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Eternal Love

By Bill Leasure

wleasure@frankgates.com

 

GENERAL COPYRIGHT/DISCLAIMER:

Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.

VIOLENCE WARNING/DISCLAIMER:

This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.

HURT/COMFORT WARNING/DISCLAIMER:

This story may be best classified as a Hurt/Comfort Story involving the characters Xena: Warrior Princess and Gabrielle. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of issue may wish to read something other than this story.

LOVE/SEX WARNING/DISCLAIMER:

This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adults. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.


The battle raged around her, yet no one seemed to notice her. Gabrielle walked though the combatants as if she were a ghost. Men died horrific deaths, but she was not touched.

"Xena? Whatís happening here? Xena, answer me!" The Blond bard pleaded,

"LOOK OUT!"

The Raven-haired warrior never heard the warning, as a dagger buried itself in her chest.

"NOOOOOOOOOO!" Gabrielle screamed

"Gabrielle, wake up. Calm down. Itís okay, everythingís okay." Xena said softly.

"Xena, It… was… so real. I saw you fighting and… an…" Gabrielle sobbed "You get…" she couldnít finish

"No, that wasnít real. Iím fine. See, nothing wrong with this body." Xena tried to reassure her companion. "Are you going to be alright?"

The bard nodded. "Do you remember when we stopped that army? When I was delirious from the poison, and saw you…" her voice trailed off

"Ya, you saved my life." Xena said

"I think this is another omen of some sort." Gabrielle whispered

"I never put too much stock in dreams." Xena stated, "Try and get some sleep. Please"

"Iíll try." Gabrielle replied, pulling the blanket tight around her.

Xena sat and watched Gabrielleís breathing deepen as sleep overtook the younger woman. Thank you Morphius. She thought. This was the fifth straight night Gabrielle had awoken from a nightmare. The dark circles under her green eyes bore testament to these nocturnal horrors.

"Sleep well, my bard." Xena whispered

 

Sweet smells slowly penetrated Gabrielleís sleeping brain. Rolling over onto her back, she opened her eyes. The sunís position told her the day was nearly half over.

"Xena, why did you let me sleep so long?" She asked, stretching her tight muscles.

"You needed the sleep, and you looked soooo cute doing it." Joked Xena

"How long to the next village? Weíre low on some supplies." Gabrielle said. Breakfast looked good, considering Xena cooked.

"About six hours ride." The warrior answered.

"Let me get my things and weíll get going." Gabrielle said, between bites of her meal.

After about four hours of travelling Xenaís sixth sense kicked in. "Alright back there, who are you?" Xena said turning around

"My nameís Harlos. Iím heading towards the next village, Hulment. Are you?" The man asked

"Ya." Gabrielle said, eyeing up the new comer. He was tall, taller than Xena by several inches. His brown hair fell straight back and he had soft hazel eyes. His shoulders were broader than Herculesí. Her pulse quickened. What caught Xenaís eye was the belt of daggers he was wearing around his waist.

"Iím Xena, this is Gabrielle. What brings you to this area?" She inquired. "Nice daggers you have there."

DAGGERS! Is he the one in my Dream? Gabrielle wondered

"The town is under attack from a warlord named Soox. They offered 500 Dinars to whoever would help them. I had nothing better to do." Harlos answered

"500 DINARS" gasped the bard, not realizing that the others were looking elsewhere.

"Horses, about 15 or 20." Harlos said

"Riding this way. Fast." Xena added

A score of rider rounded the bend.

"Clear the road! We have business in Hulment." Shouted the lead rider, as he slowed his mount.

"Raiding, huh" Harlos asked bluntly.

"They refused to pay tribute to their leader." Pedus stated, "Soox asked for only half of their crops."

"You go back and tell Soox that heíll have to get past me first." Harlos retorted in a calm tone

You are but one man; we are many. Who are you?" Asked Pedus, drawing his sword, "So that I may have it etched on your tombstone!"

"Harlos."

"Harlos of Rodeg?" asked another rider

He nodded, never loosing track of Pedus.

"Attack!" shouted Pedus

No one moved.

