DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, etc. are ęcopyright MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. I don't own them, I just play with them for a while and, like the good girl I am, I put them back when I'm done…okay, they get a little worn, but hey…I play hard! Absolutely no Copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fiction. It's intended as flattery toward the creators, writers, and actors of the characters. All other characters that appear are ęcopyright Devlin@xenafan.com. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way (unless, of course, Lucy, Renee, Rob, et al want to make my dream come true and hire me, hah!). Copies may be made for private use only and I'd appreciate if you included all copyright notices and this disclaimer.

VIOLENCE WARNING: There is some violence (come on it's the Warrior Princess). It's nothing more than PG13.

TIMELINE: My own making. Let's just say that India never happened, Eli never sucked the bard into buying what he was selling, and Gabrielle never became a wimp and tossed her staff away.

SEX: Yes, I'll have some, thank you. I mean, yes there is. It is our favorite two Soulmates, after all. It's not gratuitous, but it is quite explicit when it gets going. This story shows consensual love, sex and yes, even some light bdsm between two adult females. Even when they get carried away, it's all done in love. If the thought of two women in a loving/sexual relationship bothers you…well, as Xena said, "Bite me!"

HIGH ANGST WARNING: I was threatened within an inch of my life if I didn't start putting this disclaimer on some (all?) of my work. I will henceforth rate the angst content with sad faces, one being the lowest and four being the highest. This story earns: L L L L 4 sad faces (for those without TT fonts).

UNDERAGE WARNING: Hey, the Supreme Court said in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union (1997) that laws against making available, online, certain "indecent" materials for those under 18 was unconstitutional…look it up! Besides, this is perfectly "decent." J

I only know how others feel about my stories from feedback. Let me know what you think...homophobes need not apply, however. I'm at: Devlin@xenafan.com

 

A special thanks to Laura, a good friend of mine who wrote the poem, "Soulmates" that Xena gives Gabrielle. She is a talented bard in her own right and came up with the perfect words.

 

*This is the third story in the "Queen" series. While not absolutely necessary, it helps if you read them in sequence. The series begins with "To Become A Queen" and follows with "Quest For A Queen"

 

Heart Of A Queen

 

The warrior's eyes hungrily followed the slim hips marching in front of her. Gods, she looks good. Xena licked her lips as she continued to watch her future wife walking before her. The dark-haired woman's hand held Argo's reins, her naturally long stride slowed on purpose. She loved having the young Queen by her side, but today she was letting her carnal thoughts run wild, enjoying the view from behind as the young woman kept the pace slightly ahead of her. Gabrielle's small physique had changed so much over the years they'd been traveling together. Years of using her staff had developed rock hard muscles in her arms, shoulders, and back, all covered by a soft, feminine skin that felt like Egyptian silk under the warrior's fingertips.

They spent the winter in Amphipolis, which was something new for the pair. Except for the time Gabrielle spent recuperating in the Amazon village last year, they never stayed in one spot that long before. Cyrene was grateful for the help and the company over the cold winter months, and Xena and her bard found out that having four walls around them for privacy definitely had its advantages. The wanderlust hit the both of them, however as soon as the first warm breezes of spring began.

Xena remembered the night she lay in bed; Gabrielle wrapped tightly in her arms, the essence of their lovemaking permeating the room. She remembered also the look of love and adoration on the young Queen's face when the warrior asked her to travel to the Amazon Nation with her, and become her wife on the eve of the Summer Solstice.

They sent Ephiny, the Queen Regent, a message stating their intentions. Since the Solstice was a good 3 moons away, it left plenty of time for the Amazons to prepare for their Queen's joining ceremony. They said their good-byes to Xena's family, with promises to see them again in the Amazon village for the wedding. That was nearly a moon ago.

Ever since then it was one thing after another. Save a village from raiders here; take down an evil warlord there, non-stop requests from villagers everywhere they went. Neither woman thought anything about it really. Xena and Gabrielle made quite a formidable team, and it became easy for them to put aside their own personal desires for the greater good. It was starting to take its toll on the Warrior Princess' libido, however. If they weren't in the middle of a crisis, they were nursing small injuries, or they just plain dropped into their bedrolls at night exhausted beyond belief.

So, the warrior was thoroughly enjoying their respite as saviors to Greece on this warm spring day, watching her bard move in front of her, fantasies of varying natures playing through her mind.

"This way, Brie," The warrior stated, pulling Argo off the path and heading into the forest.

"But--" Was all Gabrielle was able to get out before she had to run to catch up with the taller woman.

"I really hate when you do that, you know." The young Queen said with a sly smile.

"I know," Xena said, smiling and lifting her eyebrows at her lover. "But, either Argo or I need a bath desperately...I'm not sure which one of us it is, so I'm playing the odds. I know where there's a nice quiet lake…small, but quiet.

"How do you-oh, wait, I know…years ago your army came through here once," Gabrielle said, gesturing with her arms widely as if about to spin a tale.

Xena couldn't help laughing at her lover's satiric use of her often-utilized line.

"Well, it's true." The warrior said.

"So where is this famous water?" Gabrielle teased.

Xena never altered her stride nor looked at her lover through this entire exchange. Some things never changed, and as open with her feelings as the warrior had become with her bard nowadays, the majority of their travels were spent with Gabrielle talking and the warrior silent by her side.

"Less talking, more walking and you'll find out." Xena replied.

It wasn't very long until they reached the water.

Oooh, nice, Xe." Gabrielle stated.

The warrior smiled. She liked being able to surprise and please her bard. The two women went about setting up their camp quickly and without much discussion. Years of travel together had reduced this part of their journeying to a science.

Once a fire was going and water put on to brew tea, Xena made a wide arc around their campsite, wanting to make sure they didn't run into any undesirable characters that might also be using the woods. Of course, her other intention was to make sure they were alone because the warrior had plans for her little bard. She still had a few of those fantasies running through her mind from this afternoon that involved herself, her lover and absolutely no one else.

"Brie?" The warrior called when she walked back into the empty camp.

"I'm here, just be a heartbeat." Gabrielle called from the trees, then appeared moments later.

Xena, in the meantime, sat down on the ground and began to remove her armor and boots. The warrior watched as Gabrielle came back into camp a disgusted look on her face. The young woman went to their saddlebags and tossed her undergarments into the pack.

"I hate when this time of the moon comes around!" Gabrielle said, turning to look at Xena.

"What?!" The warrior was stunned. Oh, please tell me this isn't happening... not now. "Didn't you just have it?"

"Well, yes, love, but for some of us it does come around once a moon." Gabrielle explained.

"Oh, great," Xena let her thoughts slip out.

"I'm sorry, Xe." Gabrielle stood looking at the warrior, and when Xena looked up into her lover's face, she cursed her own selfishness. The look on the bard's face said that she knew she had disappointed her partner.

"Oh, Brie…I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that. Come here love," Xena held out her hand.

Gabrielle stood by the seated warrior and Xena pulled the young woman down into her lap.

"Please, forgive me, Brie. I didn't mean it to come out like that at all," the dark-haired woman kissed her lover's cheek, running her fingers through the young woman's hair. "I should have known, I usually do, I don't know where my mind's been at lately."

"I do," Gabrielle said, raising an eyebrow suggestively.

"Well, maybe just a little," the warrior smiled sheepishly.

"I still should have known, I can't understand why I didn't. Usually you give off a few signs, you know…backache, cramps…" the warrior trailed off.

"It's just not a bad one, I'm not very uncomfortable at all. You know, Xe," Gabrielle leaned in to place a series of feather-light kisses on the warrior's neck. "I can still take care of you."

Xena closed her eyes and marveled at the sensations that were running from the hypersensitive skin of her neck, straight to parts of her body further south. Oh, yes...this is exactly what I need. Leaning her head back, she released a low groan of desire. Suddenly the warrior opened her eyes. No, this isn't what I need...not like this. She didn't want sex to be used as merely a physical release, not anymore, and especially not with Gabrielle.

"Brie, honey...wait," Xena forced herself to pull away from Gabrielle's touch. She placed her hands on the young woman's head, tilting it so she could look into the sea-green eyes that were looking into her own.

"As much as I adore your touch...well, I'd rather wait for you." She said, kissing the tip of Gabrielle's slightly sunburned nose.

"Are you sure," Gabrielle whispered back.

"Yea, absolutely," Xena began to brush a line of light kisses along the young woman's jaw. When she reached the bard's ear, she whispered.

"You know, Brie...we could...you know, anyway...I mean, it doesn't have to stop us." Xena finished pulling back slightly to see Gabrielle's reaction, hoping against hope.

"Don't even go there, warrior." Gabrielle replied, abruptly getting up and walking down to the edge of the lake.

Xena let herself fall onto her back and hit the grass with a thud. It was days like this when she wished Gabrielle had more in the way of sexual experience, but she loved her just the way she was, puritan side and all. Amazing...she can tie me to a bed and screw me all night long. Use a whip, phallus, and every other toy we have around, but when it comes time for her cycle, she turns into a Hestian virgin! She removed the rest of her clothing and went to join her lover in the cool water, taking deep breaths along the way to bank the smoldering fires that had nearly been a blazing inferno moments ago.


