Disclaimers: I do not own Xena Gabrielle or any of the characters mentioned here. They are the property of Ren Pics and Universal Studio.
Subtext disclaimer: Nothing blatant here, but as you read it will become clear the the two women talked about here are very much in love.
Authors note: This is a first for me as I have never written in the first person before. But I thought I would like to try and see what A page out of Xena's diary would look like if she ever decided to start keeping one. This is what I came up with.
Marion D Tuttle
If anyone were to have told me years ago that my life would have turned out like this, I would have laughed at them. More truthfully, I probably would have run them through with my sword. The concept of feeling this at peace with myself was not only foreign to me. It was so completely unlikely that even in my wildest imaginings I could not have pictured it.
I realize as I sit here reflecting and writing, something else I never would have seen myself doing. After all Communicating and expression of feelings has never been my biggest strength, that is where Gabrielle shines. I am writing this at her request, she seems to think that I could gain insight into myself by writing down some of the things that I have carried inside of me for so long.
Out of all the things in my life that I feel should be committed to paper, one thing stands out above all the rest. When I met Gabrielle, The person that I have become, the things I have been able to achieve all really started with this small woman that had the power to change my life. So it's only right that the story should start with her.
The day that I met her dawned like so many before it, clear morning sun showing through the trees. Warming the world below as the earth slowly but surely came to life under it's rays. A day like any other and yet so totally different. I had started on a journey of redemption, a quest to make amends for all the crimes I had committed. Against people I knew and against total strangers. I knew in my heart this was the path I wanted to take, I also knew it was not going to be easy.
The young boy I met on the road served to remind me of that. His story of a fire breathing Warrior Princess killing his parents was an exaggeration of course. But the truth of the matter is this small boy served to remind me of something. People had a lot more bad to remember of me than good. it was going to take a lot for me to regain the acceptance and love of the people I cared about. I knew there was only one way to do that. I had to die, not in the literal sense, but the old Xena did have to die.
It was with this conviction that I decided to bury my weapons. It was almost ritualistic for me, as if by burying the steel of my sword and chakram I could bury the darkness that had lived inside me for so long. I really don't know what I expected to happen, if I felt like I could just magically lay my past to rest. The one thing I didn't expect was to have a band of slavers so up at that precise moment.
I stepped back enough to see these woman, all young be herded like cattle into this small clearing. Along with some of the men from the village. The leader of this band threatened the village leaders with violence if they didn't let them take the girls. I saw the abject fear in the eyes of these young woman. A look I had become all to familiar with over the years. True I had never killed woman and children. But I had created more than my share of widows and left enough children Fatherless to fill an entire nation.
The fear was there, but there was something else. One young woman, more of a girl really stood out from the crowd. She offered herself in the place of all the other girls. Of course the leader laughed at her, telling her they would take her and any of the others they wanted. But her bravery in the face of what was happening around her was nothing short of amazing.
It was then that I stepped from the shadows, making sure this little weasel of a man had no misunderstanding about my intention being that he was not taking any of these girls anywhere. We fought and I glanced over to see that she was fighting off attackers as well. For one brief second our eyes locked. And although I denied for the longest time, even to myself, and her. In that moment an unbreakable bond was formed, this is a bond that has been stretched and tested to the limits over the years. Even though there have been times it seemed like it might be ready to snap it has always held, and in the process grown stronger.
In that moment I remembered something I had forgotten long ago. Fighting was not always just a means to achieve riches and to force people to your will. Sometimes there were things that were worth fighting for, just because they were right. The brief distraction of looking in this woman's eyes gained me a blow to the back, knocking me to the ground. Through years of practiced discipline in battle, I kept my wits about me and reached for the weapons I had just buried.
There still had not been a word that had passed between myself and my adversary, there didn't need to be. By the colors he wore I knew where he had come from, he was one of Draco's Lieutenants. It was by most standards a short battle, before I let him away from the sword I held at his throat though I wanted to send a message. "Tell Draco Xena says hello." I could see by his eyes he was more than a little surprised to be let off this lightly. He had fully expected to die.
I retrieved my leathers from the hole they were in. In this battle I had learned something, I could never bury my past. I was who I was and there was nothing I could do to change the events that had happened. I could however change the way I reacted to things in the future. I fought today, as I had many times before. But today it wasn't about me, it was to save other people. I knew that to do less would be to dent my true self.
I escorted these people back to their village. I had received minor injuries in the battle, nothing really, not compared to some of the other things I had survived. But this young woman that had so captured my attention insisted that I have my wounds looked at.
She bombarded me with questions, where did I get my weapons, how did I use them, where did I learn the kicks I had used.... There are to many to remember. In the midst of this her Father, one of the village leaders came in. His speech was short and to the point. He wanted me gone. He said that the village knew of my reputation and they didn't want any trouble from me. Once again Gabrielle showed her bravery by standing up to her Father. She told him that I should rest. She wanted to know how he could treat me this way after I had saved them. There she stood a total stranger, defending me. Her words moved me, even though I could tell they had no impact on the villagers.
After they left she told me she wanted me to take her with me, to teach her everything I knew. Part of me wanted to say yes to her right then and there. But I, of course told her that she belonged here. I pointed out the man she was betrothed to seemed like a gentle man. Even then I was denying what my heart truly wanted. I think at the time I was afraid, if she had touched me this much in such a sort time what would she do if I allowed her close. I couldn't let that happen, for my sake as well as hers, at least that's what I told myself.