"I said attack." Repeated Pedus, "Are you Soldiers or bar maids?"

"Thatís Harlos of Rodeg. He killed over 200 men in one afternoon." The rider said

"Heís only one man!" Pedus roared

"Hey there. Remember us? Ares Chosen and the Amazon Bard. Go tell Soox that the village is under our protection" Xena interjected

"Weíll see about that. ATTACK!" Pedus spurred his horse.

In the blink of an eye, Harlos had taken down two riders with well-thrown daggers. The riders, reacting more out of self-preservation than training, charged. Xena launched her chakram, knocking a few more off their mounts. Gabrielle, using her staff like a spear, took out another. Harlos landed a series of punches on one soldier, then dropped the man sneaking up behind him with a boot to the face. Meanwhile, Xena was beating four men at once. She is so wrapped up in these opponents that she didnít hear the fifth come up behind her. Gabrielle turned to see Harlos aim a dagger at Xena and throw.

"NOOOOO!" she screamed as the blade flew towards the warrior.

Xena reacted half a breath slow and watched the dagger go under her arm. A manís grunt caused her to turn. The fifth soldier was staring down at the hilt protruding from his ribcage.

"Thanks." Xena said.

The remaining horsemen retreated. Harlos began to retrieve his daggers, while Xena walked over toward the stunned Gabrielle.

"I… uh… You… Dagger…" The normally sure worded bard stammered. The thought of what had almost happened broke through; she fell to her knees wailing. The Warrior Princess rushed to Gabrielle. Xenaís material instincts took over; she held Gabrielle in her arms and rocked her. Harlos approached cautiously, holding a mug.

"Here Gabrielle, drink this. Youíll feel better." He said offering her the mug. Xena gave him a hard, questioning look. Alcohol. He silently said.

"Thank you." She said weakly. The beverage slide down her throat and a feeling of warmth settled in her stomach.

"What is this anyway?" The bard asked, feeling a bit sleepy.

"A strong ale from my homeland. We have no official name for it, but most people call it Ďlow downí because, thatís where you end up. Low Down on the floor." He answered humorously

"Funny I couldnít ta…ZZZ." She passed out.

Covering the younger woman with a blanket Xena remarked "Strong stuff. That was one great throw; barely show it coming."

"Thank you; although, I was worried youíd catch it. Whatís up with her and daggers?" Harlos asked

Deciding she could trust him, the Warrior Princess explained. "Sheís been having nightmarish visions of me being killed by a dagger. The nightmares have been keeping her up at nights."

"She should sleep well, I gave her a full mug. Sooxís raiders carry a dagger; however, they coat theirs in the blood of their sick. A small scratch could be fatal. You hungry? " He inquired as he impaled a fat hare with a skilled throw.

After the hare was consumed, Xena did the unexpected: She started a conversation.

"What is your hometown like?" Xena asked

"Itís a mid sized town about seven days east of here. I havenít been there in over ten years." A pained look crossed his face.

"How did you come by that brew? Does it keep that well?" She inquired.

"No. After my parents died, I was about six, I lived on the streets. I learned many skills including brewing, woodworking, and healing. Would you like to read my cures, I wrote them down." He asked

"Sure." Xena chirped. This could be interesting

After reading the scroll, she was somewhat impressed. "You have some really inventive cures here. Especially this one for fever."

"Iíve traveled to many far off lands and studied under many healers." He informed her.

"My main concern is Sooxís raiders; he has over 400."

"You couldnít hold that many off by yourself. Whatís up?" Xena eyed him critically

"I wasnít planning on. The local militia is marching this way. I was only going to delay Sooxís forces till they go here." He answered

"Sounds like suicide to me." Xena remarked bluntly

"I have no family, no close friends, and nothing else to keep me tied down." His calmness startled the warrior. Here was a young, good looking man who really didnít care if he lived or died.

"Night Xena." Ended the conversation

 

"GOOD morning Xena. I feel Great." Gabrielle extolled. Usually she slept later than Xena, but today Gabrielle was the first up.

"Go get some water. Iíll start the fire." Xena grumbled.