 

Okay, tell her warrior. Just march right up to her, wrap your arms around her and take her up on the offer she made earlier. And what do I say? Gabrielle, if I don't have you and have you quick the top of my head's gonna explode? Nah, too gory an image. Okay, how about Honey...nope, if I start like that she'll know I want something. But, it's more than want. We're talking need here. That's it! Gabrielle, I need you. Perfect...

Xena sat near the fire, sharpening stone in hand, until she had reached the perfect scenario in her mind. Gabrielle had already put away her scrolls and was settling down on the bedroll, listening to the rhythmic sounds of the warrior's stone on the metal of her blade. Making her way toward her bard, Xena laid her sword to one side and knelt beside the prone woman.

"Gabrielle--" She began.

Gabrielle looked at the dark-haired woman next to her, the bard felt the warmth of the fire relax her, causing the young woman to lean her head back, eyes closed tight, a let out a loud yawn.

"I'm sorry, Xe...what is it you wanted to say?" Gabrielle asked.

Xena looked at the beautiful young woman and every selfish thought she'd been having simply flew away.

"You look tired, baby," the warrior stroked the woman's cheek. Not attempting to say a thing about what she'd been thinking to herself. You, my dear warrior, are a selfish twit...you don't even deserve this woman. "Get some sleep, love." she finished, kissing her lover tenderly on the lips, then once on the forehead.

"Aren't you coming?" Gabrielle asked.

Nope, not tonight!

"I'll be a little while longer, I need to finish sharpening my sword." Xena replied.

Once the warrior settled herself on a log by the fire again, the internal battle began anew.

I can't believe you didn't even ask...she probably would have said yes. I mean, at least one of you would be going to sleep with a smile on your face. Yea, but she did look tired, and she looks so damn cute when she yawns like that. Oh, you are so whipped. Allright shut up! Oh, Gods...I'm yelling at voices in my head. This is going to be such a long night!

All the while, Xena continued the long, steady strokes of the sharpening stone. Shiiing...Shiiiing...Shiiing...

"Xena..." Gabrielle's voice called to her from their bedroll.

Xena looked up...Shiiing...Shiiing--thump!

The dark haired woman did something she never did before, not once in her entire life. She was in mid-slide across her blade when she looked up at Gabrielle. The stone simply kept going, on along to the end of the blade, and fell with a heavy sound to the ground. The warrior was absolutely in shock. Not so much by losing her grip on her sharpening stone, but for losing her grip on what little control remained in her hormone clouded brain.

Xena blinked her eyes hard, waiting for the mirage to disappear. Gabrielle leaned up on one elbow from the bedroll, one of the blankets falling low on her shoulder, exposing a beautiful breast to the stunned warrior.

Xena thought about responding verbally to the young woman, but that would be impossible considering their was no longer the smallest particle of air to be found in or around the warrior's lungs. She would swear later, that she did open her mouth, but sound refused to issue forth.

"See anything you like, warrior?" Gabrielle said in a husky voice, suddenly full of desire.

Xena, the former Destroyer of Nations, who had nearly conquered all of Greece, the warrior who commanded armies of men, who, obeyed her not only out fear and respect, but because her battle speeches aroused them to such a pitch they willingly threw down their lives for her. This woman now sat a few feet away from the greatest invitation she would ever be given, and all she could do was nod dumbly.

"Well, if what you want is way over here, my question is...what are you doing way over there?" Gabrielle asked.

It wasn't just a question, it was a command. Xena's brain registered the waiting body language of her lover and nearly tripped over her own feet in her haste to get to the other side of the fire. Like an adolescent schoolboy, she couldn't get her boots off fast enough. That's when the warrior looked down at the woman waiting on the bedroll.

A slow, delicious smile spread across Gabrielle's face and it seemed as if her features changed with that smile. The warrior had seen that look before. Xena knew at that moment that her lover was entering her Amazon Queen mode and the standing woman froze. A distinct whimper escaped the dark-haired woman's throat. Oh, dear Gods, Gabrielle...you are not going to do this to me tonight...not when I'm in such a state already, are you?

Gabrielle arched an eyebrow at the warrior and pulled back the blankets of the bedroll to reveal her nude form. "Do you think you've done something to deserve this warrior?" Gabrielle asked.

Oh, yea...you are.

Oh, my love you are truly wicked...and I love it! Allright, my little bard...I know you enjoy this, the Gods know I will...if I live through it.

Xena immediately dropped to her knees and lowered her eyes to the ground.

"No, my Queen...I'm sure I don't deserve this gift." Xena replied.

"Then why do you think I should share this?" Gabrielle let her hand slide across a breast and down the length of her torso in a teasing motion.

Xena watched as her lover's hand came to rest on her abdomen, just below her navel. The young woman wore only the thin leather belt around her hips and the cloth between her legs that she wore instead of an undergarment this time of the moon. The warrior quickly searched her brain for an answer that would appeal to the young Queen.

"Because it pleases you?" Xena answered, hesitantly.

"Good answer, warrior." Gabrielle pulled herself up until she was on her knees facing the kneeling warrior. The bard let herself lean into the taller woman until her nipples just grazed Xena's leathers. "Because, after all, it is about my pleasure, isn't it warrior?"

Xena felt the hard points of flesh lightly touch against the leather covering her skin, just below her own breasts.

"Always, my Queen." She replied a little breathless.

No matter how many times they played this game, her warrior's subservient demeanor always amazed the young Queen. This was part of the excitement, however, for Xena as well as Gabrielle.

The young blonde raised herself up until she was standing before the kneeling woman, her hands on the warrior's shoulders. Gabrielle watched as Xena realized she was nearly eye to eye with the cloth that hid what the warrior so sought after. The kneeling woman took in a deep breath and closed her eyes, the corners of her mouth curling slightly upward.

Xena couldn't help the expression that crossed her face. She tried to hold it back, but the sweet, metallic scent of blood, mixed with the fragrance of Gabrielle's own arousal, affected the warrior deeply.

Gabrielle ran her fingers through the raven mane that fell across the warrior's broad shoulders, and enticingly down her back. Again Xena closed her eyes at the tingling sensation as Gabrielle raked her fingernails seductively across the kneeling woman's scalp.

Xena could have stopped what she did next, but she went ahead and did it anyway. Gabrielle was so close to her and the Queen's scent was driving her mad. She reached her tongue out and slid the tip in a delicate stroke against the young woman's abdomen. She felt her head pulled back sharply, Gabrielle's finger entwined in her hair. The pain, mixed with the taste of her lover's skin on her tongue caused her to smirk up at the woman above her.

"Did you enjoy that?" Gabrielle asked, pulling back harder on the warrior's hair.

Xena tried not to react, but her smirk grew larger.

"I think you do things like this on purpose, warrior..." Gabrielle pulled the woman's head back even further until she was whispering in her ear. She never wanted to hurt her lover, but with the Warrior Princess, a little pain always seemed to fire up the woman's libido.

"I think it's because you enjoy your punishments almost as much as your rewards," Gabrielle whispered, running her own tongue down the length of Xena's ear. The combination of that action and the promise the young Queen was making was enough to cause the warrior's whole body to tremble with desire.

Gabrielle suddenly released the kneeling woman's hair and moved away. Xena knew better than to turn around and look to see where her lover had gone. She could hear her rummaging through their bags and her stomach did a slight flip in anticipation at what the bard would come up with. Did I say something about her lack of sexual experience...what could I have possibly been thinking? Xena knelt there obediently. She had pushed it far enough already, but Gabrielle always expected her to do at least something to be punished for. If she went too far, her lover would accuse the warrior of not playing the game, and the whole night would be over. Xena thought that an idle threat until she tested the young Queen's limits one night. Gabrielle got up from the bed and put on her robe, telling the warrior if she couldn't play the game right; she could damn well play by herself. Xena was shocked that Gabrielle actually carried through on the threat. The warrior never repeated that mistake.

Now would be a miserable time for that to happen to her again. Xena lowered her eyes to the ground and wiped the smirk off her face as she heard Gabrielle walk up behind her. The young woman placed a few objects on the bedroll just out of Xena's line of sight.

"Do you know why you're being punished?" Gabrielle knelt behind the warrior.

"Yes, my Queen...I disobeyed your order." Xena answered.

"And what is the only command that I give you...one little command, that you can't seem to follow?" Gabrielle slapped the inside of Xena's thighs lightly, indicating that the kneeling warrior should widen her stance, then the bard pressed her body against the warrior's back.

"I cannot experience any pleasure without your permission, my Queen." Xena answered, feeling Gabrielle's breasts press against her leather covered back.

"Now, what part of that don't you understand?"

"I do understand, my Queen...forgive me, I--I lost control."

"Well, then that's what we'll have to work on, warrior, isn't it? Your control." Gabrielle began to unlace the back of Xena's leathers. She never usually loosened them so completely, it was a pain to thread them again, but she wanted to take the tunic off over the warrior's head. Once the task was completed and the leathers were removed, she pressed herself against her lover again; reveling in the feeling of Xena's sweat soaked body. She ran her fingers up the sides of the warrior's torso, along the sides of her breasts. She ran her fingertips just underneath the top of the breeches the kneeling woman still had on. Then she removed her hands altogether.

Xena felt the cool touch of metal against her abdomen.

"Go ahead and look," Gabrielle commanded.

The warrior looked down and just as she suspected, Gabrielle held Xena's breast dagger in her hand, the flat of the blade pressed against the warrior's skin.

