Changes of Heart: Truths
By CN Winters
"Ive 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 shell look upon me. And in doing so I hope she sees the truth thats really there. Of all the friends and faces Im the one that really cares."
August fiddled with the bottom of the parchment and chewed lightly on her upper lip.
Oh boy. Gabrielles 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 youre a wonderful girl-."
Gabrielle didnt 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 girls face when she realized she wasnt 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 Gabrielles lap. "Should I come back later?" Eponin asked sarcastically at the display before her. I dont believe it. She refuses ME but shell take up with that that girl?
"Its not what it looks like," Gabrielle explained.
"And it never will be either," August pouted rising to her feet. "Im going for a walk," she announced and turned heel. "Im 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.
"Whats 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."
"Youre 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 didnt love her. At least not the way one should with a lover the way she loved Xena.
"I havent been handled in so long I think Ive forgot how it goes," Gabrielle joked to lighten the mood Eponin was trying to set.
"Its like riding a horse once you learn you never forget. And Id be more than happy to reintroduce you to . . . handling." Eponins fingers stroked Gabrielles 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 its movement. Gabrielle opened her eyes and took Eponins free hand in hers.
"Its a wonderful offer but as Ive said-."
"Youre not ready," Eponin finished. "I understand. These things take time and Im not gonna push . . . Look, why dont you find the kiddo and do the heart-to-heart chat, okay? Ill get dinner going." Gabrielle smiled and pulled Eponin down, giving her a light kiss on the cheek. "Whats that for?" the ex-amazon asked.
"Youve really been wonderful to me these past few months when Ive needed it most. Thank you."
Eponin released her hold and took Gabrielle gently by the hand, kissing her knuckles. "No thank you. Im honored to be your traveling companion now go find your admirer and set her straight."
Gabrielle nodded and started into the woods. She didnt 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. Ive already said too much."
"Hey now," Gabrielle said taking a seat next to the young lady, "Thats a beautiful poem but youve got the wrong woman. Im not the one for you, honest. You might not believe that now but its true."
"Like I said I was foolish."
"No, dont say that," Gabrielle said firmly. "Youve got a lot of courage to put your feelings out like that. Ive seen braver people carry a torch for years and say absolutely nothing about how they really feel out of fear." Like Xena. "And Ive cared for people too and couldnt give voice to it." Like me. "So dont ever think for a moment that youre 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 lets 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 Augusts face. "So what youre saying is that . . . its better to love and lose than to never love at all."
Gabrielle considered it a moment. "Yes thats exactly what I mean."
"I should write that down," August thought out loud. "Thats pretty good. Remind me to put that on my parchment when I get back."
Its better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all? Yeah that is pretty good. In fact . . . thats where Im at now isnt it? I wished things had turned out differently. But in light of it all Im still grateful for the time we had together. And I realize we both gave all we could to each other . . . this past year just hasnt been enough. And I cant 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.
"Whats that smile for?" August asked the bard as she watched the growing smile on Gabrielles face.
Gabrielle tousled the hair on top of the young womans head. "I dont think Im angry anymore sweetie. That has nothing to do with you and I know you have no idea what Im talking about," Gabrielle chuckled. "But trust me. Its a good thing." Because if Im not mad . . . then I can move on . . .where ever that may be...
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