With that he took the ashes and spread them over the altar. A brilliant light filled the room, making Gabrielle and Grin turn their heads. Xena felt herself begin to swirl around in the air along with the ashes that were beginning to rise. An instant later it was over and she felt herself lying against the table. She opened her eyes and quickly felt her body. She was back. She was together. But she also realized she was naked. Kristna grinned at the warrior who suddenly seemed bashful and snapped his fingers. Suddenly she was dressed in her warrior leathers again. But something was wrong. There was dirt all over them. Xena wasnt sure what was going on at first. She didnt much care when she felt Gabrielle wrap her arms around her in a tight hug.
"Next time," Kristna told Xena. "Dont bury them."
Xena had to chuckle. Not often that a god makes me laugh.
"Oh Id let you ladies use the front door but Ive got a small demon problem Im sure youre aware of," Kristna told them.
"Well as a way of saying thanks why dont we do a little house cleaning?" Xena grinned as she pulled away from Gabrielle.
"Im not sure if I can go through anymore roof top battles just yet," Grin spoke up.
"Oh were got gonna go through the roof. Were gonna open the front door and let them in."
"Youre gonna do what?"
Gabrielle had a look of confusion that mimic Grins question but soon she started to smile. "The Persians," she muttered.
"Exactly," Xena answered.
"The demons are Persians?" Grin asked. "I get the feeling Im missing something here."
"Xena battled the Persian Army in an armory," Gabrielle began. "She couldnt battle that many men in an open field but in an enclosed space-."
"She had the advantage. Only so many could enter at once," Grin answered with a grin and a nod. "I get it. So what do we do?"
"Well with Kristnas blessing we have him lift any mystical blocks he has on the place and let them through the front door. Only so many can enter at a time and when they do-."
"We take them out," Grin finished.
Xena nodded and grinned. "Thats exactly what we do if thats alright with Kristna," Xena added looking to the god.
Kristna smiled. "Youre a noble warrior Xena. Youve found your way and thats the best any mortal can achieve. You have my blessing."
"Well then," Xena said giving her companions a feral grin and pulling her sword. "Lets get to it, shall we?"
Grin and Gabrielle went to the double doors and each grabbed a handle. When Xena nodded they both flung the doors open. Immediately two entered, just squeezing through given their size. Grin and Gabrielle took advantage of it and stabbed the trespassers quickly, making them tumble to the ground lifeless. Quickly the two women darted behind Xena, waiting for the next wave to come.
Again two more followed suit. Then two more entered. And two more. Pair by pair the three women worked until demon upon demon lay at their feet. When no more entered, Xena motioned Gabrielle and Grin to stand back while she went outside to inspect. Carefully Xena looked around. Nothing was in the area and she listened carefully. She didnt see anything but someone was on the roof. Perhaps a few demons in fact but she couldnt pinpoint an exact number.
Only one way to draw them out I guess. She walked outside backward, leaving the safety of the building, making sure to face the structure. Grin and Gabrielle waited inside the doorframe. An instant later, Xena watched a group of archers stand up and take aim on her.
"Oh no! Not again!" she muttered.
Arrow after arrow narrowly missed her as she zigzagged her way back toward the temple. Enough of this, she considered. Instead of bolting back inside, she gave a powerful warcry and leapt up to the wall. From there she dove on top of the archers, creating a domino effect before she scrambled to her feet.
Gabrielle rolled her eyes and let out a sigh before grabbing Grins hand. "Come on!" she said, leading her inside and up to the door they had used to get in. Grin unlocked it and the two hoisted themselves up on the roof. Xena was already in the heat of a battle, having taken on the archers that managed to right themselves. Grin and Gabrielle jumped into the action.
"The roof was not part of the plan," Gabrielle shouted to Xena.
"Gotta be flexible," she answered before striking down another demon.
" Yeah, yeah. Comes with the job," Gabrielle mimicked her, taking out the last demon herself.
