Standard Disclaimers: Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and most of the other characters who appear in this story belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All the other characters, the story ideas and the story itself belongs to me. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in anyway. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all copyright notices.
Specific Story Disclaimers:-
Violence - There is a bit of violence but nothing graphic.
Subtext - This story is based on the premise of two women very much in love with each other. While there are no graphics scenes involved, the theme runs through the story and if this bothers you, you'll have to find another story to read. There are plenty of good ones left.
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Trust in Her
Xena was woken by the sunlight streaming in through the window. The first thing she saw when she opened her eyes were the green eyes of her partner looking back at her.
"Hey" She said
"Hi" Gabrielle smiled "How do you feel this morning?"
"I feel fine" Xena told her "My arm is a bit stiff, but that's to be expected"
"Yeah" Gabrielle said "Do you think you'll be able to get out of bed today?"
"Only if you do" Xena smiled seductively
"Is that a promise?" Gabrielle asked, as she leaned down to kiss her warrior. This kiss was full of passion and it ignited them both. Soon they were exploring each other with a gentleness that was hard to find with anyone else.
A long time after, Xena lay with her arms around her lover "So what will you be doing today?"
"Well I want to take part in the staff competition later, but I don't know if I'm good enough" Gabrielle told her
"Of course you're good enough to enter. If you fight them, the way you fight me, you'll end up winning it"
Gabrielle felt she was exaggerating but she needed the assurance from her partner more than she needed anything else. The way Xena saw her was more important than the way her Amazons saw her, or the way her family saw her. Xena's opinion was all that mattered "Do you think so?"
"No" Xena admitted "I know so" Xena finished quickly, when she saw the doubt edge into her partner's eyes.
Gabrielle smiled and hugged the warrior "I love you, Xena"
"I love you, Gabrielle" Xena said, and they just lay there for a while.
"So are you going to enter any of the competitions or just watch?" Gabrielle asked, after a long silence
"As much as I hate to admit it, I think my shoulder is hurting too much to take part, but I'd love to watch" Xena said "Maybe me and Solon can enjoy watching you kick some Amazon butt. Maybe later, if my shoulder stops aching, I can take part in something"
"Yeah" Gabrielle agreed "I think I'd do better if you were there with me"
They stayed there for a while just enjoying each other's company when there was a knock on the door.
"Come" Gabrielle shouted, then put her head back on Xena's shoulder and waited for whoever it was to enter. She smiled into the warrior's shoulder when she heard Ephiny's voice.
"Don't you two ever get enough?" The Regent smiled at the pair, noticing Gabrielle curled next to Xena with a protective arm around her waist and her injured shoulder.
"No" They both said, then started chuckling
"I just came to see if either of you wanted to be signed up for any of the contests today?" Ephiny asked "Sorry but there isn't a contest for the most passionate lovers. If there was, I don't think you two would be allowed to enter, not fair to the other couples"
Gabrielle blushed and giggled into the night shift Xena was wearing.
"Actually Gabrielle would like to enter the staff contest" Xena told her
"Figures" Ephiny said, rolling her eyes. As she watched the interaction between the two lovers, there was one thing she was certain of - they were meant to be together. "It starts in three candlemarks"
"She'll be there" Xena told her
"OK" Ephiny said, then turned to leave, before she turned back around "Oh and there's someone who wants to see you" She moved out of the way and let Solon in. He smiled when he saw his mother and Gabrielle laying together "Before I go there's just one thing I want to ask"
"What's that, Eph?" Xena asked
"Why did you keep a charmer like this young man secret?" Ephiny asked
"Well he didn't know until a couple of weeks ago, I didn't think I should have told anyone else before him, if I ever told him" Xena told her
"Oh" Ephiny said "Well from now on I would like to be warned when he is coming to our village. I'll prepare the healer's hut"
Gabrielle frowned "Excuse me?"
"Well it seems he has inherited more than his mother's baby blues" Ephiny said "All the young girls mouth's drop as soon as he walks past"
They all looked at Solon and smiled when he blushed "I'll see you later"
"Bye" They all said, and watched as Ephiny left
"So Solon" Gabrielle said "You've been wooing the girls, huh"
"No" Solon said, blushing again
"Hey it's nothing to be ashamed of" Gabrielle said "just look at your mother, she has people dropping at her feet"
Xena giggles "Yeah, right. Whatever you say"
"Oh come on, Xena. You can't tell me it isn't true" Gabrielle said
"OK" Xena said "I won't" She didn't believe it for one minute but if that's what Gabrielle wanted to think, Xena wasn't going to stop her.
"So Solon" Gabrielle said, deciding to change the subject while she was ahead "Are you looking forward to meeting your Grandmother and Uncle?"
"Definitely" Solon said "I mean Kaleipus will always be my Uncle but it's nice to have a blood family"
"No-one can ever really replace your blood family" Xena said
"Sometimes they can" Gabrielle said "You are my family and Solon is as well right"
"Right" Solon agreed "Well I'm going to go back to the hut, Mom will you come and get me when you're ready to go and look around the village"
"OK honey" Xena said, as he leaned over and gave her a kiss, then leaned over and kissed Gabrielle
"Bye" He said
"Bye" Xena and Gabrielle said, and he left
"So we'd better get up" Xena said "If we stay here, we'll never make it to that staff competition"
"You know" Gabrielle said "I totally agree"
They both got out and bed and got changed. It wasn't long before they were ready to go and watch the contests.
* * * * *
Xena, Gabrielle and Solon enjoyed watching the contests that took place in the first few candlemarks. They were the sword drills, sword fighting, archery and the junior staff contests.
Although none of the Amazons would admit it out loud, they were glad Xena wasn't taking part in the contests because most of them knew, even injured, Xena could kick their butts.
Ephiny and Eponin watched the three as they sat under a tree playing around and the Regent and her consort-to-be smiled "Who'd have thought you'd ever seen Xena like this?" Pony asked
"Not me, that's for sure" Ephiny admitted "They look like the perfect family"
"Yes they do" Pony admitted
"You never know Pony, maybe one day we'll look like that" Ephiny said, totally unexpectedly
"Maybe" Pony agreed 'I only wish that you would look at me the way those two look at each other' She thought to herself
Ephiny watched as Pony thought about what she had said and the Regent saw the doubt fill her consort's eyes 'I'm gonna make it happen' "Ephiny thought 'I swear, I'm going to find those feelings I had for you, Pony'
The weapons master pulled her out of her reverie "Eph" She said for the second time, seeing her partner start "Hey you ok?"
"Gods sorry. Yeah I guess I went off a little there" Ephiny admitted
"Well come on the staff contest is about to start" Pony told her "I want you to watch me kick Gabrielle's butt, if I get the chance"
"You wish" Ephiny smiled, they both knew how good the Queen was with a staff, after all, Pony had started teaching her when she was at the village the first time.
"Maybe" Pony smiled, and they both walked over to the staff ring.
Gabrielle was warming up on her own, while Xena and Solon watched. When Gabrielle felt she was warmed up enough she walked over to Xena and Solon "Wish me luck" She said
"Good luck" They both said together, and Gabrielle walked towards the ring. All the other contestants were there and once Gabrielle arrived they were all given their instructions and then the first fight began. Gabrielle was in the sixth fight against an older Amazon. She was slightly taller than Gabrielle and was stronger, but Gabrielle had more speed than her which she used to her advantage. The older Amazon put up a good fight but the battle was Gabrielle's. As was the next one. Which meant Gabrielle was in the final against Eponin.
Nobody, except Xena and Solon had expected Gabrielle to get this far, she had knocked two of the best Amazon fighters out of the contest.
"How are you feeling?" The bard asked Xena, when she came to sit next to her warrior for the break her and Pony had, to rest, before the final.
"I'm fine" Xena said "How about you?"
