Away from Home Part II

by Muzza

Disclaimers: Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and most of the other characters who appear in this story belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was
intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story ideas and the story itself
belongs to me. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in anyway. Copies of this story may be
made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

Specific Story Disclaimers:-

Violence - There is a bit of violence here but nothing graphic.

Subtext - This story is based on the premise of two women very much in love with each other. While there are no graphic scenes involved, the theme runs through the story and if this bothers you, you'll have to find another story to read. There are plenty of good ones left.

Chapter 4


The streets of Amphipolis were already crowed as Xena and Toris rode in. Most of the villagers
recognised her immediately and moved slowly away from her, knowing better than to mess with the
Warrior Princess.

"Doesn't that annoy you?" Toris asked noticing the looks his sister was getting off the townsfolk.

"What?" Xena asked

"The way everyone looks at you" Toris said. The sign of fear clear in all of their eyes.

"I used to command that look Toris" Xena admitted "It always made me feel more powerful. Fear is
one of the most powerful weapons there is"

"Yeah but you are not that person any more" Toris reminded her

"I know but since I've been trying to turn my life around I've gotten used to it" Xena admitted

"Yeah I guess you see something enough you would get used to it" Toris said feeling a whole lot of
new respect for his sister. Having to deal with this takes an extremely strong person. He was having
trouble dealing with it and it wasn't even focused on him "Come on Xena let's go see Mother"

"Lead the way brother" Xena smiled.

When they finally reached the inn they both handed the reins of their noses to two stable boys and
walked into the inn. The silence as they entered was deafening. As usual people backed away as
Xena entered just as a woman with greying brown hair. She wasn't as tall as Xena more like
Gabrielle's height. She was carrying a tray of stew when she noticed the warrior standing there.

"Xena" She gasped as she dropped the tray and then ran and threw her arms around her daughter.
She was pleasantly surprised when her daughter returned the gesture.

"It's good to see you, Mother" Xena said as the noise returned to the room.

"It's good to see you too" Cyrene smiled as she gave her daughter the once over "You look well"

"I am" Xena said "You don't look so bad yourself"

"Thank you" Cyrene said "Sarah take over for me. I have some catching up to do" Cyrene pulled
Xena over to the family table at the back of the inn and sat her down. Then she walked over to the
bar and poured a mug ale for herself and one for her daughter. Then she walked back to the table.

"So daughter where is Gabrielle?" Cyrene asked as she sat down. Cyrene liked Gabrielle she had
only met the young bard twice but she had taken a liking to her immediately. Hearing that this young
lady had taken the company of her ex-warlord daughter and helped keep her on the road to
goodness. Cyrene had guessed the last time she had spend time with the pair that there was more
than just friendship between them. Whether they knew it or not.

"Gabrielle went to visit a dying friend in Poteidaia. So I came here" Xena said

"Why didn't you go with her?" Cyrene asked as she knew that since Xena and Gabrielle had become
friends they had become inseparable.

"Well her parents don't like me and I thought it would be better for her to visit without me" Xena said
knowing she couldn't tell her mother the truth.

"Oh" Cyrene said in a tone that told Xena she wasn't being believed. Xena heard her tone but
decided to ignore it.

"So what have you been doing since I saw you last?" Cyrene asked

"Oh you known just hero stuff" Xena said

"And what exactly is hero stuff?" Cyrene asked

"Well I think it would be better for Gabrielle to tell you that. You know I'm not good with stories"
Xena said

"You mean I will see her again?" Cyrene asked 'Thank the Gods' Cyrene thought to herself.

Xena frowned "Of course you're going to see her again" hoping she sounded more confident than she

"Good" Cyrene smiled telling Xena she believed her "Anyway are you hungry, let me get you some

"Okay thanks" Xena said as her mother walks into the kitchen.

Shortly afterwards Cyrene returns with the stew and she sits with her daughter while she eats it.

"So Mother, tell me about these raiders you've been having trouble with" Xena said as she finished
the last of the stew.

"How do you know about them?" Cyrene asked

"Toris told me on the way in" Xena said

So Cyrene told Xena all about the trouble they were having. Then she watched as Xena tossed ideas
around in her head, there was no way she was going to let raiders get away with doing this to her
village. Just as an idea started to form, Toris came running in.

"Mother they're here" Toris said

"Who's they?" Xena asked

"The raiders" Toris said and he was surprised when he was pushed out of the way of his younger
sister and she stormed out of the inn just as the raiders walked towards the inn.

"Sorry fellas but the inn's closed for business today" Xena told them.

As soon as Xena left the inn all the villagers in there - including Cyrene and Toris - walked to the
windows to have a look outside. As Cyrene watches Xena she feels a maternal pride for her
daughter something she hadn't felt since Xena was a teenager.

"Oh is that so" The leader of the raiding party said

"Yeah" Xena said "So I suggest you be on your way"

"Oh you suggest do you" The raider repeated

"What is there a parrot around here are you just really slow" Xena said

Xena watched the now annoyed raider walk towards her and unsheathe his sword. Xena made no
attempt to do the same. She just watched as he started to circle her.

"No-one insults me and gets away with it" The raider snarled

"Oh you're smart enough to know when your insulted as well. That's good" Xena said "Now did you
honestly think you could get away with raiding this village"

"Oh I get it, they hired you to try and stop me" The raider said now understanding why this lovely
woman wasn't backing down from him.

"No actually they didn't" This is my village so they don't need to pay me" Xena said "Hadn't you
heard that Amphipolis is known for making tough women?"

"Yeah right" The raider sneered as he lunged at Xena she just slightly moved out of the way. Her
sword still sheathed. The warrior knew she could outsmart this man because no-one in their right
mind would take this long to start a fight if they didn't have discipline. Xena could tell this man wasn't
discipline. That was why Xena was so good at it, plus she realised Gabrielle must be rubbing off on
her. She was talking rather than fighting. 'You'd be proud of me my bard'

"You name one women who is so tough that I might have heard of her"

"Oh well that's easy" Xena said "Don't tell me you haven't heard of Xena"

"The Warrior Princess" The raider said

"So you have heard of her" Xena smiled

"You're telling me that the Warrior Princess is from this dump" The raider said as Xena finally
reached for her sword.

"That is exactly what I am saying" Xena said. She finally unsheathed her sword and took at defensive
stance in between the inn and the raiders when he attacked again she was ready.

After taking quite a beating at the hands of the woman, the men decided they had, had enough except
the leader whom Xena had taken by the neck and quickly put the pinch on him.

"You have thirty seconds to tell me why you are attacking this village and who you work for?" She
told him

"Menecles" The raiders said "His orders"

Xena released the pinch and pushed the raider away from her.

"You tell Menecles that if he raises so much as a finger towards this village again he will feel the wrath
of Xena again." Xena told him "And don't worry about getting your butt kicked by a woman. Tell
Menecles that he had worse than you did"

"Your Xena" The man stated letting it finally sink it.

"Yes" Xena said and she walked back into the inn.

Once inside she was greeted with a cheer from the locals who no longer looked at her as the
threatening warrior they had seen when she first arrived they saw that she was the same woman that
had lived here before Cortese had attacked. The woman that was willing to defend her town at any
cost. This woman may have had a dark past but they somehow knew that deep down inside she was
the same Xena.

Xena was surprised when her Mother walked over to her and gave a quick look over

"Are you okay?" She asked

Xena smiled at the question realising she hadn't heard her mother ask her that since she was she
couldn't remember how old.

"I'm fine Mother"

"Sit down and let me get you a drink" Cyrene said as she pushed Xena into a chair and walked over
to the bar to get her a mug of ale.

* * * * *


Apollo made his way across the sky, sending beams of sunlight into Gabrielle's room and straight
onto her face.

"Oh now I remember why I hate this room" Gabrielle muttered to herself as she turned onto her side
to face away from the sun. 'At least when I am sleeping on the road Xena always makes sure the
sun never wakes me up'

She remembered back to the time when she had found out just what Xena would do to
accommodate her sleeping schedule.

It had been fairly late in the morning when she had finally opened her eyes. She
surprised when she saw that Xena was still sleeping when she looked up at her best
friends face, seeing the lines of tension in her face even in sleep. When she then
remembered that Xena had been on the other side when they had gone to bed last night.
As Gabrielle had moved slightly Xena stirred and pale blue eyes looked down at her.

