Author's note: This is the final part in the story, ending with Persephone's return to the underworld. Please let me know what you think of the conclusion of this story. I am considering writing a few more myths in this style. There are some I have in mind. Please let me know if you would be interested in this, and if you have any ideas of myths that you'd like to read. Thank you for reading.
This time the drooping willows offered no shade. Their leaves carpeted the grass and cracked under Demeter's bare feet. Some of them had sharp points that pricked. Lake Cyane still lapped right up to the grass but the sun did not glint off the water; it caught it harshly. From the willow trunks came a soft keening; the nymph. Cyane could make no more sounds than the wavelets on the bank. The only things floating on the lake now were lilies. Colour had leeched from them leaving only brown petals that floated drunkenly. A slight sickening smell came from them. She wrinkled her nose and stepped back. The willow canes were sharp against her back through her thin linen dress. Instead of moving back, she let it dig into her skin, and where it touched, the cane flexed. When she ran her hand along one, it grew supple and the tip swelled with leaf buds. She smiled. Behind her, the lilies stirred as if in a breeze. They would be ready for Persephone when she returned.
Hermes left the cleft in the ground first, and led the way back to the living world. It was a pasture in Sicily, close to where Persephone had first set eyes on the God of the Underworld. The Messenger god waited impatiently and his feet hovered several inches above the little yellow faced daisies. He tapped his staff against one winged heel and looked pointedly into the distance and to Persephone and Hades. She stepped down from the chariot to the springy green grass. For once she was not childish enough to brush away Hades' hand as he helped her down. The grass yielded to her feet in a way the rocks of the Underworld never would. Hades offered her a sad smile, and nodded encouragingly as she skipped a few steps and bent to gather a flower. The daisies opened their petals wider, and turned their faces to her face. She picked a handful, and where her bare feet trod, the flowers grew more strongly. The white dress floated lightly around her ankles, and she felt the hungry gaze of Hades but his mouth turned down at the corners and his face tightened when she was not looking at him. Finally her dance took her back to the chariot where her husband waited. He held his hands still on the reins of his four black horses. With one slim hand, she reached to touch the ground and in moments a full grown apple tree stood there. She picked an apple for proud Nyctaeus, marked Alastor and the others. With a thin smile, she offered the small bunch of daisies to Hades. The last time she would see him for six months, she could afford to offer the small token. He took one hand from the reins and reached for them, but they wilted before he could. Both immortals watched the fragile petals fall to the bottom of the chariot like irregular tears. Persephone cast aside the wilted stalks and looked up to meet the dark eyes of Hades. The horses champed uneasily at their bits, and Hermes waited. And from the brow of a hill, Demeter watched. She held fast to the reins of her chariot.
The gates stood open as usual. Open but for Cerberus with his head on his paws, just to one side. Only one head was awake but still all noses twitched as the ghosts passed. Only a foolish soul believed the dog watched with just a third of his attention. Seeing his master, Cerberus woke fully and barked. The sound echoed around the cavern and some of the ghosts were blown against the far left wall, like dry leaves. Besides Hades they seemed even more frail. While his robes and Cerberus' coat had no bright colours, they still had substance. A few of the ghosts began to creep forwards again, and then more until the flow resumed. They could not deny the pull that sent them deeper, away from the living. Hades clucked his tongue to Cerberus and the beast crouched down. The muscles in his haunches rippled, and all three heads vied for attention. Hades scratched behind each ear methodically but his eyes looked beyond the gates. Anywhere in the underworld, he could make a window to the upper world, but here he felt physically close. At a mere thought, a window materialised out of the gloom. It looked like a slit of light that rotated, growing wider. It cast sunlight into dimness and his eyes smarted. Instead of calling for his throne, Hades settled himself on the bare rock to watch his wife. From a fold in his robes he produced a pomegranate. Hades ate the jewel bright seeds one by one. The juice stained his fingers just like it had Persephone's.
In the field in Sicily, hard up against Lake Cyane, Hermes reminded them, "Hades is waiting."
"Let him wait," Demeter snapped. The grass that brushed her hem grew paler. She wrapped her arms around her daughter. Persephone felt her tremble. She stepped back.
"Hermes is right."
"Why do you want to leave me?" Demeter let her hands drop. The lazy breeze felt colder.
Persephone's voice was quite steady. "I have to go."
And the ground stirred, making the little daises sway. Hades cast a shadow well past his height, out onto the grass. It reached nearly to Persephone's bare feet. He waited.