Hello there!! I'm back, with yet another Egypt and Greece fic. This one also features Rome, Ancient Egypt (Aegyptus), and Ancient Greece (Graecia), and is based on the fan theory that Rome is Greece and Egypt's father.
Warning: This fic implies sex, mentions pregnancy and childbirth, though neither is elaborated on, and is just under 11,000 words long. Not to mention, there is very little historical accuracy here (but who needs that?). Human names used for Greece (Heracles) and Egypt (Gupta). There is no explicit content whatsoever, but if you feel squeamish about any of the aforementioned subjects, then tread with caution.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia.
One Big Happy
One Big Happy
Aegyptus was amused, although she wasn't about to admit it openly. Graecia was obviously suffering from the heat of the desert, but she had refused to acknowledge it, and was instead trying to take it in stride.
"Would you like some water?" The older, yet shorter woman asked, her tone innocent but her lips were turned up at the edges. Graecia caught sight of this, because she was used to Aegyptus' ways, and frowned.
"You're enjoying my suffering, aren't you?"
The Aegyptian woman's smile became more pronounced, and less sly. "A bit. When you put it like that it makes me sound heartless."
The Grecian woman laughed, and accepted the flask her companion held out to her, taking a sip of the cool Nile water and feeling a little better.
"Thank you, then, Aegyptus." "Of course."
The air was hot, but not weighted down with the heaviness that Graecia that was accustomed to, and because of that it somehow managed to be refreshing. The sun was setting, the atmosphere comforting in the glow of the red sunlight shining into the home. She was visiting Aegyptus, her closest confident, her fellow personified nation; her sister.
Lifting the wine glass from the table, she stirred it around a bit, feeling the other woman's gaze upon her.
The other woman seemed embarrassed at being caught, but the surprised expression vanished at soon as it'd come up.
"Nothing, nothing." She smiled. "It's just, I'm very happy to have the chance to spend time with you." The Aegyptian answered in her soft-spoken manner. Graecia smiled as well, the action contagious and relaxed into her seat, taking a sip of her drink.
"As am I. It's stressful, being a nation, and even more so being a woman. It's nice to have this chance to relax." The other woman nodded, and took a drink from her glass as well. It was a nice feeling, having someone she could confide in. Although Aegyptus had been a part of Graecia now, both women were equal partners, and spent hours discussing religion, philosophy, music, art, and even things as deep as their problems. Countless times they'd consoled one another through hardships, supported one another in enacting new ideas. They were all that each other had, this much they knew, and everything was great.
The minute Rome's eyes fell upon her, he was in love. She was gorgeous; her skin was creamy, milk colored, and looked so smooth he wanted nothing more than to run his hands over it and find out for himself if it was as soft as it looked. Her hair was brown, curly, pulled up into a half-bun over her head that was so carefully arranged that it was somehow messy and neat at the same time. Her eyes were a deep hazel color, flitting somewhere between brown and green and Rome desperately wanted to stare into them, to memorize every fleck of every shade in their depths. It was obvious from the first minute, he was completely smitten.
She was the nation of this land, he could sense it, the power she held was something that he wanted. Her wanted her, he knew that much. Slowly, with the grace of a soldier and a winning smile on his face, he approached her.
"My dear, you are so beautiful that Aphrodite herself envies your visage." He said, taking her hand in his and brushing his lips against her knuckles. The woman looked somewhere between flattered and annoyed.
"I know who you are, I have heard many a story about you. The Great Roman Empire, no?"
"True, but I am humbled before you, Graecia."
"Save it." She commanded, her tone sharp. "Your reputation precedes you as a womanizer and a heartbreaker. I will not be another victim of your charm."
"Graecia, Graecia, believe me when I say this: While it may be true that I have taken women before, you are the first who I would long for even if you will not let me have you. A gap in my heart has been filled the instant my eyes fell upon you, and I want nothing more than to have you by my side." He gave her the warmest smile he could muster, the one that made woman all over Rome melt in his hands, and for a brief moment he saw in her eyes that same desire that he'd seen in many before, but it was gone as soon as it came, replaced with defiance. She was a strong woman, and that made Rome want her that much more.
After a pause, she responded. "I'll give you a chance. One chance. Prove your loyalty to me, and we'll see."
"Of course, my Aphrodite, you shall see."
Graecia did not want to admit it, to herself or to anyone else, but she didn't want Rome to leave. He had come pompously into her country, strolled right up to her brimming with over-confidence, and immediately proclaimed his love for her. At first she hadn't believed a word (although, even then, she found herself wishing that she could believe him. The attraction, as much as Graecia would deny this, was not one-sided), but with time it had seemed as though Rome's words were true. He sought her out early each morning, did not so much as look in the direction of another woman when he was in her presence, and was devastated each night when it came time for them to part. But Graecia found that all of these actions could simply be an act; it wouldn't be particularly hard to feign affection for someone in this manner, if you wanted to woo them.
Still, Graecia had the greatest feeling that this was not feigned affection. It was in subtle moments when she would look up and see the way he'd been looking at her, not in a perverse manner, but longingly, as though he wanted nothing more than to hold her in his arms and feel her presence. It was in the way he hugged her, his hands never deviating and brushing anything she'd kill him for thinking about, and instead wrapped around her arms, surrounding her in his warmth and affection. It was in the way that, when he kissed her, he would never attempt to take it any further than a chaste press to the lips, despite the fact that it was obvious he wanted to.
He was to leave the next morning. He'd spent a fortnight in Graecia, and was now going off to conqueror other lands, to wage war and prove his worth. Rome is a very two sided character, Graecia observed, he is a lover, and a fighter. And that night she found herself wishing he was a lover.
"What's the matter, my love?" She heard his deep, concerned voice whisper into her ear, as toned arms wrapped around her from behind and pulled her into his hug.
"It is nothing."
Rome smiled, a large grin enveloping his face. "Ah, I see. You are upset that I am leaving tomorrow. You are going to miss me, aren't you?"
Graecia swatted his arms away, and crossed her own over her chest. "Of course not. You are an arrogant man, and I shall be glad to be rid of you."
Rome laughed. "That's what your mouth says, but your heart tells me otherwise."
"Oh? And what is my heart telling you, oh Great Roman Empire?"