"Morning" Xena said

"Morning to you too lazy" Gabrielle said as she sat up and rubbed her eyes to adjust
them to the bright sunlight. "Xena"

"Yeah" Xena said as she too sat up

"Didn't you go to sleep on the other side last night?" Gabrielle asked

Xena looked at her sheepishly "Yeah" She admitted

"Well what are you doing on that side then?" Gabrielle asked

"Well usually in the mornings when I wake up about dawn if I don't feel like getting up
and look at see where the sun is and I try to stop the sun from waking you up. I know
how you hate that" Xena had said

It surprised Gabrielle how much that small gesture had meant to her. She hadn't really thought much
about it since it happened but she knew that she missed it now. Gabrielle looked around and noticed
that Lila was already up which didn't surprise her at all. Lila had always been like Xena always
getting up at the earliest possible moment. Gabrielle wasn't a morning person she never had been.

As Gabrielle lay in bed she remembered that her parents had asked her to stay for a couple of days
so she could catch up with her. 'Do I want to stay here for a couple of days?' She thought to
herself 'It would be nice to let Xena spend some time with her mother, I know she misses her
sometimes. Yeah I will stay here for a week or two and let Xena spend some time at home and
then I'll tell her I will meet her in Amphipolis. I would like to see Cyrene again'

Once the decision was made Gabrielle got out of bed and made her way over to her things where
she reached into her bag and pulled out some parchment and a quill and wrote her letter to Xena.

Dear Xena (it said)

Hi, it's just me. I'm writing to tell you that Alex is okay. He isn't going to die. However, I
am going to stay on in Poteidaia for a while. Only a week or two so I can spend some
time with my family. I will meet you in Amphipolis soon. Please don't leave without me.
See you soon

I Miss You



That done she went into the kitchen where she knew she would find her Mother.

"Morning Gabrielle" Hecuba said as Gabrielle sat at the table and she placed her breakfast in front of

"Morning Mother" Gabrielle said "Thanks"

With that she started on her breakfast. "I have decided to stay on for a few days mother. I will ask
the traders to pass this note to Xena to explain everything to her"

Hecuba looked at her and smiled "Okay but is a note really necessary Gabrielle. It is only right that
you want to spend time with your family. Surely Xena can understand that"

"Of course she can" Gabrielle said "I just want her to know that I am staying for a while I've asked
her not to leave without me. See Xena gets restless quickly and I don't know how long she will stay
in Amphipolis"

"Okay" Hecuba said "Well I have to go to the market for a bit. I'll be back soon"

"All right" Gabrielle said as her mother left.

Gabrielle finished her breakfast and then went out to find the traders that were headed to Amphipolis
next. When she found them she asked them to deliver the message and they agreed. Then she went
to see Alex.

Chapter 5

Amphipolis (two days later)

As Xena woke up she was surprised how late it was. She hadn't slept that well since... she couldn't
remember when. It was a long time ago she knew that much. It wasn't long before she was wide
awake and on her feet. The stable had been warmer than she expected during the night and she was
glad she had decided not to sleep in the Inn.

Xena grabbed her armour and put it on feeling the familiar weight of it on her shoulders, then she
donned her leg protectors. She bounced a little to settle it all and then she went for a run. She knew
that she may not be walking around Greece for a couple of weeks but she needed to keep up with
her workout. She wouldn't do sword drills anywhere where they would scare people but they still
needed to be done.

'Gods this feels good' She thought to herself as she made her way through the obstacles the forest
had to offer. Jumping over fallen trees and then rolling under the ones that weren't to low. She
remembered the obstacle course her and Lyceus used to run when they were kids. It always felt like
a relief to get out and do this.

"Come on Xena" Lyceus said as she ran past her again. She knew what he was trying to
do and she wasn't going to let him. He always tried to get her riled up so she would try
and ran as fast as she could and then he would be able to beat her when she was tiring.
It never worked. Lyceus always tired before she did. She knew the best way to get
herself fit was to take her time and not do any damage by trying to out run herself.

When she found a nice secluded spot she unsheathed her sword and did some drills. She started off
the thrusts and parries then she moved onto the flips. Then she did them both together until she felt
she had done enough. She felt refreshed and her head felt clearer than it had in a while.

When she was finished she made her way back to the inn. She was surprised when her mother met
her at the door.

"Hey enjoy you run?" Cyrene asked as they made their way into the inn and Xena found herself being
let to the family table where Cyrene set her down and then sat next to her.

"It was refreshing" Xena said

"So do you want to talk about it?" Cyrene asked.

Xena frowned and look at her "Talk about what?"

"Well why you are here and Gabrielle is in Poteidaia. I know you said her friend was dying but why
didn't you go with her?" Cyrene asked

"Just some unpleasant memories there" Xena admitted

"Why what did you do?" Cyrene asked

"It was what I didn't do" Xena said

"Okay what didn't you do?" Cyrene asked

"Last summer Gabrielle got married" Xena said watching the surprised look on her mothers face "The
day after she was married her husband was killed by one of my enemies"

"Oh that poor child" Cyrene gasped "She must have been heartbroken"

"Anyway everyone blamed my association with Gabrielle for his death. It was true though so I
couldn't really argue. I thought Callisto was going after Gabrielle so I tried to protect her then Callisto
killed him" Xena said sadly

"Okay" Cyrene said "Then let's talk about your feelings for Gabrielle" Cyrene said

"What are you talking about my feelings for Gabrielle?" Xena asked "She's my best friend"

"Mmm hmm" Cyrene smiled telling Xena she wasn't being believed

"What?" Xena asked

"Come on Xena, I'm your mother. I'm not dull" Cyrene said "You love her don't you?"

Xena blushed answering her question.

"I knew it" Cyrene smiled slapping Xena on the shoulder.
"How did you know?" Xena asked looking at the grin on her mothers face and she felt herself smile
at her mother despite herself.

"I thought there was something wrong when I discovered you weren't sleeping. Then when Toris and
I asked you questions about Gabrielle your eyes lit up. Toris loved the peaceful look on your face
when you were thinking about her. Why do you think he was asking so many questions" Cyrene's
smile grew even wider as her daughter blushed again "Does she know?"

"No" Xena said "And that's the way it's going to stay"

"Why?" Cyrene asked "Doesn't she feel the same way?"

"I think she does. I mean sometimes I catch her looking at me with this dreamy look in her eyes, but I
can't be sure" Xena admitted. It was the first time she had ever admitted to herself that Gabrielle
might actually feel the same way.

"Isn't that enough?" Cyrene asked

"I don't want to get involved with her Mother. My heart does but my mind is telling me to keep her at
arms length and not to let her into the darkness that I live in" Xena admitted

"Xena you usually have to do what your heart tells you to do. It usually overrules her head" Cyrene
reminded her.

"I know and I've been fighting this for so long now I don't know if I can do it any more" Another first
admission from the warrior.

"Don't fight it Xena. You'll regret it if you do. More than you would than you ever could regret not
fighting it" Cyrene advised her

"Maybe you're right" Xena smiled

"I am" Cyrene said "Now go get some fresh air, all this talking will kill you!"

"Tell me about it" Xena smiled and she stood up "See you later"

"Yeah" Cyrene said as she got up and walked into the kitchen.

Xena just sat at the table shaking her head. 'Can I fight this any more' She thought 'I don't think I
can. I don't think I want to' Xena smiled to herself 'By the gods Xena when you fall, you fall

* * * * *


Gabrielle was surprised at how hard everyone was trying to make her feel like she fitted in again.
Even though this wasn't what she wanted. All she really wanted to do was find Xena and tell her that
she was madly in love with her and the she hoped she felt the same way about her. 'Yeah right'
Gabrielle thought to herself. She didn't think she would ever have the courage to tell Xena just how
she felt.

Gabrielle was set down on her bed just about to start her diary when Lila walked in and sat on the

"Hey" Gabrielle said

"Hi Gabrielle" Lila said "What you doing?"

"Just my diary" Gabrielle said "Why?"

"Well actually I was wondering if you could tell me a story. You know it's been such a long time since
I've actually heard you tell a story I kind of miss it" Lila admitted.

"Sure what do you want to hear about?" Gabrielle asked

"Tell about one of your adventures. I want to know what you and Xena get up to on the road" Lila

Gabrielle thought for a minute about a decent story that she could tell her sister. One where she didn't
get kidnapped or where she nearly died. Those wouldn't go down to well. 'I know just the one'
Gabrielle thought and she smiled as she remembered.

