Once upon a time, there was a young farmer. He was nice and generous enough, and fairly handsome in a bright-green-eyes and curly-brown-hair short of way, but because he was human and humans are all flawed, he also oblivious and had motivational issues some times, preferring to sleep away the day rather than work in his fields.
But on the whole, he was a good person. His name was Antonio, and he'll be our protagonist.
Antonio was a fairly decent farmer. Some years he had huge crops, others smaller, and some years there was drought and some years there were fires, but his life was mostly uneventful.
But one day, as he was harvesting tomatoes, the summer sun beating down on his back and the dirt worming it's way in between his bare toes, the earth split open. It wasn't dramatic. It was more that Antonio looked down, and saw a winding, lightening bolt shape wiggle between his feet. His eyes followed it, and he dropped his load of tomatoes as he began to follow it across his field.
The crack grew wider and wider, dividing Antonio's tomato field into neat sections. There were more lightening bolt shaped cracks now, and Antonio began to job, following the slowly thickening cracks to the center of his field.
He pulled up to a stop at the edge of a enormous hole, nearly seven meters across. Scrambling into it, Antonio noticed a very small olive tree in the bottom of it, so young that it's tallest branch only reached his waist. He bent down to study it. It was a healthy tree, with richly emerald leaves and slender branches, but he had never seen it before, and it seemed to have been the cause for the sudden splitting apart of his beloved tomato field.
Antonio couldn't think of anything to do, and he didn't want to harm the small, beautiful olive tree. So he left it, and went back to harvesting his tomatoes. He worked around the giant hole with the tiny olive tree, and as months went by, the olive tree began to grow. It grew much faster than any other tree Antonio had ever seen, but he didn't know the growth rates for olive trees and decided that that kind of tree just matured quickly.
Within six months, the branches were sticking out of the hole and shading the tomato plants, causing them to wilt. Antonio didn't want to have to chop off the branches of the olive tree, so he just moved his tomato plants to sunnier areas and left the tree to keep growing.
It was huge now, completely filling up the hole out of which it had started. The bark was the same dark rich brown as the earth when it rained, and the green of the leaves rivaled that of Antonio's eyes.
A year after he had found the olive tree, Antonio was harvesting his tomatoes once again, preparing to take them to the market in the city a day's walk from his farm, when he heard a soul-shattering crack that sounded like the earth itself screaming as it was ripped in two.
Dropping his basket of tomatoes, he sprinted for the tree, leaping over plants and smashing tomatoes into the dusty ground in his haste to reach the olive tree. He stopped short when he saw it, eyes wide.
The tree had been cracked directly in half, each side of the tree bending over like a horse about to drink from a cool spring. In the center of the tree, a huge leave wrapped around itself stood, leaning over with the weight of whatever was inside.
Treading carefully, Antonio edged towards the dying tree and it's mysterious leaf-wrapped bundle. Bending over long enough to snatch up a broken stick from the olive tree, he stepped carefully inside of the tree, stick extended in front of him.
Up close, the leaf bundle smelled like the summer's sun and the evening's cool, like morning dew and fresh tomatoes and olives mixed together, like basil and the milky-sweet scent of sleep. Inhaling deeply, Antonio gathered his wits and gently poked it with his stick, leaping away from it and back to the dry earth a moment later, just in case.
The branch holding up the leaf bundle straightened up for a second, and the leaves trembled as they unwound themselves from one another, peeling back a layer at a time. Antonio watched in fascination as a delicate, coffee-with-heavy-cream colored hand appeared here, a wreath of long, chestnut colored hair there, a muscular leg and a torso wrapped in a light, forest-green dress, all surrounded by the green life of the leaves.
The branch bent over with it's burden, and deposited a young, unconscious woman on the ground in front of Antonio. The branch leaned in close to Antonio, and he felt as if it was searching through him, sorting him out and reading his thoughts. The branch with it's wilting leaves seemed to nod at him, and then drew back, retreating into the depths of the dying olive tree and leaving Antonio alone with the woman.
She woke up a hour later, and her eyes were as green as the leaves of the olive tree out of which she had come. She was lying in Antonio's bed in his small house, the window next to her open to reveal a stunning sunny afternoon view of the mountains a half-day's walk away and the rich red glow of the summer tomatoes Antonio cared for so lovingly. Antonio himself was out in the field, singing to himself as he plucked a tomato here and there, occasionally popping one into his mouth as he worked.
