Disclaimer: See Part 1
Authors Note: This is the last chapter! I wasn't going to make it alot longer with more details towards the end, but I thought I would leave that for the sequel. The sequel is going to be quite different from this story, alot darker so on and so forth. Also, it's going to be alot more about our two favourite girls. I haven't given it a name yet and it probably won't be uploaded for a week or more but I promise it will be good. Good if you like the darker stories, that is. I'm really thankful to everyone that followed this story with me. It was the first one I started writing and the longest and probably the hardest. There were alot of twists that I left uncovered for the next story. If you want to email me about this or ask about the sequel, my email is j jacklavigne13@hotmail .com
Chapter Twenty Three
Even in the middle of the mighty battle, the news of Alexandria's death was soon heard by all. The woman that had become good friends with many of the Amazon's and an ally to their Nation had died. The Amazon's were ruthless as they battled their enemies and soon the war was over. The women picked their way through the bodies of their dead enemies to retrieve the bodies of their sisters and made their way back to camp. The air was thick with sadness and the Amazon's knew that there would be no victory party tonight.
Gabrielle had left her lover's side to help her sisters despite her own grief. She had lost many friends today and the victory felt empty as she walked through the many dead soldiers that littered the ground. She hated war and she wished that it hadn't had to come to this. So many senseless deaths. She knelt down next to a cloak covered corpse and removed the material she knew to be Alexandria's from Eponin's body. She fought back a sob as tears trailed down her cheeks as she caressed her friend's cold cheek. She looked up to find Varia standing above her, her own dirt covered face stained with tears.
"Let's get her back to camp," Varia said softly, leaning down to gently pick the top half of Eponin's body off the floor.
"Where's Xena?" Gabrielle asked, her voice strained as she picked up Eponin's legs.
Varia said nothing as she tilted her head and Gabrielle looked across the clearing to watch as Xena carried Alexandria's body back to camp. She had the red headed warrior's body cradled against her like one would a child and Gabrielle felt her heart break all over again. She knew that despite their recent strained relationship, Xena had cared for Alexandria deeply. She remembered all the talks they had as they laid together in bed over the past weeks since Xena had been brought back to her. Alexandria had been Xena's first love and the dark haired woman had carried her guilt over killing her ex lover for so many years. It had been one of her biggest regrets. She had hoped to repair their friendship and now those dreams were destroyed.
Gabrielle herself was hurt deeply by Alexandria's death. She had taken the woman as a lover if only for one night, after spending over a year travelling with the woman. Though, she knew she would never love her like she did Xena, she had still loved Alexandria. She had been her support and her closest friend since her soulmate's death. She knew that if Alexandria hadn't found her in the desert in Egypt, she would surely be dead by now. And Alexandria had given her the greatest gift, she had brought Xena back and now she was dead for it. She'd truly given her life for Gabrielle's happiness.
They made their slow journey back to the quiet camp and rested Eponin's body with the other deceased. There were at least thirty other Amazon's that Gabrielle counted in the large hut. Alexandria was not among them.
Gabrielle walked out of the tent, her grief weighing heavily on her heart as she searched for her lover. She finally found her not far from the Amazon camp at a small lake, cleaning Alexandria's blood stained body. She knelt down besides her lover and ran her fingers through thick dark hair.
"She died for me, again," Xena whispered, her voice cracking as she leaned into her soulmate's touch.
"I know," Gabrielle swallowed, her throat tight. "I saw."
"I don't understand," Xena said, turning to her lover with pain filled eyes. "I hurt her so much and eventually, I killed her. She gave up forever to bring me back to you and then she died, taking a sword that was meant for me."
Gabrielle closed her eyes against the ache in her chest. She truly didn't understand it all herself. She knew that her lover was hurting but she didn't know how to comfort her. The words that usually seemed to come to her in moments like this had vanished. "She loved you very much, Xena."
"Why?" Xena asked softly as she turned back to look at the red headed warrior that lay in front of her. "I was so horrible to her. I don't deserve what she's given me."
"She saw that you had changed," Gabrielle said as she rubbed her partner's back soothingly.
Gabrielle's eyes widened slightly as she looked at her lover who refused to meet her eyes. She could see the emotions that swirled in the pale blue orbs as Xena stared down at their dead friend. Her shoulders were tense as her hands squeezed the cloth she had been using to clean Alexandria's body.