"I sing of Miss Amphipolis...." Gabrielle started.

After listening to Gabrielle tell stories of Xena Lila started to realise something "You're in love with
her" Lila blurted out

"Excuse me" Gabrielle said blushing slightly at her sister's ability to read her.

"You love her" Lila repeated

"Oh of course I love her" Gabrielle admitted "She's my best friend" Gabrielle hoped that that was
what Lila meant.

"No" Lila said "You are in love with her. Like I love Darius and like mother loves father"

"What makes you say that?" Gabrielle asked

"Gabrielle it's obvious your eyes light up and you get a glow on your face every time you speak about
her" Lila said

"I do?" Gabrielle blushed uncontrollably 'I wonder why no-one ever pointed that out to me
before. I wonder if Xena noticed'

"Yes" Lila smiled "By the Gods Gabrielle why didn't you tell me. At least then I would have
understood why you wanted to stay with her"

"Well I didn't think you would understand" Gabrielle admitted "I mean it's not exactly natural to
everyone around here, is it?"

"And it's natural to you?" Lila asked

"Being the Queen of the Amazons it becomes natural" Gabrielle said "Besides you don't choose who
you fall in love with. It feels so right to feel like this about her. I've never known anything ever feeling
like this"

"Hey" Lila said "It's okay I understand"

"You do" Gabrielle frowned 'How could something like this be natural to one person on a town
where no-one would ever think two women loving each other was natural' Gabrielle asked

"You remember Sara" Lila said

"Your friend?" Gabrielle asked

"Yeah well about two summers ago, just after you left she told me that she was in love with someone"
Lila said "So I asked who with. She took a long time to tell me but she finally told me she'd fallen in
love with a young trader that had been passing through the town. The trader had been a woman. At
the time I felt totally disgusted. It felt so unnatural I didn't know if I could face her. She avoided me
for ages after that"

"What happened?" Gabrielle asked completely intrigued by her sister's story.

"Well I thought about how I felt about Darius and how wonderful that felt. I knew with Darius it
wasn't a physical attraction. I loved him for who he was on the inside. I realised that I couldn't deny
those feelings, so I thought about how Sara had felt about Delia and I realised that she couldn't deny
her feelings either. I guess that was what made me realise that love was natural whether it's between a
man and a woman or two women or even two men" Lila concluded

"So you don't mind?" Gabrielle asked not really knowing why she had asked because personally she
didn't care if her sister minded or not.

"So what if I did?" Lila smiled "It's your life. If loving Xena makes you happy than I'm happy for you"

"Thank you, Lila" Gabrielle said "That means a lot to me" Gabrielle's eyes saddened "I just wish I
could tell her as easily as I told you"

"What she doesn't know?" Lila asked

"No" Gabrielle admitted

"Why not?" Lila asked actually surprised her sister had been able to keep this from Xena.

"Her friendship means everything to me Lila. I would rather be part of her life as a friend than lose her
if I told her and she didn't feel the same way" Gabrielle told her

"You should tell her" Lila said "It will tear you apart if you don't"

"It'll tear me apart if I do and she decided she can't be around me any more" Gabrielle told her

"Don't you think she's worth the risk?" Lila asked

"Maybe" Gabrielle said "I just don't know"

"You will" Lila said "Anyway we'd better get out of here, before they send a search party in here"

"Yeah come on" Gabrielle smiled feeling much better than she had in a long time "Oh and Lila"

"Yeah?" Lila asked

"Thanks" Gabrielle said

"You're welcome" Lila said as she hugged her older sister. Then the two of them went out to join the
rest of their family.

* * * * *


Back in Amphipolis Xena was actually enjoying the time with her mother and brother. It had been
such a long time since she had spent any time with them that she had forgotten what it was like. At
one point in her life she had forbidden herself to think of it. The times when she would remember
what she was and when she remembered the look in her mother's eyes when she had said 'You are
not my daughter'. That had hurt more than she had ever imagined possible and to be able to come
here now and call this home was one of the best feelings she had ever known.

Xena had been sitting at the family table listening to the local gossip from her mother and Toris when
a trader came in.

"Is Xena of Amphipolis in here?" The trader asked

Xena looked at her mother and brother whom both had worried looks on their faces.

"I'm Xena" She said as she stood up and walked over to him.

"I have a message for you from Poteidaia" The trader said as he handed her the note.

"Thank you" Xena said and went back over to the table. She wanted so much to just rip the letter
open and see that Gabrielle was ready for her to pick her up but something deep down told her that
this wasn't what the letter would say. She just hoped it didn't say that Gabrielle would be staying in
Poteidaia for good. 'If that is what it does say then I think I will try and stay here' She thought
'Life on the road wouldn't be the same without Gabrielle' So she opened the letter and she
couldn't believe the amount of relief she left when she saw that Gabrielle just wanted to spend some
time in Poteidaia with her family and that she wasn't staying there for good.

"I take it that is off Gabrielle" Cyrene said as she saw the glow return to her daughters face.

"Yeah" Xena said knowing she didn't need to say a word because her face said it all "She is staying in
Poteidaia for a few more days so she can spend some time with her family"

"So that means you'll be staying on for a few more days" Toris said

"Yeah Gabrielle asked me not to leave without her so what can I do?" Xena asked

Cyrene and Toris just smiled at her and she blushed again.

"You know I haven't blushed this much since I was a kid. Look at me now every time you look at me
like I'm a love sick puppy I am as red as a beetroot" Xena said

"Well you always were awfully cute when you blushed dear" Cyrene said as she saw her daughters
face darken. She just started laughing and went to the bar to serve the couple of folks that had just
come in. Xena just went back to staring at the table. Remembering three words that had made her
heart ache 'I miss you too my bard' She thought.

Chapter 6

Xena, Cyrene and Toris had just finished dinner when there was a commotion at the door. Xena was
the first one to the door. At the door was a man a bit older than Gabrielle he was exhausted. So
Xena and Toris brought him by the fire. When Xena joined him with a mug of ale he gratefully drank
it and then he started talking

"Xena please you have to help us" He said

"All right Andrus what's wrong?" Xena asked

"It's my daughter Ariana" He said "She went out to play with some of her friends earlier, they were
playing hide and seek and well they can't find her. She is always told not to leave the village and I
have searched everywhere for her. I can't find her. Please help us find her. She is only seven
summers old"

"Of course I'll help" Xena said just as a young woman came running into the inn. She ran straight over
to Andrus and threw her arms around him.

"Did you find her?" She asked

"No Rhea" Andrus said "I've looked everywhere. So Xena is going to help"

"Oh thank you, Xena" Rhea said "I don't know what I would do if anything happened to my little

"I'll organise a small search party now, but it will be getting dark soon. I don't know how long we'll
be able to look" Xena admitted "I'll keep going until she is found though"

"Thank you, Xena "Rhea and Andrus said simultaneously

"Toris" Xena shouted and within a minute Toris was by her side.

"Yeah" He said

"Right get a group of about ten villagers together. Tell them they are going to help search for a missing
child and I want to talk to them" Xena said "Then tell them to meet me in the back room in about
fifteen minutes"

"Okay" Toris said and he left to find the villagers.

"First of all did Ariana have anywhere she liked in particular anywhere outside the village she may
have gone?" Xena asked

"Not that I can think of" Rhea said "She isn't allowed outside the village borders"

"Okay is there anywhere within the village borders she liked that you have forgotten to check?" Xena

"No I have checked everywhere" Andrus said

"Okay" Xena said 'this isn't going to be easy. A seven year old girl playing hide and seek' She
thought to herself 'Just great'

Within a few minutes Toris was back at Xena's side "Twelve men volunteered Xena. I didn't think
you would mind an extra couple. They will meet you in the back room shortly"

"Thanks Toris" Xena said "You one of those twelve?"

He smiled at her "Of course" He said as he patted her on the shoulder, and then walked over to the
back room. Xena went over as well and was surprised to find the men already in there.

"Hi" Xena said "Well Toris told you about the missing girl. We've have a couple hours of daylight left
so I suggest we start right away. I want you to team up in groups of two" She looked at Toris "Toris
do we still have the map of Amphipolis and the surrounding area?"

"Yeah sure I'll go and get it now" Toris said and he left.

He returned shortly after with the map in his hands. As Xena lay the map on the table in front of her
the map was still the same map they had used to determine defence and attack against Cortese.

