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Disclaimer: All right, you lot, you know the drill. Jump out of the car and run around to the other side and...hmm...wrong drill? Ahh, yes. This is that Xena thing everyone is so obsessed with. So I guess I'm supposed to say that two particular women are owned by a couple of companies, even though I feel they truly belong to us Xenites, no matter what the legal department says? I don't think so. You're not gonna get me to admit a thing. Nope. No siree.
Subtext? You bet your sweet Amazon cookies, but it's suitable for all ages. No sucking vortexes or screams of "By Carybdis!" Nope, nothing like that here. *snicker* I know, I know, bad joke. *G* I know this was kind of a silly disclaimer, but I had to cheer myself up after writing this story.
Just One More Moment
I quietly sit next to the bed, doing my best not to disturb her even though I know there's nothing in this mortal world that can disrupt her rest now. It's disquieting to look down upon the face that is more familiar to me than my own and see it so...so very still. Even in sleep she's never been this motionless.
Taking her hand in mine, I reach up with the other and lay the back of it against the smooth skin of her cheek. The fires that have been raging inside her are almost done consuming her. Soon, all too soon, her skin will cool, but it won't be by some miracle on the part of the healers.
No, there is no cure for old age. No cure for a body that had slept for years on the hard ground and fought almost every day against bandits and raiders.
I move my hand, slowly running my fingers through her hair. It's still as beautiful to me as the first day I met her even though its length is almost pure white now. I brush my fingertips over her cheeks next, then her eyes, looking for some sign that she's still in there, but my touch brings no response from her. It's only when I feel the faint warmth of her shallow breathing against my skin, that I breathe a little easier. She's not gone yet.
Perhaps I'm being too selfish. Perhaps I should let her go more easily, but we've rarely been apart she and I. Two halves of one whole. Just like the ancient legends of creation.
It won't be long though, before her breathing stops. It's painful to realize that I'm helpless to prevent it. All I can do is wearily sit here and keep her company, hoping perhaps for a last look, a last word before she leaves.
A long, drawn out sigh escapes me as I bring my hand back to hers; her own overheated hand warming my own chilled one. Even as she dies she looks after me, just as I always have with her...as I do now.
For days I've sat beside this bed, eating little, sleeping less, knowing since that first morning when she didn't wake up that our time together was at an end, but not really accepting it. I sent for every healer, hoping for a miracle, but we've used our share it seems. Death has always been an easy chain for us to slip before, but this time she has a tight grip on my lover and I don't think she plans on letting her go.
Perhaps...perhaps it's for the best.
We have had a full and wonderful life. We've raised our children together and seen our two girls go on to lead the Amazons, now grown into two separate tribes. We've raised our only son, and watched as he became a fine man, both a warrior and a peacemaker when needed.
Most of our years together have been here, in the Amazon village, near enough to both of our childhood homes so we could visit whenever we wished, but still far enough away to be ourselves, unrestrained by the families that no longer knew us or understood who we really were.
Yes, we've had a full life. Children, grandchildren, friends...a very full life.
The ache inside me grows with every passing moment as I realize that she's grown so weak that I doubt she'll make it much past sunset. Then I'll be alone.
I've cried for days and thought I had exhausted my tears, but as I lean down and tenderly kiss the hand in mine, fresh ones run down my face to fall onto the thick coverlet.
I want to scream and howl at the world, for my heart is breaking, but how can I complain? I've had a life that few dream of. Yes, there's been grief and pain in it, but also such happiness and love.
I can almost sense the rest of the village hovering outside these walls; even our daughters mingle with their subjects outside. Thankfully, they've all left us alone this day, this last day. Such a long time together, it's only right that we have this final one to ourselves as well.
Wearily, I rest my head on the bed, my lips barely brushing her fingertips. For a long time I wait, just holding her, listening to her breathe. Even when the room begins to darken, I keep to my vigil, not lighting a candle to see her by. What do I need it for? She's ingrained into my mind and soul. If my eyes were closed, I would see her clearly in my mind, first younger, then older as the years progressed. I see her even more clearly in my heart, for she is my heart.
Every breath I have taken, even before we met, was because of her. The beating of my heart, my tears, everything that has been joyous in my life, all of it, yes, even the pain, has been because of her and I don't regret any of it. Another person should be so lucky as to find someone like her to share their life.
The thought of it makes me smile, but as I kiss her hand again the sad ache within me grows stronger.
I realize after several moments that the world has grown more quiet. The wind has died to almost nothing, the sounds of the women outside have become whispers, the forest around us has become silenced...and in this room I alone am breathing.
The tears stream down my face now, blinding me further so that I can't even see her outline. Dull pain rises from deep inside of me, as if my soul has been ripped in two, leaving my half to float untethered.
As I feel her slip away, I close my eyes and softly whisper, "Just one more moment, my love. Wait for me, just one more moment."
The pain blossoms for an agonizing moment, then vanishes as a faint breeze on my lips eases the ache of my soul. My eyes still closed, the scent of of her, mixed with the fragrance of roses, comes to me on the wind and I truly smile for the first time in days.
Perhaps I won't be alone after all.
Happy Halloween, Sabbat, All Hallows Eve, Pleasant Peasant Pagan Day, or whatever you want to call it. I was finishing an interesting ff called "In the Shadow of an Eagle's Wing", by Jamie Boughen, when I was smacked across the forehead by the Old Powerful Muse's, Mighty Morphin' Mega Muse Masher, and just had to write this. Hope (gods, I hate that word now) you liked it.
Have Katiepult. Will throw tomatoes at Regis and Kathie Lee if it isn't a good interview.
"Bard? Where? Who was that masked bard? Why it's the Looney...err...Lone Warlord!"
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