Chapter 27.

What the Moon Saw (Reprise)

Not a few cycles had passed by in the world when the Moon next spied upon the couple. It was winter now, and She threw her light over the 4th Kingdom tonight, passing the great castle, over the fields and orchards, coming finally to the small but well maintained cottage on the edge of the forest. The forest had a new warden now, She knew, but this one never shot magical arrows at anyone. In fact he was well liked and respected by everyone, residents and visitors alike. She took a moment to study the place, seeing that it was comfortably isolated but not unapproachable by carriage or horseback.

Alongside the house there was a small vegetable patch, with enough growing in it to feed but one person only, she guessed. Outside there were well tended fields growing fat and healthy lambs. These lambs were safely locked away for the night in a large barn and She smiled to see the elaboarate locks and bolts securing the place. No doubt the keys for such locks resided in the pocket of the apron of the mistress of the house at all times. There was a small carriage in the ajoining shed, a woodpile well stocked and the front garden overflowed with clipped hedges, flowers and fruit trees. All in all, a prosperous place, she decided.

She drew near the house itself. Entering through the round window in the front door, she saw a large and inviting living space with soft couches and a new looking rocking chair. A pile of books cluttered an old desk, next to a stack of parchments and an inkpot. The kitchen she passed by with its well stocked larder and oversized oven. She drifted up the stairs, slinking under the doorway to the bedroom where the house occupants lay sleeping. The Goddess observed the fair Virginia, who slept restlessly, her protruding belly preventing her from getting truly comfortable.

She spent some time communing silently with Virginia's mate. He was wide awake as he normally would be on full moon night, but his attention was elsewhere completely tonight. He would not worship her under the moon this cycle, She thought. He lay curled up next to Virginia, his hands splayed carefully over her bulging form. She sensed, just as he did, the very fine tremors that passed through the uterine walls, faint enough so that the mother would not yet feel them, but unmistakeable nonetheless. She watched his nostrils flare quietly and she knew he had dectected the subtle odour of birth waters. He smiled sweetly and happily to himself.

The moon withdrew, happy with the knowledge of what She would see when She rose over the horizon tomorrow night. Though she hated to wish it on the girl, She secretly hoped she would get to be there when the time came. The Moon left them alone, sauntering off across the sky.

The next night, things at the little house had changed dramatically. Excited, the Moon drew near to see. Outside the house paced back and forth a man she knew to be Virginia's father Tony. He looked vaguely ill and he rambled on about nothing in particular to a very bored looking golden retriever. Inside, sitting around the fire was the King Wendell and various members of his entourage, including no less than a small orchestra, a bevy of cooks, a dandy man going about with swatches of different coloured cloth, and very put out looking midwife. The orchestra played soothing tunes which didn't quite drown out the sounds of hard labour coming from the bedroom, the cooks produced pot after pot of boiled water, the dandy man was considering recovering the lounge and the midwife stood scowling in the hallway.

Suddenly there seemed to be some commotion and excitement in the bedroom and the Moon hurried up the outside wall to peer in the window, just in time to see Wolf calmy and competently deliver his son from the straining body of his fair Virginia. The new parents stared wordlessly at their new baby as he squirmed and kicked in his fathers hands. He coughed and mewed, clearing his tiny lungs and Wolf handed the babe to Virginia who put him to her breast, smiling in wonder as he suckled. Wolf tied off and bit through the cord and their infant was on his own at last. His father backed towards the door, releasing the latch and allowing the unhappy midwife entry at last. She marched in, glaring at Wolf with an "I'm in charge now!" look on her face, but even her expression melted at the sight of the happy new family. Wolf took the babe from Virginia as the midwife tended to her, holding him close as he whispered the secret wolf blessings in his son's tiny ear. After Virginia had been washed and made comfortable, the couple sat together on their bed, receiving their many guests and showing off the newest member of their family. Wolf and Virginia had only eyes for the babe, but no one minded.

Downstairs, a party started in celebration and much wine and dancing ensued. The Moon waited patiently outside, knowing what was due to Her. After a while, the front door opened and Wolf and Virginia came sneaking out of the house, carrying the new Cub. They stood in the full light of her rays. Wolf deftly undressed the infant and held him up naked to the Goddess. Silently she Blessed the babe as he lay quietly looking up at her. Wolf then carefully flipped the Cub, proudly showing her his tiny crest and tail. A perfect little imitation of his father, this Cub was. He squeaked at the cool air on his skin and Wolf handed him back to his mother, who held him close to her with surety and confidence.

Wolf then stepped away a little and ligting up his head to the Moon, began to howl his infant's birth song. Some distance away, she heard another song begin in recognition, and then yet further off, another answered it. She smiled to herself. This news would be all over the Kingdoms by morning, She knew. The happy trio stood listening for a while before turning back to their little house once more. Many more greetings and blessings awaited them. Wolf sat contentedly on the lounge before the fire, and Virginia and Cub sat beside him.

Outside, in the forests of the 10 Kingdoms, the wolfsong continued.

The End.