Hades watched, slump-shouldered, as Persephone ascended from the Underworld. He had to endure another interminable six months without his wife; more than his tortured soul could bear.
He paused at the gate to greet Cerberus. “I know you’ll you’ll miss her too, old boy,” Hades stroked the three-headed dog, wondering, “Why is it she sometimes seems so sad here?”
Their parting had been most tender. As they’d kissed, he’d traced his fingers across her flawless, petal-soft cheek. She’d flushed the same soft pink of the camellia blossom she’d brought home with her last time. It hit him then, exactly what his dearest Persephone missed.
That summer was the shortest six months he’d ever experienced as he awaited his wife’s return, and the first time he’d built something with his own hands.
He did engage the help of Helios to bring a beam of sunlight to the hidden grotto, creating a haven of life and love.
When the nights above ground grew longer and the days colder, sign of the season’s change, Persephone returned to the Underworld, running joyfully into her husband’s arms.
“Are you too tired, my love, to take a ride with me? I’ve arranged a picnic.”
Persephone wore doubt on her lovely face.
“Do you trust me?” asked Hades. At her nod, he said, “Climb up behind me on Aethon and close your eyes.”
Persephone did as she was bid, smiling softly as she wrapped her arms around his waist. Aethon, swiftest of Hades’ horses, soon had them at the grotto.
“We’ll have to walk the last bit,” said Hades, “I’ll guide you.”
Persephone gasped at the kiss of sunshine on her face and, as she opened her eyes, stared in silent wonder at the winter garden Hades had created. Sweet alyssum and autumn crocus bloomed around a bench. Ivy laden with darkening berries and prickly holly with its berries of bright red. Corymbs of tiny white flowers covered the viburnum and, of course, camellias, the shade of Persephone’s blush, with a scent as delicate as she.
“Oh, Hades,” whispered Persephone, “I do so love you.”