This idea came about while I was in Greece this summer. As I visited all the ancient sites and museums I couldn't help but notice all the statues and reliefs of Artemis (probably because she is my favorite goddess). So, as I was on the plane home (for nine long hours) I sketched out this story.
This story depicts two women in love. If this offends you please don't read it.
A BIG thanks to Laura! Love ya!
It's a short of pre-uber; taking place before Xena and Gabrielle were even a thought, much less born. “The Battle of the Amazons” is depicted in a few fragments of reliefs found in an Ancient Greek city. It shows Athenian soldiers cutting down Amazons. Awesome artwork, not so awesome results for the Amazons. Not much is known about the piece but from what I saw, the Amazons didn't win. So, this came about.
She ducked as the sword sailed over her head. With a grunt, she forced her tired and bruised body to straighten and block the next blow coming toward her.
“Give up, Amazon!” the soldier said with a sneer. “We outnumber you.”
She didn't respond, trying to save her breath for what really mattered, staying alive. She did, however, take advantage of his momentary lapse and swiped her sword across his stomach, not even stopping to watch him fall to the ground. She just turned around to engage the next Athenian soldier coming towards her.
The village knew the Athenians were coming. They had prepared as best they could. But it wasn't enough. What the soldier had said was true. They were horribly outnumbered. But they were determined to fight to their death. And from the screams coming from around her, they were succeeding in doing just that.
As she blocked another thrust from the large Athenian, she tried to ignore the pounding in her head and the sticky wetness running down her leg from the wound she had received earlier.
That's gonna be a keeper. She could just hear her best friend mutter.
A small smile flashed across her face, taking the soldier off guard for a candle drip. It was enough. He was dead before he hit the ground.
She was tired, and it was showing. She was slowing down, she could feel it. And she knew that meant her death. But she wasn't ready to die yet. She had way too much to do. She and Elpis were to be joined at the next full moon. Artemis had blessed the union and everything. At least, that's what the priestess had said. She wasn't too sure, having never spoken to or seen the goddess in her 20 summers of life.
Where was Elpis? She hoped her lover was safe. She hadn't wanted her beautiful love taking any part in the battle but the raven-haired beauty had insisted. I'll be needed to help the wounded. She had said with a stubborn lift of her chin. Another smile crossed her face as she thought of her love. And that was what allowed it to happen.
Her distraction allowed a soldier to sneak up behind her and strike.
The last thing she heard was Elpis' voice before it all went black.
“Xanthe! If you don't start paying attention I will get Alexis over here in little to no time!”
That snapped the blonde haired girl from her day dream. She didn't want her second mother called from her duties. She would be in so much trouble. She blinked her green eyes and had the decency to blush as the rest of the class giggled. “Sorry,” she muttered.
“Don't be sorry,” the weapons master said with a shake of her head. “Just improve.”
Xanthe nodded and paid attention as the teacher showed the students the best way to use a bow and arrow.
Class finally ended and Xanthe was one of the first to leave the training area. Her best friend, Theodora, hurried up to her.
“Where were you during class, Xan? You know we have a skills test in three days.”
Xanthe nodded and ran a hand through her hair. “I know, Dora. I know. I was just…” she trailed off and stared in the direction of the healers hut as the tall raven-haired apprentice exited.
Theodora grinned. “You were just thinking of Elpis, weren't you?”
Xanthe's fair skin, so different from the rest of her friends', made her blush very noticeable. “She's beautiful, Dora.” She stopped walking and turned to look at her best friend. “Do you think she knows I exist?”
Theodora studied her friend's earnest face and questioning eyes. She was so different from the rest of the girls their age. Her mother was said to have coupled with a traveler from a northern country. And from looking at Xanthe, that much was obvious. But she was also a dreamer. And she was totally in love with Elpis, a young woman a couple years older than them.
“I don't know, Xan,” the brown-haired girl watched her best friend watching the older girl talking to another tribe member. “We never talk to her.”
“She's always busy,” Xanthe muttered, her eyes never leaving the older girl.
Suddenly, blue eyes met green. Xanthe felt her breath get caught in her throat as Elpis smiled at her.
“Sweet Artemis, Dora,” Xanthe said breathlessly. “I'm going to marry her one day. I just know it.”
Sweet Artemis, it hurt. She had never felt such pain. Her back was stinging from the lashing they had given her and then the commander had uttered those awful words.
Crucify them all.
