Author’s note: This is part of the Diana’s Life Tips series which are stand-alone stories with relevant info.
Relevant info: Daemon is a demon Diana accidentally summoned and he’s stuck on earth unless she makes a deal with him. Persephone is the ex-wife of Satan and Hades, and Hades is currently planning on invading the human realm. Diana and Daemon thought that was Persephone trying to invade, but she’s really trying to stop Hades. She’s currently taken Diana and Daemon to a Greek temple to explain things.
“I figured the best way to explain would be to add a visual component,” Persephone said as she gestured to the half-broken Greek temple around Daemon and Diana. While it was in theme, Persephone shifted her normal clothes from the dog park into a golden toga with a woven belt made from living vines. Diana’s jaw hit the ground so hard trying to make sense of her surroundings and the spring goddess that it rammed through to the earth’s mantle. “It all started here, millenniums ago…”
“What did?” Diana asked.
“My love-life backstory, now hush, child.”
Roughly two millenniums ago…
In a tizzy, Persephone packed her bags, glared at her soon-to-be-first-ex husband, Hades, ruler of the Greek Underworld, and headed to the front doors of his palace with her three-headed dog, Cerberus, at her heel. Him and a fresh start were all Persephone wanted out of this divorce. Hades could keep his damned souls and weird collection of cornucopias.
“Persephone…” Hades began as he leaned against the frame of the front door, a begging look on his black eyes. “It was an accident. I… fell?”
“Three times?” She demanded.
“Three?” He was playing dumb.
“Minthi, Lefki, and the dog walker, Hades. The dog walker.” Ugh, Persephone never would have married her uncle if she knew he was going to cheat on her this much. She knows he had that womanizer Zeus for a brother, but jeezus. Hades was supposed to be the romantic brother. After all, the underworld was always properly dimmed for a romantic dinner for two and Hades was a surprisingly good chef.
Grabbing her wrist as she passed him, Hades said, “Come on, babe. Give me a secon—”
“No.” Persephone unsuccessfully tried to free her wrist. His grip tightened.
“Where will you go? You have to stay in the underworld for at least six months a year by Zeus’ decree.”
“Still relying on your older brother to get you laid, huh? Pathetic.” She yanked her wrist free this time. “Spring’s just starting. I’ll figure something out. From this point on, Hades, consider yourself single.”
With that, Persephone triumphantly left the Greek underworld behind and headed towards the human world.
Persephone did not figure something out. Instead, she sat on the steps of an empty Greek temple with a blissful, starry night sky overhead. Ancient Greece buzzed with life below her. At the edge of her line of sight, she could make out Mount Olympus and hear the other gods partying, laughing, and getting drunk. She kicked a pebble off the temple. Perfect. Just perfect.
Persephone sighed, defeated. She didn’t want to call her mother and admit her relationship crisis only to be met with yet another lecture about what a no-good scoundrel Hades was. Anyone who has to kidnap random girls and have their brother force them to stay at their house half of the year is no-good scoundrel, Demeter always said. And desperate. Veerrryyy desperate. Can’t imagine he’s gotten much action when surrounded by the dead.
She chuckled dryly at that last part before her face collapsed into her hands. Oh Mother, what am I going to do now?
Cerberus nudged her calf with his snout. He whimpered beside her. As Persephone rubbed one of his three heads, she said, “I know, boy. I’ll figure something out.”
“It pains me to see a woman as beautiful as you in such distress,” a voice greeted Persephone from behind.
She clutched her purse as she twisted to see him. “Back off creep, I’ve got pepper spray, a pocket knife, and divine powers.”
The man’s shadow raised his hands defensively. He took a step back. “Sorry, sorry. I didn't mean to startle you.” Cerberus growled. “Or your three headed dog.” He paused. “Three headed dog… but the person who has a pet like that is… you're Hades! You’re really pretty for a dude.
“I’m Persephone, his…” She trailed off as a fresh wave of realization of her actions washed over her. The night’s air got colder.
The stranger smacked a fist on his open palm conclusively. “Yeah that makes more sense. So, what are you doing out here? I thought Persephone was like… sentenced to spend eternity in the Greek underworld for eating half a banana?”