Grin looked around at the litter of demons at their feet. "Well, I think Mara might think twice before going after Kristna again," she grinned. She gave a whistle and her steed came to her, stopping on the roof. She walked over and hugged Gabrielle.
"Im glad you succeeded," she told her.
"I wouldnt have without your help," the bard replied. "And if you need anything-."
"I wont hesitate to ask," she grinned.
Grin offered Xena her hand and the warrior took it, pulling her into an embrace. "Thank you," Xena told the valkyrie.
"Youre very welcome. One good turn deserves another. You two be good to each other."
"We will, I promise," Xena replied.
Grin mounted her horse and smiled down to the women. "Id offer to take you home but I can only fit one at a time. And Im sure you two dont want to be separated."
"Not by a long shot," Gabrielle replied. "Take care."
"You too," she nodded. With a twitch of the reins and a click to her cheek the horse was off and flying.
"Why dont we go find that goddess friend of yours?" Xena offered before she did a sommersault from the rooftop to land on the ground.
"Dont you mean friend of ours?" Gabrielle answered, following suit.
Xena nodded her approval of the bards jump. "Nice form. Landing was a little wobbly, though. But dont worry - we can work on that," she grinned as she took the bards hand and went into the forest in search of Dite.
50 years later
A woman on horseback raced through the forest as if the Grim Reapper was on her heals and gaining fast. When a group of amazons stepped into her path from the trees she brought the horse to a halt. She leapt from the mare and gave the symbol of peace, placing her arms high above her head with her hands locked.
Quickly the masks went up.
"Am I too late?" the young woman asked.
"No. Not yet," the amazon guard answered. "Varia waits for you," she answered. "Hiloto, please lead the princess to the quarters at once."
Hiloto nodded and whistled for her mare. As the horse emerged, the stranger to the village jumped back onto her steed to follow. Moments later they were in front of the queens hut where Varia waited.
"Nana," the young woman called as she dismounted.
Varia was 70 summers old now but her mind was still has sharp as ever, even if her reflexes were not. She took the young woman into a warm embrace. "Shes inside. Shes been waiting for you," Varia told her.
The woman nodded and pulled away. She walked inside the hut, making her presence known as soon as she entered. "Grandmother," she called out.
The old woman that lay on the bed gave a brilliant smile and summoned the girl closer with a wave of her hand. "Thats great grandmother to you," she teased. "I didnt think you would come Little Xe," she smiled.
"I came as soon as I got word," she answered.
"Hows your mother?" the old woman asked.
"Good," she answered. "Shes still running the tavern in Amphipolis after Grandma Eve couldnt handle it alone. In fact shes on her way here now."
"What about you? How are your studies coming along?"
"Good. Not as interesting as your stories but Im doing okay at the bard academy."
The old woman smiled but a coughing spell took over. She pointed behind the young woman to a vial on the window ledge. "Be a dear and get that, would you?" she asked.
The young woman did as she was told and handed it to her great-grandmother. The gray haired woman settled back and motioned the girl closer.
"I want to tell you a story," she began. "The story of how your Grandma Xe died. Its a story Ive never told anyone before."
"But Ive heard the story," the woman answered. "Grandma Eve said she got an infection after a fight with raiders and she didnt get better."
"Well, thats the story thats out there," the old woman said. "But thats not the real story. Do you want to hear the real story?"
The young woman gave a curious nod. Slowly the old woman cleared her throat and began to speak.
25 years before
It was a harsh winter and it wasnt getting any better. The food supply in Amphipolis was getting smaller and smaller every week it seemed. When they expected the weather to break more snow arrived, making it difficult to hunt any game that was still in the area. Gabrielle, however, wasnt as concerned about their next meal as she was with getting the drugs she needed from the chemist.
She made her way into the tiny house behind the tavern that Eve now ran with her eldest child, Mary, as manager. She hurriedly took off her winter coat and boots to the sound of Xenas moans through the bedroom. The trade routes were slower than normal given the weather and the opium that Xena had come to depend upon was scarce.