"Your heart is telling me that you want this." He said simply, and then he pressed his lips against hers forcefully, one hand moving to play in her hair, the other pressing into the small of her back to her force her closer to him. All of Graecia's resolve left her at that moment, and she found herself kissing back harder, passionately, hungrily. Rome chuckled at her eagerness, but did not protest in the least. He was finally getting what he wanted, Graecia's affection.
That night, the Great Roman Empire conquered Graecia.
The minute Rome's eyes fell upon her, he was in love. She was lovely; her skin was sun-kissed, a lovely shade of tan that was only just barely darker than Rome's was, but was sleeker and more radiant than he'd ever seen before. Her hair was darker, not quite black but close, and fell straight down to her shoulders, not a curl in sight. The desire to run his fingers through it and feel if it was as slick as it looked came strong, and then Rome caught sight of her eyes. They were a shade akin to burnt amber, a brown that seemed laced with yellow and were almost cat-like in their intensity; she had caught him staring, apparently. Instantly Rome was intrigued; never before had he seen a woman from this side of the Mediterranean, never before had he seen a beauty from the Nile Delta. It was obvious from the first minute that he was completely smitten.
It was she who strode up to him, and looked up at him with empty eyes. She was much shorter than he was, a small, petite figure, and she looked so tiny right then that Rome wanted to seize her. But, there was something in her expressionless gaze that kept him from doing so.
"You are Aegyptus, the mother of this land, are you not?" And the woman nodded, so Rome continued.
"You are very beautiful, the finest woman I have ever laid eyes upon. Please, allow me to show you my love."
The woman did not react. She simply kept her eyes on his, as though trying to detect deception. Eventually, she lowered her eyelids, and a sly smile appeared on her face. She was mysterious, and that made Rome want her that much more.
"We shall see."
Aegyptus had fallen in love with Rome. It was not very hard too, she mused, he was tall, handsome, powerful, and most importantly he was loving. It was obvious to her that he cared about her a great deal, that the attraction wasn't simply physical, as she had assumed it was on the day they'd met. While it was true that he quite often praised her beauty, he also quite often praised her personality, her mystique. Aegyptus was quite aware that she was a mysterious person, it was a façade that she had built up for herself at a very young age, albeit accidentally. It was something that Rome often said he loved about her, the fact that she was complicated, different from the other women who shamelessly put it all out there for the taking. He would often run his fingers through her hair, or leave tender kisses on her lower cheekbones, and whisper sweet nothings into her ear; Aegyptus was not used to the affection, and she found it hard to keep from falling head over heels for him.
"I am afraid I must leave tomorrow, my love." He told her one night, two weeks after he'd arrived in Aegyptus. This she could understand; he was a powerful nation, and therefore a very busy one. But just because she understood did not mean she wasn't upset, although as usual she hid the sadness behind a blank face.
"I see. Good luck on your conquests, then." She busied herself rearranging the kohl containers she owned, not daring to look up at the other nation in case her façade broke. As a result, she did not realize he was behind her until he pressed a kiss onto the top of her hair.
"Won't you miss me?" He asked, wearing a facial expression like that of a forlorn child.
"I suppose I shall. You were such good company." The Roman frowned, and Aegyptus became confused.
"Excuse me?" Her confusion grew, finally manifesting itself on her face in the form of down turned lips.
"Why is my affection unrequited? Why don't you love me, my Queen?"
"Hmm… whoever told you that I didn't love you?"
Now it was Rome's turn to be confused. "But you never told me you did, Aegyptus."
"There are many things I don't say, but that doesn't mean they aren't true." The Roman took a moment to comprehend this, before the looks of realization dawned upon his face; it was a cute look, Aegyptus mused.
"You mean-" Rome's question was effectively cut off when the petite woman silenced him with a kiss, more fiery than any he'd instigated. She was a firm believer in the idea that actions spoke louder than words, and she wanted this action to speak out loud and clear. It did, and then Rome decided to follow the same ideology, deepening the intensity of his actions as they kissed, making sure that he showed her the full extent of his love.
That night, the Great Roman Empire conquered Aegyptus.
Graecia had been confused for the past few weeks, her mind left in a jumble so much that she could barely focus on her duties, and all because Rome had shown up and made her fall for him and left again too soon. Deciding that enough was enough, and that she needed a break from work to get her mind off of everything, she decided to go ask her sister, her Aegyptus, for advice. If nothing else the woman was very caring, and even if she couldn't make Graecia's yearning go away, she could help her to relax and find herself again.
But when she had finally reached the woman's house in the mid-morning, with the hot Aegyptian sun making it's way up into the middle of the blue, blue sky, her heart instantly shattered. Because there, standing right outside of her door shamelessly, Aegyptus was lip-locked with her Rome. Graecia's heartbreak quickly morphed into anger, which had she not been so blinded by it, she would have known came from jealously.
"Rome!" She yelled, and immediately the warrior had recognized her voice and pulled away from the smaller woman, whose blank face became confused when she saw Graecia's livid one. "What are you doing!" Tears of anger had formed in her eyes, or so she had called them, but it was obvious enough that she was hurt. "Do you think this is a game?! Do you go from land to land wooing any woman who your gaze falls upon, shamelessly!?!" Graecia was shaking with anger, and in the instant Aegyptus had understood the situation, she moved to the other woman and placed a hand on her shoulder, giving Rome a look that expressed how betrayed she felt. Rome himself felt his own heart shatter; what mess had he gotten himself into? He loved these woman both like he had no other before, but between them he had no favorite. What was he to do in this situation?
"Graecia, Aegyptus, I can explain!" He called, but the women weren't having it. They both turned away from him, and Graecia smacked Aegyptus' hand off of her shoulder.
"And you… I never want to see you again!" The Grecian woman exclaimed, turning on her heel and running. When Aegyptus turned again, Rome was already gone, and she scurried back into her house, shedding her tears and smudging her kohl where no one would see her.
Graecia was nervous. She had never felt so sick in her life, both physically ill, and sick with worry. It had been three full months since the ordeal with Rome and Aegyptus, and she had spoken to neither of them since that date, ignoring the letters that frequented her from the former, but noting the lack of word from the latter. It broke her heart to see her relationship with Aegyptus in shambles this way; they had been like sisters before all this, they had grown up together and with each other as their only company. Now, she had not seen or heard from her counterpart on the other side of the Mediterranean, and it depressed her greatly when she thought that this might just be the end of it.
