Xena felt her shoulder muscles tense with the tone in which her name was spoken. She took her time in turning around, holding her daughter against her chest as the young girl dozed peacefully on her shoulder. They had danced for hours as Xena worked out all the extra energy she had built up over the past few days. She had skillfully been avoiding her partner, always in conversation with the Amazons or hiding in the shadows around the edge of the party until now. She slowly put the mug of ale she had picked up from the table back down and turned to face her lover, her eyes wide and innocent. Her smile was returned with a frustrated growl as Alexandria grabbed her arm and pulled her back into the shadows where she had been previously hiding.
"You've been avoiding me," Alexandria stated as she let her hand fall from her companion's arm, her eyes hard as she stared at her lover.
"Can you blame me?" Xena replied softly, gently rubbing her daughters back. Whether to soothe Eve in her sleep or to soothe herself, she didn't know.
"No, I guess I can't," Alexandria said, her voice equally soft. She fiddled nervously with her hands as she avoided looking Xena in the eye. She knew she would be lost if she looked up into those baby blues before she could say what needed to be said. "I've been meaning to talk to you ever since last night."
"Are you sure we need to talk about it right now, Alexandria?" Xena said, her voice taking on a pleading note. She knew what was coming, no matter how hard Alexandria had tried to hide it from her. She had seen it last night in her lover's eyes. "Can't we just wait until all this is over? We can talk about it when we get home."
"That's just it, Xena. I'm not coming home."
Xena felt her body go rigid as she stared at Alexandria who finally met her eyes. She could see the end of everything in those midnight blue orbs. Her warrior mask fell firmly into place as she walked a few feet away from her lover, gently putting Eve down on the floor with the warrior's cloak wrapped around her. She stood up slowly, crossing her arms over her chest as she tried to straighten out her thoughts. She hadn't expected this. She knew that their time as lovers was coming to an end, had seen it ever since they entered this village. But Alexandria didn't want to return to Amphipolis with her? She kicked herself mentally, asking herself why Alexandria would want to go home with her if they weren't together. She'd been foolish to lie to herself for so long to think that Alexandria would want to be with her.
"This is it then?" She said softly, more a statement than a question.
"Yeah, I guess so," Alexandria whispered, her voice barely audible over the breaking of her heart. She hated this. She wanted nothing more than to tell Xena how much she loved her and just leave this place behind with the dark haired woman but she couldn't. It wouldn't be right or fair to either of them. A clean break is what they both needed so they could move on. Xena would be with the woman she truly loved and who knows, maybe Alexandria would find someone of her own. Someone that would give her their heart completely, not only the broken pieces that had been left behind.
"Will you stay for a few more days?" Xena asked as she turned around.
"No, I'm leaving now, actually. My bags are already packed."
"You can't leave now," Xena argued, her voice breaking. "It's too dark to travel. Wait until tomorrow at least and I can walk you to the border or anywhere you want to go."
"I'll be fine, Xena. We both know I'm completely capable of taking care of myself. I'll only travel for a few candlemarks and then I'll make camp before it gets too late."
Xena swallowed hard as she attempted to dislodge the lump in her throat. It was happening all over again and she was powerless to stop it. She was losing her lover, her bestfriend and the closest thing her daughter had to a second mother.
"Alexandria," Xena whispered as she walked towards the red headed woman, making one last attempt. "You don't have to do this. We can work it out. I lov-"
"Don't," Alexandria cut her off, covering Xena's lips with her fingers. She bit her lip and fought back tears as she gazed at her now ex lover sadly. "Please don't make this harder for me than it already is, Xena. You know I don't want this. I don't want to leave you or Eve. I love you both so much. You're my family. But I can't stay, not if your heart belongs to someone else. I'll come to Amphipolis and visit you, I promise. But right now, I have to go."
Xena just gazed at her with pain filled eyes before slowly nodding her head. Alexandria removed her fingers from the dark haired beauty's lips on to replace them with her own. The kiss was soft and loving and Alexandria had to force herself to pull away before she changed her mind.
"Tell Eve that I love her and I'll come to see her soon, okay?" Alexandria said softly as she caressed Xena's cheek. Xena could only nod, her throat too tight with emotion to speak. With one last sad smile, Alexandria turned away from the woman that held her heart and walked swiftly back to her hut, her heart broken.
Xena watched her until she disappeared before falling to her knees and finally letting the tears fall.
To be continued in Chapter Thirteen.
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