Heading towards the river, she heard splashing. Peaking around a large tree, she saw Harlos wading out of the water. When she saw he was naked, she turned her head in embarrassment. After a moment, she turned back around; He now had his trousers on. Gabrielle walked over and almost gagged. His back was covered in scars.

"Hi there. I heard you ever by the tree." He said. Noting the horror in her eyes, Harlos quickly pulled his dark blue shirt on.

"Those look painful." She said in reference to the scars.

"They only hurt the first time." He replied. Looking into her green eye, she saw something. "Your eyes show more pain than these cuts ever caused. You want to talk about it?"

Gabrielleís eyes dropped "Iíve seen my share of pain. Xena was killed, my husband was murdered right in front of me, and my child was poisoned." The emotions related to these people came through in a single tear. "It seems that all the important people in my life die."

"Iím sorry. I had no idea." He apologized.

Wiping her eyes " Itís okay. I never talked to anybody about this, not even Xena."

Gabrielle felt a connection with this man. Different from the one she had with Xena, But somehow similar.

I canít handle another person in my life. Not after Perdicus. She thought.

"A wise person I met once said ĎTime can heal all woundsí. You just need some time. Harlos said, as if he could read her thoughts. "You said Xena died. She looks good for a dead woman."

"Itís a long story, Iíll tell you later." She answered as she bent to fill the water pail.

Nice body, sharp mind. No wonder Xenaís sweet on her. He thought tucking his shirt into his pants. "Let me help you there."

"Thank you." She responded. What is it about him? I feel so comfortable around him. Can someone fall in love this fast? LOVE! Did I say love? What in Hades am I saying?

"Look who I found Xena." Gabrielle called out "We need to talk, alone." She said in a much lower tone

"Could you excuse us please, girl talk." Xena said too slowly." The magistrate said dejectedly.

"What kind of weapons do you have here?" Harlos asked

"Letís talk strategy over lunch." Dagit replied

"Sounds good to me." Gabrielle said

Xena joked "Anything involving food sounds good to you."

"Very funny Xena." She said in her best ĎIím going to get you backí voice.

After their orders were taken, Dagit began to explain the situation.

"We have some swords, bows and arrows, and such; but we have no one who can use them."

"Iíll show your troops what I can. Just in case we have to hold Sooxís forces off." Xena said

"We do have a few advantages. We have the defensive position, the knowledge that reinforcements are on the way, and they will have no cover the last two hundred feet of their charge." Harlos noted

"Gabrielle, youíre in charge of organizing a hospital, Harlos, check the supply situation. Dagit, you and I will start training." Xena handed out the assignments as the food arrived.

The mealtime conversation centered on non-military issues. After they finished their meal, each headed off in a separate direction. The four had agreed to meet back around dinnertime to finalize the plan.

 

Harlos walked towards the storehouses. He saw the nervous look in everyoneís eyes.

"Hello there. Dagit sent me over to check our supply situation." He said

"We have enough food stores to least one week of fighting. All the livestock is now inside the walls, and we have a well in here for water." The Store master informed him

His next stop was the blacksmith.

"How you doing?" He asked the behemoth at the forge.

"I have a couple hundred arrow heads, about two dozen swords, and my sonsí are carving spears. They have about twenty five." He said in a voice raw from years of working the forge.

"How many of those arrow heads are on arrows?" Harlos inquired

"About fifty." He answered

"Thatís a problem." The warrior noted, "Where are your sons?"

"Behind the shed."

Harlos thanked him and picked up the basket of arrowheads. As he lifted the basket Harlos saw a beautiful sword hanging from the wall. The blade was not the usual straight blade, but was curved slightly. Also it was a thinner, lighter blade. Setting the arrowheads down, he hefted the sword. The balance was just past the hand guard, making it very easy to swing.

"Iíve never seen such a sword before. Where did you come up with this style?" Harlos said in admiration.

"It comes from a land beyond Chin." The smith answered

"How much for the sword?" He asked.

"Take it. I donít use swords." The smith responded

Securing his new sword to his belt, Harlos picked up the arrowheads. Walking out the door he saw the boys across the way.