For her part, Gabrielle was doing everything she could to test the warrior's legendary control. She slid the blade up until the metal slipped over Xena's nipple, a barely discernible gasp coming from the warrior. The Queen decided to overlook this slight loss of control considering the circumstances. She knew she was the only one in the known world who had ever...would ever come this close with a blade to the Warrior Princess. She continued to move the blade downward until the tip hooked itself in the top of the warrior's breeches, over her leg. Sliding it in until it poked out and rested against a muscular thigh, Gabrielle jerked the blade upward, slicing through the material in one stroke. She repeated her action on the other side until the rent garment fell to the ground. Gabrielle threw the blade onto the ground and used her hands on the newly exposed skin to drive the warrior to the brink of insanity. Her nails ran up the back of Xena's thighs and on to her buttocks, squeezing the muscular flesh. Her hands roamed around the warrior's hips, caressing a taut abdomen, then sliding down to swirl into the damp curls between the warrior's legs.

Xena was holding on much better than Gabrielle thought she would by this point. The evening breeze blew against the warrior's damp skin and the Queen mused to herself, wondering if it was the cold or her attentions that caused the dark-haired woman's nipples to grow rock hard. The bard let her index finger circle the pebbled flesh.

"Are you ready for your punishment to begin?" Gabrielle whispered into her ear.

An unexpected groan escaped through the warrior's lips and Gabrielle chuckled.

"Oh, no...we haven't even begun, my warrior. Now, give me your hands."

Xena placed her hands behind her at the small of her back and felt Gabrielle begin to bind her wrists tightly together with a length of leather. The young Queen pulled tight, but didn't tie it off, instead placing the end of the binding strip in Xena's palm. If anything happened or if the warrior wanted to stop the game, all she had to do was release the end of the leather to free herself.

"Do you think you can hold on to that for me, warrior...the whole time?" Gabrielle asked, pulling on the leather.

"Anything for you, my Queen," Xena panted.

"Good," Gabrielle said, carefully moving around to face the warrior.

"Magnificent," the young Queen breathed, sitting back on her heels to enjoy this view of her warrior, the woman's arms and shoulders pulled back, causing her breasts to jut forward more than usual. Gabrielle looked at the dark-haired woman's body before her as if she were some feral creature the Queen had just captured, wild and sensual in her dark beauty. Now it was time to tame the beast.

Gabrielle lifted the lid from a small clay jar and dipped one finger inside. Removing her honey-coated finger, she lifted it to Xena's breast and began to coat the warrior's nipple with the sticky liquid. Xena could guess what was coming next and steeled herself against a response when she saw her lover bend her head down, and wrap her lips around the hardened flesh. The warrior held on as wave after wave of delicious pleasure crashed over and through her. The sounds of delight her bard was making as she completed her task weren't helping either. The warrior's chest heaved and her body was covered in a fine sheen of sweat, but she kept the rest of her body in check.

Then Gabrielle tried something different. She began to lightly nibble on the warrior's erect nipple. Very gently, but non-stop, as if she were planning on devouring the flesh. She used her teeth to delicately chew on the hard nub of flesh until she could hear the warrior's audible gasps with each breath. Then she repeated the whole procedure with the other breast.

Xena had her eyes screwed shut, knowing if she looked down, even once, she would explode in a massive climax. She could feel her wetness tickling her as it flowed from her aroused sex, and slid down the inside of her thighs.

Gabrielle too, could see the results of her warrior's arousal glistening on her thighs in the firelight. She slid a finger through the dark curls, dipping it into the warrior's cleft, steering clear of the area that begged for her attention. The young queen brought her glistening finger up to her lips and stopped.

"Open your eyes, warrior. I want you to watch me." Gabrielle commanded.

Xena's eyes snapped opened to the sight of Gabrielle, reaching out a pink tongue to lick Xena's essence from the bard's own finger.

"Mmmm, warrior, you taste so good." Gabrielle murmured.

Still Xena held on, pulling in air through her mouth. Gabrielle was amazed at her lover. For her, this is what this game came down to. It wasn't about the power. Oh, sure, there was a definite thrill at having a completely willing woman, prostrate before her, but the power game was Xena's territory. The Warrior Princess loved the games where total control came with surrender. For her, the sexual excitement was in her partner's desire to be conquered. The Amazon Queen looked at their little scenarios differently. For Gabrielle the complete joy and raw excitement was taken from watching her warrior take control of her own body.

The Queen smiled to herself as she moved closer to Xena, reaching onto the bedroll for the last item they would use tonight. If the positions were reversed, Gabrielle would have been begging for Xena to take her quite some time ago. Xena's mind clearly forgot it was a game half the time. The bard smiled again. She never really knew if it was Xena's determination to win or if she just did it to please Gabrielle, but her warrior hung on till she was on the brink of sexual exhaustion before she would ever give in. Gods, she is incredible.

Gabrielle moved so close to the kneeling warrior, the bard's nipples grazed the taller woman's skin. She began to kiss Xena's neck, nipping at the tender flesh. That's when Xena felt it.

"Oh, Gods!" the warrior exclaimed.

Gabrielle moved the tip of the ivory phallus and circled it around the warrior's opening.

"Is this too much for you, warrior?" Gabrielle asked in a whisper. "If it is, all you have to do is tell me." The bard tugged gently on Xena's earlobe with her teeth.

Gabrielle was absolutely in awe at her lover's mastery over her own flesh. The dark-haired woman breathed as if she were running the race of her life, her body drenched in sweat. The Queen watched as a slight penetrating motion with the phallus sent shudders of pleasure through the warrior. The taller woman's muscles fairly quivered from the restraint she was showing.

"You can have this, warrior." Gabrielle swirled the toy. "Isn't that what you'd like...all of me, deep inside you? Answer me." Gabrielle ordered.

"Yes, my Queen, that's exactly what I'd like." Xena answered in a shaky voice.

"Mmmm, that's exactly what I'd like to give you, too. Hard and fast...that's how you like it, isn't it?"

"Yes, m--my Queen."

"Let me give it to you...all you have to do is accept defeat...beg me for it, warrior." Gabrielle tempted.

"Never, my Queen," Xena hissed.

Gabrielle pulled back to meet the blue eyes that challenged hers with the tiniest of grins.

"Very well, warrior...if you want to act like a wild beast, then I believe I'll have to tame you like one." Gabrielle said as she thrust the phallus deep inside, holding it there momentarily, before sliding it in and out in a slow and deliberate rhythm.

"Sweet, Athena!" Xena cried out, her hips quickly becoming seduced by the erotic rhythm that Gabrielle's hand set. The young Queen swirled, dipped, and teased the cylindrical object inside her lover's body until the warrior's hips began to thrust themselves against the bard's hand.

"Oh, Gods!" Xena cried out, throwing back her head and allowing her body to give in to the physical pleasure.

Through clenched teeth the warrior growled, "Harder!"

Gabrielle deliberately slowed, then stilled her movement.

"Please..." the warrior pleaded, still unwilling to admit defeat.

"I'll give you what you want, once you give me what I want. You know what I want to hear, warrior," Gabrielle whispered in Xena's ear, pressing her body tightly to the warrior's, then once again beginning the beguiling movement of the object buried deep inside the writhing warrior.

"Ohhh, please, Gabrielle...please, I'm begging you my Queen, don't stop fucking me!" Xena begged, her body now beginning to melt into the relief Gabrielle's talented hands promised.

The young Queen only had one thought in her head once she heard the warrior's tortured plea. Her intentions became clear. She spread the fingers of her free hand, sliding them through her lover's dark curls, then smiled, as she stoked the ignored bit of flesh, now slick with the warrior's impending orgasm. Meanwhile she followed the wishes of her lover as the dark-haired beauty begged to be taken harder and faster. The young Queen wielded the phallus until Xena screamed her release into the nighttime sky.

Xena slumped against Gabrielle's shoulder, her breathing still ragged and uneven. The bard had to practically uncurl the warrior's fingers from the leather binding. She eased the spent woman down onto the bedroll, massaging her aching shoulders. Xena lay against the bard, the warrior's face buried in the young woman's neck.

"Gabrielle," Xena panted. "Do you have any idea what you do to me? You are a truly wicked young woman. I'm so glad I belong to you." The warrior said with a smile and closed her eyes.

"Trust me, you give as good as you get, my love." Gabrielle responded to the warrior's flattery.

"Oh, Brie," Xena rolled onto her back, arms flung out in a gesture of defeat. "I'm not even in your league!"

Gabrielle laughed and moved herself over her lover.

"Just remember that, Warrior." The young Queen said.

Xena growled into the passionate kiss that the two exchanged, rolling the bard onto her back.

"I accepted your punishment my Queen," Xena purred. "Now, I want my reward." She finished as she covered Gabrielle's neck in a shower of kisses.


 

"Where in the known world have you two been." Eponin asked, rising from her kneeling position in front of her Queen.

The Amazon warrior caught the look that passed between the Queen and her Consort. Gabrielle started to speak, but she must have thought better of it because she closed her mouth immediately, a lovely pink flush rising to her cheeks.

"Oh, don't even go there, Gabrielle. I don't want to know, do I?"

"No, you don't." Xena snickered with a wicked smile and an air of a very satisfied warrior, walking past their Amazon friend and on toward the village.