"Okay" Xena said "I want you to come up here in your pairs, then I will show you where I want you
to search"

So the men came forward in their twos. Xena showed them where she wanted them to search and
then they left. All hoping to find the young girl. Toris and his partner were the last two at the table.

"What about you Xena are you going to search by yourself?" Toris asked

"I think I can manage" Xena smiled "Besides I'll be quicker on my own. I can take Argo and I'll be
gone. I'll cover more ground that way"

"Okay" Toris said "Well you be careful, Sis"

"You two brother" Xena said. With that Toris and his partner left.

* * * * *

Poteidaia (the following day)

Gabrielle and Lila were looking at some more of the scrolls that Gabrielle had written about her
adventures with Xena and Gabrielle was pleased to see that Lila was completely enthralled with
them. At least her stories of Xena had won over one member of her family.

"It sounds like you mean a lot to Xena as well" Lila told her as she just finished the scroll about The
Lost Mariner.

"Well yeah I'm her best friend. I am the one that is there when things get to much for her" Gabrielle
told her "People think someone like Xena is just some dumb warlord but the more you get to know
her the more you understand her. She is one of the smartest people I have ever met. She can speak I
don't know how many different languages she knows more about medicine than some healers. She is
brilliant at maths and mind games. The only thing she can't do is cook. Being friends with Xena can
be difficult sometimes though. There are times when she just feels like giving up and I have to be
there to stop her. Nobody realised the pain she goes through when she remembers the things she has
done in her past. They think she gets a kick out of it. Maybe once she used to but now if she could
go back and change everything I think she would. Even if it meant that she had never met me"

"Yeah but if she had never met you, you would be a slave now. Or you'd be dead" Lila reminded her
"I think she would take that into consideration if you mean as much to her as these scrolls say"

"I never thought about that" Gabrielle said and she realised for the first time just how lucky she was to
know Xena even if it had been for one day. She already knew she was the luckiest woman alive to
be able to spend every day with Xena and be there for her when she needed a friend.

"Gabrielle why don't you go and see Balius at the Inn and ask if you can tell some stories there?" Lila
said "I'm sure he would love it. Bards usually bring a lot of money in"

"That's a good idea. I think I will" Gabrielle said "Coming?"

"Sure why not" Lila said so she quickly ran a brush through her hair and then they both went to the

* * * * *

Gabrielle and Lila walked into the Inn and it didn't take them long to find Balius.

"Good morning Ladies what can I get for you?" He said

"Well actually Balius I was wondering if you were in need of a bard" Gabrielle said

"Why do you know one Gabrielle?" Balius asked

"I am one" Gabrielle said

"Really?" Balius asked

"Yeah and I have a large collection of stories to tell" Gabrielle said

"Well if that's the case I would love to have you perform here" Balius said "When can you start?"

"Well how about tonight?" Gabrielle asked

"Sure just after dinner" Balius said

"Sure no problem" Gabrielle said "I'll see you later"

"Okay" Balius said with that Gabrielle and Lila left again.

"See that didn't hurt" Lila said

"No it's funny usually when me and Xena go to a village the Inn is always the first place I go hoping to
be able to tell stories. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner" Gabrielle admitted

"I think you've just had too much on your mind lately" Lila told her "I know how hard it can be to try
and concentrate on things when you are thinking about someone else. I had that problem before I got
together with Darius. It was hard I couldn't think of anything except him. It must be even worse for
you because you can't see her whenever you want to like I could. That is why I think you should tell

"I thought about that a lot last night. I think I might be getting the courage to tell her" Gabrielle

"Well let me make it easier for you" Lila said "Do you think that there is a chance she may feel the
same way about you?"

"If you had asked me that a couple of weeks ago I would have said definitely not, but lately there's
been something different about our relationship. I mean before we used to hardly ever share a
friendly touch but lately it's like we can't stop touching each other. Whether it's just a friendly hand on
the shoulder or a hug" Gabrielle admitted "I was starting to think we were going in a different
direction when I got your letter"

"Well then what have you got to lose?" Lila asked "And don't tell me her friendship and all that
because I've heard it all before and after reading your scrolls I don't think you have a case"

"You really think there is a chance?" Gabrielle asked

"I think definitely yes" Lila smiled. Gabrielle hugged her sister tightly with that "What this for?"

"Because you're my sister and I love you" Gabrielle said

"Uh huh" Lila said not believing a single word of it. She knew exactly what that was for. It was
because Lila had just given her something to hold on too. Something for her to think about until she
saw Xena again. It was a dangerous tactic because if it didn't work it could ruin Gabrielle and Xena's
friendship but Lila honestly didn't think it would. She honestly believed it would be for the best if
Gabrielle told Xena how she felt.

* * * * *

About a day outside Amphipolis

"Wow Argo" Xena said as she pulled Argo to a stop near a river so Argo could get a drink. She had
ridden quite far as it was. When she had gone back to town last night the villagers had all told her that
people had seen Menecles' group heading towards Poteidaia and they thought maybe he had Ariana.
Xena was following their tracks a couple of candle marks behind them. So they wouldn't know she
was coming. Xena thought about how easy it would be just to pop in and say hi to Gabrielle while
she was in the area but thought better knowing that because Gabrielle hadn't told her she was staying
didn't mean her mother and father hadn't won yet.

After Argo had, had enough to drink Xena mounted and carried on with her journey. By the time she
had caught up with them they were really close to Poteidaia and that was where they stopped.

'So they're going after Poteidaia next are they' Xena thought to herself 'Not if I have anything to
do with it'

With that Xena tied Argo loosely to a tree branch so she could get free if Xena needed her. Then she
made her way to their camp. It didn't take her long to survey the layout of the camp. She noticed
there was a couple of cages in the one corner of the camp. She figured that was where Ariana would
be if she was here at all. So she made her way around to the cages.

"Xena" She heard a young voice gasped when she reached the cage. Xena looked and saw Ariana
looking at her intently

"Ariana" Xena said "Look try not to draw attention to yourself okay. I'm going to try and get you all
out of here but it might take a while. Do not let anyone know I am here okay"

"Okay" A chorus of voices whispered. There was about fifteen people in the cages all together and
from what Xena could see Ariana was the youngest.

"Ariana when I let the others go I want you to wait for me. I'll take you home okay" Xena said

"Okay" Ariana said

"Where are the rest of you from?" Xena asked knowing she didn't recognise anyone else in the

"Most of us are from Abdera" A young man said

"Okay" Xena said "Once I let you go do you think you'll be able to find your own way home?"

"Where are we now?" The man asked

"Just outside Poteidaia" Xena said

"Yeah I know my way from here. I can lead the others" The man said

"Okay. Give me some time. Xena said "I'll sort this out"

"Thank you" The young man said and all the captives looked away from her showing no knowledge
that they were about to be rescued.

Xena quietly made her way around the camp knocking everyone out so they would be unconscious
long enough for her to get everyone out. When the whole camp was out or at least so she thought she
ran to the cages she opened the doors and everyone thanked her and then left. Just as Xena and
Ariana were making there way back to Argo she noticed a small group of men coming back to
camp. 'Damn' Xena thought and she whistled to Argo already knowing that the men knew she was
there. Argo came bursting through the trees and Xena quickly put Ariana on her.

"Hold on tight. Go on Argo. Get out of here" Xena said as she slapped Argo's rump. Argo ran off,
far enough to keep Ariana out of harms way and close enough to hear Xena's whistle.

When the men attacked Xena was ready she held them all off however she didn't see the archer in
the trees with his bow cocked and ready to fire. With all the sound of the battle going on around her
she never even heard the arrow until it was too late and the arrow was embedded in her back. Once
that was done the last of the soldiers fell. 'Damn' Xena thought as she whistled to Argo 'This is not

Argo came bursting through the trees with Ariana holding on tight. Once Ariana saw the arrow
sticking out of Xena's back she started to panic. "Xena what happened?" She asked

"I've just been shot Don't worry about it" Xena said "Ariana put this piece of cloth underneath the
arrow will you. I need to see how bad it is"

"How will that help you see how bad it is?" Ariana asked

"Because I will be able to see how much blood I am losing" Xena told her as she handed Ariana the
cloth. The girl gently placed the cloth under the wound. She held it there for a while then Xena asked
her to give her the cloth. From the amount of blood on it she could tell it was bad. 'Damn again'
Xena thought 'I'm never going to make it home'

"Ariana I'm going to have to go to Poteidaia and see the healer there okay. I'm losing too much blood
to get home" Xena explained

"Are you going to die?" Ariana asked

"Not if I can help it" Xena said trying to lighten the mood.