"Yeah I'm ok" Gabrielle said "I hurt my ribs a bit on the last fight"
"Come back to the hut and let me have a look" Xena said
"No it's ok, really" Gabrielle said, knowing Xena wouldn't believe her
Xena was having none of it "Either you come back to the hut and let me have a look or I'll pull you out of the contest" Xena warned her "You know I will"
Gabrielle look at Xena and when she was the 'I'm not messing' look in her lovers eyes, she agreed.
"Solon can you stay here a minute?" Xena asked
"Sure" Solon smiled, then watched as Xena took Gabrielle's hand and led her back to their hut.
When they entered the hut, Gabrielle put her arms around the waist of her lover. Xena smiled and lowered to lips to meet those of the smaller woman.
"Come on, let's look at those ribs" Xena said, as she sat Gabrielle on the bed and removed her top. Gabrielle had not worn her traditional Amazon clothing, preferring to wear a full tunic that protected her skin from cuts she may get from the end of a staff.
"Ouch" She said, when Xena hit a fairly sore spot
"They're just bruised" Xena assured her, as she took out some salve to put on the bard's ribs "You'll live"
"Good" Gabrielle said, as she pulled her lover closer and kissed her again "Thank you" She said when they finally broke apart
"For what?" Xena frowned
"Taking care of me" Gabrielle said
"Hey, that's what I'm here for" Xena smiled "Come on, you've got a contest to win"
Yep" Gabrielle said, as Xena took her hand and led her out of the hut and back to the fighting ring.
Eponin stood in the ring for her opponent. Most Amazons thought it was funny the way it worked out. Everyone knew Eponin was upset when Ephiny was upset about the Xena and Gabrielle thing and many knew Eponin was at the stage where she wanted to hit the Queen for the pain she had been putting Ephiny through. What a group of Amazons wanted to know was, would Eponin fight properly and beat Gabrielle to a pulp or would she just let the Queen win?
They didn't expect the fight that was to take place. Gabrielle was about the same height as Eponin but Pony had a lot of upper body strength that Gabrielle didn't. Gabrielle was used to competing against this though, she did after all, have to spar with Xena. The balance of power went back and forth constantly. It was a close contest. After a while when both women started to tire Gabrielle managed to get the upper hand. She remembered a move that Xena had shown her not to long ago, hoping that it worked, she dropped to her knees and feinted to her right hoping to take out Pony's legs from under her. As expected the weapons master blocked it so she quickly spun to her left and before Pony knew what had happened Gabrielle dropped to the ground, standing over the Amazon, Gabrielle placed her staff against the throat of the other with a little pressure.
"Do you give?" The Queen asked
"Yes" Eponin said, reluctantly
"The winner, Queen Gabrielle" The referee announced and everyone shouted and cheered.
"Good fight, Pony" Gabrielle said, as she held her hand out to help to Amazon, who took it.
"When did you get so good?" Pony asked, picking up her staff and walking with Gabrielle to where Xena, Ephiny and Solon were standing.
"I have had two good teachers" Gabrielle reminded her
Eponin smiled knowing that the things Gabrielle had done had nothing to do with her, that was all Xena "Yeah but apparently Xena is pretty good at teaching the staff as well as the sword. Didn't even think she could do it"
"Oh she has many skills" Gabrielle smiled as they reached the three
"Who has many skills?" Xena asked, as she reached out and put her arm around the bard.
"You" Gabrielle said
"Oh" Xena said 'I wonder what brought that up' She thought "Anyway come on I want to put some more salve on your ribs"
"What's wrong with your ribs?" Ephiny asked
"They got bruised a little on the second fight" Gabrielle admitted
"Oh great, so I can't even beat an injured bard" Eponin said, totally disgusted with herself.
"Don't worry, Pon" Xena said "Even I have a job beating her when we spar"
Although she knew it shouldn't, that did make Eponin feel better "And that's supposed to make me feel better" She said, smiling to take the sting out of it.
"It should" Xena said, knowingly
"Come on, Xena" Gabrielle pulled Xena towards their hut "Do you think Pony is upset?"
"Nah, just a little hurt in the pride" Xena assured her "Nothing she hasn't suffered before"
"Yeah but that was when you beat her. This is me, Xena" Gabrielle said
"Yeah the Queen of the Amazons. Gabrielle for most people there is no shame in losing to the Queen no matter what the Queen is like whether it would be me or you" Xena told her
"I hope so" Gabrielle said
"Now let's get your tunic off and let me put some salve on it" Xena said, as she started to unbutton her partners shirt. Moving the shirt out of the way, then reaching over into her medical bag and pulled out the salve and let her fingers dip into the salve and then drift across her partners ribs, smiling at the catch in her breath at the touch.
"I love you, Xena" Gabrielle said, totally surprising her partner. She smiled at the look in Xena's eyes as she said it
"I love you, too" Xena said "What brought that on?"
"Nothing" Gabrielle said "Can't I just tell the person I love, more than anything else, how I feel?"
"I guess you can" Xena smiled, as she finished putting the salve on the bards ribs and kissed her on the head.
"When are we going to see Athena, Xe" Gabrielle asked quietly
"Whenever you want to my bard" Xena said, smiling at the diminutive of her name, something she only allowed Gabrielle to call her, anyone else tried and they usually ended up with an earful.
"I'd like to go when we're in Amphipolis. I have to do this myself, I know that, but I want you to be in the area" Gabrielle said, sheepishly.
"Of course, I'll be there, Gabrielle" Xena said
"Good" Gabrielle said, and she hugged her partner again and felt the tightening of the arms around her body as Xena returned the gesture.
* * * * *
"Pony" Xena shouted as she walked across the village
"Xena, what can I do for you?" The warrior asked, as Xena caught up to her
"Well actually I was wondering if you fancied doing some sparring. I can't think of anyone else who would take it easy on a wounded warrior, with the use of only one arm" Xena said, hoping sparring with her would get Pony's mind of her beating earlier.
"Are you sure, Xena. I don't want to hurt your shoulder, because I don't think I could take another beating by Gabrielle" Eponin said
"What's the matter Pon, chicken?" Xena taunted "Frightened you can't beat an injured warrior"
"Hey I was only looking out for you" Eponin said, actually grateful to Xena for asking her to fight, even an injured Xena was deadly. And being able to beat her may return her pride to full strength since it took a beating earlier.
"Really" Xena said sarcastically.
"OK" Eponin said "Come on, Warrior Princess"
"Sure" Xena said, and together they walked over to the practice fields, under the watchful eye of a certain bard and a certain young boy. Who, unknown to the two warriors followed behind.
When they arrived at the practice fields Xena and Eponin stood against each other, swords ready for battle. Before they had even started, a circle formed around the two. Amazons came from all over the village to watch, even though it was not a battle to the death, most Amazons would travel to Athens to watch Xena fight. Knowing she was fighting the best Amazon Warrior made it more interesting.
The two warriors circled each other, waiting for the other to strike. Finally Eponin made the first move. Xena parried the move and answered with her own thrust. They fought for a few minutes, but Xena moved the wrong way and it pulled on her shoulder, refusing to give in, she carried on until she could take no more and she quickly finished the fight by knocking the sword out of Eponin's hand and placed her sword against the chest of the Amazon, knowing she was beaten, Eponin bowed her head in concession and it was over.
"This is definitely not good" Eponin said "First I lose to my Queen in a staff contest, then I lose to a wounded, one armed Xena" The Amazon's tone wasn't the same as it had been when she discovered that Gabrielle was wounded, now it was filled with a happy-not-really-bothered tone.
"Well I'm glad you find it so amusing" Ephiny teased as she walked and joined the two warriors in the circle. Soon to be joined by Gabrielle and Solon.