Quickly Gabrielle made her way to the bedroom with bottle in hand. She paused in the doorway looking at the bottle and at Xenas turned back. The warrior was curled into a tight ball, crying from the pain that flooded inside her. The healer said that it seemed something was eating Xena from the inside out but he didnt know what it was and he didnt know how to cure it. The odd part was that Xena looked healthy for much of her illness but she was actually weighing less and less. Gabrielle could almost pick her up on her own without any help.
"Gabrielle," the warrior cried out.
The sound of her name startled her and the bard moved out of her thoughts and over to their bed. She pushed her long honey and white hair over her shoulder as she made her way down to Xena.
"Here Xena," Gabrielle told the warrior. "Here. Drink this."
Xena hesitated at first, giving a slight sniff. She looked to Gabrielle and gave a tiny grin before downing the bottle.
"Will you lay with me?" Xena asked softly.
"Of course," Gabrielle replied. She walked around to the other side and settled herself against the headboard, pulling Xena into her arms.
Gabrielle looked lost in her thoughts but said nothing. Xena knew shed have to start any conversation between them.
"Snow still out there?" Xena asked.
"Yes, and it feels like its going to start snowing again," the bard replied.
"Sore joints?" Xena asked.
"You know it," Gabrielle grinned.
"Not your fault."
"If I got you off the road sooner you might be in better shape," Xena replied guiltily.
"I was the one who wanted to keep traveling," Gabrielle retorted. "How soon we forget warrior," she teased.
Xena paused and she licked her lips. The taste and the smell were very familiar to her. She wondered if she should say something. After a few moments she knew she had to get it out in the open. "Remember what I told you years ago in Japa? That if I only had 30 seconds to live Id want to spend them looking into your eyes. Do you remember that?"
"How could I forget is the better question," Gabrielle answered.
"Ive only got a few more minutes, dont I Gabrielle?" Xena mentioned off-handedly. The tone surprised the bard. She didnt think Xena could tell there was a difference in the medicine shed just given in relation to all the others.
Gabrielles bottom lip started to quiver. But Xena hushed her with soft tones of sympathy. "Its okay," she told the bard. "I know this last mix has nightspain. I know its time to go. Im not going to get any better and being here just hurts you more each day."
"Having you in my life has never brought me pain Xena . . . But seeing you like this . . . its hurting you," Gabrielle explained.
Xena gave a brief nod and snuggled in closer to her lover. "Thank you."
"For what?" Gabrielle answered.
"For spending every day showing me whats good in life. For raising a family with me. For everything . . . Even for this: For taking me out of this world and having the courage to do it since I dont have the courage myself."
Gabrielle began to cry and she tightened her hold on Xena. The warrior, for her part, tried to hold the bard with all the strength she had left inside her.
"Congratulations," Xena teased. "Of all the kings, all the warlords, all the warriors throughout the known world you were the one that did it. You offed the warrior princess," she chuckled.
Gabrielle shook her head fiercely. "Dont even joke about that Xena," she warned as she continued to sniffle. "Its not funny."
"Oh come on," Xena grinned. "You know Im not going to leave you. Ill be back. In every lifetime Ill come back to you and I promise Ill always be with you. Always. This body, this identity of the warrior princess its just one of many that Ill use to find you. There have been other times weve come together. There will be many more ahead of us."
"Promise?" Gabrielle asked, stroking Xenas face.
"I promise," Xena replied. "Its time I moved on completed the circle as Kristna said years ago . . . He knew it would come to this someday. Thats why he asked if you killed me. Remember? And thats why he brought me back . . . He said wed know when the time really came and we both know that this is it Gabrielle."
Gabrielle teared up but she wasnt going to cry. Instead she smiled down at Xena, planting a soft kiss on her forehead. "You are the best thing that ever happened in my life," she whispered.
"I love you Gabrielle."