Graecia wanted to apologize to Aegyptus, of course, but she could not. Every time the thought entered her mind, the image of the other woman kissing her beloved came with it, and she'd find herself wondering why Rome wanted Aegyptus if he had her. Was it the other woman's more feminine figure, her longer, sleeker hair, her darker eyes and tanned skin? Or was it her mysterious demeanor, her gentle, quiet, and yet knowing aura that had lured him in? Was it the fact that she did not resist as Graecia had, that she was more affectionate? These thoughts would fill her mind, and soon she'd find herself unable to forgive just yet.
But it was the very next afternoon when she'd received a scroll of papyrus with her own Greek characters delicately printed on it. It had Aegyptus' sign on it, and when she unfolded the sheet it she found it was an invitation; that Aegyptus had been sick without her, and that she desperately needed to speak to her sister. Smiling despite her condition, Graecia immediately set forth for Aegyptus once again.
The tension in the air was stifling, despite the fact that it was apparent neither woman wanted it to be. Well, at least Aegyptus knew that she did not want it to be, and hoped that Graecia was willing to forgive her as well. She had missed her sister these past three months, but every time she would wonder if it was safe to call, she'd remember Graecia's livid face and her bold exclamation, "I never want to see you again!" and reconsider if it was the right time.
'But that's not all it was, is it, Aegyptus?' The voice in her head reminded her, and the woman sighed internally. To tell the truth, she had been a bit jealous of Graecia; it was obvious enough in her mind that Rome had loved the other woman, and who was to blame him? Graecia was beautiful, and she was strong, proud, a warrior in her own respect; everything the timid, quiet Aegyptus was not. If she was willing to show Rome her love, and her outburst made it seem like she was, then there was no doubt her would chose the Grecian woman.
"Aegyptus." Graecia's voice snapped the other woman out of her thoughts, and she looked up, blank amber eyes meeting guilty hazel ones. "I apologize for what I said to you. There is no way you could have known-" She was silenced when Aegyptus put a finger over her lips, and smile full on her face.
"I forgive you. You had every right to get mad."
"We both do. I swear, the next time I see that man, I am going to kill him!" Graecia answered, clenching her fists and gritting her teeth. Aegyptus nodded, and then sighed.
"There is…I…there's another reason why I asked you to come here." The Aegyptian whispered, her gaze falling to the floor. Graecia remembered then that she had a secret of her own to share, and her stomach lurched a bit with the thought.
"I…have something I need to tell you as well."
Both women looked each other in the eye, a silent agreement to reveal their secrets in unison. One, two, three.
"I'm pregnant." Both pairs of eyes widened. "What?"
"You… you too?" Aegyptus asked, recovering from the shock first. Graecia could only nod.
"H-how long?" She asked, finally managing to speak.
"It was Rome, Graecia." The Aegyptian answered frankly, tell her what she knew the other woman wanted to know. There was no sense in beating around the bush.
Hazel eyes were filled with tears, but Aegyptus didn't know if they were caused by rage or something else.
"I can't believe this!! He did this to both of us, and one right after the other as well! We should kill him, Aegyptus, we would be completely justified!!" The woman decided, but Aegyptus simply placed a calming hand on the other's shoulder, before sliding it down to the Grecian's stomach.
"As much as I'd love to kill him, that wouldn't be the best idea right now. I'd like very much for my child to have a father, after all." Graecia's expression softened, and when the full effect of Aegyptus' words hit, she felt tears begin to fall down her face.
Rome was on his way home, a cloth pressed to a wide gash on his arm which was still bleeding; it had been a gift from Germania. Rome laughed a bit at the thought, although his body protested the action. He was worn out from the seemingly endless battle, but at the same time he wished that he was still out on the battlefield, showing Goldilocks a thing or two about war.
That thought was immediately replaced with one that Rome found both a lot more pleasant and nauseating at the same time; he wasn't exactly going home, you see. He was going to make amends to Graecia and Aegyptus, even if it meant he had to grovel and beg for it.
In retrospect, maybe entering Aegyptus' house unannounced when he had two women who were completely angry at him wasn't the best idea Rome ever had. When he had stopped by Graecia's house, he'd been surprised to find that it was empty, and that she was no where in the streets of her nation; he hadn't expected that she and Aegyptus would have made up already. But he was proud of them for doing such; he would much prefer it if they got along, because he'd hate to have his loves hate each other.
Still, he was surprised to find them sitting in Aegyptus' atrium together, Graecia crying into Aegyptus' shoulder as the more petite woman tried to console her.
…Wait. Graecia was crying?
Without taking the time to think it through, Rome ran to her side, placing a strong arm on her shoulder.
"Graecia, what's the matter?" He asked, and could immediately feel her tense up beneath him. Instantly she turned away from Aegyptus' warmth and swung her arm into Rome's face, punching him in the cheekbone. Rome had a feeling that it was going to bruise, it hurt so much; he'd forgotten already how strong Graecia was.
The woman in front of him was steaming, and Rome was starting to rethink his randomly stopping by.
"How could you?! Play with us like we're your toys, leave, and then come back expecting that you're forgiven!! Well, let me tell you, YOU ARE FAR FROM FORGIVEN!!"
"Graecia, calm down!" The Aegyptian commanded, but she didn't sound like she was defending Rome at all. "You'll hurt yourself!"
"…Hurt herself?" Rome echoed, his voice laced with confusion, but he was ignored.
Graecia growled. "I don't care! He deserves this and worse, Aegyptus, for doing this to us! He deserves to suffer just like we did!!"
"I agree with you completely." Rome felt a pang in his chest when the women spoke, Graecia in her enraged tone, and Aegyptus in her hard, cold one. "But, you have to be more careful with what you do." The Aegyptian leaned in closer, whispering something in Graecia's ear that sounded like "You don't want to lose it," but Rome had no clue what it could be. Whatever it was, it apparently worked at making Graecia calm down a bit, the redness starting to fade from her cheeks… were they paler than they had been? And Aegyptus too, seemed a bit under the weather. Had they gotten sick while he was gone?
Rome swallowed hard, guilt overtaking him again. "Please, give me one chance. Hear me out." Aegyptus nodded, her face empty again, and Graecia glare but said nothing. Rome took this as an acceptance, and began.
"I'm sorry. Truly, really sorry. I did not mean to hurt either of you, I swear on my honor that was not my intention. I have never loved another being so much as I have loved you, and never shall love another being with the same intensity." Pausing, Rome willed himself to continue before Graecia could get in her comment. "But between you I have no favorite. I love you both with my whole heart, not one more than the other, and I would like to have you both."
