Hope For Hope Part III

by Marion D Tuttle

All the standard disclaimers apply here, I don"t own the characters of Xena, Gabrielle... so on and so on, although there are a few of my own creations in here. A bit of violence and you'll probably see a little bit of sex in here too. So if that is something that does not appeal to you, then this may not be your story of choice. As always I welcome all comments at mariontuttle@hotmail.com

Darrius had not noticed the two women standing behind Xena until he
heard the sharp intake of breath at the mention of Dayhok's name. One of
them had hastily drawn a hood over her face when she had seen that
attention was being cast in her direction. Being a solder he didn't give
it much thought past the point that she had most likely been disfigured
by some cruel warlord and was now ashamed for anyone to see her face. He
had seen far to much of that sort of treatment towards young women that
fought against their captors. Turning his attention back to Xena as he
spoke he noticed her eyebrow raised at him in question.

"I know it is a lot to ask, I'm sorry if I made it sound like it was a
command. But Garren feels that you may be the only one that can truly
stop Dayhok."

Never one for false modesty Xena asked him. "What makes him so sure of
that? I couldn't stop him in Brittania, he managed to leave his child
behind to wreak havoc in the world then. And she has returned more then
once since."

Hope felt a tightening in her chest, had her Father been right all along
in saying that Xena wanted her dead because of her feeling of jealousy
over the fact that her Mother might have more love for her own child
then she did for the Warrior Princess. She was on the verge of throwing
her hood back and declaring her presence when the light touch of
Gabrielle's hand on her arm stayed her. "Xena knows what she is doing,
just hold on for a minute and you'll see" she whispered.

Still unsure, but so wanting to believe her Mother would not betray her
or stand by and let Xena do it if she did not give them a reason Hope
waited. She studied the emotions playing across the features of the man
as he answered Xena's question. "Garren knows of the battles you have
had with Dayhok and with the outcomes were, still he believes you hold
the key to defeating him. You have gone up against the Gods before and
won, there are not many mortals that can make that claim."

Xena regarded the man that stood before her, she could tell he was
sincere that this was a plea for help to rid the world of the evil that
was Dayhok. She had been waiting to see if there would be any reaction
from Hope, she had to admit that she was surprised when there was none.
"I will go to help you, but not under Malseron's banner, there is
something I need to do first." She could see he was getting ready to
protest and held up her hand to stop him. "It is directly related to
stopping Dayhok. Go ahead and tell Malseron and Garron I will be there
in a few days."

The doubt was clear in his eyes, but he knew that if Xena told him that
there was something she needed to do to stop Dayhok, then it was
essential. He nodded his acceptance and clasped her forearm in a
warrior's handshake. "I will tell them." was all he said before he
turned and signaled his men to go on with their preparations to leave.

All three women went on their way, Hope kept her hood fastened securely
until they were out of sight of the small encampment. The silence hung
in the air around them until it was broken by Gabrielle. "Do you think
they know that Hope is still alive?"

Hope was anxious to hear Xena's answer to that one herself. "I'm not
really sure, they didn't mention anything about her. Their main focus
seemed to be Dayhok. We will have to be careful though, Hope if we
encounter anyone else I want you to stay out of sight. I should tell you
so there is no mistaking my intentions, I mean to destroy your Father."

A brief silence followed before Hope responded. "I know, and I want to
thank you Xena..... for protecting me."

A small nod was the only acknowledgement Xena gave. "I'm going to scout
ahead a little bit, I won't be far."

Mounting Argo Xena rode a bit further down the trail giving Gabrielle
and Hope a chance to talk. "She doesn't trust me very much does she?"

Gabrielle knew that Hope was referring to the short answers Xena had
given Hope. "Can you blame her? Hope I'm still not certain that I can
trust you. The Gods know I want to, I want to believe nothing more then
you have finally discovered that there is more to your soul then the
evil your Father created. But it is going to take time."

"I can understand that, I was close to reverting back to my old ways to
protect myself back there. I wasn't sure whether or not Xena was going
to hand me over to those men. I had my doubts for a moment."

