Disclaimer: USA Studios owns them. The is a heart tugging story. Physical abuse, so you are warned. Nothing graphic, some violence, bad words. It's Xena for heaven sakes! Song by Lee Ann Womack. Thanks to my beta's, Katia and Kamouraskan.Any feedback can go to Silencebard@aol.com
In my fifty-five years of life I have seen many things, good and bad. I have seen my home attacked, lost a son. Losing a child is the most painful thing that an adult can experience. I also lost a daughter for a while, but the Gods graced me with a gift of second chance. I Had to kill my husband to defend my child.
I've seen more then my share in my life. A moon ago I got a visit from my daughter and her love. Usually I'm greeted by a warm pair of green eyes from one and a toothy grin from the other, this time was very different. I could see the pained look in Gabrielle's eyes and it hit me straight in the heart. My first thought was that I had lost another child but Xena strolled in right after with a couple of Amazons.
I welcomed my girls and their friends home and waited until someone was able to tell me what in Tartarus had happened. Knew things were really wrong when Gabrielle went straight to her room without dinner. After many years of being a Tavern keeper, I've learned a lot just by watching and listening.
Being a mother took over and I pulled the Amazon known as Ephiny aside when Xena turned in after a heavy night of drinking. In my guts I knew this was something I wasn't to sure I wanted to hear.
"Tell me." I didn't have to explain what. We went into the kitchen and sat by the fire.
"Xena and Gabrielle were paying us a visit when our tribe was attacked by the Warlord Garrison; out for slaves." Taking a deep breath. "It was a battle that in my vanity I thought we were winning." Her voice shook and I went to get her a glass of port, maybe that would settle her nerves.
"What I wasn't aware was there was a bounty on Xena's head and Garrison was distracting us so they could get to her." She took a long gulp of port and shook her head.
"By the time we got there it was to late. Gabrielle was unconscious and Xena was gone." She had a look of disbelief. Ephiny and I spoke a few days later and she explained that its just hard to see Xena as human. All the impossible tasks that a mere mortal couldn't do, Xena does. So the idea of Xena being vulnerable was something that was going to take time to get use to.
"Needless to say when our Queen came to, we were on a mission to save her warrior." The Amazon smiled a little.
"There was many wounded but we made it through Garrison's defenses; Gabrielle was a woman possessed." This was when I felt my guts tighten. Ephiny reached across and held my hand.
"We made it to the dungeon and Garrison was nowhere in sight; he'd escaped." Everything started to go very slowly.
"Next thing I knew, Gabrielle giving this gut wrenching scream." I don't know whose lip was quivering worse, hers or mine.
"I don't think I can describe..." She was full of emotion
"Try." Was all I could say.
"We made it to where Gabrielle was screaming and there was.... There was Xena hanging from her wrists, beaten, with no clothing." My jaw clamped tight.
"Was she raped?" This one of many things a parent never wants to hear.
"Yes." She said it so softly. I quickly stood just, needing to do something.
"Thank you for telling me, go rest." I started to clean the dishes getting ready for the mornings rush. Do anything to keep myself busy so I didn't have to think or feel, but what she said kept going over and over through my mind and I fell apart.
When you become a mother your whole world changes. You love this tiny stranger from their first breath until it's time for Hades to call you to the Fields. Even then you will still love them.
Every little joy, heartbreak, triumph in their lives, you feel it right along with them. Of course the child is never even aware of this. First time you hold them you just have all these ideas, wishes and dreams for them. When I heard the healer say it was a girl, as a woman my heart swelled.
I remember my first night with miss fussy. I sat and rocked her while she sat there studying my face. She just loved to be held and sung to. I would sing our kinsmen songs but her favorite was one my mother sang to me as a child. It was a song of things a parent wishes for their child.
My mother was a strong woman with a strong will and a love for dance. She would wait until Papa would go out to the fields and she would sing and dance with us. At bedtime she would always sing this one song to us and it just made me believe in anything.
I Hope You Never Lose Your Sense Of Wonder
You Get You Fill But Always Keep That Hunger
May You Never Take One Single Breath For Granted
Gods Forbid Love Ever Leave You Empty Handed
I Hope You Still Feel Small When You Stand Beside The Ocean
Whenever One Door Closes I Hope One More Opens
Promise Me That You'll Give Faith A Fighting Chance
And When You Get The Choice To Sit It Out Or Dance
I Hope You Dance
I Hope You Never Fear Those Mountains In The Distance
Never Settle For The Path Of Least Resistance
Livin' Might Mean Takin' Chances But They're Worth Takin'
Lovin' Might Be A Mistake But Its Worth Makin'
Never Let Some Bent Heart Leave You Bitter
When You Come Close To Sellin' Out Reconsider
Give The Heavens Above More Than A Passing Glance
And When You Get The Choice To Sit It Out Or Dance
I Hope You Dance
There was no way I was going to sleep tonight, so I worked. I did everything I could
to stay busy. My customers were going to have a feast today. I cooked and baked all night trying hard to get the thoughts of my child being violated out of my mind.