So, she and the other captured Amazons were being crucified. She had strained to see through the blood dripping in her eyes if Elpis or Theodora had been captured. Not seeing her lover or best friend in the group of beaten Amazons made her give a sob of both relief and anguish. Relief that they weren't being tormented like she was and anguish at knowing that they were already on the other side.
‘At least I'll see them soon,' she thought as two soldiers laid her on a cross.
“Heard this one fought pretty hard,” one soldier said as he tied her left wrist to the wood.
“Really?” the other asked.
The first soldier nodded. “Yeah. A wildcat, this one is. Also heard she was pretty good in the sack, too.”
“Who did you hear that from?”
“Karpos. He had her down in the dungeon. Fought like a demon, he said.”
“Doesn't seem too bad now.”
A nail was held against her hand.
“Nah,” the first soldier said, hefting the hammer. “She's not so tough.”
As the nail was driven into her hand, she screamed, loud and long. And the end of the scream turned into her lover's name.
“Elpis.” Xanthe said with a blushing grin.
The taller girl smiled. “Hey, Xanthe. How are you today?”
The blonde nodded and stopped herself from digging her toe in the dirt. “How are you?”
Blue eyes twinkled with mirth. “Great. Charis finally let me work on a patient!”
“That's wonderful! Who was it?”
“One of your friends, I believe. Ligeia, I think.”
Xanthe nodded. “Is she okay?”
“She's fine. Just fell out of a tree while playing some games with her younger sister.”
Xanthe giggled. “Poor Ligeia. Her sister will never let her live that down.”
Elpis smiled. “She's obviously not as good at tree jumping as you are.”
Xanthe's face flared up once again and she let an embarrassed smile pass over her face. “I don't know about that,” she muttered, scratching the back of her neck.
“I do,” the raven-haired Amazon said with a grin. “All your mothers talk about is how great a climber you are and how wonderful you are with a sword.”
“You talk to my mothers?”
The blonde blinked as Elpis' face seemed to grow red. But that couldn't be, could it?
“Um, just in passing,” the healer's apprentice stammered.
Xanthe studied her crush's face. Elpis wouldn't meet her eyes and she was biting her bottom lip. And that gave her the courage to ask what she originally came over to ask.
Blue eyes met green. “Yes?”
“Do you, um…want to…um, go to the…Harvest Festival with me?”
A brilliant smile graced Elpis' face and her eyes danced with delight. “I would love to, Xanthe. Will all my heart.”
“With all my heart,” she whispered, her body floating in a sea of pain. They had just broken her legs, laughing as a strangled cry came from her parched throat. At least she was closer to seeing her love, her best friend, and probably her mothers again. Not much longer now.
She couldn't lift her head anymore. The pain seemed to envelope her. Everything hurt. Even her heart.
That's what you get for loving so fully. The heartache is even more painful. Her sister, Aikaterine, had always believed that love was for the weak. And there was no reason to love. Why love when it will just get taken away?
She blinked when something wet fell down her face. Was she crying? Why was she crying? What's done is done. Nothing could save her now. Nothing but death.
And then the pain stopped. It just stopped. It stopped so suddenly that it almost hurt as much as the pain did. “What in Tartarus?”
The beautiful voice said her name and sounded like birds singing just to her. She slowly opened her eyes, slightly surprised to still be hanging on the cross, and saw the most beautiful woman in front of her; floating.
“Who-“ she whispered, licking her lips in a futile effort to moisten them.
The woman smiled and with a strong but delicate hand brushed blonde bangs away from green eyes. “I am your goddess, Xanthe.”
The goddess nodded and cupped the Amazon's cheek and gazed at her with sad but caring brown eyes. “How are you, my child?”
“Um,” Xanthe's eyes darted left and right, wondering if her goddess had really just asked that question. “I'm dying,” she said.
Artemis smiled but then grew serious. “No, you're not.”
Again, Xanthe was confused. “Um, no offense, my goddess, but I'm hanging from a cross, my legs are broken, and I've been whipped and raped. I'm dying. And even if I weren't, I would want to. My sisters, my mothers, and my lover…they're all dead. It's pointless to live anyway.”
“No, Xanthe. You will live.”
And with no warning, Artemis' lips were on the blonde's.
The soft lips pressed against hers thrilled her. She had been “courting” Elpis for almost 4 moons now and she was finally being rewarded with a kiss. And what a kiss it was. It wasn't her first kiss, by any means. She was 17 summers old. But it was her first kiss that mattered.