"Gabrielle!" The Queen Regent gave the approaching young woman a smile that could only be described as relief, followed by a heartfelt hug. "Sorry, Xena, didn't mean to ignore you, but Gabrielle you don't know how very glad I am that you're finally here. Where have you two been anyway?" Ephiny asked.

"Don't ask." Eponin said flatly, coming up behind the trio.

Ephiny caught the innuendo in the timber of Eponin's voice and raised an eyebrow at the blue-eyed warrior that stood by the Queen's side.

"Hey, I didn't know we were on a time table, okay?! We were busy doing..." the warrior eyed the women around them and paused to come up with a suitable word, suddenly realizing that she should have let her bard talk them out of this one.

"...Stuff." she finished weakly.

She couldn't very well tell these Amazons that she'd just spent the last three days taking their Queen in every way imaginable, in nearly every conceivable spot along the Greek countryside.

She and Gabrielle exchanged a look, the young Queen not making any effort to jump in and fish the warrior out of the deep pond she'd just jumped into. As a matter of fact, to the warrior, it looked like her bard had a rather amused expression on her face. Oh, I'll remember this, my heart. Just you wait.

Truth be known, Gabrielle was indeed enjoying herself watching her warrior tread water. Nor did she miss the imperceptible expression in Xena's eye, when the dark-haired woman caught the young Queen's glance. I know I'll pay later, my love, but sometimes, seeing you lose that cool demeanor, makes it worth it all.

"Okay, we're here now," Gabrielle shook herself from that road of thought. "First I'd like a hot meal and something cool to drink. Why don't we go to the food hut and you can tell me what all the excitement is about."

The friends sat at the Queen's table, and Gabrielle's appetite being legendary among the Amazons, it was quite some time before the young Queen's stomach monster was finally sated. They pushed their plates aside and began the visit in earnest. Xena and Eponin spoke of the winter in Amphipolis, the Amazon talking Xena into helping her give a weapons demonstration to a class of new recruits later that day. Hearing their Queen had returned, the healers, Adia and Sartori entered the food hut and made their way to the Queen's table, where the conversation was beginning to get louder.

"Sartori!" Gabrielle exclaimed, jumping up to hug her friend.

"My Queen," the healer responded, never forgoing her formality with her young friend.

Uncharacteristically, Xena stood and shared an embrace with each of the healers. The warrior would never forget the debt she felt she owed to the two women. Sartori, for healing Gabrielle's body after she was attacked last season, and Adia, for helping to heal the young Queen's mind. Xena didn't even like to think about how different this past season would have been had she and Gabrielle never admitted their feelings for one another.

The Queen's table became quite busy as friends and well wishers stopped by to wish the Queen and her Consort a happy and joyous Bonding ceremony. It went unnoticed by many, but Sartori's watchful eye caught it and she nudged her mate, she and Adia exchanging a knowing glance. They both smiled at the way Xena pushed her chair back from the table, still conversing with Eponin, and nonchalantly placed an arm around the young Queen's shoulders, absently allowing her thumb to stroke the bard's skin as she talked. Just as effortlessly, Gabrielle moved slightly to lean into the casual embrace. They were completely unconscious gestures by the two women, which is the very reason it appeared so natural and loving.

"So, Eph, what's the panic about?" Gabrielle finally asked.

"We're having company and I really am not prepared for this part of the job." The Regent replied.

"You remember King Tralos...the land agreement from last spring? He wants his daughter to see, and I use his words, how a real Queen runs a nation!"

"Oh, no." Gabrielle looked momentarily stunned.

"Oh, yes My Queen. His daughter is his only child and heir to the throne. He wants her to learn how to rule and he's quite adamant that her tutelage be with her Royal Majesty, Queen Gabrielle." Ephiny continued with a smirk.

"But, why me? I mean she could go to Athens and learn everything she needs to know about politics and royalty."

"I tried to narrow him down on that, but he just said that once I met her it would become apparent why he wanted her to learn here." Ephiny shrugged her shoulders. "Sorry, Gabrielle. I know this isn't what you need right now with the wedding and all, but you know important those land rights are to our Southern borders."

"Of course, Eph, I understand. I don't think I can teach anyone how to be a Queen, though." Gabrielle leaned closer to the Regent. "I'm winging it most of the time myself, but I'll gladly make myself available. I wonder what King Tralos means, though...we'll know when we see her." The Queen mused aloud.

"Maybe she's an incredibly gorgeous woman who wants to know what Amazon life is really like." Eponin said with a glint in her eye and a suggestive smile.

Xena leaned back her head and laughed, slapping the warrior on the back.

"You just keep dreaming, Ep." The warrior said


 

After the midday meal, Gabrielle headed straight for the council chambers to catch up on village business and prepare for the Princess' arrival. Xena was ambushed immediately by Eponin's class of young warriors. The Amazons were anxious to learn, but even more anxious to test their skill with the Warrior Princess. By the time the grimy warrior arrived at the Queen's hut, Gabrielle was already soaking in a steaming bath.

Leaning back, her eyes closed in relaxation, the young Queen let her mouth curl upward realizing who entered the room.

"Mmmm," Xena murmured as she bent to place a delicate kiss on Gabrielle's neck. The warrior's lips lingered there for a moment enjoying the taste of her lover's skin.

"I have to warn you, I'm a betrothed woman." The Queen remarked, her eyes remaining closed.

"Oh? Is your joining to be soon?" Xena played along, hastily removing her armor.

"Very soon, in fact."

"Well then, we don't have any time to waste, do we? Is your lover the jealous type?" Xena asked in a sultry voice, as she shrugged out of her leathers.

"Very much so. She is the Warrior Princess, after all."

"Ahh, she's highly over rated from what I hear." Xena stepped into the tub behind Gabrielle; the young woman moving up to make room for the warrior.

The dark-haired woman slipped an arm around the Queen's waist and pulled the small blonde toward her. Gabrielle leaned back against the warrior's chest, feeling the hard points of aroused flesh press into her back. The young Queen's breath quickened as the warrior ran gentle fingertips up and down the length of her arm.

"And, this jealous Warrior of yours, does she satisfy you?"

"Oh, yes," Gabrielle answered without hesitation.

"Ahhh, that's only because you haven't yet experienced the pleasures that my body can bring to you. Would you like to hear what I'd like to do to you, My Queen?" Xena whispered seductively.

The warrior began to paint a vivid picture with her words that caused Gabrielle's pulse to race and her breathing to become ragged. The combination of the warrior's sultry voice and the pleasures she promised pushed the young Queen's body to the brink.

"Gabrielle..." Xena purred in a hot breath against her lover's ear.

"Yes, love?"

"I need...I need you to..." Xena hesitated.

"Yes, love...anything." Gabrielle responded breathlessly.

"I need you to...wash my back." The warrior responded a large toothy grin on her face. She held up a bath cloth in front of the young Queen's eyes.

"What?!?" Gabrielle sputtered.

"I need you to wash my back, Xena replied matter of factly.

The warrior never had a soapy bathing cloth flung into her face before. It was definitely something new.


 

"Thought I might find you here." Ephiny took a seat on an overturned bucket, watching Xena brush down Argo. The Golden mare nickered softly at the gentle attentions from her mistress.

"What's up?" Xena questioned, blinking and rubbing her right eye.

"You okay?" The Regent inquired.

"Yea," Xena turned her face away from the Amazon in hopes she wouldn't see the blush the warrior knew was heating up her face. "I just got some soap in my eyes while I was taking a bath."

"Oh. Well, I just wanted to let you know that we're having a little celebration tonight in honor of Gabrielle's return to the village--"

"That figures." Xena snorted.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Ephiny directed a confused gaze toward the warrior.

"It means, my Amazon friend, that you women will do anything to have a party."

"Hey, we like to enjoy ourselves," The Regent deadpanned back at the warrior.

"That much is apparent." Xena responded in a low voice.

"Well, I wanted to tell you so that you and Gabrielle could make sure...you know, that you have, uhm...a good time tonight."

"We will Eph, thanks." Xena chuckled.

Sweet Artemis, she's not getting it.

"No, I mean a real good time...tonight...later." The Regent added.

"Sure, Eph." Xena looked perplexed as the Amazon just continued to stand there, her arms now folded across her chest. Biting her lip as if to keep from saying anything else.

"Ephiny, being coy doesn't suit you, besides it's annoying the Tartaurus out of me. Whatever you have to say, spill it." Xena said firmly.


 

Gabrielle sat back in her chair taking a sip of the tea that had grown cold. The young Queen split the seal on another scroll and began to read the document. If there was one unappealing aspect to being Queen, this was it. There's so damn much paperwork!

She stretched and took another swallow of the tepid, amber liquid. That's when she heard it. The shout was definitely her lover's voice and it came from the direction of the stables.

"Are you insane?" Xena yelled.

Gabrielle wondered if she should investigate, but hearing neither the clash of swords nor the zing of a chakram slicing through the air, she realized her Warrior was probably talking Athenian politics with Adia again. Those two could act as if they were going to come to blows half the time, then walk off and enjoy a mug of mead a candlemark later.

Almost a quarter of a candlemark later, Xena stalked into the hut and the Queen immediately sensed that she should go into her keep out of the warrior's way mode. The dark-haired woman looked down at her lover and the rage expressed on her face seemed to melt away on the breeze. The warrior gave the seated woman a small grin and dropped into the seat next to the small blonde.

