A/N: Last chapter!
It would have been nice to say that everything after that just worked itself out. But though Persephone had realised that her mother brought her far more misery than joy she found herself unable to truly cut her out of her life. Demeter was, after all, still her mother.
Still, she visited her mother less than ever, and found herself actually looking forward to returning to the Underworld. Primarily because it would mean several months away from Demeter, and partly because of the time she would get to spend with Hades.
Persephone wished that she could say that her and Hermes were friends again, but they weren’t – or perhaps they were, but not in the way they’d been before. She suspected that it would take quite a while to trust him completely once again, but none of the other gods were talking about them, so he had at least held his promise to only pretend in front of Demeter.
Which did prove to be fun. Persephone rather thought they’d taken it too far the first time, but a kiss on the cheek here and a lingering touch there, and she found herself able to get rid of Demeter whenever she wanted.
Her mother had, in fact, just left without Persephone having to do anything except mention that Hermes was coming over. It was wonderful.
Persephone herself was currently standing on her balcony, looking out over the sky. Most chambers in Zeus’ palace only had clouds as a view, and though they were beautiful, Persephone rather thought that she preferred the view from Hades’ palace. Though not as pretty, she found it far more interesting.
“What are you thinking?” a deep voice sounded behind her, and Persephone turned around to find her husband looking at her with curious eyes.
“I knocked,” he explained. “But you did not answer.”
“I didn’t hear you,” she said, smiling up at him. “I was just thinking about… Mother, I suppose. And you. And how much my life has changed since you took me.”
Hades hesitated, looking slightly uncomfortable. “Not only for the worse, I hope,” he said and Persephone shook her head.
“No, actually I think… I think it has only changed for the better. It is true that Mother wasn’t disappointed in me before I was taken, but I was miserable, always trying to meet her expectations of perfection. I just hadn’t realised it myself.”
Persephone looked at him in surprise. “You knew I was unhappy?”
“It was not hard to see if only you paid attention. Sometimes your eyes would grow sad even though you were still smiling. Or you would seem happy, but then less so when your mother appeared. I hated seeing you sad.”
“You didn’t even know me.”
“I knew the important things. I am the Lord of the Underworld, and one of my talents is the ability to see someone’s soul. Hobbies and such things are not what are truly important. They are not what makes a person. I knew who you are, just as I know who everyone is better than they know it themselves.”
Persephone thought it over. “That might be the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard,” she declared, and Hades looked surprised.
“Indeed?” he murmured. “Then I wish I would have told you sooner.” He shrugged slightly. “I was already besotted, and when the arrow then hit me… I truly did not stand a chance. I am, however, happy for it now.” He hesitated. “Are you?”
Persephone nodded, seeing the way Hades’ eyes lit up at her response. “I am,” she said. “I have… before you took me all I have were my mother and my flowers, and for a very long time this was enough. But now that I know what I’ve been missing out on… friendship. Desire. Love. Independence. I know that I wouldn’t be able to go back to how my life was before you took me. I’d be miserable.” She sighed. “Just as Mother is now.”
“Your mother is miserable because things did not go her way. She should be joyful. Her daughter is married into a high position, and is happy in her marriage. She should celebrate this, not be mourning. Please do not feel guilty.”
“I don’t,” Persephone admitted. “But sometimes I feel guilty for not feeling guilty. Does that make sense? I just… I wish that I could make her happy, but the only way that I will be able to do that, would be by making myself miserable. Am I a bad person for not being willing to make this trade?”
“Not at all. Demeter is miserable partly because her daughter is not. She should be the one feeling guilty. Not you.”
“But… I fear we might have taken it a bit far that first day. Though I do admit that there was something satisfying of turning her deceit around to hurt her rather than me, as Mother had planned.”
“Yes, that is the danger of a friendship with Hermes. He will often take it too far, and you will have to be careful to think things through, because you may be certain that he will not.”
Thinking it over, Persephone rather thought that Hades was right. Hermes did seem a bit too carefree sometimes, and she supposed that she should be careful that she wasn’t dragged too far out.
Shaking her head as to get rid of the bitter thoughts, she decided to focus on something far more pleasant.
Smiling at Hades, she wound her arms around his neck. Hermes and Demeter could wait. This was something that she’d promised to tell Hades the next time she saw him, before she had a chance to lose her nerves.
“I have something to tell you,” she said quietly, as if she was afraid someone else might overhear.
He didn’t answer, but tilted his head inquiringly, and suddenly Persephone found the words that she’d meant to say stuck in her throat.
It was ridiculous! She had thought them often enough, admitted the truth of them to herself, and he’d told them to her more often that she had count on. And she wasn’t a coward! Never again! She’d been a coward till the day he’d taken her, and there was no way that she was going back!
“I love you,” she said, and silence stretched out between them.
Persephone felt panic well up in her. He was supposed to answer! To tell her that he loved her too, and she wondered dizzily if this was how it felt to confess an unrequited love. If that was the case, she truly pitied Hades.
“What?” he said, and she took a deep breath, forcing the words out once again.
“I love you,” she said again. “Please don’t make me say it a third time.”
“You love me?”
Persephone sighed. “Yes,” she said, and suddenly the whole world was spinning as Hades had lifted her up and spun her around.
“You love me!” he said, and then was kissing her, and Persephone kissed back, dizzily.
“I love you too,” he whispered, when she finally pulled back to breathe, and she laughed.
“I know,” she said, ignoring her earlier doubts. “You’ve told me often enough.”
Hades kissed her again. “Then you have something to make up for,” he said. “Say it again.”
Persephone laughed. “Glutton,” she teased. “I love you.”
“I love you. How many times are you going to have me say it?”
“Just once more for today.”
“I love you,” she said, smiling at him. “I’m glad that you’re my husband. Though… I know it’s silly, but could we one day have a second wedding? One that I’ve agreed to?”
“Of course. As soon as we come home.”
“Well, you’ll have to ask me first.”
“To marry you,” she clarified. “Last time I didn’t get a say. I want to this time.”
“Will you marry me?” he asked her willingly, seeming slightly confused by her request.
“No? What do you mean, no?”
“Well, we’ve only been courting for a couple of months.” She smiled teasingly up at him. “It’s really much too soon for such a question. Really, Hades. But you may ask me again some other time.” She leaned up and kissed him. “Perhaps when we’re back home,” she whispered against his lips.
Hades rested his forehead against hers. “I suppose that it is true what they say. Men will never understand women.”
Persephone grinned at him, taking a deep breath before she asked the question that had been burning in her mind since she admitted to herself that she loved him.
“When we come home,” she began hesitantly. “Do you think we could share a room? Or… I mean, I rather like having my own. Some place that is just mine. But you’re my husband. I’d like to sleep beside you at night.”
For a long time Hades said nothing, and then he was kissing her once again, every inch of skin that he could reach.
“Oh, yes,” he whispered against her skin. “Every night if you so wish.”
“I wish,” Persephone said, and she rather thought that if he continued to make her feel as he did, it wouldn’t be long before half of the lie she’d told her mother would become true.
“I love you,” she said again, blushing slightly.
“And I love you, my darling wife. And I shall never stop.”
“You better not,” she threatened, but it was hard to sound intimidating when her cheeks hurt from smiling so broadly. She had more independence than she’d ever experienced before, she had experienced friendship and love, and she found that she was happy.
And it was all because of Demeter having tried her hardest to make it otherwise.