They awoke a few candlemarks later both feeling rested and ready to deal with whatever Herodotus decided to throw at them. Both of them had decided to get telling Gabrielle’s parents about the baby over with straight away so they walked down the hall hoping to find both of Gabrielle’s parents in the kitchen.
“There you two are, did you have a good nap?” Hecuba asked looking at her daughter and the obvious concern on her face for Xena and wondered what that was about, she was just about to ask when her husband walked into the room, he looked over at the two women, his daughter and that woman who had taken her away, he couldn’t bear to say her name sometimes, he hated her that much.
“When's dinner?” Herodotus asked abruptly ignoring both his daughter and Xena, he had decided that if he treated his daughter badly enough and explained it was because she was with Xena, she might change her mind about the warrior princess. Surely her love for her family would be stronger that whatever foolishness she was feeling for Xena.
“In about a candlemark dear, so Gabrielle what adventures have you two been up to lately?” Hecuba asked her daughter knowing exactly what game her husband was playing and knew it wouldn’t work, Gabrielle loved Xena, that wasn’t going to change and the sooner Herodotus accepted that the better. She watched as Xena and Gabrielle exchanged a strange look and knew there was some sort of announcement they were going to make.
“Actually Mother, Father, Xena and I have some very good news, Xena is pregnant” Gabrielle stated, and smiled over at her partner, her soulmate and knew it would all be okay. She could see the proud bearing of her warrior princess and knew no matter what Xena was not going to let her father say anything bad about this pregnancy.
“And you are still with her, by the Gods girl, are you that desperate for companionship that you would let this warrior use you and cheat on you?” Herodotus yelled, almost smiling at the situation, he had the perfect way to get rid of Xena and they had dropped it into his lap. Now I know the Gods don’t approve of this union, they would not have allowed this to happen if they were meant to be Herodotus thought happily, knowing he could shame his daughter into leaving the warrior. What were people going to think of Gabrielle running around the countryside with a pregnant Ex-warlord? He thought gleefully.
“Father, Xena didn’t cheat on me, the baby is mine too, it was given to us by the God of Love, Father and you are going to have to come to terms with Xena and me being together, because we are getting married and the only person who is going to have my children will be Xena” Gabrielle told her father fiercely knowing exactly where his mind went when she had announced Xena’s pregnancy, his smile had been so gleeful it could only mean he thought he’d found a way to get Xena out of her life.
“How is that possible, you’re a woman, you can’t make someone pregnant girl” Herodotus asked curious now, he’d heard of this God of Love and he didn’t sound like a God that would create a miracle lightly, he’d also heard of a prophecy that involved a child that wasn’t borne of a man bringing the destruction of the Greek Gods about. Surely this God of Love wouldn’t chose Xena as the mother of a child so pure? He thought and then looked at Xena and Gabrielle, really looked at them and for the first time he saw the aura of their love surrounding them connecting them in a way only soulmates were meant to be. Gods how could I have been so wrong, I’d always thought some strong man would be the one to love and protect my daughter, but I was wrong it’s the Warrior, they are meant to be, he thought shaking his head slightly wondering if his daughter would ever forgive him for the way he had treated her intended. Why didn’t I see that before, I’ve always been able to see the aura of soulmates, that’s how I knew Hecuba and I were meant to be, how did I miss this, a gift only given by the Gods themselves, Xena you better look after her Herodotus thought directing his thoughts towards the stoic warrior princess and for the first time saw the slight swelling that showed the warrior’s pregnancy, his grandchild.
“I- Gabrielle, Xena I’m so sorry, I was so blinded by my upbringing, I never knew you were intended” Herodotus told them seeing the shock on both of their faces at his exclamation. He knew he had a lot of making up to do if he was going to have a chance to talk to them about settling somewhere near Poetaedia so they could see their grandchildren.
“Intended?” Gabrielle asked wondering what her father was doing, after she had told him about the God of love giving them this miracle a strange look had come over his face and she was sure he was working up to an argument, but then he had just apologized and called them “Intendeds”. Could the God of Love have given us another miracle and helped my father accept us? Gabrielle asked herself wondering if her father was capable of that.
“I've always had a gift daughter, to see the aura of soulmates and I've been so blinded by my hatred for Xena for taking you away and at myself for not making life for you the kind of life you would stay here for, that I didn't see it until now, I'm so sorry for the way I've acted, daughter could you forgive an old man?” Herodotus asked looking at the two women one a part of his family and the other about to become family and about to give them something he had been dreaming of since his children had grown up, grandchildren.