Having watched the fight, Gabrielle saw the flinch as Xena pulled on her shoulder "How's your shoulder" She asked, knowing it was highly unlikely that Xena would admit to being in pain in public.
"I hurt it a little" Xena admitted, shocking everyone.
"That's what you get for challenging me" Pony smiled
"That's true" Xena said.
Soon everyone else started to leave, going to watch the competitions which had started back up. Xena, Gabrielle, Solon, Ephiny and Eponin sat down on the practice field.
"So where are you two off to when you leave here?" Ephiny asked, not expecting Solon to be going with them.
"Well actually, the three of us are going home" Xena said "Solon wants to meet his uncle and grandmother"
"Oh" Ephiny and Eponin said "That'll be nice" Ephiny continued "I bet your mother will be pleased"
"Well she doesn't know about him yet" Xena admitted "I think I'll go home first and tell her. I don't want to just dump it on her like that"
"I think that would be a good idea" Gabrielle said "It will give her a chance to get her head around it"
"That's what I thought" Xena said "You two are getting joined in just over a weeks time yeah?"
"Yeah" They said together
"Well I'll leave tomorrow morning" Xena said "It should give me plenty of time to get back here for that"
"OK" All of them said
"Gabrielle will you go over to the centaur village... no scrap that, I'll see Kaleipus myself" Xena said, deciding it would be better for her to tell him, nobody else
"OK" Gabrielle said
The group stayed sitting on the practice field for a while before heading over for food.
* * * * *
Later that night Xena went and said 'thank you' to Gemi and collected her stuff, then went to Gabrielle's hut. Solon, who had been sleeping in another hut, moved in as well, he would stay in the back room, even though it would be a bit awkward. It wasn't as if Solon didn't know they were lovers. So he slept on a little pull down bed in the back section of the hut.
Knowing that tomorrow they would say goodbye for almost a week, Xena and Gabrielle spent that night holding each other and whispering to talking to each other. Speaking of their love for each other and what they had dreamed of when the were growing up and what they hoped the future held, until finally they fell asleep.
It was just after dawn when Xena left the Amazon village. She said goodbye to Solon and Gabrielle and left before the rest of the village was up. The night before she had asked Ephiny and Eponin to keep an eye on the pair while she was gone. Leaving knowing that Gabrielle and Solon were being looked after made her feel better.
She stopped in to see Kaleipus and told him that she wanted to take Solon home with her to meet her mother and brother and he agreed completely, saying Solon had a right to meet his family. They agreed to let Solon stay in Amphipolis for three weeks and then Xena and Gabrielle would return him to Kaleipus, they also agreed that Xena should visit more often, when Solon was back.
As Xena and Argo travelled slowly from the Centaur village to Amphipolis she let her mind wander to the last few weeks and all the trouble between them. She was glad that it was over now. It hurt when they argued, it always had, even as friends it had.
* * * * *
The Amazon Village
Gabrielle and Solon watched the contests during the day. They both enjoyed them but they weren't really interested in the fighting contests, they enjoyed the cooking competition, talent contest and the storytelling contest. Gabrielle had wanted to enter that but then decided it would be better not too, everyone knew how good she was and she didn't need to win a contest to prove that, instead she was asked to be one of the judges. She heard many different styles and stories in the contest, but at the end of the day, the best was a young Amazon entering the contest for the first time. She told a story about Hercules. When they were waiting for the results to be analysed, they asked Gabrielle to tell a story, which she did. She told a story about Xena and how she saved the Centaurs the time she first met Solon. As usual the Amazons loved it.
* * * * *
"So Gabrielle, how long have you and Mom been a couple?" Solon asked, as they both watched a swimming rice, taking place in the lake.
"Almost two moons" Gabrielle said
"She really loves you, you know" Solon said "She was a mess when she arrived at our village"
"She was?" Gabrielle asked, upset that she had caused her soul mate pain.
"Yes" Solon said "She didn't understand why you didn't trust her"
"What finally made her understand?" Gabrielle asked, slightly curious.
"Well actually" Solon started "I did"
"You?" Gabrielle repeated, slightly confused
"Yeah I told her about me and my best friend, who's a girl. I told her I'm always worried another girl will become her best friend and she won't want me anymore" Solon said
Gabrielle smiled, put in such simple terms "Yeah, that's exactly what it was" She said "I thought Xena would rather have Ephiny as a lover"
"She loves you too much" Solon said quietly
"I know" Gabrielle said "I was just being stupid"
"Yep you sure were" Solon smiled.
"Well thanks a lot Solon" Gabrielle said, as she gently pushed Solon on to his back
"You're welcome" Solon said, as he sat back up and smiled at his mother's lover "I'm really glad Mom told me about her being my Mother"
"So am I" Gabrielle said "I wanted her to tell you when I found out about you first"
"Why didn't she tell me?" Solon asked
"For a few different reasons really" Gabrielle told him "One, she didn't want you to hate her. Two, she didn't want anyone else to find out about you being her son because she didn't want anything to happen to you"
"I wonder what changed her mind" Solon said "She has a will of steel, if she didn't want to tell me she wouldn't have"
"I think she just realised that you deserved to know who your mother is. I think she got to the stage where she needed you to know as well" Gabrielle told him
"I guess" Solon said
Just then Gabrielle's stomach decided to make an announcement, they both chuckled "I guess it's time I went to get some food"
"I agree" Solon said, and they both stood up and dusted themselves off, then walked to the food hut.
* * * * *
Amphipolis (two days later)
As Xena rode into Amphipolis she noticed how the looks of fear that had been present on the faces of the villagers were no longer there. This time the looks were not hostile but friendly, a look that Xena had not seen on the faces of her fellow villagers since before Cortese. It made her smile. As she pulled up outside the stable one of the stable hands came running out, she handed Argo to the boy with instructions on how to take care of Argo, not that he didn't know that, but Xena was very thorough. Then she walked into the inn.
"Xena" Cyrene said, as she noticed Xena enter, she walked over and hugged her warrior daughter.
"Hi, Mother" Xena said, as she returned the gesture.
"Where's Gabrielle?" Cyrene asked
"Well actually she stayed with the Amazons for a while. I came ahead because I needed to talk to you" Xena said
"And you couldn't do that with Gabrielle here?" Cyrene asked
"Yes, but we figured it would be better for me to come and talk to you first" Xena admitted
"It sounds serious" Cyrene said
"Well I guess it is" Xena said "It's a long story"
"Well, hold on a minute then" Cyrene said, she went out to the back of the inn and shouted to Toris, who came in, smiled his hello to Xena and then went behind the bar. Cyrene walked back over to her daughter, took her by the arm and pulled her out of the inn into the living quarters.
When they entered the room and the door was closed, both sat down and Cyrene waited until Xena started her story.
"Ok" Xena said "Thirteen years ago, I met a man, who I thought I was in love with. I got pregnant and I gave birth to a son, Solon" Xena said bluntly "At the time I knew I wasn't capable of being the mother he deserved, so I gave him to a centaur friend of his fathers. Last year I ran into Solon for the first time, then when we were with the Amazons this time, Gabrielle and I had an argument and I went to spend a few days with the Centaurs. It was Solon's birthday and I thought it would be nice. He didn't know I was his mother, but Kaliepus told me that I needed to tell him, because he would realise whose son he was soon enough. So I told him. He is the reason Gabrielle stayed at the Amazons. I want to bring him here to meet his family. I needed to know you would welcome him before I could bring him"
"You have a son?" Cyrene asked, shocked
"Yes" Xena admitted
"I'm a grandmother" Cyrene said
"Yes" Xena repeated
"How come you never told me this before?" Cyrene asked
"I never told anyone. I didn't want anyone to know about him, I wanted him to be safe" Xena admitted
"Well, I can tell you something now, young lady" Cyrene said, in a stern voice "You can sleep here tonight, then first thing tomorrow you can leave"
"Ok" Xena said, sadly
"You can go back to the Amazons get your lover and my grandson and bring them here" Cyrene smiled, noticing the look of relief on her daughters face "He has a family, and I'm sure his uncle would like to meet him as well"
"Thank you, Mother" Xena said
"Your welcome, now you need to get some sleep" Cyrene said "Are you going to stay in the inn or are you going to sleep at home?"
