Wedding Story

by Paully Adams

Xena, Gabrielle and any other characters featured in the actual TV series are copyrighted to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures; just borrowing for this story. The rest of the story and other characters are mine. Please contact me before using any of my stuff. Thanks.

SERIES DISCLAIMER: This is story 5 of the Beginning Again series. So you have to read the previous stories if you want to understand everything that is going on. This story takes place one moon after story 4-Family Ties.

SPOILERS: None that I can think of.

SUBTEXT: Xena and Gabrielle are in love in my world, but nothing explicit takes place here, except for the teasing.

VIOLENCE WARNING/DISCLAIMER: Not much. But there will be if two certain "chaperons" don't back off.

SAPPY WARNING: I was listening to my Celine Dion CD's when I wrote most of this story. So be forewarned, I was inspired by "The Reason" (Let's Talk About Love), "Because You Loved Me" and "I Want You to Need Me" (All the Way...A Decade of Song). So no bloodshed, no overly violent scenes, no life endangering sagas, etc. Just sappy, mushy love stuff. Do not eat any sugary substance for 24 hrs after reading this.

"We're back," Xena said as she looked over at her petite blond fiancée. "Are you sure we have to be here now? I thought that Lila was planning everything."

Gabrielle shook her head at the sable hair warrior. "She's in charge of the rituals and celebrations. But we have to make sure that everything else is in order." As they came nearer the borders of Amazonia, they stopped their steeds and climbed down. "Besides, you still have to complete your test." The Bard batted her green eyes at Xena, "To prove your love to me."

Xena stood next to the Bard. "I thought I did that last night," she stated as she pulled Gabrielle in for a kiss. "But if I have to prove it again, I have no problem with that."

It was then they heard a bird call. "It's Eponin." Gabrielle returned the call and the pair raised their hands above their heads.

Eponin and six others Amazons climbed out of the trees. Eponin grasped Xena by the forearm. "Welcome back." She then bowed to the Bard. "My Queen."

"Eponin how many times have I told you..."

"I know, I just like to bug you." Eponin smiled at her informal Queen. Unlike Chilapa, Gabrielle paid very little attention to proper protocol while among the Amazons. "It's great to have you two back. Your little sister has been buzzing around, preparing everything." The Weapons Master turned to Xena. "I hope you are ready for the test."

"Do you know what it is?"

"No. But since you're not an Amazon, the test is supposed to be harder. But I wouldn't worry about it, you can handle anything." Eponin then motioned to the six others to continue their patrol and she escorted the couple towards the village. "It looks like everyone is here. Cyrene arrived two days ago with Hercules, Iolaus and Joxer. And Sophia arrived yesterday. With you two here, the celebrations can finally begin."

"Great." Xena stated unenthusiastically. Sitting around, watching everyone dance, drink and compete in skill contests was not her idea of fun. *But it will all be worth it, * Xena thought to herself as she glanced over at her soulmate who was busy inquiring about the various celebrations that would take place.

"So Lila went all out?"

"I'll say. She even found some very ancient text and dug up some old traditions."

Gabrielle looked back at her fiancée. *Don't worry Xena. We don't have to stay at all the parties. We'll just make appearances at most of them, and then leave. *

A grin plastered itself upon the Warrior's face as she listened to Gabrielle's thoughts. *You know me so well. *

*I sure do. *


"Are you ready?" Hercules asked the Guardian.

Sophia took a deep breath and nodded. "I don't know why I'm so nervous. This is good news, right?"

"Right. But if I were you, I would remind Xena and Gabrielle that you are just the messenger."

"Hey, you're going in there too. Remember to tell them how much she has changed."

"I know my part Sophia." Hercules sighed. No matter how much he protested, he always found himself doing things for Zeus. "Let's do this." The two walked up to the Queen's hut and Hercules knocked on the door.

Xena opened the door. "Hey you two. What are you doing here?"

"Can we come in Xena?" Hercules inquired.

"Sure." Xena walked over to the table and watched at they greeted Gabrielle. "So what brings the two of you here?"

Sophia cleared her throat. "Remember that wedding gift I mentioned earlier. Well, we are here to present it to the both of you."

Gabrielle tilted her head. "Who is it from?"

The Guardian muffled her mouth with her hand. "It's from Zeus and Hera."

Xena was about to protest, but Hercules interrupted. "Listen Sophia asked me to be here because no one better knows the evil Hera has caused, but I also know that she has changed. Hera can't alter the past, and she knows she can never make up for it, but she wanted to give you two something that only she and Zeus can give." He glanced over at the Guardian, waiting for her to continue.

"Xena, Gabrielle, Zeus and Hera have decided to bless you with life. When the time is right for you, you guys will have a child. All that is needed is for the both of you to desire it, and it shall be. And remember, you don't have to use this gift."

"But, I would really like to be a godfather someday," Hercules interjected. "Just think about it. Okay?" He looked over at the Guardian and motioned his head towards the door. Sophia nodded and the two left the hut.

Xena looked at Gabrielle, who returned the stare. "A child?"

The Bard slowly nodded as she tried to wrap her mind around the shocking news. "That's what she said. A child. Some present huh?"

"I'll say." Xena stood up and wrapped her arms around the bard. "We can have children."

"Are you telling me you want a bunch of little Warrior Amazon Princesses running around here?"

A big grin appeared on Xena's face. "Once or twice I thought about us adopting a bunch of kids, but with our lifestyle, I never allowed myself to indulge in that fantasy. But now..."

"Hey remember, it's only one child."

"It's a start." Xena wiggled her eyebrows. "So do you want to get started making that baby?"

"Xena, it's a wedding gift. We can't use it until after the wedding."

The Warrior Princess gave a small peck to Gabrielle's lips. "You know what they say. Practice makes perfect."


Xena woke up as the sun's rays permeated through the shutters. She looked at the small package that was wrapped in her arms. She felt ever breath that the Bard took upon her neck. *I definitely can see myself waking up like this every morning for the rest of my life. * She smiled and placed a small peck on Gabrielle's head. Even though she hated the idea of waking the sleeping Bard, Xena knew that they had to get ready to meet with the Council. Today she would find out what test she would have to pass in order to marry her other half.

Xena wrapped her arms tighter around Gabrielle. In her heart, the Warrior Princess knew she would climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest sea, and fight any being in order to prove herself worthy to marry the Queen of the Amazons.

