Biancaneve's bedtime stories series
Disclaimer: I do not own X:WP. It belongs to MCA Universal.
Author's note: I wrote this short story in three parts for someone special despite the fact I dun like writing this ship *sigh* but here goes part 3...
"So I've been away for some time spreading the word of Eli, I've visited those I brought to live here, and I've visited my mother who has yet to tell me whether or not she was a fool to buy the horse." Xena raised an eyebrow as she milked their cow. Aristaeus made it a point to live no better than his subjects building his home of stones and wood opposed to just wood and mud.I It was modest and wide enough for a large family of ten perhaps to live in comfort. But Xena had sized it down so that the materials could be taken to those whose families were too large for their home and made it bigger.
"We plan to wed soon," Xena told her before going back to her work. Eve smiled happily.
"I'm so happy mother." She hugged her tightly. Eve smiled and hugged her back. "Still you seem a bit unhappy mother."
"It's just Gabrielle." Eve frowned.
"Yes, Gabrielle, in all the years I've known her and from all the stories, I never thought she would ever do such a thing, I mean I knew she loved you, but this is just well…there are no words for what she's done."
"No, there isn't," Xena said sounding a bit heartbroken, she had shown no one except Eve how hurt she truly was by Gabrielle's actions. She let a few tears fall as she leaned forward against the cow's warm side. Eve hugged her mother more.
"Mother, anyone who could just leave you like that doesn't deserve you."
"And if I hadn't stormed off angry maybe she would still be here."
"Oh mother." Eve stroked her head. "You can't blame yourself for her running off. You made it clear that you wanted her to tell you how she felt and to stop playing games with you. I think her running off was her answer."
"Oh sweetheart, I don't really want to accept that as her answer, she was my soul mate." Xena wiped her face.
"Soul mates don't run off Eli would be the first to tell you that, but you have to forgive her and move on with your life. Aristaeus loves you and I can see it in your eyes that you love him too even if deep in your heart you love Gabrielle too, but you weren't made to go only one way."
"She belongs with me though," Xena told Eve a bit angrily.
"Than you know as well as I that some things are just left up to fate even when we actively make our own, if she belongs with you, than she will find her way here." Xena nodded. "If not as your wife than as your friend."
"She's been my friend for thirty-two years and now I'm having a hard time accepting that she will never be more than that."
"Well you spend your life waiting for someone it's just hard to let them go for any reason."
"You're very wise for a twenty-seven year old woman." Eve chuckled.
"I was born to wisdom mother, now how shall I help you?"
"Well the second cow over there needs to be milked I'm making cheddar cheese and feta cheese as well." Eve nodded and soon they were working hard to make the cheese. The feta cheese took them two days to make, the cheddar cheese needed to sit for two to six moons.
"I started this batch of Cheddar cheese when we first arrived here a little after you left to spread the word of Eli," Xena informed Eve as she sliced it and Eve wrapped it before putting it inside baskets. They were going to deliver the cheese around to different people around the village. Once the feta cheese was ready and they had prepared another batch for Aristaeus, Eve, and herself they set out delivering the cheese getting to know the people.
"This cheese looks great darling," Aristaeus told her as he joined her with fresh loaves for bread he had been making for those who couldn't afford to buy it or make it.
"The bread smells great as well." They finished their delivers before returning home while Eve chattered on about her trip to two neighboring villages to spread the word of Eli. When they got home, they all began to prepare a meal of bread, cheese, lamb, and boiled carrots."
"So I found most of the people very much open-minded and willing to learn, so that's why it took me so long, I had to establish a foundation of course." They nodded. They were joined by important people in the village to talk about Xena becoming Queen.
"A huge feast inviting everyone has been called to be put together. Everyone even the poorest child has been invited to eat, drink, and be merry as instructed." They nodded. Xena was fitted with silver bangles, ankle bangles, and silver armbands. The ones on her ankles and wrists were made hard enough to act as a sort of weapon in hand to hand combat. It had taken some time but the women now respected her for her prowess as a warrior. She was given a silver necklace on a leather thong that mirrored the design on her chakram.
