Soul's Winter

by Darkone

Disclaimers: The usual...

Written February 1997

This is the story of two friends. Friends who were destined to be lovers. This is the tale of their greatest loss, and their greatest victory.

Winter is a cruel cycle in the seasons of life, but there is a springtime that brings beauty and peace, healing as well. But what of the darkest kind of winter? A winter that encapsulates the soul?

A Heart Made of Steel

On the field of battle, gazing into winter's sky. All the pain inflicted spills over in my life. I shut the world out, unwilling to feel. The soul's forge tempers my heart into steel. The wounds inflicted on my body wear down my soul. Your love warms me. The winter relinquishes control. My heart starts beating, once long thought dead. A heart unfeeling, made whole and caring instead. My soul sings its joy. My heart starts to heal. Yes, my heart is alive. Your life it feels. Your love has unchained me, tempering my will. Yes, my heart loves. A Heart Made of Steel.

Winter had finally retracted its icy grip and spring was on the mend. The frozen runoff was still enough to freeze you to the bone though. Gabrielle had been dependant on her and Xena sharing a bed at night to keep themselves warm, but these past two months? They hadn't even spoken before bedtime. Xena had become totally withdrawn with Gabrielle. She would only speak to Gabrielle in a drunken state, the only times she was sobre was when they were fighting. During the fights, Xena took even more stupid chances.

The bar was crowded and Xena let herself be goaded into a test of strength, when she won, a fight broke out. The warrior nearly split her skull in two! She misjudged a feint in this swordfight. Gabrielle finishes her two opponents and turns just in time to throw her staff and take his legs from under him. Xena stood and pummeled an axehandle style blow into his back. He crumbled to the ground. The innkeeper asked them to leave. Xena's drunken obscenities were endured as Gabrielle walked her to Argo, and they headed to the next campsite.

'That was close! But she should have had no trouble with him in the first place.' Gabrielle was glad she had taken up her own training, Xena had ignored all requests for her to spar. She had heard Xena say that the mind is good for thinking, but bad for fighting. "Let your instincts take over." The bard said. She watched and waited for the warrior to say something. She merely grabbed her chakrum and walked to Argo. That night, Gabrielle fixed a fine stew but Xena wasn't interested. She grabbed a wine skin full of port and walked to a tree, propping up. Xena had gotten to the point she drank more port than ate food at night.

'What is she doing to herself? Doesn't she know it hurts down to my very soul to see her like this? Please, Xena what new darkness is threatening to consume your soul?'

All these questions and more raced through her mind at once. Xena stirred, she looked at the bard watching her, and grabbed some clothes to go take a bath. Gabrielle watched her go, and decided to follow. Once there, Xena stripped her clothes and dove into the water. The temperature of the cold water mixed with the amount of her alcohol intake. Xena's body stiffened and went limp. Gabrielle, terrified, dove in and dragged Xena's unconcious form to the shore and laid her down.

"Xena?! Xena? Please wake up!" Seeing she's making no headway, she drags Xena's naked form to a blanket and wraps her up. She was so cold! Xena was going into hyperthermia, Gabrielle brought Argo and fashioned a small lingtoo and dragged her friend's body back to camp. Xena's body was still shivering, Gabrielle had used the four blankets they had to wrap the warrior in. She had even used the towels they had, and yet, she still shivered! Gabrielle then had an idea, she walked to the fire and started removing her wet clothes, setting them close to the fire and let her naked form absorb as much heat as possible. She then kneeled down beside Xena and opened the blankets. She crawled in and wrapped herself around the warrior's body, bringing the blankets around them again. Gabrielle held her warrior tight, and prayed that she was doing the right thing.

'This is not how I wanted to share our first bed together.' The bard smirked. 'I wanted it to be more--romantic! I wanted you in my arms, kissing every square inch of your magnificent body. Not trying to keep you from freezing to death! Xena? What have you done to yourself?' Gabrielle felt like shaking the warrior awake to get the answers she needed. Instead, she cradled the warrior tighter, trying to keep her desires under control.

