DISCLAIMERS: I just borrowed the characters of Xena and Gabrielle. They belong to Renaissance/MCA/Universal, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended. The story and story idea is mine.

Subtext/Love Disclaimer: Yep. They are in love with each other. If you are under 18, or it is illegal in your state/province, or you don't like this type of story then please move on.


A Solstice to Remember
By Merry Angel



Xena rode Argo down the hill. She had been missing Gabrielle for a few days now and it was going to be great to see her love again. She was coming home from a mission to stop Ares from taking over the world… again. And got caught up in a blizzard in the mountains on the way back. She held up in a nice, warm cave while it passed over the land. So, the plateau was now covered in breath-taking white. The scouts at the edge of the amazon territory signaled to her and she signaled back letting them know she was friend, not foe.

Everyone had been under great stress lately with the warlords in the area vying for Ares's attention. Xena hoped everything would settle down now that she had squashed his latest plans. Especially with the solstice just a week away. As Xena and Argo entered the village proper, she noticed it had been transformed in her absence. There were rings on the huts and the outlaying trees were decorated with lots of different things… some of which looked like the local animals had been nibbling on them.

As she approached hers and Gabrielle's hut, the bard, bundled against the cold weather, walked out. When their eyes met, both women smiled. Gabrielle trotted up to Argo and Xena dismounted, greeting her with a sweet kiss and a full body hug.

"Oh, sweetheart, it's so good to hold you," Xena whispered in her bard's ear.

Gabrielle's smile grew wider with the affection. "You, too, love," Gabrielle answered as they separated. "I was just on my way for a bit of lunch, would you care to join me?"

Xena nodded. "Let me take care of Argo and I'll meet you at the food hut."

Gabrielle hesitated. "Unless you'd rather wait a few minutes for me…" Xena hedged, seeing the hesitation.

Gabrielle bowed her head, "I'd like that very much. Could you use some help?"

Both women walked toward the barn just north of their hut. A spot Xena had designated as Argo's winter home. In the summertime, the mare tended to wander the open plains just in back of their hut. Xena began taking Argo's tack off and putting them away in their designated places.

"Gabrielle, what's with the floral rings on everyone's hut doors?" Xena asked.

The bard helped by bringing water over to Argo's watering trough. "Oh, that. It was just an idea I had. A week ago, I wove a few of our summer flowers that I had dried into a circle with a few twigs and branches I had gathered before the snows."

Xena let Gabrielle's voice flow over her. She had missed her bard and their conversations very much. Her tasks becoming very easy and routine as the bard told her how when Ephiny and a few of the other amazons saw that it made the door stand out a little more, they wanted one for their doors as well.

"…and Alana, the weaver, agreed to make enough for everyone."

"I noticed that everyone's was different. It makes the place seem more like a town than just a bunch of huts built close together," Xena observed. "What is the occasion?"

"Oh, well, I did it in honor of coming Solstice, in hopes of having a good year and bountiful harvest in the next year," Gabrielle explained as she pulled the blanket off Argo's back.

"Ok. I can see that. Now, explain those trees at the edge of the clearing? What's the idea behind that?" Xena asked as she brushed out the mare's blond mane.

"Well, the rabbits and other smaller animals were starving out in the forests. The hunters had complained about not having very much game or very lean game, so I thought if we decorated the trees with little bits of food, the animals would eat them. We have more than enough fruits and nuts to last us the winter, we should share. It seems to be working. They seem to be enjoying our decorations. I really think we should make it a tradition, but the council is still undecided about it," Gabrielle said, perplexed as she put a different, lighter blanket on the mare to keep her warm in the cold winter.

"Well, my bard, you are the queen, why not just make it a royal command?" Xena commented, as she put the last of the tack away and pitched some hay for Argo. Everything was clean and in order in Xena's barn. She patted the freed mare on the rump and left the stall.

"I would but I'd rather it be a mutual agreement."

Xena and Gabrielle walked toward the group hut where eating and conversation would take place. All heads turned to see the newcomers. Ephiny grinned broadly as she saw Xena enter with Gabrielle. "I heard that you were back. And that the mission was a great success."

"Hello, Eph. Yes, you know, Ares… predictable as always," Xena answered.

The food hut was decorated for the winter festivies as well and Xena noted that each wall held a different decoration on it.

"What are the plans for this Solstice?" Xena asked as they retrieved their food and sat with Ephiny and her partner.

"There's going to be a party. What else?" Ephiny joked. "Oh, yes, my Queen, there are three couples who wish to be joined this Winter Solstice."

"All right, Ephiny, send me the lists of names so I have time to study them."

Ephiny nodded. "How is Cy…" Ephiny began to ask before she was cut off by a quick head shake from her Queen.

Xena noticed it but let it go. Gabrielle didn't want Xena to know that her mother came for the festive holiday. Actually Gabrielle had invited Cyrene, Toris and her parents and sister to be there. She wanted to have a little family gathering of her own. And since her own family was not inclined to visit, Gabrielle was very pleased when Cyrene had taken her up on the invite.

The bard would tell her about Cyrene's visit in her own time. The older woman had requested lunch in her hut which was nice and warm with it's own small fireplace, nice sized bed and all the amenities she could possibly want.

As lunch finished, Xena and Gabrielle bundled up and walked toward the stream that flowed through the forest just outside the Amazon Village.

"What was that between you and Ephiny?"

"Xena, Solstice is a time for family…"

"Oh, no, Gabrielle, you didn't."

Gabrielle knew that Xena and her mother had had a falling out before they settled down with the Amazons but she figured Xena could hold a grudge forever.

"Yes, Xena, I did. Now before you got getting all mad, I wanted this solstice to be special. It's our tenth Winter Solstice together and you know that family is important to me. I even invited my parents and sister…" Gabrielle had noticed the look Xena was giving her. "Don't worry. My parents turned me down flat. They completely refused to come here." Gabrielle looked a bit miserable at having to say that and Xena felt for her partner.

"I'm sorry, Gabrielle. I know family means a lot to you…"

"It does. Xena, I want us to have a child. I've been to the local village. They have this little child they don’t know what to do with her. Her parents were killed in the blizzard. She's only five. I invited her here as well. Do you think we could take her in? She needs someone to love her."

Xena stared at her love in amazement. "You've been a busy little Bard-Queen while I've been gone, haven't you?"

Gabrielle gave Xena a chagrinned smile. "Yeah, I guess I have. I did it to keep myself from missing you. And I did miss you very much," Gabrielle said as she wrapped her arms around the taller woman. "So, what do you think?"

Xena didn't know what to think. She was ready to settle down but wasn't sure her plans had involved raising a child. But if she had to raise a little tyke, it would be best to do it with the other half of her soul there to help her.

They would bring the child to live with them and see how it goes. Xena refused to give a full answer until she had time to see if she would like life with a child under foot.

"So, what are you going to call those door rings?" As soon as the question was out of her mouth she noticed the bard's look and said,"And no, you can not call them Chakram Rings, or anything with Chakram in the title."

Gabrielle closed her mouth and grinned. "Spoil sport. Ok. How about Solstice Weaves?"

Xena thought about it and made a face.

"How does Solstice Wreath, sound?"

Xena liked it. Plus it kept her favored weapon unique. The Warrior smiled. "Yeah, I like it."

They started back toward the village. "Ok, lets go say hello to my mother and get some rest. I have a feeling the week is going to be a bit busy for both of us."

And that is how Solstice Wreaths were invented.

The End… sort of…



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