Planting The Seed II
by Paymaster & Marion D Tuttle
Standard disclaimers: Hi all, Marion D Tuttle here. This story was started by Paymaster. The conclusion of it came about as a collaborative effort between the two of us. As always we do not own Xena, Gabrielle, the bard's parent's, any of the Amazons....they are the property of Universal. We just invited them out to play.
Sex disclaimer: Not really much of it here. Gabrielle is expecting after all and we all know how protective Xena can be! But there is no room for doubt that this is a story about two women very much in love with each other. If that idea is offensive to you, there are many other things you can read but I would suggest skipping this. And now on with the show.
"Hey, where do you think you're going?", Xena asked playfully as she pulled Gabrielle close to her. "I'm starving!", the bard responded as her stomach gave a loud growl to confirm the fact. "Well, you are eating for two now!", Xena said. Gabrielle bounded out of bed, "I like that. I can eat twice as much now because I have an excuse!" Xena laughed at the way her lover could find ANY excuse for eating. "Guess I had better join you or there won't be anything left."
The two women sat and ate the feast that had been left for them by Artemis. Gabrielle savored every bite...after all, eating was her second favorite pasttime according to Xena. When they had finished their meal, Gabrielle suggested that they go for a swim in the lake that they had passed on their way to the cabin. "A bath might not be a bad idea either.", Xena proclaimed grabbing the cake of soap and some towels on their way out the door.
The lovers walked arm in arm the short distance back to the lake. Xena decided to test the water. "This is great! The water is warm. Must be fed by an underground hot spring. Come get wet Gabrielle!" "I thought I already did that!", she giggled. The bard removed her clothing and joined an already naked Xena in the water. Sliding her arms around the warrior princess' neck she gave her a long loving kiss. "You were right, this does feel great, Mom."
Mom, Xena turned the word over in her mind. She and Gabrielle were going to be parents. It had come as a bit of a suprise to her when Gabrielle had first mentioned the desire to have a child. It hadn't been something she had allowed herself to think about. But now that the wish had been
granted to them it filled her with a sense of peace and contentment that she never would have thought possible. "Gabrielle there is something we need to discuss."
The bard felt a little uneasy at these words. Was Xena having second thoughts? Working to keep her voice calm she asked "What is it Xena?"
"Well I was thinking, we did promise Aphrodite that if she granted us the gift of a child we would settle down. And while I will admit that this place is beautiful, I don't think this is where we should stay."
A swell of relief came over Gabrielle as she realized that Xena was thinking towards their future as a family. "If not here then where?"
"The Amazon village. You are their Queen after all and you are carrying what may well be the heir to the throne."
A smile settled on Gabrielle's features. She had thought about that but had almost thought it would be too much to ask for. The Amazons were her family, since her own family would not ever really accept her relationship with Xena. They tolerated it, but they had never come to fully accept it
especially her father. When they had told her family the news of their joining, after the meeting with Aphrodite that had led to their wish, he had been very cold. Her mother and sister had tried to act like they were happy for them. They even made an extra effort to make Xena feel like a member of the family. But for all their efforts both women knew that it was not what these simple village folk had envisioned for their little girl.
She ended her musings and brought her thoughts back to the present. Kissing Xena soundly she responded "I would love that, but...."
"But what Gabrielle, it is the perfect place. There is no where else in the world that our child would be more loved and protected."
"I know that Xena and I agree, but Artemis gave us this as a gift." She waved her hand in the direction of the cottage. "I don't want to offend her by leaving it."
"Gabrielle, I would not be offended by you going to the Amazons." The voice came from the shore. Artemis slowly materialized in front of them. "As a matter of fact, I think it is a wonderful idea. I wish I had thought of it."
She was joined by Aphrodite. "I knew there was a reason I liked you warrior babe. When I said I wanted you to settle down and protect this child I couldn't have thought of a better place myself."
Xena couldn't keep the smile from her face. She couldn't remember ever having been this happy. The only thing that had even come close to this was the day Gabrielle had become her wife. "I'm glad we are all in agreement then. We'll spend a couple more days here but then I want to leave for
"Why so soon?"
Xena looked down into emerald green eyes that had somehow managed to capture her very soul. "Because love, I want to get you into the village and settled before traveling becomes a problem for you."
Gabrielle hadn't given much thought to the changes that were going to take place in her body. With Hope everything had happened so quickly it was over before she really had a chance to take anything in. The question that was forming in her mind was answered before she even had a chance to voice it.
"No Gabrielle, this pregnancy will not be like Hope. You will have this child all in natural time."
"See Xena we have plenty of time."
"I still would feel better if we got to the village sooner than later."
Smiling she addressed the Goddess' on the shoreline. "Look at that, not even pregnant 24 candle marks and she has turned into an old mother hen."