The cobalt-eyed warrior stopped her musings and turned her attention to Gabrielle. "My Bard, it's time to get up." The only response she received was the Bard snuggling closer. "Gabrielle, we have to go to the Council this morning."

Gabrielle slowly opened one eye, and then the second. "Okay, I'm up. When do we have to be there?"

"This morning. Come on, let's get dress and hurry over there."

As soon as they finished dressing, the couple made their way to the Council Hut. Lila was already sitting at the Council Table.

Lila waited until everyone's eyes were focused on her. She nervously swung her leg under the table as she thought about her words and the test. She knew that the test was unusual, but then again Xena was an unusual person.

Lila stood up and cleared her throat before she began. "Xena, you have asked our Queen to be your bondmate. But before we can honor such a request, you must first pass a test. As the Queen's sister and Princess of this Nation, it was my duty to come up with a challenge. For weeks, I've thought about it and I realized that you didn't need a test to prove your love and loyalty towards my sister, the Bard of Poteidaea. The way you have protected her, stood by her side and loved her should be evidence enough that you love her like no other." She smiled at the Warrior Princess. "However, you need to prove her love to Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons. And the perfect way to do that is by showing respect for the traditions of the Nation."

"No problem. Just tell me what I have to do."

"Good. Then you won't mind being separated from Gabrielle until after the wedding."

A surprised look came upon the normally stoic warrior's features. "What?"

"According to ancient customs, the Queen and her intended consort are separated for one month in order for the Queen to be sure that this is the person she wants to marry. Gabrielle on her part, must spend a few hours everyday in the temple, praying and seeking guidance, while you must study, especially since you're a non-Amazon."

"Lila, where exactly did you find this?" Gabrielle asked her sister.

"It's true Gabrielle." Chilapa slowly opened an old scroll. "We checked it out and the tradition is valid, even though we haven't used it for a number of generations."

"And I even went to Artemis to make sure. She thought it was a fine test."

Xena whispered, "She would."

"I know this sounds harsh, but I think it is a fair test." Lila took a step back as she noticed the glares that both Gabrielle and Xena gave her. "Anyhow, the separation is not a full one. You two will have to live in separate huts for the month and will be in the presence of your chaperons for most of the time. Chilapa will be your chaperon Gabrielle and Xena's will be Eponin. However, you can be alone three times a day for 60 candledrips without your chaperons."

"You have to be kidding."

"No Gabrielle I'm not. In fact, the test will begin after this meeting. We will give you some time to say goodbye to each other." Lila and the Council left the hut.

Xena crossed her arms and stared ahead. Never in a million years would she have guessed the nature of this test. "Your family."

"Soon to be yours."

Xena turned and faced the Bard. "It's not too late to elope."

Even though she was tempted, Gabrielle shook her head. "And have Mom, Cyrene, Apollo and Artemis chasing us down for the rest of our lives, I don't think so."

Xena sat and thought about the situation, hoping to find a way out of this. Only when absolutely necessary, had she ever been apart from Gabrielle. The Warrior Princess turned to ask if Gabrielle had any ideas, but the smirk upon the Bard's features caused her to pause. "What's so funny?"

"Just wondering how you are going to survive this test."

"You don't think I can handle this? I have you know that I have tremendous will power. It's you, my dear, who is going to have the trouble."

"You want to bet?"

Xena looked suggestively at her fiancée. "What do you have to offer?"

Gabrielle tilted her head as she thought about it. A bright smile appeared on her face as a wager came to mind. "The loser has to give the winner a full body massage with oil on our wedding night."

"You're on." The Warrior Princess stuck out her hand. As Gabrielle reached out to seal the deal, Xena pulled her in, and planted a long deep kiss. When her sensitive hearing picked up the sound of people entering the hut, she knew that their time was up. She pulled away from the Bard and stared into her eyes. "Just wanted to give you something to remember me by." She looked up at Eponin. "Ready?" The Weapons Master nodded and the two left.

Gabrielle watched as Xena exited the hut, her blood racing through her veins. *That dirty, conniving...* Gabrielle smiled as she realized that Xena had thrown down the gauntlet. *So she wants to play? * Her smile became wicked. *Let the games begin. *


"You did what?" Sophia almost rolled on the ground as she laughed. "Oh Lila my friend, that was a good one."

A wide grin painted the Amazon Princess' features. "I know. I'm so glad we keep the ancient scrolls around."

"Hey, even if I found those scrolls, I wouldn't have been brave enough to try it."

A concerned look covered the Princess' face. "Brave enough? Why do you say that?"

"Because you are willing to put your own neck on the line for this test." Sophia stood by the young woman and placed her hand on the scruff of Lila's neck. "You know, every time one of those two gets frustrated, she's going to remember how you came up with this little test. Have you ever seen Xena when she's frustrated? You should ask Eponin about it. In fact, both Eponin and Chilapa might want to have a word with you after all of this is over with. Within a month, Eponin's arms should be twice as big as they are now. And Chilapa is gong to have one hell of a time trying to keep up with Gabby's plans and schemes. Yep, great job Kiddo. Maybe you should consider taking a leave of absence." Sophia kept walking as she continued to laugh about the test and its victims.

The Princess stopped dead in her tracks as she realized the trouble she might have on her hands. "Hey, is it too late to resign?"


"Good morning." Xena placed a kiss on Gabrielle's cheek before siting down at the Queen's table in the Food Hut.

"Good morning." A week had past since the test began, and the Bard could feel frustration setting in. Ever since the kiss, Gabrielle had thought about her fiancée. Even now, she could feel her lips burning as the memory played in her mind. She looked over at her soulmate. *She looks so calm. So sure about everything. * It was then that Xena gave her a dazzling smile. *Yep, so sure. * Gabrielle knew she had to break the look of contentment on the Warrior's face. But before she could come up with something, Xena interrupted her thoughts.

"So, what's on the table for today?"

"Huh, oh we have to figure out the menu. Mom and Cyrene suggested having a light menu. But Lila is insisting that it should be a feast. What do you think?"

"A feast. Since everyone is probably going to be drinking and dancing, we should have foods that can keep up with everyone. Besides, this is going to be the only marriage for us both. Anything else?"

Gabrielle smiled to herself as a plan came to her. "Just more time for me at the Temple." She pretended to stare off into space.

