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“I don’t want to do this in the dark,” Hel said firmly.

“Are you sure?” I asked, trailing my fingers lightly down her blue arm.

“Yes,” Hel said firmly. I saw her swallow. She was trying to be strong. Even Gods can have fears, insecurities. I drew her into my arms. She leaned against me.

“You know, I never expected you to give me strength,” Hel said softly, “I expected you to be a tool, a weapon for my realm. How did you manage to become so much more?”

“I don’t know.” I said, nuzzling her hair. “I don’t think I’m that special.”

“You’re wrong,” Hel said, “You’re far more special than you know. It’s not everyone who can do what you’ve done, or risen like you’ve risen.”

“It’s all thanks to you,” I said. “You were my mother, you raised me, shaped me, made me into the man, the God I am today.”

“I didn’t do it alone. Corran Horn, Harry Dresden, Thor, they all had parts in who you have become,” She said softly.

“As did Sesshoumaru, and so many others, good and ill.” I said, “But you were the one who always believed in me, who never expected me to purge my worst in order to become my best. You loved me for my worst and my best.”

“I only did for you what you did for me,” Hel said, turning her head and kissing me. “So many other heathens fear me, or hate me, even other Gods do, but you never did that.”

I heard the ratchet of handcuffs and Hel pulled away, arms locked behind her back. “So hit the lights, leave them on, and let me trust you to love me a little more for who I am…and who you are.”