A Journey of Love & Life
They left the temple mid morning with the Goddesses' blessings, both of them lost in thought about their experience the night before. Their lovemaking had been the most intense it had ever been, and they'd felt not only their hearts but their souls connect during their lovemaking and both of them felt exhilarated and still a little tired from lack of sleep.
"Did you feel it last night?" Xena asked wondering if Gabrielle was thinking about the same thing she was, she felt like she truly belonged to Gabrielle now, as though she'd finally given all of herself to Gabrielle and that the ceremony they were going to have would really now only be a formality. She felt so close to Gabrielle right now as though they were truly one soul walking around together and hoped Gabrielle felt the same way.
"If you're asking if I felt our souls join last night, yes I did and I feel wonderful, how do you feel" Gabrielle asked sensing a little uncertainty in her warrior princess and then Xena flashed her a beautiful smile and it was all she could do not to melt into a pool of goo on the floor. The beauty of her warrior princess always set her heart beating so fast and overwhelmed her in it's intensity. It wasn't just a physical beauty, it was the beauty of her heart and soul, and the fact that Xena's heart and soul now belonged to her was something that made her giddy with joy.
"I feel like I'm truly yours now, you own me Gabrielle, body, heart and soul and I've never felt happier, I never believed that I would experience a love like this after all that I'd done in my past, but you changed that and now I couldn't live without you" Xena told Gabrielle taking her in her arms and kissing her tenderly, feeling more connected to this beautiful woman than ever. She knew that losing Gabrielle would end her life as quickly as a crossbow bolt to the heart and hoped that somehow they would be able to die together so that neither of them experienced any time away from each other, separated by death.
"I still don't see what you see in her Xena" Ares spat out as he appeared before them, angry at seeing them so happy, everything in his being was urging him to rip open a bolt of lightening and throw it at Gabrielle but he knew if he did that his chances with Xena would be shot completely.
"What do you want Ares?" Xena growled feeling tension rush up at her so quickly she was almost dizzy from it. She hadn't felt Ares appear, so lost in Gabrielle's kiss was she and now all of her senses, senses she hadn't used in a while were at a hyper state of alert.
"I want to give my congratulations to the happy couple, it's all Olympus is talking about, that and you're baby" Ares sneered looking Xena up and down and decided she was even more striking pregnant. He never thought he'd be attracted to a pregnant woman, but the way she was standing there, her ice cold eyes glaring at him, her body slightly in front of Gabrielle, her breasts straining to be released from the shirt she was wearing, he couldn't have desired her more if he tried.
"Olympus knows about our upcoming joining?" Gabrielle asked moving to rest a hand in the small of Xena's back rubbing it soothingly knowing tension wasn't good for Xena or the baby and wished she had the power to just make Ares disappear. She gasped as Ares blinked out of their view only to appear a few seconds later looking really pissed.
"Just how did you do that?" Ares growled, one moment he'd been staring at Xena's breasts the next he was sitting in the Halls of War and he knew none of his siblings had caused it. He extended his senses and scowled as he sensed the immortal blood pumping in Gabrielle's veins and cursed very loudly. How could a woman that undeserving be part God, what's she going to do with immortality? He asked himself angry that no one had warned him of Gabrielle's immortality.
"Do what? Are your powers playing up on you Ares? Don't blame me if you can't control them" Gabrielle growled her protective instincts rising by the minute. She could still feel the tension coming off Xena in waves and was hoping Ares would say what he'd come to say and then just leave so she could get Xena back to their hut and give her a soothing massage to relieve some of the tension. No sooner had she thought the words than they were in the Queen's quarters and Xena was lying on the bed in front of her.
"Okay what is going on" Gabrielle asked angrily, she was getting worried now, her thoughts were starting to come true and she was wondering if somehow Aphrodite had placed a spell on her again like she's enchanted her scroll.
"Ah Gabrielle how did we end up in here?" Xena asked confused one minute she was watching angrily as Ares blatantly stared at her breasts and the next thing she knew she was lying face down on their bed, her shirt off and Gabrielle standing above her.
