The Night Watch

By Phineas Redux






Summary:— A delicate little piece for Christmas.

Disclaimer:— MCA/Universal/RenPics, or whoever, own all copyrights to everything related to ‘ Xena: Warrior Princess ' and I have no rights to them.





The blanket was warm, and for that reason Gabrielle had thrown her half of it aside. The bed was wide enough that the extra material did not fall on the other occupant, who was ensconced deeply in her portion of the blanket anyway. The window was unlatched and open; the violet-dark sky was clear, and the pale light of the new moon shone delicately in, with a quiet silver glow.

Gabrielle squirmed gently, afraid of disturbing the Princess beside her; but she need not have feared, the dark-haired warrior was snug as a bug, happily dreaming of a blonde companion, and perfectly at peace in her corner of Morpheus' world. The Amazon rolled her head sideways on the soft pillow, attempting to gauge her companion's restfulness. But there was no movement that suggested Xena was awake; and Gabrielle turned to the window to enjoy the moonlight, which she loved.

The light was very pale, providing just enough shimmering radiance to outline the interior of the room with its sparse furnishings; though softening everything with its delicate touch, and washing-out all bright colour: everything being illumined in tones of grey. She could see the window-frame, with its wooden shutter; the table just to its left side; a wardrobe standing in the shadowed corner; the planks of the slightly uneven floor; and the closed and locked outer door leading to the corridor of the Inn they were staying at. On a chair to Gabrielle's right were the idly discarded clothes of a Warrior Princess. Looking now, in the moon's beams, for all the world like a bundle of some nymph's cobwebby garments. On the floor at the chair's leg lay the dark shapes of thrown-away boots. Why was Xena always so untidy? Gabrielle smiled gently and returned to contemplating the faint glow entering the window.

Moonlight always made her feel so—free, somehow. Was it because its apparent weakness didn't incite any sensation of danger? Or was it that the pale light imbued all it touched with so poetic an atmosphere? Or was it because, with all bright gaudy daylight colours reduced to pale shadows of their former glory, there was an overall feeling of quietude and softness that touched the soul? Perhaps, she thought, it was a mixture of all these. One thing she knew above all else, though. Being here without Xena would lessen the effect almost wholly. Just having the strong motionless form of the powerful warrior lying quietly by her side made the Amazon feel both protected and happy—but also to be, above all else, at peace in the presence of her lover and soul-mate. And this was a term of endearment neither woman ever used lightly, but meant with all the intensity of its true significance.

The Moon itself, showing a proper shyness, was not visible to Gabrielle where she lay on the soft bed. Only its light flowed, like a broad mountain stream, into the room. She knew, however, that if she rose and crossed silently—oh, ever so silently—to the window she would see the Chariot of Selene riding in the purple depths of the clear night sky, surrounded by a multitude of piercingly bright stars. Gods, how she loved these romantic tales and legends, especially of Deities and Goddesses who were benevolent to those men and women who worshipped them. Xena, of course, would have none of this. She would bark with laughter, and talk of planets and orbits and barren worlds. The Princess had always been more comfortable with the scientific reality of Aristotle than the poetic fantasies of Plato. Gabrielle smiled at this, glancing at her companion once more: but still the warrior appeared to be soundly asleep, at least judging by her quiet even breathing. Gabrielle decided to risk it.

Moving with the silent grace of a hunting Amazon, Gabrielle eased herself forward on the bed, grasped the edge of the mattress, and slid her feet to the floor. Pausing a moment, to see if she had disturbed the sleeping form by her side, the blonde woman slowly, with infinite caution, rose to her feet and stepped over the bare floor. In a moment she entered the full glow of the moonlight, as it shed its pale rays in a glimmering stripe across the room. Her nightgown, of thin silk, glowed with the radiant shimmer of an opal; and her skin shone with a curious brilliance. She reached her goal and leant, with delicate grace, on the sill of the window. There was no glass, it being closed only by the shutters now lying open against the walls to each side of her; so the faint smells and scents of the night flowers in nearby gardens wafted in unrestrained. She took a deep breath, and sighed ever so gently.

