Disclaimers: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle and a couple of others belong to whoever owns them now. No infringement on their rights is intended.
This story would easily pass for a prime-time episode, assuming that TPTB grew some stones and told a story that involved a same-sex marriage.
Teaser: In an ‘alt' Xenaverse… well, for all we know, maybe they actually did this! Anyway, Xena proposed to Gabrielle somewhere around the end of season 2 or maybe season 3. This is the story of the ensuing ceremony.
Tooth decay warning: This little story is an unashamed mush-fest. A thorough tooth cleaning is recommended after reading.
Xena shuffled her feet and twitched her tunic straight – again.
She couldn't believe herself. She had faced warlords, kings, emperors of empires and even gods, but here she was, shaking in her boots and unable to calm herself.
She snickered quietly to herself as she considered the cause of her present predicament. The most fearsome event she had ever faced. An encounter with the scariest individual she could imagine.
But the most ironical thing about it, so ironical that she almost laughed out loud when she realised it, was that she actually had nothing to fear. She knew that Gabrielle loved her more than anyone or anything else in the known world – a fact that still baffled her to some extent, she had to admit. She also knew from somewhere bone-deep within herself, that when Gabrielle had said ‘Yes' to her proposal of marriage without the slightest hesitation or doubt, that their commitment to each other was already total and absolute.
Didn't stop her knees feeling slightly unsteady, though. Nor her stomach from performing flips every few minutes.
Xena looked around the temple, at the friends and family that had gathered to share this special time with them both. She caught the eye of a few and returned a crooked smile when they smiled at her. Others were trading anecdotes with each other, many of which obviously referred to the Warrior Princess, judging by the way that occasional glances in her direction would be followed by smirks and chuckles as the banter resumed.
Xena sighed but found herself surprised that none of this really bothered her at all. They could all say what they liked about her today, because today she would be the winner whatever anyone said. She smiled to herself in self-satisfied contentment.
The chords from a lyre struck up and the gentle buzz from the congregation quietened down. Xena's stomach performed a series of tumbles, leaps and backflips that she, herself, would have been proud of as her gaze fell to the other end of the temple.
Gabrielle stepped forward into the aisle formed through the middle of the people who all turned expectantly to watch her approach her warrior. Wearing a pristine set of white, Amazon ceremonial leathers, her face was radiant with a smile that could hardly have been broader. She glanced left and right at all of the faces smiling back at her but her gaze was soon captured by the adoring expression on Xena's face at the far end of the aisle. She felt her heart leap in her chest as she realised that, at last, her most private fantasy was actually coming true.
Slowly, savouring every step and every moment, Gabrielle walked down the aisle, her eyes never wavering from those of her waiting betrothed. As she reached Xena, she held out her hand to find it immediately swallowed up in a warm, firm grasp.
Xena swallowed the lump that had taken residence in her throat the moment she had first spied Gabrielle at the other end of the temple. “Hi!” Anything more creative that she might have said was simply lost in the haze as she gazed into the green eyes smiling up at her.
A deep voice in front of them cleared its throat. “I think that we can begin now.”
Xena whirled around, instantly recognising the voice. “Ares! What… are you doing here?”
Ares stared back at her indulgently. “Hey, someone needs to do this,” he said, shrugging.
Xena frowned back, wondering why she didn't know that The God of War was going to officiate at her wedding. She looked over at Gabrielle who simply didn't seem to be concerned about this turn of events at all. “Okaaaay…” she said quietly, not wishing to do anything to spoil the moment.
Ares cleared his throat again and spoke up. “Before we begin, I must ask the people assembled here… is there any lawful reason why these two, Xena and Gabrielle, should not be joined in matrimony?”
Feeling slightly unsettled, Xena looked round towards the congregation, at the faces staring back at her. There was her mother with Toris alongside her. That seemed a little odd since, as far as she knew, no one had had any contact with Toris for several summers. On the other side of the aisle, Lila, Herodotus and Hecuba were smiling broadly at her with an expression that Xena could only describe as pride on their faces. That worried Xena!
“I object!” A voice from the back of the temple rang out clearly. “They cannot be married.”
A rumble of voices rippled through the congregation. Xena peered into the crowd trying, but failing, to pick out the owner of the voice.
Ares responded. “Who makes such a claim and for what reason?”
A man near the back stood up. “They cannot be married because Gabrielle is already married to me, Perdicus.”
As one voice the congregation gasped. Xena's jaw dropped as she stared in disbelief at Perdicus.