Raising an eyebrow at the bard "Old mother hen huh? Just be careful you don't ruffle my feathers."
Both Artemis and Aphrodite knew they were witness to something that happened all to rarely. The union of two halves of a soul that truly made one. Secure in the knowledge that everything was in order, they disappeared leaving the two lovers to their privacy.
The trip to the Amazon village had taken a little more time than it normally would have. Xena had refused to go over any rough terrain for Gabrielle's sake. The bard had argued the point that they could have taken the faster route but Xena would have none of it.
"Xena, I'm not made of glass, I won't break!" The frustration was clearly evident in her voice.
"I know that Gabrielle, I just want to be careful. I love you and you are carrying my child."
"Yes our child, please I know I may be a little overprotective but I just never thought that this was something that would happen. I never thought I would get a second chance to be a parent after Solan...."
Gabrielle relented, she knew that even though she did a good job of hiding it most of the time Xena still felt the guilt of not being a mother to her son. She placed a comforting hand on the warrior's shoulder. "It's ok Xena, I do understand."
"Thanks Gabrielle, I know I've been a pain. I'll try to be a little less overbearing."
They sighted the first Amazon patrol and knew that they were on the outer borders of the Amazon nation. Eponin had a contingent of new trainees out in the field, teaching them the finer points of blending into their surroundings.
Eponin saw the two of them and waved. Starting over, she motioned for her troop of young Amazons to follow her. Kneeling before Gabrielle she greeted them. "My Queen, Xena, it's good to see you both."
Rolling her eyes, knowing that was all done for show for the benefit of the young Amazons there, Gabrielle swallowed her impulse to give her loyal lieutenant a playful cuff and tell her to knock off the 'My Queen' drill. But she knew that Eponin was simply following protocol.
Xena did the best she could do to hide the smirk that was threatening to break out on her face. She knew Gabrielle hated all the pageantry and pomp that went along with her rank. She did find a way to contain herself though, even though it was very early in the bard's pregnancy, only a few weeks.
Xena had noticed that Gabrielle was more likely to give into a moody reaction. She knew the hormones must be running wild and as a result really made the effort not to do anything out of the way that would upset the bard.
Turning to one of the members of her group Eponin told her, "Go inform the Captain of the Guards and the Regent of her Majesty's arrival." She dismissed the rest of the group to their various tasks. Once they were alone she turned to her two friends. "It really is good to see you both again.
What brings you here? Will you be staying long?"
Laughing Gabrielle told her I'll answer all your questions Ep. I'd like to do it all at once though. When we get into the village, I'll call a meeting and tell everyone."
"Aw come on, don't I even get a little hint?"
Xena couldn't resist the chance to get a little ribbing in on her old friend. "Nope, you're going to have to wait just like everyone else."
They walked back to the village at a slow pace. Eponin caught them up on all the village news that had gone on since their last visit. All the new couples that were planning on being joined in the next ceremony. Any request for treaties, basically any news that she felt might require the Queen's
attention. Every now and then she made an effort to try and get a little preview of what Gabrielle was going to announce at the meeting she wanted to have called.
Both women were amused by their friend's attempt to garner information but neither one of them was going to reveal a thing until they were good and ready.
When they arrived at the Queen's hut, both Solari and Ephiny were there waiting for them. Ephiny embraced Gabrielle in a warm hug and Xena found herself being squeezed silly by a very happy Solari. 'I guess I'll have to get used to this sort of thing', Xena thought to herself. The Amazons
always were a very demonstrative tribe of women. In a way though it added to Xena's sense that she made the right choice in bringing Gabrielle here. These women would protect the child of their beloved Queen with their very lives if need be.
"This is a pleasant suprise." Ephiny told them. "We didn't expect to see you until the spring festival."
"Well there was a change of plans. As it turns out, we will be here for quite some time."
Ephiny and Solari looked at each other first. There was obviously more here than they had been told so far. They looked at Eponin for any information she might have. All she could do was shrug her shoulders and shake her head.
Solari was the first to speak. "For some time? Exactly what does that mean?"
Gabrielle laughed at the questioning look she was getting from all of their friends. Give us half a candlemark to freshen up and then meet us in the square. Have the village assembled and we will tell you everything."
Ephiny started to ask questions but Eponin just said, "It won't do any good. I have been trying to find out what they have up their sleeves from the border. They just are not going to say anything until they are ready."
"Half a candlemark then." Ephiny said as they all turned to leave. She turned back with a smile, "But then I am going to expect answers."
The door closed behind them and Xena gave into the laughter she had been holding back. "You know that this news is really going to shock them all don't you?"
Gabrielle placed her fingers over the warrior princess' lips. "Ssshh...you know they are probably right outside that door, straining to hear every word we say."