As Elpis pulled back, Xanthe grinned a crooked grin that caused the older Amazon to laugh. “Liked it, huh?”
Xanthe nodded and pulled Elpis back for another kiss. But something stopped her.
“Xanthe, let the woman breath!”
The sound of her mother's voice wrenched her from cloud 9. “Hera's tit,” she muttered, causing Elpis to laugh.
“Good evening, Photine,” Elpis said with a smile.
“Good evening, my dear,” the petite scout said with a smile. She then turned her eyes on her daughter. “Have you done what Alexis asked, Xan?”
The blonde nodded, not letting go of Elpis, even though her mother was two feet away from her. “Yes, ma'am.”
The older woman nodded and smiled at her youngest daughter. “She's proud of you, you know.”
That caused Xanthe to take a step back from Elpis. “She is?”
Photine nodded, her brown eyes twinkling. “You've passed every test you've been put up against. And not only that but you have set records, passing even her in some areas.”
Xanthe just stared at her mother. “But…”
“She loves you, Xan. You know that, right? You're her daughter, as well as mine.”
“I know,” Xanthe said softly, feeling Elpis squeeze her hand in silent support. “She just…she doesn't really talk to me that much. I didn't think she liked me since I look…” she trailed off, embarrassed to have said her inner most thoughts out loud.
“Since you look so different?” Photine asked with concern.
Xanthe nodded, not meeting her mother's gaze.
“Oh, Xanthe.” Photine lifted her daughter's chin and gazed into green eyes so different from her's. “Sweet child, she has never thought that about you.”
“But,” Xanthe began, tears slowly filling her eyes. “She has always taken Aikaterine with her on hunting trips or trips to the villages in the south. She talks to Aikaterine more. She only talks to me when she's telling me to do something or when I'm in trouble. I just always thought she was ashamed of how different I look.”
“She's not ashamed of you, my daughter. She just doesn't know how to act around you.” Photine smiled. “You are a great warrior but you also have a dreamer quality that I believe comes from the man I coupled with.”
Xanthe's head shot up. Her mother never talked of the man she coupled with.
“He was a good man. And he had a good heart. That's one of the reasons I asked him to couple with me. I wanted my child to have a heart like his. He had fair hair like you, Xanthe. And the greenest eyes I've ever seen, just like you. And he confessed that his imagination kept him company during his travels.” Photine smiled and cupped her daughter's cheek. “You are different, child. But in so many good ways.”
As her mother turned and walked away, Elpis turned Xanthe so they could lock eyes. “Xanthe?”
The blonde looked up at the girl she was in love with. “Yes?”
“I love you because of your differences.”
Xanthe's smile was so bright it threatened to blind the beauty in front of her.
A bright light filled her vision but it wasn't until she opened her eyes that she realized it was the sun. A new day had begun. And she was still alive.
Had it been a dream? Had Artemis really visited her or was it a hallucination brought on by pain? She looked over and saw that the nails were still in her hands and from the way her legs looked they were still broken. So why was she still alive?
Faint shouts pulled her from her musings and she slowly lifted her head. Who was making all that noise? And why? Didn't they know it was barely dawn? People were trying to sleep…or die. Whichever.
The shouts were growing louder by the second. And…was that the clanging of swords? Were the Athenian soldiers training? Out by the crucified Amazons? Interesting.
The sound of running feet made her open her eyes a few heartbeats later.
“Dora?” she whispered hoarsely, horribly confused.
Theodora stopped at the foot of the cross she was hanging on and gasped. “Xanthe? You're alive?”
The pain was coming back again; in full force. “Yes, apparently.” She struggled to keep her head up and her eyes were slowly closing. “Elpis?” she whispered, just loud enough for Theodora to hear.
“She's fine, Xan. She's waiting for you at the village.”
Theodora snorted as she motioned toward another Amazon and grabbed a nearby ladder. “I'm not telling her shit, Xanthe. You can tell her yourself.”
Xanthe didn't have a chance to argue. The pain of a nail being pulled out of her hand stopped every word that came to mind except…
“Oh, hush, Xanthe. It can't hurt that bad.”
The blonde looked down at her hand but looked away again as Elpis pulled another stitch through the cut that ran from the bottom of her little finger to the middle of her palm. “It does hurt.”
She heard Elpis laugh and then felt her deposit a kiss on her downturned lips. “I think you are the only warrior I know that would ever openly admit that something hurts.”
