*The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, and any other characters from the show mentioned, belong to Renaissance Pictures/NBC/Universal. No copyright infringement intended.
*This is a Conqueror/Slave Gabby story, but isn't based on the “Armageddon Now” episode. My fascination with The Conqueror character was inspired by other fan fic. I truly believe that whatever life Xena & Gabrielle find themselves in, their souls will always be drawn to each other, even if they don't understand why. The Conqueror here is more like Xena; tough and badass, but with a soft spot for Gabrielle. The story explores their mutual struggle and confusion with their feelings as they give in to their hearts. It's purely a love story, so no violence.
*It's written in first person, switching back and forth between Xena & Gabrielle's perspectives with each chapter.
* This story portrays love between two women. There are some sexual situations, but not graphic.
*My use of “Xena The Merciless” is with permission.Comments are welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good workout, I thought to myself, as I walked the long corridor back to my bedchamber. My morning sword drills were one of the few things that kept me sane in this place. It was a way I could still feel connected to my warrior self, which I definitely needed to do after several seasons sitting in this castle. I did miss my warlord life sometimes. That life was so thrilling, living on the edge, never knowing what the next day would bring, taking pleasure where you could get it, and inflicting pain whenever possible. But even I can't keep that up forever. So what better way to retire from being a warlord than taking over as Queen of all Greece? And although this life was comfortable, routine, and often boring, I wasn't willing to give up my throne any time soon. I worked too hard to get it. I had become content with the occasional execution of criminals or disobedient slaves, and insisted on performing all the executions myself. Bloodletting was bloodletting after all.
I nodded my head to Andreas as I walked through the door to my room. Andreas was head of my Royal Guard. He was steadfast and loyal, and always outside my door. Not that I really needed a guard posted outside my door, I could certainly take care of myself, but it was comforting having him there. I could relax just a bit. And truthfully, he was more of an attendant to me than a guard. He was someone I could trust, and who I could actually talk to. The old saying is true, it is lonely at the top. Andreas would be the closest thing I have to a friend, if I had any friends. Which I don't.
One drunken night, a few seasons ago, I got the notion to take him to bed. It was the most incredibly awkward night I had ever had in bed with anyone. We never completed the act, and ended up laughing it off and never speaking of it again. A few weeks later, I spotted Andreas chatting with the royal tailor, Vidalus. Their body language was quite clear, and so I realized I was not Andreas' type. Why he couldn't have just told me he preferred men, I have no idea. Maybe he thought he'd offend me and I'd chop off his head. I thought it was strange for him to have that fear when he's seen many a woman in my bed.
As I made my way to the bathing area of my bedchamber, I noticed a girl, down on all fours, scrubbing my floor. As long as I've been in this castle, I've always seen the same woman cleaning my rooms. An older woman, rather portly, with graying brunette hair. This clearly was not her. This was a small girl with blonde hair.
I didn't like surprises. I walked over to her and drew my sword. “Who in Tartarus are you?!” I shouted.
She practically jumped out of her skin. Without turning around she said, “My name is Gabrielle, my Lord. I'm here to scrub your floors.”
“Turn around and look at me so I can see your face.”
She could've been a spy or even an assassin. One look at her and I'd be able to assess if there was any danger. She turned around and gazed up at me, clearly frightened to be in the presence of the Lord Conqueror. Her face was dirty, but she was pretty for a servant. I don't usually look a servant in the eyes, but for some reason, I couldn't resist looking into hers. Her eyes were a lovely shade of green, but it wasn't the color that blew me away. It was what I saw in them. In all my years, I have never had such a reaction to looking in anyone's eyes before. Sure, I've been able to deduce a person's innocence or guilt by looking in their eyes, or judge if they were being truthful or dishonest. But this was different. It felt as though her eyes revealed an answer to some question I had yet to even ask.
I snapped out of whatever daze I was in and shouted for Andreas. “Andreas! Get in here!”
“Yes my Lord, what is it?”
“What is this girl doing in here? Where is the woman who usually cleans my rooms?” I had seen the woman hundreds of times, but of course I had never bothered to learn her name.
“She has taken ill, my Lord, so they had to send someone else up”.
“And you didn't think it was important to warn me that a complete stranger would be in my bedchamber?”
“I'm sorry Lord Conqueror. You were on the practice field doing drills when they sent her up, and I guess I forgot to mention it. You are right to be angry with me. It is indeed a huge slip in protocol. My apologies, my Lord.”
“I'll be sure to have you flogged later Andreas.” I felt my anger receding and I just arched my eyebrow at him. If anyone else had made such a grievous error, I would have slit their throat, just for the fun of it. But he was the one person I just couldn't stay mad at. And really, the girl was obviously harmless.
I glanced her way again. She had forgotten about the floor and was just staring at us, with that same frightened look on her face. Once she saw me look back at her, she quickly turned around and started scrubbing again.
I turned back to Andreas. “Have them send up someone else to clean. I have other plans for this one.” I smirked at him, and he smirked back, clearly getting my meaning.
“Right away, my Lord”.
I turned again to the girl. “Drop the brush and come with me”. I led the way into the bathing area, and she followed behind me.
“Draw me a bath.” I commanded her. She stood staring at the bathtub. The tub was one of the best things about this damn castle. It was a huge, sunken tub, made of marble, with solid gold fixtures. I realized I'd have to explain to her how to use it.
“To fill the tub, you unscrew this cap, and water will pour out of the hole. Behind that wall is a huge basin that is continuously filled with water and kept warm. Once the tub is full, screw the cap back on to stop the water. Then when I'm done, you turn this handle and a drain in the floor of the tub opens up to let the water out.”
“Wow.” The girl was clearly impressed. “Did you invent that, Lord Conqueror?”
I might as well have. “No, it came with the castle.”
She walked over to the tub and unscrewed the cap, allowing the water to start flowing in.
“Over there are some bath oils.” I gestured to the table under the window. “I think I'm in a Jasmine mood today.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
As she walked over to the table, a thought occurred to me. “Can you read?”
“Oh yes, I can read and write”. She said, obviously very proud of herself.
Well, well. She's cute and smart. Very nice.
She added a few drops of the Jasmine scented oil to the water.
“Now help me undress.” The poor girl froze, going from proud to frightened again in a split second. Gods, was I really that scary? Oh who am I kidding, of course I was. I strived to be scary. Which is probably why I glared at her and added, “Did I stutter?” Yeah, that was unnecessary, but I couldn't help myself.
“No, my Lord,” she mumbled as she shuffled her way over to me.
She unhooked my armor, and I lifted it over my head and handed it to her. She almost dropped it, not expecting it to be as heavy as it was, and laid it on a nearby table. I slipped off my bracers as she unlaced my boots. I told her to go check the water level. I proceeded to remove my leggings, my tunic, and all my undergarments myself. Clearly the girl was out of her element. A pretty inefficient servant if you ask me.
I glided over to the tub and lowered myself in. The tub wasn't full all the way, but I was getting impatient. I could feel her eyes watching me. Like what you see, little girl? I grinned to myself. I relaxed into the bath, the warm water soothing my tense muscles. I picked up the soap and a sponge and started washing myself. I glanced up at the girl. She looked very uncomfortable, not quite knowing what to do or where to look.
I had previously had body servants and attendants, but I recently did away with them. I knew it was expected for a ruler to have them, but since when did I give a damn about what was expected? I did what I wanted. I found it annoying having attendants around me all the time. I could bathe and dress myself just fine thank you. My goal in conquering all of Greece was not so I could live in a castle and have people dressing and bathing me. I conquered Greece to conquer Greece.
And body slaves were only useful for one thing, and even that got boring. So now if I had a need, I just made a request, and a girl was brought to my room. They were girls for hire, but not from a common brothel. They were from a high class establishment that catered to nobility, and was very discreet. I didn't have to pay them, of course, it was an honor for them just to be called upon by the Lord Conqueror.
“Hey, what was your name again?”
“Gabrielle, my Lord.”
“Start a fire, Gabrielle.” She walked over to the fireplace and went about the requested task.
“How long have you been in my service, Gabrielle?”
“Two months, my Lord.”
“Two months only?” Hmmm. “And where were you before that?”
“I was home, with my family”.
Ah, well that explains it. She's new to this whole slave thing. I tried to think back to the last time I acquired new slaves. Yes, I do remember, a few months back, the warlord Draco brought me a bunch of young girls that he had presented to me as a gift. I never thought to ask how he acquired them. I didn't much care. New blood is new blood. And the more servants I have, the smoother things run in this place.
“Were you taken from your home?”
“Yes, my Lord. A warlord came to our village and took all the young girls, including me and my sister. He brought us here.”
“I see. What work do they have you doing?”
“I am in the kitchens, my Lord.”
“Are you a good cook?”
“Yes, my Lord. I mean, in my humble opinion. I mean, my family always thought so.”
I found myself enjoying our little conversation. There was something about her voice that I found soothing. Or maybe it was just the warm bath.
“Do you have any specialties, Gabrielle?”
“Yeah, you know, any special dishes that you make?”
“Oh, well, yes, I suppose. Honeycakes.”
“Honeycakes huh?” That made me chuckle.
“Yes, little pastries made with honey and cinnamon. And sometimes I add nuts.”
I could see she was smiling. “Well, you will make them for me sometime then, and we'll see just how good they are.”
“Yes, my Lord”. And her smile was gone, replaced with that fearful look. Probably assuming that if I didn't like them, I'd send her to the dungeon. A distinct possibility actually.
Well, as long as she was afraid, I might as well add fuel to the fire. “Gabrielle, come over here to the edge of the tub. I need you to scrub my back and wash my hair.”
Her pretty green eyes opened so wide, I thought they were going to pop out of her head. She came and knelt down by the edge of the tub. I handed her the sponge and soap, and she began her task. She was so gentle, I almost laughed out loud, but I refrained. “Gabrielle, when I say scrub, I mean scrub. Trust me, I'm not a delicate flower.”
She applied more pressure and began scrubbing my back vigorously.
“Ahhh, yeah, that's more like it.”
Then she proceeded to wash my hair. A simple act really. I've had servants wash my hair before of course, but there was something about her hands tangled in my hair, scrubbing my scalp, that felt so good. It was borderline erotic. I had a strong urge to moan, but I resisted. Then she rinsed my hair, and waited for my next command. If she were a seasoned slave, I know what my next command would've been. But she was so scared as it was, she'd probably pass out at the suggestion.
“Time for me to get out. I don't want to prune.” I climbed out of the tub and walked toward the fireplace. “Fetch me a towel,” I said, and pointed to the shelf where the fresh linens were kept. She grabbed one and held it out for me.
“Dry me off,” I commanded. She just stood there. “Gabrielle, are you afraid of me?”
“You are the Lord Conqueror. Everyone fears you.”
They damn well better. “Tell me, have the other servants been telling you what a monster I am?”
She opened her mouth to answer, then shut it again.
“Gabrielle, let me make something clear. I'm a straight-shooter. I speak the truth. And when I ask you a direct question, I demand that you tell me the truth. There will be no retribution for answering me truthfully. I give you my word as Lord Conqueror.”
“Yes, they have,” she squeaked out.
“Well, they're right. I am a monster. And most of the stories they've told you are probably true. I didn't earn the title Xena the Merciless for nothing. However, if you do as I tell you, and do not anger me, then you should have no reason to become acquainted with Xena the Merciless. Do you understand?”
“Yes, my Lord.” She took the towel and hesitantly started to dry me off.
“Oh, nevermind.” I grabbed the towel back from her and dried myself.
I issued her a different command. “Go over to that closet and get me a robe.”
She walked over to the closet where I kept an assortment of silk robes. “Which color, my Lord?”
“I'm in a red mood today.”
She brought the robe over and held it open for me as I slipped into it. I went to sit in the chair by the fireplace, running my hands through my wet hair.
I looked at the girl again, and wondered what she would look like if her face and hair weren't so dirty. An idea came to me.
“Gabrielle, when's the last time you had a bath?”
She thought for a moment. “Thursday, my Lord.”
“Today is Monday. I think you are due. Take off your clothes and get in.”
She stared at me as if I had grown another head.
“What's the matter, you don't like Jasmine?” I sneered.
“Um, no, I mean yes, I mean I like Jasmine very much.”
“Then what's the problem?”
“N-n-othing, my Lord.” She started to undress.
She got down to her undergarments and looked at me, obviously hoping I would look away. Not a chance, I wanted to see her. “Gabrielle, while I'm sure you are a most trustworthy servant, I've only just met you, so I'm sure you will understand that I cannot turn my back on a stranger.”
“Of...of course, my Lord.” And with that she peeled off her undergarments, and blushed profusely. She hurried to the tub and lowered herself in. She found the sponge and soap and began hastily washing herself.
I was enjoying this a little too much, so I said, “Now be sure to get everywhere. There will be an inspection later.” I conjured up the most wicked grin I could. Why did I enjoy teasing her so much?
“An, an inspection?”
“I'm teasing you. Didn't your cohorts downstairs tell you the monster had a sense of humor?”
“No, Lord Conqueror, they did not mention that.”
I took pity on her, and turned my evil smirk into a genuine smile. Something I rarely do. And then she did it. She smiled at me in return. A dazzling smile on a now washed face. Gods, she was beautiful. It hit me like a sucker punch to the stomach. Who was this little village girl/slave? How could she have this affect on me? Nobody affected me like this. Well, a long time ago, Ares affected me. But this was something altogether different. I remembered to start breathing again.
She finished up washing her hair. “My Lord, I am through. May I get out now?”
“Yes, you may.”
As she lifted herself out of the tub, I forgot myself for a moment, and got up from my chair, walked over to the linen shelf, and grabbed her a towel. Unbelievable. Have I lost my mind? By the look on her face, she obviously thought so. To try to save myself, instead of handing it to her, I threw it at her. I watched her drying herself off. Oh how I wanted to be that towel. Wait, what did I just say?
So take her! The voice in my head screamed. You're her master, she can't refuse you. Okay. Yes. I will do just that.
“In the same closet where you got my robe, you should be able to find one small enough to fit you.” Okay, later. I will take her later. “And don't forget to let the water out of the tub.”
She came back from the closet wearing a short, black silk robe that came down to about mid-thigh. By the gods, did she have to pick one that short? She walked back to the tub and bent over, turning the knob to drain the water. I ended up getting an eyeful of her backside.
No. I won't take her. No good will come of it. I should send her back to the kitchens and never look upon her again.
But then I got another idea. “Gabrielle, take your dirty clothes and throw them in the fire.”
She looked at me with panic written all over her face. “But my Lord, those are the only clothes I have!”
“Did I stutter?” I loved using that line.
“No.” She answered meekly. She walked over to where she had dropped her clothes, picked them up, and walked over to the fireplace. She hesitated and glanced at me. I said nothing. She threw her clothes into the fire, and watched them burn.
I got up and pulled the cord that summoned Andreas. Another clever invention that came with the castle. There was a cord by my bed, and one here in the bathing area, that when pulled, rang a bell outside my bedchamber that would summon Andreas or whomever was on duty.
Andreas immediately appeared. “Andreas, I'd like you to meet my new body servant, Gabrielle.” I motioned to her. She looked over at me with a shocked look on her face. Then she looked over at Andreas who nodded and smiled at her.
“Have a room prepared for her, and send Vidalus up here to get her measured for some brand new garments.”
“Yes, my Lord. Right away.” he answered.
I turned back to the girl. “You see Gabrielle, when I tell someone to do something, I always have a good reason. I expect you to do as I ask, not question me. Do you think you can do that from now on?”
“Yes, my Lord. Forgive me for questioning you. I've only just met you. I am just learning your, um, ways.”
“Since it is your first infraction, I'll let it slide.”
“Thank you, my Lord.”
I then motioned to the chair opposite me and suggested she sit by the fire and dry her hair.
