Return of Unity

Part 9(Conclusion)

The next day or so were filled with preparations for the joining and Gabrielle breathed a sigh of relief when the council decided Xena would not have to partake in the physical requirements of the rituals for women wanting to become Amazons and also the rituals for a joining. The council in its wiseness decided that Xena's legendary abilities spoke for themselves and now that she was bringing a child to the Amazon's and Gabrielle had informed them that they intended to settle down near the village and would have more children they were more than happy to have Xena joining their tribe.

Gabrielle had awoken the day after they arrived to the sounds of Xena throwing up and knew that morning nausea had definitely begun, she had immediately gotten out of bed to support her lover knowing how much the nausea could take out of her. When she got a chance to look at Xena she felt sympathy for her immediately, her lover was pale, very green, and was sweating profusely and it was then that Gabrielle realised how long Xena had been throwing up.

“We can wait on the ceremony love, I don't want you going through all this stuff when you are this sick” Gabrielle had said immediately, running her hand down Xena's sweaty face after the spasms had finally subsided. Xena looked miserable and she had every intention of getting her warrior back in bed knowing getting her to sleep would make her feel better.

“No Gabrielle, I don't want to wait anymore to join with you, I can cope with this, it will be fine love” Xena told Gabrielle vehemently, when she felt she could respond without more nausea rushing up, she truly did not want to spend another moment not joined with this woman and wanted Gabrielle to know that, if they waited till her morning nausea subsided it could be another moon or so before they could be joined.

“I hate seeing you sick sweetheart, I know this is the worst part of pregnancy and you always get it bad don't you?” Gabrielle said her heart filling with love for this woman for all she was willing to go through to join with her, it had taken a little bit of talking to get Xena to agree to not go through the physical challenges, and to Gabrielle Xena's argument that she didn't want it to seem that she was getting special treatment because Gabrielle was Queen, wasn't a good enough reason for Xena to go through that, eventually Xena had given in, realising that the physical challenges she would be  put through could be dangerous for her and the baby.

“Unfortunately every time I've been pregnant yes it's been bad, but if we have the ceremony in the afternoon I should be okay, it's only been a day but I haven't felt sick then yet” Xena told Gabrielle smiling at this woman who was always trying to take care of her and protect her. No matter that she was a revered warrior, very capable of protecting both herself and Gabrielle, it was that willingness that had struck her about Gabrielle. She knew that a lot of people considered Gabrielle the weaker of the two of them, but she knew just how strong Gabrielle was, she also knew her Bard knew everything she knew, she could still remember how it had felt knowing that she was going to have to leave her bard when she'd been in Japa, how she'd knelt before her and taught her the pinch. She still believed those words she'd spoken If I only had 30 seconds to live this is how I would want to spend them looking into your eyes she remembered, knowing at that moment she would not have that chance, she knew that in order to keep Gabrielle safe she would have to go and die alone, she had no choice, and at that time she still believed that she would be able to come back to her bard.

Gabrielle looked at her warrior and saw the tears forming in her eyes and wondered what was going on inside that head of her love's. Then she felt something she never thought she'd feel, she felt Xena grab her forcing her to wrap her arms around Xena's body taking the comfort she needed, burying her head in Gabrielle's chest as the tears came harder. Too shocked to do anything but hold Xena she absently stroked Xena's hair and did her best to give her warrior the comfort she so desperately needed.

“Are you okay sweetheart?” Gabrielle asked still unable to believe what had happened, in all the time that they'd been travelling together Xena had never once asked for comfort, she took it if Gabrielle offered it but never asked for it. Gabrielle had never thought she would experience this, Xena coming to her for comfort, and it both worried and pleased her.

“I was thinking about Japa, guess I still haven't let out everything I felt about that either” Xena said sheepishly, she didn't know what had come over then, but she had desperately wanted to feel Gabrielle's arms around her and to draw comfort from the woman she loved. Normally she would wait until it was offered, still unable to bring herself to let go that much and ask for what she truly needed, she knew it frustrated Gabrielle and it frustrated her as well, she was trying so hard to shake the stoicness she'd imposed on herself when she'd been a warlord and bring back the person she'd been before Cortese, and she knew she was getting there and today was just another step back to that person, she might never be but she was going to get as close as she could to her.

“You realise what you did don't you sweetheart, thank you for asking me, I know how hard you are trying to get back some of what you lost when you became a warlord, this was a big step” Gabrielle told Xena proudly wanting Xena to focus on the positive of what had happened and trying not to show her worry. She was beginning to worry that all the emotions Xena had bottled up were starting to come out and were forcing her to deal with the things she'd pushed aside trying to forget. Gabrielle didn't know if Xena could handle that kind of emotional out pour and hoped they could both weather the storm if that's what happened.