Gabrielle drifted to sleep once Xena's body stopped shivering. She dreamed then, she dreamed that Xena had awoke in her arms, and pleaded with her to make love to the warrior. Gabrielle had wanted to hear this since they met! She smiled as the warrior ran her strong hands over the supple muscles of her body. She had never imagined the touch being so gentle. She revelled in the sensuous feelings the warrior brought out in her. Xena rolled her over and straddled her stomach, Eyes flashing blue fire, flames of unconcecrated desire.

Xena leaned down, and kissed her, running her tongue along the edge of Gabrielle's lips before entering her mouth. Their tongues engaged in dance as Xena strode Gabrielle's right thigh, sliding her warm wetness up and down the length of it. She rolled her head to the side as Gabrielle took Xena's breasts into her mouth, engulfing them with her passionate kisses. Taking the tanned nipples in her mouth one at a time, she never wanted to abandon them as Xena lowered herself to nip at Gabrielle's neck. Xena's tongue created a firestorm of whitehot fury wherever it touched her body. Xena's tongue drew crazy eight designs around each nipple of the amazon bard's perfect, erect breasts. The warrior's strong hands massaged her stomach and hips before her lips followed the path that her hands followed. Gabrielle felt Xena's lips kissing her center, gently biting and sucking before her tongue finally entered. Gabrielle felt like her heart would explode! Her body spasmed in ecstacy wherever Xena's flesh touched her. Suddenly, Xena was astride her stomach, back to her.

Xena then leaned down into the valley between the bard's legs and began her sweet torture of the bard all over again. Gabrielle looked up into the apex of Xena's legs and pulled Xena's hips down. She had heard her sister amazons speak of this position, and of the pleasure it afforded both partners. She ran her tongue along the entrance and found the taste intoxicating.

She enjoyed it immensely as she continued her ministrations. Xena had more experience, and Gabrielle released quickly under her lover's onslaught. Xena's release took longer, but when Gabrielle found the center that drove Xena over the edge, she released. It forced a sound out of Xena that Gabrielle had never heard before. It frightened and excited her. Xena collapsed ontop of her in a heap. Gabrielle wrapped her arms around her beloved warrior and laid her back on the pillow for rest. "I love you" were the only words from the warrior's lips.Gabrielle smiled, it was a wondrous dream.

Morning, Gabrielle looked around and saw that Xena was gone!

She leaned up, and felt her muscles spasm, but that wasn't what intrigued her now. She could smell it. The musky odor of Xena, a smell she loved, but something else. She looked down at her naked body. She had bitemarks at her collarbone and her left breast, just below the nipple.

It wasn't a dream! Her exquisite warrior had made love to her in the moonlight! It was the sweetest love making she had ever known. Her first had been her husband. She knew she would make love with others. But her best friend? This exceeded all expectations!

She got up and saw that Xena had headed to the lake, so she headed there. What she saw when she arrived horrified her. Xena had her sword at her own stomach. She was going to fall on her sword! Xena seemed to struggle with herself at first, but she finally brought the sword up high.


Gabrielle was dumbfounded! Xena held her sword aloft as she prepared to drive it home through her stomach. She bolted, as she tackled the warrior, knocking her to the ground. The warrior rolled, throwing the bard to the ground. She had , however, knocked the sword out of the line of sight. She just stared at Xena who had this feral look on her face. It was almost painful to look at her. She could read the pain preseny on her face.

What madness had possessed her friend to take her life? Could what they had done the night before been so wrong?

Obviously, Xena thought it was. It didn't make sense! Xena just stared as Gabrielle threw the sword away.

"Xena! What has gotten into you?" Gabrielle stared as Xena began to cry.

"Gabrielle, I--I awoke, and I saw that you were-were--" The warrior can barely speak. "I knew that I had--I couldn't live with--" Realization dawns on Gabrielle, and she holds Xena close. "You that that you--? Xena, you didn't rape me! WE made love. You didn't hurt me!"

"You're just saying that!" she pushes the bard away."Can't you let me face up to what I've done!?"

Gabrielle looks at her friend and sees the despair in her eyes. Gabrielle gets up and walks over to Xena and reaches out to her. She feels hurt as Xena recoils away from her.

