It Should Be Me
As I ran, all I could think was, 'I hate this fucking dress.'
My mind was racing as my legs pumped underneath me, taking me in no particular direction. I just needed to get away. Away from the horrified eyes of my consort, away from the voices of my family and friends calling my name, away from the red roses that I despised. I wanted to rip this white silk dress from my overheated skin, but there was no time. I could hear footsteps behind me, chasing me until my feet took me out of the village gates. It's funny how I had been imagining this exact situation before I entered the dining hall to be married.
My chest and legs burned as I ran through the forest, feeling branches tug at my hair and dress. Before I knew it, I was stumbling into Xena's camp, having unconsciously run to the one place I felt safe. I ran to the place where the one person I wanted to find me could.
The tears finally came as I slumped down onto my ex-lover's bedroll. I couldn't tell if my tears were from how disgusted I was with myself, or from the huge amount of relief rolling through me at escaping what would have been a miserable life. They seemed never ending as I pulled my knees up against my chest, tugging at my dress as it got caught on a sharp rock. I laughed bitterly as the material ripped up the whole length of my thigh, exposing my tanned skin. I couldn't help but think that it improved it.
It felt as if I had only sat there from moments, listening to the faint calls of my name as the Amazon's searched for me. I looked up at the sky through tear filled eyes, shocked that the mid-morning sun had risen far above my head. I wondered if I should return to the village, if only to just talk to Miranda. I had done a horrible thing, leaving her at the altar without an explanation. Even though I knew we weren't fated for one another, I know that she deserved better, which is a part of the reason I had left in the first place. She deserved more than just a small piece of my heart. She deserved to be loved completely.
I felt my heart start to pound in my chest as I heard footsteps in the trees surrounding me. It was much too loud to be Xena and I wondered if Miranda had come to search for me herself. I couldn't find the courage to turn around as I listened to the crunching of leaves getting closer, until there was only silence and I could feel a presence behind me.
"I thought I might find you here."
I turned around in surprise to find midnight blue eyes twinkling back at me, and I smiled in relief as Alexandria walked towards me, a small grin on her face. "Hi."
"Hey," the red headed woman replied as she sat down on the bedroll besides me, wrapping her arms around her knees and turning her head towards me. "It took me a while to find you."
"I'm sorry," I apologized halfheartedly, feeling guilty that I had hoped that it would be Xena that would come looking for me. "I didn't know what to do. I just ran."
"Ran like the three headed dog from Tartarus was chasing you," Alexandria grinned, her eyes sparkling as I returned her smile. "I can't say I blame you. You should have seen Miranda once you left; tore the whole dining hall to shreds."
I winced, remembering the look in Miranda's eyes after I said I couldn't marry her. "Is she okay?"
"She'll be fine," Alexandria shrugged. "She left the village about a candlemark after you ran off. Took a couple of friends with her and decided to go on a long trip and didn't say when she would be back."
"Gods," I sighed, closing my eyes as I rubbed my temples with both hands, trying to relieve the pain started to throb in my skull. "I never planned for all of this."
"I don't think anyone saw this coming," Alexandria replied jokingly and I smiled at her attempt to lighten the conversation. "Especially your mother. Her eyes were as round as plates when you left. I thought they were going to fall right out of her head."
I groaned at the thought of my mother and what she would say to me when I returned to the village, though I couldn't help but let a small smile creep onto my face at her reaction. She hadn't been exactly happy when I sent her an invitation telling her I was marrying a woman. I could only imagine how she would feel now that I had run off. Probably a little relieved.
We sat there in silence for a while, both lost in our own thoughts and hardly noticing as the sun continued on its journey above us. I noted absent mindedly that in only a couple of candlemarks, the sun would set and this horrible day would end. To be honest, I couldn't wait.
"So," Alexandria broke the silence as she leant back on the bedroll, her eyes scanning the forest surrounding us. "Why did you decide to ditch out on your bride to be?"
I sighed softly as I picked up a small stick, tracing patterns in the dirt. I believed that Alexandria already knew why I hadn't gone through with the wedding, but I said the words anyway. "Because I don't want to marry Miranda. I never did want to marry her because I never really loved her, at least not how she wanted me to."
"You love Xena," It wasn't a question and we both knew it. I nodded and turned to face the red headed woman, feeling tears well up in my eyes as she gazed at me with understanding.
