TITLE: Baby Love
GENRES: Mythology, fantasy, comedy, romance/love.
SUMMARY: Here comes Love--dressed in a quiver and diapers! An original myth.
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2002.
LENGTH: 4100+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Mild adult language, mild adult themes.
COPYRIGHT: This story and all characters, unless otherwise stated in the Disclaimers, are copyright © tehuti_88 and may not be used or distributed without permission. The reader is free to print out or download a copy of this story for offline reading as long as the author's copyright information remains upon it. Please do not distribute; if you wish to share this story, send a link to this page.
DISCLAIMERS: Certain characters are from Egyptian mythology. Although aspects of this story are loosely based on Egyptian mythology and culture, artistic license has been taken as this is a FANTASY story. Please take note that this story was written around 2002 and that my writing style and understanding of the mythology I created may have changed vastly in the meantime.
ADDITIONAL INFO: NA.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This short story ties in with the other Kemet short stories and/or the Kemet/Egyptian mythology as I make use of it in my writing; as such, it might not make much sense out of context. This is just a light little comedy piece, nothing too deep. We all know that Hathor is the goddess of love. But how exactly did she receive this position? Answer: Lots of practice, for which an early start was quite necessary. And before anyone else goes correcting me--yes, I'm aware that the bow-and-arrow concept of love is a Greco-Roman thing, but 1. the Greeks and Romans borrowed a lot else from ancient Egypt, I don't think this idea is too farfetched to believe in, at least compared to the junk they let pass in the Mummy and Scorpion King movies; and 2. arrows just seem like Hathor's style, wouldn't you agree? One error--"inches" are mentioned--nowadays I'd use a less modern measurement.
"OW! OW!! OOWWWWWW!!!"
Khenti Amenti trotted about in the otherwise empty courtyard of the palace of Ra in celestial Iunu, wincing and yowling. A small toddler clung onto his tail with both hands, her feet digging into the ground as he pulled her in circles, giggling and laughing. This had been going on for about ten minutes. He feared it would only go on for ten or twenty or thirty more. Gods, this child had a strong grip, like that of a crab.
"Would you let go please?" he cried, kicking a few times, dragging his hindquarters, nipping at his rear end, whatever might make her leave him alone. "Don't you know you're not supposed to pull on a wolf's tail? It's not very safe, for your information!"
She just laughed and yanked on his tail, earning a grimace. "Dumb doggy! Dumb doggy!"
"How many times do I have to tell you I'm NOT A DOGGY?!"
Khenti growled and dug his own paws into the ground, straining; when she let go he yelped and went flying into the pool with a splash. She landed on her bottom, and when his head popped out of the water he saw her eyes well up and her lip quiver, but as soon as she saw him, sopping wet, she beamed again and clapped her hands, laugh echoing throughout the courtyard.
Khenti bared his teeth and muttered under his breath. He crawled out of the pool, a lilypad crowning his head; he stood upon the tiles and shook himself off so hard that the child ended up soaked. She took a deep breath and let out a wail that could probably be heard in the Duat itself.
Khenti's eyes widened and he hastened toward her, waving his paws and shushing. She didn't even appear to notice him, her mouth so wide he bet he could have crawled down her throat if he wished. GODS did she have good lungs!
"Shh! SHHHH!!" he hissed in desperation. "I didn't mean it. It's only water anyway! The same thing you take a bath with! Right?"
The child paused to take a deep breath, then started screaming even louder than before--if that was possible. "GAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"
Her nursemaid, or the sun god, must surely have heard her by now. Cringing, tail between legs, Khenti scurried off to hide behind the columns. A moment or so after he'd done this, she spotted a shiny green scarab beetle bumbling by, and her scream stopped abruptly. Her eyes grew wide and she crawled along after it, oohing and ahhing.
Khenti let out his breath and slumped to the ground. He wiped a paw across his forehead. Little Hathor was only two and a half years old, yet she had the crushing grip of an ape and the lungs of a wild baboon. He had been assigned, once again, to keep her occupied while her father was busy with other matters, and as usual, he accepted only grudgingly. If it hadn't been Ra himself asking, he would never have said yes.
