by lynka ©1996


"I think..yes, it's right over here. Come on."

Gabrielle looked at Xena puzzled. "What is?"

Looking back over her shoulder smiling, Xena shouted, "You'll see."

"Well," Xena stood tall in the clearing with her arms extended. "What do you think?"

Gabrielle's mouth opened as she tried to speak but nothing came out. All she could do was stand there in awe. Awe of a beauty, the likes of which she had never seen before.

Xena looked at her friend, smiled and leaned towards her, "What's the matter? Have I finally caught the bard speechless?" She teased.

"It's..It's beautiful. How did you know about this place?"

"I was brought here a few years ago by ..by someone. Anyway it's not important. I just wanted to share this place with you."

Gabrielle stood in the middle of the clearing looking around. She couldn't believe the beauty she saw. A small lake with a waterfall gently and peacefully running over the edge of a mountain covered in green leaves and flowers. The blue green grass that looked and felt like velvet. The flowers were a type she had never seen before. And she couldn't say for sure but she would have sworn even the sky was bluer.

Gabrielle took a special liking to the pink and white blooms. As she walked over to the flowers, she picked one, held it in her fingers and spun it slowly looking at the delicate bloom then at Xena who was standing next to Argo watching her every move. Gabrielle smiled and started to say something when Xena simply said, "Let's make camp. The three of us can use the rest for a few days." Gabrielle smiled and nodded. Argo nodded her approval as well.

Gabrielle happily went off to get firewood while Xena tended to Argo.

With chores done, Gabrielle turned towards Xena, hugged her and said. "Thanks for bringing me here."

Xena had to catch herself from shuddering in Gabrielle's arms. She had thought about bringing her here for sometime now but was afraid of the feelings that she had for her. Many a night had Xena laid awake next to her, watching her sleep. Thinking about the love she felt for this bard.

As dusk was slowly descending upon them the two of them set next to the fire.

Xena reached for her saddlebags. "Well, Gabrielle, I guess it's my turn to cook," she said teasingly.

Xena opened one bag, pulled out a small lace cloth and spread it on the ground. She took out two wine goblets and a skin of wine she had purchased at their last stop. Opening the other saddlebag she pulled out cheese, dried meat, bread and some fruit. All of which she laid carefully on the lace cloth.

"Dinner my lady," Xena said bowing slightly.

Gabrielle's eyes were bright. She loved this woman but was so afraid to say so. She looked deep into Xena's eyes seeing a tenderness that she had seen many times before but only when they were alone.

"How about before we eat we get comfortable? Here put this on." Gabrielle pulled two thin white shirts from her bag and began to help Xena with her armor.

Xena was having a hard time controlling herself . Everytime Gabrielle touched her, she could feel her muscles twinge, the blood racing to the very spot Gabrielle would touch. The warmth, the tenderness she felt in those hands.

"Stop it! Stop it!" She told herself. "Your feelings are your own, not hers." Xena's mind was saying one thing while her heart was saying another.

They sat in front of the fire eating dinner. As usual Gabrielle recited one of her stories. Xena sat there eating and watching Gabrielle. She couldn't help but notice how the light from the fire made Gabrielle's shirt look almost invisible. She could see every muscle, every curve, the soft round breast she so longed to touch. Xena never noticed when Gabrielle had finished her story only that silence was around them. She looked in Gabrielle's eyes as they wandered across Xena's body.

Xena reached over and touched Gabrielle on the cheek and said softly, "Gabrielle."

Gabrielle jumped, "Huh.oh..what?"

"It's all right. How about a swim?'

"Sure," Gabrielle jumped to her feet, pulled off her shirt and let it fall to the ground. "The last one in is a serpent's daughter."

Gabrielle was in the water before Xena could get to her feet and remove her own shirt.

When Xena stood in the clearing by the fire nude, she noticed Gabrielle was watching her. For the first time, she thought she could see passion in her eyes. Or was it just what she wanted to see?

Xena, uncertain, started to walk towards the water but the flowers that Gabrielle liked so well caught her attention as they blew gently in the breeze. She walked over to them and picked one perfect blossom.

Xena stepped into the warm water and carefully walked out to where Gabrielle was standing. Never letting her eyes move from hers.

