"Draco Asks a Boon of Aphrodite"
by Alan Plessinger
Disclaimer: Xena: Warrior Princess and the names, titles, and backstories used in "Draco Asks a Boon of Aphrodite" are the sole property of MCA/Universal. The author intends no copyright infringement through the writing of this fan fiction.
Draco spied the two of the together in the clearing, talking, laughing, finding every excuse they could to touch each other as usual. It was just the same as all the other times he had spied on the two of them, and felt sick at heart knowing he had no chance with Gabrielle. But not quite the same. This time he had the goddess Aphrodite by his side.
"Are you, like, really sure you want me to do this, Draco? Loving Gabrielle has been known to be way hazardous to your health."
"I don't care. I can't go on without her, and I can't win her love any other way. I love her. I need her."
"Well, duh! You and like every other mortal in the known world."
"Don't go back on your word, Aphrodite. You promised me this boon."
"Sure, sure. We just have to get her alone."
"Gabrielle usually goes for the water. It should be any time now."
It was actually another ninety minutes before Gabrielle finally grabbed the pot and headed for the stream. As she headed back with the water, Draco stepped from behind the tree and blocked her path.
"Draco?" she said, and sighed. Another round of being kidnapped and being rescued by Xena. But then Aphrodite, completely invisible to Gabrielle, lifted both arms and struck her full force with every ounce of divine romantic powers she possessed.
Gabrielle let the cooking pot slip from her fingers as she looked at Draco in a whole new way. Draco smiled.
It wasn't long after that when Xena came looking for the love of her life, and saw the two of them kissing. She drew her sword, hesitating not a second.
"Draco!" she yelled. "Get away from her!"
"Xena?" said Gabrielle in a hazy, drunken fashion, peering at her with eyes that refused to focus.
"Stay away from us," said Draco. "She's here because she wants to be."
"You son-of-a-bitch! Damn you! This is more divine mischief, isn't it? I know it is. Aphrodite or some relative of hers is doing this. Get away from her, Draco! I'll destroy you, I swear I will! I'll cut your lying tongue right out of your head!"
"I'm unarmed, Xena."
"Don't hurt him, Xena," said Gabrielle. "I love him."
"And does that mean you don't love me any more?" asked Xena.
Gabrielle knew there was something wrong about all this, and she was trying to resist, but she wasn't strong enough. She needed help.
"I don't know," said Gabrielle.
Xena dropped her sword on the ground.
"I'll leave the two of you alone together if you do one thing. Look me in the eyes and remember everything we've been through together. Then I want you to say aloud, 'I remember all that we've been through, and everything you've done for me, and everything I've done for you, and all the times we've helped each other and supported each other and loved each other. I remember all this and I don't care.'"
Draco stepped away from Gabrielle and looked at her expectantly.
"Say it," he said.
Gabrielle looked at Xena, then at Draco, then back at Xena again.
"I don't know what's going on, here," she said. "but it's tearing me apart, whatever it is. I do love you, Xena, but it's not the same thing. I need to get away from both of you for awhile. I need to figure this out."
Gabrielle hurriedly stuffed her things into her knapsack. She knew her decision was causing Xena pain, and she didn't want to hang around any longer than she had to. With Xena, pain could manifest itself in dangerous and unpredictable ways.
"I can't believe you're doing this," said Xena. "I've spent my life fighting the gods, and now they've won. I can't believe you're not even going to fight this."
"I'm sorry, Xena," said Gabrielle, "but this is love. True love. And I don't even care where it comes from. I need to be with someone who's not afraid to love me. Really love me."
Xena stood up.
"What do you mean?"
Gabrielle turned and stood with her back facing a tree.
"Are you really so dense you think I've spent the last four years with you because we're best friends?"
Xena advanced on her until they were close enough to touch. She reached out and placed her palms on the trunk of the tree, surrounding Gabrielle.
"Do you mean Gabrielle, I never dared hope."
"Yeah, you never dared do much of anything, did you? Xena, I can't spend any more time waiting around for something to happen. It's too late."
"No. It can't be too late."
Xena leaned in quickly, and hungrily attached her lips to Gabrielle's. It was a quick kiss, and Xena pulled back because she was scared.