A few moments later, Vidalus came in. He was another thing that came with this castle. He was a gifted tailor, with a staff of excellent seamstresses, that could whip up extraordinary clothing for me. Whatever struck my fancy or suited my needs, whether it was fancy gowns, riding clothes, or sleepwear. He worked with beautiful fabrics, and his designs were always flattering, and quite comfortable. And as an added bonus, I found him amusing. He was a bit chubby, balding, and not very masculine at all. An odd choice, I thought, for Andreas, who was tall, chiseled, and very macho. Oh well, I guess opposites do attract.
“Vidalus, this is my new body servant, Gabrielle. She will need a whole new wardrobe: Gowns, robes, sleepwear, and undergarments.”
“Oh how wonderful. She is quite beautiful, my Lord.”
“Yes, quite,” I answered. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught her blushing.
Vidalus approached her. “Nice to meet you Gabrielle. Would you please stand up for me so I can get your measurements?”
Gabrielle stood and let him do his work. She suddenly seemed uncomfortable when he tried to take her chest measurements. “My girl, I assure you I am not trying to cop a feel. I am just trying to get the measurements I need. As beautiful as you are dear, you are not my type.”
I couldn't help but let out a chuckle at that. I honestly don't think she understood the meaning of his words, but she relaxed enough to let him finish the job.
“When do you need these, Lord Conqueror?”
“Tonight?!” he shrieked. “That is impossible!”
“Well not everything by tonight Vidalus. How about a simple gown, a robe, undergarments, and something to sleep in? Certainly you can manage that by tonight?”
“Yes, yes. That I can do. And then we will finish the rest by tomorrow. Any particular colors, my Lord?”
“I'll leave that up to you. I think she will look good in most any color.”
“Indeed she will. Well, I'm off to get started then.” He bowed to me and skittered out of the room.
I looked back at Gabrielle. “Well, your room isn't ready yet, and you have no clothes. Looks like you'll have to hang out here for awhile. Might as well make yourself comfortable. Are you hungry?”
“Oh I'm always hungry, my Lord.”
“A little thing like you? Where do you put it?”
She grinned. “I don't know. My mother used to tease me that I must have a hollow leg.”
I laughed at that and flashed her another smile, which she returned.
“Well, let's have some lunch then shall we?” I pulled the cord to summon Andreas again.
He was there in a flash. “Have the kitchen send us up some lunch. And some wine.”
“Right away, my Lord.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes, then she spoke up. “My Lord, may I ask a question?”
“You have introduced me twice now as your new body servant. I'm not really sure what that is, or what my duties are.”
Oh boy. What exactly would I require of her?
“Well, Gabrielle, some of the duties you've performed already. You basically see to the needs of my body. Assisting me with my bath, dressing and undressing me, an occasional backrub, and ahh, anything else my body requires.”
I watched her carefully to gauge her reaction to that last part. She didn't flinch. Nor did she blush. So I can only assume she had no idea what I was hinting at. Too bad.
How would I broach the subject with her when the time came? Why was I even questioning this? Did I really care that she was only in my service for two months? Did I really care that she was just an inexperienced village girl? And how did I know she was so inexperienced? Her youth and shyness implied innocence, but how did I really know? Time to find out.
“So, do you think you can do that, Gabrielle?”
“Yes, my Lord,” she said with a smile.
“Very good. You are getting your own room, with your own bathing area, right down the hall from mine. You will no longer have to stay in the servants quarters. You're getting a whole new wardrobe as you heard. You should really look at this as a promotion Gabrielle. My body servant is one of the highest ranking positions amongst my servants.”
“Well then I am honored, my Lord.” Was she being sarcastic? No, I could tell by the look on her face, she really was honored. I wonder how honored she'll feel once she learns what else the position entails.
“So, we have some time to kill until lunch arrives. Tell me about your life before you were taken.”
“What do you want to know, my Lord?”
“Where you are from, what your life was like, were you married? The basics.”
“I am from a village called Potidea. I lived with my mother and father, and my sister Lila. I wasn't married, but I was betrothed.”
I knew where Potidea was. Very close to Amphipolis. Surprisingly, I never ransacked it in my warlord days. Too close to home I guess.
“You mentioned your sister was taken with you. Is she also working in my service here at the castle?”
“Yes my Lord, she is.”
“Does she work in the kitchens with you?”
“No, she works with the seamstresses.”
“Well, how do you like that? Your sister will most likely have a hand in making your new wardrobe.”
“Yeah, hopefully she remembers to take all the pins out.” We both laughed at the same time. Well, well, my new companion seems to be a triple threat. Beautiful, smart, and witty. Thank goodness she's loosening up a bit.
“You mentioned being betrothed. Tell me about him. What was he like?”
“His name is Perdicus. He's a good man. From a good family.”
Well that's interesting. I've heard people use more emotion when describing their horse. Myself included.
I decided to delve further. “What's he look like? Is he handsome?”
She kind of scrunched her face and said, “Um, no, not in my opinion.”
“Well something must have attracted you to him enough to want to marry him.”
“It was arranged, my Lord.”
Ah. Never been married, and not attracted to her betrothed. Perhaps she is as innocent as she seems. “So you didn't really want to marry him then?”
“Not really, my Lord.”
“Well, then, it seems that warlord did you a favor.” I smirked at her to drive the point home.
Just then our lunch arrived, which saved her from further interrogation. For now.
Lunch was quite pleasant. We made light conversation about her home life and her village. Normally, I wouldn't give a rat's ass about some servant's prior life, but she intrigued me. And as she got more comfortable around me, she began using more inflection in her voice, and more expression on her face. I found it quite charming.
I've been around all manner of nobles and royalty, soldiers, merchants, entertainers, and found them all boring as hell. So why would I be captivated by this simple village girl? It made no sense. Maybe it was the wine. That had to be it.
I refocused my attention on the story she was telling. At one point, she moved her arm wildly to emphasize a detail, and I noticed the movement had caused the front of her robe to slip open. Not all the way, just enough to partially expose one of her breasts. The polite thing to do would be to mention it to her. But since when did I care about being polite? I am Xena the Merciless afterall, not Xena the Polite. I let my eyes linger a moment too long, and she caught me. She looked down and saw what I had been looking at. She seemed to be blushing from her neck all the way up to her eyeballs as she frantically re-closed her robe.
Just then there was a loud knock on the outer door. “Enter!” I yelled.
It was Andreas informing us that Gabrielle's room was ready. Perfect timing.
“Gabrielle, Andreas will escort you to your new room. Get comfortable. Feel free to move things around as you like them. Vidalus will be up later with some of your new clothes. After your dinner this evening, put on the gown he brings you and wait in your room until I call on you. Remember, part of your responsibilities is to be ready and available when I call on you. Any time of the day or night.”
“I understand, my Lord. I will be ready.” She flashed me one of her dazzling smiles, of which I was becoming quite fond of.
She turned to walk out with Andreas, but stopped and turned back to me. “My Lord, something just occurred to me. If I don't return to the servants quarters tonight, my sister will think something happened to me. I know she works for Vidalus, but I'm sure he doesn't realize we are sisters.”
The wicked side of me contemplated letting the other servants think I slit her throat for doing a crappy job scrubbing my floor, but after that last smile, I couldn't bring myself to do it.
“Andreas, send word to Gabrielle's sister of her promotion.”
“It will be done my Lord.”
Would I get another smile for that? C'mon, c'mon..... And there it is. Then she bowed to me and added, “Thank you so much, my Lord.” And that did me in. It wasn't that she said thank you. It was the way she said it. She seemed to deepen her voice a bit as she said it. I felt it in my chest. Gods. I hoped I would be hearing that kind of thank you from her many times in the future.
After they left, I suddenly realized I had wasted the better part of the day with Gabrielle, and hadn't attended to any of my official duties. Time flies when you're lusting after your young body servant. Ok, Xena, back to business. Although, I couldn't help but imagine what the night would bring.
I sat on the edge of my bed, surveying my new room, letting all the events of the day wash over me. I went from chopping vegetables in the kitchen, to scrubbing the Conqueror's floor, to bathing in the Conqueror's tub, all before lunch. It was very surreal. And now, here I was, in this huge, beautiful room, supposedly all mine. I guessed our entire house in Potidea would fit in this room. My whole family could probably fit in this bed too come to think of it. I bounced up and down on it a few times. Very comfy. Are these silk sheets? I rubbed my hands on them. Why yes they are. I laid down in the middle of the huge bed and stretched out. Wait till Lila sees this. Lila. I hadn't thought about how this would affect her. Me being promoted and living like this, and her still living as a common servant. Well, I would figure something out. Maybe the Conqueror could use two body servants. I'll work on that.
Ah, the Conqueror. I let my mind drift back to earlier in the day when we first met. Well, not met exactly. When she pulled her sword on me and scared me half to death. ‘Who in Tartarus are you?' Her voice had sent a shiver up my spine. Then she asked me to turn around so she could see my face. I braced myself, expecting to look into the face of a monster. The stories about The Destroyer of Nations were legendary, and even though I've only been a servant here for a short time, I've heard enough talk about her to know I really didn't want to come face to face with her. When I turned around, I was not prepared for how absolutely beautiful she was. Certainly the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. And those steel blue eyes of hers. They seemed to look into my very soul. This is the Lord Conqueror? The monster that rules the known world?
Oh don't get me wrong, I was still extremely frightened of her. She had a dark energy about her that seemed to suck all the air out of the room.
‘Drop the brush and come with me.' I followed her, shaking like a leaf, not knowing what she had in store for me.
Preparing a bath for her in that fabulous tub, that was easy enough. But then she asked me to scrub her back and wash her hair. I had to admit, she had gorgeous hair, and I enjoyed the feel of my hands wrapped up in it. I've washed my sister's hair many times, but I don't ever remember enjoying it like that.
Then she got out of the tub, and wanted me to dry her off! I felt dirty just seeing the Lord Conqueror naked, much less having to touch her. I wanted to crawl in a hole somewhere. I've never touched a naked woman before. What reason would I have to touch a naked woman? I've never even seen a naked woman, with the exception of my sister, as it was customary for us to bathe together. But this was very different. Not that it was an unpleasant sight. The Conqueror's body was amazing. Very muscular, and yet curvy at the same time. Thankfully, she saved me by grabbing the towel out of my hands and drying herself off.
When she finally had her robe on, I thought my embarrassment was over. Boy was I wrong. She wanted me to strip and get in the bath! And to make matters worse, she wouldn't even look away as I was undressing! That was the first time I had ever thought about how my body looked. I felt so completely inadequate compared to her. I didn't want her to see me.
I practically ran to that tub, hoping I wouldn't step in any wet spots on the floor, and slip and fall on my ass in front of her. The bath felt wonderful, and I was just starting to relax a bit when she made that joke about there being an inspection. By the gods, I believed her! Who knew she had a sense of humor?
The Lord Conqueror was certainly an enigma. She seemed cold and harsh one minute, but then would turn around and make a joke. One minute she was being cordial and fetching me a towel, next she was telling me to burn my clothes. How was I to know she was going to give me a whole new wardrobe?
Then, while we were sitting there by the fire, eating lunch and talking, it seemed as though she dropped her harsh veneer. I had no idea why on earth she took such an interest in my simple village life. Asking me all those questions about Perdicus. What was up with that? What did she care? It was very strange, but I was able to relax a bit, and even started to enjoy the attention. But my relaxed state didn't last long, because I caught her staring at my chest. I was back to being embarrassed, and I could feel myself turn absolutely beet red. Why would a woman with as beautiful a body as hers, have any interest in looking at my breasts? It rattled me, I must say.
So she made me her body servant, and here I am. With a room of my own, and a brand new wardrobe being made for me as I sit here. Unbelievable. She said she would call for me later tonight. I wonder what for. Would she want another bath? Maybe just to help her undress for the night? I guess I'll find out soon enough.
I got up from the bed and walked around, exploring my surroundings. Beautiful draperies, exquisite furniture, and a bathing area all to myself. The tub was not like the Conqueror's. Andreas told me that starting tomorrow, servants would automatically show up shortly after sundown with hot water for the tub, and that I was to bathe and dress for the Conqueror in case she called on me. He also said that servants would be bringing me my meals. I asked him if I was confined to my room, and he laughed. He assured me that as long as the Conqueror did not have need of me, I would be free to spend my time as I wished, and that he would give me a tour of the castle tomorrow. I like Andreas. He seems very nice, and he's quite handsome. I wonder if there is anything between him and the Lord Conqueror. She's so beautiful, I'm quite sure any man would jump at the chance to be with her.
Awhile later, Vidalus showed up with some of my new clothes, and my sister. How nice of him to bring her along.
“Lila!” I threw my arms around her. She returned the hug, but I could feel a bit of coldness from her.
“Lila, what's wrong? Are you mad at me?” She didn't answer me. She just looked around, taking in the splendor of my room. She's probably jealous. I would be. I wanted to say something to make her feel better, but I didn't know what.
Just then Vidalus spoke. “Well c'mon dear, we don't have all day. Try on the clothes I've brought so we can make sure they fit.”
I started to take off my robe, then looked at Vidalus and hesitated. “Oh for Zeus's sake, Gabrielle, I'll turn around. But if you're going to serve the Lord Conqueror as her body servant, you best get over your modesty issues very quickly.”
He said it with a smile, but it still sent a chill through me, I had no idea why.
The few items he brought me fit perfectly, and he was beaming from ear to ear with obvious pride in his handiwork. “The Conqueror will be most pleased. Well, we must be going. Come Lila.”
As he started for the door, I asked, “Oh Vidalus, do you think you could spare me just a few moments alone with my sister before you go?”
He smiled. “Okay, but just a few moments. We have alot to finish up.” He walked out into the corridor, closing the door behind him.
I turned to my sister. “Lila, you've been giving me the cold shoulder this entire time. I don't know what to say to you. I don't want you to be mad at me or jealous of me. The Lord Conqueror promoted me, what could I do, turn her down? And end up with my throat slit? Or worse?”
She remained silent.
“Lila, once I get settled into this routine, and if I do a really good job for her, maybe I can coax her into making you a body servant too. Then we could share this room.”
“I don't want to be her body servant,” she stated flatly.
“Why not? It's really not hard work.”
She glared at me. I was very confused by her reaction, and it must've showed on my face because she softened her look a bit and said, “You don't even know what your duties are do you?”
“Sure I do. Well, not everything no. It's mostly assisting her with dressing and bathing as far as I can tell.”
“The seamstresses told me what other duties you'll be required to do.” Lila said with a very sad look on her face.
Suddenly, I got scared. “What Lila, tell me, what other duties will be required of me?”
“She will expect you to pleasure her,” she said as she started to cry.
“Pleasure her?” I still had no idea what Lila was talking about.
She didn't answer me. Then images went through my mind of The Conqueror watching me undress, and staring at my exposed breast. And the fact that Lila was crying. “Oh gods. You don't mean....pleasure her....sexually?”
Lila just nodded.
I felt of rush of panic flood over me, and I thought I was going to pass out.
“Lila! I didn't know that!” Oh gods, no wonder she was mad at me at first. She assumed I was well aware of what job I had been assigned and didn't care. She probably thought I was selling myself out just for a nice room and new clothes.
Now I was crying.
I wrapped my arms around my sister and hugged her tight. “I had no idea. What am I going to do?”
Just then Vidalus came back in the room and saw us hugging and crying. “Wow, you've only been apart for one day, and this is the kind of reunion you have? I wish I was your sibling.”
After a moment, he realized these were not tears of joy. “Gabrielle, what's the matter? Aren't you feeling well? You look very pale all of a sudden.”
I took a deep breath and composed myself. “Vidalus, can I ask you something?”
“Of course, dear.”
“What exactly are the duties of a body servant?”
“Uh, didn't the Lord Conqueror explain them to you?”
“Partially, yes. But I think she may have left out an important detail. Please Vidalus, be honest with me. Will I be required to....um.....be.....um.....physical with her?” Gods, I could't even say it.
“Oh, dear, Gabrielle. Have you not pleasured a master before?”
“Pleasured a master? I only started in her service two months ago! Before that, I was home, in Potidea, living my life!” I was visibly upset.
“Does the Lord Conqueror know that?” Vidalus asked.