"Gabrielle, have you done much studying regarding the Amazon customs for when their Queen takes a Consort?" Xena finally asked.

"Well, I'm trying to. Ephiny dumped about twenty scrolls off a while ago, but I have to admit some of the laws look pretty old. It's been an awfully long time since they had a Queen that wasn't bonded before she took the throne. Besides the fact that some of them seem to have been written by scholars that had a little too much of the legendary Amazon wine. I mean, they're about as clear as the river Styx." Gabrielle punctuated her statement by tossing a scroll in the warrior's direction.

Xena looked at the offending parchment and shook her head at the double-entendre in the lines of script. "We need to talk, honey." Xena said, looking into confused green eyes.


 

Ephiny was determined to be nowhere in sight when the Queen received Xena's message. She left the stables a heartbeat after Xena did. By the time she was halfway across the village, Gabrielle's shout could be coming from the Queen's hut.

"Are you insane?" Gabrielle's usually calm voice bellowed.

The Regent winced and decided hiding out until tonight's festivities, might be a good thing.


 

"Would you please repeat that? Because I am desperately hoping that I heard you wrong." Gabrielle, who was now standing, asked the seated warrior.

"We have to abstain from sex until our wedding night." Xena repeated flatly.

"This is part of Amazon law? Are you absolutely sure?" Gabrielle began pacing the room until the warrior grew dizzy watching.

Xena nearly pummeled poor Ephiny when the Regent made a sly wisecrack about Xena's libido where Gabrielle was concerned. Now it was the warrior's job to calm her future bride down.

"Gabrielle...Brie," Xena called softly, reaching a hand out to coax the young Queen into her lap.

Once Gabrielle had settled herself in the warrior's strong embrace, nuzzling the tanned skin of her lover's neck, Xena explained.

"All I know is what little Ephiny said she was able to tell me. She said the abstinence is part of a test. For one full moon before our bonding ceremony, we have to remain celibate. We're both to meet with the high priestess, in the Temple of Artemis tomorrow, it's some kind of interview."

The warrior looked down at her lover and saw Gabrielle's face tucked into a frown. She chuckled silently to herself at the young Queen's reaction. When Xena first heard the news from Ephiny, she would have sworn that their roles would be reversed right now. Yet, here was the young woman of her heart, not all that long ago being innocent to the touch of the warrior, now obsessing over their forced lack of intimacy.

Xena used two fingers to gently lift the young Queen's chin until the sapphire and emerald green orbs locked together. "Let's not think about the time we'll have to refrain, let's think about how incredible our wedding night will be." Xena said with a seductive smile that always had a way of turning Gabrielle's knees weak.

"I'm sorry, love. I didn't mean to get so, well, it's just that...you know..."

"I know, my heart...I know. Me too." The warrior added before lightly brushing her lips against the soft ones that belonged to the woman she loved.

Gabrielle never ceased to be amazed at the tenderness and patience that the former Warlord could bestow upon the young Queen. This was a side of herself that the warrior rarely allowed others to see; instead she reserved this tender aspect of her personality only for the young woman she called, her heart.

To Xena, Gabrielle was her heart. The warrior knew that should anything ever happen to Gabrielle, Xena would feel the pain as if it were her own. When the warrior looked down the road at their future, she was certain that when Gabrielle's time within the mortal realm was through and she would be taken home to the Elyssian Fields, that Xena's heart would stop beating as well. Her heart was so thoroughly possessed by the young woman from Potidaea, Xena knew it could be no other way. The warrior felt the weight of a pendant against her throat. Gabrielle had the piece of jewelry crafted for her as a symbol of the young Queen's love. Its presence reminded Xena that Gabrielle had entrusted her heart to the warrior as well.

"Well, I have good news and bad news." Xena said, shaking the serious thoughts from her mind.

"And the bad news would be?" Gabrielle asked.

"Today is the last day we have to enjoy the pleasure of one another for the next moon."

"And you said you had good news?" The Queen inquired, while a mischievous smile played on her warrior's face.

Xena got an embarrassed look and shrugged her shoulders. "They're throwing you a party tonight?" She said weakly.

"Oh, wonderful!" Gabrielle exclaimed with a laugh. "We have to celebrate our chastity, too."

"On the bright side," Xena said, standing up swiftly with Gabrielle still in her arms, "We have a few candlemarks until the party and I'd like for you to teach me everything you know about being an Amazon Queen."

"Hhmm," Gabrielle murmured against the warrior's already heated skin as she began to caress the woman's neck with her lips and tongue. "It seems that everyone is anxious to learn under me, lately." She finished, tugging gently at the skin with her teeth.

"Oh, yes, My Queen," Xena moaned, her eyes heavy-lidded, the hoarseness of her voice betraying the depth of her arousal. "I look forward to your instruction." She added breathlessly.


 

Ephiny lifted her cup of wine in toast as the other Amazons around her did the same.

"Gabrielle, we are always honored when you share your presence with your subjects, even more so with the upcoming occasion of your Bonding Ceremony. We drink to your continued good health and happiness. To her Royal Majesty Queen Gabrielle and her soon to be Consort, her Highness Xena." Ephiny finished the toast to murmurs of approval from the rest of the tribe.

Xena just stared at the Regent, one eyebrow arching in suspicion at the toast. The warrior leaned closer to Gabrielle, who sat by her side nodding her thanks.

"They're not really gonna start calling me Your Highness, are they?" Xena whispered out of the side of her mouth.

"It's not so funny when it's you, is it?" Gabrielle shot back, the frozen smile still on her face as she continued to smile and nod.

The party started to become exciting as the musicians came forward and the dancing started. Gabrielle was even able to entice Xena to share some slow dances, which the warrior enjoyed thoroughly. She spent the entire dance whispering some very erotic fantasies into her bard's ear, then enjoyed watching the young Queen's composure slip a few notches.

A young Amazon made her way to the Queen's table and offered the Queen and her intended Consort another cup of wine. Gabrielle quickly held up her hand.

"I'd much prefer some cider, thank you."

Xena smiled at her young lover. She knew Gabrielle fell asleep after two cups of wine and the young Queen had no intention of making it an early night tonight. The warrior reached for another cup, but Gabrielle quickly placed her own hand over Xena's and leaned in close to the warrior.

Ephiny had a hard time keeping the grin off her usually serious face. Gabrielle lowered her voice to speak to Xena, but it was loud enough that the Regent picked up part of the message. The Queen simply wanted her Consort to have all her faculties for the activities they would enjoy later in their hut. There was something else Ephiny heard a piece of. It had something to do with the Warrior Princess and her brains being intact by the end of the night. The Regent snorted into her drink, but noticed that Xena quickly shook her head to the offer of additional wine.


 

The Queen and her Consort enjoyed the evening's festivities for as long as they were required to, staying only as long as propriety dictated. It would look bad if the Queen left any party before the first guest did. The Regent took pity on her young friend and, even though she would have liked to stay and enjoy the party, she bade her Queen goodnight. It only took moments before Gabrielle and Xena did likewise.

Once they were in their own hut, Xena wrapped strong arms around her future bride and placed a kiss on the smaller woman's lips that was as delicate as a light breeze. One kiss soon turned into many, but Gabrielle could feel that Xena was holding back her passion. She imagined that the warrior was trying to savor this last evening of intimacy by making it gentle and soft. She knew that Xena would try and do something like this for her. The young Queen, however, imagined a different night of passion in her bardic mind.

Gabrielle realized her warrior would have to be seduced into the idea she had in mind, but she also knew that it wouldn't take much for the dark-haired beauty to succumb. The young woman let her hands roam across the areas of Xena's body unprotected by armor. It didn't take long before Xena was moaning into their kisses. The young Queen initiated her plan with subtle moves intended to arouse the warrior out of her controlled passion.

She started by nibbling slightly on the warrior's lower lip, but taking an extra firm nip as she pulled away. Gabrielle's lips wrapped around an earlobe, her tongue stroking the tender skin until she could feel Xena shiver within her embrace, then she bit down on the flesh until she heard the warrior groan with a sound borne of pleasure and pain. The small blonde took care to let her teeth, none too gently, tug at the taut skin of the warrior's neck, while her fingernails clawed a path up the back of Xena's muscled thighs and under her leather battle skirt. Small growls of pleasure escaped from the warrior's throat, as she pulled the young Queen closer, her touch becoming possessive and more demanding.

Slowly Gabrielle pulled away and began removing the warrior's armor, until only Xena's leather shift and her boots remained. The dark-haired woman allowed herself to be led to a chair where she was directed to sit. The Queen knelt between the warrior's legs and quickly removed the heavy boots and protectors, massaging Xena's calf muscles until the seated woman's eyes were nearly closed.

That's when Gabrielle made her desires plain.

"What would the Warrior Princess desire this evening?" The young woman purred.

It was only one sentence, but it's hidden meaning hit Xena like a white hot bolt of energy. It exploded in her chest and suddenly the flames were licking at her body, creating a heat that settled directly between her legs. The warrior's eyes snapped open to find Gabrielle still kneeling in front of her, the young woman's hands folded in her lap, her eyes bowed to the floor. Xena closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, then, leaning forward slightly she whispered in the small blonde's ear.

"Are you sure, my heart...is this what you want?"

"Oh, yes...please" Gabrielle whimpered.

