The following is a fanfic found on FanFiction.net, and was not written by me, link. The username of the author from FanFiction.net is link.
Her Debt, His Burden
She was in bad shape, broken and bleeding. If he had not shown up a moment before the charge, Megara might not have been there with him now—and he would have lost his hard earned servant. Luckily for her, Hades had caught her from a particularly nasty fall, though the beast he was hoping to enlist in his alliance had twisted one of her legs. He had seen agony twist the features of many a mortal before, but for some unknown reason, Megara’s physical pain disturbed him. He saw her too often, knew her many faces, but pain she usually tried to bear without comment.
Hades wanted to tell off the beast for hurting his servant so badly and not instantaneously falling under Megara’s enchantment; Hades often teased Meg of being a succubus, in which she would sneer and retort “only for you, Hades”. He had always liked that reply. Though Hades felt the urge to reprimand, he knew he had to tend to the maiden before he lost her to the swirling depths of the Underworld.
He considered for a brief moment, leaving her in the care of a doctor, but inquiries on patient backgrounds were made all too easily from those nosy cretins and he did not trust the tactics of medicine for the present day. These doctors seemed all too inclined to drilling into people’s heads. He could have her stay in a house somewhere, but the commute to check on her was tedious and most of the homes were too open for his sudden appearance and too drafty for anyone to recover from serious illness or injury.
Megara exhaled an agonized moan, as though she could read Hades mind and was ushering him to make it up quickly; she was fading in and out of consciousness.
At last, Hades knew he had to take her to his domain for proper care. It would only be for a little while, he convinced himself, then he would be right back to work. Hades regrettably noted that the only place of comfort and rest in his domain was his bed—just about the only soft object among the sharpness of rocks and chill of the Underworld.
He cast one final glare at the Minotaur, devising ways of revenge before he was swallowed by a swirling column of black smoke. In the next instant, Hades was in the realm of the Underworld. He swept to his chambers, ignoring the stupefied mumblings of his two imps, Pain and Panic, as they spied Megara looking battered and lifeless in his arms. He shut the grand ebony doors of his chambers in their sharp, probing faces with a loud bang, but not before hearing:
“You don’t think he’s going to…”
He made a mental note to punish them for their comments later.
In but a few sparse strides he had crossed his dimly lit room over to his bed, laying the girl gently down on its many black silken sheets. She looked like a corpse; her face ashen, unmoving.
A frown pressed into one corner of Hades mouth. This was not good.
Despite the doubts hovering at the edges of his mind, Hades clapped his hands together, giving them a good rub until they glowed blue. He reached out and lifted Meg’s dress to just above her broken knee. It was lucky that the joint had only been dislocated, no fractures or other broken bones to be seen, once overlooking all the cuts and bruises blemishing her slender leg. Still, this would not be pleasant. Placing one hand above and below the mangled knee cap, he glanced once at her colorless face then snapped the joint back together. An agonized cry reached Hades ears, then nothing more. He cleared away blood and wounds surrounding her knee, then replaced her dress back to her ankle. He quickly went about the rest of the work; cleaning and closing wounds, whisking away sweat and tears. There was a particularly nasty gash on her right arm, hopefully he would be fast enough to see it healed and leave no scar. Cursing the Minotaur again for the damage it had imposed on Megara, he deftly removed her sandals (no shoes in his bed!) and dropped them at his bedside. The last item he removed from the woman was the tie to her hair (a chore in itself, how much hair the girl had!), so it would not hinder her from relaxing back into the pillows. A light fragrance of lilacs washed over him at the action; he shook his head lightly to clear it of the intoxicating effect.
Finally finished, he stood back to examine her one last time, satisfied with his work. He dimly noted how badly torn her dress was and committed himself to finding her another.
He could not help but feel a tad awkward by the whole ordeal; here was his servant in his bed, looking nothing short of a bride awaiting his tender embrace, minus the wedding dress of course.
Hades shook his head, banishing the crude thoughts, as he drew up a blanket to cover her. One last consideration came to mind and Hades stood back. In a fluid motion, he summoned a bedside stand and glass of water to top it off. Yes, that seemed about right.
The god left his bedside so that she might rest in peace. He would check up on her in a few hours. Ah well, he did not need to sleep for a few days anyway, he would be far too busy. Without Meg at his beck and call, he was back to doing the majority of the work by himself; he wasn’t sure if he liked the sudden arrangement.
Stepping out of his doorway, he discovered Pain and Panic with their ears pressed to his door. He snatched them by the tails before they could escape; Panic nearly managed it, quick as the green imp was, but Hades had the frantic creature in his clutches before long. He held them both aloft until they were level with his yellow gaze.