"That sounds fun," Xena sarcastically commented. When she didn't get a reaction from Gabrielle, Xena looked over at her fiancée. "Hey, Greece to Gabrielle."

"Huh?" Gabrielle returned her attention to the Warrior. "Oh, sorry. Just thinking about something."

"What is it?"

"It's nothing." Gabrielle softly sighed.

Xena knew something was wrong. "Something's bothering you. Did something happen in the Temple?" When Gabrielle didn't answer, the Warrior Princess assumed something did. "Okay Gabrielle, what has you so distracted?"

"Xena, I've been thinking...."


"Xena, I've been thinking about this." Instantly Gabrielle flooded Xena's mind with an image of Xena giving her a full body message.

Xena sat there stunned as the image played in her head. The Warrior focused as she tried to steady her breathing.

Getting the reaction she wanted; Gabrielle grinned, picked up a goblet filled with water and handed to Xena. "Looks like you need a drink." She then patted Xena on the thigh and turned to Chilapa. "Shall we go to the springs?"


She lightly kissed Xena on the cheek. "Thanks for listening."

Xena watched in silence as Gabrielle and Chilapa head off to the hot springs. She finally realized that she was still holding the goblet. After chastising herself for losing control, the Warrior Princess took a huge swallow of water, hoping that the liquid would cool the rising heat in her body. It didn't.

Eponin looked over at her charge. "What's wrong Xena? You don't look so...hey!" Before she knew it, the Warrior Princess grabbed her. After days of living with Xena, the Weapons Master knew exactly where they were headed-- the Training Circle. *Not again.*


"You know, I'm real proud of you my Queen. I thought for sure that you would be planning something by now."

Gabrielle smiled at her friend. "Hey, I'm an Amazon. I respect the traditions."

"Yeah, we'll see what you have to say when another week has past." The Regent stood, grabbed her towel and wrapped it around herself. After climbing out of the waters, she turned to her Queen. "Almost finished?"

"Almost. Be out in a minute." Gabrielle closed her eyes and let the hot waters invade her senses.

The Regent nodded and stepped out the back door to change. She closed the door behind her, not noticing that the front door was opening.

Xena quietly walked into the hut, and saw the Bard in the steaming water with her eyes closed. *Oh this is perfect. * The Warrior silently crept to the edge of the pool and released her towel, letting it drop from her now naked body. "Gabrielle."

Gabrielle opened her eyes, only to quickly turn her head away. "Jeez Xena! What are you trying to do to me?"

A wicked smile danced across Xena's lips. "The same thing you did to me out there." As she looked at her Bard, the Warrior Princess realized that in less than a candledrip, she could be in the pool with Gabrielle. *Will power. I can do this. *

Even though the Bard only saw her for a split second, the image of Xena standing there naked was burned into her memory. Gabrielle took a few deep breaths, trying to get her pulse under control. "Um, Xena? Can you please put your towel back on?" she asked with a squeaky voice.

Another idea came to mind. "Sure Gabrielle." She pulled up towel, wrapped it around her back, but held it open. "I have the towel on."

Gabrielle turned around and her inhaled deeply. It was too late; she couldn't tear her eyes away. "Um I, I thought you said, um, you had, um, towel on." Gabrielle could barely get the statement out of her mouth.

"I do. It's just not closed." Xena could see the desire in Gabrielle's eyes, which only made her own grow. She watched as Gabrielle took a step, and she followed suit. Closer and closer, they came to each other until Xena was sitting on the edge of the pool; Gabrielle mere inches away from her. Without the rest of their bodies touching, their lips met.

Gabrielle moaned as the kiss continued. Finally she pulled away. "Xena," she said, her voice husky with passion, "get into the pool."

Just then the front door opened. Xena quickly closed her towel completely, but it was too late. Eponin eyed the couple. "Xena, Gabrielle? What's going on?" Without waiting for a response, the Weapons Master looked around. "Where's Chilapa?"

Gabrielle knew that they had been caught. "She's changing."

"Chilapa!!!" Eponin watched as the Regent rushed into the hut through the back door.

"Xena, what are you doing here?"

The Warrior Princess shrugged her shoulders. "Taking a bath."

"Really?" The Regent looked at her charge. Gabrielle smiled, but her face became somber as she saw the disappointment in Chilapa's eyes. "Come Gabrielle." Chilapa stood between Xena and the Queen and opened a towel, wrapping Gabrielle in it before escorting her out.

Xena watched as the Bard and Regent left the Springs Hut. She saw Eponin moved towards her. "Don't say a word Eponin. Not now." The Warrior Princess quickly shed her towel and submerged herself into the pool, shutting out the world around her.


Eponin and Chilapa stormed into the Princess' hut and stood in front of the Princess. "Okay Lila, you had your fun. Now put an end to this stupid test." Twenty days had past, and enough was enough for the two chaperons.

Lila looked around the two women. "Where are..."

Chilapa interrupted. "Don't worry. Artemis is keeping an eye on Gabrielle in the Temple."

"And Xena is working out with the trainees at the circle," Eponin added.

For the past five days, Lila had to listen to the complaints of Eponin and Chilapa. She knew that Xena and Gabrielle would be a handful, but she thought the Regent and Weapons Master would be able to handle it. *Who am I kidding? Those two have taken on giants, monsters and gods. No wonder Ep and Chilapa are pulling out their hair. * "What is it this time?"

Eponin sighed. "My whole body hurts. Not with aches. Not with some tenderness. But pain. I can't take another workout, not another horse race, not another anything."

Lila turned to the Regent. "And let me guess: wolves, hawks, badgers..."

Chilapa shook her head. "Woodpeckers."

The Princess had to stop a laugh from escaping. "Woodpeckers?"

Chilapa eyed the Princess. "Yes. Your sister sent woodpeckers to my hut for the last two nights. I haven't gotten any sleep in two days. Today, I dozed off, and when I woke up, Gabrielle was trying to escape. Of course, she claimed she only wanted time alone to think, but I know what she was up to."

Eponin turned to the Regent. "Oh yeah? Well you try racing someone whose only goal is to lose you." Eponin turned her attention back to the Princess. "I can't take any more. You got to do something."

"Like what?"

"Increase their alone time together. Quarter a candlemark 3 times a day," the Regent suggested.

