A/N: Just a quick note before the story begins; the narrative will switch between present and past every intersection. But, anyways, read on! Hope you enjoy.
He walked swiftly down the long, oily-black hall. Turned right. Turned left. Three rights and then a left again. He walked forwards for a while and then down a staircase. At the bottom he entered a fairly small room, which had the stairs extending right down into the middle of it. There was no ceiling, so if there had been any light in this place, he would still be able to see the hallway above. He marched off the staircase, skipping the last step but not faltering at all. He then whirled around to the right side of the stairs, pressed an invisible stone with his middle and forefinger, and gracefully drifted into the now-revealed doorway.
This new room was smaller than the one that held the staircase, which had been empty and circular. The new one had many more things crammed into it and was rectangular. A person would imagine that it just fit under the staircase, which was wide, but not intended to have the measurements for a room. There were bookcases lining both walls beside the man, as well as a chair and large desk in front of him. And right above the desk there was an indescribable contraption that looked as if it floated. It emanated the only light in the whole of Hades' palace, and had bronze rings of metal lazily circling it.
Slowly he reached behind him and felt for the unseen button that closed the door. Pressing it, he then walked to the desk, pulled out the chair and sat down upon it. His eyes stared up at that light, that light that he never was able to see because the palace could not be lit. The spirits would perish if it was. He could not remember the last time he had gone into the sun. Probably during the period when he first met his wife. Before she disappeared. Now he looked everyday upon the world, searching for her and checking in on her mother. The world was wintery so for now nothing was suspected. But he worried about the day when spring came. Demeter would be devastated, violent, and unforgiving. She would also believe that he was lying if he told her what happened and wage war upon him and his domain forever.
He slowly reached up and caressed the edge of the contraption, skin reveling in the warm light. He closed his eyes and thought back to that first day.
Contrary to what mortals believed, Hades did not kidnap her that day. He wanted to be free of the darkness for at least a while, and since there was not much dying going on currently, he went up to the surface. He chose not to wear his helmet of invisibility, as it was an uncomfortable thing, which he generally disliked. He met her there; she was gathering flowers far from her group, among a grove of trees. He knew that she was Demeter's daughter, as he had seen her before. She seemed to always be outside, frolicking in some meadow with her entourage of other fair maidens, and he often saw her if he went roaming in the mortal realm. He did not approach the young lady at first though, as he and his sister had never gotten along before and Demeter was very protective of her possessions.
Then, the girl screamed. He knew she was too far away from her entourage to be heard. She had fallen down on her back and shrieked again. He caught sight of a snake, definitely poisonous. It was coming close to her and growing even more irritated at each of her screams. He stepped towards her from the tree he had been leaning against. Waving his hand, he summoned Death and killed the snake. Then he went up to her and knelt by her side.
"It is alright. It will no longer trouble you," he spoke silently.
She looked up at him with wide eyes. They were bright blue and looked almost exactly like a cloudless sky. He noticed her beauty now and reminded himself that she was his sister's daughter. The perfect picture of a summer day… He stood up and stepped back and she sat up, wrapping her arms around her knees.
"What did you do?" She questioned. "You did not even touch it."
He simply gazed back at her, staring into those eyes, glancing at her straw-like hair, same as her mother's. He now could see that her eyes had a slight glow, similar to that of his brother's eyes. She was his daughter too, was she not? The gods were not affected by the family bonds that enchained humanity.
Realization dawned on her eyes. "You are Death, are you not?"
He let out a loud, barking laugh. "No, darling. I fill a position higher than his."
She seemed slightly startled by his sudden laughter but then she set her mouth and replied, "You must be Hades then."
He was surprised. No one, not even other gods, ever used his name so blatantly. He regained his composure. "Yes. Your mother must have told you who I am."
She stared at him for a second and then brushed off her skirt. She raised herself gracefully from the ground and stepped towards him, folding her arms. "She must have." She stared into his eyes a second longer and then turned away, lowering her arms and clasping them behind her back.
He looked at her sideways. She did not speak for a long time. When she did say something and turned back to hear his answer, she realized he was gone.