He scowled as he watched her crawl, then toddle, then crawl around the courtyard after the scrambling bug. He felt he'd put up with her more than enough. When she'd pulled up all the lilies in her father's favorite pool, he'd taken the blame for her. When she'd burned half the fur off his tail by sticking it in one of the oil lamps, he'd taken it with barely a yipe. ("My behind was cold," he'd told Lord Thoth, who could only roll his eyes.) Even when she'd wandered out of the palace and disappeared for a few hours, only to be found in the back kitchens laughing and spreading flour all over the floor, he'd pretended her absence had been his fault. But this was getting to be far too much to bear. Everyone had talked of the "terrible twos"--he'd had no idea just how TERRIBLE they truly were. Until he'd met Hathor!
Right now, she was trying to pick up the scarab. The beetle, objecting, spread its wings and flapped up to land on her nose. Hathor's eyes grew and she started screaming again. Khenti didn't feel like trying to stop her this time; it was actually quite funny.
Only when he saw one of the nursemaids finally come hurrying out of the palace did he curse under his breath and pop up, rushing over to be by her side. As the woman approached, panting for breath, he stood beside Hathor making silly gestures and faces, talking in a singsong manner. Hathor's scream died down slowly as the beetle crawled up her face, over her tiny diadem to perch on her head. She seemed to like this and grinned from ear to ear, holding up her hands to gesture at her new headdress.
"Ah goo goo goo," Khenti babbled, as the nursemaid arrived. She looked them both over with a confused expression, before fixing her stare on him. Ah! To them it was always his fault!
"Did I hear her screaming? Did she hurt herself again?"
What do you mean, again? The screaming you heard the last time was ME! "No, she's fine," Khenti said, smiling pleasantly. "She just found a new friend--" he patted the scarab, which flared its wings "--and was enjoying the fine day. I take it your day's going well, also, Lady?"
The woman frowned at him, as if not quite believing his tale, yet didn't call him on it. "Well," she returned. "My day was going well, until I heard screaming fit to raise the dead. You know you'd best keep a very close eye on her. She's at that stage where she'll do anything she pleases, and you'll be able to say nothing to stop her."
Khenti's mouth twitched--Will she ever not be like that?--but he smiled again and bowed. "Thank you, Lady, for your concern. Lady Hathor and I were actually having quite an amusing time. Isn't that right, bitty one?"
Hathor clamped onto his nose with one fist. "Dumb doggy!"
Khenti managed to bite his tongue, tears squeezing from his eyes and a yelp caught in his throat. The nursemaid frowned once more but nodded and turned to walk away. Only when she was gone did he let out his breath and add "AAAGGGGGHHHH!!"
He covered his throbbing nose with his paws. Hathor squealed with laughter, rocking back and forth and pointing. "Loud doggy! Dumb doggy!"
"I'm--not--a--stupid--DOGGY!!" Khenti yelled. Fortunately, this didn't upset her any, and he was able to walk away a bit, grumbling, without her throwing another tantrum. He sat down and tried to think of a better way to keep her busy--because if this kept up much longer, he had no doubt he would go insane.
How to keep a toddler occupied?
He turned to see her bumbling her way toward the palace, and rose to his feet, hurrying to stop her before she wandered inside. As much as he doted on her, Ra disliked being disturbed when he was busy; which was why the task of taking care of her had fallen to Khenti. He wasn't certain why the sun god considered him qualified enough for this, when he wouldn't even let him spit-polish his sandals; yet he must have had a good reason. Punishment, most likely. He latched onto the back of Hathor's collar with his teeth and gently lifted her into the air, carrying her, laughing and clapping, away from the palace entrance.
"'E have to 'ind a 'ay to keep you 'usy," he mumbled around his mouthful of linen, depositing her near a column. She picked up a loose bit of tile and threw it at him, hitting him in the face, then screaming with laughter. Khenti briefly wondered what it would be like to be a true wild wolf. Savage. Feral. A mangler of small irritating children.
He shook his head to clear it of the blasphemous yet appealing thought and sighed. Then he brightened. Turning back to Hathor, he smiled sweetly and hoped she wouldn't take it as an invitation to bite his ear.
"Oh, little bitty one! Your daddy's inside, did you know that? Visiting with his own mommy, your grandmother, Lady Neith, did you know that?"
"Smelly doggy!" Hathor chimed.
Khenti grated his teeth yet forced his smile to remain. "Your daddy and grandmommy are talking to each other in the main hall. How about the two of us go looking around a little bit while they're busy? Just you and me. What do you say?"
Hathor's eyes grew. Then she smiled and babbled, clapping her hands. Khenti smiled again.
