Prologue. The Story
I think we all know the story, the one about Hades and Persephone. But do you really know it? I do, and believe me, it's not at all what mythology makes it out to be. In order to understand my story as a whole, you have to first know this one, the real version. I won't tell you how I know it. No, that part doesn't come in until later. But I hope you find yourself enjoying this touching, yet bittersweet tale like I did.
Their story actually took place after the "death" of the gods. Amazing how all the gods supposedly died, and yet Hades survived. He gave up his immortality for his brother to fight one last fight, but it wasn't enough to keep him alive. Alone and heartbroken, Hades wandered all over Greece, full of despair. At long last, he could take no more and waited for death in a field of wildflowers.
He waited, and waited, but death never came. When he felt a shadow fall over him, he opened his eyes to behold a beauty he'd never seen. It was a maiden, and without a doubt the most beautiful he'd ever seen. Her face, though damp with sweat, was soft and kind. Her eyes were the deepest shade of emerald green. Her hair was a light red color, almost orange. But in the sunlight, it looked like a mix of gold and blood red. It curled and tumbled down her shoulders and cascaded a little ways down her back. In her arms was a lovely arrangement of flowers. Lovely face full of concern, she kneeled down to him.
"Where…where am I?" he asked her.
"You're in my field. Who are you?" she asked back, her voice clear and lovely as a songbird's.
Hades didn't want to frighten away this lovely creature. He knew that if she knew who he really was, her concern would turn to fright. So he simply stated he was only a traveler in need of rest.
"What is it that be your name?" he inquired of her, managing to sit up so he was sitting next to her.
Smiling the girl answered. "My name is Persephone. You can stay with me for a time. Can you stand?"
"I may need some help" Hades smiled, laughing at himself inside, something he hadn't done in centuries.
Persephone offered her hand and gladly he accepted it. She led him to a small hut in the woods by the field. It wasn't like his world, his former dominion. In fact, especially with her, it was far more welcoming. Persephone kept it clean and tidy as best she could.
"I know it's not much but-"
"It's satisfactual. I'll only need rest for a short time. I appreciate this, Persephone. And be assured, your good deed will not go unrewarded".
She smiled again and so it all began. Hades intended only to stay for about seven days, but soon the days turned into months. Whenever he'd try to leave, something in him would tell him that he needed to stay. Persephone for her part never grew impatient with him. He could come and go as he pleased if he wished. He could've stayed forever, as she didn't have the heart to turn him away. Over time, with great care, a sort of friendship developed between them. Though she never knew his name, he grew to be very dear to her. Persephone taught the former god things that mortals did without magic, teaching him to care for his mortal self.
And then finally it all came out one night as they sat together in comfortable silence by the warm fire. It was winter time, but they both did what they could to keep themselves and the hut warm during the colder months. As comfortable as the silence was, Hades wanted to hear her speak and he knew the best way to get her to talk.
He put his head in her lap, which surprised her a little, but Persephone smiled. He always did this when he wanted something. Gently, she ran a hand through his long hair.
"Tell me a story, Persephone" he gently commanded, eyes closed.
"You really love my stories, don't you?"
"I love them. If you made them into volumes, I'd read each and every one".
"Alright, what is it you wish to hear?"
In a way this was a sort of test, just to see if she could do this, and he answered after feigning thought for a moment.
"Tell me a story about…the gods".
Persephone gave him an intrigued look. "The gods? Well, I guess I could tell you one…I made this one myself. It's about a particular one, probably one of the most misunderstood and neglected".
Curious now, Hades opened an eye and looked at her. "Tell me".
"It's about" Persephone blushed just a little as if embarrassed, "Hades".
Very interested now, his other eye shot open, and he sat up. For a moment she looked distressed, worried as if she did something wrong. But he took her hand reassuringly and Persephone went on.
"See, he was like his brothers in many ways, but yet so unlike them. He envied no one and had everything he ever wanted…or so he thought".
"Oh? What was it he lacked?"
"Well, it was something precious, something special. Something his brothers had that he didn't. And what was it that this all powerful immortal wanted above all else? What was it that he would've given everything, anything to have? He wanted a love of his own, someone who gave him as much love as mortals feared him. He wanted someone who could pick up the pieces of his broken heart and put it all back together again when he needed it. But most of all he wanted someone to just love him as he was, not as a god, but as a man".
This struck him deeply. How was it this girl knew his heart? Hades struggled not to look shocked and give himself away, but it was so hard. This girl, Persephone, knew him. Understood him. For the first time in centuries, the former underworld god felt his heart move. It beat just once, one painful throb, trying to break free from the ice he put around it. Persephone continued.
"But sadly, he knew it was hopeless. Who had the courage or the heart to love such a dark, frightful being? He knew it would never happen for him, so he continued to judge souls as he had for centuries, endlessly. Lord Hades closed his heart, freezing it over, trying to close off and rid himself of those horrible emotions, as they were beyond bearing".