A mischevious glint entered Xena's eye. "Well maybe we should give them something to talk about." Xena gathered Gabrielle into her arms and whispered in her ear. "What if I let them hear what their Queen really does to me?" With that, she ran her tongue around Gabrielle's ear. "Or
how about what I do to their Queen?"
"Xena don't you dare!"
Xena tried to look like she was pouting at the scold but the look failed miserably. "You know you're cute when you try to look innocent warrior."
"I am innocent my little bard."
Gabrielle rolled her eyes skyward. "Yeah, yeah, sure....Ok little miss innocent, we have an announcement to make. Are you coming?"
The village had been quickly assembled in the square and were now awaiting the appearance of the Queen and her consort. For some of the newer members of the tribe this would be the first time they had a chance to see their Queen. But, they all knew Xena and Gabrielle by reputation.
They didn't have long to wait. Gabrielle knew that by now everyone was on pins and needles wondering what kind of announcement was going to be made here today.
Gabrielle and Xena mounted the stairs to the Dais that held the throne used for such occasions. The Champions chair, which by tradition had always been behind the throne, had been moved to the position beside it. Gabrielle had argued to the council members that Xena was not just her champion but her consort and wife, which made her equal to Gabrielle, and as such she should
sit beside her. Seeing that there was no way to change her mind on this, the council had relented.
Looking out over the Amazons, Gabrielle let a smile play about her lips as she watched the women milling about in anticipation of what they were going to hear. Xena leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Your enjoying this aren't you?"
"You better believe it. It's not everyday that I get to announce that we are having a child."
The warrior sat back to let her bard have her moment. The Gods knew if anyone deserved to be happy, it was Gabrielle. She watched as the woman she loved rose and motioned for quiet in the crowd. A hush fell immediately as Gabrielle raised her hand. "I know that you are all wondering why this meeting has been called on such short notice. First, let me assure you there
is not a problem. In fact, the news you are about to hear is good. There are two things actually. First, Xena and I will be staying on in the village from now on."
A cheer went up from the crowd and a chorus of 'Welcome home' could be heard from many. Once again Gabrielle held up her hand to regain quiet. "The other part is the reason we are staying. Xena and I are going to have a baby!"
A brief stunned silence followed by another round of cheers was the reaction from the crowd. As Gabrielle and Xena came down off the stage, they tried to head straight for the Queen's hut. They only made it a few steps before they were waylaid by a trio of Amazons wanting details. Ephiny, Solari and Eponin surrounded them. "Where do you think your going?", Ephiny asked with
a grin. "You can't just drop a bombshell like that and walk away thinking we aren't going to get more answers."
Xena nugged Gabrielle's shoulder. "Told you we wouldn't get away with just a quick statement."
Solari did her best to try and keep a straight face. "Are you calling us nosy Xena?"
Ever the diplomat, Gabrielle broke in before Xena had a chance to answer. "Not nosy Solari, just very concerned friends."
Noticing that the day was starting to get warm, Xena said, "Let's not stand around out here. Come on inside and have a drink and we'll tell you everything."
After getting settled, the first question came from Eponin. In her usual style she cut straight to the point. "Who is the father?"
"Care to field that one Dear?" Xena asked Gabrielle.
"Well it really is quite simple. We helped Aphrodite out of a rather bad situation quite some time ago. To show her gratitude, she gave us one wish. The only catch was it had to be something we were both in complete agreement on. It took a while until we both realized that what we wanted more than anything was a child. But not just any child, a child of our own. Aphrodite
granted our wish on the condition that we settle down and raise the child in one place. She was right, it wouldn't work dragging a baby all over Greece. So we decided to come home to the Amazons."
The room fell silent for a moment while all three women took in this information. "Well no one can say that you two don't know how to spring a surprise." Both Xena and Gabrielle found themselves being hugged again by three very happy Amazons. They all proceeded to stumble over themselves to pull out chairs for Gabrielle.
"Oh this is just great.", she joked. "As if one warrior tripping over herself to wait on me wasn't bad enough. Now I'm going to have to deal with a village full of you."
About six months had passed since Xena and Gabrielle had arrived and made the annoncement that they had come back to stay. Life had returned to normal pretty quickly for most of the village. After the initial excitement of the Queen's announcement had died down, everyone pretty much returned to their routine. Everyone that is except for the warrior princess. As time had
progressed, Gabrielle was given to mood swings that ranged from deliriously happy to heavy depression. Xena was running in circles trying to guess what was going to be next. On one evening when it had been a particularly trying day, the warrior came home from a hard session on the training field to find her wife in tears. "Gabrielle! What's wrong?"
She tried to put her arms around Gabrielle only to be pushed away. "It's nothing."
Xena was trying to keep the frustration out of her voice. "There must be something Gabrielle. You aren't the type to break into tears over nothing."
