hen the snows of February were deep on the Island of Scotland, it was not so on the Fortunate Isle. Through thick clouds of incense and herbs burned on thuribles and pain I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She, like her father in his youth, had masses of red hair. Her birth, something that might normally have been hailed as a fortuitous event upon the Isle, for me there was only a strong sense of foreboding.
Morgienne, was then High Lady of the Fortunate Isle, leaned down and affixed a kiss to my brow, “It was well done of you today, Faelyn, ” she said,” you have brought a blessed girl-child to us. She, like you, and your mother and grandmother will learn the Old Ways.”
My foster mother carefully took the child that lie sprawled across my belly, awash in blood and afterbirth. With a flick of the wrist she cut the cord leaving a length to tie off at the child’s belly. Morgienne and my sister-Priestess, Ravienne, bathed the newborn child. The babe squalled loudly with lungs that could have shaken the foundations of heaven announcing her birth. I was weak and shuddering, unable to speak in much more than a whisper.
“We must name her, ” I nearly croaked,”she reminds me of her fath….” I stopped myself, realizing that my deception would be learned all too quickly if I were to continue, “she reminds me of the man who sired her, may the Gods bless his sacrifice.”
“Yes, ” Morgienne nodded, “he has left his mark upon her, but she will have your dark eyes, Faelyn,” Morgienne carefully re-wrapped the babe that was by now red faced in her frustration.
When my daughter was re-swaddled, she handed the child to me so that I might feed her. Hungrily, the babe took a ripe nipple and began to suckle immediately. “Perhaps we could consult the astrologers and see what name would suit best. Or did you have a name in mind already?”
I let myself relax as I felt my milk begin to let down at the child’s nursing, “Aye, Mother,” I said, “I have thought of calling her Maeve, after my own grandmother, if that would be alright with you.”
Morgienne nodded the cowl of her robes drawn tightly about her face in this light made her appear far older, “Maeve is a good name. Your grandmother would be pleased I am sure. Still, ” she almost seemed to sniff disdainfully, “I will still want to talk with the other Priestesses, and with the astrologers to make certain in any case. ”
Morgienne had always made me more than a bit uncomfortable. As High Lady of the Fortunate Isle and my foster mother, once she discovered my ruse, and surely in time she would, she could snatch my child from me and have me banished from the Isle. I knew that I was now on borrowed time. Morgienne was not one to be trifled with.
Young Maeve nursed hungrily and punched her tiny fists against my breast impatiently as Morgienne and Ravienne looked on. I could not take my eyes off my newborn daughter, for truly she was the most beautiful creature that I had ever laid eyes upon. What they say is true, a woman does not know love at all until that moment when she brings forth her child for the first time. I was sore and exhausted and yet my love for this tiny creature was something that I was altogether unprepared for.
“I will send a light meal for you, Faelyn,” Morgienne turned toward the doorway, “but for now you must rest.” Ravienne followed her and I caught sight of the younger priestess touching the elder’s shoulder. I would have felt a pinprick of apprehension if it had not been for my babe which took most of my awareness away. I overheard concerned whispers in the corridor outside of my door, and knew that my fears were not at all unfounded. I was able, thankfully, to send word to Nuada of Maeve’s birth through one of my own messengers.
Four days later, at the pier near the waters where I had parted the mists, I handed my newborn daughter to Murron, who was handmaiden to Queen Aisling. Aisling, as acknowledged consort to Nuada, would be able to better protect Maeve from both Morgienne and from the war for control that was coming between Morgienne and myself.
With tears, I handed the tightly swaddled bundle to Murron. Leaning down, I brushed my lips over the forehead of my sleeping daughter, knowing it would be many years, it must be many years before I ever saw her again. In that moment, my heart was breaking, but not to do this now, would surely see Maeve’s death, as well as my own.
“You were right to send her to us, Faelyn,” Murron said softly, “Nuada was overjoyed at the news of the birth of your daughter. Never fear. She will be well cared for.”
“Tell him….” my voice broke as I fought back the overwhelming urge to snatch the babe back from her,” tell him to make sure that when the child is old enough that she knows…about her father.”
Murron nodded just as the ferryman gave a short curt whistle signalling of sensed danger. We would surely be spotted if we tarried longer. My friend gathered the child to her breast and stepped onto the boat. Within two breath falls, the ferryman disappeared into the mist, and they were gone.
It was in that moment that my heart shattered into a million pieces and the Fae Wars had begun.
I sometimes wonder if sending my child away to be with her foster father was worth the sacrifice.
Muse: Fanny Fae
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology
Word Count: 1000