"Hey there. You kids the blacksmithís sons?" He asked the oldest boy, who looked about eight.

"Yep."

Dropping to one knee he talked in a low tone. "I need you to do me a favor. I need you to make arrows. Can you do that for me?"

The boys nodded.

"When this is over Iím going to buy each of you a big piece of pie. Youíre all being really brave." He said to the kids.

Rising to his feet, Harlos scanned the courtyard. He watched as Xena was instructing the locals in how to use a staff.

Should have Gabrielle do that. He thought, shaking his head. Speaking of her, I wonder how sheís doing?

 

Xena was pleased with the locals. While not real soldiers, they had spirit. They knew that if they had to fight, it would be for something more important than power or wealth. They were fighting for their homes. She had shown them the basics of staff fighting. Some of the men had been soldier in their younger days, and Xena figured they would be able to train the other villagers on the swords.

"Alright, you guys are looking pretty good." She shouted out.

"Those of you with military training will teach the others how to use swords. We donít have enough for everyone, so youíll have to share. If we do have to go into battle, pick up weapons off the ground." She ordered

"Why?" One of the younger trainees asked

"Since we donít have enough for everyone, some people wonít have a sword tomorrow. So theyíll have to get one from a dead man." The warrior answered bluntly

"Isnít that suppose to be bad luck or something?" another asked

Xena thought about her response. "Well, not if you donít know the man whose weapon your picking up."

Nods of agreement ripple through the crowd.

 

Gabrielle had turned the town hall into a field hospital. Several of the older women had volunteered to be nurses. The needed supplies were being organized and extra beds were brought in for the possible wounded. While she hoped that all this would be unnecessary, they prepared for the worst.

As the last items were prepared one of the nurses turned to her.

"You look really nervous. Are you going to be alright?"

"Ya, I always get nervous before a battle." The bard lied. Iím afraid that Xena may not survive the battle. She thinks Iím paranoid and Iím so unsure of my feelings for Harlos.

As the sun cast a final glance at the land before retiring for the night, the three warriors regrouped at the Inn for dinner.

"Well Xena, we have enough food for one week and all the water we need. The Blacksmith has about two dozen swords, twenty-five spears and the boys are making arrows. We have Thirty or so bows and several score of arrows." Harlos stated. "I went scouting earlier today and Sooxís scouts are about an hours ride from here. That means his main forces are about half a days ride from here."

"And the Militia?" Xena asked

"About the same. Itís going to be a matter of minutes, and weíre going to be right in the middle." He said dejectedly

"Gabrielle?"

"The hospital is ready. Eight of the women stayed to be nurses. We have plenty of rags, water, and beds."

"Good. Weíll finish preparing everything in the morning. Now, letís eat." The Warrior Princess said as the meal arrived.

 

"Good night you two." Harlos waves as he headed for his room

"Night" Gabrielle replied

"You worried about him arenít you?" Xena asked, reading the younger womanís face

"Yes, I am. I finally found someone that I care about, and I might lose him in battle." She turned and looked Xena in the eye.

"Go talk to him. See how he feels." Xena urged

"Okay Xena, Iíll go."

YES! Xena was mentally doing cartwheels as she headed for the bar. If she can find a little happiness, then Iím happy for her.

 

A knock on the door brought Harlos out of his thoughts.

"Come"

"I couldnít sleep. You busy?" Gabrielle said

"Come in. You look nervous, everything okay?" He asked

Itís now or never. Do the bard thing. She looked at her hands and spoke. "I think Iím in love with you. I know that sounds crazy and totally impossible, but I feel it."

"Youíre not crazy. I just didnít think you were into the warrior type." He admitted.

Gently he embraced the young bard and held her. She felt his hand cup her chin and lift her head. Looking into her eyes, her deep green eye, Harlos saw the world dissolve down to just them. When their lips met, Gabrielle felt as if she could fly. The two of them just stood there; nothing else mattered, but the other person.

