By Solari

DISCLAIMERS: You know how it goes, don't belong to me, belong to Universal. No real violence. Love between two women, sex yes. If you are under 18 go someplace else or if this kind of love offends you get lost. Hope you enjoy. 7/1998

SPOILERS: This takes place after Bitter Suite and One Against an Army. It does contain references to them so it would help if you have seen these episodes.

Xena and Gabrielle were making their way toward the Amazon Nation after a messenger delivered a scroll from Ephiny requesting their presence at the village. It had been less than two moons since Xena had stormed into the village trying to kill Gabrielle, dragging her away by her feet behind a horse. The whole thing was still too painful for either woman to think about. After their time in Illusia, Xena had found a peace within her and had also realized how much she loved and needed Gabrielle. They had completely forgiven each other for the events in the past, yet had never really discussed it since leaving Illusia.

Gabrielle was riding Argo with Xena. She was still recovering from the sprained ankle and the poison arrow wound received by the Persians. Gabrielle was in front of Xena, enjoying the feel of Xena's arms around her waist. She realized a long time ago that she loved Xena but only recently did she discover how much she needed her. The hate building within them had jeopardized that love. Those barriers had been broken making their love even stronger. She wanted to talk to Xena about her feelings but was afraid those feelings were one sided. She knew Xena loved her, but she didn't think Xena could be in love with her and that hurt.

The visit to the Amazons was a bit of a mystery. Xena was a little nervous about this visit, after all she did try to kill their Queen, however she didn't think this trip was about that. Gabrielle had sent word back to Ephiny explaining everything that had happened and Ephiny had responded saying that her arm was healing and to visit soon. Xena figured she would just have to wait and see how the reception would be when she got there.

Gabrielle was the one to break the long silence "Xena, are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine, I was just thinking"

"I figured as much. I could feel you tensing up behind me." Gabrielle spoke softly trying to get Xena to relax and open up a little.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bother you. I was just thinking about going to the village again." Xena's voice was softer than normal.

"Xena, why don't we stop and talk for a little while. I think we both need this and we are only a few miles from the Amazon borders." Gabrielle spoke with confidence and reassurance in her voice to support her friend. Xena wasn't much for talking but was getting much better at it.

"Okay that might be a good idea" Xena led Argo off the path and into the woods till she found a small clearing. Xena dismounted first then helped Gabrielle down. Xena settled Argo and went over to a log and sat down next to Gabrielle.

Gabrielle reached over and put her hand on Xena's shoulder "Xena, everything will be fine and I will be there with you at every turn."

"I know Gabrielle, it's just they were my friends, I don't want to see the hatred in their eyes. How can they forgive me for what I did to their Queen, to you?"

"Xena, they will forgive you just as I forgave you. That's what friends do. They don't just turn their backs on you."

" I wish I could believe that. I didn't allow myself to feel for so long, then Hercules changed that and I started to feel again. Then I met you and you taught me how to love. I opened myself up to those women, called them friends, and now I'm faced with losing them. I don't know how to handle it." Xena's voice quivered when she spoke, her eyes were moist with unshed tears.

Gabrielle also had tears in her eyes "Xena, you chose your friends well, I have a feeling they will welcome you with open arms. I mean let's be honest here. You had every right to come after me to avenge your son's death. My daughter was the one who killed Solan. That's something I have to accept myself."

"Gabrielle, no that was not your fault. I ..."

"Xena" Gabrielle interrupted, "Yes it was. I know you have forgiven me, just as I have forgiven you, but the truth still stands. Always looking for the good in someone caused me not to see the evil in Hope. I wanted to believe she was a victim and because of that Solan died." Gabrielle broke down in tears after speaking aloud what she had known in her heart.

Xena reached over and pulled Gabrielle over into her lap to comfort her. Xena too
needed that closeness. Xena held her whispering soft soothing words until she felt
Gabrielle quiet down. "Gabrielle, over the last few weeks I've learned so much, about myself, about you and about us. When I lost my son I turned to the anger inside and tried to kill my best friend. When we went to Illusia, I learned to forgive, to trust and to love again. When you laid in Tripolis dying, I thought I had lost you again. I couldn't stand the thought of going on without you Gabrielle. You are the other half of my soul and without that I couldn't survive. I love you Gabrielle."

Gabrielle looked up into Xena's eyes, moist with unshed tears, and saw the love held there for her. She couldn't believe what was happening, it was like a dream come true, and to hear those words from the one she treasured most. When she spoke her voice quivered with the joy and excitement coursing through her body, "I love you too, Xena." With that said she leaned forward and lightly brushed her lips against the warriors.

Xena was reeling from the feel of the bard's lips on hers. Her lips were soft and gentle yet filled with passion. As the kiss deepened she could feel Gabrielle's lips part slightly and Xena accepted the invitation and explored the bard's mouth. The desire coursing through her body was one she had never known before. She had had many lovers but none that could make her feel the way she felt now and this was just a kiss. Xena felt Gabrielle pull back from her and a slight panic rose in her chest, but when she looked into Gabrielle's eyes, it disappeared quickly.

Gabrielle rose slightly and repositioned herself on the warrior's lap so that she was straddling her. She looked into the most alluring set of blue eyes she had ever seen and whispered "I love you." Once again she leaned down and captured her warrior's lips with her own, this time it was aggressive and passionate and left no unanswered questions between them. As Xena's hands caressed her bare mid drift, her hands tangled in Xena's long dark hair pulling her closer. Gabrielle deepened the kiss, her tongue intertwining with Xena's, sparking a desire deep within each woman. Gabrielle could feel Xena's touch on her skin, it was intoxicating, she had to have more. She reached for the clasps of her armor and started the process of removing the articles of clothing keeping her from the feel of the warrior's bare skin against hers. Gabrielle could feel the warrior pull back, she looked at her and asked "is something wrong?"

"No, nothing at all, but I need to settle Argo, I think we might be here a while." Xena stated in a low husky voice dripping with desire. She stood up and went to where Argo was standing and quickly removed her tack and set the mare loose to graze. She then retrieved their bedroll and laid it out on the ground.

Gabrielle walked over to her and again began removing Xena's armor. Nimble fingers made quick work of the process and she moved to the leather shift that was keeping her from her ultimate goal. When she was finished and the warrior stood nude before her, she smiled at the sight and whispered "so beautiful." She then motioned from her to lay down on the bedroll and she then proceeded to remove her own clothes in front of the warrior's watchful gaze.

Xena reached out a hand for her bard to join her. Gabrielle took the offered hand and moved to the bedroll and lay out beside her warrior. Xena rolled over so that she was half covering her bard, their bodies pressed tightly together, as she captured her lips in a soul-searching kiss. Xena's hands roamed freely over the bard sending shudders through her when Xena would caress an overly sensitive area. Xena's lips moved to her neck and collarbone, memorizing every inch of Gabrielle's body. Xena's mouth found the swell of the bard's breasts and teasingly nipped at the sensitive flesh. Xena heard Gabrielle's moan of pleasure as her mouth took the nipple in and sucked gently, teasingly. Gabrielle arched into Xena's mouth wanting to give herself to the feel the warrior was provoking in her. Xena moved her lips away from Gabrielle to look at her. She heard the bard's sigh of disappointment as the contact was broken. Xena lowered herself over the bard's body. She began gently kissing her abdomen, working her way down to the ultimate destination. She could feel the heat rising off of her center, drawing her into the musky scent that was her lover. Xena reached down and began to teasingly run her hands along the inside of Gabrielle's thighs. She could feel her lover below her writhing in ecstasy, nearing the edge quickly. Xena positioned herself between the bard's legs. She tentatively tasted her lover for the first time. At the feel of Xena's mouth on her Gabrielle shuddered and moaned loudly, arching her back to encourage her warrior to take her. The only word Gabrielle could speak was "please." Xena took the hard bud between her lips and sucked aggressively sending Gabrielle over the edge screaming her warrior's name in sheer ecstasy.

Xena moved up beside her bard and took her into her arms and gently cradled her, whispering soothing words of love as Gabrielle regained her sense and came back to Xena. She felt Gabrielle relax into her embrace. The tears in Xena's eyes couldn't be contained any longer. The emotion coursing through her body was too much for her. In all of her life she had never felt like this. She had always taken what she wanted, used sex to get what she wanted, but this was about giving, something she knew little about. Over the last three years Gabrielle had taught her a lot about herself and how to give and receive, although she had never expected giving pleasure could feel like this. There was so much she wanted to say to Gabrielle but didn't think she could find the words to describe her emotions.

She felt the bard stir in her arms and looked down to find beautiful green eyes looking back at her.

"Hey, you okay?" The bard asked seeing the tears in her lover's eyes.

"Yeah, just thinking about how much I love you" Xena whispered as she ducked her head to lay a gentle kiss and the bard's forehead.

"And that caused the tears?" Gabrielle asked a little concerned.

" Yes and no really, the emotions were very intense and the tears just came as a release I think. I've never felt this way Gabrielle. Please don't ever leave me. I couldn't live without you, not now." Xena spoke softly her voice betraying her to the emotions so close to the surface.

"Even in death Xena, just like you said in Tripolis. We will never be apart Xena, because we carry a part of the other inside us. The other half of our soul." Gabrielle spoke confidently, she knew her warrior was feeling very vulnerable at the moment and wanted Xena to know she could count on her always. Gabrielle then leaned forward to kiss her beloved warrior. She could taste herself on her lover's lips arousing a passion from deep within.

Gabrielle needed to give Xena the same pleasure she had received. She deepened the kiss pulling Xena in with her. Gabrielle could feel Xena start to respond to her mouth and to her hands that were lightly stroking the skin of the warriors stomach. She lifted herself up further, breaking the kiss to look down into the beautiful blue eyes staring back at her. "You are the most gorgeous woman I have ever seen Xena. I love you more than anything, give yourself to me, please." Gabrielle whispered wanting permission from the warrior she had so recently hurt.

Xena looked into the bard's eyes, all she could see was the love and desire held there for her. She was overwhelmed with emotion, things she had never felt before. Looking into her lovers eyes she whispered "I'm yours Gabrielle, I always was and always will be." Xena felt Gabrielle's lips upon hers once again, sending a wave of desire coursing through her body. She felt the bards hand moving down her side over her hip to her outer thigh.

Gabrielle trailed kisses down her warrior's cheek to her neck. She nibbled lightly teasing the flesh until she wanted to continue to explore this wonderful body that lay beneath hers. When Gabrielle found the swell of Xena's breasts and began laying light kisses on the outer edge she heard Xena moan and felt her arch to her asking for more. Gabrielle acknowledged Xena's demand by taking the nipple into her mouth and gently sucking. Gabrielle's hand continued to roam freely over Xena's body. She felt the smooth skin covering tight muscles that would quiver as Gabrielle's hands slid across them. Gabrielle could feel the desire building in her own body once again causing her to increase her tempo, to become more demanding. Gabrielle scraped her teeth over the nipple, causing her warrior to moan loudly, gripping the bedroll with her fists. Gabrielle moved her hand down between her lover's legs, dipping into the silky folds she found there. She caressed lightly, teasing the warrior further, until she brought her hand up to coat her lover's nipple with her essence.

Xena watched her lover's hand come to her nipple, glistening with the moisture of her desire. She felt Gabrielle's hand on her nipple coating it with her essence. When her lover lowered her mouth to take her nipple once again she felt the deep moan coming from her throat and whispered "please Gabrielle" then she felt her lover's hand go back down between her legs, parting the folds and lightly stroking, teasing with what was to come.

Gabrielle couldn't believe how good the warrior tasted on the nipple. She knew she had to have more. It was an aphrodisiac to her. She couldn't get enough. She heard Xena moaning, which fueled her desire even further. Her hand increasing the pressure until she slid two fingers into her lover, feeling the warmth and tightness of her around her. She heard Xena scream "Oh Gods" and arch into her hand. Xena's eyes were closed tight, her head rolled back inviting the bard in for one last nip before going after her ultimate goal. Gabrielle's lips and teeth came in contact with her lover's neck with wild abandon. There would definitely be a mark there later. Gabrielle broke away to start her decent down her lover's body. She lowered herself between Xena's legs, while kissing the inside of her thighs, gently nipping at the flesh. She inhaled the scent of her lover letting it draw her closer. Gabrielle ran her tongue along the length of her lover, pleased at the sound that drew from Xena.

Xena couldn't believe the feelings running through her body, all she could do was hold on and trust in Gabrielle to protect her. When Gabrielle's mouth made contact, it pushed Xena closer to the edge. "Oh gods yes." She heard herself scream. She was so close. She could feel herself letting go, giving in to the feelings. Xena felt her lover's mouth devouring her, her tongue working tirelessly, her fingers moving in time with her own hips. Above all she could feel their souls become one. The feeling was to much for the normally stoic warrior. She was sent to the edge with a crashing wave of desire, screaming her lover's name in sheer ecstasy.

Gabrielle felt her lover tighten when her orgasm hit. She held onto her warrior, continuing to make love to her, pulling every last ounce out of her lover. When she felt Xena relax she stopped and brought herself back up beside Xena, holding her in her arms, waiting for her warrior to come back to her. Gabrielle felt the tears on her shoulder where her warrior was cradled. Gabrielle's fingers were lightly stroking Xena's hair when she whispered "Hey, you okay love?"

Xena looked up into loving green eyes, "Yeah I'm fine. I'm sorry I don't know what's wrong with me. It's just I've never felt like this before. I guess my body had to release some of the emotion that was consuming me."

"It's okay Xena. Don't worry I won't say anything that might hurt your reputation. We wouldn't want people to think you've gone soft." Gabrielle tried to lighten the mood a little so that Xena wouldn't feel uncomfortable. She knew dealing with emotions was not on of Xena's many skills.

Gabrielle's attempt to lighten the mood was not lost on Xena. This was one of the many reasons she loved her bard so much. Xena figured she would go along with it, plus she had a question or two for her bard.



"I think you have some explaining to do" Xena said in a playful tone.

"Oh really, and just what do I need to explain?" Gabrielle teased.

"I want to know where you got your lessons. You only had on night with Perdicus, and I know what you just did wasn't learnt from him." Xena smiled a little wickedly. She loved putting her bard on the spot.

"Well just how naive do you think I am? After all I am the Queen of the Amazons." Gabrielle was also enjoying this little game.

"Uh huh, are you saying an Amazon assisted in your learning?"

"Relax my warrior. You are the only woman to every lay a hand on this body." Gabrielle decided it was best not to make Xena jealous. "The Amazons have a very extensive scroll collection, and I thought it might be helpful to do a little studying and of course I have a very good imagination."

"Yes my bard that you do." Xena chuckled.

"Am I to take it then that you enjoyed one of my skills?" Gabrielle spoke with an air of confidence.

"It was exquisite Gabrielle. No one has every made me feel the way you do, even before we made love. You are the light that guides me Gabrielle. I love you more than anything and I am so thankful that I have you back in my life." Xena's voice betrayed her with a slight quiver.

Gabrielle could hear the love in her voice, "I love you too, Xena, I always have. All I want is to make you happy, to see that gorgeous smile of yours, to hear you whisper my name, to feel your touch upon my skin, to wake up in your arms every morning for the rest of my life." Gabrielle's tears were sliding down her cheeks when she leaned forward to capture her lover's lips in a soft and gentle kiss, trying to convey the depth of her feelings.

Xena gently pulled away, "Gabrielle, if we continue we will never make it to the Amazons."

"I think I would rather continue this." Gabrielle said seductively.

"Well look at it this way, when we get to the village we will have the privacy of the Queens chambers, plus a soft bed to continue this exploration."

"Well you do have a very good point. Let's get moving shall we?" Gabrielle stood up and started to dress. She could feel Xena watching her. She then heard Xena stand and also start to get dressed. They got everything together and headed out.

In less than an hour they were at the border of the Amazon Nation. Xena and Gabrielle dismounted and continued on foot. Xena knew they were being watched and within a few moments a group of Amazon warriors dropped from the trees wearing masks. Xena and Gabrielle raised their arms over their heads and clasped their hands together in a sign of peace.