He let his mind drift for a bit longer and then pulled himself back from his memories. He focused his attention now on the contraption. He cupped it with both his hands and pulled it down lower on the desk. The rings around it slowly ceased turning once his hands brushed the glow of the sphere. Then he touched his forehead to the front of it. Images of the world above buzzed through his mind. He hovered near Helios and attempted to ask a question. The god remained silent and continued riding his chariot across the sky. Hades would have thought the sun god could not sense him if it was not for the irritated manner in which the fiery steeds turned their heads towards him and shook their manes. He rushed through more images, watching mortals shiver in cottages, his brother "courting" another young and naïve girl, his other sister protecting a woman giving birth, unaware of her husband's vile activities. He passed Demeter who was wandering around in the cold, feet barefoot, wearing rags, and disguised as an old woman. She looked bored and, although her feet were covered in bruises and blood, she insisted on kicking a side rocks that were buried in the cold white snow. He moved on, looking over mountain ranges and seas for his beloved. Poseidon once again replied that no boat holding Persephone had passed over his waters. He looked through forests at the nymphs and satyrs and Dionysus, most who were drunk. They would be of no help.
Suddenly Hades felt a pulling sensation in his brain. It jerked him to the side and into the ground. He felt a searing pain pass through his stomach and then his chest and finally his forehead. He groaned and his mind tried to flit back to his body but it was stuck. Slowly it blinked away and he could neither see, feel, or sense in any way anything around him.
The second time they met was not much longer after that first day. Demeter had sent Hermes to give a slight thank you for saving her daughter. The message was full of spite still, and did not end on a happy note. The next day another message was sent. It was said to also be from Demeter, but he had suspected otherwise. She had said that her daughter wished to give a proper thank you. Hades thought about staying in the palace, but he figured he had a good enough excuse to venture up above once more and took it willingly.
He had gone to the same spot as before. Persephone was waiting there, unaware for the moment of his presence.
She had laid out a small blanket upon an old stump of a tree, with two pillows flanking it. Hades flinched at the colors, light pink and green.
She was continuously looking out from the trees towards the meadow, a nervousness surrounding her motions. He could tell that she was not looking for him, but rather her mother, as if Demeter would appear in the distance at any second. Hades thought there was little risk of Demeter realizing any suspicious behavior concerning her daughter. The goddess was rather absent-minded in general, and seemed to have a bias surrounding her loved ones. Instead of approaching, the god waited for the girl to notice him.
When Persephone finally looked in his direction, she jumped up in surprise. "You came!" she exclaimed, and then calmed. "I was not sure whether you would accept my mother's invitation."
Hades crossed his arms. "That letter was not from Demeter."
The girl froze for a second and looked around without turning her head. "Oh?" she muttered. "Who would it be from then? I am sure no one would wish to impersonate a god."
He did not answer her question. "Why did you want me to come up here again?"
She also avoided his questioning and turned away from him, facing her makeshift table. "You did not have to save me from that snake. I am immortal after all."
"Immortals can still be injured," he spoke quietly. "But if that is all you asked me up here for, then I am going to leave."
Nothing was said for a moment, so he sighed and turned away to walk off.
"Wait!" Persephone exclaimed from behind him. When he turned back around, she had a wide-eyed urgency in her face. "Will you… will you please come sit down?"
He raised his eyebrow towards her stump-table. "No."
"Wha-?" There was obvious surprise in her voice. "You are very rude!"
Once again, he was caught off-guard by her blatant obliviousness to the fear his title spread.
The girl calmed a bit, seemingly realizing that calling the god of death rude might be a bad idea. She looked at the ground and then raised her head slowly, and spoke apologetically. "Please, I just… I would like to get to know you better. Everyone says you are horrid. But... would you come over? Please?"
Hades looked at her again and then groaned in defeat.
Hades awoke with a splitting headache and sharp pains shooting throughout his body. It was as if someone had stuck long, thin needles straight through his hands, neck, eyeballs; anywhere where there was thin enough flesh. The other thing which had woken him up was the sound of spirits shrieking through the halls for him. Something had upset them.
"Lord! Our Lord! Lord, help us! Help us, our Lord!"
He ignored their sharp cries, which were worsening his headache, and instead pressed his forehead back to the device. But with another sharp pain, his head was thrown back from it and the light that it produced went out. Somehow, whatever had happened to him had broken Hephaestus' device. Which was near impossible.
Hades looked up at the contraption. The only light in his palace was gone. The last thing that had reminded him of his wife had broken. His hope was failing. Gathering himself, he stood up, and walked out of the small room.
As soon as he made his way on to the long staircase, the spirits of the dead who lived in his palace started to flock towards him, crying out pitifully. He ignored them for the most part.
"Lord! Master! Lord and Master! Help us! Someone is here! Here! They are shiny! They are hurting us!"
Hades glanced down at the groveling spirit who had announced the presence of someone else. He walked towards the entryway to his palace, spirits tugging on his robes to try to get him to stop. He glared at them and they all fluttered away. The ghosts were always frightened of anything to do with light; when Persephone had first entered his palace, they were afraid of her as well. She had had that bright glow inside of her that most of the immortals had.