Taking another deep breath, his eyes darted from one woman to the next. "Graecia, Aegyptus, will you marry me?"
Graecia only just realized the Aegyptus had been holding her hand this whole time, after she'd tried to punch Rome again and found she couldn't move her arm. Her hazel eyes met amber ones, and for the first time Graecia saw regret in their depths; 'No…' The Grecian woman thought, 'Aphrodite, please don't tell me she's going to accept.'
Aegyptus turned to Rome, her eyes laden with an emotion he could not interpret.
"Had this been a normal situation, I assure you, we would decline and I would allow Graecia to beat you until you became so disfigured no one would look at you again." Rome gulped at the implications. "What do you mean 'normal situation?'"
Aegyptus gave him a very hard, unreadable look, and squeezed Graecia's hand tightly before speaking simply. "We are both pregnant, Rome. With your children."
The Great Roman Empire's eyes widen, and for a moment he was incapable of speech. His thoughts kept jumping around, flitting between "Oh gods, I'm going to be a father!!" and "What the hell have I done??", passing through every thought in between in his shock.
In the end he settled for wrapping an arm around Graecia and Aegyptus each, pulling them close to his chest, and whispering "I love you both so much," into their hair. Both women seemed to be too drained to respond, and allowed themselves to be hugged for a bit before pulling away.
"But, this doesn't mean we forgive you." Aegyptus continued calmly, giving him a look. "We'll marry you because we must, but you are still going to be punished."
Rome gulped again, wondering what they had planned as a punishment for him; whatever it was, it would not be good, but he vowed to accept it and nodded.
The two women exchanged a look, Aegyptus' eyes falling down to her stomach. Graecia understood, and nodded.
"As a punishment you, Rome, will not be allowed to play a part in raising your children. My child will live with me in Athens, and Aegyptus' child will stay here with her."
Rome's expression could be summed up in two words: heartbroken, and horrified.
"No part at all?" He repeated, voice rough and hollow. It looked to the women as though he was about to start crying; were those tears in his deep brown eyes?
"You will be allowed to see them, of course. They can visit you on occasion, naturally. But you cannot take them from us for longer than 2 months at a time-" Here, Graecia made a noise of protest, and Aegyptus gave her a look that told her to pity the crying man before them, at least a little. The hazel eyed woman fell silent, and Aegyptus turned her focus back to Rome. "You will be allowed to be their father, but only because we cannot deprive them of one. Do you understand?"
Rome felt like his whole world had fallen apart; here he was, already deeply in love with two women and falling harder by the second, and already they were going to bear his children, but he would not be allowed to see those children, with a few exceptions as decided on by these women themselves. He felt as if an important part of him was being taken, and for the first time in his life he wanted nothing more than to cry endlessly.
But then, he deserved it. What he had done to them was in no way respectful, responsible, or the way to treat a loved one; had they not been nations, these women would have been ostracized for being pregnant before marriage. Finally, he nodded, wishing that he hadn't been so stupid, that things hadn't gone this way.
Six very tiring months had passed since the day Rome "proposed" to Graecia and Aegyptus, and now they were all living in the city of Rome, both women with very large stomachs. Immediately after he'd agreed to their term and they consented to marrying him, he'd insisted that they come to Rome with him so that he could take care of them while they were with child, something to which they both of them had refused. They were still well, for now, they argued, and they had duties to their land and people that could not be ignored. So he allowed them to continue their work, sending them letters frequently (far too frequently, they'd complain, but still they smiled each and every time he sent them something). It was only 2 months ago, when they their gestations had really started to show, and to inhibit them to the point where work became too difficult that Rome had finally been able to bring them to his house.
There was a very strange cloud of tension around them in that house. Graecia and Aegyptus did not speak to one another frequently, for reasons that Rome could not fathom; the two of them had always been close, even after they'd found about… well, you know. And now, suddenly, they had taken to only giving each other passing looks, and… were they vying for his attention?
It seemed so, at times. Like, when Graecia and Rome were eating breakfast, and Aegyptus would walk in late and hug and kiss her husband, effectively ending a conversation he'd been having with the other woman. And like how, at times, when it was the three of the seated side by side with Rome in sandwiched in the middle, Graecia would curl up against him and nuzzle his cheek, an odd act of affection, especially coming from the rough, tough, independent nation.
A few more days had passed, and it was now 2 days after the Kalendas of Februarias; it was February the 3rd, and Graecia was in labor. In between her grunts and moans of pain she found ample time to yell at her husband for putting her in this mess, anyways, and dammit, that hurt!! The midwife "tsk-ed" under her breath but ignored the dirty looks she was getting from the woman, focused on her task and wishing that the mother would make it easier. Graecia was so blinded with labor pains that she failed to realize she'd cut off circulation to Rome's fingers, and that Aegyptus was seated across the room, watching with pained eyes herself as her sister seemingly suffered. Because although they hadn't been acting as such, deep inside they were still sisters.
Minutes turned into hours, but soon enough the midwife was packing her materials again, and a newborn male child was cradled in Graecia's arms, as tears of joy streaked down her cheeks. Rome gentled stroked his son's cheek, and in a moment of maternal joy Graecia consented to allowing her husband to hold the boy. Watching with a smile on her face as Rome cooed to the slumbering baby, she murmured, "Heracles."
"What did you say, my love?" Rome asked, looking up from the boy who he was currently smothering with his love (he was worried that the next time he saw his son the boy would be walking and talking and all without having knowing him) at his resting wife.
"His name is Heracles." She repeated, and Rome grinned.
"It's perfect." He agreed, because he knew the myth and wanted his son to be strong.
Graecia allowed her gaze to move from her newborn son, and for the first time noticed the still very pregnant woman seated on the floor opposite her.
"Aegyptus," she said, and the woman looked up. "Come here, please."
When it was obvious that Aegyptus was struggling to her feet, Rome gently placed his new son back in his mother's hands, and went to assist his beloved up and over to the bed. Graecia, for the first time in months, felt not a speck of jealousy, and motioned for the woman to sit at the foot of her bed. Aegyptus complied, and suddenly the newborn infant was pressed into her arms. When Aegyptus looked up in confusion, she was faced with Graecia's wide smile.
