Welcome to the home of - A Welcome Surprise
Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
A Welcome Surprise 

The first order of business back at home was of course putting Joy in the hospital and preparing for two funerals. 

Joy was a little better. She had closed her eyes and her face had relaxed but there was still no response from her. Her brain waves showed sufficient activity for a normal person but she simply would not or could not respond. Cadence had no choice but to put her on life support. 

Preparations for the funerals were moving along as expected. Clair would be attending but she was officially retiring the day before the funeral of her sister. She officially claimed that with the retrieval of her baby sister she felt that she had accomplished all that she needed to accomplish and would now like to spend the rest of her life pursuing private interests. Nobody felt the need to contradict her or embarrass her any further. 

Faith and Solace spent a full day with Gabrielle in the preparation room with Hope’s body. The eyes of all three were red and puffy when they finally emerged. None of them spoke to anyone about anything that happened in that room… save Xena who heard it from Gabrielle of course. Dura did the same thing as Amy’s only living child with Alex and Deb and Xena while preparing Amy’s body for her funeral. Their eyes were no less red when they emerged.

On the day of the event every Amazon came to the Resting Place dressed in full Amazon dress. Gabrielle was a Queen and as such she had a right to sit with the Queens, but she chose to sit with her family and Xena’s family. She needed the comfort of those that were closest to her. She knew that Hope had felt none of the torture at the hand of Alti. But that didn’t stop Gabrielle from feeling like she had let her eldest daughter down again. 

“Gabrielle you can’t keep taking on all this guilt, not where Hope is concerned.” Xena was holding her hand. She looked good as an Amazon. 

“Why not Xena? She was my child and I killed her… three times! I just can’t get the look on her face out of my mind. She kept asking me why.” She was speaking quietly enough that no-one around them could hear her. 

“But you saw her in heaven… right? That’s what you told me. She was given another chance and she may even be given yet another to get it right.” Xena said trying to give Gabrielle some hope for her daughter. 

Amazons and their families continued to enter the area. There must have been a good fifty or sixty Rayne’s and another thirty or forty Blazer’s. Xena and Gabrielle were looking around at them all and not really paying any special attention to anyone. But someone did catch Gabrielle’s eye. She was a Rayne that much was clear. But she moved like a Priest not a Warrior. Xena saw that Gabrielle’s attention had been caught by someone else.  “Who is that Gabrielle?” 

Gabrielle shook her head and looked at her mother. “Mom, who is that woman with Faith?” 

Cadence turned around from speaking with Peace and looked towards where Faith was sitting. “That’s Faith’s youngest daughter, Helen. She’s a Prophet of God.” 

“Helen…” Gabrielle looked at Xena and they both remembered what they had been told. “Mom I would like to go and meet her, if that’s alright.” Gabrielle was getting to her feet. 

Xena had gotten her mother’s attention and asked to be excused as well. “Be back before the ceremony starts. I want you to dance with your family.” Harmony said and Cadence nodded her agreement. 

The two girls acknowledged their mothers and headed for the Queens stage. The Queens of course saw them coming. Nobody really ever fully took their eyes off of Xena or Gabrielle when they were in the area. They were on perpetual celebrity status. 

“Queen Gabrielle have you changed your mind?” Solace asked when the girls came within range. 

“No Solace… we came to meet Helen.” Gabrielle had stopped short of stepping onto the raised dais. 

Helen had turned to look at the girls. She smiled. It was a radiant smile, one that seemed to warm the air around her. It was a smile that reminded both of them of Eli and Eve. “But we have met many times before…” Helen began. 

Before she could finish Gabrielle recognized the cadence of her words and the timber of her voice and the face. She mouthed the name and unconsciously stepped onto the platform. She moved as if she were unsure of herself or what she was seeing. Those that were near her suddenly had no idea what was going on. 

Helen smiled again, this time it was a knowing smile and she held out her arms. The gesture seemed a little awkward as if Helen was unsure if Gabrielle would wish to embrace her. 

Gabrielle took another step forward and covered her mouth with her hand and began to cry. That’s when Xena realized who this Helen was. She took a step forward as well but not to embrace anyone, her hand was on her ceremonial dagger it was the only weapon that she was carrying. 