When the god of death entered the front of the palace, there stood one of the shinier gods, Helios. He always seemed to be cloaked in a warm light, that covered him from head to toe. As he was quite a bit taller than Hades, or any of the other gods, the light also spread further out into the room.
The god of the sun raised his eyebrow. "Your servants are terrible at serving," he observed.
"They dislike outsiders," Hades muttered. "Why are you here Helios? You should be out riding your chariot."
"You do realize that it is the middle of the night, right?" Helios scoffed.
Hades thought on that for a second. He must have been badly injured before, for when he had been out looking for his wife, it had been before noon in the mortal realm.
"But why are you here? You never leave your palace," he pressed.
"And you never seem to be on your throne as of late. Today, the souls of the dead were backed up. I also believe that I may have seen a few of them escaping your realm," Helios reprimanded as Hades grimaced at his remarks. "It will not be long before the other gods realize that something is off about you."
"You are avoiding the question Helios," Hades growled.
Helios sighed. "I am sorry that I ignored you today. I did not believe it safe to talk. I also think I was proven correct, since you have seemed to have lost your track of time."
Hades gave the god of the sun another pointed look. "What is it?"
Helios sighed once more and glanced around the gloomy interior of Hades' palace. "I know who has taken Persephone."
Not so long ago, Hades had experienced this same interruption of his work by one of the gods.
A spirit had come shrieking up to his throne, as Hades was in the middle of a trial for another shade, determining where the soul would reside in the afterlife. He turned his head abruptly, and barked, "What is it?"
"The King of the Gods has come to your home, Lord. He is shining and hurting us."
The shade hissed it out quickly, and Hades had sighed. He wished his brother would stop bothering him. He always had important business in the Underworld, and since he had ventured above three times now in short succession, he needed to concentrate on his work now more than ever.
"Bring him here. And you, go away for the time being," Hades waved the soul he had been judging away.
The spirit rushed off and soon, Zeus was present in the room. "Brother! How nice to see you!" he bellowed. Zeus' eyes glowed with electricity as always, and he had a rather dumb grin on his face that was obviously hiding something.
Hades raised his eyebrow at Zeus and skipped straight to the point. "Why have you come here? You hate the World of the Dead, same as the other gods."
The king of the gods frowned at his brother in a way that wrinkled his forehead. "Can I not spend some quality time with my siblings?"
"That is not why you are here." Hades replied stoically.
Zeus dropped his too-warm facade rather quickly. "Ah, well brother, you may be right. I came to talk about my daughter."
Hades took on a smirk and retorted, "But you have so many, which one would you be referring to? Athena perhaps? She is quite smart. Although I do not think that she gets along very well with her uncles."
"Hades, you know who I am talking about. Persephone," he elaborated.
"So? I do not deny that I have met with her, but the first time was unpurposeful, and the second because her… er… mother asked me to." Hades recalled the last time he had seen Demeter's daughter. During their second meeting, they had had a pleasant enough conversation that lasted a few hours, until they both had things that they really needed to go do. At the end, she had asked to see him once more and he had obliged.
"Demeter does not like you enough to let you near her daughter on purpose," Zeus replied.
Hades shrugged. "I do not believe that she wants anyone around her daughter," he shook his head and sighed again. "Why are you asking me about this, Zeus?"
"I was just hoping that you had not found yourself a wife in my daughter," Zeus mused quietly.
The god of death guffawed.
"You know, I would allow it," Zeus murmured again, causing Hades to laugh even more.
When he finished chuckling, he simply shook his head and stared up into the darkness, towards a presumed ceiling. "Demeter would never allow it."
Zeus nodded. "No. But she will probably never allow anyone to marry her daughter. Sometimes, you are the kindest of us all, which is ironic as you are the god of death. You would make a fine husband."
"Zeus, stop matchmaking, she is merely a girl," Hades berated.
"She is not that young. Besides Hades, it is obvious that you like her."
"I believe that you are quite the spy, brother," Hades muttered. "So what do you want me to do? Kidnap her?"
"That's a great idea!" the king of skies exclaimed.
Hades shook his head. "Zeus…"
His brother simply smiled, and then, after a moment, startled the silence away. "Well, I should be going, before Hera thinks I have been doing something entirely different."
"So the real reason you came down here was to cover for your follies with some mortal?" Hades questioned.
"No," Zeus spoke simply.
"Demeter would never allow it," Hades repeated.
"No. But I think you should anyways," and with that, Zeus left Hades' house.