Xena rises and faints. Her lack of nourishment, combined with her alcohol intake, finally get the better of her. Gabrielle then goes through the task she had the previous morning. It was a good thing she hadn't discarded that lingtoo.

It was dark when they had finally reached the next town. Gabrielle was exhausted, and Argo was cranky. Xena mumbled every once in a while about never forgiving herself for raping Gabrielle. Gabrielle needed help, and was releived when she bumped into a familiar face.

"Gabrielle? is that you?" Maleager smiled down at her, she had never been so happy to see someone in her whole life.

"Yeah, it's me. Maleager, I need some help. Xena is ill. She--" Maleager walks around and looks down at Xena's shivering form, her ramblings and her twitching.

"She's been drinking, hasn't she?" He knew these symptoms, he had experienced them when he was battling the demon in a bottle. That demon was Alcoholism.

Gabrielle could only nod. He led them to the house he was living in, the townspeople had hired him as law enforcement until the magistrate appointed a new man for the job.

"How long?" He asked. "I'm not sure, at least three months." Gabrielle answered.

"That's good, she's not totally dependent on it yet."

"What do we do now?"

Maleager shook his head,"We keep her away from liquor, inns, and taverns. You look exhausted, go to bed. If she changes? I'll wake you." Gabrielle literally collapsed in the spare bedroom. Maleager gazed down at the warrior princess, he hoped his first meeting with her would be on a better note.

Xena tossed and turned all night, her nightmares of raping Gabrielle tormenting her. Maleager listened as Xena's tortured screams relayed everything to him. He looked over to Gabrielle, she seemed unhurt. Was Gabrielle putting up a brave front? Or was the liquor playing with Xena's mind? He wasn't sure, but come morning? He and Gabrielle would talk.

That morning, Gabrielle hardly picked her food, Maleager had gauged his timing, and figured now or never.

"Gabrielle? Last night, Xena's nightmares made her say things. Things I'm not sure to beleive, but can't discount. Would you please tell me what has happened between you?"

Gabrielle sighs and nods her head. Words were going to be hard to find.

"Two nights ago, Xena got so drunk she started a fight and we were asked to leave the inn. She kept drinking at camp. She then decided to take a bath. The cold water made her passout. She was so cold! She wouldn't stop shaking! So, I wrapped her in all our blankets and that wasn't enough.

Next I took off my clothes and warmed my body as best as possible, I then climbed into bed with her. I woke up when Xena asked me to make love to her. I was overjoyed by this." Gabrielle blushes, and Maleager breathes a sigh of releif. "I honestly thought she was sobre! She was so gentle and caring! Maleager, if I had known she was drunk, I wouldn't have taken advantage of her! She never would have asked, if--iff!" Gabrielle begins crying and Maleager comforts her.

"Shhh. Gabrielle? Did you stop to think that maybe the wine gave her the courage to ask you?" Gabrielle looks at him, stunned. "Listen, You've got to understand. I was a drunk before. Alcohol gives a person the courage they think they need to say, and do the things they are too afraid to say and do under normal circumstances. This courage is false, but at the time? You feel like you could conquer the world. Or the yearnings of your heart. Gabrielle, I beleive Xena loves you just as much as you love her. But now?"

"What? What is it?" Gabrielle is really unsure of what she'll hear.

"Well, now comes the part where you test that love. You've got to make Xena understand that she needs your help, your love. it's a hard road ahead, especially if you face it alone." Gabrielle sees the pain in Maleager's eyes, She pulls him in for a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. It must have been terrible, fighting the urge to crawl back into that bottle!

Xena, as if she didn't have enough darkness in her life? Now, she was going to have to battle a new demon. The urge to seek courage, understanding, and yes, love, inside a bottle. All of it false, unreal. A shade that needs to be brought into the light. Gabrielle prayed that her love was strong enough to see them through this.

"Xena? I'm not giving up on us! Please, don't you give up! We can beat this!" Gabrielle took Xena's hand and felt her squeeze it. Gabrielle looked at her, Xena, the greatest love of her life.