"I've always loved Xena," I said softly, not bothering to wipe the tears as they leaked from my eyes. "I love her so much. Gods, I've fucked everything up, haven't I?"
"Well, actually, I think you're on your way to fixing things, to be honest," Alexandria replied with a grin. I watched in confusion as the red headed woman pushed herself off of the ground and stood up, looking at the sky. "Hades, it's getting late."
"It's not that late," I said, frowning at my companion. "There's still another candlemark at least before the sun sets."
"I know, but we still have to get back to the village," Alexandria mused before turning towards me. She offered me her hand and I let her pull me off the bedroll as I stared at her in confusion.
"Why do we have to go back?" I asked, not really wanting to return to face the Amazons.
"Things to do," Alexandria said, her voice trailing off though I swear I heard her say something else under her breath. I shrugged to myself as I followed Alexandria from the campsite without an explanation and into the forest, dreading my return to the village. I wondered where Xena was and what she was thinking of me now, running out on my own wedding.
I wanted so badly to just take Xena to my hut and explain things to her. I wanted her to know the truth, that I couldn't stand the thought of marrying anyone but her. When I had started my walk down the aisle, it was her that I pictured standing before me. It was Xena that I imagined kissing me when the ceremony was over and Xena that I wanted to return to my hut with, every day for the rest of my life. She was my soul mate and I was determined to make sure she knew that before the night was over.
I hardly noticed as we left the forest and continued our journey to the village, following the dirt part that would leave us to the gates. I was slightly surprised when I looked up to find Eponin standing there, smiling brightly at me, with her hands behind her back.
"My Queen," Eponin nodded towards me respectfully. I nodded back as Alexandria turned towards me, her eyes wandering over my wedding dress with thoughtful eyes. I was too shocked to speak when her hands shot out and ripped the silk sleeves off, leaving my arms bare. I was still too stunned to move as she pulled a dagger from her waist, using it to slice the fabric on my chest expertly, until a good amount of my cleavage was showing.
"Much better, don't you think, Ep?" Alexandria said, tilting her head as she regarded me. She crossed her muscled arms over her chest, the small dagger still in her head as she turned her head to see the Amazon’s reaction, ignoring my spluttering.
"Definitely," Eponin nodded with a grin. "I especially like the slit down the side."
"It was like that before I got to her," Alexandria replied with a rakish grin of her own. "I actually thought Xena had already found her before me."
"W- What? Why?" I finally managed to stutter as I gestured to my dress, which I had to admit now looked actually quite stunning. The dress had been beautiful before but now it looked exactly as I had dreamt it would when I pictured my wedding day.
"Xena's orders," Alexandria shrugged as she straightened her cloak. I noticed for the first time that she had changed since I saw her in the dining hall this morning. Instead of the Amazon leathers I had lent her, she was now wearing tight black leather pants, half covered by the black boots that went up to her knees. A black silk shirt was tucked into her pants, hardly visibly with the silver amour she wore that covered her chest and shoulders. The black cloak was attached to her shoulder plates and fell almost to the ground in length.
"What's going on?" I said slowly, looking between the two women who looked back at me with large smiles. Eponin was practically bouncing with excitement as she played with some mystery object behind her back while Alexandria looked more thrilled than I had ever seen her. I felt as if I was going to a party, rather than returning to the village to face the things I had done this morning.
"Well, you see, the cooks had this huge feast prepared for your wedding, and no one wanted it go to waste," Eponin started, a small grin pulling at her lips as she tried her best to look serious.
"And all these people came for a party, and we decided to give it to them," Alexandria continued as she tugged at the metal plates covering her chest. "So, I came up with this idea..."
"Yes?" I prompted as Alexandria trailed off, only to have a bunch of white daises shoved into my hands by Eponin. I looked down at the flowers in confusion, before understanding lit my emerald green orbs and I gripped the daises tightly in my hands, looking up at my friends. Tears swam in my eyes as I felt my chest tighten with excited nerves and I felt as if my knees were going to buckle before Alexandria took hold of my hand and placed it in the crook of her arm. She looked like a proud father, giving away his daughter on her wedding day as she stood besides me.
"I came up with the idea for you to get married to Xena, instead."
To be continued in Chapter Fifteen.
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