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A Past Remembered
By Anita Louise
Copyright 1997 LoisAnne@concentric.net
Ephiny told her what had happened and when she finished the woman reached over, grasped her right-hand and said, "Thank the Gods for a woman such as this. Where is she? I must thank her." Ephiny's eyes grew sad, the sparkle that was them faded as she said, "I, I don't know for sure. I left her in the cave. I only hope she has found her way back home. I know I owe Xena my life and so much more . . . "
Tala smiled as she patted Ephiny's hand and said, "I knew one day this would happen, I always thought it would be with Eponin."
Ephiny drew her hand back and said, "I don't know what you are talking about. We became friends, that is all." Tala gazed deep into Ephiny's eyes, and within seconds the woman turned her head away as Tala said, "You are in love with this woman from Amphipolis, my child. Don't say anything, it is all in your eyes. How does she feel about you?"
Ephiny thought for a minute then she said, "We're friends, nothing else. Xena is pledged to a man named Machinas."
The woman answered, "She may be pledged, but who did she spent all this time with, she risked her life and lost her family all for you. Tell me child, did she let you leave without a word?"
Ephiny shook her head and said, "I, I left during the night."
"You never even said good-bye? That is not like you. What must Xena be thinking? If she cared for you even a little the way you do for her, Ephiny, you've broken her heart."
Tears filled her eyes as she cried, "We were both so confused, I couldn't have her give up the life she knew to come back with me. I won't have someone out of pity for me. I know in the beginning I probably wasn't anything more than a wounded animal to her."
"Is that the way she made you feel?"
Ephiny reached up and brushed off the tears that were falling down her cheeks and said, "No, she acted like she cared and before I left I think she did in some way. Oh, mother, what have I done, she had the right to make her own decision and I took that away."
Tala stood up and walked over to Ephiny, placing her hands on the woman's shoulders she said, "I know you, anyone who spends time with you will come under your spell, I believe she would have come with you. It is time you go to the shrine of Artemis and do some very deep soul searching. I love you, and I am grateful to Xena that you are back. I only hope one day to tell her that in person."
After Ephiny had eaten, she left the hut. She was going to look for Eponin, it was unlike the woman to just disappear. She had checked out the village and couldn't find the Amazon. Deciding to take a look at a favorite spot the two of them loved, she walked carefully down the twisted path to the springs, where she hoped to find Eponin . The sound of something splashing in the water caused her to stop and listen. It sounded like someone was throwing something into the springs. She picked up her step and soon found herself in the clearing.
Eponin sat gazing out at the water as she tossed stones into it.
"There you are, I've finally found you."
Eponin answered, "Why don't you go back to all your fans, or better yet the village woman."
Ephiny was sure she heard a sniffle as she approached the woman and sat down by her she said, "Eponin, what is wrong?"
The woman turned her head away and said, "Go back, I want to be alone."
Ephiny reached out placing her left hand under the woman's chin, she turned her head back around, stared into Eponin's eyes and said, "You have been crying. What is the matter?"
Eponin answered, "How could you?"
"I didn't have a choice. The man's arrow hit me."
Eponin sobbed, "Not that, how could you go back there? I told you, you could get in trouble."
Ephiny placed her left arm around Eponin's shoulders and said, "I missed you."
The woman stared at Ephiny and said, "I haven't had a night's rest since you disappeared. When they all said you were dead, I wanted to die. You just don't get it do you?"
Ephiny softly said, "Yes, it's taken me a long time, but I do get it."
Eponin laid her head on Ephiny's shoulder and cried. At the same time Ephiny's tears fell like rain, and she said, "I won't ever go away again, I promise."
The two women spent the night by the springs. Happy in the union they shared and a life they hoped they now could have. Neither spoke of that night but the women in the village felt the two had joined with Artemis in their own ceremony.
Ephiny had been at the Temple of Artemis for several weeks. She had gone there to cleanse her soul and to look for a reason why things had happened. She wanted so much to be able to find peace within herself. Helena, the Oracle had told her until she could resolve the feelings she had for Xena, she and Eponin would never be free. As Ephiny walked toward the village that day, she gazed at her surroundings, they were beautiful. Trees that seemed to reach up and touch the sky and flowers she had never paid any attention to before. It was the lone rabbit that darted across the road in front of her that made the Amazon stop in her tracks.
"I almost gotcha that time!" A voice echoed from behind the foliage. Before long a tall woman, with dark hair could be seen. Ephiny felt a chill and her heart leaped in anticipation as she exclaimed, "Xena! By the Gods is it you!"
As the woman neared her, it was apparent she was not Xena. She walked up to Ephiny and said, "Who is this Xena? Must be some kind of woman to get you in a dither like that?"
Ephiny faintly smiled and said, "A friend, sorry, I mistook you for her."
"Oh don't be sorry, I just wish I could get that kind of a reaction." She turned and went running after the rabbit.
Ephiny leaned against a tree, grasping her chest as she muttered, "The Oracle is right, I love Xena with all my heart and soul. I will never be able to have a solid relationship until I resolve my feelings with her, one way or another. What a stupid thing I did, running off like that."
Eponin had asked her to move into her hut. Ephiny had been stalling, not because she didn't love the woman because she did. She was afraid that her deep feelings for Xena would show through and Eponin would be hurt.