Lila shook her head. "That's too much. How about 120 candledrips?"

Throwing protocol out of the window, Chilapa grabbed Lila. "Are you crazy? Do you know what it's like after they have 60 candledrips together? They get mean. They get a crazed look in their eyes. Just like the one I'm giving you right now." Realizing what she was doing, Chilapa gained her senses and released her grip. "I'm sorry Princess, but you have to do something."

Lila eyed the two Amazons. "And I will." She crossed her arms over her chest, "With the two of you. Have you two listened to yourselves? This is a test, not a prison sentence. No wonder they are trying to lose you two. Now listen, there is only ten days left in this moon. Loosen up."

Eponin shook her head. "This can't get any worst."

It was then a knock came from the door. "Come in."

A Border Guard came inside and bowed to the Princess. "My Princess, I couldn't find the Queen..."

"She's in the Temple. What is it?"

"We found a dagger with a note attached."

Lila took the note and dagger from the guard. After she read the note, she looked up at Eponin. "It just got worst." She handed the note to both women:

My Dearest Gabrielle,

Why are you doing this? You know that only my love is true. Every night you invade my dreams, you torture my soul. You belong with me. We can conquer the world together. In fact, I will conquer it, and hand it over to you, for I don't need it. You are my world, my everything.

Let me prove my love to you. Let me fight Xena to the death. True love will win! If I must die, let me die for you! I rather die fighting for your hand, than live knowing that someone else has you.

Always yours, Draco.

P.S. If you don't agree to this, I'm simply going to have to rescue you from this Amazonian prison by burning it down.

Chilapa crumbled the parchment. "I don't believe this. Who is this idiot?" She turned to the guard. "How many men did you see?"

"The scout said only 15 at the most. Our archers can take them easily."

Lila held up her hand. "Wait. Maybe we should tell Xena & Gabrielle. If they know this guy, maybe they can talk sense into him without bloodshed."

Eponin shook her head. "I'm not sure that is such a good idea. Xena might kill the guy just out of frustration."

"And Draco might find himself becoming animal feed if Gabrielle and her 'friends' go out there."

"That's a chance we are going to take." The Princess turned to the Border Guard. "Please inform the Queen and Xena about this." She returned her attention to the two chaperons, "And you two go with her."


"I'm going to kill him!" Xena pulled out her sword and started to head to the borders. Chilapa & Eponin looked on as Gabrielle ran to stop the Warrior. "Xena, you can't!"

"And why not?!"

"Because it's our fault he is like this. He is under a spell, remember?"

Xena scowled before returning her sword. "Okay, I'll go and talk to him. Calmly. With sensitivity. You're right, it's not his fault." She gave a small smile to the Bard.

"Well then let's go and talk to Draco."

"Wait for us." Chilapa and Eponin headed towards the couple.

"Guys, I think we can handle this ourselves."

Eponin shook her head. "Sorry guys, rules are rules."

Xena sighed. "Only ten days to go," Xena bent down and whispered in the Bard's ear, "and on our wedding night, you...are...mine." She could feel the shiver down Gabrielle's back. "Nice to know I still have an affect on you."

"You always will." Gabrielle smiled at the warrior and the four friends headed toward the border.


Draco's face beamed as he saw the group appearing from the woods. He tossed his braided ponytail from his shoulder as he instructed his soldiers. "Now remember men, don't interfere. I will win Gabrielle's hand fair and square. And then she will marry me." However his confidence and smile started to fade when he saw the grim determination that dressed Xena's face and the fire that danced in her eyes as they group came closer.

Xena stood in front of the group and eyed the brown-skin warrior. "Draco."

"Xena. I see you are ready for battle." He looked around the Warrior Princess to look at the object of his affections. "Hi Gabrielle," he said with lift in his voice and a smile plastered his face.

Before he could say anything else, Xena grabbed the lovesick warlord by the throat. "I'm telling you this once, and only once Draco. I'm highly frustrated with the situation I find myself in. I would like nothing better than to snap your neck like a twig. But Gabrielle wouldn't like that, so I'm giving you one chance: Disappear from here and never come back. Get it through your skull, Gabrielle is marrying me. Now unless you would like to find yourself pining away for her on the other side, I suggest you run, not walk, to the nearest brothel and take out your frustrations there. Got it?"

Draco didn't have enough air in his lungs to speak, so he shook his head up and down. With a crash he hit the ground. He picked himself up and dusted off, straightening his shirt. He motioned for his men to head back into the woods before returning his attention to the Bard. "Gabrielle, if you need a father for your children..."

Xena growled and pulled out her sword. But before she even took a step, Draco and his men ran for it.

Gabrielle crossed her arms. "Xena, I thought you said you would be nice."

"He's alive with all his limbs, isn't he?" Xena turned around and stalked off towards the village with Eponin following close behind.

Gabrielle rolled her eyes to the sky. *Just ten days left. *


"I can't take this no more!"

Sophia shook her head as she watched the Bard lowered her head onto the table. "Come on Gabby. You guys have only a week to go."

"This has been torture. We never have enough time alone. And all we do is talk about the wedding. And those 60 candledrip 'quality moments' stink!" The Bard finally lifted her head. After a moment of silence, the Queen continued. "You know what I miss the most?"

"The sex."

"It's not about sex!" Gabrielle watched as the Guardian cocked an eyebrow. "Okay, it's not only about sex. I miss staring at the stars with her. I miss the conversations. I miss her holding me." She paused before continuing. "I miss holding her. I just miss her."

"I know she feels the same way. So what are you two going to do about it?"

"What can we do? Eponin and Chilapa are with us all day and all night. And you know how Xena feels about PDA's."


"Public Displays of Affection."

"Oh." The Guardian nodded. "Well, first things first, you need to lower your stress level. And I have the perfect solution. You two have let this whole bonding ceremony get between you. Hecuba, Cyrene and I are going to take care of the final details of this wedding. You and Xena have done enough, we can take it from here and that will give you guys more time to be together."

"Great. Just us and our chaperons. Can you take care of Chilapa and Eponin too?"

"Nope. But I have a suggestion. Why don't you and Xena just do some fun things together? No wedding talk, just be together. Do something romantic. Surprise her. Trust me a little romance and no wedding stuff can ease the tension that you are feeling." Sophia wiggled her eyebrows. "Besides, if it is too sappy, Chilapa and Eponin might just bail out, leaving you two alone."