She sat up, rubbing her face with the back of her hand as she blinked the sleep out her eyes. She got slowly to her feet, peering around Antonio's house. It was messy, in a planned sort of way, and all the furniture was rough and looked comfortable. There was a basket of tomatoes on the table, and the room smelled like fresh vegetables and dry dirt.
The whistling came closer, and the door to the house was propped open as Antonio strolled inside, a basket full of rich crimson tomatoes on his hip. His eyes lit up when he saw her, and he dropped the basket on the table. "You're up! How are you feeling?"
She regarded him silently. There was something nagging in the back of her mind, saying don't speak, don't speak and while she remembered nothing about herself, she realized that there had to be some reason as to the loss of her memories and the thought that she shouldn't say a word. So she just looked blankly at him until he burst out laughing.
"Are you mute, then?" he asked, leaning in closer to look at her face. She backed up until the backs of her knees hit the edge of his bed, bunching her hands up in the fabric of her skirt. "Well?" Antonio prompted, and she hesitantly nodded. Don't speak.
"That's alright. Can you write?" She didn't know if she could or not, but Antonio hadn't bothered to wait for a answer. Instead, he had ambled over to the desk shoved into the back of the room and was digging out a pad of paper and a small oil-pen. He handed them to her, and she studied them doubtfully, turning the pen over in her fingers before pressing it to the paper.
"Can you write your name, so I know what to call you?" Antonio asked gently. She paused, considering. She couldn't remember her name, but there was something in the back of her mind that seemed like something she could use as a name for now. Pressing the tip of the pen to the paper, she slowly scrawled Lovina. She didn't know if that was her name or not, but she could use it for now, until she remembered what her real name was.
Antonio took the paper from her and read her name. He turned his summer-sun bright grin back towards her. "Lovina is a very pretty name. It suits you." She stared apathetically at him, before looking meaningfully at the baskets of tomatoes on the table. Antonio followed her gaze. "Are you hungry? I can make dinner now." She nodded, and he headed back towards the area of the house he must use as a kitchen if the wood-burning stove was any indication.
He was a good man. She couldn't remember anything, but something inside her told her to stay here and wait to see what happened next.
Months passed, and Antonio wondered how he'd ever survived without Lovina. For a mute, she was remarkably expressive, with dark green eyes that said everything and body language that always spoke the truth. She was fiery and horrible at housework, bad tempered and fierce, but she could charm life into Antonio's plants and in the season following, he had his biggest harvest ever.
She made for a interesting conversation partner, although her tongue was still, because she would sit and listen to Antonio's stories with her face a slideshow of whatever she was thinking and the pen in her hands a even easier way to see into her mind as she scrawled down biting comments.
She was pretty as well, in that sort of way that showed she didn't know she was beautiful. Her hands were scarred from days in the field, and her chestnut hair was usually knotted and pulled back into a disaster of a braid. She was muscular instead of slender, and there were fine lines on her forehead from scowling so much, but she had clear tan skin and a healthy glow about her from days upon days spent outside.
She would sit by the window at night, staring at the stars and moon. Antonio never knew what she was thinking at the those moments. Lovina never explained, and she never said anything about her past.
Slowly, though, Antonio realized that she was waiting for someone, and cold fear gripped him at that moment, sending shivers down his spine even though there was a hot sun overhead and warm dirt underneath his feet. Lovina was waiting for someone to come find her – waiting for someone other than Antonio.
That thought hurt. Lovina had added something to his life, and Antonio didn't want to lose whatever she had added just yet.
But of course, because this is a fairytale and there has to be some horribly difficult issue the main characters must overcome, there came the day when the person Lovina had spent eight months, a week and two days waiting for came to Antonio's house.
The person was a tall blonde man, with eyes as cold as ice and as blue as a freshwater stream. He was muscular and imposing, with his long black cape snapping in the brisk wind. He rode a black horse decorated with green and red hangings, and while Lovina didn't remember him and didn't like him, she knew who he was and why he was here.
