DISCLAIMER: I do not own Once On This Island.
Author's Note: For the full summary of this story and all of my fan-fictions, check out my profile.
Dark clouds swarmed the sky, thunder booming like Agwe's great voice across the rolling sea. Shadows spilled about the village, and a fierce wind whipped the villagers' hair around their faces and made their loose clothes billow widely around them. Rain pattered softly on them, growing harder by the second until it sliced down like thin knives from the heavens.
"Another storm. Why must Agwe punish us so?" An old man grumbled to an old woman beside him, who was hustling into a small hut at the edge of the sea.
"Worry not of Agwe, but of all of the gods, for they make their decisions together." The old woman said pointedly, huddling the old man inside and shutting the door quickly.
There was darkness in the hut before the man lit a match and danced the flame over the numerous candles about the hut. The wind whistled outside, and the waves crashing against the shore continued to slap angrily against the rocky coast, threatening to loosen the already mud-slicked rocks.
The woman dared to look outside their small window, surveying the storm outside. She had a pained look on her face, wrinkles spreading from the corners of her eyes and indenting her face with sharp shadows.
As she gazed outside, a dark figure began to emerge from the haze of rain and shadow, crouched and limping heavily in a small shawl and dress. Straining to see, she saw another tall, dark figure appear beside the first, kneeling down to help the figure as she collapsed on the ground. The second figure seemed to take something from the first, then wrap his cloak around the kneeling figure as one would cover someone sick with a blanket.
The woman's hand swept to her mouth, face growing pale. The figure had removed his cloak, revealing the first figure lying still on the ground beside him. The second figure held the tight bundle he had received close to his chest, adjusting his tall hat. As he drew closer, the woman realized she was holding the windowsill tighter and tighter to keep her hands from shaking. More villagers shouted and ran to their dark huts when the figure walked by, wails of sorrow piercing through the rain as people crowded around the still figure on the ground.
The second figure kept walking, however, finally reaching what looked to be his destination; he stopped, and the villagers grew silent, not daring to stop or even go near the figure. The rain pounded on the roof of the woman's hut, and she could swear she heard her heart thudding madly in her chest.
The figure knelt down to the doorstep of a small hut very near the woman's own, placing the bundle softly in front of the door. He knelt down and put two fingers to his lips, removing them and gently placing them on the bundle. The woman gasped as the once still bundle began wailing and crying, slightly rocking back and forth on the doorstep.
As if sensing he was being watched, the figure turned around to face the villagers. He seemed to smirk for a second, and with a flourish, he swept his cape around him and vanished. Many gasps and murmurs erupted from the villagers, and the woman felt the man's hands grasp tight and warm against her shoulders.
The woman looked up, dumbfounded. "Julian...could it be...?"
The man looked at her, nodding slightly. Both of them looked out the window, at the porch where the bundle lay wailing and shrieking. The door finally opened, light flooding the night before cutting off quickly as a woman picked up the bundle and went back inside.
"Do you think we should?" Julian asked the woman carefully.
The woman grasped the man's hand tightly with her own. "No. If the gods chose them..." She took a tired breath. "...If Papa Ge chose them, they must be the ones to bear the burden of whatever this child's destiny may be."
"But what if - " Julian started. The woman put a finger to his lips.
"We mustn't meddle with the will of the gods." Her eyes flashed for a moment, reflecting the lightning striking silently outside. "...with, what must be, the will of Ti Moune."
"I was only doing the right thing!" Papa Ge shouted atop a great mountain. Lightning flashed, and anger played fiercely in his stone gray eyes; bones rattled against his bare chest as the wind whipped around him, a sight that would truly mean death to anyone.
"And since when have you ever thought of doing the right thing?" Erzulie demanded; her beautiful golden-brown hair remained still and perfect even in the storm, unaffected by rain or wind. Her delicate sarong, however, billowed around her, shimmering silver in the darkness.
Papa Ge crossed his arms, scowling. "I would think you'd be happy about saving a life; you should thank me."
"I should thank you for killing a sick woman, stealing her child, and giving it to another family?" Erzulie's blue eyes flared.
"She was dying anyway! Unable to care for the child." Papa Ge scoffed, looking slightly taken aback and offended.
"You could have brought her to me, or Asaka! We could've healed her, and helped her take care of the child!" Erzulie turned her back to him. "I knew we shouldn't have trusted you as a guide."
