Title: The Adventures of Ishtar, Goddess on the Rise
Fandom: Good Omens
Story Summary: Being a relating of the story that wasn't told: that of the nanny, the saint, and the ordinary boy. Nanny Ashtoreth/Francis, Crowley/Aziraphale. M.
Chapter Summary: In which our chief characters are introduced, gardening commences, and Warlock receives conflicting messages. PG-13.
Warnings: Sacrilege, het (yes, het in a Good Omens fic, and not gender-bending het either), extensive sexual content, an ancient Mesopotamian goddess of sex and war (though they're often the same), and slash. This chapter: nothing more than a little sexual tension, my pets.
Author's Note: The more feedback I get, the more likely I'll be to continue it. I'm quite fond of the premise, but the execution is another matter entirely. Tips and concrit are always welcome, as are rants against my blasphemous mind, as long as they're kept concise. Oh, and I already know I'm going to hell, dears, no need to tell me again.
Disclaimer: Crowley and Aziraphale aren't mine. Nanny Ashtoreth and Saint Francis of Assisi aren't mine either, although I'll be . . . expanding somewhat on their Good Omens canon character. Anyway, it's all Neil's and Terry's.
1. Three Prologues
It all started on the second day.
On the first day, when the nanny was introduced to the gardener, she raised one eyebrow and he nodded imperceptibly, each acknowledging to the other the necessity of their co-operation and indicating quite clearly that neither was particularly pleased with the situation.
The second day was different.
Nanny Ashtoreth had the morning free, which was just as well, since Rover had been making trouble with the neighbour's cat, and said neighbour remained unmoved by Nanny Ashtoreth's comment that at least there wouldn't be kittens. Once she arrived at the Dowlings', she was forced to spend a highly unpleasant hour reading to an infant who, she suspected, was looking unfocusedly disinterested on purpose, just to irritate her. She avenged her pride by resurrecting the juicy, fleshy, half-forgotten bits of the fairy stories to traumatise his tiny mind, then felt a bit pathetic.
Once the little demon—half-demon, she reminded herself conscientiously—had finally nodded off, she moved to the window seat that looked out onto the gardens and removed from her tiny purse a large wad of grey wool and a set of deadly-looking 1.0mm knitting needles.
She began to knit. As she went, she glared out the window into the middle distance. One got the distinct feeling that, had the sun been out, she would have stared directly at it until it set out of sheer embarrassment.
Outside the window, someone began to sing.
It was not good singing. Truth be told, it wasn't even so much singing as it was humming with a few words, such as 'da', 'dee', and 'dum', tossed in every few beats. Also, it was off-key.
Nanny Ashtoreth lowered her haughty, unfocused gaze and saw the gardener.
He was sitting cross-legged in the dirt, the fallow dirt—the dirt that had, at least, been fallow yesterday. His eyes were closed, and his fists lay loosely on the ground, half-buried in soil. He sat there, unmoving, as before him the soil was turned and furrowed, an invisible hand carefully crafting each row.
Nanny Ashtoreth watched him for a while, face expressionless. She watched him finish the first perfect row, open his eyes, and nod in approval.
Nanny Ashtoreth dropped her knitting.
As the gardener began the second row, she closed her eyes, and remembered, and shivered, and smiled.
But, no, Francis would say later, that wasn't when it began, surely! Surely it was later, after the boy's second birthday1, when it was one of Nanny's afternoons off, and Warlock came home sobbing from nursery school because one of the bigger boys had hit him and taken away his favourite truck, and he couldn't do anything about it because he was too little to fight; and Francis had steered him over to the most peaceful part of the garden, which smelt of evergreen although it was populated mainly by petunias, and had gently chided him and taught him about Gandhi and King and the Path of Non-Violence.
The boy had gone away quite satisfied. Nevertheless, he had reported the truck incident to Nanny the next morning, when he was playing outside in his little sandbox, close to where Francis was sitting in the garden.
"Don't worry, darling," Nanny had told him, smiling glassily. "You'll be big and strong very, very soon, and then those horrible boys will be sorry, won't they." It was not a question.
Warlock's tiny brow furrowed. "But . . . but Nanny," he said, "Fwancis the gardener says dat wevenge sowves nuffing an' viowence is for da viowent an', an' hitting people is bad." He whispered this last part, sounding scandalised.
And Nanny Ashtoreth had smiled widely at that, and she'd gathered the boy into her arms and put her chin on his head and, looking directly at Francis, murmured, "Don't you listen to that . . . man, Warlock. You listen to me."
Francis, who'd looked up at the sudden quietness of her voice, saw her expression then. Something flickered at the base of his spine, and he stood up abruptly and walked inside.
They were both completely wrong, of course. Where it really began was a dusty back room and the bottom of a third bottle, a mad idea and a persuasive tongue, and--always--things unsaid.
Things are always left unsaid. For some reason, people seem to think it helps.
1. Francis was, naturally, never invited to the boy's parties, but he was always just outside in case the nanny tried anything funny. She was not at all amused when, on his third birthday, the pet scorpion she had procured for Warlock mysteriously became a well-mannered parakeet overnight.