No-one passed by on the cobbled stones of the street beneath her, in front of the Inn, nor did any wagon rumble on its way; that would all be for the coming later hours of the morning: but for now it was quiet deep night. Glancing into the sky she saw, as she knew she would, the shining white crescent of the New Moon. Though there was little of it, compared to its coming Full aspect, it still shone with a sharp brilliant light. And the stars were just as she hoped they would be—intense, piercing, and uncountable in their multitude. In some places there seemed to be so many, shining so intensely, that they almost made the sky white in their vicinity; while elsewhere in the heavens above her there were dark patches of deepest purple where no star seemed to have its home. Gabrielle leant her elbows on the sill and placed her hands together under her chin—she could relax and think so comfortably this way, she had found. And it was not at all cold; the summer months were at their height and the warmth of day still stretched well into the night. Was that an asphodel, or a pink rose whose scent suddenly wafted to her nostril? Perhaps a white rose? Xena always derided her when Gabrielle said she could tell the difference between the varied scents of the coloured roses, but she could; and she knew Xena really accepted this too, but was just gently teasing her as the Warrior Princess so loved to do—never mockingly, but just for the great love that was between the two women.

Gabrielle eased round, to look towards the bed where her lover lay peacefully motionless. Yes, there was no movement; she was soundly asleep curled up like a child, the grace and beauty of her form still visible beneath the blanket covering her. The Amazon smiled as she thought of the great warrior, feared across continents, pretending to think nothing of the luxury of spending a night or two in a swansdown bed—but, Gabrielle knew, really enjoying the comfort immensely; though the dark-haired one would never admit it. She turned again to look out the window and felt a soft breeze waft across her cheek, laden with a wealth of scents and the smell of the earth. A smell that only seems to come to one in the night, when the richness and delicacy of the fertile soil gives up its carefully hoarded secrets to the initiated, like a fine old wine.

And Love. The night, and the Moon soaring in its unimaginably vast purple ocean, always brought thoughts of love to Gabrielle. To be loved; to love in one's turn; to know that your partner was not the fleeting acquaintance of a single night or so, but the companion of a lifetime—it brought tears to her eyes, as it did now. How lucky she had been. With all the endless lands of the known world to search through, with perhaps never-fulfilled success, she had found her soul-mate. The one person in all the world whom she could live for; love for; who knew, maybe yet die for; but who provided, she now acknowledged with abiding certainty, the one source of a love that would itself never die between them—but would serve to create an unbreakable bond tying their souls together for all eternity. This was a love she never believed could be hers, Gabrielle thought, as she wiped another tear from her cheek. But it had come in the form of the Warrior Princess, and it had been immediately reciprocated in kind. In fact, the blonde Amazon suspected, Xena had known the course of her warrior's heart long before Gabrielle had come to know her own. But the love Gabrielle now felt was indissoluble and, though it was for another woman, this did not in any way affect her judgment. Love was Love; and, if it was between two of the same sex, then so be it—Love, she had long come to understand, did not admit of such impediments in a marriage of true minds. And she, Gabrielle, Amazon Queen; and Xena, Warrior Princess, were of the same mind; of the same body; and of the same soul. They were, she truly knew, inseparable—now and forever.

She eased herself up from where she leant on the window-frame, dropping her arms to her side quietly. With bare feet, and a last loving glance at the sliver of light in the dark sky, she turned to cross back to their bed. She stood, silhouetted by the moonlight shining behind her, at the bed's side—looking down at the silent form lying peacefully beneath the blanket. A tall form; a beautiful form; the form of the person in all the world whom Gabrielle loved with all her heart, body, and soul. Moving with an infinite gentleness the Amazon lay down once more on the mattress and pulled the blanket, oh so softly, over her body. To lie like this—quiet, loving, happy, beside her own true love: wasn't this the simple perfection of Life?

Gabrielle leant her hand over and let her fingers entwine themselves in a lock of her lover's hair that lay loose. She did not grasp it, but just let the soft hair lie on her fingers. It was a light touch, but it was all she needed—it was a bond like no other. It was Love.

And she closed her eyes and slept; and later, in the bright sunlight of morning, Xena kissed her awake once more.



The End.






Return to the Academy

Author's Page