Slowly the kiss broke. As Harlosí right hand stroked her face, Gabrielle moaned. He was so gentle, almost like Perdicus. Her mind drifted back to her wedding night for a brief moment. The kiss to the hollow along her collarbone brought her to the present.

She felt him grasp the hem of her shirt and pull it up. She didnít want to break the kiss, but realized she had. The quick thinking bard seized Harlosí shirt and removed it so they would not have to break their kiss again. Gabrielleís skin was on fire, even in the cool evening breeze. Harlosí breath caught in his throat; she was beyond beautiful. There were no words that would so her justice. She seemed to glow from some internal light. Her skin was smooth and flawless. Her breasts were high and firm, the nipples hard points. She was shocked by the smoothness to his hands as he caressed her; most warriors had rough hands, even Xena.

She quickly forgot about how soft his hands were; one was caressing her thigh. She could hardly stand. Her hands reached out and began to unlace his trousers. Sliding them down, Gabrielle was surprised when she saw he wore no undergarments. Harlos leaned over and began to kiss her again. His tongue slipped into her mouth. Gabrielle was taken aback by this at first, but was soon engaged in a duel with Harlos. Gabrielle never felt his hands move around her waist and unhook her skirt. As it fell silently to the floor, Harlos pulled her closer. Her sweat mixed with her natural scent, creating a perfume that drove him wild with desire.

Gabrielle could feel his erection press against her stomach, as well as the emptiness she needed filled. To communicate this need, she wrapped her legs around his waist; Harlos was now supporting both their weights.

"Patience Gabrielle." She heard as he turned and lowered her to the bed.

Looking up at Harlos, she knew that he could never, would never hurt her. The feel of his hand caressing her inner thigh interrupted her thoughts. Again her hands moved on their own, pulling his to where she most desired to be touched. Harlos carefully fondled her swollen labia. She swore her brain would explode, the pleasure was so intense. A moan of disappointment escaped her lips as his hands pulled away, wet.

As Harlos slowly slide into the smaller woman, She screwed her eyes shut.

"Are you in pain?"

"No, I just havenít done this in a while." She assured him

"Do you want me to stop?"

To answer him, she reached around, grabbed his buttocks, and pulled him deeper into her. He continued until their pubic curls brushed together. The two lovers stayed like this for a minute. Then Harlos began to rock his hips, slowly at first but rapidly increasing the tempo. After awhile, Gabrielle felt the waves of orgasmic pleasure wash over her. Harlos froze, his face a mask of pain. He rolled over onto his back, pulling the bard into his arms.

"I love you Gabrielle."

"I love you Harlos."

YES, way to go Gabrielle. Xena thought, having indulged in a bit of voyeurism. She tiptoed down the hall. Even with half a bottle of port in her, she could still move silently.

 

 

A knock at the door roused Gabrielle out of bed. Wrapping a blanket around her, Gabrielle opened the door a crack.

"Uh… Morning Xena." She stuttered

"Did I interrupt something, cause I could come back later." Xena said

Shaking her head, "No, just give us a few minutes to get dressed. Weíll meet you downstairs. Order us some breakfast."

"Hi there. Did you two have a nice chat last night." Xena asked with an impish grin

"We worked everything out." Replied Harlos, settling into a chair

"As I see it we have no options. Sooxís forces will be here before the militia and before we evacuate the women and children." Xena lamented

"How much time do you need?" Harlos asked

"HOLD ON Harlos. You will NOT go on a suicide mission." Gabrielle nearly screamed, "Now that I found someone I truly love; I will not let them get killed!"

"Gabrielle, I would like nothing more than to not go out there; however, Iím the best candidate for the mission." He protested

"What about Xena? Or any of the other men? Why you?" Gabrielle asked tears forming in her eyes

"Xena is needed with the villagers, the other men arenít ready for this, and no one can run a field hospital like you. Iím the only one who doesnít already have a roll. I promise Iíll be careful." Harlos vowed

"Itís not fair! Itís not fair! NOT FAIR!" Gabrielle screamed though her tears

"Gabrielle, Iíll be alright. I will never leave you, ever." He assured her.