“Is this true?” demanded Ares, turning to Gabrielle.
Xena also turned to look, wide eyed, at her partner.
Gabrielle's shoulders drooped and her eyes dropped to look at the floor. “Yes,” she whispered, “it's true.”
Xena felt strangely disconnected from reality as her gaze switched between Gabrielle, Perdicus and Ares. It all felt wrong but, at the same time, she couldn't put her finger on what, exactly, was wrong.
The feel of Gabrielle's gentle hand on her forearm brought her focus back to her now ex-betrothed. “Xena, I'm sorry about this,” she said, looking up again. “But, don't worry; I have arranged an alternate for you, as is my responsibility under Aphrodite's ‘Law of Unrequited Love'.”
Xena frowned. “What?” she said, puzzled.
“Oh, yes, warrior-babe.” Xena turned to find Aphrodite standing beside her brother. “Unrequited love is a real bummer. Your Gabby has been very conscientious in making sure you have another boob-elicious babe to take her place and keep you warm.”
Xena felt the situation spiralling out of control. “But I don't want anyone else.”
“Now, now, Xena. Don't be a spoilsport and ruin Gabrielle's special day. She has chosen someone very special for you and, besides, you don't really have a choice in this situation.”
Xena wanted to protest that she damn well did have a choice but the prospect of hurting Gabrielle made her hold her tongue.
Gabrielle turned and held out her hand to a figure in the front row of the congregation. That person stood and moved slowly to Gabrielle's side. The mysterious figure was wearing a full, white gown with a veil over her face but she was quite clearly female.
“Here we are, Xena. Meet the person that you are going to spend the rest of your life with.” Gabrielle reached up to flip back the veil, revealing the face of Xena's new betrothed.
Xena couldn't remember the last time she had screamed in the manner that she did when Callisto's face was exposed. Nor could she remember the last time she had awoken in such a heavy, cold sweat.
“By the gods!” Xena groaned, rubbing her face with her hands as the echoes of the very real emotions she had felt in her dream continued to ripple through her body. “If it wasn't a moot point, I am never going to get married again,” she mumbled to herself.
She looked around the small hut that she had been assigned to within the Amazon village, feeling disgruntled, not for the first time, that Amazon tradition had required that she and Gabrielle spend the last night before their ceremony apart. She realised that it was barely a candlemark until dawn so she got out of bed and went outside to find something to occupy herself with.
- - -
The temple didn't look anything like the one from her dream, a fact that Xena felt eternally thankful for. Currently she was standing at the front, near the altar with a small honour guard of Amazon warriors nearby, including Solari who was standing alongside her. She had felt surprisingly honoured when Solari had volunteered to stand with her at the ceremony, even though she knew that, like most of the Amazons, Solari had a major soft spot for her queen.
Drumbeats started outside the temple and Xena took a deep breath.
“Easy, big guy. It'll all be fine.” Solari whispered quietly to her companion.
Xena turned to Solari and smiled. “I know.” She nodded and Solari placed a firm hand on her shoulder.
Gabrielle entered the temple leading her own honour guard who, in turn, were followed by the rest of the village. She walked slowly towards Xena, gazing steadily at her and smiling broadly. As she drew alongside, she turned and faced her partner. The honour guard moved up alongside them and the remainder of the village spread out inside the temple space.
Before either of the two lovers could say a word, pink sparkles announced the arrival of Aphrodite.
“Aphrodite!” exclaimed Gabrielle. “We weren't expecting you.”
Aphrodite frowned in mock hurt. “Oh Gabs! If you think I am going to miss the lurve-event of the decade, you must have a screw loose.”
“We didn't even know you knew but we're really happy to see you, aren't we Xena?”
Xena didn't immediately look like she entirely agreed with that but after a heartbeat she gave a crooked smile. “'Course we are,” she growled quietly.
Aphrodite glanced sideways at Xena before returning her gaze towards Gabrielle. “Well, anyway… Bro and I wanted to give you both a gift…”
Xena's eyes widened as her body stiffened in apprehension.
“…but we weren't sure what to get you. So… I hope you like it.” Aphrodite snapped her fingers theatrically.
At the front of the crowd of Amazons, person-sized patches of sparkles started appearing and once they had all finished, the ceremony had several new attendees. Cyrene, Toris and… Lyceus appeared on Xena's side. Hecuba, Herodotus and Lila on Gabrielle's side.
