Chapter 9

Human women are strange creatures, driven by a sense of something that I can't explain, in spite of my struggling efforts to do so. In the best of days, a magic that can't seem to be controlled flows over them, and that magic touches everything that brings them happiness. In the worst of days, misfortune seeps into the pits of their hearts, and their minds. They are as giving as can be, yet, also as vindictive as the worst of demons. Like goddesses, they seem to follow a deeper calling, but unlike goddesses, they've no idea from where that calling comes from. They merely react to it...honestly, I've still no answer for that.

Occasionally, a strange feeling, one that I came to understand as lust, called to me.

Those times, I fear, were the worst. You see, I was caught between by upbringing, and my desire to give myself to the man I loved, even if he wasn't exactly around at the time. All I merely had to do was long for him, and my thoughts would travel to cherished memories. It was strange to me, to feel such arousal at the mere thought of him, and, strangely enough, as a mortal woman I had to fan the flames of those desires more than once.

In the times of his absence, it was my only solace.

I wish that so soon in our togetherness, I could chronicle times of a brood so large, that it would have our humble home constantly dancing to the pattering's of little feet. I'm almost positive such a thing would have made Keiichi unspeakably proud, however, I regret to say, that conceiving a child is not entirely as easy as the heavens make it out to be. In the heavens, we merely desire to procreate, and as soon as the reproductive act is finished, we normally feel some sort of confirmation that the desire went through…

That is to say, that Yggdrasil regulates the systems and program upon which our bodies function…and conceiving a child is much like uploading a new string of data into a goddess. It might take some of the magic out of the concept when I say that it is little more than a program…but, that is indeed, all that it is.

A program set forth by the system…

Using our angels as tethers for the fetus to grow and become one with the heavens, we can conceive by mere wish alone. Gender plays no role in the heavens, because as a ten dimensional beings, the truth is, we have no exact gender to speak of. When we choose to alter our forms into something mortals can understand, we often choose what is most logical and forthright. I choose a womanly appearance because it pleases me to do so. If I ever decided to change my form to function as a male, I could also do so without question...although, I'm sure my speech and actions would seem quite out of place...

We immortals merely look past these facts of our reproduction, as humans tend to overlook the gory details of how a mortal is born. It's merely a truth of our lives, just as it is for humans.

In any case, the string of events carried over with a sense of uneventful serenity…despite the difficulties of my sisters, which I will choose to omit from the chronicle at this time.

Keiichi endured another four long years of school, and that meant we both endured so long without particular intimacies. We were married during that time, though, we didn't consummate our union, as I insisted to maintain true to our promise. Upon his graduation and mastery degree, Keiichi found work in the automotive industry. His expertise landed him a corporate position, and that forced him into traveling for his employment.

During that hardship, I continued to get acclimated to the confusing ups and downs of mortal life. That is to say, I began to realize mortal women are bit crass, lacking perhaps, in greater understanding.

It was such a realization, I'm sure, that carried the weight my choice to become the very selfsame goddess as my mentors before me, practicing in the more sensual arts that creation so bespeaks…however, I can only say that my time spent as a human woman was not in vain…in fact, I will retain the clout to say, that it was because I lived and died as a human, that I chose to be the type of goddess that I am now, because such insight can't be given to everyone, and I feel I must share what I can.

Aphrodite teases me, since I once feared tutors such as herself…yet, she also says I am one of the best, and brightest students, the interpersonal arts program has ever seen.

-Belldandy, the whisperer in the wind. Norn of the Present. Goddess first class, specialization interpersonal arts and communion, trainee's license.

It was difficult trying to deal with such a wild young goddess, who, Bastet often equated to a little lamb, shy and afraid to be away from anything she found comforting. Skuld put up so much of a fight, in fact, that eventually the rest of the family was allowed to return to the shrine. It seemed a nearly fruitless battle otherwise. Skuld was aloof when her older sisters weren't around, and, it was no question as to why.