"All right then, but you have to keep quiet! They can't know we're inside--it's a big secret! Yours and mine. Get it?"
The child stood and grabbed onto his tail. Khenti bit back a yelp and, grinding his teeth once more, dragged her inside the building, her heels digging into the floor all the way. He vowed that, even if he did find a suitable wife, by the Paut, he would never have children.
It was a good thing Ra's and Neith's meeting kept them so preoccupied, as it gave Khenti and his charge plenty of time to poke around the numerous empty rooms of the palace. The great sun palace of Iunu was rivaled by almost none other, the entire building in shades of gold, decorated all throughout with lotuses and scenes of the primeval island from which Ra had arisen. Hathor oohed and ahhed at the star-studded ceilings and blue-tiled floors, painted with fish mimicking those in the river, the walls emblazoned with reeds and palm trees and wild animals. It was almost as if they walked through the Delta itself. Only without mosquitoes.
"Pretty, you like?" Khenti commented, glancing back at the murmuring toddler. "Imagine how long it took to make all this. I'm betting somebody's hands were hurting from painting it. Glad I'm not an artist type."
The hallways only got bigger and wider and taller and more echoing as they went along, going deeper within. Khenti felt a twinge of unease at trespassing so far inside, but what fun was snooping around anyway without some sense of danger?
Hathor seemed to agree, so he didn't complain. In fact when he came to the hall that he knew housed Lady Neith while she was staying in the palace, he paused and peered at the partly open door, ears flicking every which way. Oh, he was so very tempted.
"Mmmm," he murmured. "Probably not a good idea. She can be...well, little one, let's just say that she can be quite outspoken. Let's pray to the Paut that you don't take after your father's side." He winced when he thought of her equally temperamental mother. "Or your mother's...let's just hope you take after your sisters, or your grandfather, all right?"
"Wa wa wa ama ama unga ooeee!" Hathor sang, pulling on his tail. He took that to mean "I agree wholeheartedly!" and sniffed at the door once again.
"Well...she is busy speaking with Ra...and if I know those two, they're likely to be babbling long into the night. There can't be any real harm in just having a look around...seeing how the other half lives. What do you say? Shall we?"
Hathor beamed and nodded. "Dumb doggy!"
His teeth were about to snap off with how hard he ground them. "I'm not a doggy," he muttered, and nudged the door open with his nose. Still dragging the child along after him, he slipped inside, the door slowly going shut behind them.
Inside it was a veritable treasure trove for a curious canine. Khenti's eyes lit up as he started to wander around. Hathor let go of his tail and plodded about also, so he allowed himself to forget about her for a moment. Over here beside the canopied bed was an ornate wooden box which he just had to open. Inside were several compartments for cosmetics. Another box housed mirrors of different sizes, and tweezers, a razor, and other similar items. He didn't like to think of their use. He shut the boxes and looked about for something more interesting. A chest decorated with lions' heads drew his attention; he knew it just had to house something spectacular.
"Ooooooo!" he sighed when he peered within. He nudged back the lid and drew out a pectoral of gold and malachite, holding it up to his neck. "This would fetch a good price! Perhaps you should take after your grandmother after all, bitty one, for at least she has taste."
He turned about to show her the necklace when something whirred over his head, smacking into the lid of the box with a thud. His eyes nearly fell out when he saw the shaft of the arrow, still quivering, just inches from his face.
Hathor stood at the other side of the room, somehow wielding a small, decorative bow. She let it down and started laughing, pointing at him.
"Scared doggy!" she crowed.
Khenti could only stare at the arrow that had nearly pierced his head. It was a moment or so before he could regain his voice, and it only rose the closer he got to her, stalking with the fur on his hackles raised.
"Are--you--completely--INSANE?" He reached her and waved his paws wildly. "That is NOT a toy! You could have KILLED me with that thing! Where did you even get it? You put it back RIGHT NOW! A child playing with a bow and arrows--this is MADNESS!"
Hathor stared at him as he ranted, and her lip began to quiver. Her large dark eyes filled up with tears. Khenti cut himself off just in time to notice this, and tried to retract what he'd said, but by then it was too late. The child let out a howl and squinched her eyes shut, her face going red as tears streamed down her chubby cheeks.
"MEAN DOGGY!" she wailed.