“You are not to disturb her,” Hades snarled, his face vicious before turning darkly humorous. “Now boys, what were you trying to say about Meg and myself earlier?”
Unbeknownst to Megara, Hades had flitted in and out of his chambers for days, when his agenda allowed, checking up on her progress; sometimes adjusting a cover where she had inadvertently pushed one off, other times just to observe her in her sleep. He was always replacing the goblet at the bedside with fresh water, though she barely drank any of it, if at all. He would bring foodstuffs when she was coherent, (she would wake weak and ravenous), but mostly she slept.
It was oddly calming to him to watch the steady rise and fall of her chest while she slept. She looked so small and helpless in the immense bed; tucked among the vast sea of rippling silken sheets. The alien feelings that had plagued him since he had placed her on the sheets ran rampant through him again. The girl really was too pretty for her own good.
Just before the incident, he had been sending Megara out on numerous escapades with nary a break between them. Exhaustion was an ill-remembered player in his game and it began to affect Megara’s performance; so much so that she came fatigued and unprepared to face a particularly vicious Minotaur. She was catching up on her sleep for those past few days when she had none. The god would never have admitted it, but he felt somewhat responsible, even… guilty
for pushing the girl so hard. Another alien sensation; guilt. When Hades did come in to tend the girl, and on more than one occasion, his two imps would loiter outside the door; they were always disappointed in the end and severely punished for eavesdropping.
For a short time there, Megara slipped into a high fever and Hades was in and out of his room almost constantly; worrying over her heavy breathing and forehead as hot as his flaming hair. He left the room less often, leaving his work to sit. Hades would demand his hovering imps to bring him specific items such as another blanket or a cloth and chalice of water. He would then press the damped cloth to the girl’s brow. She would sometimes shout names, or call for her mother through the night; the fever was not being kind to her. It discomfited even Hades to be present during these desperate cries for unintelligible things.
Pain, who was much more curious than Panic, was scandalized to see the boss play doctor with the mortal woman. It was completely contradictory of the usually angry, ruthless god to be anything but impassive, especially under this sort of circumstance; what made this girl, this slave, so special? Her fever made Hades exceptionally distracted and only acutely aware of the most basic of tasks that needed to be accomplished for his master plans. Pain was present (well, peeking in) for one shockingly tender scene where Hades supported the woman’s head in one hand and held a goblet to her lips in the other. His dogged patience seemed so beyond abnormality, the entire sight was like some warped fantasy. It was so bizarre; Pain had to turn away, less his head imploded.
Several days passed in which the girl did not seem to progress, but together, they managed to overcome the trial and Megara rapidly recovered thereafter. Of course, Megara knew nothing of the events that had transpired through her week of recovery, and now she sat up in the black bed, bewildered and cross.
Putting her mind to logic, she pieced together the event of her persuading the beast and the damage it had done to her, which she anxiously checked and discovered her leg to be in normal condition. She was, admittedly, grateful for the miracle, but knowing who it was derived from…
She had awoken, fully coherent at last, in Hades dominion, which would explain all the dark and drab of the high vaulted room, not to mention the freezing chill hanging in the air. She had only been to the Underworld on one other occasion—to plead the life of her lover. Even back then, the Underworld was terrifying and dark, not at all a happy place to be. But she had been desperate.
And she was back again, for better or worse, and in Hades bed no less!
She was furious to think what might have happened during her incapacitation; Hades was a shady character and had made many advances on her in the past, be it in jest or not.
Meg did, however, have a vague recollection of her fever and feeling cool, soothing hands pass over her brow. She wanted to immediately dismiss the possibility that Hades had been the one to conduct such actions. It was nothing like him; it couldn’t have been him…could it?
She was confused by all the warring feelings; she did not think she could trust herself.
Shaking her head, Meg pressed two fingers to her temple. Her fingertips were icy. This certainly had to be the Underworld. Twice she had come to this place, and not on pain of death; it was a startling thought. Unappreciative of the bitterly cold touch, her hand dropped to her lap and she looked up. There upon a tray on the table beside the bed was a wide array of food. Megara’s stomach growled in immediate response, she was so very hungry. Surprised by the thoughtful gesture, she reached over and pulled the elegant tray onto her lap, sitting up as she went. The food was still piping hot, had Hades just placed this here? Upon closer inspection, Meg was astonished to find items of sheer luxury, usually reserved for the rich and powerful. A hot, main platter of lamb, peppered with fragrant spices and lemon juice sat at center, an assortment of fresh fruits were littered in one bowl, a steaming pita stuffed with cheese, fresh, crisp bread and a small bottle of olive oil, a full glass of what appeared to be expensive wine, salt, pepper, utensils—even a sweet, pastry dessert filled with nuts, syrup, and sugar. They were all neatly placed and just waiting to be eaten.
