I was still reeling from the intoxication of my victory at the swimming contest when we reached the bonfire. The smell of the wild boar and cow being roasted wafted into the air. I was ravenous from drinking and swimming. My stomach growled loudly; Iain chuckled at the sound. “We better get you something to eat, My Lady.” 

I giggled. “That sounds like a good idea.”

I saw a couple of satyrs stoking the bonfire as the flames burned bright, licking the night sky with a crackle every now and then. It was mesmerizing to watch, colors of orange and red flames celebrating their wild flickering in harmony with the nymphs who danced around it. The air was crisp, but the warmth emanating from the fire penetrated the wintry air with a vengeance. 

I made sure to grab some food before the music swept me off my feet and took control of my body. Iain pulled me into the dance floor, swaying to the music. The flames twinkled with every step as Iain spun me in delicate circles, my feet gliding on the soft earth. The music slowed into a gentler pace, twirling like threads around us. I rested my head on his chest and let him sway my body ‘round and ‘round again. I giggled and then laughed out loud; I’d never been this happy in a long time. I saw Nyx dancing as though she was one with the music. She took soft steps towards me, and gracefully took my hand from Iain. We danced around the bonfire a couple of times before she passed my hand to Thanatos, who stepped in graciously. He twirled me a couple of times before going for the dip. I laughed; he looked into my eyes and smiled. He pulled me up from the dip, and we continued to sail around the bonfire. The music spun around us, lifting away gravity. We didn’t count how many times he squished his foot over mine, but laughed as our heels clicked the soft earth. He watched me as my hair spun out and bounced with each step I took. It was dancing and art coming to life; strong pointed moves didn’t matter here. All that mattered was my family, the immortals present here today. This was perfect. 

At precisely that moment, I heard the soft whine from a wolf. Being the Goddess of the Wild, I can listen to the sound of any beast when they telepathically transmit a message to me. I turned to look towards the source of the voice, and at the edge of the firelight, found Jealousy, Dinlas’ wolf. My heart wept for her as I could see her still recovering from her wounds. I sent a healing spell her way to aid in her recovery. I saw Hate on the other side and heard their thoughts as they wished to come to greet me and replied to the message, sending them my love, but asking them to stay by Dinlas’ side. I looked at Dinlas; he looked forlorn and lost. For a moment, I felt sorry for not being there for him and sent a spell his way so he could find the touch of true love. 

Thanatos noticed the change in my bearing and offered to bring me a drink. I decided to go with him to the cask of Nyx’s special brew. He handed me a glass before taking one for himself. We walked towards the edge of the cliff away from the bonfire. I took a sip of the brew and felt the salty kiss of the ocean breeze as it tousled my long auburn hair that was let loose from the dancing. I looked up into the night sky and saw Orion shining bright, he twinkled as if in response to me. I missed him, but I did not say that to Thanatos, who stood beside me, drinking in the scenery. 

“Your mother did good on her new home, Than!” I said.

“Indeed, Eventide is her paradise.” He smiled as he looked at the dazzling blue of the ocean, the immaculate shores, and the elemental green of the vegetation of Eventide. 

I nodded in agreement. “Shall we head back? I don’t want to keep you away from the fun much longer.” 

Than opened his mouth to say something, then decided against it. He smiled and held my hand, guiding me back. 

As we reached the bonfire, I saw Nike and Eros running in opposite directions. I wondered where they were hurrying off to, but remembered that it was almost time for the fireworks and that Nike was sponsoring it. Eros seemed poised in his stead; perhaps he was out to knock his next target with the love arrow. I shook my head at my nephew’s antics, but couldn’t stop myself from smiling at his childishness. Jamie and Hyale were dancing as if no one was watching, his hands were all over her body, and she was all over him. I smiled at the couple. Bri was dancing with Casey, the reporter from Olympus 10 channel, that was a surprise! Phi was busy with Angus, one of the satyrs who accompanied Connor and Aunt Hestia. Iain came to join Than and I as the fireworks began in earnest. The colors from the fireworks lit up the velvety darkness of the night sky. There was chaos and predictability in their explosive, colorful gifts.

The first one laid stardust on all those viewing the fireworks. Everyone looked up in awe as the second firework burst into the sky right above my head, forming the mighty Orion with his bow and arrow. I smiled at the form and thought it a sweet gesture. The fiery sparks and colors from the fireworks executed many friendly innocuous shapes, drawing admiration from its viewers beneath the silky nighty sky. The last one took the form of Typhoon appearing in the middle of the ocean. Typhoon’s appearance triggered chaos just as the bonfire changed colors and popped abruptly, exploding a chalk bomb. Before Iain could do anything, Thanatos leaped over the fire, unfurled his large dark wings and pulled me into the cover of his wings. I opened my eyes to see Than’s white suit now covered in every color of the rainbow. I heard Nike’s gleeful laughter and grimaced at the Godchild. 

“Oh, Than! Thank…” that was all I could say before Than lurched forward to my shoulder and started giggling like a schoolgirl. He chuckled some more before grabbing my shoulder and mumbling something about a repeat of the year 1945. I tried to stop him, but he ventured off into the night, giggling and muttering to himself. My mind was distracted, but my senses were not, I could feel the oncoming arrow slicing through the air headed in my direction. I stood my ground and turned my torso in a swift motion just enough to see the white-feathered arrow before I caught it mid-air just inches from my left eye. I followed the trajectory of the shaft and saw Eros perched atop a tree. Our eyes met for a second before he jumped off the branch and took off in a sprint with his tigers Din and Las in tow. I will be sure to remember this night, Eros!

Artemis (Rashmi Menon)
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