Title: MEMENTO MORI
Rating/Author’s Notes: Mature for detailed female/female sex. This fanfic includes a loving, consensual relationship with female characters, Xena and Gabrielle. If this is offensive to you, or you do not wish to read about a relationship between these two, then feel free to exit the story. I would appreciate any comments and feedback/ constructive criticism (R&R), but please hold the homophobia. I would like to say thank you to my beta-reader, K. (you know who you are) for all of her valuable time and help. Please send all comments to email@example.com!
Summary: POST-FIN II, Gabrielle is haunted by her memories of Xena’s death and Aphrodite can’t stand to watch her friend suffer. Together they travel to the temple of Mnemosyne where Gabrielle makes a life changing decision.
Disclaimer: All named characters in this story do not belong to me, they belong to the creators and producers and studios that own Xena: Warrior Princess.
Episode Spoilers: The Quest, Friend In Need I&II
The ruddy-orange glow of the campfire blanketed her in warmth as she tossed another handful of moss into the burning wood. The flames were hypnotizing, languidly moving and flickering before her, demanding her attention as they audibly cracked the wood; threw smouldering embers into the air. She watched their exotic dance and shivered despite the heat, the fire casting ominous shadows around her tiny frame. She examined the barren trees, twisted and ashen in colour, with branches that launched from the trunk and scattered in all directions as though they were reaching for something. She eyed the ends of the branches and noticed that each one ended in a blunt nub like countless crooked fingers stretched out in a desperate plateau. They appeared strained and tired, drooping and misshapen as they reached out in vain, neither grasping nor holding up anything of value. They merely brushed the occasional wind, confined to their rigid, immobile prisons from which they could not break free.
She swallowed hard, feeling equally empty, hopeless and disoriented. Her body was fatigued, scared and scraped, forever marked by the wounds she sustained in battle. Her appetite waned and she tossed the remains of her dinner into the fire. She would not sleep until she collapsed from exhaustion and even then her mind would still race; compound thought upon thought until she could not think, succumbing to the nothingness that was her unconscious slumber.
When her mind raced it was a torturous, harrowing repetition of her most painful and nauseating memory. She could remember the rain that night, the way it tasted, cool, clean and fresh in her mouth. She remembered the smell of mud and burnt cloth; death and blood. The decapitated body of her beloved had become an omnipresent scar burned into her mind, bitterly carved into the deepest recess of her memory. Her eyes had traced the gleaming bare shoulders of her soulmate’s body, followed the scarlet smear where the head was severed. She remembered taking the body down, looking upon the open wound; the bone and sinew and sheared flesh. She remembered retrieving her lover’s head, staring back at the pallid, lifeless face that once laughed with her; the plum tinted lips that once smiled at her, counselled her and kissed her. It never stopped haunting her.
She wanted to scream into the open air but found she did not possess the strength. Her fists clenched as she tightened her resolve and seized a nearby bucket full of water she had prepared. She doused the flames and began to disassemble her camp, packing her belongings carelessly. As she began to tidy her bedroll a splash of white light collected in front of her, a figure materializing in the haze.
“Gabrielle.” The quiet voice said.
She turned to see Aphrodite, the goddess of love, cautiously walking toward her. Gabrielle could see the concern written in Aphrodite’s face. She was dressed in black, as she had been after word of Xena’s death had reached her brother, Ares.
His depression was swift and his madness soon followed as he was overcome by grief and rage. His attempts at resurrecting Xena had failed and his anger grew as he levelled entire Greek and Roman cities. The hot fury that devoured him was reckless, careless, and the business-like attitude of the once collected god became a poisoned, rabid monstrosity. In an effort to subdue him, the Greeks and Romans briefly allied and stole the rib of Cronos from Hercules’ possession. Ares’ penchant for Xena had become legendary, and all of the women in Rome and Greece were examined until one with an eerie resemblance to Xena was found. Her ash blonde hair was died soot black and she was given to Ares as a gift. He was instantly enamoured with the girl, intrigued by her striking similarity to the woman he once loved. One night, while he was taking a bath she prepared for him, she snuck into the room with the rib of Cronos hidden in her garments. As he welcomed her to join the bath and closed his eyes in relaxation, she drove the rib into his chest, slashing at him with blind fury. In the delirium he did not struggle and his madness left him impassive to his own death. Upon heaving his last breath, a smile crept up into his features; his head lolled back limply as his lifeless body floated in the bathwater.
“Gabrielle,” Aphrodite said again. Her expression was pained.
Gabrielle bit her lip as tears collected in her eyes. Her composure began to slip when Aphrodite offered her arms for an embrace. Gabrielle took the offering, grateful for the company, exhaling a long and frustrated breath as she wrapped one arm around Aphrodite’s neck.
“You can’t keep doing this to yourself,” Aphrodite said.
“I don’t want it to keep happening,” Gabrielle began, a tear trickling down her right cheek. “I can’t stop it. It’s always the same. Xena’s body…beaten…decapitated.”