"But you could be killed." She stated

"I could be killed crossing the road, but I still cross. This village is more important than I am. I have to go." He explained "I know itís not fair. I wish I had met you five years ago; I wish a lot of things were different, but theyíre not."

"I understand why you have to do this, but I still donít like it." Gabrielle remarked, her tears drying.

Extending her hand, Xena spoke. "Harlos, you be careful. Donít worry about falling back, we can handle ourselves."

Shaking it "I know. Iíll try to give you as much time as possible. Gabrielle, I want you to know that I will always love you."

He leaned over and kissed the woman he loved.

"Be careful. I want you back." She whispered into his ear.

"Let me get a few more weapons, and Iíll be off." Harlos said

As the three warriors approached the gate, Harlos turned to the women. "Once I get to the trees, tell the archers to shoot anything that comes out."

"What if you come out?" Gabrielle asked, a glimmer of hope in her eye.

"I wonít come out until after the battle." He responded. "Gabrielle, if I donít come out, thereís a scroll in my room. Think I have enough?" motioning to his weapons.

He was carrying his sword, a bow, three quivers of arrows, and his belt of daggers.

"Until I return." And he walked out of the city.

"Xena, I hope he does return." Gabrielle said to her friend

"Heíll find some way. He and I are the same type of person." The Warrior Princess reassured.

Sitting in the tree, Harlos had nothing to do but think. What if I donít come back? How will Gabrielle handle it? The questions run through his mind. Zeus, You know Iíve never prayed to you or any god before. Iíve never needed anything from you in the past. Now I ask a favor of you. If I am to die today, may Gabrielle know that I died bravely. Also, I ask that Gabrielle be spared. She has had more pain than anyone should. The thunder of horses derailed his train of thought.

This is it.

He knocked an arrow and drew a bead on the lead rider. Pedus never saw the arrow that ended his life. Riderless, the horse slowed, causing a logjam. Harlos fired arrow after arrow; each missile found soft flesh. Finally, his supply of arrows was exhausted; he dropped from the tree and ran for the river. Soox, spotting the fleeing man, launched a crossbow bolt. Harlos felt the point pierce his back then his ribcage; as he fell forward, his last thought, before the cold blackness of death gripped him, was of Gabrielle.

 

Time moved slowly. The village defenders sat behind their protective walls, watching, waiting, and not knowing. Xena had given them last minute instructions; now she paced.

"Xena, The woman and children are safely out of the city." On of the villagers reported

"Harlos!" Gabrielle shouted over the wall

Grabbing the young woman "Gabrielle, donít yell. Youíll give away our secret weapon."

"Xena, heís dead." She reported without any emotion. "We need to prepare."

"Gabrielle, you donít know that for sure."

Her sharp hearing caught the sound of horses coming; the villagers spirits rose on the notion that the militia had arrived. She knew better.

Sooxís forces charged out of the forest like some demon sent by Hades himself.

"Archers ready. Fire!" A volley of arrows rained down upon the riders, many fell, but more poured from the forest.

"Archers, fire at will. Spears ready." Her plan was simple: The archers would cut down as many riders as possible, then use the spears to keep the raiders from entering the city. The only problem was that there was no way for the villagers to escape: this was a battle to the end.

A few of the raider braved the arrow storm to reach the wall. One of them fired crossbow bolts whenever a villager would show. So far he had only hit a one or two.

The others were working on the gate. Once it was down, the rest of the raiders would swarm the city and finish off the defenders.

"Xena, the gateís about to give way!" Dagit shouted

"Spears, form up! Archers prepare to fire inward!" She ordered

The men who had spears formed into lines of deadly spikes. Some of the archers turned around to fire at the doorway.

The bar on the gate was badly cracked from the punishment inflicted on it. It finally gave out and the city gates swung open. The first men though figured that the villagers would flee; they were dead wrong. The raiders never made it to the spears; the archers cut them down in a hail of arrows.

"SOOX, THE MILITIA IS HERE!" one of the scouts reported

"Get into the city, weíll hold up in there." The warlord commanded.

