All roads lead in one direction: Percy Jackson/One Direction Cross over


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3. Creation of Liam

 

Olympus without Zeus, mused Aphrodite, was a bit of a shitshow.

Hera was livid, Poseidon gloated, Apollo and Hermes were off seducing not-even-the-gods-knew-how-many mortals… even Athena and Hephaestus and Dionysis, who usually had a modicum more discretion, seemed to take Zeus’ absence as carte blanche for mortal dalliances.

And dalliances were all well and good! Of course: they were the spice of life, the spark, the sizzle. Aphrodite had inventedthe dalliance (mania and erotica and pasionata).  

The last time there were this many demigods running around unchecked, there had been a world war. That’s the sort of thing that interrupts her own l’amour clandestine with Ares, so really, couldn’t her brothers (and Athena’s brain, she supposes) do a bit better with wrapping things up?

Alright, yes, she had that baby girl down in the bayou two years ago, left in a shop that smelled like chocolate and cream… and then the beautiful girl in Chinatown last year… and alright, Tristan McLean was irresistible just a few months before, but… really. She’s the goddess of fertility. For her, these things just happen.

But she knows, the way all gods know when there’s an aching need for them in the world, that it doesn’t work that way for herself and her brothers and sisters. There’s so much more familial love, agape and materna, flowing through skin and wind and water than there are people to absorb it. It prickles at Aphrodite’s heart like tiny fingers.

That’s how she ends up working at the little clinic in Wolverhampton and Newcastle-under-Lyme. She’s made herself full-figured and plump and brunette, and she likes the way her red-rimmed glasses look against her brown hair and lavender nursing scrubs. She smiles at everyone and watches the waiting room like a bird of prey, waiting for the right people to bless. She may be the goddess of love, but love is, if anything, not fair.

She meets Karen fairly early on, just a few weeks into staying. Karen is not a beautiful woman, but there is a staid elegance about her that immediately attracts Aphrodite. She wears her hair in a sensible bun at the nape of her neck and her posture announces that she’s a detective with the CID before she does.

She fills out her forms very matter-of-fact, but Aphrodite can feel the passion behind them. Two daughters, three miscarriages, complications in the most recent birth, thought to be due to injury on the force.

She wants a son.

Aphrodite feels that love radiating out of Karen all soft and warm and blue-gold-pink, and it’s brighter than the cool jade green of her love for her job and for England.

On Karen’s second visit, she sits down beside a fifteen-year-old girl who shines hot fuchsia-orange-violet for her boyfriend, even though she’s almost eight months along and Aphrodite knows from her forms that she’s planning to keep it herself. Aphrodite can’t hear from the desk what the two women are talking about, but the girl is laughing and Karen flares with silver affection and it touches the girl’s skin to seep in like oil. Karen waits patiently while the girl goes in for her appointment – and when she leaves, the fuchsia edges of her love are pulsing with soft, warm blue-gold-pink.

Aphrodite smiles and sneaks a look at Karen’s file. The prognosis is not good.

A few weeks later, Karen is back and smiling placidly as usual. She takes her seat this time beside a thin woman with a severe bob and tousled bangs whose love outlines her florid teal with pragma but Aphrodite can see the faded halo of yellowindependata: a woman with tremendous self-pride and worth – but flustered, questioning, fading. She doesn’t laugh as she and Karen talk, but that silver affection oozes from Karen all the same and sinks into the thin woman. 

They have to wait for half an hour before it’s time for Karen’s appointment, and by the time Karen gives her a hug on her way out of the waiting room, the yellow is bright, sparkling gold again. They touch arms again as Karen makes her way to Aphrodite’s desk to schedule another appointment and the thin woman heads in for her procedure.

Hours later, when she comes back out and rings for a cab home, she’s still sparkling gold, even though she looks tired around the eyes.

Aphrodite decides then that Olympus without Zeus is a bit of a shitshow anyway – one more demigod won’t hurt.

She goes back to the little flat that she’s keeping in Park Village, with wide-looped crochet curtains in her windows and a curious couple across the way whom she lets watch her change at night, because ludus love is nothing to be ashamed of, anyway. She puts on a kettle of tea and turns Corrie on the telly to play softly in the background, because Aphrodite likes the chutzpah of Tanya Pooley. She strips off in front of the window and crosses back to her kettle to pour the water into her mug before she slips into her dressing gown. 

She drinks her tea and watches the end of Coronation Street and touches herself for a while. 

And then she sets a dish of water on her night table, makes a scallop shell, and lets all of the storge – mauve-purple-blush and a little plush – pour into the shell’s mirror. She’s never made a baby out of this kind of love before, and she wonders just how it will turn out. 
She makes sure to make him a boy.

A few weeks later, it’s August in Wolverhampton. It’s unusually cool and dry for the season, and Aphrodite feels the call in her bones like all of the Olympians that Zeus is home, and he is not happy, and for some reason, that stormy sadness is swirling above England.

She bundles the baby, shell and all, into swaddling clothes and brings him to Bilston. She doesn’t keep the same face and figure she’d worn at the clinic and instead becomes herself again, with flowing titian curls and eyes that shift color in the sun. 

Outside the Paynes’ door, Aphrodite tilts her head to kiss him again before she settles him in his basket. He’s such a curious baby, this placid, serious Liam-thing.

She waits just out of sight, half-shaded by a box tree, until the door opens and Karen’s face peers down at little Liam. Her hair is undone and falling to dust her shoulders and her dressing gown is on just askew. She bends, slowly, to pick up the little pink bundle of Liam Payne, and he’s still silent, just blinking big brown eyes and one tiny hand coming out of the swaddling to pad into her eye.

The entire street seems to glow in the rush of blue-gold-pink.

 

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