Please give part 1 a read here!
The Underworld was everything Persephone thought it would be – dark, dreary, and dim. Demeter’s voice rang inside her head – this darkness, it was not who she was. But who was she? Lost was what she was, unsure of who she was at all anymore.
Persephone’s heart told her she had made the right choice, but she couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt.
Hades saw her trail from his window in the castle of the shadows, she had created a graveyard of flowers throughout the castle grounds the past few days. Now, she was wallowing on the edge of the river.
He had been watching her, slowly hating himself for what he had done. Why had he brought her there? Demeter was furious, accusing him of kidnapping her. Despite his ask for help to calm the woman, Zeus, of course, seemed to find the whole thing comical.
The least he could do was talk to Persephone, whose spirit was still waning. Clearly, bringing her here had not been enough to revitalize her. He couldn’t help but think perhaps he had been wrong. Hades tried to summon his courage, because even the Dark Lord of the Underworld needs courage, and cautiously made his way down by the river and sat on a rock beside Persephone.
“I know who you are now, and this place.” Persephone did not turn around, but kept her eyes on the nothingness, watching. The skirts of her dress grazed the water and its toxins frayed the delicate edges. “And so does my mother. I see it here, in the river. Did you know?” She asked and Hades nodded solemnly. “She is devastated, her distress has put Earth into an eternal winter.”
Persephone sighed, her mind churning thoughts, her heart battling emotions. Her mother had been her confidant and had never guided her in the wrong direction. But Persephone had become so…empty, her purpose no longer resonated in her heart, and her mother simply didn’t understand. Demeter didn’t understand to the point that she couldn’t even believe Persephone had left of her own accord.
“She wants me back, she wants what is best for me…for me to be happy,” She said, as if all three were the same thing.
“How does she know what will make you happy?” Hades asked and a spark lit behind his eyes. His hope had resurfaced with an idea. She needed to see, to understand and experience the dark beauty that was the Underworld, and that was him. He had drowned her in it without teaching her how to swim.
“Let me show you.” Hades stood and crossed the small space between the two, offering his hand as he had upon their meeting. This time Persephone did not hesitate.
A bridge of the darkest stone formed over the river and carried them to the other side. The grounds of the castle and its dark allure continued on into the wilderness that was the Underworld. It was like a separate dimension of Earth, the same twinkling night sky, never-ending fields, deep dense forests, only it was richer in all but color.
Hades showed her all there was to see, all that was the Underworld. He showed her the toiling men repenting for their crimes, learning to be better versions of themselves in death. There was Cerberus, Hades beloved companion, because even in the Underworld dogs resided as man’s best friend. Cerberus protected the gates of the river, through which all souls entered. He made sure they arrived safely, and that those who did not belong stayed away. Cerberus was not alone of course, but joined by those noble souls who lived honestly and earned an honorable roll in the new world. There was a place for everyone, however they may have lived their lives, they were planted and watered to grow in the Underworld. It was a kingdom of furtherance of the soul, of mankind, the world, and what they could all be.
There was one more place Hades needed Persephone to experience, and it wouldn’t be one to watch, but one to indulge in if she chose to embrace all he had showed her. Certainly, it wasn’t the last of the Underworld’s treasures and troves, but it was the most significant to Hades.
It was the Binding Tree. It stood in the middle of a field, almost a mirror image from the one from which Persephone traveled. The tree itself was the largest tree ever seen in life or death. It’s trunk was comprised of black twisted roots that danced around each other tightly, before splitting off in groups to form branches with the most plump fruit. The fruit was one of the few things that showed any hint of color, but it was because it was a special fruit, it had the power of life and death within it.
As they approached the captivating tree, Hades saw the first truly bright spec of color touch the Underworld. It grew beneath Persephone’s feet, unbeknownst to her, who kept a steady stride and an unwavering eye in the direction of the tree. It was a blossoming red rose, with velvet petals of fire, matching the one that had ignited in her heart.
Standing at the base, it was impossible for them to see the top. Hades reached up, barely able to reach its branches despite his tall stature. The fruit pulled from the tree easily. It was a perfectly round pomegranate.
“If you eat this, you can stay here, with me.” Hades swallowed hard. It was the first time he had ever been nervous in his many years of life, or death one might say, and he could see the nervous excitement matched in her green eyes, all traces of doubt had vanished.
Persephone took the pomegranate in her own hands and it fell apart like sand. The seeds inside glistened like rubies in her palm. It made it impossible to tell if Persephone’s rosy glow was her own or merely a reflection.
The two took a seat beneath the tree, their shoulders leaning against one another and the strong bark. Hades reached into the cluster of rubies and pulled one from the center, popping it into his mouth. He had forgotten how good it tasted. He hadn’t consumed the tree’s fruit since he himself had chosen to stay. But it was more than that, more than the fruit, it was her. Something about her had begun to fill the void inside his soul.
They ate the seeds together one by one, beneath the cover of the Binding Tree and the everlasting night. Persephone would be the moon and the stars, the light in Hades’ darkness.