When Xena was face to face with Gabrielle she could feel her heart melt. She loved her so much that it hurt to look at her, but tonight was somehow different. She could see the love in Gabrielle's eyes.

Xena reached over and put the flower in Gabrielle's hair. With a soft voice she said, "You are as beautiful as this place."

Gabrielle saw the softness in Xena and stepped forward to hug her. As their bare bodies met they both trembled in each other's arms. "Thank you for making me feel so special," Was all Gabrielle could choke out. She knew she loved Xena but had no idea how much until now.

'You are special," Xena whispered softly into her ear.

Xena put her hands on each side of Gabrielle's face, bent down and kissed her. Gabrielle responded to her in a way she always hoped she would.

Their first kiss was long and passionate. They both stepped into each other trying to get closer. Their bodies trembled, churning with desire, wanting to get closer with the passion they felt for each other.

Gabrielle moved her hands to Xena's sides, running her hands down she stopped at her hips and pulled her in close.

Xena's body went weak and all she could do was moan.

"Oh, Xena, I have wanted you to hold me and kiss me like this for so long. I have loved you forever."

Xena put her hands under Gabrielle's chin and lifted her face. "I love you, too." Then she bent over to kiss her, wanting to taste those soft lips.

Xena walked her out of the water to where their bed rolls where laid out by the fire.

As they kissed again Xena parted her lips wanting to taste Gabrielle's mouth. Gabrielle parted her lips and tongue met tongue . They both became weak. Xena pulled Gabrielle down to her knees.

Xena kissed her neck, her cheek, nibbled on the bottom of her ear and moaned, "Oh Gabrielle, I have loved you for so long." Silence took over and she continued to kiss her neck.

"Xena, you are my heart. I have loved you always. Please Xena, I want to make love to you ,but I ..I don't know how."

Xena only smiled and held her closer. She pulled Gabrielle down on top of her, kissing her softly and gently. Then she held her tight and rolled her over. She straddled her hips sitting up. Xena cupped her breast and felt the movement beneath her.

Gabrielle sat up holding Xena in her arms and took Xena's nipple in her mouth. As she began to suck and bite on it gently she felt it harden in her mouth. Xena arched her back and guided Gabrielle's hand to her other nipple, which hardened at her touch. She squeezed , then flicked it with her fingers, and finally moved her mouth to cover it.

Xena moaned. Unable to control herself any longer, she put her arms around her bard and gently laid her down. Xena laid herself on top of her parting her legs with a gentle nudge of her knee.

Xena pressed herself into Gabrielle. She could feel the want and desire of her lover beneath her.

Xena kissed her mouth, parting her lips with her own, and touched her tongue. She cupped her breast in her hands before moving down to bite her nipples.

She kissed her on her neck, then her shoulders, down to her chest and covered her nipple with her mouth. First one then the other.

Xena moved her hand down Gabrielle's side until she felt her wetness. Xena knew it was all for her.

Gabrielle moaned and opened her legs wider, waiting for Xena.

Xena slipped one finger into her, not wanting to hurt her. She felt her jump but knew it was alright.

Xena moved herself lower, kissing the hard muscles on the bard's stomach, the top of her thighs, her lips finally finding the soft blonde hair between her legs.

She kissed her, moved down and parted the lips she had been hungry for. As Xena's tongue reached out and found her hardness, Gabrielle closed her eyes and raised her hips. "Ohhhhhhhhh Xena..please...I..I.I..want you so much to take me, possess me, Xena, I'm yours."

That was all Xena needed to hear, she let her tongue explore her sweetness. She moved her finger in and out of Gabrielle's opening. She had no trouble finding the right spot. She flicked her tongue over it, pushing her face into her, Gabrielle's hips moving to the rhythm she set.

Gabrielle's hands grabbed the blanket beneath her. She pulled on it feeling her body stiffen. Her breathing stopped as she came to sweet climax after sweet climax. Finally, her body began to relax and Xena slowed her pace, not wanting to stop. Gabrielle reached down and pulled Xena away and up to lay on top of her.

Xena kissed her mouth and Gabrielle tasted her lips, liking what she tasted.

Gabrielle, still shuddering beneath her, could only hold her tight.

Xena teased, "What's the matter? Have I caught the bard speechless, twice in one night?"