The two betrothed looked at each other before turning to their respective kin, giving and receiving warm hugs. After a short time Gabrielle joined Xena, giving more hugs to Cyrene and Toris and then being introduced to Lyceus.
“Lyceus, it's so nice to meet you. I've heard so much about you.” Tears trailed down Gabrielle's cheeks as she enveloped him in yet another hug.
“I am so happy to meet you too, Gabrielle.” Lyceus' voice was a gentle, warm baritone. “I have been able to hear your thoughts about me for some time and I have so wanted to meet the person that has given my big sister so much joy.”
Gabrielle just blushed and hugged him even harder.
Xena and Gabrielle made their way over to Gabrielle's family. Lila immediately gave Xena a warm hug and, much the warrior's surprise, Hecuba also stepped into her personal space, tilting her head up to whisper to the Warrior Princess. “Thank you for making my daughter so happy.”
Xena swallowed a lump and just nodded in response, then turned to meet Herodotus' regard.
Herodotus took a deep breath. “Xena, I know that you and I didn't have the easiest of beginnings, but you have to realise that I was only concerned for my daughter's wellbeing.”
Xena didn't know quite how to reply to that.
“However,” Herodotus continued, “I apologise for any offense I may have caused you. I hope that you can accept that and that we can begin anew.” He slowly held out his arm.
Xena blinked and glanced at Gabrielle alongside her. Gabrielle looked back with raised eyebrows and a slightly expectant expression on her face.
Not entirely sure how she felt about her soon-to-be father-in-law's apology-come-offer, Xena slowly extended her own arm and grasped the other, forcing a small smile onto her lips and giving a nod.
Aphrodite cleared her throat, breaking the somewhat tense moment. “You guys can continue your bonding later on, but can we now do the fun bit?”
Xena took Gabrielle's hand and they stepped back to stand in front of Aphrodite. They paused, slightly unsure what to do next and looked up at the goddess.
Aphrodite stared back at them for a moment before she realised that they were waiting to see if she would say anything. “Hey, dudes, this is your gig. Go for it!”
Gabrielle took a deep breath and turned to Xena, encouraging her to turn to face her as well. She took hold of both of Xena's hands and gazed lovingly up at her. “You first!” she whispered.
Xena looked back into the bottomless pools of green and realised that she had to say something. She wished that she had a mug of port to hand but she squared her shoulders, cricked her neck and sucked in breath.
Before she could utter a sound, Gabrielle squeezed her hands and crinkled her nose in a grin. “Hey! Relax! You're not going into battle, you know.”
Xena blew out the breath she had taken in and willed herself to relax.
“Gabrielle,” she began, “When we first met, I was lost. I had a darkness inside me and, although I knew there was light, I didn't know how to find it. Your light guided me. Your love supported me. Your presence uplifted me. Without you I do not know where I would be or what I would be.
“I promise you, Gabrielle, that I will never leave you. I will love you for all time without reservation, hesitation or deviation. You are my heart. You are my soul.”
Gabrielle couldn't stop smiling, even with the trickle of tears on her cheeks. She lifted Xena's hands to her lips and gently placed a kiss on the back of each. Then she stood up tall, gazed into her partner's blue eyes and took a breath.
“Xena, before I met you my life felt empty. Nothing I had to look forward to inspired me and I could hardly imagine how I could change that. Then, my beautiful warrior, you saved me, in more ways than one. You showed me how a woman could be strong, could be powerful and how a woman can determine her own destiny. Without you, your love, your guidance and, yes, your protection, I have a fairly good idea what and where I would be.
“Xena, I promise you that my love for you is without bounds and will be so for all eternity. I will care for you when I need to, protect you when I can, support you when you want me to and… love you passionately every moment I have the opportunity.”
Xena blushed, Aphrodite clapped and giggled, and Gabrielle's parents looked a little uncomfortable.
“C'mon warrior-babe,” Aphrodite blurted, “seal the deal.”
Lost in each other's eyes, the two lovers needed no further encouragement. Their lips met in an explosion of love, desire and absolute belief in their mutual commitment.
After several heartbeats, with no indication that the couple were about to separate, Solari glanced over at the Goddess of Love. Her eyebrows shot up as she watched the goddess apparently in the throes of ecstasy. She cleared her throat, loudly, which had the desired effect.
“Um, yes, phew!” mumbled the goddess. “Well if you two are quite finished, isn't there a party to get started?”
As the temple erupted in cheers, Gabrielle leaned forward and whispered into Xena's ear. “No we're not finished; I think we've only just begun.”
=== The End ===
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