Xena knew she couldn't even lift her arm to get onto Argo so she would have to get Argo down.
"Argo down" Was all she needed to say with that Argo lowered herself enough for Xena to get on
behind Ariana "Argo go find Gabrielle" Was the next thing she had to say and smiled to herself when
Argo started to move off in the direction of Poteidaia.

Chapter 7

Poteidaia (the following day)

Gabrielle and Hecuba walked through the last couple of wagons then they made their way back to
the centre of the village. Gabrielle heard Metrus calling her. So she turned around to see him running
at her.

"Metrus what is it?" She asked as he reached her.

"We just got word from the outpost. There's two riders inbound" Metrus told her

Gabrielle frowned "What's that got to do with....."

"It's Xena" Metrus interrupted seeing the small smiled etch Gabrielle's face he hated to have to give
her this

"Xena's coming here" Gabrielle said

"Gabrielle the scout said there's something wrong" Metrus told her

"Something wrong" Gabrielle repeated

"The scout said she looks wounded" Metrus said as he watched Gabrielle's face turn from happiness
to panic as the words sank in.

Gabrielle and Hecuba watch as Argo enters the village with a young girl sat in front and Xena sat
behind. As soon as Gabrielle saw Xena she knew there was something wrong. She ran to Argo and
grabbed on to her reigns. When Gabrielle looks at Xena she noticed that she is close to losing
consciousness. "Argo down" Gabrielle said and Argo listens. When Argo was down Gabrielle was
able to see the arrow sticking out of Xena's back. She doesn't even say hello to Xena before she is in
the back of her. She breaks the arrow shaft and then does the bit she always hated pushes the arrow
through and out. By the pallor of Xena's skin Gabrielle can tell Xena has already lost a lot of blood.
By now they were surrounded by curious villagers. Gabrielle pulls Xena into her lap and looks into
the sky blue eyes of the woman she loves. Xena smiled up at her.

"I made it" She said

"Yes. We've sent for the healer. He'll be here soon" Gabrielle told her

Xena just smiled then her eyes saddened "Lost to much blood"

Gabrielle can feel her panic start to rise as she realised that Xena was giving up.

"You'll be fine" Gabrielle said

Xena shook her head "Too late for me"

"Not it's not" Gabrielle said "Come on Xena you promised me no more dying on me again. Don't do

"Need to tell you something" Xena said quietly

"You can tell me when you're better" Gabrielle insisted

"No now just in case" Xena smiled

"Okay what is it?" Gabrielle asked hoping that Xena did remember her promise and she wasn't going
to give up like last time.

Just then Xena tensed in pain as she felt herself losing consciousness "I....." Xena said arching her
back against the shooting pain that was coming to fast now "love you" Gabrielle felt her breath catch
as she heard the words "more than I've loved anyone in my whole life"

Gabrielle looked straight into the blue eyes that were starting to lose focus "I love you too"

"Good" Xena smiled as her eyes rolled back and she lost consciousness.

"No Xena. Come on you promised you wouldn't leave me. Please hang on" She cried as the healer
come over.

"What happened?" He asked

"She was shot in the back with an arrow" Gabrielle said pointing to the spot

"What happened to the arrow?" The healer asked

"I took it out" Gabrielle said as two men arrived with a litter. Xena was placed on the litter and
carried to the healer's hut. Gabrielle refusing to leave her side goes with her. Ariana who also refused
to leave her side went along as well.

"So you're the storyteller" Ariana said as the walked

"Yeah and you are?" Gabrielle asked

"I'm Ariana. This is my fault" Ariana said as she started to cry

"How is it your fault?" Gabrielle asked

"Xena was coming after me when she this happened" Ariana said

"That doesn't mean it was your fault" Gabrielle told her

"Really" Ariana said

"Of course" Gabrielle said

* * * * *

"She's lost a lot of blood" The healer said

"I know she told me that when she arrived" Gabrielle said noticing the surprised look on the healers
face "She also told me it was too late for her. Is that true?"

Gabrielle sent a silent prayer to whatever God was listening. Hoping that Xena would pull through

"Well she is still fighting so as long as she keeps fighting she's got every chance of surviving. If she
doesn't want to fight there is nothing I can do" The healer told her

"She'll fight. I know she will" Gabrielle said slightly confidant that the warrior would fight.

"Well then you have nothing to worry about" The healer smiled seeing the relieved look on the young
bard's face.

"Isn't Xena from Amphipolis" The healer asked as he worked on the wound.

"Yes why do you ask?" Gabrielle asked

"I was just thinking she must have family there and we know that the little girl does. There is a trading
wagon headed there this afternoon. I think it would be a good idea to send word to her family to tell
them what has happened and that the young girl is here also" The healer told her.

"That's a good idea. How long do you think she will be out?" The bard asked

"She should be out for a while" The healer said

"Okay. I'll go and see them now" Gabrielle said as she squeezed Xena's hand and smiled feeling
more confidant about Xena being okay. "Don't go anywhere"

"Ariana do you want to come and meet my family? I think you should stay there tonight" Gabrielle

"Okay" Ariana said

With that they left Xena and the healer and they went to the bard's house to get some parchment.

As she walked into her parents house, Lila came to meet her. "We heard what happened" Lila said.
Lila was once again reminded how much this woman meant to her sister. "Is she okay?"

Gabrielle smiled at the change that had occurred in her sister towards Xena since she had arrived
home "She will be"

"Good" Lila said as she walked behind into their bedroom "Why aren't you with Xena?"

"I've got to get word to Cyrene" Gabrielle told her "Some of the traders are going to Amphipolis this
afternoon. I will ask them to pass on word. I also need to let Ariana's parents know that she is save"

"Who is Cyrene?" Lila asked

"Xena's mother" Gabrielle told her

"Oh" Lila said

Gabrielle took out the parchment and quill and wrote a simple note to Cyrene

Cyrene (it said)

I'm just writing this note to tell you not to worry but Xena was shot with and arrow and
was badly wounded. She is okay but she will be unable to return home for a few days.
She is in Poteidaia right now as is the young Ariana. If you want to check on her you
are more than welcome. Anyway once she is well I will bring her home.



"So what exactly happened?" Lila asked as Gabrielle finished her note

"I don't know exactly. I'll have to wait until Xena comes around before I will know anything"
Gabrielle said

"No you won't" Ariana said "What happened was I was taken from Amphipolis a few days ago.
Xena found me and she rescued everyone in the cage with me. She thought it was safe but as we
were leaving a small group of men arrived. They attacked and she was wounded. She told me that by
the amount of blood so was losing we would never make it home. She said the nearest place was
Poteidaia so she just told her horse to find Gabrielle and we ended up here. Are you Gabrielle?"

"Yeah I am" Gabrielle said

"I thought you were, my parents always told me Xena travelled with a storyteller but they never told
me her name" Ariana said

'Well that answered those questions' Gabrielle said. She knew how Xena felt about Poteidaia and
she wondered why she would come here even though she was on the verge of death.

"Well I've got to go and see the traders before they move on" Gabrielle said

"Okay. Is it okay for me to come over later. I take it you will be staying with Xena for a while" Lila
said a knowing glint in her eyes.

"I think so" Gabrielle smiled "I want to go and ask Mother if Ariana here can stay here for a couple
of days. Just until Xena is ready to travel and then we'll take her back to Amphipolis"

"Okay" Lila said as Gabrielle and Ariana left.

* * * * *

"Mother" Gabrielle said as she entered the living quarters and her mother was sitting in the chair.

"Yes Gabrielle" Hecuba said

"This is Ariana" Gabrielle said "She came in with Xena. I was wondering if it would be possible for
Ariana to stay here until Xena is fit enough to travel. I am going to be spending most of my time with
Xena until she is fit so she can use my bed"

"You are staying with Xena" Hecuba repeated

"Yeah. Mother she almost died I still don't know if she is going to pull through or not. I need to be
with her. Please" Gabrielle pleaded knowing how she sounded and right now she didn't care.

"Okay and Ariana can stay here" Hecuba said "You go see Xena. Ariana you come with me we'll she
is we have any clothes you can change into"

"Thank you Mother" Gabrielle said with that she left.