Gabrielle could only look at her. She felt the love Xena had for her and wanted nothing more then to show Xena how much she loved her.

"Xena, I want."

Xena kissed her and pulled her legs up under her. Straddling one thigh she whispered, "Give me your hand." Gabrielle complied without question. "Here, feel what you do to me." Xena said as she placed Gabrielle's hand between her legs to feel her own wetness.

Xena shifted her body so she was within easy reach of her lover.

Gabrielle's fingers began to move the length of Xena's sex. Amazed at the warmth, the softness and the wetness she felt.

Xena's hand slipped between Gabrielle's legs and she felt her quake beneath her.

Xena raised herself on one elbow wanting to see those soft blue eyes she held so dear to her heart.

They began to shudder, their hips moved faster and faster until they could no longer control their passion. They both climaxed at the same time.

Xena stiffened, every muscle in her body rigid, then the warmth of release.

She kissed Gabrielle wildly, who at the same moment, found her own release.

They both collapsed laying exhausted, breathing hard into each other's necks.

"I love you so much," Xena whispered between gasps of air.

With a strength she didn't know she had, Gabrielle put her arms around Xena and rolled her over.

Xena reached up and cupped Gabrielle's cheeks in her hands, looked deep into her eyes and whispered, "Gabrielle, I have wanted this for so long, please don't tell me it's only a dream. I couldn't bear it. I had learned to live with ..just wanting you and knowing I would never love you like this."

Gabrielle's heart felt as if it would burst out of her chest. "I love you. I have loved you always. I have never wanted to be with another. And no, my love ..this is not a dream. I'm real, you're real and our love is real."

They lay cradled in each other's arms all night, never letting go.

As the sun rose, it shined warm rays down on the lovers. Xena began to stir but was very careful not to wake her lover.

She picked up the shirts from the ground where they were tossed the night before. She carefully shook the dirt from each before slipping one on and folding the other for Gabrielle.

Xena stood and looked at Gabrielle sleeping for what seemed to be an eternity. All her thoughts were on her sleeping bard.

A week had passed but time seemed to stand still for the two lovers. For the first time since Gabrielle knew Xena, she was relaxed and happy. But Gabrielle could sense Xena growing restless. She had never known Xena to stay in one place so long. But she knew they were safe there and their love could only grow.

As Xena laid next to Gabrielle, holding her tight, Gabrielle looked into those beautiful blue eyes and suggested maybe they should move on. That was the last thing Gabrielle wanted, but, she knew how restless Xena was becoming. Even though she tried not to show it.

Xena looked at Gabrielle and simply said, "How about one more day here? Then we'll go."

Gabrielle kissed her. One thing led to another and they made love again.

For their last day there, the two lovers swam, sunbathed, enjoyed each other, talked and made love.

Xena was surprised at how quickly Gabrielle learned to please her. They spent the last few days exploring each other, learning of each other's needs and wants.

As they made love that night, each knew it would be their last time in this place. Their passion seemed to be uncontrollable. They could not get enough of each other.

The lake was always going to be their special place and they knew they would always return here.

As they woke the next morning, they both laid in each other's arms, lingering, not wanting to move. But it was time. After several long moments and passionate kisses to her lover, Xena got up and began to dress. Gabrielle laid on her side, propped up on one elbow, and watched as her warrior dressed with the same passion in her eyes as when she watched her undress.

Xena looked at her with soft blue eyes, a beautiful smile and simply said. "Come, my love, it's time to go."

Begrudgingly, Gabrielle got up, dressed and helped Xena get their things together.

As they walked down the road, Gabrielle curiously asked Xena, "When we first got there, you said you had been there with someone else. Tell me about it."

"Well," Xena started, "it was several years ago. I was injured in battle and this woman found me bloody and broken. She dressed my wounds and took me to the lake to recover. I have never felt that safe in my entire life. I rested and thanks to her, I got stronger."

"Did you and her ..well..you know?"


"Please, Xena I need to know."

"No, my love, we did not."

Gabrielle looked up at Xena smiling, eyes bright and filled with love.

"I have been there three other times alone. There has never been anyone I ever wanted to share such a special place with, until you. I love you Gabrielle, my life began with you. You are my heart and a part of my soul."

Gabrielle looked at Xena, a tear falling down her cheek. She never knew she could love someone like this or be so loved by anyone.