Tears were streaming down her face and her voice was catching in her throat. "If you want to leave, I'll understand..." She started.
"What are you talking about Gabrielle? Leave? I have no intention of going anywhere."
"You don't have to stay out of obligation Xena. I can tell you don't love me like you used too.....I can't even remember the last time we made love."
Fighting for control, Xena took a deep breath. "First of all, we made love last night...second of all, I love you as much as I ever did."
"Then why are you holding back from me? Last night was not the way we used to make love, that was what I meant....You have lost the passion you had for me. I haven't felt that for a long time now...."
Xena was starting to see where this was going. Her wife was going through what so many women at this stage of pregnancy did. She felt unattractive and couldn't see why any one would want her. "Gabrielle, it's true the way I have been making love to you has been different. But that's not because I love you any less. In fact I wouldn't have believed it was possible to love
more but I do. I have been more reserved because I don't want to hurt you or the baby."
Gabrielle heard the words but she still wasn't sure. "How could you love me Xena? Look at me! I'm groutesque! I've gotten so huge I can barely move."
Xena moved to embrace the bard again. This time she allowed it. "You really don't have any idea how beautiful you are do you? Gabrielle you have a beauty that comes from within you. The fact that you are carrying my child only makes you more beautiful to me. I love you so much that sometimes it takes my breath away just to think about it." She placed her hand over Gabrielle's stomach just as the baby moved. "The gift you are giving me is more than I ever dared hope for. You and this baby mean everything to me. Are you clear on that?"
Using the back of her hand to wipe the tears away, Gabrielle snuggled further into Xena's embrace. "I'm sorry I'm such a wreck lately. I do know you love me. It's just sometimes...."
Xena finished the sentence for her. "Sometimes you just feel so many different things at once...you don't know what's real and what's not anymore, right?"
"Yeah that pretty much sums it up." Letting herself be pulled into the warrior's strong arms, Gabrielle rested her head on Xena's shoulder. "Do you think I'll ever feel normal again?"
"Oh I guarantee it. Hey I have an idea. Why don't we just take the rest of the day and tonight off from all the village activities? We'll just stay in and relax." Something was telling the warrior that what her wife needed more than anything right now was some quiet time for them to be alone.
"But what about dinner? We were supposed to meet Ephiny and Solari?"
"I'm sure they will understand. I'll tell them you just need some rest. And as far as dinner goes, I am sure I can have something sent over here." She winked at the bard. "It's common knowledge around here that I have a little bit of pull with the Queen."
She headed towards the door to carry out her errands and at the last minute ducked the pillow that had been playfully tossed in her direction. "I won't be long. Try and get some rest ok?"
Gabrielle did have to admit she had been feeling tired a lot lately. It was still three moons before the baby was due but she felt like she was ready to give birth at any moment. She laid down to rest her eyes for a moment. She drifted off to sleep and when she awoke it was to a sound of
turmoil outside of her door.
"I don't care what your rules are! I am going in there to see her! She is my daughter!"
Could it be her mother? She must still be dreaming. Her mother would never set foot on Amazon soil. She had told Gabrielle that her life with the Amazons was something that she would never understand. She had tried to accept Xena for her daughter's sake but this whole buisness about being Queen of what she considered to be a pack of savages was too much for her to take. Rising from the bed, she went to the door to find her mother engaged in a very heated exchange with Eponin.
"It's ok Ep, let her pass. She's telling the truth, she is my mother."
Bowing low, Eponin apologized. "I'm sorry, but my first duty is to keep my Queen safe."
This brought a smile to Hecuba's lips in spite of herself. At least she had proof that her daughter was in fact well protected. Hecuba embraced Gabrielle, taking in the swell of her stomach and the fact that she looked very fit. "So it's true, you are having a baby. Sad that I had to hear about
the impending birth of my first grandchild from a stranger passing through town."
Hecuba raised her hand. "It's alright Gabrielle, I understand why you didn't come home. Like I said, I heard the story...the whole story. You have become quite famous you know. I know this is Xena's child. I'm sorry for the way the family treated her the last time you came home, especially your father. Maybe if we...."
Tears sprang to Gabrielle's eyes at her mother's words. "I love her mother."
"I know dear. I think I have finally come to truly accept that. It is clearthat she loves you too and that is all I ever really wanted for you, to findsomeone that would care for you enough to put your happiness and safety above all else."
A voice from the door way answered her. "I do Hecuba."
The older woman swung around to meet a stare from steely cold blue eyes. It was clear that Xena was not going to allow anything to happen that might upset Gabrielle. "I can see that Xena. I'm not here to cause trouble. I camebecause at a time like this, a woman needs her mother."