Gabrielle giggled. "Thanks Sophia. Now if you will excise me," the Bard stood up, "I have some planning to do." The Queen quickly walked to her hut to put the suggestions into action.


*Hi Xena. *

Xena rolled over in her bed. *You're not here to torture me again, are you? *

Gabrielle snickered. *No. I don't even care about the bet anymore. *

*Neither do I. *

The Bard wrapped her covers around herself. *I know I haven't been the easiest person to be around, but I want to make it up to you. I want us to go on a picnic tomorrow. Are you game? *

Xena glanced over at Eponin who was sleeping on the other side of the room by the door. *Sounds great, but have you passed it with our keepers? *

*They'll go along with it, especially since I'm bringing a basket for them too. *

*Good idea. *

*Well, I guess I better get to sleep. Love you Xe. *

*Love you too. Goodnight. *

The two women soon fell asleep, and even though they were sleeping in separate huts, their hearts, like always were together.


The sky was blue and clear as the sun shined its ray upon the earth. Xena looked up at the heavens as her head laid upon Gabrielle's thighs. "You know, I could get use to this kind of treatment."

"Another apple?"

Xena nodded and watched as the Bard dipped a slice of the red crisp apple into a jar of honey. She then opened her mouth so that Gabrielle could place it inside. "What have I done to deserve this?" she asked after swallowing the sweet treat.

"Just being you. We've spent far too much time torturing each other and talking wedding plans."

"By the way, don't we have to discu...."

Gabrielle gently placed a hand over the Warrior's mouth. "Our mothers and Sophia are taking care of everything. Sophia thought we needed a break."

"Remind me to thank her when we get back to the village." Xena looked around, but from her position, she couldn't see her targets, and she was far too comfortable to move. "Where are our chaperons?"

"About 75 paces to our left." Gabrielle brushed her hand through her love's hair. "I'm so glad they agreed to have their picnic away from ours."

"And how did you manage that one? You didn't..."

"No I didn't use my powers. I looked over the scroll that contained this test. According to the rules, as long as they can see us, we're fine."

"So what are they doing?"

"They're busy eating."

"Good." The Warrior Princess sat up and looked deeply into the sea-green eyes of her partner. She then leaned in and placed a soft kiss upon the Bard's lips. "Thank you. This was a great idea."

Gabrielle took her right hand and intertwined it with the warrior's. "I'm glad you enjoyed it. We have to do it again."

"Count on it." Xena again took the Bard's lips in a kiss that started out tender but as it continued it became deeper and richer.

Gabrielle finally pulled away and smiled at her love. "What ever happened to the 'No public displays of affection' rule?"

"Right now, the only person I see is you."

"Then see only me." Their lips met yet again, this time only pulling away when their lungs demanded air.

"QUEEN GABRIELLE!" The Regent began running over to the couple. "It's Temple Time!"

Gabrielle shook her head. "Mustn't keep the goddess waiting." She gently caressed Xena's face. "See you later?"

"At dinner." The Warrior Princess watched as Gabrielle ran to meet the Regent and the two disappeared through the woods, heading towards Artemis' Temple. As Xena began cleaning up the area, she could hear Eponin's footsteps. "Eponin," she said with a smile on her face.

"What's that? Oh it's a smile. Haven't seen one of those on your face for a while."

"Ha, Ha. Real funny." She threw the blanket at the Weapons Master and picked up the basket. "Ready to go?"

"Yep. You have some studying to do."


"Xena, what are you doing?" Eponin walked outside into the cool night air and sat on the steps, looking over the warrior's shoulders. In Xena's hands she saw a small knife and a piece of wood. Next to the Warrior was a bowl of oil. "You're whittling?"

Xena brushed the slivers off her thighs. "Yes. It's one of my many skills."

The Weapons Master looked at the slightly oblong object. "So what are you making?"

"None of your business."

"Is it your wedding gift?" According to custom, the couple must give a personal gift to each other on the night before the bonding ceremony. Because the gift is personal, the couple will have time alone to exchange gifts; and that moment will be that last time that they will see each other until the ceremony. Eponin looked away from the object when she saw the hands stop moving. She looked up from the hands and found two not so friendly eyes focused on her. "Sorry."

Xena sighed. "No, I am." She smiled at her friend. "It is a gift for Gabrielle, but not the wedding gift."

"So when is it going to be done?"

"Hopefully by tonight." Xena continued to whittle away for a few more strokes, until she realized that Eponin didn't take the hint. The Warrior quirked her eyebrows at the Weapons Master.

Eponin held up her hands and backed away. "Okay, okay." Eponin opened the door and walked inside. "How long are you going to be?"

Without looking up or pausing in her work, Xena answered, "I don't know. Maybe another couple of candlemarks."

"Well, I'm going to bed."

Xena looked up at her friend. "What, you're going to leave me by myself?"

Eponin smiled. "This test is to prove your loyalty to the Queen and her tribe's traditions, and if you love her half as much as I think you do, you'll respect those traditions. Goodnight." The Weapons Master went inside the hut closing the door behind her.

Xena continued to work on her gift. When she was finally through, the Warrior Princess smiled at her completed project and dropped it into the oil. She lifted the bowl and walked down the stairs. Knowing her inquisitive chaperon, Xena hid the bowl under a bush by the hut. Smiling to herself, Xena climbed the stairs and entered into her hut, to plan the rest of her surprise.


Gabrielle scanned around the food hut, but she couldn't find who she was looking for. "Where's Xena and Eponin?"

Chilapa shrugged her shoulders. "I haven't seen them since this morning. But don't worry. I'm sure that they are around here somewhere."

It was then a young brunette teen ran into the food hut. She looked around once, and then walked towards the Queen's table. "My Queen I have a message for you." After handing the note to Gabrielle, the young woman bowed and left the hut.

Gabrielle opened the folded piece of parchment. "It's from Xena." She began to read it:

If you are persistent and guess correctly you will come across a treasure. Come to the place where we climbed to new heights for the first time.

P.S. Bring two apples

Gabrielle and Chilapa looked at each other. "Gabrielle, are you sure its from Xena?"

"It's her handwriting." As she closed the note, she stood up and grabbed two apples from the table. Gabrielle exited the hut, walking into the hot afternoon air with Chilapa following close behind. "Obviously the place is here in Amazonia."