Gabrielle sat alone in the kitchen, Maleager had just come from checking on Xena.

"Is she awake?" Maleager only nodded. Gabrielle moved to the bedroom to enter when Maleager put his hand on hers.

"I must warn you. She's in pretty bad shape. She still beleives she--". He couldn't say it, Xena couldn't possibly hurt Gabrielle.

Not as much as Gabrielle loved the warrior, knowing that Xena's love wouldn't let her hurt the bard. "Go, you are strong enough to carry the both of you through this. But, she will deny that she needs help! You've got to make her see that she needs help. Your help." Gabrielle nodded and opened the door. Xena saw her and turned away. "Go away , Gabrielle." She felt those words rip her in two, but Gabrielle looked at her and shook her head. "No. Xena, you need help. I can't leave. I won't leave. I love you too much."

Xena shot to her feet, enraged, she grabbed Gabrielle's arms, shaking her. "You love me?! How? How can you possibly love me, after what I did last night? You can't possibly know who I am? I-I-I" Realization struck Xena. She couldn't beleive she was hurting Gabrielle! Her Gabrielle! The one person she swore to the Gods she would never hurt. She fell back into the corner, embracing herself. "A--a-- a drink! I--I need a drink! That's all I need! Gabrielle? Please, get me some wine?" The pleas destroyed her, the mighty warrior brought down by liquor. Gabrielle was heartbroken, Xena would turn to a bottle before turning to her! She started to cry, she turned to leave when a childlike voice, low, and shaking, spoke.

"Gabrielle? Please, don't go." Gabrielle felt her broken heart healed immediately, she turned and the look on Xena's face was enough to renew her well of strength. She would help her beloved warrior, Xena would face the world as a newer, stronger person.

"Xena, I have to ask you. Do you want me to help you?"

"Ye-yes." The warrior's voice was cracking as she said the word. "Gabrielle? I love you too much, I'm afraid I might hurt you!" Gabrielle held the warrior princess tight, afraid of letting her go. "Xena? You've never hurt me before, I doubt you'll start now. But I need to know. Why did you start drinking? What was so terrible a thing that you couldn't talk to me about?"

Xena squeezes her tightly. "You'll hate me if I tell you." Gabrielle pulls Xena's face up to meet hers.

"Xena, I love you. Nothing you say could ever make me hate you."

Xena's eyes light up with love as tears well inside. "Oh, Gabrielle! I don't only love you! I'm in love with you! I have been for a while. I couldn't take wanting you and seeing that you didn't want me. It-it killed something inside of me. The drinking made that pain go away. I watch you all the time, you know? You're a godess! So fresh, so beautiful, strong, and confident. The way you smile, talk, walk. Gods, it drove me mad with desire! It got to where I couldn't watch you bathe! After what I did the other night, I thought I had crossed the line. So, instead of living with you hating me, I sought death. A slow and agonizing one to fit my crime against you, the woman I love."

Gabrielle felt guilty, she had been taunting the warrior, teasing her, cajoling her to come out and tell her that she wanted her! Instead? Xena turned to the bottle.

"Oh, Xena! What have I done to you!"

Xena looks at her, concerned. "What do you mean? Gabrielle, you didn't do anything! I was weak..."

Gabrielle interrupts her;"Xena, I'm just as in love with you! Have you not noticed how I sleep facing you? Or I always rent one room with one bed? Or have you go with me when I buy clothes? or ask you to bathe with me? But most of all, ask you to wrestle with me? Because I love you. I love it when you hold me in bed at night,I love watching you bathe, I love the way your body feels when we're wrestling. I've teased you to the point you're at. I was so mad to have you that I didn't care what damage I did to you! I'm sorry, my love.

I'm so sorry!"

"Gabrielle, you don't have to say that. I know that you see me as this flawless hero, but-I--"

Gabrielle puts a finger to Xena's lips and silences her.

"Xena? I want you to know that at first I was merely infatuated with you. The perfect hero.