Her voice evaporated as she pronounced the last word. Aphrodite’s own tears began to fall as she pulled Gabrielle away to look into her eyes. Gabrielle’s eyes were glowing with fervent emotion, glistening with tears.
“If I could hold her…just one more time,” Gabrielle sobbed. “I never even had a chance to say goodbye before she died.”
Aphrodite pulled Gabrielle into a fierce embrace as they cried, her hand cradling the back of Gabrielle’s head as she buried her face in Aphrodite’s neck.
“One last time?” Aphrodite’s voice had become a whisper. “If I could do that…for you, would you take it?”
“How?” Gabrielle asked through her tears, the back of her hand coming up to wipe the corners of her eyes.
“Just hold on to me. I know someone who can help.”
Gabrielle closed her eyes as a scorching white light tore into her vision. Reflexively her eyes shut tight and her hands clutched at the back of Aphrodite’s dress. Adrenaline began to flow through her, furiously pumping through her veins as her body began to tremble. Abruptly, her body became rigid and immobile but she was consciously aware of travelling at a high speed. And then she felt a disconcerting stillness around her, as though the world had stopped breathing and she was left in an inert limbo.
When she opened her eyes, her vision swam with soft blue light and neon purple sparks. In the chaos her eyesight began to focus and she recognised her surroundings. She was in the temple of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The temple had not changed since her last visit over four years ago. Royal blue curtains showcased the rows of pale mauve bowls that contained the memories of countless people. To her left was a tiny, thin and cream coloured altar which held the bowl of her memory on her last visit. The altar looked antique and cracked, forlorn beside the well preserved decorum. Gabrielle’s eyebrows furrowed in concern as she realised that Aphrodite was nowhere to be found.
“Welcome, Gabrielle,” a familiar voice crooned.
“Mnemosyne?” Gabrielle asked, turning into the direction of the voice.
“Yes.” Mnemosyne emerged from a blue curtain with a matching blue dress. Her face was serene and contented, her eyes warm and matronly.
“Where is Aphrodite?” Gabrielle’s eyes narrowed.
“She has told me why you’ve come. I’ve decided this would be a journey best taken alone.”
“To a degree.” Mnemosyne’s face was an enigma. “I help people with their memories. But you, Gabrielle, are different. Not even the most painful memory could compel you to erase the entire history of your mind.”
Gabrielle eyed her suspiciously, unsure of how to react. Mnemosyne continued:
“Your memory is rather remarkable. A library of adventure and excitement. Endless chronicles of love and youth, poetry and pain. It is a wealth of incredible experiences, invaluable knowledge. Hardly the average mind of a girl from Potedia.”
Mnemosyne smiled brightly, “I am truly impressed.”
“I’m very flattered,” said Gabrielle still perplexed, “but what does this have to do with me?”
“I cannot erase your memory to help you,” Mnemosyne replied, “but I can let you relive a memory.”
She began to walk closer to Gabrielle, circling her nonchalantly as she explained.
“Choose a memory, any memory and I will grant you the power to relive it. But you cannot live forever in your memories, Gabrielle, and the time you have inside of it will end. If the memory you choose occurs when the moon is high, you will have until sunrise to relive it; if it is during the day, you will have until sunset, and then it will end not a moment before or after. When your time is up, you will return to the present as you are, your memories intact but your life unchanged. These are the terms I can offer.”
“If I go to the past will I remember what I know now?” Gabrielle queried.
“Yes.” Mnemosyne replied, “Your consciousness will remain unchanged; your knowledge up to this point will stay intact. But your appearance, the places you visited, the people you knew, will all be a reflection of your past. You will not simply repeat a previous encounter, but rather exist in a time that has passed. Everything around you will be real and alive. The people you encounter will be autonomous beings, but the way things appear - how green a leaf was, or how warm the sun felt and how bright - will all be a reflection of your memory at the time it etched itself into your mind.”
Gabrielle inhaled deeply, lost in thought. Finally she spoke,
“If I remembered someone who is now dead at a time in my life when they were living…”
“Then that moment you remember, I turn into reality. And thus, that person is alive again. But only temporarily. Remember the rules?”
“But whatever memory I choose, I wake up in it?”
“That’s right.” Mnemosyne smiled. “It’s up to you, Gabrielle. This is a gift, from me, and your friend, Aphrodite. You do not have to accept it.”
“I accept it.” Gabrielle’s expression hardened.
Mnemosyne’s expression became tender, “Then choose a memory and I will take you there.”
Gabrielle’s cheeks flushed as emotion overcame her. It was barely a minute before she was ready, her expression a mixture of grief and uncertainty.
“I have chosen.”
Mnemosyne placed her palm onto Gabrielle’s forehead.
“This takes place at night?”
“Then you have until sunrise. Time is precious, Gabrielle. Don’t waste it.”
A searing heat slashed through her nerves as her chest heaved in and out uncontrollably. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she felt herself falling, but before she could hit the ground her vision blackened. And she felt nothing at all.