Khenti cringed. "I didn't mean it that way, you're not crazy, it's just--that bow--that's so dangerous! Look, just give it to me, and I'll go steal--I mean--fetch you a nice treat from the kitchens, yes? Just you and me, pilfering your father's food store. Won't that be fun! I'll let you roll around in the flour this time! You can even pour it all over me! What do you say...?"
Even as he cajoled, he took hold of the bow in one paw and tugged on it, trying to pull it free. Hathor's anguished look quickly grew stubborn, and her fingers wrapped around the wood even tighter. The wolf found himself playing tug-of-war over the weapon, losing to a mere two year old. He grabbed it with both paws and gave a heave; Hathor dug her feet into the floor and refused to give it up.
"Come on, bitty one," Khenti grunted, straining. "Just give me the little toy and we can go to the kitchens!"
"No!" Hathor snapped.
"It's not yours. Give it to me and let me put it back where it belongs!"
"No! Mine!" To his surprise she finally did let go of it, only for him to go flying across the room, landing in a pile of boxes with a resounding crash. Why, oh why hadn't he expected that? Hathor hurried forward and grabbed the bow from him before he could regain his balance, and fled before he could catch her.
Khenti panicked. That bow was Neith's! Certainly she would notice such a distinct item missing once she left! He pushed himself up, leaving the boxes as they were, and ran after her. "Little Lady! That belongs to your grandmother! YOU DON'T WANT TO MAKE HER MAD!"
"My bow!" Hathor retorted, bumbling out of the room.
How does she even know what it IS? Khenti quailed, hurrying out into the hallway to catch up with her.
For a toddler, she was quite fast. He left the room just in time to see her disappear around a corner, and hastened to follow--only to find himself in a seemingly endless hall, with a seemingly endless number of doorways. He put his paws to his face and nearly screamed. Lady Neith wouldn't be staying at the palace for long--which meant that soon she would discover her overturned boxes and her missing weapon. How had that child learned how to handle a bow, much less fire an arrow from it, anyway!
"It must be hereditary," he muttered, and started sniffing about, trying to pick up her scent.
A voice suddenly caught his attention, from the far end of the hall. It was very distant, but very distinct. Lady Neith!
"...very powerful, which is why I had hoped I could find someone more appropriate to handle it. The task becomes bothersome for me; I have hardly any time to do it anymore. It's a pity none of your older children seem apt for it."
A second voice replied--God Ra's voice--and Khenti only panicked even further. "I had hoped so, also; but none of them seem inclined toward the duty. Perhaps when they are older. I would prefer them to better understand as well the importance of what they would be doing. One doesn't simply do this on a whim."
"True. I believe I'll just take it back with me for now. I can handle the duty of spreading love, for a little while longer, I suppose."
Two shadows finally appeared, coming closer, the clacking of their sandals clearly audible by now. Khenti glanced about desperately, whistling under his breath, trying to locate the missing toddler. She was nowhere within sight. He would have to take the chance that she would remain so, at least until the two deities had passed. He jumped back behind a column, just as he remembered the state he'd left Neith's room in. He grimaced and wished he'd at least closed and locked the door--perhaps then she could have been persuaded that a random whirlwind had passed through!
He pressed himself as flat to the column as he could when Lady Neith passed, leaving her son behind. A moment later he clearly heard her exclaim, even one hall over, "My room!" and he cringed again. Ra, still further down the hallway, craned his neck to see, then started in the same direction before a third voice stopped him.
"Hathor? Hathor! Where are you?"
Khenti's ears pricked and he dared to peer out. He recognized the voice as that of Hathor's mother, Nebhet Hotep, the Great Royal Wife. What was SHE doing here!! Even as he could still hear Neith fussing about in her quarters, a third set of footsteps came closer and he knew that his and Hathor's absence had been noticed. Could this day get any worse?
Hathor suddenly toddled out from behind another column--how had he not even seen her before?--and, giggling, lifted the little bow. His jaw dropped when he saw her fit an arrow to it--where had she gotten that?--and, laughing, she fired it directly at her father.
Khenti managed to get out a wheezing choking sound before the arrow hit. Hathor giggled again and darted back behind the column before her father could even see her, as if playing hide-and-seek.
Ra blinked and started, taking a step back as the arrow struck him square in the breast. Khenti felt his own heart almost stop as he waited for the god to fall over, but that didn't happen. Instead the arrow disappeared, vanishing into thin air as if it had never existed. His eyes goggled. Ra placed a hand to his chest, seeking what had hit him, before Nebhet's voice came again, closer this time.
