The Saining

By Llachlan

 The characters of Xena, Gabrielle et al belong to the folks at Universal/MCA, I just borrowed them for awhile and intend no copyright infringement or other damage. The Gods as you can plainly see, belong to themselves and answer to no one. (Mostly)

 A saining is a ritual of baptism, normally performed on an infant. Sometimes the word is used to describe rituals that surround rebirths and transformations. Xena's initiation into the Amazon Nation is just such a rebirth. A lot of fan fiction has been written in which Xena must join the Nation in order to wed

 This ritual is about sisterhood and belonging, not about religion. (Maybe I had better apologize to Artemis)

 If you're curious as to what Xena's mask looks like - the graphic is at the end of the story.

 Subtext - yeah I guess it is - I mean Gabrielle is choosing Xena as her consort - so the implication is certainly made that they are more than friends. PG-13 though.



(I would love to hear your thoughts about what I have done here)



Gabrielle smiled at the gathered Amazons, motioning Xena to take up the Champion's place at her right. "Families are often what you make and tonight we have by extension forged the first bonds of a new family, joining our sisters and uniting two halves of a nation divided. It is a wondrous thing when sundered parts rejoin and two halves are again made whole. I rejoice to see it in our nation and I wish it for each of you personally." Turning to face Xena, she projected her voice for the entire room, b

Stunned. Yep that sums it up stunned. I knew you were up to something. Yes. YES. Realizing she needed to speak out loud, Xena swallowed, and managed to whisper through her joy. "Yes." Catching the expectant glint in Gabrielle's eye she realized something was up. What are you up to now my bard? She didn't have to wait long.

"The offer is accepted. How say you all?"

Xena couldn't help but to steal a glance at Ephiny - one nay and the Queen would be denied her choice of consorts - and she was the one most likely to object. But Ephiny remained impassive and silent. Xena relaxed.

"Your Majesty. I would like to tender an objection." Xena whipped her head around in shock as Catran spoke, the objection coming from an unexpected quarter.

"I second the objection." Eponin had risen to stand next to her partner.

"I see." Gabrielle's voice was calm. Too calm. Allowing the sudden burst of adrenaline to bleed off, Xena relaxed slightly waiting to see what would happen next. Gabrielle spoke again. "What are your grounds?"

"The Consort-to-be of the Queen must be an Amazon, Xena, while Queen's Champion, is not an Amazon.

Gabrielle made a show of looking at Aine for confirmation. "That is so, the consort-to-be must be elevated to royal standing, and therefore must be an Amazon."

"Well then, I'll just make Xena an Amazon."

Aine again answered. "The Queen may not sponsor her own candidate." Silence hung over the room as the festive air departed in the wake of the current conflict.

"Queen Gabrielle, should Xena wish to stand for initiation, I will be her primary sponsor."

Idly watching events around her unfold, curious to see what convoluted plan Gabrielle was acting out she had let her attention wander slightly. Ephiny's words brought her senses fully and sharply back into focus.

Shocked whispers ran around the room, rumors of the dynamic which existed between the three Greek Amazons had already spread through the Celts. Before the first whisperings had died down, a second wave was sent flowing as another woman stood and spoke, and the crowd recognized the Amazon Goddess herself.

"I will stand as her secondary sponsor." Artemis smiled mischievously at a further shocked Xena. "So, what do you say. Wanna become an Amazon?"

Looking down into her soul mate's gold flecked eyes, Xena knew there could only be one answer to that question. "Yes. I, Xena of Amphipolous petition for acceptance into the Amazon Nation." It was brilliant, Gabrielle had contrived to make her an Amazon in such a way as too forestall any rumours by getting the approval of not only the Goddess herself but the Co-Queen as well, thereby presenting a unified front. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and I didn't even see it coming. She didn't take he

"So be it."

At Gabrielle's words the doors to the hall were sealed and a quick glance confirmed that their male guests had all departed. A semi-circle of masked Amazons materialized in front of the dais, which had been stripped of its table and chairs.

Looking closely she recognized the masked women as being Catran, Eponin, Solari, Aine, Brighid and Agatha, the other three masks she didn't recognize, nor could she place their owners in the darkened hall.

