The Return of Unity
They walked hand in hand around the stalls in the market place, both of them elated at their news and eagerly wanting to share it with all the people they loved. Xena spared a thought for her mother, saddened that she would never know this grandchild, and that she had lost so much time with her mother. She couldn't bear to think of the suffering her mother had gone through at her death and wished there was some way she could let her mum know that she loved her and missed her terribly.
"You okay sweetheart?" Gabrielle asked concerned for her partner who had tears in eyes and such a sadness displaying on her face. She took Xena into a hug, not caring who saw and what they thought, it was very rare for her love to show her emotions in public and all she could think about was getting Xena somewhere where they could talk about what was going on in that head of Xena's.
"I was thinking about Mum, she would be so pleased about this baby, she always wanted lots of grandchildren, it hurt her a lot to never know Solan and I know it would have hurt just as much for her to know I'd not gotten the chance to raise Eve, she was so afraid something would happen to make me lose Eve" Xena told Gabrielle struggling to control her emotions. Her mother was a beautiful person and she had always wished she took after her mother more. Maybe this time she would have the chance to be a mother, to really be a mother to their child and she knew it would cause her great pain to lose this child.
"She knows sweetheart, just think about the baby and her and she will know that she is going to be a grandmother again I know she would have been happy for us, and we haven't lost Eve, she is still here and I know Eve loves you she just needs to do other things, things she was meant to do" Gabrielle told Xena knowing it hurt Xena more than she admitted to be away from her daughter. It may surprise other people to know just how much Xena had wanted to be a good mother to Eve and how much she felt like she'd failed when they'd lost her. It had been a very worrying time for Gabrielle not knowing how to comfort the woman she loved and make her realise just how much this wasn't her fault and that her daughter was alive and she could still be a mother to Eve. She had seen more emotion from her warrior princess during that time than ever, even during her pregnancy Xena hadn't been that emotional and it had been a little hard for Gabrielle to deal with, she knew Xena wasn't infallible but she had gotten used to the warrior being able to cope with her emotions and being her strength and support and it wasn't very often that she got to give that back to her warrior princess.
"Mum?" Eve called as she walked up on her mother and Gabrielle in a pretty intense conversation, when she had heard of her mother's death she had headed instantly for Poetaedia knowing Gabrielle would go there to be with her family and she was very shocked to find out her mother was indeed alive unless she was seeing a ghost.
"Eve, what are you doing here? Oh come here sweetheart and give your mother a hug" Xena cried out overjoyed to see her daughter and wondered how it was she had turned up just at the right time. Her daughter was as beautiful as ever and she was happy to get a very heartfelt hug from Eve. She looked over at Gabrielle and saw happiness on her love's face and let the tears she had been holding back out. It felt so good to hold her daughter in her arms, she had missed her terribly and wondered if Eve had gotten their message.
"I was so afraid I'd been told you were dead, I came to see if I could help Gabrielle with her grief and here you are standing in front of me, how did you survive I heard about what they did to you" Eve asked astounded by the fact that her mother was holding her. On her way to Poetaedia she had resigned herself to the fact that she would never see her mother again and that she would have to be strong for Gabrielle. Truthfully she didn't know if Gabrielle could live without Xena and she wondered if that was why her mother was standing in front of her. She felt real, she didn't feel like a ghost, although never having felt a ghost before she really didn't know.
"I'm not dead well at least not now, its a very long story sweetheart and we have so much to talk about, Gabrielle and I were just going to get some lunch do you want to join us?" Xena asked her daughter still overjoyed at her presence but not happy with the tale she was going to have to tell Eve. It was one that although it had a happy ending had some very hard lessons in it and it was a painful story to tell.
"That sounds wonderful, I've been on the trail for weeks ever since
I heard, I was so sad mother, we had barely gotten to know each other again
and then I thought I'd lost you" Eve said quietly tears running down
her cheeks, tears of sadness and relief. She never wanted to know what it was
like to lose her mother and had been blaming herself for going off and doing
Eli's bidding after she'd found out. She'd felt like she'd given up her chance
to really know her mother and now that she had her back she knew Eli would
understand her wanting to spend some time with her mother getting to know the
woman that had given her life and had loved her so much that she had defied
the Gods for her.