“Yes, she does!”
Vidalus took me in his arms and sighed. “Gabrielle, I assumed that you were experienced, and that is why she chose you. But if she is well aware of the fact that you are not, that means that she intends to......train you herself. If the Lord Conqueror has chosen you for this position, there's not much you can do about it now. I'm sorry.”
“What if I flat out refuse her?” I already knew the answer to that.
Vidalus answered, “Your life would be forfeit.” He hugged me again.
I took another deep breath, and resigned myself to the hand I had been dealt.
He pulled away. “I really must be going, Gabrielle.” He started for the door and Lila followed behind him. She turned back to look at me, this time with sympathy instead of anger.
Before they exited, Vidalus turned around and offered a few last words of comfort. “Gabrielle, Xena is as cruel and ruthless as they say. However, she is also human. Find a way to appeal to her human side. That's what I did. I still fear her wrath, but I no longer fear her. I hope that makes sense.”
“Thank you, Vidalus.”
And with that, he and Lila were gone.
I wanted to run after them. Run out of this castle. Run far, far away, all the way back home. I thought about home. If I were still there, in a few months I would be married to Perdicus, a man I didn't love. How ironic. If I was home, I'd have to give myself to a man I didn't choose, and now here, I have to give myself to a woman I didn't choose. It's actually quite funny when you think about it. Hysterical in fact. Then why am I not laughing?
Awhile later, the servants delivered my dinner. It was the most delicious meal I had ever had, but I couldn't enjoy any of it. I had a headache, and my stomach hurt. But I was also feeling weak, so I forced as much of the food down my throat as I could. I figured I should at least have something in my stomach in case she tried to get me drunk.
I put on the gown that Vidalus brought. It was a lovely shade of emerald, which seemed to bring out my eyes. I brushed my hair. I looked at my reflection in the full length mirror by my dresser. Wow, I look pretty. I tried putting my hair up to see how that would look. No, definitely better down. Wait, what am I doing? I'm trying to look attractive for her? I'm going about this all wrong. I should make myself look hideous. Then she won't want anything to do with me. I stared at my reflection in the mirror. I decided I wanted to look pretty for her. I don't know why, it didn't make any sense, and I cursed myself for thinking it. I slumped down into a chair and waited.
Not long after, Andreas came knocking on my door. I told him to come in.
“Gabrielle, you look lovely.”
Lovely? Really? Well if this handsome man is saying it, who am I to question it?
“Thank you Andreas.” I smiled at him. Maybe I can get him to fall madly in love with me, rescue me from the Conqueror, and we can ride off into the sunset together.
“The Lord Conqueror will be most pleased.”
Oh, who am I kidding. He would never betray her. Heck, he's probably sleeping with her. But if he's sleeping with her, why would she bother with me? Maybe she doesn't even like men. Oh gods, my head was spinning.
Andreas took my arm. “Shall we go then?”
“Sure,” I mumbled.
We entered the Conqueror's room. She was sitting on a large, padded sofa in her main room, near the fireplace, with a silver goblet in her hand, looking both regal and predatory at the same time. She rose to meet us.
“Good evening, Gabrielle. Once again Vidalus proves his salt. That dress fits you perfectly, and the color really brings out your eyes. You look beautiful”.
My mind focused on those last three words, which still hung in the air. ‘You look beautiful.' I swear she said them a little differently than the rest of her statement. Her voice seemed deeper, richer, dare I say, husky? I felt the power of those words in my gut. I started to panic. She may be the Lord Conqueror, and she may be beautiful, but I am not going to go along with this willingly. She can't just have me because she wants me. But why does she want me? Did she make me her body servant because she just wanted somebody? Or did she really want me for me? That's ridiculous. I was not going to let myself fall under this woman's spell. She will hurt me. She is cruel and ruthless. Vidalus said so. Although, he did also say she was human.
I realized I had not yet acknowledged her compliment. I gave her the best smile I could muster and said, “Thank you, my Lord.”
It was then that I took notice of what she was wearing. A low-cut, sleeveless, royal blue tunic, with gold embroidery around the arm holes and neckline. Talk about a color bringing out your eyes. I glanced up at those blue eyes of hers, and I knew that was a big mistake. They were hypnotic. I forced myself to look down, and saw what she was wearing with her tunic. I had assumed they were just black leggings, but no, they were leather. Skin tight, black leather pants. By the gods, she was stunning.
Then I got mad at myself. It doesn't matter how gorgeous she is, or how blue her eyes are, or how good she looks in those leather pants. Wrong is wrong. And what she has planned for me is wrong. She can't just take people against their will.
Just then Andreas spoke. “Will there be anything else, my Lord?”
Oh gods. I forgot he was still in the room. I was too busy staring at the Conqueror. I hope she didn't notice me staring. I glanced up at her face. She was looking at me, smirking. Yep, she noticed. I blushed. I wanted to run for the door, but my legs were like stone. I just stood there like a lamb waiting to be slaughtered. A little blushing lamb.
“No Andreas, I think we're good. Good night.”
“Good night ladies,” he answered. “Enjoy your evening.”
Yeah, well, I'm sure one of us ladies will be enjoying the evening. I let out a heavy sigh.
“Gabrielle, why don't you pour yourself some wine and join me here on the sofa.”
“Yes, my Lord.” Trying to get me drunk, hey? That's the oldest trick in the book. Well, I'm not going to fall for it. On the other hand, my nerves are shot, so maybe just one glass. I filled my goblet and joined her on the sofa. I sat on the other end, as far away from her as I possibly could.
“So, I was enjoying our conversation at lunch today. I thought we could continue that.”
“Uh, sure. Whatever you wish, my Lord.” Whatever you wish? Oh gods, I wish I hadn't said that.
“You said you weren't interested in marrying, ah, what was his name?”
“Perdicus, my Lord.”
“Yes, Perdicus. Was it that you just didn't want to marry him, or didn't you really want to get married at all?”
I thought seriously about her question. “Well, I know it's most girl's dream to marry a nice boy, and raise kids, but for some reason, that really didn't appeal to me much. Of course I couldn't admit that to anyone. They'd think there was something wrong with me.”
“Do you think there's something wrong with you for not wanting that?”
“Hmmm. I don't know.”
“I never wanted that life either Gabrielle. Do you think there's something wrong with me?”
Is that a trick question I wonder? “No, my Lord. I do not think there's something wrong with you.”
“Good. Then you shouldn't think there's anything wrong with you either.”
Huh. Well that made sense actually. I looked over at her and she was smiling at me. Careful, don't get lost in that gaze. Look back at the fire. But it was too late, I was lost. But I also realized I wasn't really feeling frightened anymore. I was extremely nervous, but not frightened.
I finally managed to drop my gaze, and I turned to look straight ahead at the fire.
“Well, now that we've established what you didn't want for your life, what is it you did want?”
“I wanted to travel, meet interesting people, and write about my experiences.”
She chuckled. “Well, you've traveled, from Potidea to here, and you've met me, and I'm certainly interesting. So I guess that just leaves the writing it down part. Are you a bard, Gabrielle?”
“Sort of. I used to tell stories to entertain my family, but that's as far as I got.”
“So tell me a story.”
“What? You? I can't do that.”
“Well, why ever not? I have ears don't I?” She smirked.
“What if I'm really no good, and my family was just being nice?”
“One way to find out.”
Oh for the love of Zeus. As if I don't already have performance anxiety about what she has in store for me, now I have performance anxiety of another kind. Then again, telling her stories will delay everything, and maybe she'll get too tired and send me back to my room. Okay, story time it is.
“My Lord, may I stand while I'm doing this? It helps me tell the story better.”
“Of course you may.”
I stood up, faced her, took a deep breath, and launched into a story about Hercules. I did the best I could with the story, using my hands to illustrate my words. But looking at her was getting me very flustered. Thankfully though, I somehow remembered every word, and didn't get tongue-tied once. When I was finished, I waited for her response. Would she laugh at me? Send me to the dungeon?
She clapped. She actually clapped. Oh gods, I'm blushing again.
“Gabrielle, that was wonderful. I think you may actually have a gift.”
Wow. “Really? You really liked it?”
“Didn't I tell you earlier today that I was a straight-shooter? I wouldn't lie to you.”
No, she didn't seem to lie. She was, however, quite capable of withholding things. Like important details of one's new position. But I wasn't going to get mad at her right now. Not when she was praising me like this.
“Would you tell me another one?”
“Of course my Lord!” I was getting excited now. I had the ear of the most powerful woman in all of Greece. It was an exhilarating feeling. “Let me just wet my whistle first,” I said as I refilled my goblet. Oh well, if I get sloshed, I get sloshed. So be it. I took a big gulp of my wine.
“But Gabrielle, this time, not a Hercules story. He's not really my favorite.”
“Um, okay. Why don't you like him, my Lord?”
“I met him awhile ago. He tried to reform me. Obviously it didn't work.” An evil grin appeared on her face. “And he may be half-god, but he's a lousy lay.”
Oh gods, she did not just say that. And of course, I blushed. Maybe if I pray to the gods hard enough, they will take away my ability to blush, and I won't have to suffer this embarrassment around her anymore.
I gulped down some more wine. “Alrighty then. How about a story with Ares?”
She nearly choked on her sip of wine. “He's a bastard.”
Wow, has she met every god? “Um, is Aphrodite safe?”
“Yes, I've never met Aphrodite. And I suspect I never will.”
I launched into my Aphrodite tale.
When I was through, she clapped for me again. I gave her a brilliant smile in return. For a brief moment, I almost thought time stood still. And then the moment was gone. I must be drunk.
“Gabrielle, you must be worn out.” She patted the spot next to her on the sofa. “Please, sit down.”
Okay, I can do this. Between the wine, the storytelling, and the attention, I was feeling pretty good. So I sat down right next to the Lord Conqueror.
“Tell me Gabrielle, how old are you?”
“Eighteen summers, my Lord.”
“So, you were not married, and you were betrothed to a man you didn't love.” She paused. “Have you ever been kissed?”
Whoa. Where did that come from? Oh of course, I went and told a story with Aphrodite. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
“Yes. Once.” I replied.
“With...um...what's his name?”
She could never seem to remember his name. “Perdicus. No, it wasn't him.”
“Oooh, this is getting good. You kissed someone who wasn't your betrothed?”
“Yes, well, I wasn't betrothed at the time.” She was staring at me, waiting for me to continue. Did she want details? Of course she did. She's probably kissed hundreds of people, and yet she wanted to know the details of my one kiss?
“It was after a Summer Solstice festival. I had spent a lot of the evening dancing with a boy named Stephos. He offered to see me home. When we got there, he asked to see our barn. I'm not dumb, I knew he probably wanted to kiss me, so I went along with it. He pressed me up against the wall, and kissed me.”
“Did you like it?”
“Um, no, not really, my Lord. He was very rough, and he shoved his tongue in my mouth.”
“Ah, young boys. So eager. So stupid. They don't have a clue.” She took a sip of her wine. “So, you've never been properly kissed.”
Oh gods. Is this going where I think this is going? “Um, no, my Lord, I guess I haven't.”
“I'd like to kiss you Gabrielle.”
Well, it wasn't an outright demand. But it wasn't really asking permission either. I'm not sure what it was, but the next thing I knew she was closing the distance between us and pressing her lips against mine. They were so soft. Nothing like Stephos' lips. And the kiss was so gentle, so delicate. Also nothing like Stephos.
She pulled away slightly. I didn't move a muscle. She leaned back in and kissed me again. This time kissing me more fully. She brought her hand up to my face and cradled my cheek. I don't know what came over me, but I felt myself returning her kiss. She was rubbing my cheek with her thumb, and our kissing intensified. I could feel my heartbeat quicken, and my face felt hot. Then I felt her tongue pressing against my lips. I wanted to deny her, I really did, but her lips felt so good on mine, I couldn't help but wonder what her tongue would feel like. So I parted my lips and allowed her entry.
I just assumed she'd shove her tongue in like Stephos did, but I was so wrong. She slipped it in so smoothly, and only part of the way. She sought out my tongue, and brushed hers against it. I didn't resist, and our tongues started doing some sort of sensual dance in my mouth. Gods. She slid the hand that was against my cheek around to the back of my head, and pressed my mouth harder against hers. Then she stuck her tongue all the way in, and the dance became faster and more frantic. My heart picked up it's pace yet again, and I could hardly breathe. And the kissing was causing a very strange sensation in my belly. The Conqueror pulled away first, and I noticed we were both short of breath. Does that mean the kiss excited her too?
She pulled back enough to look at my face, and she put her hand back on my cheek. “So, now that you've been kissed properly, what do you think?”
How do I answer that? I wanted her to know I liked it, because I did like it. No, actually I loved it. But I didn't want her to think I liked it so much that I wanted to move on to the next step. “It was wonderful.” I admitted.
“Good. I'm glad. I think that will be all for tonight Gabrielle. I have an early start tomorrow. You're dismissed. Andreas will see you back to your room.”
What? I'm dismissed? After that? Nooo! I don't want to go back to my room. Wait, I should be grateful she didn't push me any further, shouldn't I? And yet, I was extremely disappointed that I had to leave. “Good night, my Lord.”
“Good night Gabrielle. Sweet dreams.”
Oh gods, did she just wink at me? Sweet dreams indeed.
I got undressed, slipped under my covers, and blew out the candle next to my bed. I stared up at the ceiling, replaying the night in my mind. The night didn't go according to plan at all. I had planned to take my young body slave to bed. But she just looked so frightened, I knew I'd have to approach this differently. Sure, I could've just taken her against her will. I was certainly capable of doing that, I had done it with others in the past. But I never completely forced anyone. With my skills, even if someone wasn't willing in the beginning, they soon succumbed to me anyway, with no resistance. That was the fine line I used to justify the difference in my head.
But when I saw Gabrielle tonight, I knew I didn't want her that way. I'm not sure why, but I wanted her to give herself to me willingly from the start. So I decided instead of just taking her, I would seduce her. She was young and innocent, so I figured I'd get the desired result by taking things slow. If I could handle it.
Maybe if we just talked, I could stay in control. And I really did enjoy her storytelling. She was quite good, she could absolutely be a bard if she wanted to be. But after that Aphrodite story, all I could think about was kissing her. I guessed that she had never been properly kissed, and of course I was right. Oh how I wanted to be the first to give her a real kiss. Make her feel butterflies in her stomach, and go weak in the knees.
I thought back to my first kiss. I didn't experience any butterflies. And oddly enough, I had the exact opposite experience of Gabrielle. Whereas her boy had been too aggressive, mine had been too timid. From then on, kissing for me was just part of the sexual act, not something I did just for it's own sake. Until Lao Ma. She had tried to reform me too, and failed. But I learned a lot from her, both spiritually and sexually. The spiritual stuff fell by the wayside, but I employed her lessons on kissing and pleasuring women to the fullest.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like now if I had stayed on as her Warrior Princess in Chin as she had asked me to. I'm sure it wouldn't have worked out. I could never co-rule with anyone. Not even her.
And so tonight I kissed Gabrielle. I fully expected my kiss to thrill and excite her. But I didn't expect her kiss to thrill and excite me. Suddenly, I felt eighteen again. I had to remind myself I was the Lord Conqueror, ruler of Greece.
Gods, what have I gotten myself into? I should really stop this now. Send her back to the kitchens, and be done with it.
The poor girl. After I seduce her, then what? She's just a conquest to me isn't she? And once it's done, I will have no more use for her. Sure, I'll probably keep her on as my body slave for awhile, but I'll have ruined her for anyone else. She will have lost her virtue at the hands of the Lord Conqueror. What man would want her after that? Would I be condemning her to a life as a body slave? Why would I care what becomes of her?
She really did look beautiful tonight though. I replayed the kiss over and over in my head, till finally I fell asleep.