But, as time went on? I fell in love with, not Xena; Warrior Princess, but Xena, the woman who feels pain, needs love and understanding. Your reputation means nothing to me, but you mean the world to me. I LOVE YOU." Gabrielle closes her eyes as she feels Xena's lips move to hers, and an inquisitive visitor. She felt Xena's tongue in her mouth, and met it with her own. She was going to fight for this love, and Xena was now! The gods be damned! Xena had taken the first step to beating her problem, and Gabrielle would walk her through each new step.

The fist five nights of purging herself were bad, vomiting, shivering, twitching. But Gabrielle held fast, She wasn't going to let these bad times destroy her faith in her lover. Xena was going to beat this. She had to. After the fifth night, Xena awoke with Gabrielle draped over her, she carefully extracted herself from the bard's embrace and headed for the kitchen. Seeing nothing appetizing there, she walked to the bakery. She bought some sweet bread, milk, and some cheese, fruit and some smoked ham. On her way back, she passed the bar. She stood there, rooted to the spot. She wanted, no, needed a drink! She walked halfway there and was stopped by Joxer.

"Xena! Hey! Join me for a drink?"

Xena turned and saw the warrior wannabe and smiled. "You buying?" she asked.

"Yep. Let's go!"

Gabrielle awoke alone. She walked into the spare bedroom and shook Maleager awake.

"Hmm? I'm up!" The warrior locked eyes on Gabrielle.

"She's gone! I can't find her anywhere! We've got to find her!"

Maleager got dressed and headed for the door, when Joxer burst in with an unconcious Xena. "I thought a warrior princess could hold her liquor!"

He popped off. Gabrielle watched as Maleager took the woman she loved from the man,at the moment, she hated more than Ares, Anger welling up. She slapped him, grabbed him by the throat and slammed him against the wall. "You Fool! Do you know what you've done?" Joxer was turning purple, when Maleager ran in and grabbed her, pulling her away from Joxer. "You've destroyed in a couple of moments what took days for us to build! I-I-I could kill you!"

Joxer is dumbfounded, what was she talking about? Maleager looked at Gabrielle:"Gabrielle? Go help her, there's some bitter tea in the kitchen. It will make her vomit. Keep her drinking it till she vomits, the tea alone. Okay? Just like we've done in the past few days."

Gabrielle's anger subsided as she realized Xena needed her. "Joxer? If I see you near her again? You will wish you had never been born." She went into the kitchen and gathered a pot of the bitter tea and a mug, casting a warning glare at Joxer before she entered.

"What's her problem?" the idiot asked.

Maleager patted him on the shoulder:"Joxer? I want to tell you a story."

End Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Joxer felt two inches tall after Gabrielle had finished with him. Maleager didn't do much for his ego afterwards.

"I-I'm sorry! I had no idea! If you guys need any help, I can--"

Gabrielle interjected, "Haven't you done enough?! Why don't you just put a knife to her throat?!"

Maleager tried to calm them down. "Look, Joxer. Why don't you just be on your way? Gabrielle and I have enough to worry about without wondering if she's going to run you through." He pointed at the bard. Joxer looked at her and swallowed hard.

Gabrielle probably would at that! He grabbed what passed for his travel gear and hit the door without so much as a farewell.

"Well, at least that idiot is gone."

Gabrielle went to the bakery and bought somemore items for an early lunch. When she returned, she prepared a meal for Maleager and something for Xena.

"Gabrielle? You haven't eaten in three days. You won't be any good to her if you don't keep yourself strong." Gabrielle looked horrid, she hadn't been eating, only drinking water or milk. Her hair was disshevelled, and her eyes were dark from lack of sleep.

"I'll eat later. Xena needs--" She didn't finish her sentence, she faltered against the wall. Maleager dashed to catch her, he then set her in a chair and spoke as sternly as though he was addressing an army. "She needs you strong enough to help her through this! Eat!" Gabrielle watched as the mighty warrior prepare her some food and milk. He sat it down in front of her. She just stared at Xena's bedroom door until Maleager softly spoke. "Please?"

Gabrielle turned and nodded. She ate as much as she thought she needed and started to leave the table. Maleager shook his head, a deliberate gesture. Once left, once right, dead center. He pointed to the plate and Gabrielle sat down and finished.

