With the erotic properties of the fruit confirmed, the six friends debated what exactly should be done about it.
The remaining fruit would be taken to the King and Queen, for starters, so that they could evaluate its properties for themselves. Ada still felt a bit bashful to speak so openly about her lovers’ parents own erotic activities, but only a bit. To the pirates and in truth, these were just matters of fact.
A careful observation of the brook and its surrounding foliage commenced.
Over the following days they were able to gather ample evidence that Ada’s hypothesis had been correct — and that the children had not failed in their harvesting duties. The fruit appeared and ripened supernaturally quickly, green and hard one day, red and plump the next.
And, in fact, such magic from a dragon was not unheard of. According to the elders, a friendly dragon brought not only protection but also prosperity and fertility. Ada had only ever heard tales of fire and destruction, but she was now unsurprised by her homeland’s tendency to vilify anything that they could not control.
The aphrodisiac properties worked on every willing volunteer except Ada herself. The fruit hardly worked at all on anyone reluctant who was cajoled into a nibble or two by mischievous friends or lovers. The children who stole slices on dares felt no effects either.
That seemed very right, to Ada. She didn’t want any fruit of her body, literally or figuratively, to cause anyone to do anything that they did not truly want to do.
And to anyone who ate it, whether they experienced the aphrodisiac properties or not, the fruit was the most delicious that they had ever tasted.
The King and Queen held another riotous party to celebrate the blessing to the island. They, of course, served the very fruit that they were celebrating and so the revelry descended into orgy even more quickly than usual.
And though Ada was delighted to watch, on that particular night, she did not feel particularly inclined to participate. A quiet thought occurred to her and she withdrew to sit on their favorite rock and listen to the ocean.
It was nice to be alone for a time, with the rustle of the ocean and the glimmering blanket of stars.
She had hoped to not distract Pasco from his own enjoyment, but an hour or so later, she heard his footsteps in the sand behind her. He came and sat next to her on the rock and was also quiet.
She put her hand on his. It was warm.
He wrapped his arm around her.
She melted into him.
“Is there anything you want to talk about?” he asked.
She searched for words for the quiet thought. “I think I… remembered something that I didn’t know before.”
“Hm.” He sounded thoughtful, but not skeptical.
“The fruit and… prosperity and fertility. It feels… amazing to bring that here. That… that my body is making that here. And thinking about that, that’s how I remembered. I don’t think I ever knew it before, but… but I think it has to do with…”
She wasn’t quite sure how to say it. She had always jokingly referred to it as ‘the curse’, but she knew in her very core that it was not a curse at all. And yet, calling it a ‘blessing’ was too trite. It was so much more than that.
But what she had remembered wasn’t because of what had happened to her, either blessing or curse. It was because of what she was. And then, Ada had the words. She turned to Pasco and cupped his face in her hand, finding his eyes which were now midnight blue. “I cannot have children because I am a dragon.”
Her moon blood had not come since the witch’s incantation. The reason that it felt like remembering was that even then, she had known without words. While she had lived in the castle, she had always been very careful about where exactly her male lovers put their seed. An affair, she could risk. A pregnancy that her parents would reject, she could not.
Yet, since she had first felt the thrill of flight, she had not once worried about such things. She might have thought it was carelessness, not minding where Pasco’s seed went. But just as her body had known how to fly as soon as she had spread her wings, her body had known of this thing at her first flush of arousal.
There was a strange irony to it. The witch’s wish had been for her to become a hideous beast, unloved and untended. Perhaps her intent had rung true, after all. To the small-minded misogynists of Ada’s homeland, there was no creature more hideous than a barren princess. All her ‘value’ as a princess lay in her marriage, and all the value of that marriage lay in her ability to bear heirs.
A princess that could not bear heirs could not be married, and a princess that could not be married was not a princess at all, just a parasite. It was the cold, cruel truth behind all her parents’ nagging.
It was the unspoken reason she had rebelled so vigorously against their insistences. They may have taken such a thing for granted but Ada, most certainly, had not.
“Hm,” Pasco said again. “Do you want to be able to have children?”
“No,” Ada said. “I want to be a dragon.” That was her certain, quiet thought. It was not the realization that she couldn’t have children that had brought her out to this pensive rock on the shore. It was the realization that she didn’t want to.
In Ada’s homeland, barrenness was a curse but not wanting to have children was a sin. The tiny, cruel part of her heart that had listened to her mother had set upon that thought and said all sorts of terrible things to Ada. Ada had stepped out to this quiet place to let that part of her heart burn itself out and then dissolve like the lingering smoke of a snuffed candle into the heaving expanse of the ocean.
And so it had. It had long gone cold by the time Pasco had arrived. She was curious, though not anxious, for Pasco’s response.
“Well, then it sounds like everything is alright,” he said.
It almost was. There was something else she needed to know. “Do you want to have children?”
“It’s your body,” he said without hesitation.
“Yes, but it’s our life.”
His hand found her cheek too, and they spent a long moment that way.
She knew that he was searching, quietly sifting an honest answer from the golden sands of his heart. Whatever that answer was, she would cherish it.
Finally, he drew his breath to speak. “I would have a hundred children or none to be by your side for as long as you’ll have me. I never dreamed much of things this way or that, until I met you. And since then, I have dreamed much, and always of whichever way that you are.”
She closed her eyes and leaned into him, pressing her forehead against his. With their hand’s against each other’s cheeks like this, in mirror, she remembered the slipknot. “It’s alright if your feelings change,” she whispered.
“I promise I will tell you if they ever do,” he whispered back.
She folded into him and they leaned back against the rock, which was still warm from the afternoon sun and which smelled ever so faintly of sweat.
As his warmth enveloped her, a surge of emotion stirred in her heart like a chick cracking open its egg.
Through a knot in her throat, she said, “I’m going to cry now and it’s a lovely, happy cry, alright?”
“Alright,” he nodded, and his own eyes were already misting.
She clutched him closely to herself and let the emotion break forth, let it shake her body and pour water from her eyes. As when she pulled against his ropes, she now trembled against his stillness as was comforted by the way that he held firm.
And just like with the ropes, she knew that there would be a time when they traded places, and he would tremble against her stillness.
And that singular, beautiful knowing drew her gently into peace.