The irony of this is too much.
I had been invited to my beloved Eros and Clio’s baby shower. Not only did it still feel so strange to be included, but as some may know, the villainous fairy from the story of Sleeping Beauty was based on me. She, who was known for cursing a baby shower because she hadn’t been invited. The same way I cursed the wedding of Thetis and Peleus.
Thanks to the timing, the party was Halloween themed. This allowed me to complete the picture by dressing as the same character from the Disney movie of the same name. The cartoon, not the live-action, because I may be what Eggplant calls a hipster.
Bristling with excitement, I materialize in female form in my Maleficent grandeur, complete with green skin and horns. I barely have a moment to take in the sylvan setting before I am tackled by Eros, as he loves to do.
“Sup?” he asks playfully, peering down at me from where he has me pinned.
“Thank you for coming.” Clio giggles, smiling down at us.
Eros giggles as he helps me to my feet.
“Happy to be here.” I chuckle.
Other gods trickle in, some I recognize, some I don’t, and not just because of their disguises. My time away is highlighted in every strange face, but in a way that is to my benefit. I did say I wanted to start again.
I greet my Kallis warmly as she stomps in wearing a sexy devil-inspired outfit. She is trading barbs with Erebus, who is wearing plain clothes like the party-pooper he is.
Me, Atё, and Clio embrace for a moment before disentangling with a giggle.
“Maybe we shouldn’t let him in,” Clio snarks towards Erebus. I nod in approval at her pettiness.
“I’m okay with that,” Atё whispers, before heading for the alcohol.
“How are you feeling, my soul sister?” I turn to Clio.
“I’m feeling bloated.” She places her hand on her stomach. “How are you?”
“Horny.” I point up at my headpiece, laughing uproariously at my own joke.
Eros yells over, something about having a thousand children, from where he’s grandstanding with Erebus.
Clio scrunches her nose at him even as I laugh. Sounds pretty chaotic to me.
Clio and I move closer.
“Could you be more dramatic, E?” Eros asks the primordial, rolling his eyes.
“Could I be more dramatic? Is that like a serious question?” the embodiment of darkness demands with a smirk.
“I don’t know what to say. Are you challenging me? Because I will win a dramatic-off,” Eros scoffs.
“Fight! Fight! Fight!” I clamor, pumping my fists.
Erebus rolls his eyes at me.
I wink at him in response.
“Hey, tall, dark and more dark. How’s it hanging?”
“Pretty low.” He snickers to himself.
Over his shoulder, I see Artemis and Selene canoodling on a bench. Artemis makes eye contact with me and winks, holding up Selene’s hand.
I grin, locking eyes with the Huntress, and make my way towards the two moon goddesses.
“So what did y’all come as?”
Arty stands to show her full costume. A macabre yet stylish getup, with her hair in a very exaggerated updo and a fake dismembered hand perched on her shoulder. She is undoubtedly referencing something in pop culture I’m unfamiliar with.
“Very nice, Arty. Planning on lending a hand?” I laugh.
“I brought it for you, Eris.” Artemis chuckles.
“Always so sweet, sister dear. We can all use a helping hand now and then.” I wink suggestively at Selene.
“And I would think you would recognize me as the comic crazy Harley Quinn.” She grins maniacally.
“Yes.” I roll my eyes. “I think, back when I was on the street, I slept on a couple of issues of that,” I say with a mock toast gesture as I walk past them.
Clio and Eros call the events to order.
We seem to be starting with gifts. Generosity being so foreign to me, I am in awe.
“I may not have dressed up tonight,” Erebus walks over with his gift, somewhat apologetically, “but I did remember to bring the babies their first costumes.” He hands Clio matching dinosaur costumes. “It’s for next year when they’re walking.”
“My children will be raptors!” Eros screams in utter delight, Clio giggling despite herself.
How I have missed them. I lean into my Kallis as I laugh at their antics.
“Thank you all so much for bringing the gifts to us. I love them!”
“Ready for the gender reveal?” Eros holds out his hand for Clio’s hand.
“I wonder what it will be! So many possibilities!!!” I squeal with glee.
“Really? It’s like fifty-fifty.”
My attention officially garnered, I swerve towards Erebus, switching briefly to my non-binary form before reverting back to female.
