoped this feud would not divide them more than they already were. It was time she shared her secret about Gaia's prophecy with Hades, although she knew it would fill him with doubt, but she had already divulged to her friends, which meant everyone would hear about it soon enough.

"Zeus is afraid of me, Hades. Not physically, of course. He is afraid of my gifts and the adoration I receive from the gods. He believes I am going to..."

"He believes you are going to supersede him." Hades brushed Lexi's hair from her brows as she raised them. How did he know? "That was the paramount news Zeus shared this evening. He said Phoebe told him of Gaia's prophecy not long before you were born, and he disregarded it, letting time erase it from the memories of the gods. That is why he didn't want you to know of your true parentage. Then, after the incident in the grove today, everything changed. He thought he had killed you and the babies. It was then he knew he had allowed his ego and arrogance to control him too long, and he made a vow to rectify it."

"Did he say how he was going to do that?"

Hades scooped Lexi's hand into his and kissed her knuckles. "He said he knew what he had to do, but he would not share it. I suppose we will have to wait a tad longer for that paramount news."

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