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A little Christmas present for Oshun: a blend of the oshun!verse & Pandë!verse.

She tucked her bare feet under her robe, trying to warm them after padding down the frigid stone stairs from her bedchamber where she had retrieved a treasured book. Her mother wrapped the thick wool blanket around them both in the wide chair and opened the pages of the picture book that her cousin had made for her, giving it to her for her fourth begetting day last spring.

Her mother took care in turning the pages, patiently answering her many questions about those whose portraits were painted or sketched in the book. Mother opened the page to a picture that always fascinated her: the one of the man with hair as vivid as flame and the black-haired man with gold threads in his great plaits, standing together with the backdrop of a grey stone fortress with heavy turrets and parapets that rose high against the pale sky. It was a winter scene, and surely as cold as it was here where the winds howled down from the Hithaeglir.

“Tell me again about them, Mama. The tale about what you saw under the mistletoe.”

“You never tire of that story, do you, little one?”

She shook her head “no,” and her mother began the little story, her voice as warm as wool.

“I was not much older than you are now when I journeyed with my mama and papa to the great fortress on Himring Hill. It was my first Winter-feast with all my kin. I thought them all very frightening with their brave laughter and that fire in their eyes. But Káno and Nelyo, here in the picture, were so kind to me. They carried me about, feeding me sweets when Mama wasn’t looking, and singing the loveliest songs from the Blessed Lands to me, songs that I long remembered thanks to their beautiful voices and that I now sing to you, my child.

“Later, when Papa carried me to bed, I looked over his shoulder at the great hall. There under one of the arches stood Nelyo and Káno, embracing beneath the sprigs of mistletoe that hung above them.

“‘Papa,’ I said. ‘See there! Nelyo and Káno are kissing!’

“My father turned around to look at them, a smile on his face. ‘Yes, they are.’

“‘But they are boys.’

“‘Indeed they are.’ He then turned and continued up the stairs.

“‘But I thought only girls were supposed to kiss boys.’

“‘That happens more often than not,’ said my father, ‘but not always. Love is something to be celebrated, and it is not for us to judge who should love another.’

“My father helped me put on my nightgown in the cold bedchamber that I shared with him and my mother. He lay down beside me to keep me warm and help me fall asleep.

“‘Papa,’ I said. ‘I think I love them. Káno and Nelyo.’

“‘How could you not?’ my father said.”

A blast of wind rattled the windows then, the flames in the hearth guttered, and her mother stopped speaking. She wanted her mother to continue the familiar story that would next take her down a snowy slope on a sled, seated in front of Káno, while Nelyo shouted encouragement from the bottom of the hill. She looked up and saw the sad expression on her mother’s face.

“I wish I could have known them, Mama. Káno and Nelyo. I think I could have loved them, too,” she said. With her small finger, she traced the tear that tracked down her mother’s cheek.

Her mother smiled through her sadness.

"How could you not?"
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December 2015

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