She went inside and saw Xena crying. She sat the plate on the table and ran to her side.

"Xena? What's wrong? Are you hurting again?" She held her warrior close as Xena spoke.

"Gabrielle, I was thinking about the other night when--." Her voice trailed off and she tried again. "I-I just wanted our first time to be something so special, something neither of us could forget. But I was so drunk that I can't remember it!"

Gabrielle shakes her head and holds her close. "Is that all? Xena, their will be plenty of first times for us. Now, I want you to eat and then I want you to sleep." Xena nodded and ate her meal, after Gabrielle told her the story of the Darkest Winter, Xena fell asleep.

After a few more days, Xena is strong enough to practice and spar with Maleager. He manages to put her on her firm derriere a few times, but after a few hours Xena has had enough. Maleager leads in with his sword, as Xena places her right foot behind his right ankle. She then slams her forearm across his chest, crashing him to the dirt. "OoooFFF!?" Maleager is down! And down hard! He lays there as Gabrielle applauds her lover's accomplishment.

"You were magnificent!" Gabrielle wraps her arms around Xena's waist and Xena pulls her in close for a passionate kiss.

Her hands bathed in the red-gold hair of her amazon bard. After they seperate, Maleager walks over and looks at the bard, who has a big grin on her face. "Well, ladies. It looks like you get the house for the night! I had to patrol the bordering mountains tonight anyway!"

Gabrielle speaks to him in a whisper. "Thank you. But I knew Xena could beat you, that's why I made the bet for the house."

Maleager smiles back "What would you say if I told you I let her win? Hmm?"

Gabrielle looks at him trying to gauge his voice. He laughs out loud. "Who am I trying to kid?!"

He rubs his sore hip and starts to head to the border when Gabrielle pulls him around to face her. "Thank you for being there for her. For me too. I'll always be grateful."

She hugs him and kisses his cheek.

He stands up straight, Maleager the Mighty, once more. "You were there for me when I had my problem. How could I not help? You two love each other very much, take care of one another." He starts walking. Gabrielle disappears in the house.

Xena watches the proud warrior, thinking;"Do we all try to look so impossibly unemotional?"

She shook her head and went to the house. All the windows had curtains drawn, and candles lit the entire house, leading to the bedroom. When she opened the door, Gabrielle sat on the bed, wearing a white robe. The candles made the robe appear invisible. She watched as Gabrielle's perfect breasts moved with her step, her legs as they appeared from within the robe. Her hair was like flames in the candlelight. Xena's heart was doing it's best to hammer it's way out of her body and fly away. She closed her eyes, her desire threatening to kill her where she stood!

She barely felt Gabrielle's hand take hers, and lead her to the bed. She felt her bard's hands unfasten her armour, and her boots. Gabrielle kissed her way up the legs she thought were perfect. She smiled as the toned muscles in those legs twitch under her lips. She then removed the leather chiton and skirt. She felt a slight breeze against her breasts, it was Gabrielle's breathing, slow, warm, and passionate. Gabrielle then straddled her right thigh, knees on either side on the bed.

"Gabrielle? What--" She felt the little amazon's lips and tongue against hers. "You said you wanted our first time to be unforgettable? Well, this is our first time. The first time in a bed, and I promise, neither of us will forget this night.

Gabrielle leans down and kisses her warrior once more as goosebumps rush up to meet wherever Gabrielle's red-gold hair touches her. Sliding her seething hot core along the well muscled leg. Xena watches as Gabrielle closes her eyes, arching back.Xena trails kisses down Gabrielle's throat until she reaches Gabrielle's breasts. She looks at the slight scar and feels guilty as sin, until Gabrielle smiles down at her. "My love, don't worry about me, I won't break. And I hope you won't either!" she added with a wicked grin. Xena lay her amazon bard back on the bed and ran her hands over every square inch of the body beneath her, trailing hot kisses where her hands had just been. "Gabrielle? You are the most beautiful creature in the world! I love you so much, it makes my heart stop beating." Gabrielle wrapped her arms around Xena's back and smiled. She felt Xena's breasts against hers, their nipples rubbing against each other as Xena rested on her forearms, kissing the bard with all her unbridled passion. She began gently grinding her right knee against Gabrielle's center, feeling the wetness become greater. She then slid down her amazon bard's body until she was there. She gently inserted her fingers, stroking as she kissed her over and over, thrusting her tongue in and tasting the sweetest nectar she had ever known. "I was drinking wine, when I could have had this?" Xena chuckles as Gabrielle gasps in short takes of air. When Xena returned to her breasts, it was all she could take. Her hips came off the bed as she released a torrent of her passion. She collapsed as Xena held her tight, not removing her fingers from the sweet wetness.