“It wasn't a conscious decision, I just let go, stopped worrying about the way people see me and took what I needed, I'm going to try and do that more often, cause crying like this always gives me a headache and makes me sleepy” Xena grinned, knowing that Gabrielle was worried about her, in truth she was a little worried too, these changes that were happening were more often than not unconscious changes, she wasn't in control of them and being unable to control something about herself always scared her. She knew it was probably happening more frequently because of the pregnancy, she'd been very emotional at times when she was pregnant with Eve, especially towards the end of her pregnancy and she knew this time would probably be no better, the only thing she promised herself was that she wasn't going to hold in the tears she felt trying to overwhelm her, she was going to let it all out, she knew Gabrielle would help her and be her protection against the emotions that were threatening to drown her.

“Well I'm pleased you did it, unconscious or not, do you want to take a nap, see if that helps make you feel a little better” Gabrielle asked, she could already see Xena's eyes drooping, hoping her warrior would allow herself to rest,     Xena wasn't always the best patient when she was sick and she vowed that as soon as her warrior was asleep she was going to go and see the village's healer and see if she had some herbs for Xena's morning nausea. She smiled seeing that Xena had lied down on the bed in answer to her question and was almost asleep already. She quietly moved over to her and sat there stroking her warriors hair until she could hear Xena snoring softly.

“It will all be okay my love, you'll see we'll get through all this emotional stuff and soon we will welcome our child into the world” Gabrielle whispered to her sleeping warrior feeling tired herself but knowing she needed to go and get those herbs and get the ball running on their joining. She wanted it to happen as soon as possible not just because of Xena's morning nausea but because she really wanted to be joined with her beautiful warrior princess.

Gabrielle walked out of their hut and smiled at the two guards who had obviously been standing there for quiet a long time. It was one of the things she knew were necessary due to her position as Queen but hated, she didn't want to think about what these two women could hear and hoped they were discreet if they did hear anything personal between Xena and herself. She certainly didn't want these women hearing Xena cry her heart out at all the things she'd kept inside herself.

“Gabrielle nice to see you up and about, how is Xena?” Chilapa asked having seen Gabrielle walk out of her hut and wanted to find out if her friend was okay, she admired both Xena and Gabrielle and was pleased to have them back within Amazon territory, she'd even been pleased to see Eve and had asked that Eve be given a hut of her own, knowing that Xena's daughter would need some time to realise they did forgive her and that she was welcome in their village. She was one of the people that believed Eve was part of Gabrielle, the woman she'd met was a lot like Xena in some ways but there was a softness in her that couldn't have come from Xena and the lighter colour of her eyes had always made her think that Gabrielle had been involved in some way in Eve's conception even if she hadn't known it.

“Not good Chilapa, morning nausea hit with a vengeance this morning, I was just going to go visit your healer and get some herbs for Xena, she's sleeping right now” Gabrielle told Chilapa smiling at her regent, she still missed Ephiny but Chilapa was a good replacement for her friend, she was strong and she had only the best interests in mind for their tribe.

“I'm sorry to hear that, does that mean you will be postponing the joining?” Chilapa asked knowing that Gabrielle would probably suggest that, she knew the bard wouldn't want her lover having to go through a big ceremony when she was sick. It saddened her a little that they would have to wait, but there was still Xena's becoming an Amazon to celebrate, who would have thought the great warrior princess would one day become an Amazon and settle down with a peaceful woman and have children Chilapa thought smiling at how good it was going to be to have their Queen home.

“No Xena insists that she will be okay, she doesn't want wait any longer than she has to, to be joined with me” Gabrielle smiled repeating the words Xena had spoken to her earlier that morning, feeling a little giddy at the fact that in a few short days Xena would be her wife, there was a time in their relationship that she'd thought they'd never get to this point, she knew that becoming an Amazon was a big thing for Xena, she'd never really felt she could become one, after all she'd done to the nation when she was a warlord. Even though the tribes had forgiven her and she'd saved them from dying out on more than one occasion she still had trouble believing she was forgiven for what she'd done. Like Mother like Daughter I guess Gabrielle thought realising they'd left Eve to her own devices and decided to go seek her out after she'd gotten the herbs for Xena and talk to her. She asked Chilapa where Eve's hut was and watched as Chilapa walked off to attend to her duties as Regent.