Xenas eyes were open but Gabrielle felt the body go limp beside her. The warrior princess was dead and on her journey to her next Karmic leap.
"But that was 25 years ago," old Gabrielle told Xenas namesake the daughter of the son of Eve. Upon hearing all his mothers tales about his grandmother, Xena, he knew he had to make sure that this name lived on in his family. "And no one has heard that tale until now," Gabrielle added.
Little Xe couldnt believe it. She couldnt even imagine loving someone so much that youd be willing to take her life. But then she often thought of the animals on the farm. The pets shed had throughout her life where it was best to put them out of their misery instead of watching them suffer. The longer she thought about it, the more she considered that perhaps her great-grandparents had done the most humane thing of all for each other.
"But there is a reason I tell you this . . . I, the battling bard of Poteidaia, took out the Warrior Princess. And now you, the scholarly bard of Amphipolis, have to help take out the woman who killed Xena."
Little Xe was confused at first but then she looked at the vial that she had just given Gabrielle. Oh no, Little Xena considered. Ive got to get Varia! Ive got to-.
Gabrielle reached out, sensing the young womans distress. "Its okay," she told her. "Its my time. Just like it was Xenas . . . After Xena died about 10 years later I came back to the Amazons. Varia had just lost a bondmate a few summers prior. We connected and I loved her tremendously. Shed grown into a fine woman and a great leader . . . But she was never Xena . . . And she understood that. She could never be my true soulmate, nor I, hers. So it worked out . . . We had fun . . . We had fights . . . We loved and laughed . . . We enjoyed the grandkids and the great-grandkids," Gabrielle said winking. "Ive led a good life Little Xe, but now its my turn. Now I have to jump and I know that Xena will keep her word. Shell find me in the next life. Just like she did in this one. Just like she will in many. So please dont be sad. We can never die because in a way we are never born."
Little Xe let out a deep sigh. "Well . . . Is there anything I can do?"
Gabrielle nodded her head, "Two things first help me sit so I can drink." Little Xe hesitated a moment but she realized that this was what her great-grandmother needed. When that task was finished and the vile drained, Gabrielle made her second request. "Tell me one of the story ideas youre working on."
"Now?" Little Xena asked. "I mean, all things considered Grandma Gab-."
"Life doesnt stop for anyone," the bard warned pointing a stern finger. "So come on, tell me. Whats going on in your life? Whats your new story?"
Little Xe licked her lips before clearing her throat. "Well, its about a young virgin who frees the Titans on accident," she smiles mischievously.
"I like it already," the old bard nodded. "Go on "
As little Xe started to recite her latest work she rose and began to pace the room. Gabrielle smiled as she watched. She often paced, too, when she told a story and she could see so much of herself in the young girl. But little by little, second by second, her eyes grew heavy and she found them closing, unable to stop.
Little Xe was working up to the climax of the piece when she turned back to get Gabrielles reaction. Thats when she saw the old womans eyes were closed and slowly she crept over. She pulled the blankets away and watched the bards chest. No movement. None at all. The young woman tried to hold back her tears but failed. She wept hard and long, wrapping her arms around the old woman, stroking the long gray hair. She knew what she had to do now. She had a long journey home to Amphipolis. She knew it was Gabrielles wish to go home and home is where shed take her. She said it herself. She belonged with Xena and thats where she would stay . . . for eternity.
30 years later
"Im not going over this again!" The loud male voice boomed through the palace.
"Im sorry but I just dont understand it Shantese," the small Indian adviser told his ruler. "You could have any woman in this kingdom-."
"Exactly," Shantese replied pointing his finger. "I choose this one!"
"But the mother of peace is twice your age. There are many beautiful women who would be happy to do your bidding. They would make obedient wives for years to come. This woman is -."
"The finest in mind and spirit Ive ever known. Ive searched my entire lifetime for her, Raul. You have to trust my judgement. I choose to wed her today not because of power or status. I asked for her hand because shes a part of me. Havent you met someone that youve known forever? Thats what I feel when I look at her . . . Shes the one."
