Xena Fan Fiction

He Sleeps
by Rachel


This story was written without the knowledge or consent of MCA/Universal and is not intended to infringe on any copyrights.

This story is the work of the author and is protected by copyright. Please gain permission before copying and/or publishing any or all of this story.

The bright light of the December moon shone into the room. A woman pauses in the doorway of the master bed chamber. Her soft blue eyes travel slowly about the large room. How often have I stood in this same place, she wonders, thinking the same thoughts I've had for years? Memories cause a smile to warm her face. Love and laughter have infused the wall stones with a warmth no man, nor god can remove.

Beautiful tapestries cover the dark stones of the walls. Some she made herself, others gifts from friends and family. All were made with love and hung carefully through out the room. Tonight, however, their bright colors are muted in the semi-darkness of the room. A fire burns low in the large marble fireplace. The flames from the fire cause deep shadows to plunge across the room.

There, amongst the shadows, was a large and ornately guilded bed. Her husbands best friends had made the bed for them as a gift for their joining day. The thought of the two men caused a fond smile to touch her lips. How long ago that day seems, especially now. The smile melts a little. Things were different then. Everything was so full of laughter and good times.

Ah, good times. The long hidden memory returns the smile to its previous warmth. Her long slender fingers touch her lips, as if to contain a giggle. What was it he would say about their bed? Oh, yes, I remember now. A perfect setting, for a perfect jewel. His words. Words meant to ease the fears of a maiden on her wedding night. Oh, how those words had worked!

A sound from within the room brought her back from her sweet ruminations. Her eyes search through the dim light, looking for the man with whom she shares her soul. A deep purple silk robe lay in a discarded puddle ther beside the bed. Her eyes rise to determine if the man she searches for is there. And find him she does. There, half-hidden in the shadows, is the object of her interest. The thick sumptuous furs covered his now naked body.

He sleeps. My prince sleeps. Her face that shines with love, is also tinged with concern and sadness. She is about to begin her private, self-imposed vigil. A vigil she both loves and despises. The deep blue eyes never leave the motion-less form, as she quietly crosses the room. The soft leather of her slippers barely make a whisper as she passes the bed to her nightly post. There, in the corner of the room, almost hidden from view, was her chair.

This particular chair is most definetely out of place here, in this most masculine of rooms. It is made of warm golden oak. Her chair. Placed there for her vigil. Silently, she settles herself in the chair. A soft ivory colored woolen blanket sits beside it. Placed ther, no doubt by one of her thoughtful servants. She uses it know to keep the dampness of the night air at bay. Too bad, she thinks. It can't keep the chill from my heart. Movement causes the woman to focus on the form in the bed. The man stirs slightly, then settles once more into his deep sleep.

The hour is called by the sentry positioned at the main gate. It has grown late. The brightness of the moon has grown dark, its light has been obscured by storm heavy clouds. A light rain has begun to fall outside and the fire has burned down to mere embers. Her thoughts again take her back to when the days were sweet and the nights were spent in love. Pure joy washes thrugh her, as the flow of unbidden memories take her back in time. The sound of rain, of water....

What a beautiful day that was. The sky was clear and the weather was warm. It was the only natural then, that she would stop at the stream to water her horse. The idea was shered by another. She remembered how his warm brown eyes watched her from across the tiny spanse of water. How handsome he was. Her heart beat heavily in her chest and her knees became weak. She had retreated to the relative safety of a large shady oak tree.

How tall and proud he had looked. Broad of shoulder and straight of back. His chin carried the tilt of the self-assured. But it was his eyes. They were a warm brown that created trust from all who gazed into their depths. No shadows lurked there to mare their clarity. It was those eyes that could see into her soul, that caused her to lose her heart that day.

They had picnicked there under that old oak tree that day and many more times after. The memory caused her hands to run softly over the smoothness of the chair in which she rested. A present from her prince on the day they became one forever. He had used wood that he had carefully culled from their tree to make this chair for her. He had carved and molded it into shape with his own hands as her brides' gift.

She remembered the moment as if it were yesterday. How loving and sincere he had been. He had cleared his throat and took her delicate hands in his strong ones. He spoke the words that had made her his. "This chair is made from the mighty oak, king of the forest. Reknown for its strength and straightness of grain. I too am a King, a mere mortal man who could only hope to have the strength and character of that oak. This gift is from my heart and was created by my love. May it's arms hold you and keep you safe, when I can not. It is a strong beautiful seat with a simple elegance that reminds me of you and our love. May it forever have a position of honor within our home and I within your heart."

