A Journey of Love and Life
The next few weeks went by quickly, and were spent loving each other much more frequently, as Xena's hormones drove the warrior to near insatiability. Gabrielle was not one to complain about her lover's appetite in the bed room, she felt closer to Xena than she ever had and was slowly coming to terms with the changes in the dynamics of their relationship.
They decided to make one final trip to see a healer to confirm that the pregnancy was progressing well and that Xena and the baby were in good enough health to make the trip to the Amazons. Gabrielle still couldn't believe that Xena had asked her to join with her, and that Xena was willing to become an Amazon for her. She was a little worried about the requirements the Amazons would have for Xena joining and hoped they wouldn't ask her to do anything to physical to prove her worth to the Amazon Nation.
Gabrielle looked over at the woman she loved sleeping soundly next to her. Xena's pregnancy meant that the warrior was sleeping more than normal and Gabrielle liked that, it meant she was sometimes able to watch her warrior sleep, knowing that when Xena slept she was a picture of innocence and beauty. She thought of Xena's acceptance at being the one to have the children and couldn't believe the love of the woman lying next to her. She'd never been given a better gift than Xena's love and it still brought tears to her eyes to think of the changes Xena was willing to make for her happiness.
A tear dropped on Xena's arm bringing her out of the deep sleep she'd been in as she looked up at the woman who meant the world to her, and saw the tears shimmering in her emerald green eyes, and didn't need to ask what her bard was thinking of. Ever since Eli's announcement, Xena would awaken to Gabrielle's silent tears and then they would quietly talk about their future and Gabrielle would tell her how much it meant to her what she was doing for them. In truth, Xena was beginning to look forward to raising a family with Gabrielle, even if it meant bearing all the children, it was something she'd never thought she'd be able to have and wasn't sure she deserved until now. She knew she loved Gabrielle more than anything in the known world and beyond, and would do anything to make Gabrielle happy. She was beginning to realise that this was going to make her happy too and it wasn't just about Gabrielle's happiness, it was about fulfilling a dream she'd never been able to voice, a dream she'd thought would never be fulfilled after Solan. Unwillingly tears came to her eyes also as she realised just how lucky she was to be in love with this beautiful woman, and how happy she was that they were going to be a family.
"Hey beautiful, I didn't realise you were awake, why the tears?" Gabrielle asked a little concerned for her warrior princess, tears were becoming a more frequent occurrence with Xena, and she knew most of it was hormones from the pregnancy, but they'd been through some pretty emotional situations, and it was different seeing Xena's emotions so close to the surface, when she usually kept them so guarded, and it made her realise that Xena was changing, and it wasn't just because of the pregnancy.
"I could ask you the same thing, I was thinking about us having a family and I only just realised that having a family has always been a dream I never thought I'd achieve, or deserve until now, Gabrielle I know you are worried about me being so calm about being the one to bear our children, but truthfully I'm as happy about this as you are, not about you not being able to have children but about us being a family, after Solan I thought I'd lost any chance I'd have at being a parent and having a family, I love you Gabrielle and I'm so happy right now" Xena told Gabrielle feeling more tears well in her eyes and she chuckled softly at how emotional she was getting lately. She felt safe for the first time in her life and knew that it was changing her, she was losing her reluctance to share her feelings and knowing that Gabrielle was a constant in her life and wasn't going to leave her was bringing all of her walls down and for once in her life she was going to do nothing to interrupt the process.
"I remember a time when I had to practically force you to tell me what you were feeling, Xena I know this is not just the pregnancy making you like this, you are changing Xena I can feel it, in your words in your actions, you are opening up to me in a way I only dreamed you would, what's going on in my big tough warrior's head?" Gabrielle asked having a feeling she knew what it was but wanted to hear Xena say it, to hear Xena acknowledge what her heart already knew.
"When we came back from the dead it felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest because it was then that I knew I'd atoned, I'd been forgiven, the only thing missing to make me fully accept that was your love, once the war against our home towns ended I did a lot of thinking and I realised that I could trust my heart with you, you complete me Gabrielle, in my heart I know you are my soulmate and I know there is no power out there strong enough to separate us, and our love, and once I truly believed that, I didn't need to try to change it is just happening, every day I feel stronger and more able to open up to you, I can't promise I won't ever shut you out or stop myself from revealing my emotions sometimes, but the walls are coming down a little more each day I'm with you and I believe in our love and you" Xena told Gabrielle her heart swelling with love for her beautiful bard and she wanted nothing more than to spend her life showing this beautiful woman how much she loved her.
"You say such beautiful things sweetheart and you know what makes them even better, its that I know you mean them and more importantly you believe them, I can't wait until we get to the Amazons and we can finally be joined, I want to tell the world how much I'm in love with you and that you are pregnant with my child" Gabrielle smiled tears in both of their eyes as she rested her hand on Xena's bump as they affectionately called it.