"Now you have wedding jewelry," they told her happily, but there was still a lot of work to be done.
"Chin finally!" One guard had become a bit grumpy and bitter at this entire journey. He would rather be at home with his wife. The other guard remained silent as he pulled Gabrielle as smoothly as possible. Lately he had been doing all the work and it was starting to agitate him, but Aristaeus said they were to make this long journey together and so he did not just ditch his partner. His partner was a native Greek and hated anything out of Africa if it wasn't Greece, he didn't find him to be anything less than bad company. He was nothing compared to any of the other Greek men in the army or the berber men in the army. He was truly one of a kind in his own way.
"Pick your feet up, the town's just up ahead and we can stock up on supplies. It's here we will buy our horses and the journey can go faster." The man who was not doing any work nodded happily and picked up his feet. He was happy to laze about for a few days only moving to drug Gabrielle, while he partner bartered in a language he was familiar with.
"All right time to set out." The man looked up annoyed.
"It's too early, let's wait."
"No, now!" The man grumbled. Gabrielle stirred and moaned a bit.
"Oh my head." The men quickly drugged her. That was when a good look at her was taken. The berber man with a sigh took her for a bath and fresh clothes and washed her old ones causing them to remain there another day.
"Aren't I lucky," the other man grinned. Soon they were finally under way heading farther North east.
The men and women sang and danced as drum beat. Xena walked in a simple white dress that wrapped around her body. She wore her gorgeous new jewelry and Eve walked beside her in a similar dress dyed green. They covered their heads respectfully like the other women and soon They were both standing in front of Aristaeus, and Eve stepped to the front of them. She began to marry them in front of the God of Eli as only she could. Aristaeus and Xena smiled at one another and happily kissed the other when Eve was done. There was more singing and dancing and anyone who came to the wedding was fed enough to keep them full for a week in their opinion including the lucky bride and groom.
"Xena meet the Emperor." Xena was introduced to all the important people in Ethiopia making it very clear that as long as she was around, they wouldn't do well to try and cross them.
"Your intimidation skills are very good," Aristaeus told her as they left.
"I know right, I spent years perfecting it."
"It could only be called perfection darling."
"You asshole!" the Berber man moved forward quickly and slashed the man's throat. He took his body and made sure the wild animals would tear him apart while he cleaned up Gabrielle and her new home. He slaughtered a fresh sheep and set it on the spit to cook. He cooked her some vegetables and erased any signs of himself and his ex-partner. He drugged Gabrielle one last time and left leaving on trace of anyone else having been there besides her. He dragged the man's body back to civilization before it was burned. He would take the ashes back. Better that they never know of the man's crimes, Aristaeus wouldn't want that on his conscious and Xena would rush off.
It had been seven years since Gabrielle had run out on Xena, and while her new life made her happy she missed Gabrielle even if she just wanted to be a friend. According to Lila she was avoiding her as well. Xena thought either Lila was lying or Gabrielle wanted to make sure she was not found. If she were dead, Xena would have heard about it. She didn't know that the Berber soldier had taken care to make sure that Gabrielle's name was mentioned in a lot of places. He didn't want his new Queen thinking her best friend was dead when she was not.
Xena however was still a bit furious with Gabrielle, if nothing else she deserved to be told to her face that she didn't love her. Closure was much more important than people gave it credit for. In any case why should she dwell on it, she had a wonderful husband who didn't fight her on the issue of traveling for months at a time. She had a wonderful daughter who relished in spreading the word of Eli on the African continent with occasional trips back home, great friends, and more importantly she had a five year old son and daughter who loved her. Nothing had come between her and them, she was finally getting to be a mother, and Eve took the greatest joy in being a big sister.
"Halle, Apollo!" Xena called as she turned away from her bedroom window. It was time to get to work they had been away traveling the African continent. Xena had put off exploring most of it so that she could travel with them.