One of the Amazons stepped forward, knelt on one knee and put her right fist over her heart and spoke her greeting "My Queen." Gabrielle stepped forward to greet the Amazon. "Please rise" The Amazon stood then removed her mask. Gabrielle was happy to see the familiar face of her friend Solari. "Solari, how are you?" She said as reached for her friend to give her a big hug.

"I'm well my Queen, and you?" Solari said teasingly. She knew how Gabrielle hated formalities and royal titles.

"Gabrielle is great, thank you." Gabrielle said laughing as she had emphasized her name.

Solari stepped around Gabrielle to Xena who was still standing beside Argo. Solari studied Xena's body language and looked into her eyes. If she didn't know better, she would think she saw fear. Solari approached slowly to stand in front of Xena. "Hello Xena, how are you my friend?" Solari reached out her hand for a warriors greeting.

Xena hadn't known what to expect. She was genuinely scared that Solari wouldn't want anything to do with her, but when Solari called her friend it brought a smile to her face and she released the breath she didn't realize she was holding. She was so happy she pulled Solari in for a hug and said "I'm doing great Solari, thanks."
Solari stepped back completely shocked. "Well, I can see Gabrielle is having an effect on you." She paused and looked back and forth between Xena and Gabrielle. "Well let's get back to the village. Ephiny will be anxious to see you both." Solari dismissed the warriors back to duty and sent a runner ahead to announce their arrival.

The three made their way to the village. Gabrielle was telling Solari some of the things that had happened including her near death experience with the Persian arrow that had poison on it. "And here we are. That about covers everything." She finished.

"Wow, that sounds interesting to say the least. Xena how could you stay in Tripolis to fight knowing Gabrielle was dying" Solari said in amazement not accusingly.

"Trust me Solari, I did everything I could to try to take her to Thessaly, but she fought me all the way. She was prepared to die for the sake of doing what was right and I was fully prepared to follow her. I really didn't know if I could survive against that army, but you should have seen her Solari, she was so brave a lot braver than I was." Xena said with a lot of pride coming through in her voice as she reached down and took her bards hand in hers and intertwined their fingers, giving Gabrielle a genuine smile.

Solari noticed this but decided not to say anything just yet. She wanted to continue her questioning of the bard's story. "So tell me about Illusia. I mean you both should be dead from the fall over that cliff into the water. Do you think a God was involved?"

Gabrielle decided to answer this one. "I don't know Solari, I remember everything up to that point so clearly, but after waking in Illusia it all seemed like a dream or nightmare. If a God was involved, I would say it was to give us another chance, to show us the way and show us where home really is." She paused and brought Xena's hand up to her lips and kissed the back of her hand before continuing. "That's with each other."

They walked for a while longer before Solari worked up the nerve to ask them about their relationship. "So if you don't mind me asking, what's the deal with you two?"

Xena and Gabrielle smiled at each other then Gabrielle said, "Well do you want to take this one?" Xena nodded then turned to Solari, "if you are asking if we are lovers the answer is yes." Gabrielle blushed and swatted Xena with her free hand and said "You didn't have to put it like that." Xena responded "That's what you get for letting me answer."

Solari still blushing a little herself said, "So when did you two finally admit this to each other?"

"About four hours ago actually." Gabrielle replied, "it sounds like you expected this."

"Gabrielle I think everyone knew except you two." Solari said laughing as they entered the village.

"Well at least it won't come as a big surprise then." Gabrielle said as she waved to the welcoming party. She felt Xena try to release her hand to fall back but she squeezed Xena's hand reassuringly and spoke softly for only Xena to hear. "You're okay, stay with me, please." She felt Xena's response through her hand by gently squeezing. They stopped in front of Ephiny and the awaiting Amazons.

"Welcome back to the village Queen Gabrielle and Xena." She smiled warmly at Gabrielle and avoided eye contact with Xena.

"Ephiny it is so good to see you again." Gabrielle stepped forward and gave Ephiny a one arm hug so she didn't have to let go of Xena's hand. Gabrielle stepped back and nodded to the rest of the Amazons

Ephiny stepped over to Xena. She had to play this just right. She couldn't make it seem as nothing had happened but she also didn't want to hurt her friend. She could tell that Xena was very unsure of this meeting. "Xena, we will need to discuss your actions against the Queen, but from what I can see we shouldn't have any problems." Ephiny put her hand out for a warriors shake, when Xena accepted Ephiny leaned forward and softly whispered "Welcome home."

Xena knew that Ephiny had certain obligations as Regent so she maintained her stoic appearance although she was smiling in the inside.

"Please join me in my hut." Ephiny turned to one of her guards and asked her to send for Eponin, then bring some wine, cheese and bread. Xena, Gabrielle and Solari followed Ephiny to her hut. Once inside and out of view she turned to Xena to explain. "Xena I'm sorry about that, but it was one of those formalities that had to be done in front of the other Amazons."

"Ephiny I understand, what I did was wrong and if any punishment is necessary I will accept it with no argument." Xena stated flatly, yet softer than normal.

"No Xena, I don't think that will be needed. I'm just glad to see the two of you looking so good." Ephiny finished with a big smile on her face.

Before anyone could say anything there was a knock on the door. Ephiny called for them to come in. Eponin and the guard walked in. Eponin greeted Xena and Gabrielle. The guard left the wine and food the exited the hut to stand at her post outside the Regent's hut. They all got a mug of wine and sat down to catch up on things.

"So my Queen, what trouble have you gotten into lately?" Eponin asked laughing with the others at the question. Gabrielle was known for finding trouble.

"Well does a poison arrow through the shoulder from a Persian soldier count?" Gabrielle said as she moved her top strap to show her new wound.

Xena decided to have a little fun with her bard. "Yeah, she got that because she had a sprained ankle and had to ride because she didn't listen to the advice I gave her."

Gabrielle reached over and backhanded Xena. "Well at least I got a new pair of boots out of it."

"Yes my bard that you did."

Ephiny, Eponin and Solari watched the exchange between the two and then looked at each other. Solari already knew and just grinned at Eponin and Ephiny as they tried to put it all together.

Xena noticing the activity decided to enjoy the opportunity, "You know if you two don't close your mouths a bug is going to fly in."

Ephiny shook her head to try and clear it. "Sorry Xena it's just, well, I've not seen you two quite like this before."

Xena smiled and said, "Oh, you mean as lover's."

"Uh, well, since you said it, yes. When did this happen?"

"Oh about four or five hours ago." Gabrielle popped in before Xena could embarrass her further.

"Well you may have only admitted it to each other today but it's always been there." Eponin piped in smiling at her Queen and consort.

"You're right Eponin, I fell in love with her the first time I saw her." Xena smiled when she spoke and watched as jaws dropped once again from this admission of the normally stoic warrior.

Gabrielle was also amazed but still managed to add to the admission, "the feeling was mutual, it's just neither one of us could admit our feelings to the other for fear of losing them."

"Well you two have survived so much that I don't think anything will ever separate you two, not now." Ephiny said to her friends. "Although we did have some doubts a couple of moons ago. It still seems like a bad dream."

"There's not a night that goes by I don't think about that. Ephiny I am so sorry about your arm. I was blinded by hate which almost cost me everything I care about. I still can't believe I tried to kill her." Xena finished softly nodding to Gabrielle.

Ephiny thought about what to say and decided the truth was in order. "Xena, if you hadn't come back Gabrielle would have died anyway. She had been in the purification hut for three days."

"Three days, why did you let her stay in there that long. She should have been dead before I even got here." Xena spoke in a very firm voice yet not raising it above normal level.

"Xena believe me, had there been any other way I would have tried but honestly it really didn't matter because Gabrielle was already dead emotionally it was just a matter of time before her body realized it." Ephiny spoke softly, she was still haunted but the sight of Gabrielle those few days she spent with the Amazons.

"We were both hurting but Gabrielle carried the majority of it. She was blaming herself plus she had me blaming her. I don't know what I did to deserve her but I will spend the rest of my life trying to." Xena finished in an unsteady voice and looked over to Gabrielle who had tears rolling down her cheeks. Xena reached over and pulled her into her lap and kissed the top of her forehead.

"I'm just glad we were given a second chance. We both learned a lot about ourselves and about each other but most importantly we learned how to forgive." Gabrielle's voice was unsteady from crying. This was the first time they had really spoken about it since leaving Illusia, let alone telling others.

"You two have been through so much, you both deserve to be happy." Ephiny paused for a minute. "It sounds like a God may have been involved."

"That's the weird part Ephiny. In Illusia I was first greeted by Callisto, then Ares, but why would they want to help us. All Callisto has ever done, is try to destroy me."Xena paused, thinking back to the events that occurred. "Ares visited me before I came after Gabrielle. He encouraged me to kill her." Xena's voice trailed off at the end.

"Wait, when I was in the purification hut Callisto visited me. I thought it was a hallucination. She told me that Xena had destroyed our families, that we should hate her for that. Then I screamed and Joxer came in and got me, then Xena was there. The next thing I know I'm standing facing her and hollering 'I hate you' while running at her I tackled her but there was nothing behind us except the cliff and we went over. When I came to, I was standing naked behind some bushes thinking I was in the Elysian fields, until Joxer started singing."

"Joxer, huh?" Xena chuckled and gave Gabrielle a sly grin before continuing on. "Well, I guess there are two things we need to do. First we need to go to the cave near the Centaur village and check to see if Callisto was freed. Second we need to have a little chat with Ares." Xena spoke in a firm tone that left for no arguments.

"Excuse me?" Eponin said, "you are going to call on Ares?"

Xena raised an eyebrow in response. "Yeah Ep, we are going to talk to Ares. Unless that scares you." Xena finished smiling mischievously at Eponin.

"No, of course not I was just checking." Eponin bantered.

"Let's plan on leaving after breakfast." Ephiny piped in.
"Sounds good, by the way Ephiny why did you send for us?" Gabrielle asked.

"The main reason was to make sure you were okay. The Amazons have been talking about it since it happened. I thought they needed to see you and Xena and spend some time with you two to see for themselves that everything is fine, and from the looks of it everything appears to be great." Ephiny finished smiling at the two.

"Yes, things are great." Xena smiled "I think we would like to get cleaned up before eating. So, till tonight then?"

"Till tonight. We are having a big feast for the return of our Queen." Ephiny smiled at Gabrielle. "Your hut has been prepared for you. If you need anything, let the guard know and they will take care of it."

"Thank you Ephiny." Gabrielle said warmly. Then Xena and she left and made their way to their hut which was about fifty paces from the Regent's.

They greeted the guard at the door then Gabrielle dismissed her. They stepped through the door of the hut to find a skin of wine on the table for them. The hut was large, it had a small table with several chairs around it, the bed was large and looked to be very comfortable. Xena went and sat on the bed and started removing her armor. Gabrielle smiled and went to stand beside Xena.

"Here let me." She began removing the pieces one by one. A few moments later Xena was free of the heavy armor. Gabrielle moved in front of her and knelt and began removing her boots. After everything was removed and the only thing she was left wearing was her leather shift, she gently pushed her to lay back on the bed. Gabrielle quickly removed her boots and went to join Xena. Gabrielle snuggled into her warrior, her head on the crook of her shoulder, her arm draped over the warrior's waist and her leg on top of the warrior's.

Xena reached up with her free hand to take Gabrielle's into hers gently intertwining their fingers. They laid there for a while in silence just reveling in the feel of the other.

Xena was the one to break the silence. "This seems like a dream. I don't think I've ever been this happy and at peace. I want you to know how much I love you Gabrielle." Xena kissed the top of her head and tightened her embrace on the young woman.

"I feel the same way Xena. I feel like I've loved you all my life and I intend to love you for the rest of my life and beyond." Gabrielle had propped herself up to look at Xena, after she spoke she leaned down to lightly kiss her warrior. Xena deepened the kiss pulling Gabrielle down to her. They spent the next hour expressing their love for the other, then fell into a light sleep.


Xena woke before Gabrielle. She took this opportunity to watch her bard as she slept. Xena didn't know if she had ever seen a sight more beautiful. She felt Gabrielle begin to stir and lightly placed a kiss on the top of her head. Gabrielle looked up with sleepy eyes and smiled at her love.

"Hey there" Xena said softly.

"Hey yourself" Gabrielle said in return. "What about a nice hot bath?"

"Mm, sounds wonderful. I'll ask the guard to bring water for the tub." Xena rose and put on a robe the Amazons had left in their hut. Xena knew that even though Gabrielle had dismissed the guard she wouldn't be that far away. Xena stepped outside the hut and saw the guard standing at Ephiny's tent with another guard and motioned her over. When she was finished with her instructions, she went back in the hut and sat on the bed looking down at Gabrielle.

She reached out and stroked the side of her face with her fingertips. "So beautiful."

Gabrielle smiled and reached up and grabbed Xena's hand pulling it to her lips where she kissed her fingertips and whispered, "yes you are."

"What did I do to deserve you?" Xena asked in wonder.

"I've asked the same thing of myself. How I, a young farm girl from Potediea, found a wonderful, strong and beautiful love like you."

Xena pulled the young woman up into her arms and held her tightly. She could feel the tears in her eyes, the tears of complete joy and happiness. Xena knew she was softening where Gabrielle was concerned, and maybe a little over all, but she didn't care. She was finally happy.

Gabrielle felt a tear hit her back. She pulled back to look at Xena. She saw the tears rolling down her cheeks. She brought her hands up to cup Xena's face using her thumbs to wipe the tears away, she then leaned forward and gently kissed each eye then kissed her lips. She looked into those deep blue eyes and saw the love Xena had for her shining through. She whispered, "I love you Xena" then kissed her again.

They were interrupted by a knock on the door. Xena rose and went to the door while Gabrielle got up and put her robe on. Xena made sure her bard was covered before she opened the door. When she opened the door there were two guards with buckets of steaming water for their bath. Gabrielle greeted them as they came in, they emptied the water in the tub and then bowed to their Queen. Gabrielle acknowledged each woman by name and excused them to continue filling the tub. Soon the tub was full and Gabrielle thanked the women before they left.

Gabrielle and Xena removed their robes and climbed into the tub. They sat quietly just relaxing for a while until Gabrielle decided to wash Xena's hair. She began washing her hair before she said anything, "Xena, do you think Callisto got out or was it just an Illusion?"
"I don't know Gabrielle, but she did get out of the lava pit."

"Yeah but she had help from Hope. Who would have gotten her out this time?"

"Well when we go to the cave tomorrow that will answer some of this, but as to who could get her out, I'm not sure. I don't think Ares would help her, but I'm not sure of that either."

"I guess we just have to be patient." Gabrielle smiled at her warrior.

"Yeah, I guess so my bard." Xena finished with a smile then lowered herself into the water to rinse her hair then she did the same for Gabrielle.

While Gabrielle finished rinsing, Xena got out and dried off then started dressing. She was just about finished when Gabrielle got out.

"Gabrielle, I need to talk to Ephiny a minute. Why don't you get dressed and meet me at Ephiny's before we go to the celebration?"

"Okay, I'll see you in a minute."

Xena finished with her armor as she stepped out the door. She made her way to Ephiny's. When she got there a guard announced her and then escorted her in.

"Hello Xena, you look refreshed." Ephiny said with a smile.

"Yes, that bath did wonders. Not to mention the company."

They both smiled warmly at each other before Ephiny finally asked, "Is there something I can do for you or is this just a social visit?"

"I need to ask something of you. I would like to make a formal apology to the Nation for my behavior against the Queen and make my intentions clear."

"Xena there's no need to do this, but if you want to you are more than welcome to, just let me know when you are ready and I will announce you." Ephiny spoke as the Queen's regent.

"Thank you Ephiny and nothing of this to Gabrielle." Xena spoke matter of factly to make sure her point was taken.

"You haven't said anything to her about this?"

"No because I know she would say that I didn't have to, but I do have to, because of the code I live by."

Just as Xena finished there was a knock on the door and the guard escorted Gabrielle in. Gabrielle went over and gave Ephiny another hug then moved to stand beside Xena. Gabrielle reached down to intertwine her fingers with Xena's.