"You're his aunt, Aegyptus," She clarified, and the other woman smiled as well. Looking down at the child in her arms, she couldn't help but notice how much like his mother he looked; the same brown hair, the same ivory skin and facial features. The only difference she could note was that this boy seemed to have inherited his father's long nose as opposed to his mother's smaller one. Even his eye color was the same, she noticed, when the infant opened his eyes for a brief moment before he began to cry. Quickly rocking him back and forth until the tears stopped, which didn't take long as Heracles drifted back to sleep, Aegyptus saw Graecia and Rome smile.
Looking back down at the infant, she whispered in his ear, "You are very lucky, Heracles, because you have the most beautiful and kindest mother in the world."
Three weeks and four days later, on the 28th day of February, the very same midwife was back in the house, and this time Aegyptus was the woman in labor. Her screams were not so loud, but she had a killer grip on both Rome and Graecia's hands as she almost-silently gave birth.
It was a boy as well, a tinier one that Heracles was, with skin that was a bit paler than his mother's, having not yet seen the sunlight, and eyes that were the same beautiful shade as Aegyptus'. In fact, Graecia mused, the only thing he seemed to have adopted from his father was his hair, which already looked like it would lack the sleekness his mother's hair had. She could see the light in Aegyptus' eyes when she first held her newborn in her hands, whispering the name "Gupta" as though she was testing it out, and found it to her liking as she smiled down at her son. And Rome was as ecstatic as he'd been after Heracles was born, lifting his second son from Aegyptus' arms with her consent and proceeding to stroke his stomach and cheek lovingly.
Aegyptus smiled at his actions, before turning back to Graecia, who was absently stroking the head of her sleeping son while also watching Rome with a smile. Wordlessly Aegyptus reached out for her baby, and Graecia, immediately understanding what she meant, handed Heracles to his aunt and took Gupta from his father for just a moment.
"Welcome, Gupta." She whispered in the sleeping infant's ear, and he stretched out his tiny arm a bit as he moved in his slumber. "Welcome to the world."
As Aegyptus' culture prescribed, both women were forced by Rome to rest at his house for at least two more weeks, and while Graecia accused him of trying to steal more time with his sons as opposed to being concerned for his wives' health, both women consented, and remained in Rome a little while longer.
Heracles and Gupta lay side by side on the large bed, their mothers and father watching them as they slept so that neither would fall down. The babies were resting on their stomachs, heads naturally turned to face one another, hands nearly touching. No one could deny that they made a perfect set of brothers; that they're closeness in age would make them very close, nearly as close as twins. Their parents were still unsure if these children were nations or not; thus far they seemed to be growing as normally as any human child would be.
"I can most certainly wait for the day when we have to separate them," Graecia mused. "I do not want to see them ever be taken apart." Aegyptus nodded grimly, running a hand over her son's back, and then through Heracles' baby hair.
"If you left them here, they'd be together forever." Rome suggested, but then he put his hands up defensively when both women turned to him with angry looks.
"The deal was that we'd raise our sons, Rome. This is your punishment for infidelity." Graecia reminded him, finally realizing how cruel the punishment was after having seen her son and nephew; it was almost heartless of them.
Still neither woman was ready to take it back; Rome deserved to feel bad for a while, to suffer the consequences of his actions. Maybe in a few years the punishment would be lightened, maybe even lifted, but for now they were keeping their sons close.
Two years had passed. In those two years, Rome had only seen his sons for a grand total of seven months and six days, and never had they been in his custody alone. This was understandable, of course, because they were infants and needed their mothers to survive, but it was not something that Rome had accepted so easily.
Which is why he was so ecstatic at the moment; Graecia and Aegyptus had both finally consented to giving him two weeks with his sons; 2 full weeks with no maternal interference (well, little maternal interference; Graecia and Aegyptus were fiercely over-protective of their sons, and shuddered at even the thought of giving them up completely for two weeks, even to their shared father). The two boys were currently standing in his atrium, one yawning and the other's eyelids already beginning to droop; it was obvious that the journey was tiring for them. Scooping them up in his arms, Rome hugged them close to his chest before taking them up to their room and placing each boy on his bed. Rome made sure to tuck them in tightly, giving them each a goodnight kiss on the cheek. Before he had left the room he heard a small voice call out "Goodnight, Papa Rome," but when he'd turned to see who's spoken he'd found that both boys were already asleep.
A few hours later, when Rome had gone back in to check on them once more before he headed off to sleep himself, he noticed that Gupta had moved from his own bed and was now sleeping in Heracles', the two boys snuggling together under the covers. A small smile crossed his face, and he leaned over and gave both his boys goodnight kisses once again before heading to sleep himself.
In his excitement the previous night, Rome had not noticed a third visitor to his home until breakfast that morning. A tiny kitten was curled up in Heracles' lap, and the small boy was absently stroking it as he ate.
"Oh, and who is this?
"She's my cat. She doesn't has a name yet." The Grecian boy explained, tightening his grip protectively over the kitten. When Rome, who had not noticed this gesture, reached down to pet the feline, he was instead bitten by his son before he could even touch the cat's fur. 'OW! Damn, he's got a jaw on him.' Rome mused, half in pain and half proud as he pulled his hand back. Heracles yawned extra wide, making sure to show off his tiny canines, and Rome looked to his second son for an explanation.
"Heracles is a kitty." The Aegyptian offered, and patted his half-brother on the head to demonstrate. Heracles purred, and turned his head to lick his brother's hand. This caused Gupta to pull away laughing, and Heracles broke out into a grin. As Rome watched the two of them get up and play together, putting the kitten on the floor and chasing it around, he couldn't help but smile fondly; this was what he'd been missing all this time.
"Tell us a story, Papa Rome." Gupta asked one night after his father had tucked him and his brother into their beds. Rome looked over at both of his sons; Heracles' eyelids were already drooping, and his kitten was sleeping at the end of his bed. Rome wondered if it was healthy for a child to be sleepy at all times, as Heracles seemed to be, but decided not to let it worry him as he ruffled the boy's hair, causing him to wrinkle his noise in mild annoyance. Chuckling, the Roman turned his gaze once more to the son who'd made the request; at times it seemed like he was Heracles' polar opposite, as Gupta rarely ever seemed tired. He sat up in his bed, attentively awaiting Rome's story. The elder had no choice but to consent when he saw the pleading look his son was giving him, and sat at the foot of Gupta's bed.
