Ahuahu woke when he heard the sound of movement in their hut. In the pre dawn gloom he could sense Ahu preparing for their journey south. She was methodically packing their belongings into backpacks. As she passed close to him he placed his hand around her calf. She paused then knelt down beside him putting her bits and pieces she had gathered aside.
“We should go while it is still dark “she murmured. Running her fingers over his thighs and gripping hold of him. “I will get up” he said. “No not yet” she replied as she lay on top of him and touched his chin and neck and ears, he could feel she was naked as her full breasts brushed over his face.
“This is to remind you where we made Tangaroa.” She said. He joined with her effortlessly as she now gripped his shoulders and let him enter her, and then he placed his hand near her mouth so she could nibble on it to stop from crying out as they completed their lovemaking. Ahuahu felt as though his heart and hers were beating as one, then as he relaxed and tried to pull her down to lay with him she rolled over and said. “I must get up now, to feed Tangaroa and go out to look as though I am collecting firewood. You should do the same and pretend to check the boat in the dunes. We will meet at Fern Gully at dawn.”
As she moved about he could sense her in the shadows and loved even those thoughts, as she stood up, clothed herself and collected her baskets and placed them near the door. She then went over to Tangaroa, lifted him to her breast as he sleepily slurped away unaware of the plans for the day. Ahuahu rose reluctantly, splashed some water over himself and felt for his pack to stow his knives and fishing tackle. He placed some fruit and a few vegetables in his pack too. As he moved about in the darkness he brushed against her kneeling as she fed the baby. He touched her fondly and buried his nose in her hair as she reached up with her free hand and touched his face and traced her fingers over his scar. With that he rose up without a word and left quietly to walk toward the sea and then skirt around the village to meet her in the foothills.
Ahu took her time feeding the baby then gathering her baskets with Tangaroa comfortable in the sling on her back she too walked quietly through the village where there was little sign of movement. Ahu smiled to herself. “They do not even know that Ahuahu returned,” she thought.
The birds were making their morning territorial calls when they met up again close to Fern Gully as the sun peeked above the horizon. Ahu pulled him away from the little settlement, indicating they should walk around it unseen. By the time the sun had heralded the day they were climbing high into the hills taking the route Ahu had taken many days before by herself.
Ahuahu recognised the ground where he had been just a day or so before. “We should not enter this land, it is for the Ngerengere” he stated. “It is unlucky.”
“No, no, husband it is full of love.” With that she called out “Ngaire!” and again she called Ngaire’s name. She then sat down on the ground and waited while Ahuahu fidgeted with discomfort. A few moments later the bent old woman limped up to them barely held up by her staff.
“Haere Mai, Ngaire” called out Ahu.
“May the gods bless you my child”, said Ngaire, “I did not expect to see you again.” Ahuahu sat down awkwardly, feeling that it was rude to remain standing, while the women talked.
Ahu reached into one of her baskets and drew out a feathered cloak and placed it between her and Ngaire who had sat on a large boulder of rock. “This is to keep you warm in winter.” Ahu said. ”We are moving to Black Sands, it is safe there. We will stay with Atahai until we have our own house built.”
Ngaire cackled with laughter, “Hold on tight to your husband, or else she will steal him from you.” Ahu also laughed at the thought of the old widow Atahai with almost no teeth should steal Ahuahu away. She glanced back to Ahuahu who was looking at something of interest in the dirt and appeared not to hear these women talk. With that Ahu rose up and Ahuahu did likewise. They nodded to Ngaire, backed away, said their goodbyes then followed the path by the stream though the forest that led to Black Sands.
“You have been there before” stated Ahuahu. “Are you not frightened of the curse of the gods?”
“Yes, but not of the love of an old woman.” replied Ahu.
They reached the Black Sands village before noon, and were greeted as usual by the children who gathered around them all wanting to hold Tangaroa. Ahu went straight to Atahai’s house and getting down on her knees called out to her. Atahai came out immediately and rubbed noses first with Ahu and then went up to Ahuahu and did likewise. They were ushered inside the house and given a drink and some dried meat to eat. Atahai then spoke to Ahuahu.
“Go to the chief’s house and offer your services to him and tell him you can help with the fishing. He will look doubtful, shake his head a little but he has already agreed that you are to stay here. You will get help to build a house, but when he tells you that, be surprised but insist that you can build it yourself.” She then turned to Ahu with a smile. “He will be there some time.”
Later that day when all the arrangements had been made, the boats observed, the site of their house had been selected, and the many children shooed away from coming up to see Ahuahu and the scar on his cheek, he finally managed to return to Atahai’s house.
They all sat down to have their meal and Ahu told him they would go to the hot springs to bathe that night. Atahai and one of the older girls in the village stayed behind to care for Tangaroa. The sulphurous smell was just as strong as before but by the time they entered the communal pools they barely noticed it.
Many families went down with them and the men asked Ahuahu to tell them about fishing at Gannet Island. He in turn asked them of the fishing and hunting at Black Sands, of the tides and the currents and the markers on land to sight when at sea to fish in the right area for each type of fish. One man Kamaka invited Ahuahu to fish with him the next day, saying “We will find good snapper. We must paddle a long way out and then look back to see the position of the rocks. One of them is eroded like your face, but you won’t see that” he said laughing and slapping him on his back. Ahuahu laughed too, he liked this man.
As they walked home that night, Ahu said little waiting for Ahuahu to speak first. “You have chosen well Ahu.” He said finally, “they think well of you.” They entered Atahai’s house and she greeted them affectionately as before. They were shown their place to sleep and the old woman then went to her place and lay down straight away and was soon asleep. Ahu attended to Tangaroa then settled down next to Ahuahu. She stroked him gently and as she was doing so tied a small strip of flax cloth around her wrist and then to his without him noticing. Later as he moved to put his arm around her he noticed that their wrists were tied.
“What is this?” he whispered.
“So you don’t leave my bed for Atahai’s,” she chuckled as the old woman snored noisily in the dark.