“It was six pomegranate seeds and I’m only sentenced to spend only six months out of the year in the underworld,” Persephone explained. She plopped her head on her hand. “Spring through fall I spend on the surface. Growing plants and breaking out the new spring clothing line.”
The man gave a dry chuckle.
“Though,” Persephone continued, “Once fall hits I don’t know where I’ll go.”
“Won’t you just go back to the Greek underworld?”
“And go crawling back to Hades? No way. I’d rather face Zeus and his punishments.” She held her hand to lower abdomen. “Better start learning how to cope with my liver being pecked out by a bird everyday now.” Persephone sighed. “A god’s life shouldn’t be this depressing.”
“Do you mind if I take a seat?” He asked.
Persephone shook her head and his butt found a spot next to her. Together, they stared out into the starry night sky as the stars started back. Astraios was a creeper.
“Why do you say your life is depressing?” He asked.
“Because… because Hades cheated on me—three times—so I want to divorce him, but his stupid brother sentenced me to underworld for six months out of the year. Once autumn comes rolling around I’ll be forced to go crawling back to his cheating butt.” She chucked a rock as far as she could. “My love life is a complicated mess that I have no control over.”
The man didn’t have an answer for her. Instead, he gently petted Cerberus and watched the moon drift across the sky. The night shifted to day as Apollo dragged the sun across the sky. Then, the moon took its place in the sky again. It was almost like a cycle or something. Dang, that’s crazy.
A couple of days of sitting there later, Persephone broke the silence. “Don’t you have to sleep or eat something? What do you want to eat?”
“The souls of the damned,” he said.
She chuckled. “No, but really.”
“I’m not hungry.”
They stayed staring off into the distance. “How long are you gonna stay here for?”
“Maybe the next six months. Or…” He turned to her. “Until whenever you leave. I don’t think it would be right to leave you alone right now.”
The man went back to looking at the horizon and didn’t see the faint blush on Persephone’s cheeks. A new sun was rising. “Six months in the underworld…” He mumbled underneath his breath. “Out of curiosity, did Zeus specifically mention the Greek underworld?”
“Umm, no? What other underworld would there be?”
He laughed. “Oh, you sure are sheltered. There’s hundreds out there—they’re called the hell realms. Every religion or belief system that mentions a hell or underworld has a hell realm. And they’re all underneath our feet…” He stomped on the surface. “Inside the earth—or human realm.”
“Well that’s certainly a fun fact, but I don’t see how it helps me.”
“What if, when your time in the human realm is up, you go back to the underworld as Zeus forces you to, but it’s not the Greek one?”
Persephone perked up. “That would fit the punishment. And I wouldn’t have to go back to Hades. The divorce could actually happen.” Her face lowered. “But wait, I don’t know how to get to the other hell realms or if the occupants of it will allow me to stay.”
The stranger flashed her a smile. “I think I could work something out. It just so happens to be that I run my own hell realm. You could stay there during the winter.”
Her face lit up. “Really?”
He extended his hand. “Really.”
“No strings attached?”
He laughed. “I’m pretty sure that pocket knife would be able to cut through if there were. So no, no strings attached. It’s not like you're making a deal with the devil. This is a free offer. I would take it if I were you. I don’t give them out often.”
“Okay.” Persephone took his hand and they stood together. With a new realization, she laughed to herself. “I just remembered, I don’t even know your name.”
At the time, Persephone didn’t know this, but with Satan, her love life would get a lot less complicated and a little—a lot—actually better.
At least until he accuses her of cheating on him and they get divorced but that’s not until like two millennium from now.
Which brings us back to the present…
The freezing wind blew straight through Diana’s clothes and she shivered. “So that’s how you meet Satan?”
“Yes, and over time we fell in love,” Persephone said. “Same space plus two attractive people equals relationship. The smaller the space, the quicker the relationship starts. You could lock your crush in an elevator for instant romance.”
“You really do give the worst romance advice.”
“Perhaps.” Persephone shrugged and cupped a hand to her cheek and her eyes fell to the ground, but it seemed like she was looking at something else. Diana scanned the dirt for a second flashback, but no such thing appeared. “But it worked. And it was love.” She shook it off. “Then, I noticed Hades was acting funny. Found out he was planning on invading the human realm for whatever. Started getting info to stop him. Satan thought the time I was spending was cheating with him. I tried to explain, but things got heated. Long story short: we’re divorced now.”
