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.

Any comments send to:-

Hey I'm sorry this has taken so long to write but I've had a bit of writers block, and college stuff to do. Hope I won't be this long again.

Trust In Her

Part IV

As Gabrielle entered the library she still couldn't get over how big it was. There were books and scrolls on everything you thought possible. From children fairy tales to very explicit love stories. There was a whole section dedicated to the poet Sappho as well. Gabrielle made her way over the Amazon Scrolls where she was going to spend the next two hours.

* * * * *

The two hours went pretty quick. Gabrielle had read everything she could on Amazon traditions and customs before Karis came in to take her to Artemis.

"My Goddess, Artemis" Karis announced "Your Chosen one is here"

Then there was a blue light and when it vanished Artemis stood in it's place.

"Thank you Karis" Artemis said "You may leave us now"

"Yes, My Goddess" Karis said and she turned and left.

"Gabrielle, has your problem with Xena been resolved yet?" Artemis asked

"Yes Artemis, it has" Gabrielle said

"Good I'm glad" Artemis said "Remember I want you and Xena in my temple on the last day of the festival so I can bless your union"

"I will not forget" Gabrielle said

"I just wanted to tell you. I know about Xena's son" Artemis said

"How do you know about him?" Gabrielle asked, nervously "This was why Xena didn't want to tell him"

"Athena told me" Artemis said "She has met the boy, you know, she absolutely adores him. I think more of that is to do with the fact he is Xena's son though. Athena has asked me to ask you how you feel about the boy?"

"I love him like he was my own" Gabrielle said "Why?"

"Like I said to you before, Athena's Chosen means everything to her. Being Xena's son, Athena feels as responsible for him as she does for Xena, because she knows to have anything happen to him would destroy Xena. Knowing you feel like this about Solon also places some of that responsibility onto me. I have to admit, I've never seen Athena like this before. Anyway she wants me to keep as eye on Solon as well" Artemis explained

"Really?" Gabrielle asked, totally surprised

"Yeah, so now Solon is under my protection as well as Athena's" Artemis said

"You know I never expected any of the Olympians to be conversationalists. When you've met Ares and Aphrodite you figure all the Gods are like that. I'm glad to know me and Xena have goddesses on our side" Gabrielle said "You and Athena are nothing like I expected you to be"

"I know. I think I must be rubbing off on Athena" Artemis smiled

"Yeah if you don't mind me asking, we heard rumours you were lovers" Gabrielle said, knowing she was treading on very dangerous ground "Is it true?"

"There are rumours?" Artemis asked "Where did you hear that?"

"Ares told Xena a couple of moons back" Gabrielle said "He told Xena that Athena was useless to him because she had her tongue so far up your...."

"Ah Gabrielle, thank you I get the picture" Artemis said, blushing bright red.

"Sorry" Gabrielle said

"Well yes me and Athena are lovers. We have been for a while" Artemis admitted "But we prefer not to have it public knowledge"

"Your secret's safe with me" Gabrielle admitted

"Thank you" Artemis said "Now I have to be going"

"Ok" Gabrielle said

"I'll see you in two days time" Artemis said "Don't forgot Xena"

"I won't" Gabrielle said and with that Artemis was gone.

* * * * *

After the end of, what turned out to be, a busy day, the only thing Gabrielle wanted to do was get back to Xena. She was also looking forward to going home to Amphipolis. She liked being with the Amazons but it was always stressful, this visit was no exception.

She found Xena and Solon sitting on their bed talking.

"Hey" She said, noticing the big plate of food next to the bed.

"Hi" Xena said "I thought you might be hungry so I got you some food" As she handed Gabrielle the tray.

"Thanks" Gabrielle said, as she sat down with Xena and Solon "So what have you two been doing all day?"

"Mom's been teaching me how to use a staff" Solon said

"Really" Gabrielle said "You any good?"

"Not really but I'm learning. Mom says she'll teach me more when we go to Amphipolis" Solon said

"Good" Gabrielle said "Oh yeah has Sasha seen you yet, Xena?"

"No" Xena said "Why?"

"She wants to talk to you before you leave that's all" Gabrielle said

"I'll see her in the morning" Xena said "Or I might see her later on tonight. Their throwing a party again tonight for the end of the hard day's work"

"These lot throw parties for anything don't they" Gabrielle chuckled, she had been to more parties the last couple of weeks then she had ever been to in her life before.