"Why don't we head back to Lila's have lunch there, so Eve can rest and you should too sweetheart" Gabrielle told Xena forgetting that Eve didn't know about the baby and mentally slapped her forehead when she realised what she had said. She didn't know if Xena wanted to tell Eve straight away. The look on Eve's face when she had seen her mum had left little doubt in Gabrielle's mind that the girl loved her mother. She had looked so shocked like she was looking at a ghost and then those tears as Xena had held her had almost got her crying herself. Eve was just what Xena needed right now.
"That sounds good, then you can tell me all about what happened in Japa and why my mother needs to be resting in the middle of the day" Eve told them not missing the shocked looks on their faces and laughed knowing instinctively that everything was going to be okay and they had more than just a tale of Xena's death and resurrection from death to tell her.
Lunch went pretty quickly and Eve decided to let her mother off the hook for a while especially when she just how tired her mum looked. It was worrying her a little and wondered if the tiredness was being caused by her recent brush with death. She was more than curious at how her mother had survived such a death, she'd heard horrific stories of arrows and her mother being beheaded and looking at her now she was glad those stories had turned out not to be true. She watched as Gabrielle tenderly stroked Xena's arm as she tried to coax Xena into a nap and smiled knowing her Mum was being well taken care of. Not that she ever doubted that, she'd known from the first time she'd laid eyes on Gabrielle even as evil as she was then how good Gabrielle's soul was and how much she loved Xena. She loved Xena enough to sacrifice her life to save Xena from doing something she knew Xena would never forgive herself for. Killing me, I can't believe I ever believed Ares, my mother knew what she had to do, that she had to stop me before I killed more people and yet her love for me made it impossible for her to kill me Eve thought extremely glad to have Xena for her mother and wished she could forget all the terrible things she had done before her mother had come to rescue her. She remembered the anguish on Xena's face as she stood over with the dagger in her hand poised to kill her daughter and had been surprised by her mother's decision not to kill her.
"Gabrielle has decided we need to have a nap, Eve you should get some rest too, we are going to have dinner in the tavern, we have something to celebrate" Xena said unshed tears shining in her eyes as she took Gabrielle's hand and kissed it, allowing herself to be led to their room and gently laid down on the bed. She felt Gabrielle move on top of her and felt her lips being captured by her beautiful bard and returned the kiss with passion. She was tired but sleep was the furthest thing from her mind at that moment.
"I thought we were going to nap?" Xena asked amusedly as Gabrielle fiddled with her leathers gently removing them and then gasped as her bards lips found a particularly sensitive spot. It was getting easier for her to let Gabrielle have her way with her and just surrender to the pleasure Gabrielle caused with her lips, her tongue and those very talented hands. A moan escaped her lips as those said fingers found their way to her breasts and she was soon lost in a sensual haze that her bard was creating. She made no effort to fight for control, and just rode the waves of sensual ecstasy her bard was lavishing on her. She cried out Gabrielle's name as her climax came leading her to the stars and beyond and then lay back spent completely and felt Gabrielle's arms tighten around her. Her last conscious thought was that she would return the favour when she woke up and then sleep claimed her and she was taken to the world of dreams where she dreamt of their child and her beautiful soul mate.
They awoke slightly before dusk and sheepishly walked out of their room and were happy to find that Lila and Eve were nowhere to be seen. Gabrielle looked over at her love and smiled at the radiant smile on her face and wondered what was causing that smile. Then she looked in the direction that Xena was looking and saw Lila and Eve running around outside chasing each other around with buckets of water.
"What are you too brats up to?" Gabrielle asked as they walked outside hand in hand watching the other two's antics. She was pleased to see Lila give Eve a run for her money considering that Lila was at least 25 years older than Eve.