“But, you couldn’t just talk things out with him?” Daemon asked.
“I can’t have a relationship with a man who refuses to trust or fully listen to my explanations, now can I? Communication is everything in relationships.”
“That might be the best piece of love advice I’ve ever heard you give,” Diana said.
“Communication and sexy lingerie,” Persephone added. “And bunny ears.”
“Annnnnddd I take it back. Thanks for that. So, what do we do from here?”
“We? Honey, you’re a teenager and he’s a dunderwhelp. No offense.”
“I don’t even know what that is,” Daemon said.”
“Which further proves my point,” Persephone said. “You’re just kids. You can’t face a god like Hades. I’ll handle this. I already screwed my second marriage over this—I have to see it through. It’s taken me a while since I can only investigate his work on the surface for six months out of the year, but I’ve finally tracked him down to somewhere in Saint Richards High School. Though why a god of the underworld would want anything to do with an American public high school in Florida is beyond my comprehens—oh I hear it now.”
“It’s hell on earth,” Diana said. “But speaking of hell, where have you been living during the winter?”
“Marrying Satan was different from Hades. A lot less sheltering—though I was a lot younger back then. Only a couple of centuries. I got to explore more of the hell realms on trips and befriended a few people. Usually, I spend my winters with Miru, the goddess of the Polynesian underworld. She’s cool—except for the centipedes she eats.” Persephone shivered. “She says it’s an acquired taste, though why anyone would want to acquire it is beyond my understanding,” Persephone explained. “But here’s the main takeaway from this story: I want you kids to stay out of this. I can handle this and you’ll only get in my way.”
“But—” Diana began before Daemon slapped a hand over mouth and pulled her aside behind a crumbling stone pillar of the Greek temple.
“What are you doing?” He whispered. “This is our out. We don’t have to do anything and our problems will be solved. Besides, you and I both know we’re out of our element with this. We tried to stop Persephone with a shirt soaked in melted holy ice cream, I’m not sure where we’re really going with this.”
Diana's fingers fiddled together. “It just feels weird… like it’s too easy. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
“There is if you steal it. And I am a master thief.”
She exhaled. “Fine.”
Emerging from behind the pillar, Daemon said, “Good news, we ha—”
“You’ve decided to leave the hard work to the god. I know. I heard your conversation. You stood behind a half-broken pillar. Hardly sound proof. Though, this agreement is fantastic. I already have a plan set in motion and by the end of the month, everything will be taken care of.”
Daemon nudged Diana. “See?”
“Hmm, well, Hades will be taken care of, but you’ll still be trapped in the human realm since I won’t make a deal with you,” Diana said smugly.
“Humans have pizza. This isn’t as big of a problem as you make it out to be.”
Diana blew out a breath of defeated air.
Persephone clapped her hands to get the attention back on her. “Glad you could work out, whatever it is you have going on—I don’t really care enough to pay attention. Regardless, I’ll teleport you back to crummy, humid Florida, and we’ll part w—” She said as a black chariot arose from a flaming pentagon portal in the center of the Greek temple. “Well, that’s probably not good.”
Two skeleton animals pulled the chariot towards Persephone who waved her hands up to grow a row of thick ivy to defend herself. Daemon grabbed Diana and tackled her to the ground, shielding her with his body. He glanced up at the intruder, only to recognize that Colgate grin. Satan.
Fire burned through the ivy and a pale hand snatched Persephone’s wrist. Satan yanked Persephone into his chariot and took her through the pentagon portal. Within a minute, the entire experience was over the portal closed. But the damage was done. Persephone—the only person capable enough to stop Hades—was gone.
“Persephone’s been kidnapped,” Diana breathed. She pushed Daemon off her and stood.
“Satan took her back to Christian hell,” Daemon said. “What are we going to do now?”
Diana paused to think. “We need to get to Christian hell and get her out of it.”
“Getting there’s not as easy as you make it out to be. Why do you think I’ve been stuck here with you?”
“We can get there. If… If I make a deal with you.”
Meanwhile, in Christian hell…
In the familiar throne room of Satan’s palace Persephone stared at her second ex-husband, unamused with pursed lips. She sighed as she waited for him to speak. Kidnapped and taken to the underworld, she thought, this is my first marriage all over again.