Xena reached out, took Gabrielle in her arms, kissed away the tear and held her tight against her.

Gabrielle whispered, "Xena, I love you so much. I can't imagine being with anyone else. Your love is my life."

Suddenly, Xena stiffened. "Let's go. I don't have a good feeling about this road."

Our two travelers pushed on until dark. Xena continually checked the area. She couldn't shake the feeling of being watched.

"Let's make camp over there." Xena nodded her head in the direction she wanted Gabrielle to head. "There's a stream down that path. I'll take care of Argo and fill our water skins. I'll be back in a few minutes. Be careful. I still haven't shaken that feeling but can't find any trace of anyone around us." With that said, Xena headed down the path with Argo in tow.

Gabrielle stood there looking around, shrugged her shoulders and went in search of fire wood. She returned a couple moments later with her arms full of wood, enough to last them throughout the night.

With the fire started, Gabrielle laid out the bed rolls. She sat down to wait for Xena to return with Argo.

A few minutes passed. Then another few minutes. Gabrielle couldn't stand it any longer. She didn't like being alone, especially somewhere in the woods. Darkness had settled, casting its scary shadows upon the ground. Gabrielle wrapped her arms around her chest and felt a shiver up her spine as she watched the fire.

"I have to go look for Xena," Gabrielle said to herself. She should have been back before now.

Gabrielle picked up her staff and headed down the path. "Xena! Xena!" she called.

There was no response. Gabrielle continued farther down the path, eyes darting back and forth. All the while she never forgot that Xena had said she was uncomfortable with the area they had traveled all day.

When she reached the stream, she looked first to the east then to the west. There stood Argo, tied to a tree. Standing beside her, Gabrielle looked at the ground and saw what appeared to be several footprints. As she followed the footprints in the dirt, she knew there must have been a struggle. Xena's sword laid in the dirt a few feet away. Gabrielle bent down to pick it up and saw it was stained with blood.

Gabrielle swallowed hard. Calling out Xena's name hoping against hope there would be a response. But only silence was returned.

Gabrielle, now stood next to Argo, untied her, rubbed her neck and thoughtlessly said out loud, "It's too dark, girl, to try and find her now. We would just get lost out there. We need to wait until first light. But don't worry girl, we'll find her. She'll be okay."

Her heart was in her throat.

As she sat in front of the fire, she put her head in her hands and began to cry. She didn't know how long she cried, only that she felt her body ache with each set of new tears. They seemed endless. "Stop it. Stop it." she told herself, hitting her forehead with the butt of her hand. "Just stop it. You've got to think, you've got to focus. What would Xena do? Oh, Gods, please help me."

Gabrielle did not rest all night. She tried once but it was useless. She couldn't get the thought of the danger Xena must be in out of her head.

Suddenly, Gabrielle jumped to her feet and readied her staff as Xena had taught her. "Who's there?" she demanded.

A low, shallow voice answered, "Gabrielle?"

"Xena?" Gabrielle dropped her staff and ran towards her just as Xena collapsed in her arms.

Gabrielle put Xena's arm around her shoulders and half dragged, half carried her over to the fire. She gently laid her down on the bed rolls. Gabrielle looked down at a warm wet feeling on her hand. It was covered with blood. Xena's blood. "Oh gods!" was her only response.

Gabrielle began to carefully undress her lover, knowing whatever was wrong she had to somehow take care of her.

After Xena's clothes were removed, Gabrielle washed the blood off her. There was a deep nasty gash on her right side. She reached over for the saddlebags and took out the leather twine and a needle they kept there just for such an emergency. She stitched up the wound with the expertise of Xena, then cleaned and bandaged it. Next, she removed Xena's boots. One boot was filled with blood. As Gabrielle washed her leg she saw a bone protruding through the skin of her lower leg. Her hands were shaking. Looking at the break, she knew she had to set the leg, something she had never done before. Gabrielle grabbed her leg, pulled and twisted it until it looked right. She reached for the needle and twine and stitched up the skin torn by the bone. The wound wasn't as neatly cut as the one on her side and she knew, no matter how delicate she was with the stitching, it would leave an ugly scar. When Gabrielle was done washing Xena off and satisfied there were no more wounds, she wrapped Xena in her blankets and laid down beside her on the bare ground. She put her arm around Xena, careful not to touch her wound and whispered softly, "Don't worry my love, I will take care of you. You'll be fine. I promise." Gabrielle shut her eyes and drifted off into a restless sleep.