Belldandy always had that air about her. Mothering, gentle, kind, and willing to take others into her arms unquestioningly, as they fought through confusion and great difficulty. She was also very strange, liberal perhaps, in the ways of love and emotion. It was after all, because of her feelings, odd as they were, that she was human now.

It was such qualities that attracted the elder goddesses of creation to consider that one day, Belldandy would be best suited for such a specialization that required such acceptance, and often exceedingly large amounts of wherewithal. Until then, Belldandy would simply have to make do with her lacking abilities that her human form forced her into.

Aphrodite sighed at that, eyeing Skuld's door with trepidation. The past four years had been difficult, and she had considered it would be at least another decade at this rate before she'd be offered the chance to work with the girl. This sort of fear wasn't uncommon. After all, there weren't many with the power to simply yank a young deity from the back of her master…however, Skuld was also not yet old enough to understand how to protect Nobel Scarlet from such a thing.

She also had no true power in which to cast a constant barrier with, and was thus left utterly defenseless.

It wasn't as if Aphrodite was surprised, but, she was amused by the difficult little goddesses, who seemed to avoid them at all cost. The squeaky wheel theory was a proven way of making the young ones come around, and so, Bastet and Aphrodite took the time to laze around just outside of Skuld's room. Sometimes they would natter on about useless things, and others they would try to talk to Skuld, but no matter what they did, they were sure to keep half an eye on the difficult goddess at all times.

In her catlike form, the panther flicked her tail, a deep purr coming sensually from within her throat as she enjoyed the afternoon sun. The day was one to be greeted, not shunned. "You know, child, the others are about to leave on a picnic. Does that not trouble you?"

"Belldandy and Keiichi are going." Skuld replied bitterly, leaning on the door frame. She wouldn't give the elder goddesses the pleasure of coming out of hiding. "If Urd's going, she's just going to harass them."

"Was that not a game you also take part in?" The elder goddess asked, intrigued as she sprawled out lazily when Aphrodite began to stroke her back and sides.

"No." Skuld shot back with indignity. "Not anymore."

"You know Skuld, if you were a true goddess that you should be, you would sense it by now." The panther eyed the mortal man, who was carrying everything to a parked car out front, a more reasonable purchase he decided on after he taught Belldandy how to drive a car. He knew that one day, it would be invaluable. Still, he kept his bike as well, as it was one of his most prized possessions. "It's so strong, after all, any goddess worth her salt would feel it."

"Sense what by now?" The youngest Norn asked, her interest winning out over her stubborn whim.

She knew they were trying to provoke Skuld, but, their meaning wasn't lost on her either. Something distinct was floating around the shrine. "Good question." Urd said then leaning forward conspiratorially from her place in the corner. "Just what exactly are we supposed to sense about Keiichi?"

"His essence." It was Aphrodite who spoke. "For several years, your sister has followed the guidance of her own mortal whims, but, it has only just been recently that she has discovered the truth. She can't simply wait for the earth to spin at its own pace. A woman like Belldandy has urges, and they all center on that one man."

Bastet nodded. "It was only a matter of time before she understood. Though, I would have thought it would have been far sooner than now."

"No…" Aphrodite murmured, sipping on some wine from her personal vineyard. "Not Belldandy. If it was Urd, I would never question the logic, but never Belldandy." As if something distant came to mind, Aphrodite chuckled. "Even as a mortal, she's too pure, even in her scandalous whims." Then she offer Urd a knowing look. "And make no mistake, she does have them….rather strongly in fact."

"Why would that change so suddenly then?" Urd felt confused now, trying to detect that which she couldn't, feeling inadequate.

"Mortals are finicky little creatures." Bastet said with a purr. "They have no rhyme or reason for their actions most of the time. That's why we deities look out for the poor little darlings, so that they don't harm the greater creation by accident."

Aphrodite merely rolled her eyes at that. "Really now, Belldandy is a goddess at heart, she's not some mere mortal we have to baby. She understands perfectly well what her actions could cause." In fact, Aphrodite was sure that was half of the reason Belldandy had been so cautious up until now. "Mortality is a frightening thing, and even though she still has much to learn, these past four years have proven to her the truth. Without a doubt, she is allowed to live such a life."