"I can explain, we were hoping things like this wouldn't happen before we got a chance to tell you both and I needed to do some asking around first before we could tell exactly how much you guys had" Aphrodite explained as she came into the room, unable to stop herself from smiling at the position Xena was in.
"What do we have? Aphrodite what's going on, did you enchant my mind?" Gabrielle asked extremely annoyed, she really wanted a piece of Ares right now, she'd seen how he was staring at her soon-to-be wife's breasts and it had angered her immensely. Why can't he just admit defeat she asked herself willing Ares to come into the room so she could start tearing strips off him for staring at what was hers.
"Oh so now she's yours?" Ares appeared angry and intrigued at the same time, the thought that had pulled him to this room was so full of possessiveness, it was so fierce he almost didn't recognise it was coming from Gabrielle. It had reminded him of himself and how he'd felt about Xena before he'd lost his warrior princess.
"Yes I am Ares, and it's about time you realised that, I belong to Gabrielle, she's my soulmate, there was a time when you called to me but that time is gone, I will never love you the way I love her, and she is my heart, soul there's nothing left in me for you" Xena told Ares earnestly hoping he would finally see he didn't stand a chance competing with Gabrielle for her. She would never choose him even if the unthinkable happened and Gabrielle died, she would then live out her life alone never able to give her heart to anyone else.
"What has she got that I don't Xena? She's immortal too didn't Atermis and Aphrodite tell you, how long before her immortality ends up corrupting her making her just like me?" Ares asked almost desperate now, those words from Xena had cut him as deep as an immortal could be cut and he knew he was losing this battle, but as the God of War he was going to go out fighting.
"Is this true?" Gabrielle asked shocked hoping desperately that it wasn't she couldn't bear to be immortal if Xena wasn't, to be unable to die and stay with her soulmate would devastate her and she knew Xena would feel the same. She couldn't be immortal, she just couldn't be, she could feel tears welling up in her eyes at the look on Aphrodite's face and knew without them telling her that she was.
"Yes you are, but before you lose all hope so is Xena, we should have told you both but we weren't sure if you were both immortal, and I didn't want to tell you before we knew that" Aphrodite explained seeing the shock on both of their faces. She grew a little alarmed as Xena's face became extremely pale and she landed on the bed with a thump clearly in shock.
"Xena, honey are you okay" Gabrielle asked worriedly seeing the pallor of her lover's face and the trembling of her hands. She wanted more than anything to start grilling Aphrodite and Atermis about their newfound immortality, but her lover's distress was more important, she'd never seen Xena this pale even during her morning nausea, and the silence coming from the woman was making her very worried.
Without a word Xena laid down on the bed her mind lost to whirling thoughts and emotions but her body knowing it needed to lie down and escape from the tension for a little while. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew that she was cutting everyone off but she couldn't stop the process her body was taking. She'd been in a constant state of tension ever since Ares had appeared to them and it had gotten to much for her to handle and then news of Gabrielle and now her immortality had overwhelmed her to the point where her mind had shut down mostly and her body was in control. She spared a quick thought for Gabrielle before sleep claimed her and she was out like a before she could stop herself.
Gabrielle almost panicked as she saw Xena's eyes drift shut, not knowing what was going on in her soulmate's head or body, only that she was experiencing shock at the news they'd been given, and had been very pale, before she'd curled up on the bed and when she'd looked into her eyes and seen only a blank look on her face and that worried her immensely, knowing that her warrior could be overwhelmed by emotions at times and would shut her mind down completely when she couldn't deal with the level of emotion she was experiencing.
"It's okay Gabby she's asleep, she couldn't process it all, the stress was too much so her mind shut down enough to allow her body to take over, and all her body wanted to do was sleep, when she wakes she'll be better" Aphrodite told Gabrielle sounding calmer than what she actually felt. She'd felt the same sense of panic when she'd seen Xena's mind go blank and then watched her succumb to sleep until she extended her senses and then she relaxed a little, she knew how strong Xena was but emotionally the warrior was still learning a lot, and the toll the last year had taken on her was starting to become evident. She knew that part of why Xena had shut down was because of the tension she'd already been feeling at the presence of Ares and turned around to glare at her brother wondering how a god of his power could be so dense.