"Yeah they are throwing a party for Ephiny and Eponin tomorrow, to celebrate their last night of freedom. They are also throwing a party for us the night before we leave. Even though we haven't decided when we are leaving" Xena said

"Well we could leave the day after the festival finishes" Gabrielle said "That way then they can throw the party for us the same time as they throw a party to celebrate, Ephiny and Eponin's joining"

"Are you sure you don't mind leaving that soon?" Xena asked

"Of course I don't" Gabrielle said "To be honest I'm looking forward to leaving"

"Well I was thinking" Xena said "Ephiny is planning on leaving for Amphipolis after the festival, why don't we ask her to come back with us? It's safer travelling in a group and I don't think Ephiny wants the whole Amazon Guard following her"

"I think that's a good idea" Gabrielle said "I'll ask Ephiny tomorrow. Oh Solon did you know Xenon came in today?"

"He did?" Solon asked

"Yeah he came here with his grandfather for Ephiny's joining" Gabrielle explained

"Can I go and see him, Mom" Solon asked

"Sure, honey" Xena said, and Solon kissed her on the cheek and ran out of the hut.

"Xena, do you want to go for a walk?" Gabrielle asked "I just want to be alone with you for awhile"

"Sure" Xena said "It's nice having Solon here but I've missed being alone with you as well"

"Come on then" Gabrielle said "Let's go and find somewhere private"

So Xena stood up and pulled Gabrielle off the bed, and taking hold of her hand they walked out of the hut and the village.

* * * * *

"You know, this is the only time we've been really alone since our argument" Gabrielle said, as she wrapped an arm around the warrior's waist.

"I know" Xena said "In a way I guess that's a good thing"

Gabrielle frowned "It is?"

"Yeah" Xena said "I was going to have a word with you about that, but when I was in the healer's hut, I didn't have the energy, then the anger at you had gone"

"I'm really sorry about that, Xena" Gabrielle said "I do know you better than that and I don't know why I thought you would cheat on me. After everything you had told me that morning about giving up Lyceus to make sure I stayed the way I was, told me how much you loved me and I should have remembered that"

"Yeah" Xena agreed

"I guess having everyone telling me that they thought you would go for warrior just got to me" Gabrielle admitted "The only one that told me that you wouldn't go for a warrior was Solari"

"I would never let myself get involved with another warrior Gabrielle" Xena admitted "I have had that happen too many times before and look what it got me. You know it's hard for me to admit most things that have an effect on my pride Gabrielle"

"Yeah" Gabrielle said, as she brought the warrior to a stop and put her other arm around the warriors waist and looked up into the sky blue eyes that she loved so much.

"Well I depend on you more than I have depended on anything in my whole life" Xena admitted "And it scares me"

Gabrielle just looked at her with shock on her face, she hadn't expected that.

"I know it's a big responsibility Gabrielle, most people wouldn't touch me because of that. Ever since I first met you, you were my excuse for carrying on with things the way I was. There were times when I would have given up and gone back to Ares. I didn't because I had you there to remind me that what I was doing was worth the effort. Nobody could do that for me, only you" Xena said "You are the only reason I lost my brother again at the temple of the fates, the only reason I came back from the dead and most importantly the only reason I have for living"

Gabrielle listened with tears in her eyes as the warrior finished her speech.

"I love, Gabrielle" Xena told her

"I love you, too" Gabrielle said, as she tilted her head up and met the warriors lips. It wasn't long before that led to some exploring of each other.

'We shouldn't be doing this' Xena thought to herself 'It isn't safe. We are out in the open' But she couldn't stop 'I don't want to stop'

'I have missed this so much' Gabrielle thought to herself as Xena lay her gently on the floor 'We shouldn't be doing this out in the open' All thoughts left both of them as Xena slipped her hand underneath Gabrielle's tunic and felt her warm skin.

* * * * *

A long time later, Gabrielle and Xena made their way back to the village. The party was already in full swing.

"Do you want to go to the party?" Xena asked "I'm going to head back to the hut. I don't really feel like partying tonight"

"I don't think they are going to miss me" Gabrielle said "I'm not really in the mood for a party tonight either"

"Are you sure?" Xena asked, not wanting the bard to stay with her because she felt she had too.

"Yes" Gabrielle said "I was going to say the same thing to you before we went for our walk but I never got the chance" Gabrielle admitted.

"Well ok" Xena said, as her and Gabrielle walked back to their hut together.

That night was spent pretty quiet really. Gabrielle decided to write her diary entry for the day.

Well today wasn't so bad. I thought I was going to die not having food all day. Karis was right though I never even realised it was so late once I got back to reading. I read some really good poems by Sappho as well.

It's funny I'd read love poems before but none of them seemed real until now. I think you can only really appreciate poems like that when you've experienced it.

If something happened to me today, Artemis willing it doesn't, I'm glad I can say I have experienced this.

I'm glad Xena is back as well at least I don't have to get worried that something is going to happen to her and me not know about it.