"And it involves something you did for the first time here."

"That could be a million things: I used a staff for the first time here. And I had my first coronation and first tribal dance here. But Xena wasn't at any of those events."

Chilapa rubbed her chin. "The note said something about great heights. Maybe it has to do with the mountains on our Northern border. Or maybe," a smirk came upon the Regent's face, "maybe it's the place where you two made love for the first time in Amazonia."

Gabrielle grinned and gave her friend an affectionate elbow. "Behave Chilapa." She looked down at the folded note. "But you might have something." She tucked the note under her suede belt and began walking across the village center. "Come on, I think I know the place."


After walking through the woods for a quarter candlemark, the two friends came upon a huge oak tree. In actuality, the oak was actually two trees that had grown together. The limbs were strong, thick and heavy laden with large leaves. The trees' roots spread out over 15 hand spans in any directions.

Chilapa looked up at the tree. "Don't tell me that you two..."

"No Chilapa." After carefully negotiated the roots, Gabrielle placed her foot inside a nook in the joined trunk and began to climb. "This is the first tree I learned to climb as an Amazon." She continued to scale the tree, going up only one-third of the tree.

Chilapa looked on with concern. "Is something wrong?"

"No. This is where I climbed that day."

"Gabrielle, you've only climbed 35 hand spans. The note said great heights."

"Hey, this is great for someone who was afraid of heights." She looked around and found a hole with a note sticking out from it. Carefully she opened the note and read it out loud:

After you eat your fill, come to the crystal mirror and feed the meal.

P.S.-- Bring some bread and cheese.

Chilapa shook her head. "Do they think we work in a kitchen or something?"

Gabrielle grinned. "Just toss me the sack with the apples in it."

The Regent threw the sack into the air and watched as Gabrielle seized it. The Bard slowly bent down and tied the sack to the limb. Once she made sure that the sack was securely tied to the limb, Gabrielle climbed back down.

"So what now, my Queen."

"I guess we wait until after dinner."


Chilapa picked at her fish. "So I guess we're heading for the lake." She watched as Gabrielle nodded. "Maybe they're planning another picnic. After all that's where we had the first one."

"Well, we won't know until we get there. Let's go."

The sun had barely touched the horizon when the two arrived to the lake. Chilapa started to head to the log where they had the picnic, but the Bard grabbed her arm. "Not there." Gabrielle pointed to her right towards a giant boulder and a fallen tree. "That's her favorite fishing spot."

The two friends made their way over to the boulder. After searching, they found a piece of parchment sticking out from the sand.

Gabrielle bent down and opened the parchment as Chilapa looked over her shoulders:

Once Apollo sets and Artemis rises high, start from the beginning's end. There you will find a great treasure, one that you already possess.

Gabrielle looked up at the horizon. "It looks like the sun is about to set."

The Regent pointed to the sky. "And the moon is rising. By the time we get to wherever we're going, it should be high in the sky." She turned her attention to Gabrielle. "Have any ideas?"

Gabrielle placed the sack containing the cheese and bread down next to the boulder. "Beginning's end. I guess its back to the tree." She looked up at the sky. "And if we take the long way around, we should get there just in time, and that way we can stop at the village and pick up some torches."

Chilapa shook her head. "I would have never guessed that Xena had this playful side to her."

Gabrielle grinned. "I remember one time..." she continued to talk as they made their way to the tree.


Chilapa looked up at the statuesque tree. "Well, the end of the tree is way up there."

Gabrielle shook her head. "I know Xena didn't mean up there." She opened the note again and studied it. "Beginning's end. The beginning of a tree is the seed."

"The treasure is underground?"

"No, I don't think so." Gabrielle looked down at the root laden ground. "A tree begins when the seed dies. The trunk grows up on one end..."

"And the roots grow out on the other."

Gabrielle nodded and looked down at the root-laden surface of the ground. "So the treasure must be here on the ground somewhere."

With their torches in hand, the two scoured the ground. After a few moments, Chilapa lifted her torch. "Gabrielle, I think I found it."

The Queen made her way over to her friend. Under an upraised root was a small pouch. Gabrielle handed her torch to the Regent, and began to open the bag. With her back to Chilapa, she pulled out a note and small wooden object.

The wooden heart was the size of Gabrielle's palm and had the curved markings of Xena's armor. Gabrielle smiled as she opened the note:

You've found it. I hope you will never part with my heart.

Love Always,


"So what is it?" Chilapa impatiently asked.

Gabrielle held the heart and note to her chest. "A treasure I will never part with."

"Glad to hear that."

Gabrielle and Chilapa looked up into the tree from where the voice originated. Standing on a limb were both Xena and Eponin. The Warrior Princess smiled at her fiancée, "Because I don't want anyone else to have it."

Eponin bowed slightly. "My Queen, I would invite you up, but there is only room for two... Hey!" Once the Weapons Master regained her balance, she glared at Xena. "Okay, okay. I get the hint. You don't have to shove." Eponin threw down one end of her rope and began to climb down. Once her feet touched the ground, she handed the rope to Gabrielle. "I think someone really wants to see you."

Both the Regent and Weapons Master watched as their Queen skillfully negotiated the rope and made her way to Xena. Eponin then turned her attention to the sack attached to her belt. She pulled out a hunk of bread and an apple.

"So that's what the food was for."

Eponin nodded. "Xena was determined to stay in hiding until tonight. I was starving. Want some?" She moved the bread towards Chilapa's face.

"No thanks."

Eponin pulled the bread back and looked up at her two friends. Gabrielle was smiling brightly, while Xena just grinned and held the Queen's hands. "By the way, since those two haven't been alone all day, I decided to let them have all their quality time now."

"Good idea." Chilapa handed the Weapons Master the torches and took a seat. "This was so cute. I have to remember this."

Eponin nodded. "It's also great blackmail material. Who would believe that she would be so whipped?"

Xena looked down at the Weapons Master. "What did you say?!?"

Eponin sighed as she remembered Xena's hypersensitive hearing. She pointed at Xena. "I said..." *I don't want another sword workout.* She moved her pointer to the Bard. "I said..." *No, a sai or staff workout wouldn't be much better.* "I said, boy am I whipped." She stretched her hands over her hand as she gave an exaggerated yawn. "We've been on the go all day long and I'm tired. That's all."