"Well are we ready to go eat?" Ephiny asked knowing the answer.

"Yes, I'm starving." Gabrielle said enthusiastically.

Xena started laughing and pulled her bard to her. "My dear, were do you put it?"

"Very funny Warrior Princess."

Ephiny, Xena and Gabrielle left the hut laughing with each other. They made their way to the food hut, greeting women along the way. When they reached the hut most everyone was already seated. The three made their way to the front where the dias was. They took their seats, Gabrielle at the head of the table with Ephiny on her right and Xena on her left. Eponin and Solari also had joined their table. Servers brought mugs of Amazon wine and platters of food. They began eating and chatted through their meal.

They had finished their meal and were enjoying their wine. Xena nodded to Ephiny that she was ready. Ephiny smiled and got up from the table and approached the dias.

"Amazons" Ephiny paused waiting for everyone to quiet. "As you know we have come together tonight to celebrate our Queen's return, but before we start the bonfire and drums I have been asked by Xena that she be allowed to address you first. Xena" Ephiny stepped aside to give Xena some room.

Gabrielle glared at Xena as Ephiny made her announcement. She received a smile from Xena in return. Xena got up and walked to the dais and nodded to Ephiny.

"Thank you Ephiny. I wanted to apologize to each and every one of you for my behavior on my last visit. What I did was wrong and I have no excuses. All I can say is I was not myself. I hope you will forgive me. I was fortunate enough to be given another chance by your Queen." Xena motioned for Gabrielle to join her, which she promptly did. "I am also wanting to make my intentions known." Gabrielle stood there somewhat shocked yet completely overjoyed at what this might mean. Xena dropped to one knee and removed her sword and chakrum and laid them at Gabrielle's feet. Gabrielle picked the weapons up in acceptance of the offer. The Amazons went wild then Ephiny called for the celebration to begin.

Xena, Gabrielle, Ephiny, Solari and Eponin formed a group on the edge of the courtyard where everyone was gathered. The bonfire was in the middle and the drums were opposite of where they were sitting. Xena and Gabrielle were sitting on a log, arms wrapped around each other.

"Gabrielle, do you think we can get a story out of you? I would love to hear about the Persians." Eponin asked, smiling sweetly at the Queen.

She looked at Xena, who rolled her eyes but nodded and smiled at her. "Okay, I guess I can tell a story." Gabrielle said acting like it was a hassle but smiling all the while. She moved away from Xena so she could have room to move her arms to help tell the story. She started into the story in full bardic mode, she left out no details except one Xena noted mentally. When Gabrielle finished there were a lot more Amazons standing around listening. Eponin thanked her for the story and the others then complimented as well.

Xena saw her opening to fill in one detail left out. "Uh, honey, I think you left one thing out." Xena paused smiling at her bard as she got an icy stare in return.

"No Xena I don't believe I did." Gabrielle stated firmly.

The others watched in amusement, waiting to see what the detail was. It had to be good to get this kind of a reaction from the bard.

"Of course you did honey, you forgot to tell them why you were on Argo in the first place."

"It's not really important to the story Xena." Gabrielle said getting desperate to silence her warrior.

"Oh, I think it's very important. See, Gabrielle decided to try a flip and wouldn't listen to me when I told her what foot to lead with. So she failed in her attempt and sprained her ankle in the process. However, she did get a new pair of boots out of it." Xena finished smiling sweetly at Gabrielle.

The group was trying to keep from laughing. Ephiny decided she needed to know more. "Yeah Xena you mentioned that earlier but the full story is priceless. Gabrielle, didn't you use your staff for help?"

"Yeah, I completed that with no problem so I figured I could do it without it. Xena tried to stop me by saying she had tried it three hundred times with a staff first. I made the mistake of calling her a slow learner." Gabrielle said as she tried to keep from laughing.

After that piece of insight the whole group burst out laughing including Gabrielle. They laughed for quiet some time before Solari decided to ask a question.

"So Xena, how did you handle being called a slow learner?"

"I haven't yet, but I always get even. Besides she did enough to herself." Xena smiled wryly and pulled her bard in for a hug.

They chatted for a while longer and Gabrielle told another story. After a couple of hours Xena announced they had better turn in, they had an early day coming. They rose and said their goodnights and made their way back to their hut. They held hands all the way there enjoying the closeness.

When they got to their hut, the guard opened the door for them. Gabrielle promptly dismissed the guard. She wanted her privacy with Xena tonight. They went in and lit candles near the bed. Gabrielle sat down and started removing her boots. Xena sat down on one of the chairs. After Gabrielle finished with her boots, she walked over to Xena to help remove the armor. Gabrielle worked quietly for a while until she decided to ask Xena about earlier.

"Xena, why did you make that apology? Did Ephiny ask you to?"

"No Gabrielle, I asked Ephiny if I could address the Amazons. I wanted everyone to know that I don't normally treat you like that and that I was truly sorry for what happened." Xena spoke softly, she was afraid she went too far in laying down her weapons, offering herself to Gabrielle as her consort and life mate.

"You didn't have to apologize to them, but thank you. I know it was hard for you to do that." Gabrielle paused to prepare herself for the next question, hoping it meant what she thought the gesture meant. "I'm not really up on all the Amazon traditions, but I want to make sure I understand exactly what you offered tonight."

"Gabrielle, when I offered my weapons to you, in Amazon tradition, I was offering myself as consort and life mate to the Queen, to you Gabrielle. Do you still want to accept my offer?" Xena trailed of softly unsure of herself.

Gabrielle heard the fear in her voice and wanted to reassure her warrior everything was fine and she had not misunderstood the request. "Xena" she said softly reaching down with her hand to lift Xena's chin to make eye contact with her. "That's what I thought it meant but I didn't want to get my hopes up just in case. I love you Xena, I accepted in front of my Amazons and I accept again here tonight." She lowered herself to sit on Xena's lap straddling her coming forward to kiss her warrior.

Xena couldn't believe what she was hearing. She was so shocked she couldn't move. She felt Gabrielle sit on her lap then she felt her lips upon hers. Xena put her arms around her bard and pulled her close deepening the kiss. She felt Gabrielle's tongue seeking entry and she parted her lips in acceptance. The kiss deepened further, it was filled with passion and desire and most of all love. Xena stood up taking the bard with her. Gabrielle wrapped her legs around the warrior as she walked to their bed. Xena finally broke the kiss when she reached her destination. She laid the young woman down carefully and started to undress for her bard. As Gabrielle smiled in appreciation, it sent a chill down her spine. When she was finished undressing she climbed into the bed coming to rest beside Gabrielle sitting on her knees. She then began undressing her bard. Xena was savoring every minute, enjoying the sheer pleasure of the task at hand. She started with her top, slowly untying the laces holding the top on. She then gently removed the top then proceeded to the skirt. She undid the belt then removed the skirt. When she was finished, she gazed down at her admiring the wonderfully sculpted body. Xena moved to lay beside Gabrielle, her hand tracing patterns on her taut abdomen. She leaned forward to capture her lips again. When she did Gabrielle executed a perfect roll to end up on top of Xena.

Xena looked up into Gabrielle's eyes and saw pure desire. She wanted to give herself completely to Gabrielle, but relinquishing control was not something Xena was comfortable with. Gabrielle saw the look on Xena's face, saw it in her eyes. She leaned forward and whispered "trust me" then captured her lips in a kiss that was raw with desire. Gabrielle pulled back from her to look into her eyes. Xena looked up at who she knew was the other half of her soul and whispered "I surrender to you Gabrielle." With that spoken Gabrielle took what the warrior offered, her body, her mind and her soul giving Xena a pleasure she had never known. They made love for hours, giving and taking from each other till they fell into a deep peaceful sleep.


They woke later than normal due to only having a few hours sleep. Xena was the first to wake, after taking a few minutes to watch the young woman sleep, she gently woke her up by placing butterfly kisses on her cheek and forehead. Once she saw Gabrielle waking she informed her they had slept late. Gabrielle smiled at her, it wasn't often that the warrior princess slept late. She then stumbled out of bed and washed quickly in the wash basin and began to dress. Xena followed behind her with Gabrielle helping Xena with her armor. Once they were finished, they left their hut and headed for the stables.

They arrived at the stables to find Ephiny, Solari, and Eponin waiting on them, horses ready. Argo was tacked up and ready to leave also. Xena and Gabrielle walked over to Argo where Xena checked her tack.

"Sorry, we over slept, we were up late discussing some things." Xena said simply.

"Yeah, we heard." Ephiny said trying to keep a straight face watching Gabrielle blush furiously.

"We? Ephiny, your hut is the only one close enough. Did you have company last night?" Xena asked mischievously.

"Um, well." Ephiny stuttered.

Solari walked over to Ephiny and put her arm around her shoulder and smiled. "Yes, she did have company." It was Ephiny's turn to blush.

Eponin piped in. "Am I the only one sleeping alone?"

"It appears so Ep." Xena chuckled. "Come on let's get a move on."

They left the stables and mounted up, Gabrielle riding behind Xena. It took about an hour for the group to make it to the Centaur village. When they arrived, they were greeted by a young centaur and escorted to Tydlus' hut. They explained what they were there for. They were just about to leave when Xenon came in.

"Mom" Xenon shouted as he ran for Ephiny.

Ephiny knelt down to catch her son in a big bear hug and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Xenon broke loose of Ephiny and smiled at the other Amazons then he saw Xena and Gabrielle behind them.

"Aunt Xena, Gabrielle" The made their way over to the young centaur. Xena leaned down and pulled him in for a big hug. Gabrielle had leaned down beside Xena.

"We've missed you." Gabrielle said while rubbing his back. Xenon pulled back to smile at Gabrielle and Xena.

"I missed you too. You left and didn't say goodbye before." Xenon said looking at Xena.

"I'm sorry. I couldn't stay. I had to leave." Xena feared this moment. She knew though that Xenon was to young to understand.

"Because Solan died?" Xena nodded in response. "We miss him a lot." Xenon said.

"Yeah me too." Xena whispered.

"Xenon, what have you been doing since we left?" Gabrielle asked trying to changing the subject.

"A lot of playing. I get in trouble sometimes because I play to much."

"Trust me Xenon, once trouble starts to find you it always will. It finds me a lot." Gabrielle said jokingly looking to Xena who was smiling at that remark. At that moment the rest of the Amazons piped in their remarks of trouble finding Gabrielle.

They said their goodbye's and headed out to the cave. As they were riding there, Gabrielle could feel the tension building in her lover.

"Xena are you okay?" Gabrielle asked softly for only Xena to hear.

"Just some painful memories I'm working through."

"Me too." Was all Gabrielle said as she traced soothing patterns on Xena's waist.

'Always taking care of me first' Xena thought. "Hey, everything will be okay. We will work through it together."

"Thanks Xena" She said squeezing Xena's waist.


They arrived at the cave, everyone was tense as they dismounted their horses. Xena motioned for them to wait and she made her way into the cave and out of sight. Everyone waited quietly for Xena to return. Ephiny sent a silent prayer to Artemis. Finally Xena emerged from the cave.

"She's been set free." Xena said through clenched teeth, then she yelled, "ARES! Show yourself."

Moments later Ares appeared and walked over to Xena. "Hello Xena, so good to see you again."

"The pleasure's all yours. Now tell me, where's Callisto? Who set her free?"

"That one God, Dahok." Ares answered.

"That's impossible, Hope died and was burned on the pyre. I saw it myself.." Xena spat.

"Xena the only thing you saw was the body burning. His power was already strong enough to survive, he created another body within hours after the fire. Pretty nasty looking too." Ares finished walking around Xena so he could face Gabrielle. "That thing was never your daughter, your body was just a vessel to bring it into this realm."

"How do you know all this Ares?" Xena questioned, not trusting the God of War.

Ares rolled his eyes as if bored. "The day after the funerals Callisto showed up at my palace. She and this one God had trapped Hercules in between realms, but before that she let the sovereign out to steal the hinds blood. After trapping the two of them she killed Strife, then went back in time to before Herc was born to kill his mother. Well to make a long story short Iolaus finally stopped her and Herc got out of the portal. He threw Callisto in but I pulled her out and took her to Illusia where she helped me put things right with the two of you, after you tried to kill each other." He paused and walked over to Gabrielle. "You still irrate me, but I have a new respect for you. You survived behind that horse and were still able to kill Xena. It's a shame you have to be good all the time."

"Ares get away from her!" Xena yelled as she walked over to put herself between Ares and her love. "Why would you or Callisto want to save us?"

"Apparently ever God on Olympus wants the two of you alive and together. Artemis, Aphrodite, Hades, Cupid, Zeus, must I go on?" Ares spoke begrudgingly. "Look Xena, if you had died and that one God had been successful in killing Herc nothing would have stopped Dahok, but you were also no good without her with you. So you got a chance in Illusia."

"What do you mean a chance?" Xena asked.

"There were no guarantees as to the outcome. It was up to the two of you to decide your destiny. Had you chosen the wrong path you would have both been taking Charon's boat."

"So where is Callisto now?" Gabrielle asked demandingly.

"Don't worry about Callisto. She won't be bothering you anytime soon. I have her to protect her from Dahok. She failed him and betrayed him." Ares spoke seriously now. "Look Xena, I don't know what this God is capable of, the only thing Hope or Dahok or whatever did personally was to kill Kaliapus and Solan. Everything else it used Callisto, but unfortunately we can only wait and see where it shows up next."

"I don't accept that Ares and why should I trust you?" Xena asked sternly.

Just as Xena finished talking another shimmering light appeared and Artemis announced her presence. The Amazons were in awe, they bowed to her as she walked by them to Xena. She placed a hand on Xena's shoulder. "Xena, he speaks the truth. The Gods on Olympus will do anything we can to help you and Hercules against Dahok."

"So what now? We can't just sit and wait for Dahok to show himself." Xena said emphatically.

"I'm afraid that's all we can do. There's no way to find him." Artemis spoke sympathetically.

"I don't like this Artemis. I can't just sit here waiting to be attacked and put the Amazons in danger." Xena said as she looked at her friends.

Artemis stood directly in front of Xena and put her hands on the warrior's shoulders and spoke seriously. "You are a true warrior, with the heart of an Amazon. You and Gabrielle are my chosen. While you are on Amazon land you and the others will be protected from Dahok, you have my word on that."

"Thank you Artemis. I don't want any harm to come to my friends, my sisters, because of me." Xena softened a little and had a crooked smile playing on her face.

"Xena, this is because of you, but not like you think. Dahok is after you and Gabrielle because together you have the strength to be able to stop him from bringing darkness to the world. Hercules is also a part of that strength." Artemis paused and stepped back a step to look at Gabrielle. "Gabrielle, come here please." Gabrielle walked forward and stood beside Xena, Artemis reached forward and took her hand. "My chosen, I am very pleased with you, you have proven you are a true Amazon." She reached over and took Xena's hand as well. "You two share a special bond, something very few ever experience. I would like to personally conduct your joining ceremony." Artemis finished with a big smile on her face.

Gabrielle stammered with her response. She was almost to excited to speak. "Of course Artemis, I mean we would be honored."

"Xena?" Artemis asked.

Xena smiled, "Of course Artemis, I don't feel I deserve this honor, but I will gladly accept your offer and continue to work for redemption."

Artemis nodded and smiled, "then I will see you two on the evening of the full moon. Until then my chosens, enjoy your vacation." With that she disappeared in a shimmering light.

Ares stood there shaking his head. "I will never get you back will I? Well I guess I just have to enjoy watching you fight even though it is for good." Then the God of War disappeared.

Xena and Gabrielle turned and smiled at each other then at the Amazons who were looking on in awe. The two started to laugh at their friends, whose jaws were still hanging open. "Come on let's get back to the village." Xena chuckled.

The group made their way back to the village, getting there just before the evening meal. The group went their separate ways to get cleaned up and met back at the dinning hut at the table in the back. They ate in relative silence. None of them really knew what to say. Gabrielle finally broke the silence. "Eponin, do you now Calli, the healer's assistant?"

"Yeah I met her a couple of times taking a warrior to see the healer, why?" Ep spoke with a little concern, due to the mischievous grin on Gabrielle's face.