Gabrielle walked to the healer's hut and was happy to find they did indeed have the herbs she needed and she vowed to have two things for Xena when she woke up, one a cup of tea with these herbs in them and two her daughter. She smiled at the healer and thanked her for the herbs realising there were a lot of people she was going to have to get to know now that she was going to take on her role as Queen. She still couldn't believe Xena was okay with that, they'd been travelling the roads for years now, and she'd resigned herself to the fact that they would probably never settle down anywhere, she knew how restless Xena's soul was and her own too, but lately she'd seen something in Xena she'd not expected to, Xena looked like she was ready to settle down, and she didn't think it was just because of the baby, she knew Xena's near death had effected her a lot more than she was telling and she wondered what Xena would reveal when she finally dealt with that.

“Eve?” Gabrielle called as soon as she reached Eve's but and was surprised to find Xena's daughter still in bed, she looked like she'd been crying all night and Gabrielle could practically feel the pain radiating off Eve. She smiled as she realised the cause for Eve's heartache and marvelled at how much like Xena she was, same taste in women she thought smiling glad Xena and her daughter shared something like that. She wondered if Sarah was pinning for Eve as much as Eve obviously was. She went and gently shook Eve's shoulder's to wake her from the dream she was dreaming.

“Gabrielle? What's wrong is something wrong with Mother, the baby is it okay?” Eve asked her mind spinning as she adjusted to waking up, the look on Gabrielle's face as she'd woken her made her think something was wrong with her mother and she was almost out of the bed to go to her when Gabrielle's hand stopped her.

“You're mother is fine except for pretty bad morning nausea that is, and since she's experiencing that I would say the baby is fine too, are you okay you've been crying?” Gabrielle asked deciding to get straight to the point, she knew exactly what Eve was going through, had been through it with Xena and wanted to help in any way she could.

“Is this how you felt when you realised you were in love with mother?” Eve asked curiously she knew how much her parents loved each other, it was plain for anyone to see that they were very much in love, but she'd never really gotten a chance to find out just when they'd fallen in love and how they'd dealt with it.

“Well it took me a while to recognise that what I felt for Xena as me being in love with her, and when I did realise it was really hard because we'd become really good friends in the time we'd known each other, I think I fell in love with her the first time I saw her but I was too naive and young to realise it” Gabrielle told Eve knowing Xena wouldn't mind her talking with Eve about their relationship especially if it would help her deal with her feelings for Sarah. She was actually hoping Xena would be able to talk to Eve about this as well, it would be good for them to bond in something like this and Xena had plenty of experience with holding in emotions and what it did to her and she hoped she could teach her daughter to start releasing her emotions more as well.

“So when you did realise it did you tell her straight away? When did that happen?” Eve asked still curious she knew this might be difficult for Gabrielle to answer but she needed some advice, she had no idea how to deal with how she was feeling and she didn't feel like crying herself to sleep again, it had given her a huge headache which was why she'd still been asleep when Gabrielle had come to find her.

“No both of us realised we were in love with each other a long time before we told each other, we were both afraid of risking our friendship, we wasted so much time, but after Ephiny's death we both realised life was way too short and one day not long after Xena came to me and told me, she was so beautiful, and so vulnerable it was then I realised I'd never had anything to worry about because she had always loved me” Gabrielle told Eve as she remembered how scary but wonderful that time had been. Xena had been so gentle with her the first time they made love and it was then that she had truly known what love was, and it was confirmed even more for her when Xena willingly gave herself to Gabrielle, surrendering completely to her and she'd been unable to hold back the tears that act of love had created.

“That's beautiful, Gabrielle should I tell Sarah how I feel?” Eve asked hoping that one day she'd be able to share the same kind of love her parents felt for each other, she could easily see the emotions recalling those events created in Gabrielle and when her mother had talked to her about love she'd seen more emotion cross her mother's face than she'd ever seen. It was truly a beautiful thing they shared and she hoped that the Gods had stopped trying to interfere with her parent's destiny, because she never wanted to have to see the pain they would go through to be separated from each other.

“I think you should take some time sweetheart, think about things, and then see how you feel when you see her again, I have to say that Sarah is one lucky woman to have you interested in her” Gabrielle joked knowing that they needed to wrap this up, she wanted Eve to spend some time with her mother and Gabrielle wanted to get some of this tea into Xena so she wouldn't feel so bad.

“Thanks Gabrielle, for the advice, are we going to go wake up Mother?” Eve asked knowing Gabrielle's thoughts had turned to her mother now and that their conversation was over, she was pleased that Gabrielle had told her all that she had, she loved both Xena and Gabrielle and was happy to be spending some more time with them. She was planning on staying until after her mother was better from the morning nausea and then she would be back for the baby's birth, she really wanted to see her mother heavily pregnant with her brother or sister.

