A Shadow of You
© December 1, 2000
Disclaimers:The characters in this story are the property of Renaissance Pictures. This story is written for enjoyment only; no profits will be made from it.
Subtext: Yes, this story depicts a love between two women just barely. This is about as close as I hope to ever get to writing a story without subtext.
Spoilers: This story takes place after The Ring. Its from Hrothgars point of view. I wrote this before seeing Return of the Valkyrie and without having read any spoilers, so everything in here is the fault of my imagination.
Any comments can be sent to Ambyrhawke@aol.com
I find myself roaming the night-dark halls of my palace once again. My heart hurts, and my conscience weighs heavily upon my soul. The sound of footsteps echos softly off the stone of the empty corridors as I walk along. My ears pick up a muffled sound coming from the room just ahead, and my gait slows to a halt.
Turning, I lean back against the cool stone beside the thick oak door. I can feel my face crease in pain as I close my eyes against the sorrow washing over me in waves. Sorrow coming from behind that door as well as from within my heart. My breath leaks raggedly from my chest while I fight to keep the tears at bay.
I listen to her sobbing in the dark, and my impulse is to go in and hold her close. To soothe whatever nightmares assault her so. But I know she would not welcome my presence right now. I somehow sense that she is very protective of this particular despair.
Oh, Wealthea, my love, how long can I bear to hear that womans pain? I hate her tears as much as I hated yours never wanting you to be unhappy.
My beloved fiancée the light of my life has it really been a year since you took ill and left me? It seems just yesterday I held you in my arms as your shining spirit escaped this earthly plane. Yet it seems a lifetime since I last saw the smile you saved for me alone. When you died something within me died, too. I couldnt stand the looks of sympathy that greeted me in every face, so I took refuge in my grief and in the bogs at the edge of our lands.
I prayed every day that you would return to me. Oh, I knew better, but still I couldnt stop myself. Six months ago, my prayers seemed answered. In my wanderings, I came across the warrior princess and swore I was looking at a ghost. I had seen the tapestries; we knew you resembled her, my love. But until that moment, I never realized you both could have sprung from the same womb.
She seemed frightened and had no sense of herself. I thought her stricken by the moon or plagued with a fever. I couldnt leave her there in that state, so I brought her back to the palace. Then Beowulf returned with news that the monsters who hunted our people were no more. It was he who told me how Xena placed the Ring upon her finger to protect it from Odin. The loss of her memory was the price its curse exacted.
I can hear her sobbing begin to soften. I imagine she is holding a pillow to her chest, for that is how the chambermaids find her every morning. I stand outside this door every night as she cries wishing to take her pain upon my shoulders as if my own. Though she believes shes alone, I keep watch over her from afar just in case she needs someone. Whatever torments her, it gets worse and lasts longer every night. I wish she would tell me, but I will respect the silence she keeps.
Once again as I stand watch in this dark hall, I wrack my brain over the decision I made the night when Xena begged me to tell her who she was. She unknowingly faced me with a bigger dilemma than Grindls murderous rampage.
What is the crueler thing to do to that beautiful woman? Tell her who she really is? To burden her with an evil past for which she can never atone? How cruel is it to tell her of a love she cant recall? One who lies entombed in a ring of fire in eternal sleep.
Or is it worse to give her a past not her own? Let her live the life of a dead woman. Yet it is a happy and safe life filled with people who would love her. I dont know which is the better fate to choose. Ahh maybe there is no good choice in this matter.
Wealthea, please do not blame me for loving you so. Perhaps I should have told her the truth that night, but I am just a man with all of the faults and frailties of humankind. I didnt have the strength to give up the chance to have you
back with me even if its just a shadow of you. Perhaps in time she will come to love me as you did. Perhaps in time I will feel alive again.
Only quiet reaches my ears through the oak door to her chamber. I know that she has finally found her rest for this night. I raise my shaking hand and wipe the tears from my face. Tears that fell for the hole in my heart left by the loss of my Wealthea. Tears that fall for the things Xena doesnt remember having lost. My footsteps echo softly through the night as I turn toward my own room, tonights vigil now being completed. I will return to watch over her again tomorrow.
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