The raiders leapt from their hiding places, running full out for the city, hoping that an arrow didnít have their name on it. Only a small number reached the city before the militia blocked their path. One of those who made it in was Soox himself. From his horse he cut down several defenders, before an enraged bard toppled him.

She twirled the amazon staff in her hands, waiting for him to strike. Soox figured that she was not skilled and would be an easy kill; with no finesse, he swung at her head.

He was stunned when she blocked his swing and landed several blows.

"Arenít you the feisty one?" He snickered, "Itíll make killing you that much better."

"Talk, talk, talk. You gonna fight or not." The woman said, launching an attack of her own.

Steel met wood. Neither could gain an advantage. While he was stronger, Gabrielleís rage made her fight beyond her strength. Back and forth they battled, trading blows faster than the eye could follow. Soox managed to knock her to the ground.

"Well fought, but I win!" He gloated, preparing to run her through.

Gabrielle closed her eyes as Soox swung.

CLANG

Looking up, she saw that someone had blocked his sword.

"Xena!"

"Itís not nice to pick on women. Didnít your mother teach you better?" The Warrior Princess demanded

Before Soox could answer, Xena reversed the swords and impaled him.

"Thank you Xena." Gabrielle said

"You fought well; we just need to work on a few minor things." Xena pointed out as she helped the smaller woman to her feet.

"LOOK OUT!" Xena felt the bard push her out of the way. For the briefest moment, Xena didnít know what happened. She quickly eyed the dagger protruding from Gabrielleís shoulder region; her hard eyes settled on the man who threw the blade.

Her chakram flew from her belt and neatly sliced his head off.

"Gabrielle, please donít die." The warrior pleaded. Tears fell from her eyes

Gasping for air "Xena, your crushing me." Is it raining? NO, Xenaís crying; sheís actually crying. "I think you owe me one."

"Oh Gabrielle, donít scare me like that ever again. This is going to hurt." She pulled the dagger out as gently as possible. Gabrielleís scream mixed with those form the other wounded

"Hardly felt it." She lied

Studying the dagger, Harlosí words echoed in Xenaís mind

"Gabrielle, you could be in big trouble. Harlos told me that they coat their daggers with the blood of their sick. We need to get you to the hospital." A nervous edge on her voice

"Has Harlos returned?" Gabrielle asked

"Not yet, but the battle just ended outside. He could still return." Xena answered trying to keep the young womanís spirits up.

Summoning all her courage, Gabrielle asked "Xena, go to his room and get the scroll. Please."

"He said not to read that unless he didnít return." Xena pointed out

"Heís not going to." Gabrielle remarked flatly

"Alright, but your going to the hospital first. Iíll bring you the scroll."

"Gabrielle. I brought you the scroll. You want me to read it to you." Xena asked, noting the heavy bandages on Gabrielleís shoulder.

"Please."

My dearest Gabrielle,

If you are reading this letter, then something has happened. I am sorry for putting you though this pain, but it was for the greater good. Hopefully the village is safe and you are doing well. I will never leave you and will always love you. You touched my soul like no one else has ever. I truly wanted to come back and spend the rest of my life with you. Until we meet in the Elysian Fields.

Harlos.

Looking up from the scroll, Xena saw Gabrielle fight back the tears. "Itís okay to cry, Harlos loved you." She didnít know what to say

"Xena, will you stay with me, I donít want to be alone right now." Gabrielle asked

"For as long as you want."

After some time Xena saw that Gabrielle had drifted off to Morphiusí domain. Easing her large frame from the bed, she tucked the blankets tightly around the bard. Xena then settled down on the floor and pulled up her own blankets.

A hand shook her awake. "Xena, Itís Gabrielle. Sheís very sick." One of the nurses informed her.

Jumping to her feet, she looked at Gabrielle. Her face was covered in sweat and flushed; She was also struggling to breathe. Xena pulled out her healing pouch and mixed up a tea to try to fight the fever.

"Gabrielle, Gabrielle. Wake up to need to drink this." Xena said, holding the cup to Gabrielleís lips

"Harlos, you came back." Gabrielle said, her voice a bare whisper.

