It was dark, stormy night. Well, actually it wasn’t, but most stories about babies being born begin on dark stormy nights, and this tale is not about to the be the exception to that rule. Stereotypes exist for a reason. So now that we have that out of the way, we can focus on the important parts of the story. A baby was being born, who cares about the weather?
So anyways, on this crystal clear, starry summer night, there was a fairy queen in labour. Titania, or as her friends called her, Nia, was currently fighting for breath in a formerly quiet grove of trees. There was a pool reflecting the moonlight to light up weeping willows, beautiful tendrils making shushing sounds as they stirred a dozen still dragonflies from their slumbers. I say formerly quiet because she was, as previously mentioned, having a baby. Her ribcage felt like it was clawing it’s way through her lungs and out her throat. The pressure in her hips and the weight pressing on legs was agony, a torment that didn’t come in waves like she was told it would, but was rather excruciatingly permanent. Sweat on her brow, she fell to her hands and knees, screaming and screaming at the gods, at Oberon, at anyone she could even vaguely consider responsible for her torment.
Tearing the dress from her body, she flung back her arms and hair with a yell and a cry so loud it shook the Earth. Her hands behind her, she clawed at the damp grass and soil, legs now splayed. She didn’t pray for it to be over, she prayed for it never to have begun. She felt the completion of her journey coming near, the fulfillment of her potential and the grandeur of motherhood ungracefully enslaving her. Pain and pleasure in her heart at war, a purely pointless paradise if she existed powerless and alone.
She was transforming under the full moon. Some say that pain is only weakness leaving the body, but pain is a child leaving your body and being literally birthed into their own. Childbirth and ladydeath, the creation of mother and destruction of maiden in unstoppable, grinding, frenzied change.
But let’s step back for a minute. We’re right inside this intense moment of Nia’s life. But even though it felt like it, that was not the whole world. Let’s stop for a second and ask what exactly was happening to Oberon while his wife was giving birth? Was fatherhood an awe-inspiring, life-changing moment for him as motherhood was for her? Not exactly. Because you see, Oberon didn’t even know that Nia was pregnant, she hadn’t seen fit to tell him. King of the fairies he might have been, but he was not exactly a responsible, trustworthy leader. He was, in the moment of Nia’s transition between worlds, dreaming. He lay sleeping off a drunken stupor in the arms of not just one, but three nymphs of varying skills and talents. He wan’t thinking of Nia at all, some would even say that he wasn’t thinking of anyone other than himself. Oberon’s main concern always was, always would be, Oberon.
Nia was nothing to him, and luckily for Nia he was nothing to her either. He was not the father of her child, even though it was his seed inside her that had grown. Because, who should claim the flowers blooming from rosebushes?
Do those blossoms belong to the gardener who has tended and watered those plants since they were only saplings-in-arms? Or do they belong to the careless sparrow whose droppings after careless gorging grew on fertile land? Oberon lived a life of pure illusion, and as punishment the Fates had decided that he must go without. Having greedily seized an opportunity to satisfy himself, he would miss out on the chance to experience anything than his own misguided fantasies of the world. Let him have three nymphs if he wanted them, Nia had something of much greater value. She had integrity, love and honour, and she rested quietly in her femininity with pride as she drew ever closer to her destiny.
When the transformation was complete, Nia washed herself in the pool and suckled the baby at her breasts. Feeling tired, she looked to the sky and quietly wished for love and peace to guide their way. Lying wrapped in the torn shreds of her dress, she watched the constellations slowly evaporate in the sky as the rich red dawn starting brightening the sky. A last lingering look at Orion’s belt spurred her to close her eyes and grow her heart as tears dripped to the ground.
She prayed in that terrifying, friendless moment to the goddess Diana. Not a goddess of motherhood, but a goddess of virginity. Not a goddess of love, but a goddess of hunting. Not a goddess of peace, but a goddess of war. An unconventional choice, for sure, but it was an unconventional situation. How do we decide in our most low moments where succour is to be found? It’s a decision of the heart, and sometimes unconventional situations need unconventional helpers to be solved.