A cool breeze filtered through her hair, awakening the nerves at the tips of her ears as the wind brushed passed them. Her eyes fluttered open at the sensation and caught sight of the soft glow of burning torches casting sharp shadows along the walls of tiny wooden huts. The glow from the fires drowned out the moonlight and as she stared, a growing crescendo of music and clamour filled her ears. She gaped at her hands dumbfounded, turning them over in examination, clenching them into fists. She was at once satisfied, realising she could acutely feel the pressure in her fingertips as she curled her fingers tightly. The scent of wine and lamb and olive oil filled her nostrils as she became lost in a bustling crowd. Men carrying large banquet plates of ox and ceramic pitchers pushed passed her, and she was able to see the intricate paintings of Athena on proud display. It had worked. This was it: Panathenaea.
Gabrielle’s eyes widened and she covered her mouth in shock. It was precisely how she remembered it: the last night of Panathenaea. The scent of the food was intoxicating and the music playing, identical. She could hear the rhapsodic verse of competing bards in the background, their voices full of fervent passion as they recited Homeric poetry. Heat from the fires, the food and the crowd bathed Gabrielle in a sensual, comforting warmth and a smile crept up into her lips in spite of herself.
“There you are.” A haunting voice sounded from behind.
Gabrielle turned, already knowing the being that stood behind her, that put her hand on her shoulder and coaxed her body to turn. Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks but stubbornly resisted, growing fat and blatant in her eyes. Her hand came up to cover her mouth upon instinct as she steadied herself. Slowly she turned. Gabrielle’s breath caught in her throat.
“I’ve been looking for you for hours!” Xena said, her right hand gripping a large Athenian vase. “Guess who won the chariot race.” Her lips curved up into an infectious smile, baring her teeth. But her expression soon changed as she became aware of Gabrielle’s distress.
Her brows furrowed in concern and her smile evaporated, “What’s wrong?” She failed to hide the anxiety in her voice.
Gabrielle shook her head as though embarrassed. Her hands came up toward her face to quickly wipe away the tears in her eyes. Her breath was uneven and her cheeks and nose were red from the sudden rush of emotion. She forced a smile as her gaze settled on Xena.
“Nothing, nothing.” Gabrielle insisted. “I’m alright.”
“Are you hurt?!” Xena put the vase down on the ground and proceeded to search Gabrielle for injuries with one hand resting on her shoulder.
“No, Xena, I’m fine.” Gabrielle struggled from the need to kiss her as she looked into the warrior’s pallid blue eyes. The quick influx of air in her chest threatened to burst her lungs, and despite her relief and joy at discovering Xena alive, her heart could not help but ache. Her mind reeled, unbelieving and anguished. She yearned to feel her soulmate’s lips, to reclaim her old life; to affirm her love for Xena. Gabrielle valiantly resisted.
“Gabrielle.” The low reverberation of her name was loaded with meaning: concern, love, and fear.
“You must be tired from carrying that thing.” Gabrielle motioned toward the large vase on the ground.
Xena’s expression relaxed. “It’s not so bad. I’ll go put it in our room.”
“Okay. I’ll go to the tavern and save you a seat.”
“Xena.” Gabrielle smiled, enjoying the familiar exchange, “I’ll be fine.”
Xena nodded, collecting the giant vase and making her way through the crowd.
When Xena arrived at the nearby tavern, Gabrielle had already settled comfortably into a table with two mugs of wine. A young man sat close by talking to her, but Xena could see her interest waning as Gabrielle’s eyes scanned the room, her face turned slightly away from him. As she caught sight of Xena her expression changed; a warm smile splayed across her lips.
Xena walked up to the table and took a seat close to Gabrielle. The young man looked up at her, both intrigued and frightened by the energy Xena exuded. He nodded toward Gabrielle and departed reluctantly, an awkward disposition about him. Gabrielle pushed a mug of wine toward her.
“I got this for you.” Gabrielle smiled as Xena brought the mug to her lips.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare him off like that.” Xena said, her lip hesitating on the rim of the cup.
“Don’t worry.” Gabrielle laughed and her tone became playful, “We weren’t exactly having a thrilling conversation.”
Xena eyed a group of musicians gathering at the far wall of the tavern, clearing a space for instruments and dancing. Gabrielle turned to look behind her, following Xena’s gaze. Gabrielle regarded the musicians fondly, remembering the tune that would play and the intoxicating beat that summoned the revellers to the dance floor, heat radiating from the bodies that swayed against each other. She turned back to Xena, her eyes staring beyond her as she reminisced.
The music began to play. Gabrielle became entranced and aroused at her sudden nervousness. She watched intently as Xena rose to her feet, approaching her with deliberate slowness. She noticed a timid look in Xena’s eyes that she hadn’t seen before and eyed Xena’s proffered hand with renewed excitement. All of the emotions that she remembered feeling were suddenly heightened and new. It was as though she were experiencing them for the first time.
“Would you like to dance?”
Gabrielle blinked, feeling blind-sighted by the question as she looked up into Xena’s shimmering blue eyes. Her cheeks flushed as she grasped Xena’s hand and stood, following her to the dance floor. She looked bashfully at her hand as her fingers laced with Xena’s, her other hand barely resting on Xena’s waist. She could not fight her awkward discomfort, though she knew every move that they would each make, every word they would say, and all the things she would feel.