Xena quirked her eyebrow. "Is that a hint?"

"I just think it's time we turned in. We have a big group of trainees first thing in the morning."

"Be right down." Xena returned her attention to the Bard. "I guess it's time to go." She leaned in and placed a gentle kiss upon Gabrielle's lips. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight. I love you."

"Love you too." Xena was about to kiss her again, when another obnoxious yawn was expressed. "Okay Eponin." She caressed the Bard's face one last time before flipping out of the tree. She looked up one more time and smiled at her love.

Gabrielle waved and watched as Xena and Eponin headed back to the village. Then she made her way down the tree.

Chilapa shook her head at her friend. "With all respect, my Queen, you are indeed whipped."

A big toothy grin came upon the Bard's face as she looked at the wooden heart that was still in her hand. "Yeah, I guess I am." She looked up at her friend and took the remaining torch. "Jealous?"

"You know I am. I just hope one day I'll be half as lucky and happy as you two are." She linked one arm with her friend and held a torch with another. Then, the two women made their way back to their hut for a peaceful night sleep.


At last, they made it to the pre-bonding celebration. Xena looked around at all her friends and family as they sat in the food hut. Hercules, his best friend Iolaus, Joxer, Cyrene, Sophia, Lila, Hecuba, Chilapa and Eponin sat around the table, laughing and eating in merriment, as they took turns telling stories and roasting both her and Gabrielle. "Okay guys. This is funny now, but remember you're all single. Your turns are coming."

Sophia giggled. "My sister is right. We should be nice." The crowd nodded and grew quiet. After five candledrips, Sophia broke the silence. "Okay that's enough. Anyone else has a story?" Everyone laughed.

"I do." Iolaus stood up. I remember the first time I met Gabrielle. She took care of me while Hercules and Xena went to free Prometheus. She even told me a story about soulmates, and how people still look today for the other half of their souls. Now I'm going to skip all the intimate details." He winked at Gabrielle. "After we said our good byes, I asked Hercules if he believed in soulmates. Now, after seeing you two stand together through thick and thin, in good times and in bad, I know that soulmates truly exist."

"Hey, I want to here all those intimate details."

"Sorry Eponin; I don't kiss and tell." He winked again at the Bard, who was turning three shades of red. "Which reminds me of my run-in with Xe..."

"Sit down Iolaus." Xena shook her head and placed her arm around the Bard. "And stop winking at my soon-to-be wife."

Iolaus sat down laughing, only to be replaced by Lila. "If there are no more stories, jokes or intimate details, I think that its time to leave these two alone so that they can exchange their gifts." All the guests walked out of the hut, leaving the two of them alone.

After the group left, Gabrielle turned to her soulmate. She reached under the table and pulled out a small sack, never taking her eyes off of Xena. She opened the sack and slipped her hand into it. "Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I never met you. And I keep coming to the same conclusions." A smile appeared on her face. "It would be far less interesting and challenging." She turned serious as she continued, "But most of all, it would have been empty. You've given me more than I ever dreamed. I can never go back to being on my own. You are my home, and no matter what the future holds, you will always be my world." She slowly pulled her hand from the sack, and removed a small silver locket. On the locket were four strange markings. "Ephiny gave me this when I became Queen. She said that the markings are an ancient Amazon language no longer used. But she did say that the markings mean strength, patience, wisdom, and love: all the things that a Queen needs to rule wisely." She looked up into the cobalt eyes of her partner. "All the things that you have given me." She slipped the locket over Xena's head. " And I pledge to you, Xena, that I will spend the rest of eternity giving those gifts back to you."

Xena took a breath before opening the sack that contained her gift to Gabrielle. She pulled out a folded piece of parchment. "Seems I've been writing a lot lately. But I was afraid I would forget to say something. I'm not sure there are words that can tell you all the things I feel, but hopefully this will do." She handed the note to Gabrielle.

The Bard carefully unfolded the parchment and read silently to herself:

For years, I brought nothing but chaos, destruction and death to all those around me. I had made a deal that caused me to lose my soul. But then I met you. And somehow my soul knew that you were the one.

You came into my life and became my angel. Somehow, you became everything I ever wanted. You came out of my dreams and made them real. With every breath I take, I need you. With every touch, I feel you. With every dream, I sense you. You are the only one who looked deep into my soul and saw all the things I could be. It's because of you that I have a light of my own. It's because of you that I can love. All the good that my life has become, it's all because of you. You are the reason. And I will always strive to fulfill your trust and love in me.

Gabrielle looked up from the note, with tears in her eyes. "It's beautiful."

"That's not all." Xena pulled out Lyceus' silver cross medallion and was about to place it around the Bard's neck when Gabrielle stopped her. "Xena, this belonged to your brother. Are you sure you want to part with it?"

"For a long time, he was the most important thing in my life. Then he died, and I didn't care anymore. But you changed all of that." Xena placed the medallion around Gabrielle's neck. "I want you to have this. I know for a fact that Lyceus would have wanted you to have it also." A bright smile came upon her face. "Besides, if you reject my gift, we can't get married tomorrow."

Gabrielle reached up and held the medallion tightly in her hand. "I love you."

Xena caressed the Bard's cheek, wiping away a stray tear. "And I love you. Never doubt that."

Gabrielle turned her head and kissed Xena's palm. "Never."

A knock came upon the door and the two chaperons came in. "Time to go you two. You need your beauty rest," Chilapa remarked. "You want to look your best."

Gabrielle leaned in and gave the Warrior a light kiss. "Love you," she stated again before heading out of the door with Chilapa.

After watching her soulmate leaving the hut, the Warrior Princess stood up and walked to the front door where the Weapons Master was waiting.

Eponin shook her head. "You two have to be the luckiest people in the world."

"Why you say that?"

Eponin placed her hand on her friend's shoulder. "Because you found each other."

Xena smiled as the two headed out. "I am lucky."

"You both are my friend. You both are."


The drumbeat pounded through the morning air and the rays of the sun warmed the gathered crowd. The Nation, friends and family sat in front of the dais, waiting for the couple to make their way to the dais.

Xena stood inside the hut and turned around so that her two friends could see her. "So, how do I look?"