The warrior reguarded Gabrielle's mother with a cool gaze. It seemed like the woman was offering an olive branch. Xena had known that especially in the last few weeks her bard had been silently wishing that she could see her family. If Hecuba was truly only here because of the baby, then Xena was going to do everything she could to make the woman welcome.
"Of course Hecuba, your right. Gabrielle does need her mother's support, now most of all."
There was an audible sigh of relief from the bard. She had been torn when she first saw her mother between joy and anxiety over what would happen when she and Xena were in the same room. Both women were surprised when Hecuba crossed the room and embraced the warrior. "I have many things to thank you for Xena. My daughter's happiness, keeping her safe and not the least of
which, my first grandchild."
After a brief silence Xena found her voice to answer. "Your welcome Hecuba, but there is no need to thank me for loving your daughter." She smiled at Gabrielle. "It's not even something I had a choice in."
Xena summoned Eponin into the hut. "Ep, will you see about getting a guest hut prepared? Gabrielle's mother is going to be staying with us until the baby is born."
A look towards her Queen told her that this was something that was making her very happy and anything that made the Amazon Queen happy was going to be alright with the rest of the village. "Consider it done Xena. I will send an escort for the Queen's mother when the hut has been prepared."
Gabrielle always blushed when she was treated in this way but had come to accept that the Amazons were going to do it. She had learned to deal with the show of pageantry whenever there was someone from outside of the village in their midst. Even thought this was her own mother, the Amazons felt it important that it was clear that here, Gabrielle was the ruler. Hecuba
started to offer an objection. "That won't be necessary. I can find my own way."
Gabrielle laughed for the first time since her mother had arrived. "You may as well get used to it mother. You are the Queen's mother and as such, they are going to bend over backwards to show you respect and make sure you are protected."
A soft smile touched her lips. "Who would have ever thought my little girl would grow up to be a Queen."
Several weeks had passed in blissful peace. Gabrielle's mood swings had leveled off. Her only real complaint now was her discomfort and Xena and her mother's incessant fussing over her. "I am not an invalid you know."
Xena just smiled and said, "We know but we are going to pamper you anyway. So just learn to live with it OK?"
In the time that had passed since her arrival, Hecuba had spent a good deal of time talking to the warrior while Gabrielle rested. To her suprise she discovered that she actually liked Xena. She was not the cold blooded killershe had always thought her to be. Looking back she realized that much of heropinion had been formed by her husband. As much as Gabrielle had tried to convince her father that Xena was not the woman he believed her to be, he still stubbornly clung to the image he had of her as a warlord.
It was during one of their conversations in the evening that Herodotus rode into the village, bound and surrounded by Amazon gaurds. Xena and Hecuba had been sitting in front of the hut talking while Gabrielle was inside resting. Her first reaction at seeing her husband bound was one of anger.
Xena placed a hand on her arm to quiet anything she may say that might makematters worse. She gave the older woman a look that said, 'Please let me handle this.'
She reguarded the situation carefully. It was clear that Herodotus was angry at his present condition. She sent up a silent plea to Artemis that just this once the man would have enough sense to be quiet and let her help him. She should have known better. "Xena, you harlot! I should have known you would be behind this!"
The ropes that were binding him were pulled tighter. Solari had a grip on his bonds. "You will show respect to the Queen's consort!"
His show of respect involved spitting into the warrior princess' face. A collective gasp could be heard through the crowd, this man may well have just sealed his own fate. Using every ounce of her control, Xena reached up and wiped the wetness from her face. "Herodotus, if you wanted to see Gabrielle you should have sent word to us. Walking unannounced into Amazon
territory is suicide. You're lucky you weren't killed."
"Oh I'm sure you would have liked that wouldn't you Xena? Then you would have had no one to try and bring Gabrielle to her senses about you." The sneer was clear in his voice. "I came to take my daughter home. As for the unnatural burden she carries...that can be disposed of easily enough."
Hecuba could see that the anger was ready to take over Xena and she could hardly blame her, her husband was being an ass. "Xena give me a moment to talk to him."
She nodded tightly. "Fine Hecuba, try and talk some sense into him. But I am going to keep the guard on him. I will not give him a chance to hurt the baby....or Gabrielle."
"I know Xena, I won't let that happen." Xena stepped away for a moment, allowing Hecuba a chance to speak in low tones to her husband.
"What were you thinking? Do you have any idea what these women could have done to you? Especially if they thought you planned to harm Gabrielle or the baby! Xena is right...you're damn lucky you still have your head on your shoulders!"
"So I see the bitch has gotten to you too. What is it about the women in this family? Why can't they see her for the murderer she is?"
For the first time in her life, Hecuba felt true anger at her husband for his unwillingness to even try and see things from a point of view other than his own. It had always annoyed her but being a good wife she had saidnothing. Now she felt she needed to speak out.