"I think, I'll go home" Xena said
"I'll go and get your key" Cyrene said, then she left to get the key Xena had left with her before they left Amphipolis. In a few minutes she was back "Here we go. Now go and get some sleep"
"Yes, Mom" Xena said, she hugged her mother and then walked down towards the house.
When she arrived at the house, she lit the lamp by the door and looked around her house and smiled. This house meant a lot to her now. It had always meant home to her, but when Lyceus had died in here, it wasn't the same. Knowing that it was now, hers and Gabrielle's house made it seem more.
Being on her own gave her more time than usual to think, something she didn't like doing that much. Especially when it caused her pain. So as she sat there, she let herself think about the fun that her and Gabrielle had had since they had first met. One of the things that stuck out in her mind the most was of a day not too long ago.
"Come on Xena, just one race" Gabrielle said, as they both enjoyed the quiet time they had finally had, after all the problems they had run into the last couple of days Xena thought they deserved a break.
"Oh Gabrielle, go away. You wanted me to have the day off, I'm having the day off" Xena told her, smiling when she saw Gabrielle pout.
"One race Xena, then you can have the rest of the day to laze about and do absolutely nothing" Gabrielle said. She loved it when Xena let herself relax and she did want that now. But now she just wanted to wind Xena up. After all that was what the warrior had been doing to her all morning. She kept saying it wasn't her fault that the she hadn't realised there was a tree in front of her as her and Xena had walked to find a nice place to spend the day. Although Gabrielle knew that if she had been paying attention to where she was going and not thinking about what it would be like to tell Xena how she felt about her, she wouldn't have walked into the tree.
"What makes you think you can beat me anyway?" Xena asked, knowing Gabrielle knew she couldn't beat her at a race, unless she was going to trick her.
"I don't. I just think it will be fun" Gabrielle lied, she did have something up her sleeve, but she wasn't going to tell Xena that.
"Yeah right" Xena said, deciding to let Gabrielle have some fun, she agreed "One race, then I don't want to hear anything more about it for the rest of the day"
"Ok" Gabrielle said "From here to that tree by there"
"Ok" Xena said
"And I get three strides head start" Gabrielle said
"Ok" Xena agreed "Let's just get on with this"
She got to her feet and waited for Gabrielle to take her place.
"Ready?" Gabrielle asked, looking back at Xena.
"Yep" Xena said, getting ready to run.
"Go" Gabrielle said, the started at a quick pace but turned around quickly.
Just as Xena started to run she felt something pull on her ankle, then she fell flat on the floor. She looked up to see Gabrielle laughing so hard she was crying. 'I knew it' Xena thought. She turned and looked and her ankles where she found a piece of rope tying them together, there was enough room for Xena to have stood up without getting suspicious of anything but the minute she started to take a stride it pulled. The result was, Gabrielle had gotten her back for all her teasing that morning.
Gabrielle laughed so much she thought her sides were going to split. When she saw the warlord look on Xena's face it just made her laugh more. Soon she collapsed in a giggling heap on the floor.
Gabrielle's laughter was infectious and very soon Xena was laughing with her.
Just thinking about it now made Xena laugh. She never usually allowed herself a day off but Gabrielle had been so insistent about it that she hadn't been able to say no to her. 'Still can't' She thought.
* * * * *
The Amazon Village
Gabrielle and Solon were sitting on the bed talking after a long day of fun and games at the festival. When there was a knock on the door.
"Come" Gabrielle shouted, then she waited for whoever it was to enter.
"Good evening" Pony said, as she walked in full of smiles.
"Good evening to you too" Gabrielle said "What can I do for you?"
"Well actually, we just wanted to make sure you were still going to perform our joining" Pony said "I know you will, but Ephiny is still a bit worried"
"Pony where is she?" Gabrielle asked
"In her hut" Eponin said
"Will you stay here with Solon for a bit? I'll go and talk to her myself" Gabrielle said
"Sure" Eponin said "I'd like to get to know Xena's son better"
"Oh he definitely is Xena's son" Gabrielle smiled, as she tousled his hair.
"Yep" Solon smiled, as Gabrielle walked out of the hut.
"So Solon, are you glad you know who your mother is?" Eponin asked
"Yes I am" Solon said "I know I should be angry with her for keeping it from me, but I'm not. I always felt a connection with Xena, that I couldn't explain. Sometimes I would sit for hours wondering what it would be like if Xena was my mother. She seemed so much like the woman my Uncle used to describe as my mother. When I met her she was so different from the stories I had heard about her. She was loving, caring and she wanted peace when she came to help the Centaurs. I think she wanted to tell me back then that she was my mother. I wished she had. She missed another year of my life and I missed another year of hers. I'm glad I'm getting a chance to know her now"
"My Mother died two winters ago. I never really got on with her, but she was still my mother and I miss her a lot now" Eponin said "You have to make the most of the time you have with everyone. Your parents, your partners, your children and your friends" Eponin said "I figured that out too late"
"Yeah it's hard when anyone dies on you. Especially the people you are close to" Solon said "A good friend of mine died during the battle with that warlord who stole the Ixion stone. I miss him a lot as well"
"Any way let's change the subject shall we?" Pony said
"Absolutely" Solon agreed.
* * * * *
Gabrielle waited for an answer from Ephiny after she knocked on the door. "Come" She finally heard from inside, so she walked in.
"Hi" She said
"Gabrielle" Ephiny said "What can I do for you?"
"Well Eponin just came over to make sure I would perform your joining" Gabrielle said "Ephiny, even if this whole thing hadn't been sorted out by now, do you honestly think I would throw away my responsibility as Queen just because I was angry with you? I thought you knew me better than that"
"I do" Ephiny said "It's just that this is a big part of my life. I want to know my friends are there as well. You are still one of my best friends, Gabrielle"
"You are still one of mine as well" Gabrielle assured her
"I'm sorry about what I said that second day, Gabrielle. I was totally out of line. I know how I would have felt if Xena was my lover and you asked me to break up with her because you were in love her. Personally I would have punched you into next week" Ephiny said "I was kind of hoping you would do that actually. I deserved it"
"Yes you did" Gabrielle admitted "I'm sorry for the way I jumped to conclusions about you and Xena in the Hot Spring as well. I would have deserved it if she hadn't come back after that"
"Xena wouldn't be able to stay away from you, Gabrielle" Ephiny said "She would have come back and you would have sorted it out"
"I wasn't so sure about that, during those few days" Gabrielle admitted
"I was" Ephiny said
"Thanks Eph" Gabrielle said, as she walked over to the Regent and wrapped her arms around her "Just hope Xena doesn't walk in now"
Ephiny chuckled at that "Yeah that would be a laugh. I would be the one punched into the next moon"
"Yeah most probably" Gabrielle agreed, then she started giggling as well. Before long they had both have a full laughing fit.
"Oh Gods" Ephiny said, when they finally settled down "That felt good"
"Yeah it did" Gabrielle said "And for your information Ephiny, I am proud to be performing your joining"
"Thank you, Gabrielle" Ephiny said "You don't know how much that means to me"
"The same as it will when you perform my joining to Xena, when we are ready for it" Gabrielle said
"I would be highly honoured my Queen" Ephiny said
"Good" Gabrielle said "Anyway I just wanted to come over and tell you to stop being stupid. I'd better get back to Solon"
"Yeah" Ephiny said, feeling like the world had just been lifted off her shoulders "I'll see you later"
"Yeah" Gabrielle said, as she turned and left.