"Didn't she trust our dad?" Skuld asked, peeking out from her bedroom. "Didn't he say that she could live with Keiichi until her dying day?"

"As a mortal, that concept is fleeting." Aphrodite told the girl, feeling a string of hope tug at her heart. She desired to pull the girl out of hiding, and felt this might be a good chance to do so. "The ultimate force could kill either one of them at any moment. If it deems that it should, it simply will."

Bastet nodded. "While being a human is liberating, I'm sure Belldandy was quite fearful to anger the forces that be. Even we are unable to control them."

"Now she isn't?" Skuld murmured. "That doesn't make any sense."

"It makes a world of sense. Consider those four years training of her own, Skuld… training that uplifted her from her fears, and redeemed her from her inability to stand as a mortal woman in this day and age." They watched as the woman in question nearly skipped out of the house.

"Keiichi, are you ready?" Belldandy had asked, clad in a sundress and carrying the last of the picnic supplies. There was indeed something different about her as she flitted about their home, collecting the last items needed for their afternoon getaway.

"Pretty much." Keiichi said in reply, though he, unlike his wife, wasn't changed in any way…at least he didn't seem to be. Keiichi was still plain old Keiichi, and he was entirely predictable. Right down to the flowers Urd saw him hide away in the picnic basket as a surprise…a blush tinging his cheeks as he did so.

Urd could only grin and shake her head. "I think I'll leave them alone for now and go for a walk of my own."

"Paying that demon a visit again, are you?" Aphrodite asked, eyeing the trees with suspicion that was laced with a fair amount of good humor. "You know that we can sense her expertly. You might as well invite her in for tea."

"You-know-who wouldn't like that." Urd said with a shake of her head. "I'm going to go out there instead."

"Oh really, for the love of all that is creation, you fear her too much, Urd. If your mother so dares to cast a snarky tone at me, I'll bathe her tongue in the hellfires of her people." Aphrodite huffed, the mention of Hild was the least of any elder goddess's worries. That went double for Aphrodite, who had absolutely no fear when it came to the ruler of the hells. "You aren't sleeping with that little demon in the trees, are you?"

"What?!" Urd exclaimed, half shocked and half outraged. "Me, sleep with Mara?" Urd's mind froze at the mere thought. "No!" She shook her head. "Almighty in the heavens, what made you think that?"

The blond goddess shook her head. "Go play poker with your little friend, and don't you worry about my stuffy old conclusions." Aphrodite said, shooing Urd away, rather than try to dig into the personal details. Urd did make her escape quite quickly after that, and it was during such a time that Aphrodite turned to the youngest member of the house again. "I don't suppose I could interest you in some ice cream, now could I?"

Skuld shook her head and closed the door, hiding away again, causing Aphrodite to sigh, and Bastet to purr amused with the goings on. She watched as the husband and wife got into the car and drove away, and in doing so, sealing their own fate.

She had promised to wait until Keiichi said that he was ready, but, even if she wanted it to be that way, she had to admit how much she loved him…and, in addition, just how much she desired his touch. The ways of a mortal's body had finally caught up to her, and she had felt yearnings of passion for quite a while now. Her mind toying with the lewd thoughts that she allowed herself to recall, when and only when, Keiichi wasn't looking.

She had also, more than a few times, felt sensitive to the call of her own body, and, shyly explored her own depths in an attempt to quell the horrible ache that not being with Keiichi sometimes provided. The shame that had flowed over her heart after her first encounter with that had been unsettling.

Belldandy had instantly found herself being quelled by Aphrodite, who, while laughing at the implication said she had taught Urd to do such a thing long ago, and had wondered if and when Belldandy would also require such a lesson. The blond haired goddess had then gone on to regale Belldandy of the normalcy of the act, encouraging the very confused mortal woman to continue to do such a thing whenever her need to do so arouse.