The feathery call of the aulos began to play, accompanied by a lyre. The two instruments complimented each other, completed each other. The lyre was precise and strong, yet whimsical in its execution; the strumming strings creating peaceful lilts. The aulos sounded like breathless cries, sensual and emotional in their beckoning, though meek in manner. Together they became beautiful, powerful and seductive, each a passionate echo of the other.
Gabrielle’s eyes were transfixed on Xena’s face, in spite of drunk couples that now and then collided with her and Xena as they danced. She felt Xena’s grip on her waist slip, and knowing what was coming, followed as Xena lead her into a gentle twirl. As she spun around to meet Xena’s eyes again, Gabrielle giggled, revelling in the delight that overcame her shy disposition. Xena smiled at her reaction.
The area beside the musicians began to choke with the volume of people that joined the dance. Some were raucous and uncaring, clinking mugs sloppily in their merriment as wine splashed from the rims and dribbled onto the floor. Others were awkward but mindful of the other dancers, a horrified grimace emerging on their faces as they came into contact with the rougher, more intoxicated crowd. Xena was pushed closer to Gabrielle as the space to dance shrank drastically. Her hands came up to grip Gabrielle’s shoulders upon instinct, both steadying herself and protecting Gabrielle from falling. Gabrielle’s hands held tightly onto Xena’s waist, her breath catching in her throat as she realised how close they were. As her tiny frame was being pushed against Xena’s leather clad body, she could feel Xena stiffen from the contact.
“Good luck getting out of here now.” Xena said, averting her gaze from Gabrielle’s intense, expectant stare.
“You’re not having fun?” Gabrielle’s voice dripped with disappointment as she frowned.
Xena just shrugged, a neutral expression on her face.
“Maybe you should have more wine,” Gabrielle snickered as her lips curled up into a smile, her eyes glowing from the candlelight in the tavern.
“Trying to get me drunk?” Xena’s eyes narrowed, but her manner was playful.
Gabrielle laughed and pursed her lips, her expression becoming one of feigned innocence. Her hands came up to wrap around Xena’s neck as the room in the tavern disappeared with yet more Athenian revellers seeking to listen to the melody of the aulody. She rested her head on Xena’s chest and closed her eyes as she was enveloped by the heat, the music and the sound of Xena’s heartbeat. Xena relaxed, glad to be free from Gabrielle’s smouldering stare while she collected herself. She put her chin atop the tiny bard’s head, soft auburn hair tickling her nose. She bit her lip, enjoying the scent of her hair and the feeling of their bodies’ intimate contact; the soft sway of their hips in tandem with one another.
It seemed like an eternity before the music ended and they broke apart, their breath ragged and their faces flushed. They pushed their way through the bustling crowd toward a table, Xena’s hand never leaving Gabrielle’s back as she guided her through the rowdy tavern. Standing at the table, Xena obtained two mugs of wine from a platter that was circulating the crowd. They remained standing and regarded each other with a proud sense of accomplishment as they sipped their drinks.
Xena smirked, amused by the boisterous and wanton behaviour that surrounded them. She turned back to Gabrielle to gauge her reaction and was captivated by her petite figure, her charming innocence. Xena’s eyes changed, holding within them respect, adoration and yearning as Gabrielle’s face peeked out from behind her tipped wine mug. She licked the tart liquid from her lips and met Xena’s gaze.
“I don‘t think this night could get any better,” Xena said, attempting to mask her desire with a teasing grin.
Gabrielle paused, her keen perception spotting the flash of desire in Xena’s eyes before she could prevent it. She pursed her lips, her heart racing, her mind growing ever impatient. Her face became serious, her voice one of imploration:
“Yes it can.”
Xena swallowed hard. She could see the longing in Gabrielle’s eyes evident and unabashed. She could feel her own heart threatening to breach her chest with the pace it kept. Gabrielle’s breath was laboured, her chest heaving in and out of its cloth restraint. Xena eyed the tops of her breasts, flushed and full, as the candlelight flames cast sharp, morphing patterns along her blushing skin.
Gabrielle closed the minute distance separating them and discarded her mug on a passing tray. Xena’s mug of wine was quickly forgotten on the table. Xena clenched her teeth as her body began to tremble. She was frightened and aroused by the bard’s intensity, her audacity. Gabrielle’s mouth hovered inches away from Xena’s, their breaths uniting in the tiny abyss between them.
“Don’t make me beg.” Gabrielle’s voice was an inaudible whisper, lost in the commotion surrounding them, but Xena could see her palpable hunger; a primal look in her eyes that drew Xena into the unfathomable blue-green depths and consumed her.
