A/N: And the second chapter is done! Please let me know what you thought of it, good or bad.
That night Hades walked to his wife chambers and sat down next to her as he told her about the outsome of his meeting with her parents. It was clear from her eyes that it was less than she’d hoped for, but also more than she’d feared she would get.
“Five months,” she murmured thoughtfully. “When will I leave?”
The surprise was evident in her face. “So soon?”
“Apparently the time that you’ve already spent here counts.” He hesitated, before reaching out and gently touching her cheek. “I shall miss you,” he told her.
She neither welcomed nor denied his touch. “I shan’t,” she answered.
He smiled bitterly as he looked at his wife, whom he loved so passionately. “I know,” he answered.
She turned her back to him.
“Leave me,” she told him. “I need to pack.”
“No,” he answered calmly. “Pack if you will, but this is my last day with you for five months. I will not waste it being separated. I’ll help you pack if you wish me to.”
He shrugged, and merely looked on as she packed for her long-awaited (on her part) return home. It was surprisingly fascinating for him to watch. Not only did he get to enjoy the sight of his wife in all her beauty, but he also got to see her indecision.
Should she pack some of the many beautiful gowns he’d given her in her time here, or stubbornly hold on to the childish, white clothes of her past? She could still wear white as she was as virginal as the day he’d seen her picking flowers on the meadow. But she’d always hated the clothes. Its heavy fabric, made to hide her body from view, was obstructive, and she was fond of colours. Yet she refused to bring any of the many silken gowns he’d given her.
It was a choice he watched her struggle with many times. Could she bring something with her home to her mother, when her hated husband had given it to her? He lost out almost every time. The only gift of his that she brought with her was a book about the Underworld. He knew that his world fascinated her as much as it horrified her, and it appeased him that she brought along at least one of his innumerable gifts.
After she had packed, he had food brought up, swearing on the river Styx that none of it was from the Underworld. Yet she refused to eat a single bite or answer a single of his questions, and so he had to satisfy himself with looking at her. His eyes lingered on her soft curves as well as her full lips and her big, expressive green eyes. He believed her eyes to be part of the reason he’d been so defenceless when Eros’ arrow had hit him straight in his still heart.
After he’d eaten, he followed her to her bathroom, where she sat in front of her vanity, staring blankly at her reflection. Picking up her brush he calmly started to brush her blonde hair, admiring the way not two tresses had the exact same colour. It was like her hair was alive somehow, and he quickly discarded the brush in favour of running his fingers through the silken tresses. She watched him uneasily in the mirror.
“I cannot wait to return home,” she told him.
His dark eyes caught hers in the mirror. He was pleased. It wasn’t often his wife talked to him, and she’d never done so without any encouragement from his part. Not that he cared much for the chosen topic.
“I cannot wait for you to return home either,” he answered, fully aware that they thought her home to be two very different places. “I shall miss you.”
“So you mentioned,” she said sourly, before her eyes softened. “Perhaps the effect of Eros’ arrow will be gone by the time of my return, and we can go our separate ways.”
Hades smiled bitterly at his beautiful wife, so hopeful of his future indifference. “It won’t,” he told her. “The effect of Eros’ arrows only has so short a time frame when there is no affection already in the heart for which the arrow can take hold.”
Persephone frowned. She wasn’t stupid, his goddess. She knew what he was saying.
“You mean that you cared about me before the arrow?” she asked.
Hades leaned forward and kissed his wife’s cheek, savouring the sweet taste of her skin. He wished to kiss her lips again, but didn’t dare. “I did,” he told her. “Not strongly enough nor passionate enough to abduct you as I did, but I admired you. You were so very…”
“Beautiful?” she suggested bitterly.
“Alive,” he answered. “So full of life it practically radiated out of you. I wanted a bit of that life for myself.”
For once his wife didn’t appear mocking or angry and sad. She just looked surprised. Hades committed the moment to his memory.
“Instead the life that you fell in love with merely withered away without the sun,” she told him.
He smiled at her and kissed her cheek as close to her mouth as he dared. He’d promised himself that their next kiss would be consensual. “You haven’t withered away,” he told her. “You’ve just been homesick.”
Persephone didn’t answer.