Xanthe gave a smile and opened her eyes to look into her lover's clear blue ones. “You know I only do that because my lover is an excellent healer and it makes the others jealous that you give me ‘special' attention.”
Elpis' eyes widened and then she gave a playful slap to Xanthe's thigh. “You're horrible!”
Xanthe's smile got wider and she brought her uninjured hand up to run through Elpis' thick hair. “And yet you still love me.”
“Until the world ends, love. And even after that.”
Xanthe pulled Elpis forward and gave her a quick kiss. “Will you join with me, El?”
The healer jerked slightly, taken by surprise at the abrupt question. “What?”
Xanthe flinched at the shot of pain that went through her arm at Elpis' flinch. But then she bit her lip. “I know that wasn't really romantic. And I'm sorry. Theodora said I had to do it in a very romantic way. But I couldn't wait any longer. I love you. And I think I have always loved you. You have my heart, soul, and body.” That got a grin out Elpis. “But I want you to have me legally. I want people to know that you are mine and I am yours. I want to be with you until I die. And even then, I want to meet up with you in the Land of the Dead. You are my everything.”
Elpis sniffed and wiped at the tear that escaped from her eye. “Of course, you fool. I'll join with you.”
Xanthe gave a loud whoop and almost shot out of her chair but was held down by Elpis' strong grip.
“Calm down, Xanthe. I still need to finish stitching you up. You'll bleed everywhere!”
“She was bleeding everywhere. I don't know how she's still alive.”
Xanthe let out a soft groan and slowly opened her eyes. That voice…it sounded so familiar. “Dora?” She whispered.
“Hey, Xan. You're awake!”
Her best friend came into view as Xanthe forced her eyes open. “What-?”
Theodora smiled and quickly blinked back tears that threatened to fall from her eyes. “We thought you were gone, Xan. Even when I saw you on that cross, I thought you were dead.”
Xanthe licked her dry lips. “Elpis?” she got out.
Theodora's grin got wider. “She'll be right back. She wanted to fill up the waterskin for when you woke up.”
A new face came into Xanthe's line of vision and a small smile formed on the blonde's cracked lips. “Mother,” she said.
Photine let out a chocked sob and ran a soft hand over her child's fair hair. “Oh Xanthe, I thought I had lost you.”
“Can't get rid of me…that easy…” Xanthe struggled to say.
Photine let out a laugh that quickly turned into a sob. “Oh, baby,” she whispered as she bent and kissed her daughter on the forehead.
“Alexis?” Xanthe asked, searching her mother's face.
“She's fine. Has a broken arm and a pretty bad cut on her leg but she's fine.”
Silence was the only thing that answered.
Xanthe swallowed. “Where?”
“During the battle,” Theodora said from behind Photine. “It was quick.”
Xanthe nodded and brought up a bandaged hand to her mother's face. “I'm sorry.”
“Oh, it isn't your fault, Xanthe. Artemis just wanted your sister with her.”
Xanthe gave a weak smile. “She'll have her hands full with her.”
Her mother nodded. “Then it's just as well you aren't with her, too. You two were always getting in trouble. Even just recently. I didn't know what to do with you.”
Xanthe looked away and closed her eyes, not noticing as everyone slowly left the healing hut or when her lover entered.
“What am I going to do with you?”
Xanthe glanced at her older sister then back at their mother. “Um…nothing?” she asked with a hopeful grin.
Aikaterine laughed as their mother rolled her eyes. “Xanthe, you are about to be joined! Don't you think it's time for you to grow up?”
Aikaterine snorted in laughter. “She'll never grow up, Mother. You should know that by now.”
Xanthe shot a glare at her sister before looking back at her mom. “We're sorry, Mom. It won't happen again.”
Photine sighed, crossed her arms, and looked over at Alexis, who was watching all of this with an amused look on her face. “Well,” the scout asked. “What do you have to say about this?”
Alexis looked at her mate, back to their children, then back at her mate. “I think it's funny.”
The two adult children burst out laughing while their mother just groaned and shook her head.
“I have got three children living with me,” she muttered.
“But look on the bright side, Pho,” Alexis said with a grin. “At least Xan will be getting her own hut in a moon. And pretty soon she'll have her own children living with her and Elpis.”
That stopped Xanthe's laughter in her throat while Aikaterine's just got louder.