At first the kiss was long, soft and uncertain, each eager to make their movements perfect, overwhelmed by the anticipation of more. Gentle, smooth and abrupt kisses proceeded to entrap them in their delicate encounter, the wet smacking sound of their lips filled their ears; sent waves of pleasure surging through them. Gabrielle’s hands clasped the back of Xena’s head and she bruised their lips in a long passionate kiss. Xena broke apart from her to breathe, but Gabrielle became undone. All of the memories of Japa and the pain she’d faced; the betrayal she’d felt since then were collapsing in her mind. As she kissed Xena, she could feel her pain release, ebbing from her tiny frame as she grasped and clung desperately onto the one she loved most in the world: the source of her power, her happiness and despair. In the flurry of their passion, they broke apart only to quickly breathe and devour each other again. Gabrielle’s composure faded with each breath that cracked with the sound of her weeping.
When they realised they had become a spectacle to those around them, they sheepishly stilled their movements. Xena seized Gabrielle’s hand and rushed toward the tavern door.
They walked brusquely through the crowd with only quiet between them. Upon reaching the inn, they each nodded toward the Athenian innkeeper, following single-file behind the other. The din of the crowd dissolved and the hollow echo of their boots hitting the stairs, ascending, was all that they could hear. Xena fumbled with the lock when they reached the door, her hand shaking as she placed the slender metal key into the latch. The lock turned and released with a resonant click. She pushed the door open and the rusted hinges groaned from their tireless use. Gabrielle followed her into the room in silence, and flattened her body along the back of the door. Her eyes bore into Xena’s. Stepping backward she closed the door with the weight of her body. Her hand snaked up to the lock and she fastened it without looking.
Gabrielle stood with tears in her eyes and Xena refused to move, as though caught in a daze. She began to speak, stumbling in her words and avoiding Gabrielle’s penetrating stare.
“Gabrielle?” Xena whispered.
The room filled with a tangible silence. Gabrielle would not answer, her expression bewildered and crestfallen.
“Gabrielle, I don‘t want to hurt you,” Xena attempted again, her strength returning to her voice, “you’re my best friend and the only thing in my life that matters to me. I can’t mess that up. I don’t want to ruin our friendship over a physical relationship.”
Her concern mounted when she noticed tears trickling down Gabrielle’s face as Gabrielle shook her head no. Gabrielle felt baffled, for this had not occurred in her memory. Xena did not resist her the first night they made love, though Gabrielle had not been so aggressive in her advances. Mnemosyne had said she could not change her future yet her memories were evolving, changing their forms.
“Gabrielle, try to understand-”
“Please.” Gabrielle’s voice was quiet and pleading. Her hands travelled to her top, languidly tugging at the thin laces that fastened it closed. The top parted as she yanked the laces free and her hands dropped, her eyes transfixed by Xena’s aroused expression. Xena’s footsteps echoed on the wooden floor and she walked toward her with agonizing slowness. Gabrielle reached out to grasp Xena’s shoulders and gasped when Xena grabbed her wrists and pinned them up against the door, pushing Gabrielle’s body back with them. She stared up at Xena, arching her back and pushing her breasts toward Xena’s face. When she did not take the offering, Gabrielle collapsed back in resignation. She opened her mouth to protest and was forced to swallow it down, Xena’s mouth crushing hers in a violent, passionate kiss.
Xena’s lips trailed down her collarbone, licking and nipping at the hollow of Gabrielle’s neck until she whimpered and thrust her upper body out, wanting more. Xena kissed down the valley of Gabrielle’s breasts and underneath them, teasing Gabrielle with her mouth’s proximity to her nipples. Their movements were tremulous and desperate, their mouths ravishing and claiming as they met, each desiring to consume the other. Xena released Gabrielle’s wrists and Gabrielle wrapped her legs around Xena’s back. Xena picked her up, still kissing her as she carried Gabrielle to the bed.
She deposited her gently, bending down to take Gabrielle’s lips onto her own again as she removed the bard‘s top. Gabrielle reached down and unfastened her own belt, unwrapping her skirt and kicking it away along with her boots. Her hands came back to Xena’s body and she fumbled with the ties at the back of her battle dress as Xena kissed a trail back down to Gabrielle’s breasts. Gabrielle moaned and surrendered as Xena’s mouth latched onto her nipple, suckling gently. Gabrielle’s fingers twined involuntarily through Xena’s dark hair as she felt an insistent tongue caress her nipple back and forth, suckling her with pulse-like intervals. Her nipple grew red and sore from the firm tugging and just before pain crept into her response, Xena switched to her other breast, replacing her mouth with a soothing, circling index finger. Her touch elicited another wave of electric pleasure that soared through Gabrielle’s body and settled in a rush of wetness between her legs.
She steadied herself against Xena’s active mouth and peeled the leather straps from her lover’s shoulders. She used her feet to push the dress down, and Xena reluctantly pulled away from Gabrielle’s breasts to wiggle out of the garment. Her shift and boots were next. Gabrielle watched wide-eyed as Xena anxiously disposed of her clothing; shuddering as the cool air traced wickedly along the wet paths of her milk-white skin that Xena had kissed and licked. Another surge of wetness flooded her. Xena crawled cat-like on top of her and their mouths fused together again, the scent of their arousal filling the space between them.
