Summary: The Conqueror leaves Greece to visit Cleopatra and meets a slave/gladiator named Gabrielle but all is not what it seems.
Disclaimer: See Part 1
Authors Note: If you want to email me about this chapter, my email is jacklavigne13@hotmail .com
The next few days were some of the hardest and best I've ever had in my life. After Gabrielle told me that she loved me, it felt like a weight had been lifted from my heart, only to be replaced by something even heavier. Seeing her with Cleopatra had shaken me more than I wanted to admit and I'm sure the Egyptian had noticed my reaction, which made me want to get out of Egypt as fast as possible. Though, after discussing it with Gabrielle, I decided to stay in Egypt for a bit longer. I wasn't going to leave her here, nor did I want to leave without her. Which meant that I needed to spend more time in this Gods forsaken place so that I could figure out a plan.
I had several different discussions with Alexandria and we both came to the conclusion that no matter how we left, if we took Gabrielle with us, there were going to be problems. Gabrielle also wasn't a big fan of any plans that included decieving Cleopatra. She didn't want to hurt the Egyptian any more than she had to. But she knew it was inevitable if she wanted to leave with me.
And she did want to leave with me.
That thought alone filled my heart with more joy than I ever thought I could possibly feel. I had realised that I had completely overreacted the other morning when I saw Gabrielle with Cleopatra. It didn't make it hurt any less, but knowing that Gabrielle didn't want Cleopatra's affections anymore did make me feel a little better.
We were currently in my room, lying in bed after making love for the past several hours. I did consider it making love now, something that I had never really done before. Gabrielle loved me and though I hadn't said the words back, I think we both knew that I felt the same. I just wasn't ready to admit it yet. I'm not ready to lose that part of me that made me the Conqueror for so long.
"What would I do in Greece?" Gabrielle asked me softly, her head resting on my chest as her fingers trailed along my side.
"Whatever you want," I replied with a grin as I pulled her closer to me. "You can live with me in Corinth and do whatever you desire to do. You could be a bard if you like."
Or you could be my Queen, I added silently in my mind.
"Is the Academy still in Athens?"
"It is," I replied with a small smile. "There is also one now in Corinth, if you want to go."
Her eyes were twinkling as she turned her head to look up at me, a grin tugging at her lips. "You built another academy in Corinth?"
I nodded. "A few years ago, I met with the poet Sappho and she agreed that if I built another academy in Corinth, that she would run it."
"You've met Sappho?" Gabrielle asked, her voice full of awe and amazement. Again, I nodded.
"Yes, I meet with Sappho fairly regularly. Though she is only usually in Corinth for a season or two every year and she spends the rest of her time in Lesbos. I'll arrange for you to meet her when we get home if you like?"
She leaned up to kiss me enthusiastically and I smiled against her soft lips, assuming that it was her way of answering. I deepened the kiss, knowing that she would soon have to leave me to serve Cleopatra her morning meal. The thought of her being in the Egyptian's presence hardly bothered me now, knowing that she would be returning to Greece with me.
"I love you," Gabrielle mumbled against my lips before reluctantly pulling away. "But I have to go."
I wanted to return those sweet words, but like always, my throat closed up and all I could do was smile. I don't know why I was so afraid but I was. Maybe I thought if I said it, it would give the slave more power over me, something that I thought would be impossible now. Or maybe I was just scared that she would change her mind, I don't know. Either way, she didn't seem to mind and gave me a warm smile and another quick kiss before pulling herself from the bed to get ready for the new day.
I had just returned from my afternoon ride and was excited to see my lover again. I had only been gone for a few candlemarks but every moment that I was away from her, I missed her more and more. It terrified me how much I cared about the slave but at the same time it was exciting because I knew that she felt the same way.
So lost in my thoughts about Gabrielle, I didn't notice the person walking down the corridor in front of me until we crashed into each other. Only my fast reflexes managed to keep us both from tumbling to the floor and I was surprised when I realised it was Alexandria's forearms that I was gripping.
"Alexandria, are you okay?" I asked the red headed woman who still seemed a bit dazed. She looked up at me with confused midnight blue orbs and my brow furrowed in concern. I had never seen this expression on Alexandria's face before, a woman who was always so alert and so confident. "Alex?"
"Xena," Alexandria said finally, shaking her head as if to clear it. She pulled away from me and straightened her shoulders before giving me a forced smile. "I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention."
"It's fine," I said with a smile, trying to ease the pained look in her eyes. "I wasn't exactly watching where I was going either."
Alexandria gave me a weak nod and then without another word, continued to walk past me and disappeared around a corner. I watched her as she walked away, a small frown on my face. There was something wrong with my second in command but I couldn't focus on that now. All I wanted to do was see Gabrielle.
I shrugged off the feeling that something was wrong and smiled as I continued to walk back to my room, looking forward to having the slave back in my arms.
To Be Continued
Return to the Academy