"Are you happy now? She was already pretty emotionally strung out and then you had to come barrelling in here revealing things she wasn't ready to hear, all in the name of trying to get her back, when are you going to learn brother, she's not your's to have, and in just over a seven day you will never be able to interfere in their love, so you better get used to it" Aphrodite told her brother glowering at him hoping he knew how serious she was and then stared wide eyed as her brother became the angriest she'd ever seen him and it was in that moment she knew just how much her brother loved Xena, her heart went out to him a little before watching speechless as he went to attack Gabrielle.
"I wont let you have her, if I can't have her there's no way I'm letting you have her Blondie" Ares snarled and then fired a thunder bolt at Gabrielle and watched satisfied as Gabrielle's body slammed against the wall of the hut and she hit the ground unconscious. Before he could get another shot in he felt Aphrodite come between him and Gabrielle and hit him with a love bolt and growled as he felt the fight leave him and he slumped to the ground succumbing to the effects of Aphrodite's love slowly falling asleep a smile on his face.
Aphrodite rushed over to Gabrielle taking stock of her injuries thanking the rest of the Gods that they'd discovered she was immortal, she knew the bard would be sore for a while but there was no fear of her dying, Ares needed to get in an extremely focused shot for that to happen. She smiled as Gabrielle groaned and then heard voices and knew the Amazon's had come to their Queen's rescue.
She stepped out of the way as the healer took a look at Gabrielle and pronounced that she was okay save for a broken arm and extremely bruised ribs and would need to take it easy for the next few weeks. Aphrodite silently cursed when she heard that, they couldn't delay the joining longer than a seven day at maximum, Ares wasn't going to just give up and Aphrodite and Atermis could only hold him back for a certain amount of time before he'd over power them
Two amazons carefully picked up the Queen getting ready to take her to their healer's hut when Atermis appeared back on the scene and told them to put her in the bed with Xena, she was hoping that them being together when they awoke and remembered what had happened today would be beneficial for them both. Seeing Xena succumb to shock as easily as she had was unnerving for Atermis, she knew how physically strong Xena was and hadn't thought the warrior would be shocked that she was immortal, she already used the ruse of it to get the Furies off her back. She looked over at the warrior happy to see her in a deep peaceful sleep and knew she'd be available to them if they needed her.
Xena awoke a few candlemarks later groaning as her head pounded and for a moment she thought she was going to be sick, she managed to stop the nausea for a moment, keeping her eyes shut tightly against the pain, but it was too much and she knew she wasn't going to be able to hold it back for ever, and although her head pounded even more she got up quickly just making it to the basin before she threw up her breakfast.
Gabrielle awoke to the sounds of Xena being sick and grimaced as full awareness brought pain, it was bearable enough for her to get up and she looked down at the sling her arm was in, instinctively knowing the arm was broken and that she was sporting bruised ribs but she was more concerned about Xena, as she was still being sick and she could see she was losing her grip on the bench the basin was on.
"It's okay sweetheart I've got you" Gabrielle grimaced as the heaving stopped and Xena fell back against her, gently she brought them to the floor and then looked down at Xena worriedly. She could see how pale she was and sweat was beading on her forehead. She bent her head down and kissed her warrior's forehead and grimaced again as Xena's hand grabbed hers tightly.
"Please- don't- my head" Xena gasped out as the pain became almost unbearable, she hadn't had a migraine this bad in a long time, she opened her eyes and saw nothing but blackness and knew the pain had blinded her for a little while. She knew Gabrielle was going to have to call someone but she couldn't think much less talk the pain was so intense.