They walked on for a few moments more before Gabrielle worked up the
courage to ask the question that had been burning in her mind ever since
they had discovered Hope. It had just been made an even bigger issue by
Xena's declaration to Hope about killing Dayhok. "Can I ask you a
question Hope?" The fact that she was looking into a face that was a
carbon copy of her own still shook Gabrielle at times.

"What is it Mother?"

"What did you feel when you heard Xena say she planned to destroy

The expression on her face told the bard that her daughter was carefully
considering her words before she spoke. "That's a very good question
Mother. I know that when Father wanted me to destroy you I was never
sure I could do it. Obviously I couldn't I saved you from the lava. But
Father.... he has forsaken me, he had tried on many occasions to make me
believe that of you. Although he told me of your desertion when I was an
infant, I never believed it in my heart... Funny I never thought of my
self as having a heart before now. But Father's betrayal was straight
from him, there is no way that I could misunderstand that."

Many emotions collided in Gabrielle, anger at Dayhok for having used her
in such a way. Sorrow for all the destruction that had come about at her
daughters hand, but more then anything she felt pain and regret for this
young woman next to her, her daughter. She was beginning to think that
Hope may have been just as much a victim of Dayhok as everyone else. She
gave herself a mental shake, she had to keep reminding herself to be on
guard. She would not make the mistake of trusting to soon again.

Hope seemed to sense the conflict that was taking place within her
Mother. "May I ask you a question now Mother?"

Shaken from the path her thoughts had been taking Gabrielle responded
"What would you like to know Hope? I'll answer you if I can."

"It is becoming clearer all the time to me that you did love me.... I
think somehow I sensed that all along and that was why I could never
destroy you. What I would like to know now though is why you have never
done anything about the love that you feel for Xena?"

The question left Gabrielle wondering exactly what her daughter was
getting at. "Xena knows I love her.... we have talked about it..."

"Yes Mother, you have talked about it but that is all you have done and
I know there is more to it. You love Xena in the way you love someone
that was fated to be with for your life and beyond, and she loves you
the same way, not just as a friend. One of the things I have gotten from
my Father was the ability to see into other people's hearts. At first I
could only see what he would allow me to see, fear and hatred. He wanted
me to think there was nothing good about mortals unless they came to
serve him. Since I have been with you though I have started to see other

This revelation had Gabrielle fascinated. "Like what Hope?"

"I still see fear in hatred in some people, but not to the degree I did.
I know that neither you or Xena completely trust me yet, and as you
pointed out I can't blame you for that. I also see the love that you and
Xena have between you. I know that you have wanted to go to her as soon
as the two of you were reunited but you have held back. You still carry
guilt for what happened to Solan and in your heart you feel that you
don't deserve her love. Isn't that right?"

The bard felt the lump in her throat, Hope had nailed everything she had
been feeling. She had wanted to reach out to Xena, to pour out
everything that was in her heart but whenever she thought about doing
that something held her back. Last night before the had gone to bed for
the night she had thought about it again, but she had been tired and
gave in to Xena's suggestion that they get some rest and talk about
things in the morning. She thought they had plenty of time, until Xena
had discovered Hope. Then once again her world had been thrown into a
tail spin, it seemed like the whole past year her life had slipped from
her control and try as she might she was unable to regain any hold on
her own destiny.

"You don't have to answer Mother, I can see it for myself. If I can
accomplish nothing else by coming to you maybe I can take some of the
weight of guilt off your shoulders. It's true Xena needs you Mother, but
the fact is you need her too. You two are half of a whole you need each
other to be complete."

The tears sprang to Gabrielle's eyes "I don't know if I can..."

"Mother, When we stop for the night, talk to Xena. I can see the love
she has for you. By not saying anything you are hurting her as much as
you are hurting yourself."

They walked on in silence for a while longer, finally Hope said "I want
you to know that as Father's influence leaves me more and more I can
feel that you did love me Mother and that you still do. I don't know if
I can ever make up for everything I have done, but I want to try."