* * * * *
Solon and Eponin were talking about some of the best stories they had heard when Gabrielle came back. "You two enjoying yourselves?" She asked
"Yeah we were just talking about some of the stories we have heard you tell" Solon said
"You were?" Gabrielle asked
"Yeah" Eponin said "Did you talk to her?"
"Yeah and I think everything is going to be fine" Gabrielle told her
"Good" Eponin said "Anyway I'd better get back. Are you two going to be present at the Giving Thanks party tonight?"
"Is that all you Amazons ever do?" Solon asked
"What?" Eponin frowned
"Party" Solon said, smiling at the look of pride of the weapon master's face
"Well parties are what we do best" Pony said "Anyway got to get going. See you later"
"Bye Pony" Gabrielle and Solon said, simultaneously.
Pony turned and smiled at them, then she left.
"She's nice" Solon said, when it was just Gabrielle and him left.
"Yeah she is" Gabrielle said "So you going to get ready for this party?"
"Yeah" Solon said "Can you get me a tub please?"
"Sure" Gabrielle said, and she went to the door and asked the guard at her door to get her a bath tub and some hot water.
'Being the only male in a village of Amazons isn't easy, but at least you get privileges when you know the Queen' Solon thought to himself.
Within minutes there was a tub of hot water in the Queens hut.
"While you have a bath I'm going to have a walk around the village" Gabrielle told him.
"Ok" Solon said. He waited until Gabrielle left before he started to get undressed.
* * * * *
"Solon is in there having a bath. Make sure he isn't disturbed" Gabrielle said, to the guard at her door, as she walked out and then she walked through the village talking to everyone she seen.
It wasn't long before she was spotted by a young Amazon, who walked shyly over to her "My Queen" The young girl said, as she caught up with her.
Gabrielle recognised her immediately "Hi, Sasha" She said "How are you?"
"I'm fine, My Queen" Sasha said, she was about 12 summers old and looked a lot like her Aunt Eponin.
"Please call me Gabrielle" The bard said
"How are you, Gabrielle?" Sasha asked
"I'm fine" Gabrielle said
"Is it true you are going to perform the joining of Aunt Eponin and Ephiny?" Sasha asked
"Yeah it is" Gabrielle said "Do you want to sit down?"
"Sure" Sasha said, as her and Gabrielle sat on a long bench "I'm glad Ephiny and Aunt Pony are finally getting together because Aunt Pony has been mad about Ephiny since I was old enough to remember. All she ever talked about was Ephiny. She never really had a relationship with anyone else. She said she wanted it to work with Ephiny. Then Ephiny got married. I tell you, for Aunt Pony that was one of the hardest times of her life. Then when Phantes died and you and Xena turned up, Aunt Pony had to put her feelings on hold again. Everyone knew Ephiny was crazy about Xena. Well everyone except for you and Xena that is. Ephiny was hoping that Xena would show some interest in her this year. I can imagine how she felt when she found out about you two"
"Yeah I can as well" Gabrielle said "It would kill me if I found out Xena was with someone else"
"Yeah" Sasha said "Hey, I forgot to ask you. Do you think Xena would do me a favour?"
"What's that?" Gabrielle asked
"I want to ask Xena to be my guardian at my swearing in next year. Every Amazon being sworn in has to have a warrior guardian. Xena is the best warrior I know. Everyone wants Xena to be their guardian but Aunt Pony told me to ask first" Sasha said "I know it is extremely early but I wanted to know"
"Well when Xena gets back from Amphipolis, why don't you ask her?" Gabrielle said
"I don't know if I can get up the courage to ask her" Sasha admitted, sheepishly
"Well isn't being an Amazon about being brave, even when you don't think you can?" Gabrielle asked
"Yeah I guess it is" Sasha said "Thanks Gabrielle, can you ask someone to let me know when she returns?"
"Of course I will" Gabrielle said
"Thank you" Sasha said "Anyway I have to go. Thanks again"
"Your welcome" Gabrielle said, as Sasha got up and dusted herself off "Sasha can I ask you a question?"
"Sure" Sasha said
"Why Xena. Why didn't you ask Pony to be your guardian?" Gabrielle asked
"Well we are not allowed to have family as our guardians" Sasha said, then she lowered her voice "Besides Xena's a better warrior than Eponin"
"Oh" Gabrielle said "Thanks"
Then Gabrielle watched as Sasha walked away with a slight skip in her stride. 'Well Xena, it looks like everyone wants you for one thing or another' Gabrielle thought. Then she made her way back to her hut.
* * * * *
The party that night had been pretty quiet for an Amazon party. Everyone was looking forward to the joining of Ephiny and Eponin, because it meant another party at the end of the festival and you didn't have to worry about breaking any rules or anything. The Giving Thanks Party was often pretty boring because you weren't allowed to get drunk or do anything that would disrespect Artemis.
Solon and Gabrielle stayed together most of the night. They even managed to get Gabrielle and Solon to tell them a story. Gabrielle was surprised by the talent of Solon. He had an extremely good way of telling stories. He, like Gabrielle, had the ability to draw people in and make them think they were living the story. At the end of the night the young Amazons were even more crazy about the son of Xena.
When the party was over, Gabrielle and Solon walked back towards their hut. Solon was embarrassed by all the attention he was getting of the girls and he wanted to go back to the hut. A small group of girls who were outside talking and as soon as Gabrielle and Solon walked past the girls started giggling and whispering. Solon turned bright red and he was grateful for the dark night.
"Are they whispering about me?" Solon asked
"I think so" Gabrielle said "Do you want me to go and find out?"
"No, it's ok" Solon said
"Solon, you'll get used to girls whispering about you as you walk past. You are a very handsome young man. If you are anything like you mother when you get older, you will be a heartbreaker" Gabrielle said
"Do you think so?" Solon asked
"I know so" Gabrielle said and she put her arm around the boy "Now come on let's get into the hut and get you into bed"
They got back to the hut and Solon went into his section and got changed for bed.
"Good night, Gabrielle" Solon said, as he got into bed.
Gabrielle came in and sat next to him.
"You sleep well now, Solon" Gabrielle told him
"I will" Solon said
"Good" Gabrielle said
"I miss Mom" Solon said, as Gabrielle started to stand up
"I miss her too" Gabrielle admitted
"I'm glad you two are together, Gabrielle" Solon said, sleepily "You both deserve happiness"
"Thank you, Solon" Gabrielle said, she leaned over and kissed the already sleeping boy on the forehead before making her way back to her part of the hut, to write her diary entry for the day.
Well today hasn't been so bad. Me and Solon miss Xena. It's good to have someone to talk to when Xena isn't here. Solon told some stories at the party tonight. I have top admit he was very good. I haven't heard a new bard as good as that for while. It is nice to know that Solon has got something to do with his life. He wants to be a healer but story telling can come in handy while he studies. I think Xena will be pleased to know that Solon also follows Borias. She once told me that Borias was a good storyteller. She said that her and Borias used to sit around the fire for hours. Him telling stories and her just listening.
I was wondering today if Xena made to Amphipolis all right. She most probably did, and I know it is stupid because she is the best fighter in the whole of Greece but I worry about her. If something happened to her and I didn't know about it. I don't know what I would do when I found out. It scares me sometimes just how strongly I feel for her. I love her more than life itself and it scares me that if something happens to her, I don't know if I'll be able to carry on. The thought of living without her is Tartarus itself.
It's like I have to be with her all the time. Sometimes I wonder if that is driving her nuts. I'll have to ask her. She doesn't like people mothering her and I know I do that sometimes. I guess that's what happens when you are truly in love. I know I am.