"I'll go get some help, just lay here I'll be back in a second" Gabrielle whispered gently knowing any noise louder would make the pain more intense. As gently as possible she laid Xena on the ground, extremely worried and in pain herself but knew that right now Xena needed help, they had no idea how the migraine would be effecting the baby and as she thought that she saw Xena's hands move to encircle her bump and knew what thought's Xena was capable of at the moment were centred on the baby.
As quickly as her injured body allowed her to she walked to the healer's hut a little annoyed that the royal guards weren't at their posts, not knowing that Atermis had ordered them to stay away so they could really rest, knowing that Xena and Gabrielle slept better without guards. She reached the healer's hut and walked inside hoping the healer would ignore the fact that she was up and just give her what she needed for Xena.
"Queen Gabrielle, what are you doing up?" the healer asked seeing the worry in the Queen's eyes and hoped it wasn't something to do with the baby. She'd heard that the warrior princess was pregnant and that the child was the Queen's, and wondered about how that had happened, but she had been told how important this child was and knew that the whole tribe would protect both Xena and the baby if needed.
"Xena has a very severe migraine, the pain's already caused her to throw up, she hasn't had one this bad in a long time" Gabrielle told the healer, suddenly realising that Xena was pregnant and the herbs she would normally take for a migraine would probably be too strong for the baby. She hoped the healer would know what to give her because seeing Xena in this much pain was something she didn't relish and she knew there was only going to be so much pain Xena could take.
"I'll come with you, is she conscious?" The healer asked knowing she wouldn't be able to give Xena the normal herbs because of the baby, but if the pain was too great for Xena to handle she could give her some weaker pain herbs to take the edge off of the pain. It was still going to leave Xena in pain until the migraine released her but she might be able to handle it a little. She also needed to know how regularly Xena experienced these, a migraine during later stages of pregnancy could be a bad sign but she didn't want to alarm Gabrielle any more.
"She was kind of in and out of it when I left, I know how intense the pain was she could hardly talk because of it, so you'll need to keep your voice down when you are talking to her, she used to get migraines all the time, it's a result of tension, but she hasn't had one in a while and certainly not one this bad" Gabrielle said as they walked out of the hut quickly to get back to her hut, Gabrielle wanted more than anything to run but knew her injuries would prevent her from that and cursed Ares and his jealousy.
"Okay well lets just get there and see what we're dealing with" The healer told her Queen smiling at the obvious worry and love displayed on her Queen's face. She admired Gabrielle, had heard a lot about her and now she could see the stories were true, her Queen had a quiet strength about her and her calmness at the moment even though she knew all her Queen wanted to do was run to her lover was admirable.
Xena was in agony, she couldn't see anymore and the pain was lancing through her head so strongly she thought her head was going to explode. Any tiny noise caused more pain and she almost screamed in agony when she heard the healer's quiet voice ask her how bad the pain was. Somehow she fought through the pain enough to say one word Severe.
"Okay I'm going to give you something for the pain, can you see?" The healer asked shocked at the strength of this woman, clearly seeing the agony she was in she was surprised she hadn't passed out yet much less that she'd been able to answer her. She quickly mixed some weak pain relief herbs into a cup and hoped the warrior would be able to keep them down. They needed to reduce the pain Xena was feeling somehow or she would pass out and then probably wake with the migraine again. She needed Xena to stay awake just in case this was more than just a migraine and as gently as possible checked Xena's eyes frowning at the fact that her pupils were dilated and they looked a little glassy, confirming that in fact Xena couldn't see at the moment.
She gently held Xena's head up a little to help her drink the herbs and grimaced at the look of pain and worried that Xena was going to pass out at that moment but somehow the warrior managed to keep ahold of her consciousness and she hoped the herbs would take effect soon. The blindness was temporary but it was hard to tell how long it would stick around or how long it would take for the migraine to release her.
They sat there quietly for a few minutes waiting, hoping the herbs would take effect, Gabrielle had moved herself around and was lightly stroking Xena's hand trying to comfort her in any way she could. It was extremely hard watching the woman she loved in so much pain, the pain almost felt like her own but she knew she had to be strong right now and not give into that. She scooted behind Xena to give her something to rest on and smiled when she felt Xena's weight on her chest. She lightly circled her waist wanting to give her an anchor should the pain get worse and wondered how she was really going to be calm enough to deliver their child when the time came.