She and Antonio were working in the field when the man came, planting the next year's crop of tomatoes. He trotted along the edge of the field, scanning the land with his cold blue gaze. Lovina had seen him almost instantly, and she knew that today was the day she had to leave, no matter that that thought made her heart ache and almost loosened her silent tongue.
Instead, she grabbed Antonio's arm as she pulled out the notepad and pen from the pocket of her apron. Antonio had hemmed some of his smaller clothes so she could wear them, and she usually dressed in baggy trousers and loose shirts.
She wrote I must leave on the pad and passed it over to Antonio. He looked at it, and his face darkened. "Do you really?" he asked, sounding sad as he handed the pad back to her. She nodded. Yes. I'm sorry. I'll miss you. I don't know what I'm doing, but there is something that has to be done.
Sighing, Antonio followed her across the field until they stood a mere three meters away from the cold blonde man and his midnight black horse. The man was looking down his aristocratic nose at them, disdainful and above them.
"I have come for the girl," he said, infusing the chill of winter into every word.
"Might I ask who you are?" Antonio asked pleasantly, leaning on his shovel, but Lovina knew him well enough by now to see that he was wary, unsure of what was happening, and afraid, although he tried to cover it up with his customary cheer.
"I am Ludwig." The man offered no other explanation, and instead turned his frigid gaze on Lovina. "You look well, my lady. Your sister awaits your return."
Lovina didn't know that she had a sister. Staring blankly at Ludwig, she dug through her mind – was it possible she might have a sister? Why had she been left here for so long, if that was the case?
Whatever the case, Ludwig was the one she had been waiting for, and now the time had come for her to leave. She turned to face Antonio, suddenly unsure of her snap decision to leave. She was happy here, tending to the fields and listening to Antonio prattle on about everything and anything. She would miss this optimistic man with his never-ending cheer and on a impulse, she threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly.
A hand latched onto her collar, and her grip around the surprised Antonio loosened as Ludwig pulled her up and onto the horse's saddle. "We must leave, Lady. Your sister awaits your return."
The horse began to trot, then canter, and Lovina nearly missed it as Antonio yelled after her, "Please come back to me someday!"
I will, her mind whispered, I will, I will, I will, as soon as I finish with what needs to be done.
Ludwig was a poor traveling companion. They rode together for a week, and Ludwig never said a word. They rode over the mountains that were a half day's travel from Antonio's house, following a narrow, winding trail through the perilous peaks and along dangerous cliffs. Nights were cold, although snow didn't fall just yet, and the days were chilly. The hills were steep and Ludwig had brought little food.
But after a week's hard travel, Ludwig finally pulled to a stop in front of the most enormous tree Lovina had ever seen in her life. Thirty men touching hands couldn't reach all the way around, and the ground was lifeless as the branches and leaves blocked all sunshine and rain. The tree was surrounded by the tallest of the peaks in this mountain range, creating a sheltered valley around it, and Lovina was reminded of the crater that housed the olive tree out of which she had come.
Lovina raised a eyebrow at Ludwig, questioning, but he ignored her as he dismounted his horse and strode up to the tree, tilting his head back. The sunlight filtering in through the thick foliage painted his features to a pale spring-time green. "My Lady Felicia! I have arrived with your sister, the Lady Lovina!"
So Lovina was her name, she mused. It seemed that she had not lost all memories of her past.
There was a breath of silence, and Ludwig huffed, tapping his foot impatiently on the rocky ground. Then delighted laughter rang out around around the small valley. "That's wonderful!" a high feminine voice sang, and laughed again. "The Mother will thank you, Ludwig."
"My only thanks need be the happiness of my Lady," Ludwig replied, staring into the thick tangle of branches overhead. "Now, my Lady, will you let me and the Lady Lovina inside? Time is short, and we still must explain to her of her role."
"But of course!" the voice sang back, and then the tree cracked open, starting at the ground and ending only three meters up the dark bark. It revealed a passageway, lit by softly glowing leaves plastered to the walls. Lovina stared doubtfully inside, gripping onto the horse's reins with all her strength. Ludwig started through the doorway, calling over his shoulder, "Follow me, Ago," and the horse trotted after him, slipping into the recesses of the tree.