They walked quietly to Gabrielle's hut and were both surprised to find that Xena was still asleep even though it had been at least two or three candlemarks since Gabrielle had left her. Gabrielle went to check on her and raised a hand to her love's face to let her know that she was there and wasn't happy to find that Xena's forehead was very hot. She checked the rest of Xena's body and the heat coming from Xena was not very good.

“Eve I think she has a fever can you go and get the healer for me?” Gabrielle asked worriedly, Xena didn't get fevers very often but when she did they were often pretty bad, she checked Xena for any signs of wounds she might not have noticed and couldn't find anything. She sighed a sigh of relief when Xena's eyes fluttered open and then saw Xena grimace and wondered if her temperature was something to do with the morning nausea. Quickly she went and grabbed their wash bowl emptying it and then passed it to Xena as she began retching violently. She watched worriedly as the spasms continued and then finally Xena collapsed onto the pillows weakly.

“Sorry love, I don't feel very good, is it just me or is it hot in here?” Xena asked feeling very hot and still very nauseous, that last bout had taken a lot out of her, and it was the third time since Gabrielle had left it had happened. She shivered as a chill went up her spine and knew this wasn't just morning nausea, she 'd gotten some other bug and she had a fever.

“That's okay sweetheart, you've got a fever, is that the first time since I left that you've been sick?” Gabrielle asked worried for her warrior, she looked very weak and extremely pale, but flushed around the cheeks, obviously not well.

“No, it's the third time, Ah” Xena grimaced as she felt a pain in her stomach and looked at Gabrielle worriedly. Silently she concentrated on the pain trying to figure out where it was coming from and then half smiled as she realised it was from whatever this sickness was.

“You okay love?” Gabrielle asked even more worried now that Xena was in pain, and when Xena clutched her stomach from the pain, she grew even more worried. She didn't know if either of them could cope with losing this baby and she was so lost in her worry that she almost missed the little half smile on Xena's face.

“Not really, but this is nothing to do with the baby, I think I have a stomach bug or something and its trying to tear out the walls of my stomach, the good news is these things only last a day or two, so we'll still be okay for our joining” Xena smiled still feeling her guts churning and knew the next day or two were going to be horrible, but she also knew that Gabrielle and the village's healer would take good care of her.

“That's good to hear sweetheart, but I want you to rest until then okay, we need to get your fever down and some food into you, I'll get the cook to make you some broth, I got some herbs for your morning nausea and Eve has gone to get the healer, I'll take good care of you sweetheart” Gabrielle told Xena knowing she didn't need to tell her lover that she would look after her but it made her feel better to say it to her. The fear she'd felt when she'd seen Xena clutch at her stomach in pain had almost been too much for her. She was relieved that Xena knew her body so well to know that this was a stomach bug and not cramps from the pregnancy.

“Mother, Gabrielle, the healer is here” Eve called out after seeing Gabrielle feel Xena's forehead and say she had a fever she'd been out of that room as quickly as possible, not wanting anything to happen to her mother. She felt relief wash over her when she saw her mother sitting up slightly talking to Gabrielle, and knew her mother would be okay.

“Okay so what do we have here?” The healer asked looking at the two women and smiling, Queen Gabrielle was a beautiful woman and the woman lying next to her was even more striking with her dark brown hair and ice blue eyes and they made a very beautiful couple. When she'd heard Xena's daughter Eve come in saying Xena had a fever she'd rushed to grab her stuff and get over there to see to her, she'd heard about the warrior's pregnancy and didn't want anything to jeopardise the baby's and Xena's health.

“It's a stomach bug, one that's making me think twice about eating anything at all” Xena grimaced as more nausea began rising up, and she felt her stomach clench again. She motioned for the bowl again and just made it before the nausea rushed up again leaving her drenched in sweat and exhausted when it passed.

“I see and with the morning nausea my Queen told me about you are probably feeling twice as bad, I'm afraid I can only give you a minimal dose of feverfew because of the pregnancy, but I'm sure it will start going down, you do need to eat, I'm sure our Queen here has already sent word to the cook to make some broth for you, that's all I would give you until your stomach settles a little, the herbs I gave my Queen for your morning nausea should help with that too and rest as much as possible” The healer told them both as she went to feel Xena's forehead and frowned at the hotness of it, she hoped the small amount of feverfew she could give the warrior would help bring it down.