“As something older than dirt, you should know that’s not true.” I wink at him.
Erebus nods at me, tapping his nose.
“Right, you are Eris. Thank you for correcting me. I’m still learning after so many millennia.”
Regarding him warily but willing to give the benefit of the doubt, I smile in return.
Atё raises her glass in the air, clearing her throat.
“Given I have not been out of Tartarus that long, I did not bring a gift. Sooooooo… Don’t hold it against me.” She sighs, knocking her drink back.
“That is okay. You will be our immortal babysitter,” Clios says as she kisses Atë’s cheek.
“Wait, ew. No. Don’t sign me up for that,” my Kallis scoffs.
“Too late!” Eros snickers.
“I refuse!” Atё fires back playfully.
“My gift will come…later.” I wink at both Eros and Clio. “At the right time.”
Clio and Eros both arm themselves with a bow and arrow. Eros uses his signature one, and Clio borrows one from Artemis’ stock. They line up at the mark.
Their target, two massive black balloons at the edge of the field. Clio’s is titled Baby 1, and Eros’ is titled Baby 2.
Eros kisses Clio’s forehead before running back to his mark.
“Ready, Aren?” he asks.
“Ready,” she answers.
Eros releases his arrow, hitting the first balloon easily. Suddenly pink dust explodes into fireworks outlining the name Aurora.
“Damn it.” He sighs in mock disappointment.
Clio pulls back her arrow, aiming for the balloon. Blue dust explodes, and the fireworks outline Alexander.
She scrunches her nose at Eros.
“Damn it?” she says as they share a smile.
“I wanted a mini Din and me,” Eros answers as Clio kisses him softly.
“We did it.” She hums.
“You still can have that.” I nudge Eros. “Just either the mini-Din or the mini-you will also be a strong female character.” I bark out a laugh.
“Thank you, everyone!” Clio enthuses.
“I’m so excited! I’ve never had children before!” I squeal, earning some odd looks, but I’m used to that.
Eros smiles down at her, locking their hands together, kissing her knuckles.
“I love you.”
“I love—” She begins to reciprocate before frowning and placing a hand on her stomach. Her eyes widen, looking at Eros in concern. He frowns at her, looking down at her stomach. He cuts his gaze from her to Eileithyia, who is sprinting across the party, attempting to make her way to her patient.
Before I can do anything, a surge of energy rushes from Clio.
“The babies…they’re coming.” She swoons as she leans back on Eros.
My eyes go wide, and Atë grabs me. She pulls me to her in an instant, misting out just as the wave would have hit us. It knocks everyone else down before we blink back in. Eros looks like he’s about to panic. He’s staring at Eileithyia’s unconscious form.
He cradles Clio to him, staring up at Atë and me, the only two deities still standing.
“Ummmmmmm, how?!” Atë stammers. I don’t remember ever seeing her so out of control before.
I feel the panic and confusion in the room fill me like fire. I run to Clio’s side, pulling my Kallis with me.
“W-what am I going to do?” Clio looks up at me, breathing heavily.
“Atё, just breathe and get behind her,” I command.
Eros moves out from behind Clio, her grip like steel on both our hands.
“We got this,” he assures her.
“I don’t know what to fucking do!” Atё cries as she forms behind Clio, her hands in the air.
I ignore her for a moment, looking Clio dead in the eye.
“Hey, you,” I say firmly, forcing eye contact, “Look at me, okay? Breathe.”
Clio looks up at me, taking deep breaths.
“I can’t do this right now.” She breathes desperately.
“I can. I know it feels like too much right now. But you know all that confusion you’re feeling? All that panic and frenzy? You give it to me, okay? Just lay it all on me. I can take it for both of us.”
“O-okay.” Clio nods shakily, looking at me.
I feel the frenzy from Clio’s mind wash over me.
Atë takes off her fur coat and hands it over.
“Here, use this. I guess it’s not real fur anyway,” she says, her eyes still wide.
I position the coat under Clio’s legs.
“Brace against Atë.”
“Doesn’t she have to like lift her legs or something?” Atë asks wildly.
Clio lays against Atë, jabbing her side as I move between her now raised legs.
“Hey, I didn’t do this!” Atë snaps, jabbing Eros in turn.
“He is too far right now!” Clio screams.