I knew I had to give my daughter space because if I crowded her with questions and the wanting to talk, she would just put on her mask and turn mute on me. I usually talk to Gabrielle about these kinds of things and we then both work on Xena to open up. The look in those green eyes showed me that this would not be the case this time around. Gabrielle's eyes were just void of all emotion almost dead. That was the greatest thing haunting my mind.
Looking out the window I can see this is about the time my grumpy child pulls herself out of bed to start the day. Right about the time I was sitting with my cup of tea, on cue I heard the heavy steps of my daughter.
"Morning mother." She poured herself a cup. I now could see the faint bruises on every exposed part of her body and I had to shut my eyes tight to get my composure back.
"Morning little one." She sits and rolls her eyes at that. Amazing thing about being a mother. Even now she is and will always be my little one. I also notice she is having a hard time meeting my eyes, but when she does I can see the dark circles under her eyes. She has slept about as much as I have.
"Sit down and I will get you some breakfast." Before she protests, I went right into my mother mode. She and Gabrielle looked a lot thinner than usual; guess I will have to fatten them both up. I quickly put a bowl of hot cereal with cinnamon in front of her while I grab some rolls with honey. We sat in painful silence for what seemed like an eternity and I couldn't take it anymore.
"How's Gabrielle?" I knew she liked to talk of her bard.
"She's tired, mother, we've had some rough times as of late." She turned her eyes back to her cereal.
"I heard." I didn't mean to let my voice break but I couldn't help it. I looked away trying hard to hide the tears, I failed. I felt a warm hand on my cheek and looked up to see the eyes of my child. I threw my arms around her and held on for dear life. I'm supposed to be comforting her, how does it always turn the other way around?
"Damn Amazons." I felt her tense. We broke apart and sat to talk.
"How are you, my child?" I lightly caressed a bruise on her right cheek.
"I'm healing." She gave me a slight smile and looked away.
"Honey, I'm not talking about the physical." I put my hand on her heart. "I'm talking right here, how are you?" Damn, she has to put on that stubborn mask.
"I'm fine, these things can happen in my line of work." I can't believe what I just heard. Then she spoke to herself, but I heard it and didn't like it one bit. She mumbled something like, "Just paying for my crimes."
"What did you say?" I made her look at me. "Paying for your crimes?" Is that what she thinks? She just clenched her jaw tighter and fell deeper in that mask.
"Warrior's pride, my ass child, answer me." She gave me that harsh look with the eyebrow raise. Then pulled out of my grip, got up and paced like a trapped animal. This is where I could use Gabrielle's help. She knows how to handle Xena when she goes into this fit.
"I did many bad things mother, you don't understand." She stopped pacing and slumped back in the chair.
"Did you rape people, Xena?" Her eyes whipped up to mine in shock. "Well, did you?" Wasn't sure I wanted to hear the answer, but I held my ground.
"No, I didn't, but my men did and I turned a blind eye to it." My child had this look of total shame. "That makes me just as guilty, mother." She looked away. "I was such a monster." She breaks down.
"That is the biggest hunk of Centaur shit I have ever heard." Once again I get the look of shock. "I knew I raised a daughter, didn't know I raised a foolish one." I was angry and my eyes of blue were blazing hotter the hers and she knew it was best she kept quiet.
"Granted you should have done something and you will live with that for the rest of your life child." I still have her pinned in my stare. "Take the blame for the things you actually did and not the actions of others." It's funny when you truth... hits you.
"You want to talk about guilt Xena?" I sat back in my chair. "Let's see." Where to begin? "How about a mother who turns her back on her daughter when she was in need?" That was hard to admit.
"If it wasn't for you Xena, I wouldn't have this Tavern and there would certainly be no Amphipolis." Its hard to relive this moment but things needed to be said for a longest time now.
"We were so wrapped up with the loss of our sons that blaming you was just an excuse; it was the easy answer." She tried to get up and I sat her right back down. "I was so absorbed by guilt and despair with the loss of Lyceus, it was just easy to point the blame, guilt, instead of dealing with the truth." I wasn't trying to hide my emotion anymore.
"So if you have this belief that you got what you deserved, maybe I should go get mine." I have to take a minute to control my sobbing. "If I didn't turn my back on you then your life could have been so different." I look up to my child's eyes. "Just think Xena!" I was almost hysterical. "Every pain you have went through in your life, all your losses, I did that." It was my turn to hang my head in shame.
