Eternal Mourning

by J. Falconer

Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle etc belong to MCA/Universal and Ren Pics, and anyone else who has an interest in Xena Warrior Princess, not me.

Copyright ã 2000: The characters in here belong to me. All rights reserved. No part or whole of this work may be copied or used in any shape, form, or manner whatsoever without the author's express written consent. If you want to use them, all you have to do is ask...nicely.

Violence disclaimer: Not even worth noting.

Love/Sex warning: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. 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 - move along, move along, nothing for you here ...

Major vote of thanks to my ever patient beta reader ForevaXena for taking valuable time out to read this. Without her, I am eternally grammatically and spelling stuffed :-) Special thanks also go to Magenta for the title!

I can feel the night wind streaming through my long, black hair, gently lifting it off the back of my neck, cutting through my shirt; it should be cold, I should be cold, but I can't feel any of those things any more. Leaning forward with my hands on the rough wood of the windowsill in my ruined house, I take a deep breath of the night air. I don't need to breath anymore, but sometimes it feels good just to pretend to be alive.

I was made almost a millennia ago by a being who has long since faded into memory. I bargained with him to be what I am. At first, he tried to dissuade me, but I would not listen. I was young, and never wanted to grow old. I wanted immortality.

It was given to me, and since then I have walked the earth many times over, occasionally meeting my kind, though we are never glad to see one another.

Although my body is still young, my mind is not.

I'm tired. So tired.

Tired of living a half life, tired of being alone.

I look out into the bright, moonlit night, thinking of werewolves, witches and ghosts, trying to let the darkness seep into my soul, but it fails me tonight. I don't believe any of those things exist and I am not a demon, nor have I ever seen Satan. I do not know what happens when mortals die, I only know that once upon a time I didn't want to find out first hand.

I just can't do it anymore.

My heart is too heavy. Tonight I ache for something I once unknowingly had and have long since lost.

I remember the first time I saw her. I was looking into her bedroom window, at her fair haired beauty. She was the loveliest creature that I had ever laid my eyes on, blissfully unaware of my presence. She was to be a conquest, like so many before her. I ran my tongue over my sharp teeth thinking she would have the sweetest flavour, the essence of innocence and youth. Weaving my best spells, I shrouded myself in my cloak of darkness and willed her to see me.

Like they always did, she opened the window and invited me in.

I was quick to move to her, to take her into my embrace, but she would have none of it, laughing and spinning from my grasp. It was sheer amazement that anyone would try it that stopped me from pulling her close and draining every drop of blood in her body. Instead, I waited for what she would do next. She finally stopped her antics, and bid me to come closer. I obligingly did so.

"Why?" she asked me.

The question stopped me in my tracks. No one had ever asked me that before. Did I do what I did as a mere flight of fancy, or was it a physical need? Certainly, I was constrained by my nature to seek blood, but did it have to be the blood of a pure creature? No, it didn't – it was merely a feast that I wished to partake of more than any other.

"Because I must," I responded simply, smiling slightly.

She stared at me, golden lashes gently dipping over her emerald green eyes as she blinked at me.

She returned my smile. "I offer you a trade."

"You are in no position to offer me anything." I crossed my arms, self satisfied smirk never leaving my face.

"Ah, but I think you will like the trade. Your life for mine."

I burst out laughing. What could this silly girl possibly show an ancient creature such as myself?

She leaned forward and grasped my arms, green eyes capturing my ice blue ones. Gentleness shone in her aspect, kindness. No, I could not kill this innocent creature. I did not want to – I was too curious.

"Show me." Her voice was insistent. My grin became a quiet smile. So she expected to travel with an immortal? The idea settled into my mind. It was unusual, but why not?

That had been the beginning of it.

We had ridden the night winds, and I had taken her places that no living being had ever seen before, done things that mortals do not often care to do. Through her I re-learned the brightly lit waking world, as she showed me tenderness and compassion, embracing me with her fiery spirit.