"Yes mama?" They came running in half naked. It was so hot sometimes that most people went uncovered. Xena however wasn't use to that and didn't though she did wear less clothing and no one thought it was bad she just wished not to be naked.
"Come on we have work to do." They nodded and helped her and their father with the animals, and the harvesting of the corn. Eve joined them by mid-morning also having returned from her journey to help with the harvest. They had become a real family that had been denied to them before.
"Ah!" They all laughed as Apollo was chased by an angry goat. Aristaeus stopped the goat and Xena rubbed Apollo's head still chuckling.
"Come on oh master goats man we each still need to bring in one basket before lunch." He calmed down and nodded. Once the goat was secure they each went into the field with a basket. They were just finishing up when Halle spotted a writer coming into the village from the hill in the center. They had planted around it so that they could eat on it. Halle and Apollo were setting up the cookware so that Aristaeus could begin boiling some corn while Eve and Xena retrieved the bread, cheese, wine, and of course a duck they had been letting drain to celebrate the first day of harvest at lunch time. A second duck was draining for dinner.
Xena and Eve didn't wait to see who it was as they made their way through the field and onto the hill easily and began to prepare the duck to go on the spit. By the time the rider arrived in front of their home the duck smelled great and they were entertaining one another with on the spot stories it was a game they often played. Xena was the first and Eve the second to sense their arrival not that they couldn't hear the horse whining.
"Who goes there!" Aristaeus called as they all stood to look. The corn and a fur cap blocked the person's face. As soon as the person burst through the corn it was obvious who it was.
Gabrielle?" Xena asked in complete shock.
"I found you," Gabrielle muttered with a cry of near disbelief. They raced to one another and hugged. Xena didn't miss the seven year old boy standing stoically behind Gabrielle, he looked just like her.
"What do you mean you found me?" Xena looked at her confused.
"I was on my way to town that's the last thing I remember before I woke up so far north of Chin it was years before I met another human."
"Someone kidnapped you?" Xena asked angry. Gabrielle shook her head as Eve came over and hugged her as she listened intently to her story. Aristaeus hung back with Halle and Apollo, he had not been introduced and it would be weird if he hugged Gabrielle.
"That's the thing I don't know, when I woke up, I had settled into this hut just fine, I thought perhaps I'd hit my head or something and we'd both be there, but you never came. I didn't know where to go, but I had everything I needed to survive, so I stayed until perhaps someone came along."
"But no one ever came?" Gabrielle shook her head.
"Not until a year ago." Xena nodded her understanding. "I also found out I was pregnant with Herodotus." She motioned him forward and kissed his forehead. Aristaeus looked shocked and angry, he would have a talk with his Berber soldier one day on his next trip back to Libya. He had asked to be released from his station two years ago. He bet it was the soldier that didn't return, he was lucky he was already dead.
"How could that be?"
"I think I slept with someone on the way to my destination, must have gotten right drunk." Xena nodded accepting her explanation. "Herodotus this is Xena the love of my life." Gabrielle said this proudly. Xena smiled, but she didn't react in any other way like Gabrielle expected. They obviously had a lot to talk about.
"Gabrielle, this is Aristaeus I met him at the village you never met me at, we're married and these are our children Halle and Apollo." They all came over and shook her and Herodotus' hand.
"It's nice to meet you Aunt Gabby," Halle told her politely. "Mama says you wrote all the stories about her." Gabrielle nodded.
"Yes, I did, I traveled with your mommy for a long time." Halle nodded.
"Please join us we were about to have lunch and you're welcome to stay here as long as you want, both of you." Gabrielle nodded.
"Thank you Aristaeus." They settled her horse and took her things inside before everyone sat on the hill.
"You'll want to get cooler clothes," Eve commented and Gabrielle nodded.
"Whatever you decide I respect your decision," Aristaeus told her kissing her cheek. Lunch was over and he gathered the children to go into the village for some meaningless task. Eve decided to take Herodotus to join them leaving Xena and Gabrielle alone.
"Gabrielle…" Gabrielle held up her hand and shook her head.