"Gabrielle" Xena whispered the pain had receded enough for her to be able to stand whispers and she desperately wanted Gabrielle's arms fully around her, she knew that she needed the comfort of her lover's arms surrounding her, being in Gabrielle's arms had always been therapeutic for her and she knew she wouldn't be able to take much more for the pain without possibly harming the baby.
"Yes sweetheart" Gabrielle asked and then noticed the look on Xena's face and instantly wrapped her arms around her warrior. She felt Xena sigh and knew that she'd done the right thing. A big part of her wanted to get Xena off the ground and into their bed but she wasn't sure if it was wise to move Xena just yet. She looked over at the midwife trying to gauge her thoughts and wished there was someway they could communicate without using words. As soon as she thought the words her powers kicked in and she could not only hear the healer's thoughts but could project hers into the healer's mind.
Can you hear me? She asked with her mind and watched as the midwife nodded slowly a little confused but realised her Queen probably had abilities given to her by Atermis.
Should we move Xena? Gabrielle asked as she began softly stroking Xena's hair trying not to put any pressure on her lover's head at all just wanting to give her comfort. She heard the healer's answering yes and bent to whisper in Xena's ear.
"Sweetheart we need to get you onto the bed, I bet the baby is getting a little cramped there" Gabrielle and watched as Xena nodded slowly and then decided she was going to get the healer to help her carry Xena to the bed, she knew she'd be able to do it on her own but she didn't want Xena to have any reason to get upset with her and picking up her pregnant lover on her own was something that was sure to get Xena worried.
Together they lifted Xena up gently, Gabrielle grimacing as her broken arm bore some of the weight and at hearing Xena's groan of pain at being moved. She only hoped that moving Xena wasn't going to intensify the pain. As quickly and as gently as they could they settled Xena on the bed her head resting in Gabrielle's lap as she curled up into a fetal position, still obviously in a large amount of pain.
"Does that feel any better sweetheart?" Gabrielle asked quietly stroking Xena's thick silky black hair loving the feel of the strands passing through her fingers, making sure not to cause any more pain to her beloved warrior. She dropped her other hand to gently probe Xena's stomach making sure the baby was okay and not in any discomfort, she smiled as she felt the baby move in reaction to her touch and knew all was okay with their child, they just needed to concentrate on getting Xena over this migraine.
They sat there for a few candledrops before Gabrielle realised Xena had fallen asleep and she looked up at the healer who was looking relieved. There was still a furrow to Xena's brow which indicated she was still in pain but she didn't look half as stressed and tense as she had earlier.
"She must be in less pain if she's fallen asleep, you should get some sleep too, she'll probably be out for a good four or five candlemarks, her body's been through an incredible amount right now, I was surprised that she didn't pass out from the pain, she's a very strong woman that one" The healer told Gabrielle seeing the love in her eyes for the woman laying in her lap. She could see the beauty in Xena, and how she could inspire love that deep in someone, without the armour and the battle dress she looked even more beautiful, more womanly than she had ever imagined Xena would be. There was a softness to her that was partially from the pregnancy and the healer suspected a lot more of it was due to her personality changing from falling deeply in love with someone.
"Thank the Gods, lets hope that when she awakes the migraine will be gone and she will be okay, I can't stand to see her in pain" Gabrielle confessed not sure why she was telling the healer this but knew instinctively that she would understand. She continued stroking Xena's hair the action soothing herself as much as it was Xena. She'd watched Xena's face become more and more relaxed until finally she had drifted into a deep healing sleep. She didn't know if she couldn't handle seeing Xena go through anymore pain, coupled with her own pain it was almost unbearable.