They lay there for a while both of them thinking of their love and their child. At first Gabrielle thought she was imagining it, but one look at Xena's awestruck face told her that she was not imagining it. They had felt their child's first movements within Xena's womb. She looked up at the tears glistening in Xena's crystal blue eyes and was blown away by the beauty of her warrior princess. She held Xena closer gently probing Xena's bump for more signs of life from their child, and smiled as she felt the tiny movements, like a little flutter against her hand. She kept up her gentle rubbing of Xena's stomach until she heard Xena's breathing deepen and knew her warrior had fallen asleep, a slight smile on her peaceful face and she gently kissed her forehead before scooting further down the bed so she could rest her head against the place where their child grew, needing to be closer to their child.
Xena awoke to the smells of food wafting into the room and blinked sleepily, she couldn't believe she'd gone to sleep again, but Gabrielle's hand gently stroking her stomach had lulled her into another deep sleep. A smile played on her lips as she felt the baby move again within her, this time a little more than a flutter and her hand moved to stroke her stomach, as her heart swelled with love for their child. She looked up and into those green eyes that captivated her every time she looked into them and smiled, feeling contentment she'd only experienced briefly in her life.
"Hey sleepyhead, I was beginning to think you were going to sleep all day, are you feeling okay?" Gabrielle asked a little worried; Xena had been asleep for at least four candlemarks and hadn't moved when Gabrielle had gotten out of their bed. She knew pregnant women slept a bit more than normal, but this was a lot more than normal, Xena used to be up at dawn and slept lightly, never entering a deep sleep when she was asleep. She knew that the morning nausea had weakened Xena a lot, but had been sure a few weeks in Athens would bring back her energy, and had been surprised when it didn't. Although she did have plenty of energy for making love she thought happily maybe she was making more out of this than she needed to.
"Yeah I think I'm still getting over all the energy the morning nausea took out of me, and all the emotional stuff we've been through lately just seems to be sapping my reserves, I was sure I'd bounce back before this, I was never this tired with Solan" Xena told Gabrielle, knowing the reason she hadn't felt tired with Solan was because she had refused to admit to the weakness, and because she was concentrating on taking Athens.
"Well the healer said you were in perfect health, and that the baby was fine, but if you want to stay a few more days in Athens we have the dinars, after that last round of story telling last night we have a lot of dinars, we could stay a few more nights to let you get back on your feet more" Gabrielle told Xena not knowing how Xena was going to take her offer, she just knew she needed to let Xena know the option, the Amazons would still be there and having Xena more alert would be better for them both.
"I think its because I'm more relaxed, and we are safe here, I don't feel the need to sleep with one eye open, I'm sure that will change when we get back on the road again, how bout a compromise, I promise to take it easy and if I get too tired we find another tavern to stay in" Xena said as she got out of bed and started to get dressed, she was still going to wear the loose fitting tunics and pants they'd bought for her, right now it would be safer for them to travel like that as most people knew her from her leathers, not her looks. She really wanted to start heading to the Amazons and knew Eli was anxious to start his journey too.
"I like you in those, they make you look less intimidating and more beautiful, plus it hides your pregnancy more, I'm glad we are going to be traveling with Eli to Amphipolis, we should stop in and see your mum and Toris before heading to the Amazons, I want to ask your mum to come to our joining ceremony, and I'd like to go to Poetaedia and tell my parents about us and the baby if that's okay?" Gabrielle asked smiling as she felt Xena come up and engulf her in a hug, the affection Xena showed her was growing daily and she didn't want to have to hide that around her parents and she wanted them once and for all to realise that Xena wasn't going anywhere and that they were going to be together forever, she really wanted her parents to accept Xena and their love, but knew it would be a mighty big thing to wish for. Her father never covered his dislike for Xena and her mother never stood up to her father. She knew Lila was over the moon about them and knew her sister would be excited about the baby, but her parents were a different story.
"Are you sure love, I know they don't like me, I mean I know they will find out about the baby and I'm sure they'll think I slept with someone else, do you really want to put yourself through that, I don't care about me they can think what they want I know the truth, but I worry about you sweetheart, I hate seeing them hurt you" Xena said as she pulled the bard closer to her, as close as her growing stomach allowed and kissed the top of the blonde hair she loved running her hands through. She knew her beautiful bard wanted her parents to accept her, she just wasn't sure they ever would as much as both she and Gabrielle wanted them to.
"I know, but I need them to know that you are my life and I'm never leaving you and if they want to be a part of their grandchildren's lives then they need to accept you, they don't have to like you, just accept you as a part of my life, as my partner and soulmate" Gabrielle said breathing in the scent of her warrior, loving having the taller woman so close and the feeling of Xena's stomach pressed against her, if she concentrated really hard she could feel the baby kicking against her and she smiled and brought her lips up to Xena's kissing her with all the intensity of their love, wanting Xena to understand that she and the baby were the most important things in her life and that she would never willingly leave them.