The bark slide shut behind them as Ludwig lead the horse and Lovina down the dim passageway, his footing sure and his gaze never wavering as he trudged ahead. It wasn't silent; the passageway itself seemed to be humming to itself, a long, endless tune that rose and fell, never-fading and yet never repeating itself.
The passageway began to widen out, and the glowing leaves grew in number as they went deeper and deeper into the tree. Lovina shifted nervously in the saddle, glancing around her with wary eyes. She wondered if she'd made the right choice, by choosing to go with Ludwig rather than stay at Antonio's farm.
She couldn't go back on it now, but she still wondered about it. Ludwig took her to a huge room, one filled with ethereal green light that dances across the rough walls in constantly shifting patterns. It's eerie and beautiful and suddenly Lovina felt as if she's come home.
There was a woman sitting in the middle of the room, on a chair made out of vines twisted and woven together. Her eyes were chocolate brown instead of green, and her hair is just a shade lighter than chestnut, and she was more lithe and slender, but she was a almost identical copy of Lovina.
Her face split into a grin when Ludwig and Lovina entered, and she rises to her feet. She was wearing a loose green gown with long, translucent sleeves that trailed on the ground behind her, and her hair was woven into a braid with flowers mixed in and wrapped around her head. "You really did find her!" Her voice was the same one that was singing out in the valley, and it's warm and kind. Lovina wondered if her own voice sounded like that as she slide down out of the saddle.
The woman glided towards them, a huge smile stretching across her face. "Welcome back, Lovina. The Mother and the Forest have been missing you." Confusion bled into Lovina's eyes, but the woman didn't notice as she turned to the somber Ludwig. "Ludwig, can you go alert the Mother and the Father to Lovina's return? I need to see how much she remembers."
"Of course, Lady Felicia." Ludwig bowed stiffly before straightening up and leading the horse out of the room, leaving Lovina alone with her mirror copy, Felicia.
"Oh, my sister," Felicia murmured, looking Lovina up and down with a weary sadness in her eyes, "It's been so long."
Lovina raised her eyebrow, a silent question, and Felicia giggled, still looking sad. "I really didn't think letting you go free for a while would have a effect like it did," she whispered, dropping her gaze. "But you've got to go back into the Room so you can stop the world from dying now."
Lovina tried to keep her confusion and sudden rush of fear out of her face, but she apparently hadn't banished all of it as Felicia glanced at her face and sighed heavily. "You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?" Lovina nods. "At least you remembered that you're not suppose to talk. All words have power, yours just more so."
She led Lovina over to the twisted vine chair and directed her to sit. Lovina did, on the very edge of the seat, glancing around the room with wide eyes. Felicia waved her hand, singing something something in a breathy whisper, and new vines shot up out of the floor, weaving themselves together until they formed a identical copy of the chair Lovina sat upon.
Felicia maneuvered herself into the new vine chair with effortless grace and linked her hands together, resting them on her knees. "I'll start from the beginning."
In the beginning, there was the Mother and the Father. They had no real bodies; those came later. But for now, they were consciences – the Mother that of the air, the sky, the sun and stars, and the Forest of the earth, and the oceans, and the mountains and deserts.
There were no animals on earth, and the Mother and the Father, danced around each other – her always above, staring down at him below, and they could never touch.
One day, though, the Father began to grow weary of the lifeless earth that was he. He began to push up wads of dirt and clots of mud, tangles of vines and fallen trees, and began to create things.
He created elephants and zebras, tigers and wolves, aardvarks and lemmings. And then the earth wasn't silent, and the distance between him and the Mother was less unbearable. But he continued to create creatures, until one day, he created humans, to work the earth and tend to the creatures and care for all life.
The humans could walk and talk and looking at them, the Mother and the Father decided that they could use the form of humans to walk on the earth and meet each other. And so they did.
Time went by, and while the humans on the whole did what they were intended to do, there were a few bad apples thrown into the mix who took more than their fair share and killed more animals than the Mother and Father had intended to be killed. So to counter this problem, the Mother and the Father created Lovina and Felicia, two goddesses meant to control the humans' activity.
Felicia was meant to watch over the humans, to be the occasional messenger sent from the Mother and the Father to tell people what they were doing that was wrong and put them back on the right path.