That night Hades spent the remaining hours in a chair next to his wife’s bed, watching her pretend to be asleep. Her breathing, however, gave her away, but he let her believe him fooled. Instead he merely watched her.
Five months. Five months was an eternity for Demeter to poison her mind. He could only hope that whatever damage she might do would not be permanently. He was well aware that he hadn’t done right by Persephone, but neither was he as viciously cruel as Demeter was sure to make him out to be.
Demeter had always been overprotective and terrified of losing her daughter to a man. Inevitable unless Persephone took the vow of the virgin goddess, which Hades had now prevented.
But even without the oath, there was so much she could do to sabotage them. She was after all the goddess of Earth and she was sure to grow Persephone’s hatred for him like a treasured flower. She would convince her that every kind word he uttered was a lie, and every considerate gesture a trick.
Maybe he was making the wrong choice. Maybe a war with Zeus would be the better outcome. But still. Hades wasn’t the type of God to let his personal affairs have influence over his job, and a war between two of the most powerful gods would indeed do that.
Even more concerning was his knowledge of the hatred Persephone would then feel for him. It was true that she already hated him, but to dangle freedom – albeit limited – in front of her and then take it away? It wouldn’t be forgiven.
Hades sighed. No, he’d made his decision. Now he could only hope that it had been the right one.
Otherwise he’d just gambled away his chance at happiness.
The next morning came far too soon for Hades’ liking and far too late for Persephone’s. The eagerness in her face was unmistakable as he with a heavy heart brought her above ground to meet with her parents. They were both already there, and judging from the dark circles under Demeter’s eyes, Hades wasn’t the only God who’d spent the night sleepless. Good.
“My girl, my girl, my little girl!” Demeter screamed the second that she caught side of them.
“Mother!” Persephone yelled and tore herself out of her husband’s arms to run to her mother. They hugged tightly, both crying, and Hades didn’t know if he felt guilty or annoyed by their obvious affection.
Persephone had no such thoughts. She had missed her mother dearly these last few months, and clung to her like a little girl, breathing in the familiar scent of turned over soil.
For long minutes Persephone stood there, clinging to her mother, before finally releasing her. Demeter, on the other hand, had clearly no such intention and stubbornly held on when Persephone tried to escape her grasp. Persephone sighed and allowed her mother to hug her.
At least that was her plan. Long minutes went by and Demeter had yet to loosen her grasp on her daughter.
“Mother,” Persephone said, and tried once again to break free of her mother’s embrace. Demeter merely tightened her grasp on her. It was starting to hurt, and Persephone was thankful that her father cut in.
“Enough, Demeter,” he said. “You’ve gotten your daughter back. Now let her breathe. She’s yours for another five months. You don’t have to squeeze the air out of her. I expect to see you all five months from now at sunset. Don’t be late.” With these words he left, having only come because Demeter insisted that Hades wouldn’t hold up his end the bargain.
Hades, however, stayed and waited patiently until Demeter finally released his wife. Too bad that it was only so that the enraged mother could turn towards Hades’ and hiss at him with hatred burning in her eyes.
“Begone!” she ordered him as if he was some mere servant and not Lord of the Underworld. “Your time with her is over. Leave now or I shall call Zeus.”
Hades ignored her. Instead he looked at his wife, who looked back at him with a happier expression than he’d seen since he took her. It hurt not to have been the one to make her look like that.
“Goodbye, Persephone,” he told her gently. “I shall miss you greatly.”
“Her name is Kore!” Demeter hissed at him.
Persephone cut in. “No, mother. My name is Persephone as has it always been. Kore was a nickname you gave me. You can’t expect him to use it.”
Demeter shushed her. “Now, now, dear, of course your name is Kore. When you’re home with me you’re my little girl again, and so it is only fitting. I’ve never liked Persephone anyway. It’s so… mature.”
Hades expected his wife to say something in return, but she merely nodded warily and allowed her mother to lead her away. But still. Hades didn’t miss the last glance his wife cast in his direction. Her eyes were for once filled with neither hate, contempt or fear. Instead it was oddly uncertain, almost confused.
It was that single glance of uncertainty, which sustained Hades in his many months alone underground.
A/N: So what did you think? Should I continue? Or just flush the rest down the drain? Or, you know, something else, because I won’t be popular if I clog the toilet.