* * * * *

Gabrielle saw the traders and asked them to deliver the message to Cyrene and then she went back
to the healer's hut. Where Xena was lying in a wrap around shift replacing her leathers, she was still

"She's gonna be just fine" The female healer that had replaced the male one said as she walked back
into the room and noticed Gabrielle standing over the warrior. Even though Gabrielle had been sure
Xena would be fine hearing the healer tell her so caused a huge wave of relief to travel through her

"I'll come back to check on her later" The healer said and then she left, leaving Gabrielle to just look
at the warrior, the woman she loved lying on the pallet in front of her.

Gabrielle watched quietly as Xena lay there not stirring at all and she thought back to the last
conversation she had, had with her before she lost consciousness

'I love you' Xena had said 'More than anyone else in my whole life'

Gabrielle smiled sadly at the words knowing she meant as in friendship. Xena could never be
interested in Gabrielle that way. She knew that now. Just then a strong hand weakly squeezed her
own. Looking up Gabrielle saw Xena's lovely blue eyes gazing back her.

"Hey" Gabrielle beamed

"Hey to you too" Xena said weakly

"How are you feeling?" Gabrielle asked

"Like I've been shot in the back" Xena said sheepishly

"Really don't know why would feel like that way" Gabrielle chuckled

"Me either" Xena agreed.

"Ariana told me what happened" Gabrielle said

"Yeah" Xena said "I never even heard that damned arrow" Xena told her as she struggled to sit up.

"Don't get me wrong I've never been so glad to see anyone in my whole life but why did you come
here?" She asked

"I had a promise to keep" Xena said "As soon as I saw the amount of blood I was losing I knew I
needed help. I was too far away from home. This was the nearest village" Xena admitted "I'm sorry if
I scared you"

"It's okay" She smiled "I'm just glad you are okay" She looked down at the floor and then back to
the warrior "I don't know what I would have done if something had happened to you"

Gabrielle could feel the tears welling up in her eyes. She wasn't sure if they were tears of relief at just
how close she had come to losing her solute, or tears of joy at having Xena by her side again. Xena
saw the tears and slipped her arms around the bard smiling as she felt the pressure returned.

"It's going to take more than an arrow to finish me off Gabrielle" Xena said as she kissed her on the
forehead. Shocked by the unusual notion Gabrielle glanced up at the warrior still feeling the skin on
her head tingling from the touch of Xena. Then without thinking Gabrielle slipped her arms gently
around Xena's neck and gently pulled her head down. As their lips met, Gabrielle felt her heart soar.
Then she realised exactly what she was doing and quickly pulled away.

"I'm sorry Xena" She blushed and a huge wave of regret fell over her as she realised she could have
just thrown their friendship down the river.

"I'm not" Came the surprising answer from the warrior.

Xena felt sure now that Gabrielle had the same feelings for her that she had for the bard. That kiss
had been so full of emotion that kiss wasn't a mistake.

"You're not" Gabrielle repeated, suddenly struck with a loss of words

"No" Xena admitted "I've wanted to kiss you like that for... Gods, it seems like forever"

"You have?" Gabrielle asked again shocked into silence.

"Yes" Xena said deciding to take the biggest jump she had ever made in her life "I meant what I said
outside Gabrielle. I really do love you more than anyone"

"I know you do" Gabrielle said still unsure of how Xena loved her. That kiss had held the promise of
things that were not friendship but she needed confirmation from Xena that it was.

"No Gabrielle you don't" Xena told her "I love you completely and not as a friend. My feelings
stopped being friendship a long time ago"

"Really?" Gabrielle asked

"Really" Xena repeated

"You love me. You're in love with me?" Gabrielle asked not wanting to belief she was hearing this.
She knew this had to be a dream. She had fallen asleep while she was watching Xena sleep and now
she was dreaming about her. Xena didn't feel this way about her.

"Yes Gabrielle" Xena said "I love you as I would love whoever had my heart and my soul"

Then Xena took the young woman's face in her hands and gently kissed her again "Does that
convince you my bard?"

Gabrielle looked up at her dreamily "Yes I think it does, but can we try once more. Just to make

Without hesitation Xena answered the bards request.

"By the Gods that felt good" Gabrielle chuckled as they broke off and she dropped her head down
onto Xena's chest. Then she laid the warrior down "Xena"

"Mmm" Xena said sleepily as she felt sleep calling to her.

Gabrielle leaned over and kissed her on the forehead "I love you too"

A small smile etched Xena's face as she let sleep take her "Just remember who said it first"

Gabrielle sat and watched as all her dreams started to come true.

Chapter 8

"How is she doing?" Lila asked as she entered the healer's hut quietly not to disturb the sleeping
warrior. Already knowing the answer by the happier look on her sisters face which had replaced the
worry and panic that had been there earlier.

"She's going to be fine. Leah said she should be perfect in a couple of days" Gabrielle said

"Good" Lila said "Look I thought maybe it would be okay for me to stay with Xena for while Mother
wants to see you"

"Oh okay" Gabrielle said "You sure you don't mind staying here until I get back?"

"No of course not" Lila said

"Gabrielle what ever she tells you. Do what your heart tells you to do" Lila said

Gabrielle frowned but said nothing as she left the hut. She walked quickly to her parents house not
wanting to be away from Xena for a minute longer than she needed to.

Hecuba was waiting for Gabrielle as she entered the house and by the look on her face she was
ready for a battle.

"Lila said you wanted to see me Mom" Gabrielle said "What is it?"

"Your father and I have discussed it and I've been left with the job of trying to persuade you to stay
here" Hecuba said

"Mother ..." Gabrielle started but was silenced by the rising of Hecuba's hand.

"Gabrielle I know you care deeply for Xena but after today we have seen how dangerous it is for you
out on the road. We don't feel safe with you out there. We want you here with us where we can
protect you" Hecuba told her hoping that her daughter would listen to her but even as she was saying
it she remembered the scene back in the market where Gabrielle had taken Xena off her horse. She
remembered how well Gabrielle had taken care of the situation and she also remembered the quiet
words exchanged by the pair before Xena had lost consciousness.

As she thought about this she realised where she had seen the look in Gabrielle's eyes when she
spoke of Xena and she realised the for some unknown reason her daughter had fallen in love with the
woman that they had blamed for taking her away.

Being from traditional parentage, Gabrielle didn't expect her parents to understand this or to agree to
her choice. That was why she hadn't told them, but something in her mother eyes told her that her
mother knew or if she didn't know she suspected.

Hecuba knew that if her suspicions were correct her husband would flip. He expected Gabrielle to
settle down with a man and have loads of kids. Hecuba didn't even know if she could accept this.
She knew she didn't to know for definite before she could judge either woman.

"Mother I want to stay with Xena. I love that adventures we share. Yes it's dangerous but it's worth
it" Gabrielle said

"Gabrielle. I want to talk about you and Xena" Hecuba said "I had a feeling asking you to stay here
would fall on deaf ears and I think I know why. I saw something between you and Xena today but I
need to hear it from you first"

Knowing exactly what she meant Gabrielle looked intently at her mother "What do you need to

"Your feelings for her and her feelings for you are much deeper than friendship aren't they?" Hecuba

"Yes Mother they are" Gabrielle admitted "I love her with all my heart"

"I thought so" Hecuba said "Now Gabrielle you know that I am a traditional person and this type of
relationship doesn't come easily to me"

"Yes Mother" Gabrielle said sadly

"You also know how I feel about Xena" Hecuba said

"Yes Mother" Gabrielle repeated

"Well I will try and accept both as part of your life" Hecuba told her "I know it's not up to me who
you fall in love with and I know you wouldn't stop loving her if I told you to. You are my daughter
and I love you. I will try to accept this you will have to give me time to deal with it and time to tell
your father okay"

Gabrielle looked at her mother completely stunned. She hadn't expected her mother to accept this
but she was willing to try for her. Gabrielle stood and walked to her mother and wrapped her arms
around her.

"Thank you, Mother" Gabrielle said "You don't know how much that means to me"

"If being with her makes you happy Gabrielle, I am happy for you and whatever you do, don't let that
go. True love comes around maybe once and when it does you have to take it by the ears" Hecuba
said as she pulled away from her eldest daughter looked into her eyes "How go be with her"

"Thank you" Gabrielle said and with that she left, she felt like she was floating down the street.
Everything was falling into place. She and Xena were finally together and her mother had accepted
her as a very important part of her life. Life was perfect.