"Well my love should we get some breakfast and then head over to Eli, I believe we have a journey to take" Xena smiled not wanting to let the bard go but knowing they needed to get their journey started, she wanted to get to the Amazons before she was fully showing and it was getting harder and harder to hide her pregnancy in her clothes. She helped Gabrielle get dressed and then they both grabbed their stuff and headed out to have some breakfast and meet Eli. They had agreed to travel about 6 candlemarks a day, more if Xena was up to it, but they didn't want to push themselves, and Xena and Gabrielle had bought some more sleeping furs to make sleeping on the ground more comfortable for Xena's naps, which Gabrielle insisted she should have, teasing Xena about her newfound sleeping abilities.
They set off a little after noon, staying in taverns when there was a safe looking one available and sleeping on the ground when they had too. Both women were enjoying Eli's presence and Xena was glad Gabrielle had insisted she take naps during the day. As she had predicted her sleep during the night time wasn't as deep as it had been in Athens and she was once again attuned to every sound and movement made in their campsite and surroundings. She did sleep better in the taverns, although they didn't normally get much sleep after hours of making love knowing they wouldn't be able to when they couldn't stay in a tavern. Both of them respected Eli too much to make love while he was sleeping in the same vicinity as him, but when they stayed in the taverns, Xena's appetite was insatiable and they ended up loving each until near dawn every time.
After a full week of traveling they finally reach Amphipolis and both of them smiled and hugged Eli goodbye as he continued on his journey. He thanked them for accompanying him and told Gabrielle to look after Xena, and for them both to be happy. Xena had been overcome with emotion as she watched her friend walk away and they had both stood there watching him go wondering if they would see him again. Once he was out of sight Xena had turned into Gabrielle's arms needing the comfort of her bard's arms around her as the emotions of seeing her friend go and the ever present hormones caused more tears to flow. When she felt more in control of her emotions they made their way to her mother's tavern and both smiled as she bounded out the door to greet them.
"Xena, Gabrielle aren't you two a sight for sore eyes, come in and rest yourselves, was it a good journey from Athens?" Cyrene asked seeing how happy they were by the closeness of the two and blinked back tears as she saw the slight bulge of Xena's stomach and saw that the pregnancy was progressing smoothly. She took in the features of her daughter and was happy to see she'd discarded her leathers, and she looked very content, her blue eyes twinkling as Gabrielle told them of their journey from Athens. Her heart swelled with love for both of them and she was glad to see her daughter finally happy and having the family she wasn't sure her daughter would ever have.
"You are both looking well I take it that Gabrielle made you take it easy on the journey here Xena" Cyrene asked seeing for herself that her daughter looked healthy, radiant slightly tired but beautiful. She put her arm around her daughter and was surprised when she felt Xena's arms close around her. So love is changing you little one, I always knew it would Cyrene thought happily, she knew her daughter's heart was safe with Gabrielle, and she thanked whatever gods had brought the two of them together.
"I've missed you mum, I'm glad to see everything looks good in here, has Toris been helping in the tavern?" Xena asked knowing her mother was surprised by her willingly hugging her, but she wanted her mum to know she'd changed and although they would only be in Amphipolis for a few days she was hoping she could talk her mum into leaving Toris in charge of the tavern and coming with them to the Amazons and to visit Gabrielle's parents. She was hoping her mum might have an influence on Gabrielle's mum and make her see that her daughter desperately needed her acceptance of their life and the role Xena played in it. She knew that it was going to come as a shock to Gabrielle's parents that they were going to be grandparents, and she hoped that they would change, if not for her or Gabrielle but for their grandchild.
"Yes he has, and how is my grandchild doing?" Cyrene asked placing her hand on Xena's bump and smiled when she felt the slight flutter of the baby kicking. She saw the love in both her daughter's eyes as they thought of their child and saw something else, there was a slight sadness in Gabrielle's eyes and she knew she would be having a serious discussion with them both before the day without.
"The baby is doing well, it's getting harder to hide the pregnancy, but when we get to the Amazons we won't need too, and we felt the baby move just before we left, it was the most amazing experience, I didn't really take much notice to Solan's movements inside me when I was pregnant with him until I was almost due, I certainly never cried at his first movement, I tried to forget he existed, but this is so different, I feel so much for this baby, and having Gabrielle and the baby is everything I always dreamed of but never thought I'd have" Xena said knowing she'd shocked her mum by being so open about what she was feeling but there just wasn't a wall against it anymore and she was tired of fighting to hold back what she felt. She finally realised she could feel and still be strong, that she didn't always have to be the strong one and that she was more than willing to let Gabrielle take care of her.
"That's good to hear my daughter now come with me, you look like you could use a nap Xena, I'll settle you in your room and then Gabrielle and I can catch up" Cyrene told Xena seeing only acceptance on her daughter's face and realised Xena wasn't going to fight her, well my little one, it seems you have changed a lot since admitting your love for Gabrielle and becoming pregnant, I just pray to the Gods you don't ever lose another child I know it would kill you my tough daughter Cyrene thought as she ushered Xena into her room. She wanted to talk to Gabrielle about these changes in her daughter and find out why they were going to the Amazons, and looking at Xena she knew her daughter really did need a nap.
Continued in Part 11
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