Lovina had a different purpose. While her sister was the goddess of humans, she was the goddess of nature. Unlike the Father, who was just the earth itself and lended the land to the organisms that walked it, she was meant to control things, to keep nature steady and the earth rich.
Felicia was allowed to walk around in the human world. Lovina spent her days in darkness, connected to all live, and adjusting things here and there to keep the balance.
One day, Felicia decided her sister needed to meet the people she was tending to, and without telling her sister of what she was going to do, she changed her sister into a olive tree sapling so Lovina would have time to adjust to the mortal world and hurled her sister into the realm of people and right into Antonio's tomato field.
The time she spent in the tree was time that Lovina's immortal body was adjusting to a mortal form, something her memories of her time as a goddess had to be traded for.
But in the time while she had been gone, the world fell out of balance without her there to correct the minor imbalances, and they built up. Droughts raged across the land, never ending heat waves settled and refused to break.
So Felicia had had to tell the Mother and Father what she'd done, and they'd found Lovina at the one place not affected by the imbalances, a place where the rains fell at the right time and heat waves broke after a few days: Antonio's farm.
"I'm really sorry," Felicia said, leaning forward so she could take her sister's hand, "But it's time for you to return to balancing out the world."
Lovina's mind was reeling. Returning to balancing out the world meant she would never see Antonio again. Returning to balancing out the world meant going back into a dark place and spending all her days alone. The world was important, yes, but to never see the light of day or Antonio again was a hard sacrifice to make. She opened her mouth, and Felicia made no move to stop her as Lovina spoke for the first time. "Why?" she croaked.
"Because that's the way we are," Felicia said, sounding very apologetic, "And that's the sacrifice you were chosen to make."
Lovina pondered that, then asked, her voice cracking, "And why couldn't I speak?"
"You're a goddess. If you had spoken to a mortal, it would burst their eardrums and stop their hearts. You're the voice of the world, and they can't handle what you sound like. Me, I was created to bring them the messages of the gods. They can handle my voice. But they cannot handle the voices of the Mother, the Father and you."
This was all sounding like some bad fantasy story to Lovina, and her head was spinning as she tried to take it all in. She was suppose to go into a dark room so she could fix the world. She was never going to see Antonio again. And even if she did see him, she couldn't speak to him, because whatever she said would kill him. She was a goddess, and therefore doomed to eternity.
"What...about Antonio?" She sounded out each word slowly – her mouth was not use to the shapes needed to speak. "Please, sister...I promised him I would try and get back to him...."
Felicia's face was blank, unreadable, and somehow that felt wrong on the seemingly happy woman, but Lovina didn't comment on it. Felicia looked to be thinking something through, and suddenly she shot to her feet and began to pace around her vine chair, tapping one hand against her lips as she zoomed around in tight circles.
She jerked to a stop as equally as abruptly, snapping her fingers. "I need to ask the Mother and Father if this will work," she announced, before gliding out of the room, holding her long green skirt up so it didn't trail on the floor. Lovina started to her own feet, but Felicia, without looking back, called over her shoulder, "Stay there, my sister. I'll be back soon."
To the immortals, soon apparently meant four hours. Lovina had no memory of long days spent just waiting without something to do – she had waited while at Antonio's farm, but there was always something Antonio would find to distract her with.
The silence was buzzing in her ears and she was beating out a rhythm on the arm of her chair when Felicia swept back into the room, followed by a tall, slender blonde woman with long blonde hair. One side of her head had a braid woven out of the fine thin strands, tied off with a fine sapphire-studded clasp. Her dress was long, and as blue as the sky, and her eyes the color of the midday sky.
"This is the Mother," Felicia said, gesturing to the woman as Lovina scrambled to her feet. The woman nodded, half-bowing to her.
"Please, call me Germania." The woman's voice was rough, with surprised Lovina for a moment. She had imagined the Mother to have a soft, sweet voice that sounded like falling rain rather than brisk winds.
"We have come up with something so you don't have to go back into the darkness," Felicia began, nervously twisting her hands in her green skirt and peering up at her sister through her thick eyelashes. "However, you will have to wait for many years, because we will need Antonio for it, and...well, it won't work if he's a living mortal."
Lovina felt icy fear race through her veins. What was her sister talking about? Her confusion must have shown on her face, for Felicia hastened to reassure her. "No! It's nothing bad, it's just it won't work unless he's died a natural death of old age after many years of being a man of the land."