The voice of her memory was so clear, she had to look at the man to make sure it wasn't he who had spoken. He was sleeping silently. How well he knows me, she thinks. This chair is my most prized possession. She looks at the hand peeking from under the furs on the bed. What she sees causes her to frown. Sadness wells up in her eyes. Like the storm clouds outside this very castle hide the moon, so does gray now color her eyes.

Strong hands. The hands of a great and gentle leader. How his hands have changed over the years. In the first bloom of their love, they had been soft and tender. Only the calluses from sword training marred their perfection. His touch had caused her skin to tingle. Those hands had led her to the heights of passion and not once had let her fall into the depths of despair.

Lightning crashed from outside, jarring the woman from her reverie. The same sound now threatened to wake her charge. He stirred fitfully, turned so he was facing her and settled back down. In his restlessness he had thrown off the furs covering him. This action revealed that the skin of his broad chest had begun to shine with perspiration. The dreams were beginning.

Every bad dream could be traced back through any one of the damnable scars that could be seen so clearly on his body. Oh, how she had agonized over his every wound. It was as if they were her own and she had treated each of them with her capable hands.

During the day, he keeps them carefully covered. He thinks the's protecting me. Afraid I might not want an imperfect man, she thinks to herself.

Those scars on his body make him the man he is today. I could never love him less for performing the duties he was raised for. Unfortunately, war is part of those duties. No woman ever wants her man to go war, but it must be so. A melancholy smile touches her lips. He, who is her prince, her warrior, her love, her life.

A moan issues from the bed. Lightning strikes from outside. The man begins to thrash around. His arms begin to jerk, his head twists from side to side. She is up and by the bed in an instant. Using the cloths she had prepared, she soaksone of the squares of linen in the cool, scented water.

Placing the compress on his fevered head, she begins the task of soothing the wild demons that take over his dreams. Her gentle ministrations calm him some, but not for long, she knows. It is only the beginning. Softly, she begins to whisper the words of love and comfort that have become almost rote. His face turns to her voice and his eyes open. He doesn't see her. He sees only the horror of the past.

His lips move, but no sound issues forth. Fear and anger flash in his eyes. His thrashing becomes more violent, no comforting will help him now. His legs kick the furs from the bed, exposing his sweat soaked body. His arms move as if he's fighting an enemy. Ones long ago vanquished. Orders are issued to troops long gone.

At the bottom of the stairs that lead to the tower housing the King's chamber, the guards look at one another. They too, know all to well what is happening in the room at the top of the staircase. Both men are loyal to their king and stand their posts. they owe their very live to the King and his Queen, neither would ever dishonor either one of them by telling tales of the night. Which is why they wer chosen for this particular duty.

At the sound of a tourtured yell, they turn stone-faced back to their grim task. Each wishing that the raging storm outside would cover the sounds coming from above. Both offer up prayers to the gods to keep their lord and lady safe until morning.

A thousand horrors race through the well appointed chambers. Screams of anguish rip from the tortured soul on the bed. His pain reaches a crescendo with the crashing of thunder and lightning of the storm. Watching his men die around him, all over again, through the blinded eyes of his dream, begins to take a toll. The pain reaches a crescendo with the crashing of thunder and lightning of the storm. His voice becomes hoarse from the force of his screams. Powerful arms and legs become leaden with fatigue. Sweat begins to dry. It is ending.

The dreams, like the storm, are receding. The horror is fading. Drained and exhausted the man falls into a deep sleep. Now it is over. Exhaustion shows in the woman's face. She is pale and trembling from the physical and mental exertion expended during the night. Now, she tends to her final task.

Retrieving a second bowl of water from the stand by the fireplace, she begins to bathe her husband. She removes all traces of the sweat that had poured from his body. Her hands move quickly and efficiently over his body. Now is not the time for pleasure. He will wake soon and the task must be done. He must not know of her ministrations throughout the night. She will not embarrass him or rob him of his honor. After finishing the hasty bath, she cover him with a fresh linen sheet and the warm furs.

Just as quickly, she bathes her hands and face in the lukewarm water and runs a comb through her long blond hair. She folds the wool blanket and places it on her chair. Briefly, she pauses. How I love him. Turning toward the bed, she sees the sun begin to warm the sky through the window. Morning comes, showing no traces of the violent storm that had raced throught the night. Outside or in. She removes her pale silk robe and places it on the end of the bed.

Wearily, she slides between the covers of the bed. Her eyes are heavy with fatigue. The lids begin to droop over tired blue eyes. In a movement as old as time, he feels her enter the bed and pulls her toward him. His strong arms wrap around her body, as her head comes to rest on his chest. His warmth serves to reassure and soothe her tired body. In the seconds before sleep claims her, she looks at her prince once more. He sleeps and is safe with me.

Her last thought, as always is of him. My prince...he sleeps.

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