Their first day on Themyscira, they buried their dead. Seventeen of their sisters had died of their wounds on their voyage over the sea and out of the world of men; seventeen last sacrifices to the gods' selfish quarrels. Antiope honoured her sisters' loss, and she wept for them, and she lent the strength of her back and her hands to the raising of a great burial mound for them. An Amazon's hands knew the heft of a bow better than they did a shovel, but no matter. Antiope's calluses would suffice for both.
"It is well done," Hippolyta told her. Like Antiope, she had dirt under her fingernails and her tunic was sweat-stained, her hair pulled back in a sloppy braid. She looked as tired as Antiope felt. They sat side by side under the shade of an olive tree, looking across at the mound and sharing a cup of water. "And Niobe will carve a stele to set before it, bearing their names and telling of their feats of arms. We will remember them."
Antiope hitched a shoulder; her legs ached. "I wasn't worried that we would forget them."
Hippolyta shot her a look from the corner of her eye: elder sister and queen both. "You still think we should not have come here."
"Retreat can be the better part of valour, I suppose," Antiope said carefully.
Hippolyta laughed. It had been many months since Antiope had heard her sister's laughter. "Antiope of the war cry turns diplomat! Truly there are new things under the sun."
"Zeus' last gift, perhaps," Antiope said wryly. She had intended to make her sister laugh again, but Hippolyta flinched instead. Almost imperceptibly, for Hippolyta was the true diplomat of them and could wield her words as well as Antiope did a spear. Almost, and yet. Antiope considered, then leaned back against the trunk of the olive tree, thinking of the last time she had taken the night watch in their camp and of how she had seen a cloaked figure slipping from Zeus' tent in the hour before dawn. Her tiredness now was a truly leaden thing. She closed her eyes. "You bedded him."
"He was dying and alone," Hippolyta said, "and even you must admit that he was fair to look at."
Truly, Antiope should have known that Zeus had not made this place for them. The gods had formed the first humans from earth and water and were happy to see them return to such a state. They had made the Amazons for war, and surely would have had no qualms in seeing her and all her sisters meet their end on the battlefield. Themyscira was intended to be a refuge of a different kind. "He got you with child."
"It's too early to be certain," Hippolyta said. But her hand went to her belly: a tentative, hopeful curve. She knew.
"The Sky Father never seemed to me to be much in need of comfort," Antiope said. "What did he want from you really?"
Hippolyta let out a heavy breath. "The same thing I wanted. The same thing he gave me. The child will be mine, and it will be the God-Killer."
Antiope stood slowly, mindful of bruises and scrapes and over-stretched muscles in a way she had never been before. She was angry, but not in the way of the battlefield; this was more distant than immediate and yet it made her breath come short. "You will tell the others."
"There have been children born to us before," Hippolyta said, looking up at her. And this was why Hippolyta was queen—not her facility with words alone, but the way she could look up at Antiope now, back straight, and not seem as if she regretted her choice for a moment. She could mourn her sisters and bear Zeus' child both. "Not many, but some, and we've always cherished them."
"Yes," Antiope said, "but we raised them to bear arms, not to be weapons."
She went back to her tent. Zeus had seen fit to supply their new home with many things, but not with houses. Building those would be the work of the months and years ahead, but for now Antiope slept as she had for years now: in her campaign tent next to Menalippe. She ducked through the often-patched canvas flap to find Menalippe already there, sitting at their small folding table and grinding something green and bitter-smelling with a mortar and pestle.
"A poultice for Philippus' shoulder, to draw the heat from it," Menalippe said when Antiope arched an eyebrow in question at her. "Then I'll make a sleeping draught for you."
Antiope sat on a nearby stool, stretching her legs out before her and contemplated her dusty feet. "I have no need of one."
"Odd," Menalippe said, adding some oils to her concoction and stirring it until the whole turned sticky and the colour of old moss. Antiope did not envy Philippus. "You speak as if I were the one created yesterday, not this island."
"A sleeping draught, and then sleep," Menalippe said, leaning across to tuck a stray, sweaty lock of hair behind Antiope's ear. She smiled.
"Maybe," Antiope said in grudging concession. She had never quite come up with a strategy against Menalippe's smile. "But tomorrow I'll need your needle, not your medicines."
"Oh?" Menalippe sat back in her chair.
Antiope hiked up her skirt to show the scar tissue that snaked its way from the top of her thigh to curl around her hipbone: proof of both the strength of even a god's glancing blow, and of the neatness of Menalippe's stitches. "Over this. I thought…" Well, Antiope hadn't paused to think of a design, but then she had never been a favourite of the Muses. "Arms, or olive leaves, or whatever you like, really."
"To disguise it?" Menalippe reached over and placed her hand over the spot. Through the tan of her splayed fingers, the scar showed white and red. The familiar touch made Antiope relax just enough to realise how stiffly she was holding herself. "If you'd like. I've done such work before."
"No," Antiope said. "No disguise. Make it so that I never let it fade into my body. Please."
Menalippe looked sharply at her. "What happened? Antiope?"
Antiope closed her eyes. "Hippolyta will tell you."