"Just curious really, she keeps looking over here at you. I'll be right back." Before Eponin could stop her, she was out of reach and on her way over to talk to Calli.

"Oh Gods." Eponin exclaimed. The others started laughing.

"Looks like the Queen is playing matchmaker for her subjects." Xena quipped, smiling ruefully at her friend.

Gabrielle walked over to the group where Calli was standing. They stopped talking and greeted their Queen with a bow and kind words. Gabrielle talked with the Amazons for a few minutes before inviting Calli to her table to join the others. They walked over to the table, Gabrielle sat down beside Xena and then motioned for Calli to sit beside Eponin.

"I asked Calli to join us for a while, I hope that was okay?" Gabrielle asked. The other nodded their agreement and turned back to their wine trying to hide their amusement.

Eponin was trying to think of something to say but was suddenly unable to think. She decided to get Gabrielle to do the talking. "Gabrielle would you entertain us with a story?"

"Yeah I guess I can do that." Gabrielle said with a knowing smile. She looked over at Xena before deciding on her story. She told a story of long ago when people had two heads and four legs. The people angered a god and as his wrath the people were divided into two halves. They were left to search for their other half to make them whole once again. She told this story never taking her eyes off Xena. She knew she had found her other half her soulmate.

Eponin was enjoying the story. She had never heard it before. She thought about just how much the story applied to her friends, watching them as the story was told. She was also enjoying the young woman beside her. Calli was about three summers younger than her. She had light brown hair and hazel eyes. She was a petite woman but very capable of taking care of herself.

Gabrielle finished her story, then suggested that they move outside to where the bonfire had been lit. As they stepped outside Xena motioned them to the perimeter of the courtyard where an old log was laying. Xena sat down on the log then pulled Gabrielle down on her lap. Ephiny and Solari sat down next to them, their arms around each other. Eponin and Calli sat on the ground in front of the others.

"You know this ceremony will make history for the Amazon Nation." Ephiny said finally breaking the silence.

"Well at least I'll be a part of some good history as well." Xena quipped as she received a swat from her bard, then laughed with the others.

"Xena you have always been a part of good history for the Amazons." Ephiny countered, "or at least it all worked out for the good in the end."

"What about the ceremony will make history?" Calli asked a little confused.

"Well, Artemis herself will be conducting the ceremony." Ep answered.

"Oh my Gods, you're kidding right?" Calli shot back.

"No, we had a visit today from Ares, Xena called on him actually, and Artemis showed up and made the offer." Ep finished.

Calli just shook her head then turned to Xena and Gabrielle. "Is this normal for you to call on a God?"

Gabrielle smiled looking at Xena and decided to answer this question. "We don't normally call on them no, they tend to pay us visits every now and then though."

"What Gods have you met?" Calli asked in complete astonishment.

"Well Ares of course and Artemis, Aphrodite, Hades, Poseidon, Strife and Zeus. I think that covers them all, oh no Cupid too." Gabrielle replied.

"I hope you are on their good side." Calli exclaimed.

"Most of them yeah, but we don't really concern ourselves too much with it. I can tell you some stories but Eponin knows most of them, maybe you could sweet talk her into telling you a few." Gabrielle said as she smiled at Ep.

Ep squirmed a little but smiled pleasantly at Calli before glaring at Gabrielle.

Ephiny decided to have a little fun a Ep's expense. "Yeah Eponin is really good at telling stories, isn't she hun?" She looked at Solari who smiled and answered, "yeah, quite good."

"Well I might have to try a little sweet talking then." Calli replied with a big smile. She knew what they were doing but she didn't mind it saved her the trouble of trying to figure out a way to get her attention.

"Gabrielle, why don't you at least grace us with one of your God stories before calling it a night?" Eponin asked.

"Yeah okay, which God would you like to hear about?"

"How about Poseidon, I don't think I've heard that one?" Ep responded.

Gabrielle nodded and relayed her tale of Cecrops and Poseidon. She was now up walking around her audience telling the story, drawing out the emotions. When she finished, she went and sat back down beside Xena. The group applauded and thanked her.

Calli decided she had to ask a question that had been forming all through the story. "Um, do you mind if I ask a question?"

"No of course not." Gabrielle responded, she had seen the look on Calli's face and wondered if she would ask.

"It was said that you two just became lovers, but the story seems to say otherwise. I'm sorry I don't mean to pry." Calli stammered.

Gabrielle waved her had to stop her and smiled. "It's okay Calli, what you heard is correct, but the feelings have always been there, I guess we were just a little blind." Gabrielle said sheepishly and Xena chuckled.

"A little!" Ephiny blurted. "Calli, these two were the only one's who didn't see it. They've even come back from the dead for each other and that still didn't show them. You could actually feel the sexual frustration radiating off of them." Ephiny chuckled.

Xena raised an eyebrow at her before speaking. "Very funny Ephiny, we weren't that bad."

"Well actually old friend, yeah you were." Solari popped in.

"You could cut the tension with a sword." Eponin chimed in.

Gabrielle turned a deep crimson and shook her head before speaking. "I didn't realize it was that noticeable."

"My dear, a love that deep isn't masked easily, even by the stoic warrior princess herself." Ephiny chuckled and looked at Xena. "No Xena not even you could mask it. It showed every time you looked at her."

"Well I'm glad I don't have to try anymore." She paused and pulled Gabrielle in to her arms. "I never thought I would feel this way after all the dark in my past but thanks to her I do." Xena kissed Gabrielle on the top of her head that was nestled in the crook of her shoulder.

"Well everyone in the village is happy for you two, although there are quite a few broken hearts." Ephiny stated.

Xena and Gabrielle laughed at Ephiny's statement. "What are you talking about?" Gabrielle asked.

"I think what she is saying is their are quite a few women who would have liked to have shared your hut with you." Xena quipped.

"Whoa Xena, you can't be that naive, there are just as many woman who would have liked to have share their bed with you as well." Solari stated matter of factly.

"Oh really." Xena raised her eyebrow to emphasize her words.

"Yes the Warrior Princess has quiet a reputation as a lover, and if that's true I won't be getting any sleep again tonight from the noise coming from your hut." Ephiny chuckled.

Solari leaned over to Eph and gave her a sly smile and said, "What made you think you were going to get any sleep anyway?"

Gabrielle then decided to put her warrior on the spot even further. "Well Ephiny let me just say her reputation doesn't do her justice." She said as she smiled at Xena.

Xena could feel the heat rising in her cheeks, but could see the crimson cheeks of her lover. "And just what do you know of my reputation?" Xena asked.

"I'm a bard remember, I have ways of finding out what I want. It's amazing what one can find out when you just ask." Gabrielle smiled at Xena.

They all laughed at the exchange. The Amazons couldn't believe this was Xena sitting with them. She was so relaxed and talkative. Two words you just didn't use to describe Xena. They all however enjoyed the sight, and it was clear they were both very happy and truly in love. They all sat in silence enjoying the moment until Xena spoke.

"You about ready to turn in love?" Xena wondered where that came from but it felt so natural. She tried to ignore the smiles she got from the Amazons, but enjoyed the look on her lover's face.

"Yeah, I'm ready." Gabrielle said as she stood and took Xena's hand to pull her up. When she was standing, she put her arm around Xena's waist, then they walked away saying goodnight.

The Amazons sat there for a moment looking at each other before Ephiny spoke up. "Can you believe Xena? She's so calm and happy. I wasn't expecting this at all. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to see her, them, this way. I'm just shocked."

"Yeah it's quite amazing. After her son's death and seeing how it affected her, well, I'm just glad it all worked out for everyone." Eponin said.

"When she came in here to get Gabrielle she could have taken out a lot of us. The council wouldn't have been able to over look that." Solari stated.

"Well, it was still hard to convince them to overlook what happened at first, but since Gabrielle and I were the only ones hurt, and neither wanted to pursue it, there wasn't much they could do. However, Xena was fully prepared to accept punishment for her actions, but I think she's punished herself enough already. She still feels guilty for what she did to Gabrielle. I can see it in her eyes. Those two still have a lot of healing to do yet, but I think they will be fine." Ephiny spoke softly.

"Nothing will separate those two, not even death I don't think." Eponin stated.

"No, not even death, Xena basically said that herself yesterday when we spoke of the Persians. She said she was fully prepared to follow Gabrielle. I think if the poison had killed Gabrielle, Xena would have let the Persians kill her. They are so closely linked. I don't think one could survive without the other." Ephiny finished softly.

"Well enough of this talk for tonight. How about turning in love?" Solari asked.

"Sounds great." Ephiny smiled at her lover.

"Goodnight you two, see ya tomorrow." Solari said as she winked at Eponin.

"Goodnight" They said in unison, then stood up as Eph and Solari walked off.

"Well, um, Calli, would you like to join me for a drink before turning in?" Ep asked hesitantly.

"Yeah, I'd love to, after you." Calli said as she motioned for Ep to lead the way. She came up in step with Eponin and smiled over at her.


Xena and Gabrielle made their way back to their hut. On the way they passed the purification hut. Gabrielle pulled Xena to a stop and looked at the hut for a moment, then started walking again. She unconsciously squeezed Xena waist for reassurance.

"Hey, you okay?" Xena asked softly.

"Just thinking. I can't believe I was in there for three days. I don't really remember any of it. I just felt numb. I knew I had lost everything." Gabrielle paused to try and keep her composure. She looked up at Xena when she felt her fingers brush against her cheek to wipe a stray tear away.

"Hey, let's go back to our hut and talk about this." Xena said softly.

"You want to talk more?" Gabrielle asked shocked that Xena wanted to talk about this.

"A very wise friend once told me talking about it helps you heal." Xena said smiling at Gabrielle.

"Thanks" Gabrielle said as she snuggled closer to Xena and they continued their trip back to their hut.

Once they got there, they dismissed the royal guard for the night and went in. There was a fire going and candles had been lit around the room. Xena put water on to heat for tea and the two got undressed and put on their night shifts while they talked. When the water was hot, Xena measured out the herbs and steeped them for the tea. When finished she added a little honey to each cup then took them to the table beside the bed. Xena crawled in the middle and sat with her back against the wall. Gabrielle was sitting in the bed with her back up against the headboard so they could look at each other while they talked. Gabrielle then retrieved the tea and handed one to Xena before she took a sip of hers.

"Mm, good tea. I taste mint and it's sweet." Gabrielle purred.

"Yep, special blend."

"Thanks love" Gabrielle said as she reached out and took Xena's hand.
"Anytime" Xena paused to sip her tea before continuing. "So where would you like to begin?"

"Um. I guess at the beginning." Gabrielle paused trying to figure where that was exactly. " After you found Solan and told me to leave, I went back to our hut to get my things and Hope came in. She was telling me he was already dead when she got there. I was starting to believe her again. I wanted it to be true. She was still my daughter, but when she called Solan by name I knew the truth. I told her we were leaving and to go get her things. While she was gone, I mixed the poison in the waterskin. I took her to a small clearing where I offered her the water. After she drank down a good bit, I took the skin from her as she was falling to the ground. I laid her out and covered her body. I picked up the waterskin to finish it off, but I couldn't do it I knew I had to face you first, so I put it down. That's when I looked up and saw you standing there." Gabrielle was looking down into her tea when she asked "did you see that part?"

"I must have walked up just after that because I had no idea. Gabrielle, I'm so sorry, the whole time I was just thinking of myself. I never stopped to think about what you were going through, even in Britannia. I had a feeling Hope was still alive, but I never said anything to you. Maybe if I had, things would have been different." Xena said trailing off softly.

"Oh no Xena, don't try to take the blame here. I lied to you about killing her and because I believed she could be good your son is dead." Gabrielle finished shaking as the tears flowed down her cheeks.

"Gabrielle because of me this whole thing started. My hatred for Caesar took us to Britannia. Ares told me to destroy the temple but I didn't listen because I didn't trust him. I thought it was just because he was afraid history would repeat itself. I was obsessed with my hatred for Caesar and wasn't there for you, but when I saw you were in danger I left the battlefield, but it was to late." Xena also had tears in her eyes. "Gabrielle we are both at fault here, but we can't change what happened. I have forgiven you and myself and I know that you have forgiven me but what about you, have you forgiven yourself?"

"Xena I've done so much to you, that's all I could think about in the purification hut. I lied to you in Britannia and I betrayed you in Chin, then my daughter killed your son. I had lost everything but most importantly I hurt the one person I would die for. Ephiny was right. I was waiting to die. I didn't want to live. I have forgiven you Xena and I have forgiven myself, but I will never forget. I am thankful that you had your time with Solan in Illusia, that you got to hold him as your son. That image is burned into my mind." Gabrielle couldn't control the tears anymore.

Xena took Gabrielle's mug from her and sat them on the table then took her bard into her arms and held her as both women cried cleansing tears. They held each other quietly for a while before Xena pulled back to look at her love. She looked deep into her green eyes to see the love and devotion held there for her. Xena used the back of her hand to wipe away the moisture of the tears. She leaned forward to kiss her lover. The kiss was gentle and loving. When Xena pulled back to look at Gabrielle's face, she was given a beautiful smile, Xena smiled back and whispered "I love you."
"I love you too, more than life itself." Gabrielle said as she ran her fingers through Xena's hair.

"We can't exist without each other can we?" Xena asked.

"No, we can't and I wouldn't want to anyway." With that said Gabrielle pulled Xena down to her for a deep passionate kiss. One that not only expressed her love but also conveyed her desire.

Xena responded in kind to Gabrielle's kiss, deepening it even further bringing forth her desire and passion. When Xena broke away to catch her breath, she removed her shift then Gabrielle's. She put her hand on Gabrielle's shoulder gently rubbing before pushing lightly to get her to slide down, when she did Xena joined her laying half on her bard.

The passion in each of them was all consuming. Each had to have the other, to possess them and to surrender to the other. The look in their eyes made the other woman shudder with excitement. Xena leaned down and captured the bard's lips. This was the start to a very long night.

Ephiny and Solari were in awe at the sounds coming from the nearby hut. The expected the passionate cries of Gabrielle, but they didn't expect it from the stoic warrior princess. They didn't think Xena would be able to surrender control like that, but it was very obvious she had. Apparently not only Xena's reputation was understated but Gabrielle's as well. Eph and Solari were fueled by the noises but fell asleep exhausted long before the warrior and her bard.


The next morning Xena woke just after sunrise, which was a little late for her but still early. She looked over at Gabrielle sleeping in her arms and thought about how lucky she was to have her. She would do anything for this women that held her heart. She decided breakfast in bed would be a good start. The trick was getting up, they were intertwined with each other so you couldn't tell who left off where.

She managed to extract herself from Gabrielle but not easily. When she got up Gabrielle moaned at the loss of her lovers body, she grabbed Xena's pillow and hugged it tight. Xena watched in amazement as Gabrielle snuggled the pillow and sighed, falling back into a deep sleep. Xena put her leather shift on and her boots and headed for the food hut.

When she got there, she saw Eph and Solari sitting at a table with Eponin. She walked over to greet her friends. "Good morning" she said with a smile.

"Good morning Xena" Ephiny said "care to join us?"

"No, but thanks. I'm getting something to take back to Gabrielle so she will have breakfast when she wakes up." Xena said with a sly grin on her face.

"Yeah I bet she will be starving when she wakes up, especially after her workout last night." Solari enjoyed this new Xena.

"You don't have a lot of room to talk, but I do think you were asleep long before us." Xena said as she looked back in forth between Eph and Solari.

"We kind of wore ourselves out." Ephiny stated.

"I think you must be out of shape then. I mean a little bard out lasted her amazon warriors." Xena chided.

"Very funny Xena." Solari said as she glared at Ep who was laughing uncontrollably at his point.

Xena smiled and laughed lightly with Ep before she started to leave. "If you will excuse me, I have a bard to feed." Xena continued laughing as she walked away. She thought about how good it felt to be this relaxed and most of all happy.

The Amazons watched Xena walk away before looking back at each other which started them laughing some more. Eponin regained her composure enough to talk. "I don't know about you but I really like this new Xena."