"Xena, I don't want you to do anything because you think you have to."
"Does this feel like I have to?"
Xena leaned in again for a long, hungry kiss. Gabrielle's head was swimming with thoughts of fantasies fulfilled and dreams realized. It would be incorrect to say that all feelings for Draco were gone, but her mind had opened up to all sorts of possibilities of a whole new life with Xena.
They pulled apart, and Gabrielle said, "Xena, why in the name of Apollo's golden shaft didn't you do this before?"
"Gabrielle, you're not the only one being torn apart. I love you, I can't live without you, but you would be better off with just about anyone else in the known world. No one knows that better than I do. I tried to KILL you, and you did so much more than just forgive me, you were willing to sacrifice your own life for me. No one deserves that kind of love, and especially not me. You're addicting and annoying, intoxicating and infuriating, and if I could go back and change my past and become the kind of woman you deserve "
"Shut up, Xena," said Gabrielle, and leapt onto her body, wrapping her legs around Xena's waist and grabbing her shoulders with both hands. She pulled herself up to Xena's lips and devoured them, wrapping her arms around the back of Xena's neck.
They pulled apart and looked at each other, both of them smiling uncontrollably, love and passion and desire burning brightly in their beautiful eyes.
"Oh, by the gods!" they both said, and greedily attacked each other.
Now it was Draco's time to yell, "Get away from her!" Xena cursed herself for not realizing he was approaching.
Gabrielle looked at Draco. She felt weak, and slid her way down Xena's body, touching her feet lightly on the ground.
"Xena. It's happening again."
She buried her face in Xena's neck and tried not to look at Draco.
"Xena! Help me! Hurt me!"
"Hurt me! I know you know how to do that. Don't ask questions. Hurt me, now!"
Xena dug her nails into Gabrielle's lower back and drew blood.
"More!" said Gabrielle, and bit Xena right in the neck. Xena bit Gabrielle in the earlobe. They had the taste of each other's blood in their mouths, and they locked lips and tasted each other.
Xena hugged her tightly, and could feel what she was going through. There seemed to be an earthquake, tidal wave and hurricane going on all at once in Gabrielle's body. Gabrielle was fighting all the divine forces drawing her to Draco, and she was winning, but it wasn't over yet.
"Fight it, Gabrielle! Don't look at him!"
"I'm trying, but I need your help! I need your words!"
"Tell me what I need to hear!"
"I love you, Gabrielle, but you know I don't have the words."
"Find them! Quick!"
Xena thought as quickly as she could. What words could express that Gabrielle meant more to her than anything?
"Gabrielle, for you I would humiliate myself a hundred times over in a hundred degrading ways. I would go through my entire life and never have dignity again."
Gabrielle pulled back and looked at Xena in surprise. Her eyes softened.
"I love you too much to even think of asking it of you," said Gabrielle.
Draco pulled a dirk from his boot.
"Get away from her now, Xena, or I swear I'll kill you!"
"I thought you were unarmed," said Xena.
Gabrielle broke from Xena's embrace and headed to Draco. Xena put a hand on her shoulder.
"Xena, I have to do this myself."
Gabrielle walked slowly, carefully to Draco. She did her best to ignore all the love and the powerful sexual attraction she felt for him, telling herself it wasn't real.
"Get out of here, Draco. You haven't changed since the first time I saw you."
"I could change, Gabrielle."
"You've had two years. You're not any closer than you ever were. I'm sorry."
She turned to go. Draco grabbed her shoulders and kissed her. Xena looked away to stop herself from rushing him.
Gabrielle didn't struggle, but when the kiss was over she repeated, "I'm sorry."
"Damn it! Aphrodite! Where are you?"
Aphrodite shimmered into view.
"Sorry, Draco. I must be losin' it."
"No! I don't accept that! What kind of goddess of love are you? More! Give her more!"
Aphrodite gestured, and hit Gabrielle with more of her romantic powers. Gabrielle's body rocked and spasmed. Xena rushed forward and held her.
"Aphrodite, you're tearing her apart!" yelled Xena.
"Love hurts, babe."