“If the feverfew doesn't work, get some Amazon's to bring in a tub with cold water in it, then get Xena to sit in it for a few minutes just to cool her down, other than that keep her in bed at all times, she should knock this thing over in bout two days or so” The healer told them seeing the relief on their faces and smiled, it was nice to see people care so much about each other and she could tell that they were all very protective of the warrior princess and the precious cargo she was carrying. She decided while she was checking on the warrior she would have a quick feel around to make sure everything felt alright with the baby.

“Do you mind?” The healer asked motioning for Xena to lift her shirt so she could feel around her uterus and check on the baby's progress, she knew at six weeks the most she would feel is a small enlargening of the uterus, it wouldn't be too noticeable. She smiled as Xena nodded her head in agreement, and then began palping Xena's abdomen, frowning as it felt a little more enlarged than usual.

“Something wrong?” Xena asked not missing the frown on the healer's face, she wondered if the healer had the same questions as she did. She knew that she had gained more weight than was usual already in fact she wasn't even sure if she was supposed to have gained weight, and it worried her a little.

“No just you're a little bigger than I expected, it could be because of your muscles, that could be pushing your uterus further out, we'll know more as you get further along” The healer told Xena wanting to reassure her patient, there was no way to tell why Xena's uterus was bigger than normal at this early stage and they wouldn't know much more until she started showing.

“So everything's alright with the baby as far as you can tell?” Gabrielle asked breathing another sigh of relief as the healer nodded her head in answer. She looked at Xena and could see she wasn't too worried about what the healer had told them and knew Xena would know better than her how it felt to be pregnant, even though when they'd found out she was pregnant with Eve she'd been almost two and a half moons along, she knew Xena was very in tune with her body and would more than likely know if something was wrong.

The healer left shortly after that promising to come check up on Xena in two days, with all of them hoping that Xena would be over this stomach bug. She instructed Gabrielle to give Xena about a quarter of the normal dose of feverfew and to come and get her if Xena's temperature felt hotter. Then she told Xena that she was to stay in bed no matter what, and that if she saw her out of that bed she was not too old to be spanked.

The first day was pretty bad, Xena's temperature continued to climb for a while and they were all worried, Xena spent the next few candlemarks passing in and out of sleep as they battled to get her temperature down. The small amount of feverfew she was allowed to have was not helping very much and by the fourth candlemark they realised they were going to have to get her in a cold bath to get that temperature down. By this time Xena was not very conscious of what was going on and was little help in the water. It took Chilapa, Gabrielle, Eve and the healer to get her in the water and she cried out a little as the cold water closed over her, but still didn't wake up and they were all concerned by that.

They continued to try and fight the fever as best as they could considering Xena's pregnancy and all of them were extremely exhausted when Xena's fever finally broke in the early hours of the next morning. Gabrielle looked down at her warrior sleeping peacefully and flopped down next to her, tracing her hand over her sweaty hair and praying this was the last they'd see of the fever. She was so exhausted she didn't see Xena open her eyes and look over at her a tear trailing down her face knowing how much they'd gone through to try and get her feeling better.

The next day Xena was feeling much better except for the morning nausea which was still present but not as bad thanks to the herbs she'd been given while she was out of it with the fever. She looked over at the woman who had stayed with her all day and night yesterday refusing to leave her side even to eat and was filled with warmth at how much her bard loved her. She planned to ask Chilapa to begin the preparations for the ceremony as soon as possible, she didn't want anymore time to go by without them being joined.

“You're awake, how are you feeling sweetheart, still cool?” Gabrielle asked sleepily, even though she'd only been asleep for a few candlemarks she'd sensed Xena awakening and had slowly awakened herself. It was funny they'd been together so long now their bodies sensed when the other was awake, which now meant she normally awakened in the early hours of the morning with Xena now, even though they'd been able to sleep in a little in the last few weeks.

“I feel much better, ready to become consort to the Queen of the Amazon's” Xena told Gabrielle knowing the time was right now and she hoped the preparations wouldn't take too long. She wanted to take it easy for the next few days, being as sick as she'd been had left her a little weak and she wanted to just relax for a few days but if they could get the ceremony underway in the next day or two she would be very happy. She just wanted for them to begin their new life together as soon as possible.

“That's good to hear because while you were out with the fever some of the council members got together and decided that they didn't need you to partake in any of the rituals, they all agreed that it would be too strenuous on you right now, they don't want to risk you miscarrying our child over rituals, so we can get joined tomorrow if you want to sweetheart” Gabrielle told Xena and was surprised by Xena grabbing her in a big hug and kissing her with an intensity she didn't think Xena would have the strength for.

