The characters in this story do not belong to me, they belong to MCA/Universal/Renaissance.
Another year had nearly passed; it was the time of year to celebrate Winter Solstice.
For most people this was the time to calm and quiet down and spend time with family and friends.
But it wasn’t an easy decision for a bard and a warrior.
“I think we should spend Solstice with the Amazons this year”, Gabrielle said as they walked down a road which they had walked numerous times.
“I thought you said you wanted to spend Solstice together with your family and my mother?”, Xena asked slightly surprised.
“I did, but the last time we visited, Ephiny asked me that we would spend Solstice with the tribe. We’ve never spent Solstice with them”, Gabrielle said turning her glance to the tall warrior.
“If you really think about it, we haven’t spent many Solstices in general. You’ve been talking about writing to mother and your parents and asking them to spend Solstice with us for a month now and Solstice is only a few days away”, Xena tried to reason with the bard.
“You’re right, once again. What do you want to do?”, Gabrielle asked in return.
“I don’t know Gabrielle. I’m not really a Solstice person, because I didn’t celebrate it for so long back when…”, Xena said without even looking at Gabrielle.
“But what about the Solstice when we met Senticles and King Silvus? Can you honestly say that you didn’t have the least bit of holiday spirit in you?”
“I tried to focus of keeping King Silvus from evicting those orphans, I don’t think that can count as having the holiday spirit”, Xena said remembering what happened when she and Gabrielle first spent Solstice.
“But it was a good deed at Solstice time, I count that as doing it under the influence of the Solstice spirit. Now, where do you want to go, to the Amazon village or Potidaea and Amphipolis?”, Gabrielle asked as they were now standing at a crossroad.
“I really don’t know, maybe we should…”, Xena tried to think of a reasonable decision. Then she looked at Gabrielle, who was trying her best to give the warrior the old “pretty please” –look.
Finally Xena decided to give in.
“Okay, we’ll go to the Amazon village. We’d better get moving if we want to be there for Solstice”, Xena said giving Gabrielle a pat on the shoulder.
When they finally arrived to the village, Eponin and Solari were first to meet them.
“Gabrielle, Xena, it’s so great to see you”, Solari said.
“You’re here to spend Solstice with us?”, Eponin asked to which Gabrielle replied:
“We sure are. You’ve been very busy to get everything ready, the village is looking very pretty.”
“I’m sure Ephiny will be happy to see you, she’s probably in the common hut”, Solari said.
Xena and Gabrielle walked through the village and as they were about to enter the common hut, they heard someone shout behind them:
“Gabrielle! Xena!” They turned around to see Ephiny run the last few paces to reach them.
“I saw Argo at the stables, so I knew you had to be here somewhere. You decided to join us for Solstice after all, I hoped you would”, Ephiny said cheerfully.
They talked about the tribe’s Solstice traditions and Gabrielle seemed to be very excited, as always.
Gabrielle and Xena both helped preparing the Solstice celebration which would begin on Solstice Eve and continue the entire Solstice Day.
Xena helped Solari and her guards to cut down and bring the biggest and most beautiful Solstice tree anyone had ever seen before to the village. After tree was in its place, another group started to decorate the tree and soon it was full of beautiful ornaments looking very graceful.
Gabrielle was seeing to that the cooks had everything in order for making the Solstice feast and that the tribe’s singers had been practicing the Solstice carols they would sing during the celebration.
Solstice Eve arrived and the celebration was about to begin. A large bonfire was burning in the middle of the village and everyone had gathered around it. A few Amazons were walking around giving everyone a single log and Ephiny announced:
“My sisters, it is time to begin our Solstice celebration with the traditional burning of the Yule Logs.
Before you throw your log into the fire, make your Solstice wish and then see the log burn. The fire will take your wishes to the Gods and maybe your wishes will come true.” Gabrielle looked at Xena and smiled, Xena looked at Gabrielle and when Gabrielle turned to look at the fire and threw her log into the bonfire, Xena turned her gaze towards the fire herself. She stared at it for long and when she finally threw her log into the fire, she noticed that Gabrielle was looking at her. When she turned her gaze to Gabrielle, a smile appeared on her face.
After everyone had made their wishes, it was time to eat. There was more food than ever, five long tables were entirely full of different kinds of foods.
The tribe ate until they could eat no more, then it was time to listen to the singers perform the traditional Solstice carols. The songs were all filled with joy and cheer and many joined to sing along with the performers. Gabrielle was very happy that they had decided to spend Solstice with the Amazons, she was going to ask Xena how she liked the celebration but Xena wasn’t next to her anymore. Gabrielle looked all around, but there was simply no sign of Xena anywhere.
Ephiny, Solari and Eponin all said they thought Xena would be with Gabrielle, they hadn’t seen where she had gone to.
Gabrielle started to get worried, even amongst an entire tribe of Amazons, Xena wouldn’t be that hard to find but there was no trace of her. Gabrielle went to their hut to see if Xena had gone there but the hut was empty as well. All of Xena’s things were still there, but something caught Gabrielle’s eye on the table. It was a small note and only one word had been written on it: POND.