"Yeah, she's really like one of us now, before I think she felt out of place but after the incident she knows we really care and accept her." Ephiny stated.

"I would agree with that, but I would never have pictured her as the romantic type. I mean really, breakfast in bed. I think she's softening a little." Solari chuckled.

Xena filled the tray with fruits, cheese and bread and two mugs of cider before heading back to their hut. She quietly walked in as to not wake Gabrielle. She sat the tray down on the table then walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. She gazed down upon Gabrielle's face illuminated by the sunlight coming through the window. The warrior brushed the back of her fingers along the bard's cheek line, Gabrielle smiled and sighed at the contact, which brought a smile to the warrior's face. She continued her light stroking on her face and through her silky hair. Gabrielle started to respond to the caresses.

Gabrielle heard Xena come in but stayed in her sleep state so Xena wouldn't know. She felt Xena's touch and couldn't help but to smile and a sigh escaped. The strokes continued to her hair. She felt her body responding to the contact. She reached out and grabbed her warrior, pulling her down on top of her, catching Xena completely off guard. She opened her eyes to find the most intense set of blue eyes looking at her and a gorgeous smile on her face. Gabrielle smiled back and said "gotcha."

"Yes you do my bard, yes you do." Xena said as she leaned forward and gently kissed her before continuing. "I brought you something to eat, I thought you might be hungry."

"Yeah, I am." Gabrielle said seductively as she pulled Xena back down to kiss her passionately. She felt the passion course through her and when she broke away and looked at Xena she saw her own desire reflected in her eyes.

"I think I've created a monster." Xena said as her lips brushed against her bard's neck.

"Are you complaining mistress?" Gabrielle said with a smile hoping Xena wouldn't take it the wrong way.

Xena's breath caught when her lover called her mistress. She looked up at Gabrielle and saw the smile on her face which caused her to smile. "That's not a good idea, you might get something you're not expecting my love." Xena spoke with a huskiness to her voice.

"I may not be expecting it but I'm sure I will enjoy it. I've heard of your reputation remember?" Gabrielle broke eye contact and looked down submissively, but couldn't help but smile when she whispered "mistress."

"Yes, definitely a monster." Xena growled as she captured the bards lips in a passionate kiss while reaching over to retrieve her whip that was beside the bed with the rest of her weapons. She placed it right beside the bed then stood and undressed. She walked around to the foot of the bed and grabbed her lover's feet pulling her down away from the headboard. Xena climbed in bed crawling over Gabrielle, straddling her hips. She leaned down to capture those lips again this time grabbing her wrists and pulling them over her head. Gabrielle's hands where held down by one of Xena's as she used the other to get the whip and tie her bard's hands together then to the headboard. All this took place before Gabrielle knew what was happening. Xena leaned up to look at her bard. She never realized the bard could be this passionate and adventurous.

The look on Gabrielle's face was one of excitement and fear. Xena leaned over again and gently kissed her love then whispered "trust me, if you want me to stop just say truce and I will stop immediately." Xena leaned up to look into Gabrielle's eyes for conformation.

Gabrielle smiled at Xena and said "I trust you with my life Xena, I won't need that word." She paused for a moment and smiled even more. "I'm yours, do as you will mistress."


Ephiny, Solari and Eponin walked past the hut and decided that stopping was a very bad idea from the sounds coming from within. They continued on to Ephiny's hut. Once inside they all looked at each other and broke into fits of laughter. Ep was the first to speak. "Those two can't keep their hands off each other. They're worse than rabbits." Which broke them into more laughter.

The three sat there for a while eating their mid day meal discussing plans for the joining ceremony of their Queen. Runners had been sent to neighboring villages to invite their leaders. After a couple of hours there was a knock on the door, the royal guard announced the Queen and Xena. They walked in and nodded to the group and took a seat.

"I hope we didn't miss anything?" Gabrielle asked sweetly.

"No my Queen, we heard you were busy, so we went about making plans for your ceremony." Eponin grinned.

Gabrielle blushed and looked to Xena who was grinning evilly then spoke. "Jealous Eponin?"

Eponin stuttered, "Um well."

Eph and Solari just laughed at the exchange.

Gabrielle decided a change in subject was in order. "So what else needs to be done?"

"Not much really. We need to discuss the rituals and a few traditions need to be gone over since you are probably unfamiliar with them." Her Regent said.

"Well let's go over them then, no better time than the present." Gabrielle said enthusiastically.

"Ok, let's start with the first thing the separation." Ephiny stated

"Separation, what separation?" Gabrielle asked a little worried.

"Calm down it's just for one night. It is tradition that from sunset the prior day you two are not to see each other till the ceremony." Ephiny said reassuringly.

"Gabrielle, you can stay with Ephiny and I will stay in your hut with Xena." Solari offered.

"I think we can live with that." Xena chuckled and winked at Solari. A lot of wine would be consumed that night Xena thought.

Gabrielle looked over at Eph. "Can we trust those two together?" she said mischievously.

"Yeah, they'll behave if they know what's good for them." Ephiny said glaring at Xena and Solari who were smiling in return.

"You can trust us." Solari and Xena said in unison then started laughing at the exchange.

"Gods the village is in trouble." Gabrielle said smiling at her warrior.

"I'll put the royal guard on alert." Eph chuckled at the two warriors.

"That won't be necessary. So what else do we need to know." Xena said still smiling at Ephiny and Gabrielle.

"Well you will both be taken to prepare after midday. Your attendants will go over last minute details, then you will bathe and dress. Your attendants will then take each one of you to the temple. Gabrielle you will go first, then Xena. Usually the priestess conducting the ceremony will talk to you but with Artemis doing the ceremony I'm not sure who will greet you. The ceremony is a little more complicated due to Gabrielle being Queen. Although with Artemis preforming the ceremony I'm not sure what to expect there either. I guess I'm not of much help am I?" Ephiny trailed off in thought.

"What is required of us in the ceremony?" Xena asked although she knew most of it.

"Well Xena you will be required to declare your allegiance to the Queen and accept the Amazons as your sisters, along with your vows to Gabrielle and a token of your love. Gabrielle, you will have to accept Xena's pledge declaring her an Amazon and your vows. You can also give a token of your love if you wish but it is not required. Are you okay with that?" Ephiny wasn't sure if Xena was aware she would also become an Amazon.

Xena looked to Gabrielle then smiled. "Of course it is Ephiny."

"Xena are you sure. I don't want you doing this because you think it's what I want. I want you to do this because it's what you want. It won't change anything between us." Gabrielle said concerned about Xena's decision.

"Gabrielle, yes I'm very sure this is what I want. I knew about this before I asked you. I can't think of anywhere else I would rather be when we retire. Besides you will have to rule as Queen one day anyway." Xena said smiling at her soulmate.

"You really mean that don't you?" Gabrielle asked amazed.

"Yeah I do. I can't fight forever and most of all I feel comfortable here, at least I do now." Xena said looking at Ephiny.

"Before the incident you didn't feel like you belonged here did you?" Ephiny asked.

"No, I didn't, but they forgave me for what I did and they trust me to be with their Queen. That says a lot to me."

"They've learnt a lot from their Queen." Eponin stated smiling at Gabrielle.

"Yeah, I've learned that you can teach an old warrior new tricks." Gabrielle chuckled which caused the group to laugh, as well as lightening the mood.

"Who are you calling old?" Solari asked mock insulted.

"Us, who do you think?" Xena chuckled.

"Yeah, but we still love ya all the same." Gabrielle said smiling at Xena and Solari.

"Well, let's see who's old. Why don't we continue this on the practice fields?" Solari suggested.

"Sounds good to me, let's go." Xena said with a sly grin on her face.

"Yeah, I want to see how much Gabrielle has leaned since her first introduction to the staff." Eponin stated remembering the lessons she had given her quite a while ago.

"I'll bet you she can knock you on your butt Ep." Xena challenged.

"You're on." Eponin accepted her challenge without hesitation. She knew the small bard would be no match for a trained Amazon warrior.

"Oh, this is going to be a long afternoon." Gabrielle sighed.

The group made their way to the practice fields. When they arrived, some young Amazons were being taught basics in staff fighting. Gabrielle smiled at the sight, she remembered her first lessons and almost laughed out loud at the memory. The instructor saw the group arrive and announced the Queen and Regent's arrival, then cleared the field for them. Gabrielle already had her staff, the others went and picked out a suitable weapon for themselves. When they were ready, they had to decide who would go first.

"Why don't I go first? Solari, you and Ephiny come on." Xena stepped out onto the field.

"Oh, centaur poop." Ephiny sighed under her breath.

They walked out onto the field to meet Xena. She had already started to loosen up. Solari and Ephiny did the same. After a few minutes they were ready and started to parry with each other. Xena took it slow. She knew her skill level was well above theirs. Solari and Eph picked up their attack. As the practice continued the young Amazons sat amazed at what they were seeing. Xena flipped over their heads then landed a blow to Ephiny's mid section knocking her off balance. Solari stepped forward to try to land a blow to Xena. Xena side stepped and dropped low to take Solari's feet out from under her. Xena stood over the two women smiling down at them.

"Help us up and quite gloating." Solari quipped.

Xena helped Eph and Solari up, they then moved over to Eponin and Gabrielle.

"I think it's your turn." Xena said smiling at her bard. She stepped up to her wrapping her arms around her then kissed her soundly before saying "good luck."

Gabrielle smiled back at Xena. "Thanks"

Eponin and Gabrielle moved onto the field. They too started loosening up before beginning. Eponin was going to start out slow until Gabrielle moved forward attacking her with several rapid thrusts. Eponin was somewhat caught off guard but recovered quickly. They exchanged blows, each landing a couple but not enough to take the other down until Gabrielle used a move Xena had taught her taking the Amazon completely off guard and forcefully landing her on her rear.

Gabrielle heard Xena approaching and smiled at Eponin. "Well I guess Xena wins?"

"Yeah, she normally does. You have much improved my friend. I'm glad you are on our side. You and Xena." Eponin said smiling at the two as they looked down on her. Gabrielle offered her hand to Ep and lifted her up and pulling her in for a hug. "Thanks Ep" said into her ear.

"Hey, you ready for a real workout?" Xena asked Gabrielle with a smile which got her a backhand in the gut. "What?"

"Come on you." Gabrielle said smiling back at her beloved warrior.

Eponin left quickly as Xena drew her sword and stepped back from the bard. Gabrielle just continued to smile at Xena. They started slowly. They had a regular routine set after years of sparring together. The Amazons stared in amazement. It was like watching a dance. Their movements were both fluid and graceful. The skill levels of both were higher than the Amazons cared to admit and they could tell Xena still was not going all out. They could hear the hard hits of the sword on the staff. Gabrielle showed no signs of difficulty in blocking the thrusts. They went on for a half an hour increasing the skill level as they went. When the fight climaxed they began to slow their movements, bringing themselves back down to cool off. They knew better than to just stop. It wasn't good for the muscles to do it that way. When they stopped, only inches away from each other, Xena leaned in to give her bard a quick kiss. They then made their way back to the group of Amazons waiting for them.

"Well, I'm impressed. That was some show. Do you two do that all the time?" Ephiny asked.

"Yeah most days, it helps us keep at top form." Gabrielle replied.

"Thanks for the show and butt kicking." Eponin said smiling at Gabrielle.


"Hey why don't we go get cleaned up before dinner?" Xena asked her bard.

"Sounds good. If you will excuse us, we will see you back at the food hut later." Gabrielle said to the others.

They walked off the practice fields toward their hut. Xena put her hand on Gabrielle's far shoulder and pulled her in close giving her a kiss on the top of her head. Gabrielle looked up at a smiling Xena and couldn't help but to smile herself.

"What was that for?" Gabrielle asked.

"Do I need a reason?" Xena asked innocently.

"Of course not. You can do that as often as you like. I guess I'm just not use to this side of you yet. I have to admit though I really enjoy it." She said while coming in even closer to her warrior.

"Good, because I don't plan on stopping anytime soon."

"I hope you don't plan on ever stopping."

They got to their hut and dismissed the guard once again. When inside Xena pulled Gabrielle over to the bed and sat down. She pulled her love into a big hug and kissed the top of her head again while whispering "I love you."

Gabrielle pulled back to look at her warrior. She brought her hand up to caress the warrior's cheek. She could feel Xena leaning into her hand and watched as she closed her eyes and smiled. Gabrielle leaned forward and captured her lover's lips in a passionate kiss. She could feel the energy pass between them as the now familiar fire started to build. Xena pulled back smiling at her love.

"I knew you would be passionate, but I never imagined you could make me feel the way you do. All I want to do is hold you, all of the time." Xena paused smiling even bigger at the look on her love's face. "I can't keep my hands off of you. I would do anything to make you happy."

Gabrielle was shocked at this admission and the length of it from the normally quiet warrior. "And they call me the bard. I knew there was a soft romantic side of you hidden in there somewhere. I'm glad it was uncovered for me. I love you Xena. More than my own life. You are my heart and my soul and without you I would cease to exist."

Gabrielle could see the moist eyes of her love. Hers also were moist with unshed tears. They were both so happy and thankful they had been given this second chance. Xena leaned forward and gently kissed her soulmate's lips, savoring the feel and taste of them. She finally broke off and smiled again at the most beautiful sight she had ever seen.

"Love, if we keep this up we won't make it for dinner." Xena voice was husky with desire.

"What's your point?" Gabrielle asked smiling seductively at her love.

"Well, you tend to get a little cranky when you don't eat, plus it's our last dinner with them before the ceremony. Tomorrow night we will have to eat in our huts." Xena said disappointedly.

"Oh, I didn't realize that was tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to our night apart but I am looking forward to becoming your lifemate." Gabrielle said as she pulled away even more from Xena. She knew if she continued to be that close to her they definitely wouldn't make it to dinner.

"I'm looking forward to it also." Xena smiled at her love as she moved over to the wash basin to put some distance between the two of them.

The two cleaned up while talking about the day's events, including Gabrielle putting Eponin in her place. Xena was very proud of Gabrielle, she had become very proficient with her staff and could take on even the best Amazon warrior. After cleaning up they headed to the food hut where Ephiny and Solari were already there sitting at a table in the back. They walked over and sat down with them.

"I see you made it for dinner?" Solari quipped to Xena.

"Yeah, but it wasn't my first choice. Gabrielle tends to get a little irritable when she misses a meal." Xena said smiling at the bard.

"Very funny Xena. I'm not that bad, am I?" Gabrielle asked smiling at her warrior. She knew the answer and that was a yes she was but would Xena say so.

"Nah, not that bad. It doesn't match my bad mood." Xena answered.

Gabrielle noticed Eponin and Calli come in and kicked the group under the table to get their attention. They all glanced at the door and smiled at each other before the two made their way to the table.

"Do you mind if we join you?" Ep asked.

"No, the more the merrier." Gabrielle responded.

The two sat down as the food was being brought to their table. They enjoyed their meal which consisted of deer meat and vegetables that were grown there by the amazons. After they finished their meal, they received a sweet pastry for desert. With the group content they sat there chatting about the village while drinking their wine.

"So are you ready for tomorrow night?" Eponin asked smiling at Xena.

"Yeah, as ready as I'll ever be I guess. Solari and I should be able to keep ourselves occupied." Xena responded to Ep while smiling at Solari.

"Yeah that reminds me to double the guard." Ephiny said glaring at her love.

They all laughed at the thought of Xena and Solari being watched by the royal guard. They could all come up with different variations of what they might get into. Xena stopped laughing long enough to look over to the bard to ask of her plans.

"So what are you girls going to do with your time together?"

Gabrielle and Ephiny looked at each other and smiled then together said "girl talk."

"Oh no, that means we would be the topic of discussion." Solari said looking back and forth between Xena and Ephiny.

"Yep" Gabrielle said smiling at Xena and Solari.

The group again started laughing at the expense of Solari and Xena. Everyone knew Gabrielle could talk for hours and Ephiny could also hold her own, especially with a few mugs of wine. The group talked on for a while before Xena decided it was time for them to turn in early. They had a lot of things to do to prepare for their separation. This brought a smile to the warriors face, she knew she wouldn't sleep much tonight.

