Xena breathed in a sigh of relief as she saw Ares leave the room but that was quickly shoved down by the reminder that she had been trying to keep her rebellious stomach at bay and as she lost her battle she ran to the wash room as the nausea rose up and out of her. She felt Gabrielle come up behind her and felt her arms close around her giving her the support she desperately needed. As the nausea continued on its nasty way she felt Gabrielle brush away the damp tendrils of hair from her face, the slight contact of Gabrielle's skin against her causing her to relax and the nausea to subside. She sank gratefully into Gabrielle's arms as they sat there in silence both lost in thoughts regarding Ares latest visit.
"Gabrielle, I know you don't want to hear this but we have to start fighting this war, we can get a supply of herbs from the healer and move down to Athena's camp today" Xena said her voice cutting into their earlier silence, a voice filled with regret and fear. This was the last thing she wanted to be doing, she knew that fighting this war was going to put both their lives at risk and the life of their unborn child, but she also knew she couldn't allow her mother's village to be destroyed, the Greater good was beginning to become a pain in the but for them. She wanted nothing more than to be selfish and refuse to risk their lives and the life of their child but knew she would never forgive herself for that.
"I know Xena, Gods I just- I'm just so scared, you are far from fit enough to fight a war and then there's the baby, I just wish we could leave this all behind, Gods I'm so selfish" Gabrielle told Xena seeing nothing but love reflected in the warrior's eyes.
"Gabrielle I feel the same way but these are our homes, our parents we have to protect them, its the-" Xena said but was cut off by Gabrielle's lips pressing against hers, she felt herself instantly melt into the contact, instantly wanting more contact. She felt Gabrielle deepen the kiss and felt her hand move to brush Gabrielle's cheek as tears fell from those beautiful eyes. She felt her own eyes moisten with tears as she felt Gabrielle's hand lower to her abdomen where their child grew. She looked up at those beautiful eyes seeing the love they shared reflected in those eyes, saw the fear, the determination, the courage that was Gabrielle.
"Just promise me, that you'll only fight if someone attacks you please" Gabrielle asked knowing she was asking a lot of Xena but she had seen the tears in Xena's eyes when she had caressed her abdomen just above where their child was growing, and knew Xena already loved this child, and that they would both go to hell and back to protect this child.
"I promise Gabrielle, I know we've only known about the baby for a short time but I already love the baby, and I will do everything in my power to save it, and you, I love you both so much" Xena told the bard kissing her again before struggling to get up of the floor they'd ended up on after her bout of morning nausea. She shook off the momentary dizziness she felt at rising off the ground and then led Gabrielle upstairs to their room. She wanted to sleep with her bard before moving to Athena's camp, knowing the sleep would help them both. Leading Gabrielle to the bed wordlessly they snuggled up to each other, Gabrielle's head resting on Xena's chest and as they began to drift off Xena smiled hearing Gabrielle's soft I love you escape her lips before sleep finally claimed them both.
The move to Athena's camp went smoothly with the General accepting Xena's decision not to sleep in the commander's tent, knowing strategically it was safer for Xena and Gabrielle to be sleeping in a regular tent. It took a few hours for them to set the tent up the way Gabrielle wanted things but Xena was happy she'd allowed Gabrielle to indulge in her protective side as she lay wearily on the bed Gabrielle had insisted they bring down for her. Even though she hadn't been allowed to help with any of the packing up of their stuff or organising of their tent, she still felt as though she'd been awake far too long. She had been sent to their tent a few minutes earlier by Gabrielle who had seen her wandering concentration and noticed her slowly losing the ability to keep her eyes open. After asking the General if they could wait till morning for a briefing by Xena, Gabrielle had gone to Xena and gently told her to go and sleep, that she would wake her for dinner and not to worry bout things. Which was easier said then done for Xena, but she knew her bodies demands and knew she would be better equipped to handle dinner if she slept, so she closed her eyes and slowly drifted off to sleep dreaming of her child and the woman she loved more than the world.
Gabrielle walked into their tent engrossed in thoughts over the battle ahead and the difficulties they would face, she looked over at Xena relieved to see she was still asleep and hadn't noticed her walk in. Gods she must be exhausted for her body to not sense that I'm in the room, she thought still worried for her partner. Her face was still too pale, she looked like she'd lost some weight just from the few days she'd been experiencing morning nausea. I don't want her involved in this, I just want to take her away from all this, and let her rest and get better, she thought sadly knowing that they had no choice, that Xena would try to stay as strong as she could to protect their villages and more importantly Greece. Is this how she felt when I almost died in Tripolos? When I told her she had to fight for the Greater good, cause if it is, Gods how did she get through that, I can't bear to think of her getting hurt and I'm terrified she'll lose the baby, will we get through this? Gabrielle thought pensively wanting to be irrational and beg for them to leave here, but knowing that if they allowed their families to be killed because they were afraid to die, they'd never forgive themselves.