We played together for years, she and I. We had loved one another, but could never acknowledge that love. How could we? I was no more than a simple child of darkness, at best an immortal cold blooded murderer, at worst a demon from the blackest pits of hell. She was a carefree creature of the sun, a mortal. Instead, we merely dropped the pretence of hunter and prey, and eased into a friendship neither would acknowledge.

Could I ever have felt love for her? I had no beating heart, no soul. My skin remained cool and pale, burning sapphire eyes the only thing that gave away any signs of life. Yes! Yes I loved her more than anything else in the world.

She was my world.

We were together for more than seventy years. I watched her transform from a girl twirling in the moonlight, drunk on the glory of the darkened world, into a mature woman who held me and danced with me in my ruined palace, to a bent, frail old woman, golden hair long transformed into snow white, hands withered with age. And all through the light shone bright in her eyes when she saw me, her immortal unacknowledged lover coming to her.

The last night we spent together was one that has been burned into my mind, and haunted every night of my existence since.

I waited for her in the darkness of the forest, but she did not come to me. That entire night I waited, dread slowly settling firmly into me. I was still alone in the painful brightness of predawn. The next night, I went to her.

Ruby, blood tears slipped down my cheeks as I saw her lying in her old bed, still, so still. Slowly the evidence that my supernatural senses were feeding me seeped into my almost frozen with grief brain. Her chest rose and fell with her shallow breath. I could feel her lips curve into a smile as her now dim emerald eyes slowly opened, wrinkled lips curving into a smile.

"You came." Her soft voice teased my acute hearing, wistful tone tearing me in two.

"I came," I said, equally softly, gently settling myself on the edge of her bed. I felt her reach for me, and I took her hand.

"No regrets," she said. "You always told me that."

"I did."

There was silence for a moment, and I caressed her hand, unable to stop myself.

"Please, don't cry," she said softly, and I ducked my head into her soft touch, as she brushed my tears away with her gentle fingers.

I nodded my head, unable to speak. The reality of the yawning emptiness of the rest of my immortal life stretched out before me. I had had her there by my side, laughing, teasing, for so long, I could imagine nothing else.

"Do you remember our first night?"

I nodded.

"I can't keep up my end of the bargain anymore. I want you to finish what you started."

I reared back in shock. Taste her sweetness, the strength of her innocent blood. No! I could not do it!

"No." I could not stop the loathing that colored my tone.

"Why? On that night, you would have done so without hesitation. I ask you now to end it."

"I can't - " I stopped myself before I could finish. I did not want to share my deep love for her. I was still as unworthy as I had always been of the beautiful mortal that lay before me.

She looked deep into my eyes. "It was never friendship I felt for you. It was love – I loved you from the first moment I saw you staring up into my window. I hoped that you could love me, but you never could. So I ask you now as the friend you have become – finish it!"

My absent heart breaking, I leaned down and took her fragile form into my arms. I held her close, breathing in the ancient, dimly remembered scent of sunlight, life and the beauty of the waking world. I knew my teeth were sharp and I could be painless. With the gentleness that I had learned from her, I brushed my lips across her cheek, and began whispering in her ear.

"I will love you for the rest of my life." The words were simple and clumsy. I searched myself for the words to convey my confused, tangled emotions, but nothing would come.

I felt her arms tighten around my neck as I gently pierced the skin of her throat, and drank deep of her vitality.

She never loosened her grip, and as I felt her go limp in my arms, I thought I heard her say, "Thank you."

I gently put her still form back onto the bed, and sat staring at her, tears slowly leaking from my eyes.

She was gone.

No more daylight, laughter, the sound of her soft voice begging me to show her the things I had seen. I could never hold her in my arms again. Shattered, aching, desolate, I sat with my lost love until the sun began to light up the sky.

That night was over two hundred years ago.

I did what I always had done, wandered the earth, hunting, running through the darkness with the wolves.

It's not enough anymore.

Every night when I wake, I can feel her ghostly presence by my side, laughing with me, traveling the winds, running with the wolves.

All I have left are memories and the echo of a love that I foolishly ignored, that never dimmed and will haunt me to the end of time. I am broken.

I have not seen the waking world for so long. Too long.

I stand in the night wind, arms welcoming the burning embrace of the sun, free for the first time.

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