When that truth came to light, Belldandy decided to pay more attention to the mortal women around her, and what they seemed to do in their day to day lives…and, so help her, she began to follow the same little patterns here and there…and, even though she wouldn't normally speak of it with Urd, Belldandy had actually made a few obscure purchases while no one else was looking.

It wasn't as odd for her, as some might have assumed it would be. The heaven was a place where scantily clad immortals were never questioned, and, although Belldandy chose to be conservative, she could have just as easily walked around naked when it suited her desires to do so. Surely several goddesses already did the same, and so, she thought nothing of the attire that so drew in her attention.

She had a modest collection of negligee's, corsets, and tantalizing bra and panty sets for just such the occasion to seduce Keiichi when she felt it to be the proper time. It was hiding the collection that made things difficult.

That's why Belldandy found it ironic that the first time Keiichi deflowered her as a mortal, it was in their hidden spot in the forest. She hadn't been prepared for him to offer his advances, but had been all too willing to give into them instantly, despite that her plans were dashed to hell.

She certainly found nothing at all attractive in the plain white bra, and cotton underwear she'd had on under her sundress. Yet, she suspected he was far too lost within his own emotions to care about what she had on anyway, as she had no idea where her sundress had disappeared to during their frolic.

Covered in sweat, breathless, and perhaps just a little sore from the raw passion they gave to each other, it was the best she could do to rest her head upon Keiichi's chest. Listening to the pounding of his heart, and enjoying the rise and fall of his chest, she knew it was meant to be that way. "I missed this." She murmured, taking comfort in him.

"Yeah." Keiichi agreed, his fingers drawing patterns on her bare back. "Me too, but we're better off now than we were before. I thought, it might not be so bad anymore to start thinking about family." If he was truly honest with himself, it was his job, and the traveling he often found himself doing, that led him to several long, lonely weekends for his mind to fixate about Belldandy.

"Mortal children grow quickly." Belldandy said, a tinge fearful of that understanding. "Their childhood fades away in the mere blink of an eye it seems."

"I guess." Keiichi shrugged. "I never thought about it that way."

"They do." Belldandy laughed quietly. "In the heavens, children age with time. Here, there's no time to enjoy childhood. At least, that's how I've always felt." Then with her own silly little shrug she turned to him. "The dilatation of time doesn't help mind you, because it only makes life down here seem all the more fleeting when a goddess is merely a spectator."

"How much of our lives do the heaven's watch over?" Keiichi wondered aloud.

"You wouldn't want to know." Belldandy told him.

The answer wouldn't give him comfort. The heavens knew exactly what she was up to…and she knew that it was very likely that a seer gazed upon them constantly. Her life was on display to the heavens as a person of interest, she was sure…and as a mortal, she knew she wouldn't be given an ounce of peace…and, while making love to a man she felt deeply for wouldn't be the talk of heaven, she was positive someone was keeping an eye on her either way.

A deep blush at the thought of just what a seer would find, if they gazed into an orb, skittered across her face. Instead of telling Keiichi that little detail, knowing it would bother him terribly, she merely nipped her lower lip, and called to mind something she'd once heard the older goddesses speak of, and how easily it rendered even the strongest gods into putty.

In doing so, she wanted to try it on Keiichi, wondering if he could maintain the selfsame stamina that a god might. She grinned a silly, playful smile as she allowed him to feel the depths of her desire for him once more, hoping to ignite within him a deep passion once more.

It wasn't enough that she was a dutiful wife, or, so she felt. Making Keiichi lunch for his long workdays wasn't a chore, it was a hobby. A joy that she just so happened to do every single day. A man had to eat, and if he was going to find a meal either way, she preferred to send with him just a little reminder of just how deeply she cared for him. A little note here, a small baked good there...she spared no small amount of detail.

Some argued that she spoiled Keiichi, but the truth was, he made a habit of doing the same for her. If the specialty tea ordered from England was any indication, Keiichi had his mind on Belldandy just as much. He wasn't one for surprising her, as most of his gifts were steadfast and practical. A new tea set that Belldandy had been eyeing for months was finally giftwrapped in a box and deposited on the kitchen table with his signature choice of flowers, and that was what she had woken up to during one of his weekend departures, as he explained how much he would miss her during his few days away from home.