She had been helping Tala in the cooking area when the woman said, "Eponin is coming over tonight, you two have been inseparable since you returned. Isn't it time the village was informed and the two of you do this right?"
Ephiny replied, "I don't care what the others think, but you must know, there hasn't been anything between Eponin and me except friendship."
Tala replied, "How is this going to affect Eponin, she has been in love with you for a long time. She will be hurt if she knows you cannot give her what she desires because of Xena."
Ephiny set the bowl down and said, "That's why I'm going back. Eponin is going to go with a group of the woman to a neighboring village. She will be gone a week, I hope to be back by then. She need never know."
The woman walked over to the table and said, "What if your feelings are returned? What then? Eponin will be heart broken and she will feel humiliated. If you ask me, my child, you are in a very difficult spot. I wish you not to do this, what if you are caught again or worse?"
Ephiny replied, "I fear that the most, in her fragile state, she might do something foolish. I'm not the gullible girl that left here, I am prepared for anything. Just promise you won't speak about this."
Tala replied, "I only want what you do, I will say nothing."
Eponin arrived as it was starting to get dark. She greeted Tala with a warm hug and a small basket of bread. "Here, I made this myself, unlike some people I know, I enjoy cooking."
Ephiny stuck her tongue at the woman as she said, "Love you too."
Tala gave her a scathing look as she said, "This is very nice of you Eponin, we will have this with our meal. Ephiny, show our guest to a chair." Ephiny walked over and took Eponin's right hand in hers. bowed and said, "Your chair awaits." The two laughed as they all sat down. Eponin commented on the meal telling Tala it was delicious and Ephiny replied, "Well I know that food is the way to your heart."
Eponin smiled as she gazed at Ephiny. Her green eyes shining like crystals being lit by the Sun. She reached across the table and placed her hands over Ephiny's and said, "Tala, it is no secret that I love your daughter. I am asking you this night for your blessing."
Ephiny's mouth fell open, as the red crept up her neck, she said, "Ep, this is . . . "
"Time. It is time, I am declaring my love for you."
Tala gazed at the two women as she placed her hands over theirs and said, "It's about time, someone needs to make an honest woman of her."
Eponin asked, "And you, how do you answer?"
Ephiny swallowed and said, "I . . . " Eponin stood up and walked over to the woman, she took her left hand in hers and said, "I've got something for you." Ephiny pushed herself from the table, and as she stood up, Eponin untied a necklace she was wearing and put it around Ephiny's neck saying,
"This is my Talisman, it is yours now."
Ephiny reached up and touched it saying, "I don't know what to say."
Eponin stepped closer to the woman and said, "Then kiss me."
Ephiny reached up to place a kiss on Eponin's forehead and the woman grasped her face with both hands. She stared for an instant, then she brought her lips down on Ephiny's. Ephiny started to move as the kiss became a deepening search. Hesitating but a moment, her lips met Eponin's with a kiss that had been denied for so many moons. The two were so wrapped up in their closeness they forgot Tala was sitting at the table.
"You two have to come up for air sometime."
Ephiny pulled away and the two women stared at each other as they began to laugh. Tala replied, "I will tell the Queen, it won't be long before the two of you will be pledged. For tonight, I have to go see Cholia and will not be back until tomorrow afternoon. You have my blessings.
Just promise me that you will be gentle with one another." She turned and left the room.
Ephiny reached out and touched Eponin's face as she said, "I never expected this."
Eponin replied, "If I had waited for you, we would be dead and I would have died from longing."
Ephiny took Eponin's left hand in hers and said, "Now what?"
Eponin replied, "We have all night, lets just enjoy one another's company. I won't rush you. I think it was the thought of being gone for a week away from you that gave me the courage to ask Tala. If something were to happen, we would regret that we never made love."
Ephiny stood, her back to the woman and said, "Can I turn around?" She felt Eponin's hands on her shoulders at the same time she felt her lips on her back. Softly they traveled, stopping momentarily to kiss a spot, then gliding across her back. A low gasp escaped her throat as she said, "It's too much. My body can't stand it."
Eponin whispered, "It can and it will, relax, I won't hurt you. I promise to be gentle. Your skin is so soft and smooth." Suddenly the woman stopped and Ephiny asked, "What's the matter?" It was then she felt Eponin's tongue begin to swirl around the scar. Ephiny said, "If it makes you unhappy, don't."
Eponin placed gentle kisses on the area and said, "Only that you almost died. I will look at this always and know how lucky I am to have you back in my life." She reached out turning Ephiny. They stood facing one another, a tear was forming in Ephiny's eyes, and she kissed it away. Her lips traveled the woman's face, touching, gliding then lingering. She was taking her time and was enjoying every sensation of her body.
Ephiny reached out and grasped Eponin's face, as she said, "I do love you."
As Eponin looked at her, she pressed her lips to the woman's; the sensation of the touch was one Ephiny always wondered about. It was a soft, tingling sensation that was becoming stronger as their lips danced in rhythm with the movement of their bodies.
Eponin slowly eased her tongue parting Ephiny's lips as she slithered into ecstasy. The sensation was combustible as Ephiny's tongue met hers. Ephiny moaned as Eponin reached out and picked the woman up carrying her into the bedroom.
Continued in Chapter Eleven