"Hey you about ready to call it a night?" Xena asked her bard in a neutral tone but her eyes spoke volumes.

"Yep, starting to get a little tired actually." Gabrielle responded smiling at her warrior. She could see the look in her eyes and it sent a chill down her spine and ignited a fire she knew would never be quenched.

They both stood and said good night to the others and left the food hut. Once outside Xena pulled Gabrielle in close wrapping her arm around her waist. Gabrielle snuggled into Xena embrace enjoying the feel of her love beside her. She felt safe and protected but most of all she felt loved.

They arrived back at their hut and again dismissed the guard. The queen's hut was never left unguarded but when they were there that duty was taken over by Xena. Once inside they moved over to the bed and began removing their boots and undressing for the night.

Xena had something on her mind she wanted Gabrielle's opinion on. She decided now was as good a time as ever.

"Gabrielle, can I ask you something?"

"Of course, is something wrong?" Gabrielle asked worriedly. It wasn't like Xena to ask that.
"No nothings wrong." Xena paused, smiling at her bard. "I just wanted your thoughts on something that's all."

"Oh, yeah okay."

"Well I was thinking about going to Amphipolis after leaving here, to share the news with mother. I wanted to know how you would feel about that?" Xena asked cautiously.

"I think that would be nice. Your mother seems to like me." Gabrielle answered although she was a little concerned.

This didn't go unnoticed by Xena. She pulled Gabrielle close to her before talking softly into her ear. "Yes, she does like you very much and I think she wondered about us the last time we were there after the incident with Ares and the Furies."

Gabrielle returned the hug and gave her a light kiss on the cheek before standing to finish undressing for the evening. She definitely had some plans for this evening and talking about Xena's mother was not in those plans.

Xena watched her bard remove the rest of her clothes. Xena smiled at the mischievous grin on her lovers face. She knew she was going to enjoy whatever the bard had planned for her.

When Gabrielle finished, she moved back over to her warrior. She lightly caressed her lover's cheek with her fingertips. Gabrielle watched as a smile formed on Xena's lips. She marveled at how one of her touches affected this normally stoic warrior. It gave her a true feeling of power but most of all it told her how much Xena really did trust her.

"I love you" Gabrielle whispered.

Xena looked up at her soulmate and smiled even more. Xena's breath caught at the sight of her love and hearing those three words she had waited all her life to hear. Xena reached up and took Gabrielle's hand in hers, intertwining their fingers, pulling her in close. Xena's other arm snaked around her bare waist pulling her into Xena's embrace.

"I love you too, with all my heart."

Xena lowered her head till it was resting on the bard's chest. She could smell the jasmine that Gabrielle would bathe in, which mixed wonderfully with Gabrielle's own unique smell. That alone could make Xena's knees weak. Xena laid butterfly kisses on the bare skin under her lips. Her skin was so soft, so smooth. Her fingers were making patterns on Gabrielle's back, stroking the soft skin delicately. Xena could feel the moans from her lover through her lips that were now placing kisses over her heart.

Gabrielle reached up to tangle her hand in the raven hair of her lover. The light kisses from Xena were driving her wild with desire. She pulled Xena's head back and leaned down to capture the warrior's lips with her own. It was a passionate, soul searching kiss that left both out of breath and trembling with desire. Xena quickly rose and discarded the remains of her clothes.

Gabrielle watched Xena remove her clothes, taking in the sight of Xena's incredible body. When Xena was finished, she stood facing the bard. Their eyes met and held for what seemed like a lifetime then Xena moved quickly over to her and took her up into her arms carrying her to the bed and laying her down gently. Xena stood there for a moment admiring the bards sleek and sculptured body. Xena then crawled in bed on top of her lover. Their lips met with a bruising force. Gabrielle's legs wrapping around Xena's waist pulling her as close as she could possibly be. The passion was uncontrollable as the two lovers gave everything to the other.


It was late the next morning before either one of them stirred. Gabrielle awoke to a beautiful set of blue eyes staring at her. She smiled back at her love before saying good morning.

"How long have you been awake?" Gabrielle asked after looking at the window to realize how late it was.

"Actually not long, we both slept in this morning." Xena said smiling at her love.

"You mean I actually caused the Warrior Princess to sleep late. I can't believe it." Gabrielle said as she poked Xena in the ribs with a finger.

"Well I guess I'm getting old. I can't keep up with the young ones any more." Xena said with a grin on her face.

"Oh, trust me Xena you can keep up just fine, you may sleep a little later afterwards, but you can keep up just fine." Gabrielle smiled at Xena as she leaned over and nipped her bottom lip.

Xena reached up and pulled her bard down to her kissing her passionately. They both could feel the desire build in them once again even though it had only been a few hours.

They spent the day making love and just cuddling. They had their mid day meal brought to them by the guard so they didn't have to be around anyone else today. Today was their day together before the separation. Gabrielle was just starting to nuzzle up against her lover when they were interrupted by a knock on the door.

"Whoever it is go away!" Gabrielle shouted at the door.

"My Queen I'm sorry but it's almost time for you to come with me." Ephiny said sheepishly. She knew she was probably interrupting something.

Gabrielle, aggravated, started to get up when she felt Xena's hands on her shoulders pulling her back down. When Gabrielle looked into those wonderful blue eyes, she couldn't help but smile. Xena pulled Gabrielle to her kissing her passionately before pulling back to smile at her love.

"Are you trying to torture me Xena?"

"No, just wanted to give you something to think about tonight. The next time we see each other it will be at our joining ceremony." Xena said as she pulled Gabrielle in for a lovingly tender embrace.

"Do you know how much I love you Xena?"

"Nowhere near as much as I love you" Xena said softly into her love's ear. "You better get ready before Ephiny storms in here and drags you out." Xena said as she pulled back from Gabrielle. She knew if she held her any longer she wouldn't let her go.

They both got up out of bed. Gabrielle went to the water basin and cleaned up while Xena put on her robe and sat at the table picking at the food that was left over. Gabrielle then started to dress, once she had her top and skirt on she stopped to look at Xena who was watching her intently.

"I guess I better let Ephiny in before she calls the guard huh?" Gabrielle said smiling at Xena.

"Yeah, wouldn't want that."

Gabrielle moved to the door and opened it to find Ephiny standing a few feet away talking to the guard that had brought them lunch. Gabrielle motioned for Ephiny to come in. Ephiny finished her conversation with the guard and followed Gabrielle into the hut.

"I'm sorry to have to interrupt you but it had to be done. If I waited for you to come out on your own I would be standing there all night." Ephiny said smiling at Gabrielle.

"I knew it was close to time I just don't like the thought of it that's all." Gabrielle said to Ephiny although her attention was on Xena.

Xena rose and walked over to her love. She stood only inches away looking deep into her eyes. She reached up and framed her bards lovely face with her hands, softly caressing the skin beneath her thumbs. Xena leaned forward and captured her lover's lips in a loving yet passionate kiss. When she pulled back, she smiled and her love before stepping back a step.

"You better get out of here before I change my mind about this separation thing and keep you here with me." Xena said in a husky voice, her emotions showing through.

"Till tomorrow then. I love you Xena." Gabrielle said softly as she collected her things and left the hut before she ran back into Xena's arms.

Xena watched Gabrielle leave she went over to the bed and sat down. All her thoughts were on Gabrielle. She couldn't believe how lucky she was to have her love. All they had been through over the last three years and yet they were still together and Gabrielle still believed in her and even loved her. She sat there for a while before she got up and bathed and dressed and prepared for Solari's arrival. It was close to evening meal and she knew Solari would be bringing their food for the evening and the start of a very long night. She hoped there would be several wine skins along with the meal.

Solari arrived shortly there after with their meal. She was looking forward to the evening with the warrior. Especially this more talkative and playful warrior. She knew that this would prove to be an interesting night. This new Xena combined with several wine skins and some coxing they were probably going to get into a little trouble tonight.

"Hey, you hungry?" Solari asked

"Yeah, worked up a little appetite today." Xena responded smiling wickedly at Solari.

"Yeah I bet. I brought a few wine skins with me, plus I have more hidden away just in case." Solari smiled thinking about her earlier thoughts.

"I knew I could count on you." Xena smiled back knowing what her friend had in mind.

"We do have to be a little careful though. Ephiny actually put the royal guard on alert. The bad news is they were told to take us alive. Which means a fate worse than Tartarus, mad Queens." Solari finished mock shaking.

"Yeah that little bard of mine has a temper the size of Tartarus plus some." Xena added.

"Well no more of those thought's, let's eat." Solari said.

The two ate in companionable silence. Both women with her own thoughts. Xena was thinking about her bard. She had come to realize that Gabrielle was her life. Solan had helped her see that while in Illusia. Then the near death of Gabrielle in Tripolis but they somehow survived and here they were with the Amazons the night before their joining ceremony. Which brought to mind the vows that Xena had to write. She felt so much for Gabrielle yet she didn't know how to put those feeling into words that would do justice to her feelings. They were just too deep. The vow to the Amazons would be much easier.

Solari's thoughts traveled along the same lines. It had only been a couple moons since her and Ephiny had become lovers but it felt so right. Her problem was she was a warrior and had no idea how to relax and enjoy their love. She was hoping maybe Xena could share how she overcame her warriors' traits. Solari decided now was as good a times as any.

"Xena, can I ask you a question?"

"Yeah sure Solari what's up"

"As a warrior, how did you let your guard down to Gabrielle. I mean you seem so comfortable around her and well I'm just having a hard time with Ephiny. I know I love her but my instincts keep my guard up all the time." Solari finished sheepishly.

"Solari, I'm not sure how to answer that question. Gabrielle and I have been through so much. Don't forget I tried to kill her a couple moons ago. After Illusia I swore nothing would come between us again and no more lies. I was planning on telling her about my feelings before the Persians but I was afraid. I didn't want to lose her, but when she was poisoned with that arrow and I almost lost her I knew I had to tell her. When I did and she told me that she loved me too, well I was just so happy it didn't matter anymore. She was the most important thing and all I wanted to do was make her happy. Everything else just came naturally once I surrendered to her to us."

"No offense Xena but you were so stoic and controlled, not to mention quiet. You just said more than I think I've ever heard you say." Solari laughed a little with Xena lightening the mood before she continued. "Xena you said you surrendered Gabrielle, how?"

"I realized that wether I told her or not I would get hurt. I had already lost my heart to her. The next step was to give it to her freely. I trusted her to protect me. I gave myself to her with no reservations. My body, my heart and my soul. In turn she did the same for me. It built a bond that will never be broken and because of that I can't hide my feelings for her, even if I had to." Xena tensed a little with that last admission.

This didn't go unnoticed by Solari. "That bothers you doesn't it Xena?"

"Yeah, I've always been afraid my enemies would use those I love to get to me. Solan died because of that exact reason. Hope went after Solan to destroy both of us and it damn near worked. If it hadn't been for Solan and the Gods, we would both be dead. She knew that, but if I didn't tell her for that fear and miss out on the best thing in my life they win without even knowing it."

"I've never thought of it that way. I want you to know I am very happy for the both of you. You have both become very good friends. I am glad I stood on Gabrielle's side when Velasca declared her a traitor to the nation and went after her. My instinct told me she was the right person to lead the Amazon nation. Do you think you two will ever settle down here?" Solari asked a little shyly, everyone knew how Xena felt about staying in one place.

Xena sensed Solari's nervousness about asking that question and just smiled at her. "One day Solari we will settle down here in the village. I have so much to make amends for I'm not sure I will ever succeed but in a couple summers I'll give it some serious thought."

By this time they had both finished eating and one of the wineskins was empty. Solari decided it was the right time to start on the second. Xena suggested a quick dip in the hot springs to start the evening off. The two got their things together and headed out to the hot springs, one of the royal guard following close behind, but not to close.

They arrived at the hot spring to find Eponin and Belean, one of the royal guard, relaxing in the spring. Solari and Xena removed their leathers and made their way into the hot water to where the other two were sitting.

"Hey Ep, where's Calli?" Xena asked smiling at her friend.

Eponin smirked at Xena before answering. "She's on watch, Belean and I were cleaning up since we just came off watch." Ep paused and smiled at Xena. "You got enough wine to share?"

"Sure, I think we can spare a drop or two." Solari replied with a smile.

Belean decided it would be best if she finished up and left the warriors alone. She had been briefed earlier by the Regent about the possible activities this evening may bring and she thought it best not to be involved in them. "Well I think I am going to call it a night. See ya tomorrow."

"You cutting out on us so early?" Solari asked as Belean was getting out of the water.

"Yep, I know what's best for me and being around the three of you tonight could get me in big trouble with Ephiny."

The three laughed as they watched Belean leave. Of course they all knew she was the smart one of the group. They were passing around the wine skin and chatting about weapons and training the younger amazons. As the night went on and they were on their third skin the conversation started lightening up a little.

"So Xena this time tomorrow you'll be an old married woman. How will that feel?" Solari asked teasingly.

"Well I don't know if old is the right word and I'm not sure how it will feel to be married but I am definitely looking forward to making love to my lifemate, to my wife." Xena said with a mischievous grin on her face.

"Yeah well there's quit a few of us who would love to take your place." Eponin chimed in.

"You can dream all you want, just don't get any ideas, I'd hate to have to kill my sister." Xena purred in her deadly tone but still had a grin on her face.
"Don't worry Xena I wouldn't even dream of it." Ep assured her.

"Hey let's head back to my hut and get the other wine skin. Anyone up for some cards?" Xena asked.

"Sure that sounds good I guess, it might keep us out of trouble." Solari offered.

At that comment they all burst out laughing. Then Xena stood up and looked at the other two. "Come on the last one there has to deal."

Solari and Eponin stood quickly and moved to the shore to throw a tunic on when Xena picked up her stuff and took off naked back to the village, laughing as she went. The others followed suit. Luckily it was now late and there were only a couple women out that saw three figures go flying by. Xena made it first and considered holding the door shut but decided against it and put a shift on before the other two got there. Solari beat Eponin into the hut but only by fighting her off. Their laughter carried over to the neighboring tent where Gabrielle and Ephiny were.

Ephiny and Gabrielle looked at each other at the sounds coming from the tent. They started to chuckle at the thought of what might be going on. Ephiny opened the door and asked the guard what was going on. The guard related the story as best she knew it.

"Well. What are they up to?" Gabrielle asked tentatively.

"Well it appears that our girls plus Eponin had a race back from the hot springs."

"Oh, is that all?" Gabrielle asked a little skeptically.

"Naked." Ephiny stated with a smile on her face.

"You're kidding right?"

"Nope, all three not a thing on." Ephiny chuckled after she said it, just the thought was funny enough. Both girls broke out into a fit of laughter.

After a little while they settled down and continued talking. They hadn't spent this much time together since Gabrielle became Queen, when Xena had died but had managed to come back to Gabrielle. The whole village thought that would be the turning point in their relationship.

"Gabrielle, why did it take you and Xena so long to admit your feelings for each other?" Ephiny asked tentatively.

"Fear, we were both afraid the feelings were one sided and neither of us could stand the thought of losing the other. After what we went through though it was pretty hard to deny it anymore. I saw it in Xena's eyes when she looked at me in Tripolis. She wouldn't admit it then because we both thought it was goodbye but I saw it as plain as day. When we stopped to talk, I was hoping she would admit it. I knew she had to be the one to say it first. To deal with her feelings on her terms or it would make her feel trapped." Gabrielle said smiling into her mug of wine remembering that moment in the clearing were they had first made love.

"She really is your other half isn't she." Ephiny stated instead of asked.

Gabrielle looked up at Ephiny and smiled. She knew nothing need be said it was written all over her face. Ephiny just shook her head at her and chuckled.

"So lets get down to the girl talk. What's the warrior princess really like in bed?" Ephiny laughed harder at the blush creeping up Gabrielle's neck.

"Oh my, well how can I put this. She's just amazing, there are times when she can be so gentle and tender I wonder if it is the same person and other times she can be wild and passionate. When she's like that we go all night and still wake up wanting more. Nothing has ever felt more right in my life."