I awoke with the light of morning, had my breakfast, bathed and dressed, and went to meet with my advisors. It turned into a long day of meetings, and my head was pounding as I headed back to my room. I wanted these damn clothes off, a bottle of wine, and that young blonde girl sitting in my lap. I slipped into a robe, and poured myself some wine. Shortly after, my dinner arrived. I always preferred to eat alone, but now, sitting here with no one to talk to, I wished I had requested Gabrielle to dine with me. And speaking of Gabrielle, what was I going to do about that situation? I got up from the table and started to pace. I was a brilliant strategist when it came to the battlefield, but in this matter I was completely lost. I would just have to do the one thing I hated to do. Go with the flow.
I called for Andreas and told him to bring Gabrielle to me. When she arrived, I nearly gasped out loud. She was wearing a very form-fitting, low-cut gown, in a deep crimson. Her hair was up, with a few strands left hanging down. Well, that made my decision. There is no way this girl is leaving my room until I've had my way with her.
“Gabrielle, you look stunning.”
“Thank you, my Lord.” She said smiling.
I motioned to the sofa. “Come, let us share some wine and chat like we did last night.” She came and sat down on the sofa. Not right next to me, but not quite at the far end of it as she had the previous night. We both got comfortable, and I poured us some wine. “So Gabrielle, tell me about your day.”
“Well, my Lord, Andreas gave me a tour of the castle. It was fascinating.”
“I see. Did he show you the dungeons?” I asked with a smirk.
“Um, no, he didn't.”
I laughed. “Well, hopefully, you will never need to see them. Go on.”
She cleared her throat and continued. “Yes, well, I saw the grand ballroom, and the gardens, and the library, and the terrace, and the weapons room, and well, everything else.”
“Good, very good. What else did you do?”
“Vidalus brought up more of my new clothes, so I tried them all on. Then I spent some time with my sister. Then there were my meals and my bath. It was a pretty full day, my Lord.” She flashed me a quick smile. “And how was your day?”
“Oh my day was very boring. Meetings upon meetings. At one point, I considered plunging my own dagger into my chest to end my misery.” I arched an eyebrow and I could see she realized I was kidding. Apparently, she's getting accustomed to my sense of humor. “But you know what kept me going?”
“What, my Lord?”
“Thoughts of last night. With you.” She blushed and looked away from me. “I'd like to pick up where we left off.” I sat and waited for her response.
She didn't say a word, but she slid over closer to me on the sofa. I took her hands in mine and lifted them to my lips and kissed them. First one, then the other. Then I saw her lick her lips. I'm sure she didn't even realize she had done it. But that was my cue. I leaned over slowly and kissed her. I kissed her again. And again. Then she was kissing me back. Then we were using our tongues. Gods. Last night's kissing was very soft and sensual. But tonight it was hot, and filled with passion. And not just from my side. Her breath was as ragged as mine. And at one point, she even let out a small moan.
Okay, that's it.
I pulled away to catch my breath. “Gabrielle, I think we'd be more comfortable over there.” I motioned to my bed.
Her look of passion went to a look of panic in a split second. I stood up and offered her my hand. She put her hand in mine, but still didn't say a word. I led her over to the bed. I laid down on my side and stretched out. I issued a command. “Lay down with me.”
She did as she was asked. I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her close to me. We started kissing again. I could feel the heat between us rising. I ran my hand along her back, and back up to her neck. I undid the clip holding her hair up, and slid my hand into her thick blonde locks. I broke away from her lips, and started sucking on her neck. At the same time, I pushed her onto her back, positioned myself on top of her, and began pressing my hips into hers. That's when she stopped and pushed me away.
“My Lord, no, please stop.”
I ceased all my activity. “What's wrong?”
“I know this is what is expected of me in my new position, my Lord, but I have to be honest and tell you that I'm scared. I've never done anything like this, I don't know what to expect, I'm very nervous. I know I have no right to ask, but please, be gentle with me.”
I looked in her eyes, and what I saw there undid my resolve. “Gabrielle, I do intend for us to be intimate. But if you aren't ready, I will not force myself on you. Please know that I have no desire to hurt you, only to pleasure you. How about we just keep kissing. I promise I will go no further. You have my word as Lord Conqueror.”
She looked into my eyes, probably trying to see if I was sincere. “Yes, my Lord. Thank you for being patient with me.”
We resumed our kissing. It didn't take long for the kissing to lead to touching. I managed to keep the touching from getting too personal, but then it just got too much for me, and I had to stop. “Gabrielle, I think that will be all for tonight. You are dismissed.” It probably sounded a bit cold after what we had just been doing.
“My Lord, are you unhappy with me?”
“No, no. I just.... I can't..... What I mean to say is that if we continue this way, I will not want to stop. And I already gave you my word that I wouldn't force myself on you. So you must go back to your room now, so I don't break my promise.”
“Oh.” she muttered.
She didn't move. She just stared at me. Was she reconsidering?
Then after what seemed like an eternity, she said, “Well, um, good night, my Lord.”
“Good night, Gabrielle.” I answered.
She got up from the bed, and hurried out the door.
I made it outside the Lord Conqueror's room, where I stopped and stood with my back against her door, trying to regain my composure before I faced Andreas. Once I stopped shaking, I walked over to the spot where he was always posted.
He smirked at me. Very much like one of the Lord Conqueror's smirks. Gods. Does he know what we've been doing? I'm sure he does.
He took my arm and we started walking. “Retiring for the evening then, Gabrielle?”
“Uh, yeah,” was all I could manage to get out.
We reached my room, and we bid each other good night. My head was swimming, and my emotions were in a tailspin.
I checked my reflection in the mirror. My dress was wrinkled, and my hair was a mess. No wonder Andreas smirked at me. He knew what the Lord Conqueror and I had been doing. Although, I'm sure he assumes we consummated the act. But we had not, and how did I feel about that? Relieved of course. And yet, was part of me disappointed? If I had to be completely honest with myself, I had to admit that everything Xena was doing to me felt good. Really good. Wait, did I just call her Xena? Thank goodness I only called her that in my head. I must be very careful not to slip up and accidentally call her that in person. She'd probably have me crucified.
I took off my dress, hung it up, put on the night shirt Vidalus made for me, and crawled into bed. I stared up at the ceiling and thought about everything that had happened tonight.
I had bathed and dressed, and waited for the Lord Conqueror to call on me. I was very nervous. I had a suspicion that I was not destined for another night of casual conversation and story telling. But another part of me was actually looking forward to seeing her. My suspicions were confirmed when I entered her room and saw that she was dressed in only a robe. It was a beautiful lavender color, which really complimented her skin tone, and looked great with her black hair. It was shorter than the one I had dressed her in after her bath yesterday, and I could see quite a bit of her long, lean, muscular legs. She was so striking. But one pull of the sash around her waist and she'd be naked. Oh boy. I thought for sure this was it. I had to remind myself to breathe.
She asked me to sit on the sofa with her, and she poured me some wine. I didn't want to sit right next to her, but I thought it would look weird if I sat far away from her like I had the night before, so I compromised. She asked me about my day. I asked her about hers. She made a joke about stabbing herself with her own knife to get out of her boring meetings. And then she said ‘You know what kept me going? Thoughts of last night, with you.' Wow. Wait a minute, of course she would say something like that, she's trying to get me into bed isn't she? But in all honesty, she could just pick me up, carry me to the bed, and have at me. There's not much I could do to fight her off. I really couldn't figure out what she was up to. Then she said, ‘I want to pick up where we left off.' Okay, here we go. That was the moment of reckoning. I could either submit to her, or I could stand up, tell her she cannot have me, and storm out of the room.
Instead of getting up, I slid over next to her, and accepted my fate. No, that's not completely accurate. I didn't just accept my fate, I chose it. I didn't want to run away. I wanted to feel her kisses again. And I knew it wouldn't stop there, but I would just have to deal with the consequences. She kissed me, and I kissed back, and our tongues were once again intertwined. It was definitely more intense than the previous night. My whole body was hot, but parts of me were hotter than others. It felt incredible. I even let out a moan, which I immediately regretted. I didn't want to encourage her, but it must've done just that because the next thing I knew, she was telling me to lay down on the bed with her. She pulled me as close to her as she could get me, and we resumed our kissing. Gods. The feel of her pressed up against me was doing strange things to me. I actually found myself wondering how it would feel if we were both naked. It was just at that moment that she pushed me onto my back and got on top of me. Her mouth had left mine and was sucking on my neck. And then she pressed herself into me. I panicked and pushed her away. I felt so stupid. What was I afraid of anyway? So far, her reputation was far scarier than she was in person. At least with me. What did I think was going to happen? She'd be pleasant, charming company on the sofa, but turn into Xena the Merciless in bed? Yes, that was exactly what I was afraid of.
She surprised me by promising not to force me. It was quite considerate of her, and I had no idea why she was being so good to me. We resumed things once again, and it felt so good that this time I let myself go. Maybe the experience would be pleasurable as she said it would be. Maybe I did want to give myself to her. Why else did I wear this sexy, red dress? But then she stopped everything and sent me away. I felt awful. Now here I am in my own bed, fantasizing that she would come knock on my door, and ask me to come back. If she does, I will go. And I will beg her to take me. I drifted off to sleep waiting for the knock that never came.
I slept poorly, and woke up exhausted. I had bags under my eyes. I hope they go away before tonight.
My day was uneventful but pleasant. I spent some time strolling in the gardens, and reading in the library. I also spent a few minutes with my sister. I purposely visited her in the sewing room where I knew other people would be around. I didn't want to discuss the previous nights with her, and I knew she would never ask me in front of other people. I put on a happy face and told her everything was just fine, and I would fill her in the next time we were alone. I just have to avoid being alone with her until I figure out what the heck I'm going to tell her. “Oh Lila, by the way, I was in bed with the Conqueror and she made me feel really good. I loved it and begged for more.” Yeah, right. Funny, I think she can accept the situation as long as she thinks it's forced on me. But if she knew I enjoyed any part of it, she would be so ashamed of me.
So I ate dinner, bathed, dressed in a blue dress, and waited for my Conqueror to call on me. My Conqueror? I mean, the Conqueror. Oh Gabrielle, get it together. You are losing it. She is your master. You are her servant. She wants to deflower you, that's all there is to this. It's not love. It's not romance.
I waited and waited, but Andreas never came. I got scared. I walked out of my room, down the hall, and found him at his post.
“Miss Gabrielle, is everything alright?”
“Um, well, I was hoping you could tell me. You never came for me tonight.”
“Oh, I'm sorry. The Lord Conqueror did not request you tonight.”
“Oh. I see. I shouldn't have assumed she would.”
He must have seen the look of disappointment on my face. “She had a lot of urgent matters that she needed to attend to today Gabrielle. She must've been exhausted. Probably went straight to bed.”
“Of course, I understand. She is the Queen after all isn't she. Sorry to have bothered you, Andreas.”
“No bother at all,” he said with a smile.
I walked back to my room completely embarrassed. Gods. Will I ever not be embarrassed in this place? Xena was becoming the center of my world. I must remind myself that I am not the center of hers. And there I am referring to her as Xena again! I must stop that.
The next day came and went pretty much the same as the previous day. I spent time in the garden and library again, and briefly visited my sister. Evening came, and I waited in my blue dress again. No knock ever came. Two nights in a row she doesn't want to see me? She must be really busy. Or.....she hates me. No, if she hated me, I'd be in the dungeon or hanging on a cross. She must be mad at me for the way things ended the other night. But how could she be mad at me?She's the one who sent me away. Maybe she's regretting her decision for choosing me. Or maybe she is just busy being the queen.
Now it's the third day and I'm going crazy. I didn't even leave my room today. I paced, gazed out the window, and napped. I keep fantasizing about her kissing me, and when I imagine it, I get that same warm sensation I had when it was actually happening. I shouldn't have admitted my fear to her. That's probably what did it. She realizes I'm too young and innocent for her and not worth the trouble. I'm sure I will be replaced shortly. After dinner, I bathed, but I didn't get dressed. I decided to just stay in my robe since the Conqueror probably wouldn't be calling on me anyway. I might as well be comfortable for what will most likely be one of my last nights in this nice room.
Not long after, there was a knock at my door. “Who is it?”
“It is me, Andreas. The Lord Conqueror has requested your presence.”
Yikes! Now what do I do? “I'll be out in a moment, Andreas.”
I quickly brushed my hair and tried to decide which dress to throw on. While looking in the mirror, I decided I looked rather sultry in the robe I was wearing. Do I dare show up in just this? It would certainly make a statement. Was I ready to make that statement? Yes. Yes I was. The past few days had almost killed me. Whatever she did to me the other night had filled me with.....what...... desire? Yes, I desired her. I would make it obvious to her that she could have me tonight, and that I would not resist.
I walked out into the hall, and Andreas looked stunned. “You aren't dressed. Shall I wait a few more minutes?”
“No, no. I honestly didn't think she would call on me tonight, so I didn't bother getting dressed after my bath. So this is what I'm wearing. I hope she doesn't mind.”
He grinned. “I'm sure she won't mind.”
We walked down the hall together, but I entered her room alone. “Good evening, Lord Conqueror.”
She was actually dressed in only a robe again too, this time a black one. She was sitting on her bed, resting her back against the headboard. She arched an eyebrow at me. “Good evening, Gabrielle. Why are you not dressed for me?”
I took a deep breath and stood up straight. I tried to conjure up a sexy voice. “I am dressed for you, my Lord.”
I looked her in the eye, and undid the sash around my waist, letting my robe fall open.
“Come here.” She commanded me.
I walked over to her, and stood before her, waiting to see what she would do. She got up off the bed, and was standing over me. She leaned in and started kissing my neck. She put her hands inside my robe, and they began roaming over every inch of me. Then she paused and took a step back. She gazed at me with a hungry look in her eyes.
“Gabrielle, are you sure?”
I didn't voice my answer. I just slipped my robe off and dropped it on the floor. She looked me over, and I heard her breathing pick up. Then she dropped her own robe to the floor. I took in a deep breath as I gazed at her loveliness. Then I looked into her eyes again. She scooped me up in her arms and lifted me onto the bed. She climbed in, settled herself on top of me, and started kissing me. Her hands were caressing me everywhere. Then she would put her lips where her hand had just been. But there was still one place on my body she had not touched. I was still unsure of what was going to happen, but I knew I needed her touch there. Suddenly, I was pressing that part of me into her, my body acting on it's own. The Conqueror got the signal, and put her hand where it was needed. Her fingers were magic. My body was no longer my own. She was in complete control. It was a little scary, but extremely exhilarating. There was no pain involved, but yet it was exquisitely torturous. I cried out. Then something rippled through me and it was over. She took me in her arms and cradled me, planting soft kisses on my neck.
This is what I was so afraid of? It was the most amazing thing I had ever felt. I told her so. “That was the most amazing thing I have ever felt, my Lord.” I gushed. “Thank you.”
She touched my cheek. “It was my pleasure.”
“No, I'm pretty sure it was my pleasure, my Lord.”
She laughed softly at my comment. She laid down on her back, but kept her arms around me. I switched my position so I could snuggle up alongside her and rest my head on her chest. After doing so, I realized I probably should've asked permission first, but she didn't push me away, so I figured it was okay. “My Lord, are you going to teach me to do that to you?”
She smiled. “Yes. But not right now. I'm not done with you yet.”
“You mean, there's more?”
“Oh yes, much more.”
“By the gods.”
She pulled herself out from under me, and climbed on top of me again. She was kissing me and touching me, working me into a frenzy again. Then she whispered something in my ear that sent a tingle through my whole body. “Hold onto something Gabrielle, I'm going to take you to the Elysian Fields.”
She slid her way down the length of my body, leaving a trail of kisses as she went. Then she was between my legs. She took one of my legs and put it over her shoulder, kissing and gently biting my thigh. Then her mouth was on me, and her tongue was stroking my delicate flesh. It was magnificent. It was a delicious feeling somewhere between not wanting it to end, and wondering how much more I could take. I moaned. I yelled. I was not in control of the words coming out of my throat. And right at the moment of ecstasy, I cried out her name. “Xena!”