"I don't care how much you hurt her!" yelled Draco. "Make her mine!"
"Oh, you don't care how much you hurt her as long as she loves you? How very male."
"I didn't mean it like that."
"Draco, it's over. I tried. We both tried. But it's over," said Aphrodite.
Xena said, "Then release her. Don't make her live her life like this."
"Oh, but it's OK to make Draco be in love with Gabrielle."
Draco looked confused and a little irritated.
"What?" he asked.
"That's right, Draco, it was all the result of love's sweet arrows. My son, or was it my grandson yuk, I can't believe I'm a granny anyway, one of them zapped you into loving the adorable one, and Xena thought it would be ever so cute to keep you that way. I guess good guys can do anything rotten."
"What? You mean I've been for two years?"
"Alright! Fine! Release them both!" yelled Xena. "I'm sorry, Draco."
Gabrielle kept her eyes on Xena as the romantic curse was released. It was almost like releasing a catapult, as Gabrielle leapt into Xena's arms and knocked her over. She began clawing pieces of armor and clothing off of the warrior.
"Gabrielle! There's people."
"Try and imagine how little I care."
"Aw, isn't that sweet!" said Aphrodite. "And, I might say, it's about time." She shimmered out of view.
But for Draco, it wasn't such a happy ending. He wandered off alone, confused and angry and miserable.
"Now, I'll tell you what you are NOT going to do, Xena. You are not going to be noble. I have had it with you being noble. If I hear you say you only did this to break the curse "
"I won't," said Xena. She looked away from Gabrielle.
"Oh, what's wrong now, Xena?"
"Nothing. Just you were going to leave me."
"Not that I would blame you."
"Xena, I was never going to leave you."
"I was in kind of a haze and I wasn't in control of myself, and it's hard to remember everything I thought and everything I did, but I can guarantee you I was never going to leave you. I needed your help, Xena. And you needed a kick in the butt to get you to say what we've both been feeling all these years. I couldn't be subtle. Even at that I had to just about tell you everything to do. You're not too good at this kind of battle, are you?"
Xena smiled. She hugged Gabrielle and kissed her sweet lips. Then she started laughing uncontrollably.
"What's so funny?" asked Gabrielle.
"We are. Four years we've been fighting against the gods and dancing around the truth, and it took divine intervention to get us together. And I've never been so happy. I'm with a woman who's more powerful than a goddess!"
Gabrielle put her hand on Xena's forehead and brushed away her bangs, then caressed Xena's cheek.
"Xena, it's not me. It's us. Our love is more powerful than all the gods of Olympus, more powerful than death itself. You're in charge on the battlefield, but our love is equal parts Xena and Gabrielle, and don't you ever forget it."
Draco sat watching Gabrielle perform a few staff drills, all fluid grace and carefully controlled but powerful movements. Gabrielle had only recently taken up the staff again, after giving it up and trying to follow the path of love, the path of Eli. Xena sat down next to him, and he wouldn't glance in her direction.
"You shouldn't have done that to me," he said.
"You allowed it. You encouraged it."
"That's true. But at least you're free, now."
"It's not that simple. After two years of loving Gabrielle it doesn't just disappear. I still feel a few twinges of what I felt, just like an amputee feels phantom pains in a leg that's no longer there."
"Do you still love her or not?"
Draco gazed intently at Gabrielle, her dancelike movements, spinning, parrying, thrusting.
"No," he said. "But I think I miss loving her. She really is incredible, isn't she?"
"Oh, by the gods, yes. You have no idea. She can be a blessing and a curse, though."
"What do you mean?"
"Things aren't always easy between us. She never listens to me. She never does what I tell her, even though I'm nearly always right. It's hard to be with a woman that everyone falls in love with. And she can be so thoughtless, sometimes, the way she seems to encourage them."
"So why is she so damn addicting?"
"Because there's no one else like her anywhere. Because she really cares for people and sees the good in them. People that no one else could ever believe in. Like me."
Xena looked down into her lap.
