Valeria and Gabrielle rekindle their relationship soon after meeting again in the Roman Arena and discover that Xena is planning to leave the young Queen behind.
Contains some strong scenes of sex and violence.
This story is based on the Xena timeline set up in the Hercules episode Armageddon Now part 2 with the idea that Xena and Gabrielle never knew one another.
The next morning we travelled to the Arena alone.
Apparently Darius was ill and would not be accompanying us but sent Aben his third man in command along instead.
"I heard Darius enter your bedchamber last night. Was everything to your satisfaction?" She asked with a knowing smile as we sat in a large stone bench that was known as the King's seat which boasted of a brilliant view of the arena and Rome and was higher than the others that spiraled downwards.
"Yes." I answered cold rage welling up inside me towards her that soon disappeared as the fanfare that preceded the games began.
Thieves, beggars and murderers were brought out first and fed to the lions then the Gladiator's came.
A magnificent man named Marcus brought down the beasts with the swing of an axe to the cheers to of the bloodthirsty masses and then departed.
It went on like this for hours until the last match was announced between Gabrielle, the last of the Amazon Nation and Arius, the Warrior King of Gaul.
She wore no armour just formal Amazon dress and still carried her staff.
He wore magnificent silver armour and carried a trident in his hand like a god but the scars upon his face and bare arms gave way to his immortality.
Looking down i realized that i was biting my nails and before Xena saw placed my hands in my lap and willed them there for the rest of the match.
As they began to fight i clasped my hands together tightly and looked over at the Conqueror who wore an excited smile and then down at them again.
Gabrielle and Arius matched each blow for blow and she soon knocked him to the ground one hand pining him there with the staff upon his throat while the other picked up his trident ready to end his life looking towards Xena for permission and striking as soon as it was granted by a wave of her hand.
This was not the Gabrielle i had known but some hardened warrior created in sand and blood like i had been many years ago with Mezentius as my master.
"Are you alright?" The Conqueror asked placing a hand upon my shoulder and breaking from my thoughts.
"I'm fine. I'd like to meet that Gladiator." I answered my voice trembling with fright.
"I don't see why you shouldn't. Aben will escort you down there." She said with a pleased smile and the young man quickly offered me his hand and led me down a flight of stairs that led to the sand floor below.
I looked up at the King's seat to see that Xena had already left and then back again at Gabrielle who practised with her staff.
"You fought well." I said striving to keep the nervousness out of my voice as i spoke and forced a smile as i approached.
"I hear you belong to the Conqueror now." She said icily unable to look at me.
"I belong to no one but myself." I protested feebly knowing there was some truth in her words.
"Gabrielle, how did you end up here?" I asked after an uncomfortable silence began.
"The Conqueror only took half her men back after she captured you. Those Amazons whose weren't slaughtered by the remainder were sold into slavery and many became Gladiators...I am the last left alive." She explained her voice grave and her eyes filling with uncried tears as it suddenly wavered.
"No, you're not." I said taking her hand in my own and holding it gently.
"Come and see me tonight?" She asked and i nodded slowly wiping sudden tears away from eyes as i reluctantly released her and began to walk away.
If Xena could have Darius when she pleased there would no reason for her to stop me coming to see Gabrielle whenever i could while we remained here.
As night fell Xena and Darius enjoyed their fill of one another and i quickly hurried back to the training grounds escorted under duress by Danaus who dismissed the guards to my beloved's cell then quickly departed himself as i went inside.
"You came!" She exclaimed surprised and hugged me gently.
"I've missed you." I murmured into her ear.
"You should know that rich maiden's pay well to be pleasured by the finest champions." She murmured back rubbing her aroused flesh against mine.
"I have no payment apart from this." I said taking out a small pouch that bore a necklace from which hung a cresent moon and placed it gently around her neck.
It was the Amazon symbol of eternal love and devotion and i had planned it to give to her the night we knew of the Conqueror's attack.
"It's beautiful." She said with looking down at it with a smile and her green eyes filled with love and desire as she gazed up at me once again capturing my lips in a tender yet passion filled kiss.
After that i ceased to think about anything except my own need for the woman in my arms.
Like wanderers through the desert who suddenly came upon finding an Oasis we were desperate to assuge our thirst and first made love fully clothed against a wall.
Some time later when we had shuddered to completion I held Gabrielle in my arms upon the ground until her galloping heartbeat slowed and removed the remainder of our clothes before we climbed into her makeshift bed.
"When do you have to return to Corinth?" She asked resting her head upon my chest with a sigh.
"Xena, has asked me to stay on here for a while. There are matters in Corinth that must be dealt with and she feels that my life will be threatened." I explained using the exact words as the Conqueror had told me after taking my aside after breakfast with Darius.
"There are rumours that she is taking Darius back with her this time and giving you control of half the Empire as a settlement." Gabrielle explained gravely looking up and gazing into my face as she spoke.
"She is leaving me?" I said taken aback. Although this had come as no great surprise but it still hurt a little as i had done nothing in the last few years to deserve such ill treatment from her.
"Aren't you happy?" She asked worriedly fearing that i actually cared for Xena.
"Of course i am. It's just...all these years all i craved was my freedom and now that i have it...I'm terrified that this is just all some nightmare and that i'll wake up in the Conqueror's bed once again." I rambled until she stilled me by putting a finger to my mouth.
"We can be together now. You and i forever and ever." She said with an elated smile moving herself up my body and kissing me tenderly once again gasping as i moved my hands down to the small of her back and fitted her body to mine once again.
So Xena made me the Empress of Britannia choosing only the small island in the end and nothing else.
But she knew of my love for the land and i thought being exiled there was no great tragedy for me but as always the Conqueror had a plan of her own for me.
Through the many years spent in her service i had amassed a huge personal fortune that would have provided for both myself and Gabrielle for the rest of our days but this new position she created for me already brought enough wealth and power to cover several lifetimes.
She was buying my loyality as Britannia boasted the most powerful of Xena's armies and a huge navy of five hundred warships constantly searching the coast for intruders.
She had also made it clear to me that i was allowed to take anything i chose and to her chagrin the only thing i chose Gabrielle.
Although not saddened to be leaving Xena i was sad to leave the Conrinthian palace that had been my home for the past five years to make the long journey to my new home in Britannia
So, now Gabrielle and i were together again and rode together in my carriage until we reached the port and my ship the Iphigeneia, a parting gift from Xena.
We stood upon the deck arm and arm watching as Greece slowly disappeared from view before speaking.
"I cannot believe that we are finally together." Gabrielle said with a elated sigh leaning into me and resting her head upon my shoulder.
"A new country and a new life for the both of us. We are free." I said gazing up at the heavens so that she would see my tear filled eyes.
"But aren't you still bound to the Conqueror?" She then asked worriedly.
"By dividing the land between us she has severed all ties with me Gabrielle. Anyway she has Darius now and i have you." I answered then took one of her hands to my lips and kissed it tenderly.
"What will i be?" She asked slightly afraid looking away from me to gaze down into the water.
"My Royal Biographer." I answered with a smile when looked back at me surprised then laughed with me.
A few weeks later as the boat reached the Britannia shore it finally dawned on me that I was Empress of my own lands now and truly felt my freedom.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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