“Of course I can Father but I can't have you treating Xena the way you have in the past, she is my soulmate father, the woman I love and she is the mother of my child, and she deserves your respect at least” Gabrielle told her father still in shock a little over his declaration. She looked over at Xena and saw her blue eyes twinkling with unshed tears and went and stood next to her stoic partner wondering what was going through her beloved's mind.
“Herodotus, we all do things out of hate, out of misguided love for our children, I've been guilty of both, nothing would make me happier then for you and I to get along and for us all to be a family, this child needs all the love it can get and its going to have a lot of that from my mother and to have its other grandparents in its life would be exactly what I had always dreamed of for my child” Xena said calmly looking at the man who had given her bard life and felt a quiet respect for the man who had admitted his mistake to the person he felt the most uncomfortable. She had no illusions that they would spontaneously form a friendship but to have his acceptance was what they had really wanted and she was happy to know Gabrielle wouldn't have to worry about that anymore.
“So will this be the only grandchild we will be able to have from the two of you, or is the God of Love going to allow Gabrielle to have a baby too?” Hecuba asked feeling it was okay to bring the conversation back to their announcement, about the baby. She looked at her daughter and saw a sadness cloud her eyes and wondered what her daughter had suffered through now.
“We can have more children but I will never bear Xena's child, I can't have children, I'm barren” Gabrielle told them and felt strong arms surround her against the pain she had begun to feel. She wondered when it was going to get easier, she was truly glad that she would still have children with her blood in them, but a part of her had always wanted to be able to have a child the right way, to have Xena next to her coaching her as she brought their child into the world, and to know she would never experience that caused an ache in her heart that she was never sure would go away.
“I'm so sorry, if I had never brought you to Britannia you would be able to have a baby, I'm so sorry sweetheart” Xena whispered into Gabrielle's hair feeling the guilt of her decision to bring Gabrielle with her to Britannia, to Dahok, come to the surface again and the weight of it felt like it would crush her. She knew that a part of Gabrielle would always be sad that she would never be able to carry a child and nothing would be able to fix that.
“Xena I chose to go with Kraftstar, I could have stayed with you and helped you with your fight against Caesar but I chose to follow him, you can't blame yourself for this, it was Dahok that caused this not you, not me please baby don't cry” Gabrielle asked pleading with Xena to understand that although she was sad about this it wasn't the end of the world and she would be happy being able to see Xena in a role she never thought she'd see her beloved in. Being able to be a mother through Xena would be just as good, it would have to be, because they had no other choice.
“We are so sorry Gabrielle, I know that it must be something to be able to have children that will still have your blood, but that doesn't take away the sadness not being able to carry a child causes” Hecuba told her daughter, seeing the quiet strength that seemed to flow from Xena to her daughter and she finally saw exactly how important Xena was to her daughter's survival, together they were a complete soul and without each other they would not survive.
“It's okay mother, it will take a while to accept that this is the way things have to be, but I will one day and I have this beautiful woman who is willing to carry my children and give me as many children as I want, so it will all be okay” Gabrielle told her parents feeling Xena's hand surround hers and felt the strength that came from her love, helping keep her safe. She looked into those crystal blue eyes seeing the unshed tears sparkling in the baby blues looking into her eyes and knew that together they would be fine, as long as they were together.
“Gabrielle, I just want to tell you how proud you make me, I have seen so many changes in you, every time you come back here there is something new, I feel privileged to have raised such a strong and beautiful daughter, I hope that you would both consider settling down somewhere close to Poetaedia, as the baby's arrival nears?” Herodotus asked smiling as Xena's hand unconsciously moved to her abdomen at the mention of the baby and smiled even more as Gabrielle's hand covered Xena's. They were going to be alright and he knew that Xena would take good care of Gabrielle and that Gabrielle would do the same for Xena. He looked up at the warrior and smiled hoping she could see how much his attitude towards her was going to change. He promised himself he would be there for both of them especially when the time came for Xena to give birth. He began a mental list of things they would need for the baby and hoped they would consider his offer of help.
“Thank you father, you have know idea how long I've wanted to hear that you accept us and me, we are considering building a cabin somewhere between Amphipolis and Poetaedia so we can be close to both you and mother and to Xena's mother,” Gabrielle told them and was surprised to see her fathers eyes light up with joy at the prospect. She decided it was going to take a little while to get used to her father behaving this way, but she was glad that he was accepting them and planning on being a part of their baby's life.
