When the seasons turned once more to the dark half of the year, and she stepped once more into his kingdom, the Goddess Persephone looked at Hades and saw in his eyes the relief at her return, the joy at her presence, and the shadow of the past months without her. She saw, and realised that he had missed her. In that moment, for perhaps the first time, she smiled at him, and it was a joy to his heart unlike any other.
Once, when the days were at their shortest and the Underworld at its coldest, he came upon her in her grim arbour, and the weariness in her face stunned him. Later, when he presented her the gift of an olive tree to grow in her garden here beneath the world, the smile she gave him was brighter than the absent sun.
As the years passed and she grew into her role, a stern and vengeful Queen, he sensed the distance grow between them, but there was naught he could do. He was ever a reserved God himself. And then there came the musician, Orpheus. His music wove its way around them, his tale of love, and when Hades looked then upon his Iron Queen, she gifted him a smile that spoke of all the bright times they had known. For that, they granted the musician his wish.
When the world moved on and the gods in all their power and arrogance faded from mortal minds, she came to his side as he watched the stream of the dead as they made their unceasing way into his kingdom. She took his face between her hands, turned him to look into her eyes, and smiled gently. Whether or not mortals believed in them, they existed, they lived, and they were together.
When at last the end came, when the night fell not only on the world but on all worlds, she stood proudly as his side once more. His Iron Queen. His Persephone. And as the light faded for the last time and the gods fell one by one, she gifted him with that last, bright smile, the smile of a maiden dancing in her garden, the smile of a woman given a gift, the smile of a queen given music, the smile of a wife who would stand by her husband forever. Her smile.
And as they fell, for the first time, the dour god smiled back.