"Alright then." He agreed. "Once, a long, long time ago, the Earth, whose name is Terra, and the heavens, whose name is Caelus, fell deeply in love with one another, and had a child who they named Saturn-"
"You're telling it wrong." Gupta turned away from his father and to his brother, who he thought was sleeping, but really wasn't. He only had one hazel eye opened, the other buried in his pillow along with the entire side of his face, and was looking at Rome lazily from it. He yawned before continuing, "The Earth is Gaia, the sky is Uranus, and their son is Kronos." After having corrected his father, Heracles shut his eye once more and his breathing relaxed; it looked like he was sleeping again. Rome wasn't sure whether to believe the boy was actually asleep or not, and decided he'd play it safe.
"Is that what your mother calls them?" The child nodded, while Gupta maintained his confused look. This was a story he'd never heard before, in any form.
Rome sighed, wondering if he should use the Greek names for the gods, or if he should teach his sons to appreciate the Latin ones. It was hard for him, only getting to see them so infrequently. He felt in that moment that no matter what he did he would not be able to have an impact on their lives, and once again his heart stung.
It stung, that is, until he felt a pair of short, warm arms attempt to wrap themselves around him, but only managing to barely reach his torso and back from around his arm. He looked up to find that his vision was a little bit blurred, and to find that Gupta had pulled him into as much of a hug as the two year old could manage. The child looked up at him, and swiped at the tear in eye (which Rome would later attribute to dust), looking concerned. In the next moment he felt more warmth press against his leg, and found that Heracles had crawled out of his bed and was hugging his father as best he could from the ground. Both children seemed worried, and Rome wanted to laugh both at the irony of the situation, and because of the overwhelming rush of joy and raced through him. Quickly scooping up both of his sons, holding one in each arm, he pressed them to his chest.
"Thank you boys." He smiled, and they both smiled in return. Rome continued to hold them in his arms until they both had drifted off to sleep, at which point he tucked each child back into bed, and left lingering goodnight kisses on their cheeks.
The years continued to passed, and they boys continued to grow at the rate of a normal human child. This fact was unsettling; Aegyptus and Graecia had the feeling that their sons were nations, a feeling that only nations could sense, but what if they were wrong? What if Heracles and Gupta were human, mortal, and only lived 40 or 50 more years before their mothers lost them?
"Stop thinking so negatively, Graecia." Aegyptus commanded after the other woman had brought up this possibility one afternoon. Her command wasn't very forceful, however, because the thought of loosing her only son had her scared, as much as she didn't want to believe it.
The women were sitting on the steps of Graecia's home in Athens, watching as their sons chased one another around the grounds, laughing and screeching in joy. The boys were now both four years old, and were growing up closer than anyone could have expected, despite living a full sea away from one another. Graecia couldn't help but smile as she watched them run in circles around a column, Heracles' kitty looking very unhappy from it's spot on his head.
"Alright." She consented, deciding to relish in the moment instead, smiling when she saw the broad grin on her son's face.
Heracles had become the most important thing in Graecia's world, his one person equaling the entire nation she represented. Everywhere she went he was with her; when she went to official meetings he went in with her, usually sleeping in her lap regardless of how loud the room became. When she moved from city to city to check on her people he held her hand as they walked in the towns, his cat always resting on his head. He'd become a part of her, and she wouldn't have had it any other way.
Which is why, the minute she heard his scream, Graecia literally jumped from her seat in panic. Running over to where her son's cries were coming from, she found him on the ground, his knee all scraped up and blood oozing from the deep cut. Her olive eyes widened, as she kneeled down beside him to check on his injury. As far as she knew, this was the worst injury her calm, gentle son had ever gotten, and she couldn't help but feel a sting in her heart at the intensity of his sobs. Gently lifting him up off the floor, she held the four year old in her arms and stroked his back and hair soothingly.
"Calm down, Heracles, calm down." She commanded in a soft, motherly tone, but on the inside she was frantically hoping that his sobs would cease. Her son's sobs soon calmed into a quieter cry, and that's when Graecia finally noticed the tug on her clothing. Looking down, she saw that Gupta was holding out his cloth head covering, the one that his mother had forced him to wear because of the hot Aegyptian sun, and that had soon become a security blanket for the boy. He had taken it off his head, and held it out to his aunt, revealing coarse brown hair. It took Graecia a moment to understand that he was offering it as a bandage, but when she finally figured it out she took the cloth with a smile. Placing her son back on the ground and wrapping the cloth around his bleeding knee (which had bled on her clothes as well, not that she minded it so much), she wiped away the last of Heracles' tears.
The olive eyed boy sniffled, and looked from his wrapped knee to his mother. "Thank you, mama." He smiled, and Graecia snuggled him once more.
"You should be thanking Gupta, too." She instructed, and her son nodded.
"Thank you, Gupta." Taking a good look at the other boy, he furrowed his brow a little. "Your hair…" He started, surveying it a bit longer before smiling. "I like it!"
The younger child smiled as well, and Heracles got up, having completely forgotten about his injury as only a child could, and the duo ran off to play once more.
Aegyptus walked over silently, only revealing herself when she placed a gentle hand on her sister's shoulder. Graecia looked up for a moment, to see a smile on her sister's face that was identical to her own.
"They're lucky to have each other." The smaller woman noted, turning to watch her boys play.
"We're lucky to have them."
It was when they were physically five years old that their mothers had noticed they stopped aging. They no longer grew taller, or much wider, and their faces retained the chubbiness of toddlerhood even past their tenth year. But the women did not panic; this was, after all, the sign they'd been waiting for since their sons' birth.
"The boys are nations?" Rome asked, and when his wives nodded his face broke out into a beaming grin. Scooping up his sons, neither of whom fully understood what was going on, he hugged them both tightly and proudly.
"But… what lands are they the nations of?" Graecia asked, looking at her son as though she was going to see him for the last time, and was memorizing his face. "What if they have to leave to somewhere far away?"
Rome laughed. "Relax, dear," he soothed, smoothing down her hair after Heracles had jumped out of his arm and scurried to console his distressed mother. "Why worry about the future, when you're living in the present?"
The boys had, contrary to the belief of their parents, not stopped aging completely; it had simply slowed down. They were still aging, almost at the rate of 7 or 8 human years for everyone one physical year of age. It was when they'd appeared to be about 6 years old when, under the distracted care of a busy Rome, Gupta had gotten lost in a forest. Heracles had emerged from the woods at the wrong time, frantically moving with tears in his eyes, crying that he'd "lost Gupta, he vanished!!" It was the wrong time because Aegyptus had been there, delivering bread to Rome as was a part of their marriage contract, and once she'd heard that her son was gone she snapped.