"No, let me say this, because it's been a long time coming you and I both know, and it's time I actually said it." Xena nodded.
"I see that you have settled down and why it's not with me is my fault. Xena I have loved you since the day I met you. I was scared and confused for a long time. But on that day you gave me an ultimatum I swear all I wanted to do was wrap you in my arms and make sure that we were together forever."
"Oh Gabby we will always be together forever even if you never told me you loved me." Gabrielle shook her head.
"No, you would have found your Aristaeus sooner or later. And it would seem it was sooner. I understand if you don't love me, it's the price I pay for keeping my mouth shut for once." Xena shook her head.
"I love you Gabrielle, I still love you, for a long time I have been so angry with you for doing something so out of character, but when I saw you I knew I still loved you."
"Than run away with me love," Gabrielle told her. Xena shook her head sadly.
"Gabrielle you want me I come with three kids, a husband, and subjects who look up to me. Ask me a lot of things but don't ask me to leave my life." Gabrielle hung her head.
"Herodotus and I will be out of your hair after a few days rest." Xena looked at her shocked. Why did she have to act like that, she never asked her to leave her life, asked her not to ask her to leave the life she had created for herself.
"Gabri…." Xena started.
"No, Xena please we'll leave don't worry." Gabrielle walked off to be alone and think about Xena's words leaving a stunned Xena on the hill.
"Gabrielle stay with me," Xena whispered sadly to the air.
The days passed and Gabrielle left never letting Xena tell her what she had told the win, and soon she rode off with Herodotus sitting behind her.
"Go get her, you let her get away by not chasing her, now it's time to chase her." Xena looked at Aristaeus lovingly.
"This doesn't change my love for you." Aristaeus nodded.
"It does, but she's the love of your life, I have to accept that now, we have two beautiful children and you're still my queen. But you have to go be with her, and of course eventually bring her back." He chuckled and she did as well.
"I wouldn't leave our people or our children like that, I will return." He nodded. Soon she was a top Argo and racing off towards Egypt. Gabrielle had a day's journey on her.
"Gabrielle!" Xena growled in annoyance as she watched the ship leave port. "Son of a bitch!" She of course got another ship, but it left three days later to her distress. She followed Gabrielle all the way to Potidaea.
"Sarah where is she?" Xena asked frantically. Sarah was more than surprised to see her Aunt Xena. Her husband and three children looked on in curiosity, Xena spotted Herodotus sitting among them at the table.
"She went to mother's grave, it's in the forest where they use to play as children." Xena nodded.
"Thank you Sarah." She ran into the forest at a jog, she knew where it was, Gabrielle and Lila had taken her there once themselves convinced they still saw the fairies that had lived there when they were children. She stopped at the line of trees and breathed hard. Gabrielle was bent down in front of the head stone at the front of the clearing where Lila could in theory look at the entire clearing.
"She didn't want me anymore Lila," She cried to her sister.
"That's not true," Xena told her stepping out of the shadow. Gabrielle turned quickly and looked at Xena in shock.
"You…you…you're here," Gabrielle breathed in shock. Xena nodded.
"Gabrielle I want you in my life, I love you, I want to be with you, if you can handle living in Ethiopia than I guarantee we will always be together."
"Xena they won't accept me there, I will be the woman who broke up their precious King and Queen."
"No, they will see that I am happy and that Aristaeus is happy, and they will accept you."
"And if they don't?"
"Than that's their problem isn't it, they will get use to our unorthodox family one way or another. But I won't spend another lifetime not being with you the way we were meant to be." Xena leaned forward and kissed Gabrielle upon the lips lightly something both had been longing to do for a long time. Gabrielle pulled back and took a deep breath as they looked into each other's eyes.
"Xe…" Xena silenced her again with another kiss.
"Tell me you'll never leave me again."
"I won't ever leave you again Xena," Gabrielle cried as they embraced one another and cried silently vowing to never let the other get away again.
"I won't let you go either," Xena whispered kissing her cheek.