A brazier was brought to the center of the circle they had loosely formed in combination with the women still on the platform. Behind them the remainder of the Amazons stood in a respectful silence, which was broken only by the steady drumbeat.

The vibration of the drum swelled throughout the confines of the hall, reverberating off the rafters and walls, multiplying in intensity with every bounce until it throbbed deep with in them all, driving the unified heartbeats of the Nation, making them one.

As the steady rhythm matched her heartbeat, Xena felt a sense of peace steal over her, she felt welcome, accepted.

A robed woman, Xena recognized as a priestess entered the circle, carrying a small knife and silver chalice. Taking the knife, Gabrielle moved to the center next to the brazier, leaving Xena alone on the dais, flanked by her two sponsors.

"On the question of martial merit, who speaks?"

"I do." Eponin stepped forth a pace, extending her left arm palm up, passing the blade through the flame Gabrielle drew the edge across Eponin's skin, leaving a bright line of blood behind.

"On the question of vitality and health, who speaks?"

"I do." Agatha moved forward and she too extended her palm.

Each woman answered a question and in turn had her palm opened, until Gabrielle was again facing Xena and her sponsors. "Who sponsors this woman to our sisterhood?"

"We do." Ephiny and Artemis both stepped forward and extended their palms. Xena wondered if the knife would draw blood from the Goddess, and was vaguely amused that a full thirty count passed before any showed.

"Who petitions for acceptance?"

"I do." Xena stepped forward palm extended as the silver knife opened her own palm, mingling the blood of her new sisters with her own.

Gabrielle handed her the knife, which she then held loosely in her right hand. "Each woman represents a facet of our nation, each face integral to the well being of the whole, together forming the life's blood of the Nation, of the sisterhood. Now too does the shared blood of our Nation run strong through your veins, just as the shared heartbeat is sounded by the single drum. Will you uphold all we believe, all we stand for, putting the good of the Nation ahead of your own desires? But above all will

"I swear." And it was a thousand times easier to bind herself to these women than she had ever thought possible.

Stepping back from her, Gabrielle raised both hands above her head, and the other women followed suit. Xena didn't know whether or not to raise her own arms and barring evidence to the contrary remained the way she was.

The arc in front of her parted and a masked Amazon entered the area, a cloth wrapped bundle held securely in her hands. Gabrielle blocked her view as she turned and uncovered the object, holding it aloft for the Nation to see. "As the knife serves to remind Xena of her vow to defend the Nation and its ideals, so too does this mask remind her to treasure who she is and to be true to that nature."

As Gabrielle turned Xena got a look at the mask, and her breath caught in her throat. Meeting Gabrielle's eyes, she could read the message of love and acceptance that shone through the Queen's mask as if to say. 'See we'll take you on your terms.'

It was there, carved in wood, laid out for the world to see if they choose to look. The predatory wolf, framing the strong profile of a hawk. Amazingly, the eyes belonged to both, causing it to appear as though both animals were equally present, depending on your viewpoint. It was exquisite, and unlike any other mask she had seen.

Bowing her head, she allowed Gabrielle to slide the mask over her head and settle it onto her face. "Be Welcome." The unspoken 'I love you' hanging in the air between them.

Gabrielle stepped back off the dais, standing directly in front of Xena, facing Eponin and the others. "The circle is open, yet unbroken, Merry do we meet, merry do we part, and merry to meet again." With those word the tempo of the drum changed, picking up speed as women began to dance in celebration.

Xena gingerly removed her mask as a mask-less Gabrielle slid her arms around the warrior's waist. She held it in one hand as she gathered the Queen into her chest, imparting with the embrace all the emotions she had concealed during the ceremony. "I love you Gabrielle." She whispered into a delicate ear, senses heightened by the drum beat and the sudden intoxicating aroma of the bard's honey tresses. Hmm, sandalwood and a trace of chamomile.

Pulling back she rested her forehead against her soul mate's. Green pools mirrored the light of the surrounding flames and as she watched the dancing light, the room receded from her awareness, and when Gabrielle hungrily captured her lips, she willingly surrendered, and for the second time that night they were the only two people in a crowded hall.




(Actually this scene is an excerpt from The Once and Future Queen)


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