Xena leaned hard against the back of the chair. She closed her eyes and mumbled. "Give me a second."

The warrior needed to switch gears. Thinking she was about to be most lovingly ravished by her bard, she now had to swallow those emotions and release the Warlord Xena. That's the only time Gabrielle ever referred to her as the Warrior Princess. Xena's head was spinning at the curve she'd been thrown, but she could see the need in her lover's face and her own body said it had been too long since they played this little game.

A few more deep breaths and the Consort to the Amazon Queen, was safely tucked away, and the Warlord Xena sat in her place. Xena's mind never forgot who she was or that this woman kneeling before her was her intended, not a slave she'd just captured, but the warrior's body became ruled by the Destroyer of Nations; the woman who took her pleasure where and how she pleased. This was the lover that Gabrielle wanted tonight, the sort of sensual memories that she wanted to carry her through the days till the next new moon.

Xena reached over and as gently as she ever had, lifted Gabrielle's chin until the young Queen's eyes were held captive by the stranger's above her. The warrior's lips curled upward in a smile that spoke of seduction with a tinge of wickedness. The glint in the cerulean gaze made Gabrielle swallow involuntarily, and when a long, slender finger ran the length of the young Queen's jaw, Gabrielle felt a delicious trickle of wetness start its descent down her inner thigh.

"I think I'd like a massage first." Xena said casually, willing her voice not to betray the absolute craving that was building up inside for this young woman kneeling before her.

Gabrielle moved with grace and speed to gather a towel and some oils to be used for the warrior's massage. Xena slipped out of her leathers and pulled her cotton shift over her head as she walked to the large bed by the window. She doused the candles closest to the window and opened the shutter to let in the evening breeze. Her mouth lifted in an evil grin while she watched as Gabrielle turned to see what the warrior was doing. The Queen wasn't in a position to argue even as she realized that the whole village would probably hear them through the open window tonight. The small blonde could feel the heat rising to her face as she heard Xena's chuckle.

The warrior stretched her lean frame across the length of the mattress. Lying on her side, her head resting in the palm of her hand, she watched as the blonde carefully chose the scented oil she would use.

"You are wearing entirely too many clothes." Xena's voice issued an unspoken command and she wondered how long it would take her usually obstinate lover to understand and comply.

Gabrielle immediately put the items in her hand down and began to remove her garments. Once divested of all clothing, she stood facing the warrior, head down, arms at her side, as if waiting for approval to continue. In the meantime, Xena was finding the air in the room a little close. Oh, the amazing things that subservience could do to a Warlord's libido.

"Come here." Xena's voice ordered.

Gabrielle swiftly scooped up the items beside her and deposited them at the end of the bed, kneeling on the floor, eyes bowed in submission before her lover. With lightning speed the warrior reached out and grabbed a handful of the small bard's hair, pulling her head back so that her eyes looked directly into Xena's. Gabrielle saw the blue fire that looked like the inner portion of a flame burning out at her from her Consort's eyes and she obediently tried to avert her eyes.

Oh, yes...subservience. Xena felt the nerve endings along her skin begin to tingle.

"When I tell you to come, it means to drop everything, not to finish your task first." Xena growled.

"Yes...forgive me, Mistress."

Ahh, obedience. Xena involuntarily parted her thighs, the luscious scent of her arousal causing the bard to clench her hands to keep from lunging at the woman.

"It's good that you're so apologetic. We wouldn't want to spoil your perfect skin with the whip, now would we?"

Gabrielle's eyes opened wide, the black pupils contracting to pinpoints. Xena had never used a whip on her bard before, but the soft length of leather was always within reach during their games. Gabrielle's body shivered, knowing that simply because Xena hadn't used it, didn't mean she wouldn't.

Gods...fear. The warrior was keeping a reign on her excitement up to this point, but suddenly a rush of molten fluid flowed from her eager sex and a simple massage was the last thing she wanted to settle for. She took the young Queen's mouth in a kiss that made up in intensity what it lacked in tenderness. Pulling herself up to sit on the edge of the mattress, she spread her legs wide and pulled the bard closer to her.

"I've changed my mind. The massage can wait."

Xena still had a grasp on the Queen's hair and she pulled the young woman's head so close to her center, Gabrielle could have stuck out her tongue and captured the droplets of her lovers essence that glistened there.

"Please..." Gabrielle whimpered, her warm breath causing the dark-haired woman's body to shudder in delight.

"I think you know what I like...and, how I like it." Xena commanded, finally releasing her hold on the young woman.

Those words were the last coherent sounds either of the two lovers made until Apollo's chariot raced across the sky, carrying the fire of a new day in its wake.


 

The warrior groaned as the thin shaft of sunlight hit her between the eyes. She rolled over, wrapping the blankets around her, snuggling further into the slightly askew mattress. Sleeping in wasn't usually a part of her repertoire, but her body demanded the rest this morning. She felt an unconscious sense of loss and quickly realized that Gabrielle's side of the bed was empty. Xena half sat up to glance around the room and an audible groan escaped her lips.

Gods, am I sore! If I feel this way, I can't even picture Brie being able to walk.

She was amazed the young Queen was already out of bed. Xena felt like a centaur had kicked her around. She thought back to the time she'd suffered through the Gauntlet, realizing that even the pain of cuts, bruises, and near broken bones couldn't compare to the morning after a night's passion with the young Amazon Queen. Ah, but the warrior wouldn't have it any other way. Xena winced and gave up on sitting, sprawling across the entire bed. She had just returned to a pleasant snore when Gabrielle walked in with a breakfast tray filled with food and drinks.

The aroma of hot food wafted toward the prone woman and she raised her head, eyes still at half-mast.

"Good morning, Sleepyhead." Gabrielle smiled as she brought a mug of steaming tea over toward the dark-haired woman. "Do you know how many seasons I've waited to use that expression on you?" Gabrielle asked, a smug smile of satisfaction lighting up her features.

Xena groaned and gave a weak grin. "You're not human, you realize that don't you?"

Gabrielle laughed good naturally and set the tea by the bed. Xena reached for the young woman, but Gabrielle quickly moved out of arms reach.

"Ah, ah, ah. Today starts our test of abstinence until our wedding night."

"I only wanted to give you a kiss." Xena said with an evil smile.

"Uh huh...well, I'd believe that a little more if you weren't completely naked." Gabrielle finished indicating the warrior's unclad form, sprawled across the bed.

"What?" Xena arranged her body in a seductive pose. "You don't like what you see?"

"Don't go there, Warrior." Gabrielle leaned closer until she was within inches of Xena's face. "Paybacks are a bitch." She swiftly kissed the top of her lover's head and moved back toward the table. "Drink your tea. Are you hungry?" The Queen asked as Xena wrapped the sheet around her and joined her lover at the table.

"Starved." Xena replied as she fidgeted uncomfortably in her chair. "Gods, Brie...aren't you sore at all?"

"Hades teeth, yes." Gabrielle replied quickly. "It was definitely worth it though." She smiled knowingly at Xena. "Thank you, love."

"The pleasure was all mine. Well," Xena smirked, "maybe not all mine, but a lot anyway."

They enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, something they were rarely able to do. When they were finished, Xena stood and grabbed a simple wrap around robe from a hook on the wall.

"I'm going to go soak in a hot tub, want to join me?"

Gabrielle just raised an eyebrow in frustration.

"Hey, we bathed together for quite a few summers before any of this." She indicated the bed, whose mattress was nearly lying on the floor. "You wouldn't think it would be so hard, would you?" She finished as if in answer to her own question.

"Go take your bath." Gabrielle chuckled at the retreating form of her lover. "And, don't forget the interview today at the temple."

"Be back in half a candlemark." Xena said before closing the door.


 

Xena's body jerked forward and she caught herself from going under the water by reaching out a hand to the pool's rock ledge. She quickly scanned the pool area to make sure no one caught that smooth move. She hadn't been this tired in, she couldn't remember how long, and the steaming water relaxed her body to the point that she actually fell asleep. Not just one-eye-open kind of sleep, but a dead-to-the-world variety of slumber.

She leaned her head against the ledge and floated in the hot water. One eye opened in response to Eponin dumping her belongings on the ledge and sliding into the hot water.

"Hey," Xena called out quietly.

"Hey yourself." The Amazon stretched a little to work out some of the kinks that last night's party had left her with. "Gods, Xena." Eponin gasped.

"What?" Xena asked as a hand went to her throat, following the direction the Amazon's eyes took.

"You look like a wild animal attacked you." Eponin snorted in laughter, pointing out the bruises and red marks on the warrior's neck and chest.

Xena closed her eyes and leaned back again, an ever so slight upward curl of her lips the only sign that she was remembering last evening's passions with her young Queen.

"I'm not so sure one didn't." The warrior deadpanned.

"Oh, Hades, I have to go. I promised Gabrielle I wouldn't be long." Xena said pulling her body from the warm water.

"Ka-ching," Eponin made a noise that sounded like a whip cracking in mid air, while at the same time imitating the same motion with her hand.

Xena bent and reached for her robe just as the Amazon noticed the warrior's back. The dark-haired woman followed the Amazon's eyes once more and looked over her own shoulder to the upper portion of her back that was covered in scratches. "Oh," the Warrior Princess commented.

"Did Gabrielle--"

"Uh huh," Xena nodded. "Now, what were you saying?"

