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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
Forgiveness 

They had no idea how much time that they actually had before Alti was able to dig herself out. The Marines that were stationed on Uranus reported daily and as of yet there was no noticeable activity. But then again it had only been a couple of weeks. Xena and Gabrielle had gone back to school and had been training with their friends, old and new since returning. They had acquired a lot more friends now that they weren’t the social outcasts that they once were. It didn’t hurt their reputations any to be heroes of legend. 

Hope had decided to stick around for a while. She apparently didn’t have any other duties at present so she took some time to spend with her mother. For Gabrielle this was a very odd time for her. She was both a daughter and a mother at the same time and both too young and too old to be either and yet she wouldn’t have it any other way.   

For Xena this was also a very odd time. She did as Hope had suggested and gone to the Society to look up her son. For this she had gone alone. It took them a week to find the requested recording but when she sat down to watch it she was glad that she had taken the time. Solan had recorded it when he was a mature man of seventy-three. She saw Borias in his face, his eyes were her cool baby blues but his face held the reflection of Borias. He told her about his life, his wife and his children. He told her how much he loved her and how proud he was to be her son. It was then that he told her how he had met up with Hope when she had first been brought to heaven. They had talked for a long time and he had seen how she had been a frightened and scared little girl. She had done what her father had told her out of fear more than love. And that is when he had forgiven her for killing him all those years ago.

Xena was stunned by this revelation. She sat staring at a blank screen for over an hour after the vid had run its course. She had carried her hatred and her anger for so long. How could she let them go now? But how could she keep them? She had forgiven Gabrielle her part in his death long ago but Hope was a different story. There was another problem; Hope was no longer who she had been. Dahak was dead. The influence that he once held over her had died with him and she had become the sweet innocent girl that she would have been without him.

Thoughts of Dahak brought up an entire line of recrimination for her. Should she have let Gabrielle raise Hope… should they have raised her together? She knew that if they had raised Eve as they had planned things would have been very different for her life. But they had not… Ares had intervened. And because of his intervention Eve became evil; it took some work to reclaim her innocence. Had Xena unknowingly denied Hope what Ares had unknowingly denied Eve? The circumstances had been different. Callisto had used her spark of light to introduce Eve into Xena; Dahak had used his taint of evil to introduce Hope into Gabrielle.

There were just too many variables, too many ifs. Xena had no way of really knowing what could have happened… too many things would have had an influence on the outcome of any scenario. But she could make a decision now that would affect her future with Hope and ultimately with Gabrielle.

Xena left the society after downloading the message from her son and deleting all other traces of it from the Society records. It was late when she returned home and even though her mother allowed her to call Gabrielle it was to no avail Gabrielle was already asleep. What she needed to say to her soul mate would have to wait for the morning.

When the sun broke over the mountains it found Xena wide awake. She had slept perhaps a few fitful hours the night before because her mind simply would not stop. She had made a decision and she needed to let the parties involved know what that decision was before she could put it to rest in her mind. So instead of lying in her bed tossing and turning she got up and showered and went outside to practice with her sword. Xena fondly remembered when Belle had given her the sword. It had been as she was boarding the shuttle bound for Uranus. That was the trip that she had never returned from… and had never gotten much of a chance to use her sword.

She swung her sword around and she thought. She thought about Hope. When she and Gabrielle had been here last… Hope had been a bit of a pariah. She had been deeply loved by a few, tolerated by most and hated by as many as loved her. But this time around Hope seemed to be a light by which most of the Amazon Nation found their way. She was a beacon of joy and peace and faith. All of the words that Gabrielle’s family was using as names seemed to describe her once wayward daughter. Hope had even managed to give Xena a huge measure of peace and joy.

Xena realized that she felt good… really good. She had felt fine or so she thought for many lifetimes but now that she really knew the fate of her beloved son she felt a freedom that she had not felt before. It was as if a weighty concern had been lifted from her shoulders and now she was lighter than she had been. Suddenly she couldn’t wait for Gabrielle to get up to call her. She needed to see her beloved now.

She sheathed her sword and started running across the park towards Gabrielle’s house. It was very early in the morning but the sun was fully up so the Guardians did not stop her. They had been given orders by the Queen to honor the rules of Harmony and Cadence. Xena and Gabrielle were not to have unsanctioned visits in the middle of the night. But it was no longer night time. So they simply watched as Xena sprinted across the park and down the streets to Gabrielle’s house.

When she finally arrived she was pleased to absently note that she was not winded at all. She stepped up to Gabrielle’s window and politely asked the GEV if Gabrielle was awake. It told her that she was not awake but her guest was. For a moment Xena was insanely jealous until she remembered that Gabrielle’s guest was Hope. So she asked the GEV to please inform Gabrielle’s guest that she would like to speak with her and to please meet her at the front door. The GEV asked why she simply hadn’t rang the door bell. Xena told it that she hadn’t wanted to wake the entire house. That seemed to satisfy the GEV enough for it to comply with Xena’s request.

Hope opened the front door as Xena came around the corner. She must have been in the front room. Xena couldn’t help but notice how much Hope resembled Gabrielle. Hope was the youngest child of Faith and she had been born when Faith was near the end of her child bearing years. Hope was only in her mid twenties… not much older than Gabrielle had been the last time that Xena had seen her beloved alive… in Japan… thousands of years ago.