"Well we had to do something to keep ourselves occupied while you too er slept" Lila laughed at the look on Gabrielle's face and they all burst out laughing even Xena. It was another half a candlemark before they decided to go inside and get ready for dinner and by that time they had laughed their hearts out, watching Eve chase Lila dunking her with bucket after bucket of water. Both Lila and Eve looked like drowned rats when they finally went inside and got ready for dinner. They walked casually to the tavern, Gabrielle and Xena holding hands and smiling at the news they were going to reveal to the two people they loved most in the world. They walked into the tavern taking a seat at the back like Xena seemed to always like. It had taken years for Gabrielle to figure out that Xena like to sit where she could see everything going on in the tavern and it had amazed her just how important their rather her safety was to Xena.
"What can I get you all" the tavern keep asked looking at the people that had just sat down in his tavern, he knew the older one as Herodotus' daughter and the blonde looked suspiciously like his older daughter Gabrielle. The other two looked very alike and he figured them for sisters, they both had the same crystal blue eyes although the older of the two's were like ice when he looked at them.
"What are your specials?" Gabrielle asked looking at Xena watching her take in the crowd and the tavern keep and smiled knowing her warrior was taking notice of anyone who might give them problems. She looked at the tunic Xena was wearing a blue shirt the same colour as he eyes and smiled thinking of how beautiful Xena looked out of her leathers. She still had the air of being someone you don't want to mess with and her height was a definite advantage, but it was the closest to looking normal Xena ever got and she loved the way the tunic brought out the colour of her love's eyes. She listened as the tavern keep told them the specials and then she chose something she knew Xena would approve of and ordered a large serving for them both. Then she ordered an apple cider for them both. She knew Xena's standard drink order was a port but knew her love would never drink alcohol while pregnant and she got a smile from Xena when their drinks arrived.
"Well are you going to keep us in suspense for ever?" Lila asked impatiently, the non alcoholic drinks hadn't gone unnoticed and she was pretty sure they were going to tell her she was going to be an Aunty but the suspense was killing her. She was so excited for them and knew that this was just what they needed right now. She watched them smile lovingly at each other and then link their hands together and she didn't need them to tell her, their happiness was enough for her to see that Xena was indeed pregnant.
"Eve this might seem a little surprising for you, but your mum is going to have a baby" Gabrielle told Eve seeing the confused look on the woman she thought of as her own daughter and hoped Eve would be happy about this, they hadn't really considered how Eve would feel about this when she found out and now she was wondering if they should have talked with their daughter and asked her what she thought about all this.
"I didn't know you had decided to have a baby mother, this isn't Eli's doing again is it?" Eve asked confused, she knew her mother and Gabrielle would one day want to have children, she hadn't expected that day to come so soon or for her mother to be the one having the baby. She felt a little put out and wondered if her mother was doing this because of all she'd lost with her, and she was feeling a little jealous of this baby that was going to get to have her mother all of its life. She knew that was a selfish thought but this was a lot to take in.
"In a way, he gave us the ability to have each other's child, the baby I'm carrying is Gabrielle's, I know we should have discussed this with you, but I want you to know we aren't doing this because of you, when Eli told us we could do this, the thought crossed my mind that I would be able to be a mother fully to this baby, but sweetheart you are my daughter, no matter the time we lost and I want you to be as much a part of our lives as this baby is" Xena told her daughter not knowing how to take her daughter's reaction to their news, she wanted her daughter to be as overjoyed as she was but she wasn't sure Eve was. She knew her daughter loved her but this was a difficult situation especially given what they had been through, she knew jealousy could crop up, because this child would have her through its childhood.
"I am happy for you mother and you Gabrielle, it will just take some time to get used to, how far along are you?" Eve asked seeing in her mother's eyes just how much she needed her to accept this situation and be happy for them, and truthfully she was, she was just sad that they'd lost so much because of Ares and because of Eli's god's plans for her. A part of her knew that for her to fulfill the prophecy of the twilight the 25 yrs separation from her mother had been necessary, it had been necessary for her mother to put her trust fully in this God.