“Eros, take her gods damned hand!” I growl at my nephew, his own shock fuelling the strength of my words.
Clio screams out, causing our brief break into mirth to cease immediately.
“Breathe for me, sweet soul sister, and push,” I command gently.
“Yeah, do the breathing thing,” Atë mumbles fervently as she rubs Clio’s shoulders.
“You think this never happened in my years on the streets?” I shudder ever so slightly, despite myself. “Girls were thrown out of their homes for precisely this reason. I’ve done this before.”
Clio screams. Eros screams. Hell, even Atë screams.
“I’m used to being the eye of a storm, but now that’s you, Clio. Breathe and center yourself,” I say, deadly serious for once. “Center yourself and push.”
Clio screams again, pushing as hard as she can.
I brace myself as I start to make out a small form pushing its way through.
“Almost…breathe,” I command.
Atë wipes the sweat-drenched hair off of Clio’s forehead.
“And…we have a girl!” I holler.
Eros and Clio smile at one each other, sharing a warmth that for one small moment I selfishly allow myself to feel a part of.
“Aurora,” Eros proclaims proudly.
“We need to cut the cord,” I hear someone say.
“I always have knives,” I say matter-of-factly, pulling one from the folds of my costume.
“That’s it, right??” Atë asks in tentative relief. “Oh, wait, there are two.” She sighs.
“Some mortals are in labor for over 72 hours,” Erebus mumbles unhelpfully from over Atë’s shoulder.
“A girl!” Artemis squeals with excitement.
“Who am I handing this thing to people? There’s another one coming! I can’t do everything!” I shout, allowing some of my control to slip. Eros appears by my side, arms outstretched. I place Aurora in his hands and ready myself for the next one.
“Breathe,” I say to myself as much as to Clio. “Push,” I command.
“And…” I strain, rubbing Clio’s legs as the second makes its way.
“It’s okay, Clio. You got this! You’re one of the strongest muses I know,” Atë says softly.
“A boy!” I say as I help ease the little man out.
“Alexander,” Eros says proudly, rocking Aurora with one hand and reaching for Alexander with the other.
As I cut his cord, Clio collapses against Atё, closing her eyes.
“A girl and a boy! How nice!” Artemis smiles.
Eros takes the fur jacket, wrapping the babies all up together.
Clio pushes one more time, giving one final exhausted scream, as the afterbirth comes out.
Finally, tears forming in my eyes despite myself, I start to allow myself to relax.
“Any more surprises for us?” Erebus looks to Clio and Eros.
“You did amazing, Clio,” I say in a stage whisper.
“I need a drink.” Atë sighs.
“We did it!” Eros cries, holding the children up for her to see.
“How precious,” Selene coos.
Clio embraces Atë and me, kissing our cheeks.
“Thank you,” she enthuses.
“Anytime.” I shrug with a wink.
Shaking her head free from the last vestiges of being knocked out, Eileithyia finally gets up. She comes over to Clio’s side, relieving Atë.
“I’ll take all four of you back to my office, and we can check them over,” the Goddess of Childbirth says, in her usual curt, professional tone. Eileithyia reaches out, touching Eros’ shoulder. She pops away with all four of them, heading for her office.
Atë stands, wiping the back of her pants off.
“Ew, ew, ew.” She gags. “I am covered in dirt and sweat. I so never want kids.” She recoils.
I look down at myself, far messier for being in the front row. I dematerialize and rematerialize in male form, still dressed as Maleficent, but clean of all the bodily fluids I had been covered in.
“Well, that’s not very nice,” Erebus smirks, chiding Atë playfully.
“I may be open to it, actually,” I say, enjoying the look of surprise that garners, giving the Primordial a nod of approval. “This has piqued my interest in the process. The other Eris had many children. It wasn’t something I necessarily considered for myself.”
Atë rolls her eyes with a wink before nodding at Erebus.
“I’m gross and ready to leave,” she says succinctly.
“Goodbye, my Kallis!” I exclaim. She smiles at me with that same smile that always makes my heart soar. “We did a thing here today,” I hum to her. “Be proud of that,” I say with complete sincerity, as for once I’m even proud of myself.
I was invited, and this time no one was scarred for life. No one was cursed or killed. This one time, I did okay.