It was too much. "Enough!" he demanded rising eyes flashing in anger, "Why do you tell me this? How do you know?"
"Know what? What'd I do? What is it you think I know?" Persephone flinched away from him, startled by his sudden outburst.
Seeing her flinch caused a change in him. Hades stood and his expression and voice softened. There was truth in her words, her tale. No one had ever loved him, and truth be told, he wanted to inspire the love of one existing thing. But not just any person. The one who's love he sought was the love of the young woman cowering before him, the one who had taught him that there was something far more beautiful than death: Love.
But here she was, fearful of what he'd do to her. He had no intention of harming her; he couldn't even imagine doing such a terrible thing. Seeing how she was alone made him feel like he deserved death. No worse than death. He deserved oblivion. The frozen heart throbbed painfully again, but this time the former underworld god didn't try to stop it. It was no longer his to control. Trying to be as gentle as he felt, he caressed her face and she looked up at him.
"Don't be afraid…please. I've only ever fed on people's fear and hate, never have I known love. Persephone, the one you speak of, the one whose secret you know, is me".
"Hades?" her eyes went wide and her lovely face drained of all color.
The ex god drew his hand away. "Yes".
Persephone gave out a small cry of fright and practically jumped away from him. This couldn't be happening. Hades was sent into some kind of frantic rush, a panic. He needed to make her see he'd grown to love her. As hard as he tried, love had worked its magic on his frozen heart. He took Persephone's hand and fell to his knees before her.
"Please! Persephone, please! Don't be afraid! Sweet maid look upon me and view me not as the god you fear, but as a man…a man who loves you. I'm still your stranger, your friend and companion! It's still me, as you know" Hades sounded wounded as he spoke and he was, deep down.
Persephone dared to look at him again and her own heart almost broke. He had the look of a lost, abandoned puppy dying to be loved. He was begging for her love with his eyes. He'd never begged or wanted anything as desperately as her love. He didn't think himself entirely unworthy of it.
"I'm so sorry I didn't tell you. I was afraid of this, your fear. But something in me's changed because of you. Before you I felt nothing. I froze my heart inside, so as to not give in to those feelings you described, but yet you knew. I know that I will never be entirely worthy of you, but I will try for you…forever. All I ask for a chance, and for you to at least try to love me back" he released her hand and bowed his head. Maybe this was truly hopeless…no one could ever love him.
Something warm touched his cheek, something soft. When he opened his eyes again, the emerald green eyes of his heart's one desire looked back at him kindly, softly. She wasn't afraid anymore, not after seeing him like this.
"I can't make any promises" Persephone said, "but rest assured I'll try for you, because you need it. God or not, every creature deserves love. I will try for you, but as I said, I cannot make promises".
He took her hand once more and kissed. "Thank you, Persephone…I will do everything I can to ensure your love is mine".
It took some time, but inevitably, the maid grew to love the former god as the man he was. He told her his own stories of the souls he judged, of heroes who tried to cheat him. It was a wonderful life for both of them. Each day they loved each other more than the last and soon they considered each other husband and wife.
But then, tragedy struck. Late one winter, Persephone fell dangerously ill. She was weak and could hardly move. Every day was painful to her, but being with her beloved eased her pain. Hades for his part felt guilty. Without his power, he couldn't heal her. Thanatos came all too soon.
Hades held Persephone in his arms, her head on his chest. She was terribly weak, struggling to stay awake. She struggled to breathe as the god of death appeared. Hades held her tight.
"You won't take her from me!"
"I'm afraid I don't have a choice, Hades. Her time is up".
"I won't let you!"
"You can't stop me anymore. She's now mine. Come Persephone, come to me" he grinned maliciously.
"Persephone please don't leave me" Hades pleaded with her, trying to keep her awake.
"Shhh…it's alright love. Our love will last…forever. I'll be okay. Just have faith in us, and I will return to you" Persephone with her final breath moved and kissed him one final time.
Then she became limp, cold, and pale in death. Her soul became an orb in Thanatos's hand. Hades let out a loud cry of grief, sobbing unashamed into Persephone's hair. Then anger and hatred took over once more. He looked at Thanatos with utmost hate.
"Bastard! She didn't deserve this!"
The death god's grin didn't fade. In fact, it only widened. "Why don't we play a game, Hades? A little hide and go seek if you will. If you want her back, then you will have to find her soul in time. With that being said, I grant you your immortality once more…just so you can live forever to search for her…and to live with your guilt".
"Oh I will, but you'll have to find her, Hades. Not even I will know where she is. Whoever finds her and claims her first, wins her. Good luck".
Thanatos released the soul and it vanished, not returning to its rightful body.
And so Hades was cursed with the immortality he once sought to keep. He spent centuries looking for his beloved Persephone, never once forgiving himself for her death…
Until he met me at least.
Who am I you ask? Well, my name is Stephanie Kore, and this is my story…