"Are you okay sweetheart?" Xena asked as she woke from her nap, a worried frown on her face at Gabrielle's pensive face. Please don't let that frown be because of me, Gods I can't bear to think that I've hurt her again, Xena thought worriedly as she got up shakily from the bed and wrapped her arms around Gabrielle. She needed to feel close to Gabrielle, especially when they had so little time before fighting this war would begin. She turned Gabrielle's face to meet her own eyes and gently pressed her lips against Gabrielle's taking in the smell of her hair and smiled knowing this was going to be the time she let Gabrielle all the way in, into her soul.
"I'm better now" Gabrielle answered feeling Xena pull her closer to her feeling her heart start to beat faster at the closeness of the woman she loved more than anything. She felt the deep chuckle rumbling through Xena's throat at her answer and then gasped as Xena deepened the kiss, opening her mouth and slipping her tongue inside, at that meeting of tongues both of them gasped as a fire began to build between them, and they lost themselves in the passion of the moment, each of them pressing their bodies closer to each other, wanting to merge their bodies as one.
"I love you Gabrielle, you are my world, my life, my light and I never want to be without you, I don't want to start this war without showing you just how much I love you, I want to make love to you and feel our souls make that final connection, to join our hearts as one" Xena told Gabrielle looking deeply into her eyes seeing the tears glistening in her soul mate's eyes feeling like she had finally come home, that this was where she was meant to be forever, in her love's arms.
"Gods Xena that was so beautiful, I love you too sweetheart and I never want to know what being without you feels like, we are a family and our love will never die" Gabrielle told Xena as she took her into another passionate kiss, their tongues dancing together, making them both feel weak kneed at the sensations they were building in one another. Gabrielle felt herself being led to the bed as they kissed, and they fell onto the bed together neither taking their lips from the other as they descended onto their bed. Xena broke the kiss and gently began to undo Gabrielle's top wanting to see her bard's beautiful breasts, but she couldn't stop there, soon she wanted her bard naked before her so she could see and feel all of her bard. She laughed wickedly as she realised her bard had the same plans for her and was removing her new leathers at a much quicker pace. In no time they lay naked together on the bed still kissing, neither moving to go any further just wanting to explore this new intimacy they shared. It was Gabrielle who took the first step to another part of her lover's body moving her mouth down to the warrior's graceful neck, smiling at the moans and gasps from her warrior, she grabbed a sensitive ear with her teeth and began to suck on the lobe drawing it into her mouth, groaning herself at the noises she was bringing from the warrior's mouth.
"Your skin tastes so good" Gabrielle murmured into Xena's ear, her hot breath causing the warrior to growl back at her feeling the sensations her bard was causing going straight to her loins. She moved her hands down to her bard's breasts brushing her fingers against a sensitive nipple, hearing Gabrielle's sigh of pleasure in her ear, rubbing her fingers over the now hardened nipple, she took the other one into her mouth and felt Gabrielle's hands tangle in her hair. Gently licking, biting and sucking the nipple she knew she was driving Gabrielle crazy with need, but this was their first time together and she wanted to not only give Gabrielle pleasure but her soul. So she brought her lips up to taste Gabrielle's again pulling their bodies closer together so she could feel Gabrielle's heart pounding against hers.
"I love you, you are the keeper of my soul Gabrielle" Xena told Gabrielle reverently wanting her to understand that this was more to her than just sex, this was love, a joining of two hearts. She knew there were tears in her eyes as she said the words and saw Gabrielle's eyes well up with tears as they became one, bringing their love to each other, crying out each other's name as they drove to heights of passion neither had known before, fueled by a love so deep they lost themselves in it and then as they lay, curled in each other's arms they both knew that they had found their soul mate and that their love would never perish.
They slept for about an hour before Gabrielle's stomach began to growl, reminding her how long it had been since she'd eaten and she got up quietly not wanting to disturb the peaceful slumber of her soul mate. She went to the mess tent and quietly grabbed some soup and some other things she knew they'd like hoping this time Xena would be able to keep the food down. She grabbed two mugs and filled them with boiling water so she could make some tea for them and make Xena take some of the herbs, her last dose had been that morning and she knew if they were ever going to win this battle with Xena's nausea she would need to take them more regularly. Quietly she made her way back to their tent, surprised to see Xena still sleeping peacefully, and once again thought about the toll this pregnancy was taking on her strong warrior.
"Xe come on honey wake up, you need to eat and you need to take some of those herbs" Gabrielle told Xena gently shaking her, smiling when Xena growled and tried to roll away from her. She found a ticklish spot and gave it a gentle tickle knowing that would wake Xena instantly, and was rewarded by two piercing blue eyes staring at her, a mischievous grin on that beautiful face.
"Xena, don't!" Gabrielle cried as wandering hands deftly found ticklish spots on the bard, going for the kill relentlessly making Gabrielle squeal with laughter, pouncing on Gabrielle, Xena kept up the attack until the bard was gasping for air and then stopped, dropping her head to plant a big wet kiss on the bards waiting lips.
