PERSEPHONE WALKED THE corridors of the castle, wringing her hands. She had made sure she looked like she hadn't been crying. The thought angered her. She felt fragile, like the flowers she used to care for.
What had she done to deserve this? Why was she going through this punishment, this condemning trial?
She was vulnerable.
And she did not want to be.
Stopping, she leaned against a wall, making sure there was no one there. She closed her eyes, leaning her head back.
If you can hear me, Mother, Father, please come for me. I'm waiting for you. Please.
Suddenly, she heard footsteps near her. She composed herself, swallowing as she saw it was Hades striding up to her.
"Are you well?" he asked suddenly. Persephone nodded once.
"Why shouldn't I be? Besides the fact of the whole…" she trailed off, assuming he knew exactly what she meant. He did.
"As I have said before, do not hesitate if you need something. Anything you want, it is yours," said Hades.
"Anything? Then let me go," asked Persephone.
The corner of Hades' lip turned up into a small smile, and he shook his head lightly.
"My dear Persephone, I cannot do that. Anything but that will I do for you," Hades responded.
"Why?" demanded Persephone. "Is it because of your selfish need? Your vile, black heart? Does it need something besides hate and pain to sustain it? Is that why you took me from my own world, my home, just to satisfy your desires? You are the god of the dead and the damned. You know nothing of the living. You don't deserve to know and grow closer to the living."
Hades did not lash out at Persephone as she had expected, but she did see his jaw clench, controlling himself.
"I am leaving for the next day or so. In the meantime, I ask you not to leave the palace. The souls are more… restless… when I am gone. At least do this, Persephone, if you will do anything at all for me. I will return soon. I have business to attend to," said Hades, and he looked like he wanted to say something more, but he turned and briskly walked out.
HADES APPEARED IN the agreed spot, finding him already there.
"Hello, brother," said Hades. His brother merely nodded once, acknowledging his presence but not embracing it.
"Hades," responded Zeus. "You have been causing me a great amount of grief, as of late."
"How so?" inquired Hades.
"Well, for starters, Demeter has not stopped raging since the disappearance of Persephone. She has not realized it was you, brother, at least not yet. Even the mortals are crying out to me. They are starving; their crops no longer grow because of Demeter's grief and anger. You are causing great distress in both the mortal realm and Olympus, Hades. I hope you are aware of that."
Hades nodded, sighing. Zeus continued.
"I hope this was worth it. Demeter will soon find out. I have ordered the others that know to swear a vow of silence."
Hades paused, listening to his words. "Who else knows?"
"The daughters of Oceanus were there with Persephone, when you took her. They were gathering berries, in the distance. But they saw the earth break open, and your chariot. They told no one for a while, but their lips soon opened to the other gods," explained Zeus.
Muttering a curse on all of them, Hades ran a hand through his hair.
"Hades, is this all worth it? You can have any woman you wish, even mortal women. Why choose Persephone?" asked Zeus.
He hesitated, thinking of an answer. Persephone had confronted him earlier, accusing him of greed and having a black heart. This might have been true, but his non-beating black heart was for her. It sometimes felt like it beat, when Persephone was around. And when she cried, it was like someone was twisting it in their hand. Hades had not felt this before. He had seen it with mortals, more than once, when he claimed a woman but not the man, but he had never felt it. He had rarely felt anything, really, until Persephone.
As he thought of this, Zeus got his answer. "You love her. You truly, honestly love her. Hades, the god of the Underworld, the ruler of the damned and tortured souls, cast to his knees by a young, innocent goddess. How far you have fallen, brother, from the days of old."
Hades nodded, knowing and acknowledging how he had changed. "It does not seem far for me. She has overridden everything I once was. My hate… it is like it is gone. I know I am now weak, Zeus. But I have never felt stronger."
Zeus sighed, stepping back. "Then I leave you to continue what you have done. But be cautious, Hades. Do not take this too far," warned Zeus, and he vanished.