"She stayed with me because she loves me. I don't know what she found to love about me, but she does. And I repaid her for that love by trying to kill her. I blamed her for something that was none of her fault. And she did more than forgive me, Draco, she was willing to sacrifice her life that I might live. Have you any idea the kind of love and compassion and forgiveness it would take to do that for anyone, let alone me? How many times have I come so close to giving up on redemption, and I would've given up if I thought that nobody cared. But there's one thing that keeps me going. I can't let Gabrielle down. I won't let her down. If I give up now, everything she's ever done for me has been for nothing."
Xena closed her eyes and leaned back her head, and smiled.
"And besides, she just makes me so damn happy."
Draco stood up to go.
"You shouldn't have done this to me, Xena. You can't force someone to be a good person if they don't want to be. Not even Gabrielle's love could do that. I tried for two years to be good, but I don't have what it takes."
"So you're back to being an evil bastard, now?"
"If I can remember how. Goodbye, Xena. When next we meet we may be mortal enemies."
"You know, the old Draco would've tried to kill me for what I did to you."
"I know. I guess I've changed. I'm not angry so much as sad. Sad for my lost love."
"Tell me, what did you do for Aphrodite, anyway? There must've been something for her to grant you this boon."
"Oh, nothing much. Drove off some marauders from one of her temples. Hardly took half a candlemark."
"I see. And whose idea was it to ask the boon of Aphrodite?"
"Well, she asked if there was anything she could do in return. An object of love she could help me with."
"Of course. Well, good luck, Draco. You're welcome to travel with us for awhile if you like."
Draco declined her offer, and they grasped forearms in a warrior handshake. He left, and was gone only a few minutes before Aphrodite shimmered into view.
"Hello, Aphrodite. And thank you."
"Thank you? Xena is, like, thanking the gods? They'll never believe this at Olympus."
"I know this was just your subtle way to finally get the two of us together."
"As if! You think the Greek gods have got nothing on our minds but you two?"
"Come on, Aphrodite, if you were serious about getting Draco and Gabrielle together, you would've made Gabby and me stop loving each other."
"Oh yeah, that would've been some trick! And after that I could knock Zeus off his throne and create a few extra worlds to play with. You two are fated to be together, haven't you figured that out?"
Gabrielle came up the hill to join the two of them. Just to embarrass Xena, she greeted her by hooking one hand around the back of her neck and locking lips with her.
"Gab " said Xena, but after the one syllable she suddenly realized how much time she had wasted worrying about what others would think.
"Awww, you two are just so cute together! Well, I can tell when divine guidance isn't needed. I'll see you two later."
They pulled apart, and Gabrielle said, "I love you, Xena."
"I love you, Gabrielle. I'm so glad this finally happened before our end together. We've wasted so much time, and who knows how much time we have left?"
Gabrielle sighed. "Xena, I've asked you to stop bringing up that vision."
"I can't just ignore it Gabrielle."
"Xena, you told me about my crucifixion, but you never told me that you were right by my side being crucified as well."
Xena shrugged. "Why bother? It's no less than I deserve."
Gabrielle looked at Xena in horror and anger. She grabbed Xena's face and looked into her eyes. She couldn't believe that Xena was serious.
"There's nothing I can say to you is there, Xena? No matter what you do, no matter how many people you save, in your mind you're still the Destroyer of Nations, aren't you?"
"Not just MY mind. Scores of people still think of me that way."
"Well, then we'll just have to convince them, one by one. If we can't convince them with our lives, we'll convince them with our deaths."
"Don't say that, Gabrielle. I've destroyed so many lives already. If you died because of me it would be too cruel for words."
"Xena, I would be honored to die by your side. Where we go, we go together, even into eternity. There's nothing you'll have to face alone ever again, Xena. Nothing. Besides, what does it matter if we die? We've been shown our future lives, and we know that we'll be together in every one of them. We're eternal, Xena. We're forever."
Xena hugged her friend and lover, and said, "You're the best thing that's ever happened to me, Gabrielle."
And as she quoted her line from her own vision of the future, for the first time in a long while it didn't fill her with dread. She really could believe that Gabrielle was willing to die with her, and that she wouldn't regret it. Impossible to believe of anyone but her sweet, wonderful Gabrielle.
And as she leaned in for a soulful kiss from the love of her life, she reflected that at least the time left to them would be a lot more interesting.
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