Changes of Heart: Truths

By CN Winters


"I’ve finished a new poem," August said in a shy tone. "Would you like to hear it?"

"Certainly," the bard grinned, looking up from sharpening her sais. The only sounds to be heard were the chirping of a few crickets and the crackle of the campfire. Nervously August cleared her throat.

"Toned and tan she glistens in the sun. Her body moves like lightening and in battle she never runs. Her hair is golden silk and blows lightly in the breeze and I pray to the gods that someday that she’ll look upon me. And in doing so I hope she sees the truth that’s really there. Of all the friends and faces I’m the one that really cares."

August fiddled with the bottom of the parchment and chewed lightly on her upper lip.

Oh boy. Gabrielle’s fingers ran briefly through her growing locks, stopping at her temple to nurse her headache, which suddenly appeared. "August-."

"I love you Gabrielle."

August looked as surprised as Gabrielle did by the omission.

"August you’re a wonderful girl-."

Gabrielle didn’t have the chance to continue. Suddenly she was bombarded with the weight of the young lady upon her. Her lips latched tightly to hers. But as quick as the ‘attack’ came, Gabrielle had the girl by the upper arms, keeping her at bay.

"Listen to me August . . . please?"

Utter defeat washed over the young girl’s face when she realized she wasn’t quite as ‘wonderful’ as she assumed. Soon her cheeks became red with embarrassment.

"I got some huge rabbits!!" they heard Eponin say from behind them. The amazon looked at the scenario in front of her – Gabrielle with a firm grasp on August and August sitting in Gabrielle’s lap. "Should I come back later?" Eponin asked sarcastically at the display before her. I don’t believe it. She refuses ME but she’ll take up with that…that…girl?

"It’s not what it looks like," Gabrielle explained.

"And it never will be either," August pouted rising to her feet. "I’m going for a walk," she announced and turned heel. "I’m sorry for being so foolish."

"August," Gabrielle called out. "Please stay. I want to speak with you."

"I think you said all you needed to say."

With that Gabrielle and Eponin watched August go into the woods. Gabrielle let out a deep sigh and Eponin smiled.

"What’s so funny?" Gabrielle asked thoroughly frustrated.

"You…you sexy thing you," Eponin chuckled. "All the women just go mad over you…myself included," she winked.

"Well you I can handle," Gabby smiled as she stood up. "August however is a little different."

"You’re right you can handle me," Eponin said pulling the bard closer by the waist. "Anyway you want by the way," she added in a smoky tone.

Gabrielle chuckled in spite of a rising uneasiness about being so close to Eponin. She cared deeply for Eponin but she knew she didn’t love her. At least not the way one should with a lover – the way she loved Xena.

"I haven’t been ‘handled’ in so long I think I’ve forgot how it goes," Gabrielle joked to lighten the mood Eponin was trying to set.

"It’s like riding a horse – once you learn you never forget. And I’d be more than happy to reintroduce you to . . . ‘handling’." Eponin’s fingers stroked Gabrielle’s cheek and traced a tiny pattern down to her lips.

Gabrielle closed her eyes and against her better judgement she planted a light kiss on Eponin's finger which halted it’s movement. Gabrielle opened her eyes and took Eponin’s free hand in hers.

"It’s a wonderful offer but as I’ve said-."

"You’re not ready," Eponin finished. "I understand. These things take time and I’m not gonna push . . . Look, why don’t you find the kiddo and do the heart-to-heart chat, okay? I’ll get dinner going." Gabrielle smiled and pulled Eponin down, giving her a light kiss on the cheek. "What’s that for?" the ex-amazon asked.

"You’ve really been wonderful to me these past few months when I’ve needed it most. Thank you."

Eponin released her hold and took Gabrielle gently by the hand, kissing her knuckles. "No thank you. I’m honored to be your traveling companion…now go find your admirer and set her straight."

Gabrielle nodded and started into the woods. She didn’t have to go far. She found the young woman sitting on a fallen tree limb, soaked in the moonlight.

"August," Gabrielle called gently. "Will you talk to me now . . . please?"

"I have nothing to say Gabrielle. I’ve already said too much."

"Hey now," Gabrielle said taking a seat next to the young lady, "That’s a beautiful poem but you’ve got the wrong woman. I’m not the one for you, honest. You might not believe that now but it’s true."

"Like I said…I was foolish."

"No, don’t say that," Gabrielle said firmly. "You’ve got a lot of courage to put your feelings out like that. I’ve seen ‘braver’ people carry a torch for years and say absolutely nothing about how they really feel out of fear." Like Xena. "And I’ve cared for people too and couldn’t give voice to it." Like me. "So don’t ever think for a moment that you’re being a fool for telling someone how you feel, especially when those feelings are full of warmth and light. The true fool is one who never says anything and let’s opportunities pass them by, never knowing what could have been. You may win. You may lose. But at least you were in the ‘game’."

That brought a small grin to August’s face. "So what you’re saying is that . . . it’s better to love and lose than to never love at all."

Gabrielle considered it a moment. "Yes that’s exactly what I mean."

"I should write that down," August thought out loud. "That’s pretty good. Remind me to put that on my parchment when I get back."

It’s better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all? Yeah that is pretty good. In fact . . . that’s where I’m at now isn’t it? I wished things had turned out differently. But in light of it all I’m still grateful for the time we had together. And I realize we both gave all we could to each other . . . this past year just hasn’t been enough. And I can’t go on being angry with Xena for not giving me something that she couldn't give. I loved. And I lost. But the game was wonderful while it lasted.

"What’s that smile for?" August asked the bard as she watched the growing smile on Gabrielle’s face.

Gabrielle tousled the hair on top of the young woman’s head. "I don’t think I’m angry anymore sweetie. That has nothing to do with you and I know you have no idea what I’m talking about," Gabrielle chuckled. "But trust me. It’s a good thing." Because if I’m not mad . . . then I can move on . . .where ever that may be...



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