Anyway tomorrow should be fun. There are more races and also the start of the swearing on ceremony for this years Amazons. Sasha, Eponin's niece asked me if I think Xena would guardian her at her swearing in next year. I told her to ask Xena. I think Xena will love it. She really likes Sasha, she always has. It'll be nice.
Anyway Solon was really embarrassed by all the attention he was getting off the girls. He is like Xena in that department too. Girls jaws dropping to the floor as he walks past, girls whispering and giggling behind his back. He also follows Xena in the way that he finds it embarrassing. He is so cute when he blushes.
* * * * *
Amphipolis (the following day)
The sun was just rising when Xena stirred. She had not slept well the night before and she had only had about two candlemarks sleep and now she had to face a days travel. Luckily the journey back to the Amazons wouldn't be so long because she wouldn't have to detour to the Centaur village. 'The prize at the end of that days journey is definitely worth it' Xena thought with a smile as she got out of bed and walked towards the bathroom.
She had a quick wash and then went back to her bedroom and got changed. When she finished getting ready she went into Lyceus and Toris's room. Everything was perfect for Solon. Then Xena walked back up to the Inn.
Cyrene and Toris were just setting the table for breakfast when Xena walked in.
"Morning" Xena said as she joined her mother and brother at the table.
"Morning" Cyrene and Toris said simultaneously
"Are you leaving after breakfast" Cyrene continued.
"Yes I want to get back to the Amazon village as soon as possible, two of my friends are getting joined and I would like to be there" Xena told her.
As soon as they finished breakfast Toris left. Xena stood to leave as well but she felt a hand on her arm.
"Xena you told me you and Gabrielle had an argument" Cyrene said "What was it about?"
"It was nothing, Mother. Just a misunderstanding" Xena said, but Cyrene just raised an eyebrow "Ok, it was more than a misunderstanding"
"Do you want to talk about it?" Cyrene asked
"Not really. There is nothing to talk about" Xena said "It is all sorted out now"
"Ok" Cyrene said, still concerned that there was more to this than Xena was saying "Anyway you'd better get going. Remember I want Gabrielle and Solon back her a.s.a.p."
"They will be" Xena said "Bye Mother"
"Bye Xena" Cyrene said, as Xena walked out of the Inn.
Cyrene stood and shook her head at her daughters retreating back "Kids" She said to herself "Can't life with them, can't life without them"
* * * * *
The Amazon Village (Later that Evening)
Solon and Gabrielle had been telling more stories that night and again everyone loved them both. They especially liked the stories about Xena and her adventures. Xena was an idol to many of the Amazons, old and young, because she had made a name for herself as a female warrior. Although she was still feared by most of Greece, many people knew how she was turning her life around. After the stories were finished, Gabrielle and Solon went back to the Royal table with Ephiny and Eponin. Solari, who was the Captain of the Royal Guard was also there. Ephiny spoke quietly to Gabrielle as Solon spoke with Solari.
"You know" Ephiny said "Anyone would swear that Solon is the son of you and Xena. He has a bit of you and a bit of Xena in him"
"Yeah it's funny" Gabrielle said "I never knew he has such an ability to tell stories before. Xena will be happy that he found something to do with himself. She was worried that he would still become a warrior. She didn't want that"
"I didn't think she would, she's seen enough blood for both of them" Ephiny said
"Yeah, she has" Gabrielle said
"So when do you think she'll be back?" Ephiny asked
"Well I'm hoping she'll be back tomorrow. If she isn't then she should be back in two days time. I don't know how hard she'll push Argo or when she'll leave Amphipolis" Gabrielle said
"Missing her already, huh?" Ephiny asked
"Yeah" Gabrielle said "It's stupid, she's only been gone three days"
"It's not stupid, Gabrielle" Ephiny assured her "It happens when you're bonded with someone so strongly that they become a necessary part of your life. Not many people know what that feels like. Many are grateful they don't"
"Well I for one, am pleased that I got to experience this. There is nothing like it in the world" Gabrielle admitted
"Well I can honestly say I wouldn't know. I have never known that" Ephiny said, looking over at Eponin, who was deep in conversation with another Amazon "I don't think I ever will. Don't get me wrong, I have strong feelings for Pony. I always have, but knowing that we were not put on this earth to find each other, like you and Xena is kind of depressing"
"I felt that way when I married Perdicus. He could never touch anything that Xena did. It was a given that me and Xena were only friends then, but that didn't matter. Xena has been my other half since the day we met. When I looked into her eyes that first time, just after she saved us from the slavers, it was unlike anything I had ever known. It was like there was this great emptiness inside me, and when I looked into her eyes, it was gone" Gabrielle said
"You are extremely lucky to have Xena in your life Gabrielle" Ephiny said "Don't throw it away"
Gabrielle looked at Ephiny with understanding eyes "I won't"
"Good" Ephiny said "Anyway, I think it's about time you called it a night. Everyone is going to be exhausted tomorrow as it is. We need them all fit for tomorrow"
"Why what's happening tomorrow?" Gabrielle asked
"Tomorrow is the worst day of the festival" Eponin said, joining in the conversation at the last minute "We work"
"Really?" Gabrielle asked "What do we do?"
"Everyone is set a couple of tasks, except for us two" Ephiny said "What we have to do tomorrow though is worse than work for you"
"What do we have to do?" Gabrielle asked, hoping it wasn't going to be to difficult.
"We have to fast" Ephiny said
"What?" Gabrielle said "For how long?"
"From sunrise until sunset" Ephiny said
"Wait a minute. How do you expect me to do that?" Gabrielle said, totally annoyed.
Ephiny laughed at the horror on the Queen's face "Easy" She said "You go to the temple and think about something nice, something better than food. I'm sure you can think of something"
Gabrielle thought about it and smiled to herself when she realised there were one or two things she thought were better than food. Xena was one of them, making love to Xena was another "I think I can think of something" She said
"I'm sure we don't want to know what that is" Ephiny guessed
"You would be right" Gabrielle agreed, then she stood up "Well ladies and gentleman that is it for tonight. I have just been told of my fasting tomorrow. As you know I love my food. So I need to go to my hut and stuff myself before tomorrow. So if you'll excuse me, I'll be leaving"
So Gabrielle and Solon left. Followed shortly by the rest of the Amazons.
Just as they were all getting settled down and a loud horn sounded.
"What was that?" Solon asked, as he got into bed.
Gabrielle looked worried as she realised what it was "It is the incoming warning horn" Gabrielle told him "Stay here"
Solon watched her leave and then got out of bed and he changed back into his clothes and was following Gabrielle out "Stay there when there is trouble. Yeah right" He said to himself
"Solon" Gabrielle said, as she spotted him "I thought I told you to stay in my hut"
"You did" Solon said "But I doubt you would have listened to Mom if she told you to stay in the hut"
Gabrielle smiled despite herself "You know what, Solon" Gabrielle said "You are absolutely right"
"Do we know who it is yet?" Solon asked as he looked around and saw all the Amazons around him, ready for battle.
"No" Gabrielle said, just as the incoming rider came towards the village. Gabrielle recognised the figure immediately "Xena" She shouted running towards the warrior, followed by Solon. She heard the relieved sighs from the women around her as she ran.
Xena dismounted Argo and caught the bard as she flung herself at the warrior "Hey" Xena said "Nice to see you too"
"By the Gods I missed you Xena" Gabrielle said
"I missed you too" Xena said, as she put the bard back on her feet and then hugged Solon, who was patiently waiting for her to finish with Gabrielle "Come 'ere you"
Solon smiled and threw his arms around his mother "I missed you, Mom" He said
"I missed you too, Solon" Xena said. As Xena finished hugging Solon, she noticed Ephiny and Eponin walking towards them, they did not look very happy.
