The Truth, Part III – Hades and Persephone

I knew the one person that I needed to talk to was Persephone. Her story was one that resonated with people the most, and I knew there was more to it than anyone realized. I found her standing outside Chloris’ Bloomin’ Good shop, gently running her fingertips over the flowers. “Ares!” she said, giving me a hug. “This is a surprise! I was so sorry to hear about your young lady. I was fortunate to talk to her a few times; she had a beautiful soul.”

“Thank you, Persephone,” I said, giving her a sad smile. “That’s very kind of you to say.”

We strolled down the street. “I have to be honest with you,” she said. “I saw your press conference earlier. I had a feeling you’d be coming to see me sooner or later.”

“Didn’t Aunt Demeter talk to you?”

She nodded. “But she didn’t ask me any questions; why would she? She already knows the truth. But you do not.”

“I wanted to hear your side of things. Truthfully, I don’t know very much about you. Only the rumors that have floated around.”

“Rumors don’t usually have the hint of truth in them, do they?” she replied. “All right, ask me anything.”

“Tell me about your childhood,” I said. “What was it like growing up with Aunt Demeter as a mother?”

“It was wonderful. I had so much beauty around me.  The fields of flowers that bloomed with the sweetest scents, days of leisure just being able to exist. Not having to be responsible or want for anything. As for Mother, I loved her. I still do. Maybe she was a bit overprotective, but it’s what I wanted, I guess. Or needed. I love getting to spend time with her…”

We paused to let a young mother pushing a pram go by, then continued walking. “When did you first meet Uncle Hades?”

She thought for a moment. “There was some party or event that Momma had put together. He was there.” She smiled at the memory. “He was tall, dark and regal. Very powerful, but never frightening, though. I never saw that, and don’t understand others who do.”

I tried to picture him the way she described him, and had to admit to myself I didn’t see it. “How did your relationship progress?”

“Slow at first. Stolen moments here and there.  When I would wander the flower fields, I would find hidden corners where we could talk. It was amazing. I couldn’t help but be drawn to him.” 

“What was Aunt Demeter’s reaction when she found out?”

“That was the first time in my life that I didn’t tell her about something,” she admitted. “She found out after the ‘abduction’. We all know what she did then.”

“Why didn’t you want to run off and be with Hades?”

“I loved my family and my mother. I didn’t want to leave her and break her heart.” 

We were near the OA building. “Would you like something to drink?” I asked her.

“Maybe just some water, please.”

I went inside, grabbed two bottles of water from the employee lounge just off the lobby, and rejoined her outside. Opening one of the bottles, I handed it to her and watched her take a long drink. “Did you know that Uncle Hades planned to kidnap you?” I said as we continued to walk.”

She shook her head. “That was a surprise, but I know subconsciously that it’s what I wanted. I couldn’t make myself leave, but it was breaking my own heart not to.” 

“What was it like for you when you first arrived in the Underworld?”

“There is a beauty there that others can’t see,” she explained. “It’s not all dark and dank. There is a wonder to the Underworld. I love it. When I first arrived, I was frightened. Not every place in the Underworld is safe. But Hades made sure I was safe, and he took care of me and loved me until I knew my way and could find my own power to rule beside him.

“I’m not sure how to ask this next question, so I apologize in advance if I offend you,” I told her. “Everything we have discovered in our research says that Uncle Hades…raped you. Is this true?”

Persephone stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and grabbed my arm, turning me to face her. Something flashed in her eyes for a moment, a dark energy that reminded me of my uncle. “Of course not! It angers me that everyone seems to keep repeating that horrible story. I love him. I wanted to be with him the same as he wanted me. It wasn’t rape at all!” 

She choked up as she finished talking, and I gave her a gentle hug. “I’m sorry, Persephone. It was not my intention to upset you. Please forgive me.” She nodded and we kept walking. “One thing Aunt Demeter said she noticed about you was how you became more of your own person once you were free of her. Do you think becoming so independent changed your relationship with her?”

“I think it’s made me stronger, but I also understand her more and know why she did the things she did. Why she protected me the way she did.”

“How hard is it for you to leave her six months out of the year?” 

“It can be hard. You know how she gets once I leave to go back home; she goes into mourning for a little while. I hate to see her cry and be sad, so it hurts my heart to leave her. But this new world gives us easier ways to keep communicating!”

“On the flip side, how difficult is it for you to be apart from Uncle Hades for those six months?”

“Very difficult. It breaks my heart every time I leave. I can’t see his face for that time, but at the same time, I smile, knowing he is there, waiting for me to return.” 

“How is your life in the Underworld different from your life above ground with your mother?”

“There are different responsibilities. There is more to be done in the Underworld. Over the millennia, even my appearance changes now to match where I am.  Above ground is more carefree. I enjoy just feeling the sun and the wind on my face, seeing Momma, and reveling in the coming of spring and the crops growing. In the Underworld, it’s about the souls and making sure they are handled correctly.  More order and yes, even sometimes punishment for the lives they lead. Even when I have to be cruel, I also try to be compassionate.”

“I can’t imagine the time apart is good for your marriage. Has that taken a toll on your relationship?”

“Oh yes, it has destroyed it. It is a marriage in words only. But I just want him to be well and be happy. If diving into this new business he has is what makes him happy, then I am happy for him.” 

We had come full circle and were back in front of Bloomin’ Good; I hadn’t even realized we had circled back, because I was so engrossed in her story. “One last question: everyone knows the story about how you were told not to eat anything while in the Underworld, or you’d be trapped there forever and never allowed above ground again. Did you really ‘accidentally’ eat the pomegranate seeds, or was it intentional?”

She threw back her head and laughed. “Fully intentional. I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew that Father had finally succumbed to Momma’s crying and wailing, and about the mortals’ deaths. He had to make them happy. But I wanted to be happy too, and for my husband to be happy. So it was the best compromise I could think of.  But, oh yes, I knew exactly what it would do. I may be younger than the other gods and goddesses, and I may look naive, but that was fully calculated on my part.”

I smiled at her. “Good for you, Persephone. Good for you.”

“Did you get the answers you were looking for?”

“I believe so. It certainly makes me understand you and Uncle Hades more.”

She placed her hand lightly on my arm. “He’s a good man, Ares, and he’s done nothing to deserve the persecution he has received. I’m glad you’re doing something to make it right.”

“So am I, Persephone, so am I,” I said. “I’m about to give an interview to a reporter on camera. Would you be willing to tell this story on camera as well?”

“I was afraid you were going to ask me that. I don’t know, Ares…I’d really have to think about it. Hades’ position is that we don’t have to explain ourselves to others. People and Gods believe what they want to believe and no amount of truth otherwise changes that. At the same time, I’d really like people to hear the story, so they’ll know Hades is not the villain they think he is.”

“We’ll find a way to get the story out, Persephone,” I replied, gently squeezing her hand. “I promise.”

“The question is,” she said, “Do you really think it will help? Will it even make a difference?”

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Ares (Teresa Watson)

Ares (Teresa Watson)

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Ares is written by mystery writer Teresa Watson, author of thirteen books. She loves all things that involve sports and war movies.
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3 Comments

  1. I’m a little saddened to hear they are not how they used to be, though I understand why. I cherish you and Hades, Persephone, and I hope you find the confidence to share your tale.

  2. I spent many years with Uncle Hades. Truthfully he was as sad in the Spring as I now see Aunt Demeter is in the Fall. But in all the time I lived there I never saw him unfaithful or unloving to her. I am sorry to hear that has changed.

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