FORTY TWO - Spring
Persephone watched as the light slowly spread throughout the room welcoming the new day. It had finally come. She had spent the entire night and most of the early morning hoping that helios would take his time and the morning would never come. But as it did as it always had, without fail. She had hoped she could stay in this perfect world with Hades but it seemed not even a god’s prayer could be answered.
Spring had come.
Laying on Hades naked chest she savored these last few moments she would have with him, in no rush to start the day. She drew lines and swirls on his chest, memorizing the lines of his face to get her through the lonely nights of spring. Though she was completely sure nothing would compare to the real thing.
“Good morning,” Hades spoke in his rough morning voice. She didn’t dream of pulling away as he leaned up to kiss her. Instead, she savored every second. “Have you been awake long?” he asked as he stretched beneath her.
“Not really, I couldn’t sleep,” she answered him. Instantly he held her tighter as he must have recognized the nervousness in her voice. She could never hide anything from him.
“There is no reason to be nervous,” he said softly.
“There is every reason to be nervous.”
“Persephone we’ve been over this, You have to go,” he told her. She knew he was right. If she did not leave she would not only give her mother the permission she needed to start a war but she would also be disobeying the word of Zeus. Although all of those reasons seemed minimal now, she felt like war would be preferable to saying goodbye. “The time will go by fast, i promise.”
“But-but what if-” Persephone began to ask softly.
“What if what darling? Everything will be fine.” Hades promised, repeating all of the promises he had made the night before. “I will come to visit you as much as possible. Daily if i must. There is nothing to worry about.”
“I just keep thinking… What if I can’t come back? What if my mother traps me on the surface and I cannot come back to you?” Persephone asked, speaking her worst nightmare into the space between them.
By the dreaded look on Hades’ face, she knew it had also been pegging his mind. Yet still, he did not speak of his fears to her, instead, he only offered her the reassurance she needed. He had always been the strong one between them, “You should know by now there is little that could keep me from getting to you. There is nothing your mother could do that would stop me.” he promised, holding her even tighter.
She kissed him passionately but as she did she felt as if everything she held dear to her was being ripped away. She felt as if she was losing him. Tears filled her eyes and she began to cry against his lips. Trying to hide her tears she tried to get up, but feeling her move away he held her tighter and flipped her so now he was leaning over her.
“Do not hide from me,” he demanded.
She drew in a shaky breath, gathering together her rambled thoughts. “This is my home. She said simply but then, hearing her words she understood her tears. Ever since she had come to the Underworld, Hades had always made sure she had known it was equally her home as it was his. He had corrected her thousands of times after she had called it his home. And now it finally felt like hers. Their home. He had made it her home. Only now that she had to leave did she know exactly how important it had begun to be to her. “More home than any other place has ever been. I hate that I have to leave it. While I am here with you my path seems sure, I know who I am and what I have to do. But now I have to go and I’m questioning everything, I don’t know what the future holds. Everything seems muddled and unsure. I fear that without you I will go up and disappear into the sun.” she said, speaking her fears. She heard him begin to chuckle and felt it rumble through his chest. Even now that it infuriated her she knew his laugh would be one of the many things she would miss. “Is something funny to you?” she asked, clearly pouting.
“Yes a little.” he smiled down at her.
“I’m glad you find me so amusing.” she pouted, as she began to push him away from her but in response he grabbed both of her hands into his, stopping her movement.
“You have always been my sun, the light in which lights all of my days. “ he whispered to her as if it were meant to be kept a secret. “You have me until every last star in the galaxy dies, you have me. You will not be lost, not from me. Have faith, in you and in me. I will come to get you six months from today. And then we can pick up from where we left off.”
Persephone stared in utter amazement of her husband, “How are you so calm? especially today.”
“I am anything but calm,” he growled into her ear. “I am inches away from finding your mother and telling her to damn the human species I’m keeping my wife. All I dreamt of last night was locking you away where no one else could find you. But we do not have that luxury.” Hades said sadly, finally allowing her to see how much today was affecting him.
“No, in this we don’t.” she nodded her head sadly.
“’When you know what matters most to you, giving things up, even yourself, doesn’t really feel like a sacrifice.’” Hades said, quoting her from the night after the trial when they had believed the worst was behind them.