Gabrielle lost track of their movements and time, knowing only the beautiful, naked body that embraced her own. The moments that passed were an eternity and yet not long enough. All she could do was feel Xena pressed against her and Xena’s hands travelling over her, pleasure pooling within her; building, as the same skilful hands went lower, resting on her inner thigh. She recoiled suddenly as Xena’s fingers dipped into her dripping warmth, and icy blue eyes looked up at her shocked and terrified.
Xena’s apprehension was soon quelled as Gabrielle sought her mouth again. She had risen to her knees on the bed, and Xena followed her movements as two persistent hands pushed her shoulders down to the mattress.
“I need to touch you first,” Gabrielle gasped between kisses, “I’ve missed you so bad...”
Her voice trailed off meekly as tears formed in her eyes. Obstinately, she bit back the sadness threatening to engulf her and only one tear was able to escape, falling onto Xena’s taut abdomen. Xena stared at her, perplexed by her words until she could not help but succumb to the hot pleasure of Gabrielle’s mouth on her breasts. She suckled her reverently, teasing her with languid softness. Xena groaned and arched her back, her face frozen in a mask of pleasure, eyes closed; mouth open. Gabrielle steadied her, anchoring her kneading hands on Xena’s breasts as she moved lower. Xena’s fingers laced though Gabrielle’s auburn locks, guiding her downward, a straggling moan escaping from her lips.
She took no pause when she reached Xena’s center, diving into her and lapping at her wetness with abandon. Xena yelped at the contact, thrusting her lower body up from the bed and spreading her legs further apart to give Gabrielle better access. Her eyes shut tightly as she felt Gabrielle’s tongue gently flick over her clitoris, two moistened fingers poised at her entrance. Gabrielle let her tongue rub the velvet walls of Xena’s opening before she pushed her two fingers inside, penetrating her. Her tongue and her fingers filled her, stretched her, and Xena cried out from the intensity of it. Her tongue sought out Xena’s clit and she slipped another finger inside her. She licked and sucked at the quickly forming liquid, drinking down the musky sweetness. Xena’s hips rocked against her lover’s face as they established a mutual rhythm. Gabrielle pushed Xena’s thigh against her cheek, gripping her leg just below her ass. She wanted to be enveloped by the sight and smell and texture of her. She let the wet smacking sounds of her nursing mouth and Xena’s cries of pleasure fill her ears.
Her desire reached its peak as Xena climaxed under Gabrielle’s mouth, her strong body writhing violently beneath the bard’s adept touch. She rested her fingers inside of Xena as a gentle hand pulled her face up to unite their lips again. She could feel Xena’s internal walls still pulsating around her fingers; watched as her lover’s hips intermittently rocked back and forth and milked the last, dulcet waves of pleasure from their invasive presence. Xena smothered Gabrielle’s lips with her own, crushing the bard’s tiny frame against her body. She removed her fingers from Xena as she was coaxed onto her back.
“My turn,” Xena said; a coy grin emerged on her lips as she kissed Gabrielle with renewed fervour.
Gabrielle joined Xena in her mirth, chuckling as Xena’s mouth retraced their initial path down Gabrielle’s jaw and neck to the valley of her breasts. Xena settled atop Gabrielle’s nipple, dragging her tongue powerfully across the swollen, cherry-tinted tip. Gabrielle cried out, her nipples sensitive from their earlier onslaught. When Xena proceeded to suckle her, she hissed her protestation, hooking her fingertips around Xena’s ears and pulling her downward.
“Lower.” Gabrielle purred.
Xena smiled against her skin, obeying the command. Gabrielle watched Xena’s ministrations, burning the details of the exquisite vision into her memory. She stared at Xena’s hair, the way the dark, fine strands overflowed in the spaces between her pale fingers; draped along the creamy white skin of her abdomen as Xena’s head sank yet further.
Gabrielle gasped as warm, humid breath reached the apex between her legs. The sensation was maddening as Xena hovered above her wetness but did not move. Gabrielle licked her lips in anticipation, her eyes fluttering shut. Xena kissed the insides of her thighs and the delicate auburn curls that covered her clit and opening. With deliberate listlessness, she slithered the tip of her tongue from the bottom to the top of Gabrielle’s lower lips, merely to release the wetness gathered behind them. She was not surprised by the gushing wetness that broke free from the constraint, and she licked Gabrielle with the full expanse of her tongue, entering her with the tip of it before she flicked it up against Gabrielle’s clit.
“Ahhhh…” Gabrielle squirmed against Xena’s mouth.
Xena looked up at Gabrielle and scanned her face for distress. When she found none, she continued her exploration, uncovering Gabrielle’s clit and using short, repetitive strokes with her tongue to coax it further out of its hood. Her fingers rubbed against the bard’s inner thighs and lower lips, collecting her moisture. Erotic noises emerged from the meeting of her lips against Gabrielle’s sex, and she marvelled at the beauty of her young partner, the wonderful perfection to which her body was made. Smiling against her, Xena slipped two long, slender fingers inside of the little bard’s body, pushing until they were knuckle deep.