Megara heartily dug into the food, everything was positively delicious. She tried to take her time and enjoy the rich meal while she peered curiously around the room, but it proved difficult. And there on the far side of the wall were three gowns, hung on an immense, intimidating armoire. The dresses seemed impossibly curvy and soft in comparison to the sharp, angular shape of the armoire; the only items to bring color to an otherwise bleak room.
The first gown was much like the one she presently wore though entirely new and pressed to perfection. The second was a deep blue, like that of the sky at its darkest hue of amaranthine reflected sea. This particular gown also had beads a lighter shade of blue painstakingly sown into the material. The third gown did not contribute to any of the color in the room as it was an all black garment. It was hard to make out from the bed, what exactly the last dress looked like.
Curious at the nature of the gifts and surprised at Hades inherent foresight to provide her with new clothing when her gown had been tattered in the line of duty; she cautiously placed the now empty tray back on the table, pushed back the heavy blankets, and slipped to the bed’s edge to properly inspect the offerings. Tenderly testing her healed leg, she stood and made her way over to the armoire; there was only a dull ache left in her knee by this time, most likely unused to taking her weight after being off it for so long.
She came abreast the gowns and examined each; they were all individually beautiful, though she frowned at the black one, it was rather revealing. Hades sense of humor extended even in this most minor of conduct. Still, it was… nice
of him to have gone to the trouble… Megara shook her head; don’t go there.
Of the three, she liked the lavender one best and tossing a precarious glance around the room, though she did not trust Hades to not peek in (if he could help it); she quickly slipped out of her ragged dress and hopped delicately into the new one. Meg had the dress up to her waist when suddenly, Hades doors flew open and the God of the Underworld himself stood before the woman. She shrieked and threw her arms over her chest. Hades garbled something incoherent and swiftly turned his back for her, though Pain and Panic eagerly peeked into the room behind the gods back. He efficiently burned the pair of them with a pillar of fire borne by his fingertips, and they ran screaming from the chamber.
“Don’t you ever knock?” Meg grumbled irritably, turning her back to the god to finish dressing.
“I had no idea you had taken full custody of my chambers.” Hades mused loftily, looking over his shoulder to steal a glance at the girl’s bare back; turning his head back just as she looped the last band over her shoulder.
“I didn’t ask to be here.” She quipped as she and Hades faced each other again. Her cheeks were pink with embarrassment, despite the severe expression she gave him.
“Well, I see someone is feeling better.” Hades stated in that sarcastic, demeaning way of his, but Meg could have sworn she heard a note of relief in it as well. He was smiling suggestively at her. “I was so hoping you would try on the black one first.” Megara’s pink tint turned a beat red as she scowled at him. He folded his hands behind his back like an entirely satisfied cat and made to leave. “Come outside when you are ready and I’ll debrief you.”
It took Megara all but two minutes to regain her composure and stalk out after the boss; she still had numerous questions for him. Her mind blanked the moment she entered extravagance of the outside chamber. It was magnificent in sheer size and grandeur, much like Hades chambers, uniform to sharply pointed rocks and all-around grey atmosphere; yet somehow captivatingly enchanting in its own way.
Hades stood leaning over a large map of the world; he looked up when she came in. Megara was still taking in the entire chamber with wide eyes when he spoke.
“Finally ready to stop snoozing and get back to work? We’ve already lost enough precious time on this deal and there are still more guys I need you to convince to join the Uprising. How does a day by the river sound?”
The woman reached the edge of the map Hades had been so engrossed in a moment ago and she gazed over it now.
“Huh, you weren’t kidding when you said you wanted to take over the world.” She murmured softly as she picked up an intricately carved, wooden centaur; its muscular arms rose to either side of him in a display of strength.
“Would I lie to you, Meg?”
She looked up at him and the rush of inquiries caught up with her again.
She swallowed, the most pressing question apparent in her mind like the light from Apollo’s chariot.
“Did…Were you the one to heal me?” she asked, her voice still raspy in her throat since it had hardly been used in days. Hades beaming face altered to something Megara would have called wary sensitivity.
“Yes.” He answered simply. “The entire seven days you were out.” Megara took a moment to digest it all.