For the first time in her life Gabrielle was left speechless. What Hope
was saying was true, Gabrielle could see it she was slowly becoming more
and more human right before her eyes. She prayed to any God that might
be listening that there was a chance that she could bring out the
goodness in her child. Seeing the question in Hope's eyes Gabrielle
promised. "I will try Hope... I owe Xena the truth, I can only pray that
she will return the feelings I have for her."

"I'm sure she does Mother."

The conversation ended when Xena came back into view. Gabrielle felt the
all to familiar catch in her breath as she looked at the warrior, seated
astride Argo with the sun to her back. The light that was cast around
her made her look like a Goddess herself. Noticing the reaction her
Mother had to Xena, Hope wished again that she could know what it was
like to feel that depth of emotion for anyone.

"The trail ahead seems to be clear, I say we travel on for a few more
hours and then make camp for the night."

Knowing Xena's habit of wanting to gain as much distance as daylight
would allow Gabrielle found herself puzzled at her sudden willingness to
stop so early in the day. "Why not go on a little further Xena?" she

"It's the last clearing for miles. I want to be in a defensible
position, not in the middle of the woods where we can't see who or what
is coming."

The explanation made sense to Gabrielle, Xena was always very aware of
their surroundings. An idea began to form in Hope's mind when she heard
that they would be stopping early for the day. She waited for Xena to
ride ahead a little again before she spoke to her Mother. "When we stop
that would be a good time for you to spend some time talking to Xena."

Gabrielle was a little startled by Hope's suggestion, her expression
gave away her thoughts. Before the bard had a chance to respond Hope
answered the thoughts that she was having. "I know what you are thinking
Mother, You still suspect everything I say....I understand that. All I
meant was that this would be the perfect time to get your feelings out
in the open. Xena shares you feelings, I know she does."

The urge to reach out and hug her daughter overtook Gabrielle, Hope was
a little surprised to find herself wrapped tightly in her Mother's arms
but returned the embrace. " I'm beginning to understand what it means to
feel love." Tears slid down from Gabrielle's eyes as she kissed her
daughter lightly on the cheek.

Riding ahead as much as she could Xena mulled over the actions she had
viewed from Hope. Everything seemed to be pointing in the direction that
Hope was sincere. Her warrior defenses refused to relax though, she
couldn't afford any mistake right now. She had noticed a change in
Gabrielle though and wondered if her plan had been a mistake. She had
wanted to give the bard the chance to alleviate the guilt she had been
haunted by ever since this whole ordeal had started. Gabrielle seemed to
be more open and happy, more like her old self. But what was going to
happen to her if Hope did betray them and prove once and for all that
she was pure evil and could not be saved? Could the bard stand having
her hopes raised just to have them destroyed once again?
All these thoughts plagued Xena, along with the other feelings that had
been pulling at her.

She had tried to hold to feelings she had discovered for Gabrielle in
check, waiting for the bard to make the first move. Now she was even
doubting that strategy. She told herself that the reason she had held
back was for Gabrielle's sake, she had already been through so much. She
had to admit to herself now that part of the reason she had held back
was her own fear. She was afraid that if she raised the issue Gabrielle
would not react the way she hoped. She knew Gabrielle loved her, there
was no doubt of that, but was she ready for that love to become more?
Xena had to admit she did not know the answer and was more then a little
afraid to find out.

They traveled this way for the rest of the day, Xena riding ahead trying
to give Mother and daughter the chance to reconnect while she was lost
in her own thoughts. And Gabrielle and Hope walking behind, talking and
trying to find some common connection on which they could build the
foundations of a relationship.

As they approached the clearing Xena had told them about she reined Argo
in and waited for Hope and Gabrielle to come up the trail. "This is the
spot I was thinking of, let's get camp set up and then we will be able
to relax a little bit."

Hope watched as her Mother and the warrior completed their familiar
tasks of putting a campsite together. She was still a little in awe of
the way the two women worked together. It almost seemed to her like they
communicated with out words. It was at that moment that Hope began to
understand what had bound her Mother and the warrior together. There was
no jealousy or selfishness in their actions, they truly loved and
respected each other. A tear slipped down her cheek when she thought
about how much time she had spent trying to destroy something that at
this space in time looked so beautiful to her.