“That’s what happens when you’re responsible for lives other than your own, isn’t it? You do what you have to do,” she asked already knowing the answer. Even though she wanted to stay and would pay any price it took to stay with Hades for even a day longer she could not. It was not even the looming war or the threat of Zeus’ wrath. That they could indoor, it was the mortals that depended on her spring. Without her return, they would begin to perish and she would never forgive herself.
“I’m afraid so,” Hades said, just as dejected.
“I don’t want to say goodbye.” Persephone decided after the silence of their painful separation surrounded them. It was something she could not bear. “I don’t think i can take anymore crying. I won’t be able to make it through today if i start crying again. Could we just be happy about this? Or at least pretend?” he smiled at her proposition and wiped the drying tear from her cheek.
“Of course, we can. Besides, there is nothing to cry about, you won’t be that long. A bink in the life of a God.” he offered already trying to be positive about the position they were in. it seemed odd coming from his mouth. Ever since she had met him he had always been honest to a fault, always telling the situation how it was, always finding the bleaker side to every problem. She had always been the one to look on the bright side of everything. It seemed today their roles had reversed.
“Six months,” she said, allowing it to settle in her mind. Six months, while short in comparison to eternity, seemed to last forever.
“Go back and plant the most beautiful flowers, be the divine spring that you are. Do all the things you cannot do down here. All the things you have missed.” he told her, sweeping a stray hair and tucking it behind her ear softly. she jumped to tell him that she hasn’t been missing anything that everything she could ever want was right here. Or at the very least tell him that being with him made up for everything else. She wanted to make him understand that he was her everything. But he stopped her before she could have even begun. With a raised eyebrow that told her not to test him, he continued, “And when you’re done come back to me. I will be waiting here for you.”
She nodded, “Six months to plant, to till, to harvest, and when the last blade of wheat is cut I will be at the gates.” she said pecking kisses onto his lips. “Then I will come home to my husband.”
“Come back home to me.” he echoed.
Once again they stood on the banks of the River Styx, this time it was not to rescue a forgotten soul and welcome it into the Underworld, but for her to leave the Underworld. Hades had made sure that Hermes, Thanatos, and Charon had worked overtime to clear the beach so they would not have to be clouded by souls. He had made it clear he wanted privacy when it came to today. That was why Hecate was waiting for them so far away at the mouth of the cave. Even Styx was ordered to distance herself.
It had been decided that Hecate would be coming with her to earth. She had been overjoyed when she heard she would be joined by her friend but when Hades had told her the purpose of Hecate’s attendance she had been less than thrilled. Hades had assigned Hecate to watch over Persephone and report any new findings to Hades. She would effectively be a spy and bodyguard. This was not the bonding moment Persephone had imagined for the two friends. But she was still comforted that she would be able to bring a bit of the Underworld with her. She also knew it would calm Hades to know someone he trusted was with her if he could not be himself.
They had not said a word as they made their way to the cave that acted as the entrance and exit of the Underworld. They had only held each other as they slowly walked from the castle. Not wanting to rush the day any more than they already had to. The puppy had followed them and even now was circling their feet playfully. Clearly, he had not clued into the significance of the morning. The puppy had been the only one, besides Persephone Hades had yet to yell at this morning. It seemed Hades had begun to grow fond of the pup. Some days he even took the pup on his daily walks around the Underworld. She was glad that she was not leaving Hades alone but knew he would be kept company by the pup.
Looking down at the puppy that had always seemed to follow her, she knew it would not be able to follow her any farther. She watched it as it began to tug on the bottom of her dress. “Cerberus. You should name him Cerberus,” she told Hades.
He laughed, “I thought you said I could name him.”
“It was taking you too long.” she waved his playful pout away, “Besides, it suits him.”
“I suppose it does.” he playfully agreed. “It is a name he can grow into.”
She turned, grabbing a hold of him, never wanting to let go. “I love you,” she promised him.
“I love you too, with all of my heart.” he echoed. She took a deep breath when she felt his lips on her neck, she suddenly wished she could completely stop time. Freeze this moment and never let it end. If it meant living the rest of her life in this very world with him then she would take it.
She felt him take her face between his hands, draw her closer to him ready for a kiss she knew would be longer than most. Her body stumbled against his, almost losing her footing from the overwhelming sensation suddenly sweeping over her. But Hades caught and steadied her before pressing his lips against her own.