“I'm so happy I can't wait to make you my wife” Xena exclaimed overjoyed by the council's decision, part of her was worried about how the other Amazon's would take this but the biggest part of her was extremely happy and wanting to go out there right now and tell them she wanted them to get it together for that afternoon. All of the weakness she felt from being sick was gone and she was more excited than she'd ever been.

“Whoa there tiger, you need a day to just sleep, you hardly ate yesterday and you were unconscious most of the day and night, you need to recuperate, I was going to tell them to get things organised so we could have the ceremony tomorrow, then we can spend the next few days after that just relaxing, I want you to get your strength back” Gabrielle told Xena laughing at her warrior's exuberance, happy to see something taking Xena's mind of her morning nausea. She knew Xena would be excited when she told her they could get joined tomorrow if they wanted to, but she had no idea she would be this excited.

“Sorry I'm just so happy, I don't know if I can sleep I'm that excited” Xena told Gabrielle wishing she had the power to move time forward so it was already tomorrow. She kissed Gabrielle again and when they finally broke for air both of them were very breathless and quite aroused.

“Gods sweetheart what you do to me with a kiss, hold that thought until after we're joined, as I said you are going to sleep some today and we are going to relax, I'm going to call the guards and get them to bring us some breakfast and you missy are going to do as I say” Gabrielle said as seriously as she could but couldn't hold it as Xena's enthusiasm grabbed a hold of her as well. Trying to stop herself from laughing she called out to one of the guards and instructed her to bring them some breakfast and then brought her attention back to Xena who looked like her earlier energy was beginning to fade.

“Thank you for making me the luckiest woman in the known world” Xena told Gabrielle feeling a wave of tiredness hit her and her mood begin to grow more serious again, she couldn't believe that in just over a day she would be joined with the most beautiful woman in the known world.

“I think we are both lucky sweetheart, lets get some breakfast into you and then get you back to sleep, don't think I can't see your eyes drooping love” Gabrielle admonished smiling at the little scowl that was forming on Xena's face. She was happy to see Xena eat most of her breakfast when they'd brought it in and then she gave Xena some more tea with the herbs for morning nausea, and smiled again as Xena yawned. As soon as they were finished eating, she got Xena to lie against her while she massaged her head and was happy to find her love asleep within a few minutes.

They spent the rest of the day napping and eating, Xena's appetite picked up greatly and there was only one instance of Xena's nausea getting the better of her. Both of them went to bed happy and excited about the coming day. News that their joining was to take place the next day spread through the village very quickly and there were a lot of very happy Amazon's walking around. Eve had come to visit her mother earlier that afternoon and had been happy to see her mother awake and looking a lot better, she'd been thrilled at the news that they would be joined the next day and had agreed to give Gabrielle away to Xena as she was the only person Gabrielle could think of who deserved this right other than Lila and she couldn't be there.

The day of their joining dawned bright and sunny with Xena being up at the crack of dawn wrestling with her morning nausea. She was still bent over what they'd started to call her sick bowl when Gabrielle awoke having missed her partner's body in their bed. She heard Xena groan and knew exactly what was happening and got out of bed to help support her warrior.

“I'm so glad you are doing this next time, I don't know if I could go through this again” Xena told Gabrielle trying to get her stomach settled. She took deep breaths trying to stop another wave of nausea from overcoming her but was unsuccessful and the heaving began again.

“I'll go make you some tea, happy joining day love” Gabrielle smiled even though she was sympathetic to Xena being miserable from the nausea, she couldn't help the joy from coming through her voice as she thought of what was going to happen today.

“Happy joining day to you too sweetheart, I'm just glad they didn't ask us to spend the night away from each other, I couldn't have stood sleeping without you last night” Xena told Gabrielle breathing a sigh of relief as the nausea subsided for the moment. She vowed that even if she had to have a sick bowl right next to her throughout the ceremony she was going through with this, today was the day she joined with her beautiful Gabrielle.

“Me either, I love you and can't wait for this day to be over so that I'll be your wife” Gabrielle told Xena stirring the tea she'd made for Xena and then passed it to her. The herbs helped some, they seemed to hold it off for a few candlemarks but then the nausea would return with a vengeance once they wore off. She watched Xena drink the tea and then went and asked the guards to bring them breakfast again. Once they'd eaten breakfast Chilapa came to see them and informed them that the ceremony was due to begin in two candlemarks.

They both dressed carefully for the ceremony, Xena was happy to see someone had taken care of polishing her armour and it shined like new, even though the leather battledress she wore underneath it was beginning to feel a little snug on her. She was so engrossed in dressing herself she didn't see what Gabrielle had put on and gasped when she got a look at her for the first time.