Gabrielle cried out from the unexpected intrusion. Her body hummed and jerked from the pleasure; her breath caught from a surfacing agony. Her mind betrayed the delicious responses that her pleasure educed, and her sorrow swelled to overpower it as her orgasm loomed. Her enthusiastic moaning stopped and was replaced with quiet gasps that filled the air as she came, weakened and hushed, tears pouring down her cheeks perforce. Her body hit the bed as she released the wave of pleasure that formed inside her and with it ebbed the weight of her grief, the infection of misery. She cried audibly, forcefully as her body trembled from the aftermath of orgasm and the shuddering of her uneven breathing.
Xena’s heart sank and she quickly abandoned her impassioned thoughts, sitting up on her knees and gathering Gabrielle’s vulnerable, shaking body into her arms. She held the back of Gabrielle’s head in the crook of her arm and tilted the bard back until she could see her anguished face.
“Gabrielle,” came Xena’s concerned whisper, “did I hurt you?”
Gabrielle shook her head vehemently, reaching up to clutch at Xena with vigour.
“No, it was perfect.”
Xena continued to grasp her firmly and rubbed her back, trying to soothe Gabrielle in spite of her own confusion. She rocked her back and forth until her frantic cries had subsided and pulled away from the fierce embrace to look in her lover’s eyes. Xena opened her mouth to speak but Gabrielle silenced her, placing an index finger to Xena’s lips. A darkness came over Gabrielle’s eyes, her intentions unclear. She seized Xena’s hand from her side and placed two fingers into her mouth. She proceeded to lather them with her tongue, releasing them shortly after with an audible smack. Gabrielle took the hand and placed it between her legs; positioned herself atop the fingers she dampened and lowered her body onto them. Xena was captivated by the scene before her, as her wet fingers slid effortlessly inside of Gabrielle‘s body.
Gabrielle pursed her lips and leaned close to Xena’s ear, her mouth floating just out of reach.
“More.” She whispered, rocking her hips against the fingers impaling her.
Xena was impressed and astounded by the young bard’s sexuality. She had never imagined that Gabrielle, innocent and naïve, would possess such a ravenous sexual appetite. Yet Xena detected an ulterior motive. It became a manifest of unease that filled her despite her arousal.
“Xena,” Gabrielle’s breathless moan broke through the haze, “I need you.”
Unable to resist her pleas, Xena surrendered to the moment, deserting her suspicions to join Gabrielle in love again. And it remained that way, with Gabrielle releasing her pain as they climaxed in each other’s arms and made love through the night.
As the dawn broke, a final, weary cry filled the small expanse of the room; Gabrielle collapsed on top of Xena, her arms unable to support her quaking body. She rolled to rest on her right side, facing Xena’s wide grin, their mouths panting in unison, their bodies slicked with sweat. Xena’s fingertips reached up to wipe the darkened, damp hair that stuck to Gabrielle’s forehead. Gabrielle smiled in kind, delighted by Xena’s awed expression. Sleep threatened her eyes, enticing her with the ecstasy of deep, sated rest. Her eyelids began to fall; the sensation of her soulmate’s arms and body entwined with hers lulled her into docile comfort. But just beyond Xena’s shoulder, her eyes caught the glint of light penetrating the window drapes and an unequalled, harrowing dread emanated from her gut until it consumed her entire body.
“No.” She whispered, almost in disbelief. “No, no, no!”
She shook her head and rose from the bed abruptly, rushing to the window to peer outside in horror. The sun was about to rise, lingering just beyond the horizon as if to tease her, to torture her. Xena looked back at her in complete confusion as she watched the young bard scramble through the cloth pouches stuffed with their belongings. Gabrielle did not look up from her frantic movements, undaunted by her nakedness. Retrieving a bottle from the pouch, she swallowed audibly, turning to face her lover reluctantly as she clutched the bottle to her chest.
Xena arched her eyebrow as she scanned the object, her expression deteriorating into a mask of horror once she determined the nature of it. It was a blue, glass bottle filled with opaque, milky liquid. The design and tint of the glass left no doubt as to what the bottle contained. Oleander sap.
“Gabrielle, where did you get that?! What are you doing?!” Xena’s eyes were wild, wide from the shock.
She was still shaking her head, “I took the liberty of picking this up while you came up to the room with that vase.” Gabrielle gestured casually toward the object, the bottle resting in her fist.
“I won’t lose you again,” said Gabrielle, “I can’t.”
“Lose me? If this is about that time with the ambrosia-”
“No, Xena. I finally realise now, that no matter what we did, no matter how much we loved each other, you would never have peace. Only in death were you satisfied that your debts had been repaid, and you were freed from your guilt.”
“Gabrielle.” Xena looked genuinely frightened.
“I don’t blame you. Never. I wanted peace for you, truly I did,” Gabrielle began, “but when I was alone, I realised that you were my peace. You gave me the freedom to be who I wanted, the peacemaker, the healer. Without you, I faced the path of a warrior, and though I could have taken that very path with you by my side, I could not face it alone. And I felt myself slipping…dying, even as I succeeded in it. I hated it.”