“Well, I was always good with wood, it would give me great pleasure to be able to carve a cradle for the baby, if you would accept this gift, as a proud grandparent to be” Herodotus asked deciding to test the waters and see how Xena would respond to direct help and was pleasantly surprised by her response.
“Herodotus, you are this child's grandfather, I'm sure Gabrielle and I will cherish anything you create for the baby, we wont be able to build the cabin until after the baby is born, so we will be staying with the Amazon's until then, its an Amazon custom for a child born of royalty to be born within the presence of the tribe, thank you Herodotus and Hecuba for accepting me as a part of your daughter's life, I know I'm not what you would have chosen for her but I love her with everything that I am and I promise I will always try to keep her safe” Xena told them smiling at the woman who was her world knowing that her love was reflected in those emerald green eyes. The baby chose that particular moment to start making its presence known and start doing back flips within her. She smiled as she stroked her stomach hoping to calm the baby not knowing how long her bladder would be able to handle the baby pressing on it.
“The baby is moving isn't it? Can I feel it?” Hecuba asked wondering how someone who she had thought of such a violent person could look so peaceful, she had noticed Xena begin to stroke her stomach and smile and knew the baby was moving, then she had seen a look of such peace settle on Xena's face and it was at that moment she had realised just how little she knew of this warrior who had captured her daughter's heart.
“Of course, she's a little active tonight, she may appreciate her grandmother's touch” Xena told Hecuba seeing the surprise on the older woman's face and wondered if she would ever see her as anything other than the warrior princess. She smiled as Hecuba tentatively approached her and then she guided Hecuba's hand to where the baby was kicking and they all smiled as Hecuba exclaimed that she could feel the baby move.
“She huh?” Gabrielle asked looking at the woman she loved and marvelled at how different she seemed. A few years ago she hadn't been able to get within two feet of Xena's personal space without threat of Xena's reflexes kicking in and here was her mother stroking her beloved's pregnant stomach and Xena was standing there as calm as anything looking nothing like the warrior she knew Xena was and always would be.
“Just a hunch, and well we don't want to disappoint the Amazon's do we?” Xena said chuckling at the smirk on Gabrielle's face. She knew Gabrielle was aware of her nightly ritual of talking to the baby and her penchant for saying the baby was a girl. She knew that most people wouldn't think her capable of being absolutely besotted by the miracle that was occuring within her and being totally in love with her child. The closer they got to the birth the more she loved the baby and couldn't wait to meet their little one, when she finally came into the world.
“The baby is very strong, how far along are you?” Hecuba asked seeing the little interplay between her daughter and Xena and was struck again by how normal Xena seemed in this situation. She looked like any other village woman, except for the fact that she was wearing pants and a tunic, and she realised that the woman inside of the warrior had always been there waiting for the right person to bring her out.
“About five and a half moons” Xena replied seeing the older woman's inspection of her, she had never really liked it when people looked her over like that, it was like they were trying to see into her soul and she had always been sure she didn't have one when she had been her evil self, but now she knew she did and she wasn't afraid anymore for people to see that she was just like any other woman and a lot more complicated than just a warrior.
“Well I should get dinner ready we have to make sure you keep eating well, to keep up with this baby, I predict if it is a girl she will run you both ragged if her mother is anything to go by” Hecuba laughed as she walked out of the room leaving Gabrielle and Xena with Herodotus who looked over at Xena unsure of whether to ask the question he had been wanting to ask since seeing Xena with his wife allowing her to feel the baby move.
“She'll stop soon, if you don't get over here you'll miss it and she could sleep all night” Xena laughed at the look on Herodotus' face knowing things were going to be okay, she might even be able to talk Herodotus into attending the ceremony and giving his daughter away, she knew that would mean the world to Gabrielle and vowed to do whatever it took to get Herodotus to agree to it. She smiled as he tentatively reached for her stomach and she closed her hand over his to guide his hand to where the baby was moving. She looked into his eyes and saw the quiet wonder on his face as the baby shifted to doing somersaults and let a quiet groan escape from her lips as her bladder began to suffer the consequences of the baby somersaulting on it.
“Are you alright?” Herodotus asked seeing the slight grimace on Xena's face and wondered if he had done something wrong, and was relieved when she nodded her head. He looked at her and wondered how he had not seen this gentle person who was a much a part of Xena as the warrior was. You didn't take the time to see it, you just blamed her for your mistakes and then decided she was bad for Gabrielle, so you didn't have to admit that you had never understood your daughter, that you had never understood why she wasn't like the other women in the village, if you had you would have seen their love earlier, Herodotus thought as he felt his grandchild move within this woman who had brought his daughter so much love and was now willing to become a role he knew Xena wasn't expecting to have to fulfill, all for his daughter's happiness. He knew Xena would be content with one child, but Gabrielle had always wanted a lot of children and knew Xena knew that.