"Wow, I've heard a lot about her reputation but never did it include gentle and tender. I guess it's different when you're in love huh?" Eph concluded.

"Yeah I guess so. I know it is for me. I think back to my one night with Perdicus and it was nothing even close. I made a big mistake and it got him killed. I wish I had realized before hand what I was doing. I should have known I couldn't substitute him for Xena." Gabrielle finished quietly.

"We all make mistakes Gabrielle and it wasn't your fault he died, you know that right?" Ephiny asked hopefully.

"Yeah I do, I just think about what would have happened if he had lived." Gabrielle shuddered at the thought.

"Hey that's the past and this is now, this is real. This time tomorrow you will be joined with Xena and enjoying your honeymoon." Ephiny was pleased with the smile that got out of Gabrielle.

"I still can't believe it Ephiny. It's got to be a dream. I never believed I would ever have Xena's love like this. That she would want to join with me. Pinch me to see if I'm dreaming." Gabrielle said smiling at her friend.

Ephiny leaned over and pinched her on the arm. Gabrielle yelped and smacked Eph's hand. They started laughing for no real reason except to laugh. They talked for a couple more hours before they finally called it a night and went to sleep.

Meanwhile, in the other hut Xena was wiping them clean. The three had played cards for hours and Eponin and Solari had lost big. The two finally decided they had lost enough and decided to call it quits. They had polished off most of the wine and none were feeling much pain at that moment. Xena believed it was about two hours prior to sunrise. She was in better condition than the other two and decided she better take control and order sleep or no one would be in any condition to get through the ceremony later that afternoon. Xena had the guard take Eponin back to her hut and Solari and Xena fell asleep shortly there after.


Later that morning Gabrielle and Ephiny got up and had the guard bring breakfast to them so they could prepare mentally for the ceremony. The attendant would be there in a few hours to get her to start preparing physically.

Ephiny was watching Gabrielle closely, she was being very quiet and that just wasn't like her. Although she had never been around her when she first woke up either. "Hey, you okay Gabrielle?"

"Huh? Oh yeah just thinking really. I had a ring made for Xena back before Solan died and when all that happened, well I put it away thinking I would never give it to her. I was thinking of giving it to her today at the ceremony. What do you think?" Gabrielle finished in a whisper.

"Gabrielle, I think she would love that. Can I see it?" Ephiny asked uncertainly.

"Of course Ephiny." Gabrielle went to her bag and pulled out a small package that was wrapped tightly to protect what was inside. She opened it carefully revealing an intricately designed ring with two stones in it. One azure blue the other pale green. She handed it to Ephiny and asked "what do you think?"

"Oh Gabrielle, it's beautiful. She will love this. The stones match your eyes perfectly. Did you have this made?

"Yeah, it was after we got back from Chin. I wanted to get her something that showed her that I loved her. That she would always be special to me. I wanted her to know that my betrayal was based on my love for her and nothing else. I couldn't let her destroy everything she had worked so hard for. Anyway needless to say I never gave it to her. Not long after it was ready Hope showed up and well you know the story from there." Gabrielle smiled weakly at her friend.

"Well I think this is the perfect time to give her this. I never doubted your love for each other. I just knew everything would work out somehow. You two are very lucky. What you have doesn't happen to everyone you know." Ephiny said as she came over to Gabrielle and put her arms around her. "I love you both. I am so glad everything worked out for you two and I am even happier that I get to witness the Warrior Princess getting married." Ephiny finished lightly chuckling as she stepped back from Gabrielle.

Gabrielle had tears in her eyes from all the emotions rising to the surface. "Thanks Ephiny we love you too. This is the happiest day of my life and I am so glad I am sharing it with my Amazon family."

Ephiny thought a change of subject was in order. "Have you written your vows yet?"

"No, I thought it might be better to just speak from the heart, although that's probably a stupid idea huh?" Gabrielle said sheepishly.

"Yes it is. You don't want to get up there and freeze and have nothing written down. That would not be good for your reputation as a bard now would it?"

"I guess not. Okay help me out here. I'll write and you tell me what you think, okay?" Gabrielle said as she got her quill and parchment out.

Gabrielle and Ephiny worked on her vows till it was time for lunch. Again the guard brought their food to them since they were not to be out in the village until time for the ceremony.


Xena woke up first, she knew as soon as she opened her eyes she was in trouble. Her head was pounding and her stomach was doing somersaults. She managed to get to her saddlebags and dig out some herbs. She quickly mixed them in two cups of water. She drank it down and sat in the chair waiting for them to take effect. Once the symptoms started to fade, she made up another cup and took it to the guard outside with instructions that it be taken straight to Eponin. When she was at the door she heard Solari moan from her bed.

"Xena" Solari moaned.

"Here, drink this down it will help with the hangover." Xena handed her the mug and sat back down in the chair. After Solari was finished, she handed the mug back to Xena.

"Thanks, I think. That stuff tastes awful. I hope it works better than it tastes." Solari said still laying in bed with her arm raised over her eyes.

The two sat quietly for some time before either spoke. Solari was the one to break the silence.

"I wonder how Eponin is doing?"

"She should be feeling better by now, I sent some stuff over to her as well. How are you feeling?"

"Oh I'm getting better. How long before mid day? Solari asked hopefully.

"Not long enough. About an hour. I suggest we get some more rest before the attendant comes."
Solari and Xena laid back down to rest. Solari fell asleep while Xena laid awake thinking about what this afternoon would bring. She thought about her vows to Gabrielle and what she should say and about asking to become an Amazon. She thought long and hard about what she wanted to say before deciding exactly what that would be. With that done she closed her eyes to rest for a few minutes before the attendant showed up.

Ephiny and Gabrielle were just finishing their midday meal when the attendant arrived. The guard announced her and showed her in.

"Hello my Queen, I am Tracis, your attendant. I am very honored to assist you for the ceremony."

"Thank you Tracis, but please call me Gabrielle. We were just finishing up our meal, would you care to join us?" Gabrielle asked with a smile.

"Thank you" Tracis accepted the offer and moved over to the table where Ephiny was seated.

The three ate in silence for awhile until Tracis noticed Gabrielle was about finished. She rose from the table and walked to the door to inform the guards to bring the water to fill the tub. When that was done she moved back to the table and sat down again.

"Your bath with be ready shortly and we can start with the preparations." Tracis said shyly.

Moments later a couple guards started filling the large tub in Ephiny's hut. Tracis put rose peddles in the steaming water to give it a nice scent. After the guards had finished filling the tub and left, Tracis motioned for Gabrielle and Ephiny to get in the tub. The two undressed and climbed in. They were bathed and their hair washed. When they were finished they got out and dried off. Tracis had laid out their outfits for them while they were bathing. Gabrielle wore her traditional amazon leathers of the queen and Ephiny's were her ceremonial leathers. After they had dressed Tracis moved to Gabrielle and began braiding her hair with small interwoven braids leaving the back to hang free. Tracis asked Gabrielle is she had her vows written and if she was going to present a token to Xena. Once the last minute details were taken care of she was lead to the Temple of Artemis.

Gabrielle walked in to the alter chamber in Artemis' temple. She was slightly nervous about meeting the Patron God of the Amazons. She had met gods before but Xena was always there with her, this was on her own. She was standing there looking around when she saw the shimmering light. When it faded and she could see again, Artemis stood there in front of her.

"Hello Gabrielle, are you ready for your joining?"

"Yes I am, thank you. It will be an honor to have you conduct the ceremony." Gabrielle said smiling at Artemis.

"It is my pleasure dear. You are a real treasure to the Amazon nation. You are truly their Queen and when you come back here to rule it will be a great day for my Amazons. You have proven yourself time and time again. Things will be tough for you and Xena until this issue with Hope is over. Use the love you have for each other to defeat her and Dahok. That's why he tried to destroy your trust in each other. Stand by each other and most of all never stop loving each other. Now go and prepare yourself for the ceremony. I will see you in an hour." Artemis said as she leaned down and kissed Gabrielle on the cheek then in a flash of light she was gone.


Xena's attendant Yona arrived at midday with their meal. She was announced by the guard and shown in. When she went in Xena was sitting at the table with her feet up in the chair lounging back and Solari was still laying on the bed. Yona stuck her head back out the door and order the bath water first. She sat the food on the table before saying anything to Xena or Solari.

"Well I can tell you two had a late night."

"Something like that yeah. Eponin was with us as well. We played cards most of the night, the problem was we went through a lot of wine." Solari offered.

"I see, well I've brought some food for you and cider. I have also ordered the tub to be fill so you two can bathe." Yona informed them.

Solari got up and joined Xena and Yona at the table to eat. The guards started to fill the tub. Once the tub was full Yona suggested they go ahead and get in before it cooled. Xena and Solari undressed and climbed in the tub. They were going through the same routine Gabrielle and Ephiny were going through in Ephiny's hut. They Amazons had made new leathers for Xena for the ceremony and to be worn at ceremonial functions as the Queens consort. Solari had her ceremonial leathers laid out for her. Yona braided two small braids in Xena's hair coming over her ears. The sat and finished their meal waiting to hear from Tracis that Gabrielle had finished in the temple and was back at Ephiny's. About a half hour passed when the guard informed them that Gabrielle had finished. Yona escorted Xena to the temple and waited for her outside.

Xena went into the alter chamber to find Artemis standing there waiting for her. She approached slowly a smile playing on her face. She didn't much like the Gods but there were a few who she did respect and Artemis was one of them. Artemis spoke first.

"Xena, you look lovely. Gabrielle will be pleased. Blue is definitely your color."

"Thank you Artemis. It is an honor to have you do the ceremony although I don't feel I deserve it but Gabrielle does." Xena said meekly.

"No Xena you are wrong, you do deserve it. I realize you are trying to atone for your past and you have done so. The good you have done does outweigh the bad you did. You were evil once but not anymore Xena. You go to great lengths to make sure the right thing is done. Gabrielle has helped you with this. You two together can beat any evil, including Dahok and Hope. Things will be hard until that has been resolved but together you will succeed. Believe in your love for Gabrielle that is what makes you strong. I am honored that you will become one of my Amazons and has the Queens consort one of my chosen. Go now and prepare for your joining Xena. I will see you shortly." Artemis leaned forward and kissed Xena on the cheek then disappeared in a flash of light.

Xena walked out of the temple where Yona was waiting for her.

"Well you ready to get married Xena?" Yona asked with a smile.

"Definitely, let's go." Xena said with a huge smile on her face.

The amazon drums began when they saw Xena walking down from the temple. Xena and Solari, who had joined her along the way, made their way to the platform that had been made for the ceremony. The amazons were in awe. Xena looked like a goddess in the new leathers they had made for her. They were similar to her normal leathers but they had been dyed a deep blue. They had also made new arm bands and boots as well for her. She had her armor on which had been polished. The arm bands and knee guards had also been done to match her armor. Xena mounted the steps to stand on the platform looking in the direction of Ephiny's hut. Solari standing behind her. Solari leaned over and whispered in her ear.

"You nervous?"

"Yeah a little, does it show?" Xena asked concerned.

"Nah not really. Don't worry about it Xena. It's just you and Gabrielle." Solari said encouragingly.

Xena nodded her thanks because as they were speaking Gabrielle had stepped out of the hut and it had left Xena speechless. Xena watched as Gabrielle made her way to the platform. When she got closer Gabrielle looked up at Xena, their eyes locked on one another, and they smiled at each other. Their eyes never left the other as Gabrielle made her way up the steps to stand beside Xena.

When they were both on the platform a shimmering light announced Artemis' arrival. The amazons gasped when they saw the Goddess then fell silent. Artemis smiled at them then at Xena and Gabrielle.

"I hope you don't mind I took the liberty of inviting a couple of Gods that were interested in this joining?" Artemis asked.

"Of course not Artemis. The more the merrier." Gabrielle answered unsure of which Gods she might be referring to.
Two shimmering lights announced the other gods. When the light faded Aphrodite and Athena stood on each side of Artemis. Gabrielle would have fallen over but Xena held her arm to steady her. There was a gasp throughout the amazons.

"Shall we begin?" Artemis asked.

All Gabrielle and Xena could do was nod. They were shocked that these two Gods chose to attend their wedding.

"I welcome everyone here today to join these two souls and accept Xena as your amazon sister and your Queens consort. If anyone objects to this joining please speak now." Artemis paused briefly to give anyone a chance to speak although she knew no one would. "Wonderful, now on with the ceremony. Xena you may pledge your allegiance to the amazons." Artemis said as she smiled at Xena.

Xena looked first at Artemis and nodded then she turned back to Gabrielle. " I, Xena of Amphipolis, pledge my honor and my life to the Amazon nation, my sisters and my Queen. I will fight for their honor and die to protect the Queen. Do you wish to accept my pledge?"

Artemis looked to Gabrielle and nodded for her to speak.

"I, Queen Gabrielle, accept your pledge and pronounce you a member of the Amazon nation. Let it be know from this point on that Xena of Amphipolis is an Amazon sister and should be treated as such."

"Now for the best part. Xena will you speak your vows to Gabrielle and give her your token of love." Artemis spoke looking at Xena.

Xena never took her eyes off Gabrielle, she merely nodded at Artemis' request before she spoke.
"Gabrielle, from the first day I met you I knew your were special. Our bond has grown over the past three years and continues to grow. On this day, I surrender to you giving freely my mind, my body, my heart and my soul. I have never loved anyone as deeply as I love you." Xena paused and pulled out her token for Gabrielle. It was a ring very similar to the one Gabrielle had gotten for Xena. The design was slightly different but the stones the same. "Gabrielle I give you this ring as a token of my love for you and my commitment to you. You have made me happier than I ever dreamed possible and I look forward to our many years together. I love you Gabrielle."

Artemis smiled at Xena and looked over to Gabrielle who had tears streaming down her cheeks. "Gabrielle"

Gabrielle smiled at Xena before beginning. "Xena , you are the other half that makes me whole. When I look at you I can feel the love we have together. When you smile at me it makes my day. When you kiss me it takes my breath away. I give you everything that is me. Our bond is one that runs deep but that should not be taken for granted. I promise you that I will never take what we have for granted and will spend the rest of my life loving you. Without you Xena I am nothing, with you I am complete." Gabrielle paused and turned to Ephiny to get the ring for Xena. When she turned back she smiled at Xena who had tears in her eyes as well. She held out the ring to put onto her finger. When Xena looked down at it and saw its resemblance to the one Gabrielle now wore she looked back up at Gabrielle and smiled even more if that was possible. "Xena I give you this ring as a token of my love for you. The swirling pattern of the gold in continuos without interruption and the stones one blue and one green represent us in a love that in never ending. I love you Xena."

Artemis smiled at both of them before speaking to the Amazons. "Let it be known that this joining is blessed by Aphrodite, Athena and myself. I am honored to present to you your Queen and her Consort, Gabrielle and Xena." With that said the Amazons cheered loudly as Xena stepped forward and cupped Gabrielle's face with her hands before leaning down to kiss her. The kiss was gentle yet passionate and held a promise of what laid ahead. Xena pulled back and looked at Gabrielle they both had tears in their eyes from the joy in their hearts. They wrapped an arm around each other and faced the Amazons. More cheers went up for the newly joined couple.

Ephiny stepped forward and motioned for them to quiet down before she spoke. "Xena and Gabrielle would like for you to join them in celebrating their joining in the food hut. Please help yourself to the food and wine and our newlyweds will be there shortly." With this said the Amazons started to move in that direction.

Gabrielle and Xena turned to face the Goddesses. Gabrielle was a little choked up so Xena spoke for them. "Thank you Artemis, we are truly honored by your presence. Athena, Aphrodite thank you for being here it was an unexpected surprise."

Aphrodite stepped forward and took Xena's free hand then Gabrielle's. "We have had our moments, but I still like both of you and to show you how much we appreciate your help in fighting for us Athena and myself would like to offer a gift if you will." Athena stepped forward to continue. "Xena and Gabrielle, what Aphrodite is trying to say is that we want to give you something only a god could give. When you are ready we will give you a child that will be created out of your love for one another. The child will be carried by either of you but will be by both of you. It will be just as it would be for a man and woman. When you are ready all you have to do is ask and it will be granted. There is no time frame on this gift and there will also be no strings attached to this gift. Do you understand what we are offering?"