* * * * *

Gabrielle walked into the healer's hut quietly, she smiled when she saw Lila watching over the warrior
who was still sleeping.

"Hey" Lila said when she noticed her "How'd it go?"

"Fine she tried to talk me into staying but she knew it was a lost cause" Gabrielle told her.

"Good I'm glad" Lila said "Did you tell her?" pointing to the sleeping warrior

"Tell me what?" Xena asked as she opened her eyes and looked intently at the pair

"Um" Lila said not knowing whether to say anything or not

"That I'm hopelessly in love with you" Gabrielle smiled and kissed her on the forehead

"Oh that" Xena smiled

"No actually Lila" Gabrielle said "She told me that she felt that way first"

"See I told you, you should have told her" Lila said "Anyway I'm glad for the two of you"

"Thank you" Gabrielle smiled "So how are you feeling?" She looked at Xena who was struggling to
sit up so she gladly took the help offered by Gabrielle

"Thanks" Xena said as she reached her goal "I feel fine. I'm a little sore but other than that I couldn't
be better"

"Good" Gabrielle said "Oh by the way I sent word to your mother as well"

"Thank you she's gone be wondering where I got to" Xena smiled

"I figured as much" Gabrielle said

Lila and Gabrielle talked for a while and Xena occasionally joined in but she was just pleased to be
with her bard again. Knowing that they felt the same way about each other made her feel even better.
Better than she thought she should feel. Xena felt that love was for the people who deserved it. She
didn't. But obviously Gabrielle did deserve it and if she choose Xena to fall in love with who was she
to argue.

After a while Lila decided to leave the couple alone and went to meet Darius.

When she left Gabrielle walked over and sat down on the bed then leaned over and kissed her
partner "Gods I thought she'd never leave" She said as they broke off

"Me either" Xena smiled

"Well it's not a nice thing to say but I'm glad she's gone" Gabrielle said "I've really, really missed you"
She smiled as she wrapped her arms gently around the warrior and let her head fall into the chest of
her partner.

"I've missed you too" Xena admitted as she returned the gesture "I thought I was going to go crazy. I
don't know what I would have done if you had decided to stay here"

Gabrielle lifted her head up and gazed at the warrior "That was never an option"

"Really?" Xena asked

"Yes" Gabrielle assured her "Although I got sick and tired of telling my parents I was not staying

"Have they been giving you a hard time?" Xena asked

"No they just worry about me" Gabrielle said "They want me here where they can keep an eye on

"They've got a point" Xena said

"I know but I can't think of anyone better to keep an eye on me than you" Gabrielle told her

"Maybe" Xena said reluctantly

"Hey at least you got over your uneasiness and this place" Gabrielle knew that Xena had been
uncomfortable about this place but when it mattered she didn't let her uneasiness stop her coming

"Didn't have much choice" Xena reminded her "It was either come her and maybe have a chance or
stay out there and die. The second one not really being an option"

"Well I'm glad you chose to come here" Gabrielle said

"Me too" Xena said as she leaned down and kissed her partner wiping away her own fears of being
abandoned by the most important person in her life. Finally they broke off for air. Gabrielle waited
for her heart to calm down before she attempted to speak.

"Why did we take so long to do this?" Gabrielle asked

"Well I guess I was afraid of letting you all the way in" Xena admitted "I mean every time I think I
love someone I end up getting hurt. First, there was Caesar he betrayed me. Then there was Borius
he betrayed me as well. Then there was Marcus and he died"

"Well I'm glad your will to take the chance on me" Gabrielle admitted. She knew how Xena was
reluctant to give her heart to anyone after those three events of her life "I've wanted to tell you how I
felt for so long but I didn't want to push you away. I never thought you could feel the same way"

"Why not?" Xena asked

"I don't know. I just... well, I thought the other people you had been involved with were men and
warriors. I figured you were more into warriors than bards I guess" Gabrielle smiled sheepishly
"Guess I was wrong"

"Definitely" Xena said

"I came really close to telling you how I felt after you told me you couldn't come here with me"
Gabrielle admitted "But I figured you would think I was only saying it because I really wanted you to
come with me"

"I knew it was hard on you coming back her on your own but I just couldn't do it. I tried to convince
myself that I could do it just because you wanted me to usually that is enough" Xena smiled "But this
time it wasn't"

"My homecoming wasn't the real reason you left me here on my own was it?" Gabrielle asked

"No" Xena admitted "It wasn't"

"What was the real reason?" Gabrielle asked

"It was too painful" Xena admitted for the first time

"Too painful. Why?" Gabrielle asked slightly confused

"Well it's not worth lying to you now is it" Xena smiled knowing Gabrielle would not let this go until
she had an answer she was satisfied with "It broke my heart to stand for you at your wedding
Gabrielle" Heard the sudden catch in her partners breathing but carried on anyway "When you
married Perdicus you gave up travelling. When we said goodbye I gave up my dreams. I thought it
was going to kill me. It almost did, but I meant what I said when I said seeing you happy would make
me happy. Well I sort of did anyway"

Everything was becoming clear to Gabrielle now. The look in Xena's eyes when they had held each
other that last time. The feeling of the heart in the chest next to hers pounding as quickly and as hard
as hers and most of all the profound sadness in Xena's eyes when she said 'I'll visit you so often you'll
get sick of me'

"After that day if Perdicus had lived I would never have seen you again would I" Gabrielle stated
sadly "You said I would, but that was goodbye wasn't it?"

Xena let out a sign and look Gabrielle straight in the eye seeing the sadness there "Yes it was" Xena
admitted "It was just to painful to think of you happy in the arms of someone else"

Xena realised this conversation was getting depressing for both of them so she decided to liven it up
a bit "What is this anyway get Xena to admit everything day today or something. I've admitted more
stuff to you today than I have in the last three summers"

"Yeah you have" Gabrielle said grateful for the change in subject "I'm sorry I hurt you"

"Hey it's not your fault. You had no way of knowing how I felt Gabrielle" Xena said

"I guess. I loved you so much even then. But marrying Perdicus was what my family had always
wanted me to do. It felt right at the time I said 'yes'. But the night before I married him I realised what
I had done. I had given up the most important person in my life just to make my family happy"
Gabrielle said "I realised then that being married to Perdicus would make me miserable but the day of
our marriage everyone was expecting me to marry Perdicus. Even you" Gabrielle stood and walked
over to the chair and sat back down looking down at the floor "My Mother and Father were
expecting me to do the honourable thing and do what was expected of every woman -get married,
keep my husband happy and have kids- you know. Lila expected me to marry Perdicus so I could
get away from you. Perdicus expected me to marry him, love him and look after him. You expected
me to turn my back on you and marry Perdicus. But you were the only one who didn't expect me to
marry him for a selfish reason"

Xena slowly stood up and slowly walked over to Gabrielle who had tears welling in her eyes 'I tried
to get away from his conversation' She thought to herself

"Hey" Xena said as she sat down next to the younger woman and gently pulled her into her arms.
Gabrielle wrapped her arms around her partner and just let herself fall into the warmth that was
cascading over her "I love you Gabrielle" Xena said as she kissed the bard on the forehead.

They stayed just holding each other for a long time until Xena heard Leah coming to check on her.
She reluctantly released the bard and felt her do the same. They stayed quiet until Leah entered
"How is the patient doing?"

"Okay about as well as can be expected I think" Xena said

"Well Xena I'd better get going" Gabrielle said sadly

"Okay" Xena said sharing the bard's reluctance.

"I'll see you tomorrow" Gabrielle said "Look after yourself"

"Gabrielle I'm injured in a healer's hut what could I possible do?" Xena asked

"I dread to think" Gabrielle said "See you tomorrow"

"Yeah" Xena said "Tell Ariana that I'm sorry about the delay and I'll get her home as soon as

"Okay" Gabrielle said and then she left.

"Well" Leah said "You gave that girl quite a scare today"

"I know" Xena sighed "I was hoping I could get here before I lost to my blood. I knew the arrow had
to come out but travelling with a seven year old girl I couldn't exactly ask her to push it through. And
I couldn't do it without injuring myself even more"

"Really" Leah said "You know about healing?"

"I have to. It comes in handy in my line of work" Xena said

"Yeah I guess it does" Leah said "Now you go to sleep"

"Okay" Xena said and she stood up and walked back over to the bed and lay down.