I came back down to Earth from my visit to the Elysian Fields, and I could once again feel the bed beneath me. Xena was back alongside me now, holding me tight, tenderly kissing my cheek. I turned my head so I could look in her eyes. Then the memory of what I had yelled out hit me. I called her Xena! Oh gods. Huge mistake. What would my punishment be? Well, whatever it was, it would be worth it. “Lord Conqueror, I am so sorry! Please forgive me!”
She quirked her eyebrow at me. “Sorry for what? Enjoying yourself?”
“No, I...I....called you Xena! It just slipped out. I had no control over what I was saying at that moment. I am so sorry.”
She got a very serious expression on her face. “Well, Gabrielle, it is quite improper to refer to me by my given name. What do you think your punishment should be?”
“Um, I don't know. One candlemark in the dungeon?”
She burst out laughing. “One candlemark? What kind of punishment is that? Try again.”
“Um, how about sending me to bed without any supper?”
She laughed again. “Now that would actually be a punishment for you wouldn't it?” She grinned. “You are delightful, Gabrielle, you know that?”
I smiled back at her. Maybe she wouldn't punish me after all.
“I'll tell you what. I would much rather you enjoy our intimate times together to the fullest, rather than have to be guarding yourself. So let's just say that whatever you say or do in the height of your passion is acceptable. Okay?”
“Thank you, my Lord.”
Then she gave me her serious look again. “If, however, you use my given name at any time, under any circumstance, outside of this bed, I will cut out your tongue.”
Yikes! Was she joking? I decided to find out. “Um, my Lord, if you remove my tongue, I won't be able to pleasure you the way you just pleasured me.”
Her look went from serious to shock then into her famous smirk. “Hmm, good point. Alright, I will cut off a finger instead.” Then she took my hand, grabbed my index finger, and brought it up to her mouth. “But not this one. I'm quite fond of this one.” And with that, she slipped my finger into her mouth and started sucking on it.
She looked at me with that lustful look in her eyes that I was learning to recognize. Gods, this woman is insatiable! What will she do to me next? I can't wait to find out.
The sound of thunder startled me awake, and I immediately felt the presence of my little blonde body servant wrapped around me. Surprisingly, she stayed sleeping. I was quite shocked at myself for having allowed her to stay the night with me. I almost never allowed the girls who serviced me to spend the night in my bed. I certainly didn't want to set a precedent with this one. Now that I think of it, I was equally surprised that I fell asleep with her wrapped around me. Quite a normal practice for lovers to sleep that way, but not a master and body servant. I should send her back to her room right now. On second thought, nope, I don't really want to do that. Well, I should at least peel her off of me. Hmmm, nope, don't want to do that either. This was a strange sensation. Something I don't remember ever feeling before. So I did the only thing I could think to do. I went back to sleep.
This time I was awakened to the sound of Andreas knocking on my door. “What!” I shouted.
“My Lord, your advisors are waiting for you in the meeting room!” he shouted back.
Really? What time of the day was it? Did I oversleep? The yelling caused Gabrielle to stir, and I removed her arms from me gently, and got out of bed. It wasn't pitch black in the room, so that was a good indication that it might actually be morning. I pulled back the drape a bit and peeked outside. It was definitely morning, but it was raining very hard, and the sky was completely covered with dark clouds. Well, no wonder. Thank goodness, I had a valid excuse for oversleeping, other than the adorable blonde in my bed. At least, that's what I told myself.
I threw my robe on and went to the door. “Andreas, tell them the queen has been detained with an...an emergency, and I will be there shortly.”
He shot me a devilish grin. “And what type of emergency shall I say it was, my Lord?”
“I don't give a damn! Make something up!”
He laughed and shook his head. “I'll do my best.”
“Yeah, you do that.” I said as I slammed the door.
Gabrielle was fully awake now. “Is it morning, my Lord?”
“Yes it is, believe it or not. It's still dark due to the storm outside. I have to rush off to meetings now. You'll need to get up too and go back to your room.”
She immediately got up, threw on her robe, and without saying a word, headed for the door. I realized my harsh tone must've scared her, or made her think I was mad at her.
“Gabrielle, come here.”
She obeyed. I took her in my arms and kissed her passionately. “Duty calls, but I will see you tonight.” I smiled at her, and she smiled back.
“I...I...can't wait.” She replied shyly. Then she was out the door.
I threw some clothes on, washed my face, brushed my hair, and made my way to the meeting room.
“How about this damn rain?” was all I said as I sat down. They looked me over curiously. Could they tell that I just got out of bed? And so what if they could? I am the queen aren't I? I could hold this damn meeting in my bedchamber if I wanted to! Hell, maybe Andreas told them I slept in because I got laid last night. I hope he did. When's the last time any of these losers got laid?
As the meeting began, my mind wandered to thoughts of last night. When Gabrielle slinked in wearing only her robe. By the gods, my plan couldn't have gone any better. When I had dismissed her abruptly the other night, she looked at me with what I swear was disappointment. First, she's scared and wants me to stop, then she's disappointed that I sent her away? She needed to make up her mind. So I purposely didn't call on her for the following two nights. Gods, it was tough, because I really wanted to see her. To kiss her. But I suspected the time away from me would drive Gabrielle crazy. Maybe crazy enough that she would willingly submit to me. What I hadn't counted on was her throwing herself at me. That was an added bonus. Coming to my room in only a robe? Nice. And then just standing there in front of me, letting her robe drop to the floor? Verrry nice.
She had played right into my hand. She was giving herself to me willingly, and it was time to claim my prize. But as I was laying on top of her, kissing her, touching her, I suddenly didn't like thinking of her as a prize to be claimed. It felt wrong somehow. I started thinking of her as a gift I had been given. In that moment, all I wanted to do was make her feel good. Then, when I was done, and it should've been her turn to pleasure me, all I wanted to do was pleasure her again. It was such a high. And then she called out my name. ‘Xena!' Gods, it was music to my ears. Previous lovers had yelled out my name of course, but certainly not a body servant. She realized her mistake, and tried to come up with lame punishments for herself. It was so cute. I pretended to warn her about using my name, but the truth is, she can call me Xena any time, as long as she's moaning or yelling it.
Then it was time to show her how to pleasure me. She caught on pretty fast I must say. And what affected me most, was that she approached the task with enthusiasm, not dread. It was almost as if she wanted to do it, instead of looking at it as her duty. Maybe it was just my imagination.
She brought me over the edge twice, then we fell asleep, with her arms wrapped around me. Like two lovers. Is that what she thinks we are now? Lovers? I should not have let her spend the night. Tonight I will make sure I dismiss her and send her back to her own room.
“Lord Conqueror. Lord Conqueror? Are you in agreement?”
I looked up at all my advisors staring at me, and realized I hadn't heard a word they said. “Yes, that will be fine.” I said, not having the slightest idea what I just agreed to. Okay, Xena, you better pay attention to the next subject up for discussion, or you may unwittingly hand over your throne.
Finally, my meetings were over and I could get out of that stuffy room. It was still raining, so I would either have to skip my drills today, or do them inside. I don't know why I even felt I needed a workout today. I mean, really, last night was a bit of a workout wasn't it? I chuckled to myself. But the meeting did leave me tense, and I needed a way to work off that tension. Oh screw the drills, I can just relieve my tension with a hot bath.
As I turned the corner, I nearly ran right into Gabrielle. “Hey there, where are you off to?”
“Just thought I'd head over to the library to do some reading, my Lord.”
“I was just about to jump in the bath. Would you care to join me?” I realized too late that I had posed it in the form of a question, when I should've stated it as a command.
She smiled a sexy smile. “Sure.”
I continued on to my room, while she ran back to her room to change into a robe. I started the bath water running, stripped out of my clothes, and donned my robe. Gabrielle was there in a heartbeat. While we waited for the tub to fill up, I told her to start a fire. After doing so, she walked over to the table with the bath oils. “What mood are you in today, my Lord?”
Oh that was a loaded question. I sneered at her, arched my eyebrow, licked my lips, and said, “Blonde.”
She blushed profusely. “Um, I meant which scent of bath oil are you in the mood for?”
“Oh, very nice,” she replied, and put a few drops in the water. Then she grabbed us two clean towels, and placed them near the tub. When the tub was full, she capped the hole and said, “All ready for you, my Lord.”
“You mean the tub, or you?”
I walked over to her, untied the sash of her robe, and slid it off of her. I stood and waited for her to do the same to me, and she followed her cue. I took her hand and guided her into the tub with me. Once we were in the water, I grabbed her, pulled her close, and started kissing her hungrily. My hands roamed over her body, eliciting small moans. I noticed, however, that she had her hands at her side. “Gabrielle, are you afraid to touch me?”
“My Lord,” she panted, “I didn't know if I was allowed to touch you without permission.”
Ah, of course, a good body servant would wait to be commanded. “Normally, that would be correct. But let's just say, I'm going to make the rules up as we go along. If you wish to touch me without being commanded, please do so.” And so she did.
The warmth of the bath and the warmth of our bodies combined, producing quite a heady sensation. We washed each other, and pleasured each other several times. We used that bath sponge in a variety of interesting ways. Afterward, I held her in my arms while we both rested. I let my mind wander, and was now in deep thought about the situation. This was a master/servant relationship, but it certainly didn't feel like a traditional one. What master cradles a body servant in their arms afterward? What master cares about pleasuring a body servant? It was ridiculous. I needed to put a stop to this behavior before it got out of hand. Don't want to spoil the girl. She'll expect this kind of treatment from all her future masters. She'll be in for a rude awakening. Suddenly, I got an image in my mind of a future master having his way with her, and I got very angry. She must've sensed my muscles tensing up, and turned to look at me. “Is something wrong, my Lord?”
“No. Water's getting cold. Let's get out.”
We dried off and donned our robes in silence. The vision of her with another master was still running through my mind. Why did that bother me so? Who is she to me? Nobody. She's a servant performing her duties, that's all. Isn't it?
I looked over at her finally and saw that she had tears in her eyes. I quirked an eyebrow at her.
“My Lord, are you mad at me?”
That soft voice, and those misty eyes just about did me in. I wanted to take her in my arms and assure her that nothing was wrong. Assure her that I would protect her, and keep her with me, and no one else would ever put their slimy hands on her. That's what I wanted to do. But I didn't. “Gabrielle, I don't respond to tears. Knock it off.” That's what came out instead. Cold. Harsh. She looked at me as though she didn't recognize me. Well, in all honesty, she probably didn't recognize me since she hasn't seen this side of me since that first day. Best she get used to it. I need to get this relationship of ours back on track. I've been too nice to her, too accommodating. She's not my consort for crying out loud.
“You're dismissed Gabrielle. And I have a function this evening, so I will be otherwise engaged. I won't be needing your services tonight.” I brushed past her into my main room, and sat down at my desk, pretending to look over some important papers. She walked past me and out the door, without saying a word.
Several candlemarks passed, which felt like days. Finally, it was time for the big party. Every few months or so, we'd throw a party in the grand ballroom for all the nobles and important people in the city, to celebrate our prosperity and maintain good morale. Usually I had to get stinking drunk to enjoy these parties, and tonight would be no exception, since I was already in a foul mood. Thankfully, Andreas would be accompanying me. I chose to dress in one of my sexiest gowns. Red, with a neckline almost down to my navel, and a slit up to my thigh. I thought about how that would scandalize the nobles, and an evil grin crossed my face. I was certainly an unconventional queen. They never knew what to expect from me. Ah well, it kept them on their toes, and kept me from getting bored.
After being announced, I entered the grand ballroom with Andreas close behind me. I took my seat on the dais, and he sat in a chair near me. Technically, I considered him my date for the evening, but it required no explanation, as he was head of the Royal Guard and was expected to be there with me. I'm sure people probably thought there was something going on between us. That was fine by me, and it was a useful cover for Andreas' relationship with Vidalus, which he seemed to want to keep under wraps. I'd have no problem with them going public, but they seemed to care, so whatever.
I had developed a headache after the tense way my afternoon ended with Gabrielle, and it was still going strong despite my best efforts to drown it in wine. After dinner, it took all my effort to make my way around the room and be at least somewhat cordial with everyone. Then the loud music started, which didn't help matters. I combatted that with more wine.
“Hey, are you trying to swim in that stuff?” Andreas asked me.
“What are you, my mother?” I snipped at him.
“Yes. Careful, or I'll put you over my knee and spank you.” I didn't expect that, and I laughed so hard I spit out my mouthful of wine.
“I'm being a complete ass tonight, aren't I. I've had a killer headache since this afternoon.”
“Well, why didn't you say so? I can help you get rid of that.”
I wasn't sure where he was going with that, but before I could think too much about it, he had grabbed my hand and yanked me onto the dance floor. Both of us were very good dancers, and we were certainly a sight to see. The queen in a slutty, red dress, bumping and grinding with the head of her Royal Guard. Completely scandalous. I didn't care. I knew no one would dare say anything to me about it. Not if they wanted to keep on living and breathing.
I'll hand it to Andreas though, he was right. The dancing took my headache away, and I was able to moderately enjoy the rest of the evening. The party wound down, and I bid everyone good night. I made my way to my bedchamber, hanging on to Andreas, as I was quite wobbly due to the large amount of wine I had consumed. We were gossiping and laughing, and the next thing I knew we were passing by Gabrielle's door. I stopped. “You go ahead, Andreas. Get some sleep.”
He looked at her door, then looked back at me. “Conqueror, you're really drunk. C'mon, let's get you to your room.”
“Nope. Got some business here. Go.”
He sighed, and looked at me disapprovingly, but he bid me good night and made his way down the long corridor to his room.
I knocked on Gabrielle's door. No answer. This time I pounded on it. I heard her frightened voice on the other side, probably wondering who the heck would be knocking on her door at this late hour. “Who is it?”
“It's your Conqueror. Open up.”
She complied and opened the door, but she didn't move out of the doorway. She just looked up at me with a fearful look on her face.
“Aren't you going to invite me in?” I said with a growl.
“Um, yes, my Lord. Please come in.” She said with apprehension heavy in her voice.
She moved out of the way, and I stumbled in behind her. “Damn, it's dark in here.”
“I was sleeping.”
“Oh yeah, I guess it's quite late isn't it? Well, light some candles.”
She did as she was asked. Once the glow of the candles lit the room, I could see she was in her nightshirt, and her hair was disheveled. But gods, she looked so cute. I knew what I wanted, and I took a step towards her. She cut me off with a question, said in a very crisp, cool voice. “How was your function ?” Pronouncing the word function with a snideness I had never heard from her before. It caught me off guard.
“Uh, well, I drank, I ate, I drank, I danced, then I drank some more.”
“Sounds lovely.” She stated flatly.
She's giving me attitude? How dare she! I'll show her attitude! I walked over to her and grabbed her and shoved her onto her bed. I climbed on top of her and held her down. She turned away from me. “No, you look at me!” I yelled at her. She turned back, and when our eyes met, I felt like I had been kicked in the chest by a centaur. I immediately wanted out of this room, and out of this situation.
“I don't.....want........to hurt you.” I jumped off of her and off of the bed, and staggered out of her room into the hallway. I ran to my room, found a chamberpot, and puked my guts out. I guzzled down a mug of water, slipped out of my dress, and collapsed on my bed.
I just laid there, on my bed, shaking. What just happened? Who was that? It was Xena the Merciless obviously. Her persona that she said I would have no reason to meet, unless I angered her. So of course I go and cop an attitude with her and anger her. What was I thinking? She could have really hurt me. I must be crazy. What right did I have speaking to her in that tone? I was just so mad.
It started after that bath we took together. It was wonderful. She had been sexy and playful with me. Then her mood just shifted to cold and aloof. And then she dismissed me like it meant nothing. Like I meant nothing. But of course, I do mean nothing to her. I'm just her slave. I've let myself become emotionally involved with the Lord Conqueror, and now I'm paying the price.
After she sent me away, I went back to my room and sulked. Later, the servants brought me my dinner, which I could only eat part of. Since she had said she wouldn't need me that night, I decided not to stay cooped up in my room. I needed some fresh air. I went down to visit Lila, and we went for a short walk, making sure not to stray too far from the servants quarters, so she wouldn't get in trouble. Naturally, she was full of questions.