Photine's eyes twinkled with merriment. “And I can't wait to see my grandchildren running around the village.”
“And Xan will be right there with them,” Aikaterine said through her laughter.
Someone was softly stroking her right arm. She slowly blinked open her eyes and smiled as Elpis' face came into view.
“Hey,” Xanthe whispered.
Elpis gave a small smile and gazed into her lover's eyes. “Hey. How are you feeling?”
Xanthe tried to shrug but winced when the skin on her back was pulled. “I've been better,” she said, a smile tugging at her lips.
Elpis' smile grew weaker and she took a deep breath. “Do you need anything?”
Xanthe slowly shook her head, confusion very evident in her eyes. “What's wrong?”
Elpis' looked down at her feet and shook her head.
The blonde frowned and cursed her wounded body. All she wanted to do was take her lover in her arms and hold her but she couldn't even do that.
“Elpis, talk to me?”
The healer didn't lift her head.
“Please,” Xanthe pleaded. She struggled to sit up, wincing at the horrible pain that shot through her body. “What's wrong?”
Elpis suddenly looked up and her eyes widened. “Xanthe! You shouldn't be sitting up!”
“I'm not,” Xanthe said painfully. “I can't quite get to that point.” She was propped up on her elbows, unable to go any further.
Elpis stood up and helped Xanthe lay back down. “Really. What were you trying to do anyway?”
“Get to you.”
“I'm right here,” Elpis said as she sat back down.
“No, you aren't.” Xanthe tried to meet Elpis' eyes but the blue gaze avoided her.
“I am, Xanthe. I've been here for a while, since they brought you in. I just stepped out to get-“
Xanthe shook her head. “That's not what I mean and you know it.” She looked her lover over and sighed. “Though, I will be honest and say that you should probably get some rest. You look like you haven't slept in weeks.”
A ghost of a smile flitted across Elpis' face before it was gone again.
“Now, what's wrong? Why are you so withdrawn?”
Silence reigned through the hut until Xanthe slowly brought her bandaged hand up to Elpis' hair and gave it a soft stroke. “Tell me.”
“I'm scared,” was the soft answer.
“Of the Athenians? I don't think they'll be back for a while.”
Elpis shook her head. “No.”
“That it isn't real.”
“What?” Xanthe's eyebrows were raised and curiosity was bright in her eyes.
“I'm scared that I'll wake up and you'll still be gone,” Elpis bit her lip and looked up at Xanthe, her eyes full of fear. “I'm scared that I'm dreaming all of this. That you are still hanging on a cross or that they only brought your body back.”
Breath left Xanthe's body and her eyes filled with tears.
“I wouldn't be able to stand that. I don't think I could stand waking up and finding out that you were dead. I couldn't.”
“Oh, sweetheart,” Xanthe whispered as she put her hand around Elpis' neck and pulled her to her.
The healer started sobbing and crawled up on the cot with her lover, gently curling up to Xanthe's side and crying into her shoulder.
“It's okay,” Xanthe said softly, her eyes closed at the emotional pain her love was going through. “It's okay.”
“I hate being so scared,” Elpis sobbed. “I feel like you're going to disappear in a heartbeat. And I hate it!”
“It's okay to be scared,” Xanthe muttered. “It's natural.”
Elpis just continued to sob into the shoulder offered to her. She sobbed out all of the pain she had been holding back since she saw Xanthe fall from the Athenian's sword.
“I was scared, too,” Xanthe admitted. “I was scared you had been hurt horribly. Or that you had died without me there to save you.”
“But you came back,” Elpis said into her shoulder.
Xanthe nodded. “I came back.”
The argument had been stupid, really. Xanthe had wanted her and Elpis to go ahead and get their own hut but Elpis wanted to wait until their joining. The blonde had stormed off in a huff, leaving Elpis standing alone in the hut she shared with her mother.
Now, as Xanthe sat in a tree by the lake just next to their village she realized how stupid she was acting. She shouldn't have left. She should have stayed and talked it over with Elpis.
Besides, she thought as she jumped out of the tree, Elpis was right. Elpis' mother gave them plenty of alone time. In fact, she stayed the night with Elpis more than she did at her mothers' hut.
She made her way back to the village and up to the hut. She softly knocked on the wall beside the deer hide that served as their door. It was moved aside and Elpis' mother stood there. She studied her future daughter-in-law and smiled. “Elpis is in her room, Xan. Go on back.”