Both Eponin and Sophia eyed the Warrior Princess. In her new dark brown leathers, she was a sight to behold. Her floor length black cape hung low from her shoulders. Her old brass armor had been replaced with new armor which was the same color, but the scroll design was patterned after the Queen's seal. The top portion of her long raven hair was pulled back into a ponytail, while the bottom was loose and her bangs barely touched the top of her eyebrows. To top off the look, Xena wore Gabrielle's locket and Sophia's pendant on the same chain. "Not bad sis."

Eponin nodded. "You definitely look worthy for the Queen's hand. And speaking of the Queen," Eponin walked to the door, "I better see that her group is ready. "

Xena turned her attention to her half-sister. Dressed in her own black and red leathers and silk cape, she was dressed to kill. "Are you ready Sophia?"

"Just about." Sophia grabbed her silver heart shaped Guardian charm and placed it around her neck. "Now, I'm ready." The Guardian walked over to the door and opened it. With a swing of her arm, she invited Xena to walk through the door. "After you."

Xena listened to the pounding of the drums which reflected the beating of her own heart as she walked through the door. She knew that all eyes would be on them. Xena took a deep breath.

"Nervous?" Sophia asked.

"A little."

A smirk came upon Sophia's face as she arched her eyebrow. "You know, its not too late to run for it."

A playful smile appeared on Xena's features. "I don't think so." She intently stared at her friend. "Listen, I want to..."

Sophia held up her hand. "I'm truly happy for the both of you. And it's my privilege to stand by your side." The Guardian reached out and clasped Xena's shoulders. "You are my sister, and more importantly my friend. There is nothing I wouldn't do for you. I'll always be there when you need me."

In a rare display of emotion, Xena pulled her younger sibling into a fierce hug. After pulling back, she said, "Well, I guess its time."

Sophia nodded. "I guess so." The two walked out the door, Xena in front with Sophia following behind. They walked down the aisle and stood by the steps of the dais where Lila was waiting.

Lila's hand rose and the drum instantly stopped. She turned to the Warrior Princess and smiled before returning her attention to the group. "Is there anyone in the Nation who feels that Xena is unworthy to be bonded with our Queen?" When no one stood or objected, the Princess walked up the steps and lifted her arm. "Then let the Queen come."

The drums began their rhythm again. Gabrielle took a deep breath and smiled at her family. "I guess it's time." Apollo, Artemis, Hecuba and Chilapa smiled and nodded.

The Sun God hugged his daughter. "It sure is." He turned to Hecuba. "Are you ready?" After she nodded, he turned back to Gabrielle. "We'll see you up there." The two proud parents gave the Bard one last hug before Apollo's orb of white light engulfed them.

Chilapa opened the door. "My Queen, your consort is waiting." The Regent watched and then followed as Gabrielle and Artemis headed towards the dais.

Xena's face lit up as soon as Gabrielle came into view. In her velvety brown Queen's outfit, the Bard was almost too beautiful to comprehend, as Lyceus' pendant sparkled in the Sun's rays. Gabrielle, for her part, only had eyes for her love, as she walked down the aisle. Both of them were beaming by the time Gabrielle stood by Xena's side. Xena gently took her soulmate's hand as they both turned to face Lila.

Lila smiled at the both of them before she continued. "Queen Gabrielle, is Xena of Amphipolis your intended?"

Gabrielle glanced at the Warrior Princess with a smile upon her face before returning her attention to Lila. "Yes, she is."

Lila then turned her attention to Eponin. "Weapons Master, did she pass the test?"

Eponin stifled a small giggle before answering. "Yes, she did."

Lila gazed over to Artemis and bowed. "My Goddess, do you approve of your chosen one's selection?"

All eyes focused on the Moon Goddess as she remained silent. Then she winked at the nervous couple. "Yes, I do approve."

Lila let out a breath and returned her attention to the couple. "Queen Gabrielle and Xena of Amphipolis, please come forward." Lila watched as the two made their way up the stairs and stood in front of her. "Gabrielle & Xena, today you will be bonded to each other. You two have stood by each other trial after trial and have made it through by relying, trusting, and loving each other, through good times and bad."

Lila focused her gaze upon the Warrior Princess. "The tribe, Artemis, and our Queen have spoken. You have passed the test, meeting the approval of the Tribe. Even though you are an outsider, you have an Amazon's heart and spirit. Time and time again you have given us your friendship and sword in times of trouble. We are proud to have you as part of our family."

Lila lifted three brass chain bracelets, one of which was much longer than the other two. "It's the tradition of our Tribe that the Queen and her consort wear these tokens as a symbol of their love and commitment. Each time a Queen choose her life-bondmate, a new link is added to the tribal emblem and each couple receives their own personal emblems." Lila handed one band to each of them and watched as the couple exchanged the tokens. Then the princess wrapped the larger bracelet around their wrists, binding them together. "May the strength, love and wisdom of the past guide you in the present and for years to come."

The roar exploded from the Nation, family and friends, congratulating the couple. The drums pounded out a hypnotic beat and dancers began twisting and turning, announcing the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the celebration. But the two newlyweds ignored the celebration, only having eyes for each other.

"Well, we finally made it." Xena reached up brushed the bangs from her wife's face.

"Yes, we did." Gabrielle leaned in and gently kissed her consort. "We certainly did."

"Um, excuse me," Lila interrupted, "but you are staying for the three day celebration, aren't you?" She watched as both the Amazon Queen and Warrior Princess looked at her as if she was crazy. "Come on guys, I put in a lot of work here. Stay at the celebration for at least two days." The couple continued to eye the Princess. "One?" Lila's eyes pleaded with her sister to have mercy on her.

Xena knew that the puppy dog eyes would win, so she stepped in and took matters into her own hands. "Fine. You have until sunset. After that, you nor anyone else better disturb us, got it?"

"Got it." Lila smiled and ran off, knowing that she had gained a small victory.

Gabrielle smiled at Xena. "Getting soft, huh?"

"Just wanted a good start with my in-laws." She touched foreheads with the Bard. "Besides, once the sun sets, we will be alone for as long as we want."

"Sounds nice."

Xena smiled wickedly and quirked her eyebrow. "Do you think you could talk Apollo into setting the sun just a bit earlier than usual?"

"I don't see why not." She continued to speak, punctuating each phrase with a light kiss to the Warrior Princess' lips. "But you better be ready... because"

Xena gently caressed the Bard's face. "I wouldn't have it any other way."


Written and ©Copyrighted by: Paully Adams

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