Where a calm, reserved woman had once stood there was now a nervous, worried, violent woman, who was beating Rome over the head with the loaf of bread she was holding, screaming at him, "How could you lose my baby?! My only child, my son!! You are the most irresponsible, untrustworthy, bumbling, idiotic fool out there!!!" before breaking down into sobs. The small infant who Rome was holding, a tiny toddler named Lovino who was apparently his grandson, awoke from his sleep and started crying as well, and Rome, who was suffering from a massive headache at this point, was trying to calm them both down.
Aegyptus looked up once again, makeup smudged from her tears, and her tan cheeks now red tinged. Taking the crying baby from Rome, she snapped "Well, go find him!!"
Rome nodded, running into the forest with Heracles running in after him, because the boy couldn't stand the thought of losing his brother. He didn't understand much about the world yet, not like Socrates and Aristotle with whom he'd sat in Athens, but he knew a lot about his world. And, in his world, brothers needed to watch over their brothers.
It hadn't taken as long as they'd expected to find the child, wandering in the forest with a rare expression of fear on his face, and tears filling his amber eyes and clinging to his eyelashes; he looked like he'd been trying not to cry. Once he heard his name called he ran, following the sound until he hit right into his father's chest, feeling warm, strong arms wrap around him.
"Gupta, oh Jupiter, I was worried." Rome spoke into his son's ear, rubbing his back gently to calm the shaking child. Heracles looked over, obviously worried, but also obviously relived. Rome grabbed onto the Grecian's small hand, and still carrying the Aegyptian, he led his sons out of the forest. Immediately Aegyptus had run up to him, exchanging the again slumbering Lovino for her son, and snuggling the life out of the boy.
"Oh, Rome, thank you." She said, her tone so full of softness and gratitude it made Rome melt in his spot; it took every ounce of his will power to not jump her right then and there, and he was grateful for the infant in his arms preventing him from doing anything he wouldn't want his sons to see. Instead he smiled at her, "You're welcome, dear. I'm just relieved we found him." Aegyptus nodded, and pressed a kiss to his cheek, before turning to her nephew and kissing him on the cheek as well.
"And thank you, Heracles."
The years kept passing, and the Roman Empire continued to grow. But as his power grew, and his influence expanded, it seemed as though he was starting to leave destruction in his wake.
Aegyptus was sick. Not just a little sick, but very, very sick. Her normally glowing tan skin was now pale and lifeless, her eyes were tired and closed more often that not. Her muscles had given out, and she had not moved from her bed in nearly 2 weeks; Graecia was incredibly worried for her. She had come to her sister's home only three days earlier, after having received a note that was written half in scribbled hieroglyphics and half in grammatically incorrect Latin which she immediately had figured out was the work of Gupta. She hadn't been able to make out much of what he'd been trying to say, but she sensed the urgency in what he'd been trying to say and had rushed over with her son in tow.
It was a horrible scene that she'd walked in on; Aegyptus looked like she belonged with Hades, not among the living any longer, and her son was sitting beside her bed, amber eyes filled with worry. But Gupta looked different than he had last she'd seen him; while Heracles only physically looked like a seven year old child, Gupta was taller and thinner than he'd been, and if Graecia had to give him an age now it would be ten… he'd shot up, grown far too quickly, and this looked to be a bad sign.
After she'd asked Gupta a few questions, Graecia found out that Aegyptus had been sick for nearly a month. At first, Gupta told her in a whisper tone that was filled with fear, she was just sleepy, but then she started to become warmer, and her movements became more sluggish and tired. She'd spent the last full week and a half in bed. Looking from the shaking child beside his sleeping mother to the worried one standing beside her, she told Heracles to take Gupta outside and play with him for a bit. Heracles nodded, and nearly had to drag the other boy out of the room with how distracted the Aegyptian was, but both boys had left and the door shut behind them.
"Aegyptus, Aegyptus, what's happening to you?" Graecia asked the sleeping woman, whose eyes slowly half opened, their usual spark gone.
"I think-" She started, her voice hoarse, rough, and seemingly unused, before breaking to cough violently. Swallowing, she gave a very upset smile, and her eyes filled with tears. "-I'm dying. I think I'm dying."
Just then, the door swung open, and a frantic Rome came in.
"Aegyptus," He started, walking up to the woman in the bed and resting on her other side, opposite Graecia, "what's wrong?"
Tears were sliding down dull cheeks, and the woman ignored the question.
"Rome…Graecia… how did you know to come?
"Gupta wrote me. His Latin was hard to understand, but..."
"The urgency was there." Graecia finished for Rome when he could not find the words. Rome nodded, taking Aegyptus' hand in his own and stroking it.
Aegyptus smiled at that. "My son…" Suddenly, her smile turned into a look of dread, and the tears ran faster, "M-my…son…"
Soon enough there were sobs accompanying the tears. Rome squeezed the hand he was holding comfortingly, and Graecia pushed sweaty bangs away from the other woman's forehead, quickly retracting her hand when she touched skin that was hotter than the Aegyptian sun itself.
"Don't cry." Graecia commanded, her tone soft. "If he sees you crying, then he'll cry as well." Aegyptus seemed to sober up at this, her sobs calming to sniffled noises and then fading until there was nothing. By the looks of this, Aegyptus was asleep again.
That was when Graecia's eyes began to water. "What if we lose her, Rome?"
"We won't. We can't." Rome didn't look away from Aegyptus' face, and his tone was not as reassuring as it should've been; it sounded more like he was telling himself than Graecia. It was then that she understood how real it was; even Rome was afraid, and he was fearless. Her tears started to fall, as the door opened again.
It was the strangest sight; Gupta's growth spurt had made him much taller than Heracles, even though he'd always been shorter. His clothes not longer fit him properly, and despite the fact that he looked ten he still acted seven; his body grew, but his mind was too traumatized to follow suit. Despite this height difference, he looked like the younger child; his face was red and tear streaked, and Graecia slowly realized he must've started crying outside. Turning to her own son, she saw this his eyes and cheeks were also red-tinged.
Days passed. Gupta refused to leave his post again, silently awaiting for his mother to wake up, before going to get her anything she needed, and sitting beside her as she slept. He even slept beside her, as much as Rome tried to prevent him from doing such, and after a while Rome gave up trying. Aegyptus' condition had worsened severely, and it was also ready evident in the way she spoke that she was just waiting for her death.