"About a moon, Eve you are so very important to us sweetheart, it breaks my heart every time I think of all the time we lost because of Ares and the God of love" Xena told her daughter tears in her eyes as she thought of how she had wanted to raise Eve from birth and be the mother to her that she'd been unable to be to Solan, the tears she had been holding back spilled over as she thought of her beautiful boy and all she'd lost with both her children. She wasn't sure she would survive the loss of another child. She felt Gabrielle's arms encircle her and allowed herself to be pulled into a hug, needing the comfort of her partner to keep her emotions from completely taking over. When she finally felt like she could continue their conversations without the emotions threatening to overwhelm her, she turned to her daughter and took her hand hoping she knew how much she loved her.
" I love you mother, and I know you and Gabrielle will be great parents, this just reminds me of how much we lost, but I am very happy to be able to have a new baby brother or sister" Eve told her mother not wanting to see her mother cry any more. Seeing her usually strong mother cry was always a strange experience for her.
"Thank you sweetheart you don't know how much that means to both of us, now that you are hear do you think you could stay for a while, Gabrielle and I are going to the Amazons soon for a joining ceremony and I would love for you to be a part of it" Xena told her daughter her spirits lifting at the smile on her daughter's face.
"I'd love to be a part of it Mum, so where are you two going to live until the baby is born?" Eve asked not knowing if they had thought of that, feeling pretty confident her mother would not be okay with eight or nine moons in Poetaedia. She had a feeling her mother had a plan but wasn't sure if Gabrielle was going to like it.
"I thought we would stay here for a few weeks, give Gabrielle a chance to spend time with her family and then we would stay with the Amazons till the baby was born and then I wanted to build a cottage in between here and the Amazons" Xena told Eve realising that she had yet to divulge that information to Gabrielle as yet and cringed in expectation of an outburst from Gabrielle for making there plans for them.
"That sounds great sweetheart, although I will be keeping an eye on those Amazons, they need to know that you are mine and that I don't share" Gabrielle told her love knowing she wouldn't mind the slightly possessive streak she had when it came to the Amazons. She hated the way they fawned over Xena and it had actually been the way she'd discovered she was in love with Xena. She'd had to keep herself from beating them up every time they got too close to Xena or brushed her arm, and knowing that Xena didn't mind her being possessive of her had come as a bit of a shock. Gabrielle had been sure Xena would be annoyed by her getting jealous of the Amazons but Xena had just shaken her head and told her she loved everything about her even her possessive streak.
"I should have talked about this with you I know, I just thought well the Amazons would be happy to have their Queen with them for a while and if I'm going to become an Amazon we should live closer to them" Xena told her love smiling at the look of acceptance on her lover's face. She felt so lucky to have such a beautiful person love her and she no longer questioned why she deserved this, she just accepted that she did and vowed to love Gabrielle as well as she could until the day she died.
"You are going to become an Amazon?" Lila asked once again astounded by the love such an act came from. If you had told her 30 yrs ago that this warrior would become an Amazon just to be able to marry her sister she would have told you that you couldn't be serious. There was so much more to this warrior princess than her legendary fighting abilities.
"I would do anything for the love of my beautiful bard" Xena said softly kissing her bards lips and reveling in the sweetness of those lips. The words she spoke were true, she would do anything for Gabrielle, she would die for her, and she would most certainly surrender to her. Yep I am one hell of a sappy woman who would have thought the mighty warrior princess would be telling someone that they would do anything for love Xena thought happily accepting the fact that she was changing and becoming a more romantic person. All she wanted to do was make Gabrielle happy and as they walked out of the tavern she looked over at the radiant happiness beaming of Gabrielle's face and realised she did make Gabrielle happy, just as happy as Gabrielle made her.
That night as they slept they both dreamed of their wedding and their future. Gabrielle held Xena as she slept, her hand resting on Xena's abdomen both of them still unable to believe they were going to have a baby. They slept peacefully both of them realising they were in for an interesting few months as they prepared for the biggest day of their life, the day they gave themselves to each other.
Continued in Part 7Return to the Academy