“S-Seven days?” she stuttered, disbelieving that she had been bedridden for so long. Disbelief overpowered any courteous words of thanks she could have imagined as she folded her arms and raised an eyebrow at him. “You took care of me for seven days?”
“What is this doubt I hear? Do you think I am entirely without compassion? Did you not enjoy the meal I labored to put together? Jeez, talk about ungrateful. Didn’t your mother ever teach you proper manners?”
Meg noted that he did not give her a straight answer. She was still unconvinced.
“What about the Minotaur?”
Hades wry smile returned. “I did a little ‘convincing’ of my own.” He did not expand on the explanation and Megara did not press him.
“Why am I here?” she looked about herself.
“I couldn’t leave my best little negotiator out there to die now could I?”
Megara wanted to argue there were other options he could have taken, but she bit her tongue. She was afraid to receive an unfavorable answer. Hades seemed to read her mind, his grin broadening as he slowly sauntered around the table.
“Even if I had just left you there, it would have taken another chunk of my time to train another green horn, when we already have a perfect understanding of one another,” Hades waggled his eyebrows suggestively at her, “and I must say it has been an…interesting past few days.”
Megara stared up at him, speechless. Hades could have laughed at her expression; enjoying all the more power this little comment had given him over her. Mortals were too easy.
Hades did nothing to amend her fears, nor confirm them—that was his price for caring for her, and her wasting seven days in bed. He was standing before her now, so close that she was forced to crane her head to look up at him. “We must play house again sometime,” Hades continued silkily, taking one of Meg’s hands in his own and deftly wrapping the other around her waist; he pulled her closer to him. Her expression to him was one of uncertainty as he removed her fingers from the wooden carving. “But for now, how does a day by the river sound?”
The black robed god was suddenly on the opposite side of the table again and placing the carving on a long, thin stretch of blue; a river. Meg snapped out of the trance. She folded her arms over her chest, vexed by the trick. This was just the sort of advances Hades usually inflicted on her for his own amusement, yet each time he did, she could not help but think…she grit her teeth against these thoughts; more angry with him than she had been before.
“What’s in it for me?” She demanded flatly.
Hades appeared dramatically taken aback.
“What, my gratitude isn’t enough for you?” he motioned to her and shrugged. She huffed in impatience with an irresistible roll of her violet eyes.
“We’ve already made an arrangement that every assignment I take means time off my sentence—or have you already forgotten that particular agreement?”
Hades frowned at her. Obviously, he had not forgotten.
Megara gawked angrily at him, miffed by such a scant offer. She immediately countered with a figure that had more prestige.
“Three years?” Hades repeated incredulously.
“We have a deal then?” Meg said in a sultry voice, placing her hands on the table before her and leaning forward slightly.
“No!” he growled, hair blazing yellow for a moment. “One year.”
“Two and a half.”
“One and a half.”
“One and nine months.”
“One and nine months!
“FINE!” Hades thundered, his body blazing; heat rolled off him in waves but Megara was unfazed. Let him have his tantrum, she wasn’t budging. “Fine.” He went on more calmly and mimed writing a contract into the air. “If Megara completes her task of securing the River Guardian to our side yadda, yadda, yadda, she gets two years off her sentence. Happy?”
“Yes.” Megara gave the god an impish smile and fixed him with an evocative gaze. “If I didn’t know any better with those petty six month
offers to shorten my sentence; I would think that you actually want me around.”
“Why, of course,” Hades voice turned patronizingly infantile, “where would I be without my little Nutmeg, bedridden for days on end, wasting time when she could have been working on other assignments?”
“And where was Oh Oneness’
foresight to keep His personnel out of the fire and on the job?”
Hades threw her a jaded look, finally tired of the game. “Where did you learn to back sass gods?”
“Let’s just say you helped start the habit.”
“Well, if you are quite finished, you do have quite a bit of work to catch up on…”
“Not another suicidal mission, I hope,” Megara said scornfully, “unless your entire aim was having me keep permanent residency here.”
Hades gave her a disconcerting grin. She narrowed her eyes at him.
Suddenly, as if some alarm had been tripped, there was a hideous scream that shattered the air. The woman jumped where she stood, startled by the horrible noise. Hades groaned, rubbing at his eyes with a forefinger and thumb.
“Not again,” he muttered. “Got another soul holding up the Gate. I’ll be right back, don’t touch anything!” Hades last words were directed at Megara. She rolled her eyes again; like she really wanted to touch all the icy objects of the Underworld. Hades disappeared and the woman glanced once more at the map. A few other figurines were very familiar to her—other monster’s she had helped enlist in Hades little army. The newest of the bunch was the Minotaur. She cringed unhappily at the memory and turned from the map. Standing still for so long in this chilly domain had made itself known as she shivered. Well, some walking to warm up was certainly in order.
