The Journey of Love and Life Part 6

Xena awoke after her peaceful sleep feeling rested and only slightly nauseous, all in all feeling pretty good despite the fact that she knew today was the day it would begin. She quietly and gently disentangled herself from Gabrielle, wanting the bard to sleep for a bit so she could sit and think of what she was going to do to win this war. She watched the bard quietly deep in thought until her stomach protested and demanded she eat. She ran her hand over the spot where their child was growing and knew she would do anything to protect both their child and her bard. As she ate she continued to think and was lost in her thoughts when Gabrielle did awake.

"Are you okay sweetheart?" Gabrielle asked knowing Xena had been awake for at least a candlemark but was pleased to see her warrior had managed to eat something. She felt Xena jump as she rested her hand on her shoulder, and wondered what her warrior princess was thinking about. Most probably the war, just how are we going to do this, and that dream I had last night, Gods I hope that doesn't come true, I couldn't bear to think of- Gabrielle thought but broke off her thoughts not wanting to remember more of her dream, she only wanted to support Xena through this and have the woman she loved and their child safe.

"Yeah I was just thinking of how we are going to win this war, and with as little bloodshed as possible" Xena told Gabrielle sensing Gabrielle was distressed about something but knew that Gabrielle would tell her in her own time, figuring it was probably a dream.

"I want you to do something for me Gabrielle, I want you to infiltrate Lothar's camp, get close to him and then try as hard as you can to get through to him, you can change him, I know you can, look at how you've helped me, it's the only way I can think of to end this war" Xena told her bard having the utmost confidence in the bards abilities, knowing nothing would stop her from trying as hard as she could to get through to Lothar, and make him realise war wasn't the answer.

"Okay, but I want you to have as many soldiers as possible guarding you, I don't want to take the chance Lothar will attack you knowing I'm not here to protect you" Gabrielle told Xena, slowly realising that part of her dream was coming true, she only hoped that this was all that would come out of it, the other part of her dream was too horrible to bear thinking about, if Xena was well protected maybe it wouldn't come true.

"I have some ideas on that front, we will go through them with the General today, but only you and the General will know you've gone to Lothar's camp, I can't take the risk that someone in this camp sympathises with Lothar and you will be discovered, he would probably kill you if he found out" Xena said quietly wishing this day could be over, not wanting to think of the danger she was placing Gabrielle in, a sudden wash of nausea rode over her as she thought of that and she shakily fought it down, not wanting to lose the breakfast she had just eaten. She bent down and placed her fingers on the bridge of her nose to try to stop the nausea from taking over and finally she won the battle, her breakfast was safe for now.

"Gods sweetheart I hate seeing you so sick, lie down for a bit, you got up early this morning, the briefing can wait for a little bit" Gabrielle told Xena leading her to the bed, watching until Xena finally closed her eyes as sleep claimed her. Gabrielle smiled as Xena's face turned peaceful knowing her warrior princess would only sleep for maybe a candlemark or two but knew she needed it, the nausea wasn't going away and it was taking a toll on Xena's stamina. As sick as Xena had been she knew Xena would think the baby was worth the sickness, and she was again reminded of her dream, she decided to talk to Athena see if she could tell her if the dream was a premonition or just a dream.

Xena awoke after about a candlemark, feeling a lot better but frowned when she realised Gabrielle wasn't in their tent. She got up and dressed in her leathers, and went to track down Gabrielle so they could go and brief the General of Athena's troops. It didn't take her long to find Gabrielle and as she saw her she smiled Gabrielle was in the food tent, ladling out what looked like oatmeal to the troops, Thinking of being without Gabrielle and putting her in danger almost made her stumble as the thought caused another wave of nausea to crash over her, but this one was easier to fight down since she had no intention of losing her breakfast.

"Hey I was just feeding the troops we want them fighting fit to protect you" Gabrielle said warmly as she spotted Xena walking towards her, the paleness of her face worrying her, sleep always made Xena feel better and she was unhappy to see that this time it hadn't. Concern for her lover washed away the uneasiness she had felt after her visit with Athena, the Goddess had been unable to give her any concrete answers to her question on her dream, and she was glad for the distraction.

"I can take care of myself too you know, I'm only pregnant" Xena said teasingly liking this streak of over protectiveness her bard was showing, she had been alone for so long before Gabrielle had come along, that she found she liked being cared for, it made her feel loved and content, something she had never dreamed she would experience again in her lifetime.