"This is my guilt." I pounded one hand my chest. "My grandson would be alive, you would have never been in any army, and you surely would not believe you deserved to be raped." I was sobbing too hard to continue and Xena flew out of the chair and wrapped me in her arms. I begged my child to forgive me.
"No mother." She held me in her arms. "It's not your fault." Though in my heart I will always feel that it is, but it's gratifying to hear her say that.
"No one deserves to be violated Xena, NO ONE!" I held her face in my hands and she cried.
"What does Gabrielle say about this?" I had to steer my child towards her bard. Xena needed Gabrielle more then ever now. Still crying she raised her eyes to mine.
"She said no one deserve to touch me like that and was very mad at me for thinking the way I did." My child shook harder in my arms. "I was trying so hard to show Gabrielle that I was all right." Her voice cracked.
"Then one night we tried to be intimate and I pulled away." She was crying more powerfully now and I rocked her whispering words of comfort. "I don't know what happened mother." She stood quick trying to gather herself.
"I'm a warrior, I'm supposed to get over these things." Now she had a look of anger. "Gabrielle and I have been fighting on and off since." She looked up trying to fight tears.
"Gabrielle sent out some scouts to find Garrison, mother." She is trying to collect herself. "They found him and what I saw next scared me." She was shaking once more.
"We were in our hut when we got the word of his capture." She stopped to take a breath. "Gabrielle flew out of our hut with my breast dagger in her hand." She stopped again and stuttered.
"I couldn't believe her speed mother, I almost didn't catch her." She brought her hands to her face. "She was going to kill him, but I stopped her and that made her more enraged at me." I handed her a rag so she could wipe her eyes and blew her nose.
"She sentenced him to death by hanging for raping the Queen's Consort." She was trying so hard to control her trembling. I motioned for her to come to me and put her head on my lap. I just wanted to comfort my baby.
"She hung him, my Gabrielle." She looked up at my with horror in her eyes. "What scares me the most mother is she doesn't have any remorse for doing that either." I wasn't sure what to say.
"That night she got drunk on port and we were with the Amazons." She just looks so frail. "They were joking with me about what happened." She hung her head. "Little digs here and there. Deep breath. "Ephiny said something like, I probably liked it, she heard I liked to be tied up." Another breath.
"I really didn't think too much about it and I didn't see Gabrielle until she flew across the table and had her hands around Ephiny's throat." She had this look of amazement.
"She was screaming at her saying, "You callous bitch, she is human and has feelings. Believe it not. She has feelings." She had a small smirk on her face. "She stormed out and Ephiny's been trying to make it up to her." She did a small chuckle. "That's why we had an Amazon escort." Another chuckle.
"Let me ask you, child." I stroke her hair. "If positions were reversed and Gabrielle was raped, what would you have done?" I already knew her protest. She raised her head from my lap.
"I would have killed him, but that's me not Gabrielle." She just looked at me like she could not believe I asked that.
"How is Gabrielle different?" I put my hand over her mouth so I could finish.
"A person she loves was hurt and she brought the animal who hurt her love to justice." Xena buried her face in my lap and sobbed once more. "I killed my husband because he was going to hurt my child, do you think less of me for that?" She shook her head in my lap.
"So don't you dare play down the pain I know your wife is feeling, little one." My child looked up and I took the rag to dry her tears.
"Gabrielle is probably feeling like she let you down. Helpless." I put my finger under Xena's chin. "So you let your wife comfort you so you both can work through this."
"She going to leave me mother, I just know it." Her lip is quivering.
"No I'm not." We both turned to see one teary eyed bard in the doorway. She ran into Xena's arms in front of me and this is where I felt I should leave. Right when I was getting up to start the breakfast rush I felt Xena grab my hand. I turned to look down at my child with her love in her arms. She whispered, "Love you Mom." I whispered that I loved her back.
I was so busy waiting on customers, but my heart was with my child. They must have gone to their room after I left and I haven't seen them since. Breakfast turned into lunch then dinner, the day went so fast. By the time I locked the doors for the night I was worried that I hadn't seen either daughter all day. So I loaded up a tray and made my way to their room. Of course I listened at the door before going in, silence.
Made my way through the dark room and set the tray on the table and lit the candle on it. When I turned around and peeked at the pallet what I saw made my heart swell just like it did when she was a baby.
There was my child happily sound asleep with her beloved wrapped tightly in her embrace. I couldn't help but tear up a bit and I went over to cover my girls up. Much to my surprise there was a pair of baby blues peeking at my from half opened lids.
"Shhh." Was all I said and gave them both a little peck on the cheek. My child snuggled back and went to sleep. I think we'll both sleep tonight.
Rest well little ones.