"What in all of Tartarus did you think you were doing coming into the camp at this time of night?" Ephiny said "We could have killed you, Xena"
"I'm sorry Eph. I just wanted to get back. I didn't think you lot would be in bed already and I didn't expect the Sentry to blow that damn warning horn" Xena said "Zeus, I even announced myself"
"It's ok, Xena, we'll have a word with the Sentry tomorrow morning" Ephiny said, then she turned to the Amazons "Right, that's all there is for tonight's showing. To bed with you all"
With that everyone walked back to their huts.
"I'm sorry for disturbing you, Eph" Xena said, sincerely.
"Like I said, it's ok" Ephiny said "It's a good job it was you. I think some of our lot are too tired to put up much of a fight tonight"
"Yeah, well, I can see two others who are also tired and they need their sleep" Xena said, motioning towards Gabrielle and Solon, who were both tucked under her arms.
"I agree" Ephiny said, with that, she took Eponin by arm and led her back to her hut.
"Come on, let's get you two to bed" Xena said
"Good idea" Gabrielle said, with that the trio walked back towards their hut.
"Did you talk to your mother?" Gabrielle asked, as they sat down.
"Yes. I did" Xena said "She told me to get back here and she wants you two in Amphipolis a.s.a.p"
"She did" Solon said
"Yeah" Xena said "And I spoke with your uncle and he agreed that you should meet the rest of your family"
"He did" Solon said
"Yes, Solon. He did" Xena said "Now let's get you to bed"
"Ok" Solon said, and they he went into Solon's part of the hut.
"Right, you get some sleep now, ok" Xena said "We'll see you in the morning"
"Ok" Solon said "Goodnight Mom, night Gabrielle"
"Night Solon" Gabrielle said, and she kissed him on the head, then went back into the main part of the hut.
Just as Xena was leaving, Solon called her back "Mom, can I talk to you for a minute?"
Xena looked at him "Sure" She said, and she sat back on the bed "What is it?"
"I just wanted to ask you if you know how much Gabrielle loves you?" Solon asked
Xena frowned "Of course I do. Why?" Xena asked
"Well me and Gabrielle spoke a lot when you were gone. It was nice. We've got a lot in common" Solon said "I told her she was silly for thinking you would cheat on her as well"
"Thank you" Xena said, she wrapped her arms around Solon "I love you, Solon"
"I love you too, Mom" Solon said, wrapping his arms tightly his mother "Goodnight"
"Goodnight, Solon" Xena said, and she left to join Gabrielle.
* * * * *
When Gabrielle left Xena and Solon, she quickly got changed into her night shift and then sat down and then started writing in her diary.
Xena came back tonight. Gods was I glad to see her. It's stupid she was only gone three days and I was ready to jump on a horse and rode to meet her half way. I wanted to, but I couldn't. I had to stay here and look after Solon. I don't know how I'm going to manage tomorrow. Knowing she is right there and not being able to see her is going to kill me. Like I said. I'm stupid.
People have told me that love can be your greatest weakness. I know Xena sees it as her biggest weakness, because she wants to protect me and she would do anything for me, even if that means risking her life. It is a big responsibility, I know that because I feel the same way. But I don't see it as a weakness, I see it as my strength. She gives me the power to do things I wouldn't normally do. She also gives me the strength to live with things I don't think I would be able to live with. Like seeing a dead family on the road here. A man, woman and a child. The child was about seven years old. Xena thinks the woman and child were raped. It made me sick to my stomach. But Xena put her arms around me, she held me tight and told me that it was going to be ok. And it was. I helped her burying the bodies but it wasn't so bad. The wounds the family sustained were fatal and Xena said they didn't suffer much. Which was a relief.
I love her so much. But I guess you could tell that already. I feel sorry for anyone that doesn't experience this sort of thing. I know some people go through life and live with having second best. After knowing this, I couldn't suffer for anything less.
She looked up as Xena walked into the room.
"Hey" She said
"Hi" Xena said as she quickly got changed and got into bed "So, what have you been doing for the last couple of days?"
"Apart from missing you?" Gabrielle asked
"Yeah" Xena said
"Watching the rest of the festival. And listening to Solon tell stories. He has an incredible talent for telling stories, Xena" Gabrielle said
"He does?" Xena asked
"Yeah" Gabrielle said "He is the type of story teller you draws the audience and makes them live the story he is telling"
"Like you" Xena said
"I guess so" Gabrielle said "That talent is rare"
"Well maybe we should try to encourage him to carry on telling stories" Xena said
"I think he'd like that" Gabrielle said
"Ok, we'll talk to him about it" Xena said "So what else have you been doing?"
"Nothing really" Gabrielle said "Do you know what I have to do tomorrow?"
"No" Xena said "What?"
"I have to go to the temple at sunrise and fast until sunset" Gabrielle said "Can you believe it. I have to fast"
"How are you going to survive?" Xena chuckled
"I don't know" Gabrielle said, chuckling as well "So you only stayed in Amphipolis for one night then"
"Yeah" Xena said "I wanted to get back and my Mom told me to get back and bring the two of you home"
"Home" Gabrielle repeated "I like the sound of that"
"Yeah me too" Xena said "It's funny but I'd stopped thinking of Amphipolis as my home a long time ago but it's all changed again" Xena continued "At the moment and forever I hope, I'm being the daughter my mother always wanted. Strong, independent, willing to fight for what I believe in and the greater good. I'm the mother Solon always wanted and I am the best friend and lover you wanted. I know all though there is still a long way to go until I have redeemed myself enough to at least have a chance at getting to the fields, I am being the person I want to be. Someone who has faced the dark side and been enveloped in it but able to turn away from it. Someone who sees respect on the faces of most people instead of the fear my name used to bring. I think I am also becoming the sister Toris and Lyceus wanted"
Gabrielle sat and listened to Xena speak. It wasn't very often Xena let go like this and Gabrielle wasn't about to stop her. "Hey, don't stop" She smiled "You're on a roll"
"I guess I was" Xena said, sheepishly
"I don't think I've ever heard you say that much at a time, in all the years I've known you" Gabrielle said, regretting it immediately when she saw Xena's face change, the teasing twinkle vanish.
"Yeah I guess I'm not the best of company most of the time" The warrior said, looking up at the ceiling.
'Damn it Gabrielle' Gabrielle thought to herself 'When are you going to learn to shut your mouth'?
"Xena, there is nothing wrong with your company. Just because you don't talk a lot doesn't mean you are not good company" Gabrielle told her
"I just find it hard to talk a lot" Xena admitted "I've always been like that even as a child. When I was younger I was pretty shy" Xena chuckled "Can you believe it Xena Warrior Princess, shy. I tried to stick to myself or Lyceus as much as possible. When Lyceus died he took the talkative part of me with him. When I led my army I never needed to talk much, besides most of my army were too scared of me to have a decent conversation with. Then I met you. At first I tried to seem more antisocial than I was because I thought maybe then you'd go home. It never worked instead you tore down the walls I'd built around myself and got me talking like this"
"It's nice to hear you talk, Xena" Gabrielle said "I love listening to your voice. Speaking of the time back then, I was thinking, can I tell you a poem I wrote? I was looking through my diary and I found it the other day"
"Sure" Xena said
"Ok" Gabrielle said "It's called Through The Walls of A Mind
Here before me
I see her sitting there
Stone in hand
In constant motion upon her sword
Her thoughts in a far off land
I stare at her
Without letting her know
Not knowing what to say or do
Hard to let the feelings show
The words are just not there
Trapped behind locked doors
In the back of my mind
For so long, no key could I find
Cracks are slowly forming
More apparent with each sun
A light peeking through
And it's all because of you
My loving warrior
The Keeper of my heart
The missing piece of my soul
I hope we never part
And we never will Xena"
"Wow" was all Xena could say "That was lovely, Gabrielle"
"Thanks. I've got loads more where that came from" Gabrielle said "I love you Xena"
"I love you too" Xena said, as she kissed Gabrielle soundly "Now get some sleep. You've got a long day ahead of you"
"Don't I know it" Gabrielle said, lying her head back on the warrior's shoulder "Night Xe"
"Goodnight Gabrielle" Xena said and then she listened to the rhythmic change in her partners breathing letting her know she was sleeping. Only then did Xena allow herself the luxury of sleep.
