He had been dragged by his sister to some naming-ceremony of her ill-begot child, or a birthday party, or coming of age ceremony, or something for said child. That wasn't the point. The point was, he was on Earth, not under it, by Demeter's doing, and her offspring was being spoilt rotten. Though, as Hades noticed, it wasn't that people were falling over themselves to worship the girl. Persephone, her name was, and she was slyly manipulating her guests into gifts and promises (he nearly gagged as she conned Apollo into promising her a kiss). He was slightly drawn to her by this, and true, her beauty only helped matters. Maybe, he thought, when she was just a bit older, he would allow her to come visit.
He did like cunning and manipulative people after all.
She chopped off her hair the third day she was there. "Solidarity," is all she says when Hades asks. He doesn't press things further than that.
She can hear the fights, of Zeus and Hades, Apollo and Hades, even Artemis comes to plead for her. But there was nothing of her mother, no pleadings to Hades, and it confuses her. Sometimes though, when she closes her eyes real tight, she thinks she can hear Demeter crying. Eros' pleadings of how unions should be of love had even her rolling her eyes. Please. Like that would make any difference to a brute like Hades.
It is Ares, acting under Zeus' orders, who makes the difference, threatening to open Hades' kingdom to the whole of the Earth and the gods compete for dominion, that finally convinces Hades.
She smiles at her impending freedom, nibbles on the edges of pomegranate seeds- one for Zeus, one for Apollo, one for Artemis, one for Ares. The one for Eros she holds tightly in the palm of her hand; that one she will save for later.
The Early Years
Again she goes unwillingly, clinging tightly to Demeter until Hades pries her loose, leads her down the winding staircase to the Underworld. Hades leaves with her Charon, tells her to come when she is ready. She glares at Charon and follows the banks of the Styx, circling once, twice, nine times; eventually she collapses at the marsh. When she wakes, she is in Hades' bedchambers, neatly arranged on his bed.
"Pomegranates," he says softly, offering the fruit. "I do know how you like them."
When she refuses, the whole of the Underworld shudders with his rage.
The next morning she follows Cocytus, her fingers trailing along the trail of lily's that follow the river loyally. She weeps for Demeter, for the frozen earth, for her own flowers back home. Home. She weeps hardest for home, of the Earth. She misses Helios, and Artemis, and Hestia. She misses the Nymphs, and the lilacs, and the cold rains. When she has cried all the tears there are to cry she follows Cocytus back to Hades.
"A handkerchief," he says. "For your tears."
It is pure, white cotton, and as she takes it, she offers a cautious smile.
He could be nice, when he tried.
Phlegethon she spoke to, sitting on his banks, questioning everything. He offers nothing but the roar of fire in return and she watches souls catch and burn, catch and burn, catch and burn. Eventually Hades comes to join her.
"It is a process of life."
"I'm scared," she says, reaching for his hand.
"You are immortal, a child of the gods. You do not have to fear Phlegethon."
"I'm scared," she repeats, and he pulls her closer, holding her carefully as they watch souls catch and burn, catch and burn, catch and burn.
Her favourite spot is a spot along Acheron, watching the newly dead come across. Sometimes she waves to Charon, sometimes she does not. She likes to think about the lives of the people in the boats, what they have done and where they are coming from- she knows where they are going to. Sometimes she catches herself thinking that they are being scrubbed clean in the journey across- they are being purged, so to speak, of their humanity. All that is left is what Hades will do to them now.
"Tell me," she begs of him one day. "Tell me how to tell their stories."
Sometimes she likes to help Hades send them off to their various corners of Hell, and sometimes she smiles.
But only sometimes.
She goes to Lethe only when she is about to leave. It hurts, leaving, and she likes returning not remembering fully what she is missing under the Earth. She never drinks enough to truly forget- just enough to dull the pain. Just enough to make her yearning to go back for more. Hades kisses her goodbye, always, and she walks the winding staircase back to the Earth alone.
Artemis notices her changes first, the way she is quieter, more reserved. Demeter cannot reach her, and Persephone will not speak to any of the men. Artemis and Hestia are worried- Athena offers to avenge the child-daughter of Demeter, but is met with quiet refusal.
"Tell me what it's like," Artemis suggests. Persephone smiles, and nibbles on a pomegranate seed before speaking.
The rumours surface slowly, of Hades' growing insanity. Even Zeus is troubled, and pulls her aside one summer morning, and asks her to ask him to stop his rages.
Trapped above the Earth, she can do nothing but smile. "He misses me."
Some of the nymphs are scared of her- too scared to speak her name. Too scared to approach her. They can smell death upon her, taste it in the air as she approaches. They run from her, nicknaming her 'Kore' so they do not have to speak her name.
"Dance with me," she begs of them, when the leaves start to change colour. They fade into the treeline, tiny, green, and not worth her time.
"Dance with me," she says to the empty air. The silence echoes and she dances with herself, counting down the days until the frost.
She leaves Demeter willingly, skips down the steps to the Underworld, and shifts side to side as she waits for Hades to come.
"I missed you," they both say, and then they are kissing on the banks of a river whose name Persephone cannot remember, but she knows where it leads.