Papa Ge clenched his fists. "You wouldn't have done a better job! She was half-dead when I came to her, not to mention her child was on its own deathbed! You would've called me anyway!" He placed his hands on his hips. " 'Oh, Papa Ge, she's beyond help. Please guide her spirit home! Oh, Papa Ge, can you return life to this child? Oh, Papa Ge, can you deliver the child away?' " Papa Ge mimicked Erzulie's voice perfectly, widening his eyes with mock pleading.
With her back still to him, Erzulie said fiercely, "Enough. What's done is done." A sudden boom of thunder made her look to the skies. "Agwe's storm has almost blown over. I should find Asaka. Get Agwe for me, okay?"
Papa Ge stood, incredulous, as Erzulie disappeared in a puff of sparkles. He let out an exasperated sigh. "Stupid beauty queen!", he shouted to no one in particular.
He sat down cross-legged in the grass, resting his elbows against his knees. A daisy was growing in front of him, and he glared at it intensely, causing it to shrivel and wilt. With a wave of his hand, he brought it to its original state just as it was about to turn to ash. He continued this cycle for a while, until the rain grew thinner and the stars came out. He sighed, standing next to the now-dead daisy.
"Agwe!" Papa Ge called, cupping his hands around his mouth. A split-second later, a tall, tan figure wearing a tye-dyed blue toga appeared in a burst of water beside him, shaking water from his dirty blond hair.
"Nothing like a storm to start your morning!" Agwe said brightly; his blue eyes churned, as blue and dark as miniature tempests. "Where're the girls?"
"Coming." Papa Ge grumbled, crossing his arms. Sensing his fellow god's distress, Agwe clapped a hand on Papa Ge's shoulder.
"Ah, love goddess got your tongue again?" He winked, and Papa Ge scowled at him. The grass beneath his feet died instantly.
"Excuse me!" Papa Ge turned around at the sound of Asaka's rich voice. She had her hands on her hips, her green, earthy robes cascading down her dark legs. She wore a leaf crown atop her curly dark brown hair, and she was tapping her foot impatiently; more daisies and flowers sprang up around her, and the grass returned to its vibrant state.
Papa Ge smiled slyly. "Ah, sorry Asaka. I forgot how attached you were to grass."
"Just shut up and explain what happened. I don't know about you, but I could really use some good news right now." Asaka growled, sitting cross-legged in the grass. A small tree shot up from the ground beside her, and she picked an apple from it and began to munch it heartily.
Papa Ge narrowed his eyes, rolling them. "That's not what you're going to get, according to Erzulie. But, if you ask me - "
"You see, Asaka," Erzulie interrupted, walking up beside her and placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Papa Ge killed an innocent woman and gave her child away. Being an Earth Mother yourself, you must understand how hard it is to have something you created taken or destroyed."
Asaka rolled her eyes. "Tell me about it. Just try telling that to skull-face over there."
Papa Ge clenched his fists again, stomping his foot and turning the grass around him yellow and shriveled once more. "I told you what happened! I was only trying to -"
There was a roll of thunder, making all three gods flinch. Agwe crossed his arms, rain falling softly around him. "Would you two stop your bickering and think for a moment?"
Asaka stood, crossing her own arms beside him; Papa Ge and Erzulie were staring at each other fiercely. "Agwe's right. Let's use our heads for more than punching sacks, please." Papa Ge and Erzulie turned their backs on each other, both wearing equal looks of contempt.
"So, who did you give this child to, exactly?" Agwe asked, joining the gods as they all sat down in a small circle.
Papa Ge leaned back with his hands behind his head, a thick, black smoke elevating his head like a pillow. "I gave it to a family I've been observing for a while; I recently guided their elderly grandmother to the spirits, and her kin asked me to ask her..." He jerked his thumb in Erzulie's direction, "...to watch over them kindly." He scowled, as if the words tasted too sweet on his tongue.
"Why did you continue to watch them, then?" Asaka asked, playing with a piece of bark between her fingers; as she turned it, it turned into a lump of coal, then a diamond, then back to a piece of bark.
"Erzulie asked me to, just until she could find the time in her love life to visit them." Papa Ge responded, crossing his arms over his chest and smirking.