Raul just shook his head and scratched his beard. "I hear what youre saying Shantese. I do. But-."
"But nothing," Shantese interrupted. "I love her. And as my friend that should be enough to gain your support. Theres much more to love than appearance. For a young virile man like myself I know it seems odd. But trust me when I say that she is the one for me. Shes my destiny."
Raul looked into Shanteses eyes. He was dead serious. He knew he couldnt persuade Shanteses decision and for the first time since the wedding announcement he realized he shouldnt. Shatese truly did love Arminestra. He wanted to join his life with hers and who was he to say differently.
With a warm grin and a nod Raul agreed. "All right my friend," he said confidently. "Your bride is waiting."
600 AD - England
"I love my God. I love my Country. I love my King."
"I love them too. But Id trade them all to have you," the soft feminine voice whispered.
Sir Lancelot turned from Guineveres light embrace, making his way to the window. He gave a deep sigh and ran his fingers through his short, curly blond locks. He looked out over Camelot where the torches were still burning bright in the evening sky, desperately hoping for some sign to show him what he should do.
"You are my queen," he told her in a half-hearted argument.
Guin stepped closer behind him, running her hands seductively down his back before wrapping them around his hips. She was a tall woman, nearly his height. Their bodies seem made for each other. "You are my champion," she whispered.
"Only because you are the Kings wife and I his first knight," Lancelot retorted in another weak attempt to dissuade the woman he had grown to love.
Many knights loved the ladies whose colors they wore into battle but never did they bed them. The honor that they fought for was often the honor of other mens wives and not their own. The code of Chivalry was highest in all knights. And Lancelot knew he was the highest knight of them all. He had never been bested. Not even by Arthur himself with the help of Excalibur. But as he turned and looked into the crystal blue eyes of his queen he knew his resistance was weakening day-by-day, hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute. He did love his God. He did love his Country. And he did love his King.
But he also knew his passion for this dark haired beauty was great. He admired her from the moment he agreed to escort her from the neighboring village to become Arthurs bride. Arthur his king, his leader and even his best friend. He couldnt love Arthur any more than if he were blood. But this woman, this queen, this wife . . . was more tempting with every moment he spent with her.
There was already talk in the circle. Other knights and court members could see the shy smiles and longing looks that Lancelot and Guin often gave each other when they thought no one was watching. They learned that some folks had been watching and talk was spreading throughout the kingdom. They had committed no evil toward anyone other than themselves - just two souls who had no right being apart.
Lancelot had asked the queen to his chamber high above the city so they could discuss their attraction. He had to lay it to rest. He had to tell the queen his feelings but make sure they understood the consequences of the actions if they were to go any further in their attraction. The longer Lancelot stood and stared into those aqua globes the more he realized what a mistake bringing her there, to his bed chamber, had been. His reasoning was it was private, secluded from listening ears. He failed to realize that yes it was very private and very far from listening ears. No one would hear their cries of passion.
Lancelot tenderly ran the back of his fingertips down Guins cheek. The woman soaked up the gesture by closing her eyes and letting her head fall back as if begging him to work his hand farther south. Lancelot, against his better judgement, fulfilled the request by letting his fingers linger down Guins neckline and travel down to her breast. Instinctively, Guins body surged forward begging for more contact.
The sight was too much for Lancelot. He had to have this woman and the consequences be damned. One hand hooked into Guins long black locks pulling her head back, further exposing her throat. The other hand took possession of her hip pulling her closer. Guin moaned upon feeling Lancelots excitement. And as Lancelots lips captured the flesh of his queens neck, Guin expelled a primal noise that only fueled Lancelot more.
After only a few kisses, the queen was begging Lancelot to take her. She told him she was his that it would always be that way, no matter what. She would love him for all eternity, come what may. That was all Lancelot needed to hear. He told her he would protect her. He would champion her for all her days. He would die for her if that was what she wanted. Besides, a life without her would be useless he told her.
