It's only when she's back up top and has a spring and summer and damn near half of fall to herself that Persephone takes the time to think over everything that happened, to realize how little of it she really knows.

She stepped into a story already in the middle of the telling, already nearing its end when she recognized poor Orpheus in the underworld, pleading for the love of a girl just barely familiar to Persephone, and now she wishes she knew the whole of it, how it started and how it twisted and turned before it got to her.

All she needs to do is figure out who to ask.

Hermes knows, because Hermes knows all the stories. But he's been unusually quiet through the whole season, saying he's not quite ready to tell this tale yet when she asks. She sees him alone with his old reed pipes sometimes, playing a melody so sad it makes her want to weep, and she knows this is gonna be one of the big ones when he works out how best to share it with the world, one they tell over and over and over again.

When the train finally comes and takes her back home, she asks her husband to tell his piece of the story, but he's not up to sharing yet either. He takes her hand in that tender, desperate way of his, that way she's just starting to find endearing again instead of feeling like she's got to start gnawing at her wrist to get free of a bear trap, and he says, "Do we need to talk about it now? On the first day of fall?"

And it's a problem they both have: never wanting to pay that kind of attention. They'd spent years and years dwelling only on their own unhappiness, hardly ever pausing to consider each other's and certainly never sparing a thought for the thousands of little miseries and tragedies toiling away all around them, both down below and up above.

But pushing at it like this now won't fix anything but her own curiosity.

"Alright," she says, giving his hand a squeeze, "but only because it's an awful late fall this year."

Hades brightens – honest to gods, she can see his eyes light up – and bends his head to kiss her fingertips, so pleased that she noticed how he's trying.

And she came here meaning to try, too, so if trying means waiting, well, that's something she's always been good at. She's been waiting for one half of her life or another for centuries, after all. Whether it's for spring or fall depends on the turn of the year.


The idea of talking to the girl instead comes to Persephone easily enough, but she can't quite decide how to go about it. She's not interested in making a scene just yet, in rifling through her husband's files and contracts or disturbing all the workers with her questions. Not when the underground is as peaceful as she's seen it in decades, souls and shades and bodies all with their heads held high, talking with each other freely, even singing old, familiar songs as they toil away.

And to be honest, she can't quite remember the name right herself.

The gods are damn bastards, and Persephone always counted herself among them. It isn't any kind of pettiness or spite that keeps her saying the girl after everything, it's that mortals just don't stick in her mind so easily. She only remembered Orpheus because he'd been following Hermes around like a lost duckling for the past twenty-odd years and still only then when she heard his voice quiver and crack while pleading his case before a god, just as it always did at the start of every pretty little prayer he sent her way up top.

So, it's a surprise to both when, walking alone in the small hours that pass for morning in a town with no sun to rise or set, with the neon dimmed to a sodium glow and the machines humming quiet and low like the contented purr of some now-tamed beast, Persephone meets Eurydice.

A weary girl with the look of a short life hard lived, Eurydice keeps her head up as high as anyone, but her eyes go wide with shock and maybe a touch of fear when she finds herself staring at a god once again.

Persephone tilts her head. "What are you doing out on the floor at this hour?" she asks, curiosity temporarily shifted.

"Working," Eurydice snaps, then quickly bites down on her sharp tongue before it can get too smart. She looks down and off to the side. "Mr. Hades offered me my choice of shifts when I came back down. I like the mornings. It's quiet."

Persephone almost laughs at that. Doesn't, manages to keep it in, but she can't stop the smile that creeps out after. Always trying to tamp down his guilt with gifts, her husband. Always thinks a lot of giving can right any wrongs better than a little talking. "Well, if he's been in a mood to grant favors, then he can also grant you a little time to walk and talk with me," she says and turns her smile, slightly gentled, on the girl. "I like the mornings, too."

Her eyes go wide again, more than a touch of fear now, and it puzzles Persephone for a moment until she remembers one piece of the story that she was there for herself.

Eurydice wasn't the first young and hungry creature Hades talked down to his kingdom and up to his office – Persephone supposes she holds that honor herself – nor was it the first time he made such a show of it in front of his wife, so desperate for some reaction, some worry, some anger. But there was no way for the poor girl to know that, and maybe she fears some reaction is still to come with her caught helpless in the middle, no matter what did or didn't happen behind those closed doors.

Now, Persephone doesn't care much over that show however it went. Just another of a hundred little ways they've tried to get under each other's skin during their bad years. It isn't as though she never had her own flirtations with mortals up top just the same way, long nights so full of wine and song and bitter loneliness that she can't remember what she did or did not do in the end, nights spent thinking let someone see, let word get back below the ground, if he's so worried what I'll do alone then let him have a reason.

But she's seen enough displays of temper from her aunts and cousins over less to understand why the girl might worry.

She smiles again, reaches out gently to smooth Eurydice's hair back and lift her chin. "Don't you fret, little bird," she assures her. "That ain't the song I want to hear you sing today."


The train brings Persephone back up top in a rush of light and bloom, and Hermes meets her at the station as always, offering her a hand down to earth when the car door opens.

"I want to hear that story you been working on," she tells him as soon as she steps down, "the one about a hard and hungry young girl who fell in love with a poor boy, a boy who brought a world back into tune but let that girl slip through his fingers at the very last moment."

Hermes leans back and smiles his sad, slow smile, the one that makes him look like the oldest of gods, and says, "Sounds to me like you already heard it."

And Persephone says, "I want to hear it again."