Erzulie turned bright scarlet. "I did not! I asked you to spy on them for me for a while just in case they were too black-hearted to receive some of my power. I thought you'd be able to tell me, being so black-hearted yourself!" Erzulie said matter-of-factly. Papa Ge gave her a dirty look.
"Do I look like a servant to you?" Papa Ge demanded, the light around the gods growing dim and still. His eyes shifted from one god to another, as if daring them all to challenge him.
"Both of you, stop!" Asaka put her arms out between them, creating a large stone between the love god and death god just as they were about to collide. "Erzulie, you're being far too bossy, and Papa Ge, far too difficult. Moving on." Asaka saw both gods grumble softly to themselves, but keep quiet.
Agwe had a hand on his chin, a serious look on his face. "Back to the matter of the child. Now that we've openly expressed that we saved her life, we could have a Ti Moune incident all over again if we're not careful." All the gods fell silent in memory; even Papa Ge's eyes seemed to soften at the thought of the young dreamer they had blessed only three years ago at the Hotel Beauxhomme. Now, she stood tall and grand as a glorious tree that would live for eternity.
"Should we dispose of the child, then?" Agwe said quietly, breaking the silence.
"No. Now that we've given time for its new family to love it, however short, we should at least wait until it's old enough and healthy enough to fend for itself before deciding anything." Erzulie responded, her voice equally small.
"But then...who shall be her loa..." Asaka murmured, deep in thought.
Papa Ge remained silent as the other gods went through the qualifications.
"She looked only but a few days old, by the looks of it, not born of peasant origins." Asaka said, turning to Agwe. "And she was found in your storm."
Agwe shook his head. "I only have immediate claim to those who are born in a storm, not those found. What of you, Erzulie?"
"I have already have other peasant children in my care." Erzulie shook her head slowly; she turned to Asaka. "Are you able to take her?" Her eyes widened in despair as Asaka shook her head, a serious expression on her face.
"I was not the one to deliver her, nor was I the one to watch over her birth. The only one who did was..." Asaka's voice trailed off as the gods all turned to Papa Ge.
Papa Ge stared at them, dumbfounded. "Me? Who would want the God of Death as their loa? Not even the most desperate family would accept that."
"You are the only one." Erzulie said sadly. "All of us are not able."
"You did deliver the child to its new family." Agwe pointed out.
Papa Ge turned his back on his companions. "No. I cannot do it. Besides, how will this child accept that the one who took her mother...and her father...is now her guardian?" There was a long silence as Papa Ge waited for one of the gods to answer. "The answer is, she won't!" he responded flatly.
"Then she must not know." Erzulie said quietly, sadly. Agwe and Asaka exchanged equal looks of concern, but Papa Ge didn't meet any of their gazes.
"If you are so certain she will be cast out and ashamed of being guided by you, then why not keep it a secret?" The Goddess of Love continued, her pale blue eyes full of compassion for Papa Ge.
He avoided her gaze as he replied, "I don't need your compassion, or anyone's. All I want is for this child to go through life without the suffering of being cast out."
His statement went unanswered as the gods contemplated Papa Ge. Though he seemed hard and cruel on the outside, it was moments like these when his true nature would show; show that he actually had feelings of love and sympathy that he would share only briefly with his fellow gods.
"Even if she doesn't find out who her guardian is right away," Agwe said quickly, "she will still wonder why she hasn't received her token." Every time they decided to take guardianship over a peasant, the gods would always send a token or some kind of sign showing which god was to decide their fate; and thus, which god for them to pray to throughout the course of their life.
"However, she only receives her token once she turns sixteen, at the shrine ceremony." Erzulie pointed out. She furrowed her brow, no wrinkles creasing her beautiful face however strained her expression was. "And besides, what token shall we bestow upon her? Something neutral, perhaps?"
"Let's cross that bridge when we get there." Asaka said firmly, her voice strong. "For now, we wait. It's nearly morning, and I have some business about the mountains to attend to. Papa Ge, I'll need your help?"
"Of course." Papa Ge stood as Asaka did, and Agwe looked out toward the east, where the sun was just peeking over the crest of the hills. "I must return to the sea."
Erzulie sighed sadly. "I guess it's my turn to watch the village, then. All right, gods, till nightfall."
"Till nightfall." The other gods said in unison. And in different flurries of smoke and mist, they were gone, only Asaka's small apple tree remaining atop the mountain.