"I'll see you tomorrow" Leah said

"Okay" Xena said

Then Leah left leaving Xena to sleep and enjoy her dreams.

* * * * *

As Gabrielle walked home. She remembered that she had told her Mother that she was staying with
Xena. 'Oh well. She needs her rest' Gabrielle thought 'She won't get any if I'm there that's for
sure. I guess it's on the floor for me tonight then'

Gabrielle could hear the sounds of her family moving around the house as she walked onto the porch.
She quietly opened the door not wanting to wake anyone that was already asleep.

"Gabrielle" Hecuba said "I thought you were staying with Xena"

"I was but Leah told me she will take care of her and that I should come home and get some rest"
Gabrielle lied

"Oh well that's good. I've put her young friend in the guest room. So your bed is still empty" Hecuba
told her

"Mother you didn't have to do that" Gabrielle said

"I know but never mind. I thought it would be better for her to have a room to herself. That way
when Lila went to bed she wouldn't wake her" Hecuba said

"Thanks Mom" Gabrielle said

"Yes well off to bed with you, young lady" Hecuba said "It is late"

"I'm going" Gabrielle said as she yawned "Goodnight Mother"

"Goodnight Gabrielle" Hecuba said

With that Gabrielle went to her room. Where she started to write in her diary before going to bed.

Well today was the best day of my live. It started off just like a normal day, Mother and
I went around the shops but there was nothing there. Then Metrus told me that Xena
was headed towards Poteidaia and she looked wounded. I swear I haven't panicked that
much since the day she was hit by the log trap. When I pulled her off Argo and I saw the
colour of her skin I thought I was going to lose her.

Well thank the Gods she is okay. But the best was yet to come.

She told me that she was in love with me. Can you believe it? I can't. She told me that
she loved me more than she had ever loved anyone in her whole life. And then she
kissed me or did I kiss her? I can't remember but I know it was wonderful. I felt like I
had finally come home.

Today is a day I will never forget as long as I live. I love her so much and knowing she
returns those feelings makes it perfect. For the first time in my life, MY LIFE IS

Gabrielle finished off and then she put the diary by her bed and blew out the candle. Morpheus was
quick to take her, and for the first time in a few days she slept thinking of the day she had gone
through, but most of all she dreamt of the kisses her and Xena had shared and how deep they had
touched her. It was like her soul was reuniting with it's other half. She knew now that she had finally
found her tree in the forest.

Chapter 9

After a few days Xena was more or less healed but she was still unable to ride. So she decided that it
was time to move out of Leah's hut and to get a room at the Inn. She knew she would feel freer there
as well because here she had a room to herself and she wouldn't have to worry about holding
Gabrielle when she was there.

Xena was lying on the bed when she heard familiar footsteps coming up the hall so she slowly got up
and went to the door. Gabrielle stood there smiling at her.

"Well at least we've got you your own room" Gabrielle said as she sat down on the bed as Xena
closed the door and joined her.

"Yeah at least I don't have to worry about disturbing Leah anymore" Xena said

"Yeah and not we don't have to worry about anyone disturbing us" Gabrielle said seductively

"Why?" Xena smiled back "What did you have in mind"

"Oh well maybe we would do something like this" Gabrielle said leaning over and kissing her.

"Mmm I think I'd enjoy that" Xena said

"I think I would too" Gabrielle agreed

"Really" Xena said "Maybe we should keep doing that then"

"Maybe" Gabrielle said as she leaned forward again.

Xena could feel Gabrielle's hands start wandering and before she knew it her hands were doing the
same. Gabrielle's hands found their way inside her tunic and the trial of touches Gabrielle left on her
rib cage kept tingling.

"Damn" Xena said as she broke off "Hold that thought for a while"

"Why?" Gabrielle asked looking disappointed

"Mother is here" Xena told her "We'd better go and meet her"

"We could pretend we aren't here" Gabrielle said

"Come on you" Xena said getting off the bed and pulling the bard with her. Then she buttoned up her
tunic and her and Gabrielle made their way down to meet Cyrene. Cyrene was waiting in the Inn for

"Mother" Xena said

"Xena how are you?" Cyrene asked

"I'm okay" Xena told her

"Good" Cyrene smiled then she looked at Gabrielle "Hello Gabrielle"

"Hello Cyrene" Gabrielle said as Cyrene put her arms around the bard "It's good to see you"

"It's good to see you too" Cyrene smiled "So Gabrielle. I figured my daughter here has told you what
happened to her. How she got injured"

"Yes she did" Gabrielle said

"Good now come and tell me what happened. I know if I ask her, I'll get the edited version" Cyrene
said as she glanced at her daughter.

"Well from what I can gather...." And Gabrielle was off. Doing what she does best telling stories. She
told Cyrene word for word the story that Xena had told her.

"Xena that was stupid" Cyrene said.

Xena who had been day dreaming and not taking any notice of the story looked up confused "What

"Why didn't you get the arrow out?" Cyrene asked

"It was in my back. I couldn't reach it and I couldn't ask Ariana to do for me. I did the only thing I
could. I came here" Xena said

"She's right" Gabrielle admitted "The arrow was not only in her back but it was at an awkward angle.
If it had been pushed by someone who didn't know what they were doing it could have hit one of her
vital organs"

Xena smiled at her partner thankfully, knowing that hearing that off her would get her mother to relax
a bit.

"Okay then but Xena from now on try not to get shot" Cyrene smiled

"Oh do I have to?" Xena grinned as she looked at her Mother with a look of disappointment in her

"Well I think it would be a good idea. You've got a few people who care about you now Xena. You
can't just be thinking about yourself any more. You can't go throwing yourself in front of arrows and
putting yourself in danger" Cyrene said seriously. She could see by the look of peace she saw in her
daughters eyes that something had changed. She had a good idea what that was and she made sure
she would speak to her about it later.

"Here, here" Gabrielle agreed as she grinned

"Someone else agrees with me" Cyrene smiled

"It's not like I go looking for arrow to throw myself in front of Mother" Xena reminded me "Is it my
fault I am one of the biggest targets in the whole of Greece?"

"Yes" Cyrene answered her and they all started to laugh.

"Anyway Xena I have to go to the house and get ready for my performance. I'll see you in a bit
okay" Gabrielle said putting her hand on her partners shoulder and giving it a slight squeeze.

"Okay" Xena said

"See you later Cyrene" Gabrielle said

"Okay" Cyrene said then the two watch as Gabrielle walks out of the Inn. Cyrene turns back to her
daughter who is sitting there with a quiet smile on her face.

"So what happened?" Cyrene asked

Xena frowned "I told you what happened"

"No I'm not on about the arrow" Cyrene said "What's the story with Gabrielle?"

"The story?" Xena asked

"Did you tell her?" Cyrene asked

Xena smiled inwardly deciding to act stupid for a change "Tell her what?"

"Don't mess with me young lady. You are not to big for me to put you across my knee. Okay maybe
not across my knee but I can still tan your hide for you" Cyrene warned "And don't make me shout it
out because believe me I will"

"Yes Mother. I thought I was going to die so I told her" Xena admitted

Cyrene already knew the answer to her next question by the look in her daughter's eyes "What did
she say?"

Xena beamed as she remembered her partners response "She told me she loved me too"

"So are you two together now?" Cyrene prodded wanting all the information

"I guess so" Xena smiled as Cyrene stood up and walked over to her. She wrapped her arms around
her daughter

"I'm happy for you, Xena" She said

"I don't know what I did to deserve this Mother" Xena admitted

"Nobody does anything to deserve love Xena, but you need to grab onto it with both hands" Cyrene
told her

"I intend to" Xena assured her as Cyrene sat back down on her side of the table and she smiled when
she could see the soft peaceful glow around Xena.

"Good" Cyrene said "So when are you coming home?"

"Well I should be well enough to travel either tomorrow or the day after" Xena said "I was thinking
about leaving then. I am fully healed but it can be a bit sore if I move around to much"

"Great then. I'll get a room for tonight and then we can be off tomorrow" Cyrene said

"Mother you don't need to get a room. You could just stay in my room" Xena said

"I'm sure you and Gabrielle want your privacy" Cyrene said and she smiled when she saw the slight
colouring of her daughters cheeks.

"No Mother" She said quickly "Gabrielle isn't staying with me. She is staying at her own house"

"Oh" Cyrene said "Okay"

Continued in part III

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