"Of course you have," Gabrielle whispered as she stroked Xena's hair. "When Alexandria and I spoke after you were brought back to life, she told me that she hadn't lied to me. She hadn't lied because she didn't know you, Xena. The woman she knew had been dead for years. You're not the warlord that killed innocent people anymore, that woman is gone."
"Sometimes, I don't think she is gone, Gabrielle," Xena's pain filled whisper broke Gabrielle's heart as the woman she loved finally turned to look at her with shame filled eyes. "This morning when I road into battle on Argo, I felt that dark side creep back up inside of me and I let it. I enjoyed myself as I killed those men. And when Alexandria came up behind me, I almost slit her throat before I realised who it was. I was so overcome with my darkness, I could have killed her myself and not even realised. That could have been you, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle forced down the shudder at her lover's admission. Xena's dark side had always terrified her. She had been on the receiving end of it more times than either of them cared to remember. She found that she had no words once more to comfort her soulmate. Instead, she brushed the back of her fingers against her partner's tanned cheek and gave her a sad smile.
"The funeral pyres should almost be ready now. Alexandria never told me what she wanted if this ever happened. I never thought..." She let the rest of her sentence fade as she looked down at the red headed woman. She didn't feel the overwhelming emptiness she had felt when Xena had died, but part of her heart felt missing as she realised that Alexandria was truly gone.
"I think she would be honoured to have an Amazon funeral," Xena whispered as she gazed at her lover.
"I think so too," Gabrielle replied with a small smile, squeezing her soulmate's forearm.
They stood in a large crowd in front of a row of funeral pyres. Thirty six of her Amazons had died bravely in the battle against Delvin and now they laid before her, covered in oil to help their bodies burn. She was grateful that there were only thirty six since she had expected the number to be somewhere over one hundred. Xena and Alexandria's battle plans had worked as they had hoped. Still, they had all lost dear friends and her heart ached. She stood in front of her people, directly in front of Alexandria's pyre. Xena was standing on her left while Varia was on her right, though she wasn't standing. The strong Amazon had crumbled to the floor when Gabrielle had signalled for the guards to light the fires. As she looked down at her regent, she wondered not for the first time if there had been something going on between Varia and Alexandria. Even if it had only been one sided.
She watched as Alexandria's pyre caught alight before closing her eyes and listening to Xena's voice. She was singing softly, her strong voice catching every few moments which told Gabrielle that her partner was attempting not to cry. Xena was too proud to cry in front of the Amazon's, but Gabrielle was not. She let her tears fall as she sent a prayer up to the Heavens.
Let my Amazon's find peace and give Alexandria what she's been so desperately searching for.
Lost in her own thoughts, she didn't realise Xena had stopped singing until she felt her lover's arms wrap tightly around her waist. She leant back against the dark haired woman, letting Xena support her as she opened her eyes to watch the flames lick greedily at her friend's bodies.
"Are you okay?" Her lover's low voice whispered into her ear, sending warm shivers down her spine.
"No," She replied softly before turning in Xena's arms to look up into the eyes she loved. "No, but I will be. Because I have you."
Xena smiled sadly before pulling her lover tightly against her, burying her face in the short blonde locks. "Alexandria was a good friend to you."
"She was a good friend. To be honest, I think she was sent to me. It's the only was I can explain it," Gabrielle said as she rested her check against her partner's chest, listening to her steady heartbeat. "I needed something, someone and she saw that. I was in need of a friend and she gave me that. She gave up everything for me. Her own search for redemption, her immortality and even her life. She made me a promise, Xena."
Gabrielle felt her lover tense slightly in her arms and pulled back to look up into questioning blue eyes. "What did she promise you?"
"She promised she wouldn't let anything happen to you and she didn't."
She watched as Xena turned her head away for a moment and looked at the pyre that burned before them. Her lover's face was blank, almost cold but her eyes flickered with emotion. She could clearly read the guilt that swirled in the deep blue depths as her partner tried to come to terms with this new information.
"I owe her everything," Xena whispered as she turned her gaze back to her soulmate. "Because she brought me back to you."
Gabrielle smiled softly before leaning up on her tip toes to press a tender kiss against her lover's lips. As she buried her face in Xena's neck, she closed her eyes and prayed to the God's that nothing would ever take her soulmate away from her again.
If only she had known who would hear that prayer, she would never have sent it at all.
As the two soulmates held each other in their arms, neither of them noticed the ashes from their friends pyre float up on the breeze and into the air. Nor did they hear the soft evil laughter that surrounded them shortly after.
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