That night they made love for hours and fell asleep exhausted. A pounding noise woke them up from a sound sleep. They knew the voice. It was Arthur. He yelled about someone stealing the queen. Yes someone had stolen the queen. And it would not have a happy ending.
Under the pretext of study we spent our hours in the happiness of love, and learning
held out to us the secret opportunities that our passion craved. Our speech was more of
love than of the books, which lay open before us; our kisses far outnumbered our reasoned
words Peter Abelard
"Marry me Heloise."
Peter was a tall, dark scholar - a handsome man of mind and body. His insight was known over Europe and few had an intelligence that could rival his own. However in his student Heloise, he found a soulmate and a rival. She was bright and young and beautiful and everything that Peter could want as a man. She could make the perfect companion had he not dedicated himself to his studies the studies of which he was willing to give up for this woman.
"I will not marry you Peter," Heloise sobbed.
"We belong together. Your uncle be damned. The city be damned. The church be damned! I care not what they say or they do. You carry my child because of the love and passion we found. I refuse to walk away for anyones sake."
"Even your own?" Heloise questioned. "You know as I do Peter that if you were to marry your standing as a scholar would fall. You have so much to gain by not taking me as your wife. I cant have that burden on my shoulders. I cant go on knowing that I held you back."
"You make me strong of mind and body and spirit. Cant you see that Heloise?"
"And if you lose your position at the University? Then what Peter? Besides, your life is your studies. You are a thinking man a warrior of wisdom. I urge you to think about what youre asking."
"Sometimes logic shouldnt prevail," he told the small woman. "Sometimes you have to follow your heart. I didnt go looking for a mate Heloise. I went looking for experience the need for physical love Id never felt before. But what I have now is so much greater. Im begging you please marry me, raise our child together and let logic float to the winds."
"I cant," Heloise cried. "Because I love you far too much Peter. With time youll see its for the best."
Heloise quickly turned heel and began to walk away through the outskirts of the Parisian neighborhood. Peter called out to her once but didnt follow. Shed made her choice. Shed sacrifice all for him, even the idea of having him all to herself because it would hinder his success.
But Ill never be much without you, he thought silently as he watched her walk away. Ill never be complete with you gone. And someday, I will win your favor Heloise. I promise.
"William?" the young womans voice called. "William?" She watched as the man sat quill in hand writing feverishly. "WILLIAM!"
That got his attention and he nearly knocked over his ink blotter before turning around. "Yes my dearest Anne," he said putting down the quill and turning to face his wife of two years.
"What, dear husband, do you work on that has you so engrossed this time?"
He gave a bashful smile. Many nights he found himself engrossed but Anne had come to expect it. It was the price she had to pay for living with the First Bard and she accepted with a bit of amusement even today.
"Just some notes at this moment. A play about a Prince From Denmark. He returns to find his father, the King, has been murdered by his uncle."
"Death BEFORE the first act? Moving up a few acts arent we?" she teased.
"I think everyone will be gone by the end except for the student and the solider. They will live on."
"It seems fitting for some reason the scholar and the warrior," he shrugged. "What did you need dearest?"
"Two things actually," she began. "First, Ive heard rumors about you and the Queen."
"You heard me. Shes a patron of the arts and some folks say much more. You remain faithful to me, dont you William?"
"Certainly, my dear," he said reaching out to stroke his wifes stomach, which was nine months round with their first child. "I can assure that Queen Elizabeths interest in me is strictly professional."
"Just wondering," she said casually.
"What was the other issue my sweet?"
"You must pause your writing for this evening."
"Why ever for?" he said looking concerned.
"You need to fetch the mid-wife."
Williams face went from shock to a large smile in a matter of moments. "Right away my dear," he said shooting up from his desk. He started to look around the room sporadically. "You should lay. Come off your feet. Ill get some sheets. We need some fresh water. And a larger fire. Ill get wood. And-."