Xanthe nodded and shuffled back to her lover's room, moving the curtain over to reveal Elpis sitting on her bed, a frown marring her beautiful features and tears rolling silently down her cheeks.
The raven head whipped over and Elpis hastily wiped her cheeks. “I don't want to hear it, Xanthe.”
“I said I don't-wait, what?” Elpis asked in shock.
“I'm sorry,” Xanthe repeated, hanging her head. “I shouldn't have yelled and I shouldn't have left. That was childish of me.”
Elpis studied Xanthe's face, as if looking for any insincerity. “Really?”
Xanthe nodded and took a hesitant step into the room. “You're right. We really don't need our own hut now. We should wait. I just-I just wanted a place to call our own. With just you and me. And I wanted to stop having to worry about if your mom was home or something. I love you and just want to spend more time with you.”
Elpis smiled and made her way to Xanthe. “I do, too, love. But, what you didn't let me say, was that my mother has decided to gift us with our own hut after the joining.”
Xanthe's mouth dropped open and all that escaped was a soft, “Oh.”
Elpis' grin grew and she pulled Xanthe's smaller body to hers. “Yes, oh.”
“I'm sorry,” Xanthe said again, into Elpis neck.
“Oh, Xanthe, it's okay. At least you came back.”
Xanthe nodded. “I came back.”
The shouts could be heard throughout the village and glances were thrown at Elpis' and Xanthe's hut in surprise. Arguments were very rare with those two, even after the few moons of healing the small warrior had been through. And yet, the shouting continued…
“Xanthe, you were right there with them! How could you blame yourself?”
Xanthe looked up through her bangs at her lover, who was pacing back and forth in front of her.
“I should have fought harder. I shouldn't have gotten captured.”
Elpis stopped her pacing and leaned down so her face was even with her sitting lover. “You listen to me, you dumb warrior. You fought like a true Amazon, Artemis would have been proud of you. And I know, I know that if you had not gotten captured, you would not be alive today.”
The blonde narrowed her eyes. “How do you figure that, Elpis? It's because I was captured that I can't walk or even stand up straight! I'm a cripple, for Artemis sake! Why is it such a good thing that I'm alive?”
“Because I would have died if you had!” Elpis screamed as tears flowed down her cheeks.
Xanthe blinked and felt all the breath in her lungs escape in one fell swoop. “What?” she choked out.
The raven haired healer laid her head on Xanthe's lap and sobbed. “If Theodora had come back with your dead body, Xanthe, I would have taken the nearest sword to my breast.”
“But-“ Xanthe began but was stopped when Elpis looked up at her with tear filled blue eyes.
“I prayed to Artemis to save you, Xanthe. When I saw you fall by that Athenian soldier's sword, my heart broke in two. But I could still feel you. I knew you weren't dead. But the next night…” she paused, as if trying to collect courage to continue. “I thought I felt you die. My soul felt empty. And I felt that my death was soon. But I prayed. I prayed so hard that I didn't sleep for the rest of the night. And then, she came to me. Artemis appeared in front of me and told me to have no fear. That you would return.”
Xanthe closed her eyes in shock, tears running down her cheeks as well.
“And you did. You came back to me. You're here with me right now. I can touch you, kiss you, feel you. You are alive! You could have come back with your body completely useless but just so you came back. So, as I see it…you're pretty well off.” Elpis slipped a hand around Xanthe's neck and leaned their foreheads together. “I love you with all of my heart, Xanthe. And I would not be complete without you.”
“Oh, gods,” Xanthe whispered. “It wasn't a dream.”
“Artemis came to me, El. She told me I would live.” She swallowed. “I was about to die. And I was ready to. I thought you were dead. I thought everyone was. And so many of my friends were dying or were already dead on the crosses around me. I was in so much pain. But our goddess told me that I would live. That it wasn't my time. And then she kissed me.”
Elpis pulled back. “She kissed you?” A dark eyebrow was raised.
Xanthe grinned. “Yes, yes she did.”
“It that jealousy I hear, my love?”
Elpis sat back on her heels and crossed her arms over her chest. “No.” A pout was slowly forming on her face.
“I think it is.”
“You're wrong. It's not.”
A frustrated sigh came past Elpis' lips before she rolled her eyes. “Fine, it is, okay? I mean, how can I compete with a goddess?”