Solace and several others including the Guardians noticed Xena’s move. They didn’t know what to do. Xena was holding a dagger, Gabrielle was crying and Helen the Prophet of God was waiting for someone to give her a hug. What the hell was going on? 

All at once, as if rain suddenly poured down from the heavens Gabrielle engulfed Helen in an all consuming hug that was happily and enthusiastically returned. Xena noticed the demeanor of both women and relaxed a little… well she took her hand off of the dagger. Everyone else just sat or stood on pins and needles waiting for an explanation. Meanwhile the rest of the crowd was pretending to be oblivious to what was happening on the dais. 

Helen was the exact same height as Gabrielle and she looked so much like her that they could almost be twins. 

“How… when… is it really you?” Gabrielle whispered in the woman’s ear. 

“I was given a final chance, thanks to you, to choose a God and to serve Him. So I chose the God that you serve. I did it dad’s way the first time around and that didn’t turn out so well. I figured that you got a good deal so maybe I should choose your way this time around… and it’s working out pretty well.” She had pulled away so she could see her mother’s teenage face. 

“Oh Hope… I’m so happy.” Gabrielle was crying like a baby. 

“As it turns out, I’m not a demigod after all. I’m more like Eve was. She and I were both started by spiritual beings but neither one of us were actually half God. I thought that I was because Dahak kind of took over a lot when he was around. He gave me power and took away a lot of my free will. Once he was gone I thought that I had lost part of my soul because I was so used to having him always there… in my thoughts, in my decisions in everything. But like Eve all that I had for soul came from my mother and like her I needed direction and purpose. We both found it in serving the One God.” Hope had such a look of compassion and peace on her face that it warmed Gabrielle’s heart just to see it. 

“This is more than I ever imagined could be. My Hope is a Prophet for the One God.” She turned to look at Xena, to share her excitement and happiness. But Xena was looking at Hope and she didn’t look very happy. “Now Xena, give her a chance.” 

Xena’s glare turned on Gabrielle. “Where have I heard that before?” 

“But you’re the one that pointed out that Hope had been reincarnated to be given another chance and that I had seen her in heaven. So what’s the problem now?” Gabrielle would not be swayed. 

Xena dropped her gaze. She knew that Gabrielle was right. The Hope that had killed her son was long gone. This woman that stood before her now was a different person. It was still hard to shake. 

“Xena, I know that you will probably never forgive me and I don’t really expect you too. But there is something that you should know.” Hope continued to hold her mother’s hand but she had taken a step towards Xena. “Solan…” She got the name out but Xena glared at her so fiercely that she stopped speaking. She had to muster up some more nerve. “Solan was taken from the Elysian Fields. He accepted the amnesty that the One God offered. And because I had cut his life short he was given another life. He was given a life where he could grow and choose who to serve and where he was given his memories, just as you and I have ours. He knew that you were his mother. He couldn’t live with you because… well Alti’s curse held true. But he was loved and he grew strong and had a wife and children. He lived a happy life Xena, he lived a full life and before he died he recorded a message for you. The Society has it, they don’t know what it is but they have it. His name was Martin Durant. Look him up when the ceremony is done. You’ll see.” 

Xena could hardly believe her ears. Could Hope be telling the truth? Could her son have been given another chance at life? She had never doubted that he had gone to heaven when the new God had taken over but she had never dared to think that he might be given a life as well. Hope could never atone for having killed Solan but perhaps if she were right then perhaps Xena could find it in her heart to forgive Hope. She had after all been a vessel… a pawn. Now she was a complete woman, with a soul that had been provided by Xena’s own beloved. Perhaps she could forgive Hope as Gabrielle had forgiven Callisto. It was too early to tell but there was a stirring in her heart for the woman. “Thank you Hope, I will look into it.” 

Gabrielle was beside herself with joy now. She grabbed Xena by the head and kissed her, and then she grabbed Hope in the same way and kissed her. “Let’s go dance!” She said happily and dragged them both off of the dais and hauled them back to her family. For Gabrielle it was the happiest funeral that she had ever attended. For Xena it was the most confusing and for Hope it was the most surreal dream that could ever come true. She was dancing with her teenage mother while burning her own body at a funeral. That could mess with a person’s mind. But Hope had all she ever really wanted… a strong God to serve and her loving mother at her side.