“Gabrielle, we haven't really had a chance to talk lately. How are you? How are things going with the Lord Conqueror? Has she.....hurt you?” At that last question, she grabbed my chin in her hand and turned my head so she could see my face in the moonlight.
“Lila, what are you doing?”
“Checking for bruises.”
“Oh.” I gave her a faint smile. “I don't have any bruises. She's....she's not like that. Really.”
“I've heard stories, Gabrielle.”
“I'm sure you have Lila, and maybe they're even true, but I'm telling you she hasn't hurt me.” Not physically anyway, I thought to myself.
“Well, has she....um....forced herself on you?”
I answered honestly. “No. She hasn't.” Which was the truth. I had a feeling what her next question would be. I just didn't know how the heck I was going to answer it.
“So, if she hasn't made you.....do.....things with her, what do you do together?”
“Well, we've talked, drank wine, bathed together, stuff like that. I even got to do the bard thing and tell her a few stories.” There, that wasn't lying.
“Really? She listened to you tell stories?”
“Yep, she really did. She even clapped when I was done.”
Lila seemed to have relaxed a bit from our discussion. And truthfully, just talking about my time with the Conqueror made me feel better about things too. Still, I didn't want to be asked anymore questions, so I felt a change in subject matter was in order. I asked Lila what was new with the other seamstresses, and she was off and running with the latest in castle gossip.
I left her off at her room, and continued on. It was a beautiful night, so I decided to stop for a moment in the terrace. I heard lively music and realized it was coming from the grand ballroom which was nearby. I walked over to the window and peeked inside. Well, this must be the function the Conqueror referred to. My eyes searched the room for her, and there she was, on the dance floor, in Andreas' arms. I couldn't take my eyes off of them. We always had dancing at our various festivals back in Potidea, but nobody ever danced like that. Just then, he pushed her away to twirl her, and I saw her dress full on. Gods. I felt myself get very flushed. Then she was in his arms again, and I realized there must be something between them. Then the feelings I was experiencing changed to....what....jealousy? Yes, I was jealous. Oh that's rich Gabrielle. You're jealous because the vicious ruler who forced you into being her body slave is in the arms of someone else. You're a damn fool. This woman gave you your first proper kiss, and awakened things in you, and now you're romanticizing that she's yours. Get a grip.
I tore my eyes away from the party, stormed back to my room, and went right to bed. Surprised several candlemarks later when I woke to a drunk Conqueror at my door. I was still mad, and jealous, and I let it show in my attitude. Big mistake. I was so scared when she pounced on me. But then our eyes met, and her anger seemed to dissipate in an instant, as did my jealousy, and then she was up and out the door. I didn't understand anything that had just happened, and I cried myself to sleep.
I woke to a soft knock on my door. The sun was streaming in, so I realized it was at least morning, thank goodness. “Who is it?”
“Your breakfast, ma'am.”
Wow. It must be later than I thought. I got out of bed and let the servant in with my morning meal. In between bites of bread, cheese, and fruit, I considered how I would make amends for my behavior last night. Obviously, I, being the servant in this scenario, would be in serious trouble for my insolence. I would have to apologize, and hope she accepted it. Otherwise, I was looking at time in the dungeons, or a whipping, or who knows what. She owed me no apologies, as I was her property and she could treat me anyway she wanted. Maybe she had been so drunk that she won't remember any of it. Could I get that lucky?
After finishing my breakfast, I washed up and got dressed. I planned to do some more reading in the library to take my mind off things for awhile. I opened the door and almost tripped over a box that someone had left. It was a wooden box, with a brass lid, with intricate designs on it. And it had a red bow wrapped around it. I brought the box inside, and my hands were shaking a bit as I opened it. It contained a stack of parchment, several quills, and two bottles of ink. Then I noticed the note:
For the aspiring bard.
You've traveled, you've met interesting people,
now write about your experiences.
There was no signature, but I didn't need one to know who it was from. Was this gift her way of apologizing? No, it couldn't be. She wouldn't need to apologize. Maybe it was a peace offering. Well, whatever it was, it put a smile on my face that stretched from ear to ear. I took out a piece of parchment, one of the brand new quills, and opened a fresh jar of ink. I sat there, trying to think of something poetic to write to express my gratitude, but whatever I came up with didn't sound right. So I wrote “Thank you” in big bold letters, and drew a smiley face. Not very bardic of me, I know. But I was still unsure as to where I stood with her, so I figured simple would be best. I left my room, walked down the hall to the Conqueror's room, and slipped the note under her door.
I spent the entire day writing, breaking only when my meals arrived. I started at the point Lila and I were abducted, and went from there. I would've probably kept writing all night, except when the servants arrived with my bath water, I realized I should probably be prepared for the Conqueror if she should call on me tonight. Plus my hand was cramping up. So I put my writing tools away in their pretty box, and slipped into the tub.
Later, when I was called to her room, I was both excited and very nervous.
“Good evening, Gabrielle.”
“Good evening, my Lord.”
She held up the thank you note. “You know, as a story teller, you're pretty good. As a writer, you leave a lot to be desired.” She said it with a smile, so I knew she was just teasing me.
“Yeah, well, I wanted to keep it simple. I didn't really understand a lot of what happened yesterday. Or last night. I didn't know where I stood with you.” I took a deep breath, and continued. “But it was a wonderful gift. And the box is beautiful. And I appreciate it very much.” I took another deep breath, and knelt down before her. “I owe you an apology for my behavior last night. I forgot my place. Please forgive me, my Lord.”
“Gabrielle, get up.” I did as she asked. “We need to talk.”
She continued. “I think you might be confused as to what our relationship is. I'm the Queen. You're my body servant. That's the long and short of it. You're not my consort, or my girlfriend, or anything else. You need to remember that. However, I admit that part of the blame lies with me. I am quite fond of you, so I do treat you a little differently than other body servants I've had. I don't wish to hurt you, or mistreat you. But please don't mistake that for something else. If you continue to do so, I will have to replace you. And I don't want to have to do that. Do you understand?”
I was digging my fingernails into the palms of my hands, in an effort to keep a reign on my emotions, and not burst into tears. “I understand, my Lord.” I managed to get out.
“Good. Come, sit with me.” I let her guide me over to the sofa. She poured some wine for both of us, and placed one of the goblets in my hand. I took a big gulp and waited for it to wash over me and relieve some of this tension. She set her goblet on the table, and slid right next to me. She gently grabbed my shoulders, turning me to face away from her, and started to rub my back. Between the wine, and her skilled hands, all my tension dissolved. She leaned over and started kissing my neck. I knew where this was going, but I didn't care. I wanted to feel that closeness with her. I can't explain it, but it never feels like a duty to me. It feels like something else, though I'm not sure what. I didn't have much time to think about it because the next thing I knew I was being lifted up off the sofa, and deposited softly on the bed. I let go of all rational thought after that.
So, things appeared to be okay again, I reflected, as I rested in a warm haze of satisfaction. The previous day and night had been very emotionally challenging for both of us. Gabrielle seems to have developed a bit of a crush on me. It was both flattering and frustrating. I didn't want to deal with a body servant with a crush on her master. So why then did I give her that gift? Wasn't that just making it worse? Just what did I want with this girl anyway? Nothing. That's why tonight I must dismiss her and make her sleep in her own bed in her own room. That will drive home the little speech I gave her earlier. I looked over at her, ready to do just that, but she looked back at me with such a look of adoration. My ego was loving it, I shamefully had to admit. But I willed my brain to take over. “Gabrielle, you will need to sleep in your own bed this evening.” She started to get up. “Wait, I didn't say right this minute. Just, um, lay here with me for a bit.”
“Okay.” She snuggled back into my arms.
Oh for the love of Zeus. I've commanded armies, conquered nations, but I can't send one little blonde back to her room? What is wrong with me? I decided to start a conversation to subdue the awkwardness I was feeling. I have no idea what made me ask this question. “How's your sister dealing with your situation?”
“My situation, my Lord?”
“Yeah, you know, your new position, having to........spend time with me.”
“Oh, well, we haven't really discussed it in any, um, detail. She was just concerned that you might have......hurt me. I assured her you hadn't.”
“I am quite capable of it. I've beaten other servants.”
“That's what she had heard.” A moment of silence, then, “Were you going to hurt me last night?” I felt her body quickly leave my arms, and pull as far away from me as possible, probably realizing too late how bold a question that was. “I'm sorry, my Lord, forgive me! I had no right to ask you that!”
But I wasn't mad. I stared up at the ceiling, for several minutes, searching myself for an honest answer. “I was very drunk, so I don't really know what I was planning on doing.” A pause. “But I am glad I didn't hurt you.” I turned to look at her, and was rewarded with a warm smile.
“It was all my fault, my Lord. You had warned me not to anger you, or I would meet Xena the Merciless. So what do I do? I go and anger you. I wasn't thinking.”
“Yeah, you had quite a little attitude last night. What was that all about anyway?” Oh Hades, I can't believe I asked that. But I was curious.
“I saw you. At the party.”
“Dancing with Andreas.”
She hesitated, then answered in a quiet voice. “I was jealous.”
“Jealous? You got the hots for Andreas?”
She had a shocked look on her face. “Andreas? No, not at all!” She started shaking. “I always wondered if you and Andreas were involved with each other, and from the way you two were dancing together, it's obvious you are, so I just don't understand what you need with me.”
I stared back at her dumbfounded. I thought back to the party, and how we were dancing. Ohhhh. She assumes I'm sleeping with him, and she's jealous because she wants me all to herself. A small grin crossed my face. She wants to be my one and only. That's kind of cute. Wait, cute? Yes, cute. And it warmed me to my core. She's developing feelings for me, that's obvious. But is it only because I'm her first, or is there more to this? I shouldn't give a damn, but I do.
“Oh Gabrielle. First, let me state again, that I am the Queen, and I can do whatever I damn well please. I don't have to answer to anybody. If I want to sleep with the entire royal court, my entire army, and every horse in the stables, as well as you, that is my prerogative.” She looked back at me in horror. “No, I don't actually sleep with horses, Gabrielle, gods.”
She looked relieved.
“However, I can also say with certainty that I am not sleeping with Andreas either. Trust me, he's not interested in me.”
“Not interested? Why wouldn't he be? You're gorgeous.” She immediately turned the color of a cherry. Well, well, she thinks I'm gorgeous?
“He prefers a little more meat in his sandwich.” I told her.
“What does that mean?”
I chuckled at her obvious confusion, and figured I'd have to spell it out to her. “He likes men.”
“What? Men can like each other that way?”
“Well, we're two women, and we like each other that way.”
“Oh yeah.” She chuckled. “I didn't think of that.” Then she frowned. “You must think I'm pretty stupid.”
“No, I don't. You're young, and haven't seen a lot of the world. That's not the same thing as stupid.” She flashed me a huge grin. “And I probably shouldn't even be telling you this, but you'll never guess who he's involved with.”
“Vidalus? No way!”
“Yep. But Gabrielle, it's a well guarded secret. I'm actually the only one that knows, so you can't tell anyone okay? Not even your sister.”
“Okay, I won't. I promise.”
“Good. By the way, why are you still way over on the other side of this bed? Get over here.” She scrambled over next to me, and I wrapped my arms around her.
“My Lord, do you think Andreas and Vidalus make a good couple?”
“Not for me to judge.”
“I know, I'm not judging them. They just seem so different.”
“Well, you and I are about as different as different can be. I'm all dark and dangerous, and you're all sweet and innocent. People would say we were an odd coupling.” Oh Hades, did I just say ‘coupling'? As in ‘couple'? Gotta watch that.
“Well, I'm not exactly innocent anymore.”
Ouch. No you're not, are you. I made sure of that. I didn't know how to respond to her comment, and I was reluctant to even look at her. But I forced myself to turn my head, and I saw that she was smiling.
She reached out and touched my face. “My Lord, I have no regrets. Innocence is overrated.” She was letting me off the hook. I smiled back and kissed the palm of her hand.
I felt a whirlwind of emotions bubbling up inside me, but I took a deep breath and choked them down. I cleared my throat. “Um, actually, when I said innocent, I was referring to the fact that you've never killed anyone. You've probably never even hurt anyone in your whole life. I've killed thousands.”
She pondered that for a bit. “Well, I'm sure you did what you had to do, to get where you are.”
“Maybe. But mostly I was just power-hungry, and filled with bloodlust.”
“Oh.” She paused. “Are you still?”
I really had to stop and consider that. “I don't know. Since I've conquered all of Greece, my hunger for power has been kind of sated, I guess. Unless I decide to take Rome someday. But I do still enjoy shedding blood.”
I felt her flinch at those last words. She was quiet for a bit, digesting everything, probably deciding she should do whatever she had to do to get away from me. Finally, she looked up at me. “My Lord, that was a very personal question. I had no right to ask you that.”
I was stunned. She was more concerned with overstepping her boundaries than with me being a bastard. Interesting.
“I, ah.....it's okay.” I pulled her closer to me, and this time she didn't flinch at all.
So, tonight, I gossiped with my body slave, told her a big secret, shared something personal with her, and pretty much referred to us as a couple. Which I had previously made a point to tell her we weren't. That's it, I'm officially insane. I will renounce my thrown. Tomorrow. Right after breakfast.
And I will send her back to her room tonight. I will. Later.....Much later. And with that thought, I fell asleep.
I could hear birds chirping as I slowly came awake. I opened my eyes and found crystal clear blue ones staring back at me. I noticed I had one arm draped over The Conqueror, which I quickly withdrew. Oh she must be furious with me. She made a point of stating that I would have to sleep in my own bed, and here it is, obviously morning, and I'm still in hers. “My Lord, forgive me. I fell asleep here, and didn't go to my own room. I clearly broke your rules. I promise it won't happen again.”
“Shhh.” She brushed the hair away from my face. “Yes, you did break the rules, but technically, I never dismissed you last night, so I guess I broke the rules too.” She smiled at me. “You know what? I really hate sleeping in a cold bed, so let's just say you can spend the night with me every once in awhile. No big deal. Okay?”
“Sure, my Lord, whatever you say.” I smiled back at her.
“Now, that won't confuse you will it? I mean, I still don't want you blurring the lines between us.”
“No, no. No blurring of the lines here, my Lord.”
“Good.” She kissed me sweetly.
Oh there was definitely blurring of the lines going on here. But was it all me? Well, it won't do me any good to agonize over it. And I certainly wasn't going to call her on it and risk pissing her off. I decided the best thing I could do, would be to not over think things, and just enjoy this for what it is. Even though I haven't the foggiest idea what this is.
She knocked lightly on my forehead. “Hey, you in there?”
“Huh?” I broke out of my daze and chuckled. “Oh sorry, I was just deep in thought.”
“Anything you wanna share?”
“No, my Lord. Nothing you'd find interesting.”
“Okay, then. Look, Gabrielle, the next few days are going to be very busy for me. Some dignitaries are arriving today, and I'll be tied up with them most of the time.”
I got a mental picture of the Lord Conqueror, literally tied up, in a room full of dignitaries, bored out of her mind. I laughed.
“What's so funny?”
I shared my vision with her, which made her laugh too.
“You've got quite the imagination don't you?”
“It's the bard thing. Although, I'm sure I'm way off on that one. I can't see anybody being able to tie you up.”
“You'd be surprised. I actually was captured and tied up a few times, betrayed by a few of my lovers. I was even tied to a cross and had my legs broken.”
“Really?” I was shocked. “But how could that be? You walk perfectly fine.”
“I was rescued, and then a spiritual healer fixed my legs. Since then, I made damn sure that no one would ever have me in a position to tie me up again.” She quirked her eyebrow. “Or tie me down for that matter.”
“Wow. I certainly would never know that your legs had ever been broken.”
“You sure?” She pulled off the blanket that was over us, and shot me a seductive grin. “Maybe you should take a closer look.”