Her death came too soon. She had woken up from sleep, just like any other time, and immediately started to hoarsely whisper her son's name. He was by her side in an instant, stroking her forehead, and she visibly put so much effort into reaching her arm up a little to stroke his cheek.
The boy looked down at his mother, once again with tear-filled eyes, and slowly she moved her hand to sweep them out of his eyes. Managing a very small, timid smile, even though it was obvious she was in immeasurable pain, she murmured.
"Gupta… I… love you…" And then her hand dropped, falling slack beside her suddenly limp figure.
"M-mama?" The boy whispered, but there was no response. "Mama?!" This time louder, with a hint of hysteria in his voice. His amber eyes widened, and the tears followed freely. By this point, he understood. His mother was dead.
It was Rome who got to him first, placing a hand against Aegyptus' throat and pleading to the gods that he feel a pulse, even a faint one. He felt nothing, and pressed harder, and harder, until he nearly bruised her cold, lifeless skin. His own vision was blurred by this point, and when he finally could speak again, all he could say was "No…"
Graecia started to cry, and the hazel eyed boy beside her was already crying as well. But none of them was crying nearly as hard as Gupta, who'd buried his face in his mother's chest and was screaming. It was Rome who lifted him up, pressed Gupta's face into his own chest, and allowed his son to cry freely as he stroked his back and let his own tears fall. Heracles buried his face in his mom's chest, his arms wrapped around her, sobbing more quietly than Gupta but not by much and feeling guilty about it; what right did he have to be crying, when it was his brother who'd lost someone. What right did he have to be crying when he still had a mother? These thoughts only made Heracles cry harder, until his mother carried him (although he was started to get too old to be carried) and pressed his face into her shoulder, as she cried into his hair.
It was their first loss. Sure, they'd lost a few cats and dogs through the years, particularly some to whom the boys had grown close, but this was their first real loss. The first time they watched someone hover between life and death for so long, the first time they'd been there to see another human's last breath. It was a day Heracles, and especially Gupta, would never forget.
Time continued to pass; Gupta could no longer really keep track of time anymore. After he…lost... his mother, Rome had taken him in, and he'd moved away from Aegyptus. He kept the hat, though; it was something out of place in Rome, but he refused to part with it and his wishes were respected.
Gupta was always a very quiet child, it was something people had often told his mother; 'Oh, you're son is so quiet and well behaved, he must give you no trouble.' But if what he was back then was quiet, then now he must've just been silent. He rarely ever spoke anymore, choosing instead to communicate everything with facial expressions when necessary, but more often than that he'd just do nothing. He knew that everyone else worried about his extreme passiveness; even Papa Rome's grandkids would get upset when he didn't speak to them. They hadn't grown at all for decades, they're still infants to Gupta's ten year old, but he doesn't mind playing with them, even though the elder has a temper and the younger is always hungry and gets distracted quickly. Gupta has patience, and at least they aren't always giving him pitying looks.
Gupta misses Heracles, a lot. He's not afraid to admit it, and he'd probably tell anyone who asked right away. It's not so much that he never gets to see the boy, because he sees him quite often now; Rome and Graecia are closer lands than Aegyptus and Graecia, and his aunt thinks it'll be good for him to play with someone his own age and lets Heracles visit more frequently, but the truth is they've both changed. Heracles still sleeps a lot, but he lost some of that exuberance he had when he was awake. He stopped chasing cats and running up and down stairs and fencing, stopped claiming that he was going to be a powerful Spartan warrior, and was more mellow. Gupta wanted to cry when he saw him, now, because he was so different; it was bad enough that the Aegyptian himself had become a quiet child, but not his brother too.
One afternoon a messenger ran up to the house and handed Gupta a note when he answered the door. The note seemed familiar, although Gupta had no idea why he felt dread up and down his body when he first held it, until he looked at it. He didn't even have to read it; he could recognize Heracles' print, the Greek letters that were scribbled out and replaced with Latin, and he felt coldness rush through his body. His eyes widen, and once he could move again he bolted through the house, not stopping until he ran into his father, quite literally, and the force of the impact knocked him over.
"Gupta, what's the matter?"
Wordlessly the boy passed his father the note, and the same look of dread filled Rome's eyes.
They were in Graecia only a few days later. Gupta got the worst sense of déjà vu when he walked into the house and saw his aunt bedridden, Heracles seated at her side with tired eyes. But he was older too, now, he looked nearly thirteen to Gupta's apparent eleven or twelve, but he still felt like a seven or eight year old child. It was too much for Gupta, he wanted to break down and cry right then and there all over again, but before he could his amber eyes made contact with Heracles' beautiful, worn hazel ones, he stopped.
Instead, he strode across the room, and placed his arm around his brother's shoulder, pulling him into what he hoped was a reassuring, comforting half-hug. Heracles looked up at him, the barest hint of what was obviously a forced smile coming through, before they both looked down at the sleeping Graecia. His aunt was paler than usual, ghostly white, Gupta noted, and her skin was flaming to the touch, reminding him of the sand on a hot day back home. But there was no back home for him now, and when he realized that this was the same, he could no longer hold back his tears.
Graecia was more resilient than her southern sister was, but that only meant her death was prolonged by a few more days of illness. She had no final words as she left, she simply put all of her strength into pulling her son close to her, and left a final kiss on each of his cheeks before she fell limp, one of her hands growing cold on the back of Heracles' neck. The boy was frozen in his spot, as tears fell from his eyes like a waterfall, before he started to scream and cry and his sobs caused Gupta to shake and collapse into tears as well. And this time only Rome was left to pull his sons into his tight, warm embrace, because now they were too big to be carried, and the brothers cried into his shoulders for hours.
Heracles and Gupta continued to cry until there were no more tears left for them to shed. After that, they pick up all the pieces, put themselves back together, and kept going.
Thank you for reading this fic. Since you've just read so much, I'll keep this very short. I would like to thank user Smrtypantz for her boundless support and her inspiring me to finish this fic, when I felt like it was bad and nearly abandoned it. Please, if you enjoy my writing, go check out her works.
Also, please, please, please leave a comment. I want to know what you liked/disliked about this story, and the only way for me to know that is by you telling me. This fic especially has me very nervous, and I would love some feedback. What did you like, or not like? And it's the best way to make an author's day!!