"So I can never see him again?" Lovina whispered, her voice hoarse. The Mother was watching her with calculating blue eyes, hard as ice.
"I didn't say that!" Felicia protested, looking agitated, "It's just...."
It took a long time to explain to Lovina what Felicia, the Mother and the Father had decided upon, even by a immortal's terms. But finally, Lovina understood, and she agreed.
Antonio had waited for her to come back. He honestly had. He'd adopted her ritual of sitting by the window when dusk was gathering over the tall peaks to the west, and he'd scan the horizon, seeing if today would be the day she would come back to him.
The years had passed. Snow had fallen and melted, brilliantly colored flowers and his new year's crops would push up through the damp soil, and then turn brittle and die. Life began to repeat itself in a circle, and even though he prayed for Lovina's return, she never came back to him.
He was growing old. Streaks of silver shone in his slowly graying hair, wrinkles appeared where he had none before, and his back began to ache constantly as he puttered about his fields, tending to his plants. Antonio missed Lovina, and always, as the years passed and he slowly aged, he wondered what had happened that meant she couldn't come back to him.
Finally, the years got to be too much, and one night, in the very early hours of the morning just before the summer solstice, Antonio died.
And woke up in a lush meadow field. There was a gentle breeze kissing his cheek, and the sky was so blue it made his eyes water. The air reeked of the scent of the millions of delicate crimson flowers that surrounded him. All around the meadow, majestic purple peaks rose up into the achingly azure sky. It was heartbreakingly beautiful and for a moment, all Antonio could do was lie there and gape at the splendor that surrounded him.
Soon, though, the sound of someone singing made him sit up, and he suddenly realized that he didn't hurt anymore. A look at his hands revealed no liver spots, the skin young and smooth. He touched his face with one hand – all his wrinkles were gone, and all his hair back. Grinning, he rose to his feet and began to search for the source of the voice.
After stumbling up one hill and down another, he finally saw who it was. A young woman, with long chestnut hair and coffee-with-heavy-cream colored skin knelt at the side of a crystalline stream, singing to herself as she trailed her hand in the sparkling water. Antonio, in his shock, tripped, and flew down the hill, flying past Lovina and landing headfirst in the spring and splashing her with the icy cold water.
She laughed, and he laughed, and then she hit him for being so clumsy as he tried to get out fifty years' worth of words out in the space of a minute, and then they fell silent, staring into each other's green, green eyes.
"I missed you," she said, and her voice was as beautiful as he had always imagined it to be.
"I missed you too," he said back, almost delirious from happiness. And before she could protest, he pulled her close and kissed her. She'll deny it if you ask her, but Lovina kissed him back.
What Felicia and the Mother had decided, just so you know, was that Lovina didn't need to be in the dark to control the balance. No, she could be in the light of day and be able to explore and see the world if she had someone else to share the burden with, the yin to her yang.
She had gone into the dark room to repair the world while they waited for Antonio's time to come. When it did, Felicia grabbed his soul before it could leave this world and the Father, by pushing together soft dirt and mud, had created a new body for Antonio, one that meant he could be a human, and then the Mother, Felicia, the Father and Lovina had all added their essence to it, to grant it the ability to live as long as they did.
Antonio and Lovina explored the world, visiting the civilization of China and the ruins of ancient Greece. They watched during the Thirty Years' War and the Renaissance. They controlled the weather and made sure the earth stayed in balance with itself.
They're still happy to this day.
A gift for a friend, to thank her for her generous gift of a three month subby on dA to me! Um...yeah. I felt like writing a fairytale. It's Spain/Fem!EarthGoddess!Romano, if you couldn't tell. And I hope you enjoyed it. (PS - THIS THING WAS TEN PAGES LONG IN OPEN OFFICE.) (PPS - Yes, I genderbent Germania. Rome is the Father.)
Um...yeah. I felt like writing a fairytale. It's Spain/Fem!EarthGoddess!Romano, if you couldn't tell. And I hope you enjoyed it.
(PS - THIS THING WAS TEN PAGES LONG IN OPEN OFFICE.)
(PPS - Yes, I genderbent Germania. Rome is the Father.)