Beaver Hunt

A romantic tale of the Florida Everglades
(c) May 1999

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There are nights and days out in the southern swamps of Florida 
that the Seminole elders say are privy to magic. The sun is just 
breaking into the night of a magic moon. The local groups have 
remained close to their homes at the signs that it was coming.

But the plain is never quiet. Life goes on. The sleek body of a 
panther moves among the high reeds. She is on the prowl, hunting 
a scent she knows and loves well: the deep musk of the beaver. 

Nostrils flaring, the night black head raises to scent the wind. 
At a lope, she moves toward the river, where the herds and the 
other animals make their morning appearances.

She reaches the thickest part of the foliage at the river's side, 
and pushes silently through, nose and eyes seeking her prey.

There. On the bank. Gleaming blue eyes shift and catch sight of 
the quarry. A light brown beaver is cleaning herself at the 
river's edge. Tiny paws gather up water and splash it over her 
nose and then wet her furred chest, until she is sleekly wet and 
then she washes, rubbing over herself with determined paws, 
washing away the scent of the morning fishing expedition...

The panther pads silently toward the spot, still hidden within 
the foliage until she is nearly on top of the passive beaver. The 
wind blows to her hiding her scent from the sleek brown animal.

In a moment filled with the magic of ancients, the beaver turns, 
green eyes as startlingly different from the deep golden brown 
pelt, as the blue eyes are against the ebony of the panther.

Dawn's first rays touch them both, and an instance transforms 
them both... brown fur fades to golden, and green eyes now rest 
in a sleek tan face... Human. Claws resolve themselves to small 
hands with buffed nails.

Sleek black hide smoothes to deeply tanned skin, blue eyes 
piercing through the sunlight. Paws lengthen and strengthen to 
sinewy hands.

Naked they are inches apart lying on the sun-drenched riverbank. 
One hand reaches out, then another. Soon they are entwined, legs 
muscular and sleek wrapping around one another, skin against skin 
where there once was fur or the sleekness of hide.

Two hearts, pounding in expectation of the hunt, hunger, and 
death, now pound in tandem, beating out a rhythm of two souls. 
Once again rejoicing in the power of reunion.

The blonde's green eyes absorb the sight of her dark-haired 
companion's sun-draped body. Tentatively she reaches out and 
traces a hand over the pulse pounding in the long throat. Fingers 
marvel at the feel of skin and glide lovingly down across the 
ridge of collarbone and on to the curve of smooth breasts. 
"Xena," she murmurs, afraid a stronger sound would shatter the 
unreality of it all. She looks up into tender blue eyes, set in a 
tan face, half-hidden with the fall of ebony hair.

The answer is swift. Muscular hands slide over the naked blonde's 
shoulder, caressing her back and pulling her close, so their 
bodies are as close as their souls. "Gabrielle," Xena replies, 
lowering her lips to the wet shivering ones of her one love... 
her soulmate.

Their loving is tender and fierce in its restraint, conveying 
eons of longing and hearts bursting with relief at the end of a 
long wait. Teeth nip at skin, hands slide over curves, racing 
pulses to a fevered pace. The river's rush passes them by, as the 
day becomes a moment frozen in time.

Fingers and mouths find those places they knew intimately once, 
reminding them of lives long past. Their moans and cries of 
passion reaching fulfillment scares away birds, and other life, 
making them alone at peace with the world. 

The swamp falls silent, save for the sounds of two heartbeats 
under cheeks nestled so close they breathe the same air. The day 
wanes and sleep comes, the late afternoon shadows casting 
darkness of the trees over the women's intertwined bodies, 
gleaming with perspiration in the golden sunlight.

Dawn peeks once more over the rim of the earth, a hunter with bow 
and fishing spear seeking food for his family, pads close, having 
seen the large sleeping form of a panther from far off. His 
presence does not disturb the slumbering creature, and when he 
circles, he becomes rooted in surprise.

Taking a deep breath, he leaves the scene, breathing a prayer to 
his goddess of the hunt. He will take nothing from the river this 
day. The panther sleeps in peace, her huge paws cradling a 
sleeping golden beaver.

As the man's light steps carry him away, a blue eye slides open 
tracking his departure, and a dark paw slips more tightly over 
the beaver's sleek form.


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