It must have meant the small pond behind the woods, a place where Gabrielle had never been to, she had only heard about it. She left immediately and almost ran through the woods to reach the pond as fast as she could. When she came to the edge of the woods, she saw the water gleaming in the moonlight. And by the pond she saw a small fire and food set up next to it and a large blanket was spread on the other side of the fire. Gabrielle was very surprised by what she saw, it almost made her heart skip a beat.
“I thought about how long it would take you to get here”, Xena said emerging from the trees. Gabrielle walked to Xena and said:
“Xena, thank goodness you’re alright. I was worried when I couldn’t find you anywhere. I found the note on the table and came straight here. I did you disappear like that?” Xena smiled to signal Gabrielle everything was fine.
“Because I had to do some preparations, as you can see. I didn’t mean to upset you like that”, Xena replied. Gabrielle looked around them and everything looked so beautiful, it was more beautiful than the village was with all the decorations.
“Xena, it really is beautiful. But why have you done all this, why are we here?”, Gabrielle asked.
Xena sat down on the blanket and Gabrielle sat right next to her.
“Gabrielle, there is something I want to tell you”, Xena began. Gabrielle looked at the warrior as she began:
“The reason why I didn’t want to choose between whether to spend Solstice with the Amazons or our families, was because to me, it’s not important WHERE to spend Solstice, it’s with WHO that really matters. As long as you’re with me, I could spend Solstice even in Tartaros.”
“Xena…”, Gabrielle tried to say but Xena wanted to finish:
“Another reason why I didn’t want to choose where we would go, was because I wanted to spend this Solstice alone with you. Just the two of us. And when you really wanted to come here, I accepted it knowing that there would be so much to do, we wouldn’t really be able to spend time alone.”
Gabrielle wondered why Xena wanted to spend time alone with her, when they travelled around, it usually was just the two of them.
“Gabrielle, I really wanted to spend this Solstice alone with you, because I want to tell you …”, Xena tried to say, but because she wasn’t very good with words, the words just disappeared somewhere.
Gabrielle took Xena’s hand and looked deep into dark warrior’s eyes and looking into Gabrielle’s bright eyes gave Xena some kind of inner strength and she continued:
“To tell you, how grateful I am to have you in my life. My life would be empty without you. You changed my life.” Gabrielle was surprised and very touched by what Xena said, she could see in Xena’s eyes that every word was true. Xena took Gabrielle’s hands in her own and looked deeper into the bard’s emerald eyes and said with nearly a whisper:
“The only Solstice present I want to give you, is something I couldn’t wrap . Something that I can’t imagine giving to anyone else but you and that’s my heart.”
Gabrielle’s own heart started beating faster, she thought this was all just a dream.
“I’m sorry if what I said has hurt you, but I had to tell you what I feel in my heart. Gabrielle, I... I love you”, Xena said with a doubtful look on her face, thinking Gabrielle was upset by what Xena had said.
“Xena... I never thought that you... I feel the same way about you”, Gabrielle replied. Xena’s expression turned from glum to very happy instantly.
Then the bard pulled the warrior into a warm hug and a tear fell from her eye.
They sat there for a while, looking at the night sky in complete silence. Then Gabrielle asked:
“What was your Solstice wish, the one you made when we burned the Yule Logs?”
“You know we’re not supposed to tell our wishes”, Xena said with a grin.
“I know that, unless they come true. And mine did”, Gabrielle said giving Xena a lovely smirk.
Xena didn’t say anything, even though she wanted to know her friend’s wish.
“I wished that I could spend another Solstice with you and many more, because that’s what Solstice is about. Spending time with the people you love and care about. And a small part of me wished something like this, that I could find my inner courage to tell you that you’re more than my best friend”, Gabrielle said turning her gaze from Xena to the sky, then back to Xena.
Xena looked at the fire which was almost nothing but embers and said:
“When I stood there by the bonfire, the only thing going through my mind was what I had planned for tonight and how you would react. I didn’t know what to wish, well part of me did, but when you turned to look at me, I knew exactly what to wish for. That I would find the right words to tell you about what’s in my heart and that you wouldn’t hate me for it.” Gabrielle smiled widely, she touched Xena’s hand with her own and said:
“Just the opposite, your surprise was very pleasant.” Xena smiled back at Gabrielle and then Gabrielle noticed something when she looked up.
Some mistletoe was above their heads, neither had noticed it before.
“According to tradition, we’re obliged to kiss…”, Gabrielle said with her cheeks blushing slightly.
“Well we must honor the tradition, don’t we?”, Xena said giving the bard a wink. They slowly closed the distance between them and their lips met. It was a short kiss, as they both broke it almost instantly.
Neither said a word for a few moments until Xena asked:
“Gabrielle, how did that feel to you?” Gabrielle looked at the warrior and said:
“Like something I’ve never felt before, like all of a sudden I would have been filled with warmth and love.” Xena smiled and replied:
“Same here, maybe our Solstice wishes really have come true.” Gabrielle leaned her head against Xena’s shoulder and Xena wrapped her arm around Gabrielle’s shoulder.
“Happy Solstice Xena.”
“Happy Solstice Gabrielle and many more to come.”
The mistletoe vanished from above them in a flash of clear light and a Goddess dressed in pink looked at the two and said:
“A very happy Solstice, you two cuties.”
Merry Christmas everyone and a very happy new year!
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