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** SMILES AHEAD **

With the babies fed and sleeping contentedly in their cribs, Lexi called Zeus, who appeared at the scrying mirror within moments.

"Greetings, Alexandra. How may I assist you?"

Lexi hid her surprise that he was still using her full name and pressed on with her purpose. "Greetings, Zeus. I have spent the morning in Elysium with your family. Have Poseidon and Hermes returned with news?"

Her father's usual stoic expression faltered as he held her gaze. "I have just come from counsel with Hermes. He said you ran into The Fates, who spoke of Cronus joining Rhea in the underworld before summer harvest. He also said you were unsuccessful in reuniting Rhea's spirit with her body. You know, of course, that you are not to blame yourself for that."

"I only blame myself for not anticipating the futility of my actions. There is still much to be done before the balance of Gaia's world can be restored, which is one of the reasons I have called you. I would like to schedule a council meeting to occur in three days' time. I have an idea and I wish to share it with everyone, including the titans."

"Why don't you share your idea with me now? What is the advantage to delay?"

Lexi wasn't about to tell Zeus she wanted to reopen the connection between Olympus and the underworld. She needed to come up with a thoughtful plan and a well-rehearsed speech. "The delay is to give me and the babies time to recuperate from the birth before you perform the naming rites on them, which was something I wanted to do after the council meeting. That is, if you are willing to carry out the ritual."

Just as she had hoped, Zeus stopped prompting her for more information and latched onto her secondary topic. "It would be an honor to perform the rites on your progeny. I assume you have discussed this with Hades?"

"Of course." Lexi didn't think it would be helpful to mention the sour face Hades pulled when Lexi advocated Zeus, and how Hades had suggested asking his sisters. Hades only agreed after Lexi told him her ulterior motive was to rebuild the bond that had been severed after the Mabon incident. "So, can I count on you to arrange for the council members and titans to meet three days from now?"

"Three days?" Zeus pursed his lips, and Lexi watched him process her proposal. She anticipated a long road of grudging compromises on his part. "I assume you heard about the cyclamens gardens. They are dropping buds faster than Demeter and Persephone can repair them. I fear the winter solstice celebration will be missing one of its important components if something is not done soon. This could put a damper on your wedding plans."

Lexi wasn't sure what he hoped to accomplish with his comment. Did he think she had the power to restore all the gardens of Olympus? "Why don't you see if the council members can prepare for an impromptu meeting, and I will keep you posted on my recovery. I may be a goddess, but I still bleed like a mortal."

As expected, Zeus suddenly seemed eager to end the conversation. "I understand. You take care of yourself and those babes, and I will see to your request. Good day, Alexandra."

"Good day, father."

Zeus hesitated at the mirror, clearly taken aback by her affectionate moniker, and when the mirror went dark, Zeus was smiling.

"Very well executed, my love," Hades said as he walked up behind her and slipped his arms around her waist. "Not a day goes by that I don't thank your parents for raising you instead of Zeus."

She turned to face him and sealed her lips over his, tasting the tang of wine on his tongue. "I believe everything happens for a reason. Gaia knew what she was doing when she chose a demigod to throw her powers on. Now, I have to figure out how to use them."

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