Xanthe gave a loving smile and slowly, painfully, scooted to the edge of the chair she was sitting in. And with healing hands pulled Elpis' face closer to hers. “My dear, sweet, beautiful, smart, wonderful Elpis. There is no competition. All you have to do is look at me and I melt. So, when you kiss me, I enter the Elysian Fields many times over. Her kiss brought me life, yours bring me the heavens and earth. Nothing is greater than your kisses.” And as if to punctuate her statement, Xanthe brought her lips to Elpis' and let her soul soar to the sky.
After they pulled apart, Xanthe kissed the tip of Elpis' nose and looked into her blue depths. “My body may never heal from what I have been through. But one single kiss from you heals my soul many times over.”
“You'll heal, Xanthe.” Elpis ran her thumb over her lover's lips and smiled. “You'll heal very well. You always do, you know.”
Xanthe gave a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. “You're right. My legs will heal given time.”
Elpis studied the green eyes before her. “Xanthe, something more is bothering you.”
The blonde cursed her lover's observation skills and let another smile grace her face. “I'm just tired, my love. It's been a long day.”
“Xanthe,” Elpis said softly. “You are a terrible liar. Please,” she said meeting her lover's eyes. “What is bothering you besides your health?”
Silence fell over the two as Xanthe studied Elpis' face, trying to figure out if what was going on in her mind was worth saying out loud.
The silence finally got to Elpis. “For Artemis' sake, Xanthe! What is wrong with you?”
“I think I'm pregnant,” the warrior blurted out.
Blue eyes widened and Elpis fell back on her butt, a look of shock and emotional pain on her face. “What?” She choked out.
Xanthe looked down at her hands but then looked away when the red healing scars greeted her vision. “My cycle hasn't occurred since I got back.”
“But that could just be from the trauma your body went through,” Elpis muttered, desperately grasping for something.
Xanthe shook her head. “I…um…after they took me…” she cleared her throat and glanced back up at the healer sitting in front of her in shock. “One of the soldiers-“
“Oh, Xanthe!” Elpis exclaimed, rising back to her knees and placing her hands on the braced legs in front of her. “I knew that was a possibility but you never said anything so I just thought…” she trailed off.
The blonde shrugged. “I didn't want to dwell on it. Besides, the pain in my legs was a little worse than that.”
Elpis gently grabbed Xanthe's hands and kissed each palm. “I'm so sorry, love.”
“It isn't your fault,” the warrior said, her voice cracking as Elpis continued to gently administer soft kisses to her hands. “I'm just glad I'm here now.”
“Do you want me to see if you are pregnant?”
Xanthe swallowed and slowly nodded.
“And then what?”
The blonde bit her lip and stared at her lover. “Can we…can I still have it?”
Elpis' eyes grew bright and a smile brightened her face. “Oh, Xanthe. I was hoping you would say that.”
“Really? You want this baby? Even though we didn't plan for it?”
“It's part of you, Xanthe. Of course I want it. And you're so good with children.”
A tentative smile crossed Xanthe's face. “What if I'm never able to walk again? How will I take care of a child then?”
“You will walk, Xanthe. You and I both know that. And you will be the best mother in the village.”
“No better than you, my love.” She ran a hand through raven hair and took a deep breath. “Our home will be the happiest home of all. And my life will be more than complete with you and our child in it. Thank you.”
Xanthe pulled Elpis towards her and into her arms. “Everything.”
Artemis looked over at her brother, a smug look on her face. “That's why.”
Apollo rolled his eyes but allowed a smile through. “Okay, I see it. You and Aphrodite were right. Now I see why you went to Uncle Hades for her soul.” He sighed and put his arm around his twin. “I was just worried, you know. I didn't want you to get too involve with mortals. They're petty.”
“And we aren't?”
Blue eyes rolled again but Apollo chose to change the subject. “What does Athena have to say about the attack?”
“She didn't order it,” Artemis answered. “I think Ares had something to do with it. Athena knows better than to attack my Amazons.”
The Sun God nodded and then looked back at the two Amazons still locked in an embrace. “So, what will happen after they die?”
Artemis followed her brother's gaze and smiled again. “They'll be reborn. Their love is too strong for just one lifetime. It requires much more.”
“And the child?”
Apollo raised an eyebrow at that. “But men aren't allowed on Amazon land.”
Artemis looked over at her brother. “Duh,” she said, using one of Aphrodite's sayings.
“They leave the village and settle elsewhere once the boy reaches 13.”
“Where do they settle?”
“ Potidaea .”
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