When the sun began to show its warmth and brightness above the tree tops Gabrielle awoke. She checked on Xena, cleaned her wounds again, kissed her gently on the lips and said, "I have to get us breakfast. I'll be right back. Argo keep an eye on her."

Argo walked over to where Xena laid and stood over her, rubbed her nose on Xena's arm that was laying across her body uncovered.

Gabrielle was standing on a rock in the stream with a make shift spear in her hand. It always took her less time to catch fish this way then to try and grab them with her hands. Besides, that was a game she and Xena always played together. "Focus, Gabrielle, focus," she muttered to herself. Just then a large fish swam under her and she pierced it with her spear. She reached down, grabbed it and tossed it to the shore then waited for another to swim by. Before long, she had a half dozen fish and knew that they would last for a few days. She hurriedly scooped them up and ran back up the path to were she left Xena and Argo.

Gabrielle walked over to Argo, rubbed her neck and said, "Thank you girl. I'll watch her now." Argo nodded and moved over to the grassy area and began to have her breakfast as well.

With the fish cooking, Gabrielle checked Xena's wounds and cleaned them again. She knew the importance of keeping them clean, remembering when she was young and cut herself on a nail that protruded from a fence post. She didn't think it was a bad cut, so never showed it to her mother. Then two days later, her hand swelled and red lines ran up her arm. By the time she showed it to her mother, it had festered and was full of puss. Oh, how it hurt when it had to be cut opened and drained. She never knew how close she came to losing her hand until she saw the same thing years later on a farmer Xena found and treated.

The fish was done. Gabrielle tried to wake Xena but she didn't move. "Come on Xena, wake up. You have to eat." Gabrielle looked at her with fear in her eyes. "You lost more blood then I thought. I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you. Maybe with both of us fighting them you would be all right now," she said softly, concern showing in her face.

As the sun rose higher and still no movement from Xena, Gabrielle knew she had to do something. But what? "Oh gods, help me, how can I take care of her if I don't know how?"

Gabrielle began to cry. "I can't lose her now, she is my life. I love her so much. Oh, please Xena, what..what do I do?"

Gabrielle had to dry her tears and think of some way to help her lover.

"That's it. That's it. The lake, I'll take her back there. She recovered there once before, I know this will work." Gabrielle knew what she had to do. For the first time she felt good about what she was doing and knew exactly how to do it. She got to her feet and picked up Xena's sword. She walked over to a tree and began to cut off some of the more sturdy branches. She brought them back and began to fashion a litter to carry Xena in. It took her longer then she thought it would. It was getting too late to start back now, so at first light she would have everything ready for their journey. Gabrielle worked through out the night. She finished the litter, cooked the rest of the fish, filled their water skins and of course took time out to tend to Xena wounds. Gabrielle would tell her a story as she did so. With everything done she laid down next to Xena and drifted in and out of sleep the rest of the night. Before the sun began to rise, Gabrielle was up getting Argo ready and tying the litter onto Argo's saddle. She got Xena on the litter and made sure she was comfortable. She thought it best to clean her wounds one last time before they left. When she was done, she wrapped Xena in the blankets, took hold of Argo's reins and off they went.

As they walked down the road, Gabrielle began to hum. She hummed Xena's favorite tune. She was trying to keep her mind busy and off the thought of losing Xena but it wasn't working. All she could think of was Xena. She thought about the days at the lake, how they finally discovered each other, how much she loved her warrior. How she couldn't let her die.

The day had been long and dusk was beginning to settle. Gabrielle was getting angry, angry at herself. "Where is it Argo? I know its got to be here somewhere. I've got to get Xena to safety," she yelled to the skies.

Suddenly the underbrush parted and guided her in. The lake, the clearing, the flowers it was as if they never left.

Gabrielle hurried to build a fire. She laid some blankets down on the velvety soft grass. With a strength she didn't know she had, she picked Xena up in her arms and carried her over to the fire laying her down gently.