Gabrielle couldn't believe what she was hearing. "You mean we will be able to create a child that is of both Xena and myself?"

Aphrodite took over again. "Yes, dear. As the God of Love I can't think of a better gift to give you two. You have both paid a terrible price in fighting Dahok, it is the least we could do. We wish you all the happiness in your future. Call on Athena or myself when you are ready." With that said they kissed both Xena and Gabrielle on the cheek then disappeared in a flash of light.

Artemis stepped forward and she too kissed both of them then spoke. "You two are my chosen and I will protect you as best I can. Take care of each other." With that said she too disappeared in a flash of light.

Gabrielle and Xena just stared at each other for a while letting everything sink in. Xena pulled Gabrielle to her and held her tight, lightly kissing the top of her head. Ephiny and Solari stood watching the two, they couldn't believe what they had just heard. Finally Xena pulled back and looked down at Gabrielle with tears in her eyes, streaming down her cheeks. Gabrielle reached up and wiped the tears away with her hands.

"Xena are you okay?" The bard asked tentatively.

'I couldn't be better, love." Xena said smiling at her soulmate before she leaned down and captured those soft lips again. Xena couldn't believe what she had heard. A child, her and Gabrielle's. She never had a chance to be with her son but this one she would do right. She pulled back from Gabrielle at looked deep into her eyes and whispered "a child."

"Yes love, our child." Gabrielle whispered back.

Ephiny stepped forward and put a hand on each of their shoulders. "Hey why don't we get to this party so you two can get on with your honeymoon?"

They looked at Ephiny and smiled and nodded to her. They followed Ephiny and Solari to the food hut, still arm in arm. When they arrived they were greeted by cheers from the Amazons. They spent almost an hour greeting each one and accepting congratulations. Normally this would have bothered the normally stoic warrior but she was so happy she didn't mind. She was with her soulmate and that was all that mattered. She smiled at each of her new sisters as they came by. One day this is where she would be living and raising their child. She still couldn't believe it.

They spent a couple hours talking to their guests and eating the nice meal that had been prepared by the cooks. Things were starting to wind down a little and they figured now would be a good time to escape and start that honeymoon Ephiny had mentioned. They stood up and thanked everyone for coming and then made a quick exit.

They all but ran hand in hand back to their hut. When they got there Xena swept Gabrielle up into her arms and carried her into their home. The Amazons had decorated their hut and had left at least a two days supply of food. Their bed had rose petals scattered over the top blanket with a bunch of flowers on the table. Xena took Gabrielle over to the bed and carefully laid her down then climbed in on top of her leaning down to kiss her.

The kiss was hungry and passionate. Xena was supporting her weight so she wouldn't hurt her love with the armor she still had on. Gabrielle would have none of that she was pulling Xena to her trying to get her as close as possible. Finally Gabrielle pushed Xena up and grabbed at her armor.

"Off, get this stuff off, I want to feel you on me." Gabrielle ground out , her voice husky with the passion coursing through her.

Xena stood up and removed her armor and leathers. Gabrielle removed her leathers as well. As soon as the last shred of clothing was off of Xena Gabrielle reached up and grabbed her arm and quickly pulled Xena down to her.

They both looked at each other and started laughing. Xena held Gabrielle close for a few minutes till they calmed down a little. "So how does it feel to be the wife of the Warrior Princess?" Xena asked still chuckling at her tumble into bed.

"It feels wonderful. How does it feel to be the consort of the Amazon Queen?" Gabrielle asked while she laid delicate kisses on Xena's collarbone.

"Absolutely terrific. Nothing would make me any happier. Now come here." Xena growled as she rolled over onto Gabrielle capturing her lips once again.

They kissed passionately for long moments, hands roaming freely over each others bodies. Xena pulled back to look into her love's beautiful green eyes. "I love you so much Gabrielle, please never let this end."

"It never will Xena, I love you with all my heart, I always will. Now, may I make love to my wife?"

"Oh yes" That was all Xena could say before her lips were captured by Gabrielle's. When their tongues met if was like a bolt of lightening going through both of them. This was their wedding night and it made their love making so much more special. Even though Xena didn't think it could be any better than it had been she was happily wrong. Gabrielle rolled Xena onto her back, placing herself between Xena's legs.

She pressed herself against Xena feeling the wetness that was there for her. She moved her hips against Xena eliciting a moan out of her love into her mouth. Gabrielle broke the kiss and trailed her lips down Xena's neck then to her soft breasts. Gabrielle took the already hardened nipple into her mouth causing Xena to shudder and gasp at the contact. She suckled gently while using her hand on the other nipple. Gabrielle could feel Xena climbing higher in her desire. Gabrielle started trailing kissing down her love's body stopping at her navel and dipping her tongue in teasingly.

Xena gasped at the feel of Gabrielle's tongue trailing down her body, stopping at her navel. The feelings this was producing were almost unbearable. The passion coursing through her body was unbelievable. She wanted to share this with her love.

"Gabrielle, I want to share this with you. I need you." Xena ground out. Her voice husky with desire. "Turn around so I can make love to you as well."

Gabrielle turned so that they had access to each other. Once Gabrielle was comfortable she continued were she had left off. She dipped her tongue into the warrior causing her to shudder and cry out. Xena almost forgot what she was going to do when she felt her love's tongue on her most private part. She recovered quickly and returned the favor by using her tongue to go the length of lover. Gabrielle cried out into the warrior at the feel of her tongue.

To both the warrior and bard it felt as they were becoming one. Neither could tell the difference between the other. Where one left off and the other started. They both climaxed at the same time calling out their love's name. When they calmed down Gabrielle moved to lay in her love's arms. Xena cradled her gently stroking her hair and kissing the top of her head.



"Did you feel that, um, connection?" Gabrielle asked a little hesitantly.

"Like we became one?" She felt Gabrielle nod. "Yeah I did, pretty incredible huh?"

"It was wonderful. I love you Xena."

"And I love you Gabrielle."

They spent to the next two days in their hut cuddling, making love and just being together. Finally they decided to make an appearance in the village. Xena donned her normal leathers but left off the armor and Gabrielle was in her normal attire. It was around midday when they left their hut. They had been inside so long that the sun hurt their eyes, so both were squinting. They headed for the food hut for a hot meal. The first person they encountered was Ephiny.

"Hey you two, I thought you were going to stay tucked away forever."

"Well it was a thought." Gabrielle said smiling at Ephiny.

"Why don't you two join us for lunch." Ephiny asked.

"Sure" Xena responded.

They walked in to find Solari, Eponin and Calli already sitting at a table near the back. Ephiny led the way and took a seat beside Solari. Xena and Gabrielle sat at the end of the table beside each other.

"Hey everyone." Gabrielle said cheerfully.

They all greeted Xena and Gabrielle. They had brought out stew and cider along with cheese and fruit for them to eat. Gabrielle immediately dug in leaving everyone staring at her.

"What? You've never seen someone eat before?" Gabrielle said while taking a bite of cheese. The group chuckled at the bard's appetite.

Ephiny decided this was a good time to bring up the trios fun the night prior to the joining. "So tell me Xena who was it that suggested running naked through the village?" Ephiny asked smiling at the warrior.

Xena grinned mischievously at Ephiny before answering. "Who do you think Ephiny? Do you think either of these two would have the guts to do it on their own?"

"Hey watch it there Xena. We have guts, I just don't like Ephiny mad at me that's all." Solari said chuckling at the expression on Ephiny's face.

Xena laughed at the comment, knowing the truth behind it. She also didn't want to get fussed at by Gabrielle. She did want to know how Eponin had faired that morning. She didn't get a chance to talk to her at the ceremony. "So Eponin, did that tea help you out the other morning?"

"Yeah thanks, I owe you big for that one. Although it could taste a little better." Eponin replied grinning at Xena and avoiding eye contact with Calli. Eponin decided it was time for a change in topic. "So Gabrielle is it true what Solari said about your gift from Athena and Aphrodite?"

"Yeah it is. I can't believe it though. It all seems like a dream. One I never want to wake up from." Gabrielle replied smiling at Xena.

"So when do you think this might take place?" Ephiny asked her friends.

Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other, they really had not talked about it in detail. Xena decided to take the lead. "I'm not sure, we have to figure out what is going on with Dahok first. Once we get that over with, well, probably soon after that." Xena finished smiling at her love.
"So, how much longer you staying?" Solari ventured.

"We are going to head out at first light. I want to get this over with as soon as possible. The quicker we get this over with the quicker we can settle down and start that family." Xena responded still smiling at Gabrielle.

"We hate to see you leave but we understand. We all wish you luck. If you need anything you can call on your friends." Ephiny said smiling at Xena and Gabrielle.

"Thanks Ephiny, that means a lot to both of us." Gabrielle said with Xena nodding as well.

The group continued to chat and eat enjoying each others company. Xena and Gabrielle never broke the contact they had with each other. This didn't go unnoticed by the group, which brought a smile to all of their faces. When they were finished Xena challenged Eponin and Solari to a little friendly sparring match and Gabrielle, Ephiny and Calli decided to go back to Ephiny's hut for a little girl talk.

The evening approached quickly finding Xena hot and sweaty but none the worse for wear. Eponin and Solari on the other hand had to make a quick trip to the healers for some stitching. Gabrielle and Calli decided it was time to head back to their own huts. They knew their warriors would be back soon for them to take care of, or love on which ever came first.

When Xena walked in to their hut she was greeted first by a wonderful smell of jasmine and roses. She was then greeted by the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. Gabrielle was dressed in a simple tunic, forest green and gathered at the waist with an intricately woven belt. She walked over to Xena and without saying a word only smiling began to remove the dirty armor. She then began with the arm bands, then kneeled to remove her knee guards. When Xena had only her leather shift and her boots left Gabrielle took her hand and guided her to a chair and motioned for her to sit. When seated Gabrielle began removing her boots. Slowly unlacing first one boot then the other while gently grazing Xena's leg with her fingers.

Xena could do nothing to resist Gabrielle. She didn't want to resist her love. So she did the only thing she could do and that was surrender to the sheer pleasure that was Gabrielle. When Gabrielle was finished with the boots Xena stood so her love could finish the job at hand. Gabrielle slowly turned Xena around the began unlacing the leather shift that was left covering Xena. When that was finished Gabrielle stepped back from Xena and just watched her for a moment. With a mischievous smile on her face she stepped back in front of Xena, running her hands along bare arms and shoulders.

"Do you know how incredibly magnificent you are. So powerful, so strong, yet so gentle and loving. You make my knees weak just to look at you and I tremble at your touch. I will spend eternity loving you and yet I will still long for more. You make me whole Xena, I never want this feeling to end. I love you." Gabrielle finished in a whisper.

Xena's breathing had quickened with Gabrielle's words. She reached forward to caress Gabrielle's face with her fingertips smiling a full smile for her and only her. When she spoke it was soft and gentle. "Gabrielle, you know I'm not good with words but I want you to know how much I love you. You are so many things to. My best friend, my light, my inspiration, my motivation and most of all the other half of my soul. I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life in your arms and an eternity loving you." Xena leaned down to capture her lover's lips in a kiss to convey her deep feelings.

Gabrielle pulled back from Xena smiling. "I think we need to get you into this tub before it cools off and we heat up too much." Chuckling Gabrielle led Xena over to the tub and watched her gracefully climb in. Once Xena was settled in the tub she began removing her clothes. She could feel the intense blue eyes watching her every movement. When she turned back to the tub to get in she was met with a gorgeous smile and a raised eyebrow. She knew it was going to be a long night. One she was looking forward to.


Gabrielle was the first one to wake that morning which was very rare. She looked to the window to see the sun shining in. It was mid morning about two hours past the time they normally got up. She looked over to Xena. She had a faint smile on her face and was cuddled up against Gabrielle's body. Gabrielle shifted a little so she could get a better look at her soulmate. She reached up with a free hand and lightly caressed Xena's cheek. She felt Xena's breathing change signaling her waking.

"Good morning" Gabrielle purred.

"Good morning to you too."

"We kinda overslept a little."

"Yeah I know. I woke up earlier but you looked so cute I couldn't bring myself to wake you up. So I just decided to cuddle up beside you and sleep a little more myself." Xena said smiling a little at the look she knew she was getting.

"Are you okay? Are you sick?" Gabrielle said as she put her hand on Xena's forehead to check for a fever.

Xena grabbed her hand and pulled it down to her lips and kissed the back of her hand before she opened her eyes to look up at a slightly worried bard. "Yes dear I'm fine. We had a late night last night and no place in particular to be, so I thought a little extra sleep would be good. Plus it gave me a chance to spend a couple more hours curled up beside a very warm and soft bard."

"Well since you put it that way." Gabrielle said as she snuggled back down into her warrior's arms.

They laid there for another half hour just enjoying the feel of the other before Xena decided it was time to get up and head out toward Amphipolis. Xena kissed her love on the check then got up, putting her robe on and going to the door to ask the guards to fill the tub for a bath. Before long, the guards had a steaming bath for the two of them. Xena moved over to the bed where Gabrielle was still laying. She had just been watching Xena get their stuff together and arranging things for their journey. Gabrielle smiled up at her soulmate and offered her hand. Xena didn't take it, instead she bent down and scooped her love up into her arms and took her over to the tub, gently sitting her in it. Xena then removed her robe and climbed in with her bard.

An hour later the two emerged from their hut with their gear in hand. They went to the stable first and packed their stuff in the saddlebags and prepared Argo. They then went to the food hut for a meal before leaving. By the time they reached the hut they were just a little early for the mid day meal. Ephiny and Solari soon joined them.
"Well you two all packed and ready?" Solari asked with a little disappointment in her voice.

"Yeah, and hopefully we will be back soon." Gabrielle answered hearing the tone of Solari's voice.

"You two try to stay out of trouble huh." Ephiny chuckled. She knew that was asking the impossible of these two.

"That would mean leaving her behind and that won't happen so I guess we will hope for the best." Xena said tilting her head toward Gabrielle to emphasize the troublemaker.

Gabrielle promptly smacked Xena on the arm for that comment. "Hey you find just as much trouble as I do little miss Warrior Princess."

The group enjoyed their meal chatting about different things happening in the village and an upcoming festival. When they were finished eating Xena and Gabrielle stood to take their leave.

"Well I guess it's time." Xena said to the group.

They made their way to the stable where they found Eponin and Calli waiting for them. They said their goodbye's to the group. Gabrielle gave everyone a hug with her goodbye. Xena walked over to Ephiny before they left.

"Thanks for everything Ephiny You are a true friend to both of us." Xena said as she gave Ephiny a hug surprising the Regent.

"Take care of her for us Xena." Ephiny said into her ear.

Xena pulled back and smiled at her. "With my life Ephiny."

With that said Xena turned and mounted Argo then reached down for Gabrielle. She grabbed Xena's hand and was lifted up behind her warrior. Gabrielle continued to wave to her friends as they left the village. The two were quite for a while with their own thoughts of leaving the village. Xena was the first one to break the silence.

"We'll be back pretty soon."

"Yeah I know it's just hard leaving this time for some reason. It felt more like home this time. I think it's because of our joining and you becoming an Amazon I guess." Gabrielle finished by lightly kissing Xena's bare shoulder.

"I feel it too. It felt good to be there this time. I'm glad that will be our home when we settle down."

"Yeah, me too." Gabrielle agreed.
Xena saw the marking of the Amazon boundaries as they continued toward Amphipolis. Xena was feeling a little apprehensive which she shrugged of to facing her mother. She was hoping that her mother would accept Gabrielle.

As they moved along the trail, a pair of eyes watched them pass. When they got fair enough past, the figured whispered "soon, real soon" then retreated further into the forest.

The End.

I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at fan fiction. I would like to hear your comments. I can be reached at Solari321@AOL.com. Please no hate mail, I will not respond. Suggestions are more than welcome however.

I also want to thank Maggie for her help in editing my story. Also Tara and Cathy for reading it and giving their opinion and encouragement.


alt fic index <> homepage