Looking up Gabrielle saw the look on her daughter's face, knelling in
front of her she asked "What is it Hope? Whats wrong?"

Without really answering Hope drew the bard into an embrace. "Mother I'm
going for a walk." She held up her hand to steam the protest she know
was coming. "I'm not going far, but I need some time to think and you
and Xena need some time alone to talk. Remember what I told you back on
the trail earlier? You need this time as much as I do."

Knowing in her mind that everything Hope said was true, Gabrielle
stepped back, lightly caressing her daughter's face. She searched for
the words to express everything she was feeling, she wanted an eloquent
statement but all she could come up with at the moment was. "Thank you,
I do love you Hope."

"I'm not sure that I even know what I'm feeling Mother, but I believe
that I am starting to feel love for the first time." With that she
turned and began her trek into the woods to try and reconcile all the
feelings that were starting to evolve in her, as well as give the two
women that were rapidly becoming the most important people in her life
some much needed privacy.

Seeing Hope walk off raised questions in Xena's mind. "Is everything all

"Not yet, but they will be soon, Xena I think we need to talk."

Recognizing the tone as a serious one that Gabrielle rarely used unless
she felt the subject matter at hand was on of great importance, Xena
just sat on the fallen log and motioned for Gabrielle to sit next to
her. Her heart was beating far past it's normal rate waiting to hear
what her friend might have to say. They had ben on the edge of so many
things lately it was hard to tell what direction they would be moving in

Looking down at her hands, Gabrielle searched for just the right words.
This conversation was crucial in what the next step of their
relationship would be and she wanted to be sure to get it right.
"Xena... there is something that we have avoided talking about ever
since....What I mean to say is before the temple we had been talking
about how we felt. We have lightly brushed on the subject, but we
haven't really..."

Praying for the best, but fearing the worst Xena tried to take some of
the burden of Gabrielle. "I haven't wanted to push you into anything,
you have had a lot to deal with..."

"That's true, but avoiding talking about something is not going to make
it go away. I guess I was afraid of your reaction I know before
everything happened you said that you loved me... but so much has

Her instincts took over and she found herself cradling Gabrielle in her
arms. "A lot has happened, and a lot has changed but one thing that has
never changed is the fact that I love you! When I saw you fall....Well I
told you I wanted to end my own life. I felt like you took my heart and
soul into the flames with you. I was worried that your feelings may have
changed, when you came back and said you needed time..."

She buried her face against Xena's chest, tears running from her eyes.
her words were a bare whisper "Gods Xena we have wasted so much time
giving in to doubts and fear."

Gently lifting Gabrielle's face up she brushed the tears away with her
fingertips. "Are you saying?"

"I'm saying that I love you, I have loved you from the very beginning
and I will love you forever. You are my best friend Xena but I want you
to be so much more than that. I want....."

Her words were cut off by Xena's own lips as they covered hers. Strong
arms tightened around the bard as she melted into the warrior's embrace.
She returned the kiss, she had wondered for a long time with it would
feel like to kiss Xena, to touch her this way. It had been the subject
of many dreams both in slumber and in her waking hours. What she was
feeling right now far surpassed anything she could have imagined."

Xena pulled back slightly from the kiss "Was that it? Was that what you

"Oh yes!" She looked into the crystal blue eyes that had become so much
a part of her every thought "Hope was right, you know. She told me that
I had to tell you what I was feeling, that by holding back I was only
going to hurt us both even more."

A look of surprise crossed Xena's features "You told Hope about the way
you were feeling about me?"

"That's the funny thing, she told me. She know that I had been holding
back from you. She seemed to sense it, maybe holding back isn't the
right phrase. She knew that I was trying to deal with everything my
feelings for you, my guilt over everything that happened, my pain, she
knew it all. She told me the only way for me to find peace was to be
honest with you."