“Gabrielle, you don’t have to do this. I would never leave you-”
“Stop it, Xena,” Gabrielle snapped, shaking the vial of poison in her hand. “You have no idea!”
Gabrielle stilled her quavering voice, regaining her composure as she continued,
“I couldn’t keep myself from falling in love with you, even when I tried…but I can control my destiny. I’ve gotten so exhausted fighting for my life everyday, feeling like I’ve failed everyone around me because I don’t know how to let you go. I’m tired, Xena, so very tired…”
As her voice trailed off, she held the bottle out and flicked the cap from the rim with an audible pop. She stared at Xena with fading green eyes, her expression dull and resigned. A soft and very slight smile tugged at the corners of her lips.
“I love you, Xena.”
The bottle retreated toward her in her hand, travelling to her mouth. Xena raced from the bed, her senses blurred, overcome by a growing, numbing fear. She was barely able to detect the sound of her sword being unsheathed, and stopped just short of the gleaming metal tip. Her heart was leaping out of her chest, hammering with such a force that she was certain it was visibly pulsating against her skin. She was frozen.
A heartbreaking smile formed on Gabrielle’s lips. Her eyes were morbid and dismal.
“You know,” Gabrielle began in a low, meek voice, “You taught me a lot, Xena.”
Xena blinked as she came to realise the meaning behind Gabrielle’s words, her body still behind the sharpened end of her own sword.
“You never taught me to use this, but I did eventually. I thought it would bring me closer to you, but it didn’t. War and all of its instruments…are ugly. Only when it was sheathed and cleaned and lying motionless before me, did the sight of it remind me of you.”
“Gabrielle, please!” Xena begged.
“No, Xena. Not this time. I always listen to you, but not now. Now I choose my death, as you chose yours.”
Gabrielle brought the bottle to her lips and tilted it upward. Xena immediately grabbed her wrist and twisted Gabrielle’s hand, releasing the sword and eliciting a surprised yelp from her half opened mouth. Xena swiped at the poison vial, seizing Gabrielle’s hand and forcing it away from her mouth. Xena’s eyes glanced at the bottle. Empty.
“No.” Xena’s voice was a vanishing, distraught whisper.
She cupped Gabrielle’s face in her hands and kissed her hard, prying her mouth open. She found the girl’s mouth filled with poison and heartily drank it down, gulping the bitter sap and fighting against Gabrielle’s struggling body and closing mouth. With each attempt to pull her face away, Xena pushed harder on the back of Gabrielle’s head, consuming the burning liquid with renewed vigour. Hot tears stung her cheeks and Gabrielle whimpered against Xena’s mouth as she felt Xena’s body begin to tremble with her sobs. Xena’s cries were low, excruciated. Gabrielle shuddered from her own crying, their tears intermingling as their mouths stifled their weeping.
They staggered back toward the bed as the bottle crashed on the floor, their lips never parting despite the acrid taste of the Oleander. They laid down and faced each other, staring into the other’s eyes as the colour faded from them, their lives bleeding away. Spittle bubbled out from the corners of Gabrielle’s mouth as she felt her heartbeat slow, the tips of her fingers, the skin on her arms becoming unusually cold. Xena raised a trembling finger to wipe the spit away, her own breathing becoming uneven, her life retreating. She too felt impossibly cold, as though her blood refused to move.
Xena’s eyes grew heavy and deep slumber mercilessly beckoned her. With the remainder of her strength she fought the cloud of sleep that shrouded her and stole one last look into her soulmate’s eyes. They were void.
Xena struggled as she swallowed, her eyes half closed, “I love you.”
Xena’s strength was gone. She could not see if Gabrielle responded. She felt her panic ease as her lethargic, erratic heartbeat slowed evermore. Her eyes slipped shut as she welcomed the promise of intoxicating sleep, revelling in the bliss that greeted her freezing body. Her mind drifted, unknowing of the last breath that eased from her lungs, tenderly caressing Gabrielle’s pallid skin.
Pale bodies lay tangled in love against the morose gray of the wooden bedroom. The room was commonplace, empty of luxury. It was then that the brilliant rays of sunrise penetrated the room, engulfing the area in light, illuminating the wood, the human artefacts splayed about the floor, and the lovers on the bed.
Mnemosyne had seen what the Gabrielle had done, but at Aphrodite’s request, did not interfere. Gabrielle was brought back to the present, her body sprawled nude across the floor. Moments passed. Her chest was static, her limbs immobile. She did not wake.
“She needed rest,” Aphrodite said as she emerged from the curtain in Mnemosyne‘s temple.
“Did you foresee her death?” Mnemosyne asked.
“Never,” Aphrodite replied, her voice shaking with overwhelming sorrow. “But she was stuck in her past, and could not live in the present. Now she will have peace. They’re together in eternity.”
Mnemosyne considered this. “And you, as an immortal, will live to see her again.”
“Yes,” Aphrodite said, “yes I will.”
ENDReturn to the Academy