“You look beautiful sweetheart, are you ready?” Xena asked feeling like all her breath had been taken from her as she looked at Gabrielle dressed in her full Amazon ceremonial dress, the whole ensemble was breathtaking and she couldn't wait to see the other Amazon's reactions to their Queen.

“You look as magnificent as always sweetheart, I'm ready when you are love” Gabrielle told Xena taking in her lover's clothes, they were the ones she'd first seen Xena in and the armour was polished so well it looked like it had never been used, the way Xena was holding herself reminded her of just why she loved this woman and what it was that had drawn her to Xena in the first place.

They met Eve on their way out and both Gabrielle and Xena were proud to see their daughter as a part of their joining ceremony. The three of them walked together to the little podium the Amazon's had built for them to stand on while the joining was performed and there was a seat next to it just in case Xena got dizzy or sick. Xena smiled realising the Amazon's had thought of everything and she felt nothing but joy at the events that were taking place today.

“Amazon's your presence at this special occasion is very much appreciated by these two people who come here to be joined, may I present Queen Gabrielle of the Thracian Amazon's and Xena Warrior Princess of Amphipolis” Chilapa announced to the Amazon's and smiled seeing all of the happy faces standing proudly watching the ceremony. She motioned for Xena to come and stand next to her and then for Eve to bring Gabrielle to Xena.

“Mother I am honoured to bring to you the woman you love and the woman you want to make your wife, I give you Gabrielle” Eve told her mother seeing the tears in her mother's eyes and felt tears welling in her own. She was so happy for both her mother and Gabrielle, they were made for each other and she had always wondered why they'd never done this, they'd had plenty of opportunities to be joined in the past.

“Thank you Eve for bringing my love to me” Xena answered quietly emotion threatening to burst from her as she looked at the woman she intended on spending the rest of her life with, her soulmate. They smiled at each other and then looked up or down in Xena's case at Chilapa waiting for her to begin the ceremony.

“Although Atermis is now no longer a God, we know that your joining would bring honour to her, and we still honour her, as misguided as she was about Eve she was still our patron Goddess and we give thanks to her for our lives and our village” Chilapa told them all wanting her sister's to remember their heritage, Atermis had been their Goddess for centuries and she felt it was right to pay her some respect on this special day.

“Xena tells me you have rings you would like to present to each other, you may go ahead” Chilapa told Xena and Gabrielle smiling as each of them reached in between their breasts for their rings. She looked at them both trying to see which of them was going to go first expecting Gabrielle to, but was shocked when Xena spoke up first.

“Gabrielle you have been there for me since the day we met 33 years ago, you have loved me, protected me, saved my soul and given me a new lease on life, I love you more than words could ever say and it would honour me greatly if you would wear this ring as a symbol of our love and our union” Xena asked Gabrielle taking her hand in hers as Gabrielle nodded her head tears streaming down both their faces. She was pleased that at the moment she was feeling quite good and hoped this would last the whole ceremony. Their tears flowed harder as Xena gently pushed the ring onto Gabrielle's third finger on her left hand and then they both admired the ring, Rowan did a great job with the detail on the rings and they both felt their hearts bond even more strongly together as the ring sat on Gabrielle's finger.

“Xena you did the most beautiful thing you could have ever done, you gave yourself to me, mind, body, spirit and soul, you've taught me so much through the years and I have been lucky to have the best teacher, friend, lover and soulmate, I don't want to ever spend a day without you by my side and it would honour me greatly if you would wear this ring as a symbol of our love and our union, I love you so much sweetheart” Gabrielle told Xena tears still streaming down their faces as Gabrielle gently pushed the ring onto Xena's corresponding finger. Gabrielle looked up at Xena and saw the joy on her love's face and knew that this was the happiest day of her life, Xena was finally hers in every way and she was Xena's, she knew in that moment that their love would never die even if their bodies did and vowed to tell Xena every moment she could how much she loved her.

“As they exchange rings that link them together forever we tie their hands together in the spirit of being joined, they will spend the rest of the night joined together by their hands as their hearts join as one, may Atermis bless your union, you are officially joined” Chilapa smiled as she bound them together and then smiled as they kissed each other passionately the joy radiating off them was almost palpable it was so strong.

“Thank you so much for everything Chilapa, I couldn't think of anyone else I would have wanted more to preside over our joining” Gabrielle told Chilapa feeling so much joy she was almost bursting with it, she looked over at Xena who was staring at their bound hands and smiled, she had always loved this part of the ceremony, it was such a beautiful guesture.