And so Diana looked down upon Nia and her child, and as they lay there in the dewdrops of the morning , and she blessed them.
First, Diana sent deer of all kinds to guard and comfort them. She sent a tiny little fawn to cuddle the babe, and a herd of angry reindeer with frightening antlers to ward off any man who would dare to interfere with this sacred moment. She sent a grandmother moose, stately and grand, to comfort and guide.
Then, Diana sent birds to the ends of the earth to fetch the juiciest and most choice fruits and berries to feed them. The parrots brought pomegranates, the lorikeets brought lychees, the sparrows brought starfruit and the bluebirds brought blackberries. And they dropped their precious cargo in Nia’s lap, then circled around her in a glorious aviary, a whirlwind of colour and harmony to guide Nia’s helper to her.
Lastly, Diana sent a woman. For though she is the goddess of virginity, Diana is not the goddess of chastity. So, bearing blankets and cushions and fresh new swaddling cloths, a woman walked into that grove, bells on her sandals tinkling with the early bright steps that only morning people can manage. She held her posture with grace and perfect form, a very imposing six feet in height, long brown tresses piled in a haphazard mess atop her head, adding to her impressive but very warm mien. Her body was strong, thighs of thunder and breasts bountiful. She had eyes of the purest green, lips the colour of pale pink apples and a nose to rival that of Caesar. Seeing Nia, she pursed those perfect lips and worry was apparent on her fair but crinkled brow.
Raising an eyebrow, this avenging angel of a woman dropped her precious bundle of fabric and clapped her hands twice. The animals immediately parted, respectfully, to make way for what was obviously the highest caliber of lover Diana could offer Nia in her moment of greatest need. She picked back up a soft red blanket, embroidered with roses, and stretched it over mother and child. She brushed back Nia’s damp locks from her face and leaned in to kiss her, soft lips meeting each other for the first time in too long. Not aggresive or demanding, but yielding and gentle bliss. “I have searched for you many a year, woman. Is this my child you are holding?”
“O Hippolyta, my love!” Nia whispered, then reached up to kiss her again and again, the babe snuggled safe between soft chests. “Thank you, for coming back to me.” Arms reached out in a lover’s embrace, holding fast to true love’s touches until Nia drew back, exhausted. So then Hippolyta pretended, for a moment, to still be angry with her sweetheart. She leaned back on one arm and smiled, wagged a finger at her lover and frowned ever-so-slightly, delight sparking in her eyes – so happy and relieved to be reunited, she didn’t care that she was giving away the game.
But such quarrels between loves are a private matter, so we shall leave these two to their moment of bliss under Diana’s auspices. If I stay to narrate much longer, Hippolyta is likely to come after me and whip me with her belt. Which while definitely enjoyable, would probably put me in Nia’s bad books. I’d very much prefer to keep my ears as they are, thank you very much.
Do you want to know what happened next? Well so do I, and if you ever should come across either that blessed grove or those two lovers please let me know. I suspect we may never find out, though, because Hippolyta is pretty determined to protect her family, and Oberon (though slow of head) would have eventually figured out that his kidnapped fairy queen had vanished. As I mentioned before, he was not famous for being responsible and trustworthy. It’s entirely possible that Nia and Hippolyta spent a lot of energy trying to avoid his grasping clutches as he reached out possesive and greedy hands for a child that wasn’t his and we wouldn’t want to him to catch wind of their movements. With that said though, perhaps I can give you one more hint about where to look. After all, you’re trustworthy aren’t you?
When you go looking for them, look for the child named Diana. She’s singing a song about constellations in the morning light, and she has hair the colour of a dark and stormy night. Her eyes are sparkling with the starlight she inherited from the man who is not her father, king of the fairies. She’s smiling somewhere eating pale pink apples on a soft red blanket, embroidered with roses. A dozen dragonflies zip around her as she finds her way home through the forest to her mothers. She’s running free in the moonlight, bare feet racing on dewy grass.