"Now that is a great way to wake up" Xena laughed seeing Gabrielle poke out her tongue at her and decided to capture that tongue with her own, she was feeling too good to not keep up their playful teasing. Finally she let the bard go smiling at the blush that crept up the bards face making her look even more beautiful to Xena, and then laughed when Gabrielle's stomach gave another growl.
"Come on lets feed the monster, I'm actually feeling hungry today" Xena told Gabrielle, smiling as another blush crept up the bard's cheeks. She looked at the food her bard had brought with her and decided soup was still probably the safest thing for her to eat.
"Take your herbs first, I don't want you bringing that soup back up later, we have to get something to stay in there" Gabrielle smiled pointing at the warrior's stomach. Please don't argue with me just take them, I need to see you get better Gabrielle thought as she saw the warrior's scowl, but saw the twinkle in those sparkling baby blues and breathed a small sigh of relief, Xena could be the worst patient sometimes, insisting that she was fine when she really wasn't and she knew that at times during this pregnancy she would still do that, but the bard decided to make it her challenge to get the warrior to try and enjoy this time, to really relax and enjoy being pregnant. Probably a little hard to do when you're so sick, but i know there is a loving mother in there somewhere Xena and I'm going to do my damnedest to bring her out, I owe you that much after Solan. Gabrielle thought feeling the sadness engulf her again at her role in Xena's son's death. How i wish that I'd been able to give you this child, it's all I've ever wanted for you and some God has gone and given you what I can't. Gabrielle thought her thoughts turning to subdued anger at not having the ability to give Xena back what she helped take from her.
"Are you alright sweetheart, you look a thousand leagues away, Oh baby don't cry" Xena asked confused at the change in Gabrielle's mood. She took the bard into her arms feeling the bard shake with tears that seemed to have been held back, and were finally being released. She felt the bard's pain hit her in the gut and she almost fell, having never felt anything like it and knew that was because she'd never been this connected to someone, Gabrielle really was her life and she held on to the bard hoping to be her anchor against the crashing waves of her pain. She felt her own eyes tear up in response to the bard's anguish and silently willed herself to stay calm and not lose herself in this moment, Gabrielle needed her to be her rock and she knew she'd go to Tartarus and back to be that for her bard. Finally the tears began to subside and she lifted Gabrielle's face to meet her own looking into those greenish blue eyes, seeing the pain and behind that the love they shared. Silently she led Gabrielle to the bed so they could sit and talk about those tears and where they stemmed from.
"I'm sorry about that Xena, I was thinking about this baby and how I wanted to help you to enjoy this pregnancy and then i started to think about Solan and I just lost it, I think i needed to finally get all that emotion out, I still feel guilty over his death and I wish I'd been able to give you this baby, I so wanted to give you that, I know I'm a woman and giving you a child is next to impossible for me but-" Gabrielle said and was silenced by a soft kiss from Xena, feeling Xena wrap her arms around her and hold her close again, feeling safe at last knowing she would always feel that security when held in those strong arms.
"Gabrielle, we both lost a lot during that time, I never blamed you for Solan's death, how could I hate you for your heart and ability to love even a child of Dahok, sweetheart you need to forgive yourself for Solan, I know he does and I know that this baby will help me to forgive myself for his death too, look at me Gabrielle" Xena asked silently willing her bard to comply.
"I love you, and this child is ours nothing could ever make me not love you, because you are the other half of my soul and I couldn't live without you, together we will raise this baby and we will live this life together" Xena told her wanting her to really know how much she loved her. Once again she cursed the fates at having this time of discovery come when they were in the middle of a war but she knew the power of their love and she wanted nothing more than to just bask in that love and let it heal her soul, but right now they needed to fight this war and take away the threat to their home villages and the rest of Greece.
"Gabrielle you mean everything to me and I believe that you saved my soul, before you I was headed on a one way chariot to Tartarus and I didn't care, then I met you and everything changed, all I want is to win this war so we can begin our life together, properly and prepare for this baby together"Xena smiled seeing Gabrielle's face go from tears to a beautiful smile, one that always took her breath away. She knew she'd gotten through to her and realised that Gabrielle was the key, Athena wanted her to win this war without fighting, if she could, Gabrielle she knew would be able to get under Lothar's skin and show him a way out, hell she pried me away from Ares surely she can do it again Xena thought knowing she had complete faith in Gabrielle's ability to get through to the warlord.
"I believe we were discussing dinner?" Gabrielle asked knowing she believed Xena and she was deeply moved by her stoic warrior's beautiful words, and knew without a doubt that no matter what they were going to be together, through everything that would be thrown at them. She quietly reached up to Xena knowing actions meant more to her warrior than words and traced her hand down her strong cheekbone, before bringing Xena's lips to hers, showing her through the kiss that she'd heard the words and that she believed in their path together.
They spent the next hour feeding each other and trading kisses before Xena's tiredness betrayed her and she couldn't fight back a yawn anymore. As they settled down to sleep they both silently thanked Eli's God, knowing his role in their happiness, and for giving them this child. They slept peacefully knowing that in the morning the battle would begin and the war would be fought, but both dreamt of a time without war, a time of peace where they would await the birth of their child.
Continued in Part 6
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