"You stubborn old goat! Your blind anger has very nearly cost us our daughter and grandchild. Gabrielle would not come home without Xena and she would not bring Xena if she knew she would not be welcome." He started to say something but was cut off. "What do you really have to base your opinion of Xena on? Her past reputation? She freely admits she did some horrible
things that she will always regret. But the truth is she has NEVER given us any reason to distrust her. She saved our village from Draco. She has alwaysbeen there for Gabrielle. She has done everything she could to treat us withrespect even when we treated her like she had the plague."
"She stole Gabrielle from us and she has put her in dangerous situations time and time again."
"Herodotus, when are you going to admit it? Gabrielle would have left whether Xena had come along or not. She never felt like she belonged inPoteidaia, she wanted to see the world. We should be thankful that when she did leave it was with Xena. If it hadn't been for Xena, Gabrielle would
have probably gotten herself killed in the first year she was gone. She has become a strong, independant woman and she loves Xena."
He howled in rage at the apparent betrayal of his wife. What power did this dark woman possess that she could bring everyone around her under her spell?
The commotion had shaken Gabrielle from the dream she was having. She had quietly stepped out onto the porch to see what was going on. When she had seen her father bound and being restrained by members of her Royal Guard,she rushed forward. "What is going on here?", she demanded to know.
Xena tried to keep her away from the worst of it. "Gabrielle your father wanted to see you. He is a little upset. Your mother is trying to talk to him." Without a word, Gabrielle went towards her parents. She was brought up short by the hatred she saw in her father's eyes. She also noticed that he had the distinct odor of alcohol about him. Red rimmed eyes seemed to blaze at her.
"There is nothing to say Gabrielle! You are either going to come back home where you belong or accept the fact that you no longer have a family if you choose to stay here!"
Xena could see the pain that these words were causing her wife. Her fury was directed not at the things he was saying about her but the fact that he was hurting Gabrielle with his words. She hissed at him, "Brave words for a man being held by Amazon guards."
"Is this what you would choose over your family Gabrielle? This harlot?"
Pain doubled the bard over. She was doing her best to try and hide the fact from everyone. She had been feeling strange all day and now this conflict with her father was taking its' toll. Xena was at her side in a moment. "Are you OK?"
"Do you see what is going on here?"
"Herodotus! SHUT UP!" Everyone was shocked to hear Hecuba speak so sharply to her husband. "Can't you see our daughter is in labor?"
"NO!" Was the first response from Gabrielle. "It's too soon!"
Hecuba and Xena had both thought the same thing and they felt fear for the baby's safety but they tried to keep the concern out of their voices as they spoke. "Gabrielle it's alright, babies are born early every day."
"But it's far to early mother."
"Nonsense, your sister Lila was born well ahead of her time. Xena we need to get Gabrielle settled."
"Take her to Alana's hut. I'll be right there." Waiting until Gabrielle was out of ear shot, she turned to Solari. "Lock him in the supply hut until we are done." Looking the angry man straight in the eye she made it clear to him what her intentions where. "You will be placed under guard until we
have Gabrielle taken care of. I want you to know that if anything happens to Gabrielle or our baby because of what you have done, I will kill you myself."
She watched as the man that had given life to the woman she loved was led away in chains. How could someone so narrow minded have ever produced someone like Gabrielle? She didn't have time to worry about that now. At this very moment everything that mattered to her in this life was hanging bya thread and all her thoughts needed to be on Gabrielle and their baby.
She came into the hut to see Gabrielle already streched out on the bed. Alana had just finished examining her. When she saw the warrior enter the hut she went to her. "Can I talk to both of you for a moment outside?"
Hecuba and Xena looked at each other, both afraid to say anything. They followed Alana out into the afternoon sun. "The news is not good. Gabrielle's body is not ready to give birth yet but there is some blood. All I can think of is the strain of carrying the child has been a lot for
her. The confrontation with her father may have been the final thing that pushed her too far. Gabrielle will not be able to deliver the baby, I will have to take it."
Xena could feel tears forming in her eyes. "What about the baby?"
"It's hard to say, it is very early. There is a chance that the baby could survive if I take it. But if I don't, we will lose them both."
"There is no choice then, do whatever you have to to save Gabrielle."
Alana nodded her head. "Are you in agreement Hecuba?"
"Yes", was the only word she could manage.
Xena started to go back into the hut but Alana stopped her. "Xena, I know you are one of the best healers in the Amazon Nation and if it were anyone else I would want you working in there with me. But you are too emotionally involved...please let me do this. I promise I will send for you if I need you."
Hecuba led the warrior away trying to get her to focus on other things. She could feel the tension in the muscles just under Xena's skin. Without warning, Xena stopped in her tracks and looked skyward yelling, "Aphrodite!I want to see you now!"