Anne gently put her hand on his shoulder. "First you need to relax and get the mid-wife dearest husband." She reached up and placed a delicate kiss on his cheek.
"Of course," he nodded. He started to make his departure but stopped and walked back to his wife. He pulled her closer and gave a light kiss to her lips. "I love you Anne Hathaway."
"I love you William Shakespeare."
1783 Monticello Plantation, Virginia, United States
"Why Mr. Jefferson? Why me?"
The young black slave was at a loss as to why her company was being requested to accompany him to Paris. He was one of the most powerful men in the newborn country and to travel at his side as an ambassador confused the young woman. Thats not to say she didnt want the opportunity. It would be a thrilling adventure no doubt. And as for Mr. Jefferson himself he was a tall, proud man; widowed and not looking for remarriage. He had a confident edge to him and many skills. Aside from that she found their conversations engaging many of his true thoughts and views he kept hidden from most of Virginia, especially those of slavery.
"Please Call me Thomas," he told her. "I need someone I can trust to look after my affairs for me while abroad. I trust you Sally Hemings."
"But sir-." The American statesman gave a disapproving look and Sally quickly corrected herself. "Thomas," she began again. "There are many people far more qualified than myself."
"But not whose company I enjoy as much . . . I cant define it. I cant explain it. But theres something here I dont want to leave behind in Monticello. Please say youll accompany me. I could make you come but I would never want to force you into anything."
"Im a slave Mr .Thomas. You could face sharp criticism from the party if-."
"To hell with the party."
"Surely you dont mean that."
"Truly I do," he countered with a nod. He rose from his desk and walked over to where the young woman stood, nervously flexing and releasing her fingers at her side. Without a word his fingers traced the line of her jaw until coming to her chin. With two fingertips he raised her head so he could meet her deep brown eyes.
"Theres never been a more lovely woman in mind, body or spirit. I have met many in all my travels but none quite like you," he told her softly. "Please do me this honor. I cannot court you we both know that. But if you let me, Ill devote my life here at Monticello serving you as I try to serve the people of this new nation. So Im asking Sally, please say youll travel with me to Paris away from prying eyes and party games."
Sally felt lightheaded and gave a small grin. "I dont know what to say Thomas." Her smile widened in pride for remembering to use his first name.
"Its simple. Say yes," he grinned.
She knew if anyone were to discover his offer it could mean the end of everything for him perhaps even is life in some parts. But she also understood what he meant about a connection. She could feel it too. "Yes," she answered firm yet softly. It was her destiny.
February 7th, 1966 Mercy Hospital, South Carolina
Melinda Pappas opened her eyes to find Janice Covington sleeping in the chair beside her hospital bed. She gave a light smile. I told her to go home but she doesnt listen. She never listens. The smile soon faded as a coughing spell took over waking Janice from her slumber.
The blonde quickly opened her eyes and shot to her feet, coming over to the woman. As it subsided Janice pushed the bangs away from Mels forehead. In doing so she could feel how warm the woman was. She quickly went to the bathroom for a washrag and rinsed it with cold water. Without hesitation she returned and began to wipe Mels brow.
"Still takin care of me?"
"Absolutely," the archeologist grinned. "Always will."
Mel reached out and pulled Janices hand down to her lips. She placed a delicate kiss on the back before releasing her embrace. "Thank you for staying but I did send ya home if I remember correctly. Ya need your rest Janice."
"You need me more," the blonde countered.
"Ya cant stop it Janice. We both know how sick I am."
"Which is why Im staying. Im going to spend as much time as possible with you."
"I told ya. Well find each other again. We always find each other." Mel smiled, resolved in her fate but knowing that this end would be just another beginning. Janice tried to match her smile and have the same confidence but couldnt muster it. Mel reached out again and squeezed the small womans hand. "Youll be okay Janice. You were a strong woman when I met ya. Youre stronger now than ever."
"Because of you. You make me strong Mel. When I do things I think Im not capable of its you that gives me that strength."