"Well I guess I owe Hope a thank you. Her expression turned serious. I
don't want to do anything that is going to hurt you Gabrielle, but I
still have my doubts about Hope's transformation."

"I don't blame you Xena, as much as I want to believe it. I still feel
like we don't know everything."

"There is one thing I do know, even with all that is happening. I feel
like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders to finally get our
feelings out in the open. The one thing I want more than anything in the
world right now is to make love to you, but only if your ready to take
that step."

The bard's answer did not come in the form of words as Xena might have
expected. It came in a kiss that was so intense Xena felt like a bolt of
lightning was coursing through her body. She shifted their weight with
Gabrielle in her arms until the were laying back on the forest floor.
Gabrielle was laying across the top of Xena's body, until the warrior
rolled them over so that her longer body completely covered that of the

Gabrielle felt like Xena's hands and lips were everywhere at once,
touching, tasting, and increasing the glow of passion she was starting
to feel build up inside her. The only other time Gabrielle had made love
to someone was on her wedding night to Perdicuis, and while she had
loved him in a way. The feelings that he had aroused in her were nothing
compared to what she had been feeling and was feeling right now for the
warrior princess.

Before she was even aware of it Xena had cast off her shirt and had
loosened the ties at the back of her skirt enough to lower it over her
hips. It briefly occurred to her with the slight dampness that hung in
the air she should feel a chill, but quite the opposite was true, her
skin felt like it had a warm fire dancing across it. Where ever Xena
touched her it seemed to burn even hotter. Her hands fumbled with the
clasps and laces that held Xena's armour and leather in place. It seemed
strange to her that a task she was so familiar with, one that she
thought she could do in her sleep should become so difficult now.

Taking the bards hands in her own, the warrior brought them to her lips
and kissed each knuckle one by one. "Here let me." she offered as she
made short work of getting rid of her own clothes. She sat on her knees
long enough to admire the beautiful woman that was stretched out before
her, freely offering her everything she had been dreaming of, but had
been afraid to ask for. Crystal blue locked with forest green as
Gabrielle reached her arms out to the woman that had captured her heart
and was about to claim her body. Her smile said it all, this was what
the bard wanted too, they were destined to be together. The thought
occurred to Xena that everything the had been through, everything they
had endured to come to this point had been worth it. She would gladly go
back and do it all again if it would ensure that it would bring her to
this place and secure her love to her side forever.

She melted into Gabrielle's outstretched arms, their lips met in a
blazing kiss. Xena felt her own wetness grow as she straddled
Gabrielle's leg, her hand reaching for the source of heat that was
threatening to overtake Gabrielle. "Xena please, I need you now!"

Part of her wanted this to be slow and sweet, something she could give
Gabrielle that she would remember forever. Even as she thought that she
knew there would be nothing slow about this. They had both denied
themselves this pleasure for so long. Their souls were bound forever,
there would be a lifetime for sweet caresses and long lazy lovemaking.
Right now they both were in such need of each other the only thing that
mattered was fulfilling that need.

Gabrielle arched her back as Xena's fingers entered her. Her hips soon
found the same rhythm as Xena was using against her. Holding the warrior
close to her, she could feel the pressure begin to build up inside of
her "Xeeennnaaaaaa....Oh Gods..."

The sound of Gabrielle's release was enough to put Xena over the edge,
the fell into bliss together as the both found what they had craved. A
feeling of contentment washed over them both, their troubles momentarily
forgotten. Xena gathered Gabrielle against her and revelled in the
feeling as the bard tightened her arms around her torso. They drifted
into a light slumber.

>From high atop a bluff that over looked the campsite Hope saw the
aftermath of her Mother and Xena's lovemaking. The warrior had her arms
wrapped protectively around the smaller woman lying at her side. A dull
ache seemed to settle in her chest at the sight before her. She had
known that there was love between the two women, she just didn't know
until now how deeply it truly ran. She turned from the sight before her,
suddenly feeling like she intruding on a very private moment. As she
turned she saw her Father standing before her. "Well done daughter, very
well done indeed."


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