The Goddess of Love materialized before them. "Chill warrior babe, what'sall the fuss?"
"This damn wish of ours! Gabrielle may be dying right now and our child along with her. If we never had started this...." Aphrodite was surprised to see the tears streaming from the warrior's eyes. She had seen Xena battle demons, thugs and even the Gods themselves on more than one occasion but she had never seen her cry. It touched a chord inside of her. She reached out with far more compassion and sincerity than was usual for her when she was dealing with a mortal. "Xena, the little bard is going to be fine, I promise. And before the sun sets, you will be meeting your daughter for the first time."
"Her father started all of this..."
"Xena try not to be too hard on him. Something tells me he is under the influence of something beyond his control."
The disgust creeped into her voice. "I know, I could smell the booze on him."
"No Xena that isn't what I meant. I'm talking about Callisto. I have a feeling she is trying to use the animosity he has towards you to cause problems and from what I can see...it is working." One more gentle touchfrom the Goddess. "Go to your wife Xena, your place is with her. This
won't be easy for either one of you but you will get through it."
The Goddess disappeared from their sight. "She is right Xena, go to Gabrielle. She is going to need you."
"What are you going to do?"
"I am going to see if I can talk some sense into my husband's thick skull."
Xena arrived at the healer's hut to find a flurry of activity going on. Alana was looking as white as a sheet. "What's wrong?", Xena demanded as soon as she saw the healer.
"It's worse than I thought Xena. The baby is wrapped in it's own cord. Solari and Eponin are trying to calm Gabrielle down. The roots I gave herto block the pain of the incision should have knocked her out but she isfighting it and won't let me finish. She is scared out of her mind...."
Xena ran past Alana into the hut. The first thing that caught her eye was that there was blood everywhere. Her heart jumped up into her throat. Her mind raced at all the things she should have done differently. She could have just had Gabrielle's father locked up and dealt with him quietly,
away from the bard. She could have stayed here even against Alana's wishes. There was no time now to worry about what she should have done. She had to act if she was going to save Gabrielle and their baby.
She needed to get the bard calmed down first but she had to move quickly. Gabrielle had already lost so much blood. The bard was twisting on the bed trying to fight off hands that were holding her down. "Gabrielle! Gabrielle....calm down, it's me Xena."
Through the haze of fear and pain Gabrielle heard the voice of her wife. "Xena?"
"Yes love, I'm here. I need to finish bringing our baby into the world but I need your help. You need to relax and let me work. Just listen to the sound of my voice and think about holding our daughter in a few minutes."
"That's right, our little girl is ready to come out and meet us. I need you to be strong for me now."
The whole time Xena was expanding the opening in the bards abdomen. She saw the baby. There was still movement from the child but it was very slight. She gently but quickly moved the cord from around the baby's neck and lifted her out. The baby didn't appear to be breathing. Xena felt a lump inher throat but knew she needed to keep calm and think. She reached into the baby's mouth with two fingers and cleared the baby's airway. When there wasstill no reaction Xena bent her lips to the baby's.
"What's wrong Xena? Why isn't she crying?"
Xena was too busy to answer so Ephiny stepped in. "Xena is just getting the baby ready for you to hold her." Ephiny looked towards where Xena had moved to work on the baby. One breath, nothing...two and still nothing. Tears were in the warrior's eyes as she made one last attempt. The final breath and the little body in her arms seemed to jerk to life letting an outraged
howl escape her tiny lungs.
A feeling of relief swept through Xena as she carried her daughter back over to lie her on Gabrielle's chest. Xena looked around the room to see tears of joy and relief flooding down everyone's cheeks. Solari was the first to speak. "I'll go and inform the village of the arrival of the new princess."
Xena worked to close the opening that she had made in the bard's stomach to bring their child into the world. Gabrielle was cuddling the baby. "Well warrior...we have put it off long enough. Now we have a problem."
It took a second for it to register what the bard was talking about. "What problem could we possibly have Gabrielle?"
"This little one needs a name."
"A name huh? I thought you would take care of that...I mean you are better at that sort of thing. After all, you are the writer in this family."
"Oh no you don't warrior. I've been telling you for months that the name was your department. There must be one name that you would want to give our daughter?"
Xena had thought about it for a while and there was one name that she had thought of but she wasn't sure how Gabrielle would feel about it. It did recall some painful memories for her but in a way it seemed fitting. "There is one that I have thought of...", she started.
"What is it?"
"Well years ago, when I was evil, I robbed the Amazons of a great Queen." The pain of the memory was clear in her voice. "Cyane trusted me and I betrayed her. I'd like to name this baby after her. Maybe that will in some way show that I am truly sorry for all that I have done in my past."