"Then keep being strong for me Janice. Keep the faith that well be back together again someday. Promise me?"
The plea was too much for Janice to take and she felt herself starting to tear up. Id give you the world if I could sweetheart. "I promise," she whispered.
A moment passed and Mel felt a chill pass over her. "Im cold," she told the archeologist. "Will ya come keep me warm?"
Janice had spent 25 plus years keeping Mel warm. But never in a public place. Their love was always kept behind closed doors or closed tents, depending on where they were. To the scholar society they were the best of partners. To a few close trusted friends they were also the best of lovers. But at this point Janice didnt care about appearances. She took off her bomber jacket and climbed into the small bed pulling Mel into her arms. Slowly she began a rocking motion as she stroked Mels hair.
"I made all the right choices," Mel said softly. "If I had it all to do over again I wouldnt change it."
"Me neither sweetheart Me neither."
Janice continued to hold Mel in silence when she felt the body on top of her go limp.
She didnt get a response. She knew she wouldnt. Her partner. Her best friend. Her soulmate was gone. And she felt the familiar ache her ancestor felt millenniums before. Mel Pappas was dead. But one day shed be back. And somehow Janice knew that shed find her again.
December 16th, 2000 First Methodist Church, Los Angeles, California, United States
The Reverend held out the bible before them. "The rings?"
They each turned to the best man and maid of honor, getting the rings for the exchange and placing them on the bible before turning back to each other.
"Harry," the reverend began. "Please repeat after me: I Harry."
"I Xena- Harry." Harry gave a brief shake of the head to clear his thoughts as the room gave a small chuckle. Only a few of their close friends were in attendance but that didnt matter. They had what they need each other. "Sorry," he whispered in an apology along with a bashful grin to the reverend and his bride.
The reverend simply smiled, knowing how nervous some grooms can be, before continuing. "Take you Mattie to be my lawfully wedded wife."
"Take you Mattie to be my lawfully wedded wife," Harry echoed.
"For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health for as long as we both shall live."
"For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health for as long as we both shall live," Harry said as he slipped the ring onto Matties finger.
The reverend then turned to Mattie. "Mattie repeat after me-."
Before he could finish Mattie began. "I Gabrielle-Mattie. Take you Xena-Harry to be my lawfully wedded husband for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health for as long as we both shall live."
The reverend tried to hide his surprise and Mattie felt the overwhelming need to explain. "Weve done this quite a few times," she said casually. "With each other," she clarified quickly when she realized how terrible that sounded out loud. "I mean this is the first time in THIS lifetime though Im gonna shut up now."
Harry chuckled silently. When he saw the blush on Matties face, he leaned over and kissed her softly out of pure instinct.
"Ah hem," the reverend said getting their attention. "I didnt say you could kiss her yet."
Harry quickly dropped his hands, which were cradling Matties face, and stood upright again. "Im sorry."
"Jumping the gun like always," Mattie teased with a wink and an air kiss. Harry gave her a smile and a shrug.
The reverend knew he should just wrap this up as soon as possible.
"By the power vested in me and the State of California, I now pronounce you husband and wife Now you may kiss the bride," he teased Harry before gesturing to the bride with his hand.
As the kiss ended Harry pulled back. "I promise Ill make you happy Mattie."
Mattie took his hand in hers and faced the small gathering as the reverend announced Mr. and Mrs. Harry Cavender.
"I know you will," Mattie told him with the playful grin hed loved through the ages. "You havent let me down in 2000 years you wont start now."
Authors Note: Want to read a little more about the uber Xena and Gabbys listed here? You might find these links interesting.http://historymedren.about.com/library/weekly/aa020500a.htm
Peter Abelard and Heloisehttp://www.geocities.com/Area51/1567/guinever.html
Lancelot and Guineverehttp://www.monticello.org/plantation/hemings-jefferson_contro.html
Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemingshttp://www.scr.org/season/00-01season/snl00-01/snlms6.html
William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway
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