The kiss started out passionate and furious, hands everywhere reaching to be as close as possible to each other. Her arms draped over his shoulders pulling him as close as he could possibly be. While his hands twisted through her hair, angling her every which way so he could own every surface of her mouth, memorize each dip and curve.
When she had begun to pull back to catch her breath he whispered a desperate plea, “Don’t pull away, not yet.” Persephone was quick to restart another kiss, this time slow, languid, full of silent promises, hopes, dreams, and everything they both painfully desired. But mostly it felt final. Her arms crept back up towards his shoulders, her palms gliding slowly upwards towards his neck, then finally meeting their destination at his jaw where her fingers slowly caressed him.
“I love you Hades...” she whispered against him, never being able to say it enough. He had been so strong for her this morning but now it was her turn to be strong for him. She had to show him it would be ok; they no longer had a choice.
“What no tears?” he teased her, showing off the cheeky smile she loved so much. He leaned down once more to steal a final playful peck from her.
“What for?” she asked, smiling back to keep up the charade that was nearly breaking her. “I’ll see you soon anyway...”
“That’s right... You won’t even have time to miss me!” he joked cupping her cheek. Maybe jokes were the only way they would get through this. She could not bring herself to offer the smile she had wanted to give him. She was trying so hard to be strong but everything was breaking apart. “Darling…” he lowered his voice to a whisper so even Hecate couldn’t pry. “You need to let go of my hands now.”
“Oh...” she said, startled out of her own thoughts. It was time. She had been so distracted by her own thoughts she hadn’t even noticed that she was gripping both of his hands tightly in hers, as if they could hold her to the ground, showing no signs of lessening her hold. “Right.” she softly let go of his hands, effectively separating them for the first time in a long while. Knowing their time was running short they had been inseparable, hanging off one another.
Hades walked her further away from what had grown to be her home, towards where Hecate had been waiting for them.
“I expect constant updates,” Hades ordered once he approached. She was sure that Hecate and Hades had talked at length about her trip with Persephone. He had already drilled into her on a daily basis how Persephone would now be her responsibility. But now she could see the nerves that were beginning to surface from Hades. He did not like that he would no longer be so close to Persephone. This was his way of maintaining control.
Hecate nodded, understanding the undertone of Hades, “Of course sir.”
“You do whatever you have to do to keep her safe, swear it to me,” he said angrily even though there was no reason for his harsh tone.
“I’m sure there is no reason to think anything will happen.” Persephone tried to offer a positive perspective even though it did nothing to lighten the mood. Both Hades and Hecate took this very seriously.
“Always sir. I would do anything to protect her,” she swore. Hades nodded, feeling content that Hecate was the right one to send with Persephone, and turned back to face his wife. But Persephone had seen the weight settle atop Hecate. She had seemed to realize the magnitude of what Hades had entrusted her with. The countless conversations could not compare to that moment. Her boss was leaving his world in her hands. Hecate had a look like the world was suddenly on her shoulders. As if atlas had switched places with her. Hecate simply bowed in respect and swallowed her fear.
They spoke their final goodbyes and shared a whisper of a kiss. This was the moment, there would be no more dragging it out. She took her first step backward away from him and towards the entrance, away from her new home and towards her old home.
Persephone felt completely numb.
It was simply a matter of forcing her body to take one step and then another. Persephone hated everything about it. Once she got to the mouth of the cave she saw her mother patiently waiting for her. Making sure she followed through with her promise.
She still could not resist turning around one last time to see him. He was still there, watching as she walked away. He had sworn he would not leave until she was completely gone from his view. She could not make herself say goodby one more time. They had already said it too many times. So instead she mouthed out the words she desperately wanted to tell him one more time.
I love you
When he saw her a smile spread across his gorgeous face, changing from one of sad bravery to a genuine smile. One that could have blinded the sun. It would be a sight she would never forget. He simply mouthed back the only answer he had ever known.
wow, what an adventure getting this book out there. i originally started writing this because it was a story that i wanted to hear so i mainly kept it to myself. but once i posted the first couple of chapters i began to see how much you all were enjoying it. it has been such an honor for you all to read my book.
that being said, if you want a sequel let me know because oh do i have ideas.
until then, thanks again.