With her arms clamped tightly one over the other, Megara began to explore. There were two large openings in the sharp rock and she meandered over to these. Peering out, she saw a green river below with strange, translucent shapes floating along in the current. Were those silvery wisps, fish? She leaned a little further out and squinted, only to draw back sharply. They were souls. Souls harvested from once living people, floating on unmoving in the water. Disgusted and appalled, Megara moved away from the window at what her future life after death would be like, and gazed once more about the elaborate chamber.
On the far side of the room was a high, pointy-arched doorway. A peculiar sensation rippled up her spine and a sudden, wrenching inquisitive feeling seized her. What was behind these doors? She moved toward it, as though in a trance; as though a thread was tugging in her heart from the doors. Everything else within the chamber suddenly seemed dull in comparison; nothing else in her vision was as pristine as the towering gateway.
A sharp pain in her shin prodded her to awareness and she glanced down at the perpetrator. True to his name, Pain stood glaring up at the woman. She grimaced at the imp.
“Where you goin’, mortal?” he demanded.
“What’s it to you, rodent?”
Agitated by the insult, Pain poked the same spot in Megara’s shin again.
“Stop that!” She snapped and aimed a kick at him, but he moved out of the way. Panic scuttled in out of nowhere.
“Stop fighting! The boss is going to be angry!”
“He started it.” Megara said, thrusting her chin toward the pinkish imp. Panic only squeaked in squeamish response.
“You really are ungrateful, sister.” said Pain, still glaring up at Meg. “The boss took a lot of time out to take care of you—getting food and frilly clothes and junk; and I didn’t hear so much as a “thank you”. Mortals get more rude with each passing generation. Nothing nice to say from you. Did you hear it, Panic?”
Panic quickly shook his head. “Nope. Nothing polite at all.”
Megara could not believe she was getting scolded on etiquette by these two imps. “How am I supposed to trust a guy like him? He’s Lord of the Underworld; doer of all things dark and despicable.”
“He was here almost constantly when you were in a fever,” Panic piped up.
“At all hours of the night.” Pain continued for the other imp.
“What do you care, anyway?” Megara grumbled, uncomfortable at the prospect of the observation; even the imps knew what went on during her comatose state. Her arms still folded tightly over her chest.
“It ain’t like the boss,” said Pain.
“Not at all.” Panic finished quickly. Megara silently agreed with them. Her icy exterior slipped a little.
“Then, why for me?” she asked quietly.
The two imps shrugged, both were glaring at her questionably now.
“Don’t go getting no idea’s now, sister.” Pain pointed threateningly up at her, while Panic scurried nervously around his companion. Megara felt the urge to try and kick the brazen imp again.
“Get a clue.” She snapped; what an outrageous suggestion—what a nauseating implication. Another kick was brewing, but those doors still allured her with almost painful intensity; she strode forward.
As though summoned by the same power that drew her, Hades appeared right before the doorway; an impenetrable barrier between her and the mystery beyond.
“Wow, those unwilling souls can sure be a pain.” His quickly jumbled words shocked Megara from the trance. “Uh, uh, uh,” Hades clicked his tongue and his hands were suddenly on her in an iron grip, steering her away. “What’s hidden there is not for you.”
“Why, what’s in there—” But her words were drowned by Hades continual jabber.
“Everything’s set up; now back to work with you. Nessus will be waiting for you.” His voice became sing-song.
Megara’s eyes widened at the name.
“Oh no, no no no! Not Nessus! You didn’t tell me that befo—”
“Hey babe, too late, deal's done. Just keep thinking two years.”
Megara was ready to protest, yet at once relieved to finally be leaving the dreadful place and not looking forward to the mission, as Hades pushed her forward. She blinked once and green foliage graced her eyes. The sun warmed her from high above and a shaking revulsion startled her out of her obsession with the door. How could she have ever wanted to stay in such a horrible place? Apparently, Hades felt like she did about the Underworld; he wanted out. She took a strange satisfaction at his being trapped in the same binding contract as she was in freedom.
Glancing down at her crossed arms, she found the other two dresses, neatly folded, with a small note on top. In bold, spidery scrawl was written:
You forgot these.
She convinced herself that she was grimacing and not smiling at the note.
A great cacophony of splashing and snorting in the nearby river promised two less years in purgatory.
She had work to do.