She considered that as she reclined back in the tub, one rainy afternoon. Keiichi had left for another weekend trip, something he did every other month. This time he'd lavished her with bath salts, aroma candles, and a good book he knew she would enjoy. It was gifts like these, she enjoyed the most, and while Keiichi was away, she intended to relax as much as she could in his absence.

She had no sooner turned to the first page, that all sense of relaxation slipped away from her reach, and with a sigh, she closed the book and put it off to the side, before welcoming whoever it seemed to be knocking at the door.

"You toy with fire, child. Oh, the uproar you will cause! Truth be told, it has us ladies of the courts tittering in delight." Aphrodite laughed as she waltzed into the room. "What's with the modesty, Belldandy?"

The mortal had grabbed the nearest towel, covering herself up, not minding that she was soaking it through. "I would be inclined to ask why you're lacking it, but, that would be silly, now wouldn't it?"

"Indeed it would." Aphrodite nodded, as she flung the sopping towel away. "Now then, stand up, I want to get a good look at you."

"Here?" Belldandy asked, wondering what on earth was going on. "Now of all times?"

"Indeed, my dear." Aphrodite said, helping Belldandy to stand, not letting her deny such a request. "Yes, yes…that does nicely." The goddess remarked, seeing something that Belldandy clearly couldn't, as adept fingertips cast light into the darkness of the unseen depths a mortal woman had. Aphrodite nodded approvingly. "You are of womanly make."

Belldandy ducked back into the water upon hearing that. "Aphrodite, what is this about?" She said as a blush overtook her. She knew the goddess could be impulsive, but this was crossing the line into invasive, even for a goddess such as herself.

The blond waggled an eyebrow. "I know what you were doing in the woods, child. I've waited long enough to confirm Minerva's thoughts on the matter."

"Oh, heavens." Belldandy begged, embarrassed. "Please keep that to yourself. Mortals have no idea just how much we see from the skies above."

"Bell, dear." Aphrodite said as she knelt down to the mortal woman who was trying to hide away from her gaze. "Forgive me my womanly vice. You are my pupil, it is only natural I fear for you, and do what your mother and grandmother are unable."

"And why, of all things, would they want to search my person?" Belldandy asked, baffled by the intrusion of the blond haired goddess, even now.

"Belldandy, I know that this has probably eluded you, but not all mortal women are born able to be fruitful." Aphrodite said hesitantly. "Frigga and Anzasu worried that even if you became human, you would not be able to have the true meaning of your wish granted. We were concerned, you see, that the ultimate force might still deny you such a thing."

"I was not aware that such a thing was an outcome the system force would consider." Belldandy frowned.

"Humans have many plights, child. It was, and will always be a probability." Aphrodite said with a grim honesty. "When Minerva reported seeing you make love to Keiichi, Frigga was overcome with worry, especially given our goddess nature. We know all the system and our own desires. We are made aware when they are met."

"And, I would not know, as it is not a mortal woman's ability to know. We are not permitted until after the heavens approve the mortal woman in question." When the reality of what Aphrodite was looking for struck Belldandy, the woman became somber, fearing to ask what the answer was. "So, then am I able to conceive a child?"

"You were pushed to the front line of the system. You are blessed by the heavens to be able to do such a thing without question. Your mother and grandmother saw it done as soon as the seers orb spoke of your physical union with Keiichi as a mortal female." Aphrodite nodded. "I have no doubts, that you will fulfill that destiny in your own good time, though that time has not come today, I assure you, it will."

"Is that what the seer's orb bespeaks?" Belldandy asked then, wondering if she would be allowed such privileged information.

"It is what the weaver of fate herself foretells, though none of us know when, or how." Aphrodite murmured quietly. "Minerva and Hera merely passed along the information to Frigga, who as I suspect is harassing the daylights out of the everyone in the heavens, if your grandmother is as giddy as I believe her to be."