The Amazon swallowed once or twice while the visual of that last though played across her mind's eye. "I...was...saying...what an extremely lucky woman you are."

"Ep, you don't know the half of it." Xena chuckled, leaving the Amazon with her fantasies of her young Queen.


 

"My, Queen." The high priestess bowed slightly to Gabrielle as the young Queen left an offering of scented oil and spices on the altar. "Will you and your Consort follow me?"

Without waiting the woman turned and Xena and Gabrielle dutifully followed along behind the older woman as she led them through the maze of hallways of the large temple. Amazingly enough, Gabrielle had been back into this private area of the temple for Amazon ceremonies before, but she was never able to remember her way on her own. She wanted to ask Xena if she would remember, but in the stillness of the temple, her own voice seemed like it would be out of place.

Xena looked over at her young lover and saw the pensive frown on the small blonde's face. She reached out a sword callused hand and entwined Gabrielle's smaller fingers within her own. When the young Queen looked up into the warrior's face, her frown disappeared and was immediately replaced with a smile filled with the sunshine of her heart. The smile affected the warrior deeply and she couldn't keep herself from smiling back.

The three women came to a stop in front of a large pair of doors. When the doors swung open without human assistance, Xena and Gabrielle knew they had never been to this part of the temple before.

"Wait here, please." The priestess said. Gabrielle turned to say something, but the woman had already gone.

"Well, that was...quick." Gabrielle said with a nervous smile in Xena's direction.

"It's allright, Brie, relax." Xena responded by placing her hands on the smaller woman's shoulders and squeezing them lightly in a gesture of reassurance.

"My Queen." The voice said seconds after a swirl of multicolored sparkles transported the Goddess Artemis into the room.

"Artemis." Gabrielle said, quickly dropping to one knee.

Xena raised an eyebrow, but continued standing, folding her arms across her chest. It used to bother her when Gabrielle did this, but the warrior had finally come to realize that Artemis was the Amazon's benefactor and by proxy, that made her the young Queen's patron Goddess. While Artemis had protected the Queen and her Warrior on more than one occasion, Xena still had a difficult time ridding herself of her natural distrust for the Gods of Olympus. They were always after something and the proud warrior was there to see to it that something wasn't her bard.

"Relax, Warrior. You came to see me, remember?" Artemis laughed as Xena realized, even with her concentration techniques, her thoughts had been utterly transparent to the Goddess.

"Please, rise my young Queen. I think you're making your warrior nervous."

Gabrielle stood and positioned herself until she was, once again, standing beside Xena.

"So, you are finally to be joined." Artemis mused, sitting down in an oversized chair against the wall. "My sister, Aphrodite, is beside herself with joy, you know." She chuckled. "As a matter of fact, I'd like to drag Ares down here to witness the occasion."

The Goddess watched the expressions on the faces of the two women. Gabrielle's seemed frightened, while Xena appeared sullen and angry.

"Don't worry," the Goddess hurriedly continued. "I wouldn't ruin your day like that. You have to admit, though, it would be fun to rub his face in it." Artemis finished, all three women letting a slight smile play across their lips.

"Gabrielle, I have a scroll for you that will make some of the rituals you will undergo in the next couple of fortnights, a little more understandable. I don't know what those women were thinking when they came up with that last set of scrolls."

Artemis seemingly produced the thickly rolled parchment from thin air, handing it to the small blonde. Gabrielle smiled up at the taller Goddess, bowing her head in respect.

"Have a seat here for a few moments, My Queen. Xena...come walk with me in the garden." Artemis finished, walking away without waiting for the warrior's response.

"I'll be allright." Gabrielle answered her lover's questioning look.


 

"You seemed rather upset when I mentioned Ares coming to your wedding." Artemis asked the warrior as the two women walked side by side throughout the immense garden.

"It's no secret how I feel about Ares and I don't like when he upsets Gabrielle." Xena replied tightly.

"Well, aside from the obvious reason, that he's a low-life snake, why do you think he upsets Gabrielle?"

"I think..." Xena started, but stopped abruptly. She couldn't believe she was about to confide in a God, but she might as well at this point, since Artemis probably read her thoughts already. "I think Gabrielle feels Ares might be able to make me a better offer someday. That he might be able to give me something she can't."

"And, could he?" Artemis questioned.

Xena stopped to stare into the gray eyes of the Goddess who was only slightly taller than she was. The warrior turned and looked back from where they stood in the courtyard. She could see through the open window where Gabrielle sat immersed in the scroll the Goddess had given her. The small blonde's brow was furrowed in concentration and she absently tugged at her lower lip while she read. The innocent gesture tore painfully at the warrior's heart.

"No," she said as her voice broke. "In this life or any other, Ares could never offer me anything as compelling as that woman's heart."

Artemis smiled as she watched the warrior brusquely brush a tear from her cheek; Xena seemed embarrassed that she had lost her composure in front of this God.

"Just remember, Xena, this is the woman of your heart. Misplaced anger has destroyed more civilizations than it has built up." Artemis said cryptically. Have a seat and relax, while I go talk to our young Queen."

By the time Xena turned, the Goddess had vanished. I hate when they do that. The warrior sunk to a stone bench and waited for her lover's interview to be finished.


 

"Were you able to discover anything important?" Artemis indicated the scroll in the Queen's hand.

"No disrespect intended, but I think I've learned that it's a lot easier to get married when you're not a Queen." Gabrielle said bluntly.

Artemis laughed and to Gabrielle's ears the sound reminded her of her own laughter.

"I'm sure you'll live through it, My Queen. Tell me, Gabrielle. Why the fearful look when I mentioned Ares? I mean, aside from the fact that he's obsessed with your intended and a pathetic excuse for a God."

Gabrielle chuckled slightly then her features grew serious. "It's just that I don't trust him when it comes to Xena."

"Then shouldn't the question be whether you trust Xena?"

"No! I trust Xena completely." Gabrielle returned fiercely. "I get afraid, though. I'm afraid sometimes that I don't have enough of whatever it takes to keep Xena happy in this relationship. I'm not sure I can compete with someone like Ares."

The bard finished and lowered her eyes to the ground. This was a fear that nagged at the young Queen for a long while, but it was the first time she was openly admitting it. She knew Xena loved her, but what if a better offer came along?

"Gabrielle," Artemis commanded the young Queen to raise her eyes with her voice alone. "You already possess the most formidable weapon you'll ever need. Your heart."

Artemis took a half turn and glanced out the window, looking out at the warrior, fidgeting nervously on a stone bench. Xena began to absently twirl her chakram around in her hand and the Goddess thought she better wrap this up or she might soon be missing the tall stemmed flowers the warrior began to eye.

"Remember, My Queen, ultimate trust is not without its price. Sometimes when all those around you say a thing is black, it is up to you to say it is white. If for no other reason than because your heart says it's so."

Gabrielle couldn't quite understand how the Goddess' words applied, but she smiled into the gray eyes anyway.

"Now, go keep your warrior from decimating my garden." Artemis said and was gone before the Queen's eyes.


 

Xena sat eyeing the long row of double red poppy's, flipping her chakram over and over. A bored warrior is a dangerous thing and this warrior was definitely getting bored. Raising her gaze up to the sky, she tossed a bit of dry grass in the air and watched it blow to her left. She looked at the brick wall, the well, and the stone image of a deer. Finally she extended her arm and released the metal ring in a hard, swift motion.

Gabrielle came down the garden path just as her Consort's weapon sliced evenly through three dozen flowers leaving their lonely stems bereft of their heads.

"Hah!" Xena said out loud, a large toothy grin on her face. Just then the warrior looked up.

Gabrielle stood facing the smiling warrior with her arms folded, her face pulling into a scowl as an eyebrow arched under her blonde bangs. She looked at the decapitated flowers, then at Xena.

"Uhm...that was an accident." Xena quickly lied.

Gabrielle shook her head and turned to leave the temple. A small smile found its way to her lips and she turned back to the dark-haired woman.

"You wear me out, Warrior. You definitely wear me out." She chuckled.

The Amazon Queen walked up the pathway that led out of the garden, as the taller woman jumped up, and like a contrite puppy, followed obediently along behind. Xena couldn't quite rid herself of her triumphant grin, or the sheepish blush that covered her face.


 

Artemis removed her cumbersome breastplate and sunk heavily into a cushioned chair before accepting a glass of wine.

"How did it go?"

"Weren't you watching?" The Goddess inquired.

"You know I don't like to intrude on the privacy of mortals."

The Goddess smiled at her brother. How very much like the woman she just left.

"I gave them the information they will need. Whether they use it or not is up to them."

"But, they're mortals. It's not fair to put them through this."

"There are hard times coming for my Amazons. They'll need a strong Queen who has an even stronger Champion standing at her side. If it's not to be Gabrielle and Xena, I need to know." Artemis argued in return.

"They're Soulmates, their destiny is together." The God gave the only reason he could think of to change his sister's mind.

"You act like I'm responsible. It's the will of the Fates, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. I'm only lucky that those three owed me a favor, otherwise I wouldn't have been allowed to intervene this much."

"Will they get past it?"

Artemis looked out onto the lush landscape of the paradise that was Mount Olympus. She shook her head sadly at her brother.

"I'm not sure that even these two will be able to get past the pain of this." She answered, walking from the room and leaving her wine untouched.