Gabrielle felt tears slip down her cheeks at the brief but heartfelt words from her warrior. "I think that is a wonderful idea. Cyane it is then." Gabrielle cradled the precious bundle of her child against her for just a few minutes more before surrendering her to Xena. Giving in to the exhaustion she was beginning to feel, her eyes were refusing to stay open. "I love you both warrior."
"And we both love you my bard. Now you need to rest, I'll take the baby to our hut and you get some sleep." Before she even finished what she was saying, Gabrielle's cheast was rising and falling in the steady rhythm of sleep. Stepping out of the hut with the baby in her arms and Ephiny right
behind her, Xena turned to her friend. "Will you take the baby for a while? I have some unfinished business to attend to."
Ephiny did not need an explanation. She knew that Xena planned to go to the supply hut and deal with Gabrielle's father. She also knew that this would not be the place for a newborn baby. "We'll be in the royal hall waiting foryou." With a smile at the newest Amazon she added, "It's never too early for our young princess to learn about her heritage." At the sound of another voice, the baby began to look for a source of food, nuzzling Ephiny. "Just like her mother. I'll see what I can do about feeding her."
Xena found herself standing outside of the supply hut where Herodotus was being held. Hecuba had come to talk to him and Aphrodite had assured her that the man was under the influence of Callisto and not fully in charge of his actions. She knew that Gabrielle's father harbored contempt for her at best and outright hatred at the worst. If it were just herself, she wouldn't care what the man thought but Gabrielle's feelings were at stake and even more than that, their daughter needed to be taken into consideration.
The sight that greeted her was the last thing she had expected to see. It was clear that Herodotus had been crying and that his wife was trying to comfort him. Xena entered the room. She waited for him to make a move or speak the first word. He looked up at the warrior, an unreadable expression on his face. "How is Gabrielle?"
"She's tired but she is going to be alright...."
"And the baby?"
"You have a healthy granddaughter."
Both Hecuba and Herodotus breathed a sigh of relief. "I've been such a fool."
Xena tried to resist the urge to comment but it was just to strong. "No arguments there."
He looked at her almost as if he were going to argue but then thought better of it. "My wife has been telling me of things she has learned here in the past few weeks. She tells me that no one could love and care for Gabrielle the way that you do."
Feeling some of the tension leave her body, Xena answered him. "I would give my life for her."
He nodded, almost as if he were just discovering something that had been right in front of him that he had not been able to see until just now. "I will never be able to make up for the time I have missed with my daughter in the past couple of years but I know that I don't want to miss anymore."
He rose and went to stand before Xena. Offering his hand in a gesture of goodwill, he went on. "Gabrielle has choosen her life. I have two choices. Accept it...or lose her. You are welcome in our home at any time Xena. Please let Gabrielle know that."
He was turning to leave. It was clear that since he was not a threat to Gabrielle or the baby, the Amazons were prepared to let him leave the village in peace. "Wait, why don't you tell her yourself?"
She saw a smile on his face for what she believed was the first time since she had known him. Leading both parents to the healer's hut, Xena looked inside. She had been gone for a little over a candle mark and fully expectedto find Gabrielle asleep. She was surprised to find her half sitting and talking to Alana. Before she allowed them entrance, she went in and sat on
the edge of the bed. The first question was..."Where is Cyane?"
"She is with Ephiny. I have some people outside that would like to see you. Do you feel up to visitors?"
She raised an eyebrow in question. Looking past the warrior's shoulder, she saw her parents standing in the doorway. She felt concern that her father was there and Xena moved to reassure her. Brushing the hair back from her forehead, she leaned down and whispered. "It's OK, we've talked and come to an understanding."
Both proud grandparents entered the room and moved to embrace their daughter. "Gabrielle, I'm so sorry for the pain I've caused you."
Tears sprang to her eyes as she embraced her father. She noticed that Xena had whispered something to the guard that had been outside of the door as a matter of protocol. Hecuba wrapped Gabrielle in a warm hug. "I can't believe my baby has a baby."
Tears of happiness flowed all around, Gabrielle had finally achieved a balance of peace between the most important people in her life...her parents and her wife. Her father may not hold any affection at the moment for Xena but he at least held her in a position of respect now and from that...more could grow.
Ephiny appeared at the door with the baby in her arms. Xena took the baby and presented her to her beaming grandparents. "Hecuba, Herodotus, may I present to you your grandaughter...the Princess Cyane."
Both grandparent's were immediately enamored of their new grandchild. They took turns cuddling her and giving her kisses, which caused her to wrinkle her nose at them. Xena moved to hold her wife in her arms and together the five of them presented the picture of a happy family.
From the heights of Mount Olympus, Aphrodite watched the scene with a satisfied smile. Not only had she repaid a debt she owed the warrior and the bard but she had shown all of Olympus what true beauty really was in the birth and love of a child.
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