I rolled over, and knelt between her legs. I made a thorough inspection of her right leg, and then her left. “They look perfect to me,” I purred at her. I left my hands resting on her thighs and looked at her, wondering if she wanted me to continue. She quirked an eyebrow at me. Of course she did. But before I could do anything, there was a knock at the door.
“Oh bloody Tartarus! What is it?” She yelled.
“The dignitaries have arrived, my Lord!” Andreas shouted back.
“Just when things were getting interesting.” She growled. “I've gotta go play Queen now Gabrielle. Think you can remember where we left off?”
“Gee, I'm not sure.” I joked.
She sat up, took me in her arms and kissed me. “I don't know that I'll be able to see you tonight. Don't wait up.”
“Okay, I won't.” I smiled at her, trying to hide my disappointment.
She released me, and hopped off the bed. I watched her as she walked over to the door, stark naked, and told Andreas she'd make her appearance downstairs shortly to greet her guests. I heard him ask her if he should arrange for them to wear their birthday suits as well. She called him some word I had never heard before, that I'm pretty sure was a curse word, but he laughed it off so I knew it was all in fun. I still found it hard to believe Andreas preferred Vidalus over The Conqueror, but heck, all the better for me if he does.
She wandered back over to me and threw on her robe. “Oh, Gabrielle, since you're on your own tonight, I thought maybe I'd arrange for your sister to have dinner with you, in your room. Would you like that?”
“Oh, yes. That would be wonderful. Thank you, my Lord.” She was so generous with me. How could she think of me as just a servant?
“Good. Say, you wouldn't want to put on my crown and go play Queen for me would ya?”
“Sure, sure, no problem. It would certainly make a good story.”
“Indeed it would, my little bard.”
Did she just call me her ‘little bard'? Just let it go. Don't pay any attention to it. Let it go.
I left her to get ready and went back to my room. I was starving so I was glad to see my breakfast had already been delivered and was sitting there waiting for me. I ate leisurely, and tried to collect my thoughts about the events that had just transpired. I spent most of the afternoon writing, trying to put my confused thoughts into words, hoping as they tumbled out of my head onto the page, they would make some sort of sense.
Time flew, and before I knew it, dinner had arrived along with my sister. We sat at the table, as the servants put out the food for us. I was getting used to this ritual, but I could tell it made Lila uncomfortable. She remained silent until the servers had gone. “Gabrielle, how do you deal with living like this?”
“Deal with what? Having my food brought to me? What's not to love about that?”
“Is it really worth it?”
“Is it really worth what?”
“Having to deal with her .” The look on her face was as though she had just bitten into a lemon. Since we had not been served any lemons with dinner, I knew it was obviously her disdain for the Conqueror showing. I would just have to set her straight. Time for complete honesty I guess.
“Lila, you might find this hard to believe, but she's really not that bad. She treats me very well actually.” I got up from the table and got the box she had given me. “Look, she even gave me this as a gift.” I opened it up to show her the contents. “It's so I can write and be the bard I always hoped to be. Isn't that nice?”
“Very nice. What did you have to do to earn that?” She asked accusingly.
I felt my face get hot, both from anger and embarrassment. “Lila, it was a gift. That's all.”
“Are you telling me you aren't sleeping with her?”
I sighed. “No, I can't tell you that. I am.” Suddenly my huge room felt incredibly small, like the walls were closing in on me. Maybe this dinner wasn't such a good idea after all.
“Just the other day, you told me she hadn't forced herself on you. I knew you were lying.”
“I didn't lie, Lila. I am sleeping with her, but she never forced herself on me.” I looked down at the floor.
“What?! You, you, let her?”
Gods. I wish The Conqueror would knock on the door right now and get me out of here. I took a deep breath. “Yes. I let her. This is very hard to explain, especially to you. I'm.....I'm.....attracted to her. She's quite beautiful, and very sexy. She started by just kissing me, and I loved the way it felt. I was very nervous about the rest, so I asked her to be patient with me and go slow. And you know what? She did. I know you'll have trouble believing this Lila, but the things we do together feel wonderful, and I don't consider it a chore.” There, it needed to be said.
She just stared at me with a blank look on her face. “That's disgusting, Gabrielle. Aside from the fact that it's a woman, which I could maybe get over, but it's her! I've heard terrible things about her!”
“Yes, I know. I have too. But I'm telling you, whatever terrible things she's done, or continues to do, I don't know, she doesn't do them to me, or around me. She doesn't abuse me, or mistreat me. She's good to me, she listens to me, she jokes with me. I don't really understand it myself. I just know that I.....I like her.”
“Ugh! I can't believe what I'm hearing! And what about poor Perdicus?”
“What about him?”
“You were supposed to marry him! You think he'll want you now? After she's done who knows what to you?”
“I don't care. I never wanted to marry him in the first place. I didn't love him.”
“Let me get this straight. You didn't want to be with Perdicus, because you didn't love him. But you have no problem going to The Conqueror's bed. So, what, you love her?”
The question stunned me. I didn't really have an answer for her, so I said nothing.
“Gods, Gabrielle. I don't even know who you are anymore.” I could see that she had tears in her eyes. She got up from the table and started towards the door.
“Lila, wait. Come back. At least finish your meal.”
“I can't be around you right now. I'm just gonna go.” She stormed out the door.
I was in tears now too. I tried to finish my dinner, but I couldn't. I felt sick to my stomach. How could she do that? How could she make me feel so bad about something I felt so good about before? It wasn't fair. She wasn't in my shoes. Who was she to judge? And just how did I feel about The Conqueror anyway? I know I thought of her as more than merely my master. But how much more? And wasn't that foolish?
I sat there, staring at the roast beef on my plate, for what seemed like forever. Hopefully, the servants would arrive soon with my bath water, and I'd be able to lose myself and my thoughts for awhile.
Okay, so the dignitaries weren't as boring as I had expected. I didn't even have to get drunk to enjoy the evening. It was well after midnight as I headed back to my room. I walked past Gabrielle's door, and got almost to my room, but then I turned around. I wasn't tired, and I wanted to see her. But I did tell her not to wait up for me, so I expected she'd probably be sleeping. I knocked softly. No answer. I knocked harder. I heard a “Be right there!” from inside. She opened the door.
“Good evening, Lord Conqueror. What a surprise.” She smiled up at me. “Please come in.”
“Don't worry, I'm not drunk this time.” I assured her. I entered her room and saw that she had plenty of candles lit, and her bed was still made. “I told you not to wait up for me, Gabrielle.”
“Oh, well, I wasn't really. I'm just not tired.”
“So what were you up to?”
“I was stargazing, my Lord.”
“Yes.” She took my hand, and tentatively led me to her balcony. “See, I took the cushions off my sofa, and brought them out here, so I can lay on them, and look up at the stars. It takes my mind off things sometimes. Would you care to join me?”
“Join you? To look at stars? Oh sure, why not.”
We laid down on the cushions together, and looked up at the night sky. I had to admit, it was quite a beautiful sight. I put my arm around her and pulled her close. She flinched. “Something wrong?”
She took a deep breath. “I don't know if I can talk to you about this.”
“Try me. I'm a very powerful woman Gabrielle. If you have a problem, I'm pretty sure I can make it go away.”
“It's my sister.”
“Say no more. I shall have her executed.”
“Just an attempt at humor. Not funny?”
“Okay, sorry. Please continue.”
“Basically, she thinks you're horrible for forcing me to be with you. I explained to her that I didn't think you were horrible, and that I wasn't being forced, because I like being with you. So now she thinks I'm horrible.”
“Ah. Well, if you don't want her executed, or thrown in the dungeons, I don't really know what I can do to help you out in this situation.” I thought some more. “You know, maybe she's scared being in this place, away from home, and before, she at least had you right there with her. Now you've moved up, and away from her. And on top of that, you're exploring things that she's not ready for, so she doesn't want you to be ready for them either. Then again, maybe I don't know what in Tartarus I'm talking about.”
“No, that actually sounds like a reasonable explanation. I didn't stop to think how scared she might be. I was just so mad that she was trying to make me feel guilty.”
“And do you? Feel guilty?”
She thought about her answer. “I never did before. Not until Lila made me feel that way.”
I took a chance. “Gabrielle, I can release you from your duties. You can go back to the kitchens, or anywhere else in the castle you want.”
She shot me a hurt look. “Are you tired of me already?” She started to cry.
“No, no, hey, how did this come back on me? I was just asking you if you wanted out.”
“No, I don't.” She mumbled through sniffles. Then a look of panic came over her face, and she jumped up off the cushion. She started dabbing her eyes desperately. “I'm sorry. I know crying is unacceptable. I will stop.”
“What? When did I say that?”
“The other day, my Lord. You said you didn't respond to tears, and told me to knock it off.”
“Oh Hades, get back over here.”
She hesitated, then came back down to lie with me on the cushion. I put my arms around her. “Let's just look at the stars some more okay?”
She nodded and sniffled. Just then I saw a shooting star. “Whoa. Did you see that, Gabrielle? Or were your eyes too full of puddles?”
She giggled and sniffled. “No, I saw it.”
I turned my head to gaze into those green puddles, and she gazed back at me, for a long, long moment. “Here I warn you about blurring the lines, and yet I'm blurring them too. You must be so confused.”
“I am. But I don't much care.”
Yeah, I didn't much care at that moment either. There was something between us. I knew it. I could feel it. I couldn't understand it though. And I couldn't let it continue. There was no future for us together. Could I really send her to work in another part of the castle? Would I be able to leave her alone? And how would the other servants treat her, knowing she had previously been my body servant? It would be terrible for her. I couldn't subject her to that. There was only one way out of this for her. I made up my mind. But it can wait till tomorrow. Tonight is for me and her, and that shooting star.
I made love to her on her balcony, under the stars, and allowed myself to feel our mysterious, intense connection for one last time.
I woke in my bed, alone, trying to figure out how I got there. Last thing I remember, the Conqueror and I were on my balcony, making love. By the gods, it had been so passionate. Even more passionate than all the other times. Maybe it had been so passionate I passed out? No, wait, now I remember. She picked me up, and carried me to my bed. I thought she was going to climb in with me, but she didn't. She said to get some good sleep, and everything would work itself out tomorrow. Then she kissed me with an intensity that left me shaking. As she left, she instructed me to come find her first thing in the morning when I woke up.
I saw that it was indeed morning, and I was very excited for what this day would bring. I had a good feeling about it. I felt like we made some progress last night, and maybe we will move on from this master/servant thing into something more meaningful. I got up, got dressed, brushed my hair, and made sure I looked good for my Conqueror. I didn't even wait for breakfast. I went to her room, and knocked on the door.
“Who is it?”
“It's me, my Lord.”
I entered. She didn't greet me like I expected her to, with a hug and a kiss. She just stood there and told me to have a seat, and that there was something she wanted to discuss with me. She was very serious and all business. Uh oh. She had snapped back again to the cold, aloof, Conqueror. I should've known the one I had with me last night wouldn't last.
“Gabrielle, first let me say, that after last night, I will never be able to look at stars in quite the same way again. I will never forget it.” She paused and cleared her throat. “Our relationship, if you can call it that, has been an unconventional one from the very beginning. And while I have enjoyed our time together very much, I'm afraid we can't continue this way. Please don't think you've done anything wrong, or I don't favor you anymore. It's not that. If anything, it's because I favor you that I have come to this decision. Gabrielle, I'm emancipating you.”
“What? Why?” I started shaking and crying.
“I'm freeing you. And your sister. You can both leave here and go back home. I have prepared an escort to take you there safely.”
Now I was getting hysterical. “Nooo! Please! Why are you doing this?”
“I can't give you what you want Gabrielle.”
“What do I want? I've never asked you for anything!”
“No, you haven't. Not with words. It's more a feeling I get from you. A feeling I just can't return. And it wouldn't be fair to keep you on, and drag this out. There's no future for you here with me. I won't make you my consort, or girlfriend, or whatever else. It's just not going to happen. If you stay, you'll only end up getting hurt.”
“It already hurts.” I thought for a moment she was going to take me in her arms, and kiss me, and retract everything. But she didn't.
“Go to your room and pack now. Feel free to take anything with you that you like. Your sister has been sent for. You set out at noon.”
I just stood there and stared at her, still not quite believing what I was hearing. Hoping it was just more of her wicked sense of humor. Any minute now, she'll crack a smile and start laughing, and it will all be just a big joke. Please let it be a joke.
“Goodbye, Gabrielle. Take care.”
I couldn't say a word. My throat stopped working. I felt like I was choking. I turned away from her and ran out the door to my room.
I threw myself on my bed, and cried my eyes out. Several candlemarks had gone by, and then there was a knock on my door. Could it be her? Oh please let it be her! I ran to the door and threw it open. It was Lila, standing there with her bag, ready to go. “Gosh, aren't you packed yet, Gabrielle? We leave in less than a candlemark.” She sounded positively bubbly, and I wanted to punch her in the face. She finally noticed my red, bleary eyes and figured out that I had been crying. “Have you been crying? Don't tell me, you don't want to leave, do you.”
“No, Lila, I don't.”
“You should thank your lucky stars that you get to leave this place, and leave that awful woman.”
My anger exploded at that comment, and I grabbed her hard and shoved her against the wall. “Don't you ever mention lucky stars to me ever again!”
“Geez, Gabrielle, settle down. You're scaring me.”
I released her. “Sorry.”
“Looks like the Conqueror has rubbed off on you.”
“Shut up!” I started to go after her again, but I stopped and composed myself. “Look Lila, it's gonna be a very long trip back home if we can't get along. I know you didn't like it here, but I did, and I'm hurting right now. So if you can't be compassionate at all, then just leave me alone.”
“Okay. I'm sorry Gabby.” She gave me a quick hug.
“I guess I'd better pack.” Two large travel bags had been left in my room for me. I looked around and decided I would take my sleepshirts, my undergarments, my hairbrush with the ivory handle, and of course my bard box. I stuffed it all in one bag. I wouldn't have much use for fancy dresses or silk robes back home, so I left those.
There was a soft knock at the door. It was Andreas. “Are you ladies ready then?”
“Andreas, are you going with us?”
He smiled a wistful smile. “No, Gabrielle, sadly I'm not part of your escort. But I will help you carry your bags downstairs.”
“Oh, okay.” I'm not sure what came over me, but I threw myself into his arms, and started crying.
He held me for a long moment, then whispered, “For the record, I don't approve of this at all. I think she's making a huge mistake.”
I just nodded.
He picked up our bags and we started to make our way down the long corridor. I stopped suddenly. “Um, I forgot something. You guys go ahead. I'll meet you downstairs. I won't be long.”
They both nodded, but Andreas winked at me. That gave me the courage I needed.
I marched over to The Conquerors room, and knocked on the door.
“Who in Tartarus is it?” She yelled.
I didn't answer, I just knocked again.
She swung the door open, looking a little shocked when she saw it was me.
“My Lord, since this is the last time we will see each other, there is something I need to say to you before I go.” I took a deep breath. “I, um....” I cleared my throat and started again. “I love you. Believe me, I struggled with this too. I knew I had feelings for you, but I wasn't sure what they meant. And I even considered that I only had feelings for you because you were my first lover. But after what we shared last night, I know I'm in love with you, and that it's real. I don't know how I know that, I just do. And we have a connection that I don't understand, but it's so very strong. I feel it every time I look in your eyes. And I could swear you felt it last night too. But maybe you didn't. And that's okay. You don't have to. It doesn't change the way I feel. I love you. And I couldn't leave here without telling you.”
I looked in her eyes and saw so much turmoil and pain, it scared me. I wanted to reach out and hold her, but I knew she wouldn't allow it.
“Gabrielle, you must go now. They're waiting for you.”
I said nothing more. I just turned and walked away from her, for the last time. I got downstairs where the travel party was waiting, complete with a comfortable carriage for us to ride in. I dried my eyes on my sleeve, hauled myself up into the carriage, and sat next to my sister. And in moments, we were on our way.