 

"I still don't see why I can't ride out and greet them myself." Gabrielle complained, trying to fasten the cape onto the back of Xena's shoulder armor.

Brie, you're the Queen; people come to you, not the other way around. Visiting dignitaries to the Nation, have to be taken care of with a certain amount of formality, you know that. Besides, how do you think I feel? Frankly, I had no idea that the Queen's Consort had to be the official welcome wagon. Seriously Brie, am I really the first person you think of, when you think of diplomacy?" Xena inquired.

Gabrielle laughed and slapped the warrior across the arm. She stood back and admired the tall warrior in front of her. Xena had given up her leather battle skirt for a silk shirt and brushed leather pants that tucked into her usual boots. She wore her same armor, but the shirt did a better job at hiding the scratches on her shoulders and back her young Queen put there two evenings ago. The cape was simply a part of the formality recognizing her as the Queen's Champion.

Xena and Gabrielle walked hand in hand toward the center of the village. A young Amazon stood holding Argo's reins, waiting for the warrior to mount.

"Your Highness," the young woman handed the mare's reins to Xena.

The warrior growled under her breath and rolled her eyes at Gabrielle, who simply laughed at the dark-haired woman's discomfort.

"Can't you order them to stop that?" Xena asked.

"Yea, right! I'm having waayyy too much fun with this." The young Queen exclaimed.

The warrior growled a low rumbling sound, starting deep in her chest. She wrapped an arm around her bard's waist and pulled her closer. "Just remember that I better be the only one you have this much fun with." She said with a twinkle in her sparkling blue gaze.

Xena kissed the smaller woman and vaulted her body effortlessly into the saddle.

"I'll be back before you know it." She said, reaching her hand down and letting her fingers brush against the silkiness of her bard's cheek. She remained that way, lost in the emerald green gaze, until she abruptly pulled on Argo's reins and the rest of the welcoming committee followed suit.


 

"Her Highness, Xena would like to welcome--" Eponin was interrupted before she finished.

"Oh, I don't think we need to be quite that formal." A young woman of perhaps nineteen stepped forward from the circle of guards that protected her. "Well met, Xena, my name is Jordan. King Tralos is my father."

Once you meet her it will be apparent why she is to learn here...

The King's words made sense as soon as the young woman stepped from the protective circle of her guards. Standing taller than any woman around her, she was dressed in a simple tunic, hunter's leather pants, and boots. She carried no armor or weapons, but held herself as one who had been trained in the art of self-defense. Xena felt herself smile as she took the offered arm in a warrior's grasp. She especially liked the woman's no nonsense approach. Oh, yea...she and Brie will get along wonderfully.

"Princess Jordan, this is a member of the Amazon First guard, Eponin." Xena said as she started the introductions.

"Princess," Eponin said before dropping to one knee.

Jordan looked as obviously uncomfortable at the kneeling figure as Xena always was around the Amazon's servility toward royalty. Xena leaned toward the young Princess.

"You can't get them to stop, believe me I've tried." The warrior whispered to Jordan's amusement.

"Xena, this is the Captain of my father's guard. Adrian--"

"Yes, your majesty, Xena and I are old friends."

The auburn-haired woman stood very nearly as tall as the Warrior Princess, but didn't have Xena's powerful body. She appeared more slender and carried her sword on her hip. She offered her arm up to the dark-haired warrior and her pale blue eyes seemed to laugh at the warrior's obvious discomfort.

"Adrian." Xena answered tersely, swiftly grasping the woman's forearm, then pulling back just as quickly.

Xena hated being surprised and this one definitely threw her. She hadn't expected to meet this woman again, especially not here, and most especially not when her joining ceremony with Gabrielle was only a moon away.

"Shall we go, Princess?" Xena carefully covered her shaken demeanor with a smile in Jordan's direction. "The Queen will be waiting."

Xena and Jordan moved off toward their respective mounts, leaving Adrian with a cold, fixed smile on her face. Well, if the Warrior Princess wants to play it this way, fine. I wonder why she's trying to keep it a secret? After all, we were lovers for nearly a whole season.


 

Adrian and Eponin rode slightly behind Xena and the Princess. The rest of the company rode in front of and behind the small party.

"So, how long has Xena been an Amazon?" Adrian asked the woman who rode beside her.

"She's not." Eponin answered honestly. "She's the Queen's Consort. They're to be joined in one moon's time."

So that's why the cold-shoulder. You can't very well have your Queen knowing how you spent your Warlord years, can you? The Warrior Princess married...how very interesting.

"So," Adrian said with a genuine smile, "tell me more about this Amazon Queen."


 

"I hope my presence isn't too much of an inconvenience for the Queen." Jordan said to the dark-haired warrior who rode beside her.

"Absolutely not," Xena tried to allay the girl's fears. "Gabrielle is looking forward to meeting you."

"Tell me, Xena, what's it like to be an Amazon?"

"I wouldn't know," the dark-haired warrior chuckled.

"Oh, but when they introduced you, I thought..." Jordan stammered.

"I'm not an Amazon myself, I only belong to one," Xena smiled. "Gabrielle will become my wife at the next new moon."

"Well, congratulations are in order then."

"Princess, have you never heard of me?" Xena asked, somewhat surprised at the young woman's ease around her.

"I've heard the stories of the Warrior Princess, yes, but I've never heard them tell about the woman that rides beside me." Jordan answered.

Xena looked at the young woman and found that she liked this smart young Princess. She was struck at the young woman's physical resemblance to the warrior she had known all too briefly. Devlin had given her own life to see that Xena's heart was kept safe. The blue eyes and short cropped blonde hair that Xena looked at now, reminded her of that warrior who fell in love with the Amazon Queen and gave her life because of that love.

"I've heard," Jordan said, pulling Xena from her thoughts. "That the Queen is a very beautiful woman."

Xena arched an eyebrow at the young Princess' boldness.

"Oh, I mean no disrespect, seeing that she is your intended." Jordan was quick to add.

Xena laughed out loud at the young woman's panicked expression. "No offense taken, Princess. Besides, you heard right...she is." Xena rewarded the young woman with a smile that she reserved for those she felt most comfortable around.


 

Xena could see the absolute awe displayed in the face of the young Princess. Gabrielle intended on making an impression, but little did she know how enamored the young woman already was. The throne was set up on the dais in the middle of the village, the Royal Guard, Ephiny, and Gabrielle all wore their leathers and ceremonial masks.

"My Queen." Xena said bowing deeply much to Gabrielle's surprise. "May I present her Royal Highness, Princess Jordan. Princess, allow me to introduce you to her Majesty, Queen Gabrielle."

In an instant Jordan dropped to one knee before the Amazon Queen as Gabrielle lifted her mask from her head. Even Xena's breath caught when Gabrielle's emerald green gaze smiled down on the women. The young Queen, in the meantime, was wondering where in the world her lover had acquired such diplomatic skills.

In the short amount of time it took for the Queen and the Princess to go from a formal greeting to a first name basis, Xena was sure of a couple of things. The first one being that Gabrielle would always make a wonderful ruler for these Amazons. The second was that the young Princess had a major crush going and Xena smiled to herself, thankful that this time it wasn't on her.

While Xena gave some instructions, as to settling the Princess and her party into the guest quarters, Adrian was once again rebuffed by the dark-haired warrior. Xena wanted time alone with Gabrielle to explain things before she introduced the two women. Adrian simply chuckled at the warrior's apparent displeasure, watching the Amazon Queen stroll up to them.

"Your Majesty," Adrian said to Gabrielle's approaching figure.

Xena turned quickly and tried to lead Gabrielle away from the woman. "Aren't you hungry, love?"

"Believe it or not, no." Gabrielle smiled.

The Queen looked into her lover's blue eyes and watched as they bounced nervously around. She looked over at the warrior that came with the Princess' party.

"Please, call me Gabrielle. Xe are you going to introduce us?" Gabrielle asked, slightly suspicious of why Xena seemed so ill at ease.

"This is Adrian, Captain of the guard." Xena replied tightly. "She's an old...she's someone I used to know."

Gabrielle hadn't expected that and she could tell by the way Xena looked down at her, that the warrior had more to say, but privately. Neither one of the lovers was prepared for Adrian to take matters into her own hands, however.

"It's an honor to meet you Gabrielle. I'm so glad you're not the jealous type. It could make my stay here rather difficult, to say the least. What's in the past is past, eh? But, then I'm sure Xena has already told you about us. Suffice to say, we were very young."

The dark-haired warrior looked into Gabrielle's eyes with a mixture of apology and trepidation. God's, Brie, I'm so sorry. I never meant for you to find out like this, my heart.

"Yes, of course." The young Queen fixed a smile on her face and leaned against the warrior's body when she felt the familiar arm wrap protectively around her shoulder.

Gabrielle felt as if she'd just been kicked in the stomach, but the proud young woman wasn't about to let this stranger see how very affected she was by this sudden news.

Xena felt Gabrielle's body lean into her own as the warrior placed a comforting arm around her. Thank you, Brie. She silently applauded her lover for keeping her composure. The warrior knew that Adrian did this simply to get a rise from the young blonde and Gabrielle had no intention of giving in. Even though Xena could feel the warmth of the small body as it pressed against her own; she could also feel the stiffness of the bard's posture. Gods, this is going to be one Tartaurus of a fight.

 

Part 2

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