DISCLAIMER: XWP characters belong to Ren Pics and Co. No infringement meant, no profit gained in the writing of this story. Disclaiming the entire show, including FIN, for this is, to a certain extent, a FIN piece of sorts. To appease the botanists and horticulturalits out there, I apologize for any errors in the characterization of the Hyacinthus orientalis, specifically whether it blooms in wintery, snowy conditions. Thanks to Vivian Darkbloom for the beta.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By angharad governal


Yet when we came back, late, from the hyacinth
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing

-- T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land


Hyacinths lined the road. That much she remembers. A deep, royal purple, their blossoms clustered together, swaying lightly against a breeze that lazily meandered from the east. The air was filled with the scent of hyacinth blossoms. And there she was, hurrying off to make her own destiny, scrambling madly after a warlord who certainly had no need of her company, of her friendship. A small voice in the back of her mind agreed. But there was something, something about this woman, whose pain reflected so brightly in her world-weary eyes that just called to her. She could barely justify the desire, the need to follow the woman warrior, let alone try to answer her sister's myriad of questions hours earlier. She walked down a dusty road, hoping that she'll make it to Amphipolis in time to convince Xena that she could be useful to the warrior, that the warlord wouldn't turn her away and tell her to go back to Potidaea.   

The hyacinths were in bloom. And she was off to find adventure.

Hyacinths lined the river. Not the deep, royal purple that greeted her that spring day when she first sought to find a place in the world, but a bright orange that reflected the colors of the setting sun against the great Ganges. As she threw the staff into the river and turned to the woman who walked by her side, she realized that she was still searching as she was when she first met Xena. She hoped that this new path, this new way would finally bring her peace of mind, peace of spirit, a quiet to the tumult in her heart.  

The hyacinths were in bloom.  And together, she hoped they would find the answers.

Hyacinths lined the mountainside. Not the bright orange that hailed her farewell from the land that evoked a deep questioning of her purpose in life, but a startling white that reflected the snow drifts along the winding mountain path.  The sun had set and as she made her way through the forest cradling the precious bundle against her skin, the cold clay warming as it lay snug inside the silk shirt under her armor, she tried desperately to quell the sudden keening pull of exhaustion and grief racking her body, her mind.  She stopped, looked ahead at the white blossoms that seemed to point a way through the maze of trees and rocks, and gave in to her anger. She unsheathed the katana she kept by her side and savagely hacked a nearby tree until, finally, the madness seeped from her tired limbs and she fell in a heap upon the snow, a riot of wrenching, angry tearless sobs torn from her body as she collapsed against the hyacinth blossoms. 

She awoke as the dawn came. She lay against the snow -- ignoring her wildly shivering body, her frostbitten limbs, the raging fever now wreaking havoc through her frame -- as she blinked back the edges of a nightmare from her eyes while sunlight filtered through the boughs of the tree above her.  She sat up and exhaled a shaky breath as she realized with a start that the dream was true, that the nightmare was no child of her imagination, no mad fever-dream, but as real and solid as the tree, the snow, the flowers along the forest path: her beloved was gone; her love, the woman who had walked by her side, was dead. The shroud of grief that encompassed her began to wind itself around her as she sat unmoving in the snow. She knelt suddenly and began to claw at the snow and the dirt beneath, her fingers torn and bleeding as she dug a shallow hole in the forest floor.  She removed the gauntlets from her wrists, the armor from her body, the katana and chakram she carried with her, and placed them in the burrow.  As she lifted a handful of earth and snow, her eyes caught a glimpse of color among white blossoms. The scent of hyacinths suddenly filled her senses, memory inundating her mind as the world narrowed to a cluster of deep purple blossoms just beyond her reach.  She wept. 

The hyacinths were in bloom.  And she was alone.

The End

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