All That Matters
By CN Winters


Disclaimers: Xena and the gang aren't mine. They belong to MCA/Universal/Studio USA and a bunch of other folks who now own them. It is the musings of a certain warrior princess and her affection for another woman. If the thought of two ladies in love is unappealing please proceed on to another story.

The story is for my amazon elder, smeef, who asked for a heartfelt non-gratuitous story. Hope you like it smeef (G).

Silently I watch her. Every move. Every gesture. They are captured by my eyes just as solidly as she has captured my soul.

Our friends and family surround her with smiles and laughter. The joy that flashes in her eyes with every single smile her sister makes or every chuckle Autolycus allows to escape makes my own heart sing.

She opens her gifts with childlike delight. She's a woman now . . .in every sense of the word. But she still manages to stay connected with the little girl she once was. Her heart has stayed unhardened by all the pain she's encountered. Her mind is still open to accepting every soul she meets. At times I envy this ability of hers and at others, such as tonight, I revel in it. Her elation of new experiences somehow contagiously infects me.

Years ago she taught me how to smile again. But more importantly she taught me how to enjoy it. She speaks often of how much I've given her; how much I've taught her - but I know the truth. She's the real teacher here, showing me that hope and love can go on in spite of a troubled past and I am her humble and grateful pupil.

Soon she's finished opening her presents - a set of scrolls from Joxer, a silk sleeping robe from Autolycus, an assortment of dried foods and nutbread from my mother, a quill and ink blotter from Minya and a hair clip from Lila who sees it as a useless gift, given my bards new hairstyle.

But Gabrielle, ever the optimist, soon has her sister smiling genuine smiles. Lila's nervous 'failure' as a gift giver is laid to rest. She has this power.

In fact she has many powers. The power to find light in even the darkest hour. The power to make handsome men weak in the knees with a coy grin - men and even one warrior princess. I've never surrendered to anyone but I can surrender to Gabrielle.

She makes me blush too - something else no one has been able to do. No one but her. Yet instead of finding embarrassment I find love. 'Red is a good color on you', she teases me often. I act offended but she knows the truth. I love it. I smile now as I the memories of such times return to my mind.

"So little one - enjoying yourself?"

It's the voice of my mother.

"Very much so," I tell her. My eyes have yet to leave my bard. When I do look I see a well-rooted smile on my mothers aging face.

"She's very beautiful," she comments.

It's a simple statement but it conveys so much meaning - things that go far beyond the physical beauty of Gabrielle. Beautiful is only one word. I could think of a million others that could mean just as much.

The statement brings with it a sense of peace. I can feel my mother's approval with my choice. After bringing her so much pain and shame. I delight in bringing her this joy. The joy of Gabrielle. My mother would always love me but Gabrielle would have a special place in her heart. She knows as I do, it's Gabrielle who keeps me sane, keeps me hopeful and keeps me grounded.

I travel the countryside but I've never felt this 'settled' and it's a wonderful feeling. I belong to something other than the fight, or a cause or even myself. I belong to Gabrielle - mind, body and soul. And there's no other place I'd long to be.

I suddenly think of married men who we meet in our travels. Men who have bored of their wives and try to find comfort in the arms of another - usually my bard by the way, which I promptly stop. I can't imagine that ever happening to me because when I look at my bard, I see my whole life. I only pray she feels the same as she looks upon me. As her eyes now catch mine from across the room I can tell, I should not have such fears. For she loves me, as I love her - utterly; completely.

Gods know I'm not easy to live with and vise versa. She's not always a festival of laughs to be around, nor am I. However we take our quirks - as she calls them - and adapt, sometimes even comically.

I chuckle silently in my mind as I think of my early riser quirk and Gabrielle's means to 'fix it'.

At an inn near Athens I woke one morning to having my feet and hands bound to our bed. My first reaction, being ever the warrior, was panic and I thrashed.

"Relax," my bard whispered softly. "I'll let you go . . .after I sleep in for once."

With that she rolled over and dozed once more. I must admit, at first, I was pretty cross about the whole experience. But after my initial anger cooled I found it wonderfully devious and I was actually surprised my bard hadn't thought of it sooner. In after thought I realized she probably had thought of it but she was now comfortable and secure enough with our couplehood that she finally acted on the thought.

Of course when she did finally wake up to face the day, her 'apology' she gave me for capturing me was creative and . . .stimulating . . .to say the least. I feel one of my 'blushing' moments coming on with just the remembrance of that morning.

"So," I hear my mother begin, drawing my attention back to her and away from my delightfully wicked thoughts. "When did you fall in love with her?"

I never 'proclaimed' my love for Gabrielle to my mother. I didn't have to - it was written all over my face. It was simple - Gabrielle was the one, the only one. I watch my bard once more and I smile as she brushes her short locks behind her ear - a new habit of hers I find totally arousing for some unknown reason. I don't question it much; I just enjoy it like so many other qualities she possesses.

I consider my mother's question seriously though. When did I FALL in love? Was it after the amazons helped us get the Ambrosia? Was it after the battle with the Persians that I realized the importance that she held in my life? Was it the first day I laid eyes on her - watching her stand up to Draco's men? In honesty, it was all these times . . .and many more . . .that earned Gabrielle ownership into the good parts of my soul. Parts I didn't know existed until she showed me.

"I don't know," I answer sincerely meeting my mother's caring eyes. "All I DO know is that I love her . . .And that's all that matters."

The End

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