Pouring the liquid into Gabrielleís mouth she answered "Itís me, Xena. Drink this." Turning to the nurses "Ladies, we have to keep her awake, if not she could die."

The waiting wore on Xena. She had no choice; either the tea would work or Gabrielle would die.

In her delirious state, Gabrielle heard her name

"Whoís there?"

"No oneís here Gabrielle. Itís just you and me." Xena assured her

"I told you that I would never leave you, my beloved Gabrielle." A strong manís voice whispered

"Harlos, but you died." The bard questioned

"I would battle all the demons in Tartarus to be with you." He said, "Are you hurt?"

"Dagger." She answered

"Yes, Gabrielle. It was a dagger." Xena encouraged her to talk. She could neither see nor hear Harlos.

"Gabrielle, you must recover. Youíre carrying our child." Harlos said.

"Iím pregnant?" Gabrielle asked

"Pregnant!" Xena shouted, "Gabrielle, your sick. You are not pregnant."

"Gabrielle, our son will be one of the most loved and respected leaders in the world. Years after he is gone, the people will speak of him in respect." Harlos continued, "Tell Xena about my healing scroll."

He started to fade.

"NO! Please stay with me." Gabrielle begged

"I will return to you. I must go now."

"Harlos!" Gabrielle shouted, tears running down her face

"Gabrielle itís okay. It was a hallucination." Xena comforted her.

"He said his healing scroll…" she collapsed

Of course! Harlos had a cure for fevers. The Warrior Princess thought as she ran towards the Inn. Returning with the scroll, she mixed a new broth for her friend.

"Gabrielle, drink this." Pouring it down her throat.

Drinking out of reflex, most of the broth managed to get into her stomach.

"Iíll mix you some more." Xena began to heat more water.

"Xena, Harlos is in the Elysian Fields. He said heíd wait for me." The delirious bard ranted.

"Of course he will; he loves you." Xena responded. "Her you go, drink this too"

"I want to sleep. Iím so tired. Xena, let me sleep." Pleaded the bard

"Drink this first."

Time passed in a vacuum. Gabrielle slept and Xena waited. One of the nurses came over. "You should go get some dinner. Iíll watch her. Iíll send if anything changes."

"Thank you." Xena reluctantly moved. Dinner at the Inn was a quiet affair, punctuated by more than a few mugs of ale. She returned to the hospital; to her bedside vigil.

"Gabrielle, you have to pull through this. Iíd be lost without you. Youíre the light keeps my darkness away. Everything that Iíve become, I owe to you." Xena pleaded to the small bard.

The ale finally gave Xena the effect she desired. She laid her head down on the bed and fell asleep. For days Xena fed Gabrielle the broth, cleaned her, and waited. How much time that passed was any ones guess. As Xena awoke one morning, she felt Gabrielleís forehead. It was cool; the fever had broken.

"Gabrielle, can you hear me? Say something, anything." The hope in Xenaís voice was rewarded

"I need something to eat." The blond whispered

"Iíll be right back." Xena ran out the door. She came back with a tray of nutbread, fresh from the oven. The drink of choice was cider

"Here Gabrielle, I brought you your favorite." Xena set the tray down.

"Thank you Xena."

"No problem. I was getting hungry too."

"No, I mean for everything."

"Gabrielle, youíre the most important person in my life. I couldnít let you go without a fight. Besides, youíd have done the same for me."

In the days that followed, Gabrielle slowly regained her strength. She learned that Harlos had died in battle, and was shown his grave. It was in the village plot, but unlike the militiamen that died, he had been given a heroes burial.

"You going to be okay Gabrielle." Standing by her friend, looking at the crypt.

"Yes, weíre going to be fine." She absently stroked her abdomen.

"We? You mean you and me, right?"

"I mean you, me, and little Harlos." Gabrielle said in an even tone.

"Little Harlos! Are you sure Gabrielle? You were hallucinating." Xena pointed out.

"Iím sure."

 

Gabrielle bore a fine son. As was foretold by his father he grew strong and wise. His kingdom was respected throughout the land; but that my friends, is another story.

Fin.


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