* * * * *
It seemed like only a couple of minutes later when Xena was woken by the sounds of someone walking towards their hut. Instinctively Xena reached for her sword which was on the floor on her right hand side.
As the footsteps came closer, Xena got out of bed and walked towards the door, where she stayed hidden. As the door started to open and the intruder entered, Xena reached out and placed her sword against the intruders throat.
"Ok Xena, I give" Ephiny said, as she felt the sword
"Ephiny" Xena said "What in the name of all the Gods are you doing" letting up the pressure of her sword on Ephiny's throat but still keeping it close, just in case.
"I came to wake Gabrielle. She has to be in the temple in a candle mark" Ephiny said "I thought it would be better to come in quietly than to knock because I didn't want to wake you. Should've known better"
"Yes Eph, you should have" Xena said "I could have killed you"
"Xena" Came the sleepy voice from the bed "What's going on?"
Xena walked over to the bed, lighting a candle as she went "Your wake-up call. You've got to get ready to go to the temple" Xena told her
"Already?" Gabrielle groaned "It feels like I only went to sleep a minute ago"
"I'm afraid so" Ephiny said "There is a candle mark until sunrise"
"Ok" Gabrielle said "Thank you, Eph. I'll be there"
"I know you will" Ephiny said "I'm sorry for trying to sneak in as well Xena"
"It's ok" Xena said "Just don't do it again"
"No chance" Ephiny said, then she turned and left.
"Oh, do I really have to do this?" Gabrielle groaned
"Yes, unfortunately you do" Xena said as she sat back on the bed.
"What are you going to do today?" Gabrielle asked
"I don't know. Me and Solon will find something to do. Everyone else is going to be working, so I can't do any drills or anything" Xena said "We'll find something"
"Good, because I don't want you getting bored or anything like that" Gabrielle said
"I won't" Xena said "Now you get ready. I'll go and get you something to eat. Something that will last you all day"
"Thanks" Gabrielle said, and watched as Xena left. Then she got changed into her Amazon clothing.
She was still getting changed when Xena entered with a tray full of food "Can I give you a hand?" Xena asked as she placed the tray on Gabrielle's desk.
"Please" Gabrielle said "I still can't figure this armour out"
Xena smiled and walked over and helped Gabrielle with the arm armour that she had to wear for things like this. No matter how much she disliked the thing.
When they were done, Gabrielle walked over and ate everything on the plate "I feel completely stuffed now"
Xena chuckled "I wonder how long that will last"
"Not very long" Gabrielle said.
Shortly afterwards there was a quiet knock on the door. Xena walked over and answered the door, so they wouldn't wake Solon. A young guard came in and looked shyly at Xena, then she turned to face Gabrielle.
"Your Majesty, it is time for you to go to the Temple" The Guard said
"Ok" Gabrielle said, then she wlaked over and kissed Xena "I'll see you later"
"Have fun" Xena said
"Oh definitely" Gabrielle said, and with that she left.
Xena turned and walked back to the bed. She just fell on to it and thought about what her and Solon could do today.
* * * * *
When Gabrielle arrived at the temple she was greeted by Ephiny and Karis "Good morning, your Majesty" Karis said
"Is it" Gabrielle said "So what are we going to do in here now?"
"Well for the first candle mark you have to meditate. Then for two candle marks you can do what ever you wish, if you don't mind me suggesting your Majesty, I would continue your reading of Amazon customs. After that, The Queen will be visited by Artemis. I don't know how long that will take. While that is happening I will speak with Ephiny about her joining. Then you have the afternoon to think about whatever you want to" Karis explained "The time will fly. It doesn't seem as long as it is, when you're in there"
"Good" Gabrielle said
"So what is Xena going to do today?" Ephiny asked
"She is going to find something" Gabrielle said "She just wants to spend some time with Solon"
"I can't blame her" Ephiny said "If I had given up Xenon when he was born and have him not know I was his mother I would want to spend as much time as possible with him, when I told him"
"Yeah" Gabrielle said "Come on, let's get going"
So all three walked into the temple.
* * * * *
Xena walked into Solon's part of the hut and saw that he was still sleeping. She walked back out and then and pick up a piece of scroll off Gabrielle's desk and wrote a note to Solon.
Solon, (it said)
Just gone for a run. Won't be long.
Then she placed it on the bedside table next to Solon's bed. Then she went over and got him some food, then took it back to the hut. That done she placed her sword in the sheath on her back, placed her chakrum at her right hip and walked out of the hut.
* * * * *
Solon stirred a while after Xena left and he noticed the note from her. Then went in to find breakfast on the table. He sat down and ate it and thought back to a time when everything between him and Xena had been different.
"Solon what are you doing?" Kaleipus said, as he tried to claim the boy down.
"I want to kill her, uncle" Solon said "She killed my father. She killed the great Borias"
He had wanted to kill her so badly for taking his father away. It hurt him now to know that not only did she not take his father away, but that her and his father were lovers and consequently he was the result. He had thought for so long it would be nice to have his mother and father around when he was growing up. After meeting Xena the year before, he started thinking about how nice it would be to have Xena as his mother. He had never known a joy as great as that he felt when Xena told him she was his mother.
It wasn't long before Xena returned from her run and Solon was still sitting at the table thinking.
"Hey" She said, as she came and sat at the table "How'd you sleep?"
"Fine" Solon said "You?"
"I slept great until Ephiny decided to try and sneak in and wake Gabrielle up" Xena answered
"What happened?" Solon asked
"I nearly took her head off, is what happened" Xena said "You should have seen it"
"She was silly to try and sneak in, she should have known your hearing and reflexes as well as anyone else in this village" Solon said
"I know" Xena agreed "Anyway, what do you want to do today?"
"I don't know" Solon said
"Well everyone else in the camp is busy, so we have the day to ourselves" Xena told him
"Can you teach me how to use a staff?" Solon asked
"A staff. Why?" Xena asked
"Well if I am going to be travelling to Amphipolis and back with you, I should be able to defend myself. Then we could learn some more, when we are in Amphipolis" Solon said
"You know what, Solon" Xena said
"What?" Solon asked
"I totally agree" Xena said "Come on let's go see Pony"
"Ok" Solon said and he held his mother's hand as they walked around the village trying to find the weapons master.
* * * * *
After the found her and were equipped with staffs they went out to the practice fields.
"The first thing to remember about a staff is that it is going to be your best friend when it comes to a fight. You have to know it. You have to be aware of it's power. A staff can be deadly when it is used properly, but like Gabrielle, you'll learn to control the power and use it to defend yourself, not kill anyone" Xena said
"Ok" Solon said
"Another thing to remember, is when you are in a fight with someone, always be on the defensive. Defend yourself well and the opportunity to attack will come" Xena said
"Ok" Solon said.
Xena continued to show Solon the basics of staff fighting.
* * * * *
In the Temple Gabrielle and Ephiny had just finished mediating. When Karis came in.
"It is time for the next part of your day to begin" Karis said "Your Majesty, you will come with me and I will take you to the library"
"Ok" Gabrielle said, and she followed Karis down to the library "It's unusual to have a library in a temple isn't it?"
"Yes but this building is the most secure place in the village and there are some very sacred books in here" Karis explained as she opened the door.
Comments: Gabrielle's poem Through the Walls of a Mind written by Christine D. Thanks for letting me use it.
Continued in part IV
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