"We don't like to see the one's we love in pain, but it's more than that for you isn't it, you feel each other's pain, I suspect that's probably another of the factors in her migraine being so bad, the stress of the arguments with Ares, and then learning she was immortal, and then feeling your pain too, I understand now why she collapsed so easily now" Atermis whispered to Gabrielle not wanting to risk waking Xena up. She'd been sitting with Xena ever since the migraine had happened trying to help heal whatever it was that was causing it. She had tried stroking Xena's hair as she had seen Gabrielle do when Xena was sick or injured, but it hadn't helped, she'd tried using her powers to find the source of the pain and shut it off but had been unable to locate it, nothing she had tried had worked until Gabrielle had come into the room. It was then that she realised how essential they were to each other's existence and that if she wanted to keep being a part of her Queen's life she was going to have to choose sides.
"How did you know, is it because we are immortal?" Gabrielle asked no longer tired but too content to move from her spot, right now she needed physical contact with Xena, she needed to feel that Xena was getting better and she needed more than anything to be close to Xena.
"We aren't sure why you two are so closely connected, it could have something to do with your immortality, that's an answer Eli and his God of love could probably give you I hear Eli is on his way to your home town, word is that he wants to visit the warrior princess before she gives birth" Atermis told Gabrielle watching as her Queen and Chosen one looked down at the woman she loved. They had to get them both well for this joining ceremony, the sooner they had the ceremony the better, Ares was not going to leave this alone, Aphrodite had told him of the depth of his love for Xena and although she felt bad for him, she knew her allegiance had to be to her chosen.
"He is that's great, you know that's a good idea, he seems to be very connected to the God of Love, maybe he could tell us why we are experiencing this, I must get word to Lila and ask her to invite him to our joining" Gabrielle told Atermis feeling suddenly better knowing that Eli may have the answers to her questions. She hoped that if he did know, he'd be able to teach her how to deal with feeling Xena's pain so that when the baby did come she would be better able to deal with seeing Xena in pain.
"You should rest Gabrielle, the day has been just as hard on you, you're injured and your body needs to heal, if you don't lie back down there with Xena I will put you to sleep myself, I've already sent word to your sister on your behalf, I knew you would want Eli there at your joining and Xena would too" Atermis told Gabrielle silently making her choice, she knew there was no way she would be able to fight against these two, she loved them both and if the child really was going to bring about the end of them she wanted to go out knowing she supported her chosen and the woman she loved.
"Okay, okay I'll go to sleep, thank you Atermis, you've made me feel so much better, thank you for accepting our love and offering to protect it" Gabrielle told Atermis quietly, tears springing to her eyes but she held them back not wanting Xena to pick up on her distress and wake up.
"Gabrielle you are my chosen, my Queen and I want the best for you, Xena is the best thing for you, she loves you so much and it's very clear to me how far she would go to save you, protect you, she'll be an asset to the nation and I'm very proud to have her joining us" Atermis told Gabrielle wanting her to understand just how much she approved of her relationship with Xena. If she'd had to choose a woman for Gabrielle she would have chosen Xena, and if Xena wasn't around a woman just like her, they were perfect for each other and she vowed to not allow anything to come between their joining.
"Sleep my child and when you awake, I'm sure Xena will be better and then you can plan your joining" Atermis whispered as Gabrielle laid her head down on the bed, still stroking Xena's hair, gently moving Xena until her head was nestled into her chest, and wrapped her arms securely around her love. She smiled as she moved her hand to cup Xena's stomach and felt the baby move in response to her touch. She knew that all would be well if Xena awoke without the migraine and then she could concentrate on healing herself and getting them joined. She was still a little concerned by the reasons for Xena's migraine and the intensity of it, but knew they would have time to talk about it when she woke up.
"I love you my beautiful warrior, and our child and I want nothing more than to love you for the rest of my life and be a good parent to our baby and any other children we have, I love you for having our child and being willing to have our babies, I love you for always being there for me, for saving my soul by joining it with yours, I couldn't live without you, it terrifies me to see you in pain, sleep well my warrior, hopefully things will be better in the morning" Gabrielle told her sleeping warrior, before succumbing to sleep herself, her last coherent thoughts were of her beautiful warrior princess.
Continued in Pt 17
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