She began thinking, "I have to get some water and heat it to clean your wounds. After the long dusty trail, you probably wouldn't mind a bath either," she caught herself saying out loud to Xena.

With the water warmed, Gabrielle got the clean rags and dipped them in the water. She washed off the sword wound first. When she removed the rag she looked puzzled, The wound was gone! She looked at the rag as if it would be there but the rag was clean. She moved to Xena's leg and poured the water over it. The wound disappeared before her very eyes. "What's going on?" she wondered. "If the water could do this to your wounds maybe it could heal the rest of you and bring you back to me. I've got to try."

She began to bathe Xena in the water hoping against hope that it would somehow make her well again. Xena still did not move. 'What am I doing wrong?' she thought as she looked first to Xena then to the lake. "If I could get you over there and submerge you maybe."

Gabrielle picked her lover up with the strength that only came from her love for this woman and carried her over to the water. Slowly, she walked into the water holding Xena close. The water was chest deep. Gabrielle bent her knees and they both went under the water. Xena began to splash her arms fighting to get to the surface. When she broke through and breathed deeply, Gabrielle stood up. Her hair and face dripping. She grabbed Xena and hugged her. Tears began to flow. She was unable to stop them.

"What?! what is it? What are we doing here? The last thing I remember was being surrounded and a sword was going into my side." She touched her side knowing the wound would be gone.

Xena put her arms around Gabrielle, pulled her close, "It's all right, I'm fine. How did you find your way back here?" Xena cupped Gabrielle's face in her hands and bent down and kissed her. She dried her tears and walked her over to the fire.

Gabrielle began to tell Xena the whole story. How she found Argo tied to the tree, finding the sword, how she came stumbling back to camp, taking care her wounds, building the litter and bringing her here. Gabrielle deliberately left out the part where she cried most of the night. She didn't want Xena to think she was weak.

"I felt something pulling us along, then the brush just parted and here we were."

"Gabrielle, let's get dried off and get something to eat. I'm starving. I have a story to tell you tonight with dinner."

Gabrielle and Xena got to their feet and began drying each other off. They put on the white shirts they had worn before in this place.

"Okay, it's my turn to cook." Gabrielle removed the lace cloth from the saddlebag and laid it gently on the ground. She placed the fish and some fresh fruit on the cloth. "Dinner is served, my lady," she bowed slightly at the waist just as Xena had done their first night there. They both laughed. Gabrielle thought that sounded like music. It wasn't that many hours ago that she didn't know if she would ever hear that laugh again.

Xena took Gabrielle's hand, raised it to her lips and kissed her palm. "Thank you, my love. If it wasn't for you, I surely would of died. I love you."

Gabrielle smiled, looking into those beautiful blue eyes that stayed close against the world and knew that all the love she felt showed in her own eyes.

Gabrielle moved closer to Xena and Xena placed her arm around her shoulders, pulling her close. Gabrielle rested her head on Xena's inviting shoulder.

"Six years ago when I was fighting in a battle against Korudon and his army, I had been surrounded and badly beaten. I was left for dead on the road about half mile from here. I knew these mountains were protected by Artemis."

"Artemis, The Artemis, The Goddess," Gabrielle's head popped up from it's resting place on Xena's shoulder.

"Yes, she is the one that brought me here. She washed my wounds much like you did and all the wounds healed instantly. As Artemis kept me here, she also began to heal my soul. It took time for me to find my way again but I never forgot how she made me feel, so at peace with myself. Everytime I felt I was losing control, I would return here. I never saw her again after the first time but she always let me return. I have never wanted to bring anyone here until you. I have always felt Artemis watch over me and now she watches over you as well."

"Me, why me?"

"Because my love, you have helped me find my way, and you are helping to heal my soul. She told me someone would come into my life and show me the love I needed."

Xena put her hand on Gabrielle's cheek said softly, "Artemis has smiled on you. On us."

Gabrielle looked up at Xena, smiled, and kissed her with all the softness she felt for her warrior. Their lips part and tongue meets tongue.

Xena laid her down and slowly began to remove her shirt. As she covered her nipple with her mouth, Xena heard a small snore. She looked at her lover, smiled and shook her head.

She laid down beside her, cuddling her in her arms. Looking up at the skies she whispered, "Thank you, Artemis." Xena closed her eyes and joined her amazon princess in her dreams.


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