“Say it again.”
Gabrielle knows it is asking a lot, but she likes the sound of it. She likes how soft the words are, how slow they come out and how shy they are.
First, the downward glance. Second, the exasperated sigh. The twisting of fingers and maybe even the barest hint of a blush…
The bard feels the energy shift now, from nervous to determined – from unsure to sure.
A gaze of warm steel, which would be impossible from anyone else other than this woman… This woman of wars and pain, of trials and despair… This woman, whose heart is so fragile that to speak of any delicate emotion is like death…
“I love you.”
It is slightly strangled, a throaty whisper from somewhere deep inside. Gabrielle anticipates the anxious look afterwards and takes Xena into her arms.
Nothing feels as wonderful as the relief seeping from the warrior’s body in this embrace.
The muscles relax, the breathing is steady…
And the bard knows that now, Xena can say it again. And again and again.
Return to the Academy