"Are you ready for the General?" Gabrielle asked still concerned for Xena, she could tell from the paleness of Xena's face and the slight green tinge around it that she was fighting back some nausea, and she silently sent a prayer to the Gods that the nausea would soon be over and Xena could get to enjoying her pregnancy.

"As ready as my stomach will let me be, I think I'm fighting a losing battle here" Xena told Gabrielle smiling to help the bard see she was talking about the nausea not this war. They walked in silence to the General's tent holding hands both of them wanting to keep their bodies connected in some way until they had to part.

The General looked up as they entered and smiled seeing the obvious love these two shared for each other, General Adobe was a very open minded man, and believed love came in many shapes and forms, and to see love like the love these two women shared warmed his heart. He looked at Xena the warrior everyone had feared at one time and was unhappy to see she still looked pale and tired, he knew of Xena's strength and had no qualms about her ability to fight and even win this war, but seeing her looking so vulnerable worried him.

"Welcome Xena and Gabrielle, I trust your tent is comfortable and you have everything you need?" He asked wanting to get the formalities out of the way, they needed to get down to business, he had just been given some disturbing reports that the enemy was camped not too far away from Poetaedia and he wanted to send some more men to investigate these reports, he knew from his orders from Athena that Xena was to be protected at all costs, and he was a very good General he always followed orders.

"Yeah its great, I have come up with a plan to help us win this war, this needs to stay between you and us, Gabrielle's safety depends on it" Xena told General Adobe letting her voice drop to her coldest register, so he would understand that if he revealed this plan to anyone she would most likely kill him.

"Gabrielle is going to infiltrate Lothar's camp, Gabrielle has a way with words, she changed me, if anyone can stop Lothar and change him it's Gabrielle, Athena wants this war to be concluded with as little fighting as possible, this is the only way I can think of to accomplish that, I believe in Gabrielle's ability to do this General" Xena told the General knowing her words would be taken seriously, the respect this General showed her told her that he knew of her fighting ability and her intelligence, she found that she already liked this General and didn't really feel the need to command this army, nor did she feel she was up to commanding an army in her present condition.

"Xena I trust your judgement, you are an intelligent woman, and one of the best commanders of an army I've ever had the pleasure of studying, I actually have a small contingent of men going to check out a rumour that Lothar has his men camped not far out from Poetaedia, she could travel with them and then slip into Lothar's camp" General Adobe told Xena, not sure whether to remind her that she was in command, her order's would be obeyed no matter how ridiculous they seemed.

"Good now that, that's settled I also want you to send a contingent of men to guard my mother's inn, if you have guards there Lothar may think I'm still staying there, and he may not attack the camp, I also want them there just in case Lothar thinks he can get to me by attacking my mother, sounds like something Ares would tell him to do" Xena ordered the General, feeling the nausea she had been battling while they talked finally start to fade as her warrior's mind kicked in.

"I also want a contingent of men to go to Poetaedia and camp near Gabrielle's family, they need to be protected too, and I'm going to get Athena to try and sniff out any possible sympathisers to Lothar's cause, I need the men to be loyal to Athena and you at least, if not me" Xena told the General her nausea almost forgotten now that she was fully immersed in her role as commander of the army. She looked over at Gabrielle surprised to see a relieved look on the bard's face and vowed to ask the bard what was troubling her before the bard left on her mission.

"You're order's will be carried out as you wished" The general told Xena, subtly reminding Xena that she was in command and that the men would be loyal to her. He waited sensing there was more Xena intended to say, silently admiring the woman's strength, she still looked so tired and he knew she was still fighting off some sort of illness by the paleness of her face.

"General Adobe this can not go outside of this tent but I like to keep my right hand men fully informed of the situation, I need to inform you that I am not physically able to lead this army, because I am pregnant, I will fight if necessary but I'd like to avoid it if possible, I am a firm believer in keeping people who need to count on me informed of my limitations, I've been suffering pretty bad morning nausea and it's left me a little weak physically" Xena told the General feeling a little uncomfortable about revealing her pregnancy to the General but knew it was best if the General understood why she might not be able to fight and would have to spend most of her time in her tent. She felt Gabrielle take her hand and smiled hoping that the outcome of this war would be the desired one, peace and that they would soon be able to get down to looking forward to the birth of their child.