“Ah Gabrielle this means that when I get sick you'll have to come with me are you sure your up to that?” Xena asked quietly feeling the nausea beginning to become a problem, she really didn't want Gabrielle to have to be beside her while she was throwing her guts up and wondered if they would be able to make a concession for that.

“It's okay sweetheart I'll be able to support you more this way, where you go I go my love” Gabrielle whispered back to Xena and then realised they weren't finished with the formalities. She looked at Xena and realised why Xena had been asking about her going with her when she was sick, her love's face was pale again and she could tell that Xena was trying her best to fight the nausea down.

“Amazon's today we also welcome Xena into our tribe, she is now the Royal Consort of Queen Gabrielle's and her Champion, and will soon give birth to our Queen's child, please give Xena the Amazon sign of welcome” Chilapa asked the Amazons not noticing the paleness of Xena's face or that she was beginning to sweat profusely. Xena was trying very hard to get through this without throwing up but could sense that she was fighting a losing battle. She could only hope the ceremony would be over soon and hope the Amazons would not be offended with her rushing back to their hut with Gabrielle, because she was already losing the battle.

“That ends our ceremony today Amazons our cook has prepared a feast for our two newlyweds and for our new sister, let us give them some time alone and then the feast will begin in half a candlemark” Chilapa announced finally having seen the paleness of Xena's face and deciding to change things up a little to give her a chance to go and take care of the nausea. She was about to turn around and congratulate them when they all saw Xena falling to the ground unconscious having fainted from her efforts to keep the nausea at bay.

“Make that at least two candlemarks Chilapa, she'll come around in a minute or two and then I want her to sleep for a little while, this nausea is really getting to her” Gabrielle told Chilapa as she wrapped her arms around her warrior princess hoping she hadn't hit anything on her way down, she'd not noticed Xena beginning to slump to the ground until the last moment and had just barely been able to get her hands underneath her as her warrior had lost her battle with consciousness.

“Of course Gabrielle, I will let  the cook know, hopefully this nausea won't last too long” Chilapa told Gabrielle marvelling at how peaceful and vulnerable Xena looked when she was not conscious. She watched as Gabrielle brought Xena around and then both she and Eve helped Gabrielle get Xena back to their hut. Seconds after falling on the bed Xena was asleep again exhausted with her battle with the nausea and fainting.

When Xena awoke she found Gabrielle lying next to her not asleep but watching her intently, she looked outside to see how long she'd slept and was relieved that it was still daylight. She felt Gabrielle's lips brush against her and claimed them before they could get away. Both of them got lost in the kiss for a little while before pulling apart breathlessly.

“I see someone's feeling better, should we got to the feast and eat?” Gabrielle asked laughing as she saw a glint in Xena's eyes. She knew exactly where her warrior's mind had gone and was pleased to see that the nausea wasn't affecting Xena's libido. She got out of the bed quickly in order to stop her warrior from being able to talk her into what she desperately wanted to do knowing it wouldn't be good for them to miss their feast.

“Hold that thought warrior princess now we eat” Gabrielle giggled at the scowl on Xena's face and then helped Xena out of the bed. They dressed a bit more conservative for the feast, with Xena wearing a blue tunic that matched the colour of her eyes and pants and Gabrielle wearing a light green dress. They walked out of their hut still joined both laughing about how hard it had been to dress while their hands were joined together and were pleasantly surprised to find that everybody was already at the feast and waiting for them.

“To Queen Gabrielle and her Royal Consort Xena!” Chilapa yelled raising her glass to both Xena and Gabrielle as a way of getting the feast underway. She was glad to see that Xena was looking better and smiled as she saw both Gabrielle's and Xena's tongues water at the sight of all the food.

“To you sweetheart and to us, may our love last forever” Xena toasted looking at the woman she loved and feeling so complete, she knew, had always known that their love would last forever, Eli had just been more proof of that. Together they sat and ate celebrating with their Amazon's and Eve and enjoyed what was the first day of the rest of their lives. Both knew the coming months would be wonderful as they awaited the birth of their child and settled in their home. Gabrielle had plans to ask the Amazon's if they would help build them a home between the Amazons and Poetaedia so that she could be close to all of the people she loved.

That night they made love until they were exhausted both of them feeling a powerful need to join their bodies as well as their hearts and they slept contented and full of joy at being finally joined. The coming months would be very rewarding for them both and they both dreamed of living together and raising their child in a comfortable home and waiting for the day when they would become a family.

The end, for now.

This is the first story in a series which will continue the adventures of Xena and Gabrielle in Our Family 

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