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Hades made a circuit around the perimeter of the balcony with Elm, while Lexi rocked Ely from her position on the chaise. They had all escaped the incessant chime of the scrying mirror to enjoy a few moments of peace.

"How did things get so crazy so quickly?" Lexi said as she wrapped Ely's blanket tighter around his head.

"The death of an eternal being coinciding with the birth of a god and goddess tends to make all the headlines," Hades offered. "I expect everyone has found it difficult to grieve and rejoice simultaneously."

Hades spoke distractedly as he stared into his daughter's face, using her perfection as a sedative. He felt like a yoke had been tied to his neck, weighing him down, when it was Lexi who had been tossed into the fray. How could he support her when he felt so helpless? He seated himself at the end of her chaise, bouncing Elm at his shoulder while he contemplated his vulnerability. Had his mother's death triggered a countdown to eradicate the gods one by one? How long would it be before he fell victim? He couldn't bear the thought of leaving Lexi alone.

"We don't even know if humans are feeling the repercussions of Rhea's passing," Lexi said as she lifted Ely over her head, giving him a chance to stop fussing before bringing him to rest against her bent knees. The boy was rarely appeased for long. "Do you know how long it's been since I've seen a newspaper? July. I feel so detached from my previous life. It's like I'm living a world away. Maybe the prophecy is talking about detachment being the cause of Gaia's demise. The gods have detached from the world they support to focus solely on themselves. The same way humans have spent a lot of years being selfish and growing apart from each other."

"Your brilliance is only overshadowed by your radiance, my love." Hades leaned forward, pursing for a kiss, and Lexi met him halfway to satisfy him.

"And your brilliance inspires me, my sappy prince. You guide me even when we're apart, which is why Gaia believes we are meant to be together. Death and rebirth. It's symbolic, like the Ouroborus." Lexi paused a moment, her eyes unblinking as she appeared to lose herself in thought. "In fact, we can look at the separation of the underworld from Olympus in the same way. In unity, we have strength. Without it, we weaken and fall."

Despite the seriousness of her sentiment, Hades smiled, impressed by her depth of thought. "Forgive me if I am wrong, but are you suggesting we get married straight away so our bond can strengthen the unity between Olympus and the underworld?"

Lexi's eyebrows shot up, which made Hades think she had not considered that at all. "Not exactly, but I have not discounted winter solstice. I was thinking of the prophecy. We do not have eternity to figure this out, Hades, and I think moving the council meeting up to this afternoon will expedite a resolution. Of course, I will need to bring the twins with me, but we shouldn't have to stay more than a day or two, and I can enlist the help of a nymph. There are plenty of them at the palace of the gods."

Hades stood from the chaise, setting a course for the balcony wall and staring over it as he patted Elm's back. He loathed the idea of Lexi and his offspring flying off to Olympus. The feeling was akin to stubbing every toe on the stones of his palace, but he couldn't argue with her reasoning. Being immortal, the gods tended to put off unpleasant matters until they were forced to face them, and while Lexi was a goddess herself, she still thought like a mortal.

"The inhabitants of Olympus need your gifts now, Lexi," he said as he made his way back to stand in front of her. "If you are to prove you are worthy of taking the throne as their benevolent leader, this is the time to convince them... as well as your father. Take the children and stay at the palace until you and the council come to an agreement everyone can live with. Just don't forget about me."

Lexi's breath caught in her throat. Hades heard it from his position beside the chaise. "The only throne I am interested in taking is the one next to you. I don't have an answer to the more complex question of how I am to rule Olympus from there, but we will do this together, Hades, come hell or high water. To quote a wise businessman, the man who also raised me, 'When you have something everyone wants, you have a better chance of getting what you want in return.' In honor of that noble man, I am going to call the palace and have them install a scrying mirror in the meeting room so you can participate in the meeting. You are officially on the council roster with Hecate acting as your proxy, which makes your attendance a non-issue. They'll just have to get over their paranoia about spies and let you serve as your own damn proxy."

A grin broke through Hades' pout, and warmth filled his chest like a freshly-stoked fire. Oh, how he loved this goddess. The morning progressed rapidly from there, with Lexi returning calls, Blythe tending to the babes, and Sella packing the bags. Ely had turned moody as soon as he was put into his crib, and Lisbon tried to soothe him as she leaned over the railing. Hades decided a brandy aperitif was appropriate before lunch, and he enjoyed said aperitif while standing in front of the fire listening to Lisbon's entertaining chatter.

"The minotaurs have made a huge difference in the progress on our home," she chimed. "They work much harder than the gods, and they're a lot more fun to watch."

Hades slid his fingers through his hair, declining to comment. Lisbon's preoccupation with the minotaurs had begun to disturb his sleep, which was already being disturbed by his precious offspring. The alliance the gods had established with the minotaurs had a good distance to travel, and Hades knew boundaries were sure to be crossed during the transition, but he hadn't expected his granddaughter to be the first to do this.

"Hecate has arrived, your graces!"

The voice of Lacy calling through the speaking tube drew Hades' attention back to the brandy in his hand, and he downed the remainder in one go, causing his throat to burn. A short while later, he was greeting Hecate in the foyer and handing Elm over to her.

"Look at those pink cheeks," Hecate crooned as she applied a kiss to each one. "The babes are flourishing. You have brought us a blessing amid the sorrow."

It was all Hades could do to smile convincingly at Hecate. His heart was in his throat as he fitted Ely into the carrier at Lexi's chest, securing the young god in front of his two best friends. Hades knew just how the youngster felt. Hecate slipped Elm's carrier over her shoulders, and once Elm was situated inside it, both parties seemed perfectly comfortable with the arrangement.

"I miss you already," Lexi said as she kissed Hades' mouth, taking her time to prove she meant what she said. Hades took his time as well, holding her until Ely protested with a fitful grunt.

A moment later, Hades was watching Lexi carry his legacy away from their home, and his mind stole back to his chamber when he fought the urge to throw fireballs at the scrying mirror. Odessa had nearly been the victim of his temper, which rarely happened in the presence of a female. It was times like these when Hades questioned the term 'wisdom of the ages'. Age had nothing to do with the wisdom behind his choices, because his heart made most of them.


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