"Thank you for trusting me with this, I was going to ask if you were okay, you looked a little pale before, I will make sure you are well protected Xena, for the baby and for Gabrielle, I want you to know it would be an honour to die protecting you" General Adobe told Xena feeling a little uncomfortable when he saw tears begin to form in Xena's eyes. He watched her blink them back and smile at him and he was taken aback by how beautiful she was when she smiled. Almost sensing her tiredness he decided to end the briefing and let her rest, knowing it would be hard for her to let Gabrielle ride off into danger, there wasn't much more they could discuss now anyway, the camp was well protected as was the town, all of the men willing to give their lives to stop this war and he found it admirable that she wanted to try to stop it without too much blood shed.

"Are there any other orders you'd like to implement?" General Adobe asked smiling at the look of relief on both their faces, knowing the briefing was over. He fervently hoped Gabrielle would be able to accomplish her mission and that she would return to Xena unharmed. Knowing Xena's confidence in her bard made him feel better about this plan, and he hoped that they would be able to get through this war without anyone lifting a sword for Xena's sake.

"No thank you General, I'll be in my tent if anything comes up" Xena told the general relieved to be able to go back to their tent and rest again, fighting the nausea had taken up a lot of energy and she just wanted to sleep again. But not before talking to Gabrielle, something is bothering her I don't want her to be distracted when she faces Lothar Xena thought still unhappy about sending Gabrielle into danger but knowing her bard could handle herself and hoped that she would be fine. They bid the General goodbye and walked quietly to their tent, still holding hands both of them lost in their thoughts. Xena went straight to the bed to lie down when they got to the tent and looked up at the bard sensing she was still troubled by something. Silently she motioned for the bard to lie next to her and wrapped her arms around Gabrielle feeling utter contentment at having her bard in her arms.

"Gabrielle, what's wrong I know something has been bothering, please tell me" Xena asked wondering if she was worried about her mission, or maybe it was really a dream that had troubled Gabrielle, whatever it was she just wanted to help Gabrielle through it and comfort her. She needed to feel that Gabrielle was confident in her ability to accomplish her goal of changing Lothar, and knew she needed to be focused only on her goal to do it.

"I had a dream last night, while I was gone you were attacked by some of Lothar's men, I was just getting Lothar to open up to me when I heard someone talking about an attack on Athena's men, I called to Athena to get me to you, but before I reached you – you were hurt and you lost the baby" Gabrielle told Xena sadly wishing she knew if this dream was one of her premonitions or just a dream, she couldn't bare to think of how Xena would cope with losing this baby too, and prayed with all her heart that it was just a dream.

"I went to Athena to see if she could tell me if it was a premonition like the one I had when you fought the Persians, but she couldn't tell me she didn't know, I just it was so real" Gabrielle said as she felt tears sting her eyes knowing it would hurt her just as much to lose this baby now, when they loved it so much already.

"Gabrielle I will do everything I can to ensure this baby's safety, I promise you I will only fight if one of Lothar's men attacks me directly, until that happens, I wont fight, even if my men are fighting, until my life is at risk if I don't fight I wont" Xena told Gabrielle not sure if this would assure her bard, Gabrielle had been right about the man with the double edged sword when she fought the Persians but she couldn't not fight if her life was at risk if she didn't fight.

"I know, I'm hoping it's just a dream I just, I already love this baby so much, I know you do too, I couldn't bare to lose it" Gabrielle told Xena grateful for Xena's attempt to reassure her, she knew Xena would do everything she could to stay out of the fighting, the baby was too important to both of them now.

"Come on lets get some rest, you'll be heading out soon and I need to spend some time with you wrapped up in my arms, I always feel so content with you resting in my arms" Xena told Gabrielle pulling her close to her knowing sleep would come quickly for her, she only hoped Gabrielle would be able to relax and sleep for a little while too. Thankfully Morpheus was kind to Gabrielle and in Xena's safe arms she drifted off into a dreamless sleep.

It was another two candle marks before they awoke and they joined the troops for lunch, Gabrielle wanting to get to know some of the men she would be riding with before going on to complete her mission. Lunch was over too quickly and both of them cried as they kissed goodbye neither wanting to let the other go, but knowing they had to endure some time apart to accomplish their goal of ending this war. Gabrielle rode off her thoughts immediately turning to Xena hoping she would be okay, knowing she would put her soul into changing this Lothar back to end this war for her warrior.

Continued in Part 7

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