"Hathor! Khenti Amenti! Where are you? Are you down here? Hathor--?"
Ra turned around. The goddess emerged from a hallway behind him, looking around herself with a worried expression. "Hathor--? Oh!" She noticed Ra and gasped, bowing. "Majesty!...I had no idea you were here. I was looking for our daughter. I can't seem to find her anywhere..."
Ra just stared at her as if he'd never seen her before. Khenti held his breath. After a moment or two of this Nebhet's brow furrowed and she looked mildly uncomfortable. "Um...Lord? Why are you staring at me like that...?"
Ra took a step toward her. "Where was she, last you saw her? Was she safe?"
"Why--yes, the nurse said she was with Khenti Amenti, she said he would keep an eye on her for the day, but--"
"Then she'll come to no harm. He'll keep a close eye on her. I trust him with that." Khenti gaped in disbelief as the sun god spoke, taking Nebhet's arm in his own and steering her back down the hallway, a little quickly so she had to hurry to keep up. His voice dropped as they went. "I thought perhaps that we might spend the afternoon together..."
"L-Lord...?" Nebhet stammered as he almost dragged her along. Khenti could hear the confusion in her voice. "What did you have in mind--?"
The wolf god didn't hear what Ra murmured in reply, but he did see the goddess's face go bright red, one hand flying to her mouth as she gasped with obvious shock. "Oh!" Then she giggled and started walking just as quickly as he until they were very nearly running off down the hall, toward his quarters, Khenti surmised. Thankfully they disappeared from view before he could grow any more curious, and he let out his breath in a rush, putting one paw to his spinning head.
"What demon did I piss off to get stuck with this day!" he moaned, then reached behind the other column to grab Hathor's wrist, dragging her out. She giggled the whole while that he towed her up the hallway, toward the back of the palace. He picked up his pace as they passed Neith's rooms, and he could still hear the perplexed goddess within, poking through her disturbed items and exclaiming to herself.
"I didn't leave these like this!...and where in the Duat are that bow and arrows?!..."
Khenti grated his teeth. The bow. It was far too small to be an ordinary weapon; and judging by what he'd just seen its arrow do, his suspicions were only confirmed. He suspected this was the same thing she'd been talking about with Ra when they'd first come up the hallway. What was the point of that thing? What was Neith doing with it here, and what had she intended on doing with it later? And just how dangerous was it?
He tried to wrest it free from Hathor's grasp as they hurried along. She obstinately clung on--the small quiver of gold and leaden arrows slung over her too-small shoulders now, he didn't even want to guess how she'd gotten hold of that--and he just couldn't break it free. Granted, he didn't try too hard. He'd just seen what it had done to Ra, the mighty sun god. What in the Duat would it do to him if she fired it again!
"Little Lady, I think you'd best return this where it belongs!" he murmured, pulling on the string.
"No!" Hathor barked. "MY bow!"
"You want whatever responsibility goes with this cursed thing?" Khenti snapped. "Fine then! Keep the stupid bow! But don't come crying to me when Neith wants it back--OR when it starts to cause you trouble! I can just imagine what it would be like if you shot yourself with this thing! Wouldn't that be quite the shame? You, drooling over some cute little three year old? Robbing the cradle! It will be given a whole new meaning!"
"No," Hathor said again. She pulled her wrist free and grinned, lifting the bow and placing an arrow in the notch. "Shoot doggy next! Kissy doggy!"
That effectively ended Khenti's stint as babysitter of the daughter of Ra. He yelped--"For the love of the gods, I'M NOT A DAMNED DOGGY!"--and scrambled off up the hallway, the little girl bounding along after him, waving her bow and laughing gleefully. He would be damned if he would ever let her touch him with that thing. And he would be DAMNED if he would ever supervise the children of Ra again. Toddlers. With bows and arrows! They were simply too dangerous for a poor wolf to deal with!
Khenti hoped the nursemaid or Lady Neith would come out and find her soon, his panicked gait leaving her far, far behind. He had to take a break from this place. Somewhere, hopefully, that didn't have children with a fondness for sharp pointy weapons. He'd never thought such a situation as this would arise in celestial Kemet, of all places.
But then again...the palace of Iunu had never been the most normal place in the world, either. And so it would be quite a while before Khenti Amenti would set foot here again...at least until Hathor had properly learned how to shoot that thing. Away from him--of course.