“She's just somersaulting a little close to my bladder, if you'll excuse me I have to use the little warrior's room” Xena said as the persistent assault on her bladder finally got to her and she knew she had no choice but to relieve it.
“Of course, I'm going to go and choose some wood for the cradle so I can get that little project started, we've only got three and a half moons to go maybe less” Herodotus told them seeing the quiet joy in his daughter's eyes as he talked about the baby's imminent arrival, and knew that no matter what his daughter was going to be a wonderful mother and that his daughter loved this baby as much if not more than Xena.
“Thank you father, I love her so much you don't know how much it means to hear you so excited about the birth of our baby and so accepting of our relationship” Gabrielle told her father after Xena had left the room. She looked at the man who she had thought would never understand her and realised he finally did and he really did love her.
“Gabrielle I've always loved you, I just never took the time to understand you until now, she was always meant for you and I know there is more to Xena than the warrior princess, she is a complex woman and I look forward to getting to know her and understanding the mother of my grandchildren, Gabrielle it would be a great honour to me if you would let me give you away to Xena, I would be so proud to give you to your soulmate” Herodotus asked his daughter knowing in his heart that she would say yes but wanting to hear the words.
“Nothing would make me happier father, I'm so glad that we are going to be able to be a family, she really is special father, and she is going to be such a wonderful mother, she deserves that after losing her son, and it fills my heart with joy that I can be the one to give her that” Gabrielle told her father closing her eyes against the pain mentioning Solon caused her, knowing that in some ways she could have saved him.
“I hope I never have to know how it feels to lose a child, how old was he when she lost him?” Herodotus asked sensing the pain his daughter was feeling and felt a new respect for Xena, for his daughter's pain told him that Xena's son's death had come after her road to redemption had begun and after she had met Gabrielle.
“He was eleven, she had given him away as a child because she knew she was not capable of being a good mother to him then, even then she had a noble heart, she had finally begun to get a relationship back with him and was going to tell him that she was his mother, he was going to travel with us and he was killed by- by-” Gabrielle stopped unable to continue her story as the pain welled up inside her at the pain she knew she'd been a part of causing in Xena.
“An evil Goddess who hated me and wanted to destroy me, by destroying all those I loved” Xena said coming to Gabrielle's side wishing she could take away the guilt Gabrielle felt over her son's death, she had never really blamed Gabrielle for Solon's death, she knew she had been asking to much of Gabrielle to kill her own daughter and although she wished things could be different she couldn't blame Gabrielle for being who she was, the person she loved more than the world and she never wanted her to change that.
“I'm so sorry you went through that Xena, to lose a child must have been unbearable, no matter how long you had been able to know him for” Herodotus said looking at the woman he was beginning to like more and more every moment he spent with her and was surprised to see tears welling up in her beautiful blue eyes, eyes that he hoped would be passed onto this child, and his daughter's strawberry blonde hair. He took her hand and placed it on the place that the child was growing hoping she would understand the guesture.
“Thank you Herodotus, I think I'm going to have a short lay down before dinner, all this emotion is getting a little draining and I'm hoping that will coax the baby into a nap, she is getting a little too energetic” Xena smiled ruefully, still stroking her stomach trying to coax the baby into a bit quieter mood, she smiled at the look on Gabrielle's face and knew it was going to take some time for all the people she knew to realise she was changing and that her stoic nature was still going to be a part of her but she wasn't going to pass up a back rub in favour of being stoic.
“Okay girls I'll see you at dinner” Herodotus said as he walked out of the door feeling happier than he had for a long time and he finally realised that all was going to be well with his family.
“You're father has really changed, I'm really glad I know that's what you wanted and I wanted it too, I wanted your family to accept me, now if this baby would stop doing its somersaults I'd be the happiest person around right now” Xena laughed happy to see Gabrielle smile and hoped that she'd always be able to make Gabrielle smile, she knew there was going to be some tough times ahead of them, she knew there was something special about this baby and she knew it had something to do with the Gods and it was extremely likely that they wouldn't have the peaceful birth both of them dreamed of but she knew that right now all was well in her world and she hoped it stayed that way for a few moons at least.
Continued in Part 14
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