It was odd looking into Hope’s hazel eyes. They were dark green this morning… like a forest. There was no evil in them; there was no hatred as she had seen before. Hope was smiling and inviting Xena inside.

“Come in Xena. Have a seat, I’ll wake mom.” She opened the door and beckoned Xena inside. Once Xena had entered she closed the door and began to turn towards the hallway that led to the bedrooms.

“Wait… I actually… could I speak with you for a minute?” Xena reached out and touched Hope’s arm. She felt like every other human… but what had Xena expected? She had no idea. She was learning how hatred can distort everything. Xena had always seen Hope as a monster so that is what she expected to feel, the skin of a monster.

“Of course, would you like to sit or is this a stand up conversation?” Hope jibed lightly.

Xena smiled. She was as nervous as a canary in a house full of cats. “Ah, I guess we can sit.” She sat down across the coffee table from Hope and started fidgeting and making faces. Hope waited serenely for Xena to gather her courage or wits… whichever she had lost when she came through the door. “I went and saw that recording.” Xena blurted out.

Hope nodded. “Was it what you needed to see?”

“Yeah, I guess it was. But you knew that already.” Xena wanted to sound accusatory but it just wouldn’t come out.

“I’ve never seen the recording. I was just asked to tell you that it was there.” Her smile never seemed to waver.

Gabrielle meanwhile had gotten out of bed and wandered down the hallway. When she heard Hope and Xena talking, she stopped to listen for a minute. She didn’t want to interrupt them.

“But you knew that you had seen Solan in heaven and you knew that he had forgiven you. Why didn’t you tell me?” She was only curious and she found it strange that she was not angry.

“In my view it was none of your business. What difference should it make if Solan forgives me or not?” Her smile had finally faded but the light still shone in her eyes.

Xena had to think about what Hope had said. What difference did it make? Solan forgave her before God had given him a new life. Was that the price of his new life? If she forgave Hope what would she be paying for? That was not the way to look at this situation and she knew it. “You’re not the Hope that I used to know.” Xena paused. The next question would hurt. “Do you remember what you did?”

For the first time Hope’s expression grew dark. It was not the darkness of evil but rather it was the darkness of pain and sorrow. “Yes Xena, I remember everything. What I did to Solan was bad… it was horrible. But it’s not what I regret the most. What I regret the most was being so evil that my own mother felt the need to kill me. I know that she didn’t want to… I knew it even then. But Dahak convinced me that she killed me because she didn’t love me or that she loved you more. I killed Solan personally because I hated you and I hated you because my mother loved you more than her own daughter.” She had been looking into Xena’s eyes the entire time that she spoke. It was a serene and yet somehow tortured look.

“That’s not true Hope. Gabrielle tried to hide you. She tried to save you from me because I wanted to kill you. She loved you enough to send you away from me… away from her. She knew that if she stayed with you that I would follow her and eventually succeed in killing you. So she did the best thing that she could. She put you in a basket and sent you away from us both and then told me that she had killed you herself. She lied to me and broke her own heart to save you.” She had held Hope’s eyes with her own so that Hope would be able to see the truth of her words.

Hope did not respond. Finally Xena continued. “But the truth is that I don’t know that you were born evil. I believed it at the time but… I don’t know that it’s the truth. I wonder what you would have become had I done what Gabrielle asked and helped her to raise you. Maybe the love of your mother could have changed you or kept you from giving in to the evil. I don’t know… I know that she can and has worked magic on many souls including my own. Maybe she could have helped you to control your dark half. I’m sorry for not giving you or us that chance.” Xena almost couldn’t believe that she had just apologized to Hope, but it had felt right.

A tear rolled down Hope’s cheek. “I had never thought to hear anything like that from you Xena.” She took the time to dry her eyes and blow her nose. “I don’t know that mother’s goodness and purity could have been enough to drown out the voice of Dahak. I know that I dreamed that my mother would return to me. Dahak kept telling me that she didn’t love me… that she had abandoned me. I didn’t want to believe him but she never came back. When we did finally meet again… well you know what happened. I’m sorry as well Xena for killing Solan of course but also for hating you and doubting her.”

It was Xena’s turn to have tears on her cheeks. “For what it’s worth Hope, I forgive you and I really wish that we had given it a go as your parents.”

Hope gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. It was a gesture that was so like Gabrielle that Xena felt her heart pull from her chest. “Oh Xena thank you I forgive you too! Maybe now we can give each other that chance that we didn’t before.”

Xena was crying and was unable to form words without sounding ridiculous so she did the next best thing; she grabbed Hope and embraced her. They cried on each other’s shoulders for many minutes.

Gabrielle watched from the entrance to the hallway. She had the same expression on her face that Hope had just a few moments before and tears were running down her cheeks onto the hand that covered her mouth.

Xena took stock of her heart and feelings while she held the daughter that she had never touched except in hatred or trickery. She realized as she cried that her forgiveness had bought her a very precious item. It had bought her a daughter that she had shunned and that gift was worth everything.

Gabrielle couldn’t stand it any longer. She had watched them hold each other for several minutes before she felt the need to join them. That is when the strangest thing happened. Both Xena and Hope held out their hands and looked towards where she was standing. Surly they couldn’t see her but she should have known that Xena at least would know that she was there. She did not hesitate for a heartbeat; she ran to them and embraced them. The three women put their tear stained cheeks together and basked in the warmth of family.