I left, telling her not to follow me. My plan was to go to Amphipolis. I needed to mend fences there. I wanted to see my Mother, to see if I could salvage anything from the ashes I had left behind. But first I had another stop to make. Thinking back on it, I still couldn't say what made me go to Draco and ask him to have mercy on that small village. Other than the fact that I wanted to make sure she would be safe. After what she had tried to do for me I at least owed her that much.
Seeing Draco in his tent brought back a flood of memories. Not only of my own darkness but the darkness in the people I had surrounded myself with. He asked me again to join with him, he felt that if we joined forces we would be unstoppable. If he had gotten to me a few months before I would have probably taken him up on it. I asked him to spare the village, there was a few moments of tense quietness but he did finally relent. Saying he would show mercy for old times sake. There was no disguising the disappointment he was feeling. Had I only known then what he had planned instead, I may have killed him right then and there.
I rode on towards what used to be my home, Draco's words of "You can't go home again." Ringing in my ears. he had meant to prove it. He had dispatched men to follow me to see where I was going. With little trouble I managed to outwit the fools he had sent and find out that he planned to sack Amphipolis. What I didn't find out is that he planned to do it in my name.
As I crested the hill just before Amphipolis I realized I was holding my breath. What would I find there? Well there was only one way to find out. Riding into town no one really took any notice of me. "Maybe this isn't going to be as bad as I thought." I found myself thinking. As I entered my Mother's tavern I quickly found out that I hadn't imagined the worst.
I found myself standing in front of my Mother. My own sword pointed at me after she had taken it from my scabbard. For the briefest moments I thought I had met my fate. The blue of my Mother's eyes flashed colder than the steel of the blade she was holding towards me. Her only words to me were that weapons were not welcome in her tavern and neither was I.
There was my answer, there was no forgiveness here. I tried to tell them of Draco's impending attack. But there minds were closed to me. The memory of the last bloody battle I had led here was still to fresh in their memories. The had nearly all lost sons the last time I tried to get them to defend themselves from an attack. They weren't about to trust me again.
Matters were only made worse when a messenger came in, declaring that my Army was burning the fields to the north. When I denied that I had any men in the area, or any men at all for that fact, the villagers asked why then, were they flying my banner?
I could see the anger in their faces. I thought maybe Draco was right after all. I was willing to just give myself up to them, to let them take their revenge and my life if that would make them feel better. I had thought I had seen a spark of forgiveness in my Mother's eyes for the briefest of moments before that man had come in and announced that troops that belonged to me where burning their way through to the village. But that spark died when she had heard that, and with that my hopes of a life back in my home had died too.
I offered myself up to them, casting my weapons to the side. I stood before them, defenseless and waiting for their actions. Then the first stone hit, others followed and I believed that this was how my life was going to end. In this tavern surrounded by people that feared and hated me for what I had become.
Then I heard her, making her way through the crowd to stand in front of me, acting as a buffer between me in the angry villagers. I could hardly believe my eyes. I had all but threatened her to make her stay behind, and yet she had followed me. I didn't know it then but I have since learned. gabrielle is very much like a force of nature. Once she makes up her mind to do something there is nothing that stands a chance of stopping her. Not even an intimidating Warrior Princess. The funny thing is for years I took the blame from Gabrielle's family for her leaving home. I guess part of me accepted it because I felt largely responsible for all the bad things that had happened to her since she left. But the truth of the matter is there was nothing anyone, even I could have done to make her stay once she had made up her mind to go. If she hadn't left to follow me it would have been something or some one else. Gabrielle had been right when she said she didn't belong there and that she had been born to be so much more.
She was proud and defiant, and at that point she cared more about my life than I did. She told them all of the noble acts I had been responsible for in saving her village. The villagers of course protested that I was in league with Draco. Having the quick wit that she did she pointed out that was even more reason not to kill me. If I was in fact involved with Draco, think of the fury that would erupt if he were to find me dead. She did something I had been unable to do, she made them listen. The amazing thing to me is she did this without the use of a bit of force. All she used was her words and wit.
They were still unwilling to have me plan a defense however. They wanted me gone and were not about to listen to any more ideas about how they should protect their village. I left the tavern with her, still determined to leave her behind. I know it sounds strange but the fact is part of me still feared letting her get near me. There was a light in this woman that I felt unworthy of in a sense. She looked up at me and speculated that she could get up on Argo behind me.
I told her no, she pointed out that she had come all this way to see me. When I told her that it was her problem she pointed out that she had just saved my life. That was a compelling argument, how could I refuse someone that had just saved me from being stoned to death?
Lowering my arm I helped her up behind me, I could tell by the stiffness in her body that she did not like being this far off the ground. Something told me she might even have a slight fear of horses, but she faced it none the less. When she asked me where we were going I told her "To see my brother."
We weren't really going to see my brother per say, I wanted to visit his grave. I had always been close to Lyceus, I thought I could draw strength from him. I talked to him, telling him that no one in the village trusted me not even Mother. I wanted to think at least one of the people that I had loved could see into my heart and know the truth. I felt so alone, I told him that. Then something happened that I never expected or even dared prayed for. Three little words came from behind me that were going to change my life forever. "You not alone." When I heard her I believed it, for the first time in years I truly was not alone.
That was years ago, and since that simple declaration we have been through so much together. There have been good times and bad but through it all she has been there. She has gone from being my friend to my lover, wife and soul mate. We have fought there have even been times we have gone our separate ways. But Fate has always lead us back to each other. No matter how many things have changed, or what may change in the future one thing is certain. I have from the moment I met her, and will for the rest of this life and into the next love Gabrielle.
As always comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to The Bard's Corner