It has been a month since Gabrielle left. Or more accurately, since I sent her away. I was definitely in a funk. I attended all my necessary meetings and functions, but I hardly said two words. I barely spoke to anyone, except for Andreas. I snapped at everyone else who dared approach me. My appetite was almost non-existent, and I couldn't get a decent night's sleep to save my life.
Gods, I'm pathetic. “This is ridiculous!” I shouted to myself in the mirror. “Snap out of it! You're the damn Queen! You can't let yourself be a miserable wretch over some young peasant girl!” I swear I heard my reflection answer back, “But that young peasant girl loved you”. I slammed my fist into the mirror, shattering the glass and cutting my fingers.
I wrapped up my hand and cleaned up the broken shards from the mirror. I decided enough was enough. There's one way to get over her. “Andreas!” I shouted.
“Yes, my Lord?”
“Bring me a girl. Young, small, long blonde hair. Make sure she's pretty.”
He let out a long sigh. He knew damn well what I was doing. “As you wish, my Lord.”
A few candlemarks later, he delivered to me a girl that fit my requirements exactly. I wasted no time with pleasantries. I grabbed her and started kissing her. First her lips, then her neck, then back to her lips. I felt nothing. I kissed her harder.
Still I felt nothing. I became enraged, and thought of taking it out on the girl. But then I saw the look of fear in her eyes. I got depressed and pushed her away. I called for Andreas, and told him to get rid of her.
A few moments later, he was back in my room. “My Lord, I had her sent back as you asked. Was she not to your satisfaction?”
“She was exactly what I asked for.”
“I don't understand, my Lord. What is the problem then?”
He was pushing me, and I knew it. I wanted to tell him off, throw him out, but I didn't have the energy. So I answered him truthfully. “She's not her.”
“Ahhh.” He plopped himself down in a chair and looked up at me, with a look of sincerity. “Xena, I may be out of line here, in fact, I know I am, but maybe you can't replace her, because she's irreplaceable.”
I realized he had called me Xena, which he sometimes did if we were having a sensitive chat. Which was a rare occurrence. “That's ridiculous, Andreas. Everyone's replaceable.”
“Not if you have feelings for them.”
“I don't have feelings for her.”
“Okay, Xena. Whatever you say.” He rose from the chair and headed for the door.
“Wait.” I said. He turned back around and looked at me.
“What's it like for you, Andreas?”
“What do you mean?”
“What's it like for you and Vidalus?”
He stood there staring at me, in shock. “You, you know about us?”
“Of course I know, you idiot. I don't miss much that happens in this place.”
“I'm sorry. We tried to be discreet.”
“Don't worry, you were. I don't think anyone else really knows. It troubles me though that you didn't think you could just tell me. It doesn't matter to me what you two boys do. So answer my question. What's it feel like?”
He got a funny look on his face.
“Oh for the love of Zeus, I'm not talking about that. I want to know what you feel for him.”
“Oh.” He chuckled. “Well, I'm happiest when I'm around him. If even a day goes by that I don't see him, I miss him. His eyes seem to light up when he sees me. And his smile warms my heart.”
I wanted to laugh at him, I really did, but then I remembered there were two lovestruck fools in this room. I pondered Andreas' description. I felt all those things too, but my feelings for Gabrielle went way beyond that. Could I try to explain my feelings to Andreas? Probably not, I decided. The intensity between Gabrielle and I was unique and special. Especially for two people that were so different, and had known each other such a short time. So if it was so special, why did I send her away? Was I just scared? No, I was doing what was best for her, wasn't I?
After not saying anything for a long time, I finally spoke. “I wonder what she's up to.”
Without missing a beat, Andreas answered. “Well, she's about to be married.”
“What? How in Tartarus do you know that?”
“After they escorted her home, I left a scout in the area.”
“You what? I didn't tell you to do that!”
“I know you didn't. I ordered it anyway.”
I grabbed him by his collar. “How dare you do something like that without my orders!” I wanted to punch him in his smug face, but instead I just growled at him. “Why?”
He smiled a sympathetic smile at me. “Because I knew, eventually, you'd ask about her. And I wanted to have an answer for you when you did.”
“Hmph.” I exhaled the breath I realized I was holding and released him. “So when does this supposed wedding take place?”
“A week from today.”
“Who's the groom?”
“His name is, ah, Per...something.”
“Yeah, that's it.”
“Why would she marry him? She told me she didn't want to marry him. That she didn't love him.”
“It's arranged Xena. The poor girl probably has no say in the matter. That's the way things work in these little backwater villages. Girls are beholden to their fathers will.”
“Yeah, I know. It's not right. She shouldn't have to marry the guy if she doesn't love him.”
Andreas got a shitty grin on his face. “You know, Xena, the Queen could override the rule of any father.”
I shot him an exasperated look. “What, are you suggesting I send my army into Potidea and stop the wedding?”
“Not exactly. I'm suggesting you ride into Potidea and stop the wedding.”
I opened my mouth, intending to tell him he was insane, but then I imagined doing just that. It put a smile on my face. And I had not smiled in a month. I arched my eyebrow at him. “Hmmm. Oh Andreas, I can't do that. If I go riding into Potidea, just to bring back my former body slave, the people will think I've lost my mind.”
“Since when do you care what people think of you, Xena? You never have before, why start now? You've always lived by your own rules. Always.”
I thought about that. I slapped him on the arm. “By the gods, Andreas, you're right. And when you're right, you're right! Get everything prepared, and we'll set out tomorrow morning. We should be able to get there in plenty of time before the wedding.”
“Now there's my Xena!”
I smirked at his condescending comment. “Andreas, don't ever say anything like that to me again.”
“Whatever you say, my Lord.” He hit his chest in salute, and was out the door.
I awoke the next morning, feeling much like a little kid on her birthday, anticipating presents and sweet treats. I think I'm going to enjoy this.
Everything was ready for our departure, and Andreas had come up with a nice story about why we were making the trip. Something about an uprising in one of the outer regions. I'm sure word of the real reason for my trip would get out as soon as I returned, but by then, I probably wouldn't care. Especially if I had Gabrielle with me. I halted for a split second and felt a little wave of panic. What if she doesn't want to return with me? I hadn't considered that option. I'll look like a damn fool.
Well, she risked looking like a damn fool when she left didn't she? Coming to my door and professing her love for me. It was absurd. And stupid. And braver than anything I've ever done. Any idiot can risk their life in battle. But to risk your heart? That takes real balls.
“All right, let's move out!” I shouted. And with that, we were on our way.
Unfortunately, horrible storms sprung up and delayed us almost two days travel. We arrived on the exact day of the wedding.
We entered the village, with our royal caravan, which got us frightened, panicked looks from the townspeople. They weren't expecting a visit from their Queen. I didn't send word ahead of my visit, as I wanted it to be a surprise.
“Relax everyone! Go about your business!” Andreas shouted to the crowd.
“Which shack belongs to Gabrielle's family?” I asked him.
Andreas pointed. “I believe that one, my Lord.”
We approached it, and he knocked on the door. A stern-looking, middle-aged man answered. “Ye....yes? May I help you?”
“I am Andreas. Head of the Royal Guard, of her Majesty, the Queen. Are you Herodotus?”
Andreas stepped aside and introduced me. “I present her Royal Highness, the Lord Conqueror, Xena the Merciless.”
Herodotus knelt down on one knee and bowed his head. “Your Majesty. How may I be of service to the queen?”
Just then, his wife, entered the room. Upon seeing me, she too knelt down and bowed her head.
I addressed Herodotus. “I need to see your daughter Gabrielle. Is she here?”
“Yes, your majesty. She is in her room getting ready. She is to be married today.”
“I see.” I stepped through their doorway and made my way across their humble living space.
The wife spoke up. “May I get her for you, your Majesty?”
“Nah, I'll find her,” I said as I continued walking. I turned around briefly and waved my hand at them. “You may rise.”
I came to a room with a closed door, and I could hear Gabrielle's and Lila's voices. I knocked.
“Mom, you don't have to knock. Just come in.”
I entered. Gabrielle was facing away from the door, but Lila was looking right at me, and her eyes nearly popped out of her head. “What are you doing here?”
I glared at her. “Is that any way to address your Queen?”
Lila dropped to her knees immediately, and lowered her head, as Gabrielle spun around so fast I thought her head would fly off. She stood there staring at me, with her mouth wide open. Then she too dropped to the floor and lowered her head.
“Both of you, rise.” They did as they were told. “Lila, leave us. I need to speak to Gabrielle alone.”
She didn't say a word, and scrambled past me and out the door. I shut it, and turned back to face Gabrielle. “So, today's your wedding day.”
“You don't sound too excited.”
“I told you before, my Lord, I didn't want to marry him the first time. I still don't.”
“Then why are you?”
“Why am I? What choice do I have? My father makes the rules here. I just have to go along with it.”
I approached her, and placed my hand on her cheek. “I can make this all go away, Gabrielle.”
“Why would you do that, my Lord?”
“I.....I.....” I couldn't bring myself to say what I really wanted to say. The words just wouldn't come out. I pulled my hand away. “I miss you. I should not have made you come back here. It was a huge mistake.”
She just blinked at me. “Perdicus paid a bride-price to my father for me. I am obligated, my Lord.”
“Oh screw the damn bride-price. I'll pay it. I'll double it. Triple it! Whatever!” I took a deep breath. “I'm sorry I yelled. I'm not good at this romantic crap. Never done it before. Bottom line is this, I'm offering you an alternative to the life they have planned for you. Come back with me, Gabrielle. You'll still be a free woman. You won't be my servant. You'd be my, ah, oh bloody Tartarus, I don't know what to call you. Consort? Girlfriend? I'll call you whatever you want.”
She smiled. “I can't believe you came all this way, just for me.”
“Yeah, well,” I stammered. “Was it a wasted trip or not?”
“No, my Lord, it was not a wasted trip.” She threw herself into my arms, and I hugged her like my life depended on it. Maybe in some strange way, I knew it did. I tipped my head down to meet her lips, and kissed her with everything I had. In that moment, I knew that even if Gabrielle and Perdicus were married a million years, he would never kiss her the way I did. I think she knew it too.
We pulled apart. “By the way, you look beautiful.”
She looked at me and her eyes were sparkling. “Thank you, my Lord.”
“Pack your stuff then, and we'll head out. In the meantime, I'll explain to your folks what's happening.”
“Oh boy,” was all she said.
I walked back into the main room. Everyone was seated, except for Andreas, and a young man that had not been there when I came in. I had a pretty good guess who he was. Everyone got down on their knee. I waved at them to rise. I gave my best menacing look and I spoke. “Well, I got good news and bad news. The bad news is that the wedding is off. The good news is that Gabrielle is coming with me.”
I watched as dour expressions appeared on everyone's face. Except Andreas of course. He was stifling a grin.
Then the young man spoke. “Your Majesty, may I address you?”
“I am Perdicus, Gabrielle's betrothed. I made a payment to her father for her. If you take Gabrielle with you, I have no bride.”
“Well, he's got another daughter doesn't he?” I smirked. Nobody said a word. “Oh alright. Andreas, take care of this little matter.”
“As you wish, my Lord,” he said as he drew his sword.
I grabbed his arm. “I didn't mean it that way. If I wanted to whack him, I'd just do it myself. Find out what the price was, double it, and pay the boy. Then give that same amount to the father.” I turned to face the group. “Will that keep everyone happy?”
Perdicus and Herodotus both nodded their heads.
Just then Gabrielle came into the room. She had removed her wedding dress, and was wearing a long peasant skirt and a simple blouse. Not the finery I was used to seeing her in, but she looked beautiful anyway. “Shall we be off then?” I asked her.
“Yes, my Lord. Just let me say goodbye to my family.”
“Of course.” I walked out and took Andreas with me.
Several moments passed, and I could just imagine her family trying to talk her out of coming with me. Well, I had to admit, if I was her family, I wouldn't want her coming with me either. Who would let their daughter go with someone called Xena the Merciless? On the other hand, she'd be living in the lap of luxury. So maybe it was worth it? I kicked a stone, and thought about just getting on my horse and riding away. At that moment, Gabrielle came through the door. I could see she had tears in her eyes, but she smiled a huge smile for me anyway, and walked over to me. I put my hand on her chin and lifted her face up to look at me. “Gabrielle, are you absolutely sure this is what you want?”
Without hesitation, she said, “Absolutely.”
I smiled back. I turned my attention to Andreas. “Go back in there and settle this financial business, and then let's be on our way.”
He did as directed. I turned back to Gabrielle. “I just want you to know, I'm not buying you. I hope you understand, I just don't want any loose ends or bad blood. I want you to be free and clear.”
She was still smiling at me. “Thank you for saying so. You are most generous, my Lord.”
I changed the subject. “I didn't bring a horse for you. I kind of assumed you'd never ridden one. Was I right?”
“Well, then, you will ride with me.”
I got on my horse first, then I pulled Gabrielle up behind me. She sat side-saddle because of her long skirt. “That's really no way to ride a horse.” I pulled out my dagger, and cut a slit along one side of her skirt, up to her thigh. Then I made a similar slit on the other side. She blushed. But she got the idea, and swung one leg around so that now she was straddling the saddle the proper way. She wrapped her arms around my waist.
“Is this the right way to hold onto you, my Lord?”
“Yeah, that's perfect. Once we start riding, you can tighten your hold. Just not too tight, I still need to breathe.”
Just then, Andreas came out of the family dwelling.
“Everything taken care of?” I asked.
“All good, my Lord.”
“All right people, let's roll!”
The royal caravan made it's way out of the village and down the road. I began to notice how nice it felt to have Gabrielle behind me, her arms around me, squeezing me tight. It just felt, right. Like she belonged there. “You alright back there?”
“Oh I'm just fine, my Lord.”
“Good. Hey, by the way, when it's just us, you can call me Xena, okay?”
I loved the way she said my name. Even when she wasn't moaning it. Gods, I'm a sap. When did this happen?
Oh yeah, when I found that young girl scrubbing my floor, and I looked into those eyes. I think something in me changed in that very moment.
I never really planned on becoming a warlord or a queen. Things just happened, and I did what I needed to do. I had no time for second guessing myself, and no time for regrets. Well, I never planned on falling for anyone either. It happened, and now I just have to do what I need to do. No second guessing myself or regrets here either. I'll get through this.
I reached a hand back and patted Gabrielle lightly on her thigh. She gave my waist a squeeze in return. I turned my head and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Damn, this is bliss.
After a long day's ride, we stopped and made camp for the night. The servants had set up the Queen's tent, and were now starting on getting dinner prepared. I noticed Gabrielle was walking funny, and had a bit of a limp going. “Hey, you alright?”
“Yeah, I'm fine.”
“I guess I should have warned you. As a first time rider, you'll be sore and stiff. Sorry about that.”
“Hmmm. Why are you limping?”
“I have a cramp in my leg.”
“Well, why didn't you say so?” I reached out my hand. “Come with me.”
I led her into the Queens tent, and had her lie down on her back. “I'll work out the cramps for you.” I honestly didn't mean that in a suggestive way, but that's how it sounded when it came out. I massaged her legs in the way Lao Ma had taught me, starting with her calves, and working my way up. When I got to her thighs, I started feeling very warm, and I was suddenly overcome with lust. I laid down next to her and started kissing her. She blinked her eyes open from her relaxed state and stared at me. I pulled away and looked at her sincerely. “This wasn't a ploy to get you into bed, honest. I only intended on relieving the soreness in your legs.”
She smiled at me. “That's okay. I've missed this. I've missed you.....Xena.”
That's all I needed to hear. I began making love to her, and the passion overwhelmed both of us. But then I slowed things down. I remembered that we were out here in only a tent, which didn't allow us the privacy she was used to. I wanted to be considerate of her feelings. She wasn't a common slave anymore. Not that she was ever common.
“Gabrielle, if you're uncomfortable, we can wait till we get back to the castle.”
She reached her hand up and touched my cheek. “No, it's okay.”
I pulled her close and kissed her.
“I love you.”
I still couldn't bring myself to say those words back to her, but I knew in my heart, that someday soon, I would.THE END
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