She licked her fingers as she looked down at her greatest treasure. Gabrielle looked up at her warrior and made a loving plea.

"Please, let ME make love to you." Xena felt her love growing as Gabrielle gently rolled over ontop of her. She locked her small right hand in Xena's powerful left one, lacing their fingers. She trailed kisses to Xena's breasts, gently biting the nipples before taking each one in her mouth. Xena couldn't beleive that her bard was so intense in her lovemaking. So giving, willing to give her beloved warrior the pleausures she hadn't allowed herself in a long time. Gabrielle then strode between Xena's beautiful, long legs and began thrusting her hips into Xena's. She felt Xena's moan build in her center, moving to her breasts and out of her throat. Gabrielle's beauty and loving nature made Xena release sooner than she wanted. Gabrielle then looked down at her, love flashing in her eyes. She then fluffed up the pillow Xena was resting on and spoke. "Comfy?" Xena couldn't speak, so she nodded in response. Every soft movement the bard made, moved Xena closer to the sweet oblivion, every soft spoken word, a loving seduction. Gabrielle then reached over and grabbed the other pillow and rested it under Xena's hips. Before she could even ask, however, the bard gave her an explanation. Not in the words of a bard. But the actions of a lover. She straddled Xena's stomach and leaned down, trailing red-gold hair over every exquisite inch of the warrior's muscled legs. She felt her sweet amazon bard's tongue stroke her, softly at first, then powerfully. She wasn't rushing anything. She was savoring the taste of her warrior. This move so surprised Xena that she hadn't realized that Gabrielle was in a position to not only give pleasure, but receive it as well. She wanted to join her lover, but by the time she had caught on? Gabrielle's fingers and tongue brought her two her second climax. Gabrielle lay there, feeling the intensity of her cherished warrior's release. Tasting, savoring every drop of her.

Gabrielle heard the soft sobs and craddled her lover tightly, as they fell asleep in one another's arms.That's when it became crystal clear to Xena. She knew that her soul's winter was over. Gabrielle was the springtime in her life. Warming her heart and soul. This was the love she had always needed, wanted, and it was hers.

End Chapter 4


They had left Maleager and his town two days ago. The town they had just entered looked very inviting, until Xena headed straight to the tavern.

Gabrielle followed as quickly as she could and entered. She saw the other warrior offer her a drink, her heart sinking as Xena took it. She turned to Gabrielle and smiled, she raised the stein in a toast-- then promptly poured the liquor on the bar.

Xena then walked to her, took her hand and led her to a table in the corner. She leaned across the table and put her hand behind Gabrielle's head and pulled her close for a kiss. They seperated suddenly as the barmaid approached.

"What will ma'am and her lady be having?" Xena looked over to Gabrielle, smiling. "Cider for me. Gabrielle? What will you have?"

Gabrielle returned the smile. "Milk." The barmaid looked at them and nodded, confusingly.

Gabrielle reached across the table to take the warrior's hands. They were shaking! Gabrielle felt sad, but then saw the victory Xena had just won. "That was very brave what you did back there." She brought the warrior's hands up and kissed them, each knuckle, before turning them over and kissing the palms.

"I'm only brave when you are near. My love, I couldn't have won this battle without you. You truly are the love of my life." Gabrielle smiled and kissed Xena's hands again.

Yes, Xena and Gabrielle had won, they had fought hard for their love. But they lost something along the way. They had lost the need to fear their inability to show each other that love.

There, is their greatest victory. This spring had an even greater since of renewal than all the ones they knew in the past.


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