I am looking forward to getting back to Amphipolis now, Home. It sounds wonderful. I don't know why I have such a hard time coming to the Amazons but I always do. I feel like I'm on display here and I know Xena is. I have to watch how I act and everything. It is really annoying as well. I have to stop myself from touching Xena and that isn't the easiest thing to do. It's like my body needs the contact between the two of us.

I know people say when the novelty of a relationship wears off everything seems to die down a bit. The things like having to be in constant contact with your partner, making love when ever you're alone, they say this wears off but I have a feeling that while it might not be so urgent, it's not going to wear off. I don't know whether that's Aphrodite's gift or whether it's just us.

Gabrielle looked up to see Xena watching her intently "Hey" She said

"Hey" Xena smiled

Gabrielle put down her quill and walked over to the bed where Xena was sitting "What'cha doing?"

"Not a lot" Xena said "Just thinking"

"About?" Gabrielle asked

"You" Xena said, enjoying the quick reddening of Gabrielle's skin.

"Oh" Gabrielle said

"So what did you spend your day doing today then?" Xena said

"Reading mostly" Gabrielle said "I spoke with Artemis, we have to go to the temple on the last day of the festival to have our relationship blessed"

"Ok" Xena said

"I read some good poems by Sappho as well" Gabrielle said "She's a brilliant poet"

"Yes she is" Xena admitted

"I wish I could read some of her earlier stuff. The only stuff they have here is her newer stuff" Gabrielle said "People told me her earlier stuff is more powerful than a lot of the stuff she does now"

"It is" Xena told her "I've got a lot of her stuff at home. Some of it since she was Solon's age"

"How have you got stuff that early?" Gabrielle asked

"She used to test them on me" Xena said, matter-of-factly

"You knew Sappho" Gabrielle asked, unbelieving

"No" Xena said "I know Sappho"

"How do you know the greatest poet alive?" Gabrielle asked

"She's my cousin" Xena said

"She's your cousin" Gabrielle repeated

"Yeah, her mother Diana is my mother's sister" Xena said

"Really?" Gabrielle asked

"Really" Xena said

"I never thought you were a poem critic" Gabrielle admitted

"I'm not" Xena admitted "She used to read them to me, if I wanted to throw up after, she knew it was good. If I was uninterested she knew it was dull"

"Oh" Gabrielle said "Does she still live on Lesbos?"

"Yeah" Xena said "She practically owns it"

"When was the last time you saw her?" Gabrielle asked, completely intrigued by the fact that Xena had a famous cousin.

"Just before I met you. Sappho and me were always close, even when I was a warlord. She helped me a lot. Anyway I went and spent a few days with her and she convinced me to go home and to face Mother" Xena told her

"You sound close" Gabrielle said

"We were" Xena admitted "She's the closest thing to a sister I ever had, until you came along. She was always coming to spend time in Amphipolis"

"I liked to meet her one day" Gabrielle admitted

"Well actually I was planning on taking you there soon" Xena admitted "It's Sappho's birthday in a couple of moons. She always told me the best gift I could give her was showing up with someone I'm in love with. I don't think she ever thought it was going to happen though. I never"

"Well you never know what's going to happen, Xena" Gabrielle told her "You never know who's going to walk around the corner"

"That's true" Xena said, wrapping her arms around the smaller woman "I'm glad you came around the corner and into my life"

"So am I" Gabrielle said "I've never regretted leaving Poteidaia to follow you"

"Well I know I never made it easy for you at first" Xena admitted

"Well it couldn't have been easy for you to have someone like me hanging around when you were used to being alone or with an army" Gabrielle said

"It wasn't" Xena admitted "My army never answered me back as much as you did"

"I wasn't that bad, was I?" Gabrielle asked, hoping she wasn't.

"Well no, but it took a while for you to actually listen to me" Xena said "Like when I told you, you didn't need a blade as a weapon"

"Yeah well you got a breast dagger out of it, didn't you?" Gabrielle reminded her

"Yeah and that breast dagger has saved my life on more than one occasion" Xena admitted

Just then there was a knock on the door "Come" Gabrielle shouted and Solon walked in

"Hi Mom" He said "Hi, Gabrielle"

"Hi Solon" Both said

"They called an early night to the party" Solon explained "Everyone is pretty beat"

"The Amazons cutting a party short" Gabrielle said "They must be tired"

"Well I have to admit I am too" Solon admitted "I think I'll call it a night"

"Ok" Xena said, as Solon came over and kissed her on the cheek

"Goodnight Mom, Gabrielle" Solon said, kissing Gabrielle on the cheek as well.

"Night Solon" Gabrielle and Xena said together as Solon walked out into his part of the hut.

Gabrielle and Xena talked a bit more that night, before they went to sleep.

Chapter 11

Two Days Later

Xena stirred first thing in the morning as usual, and this time she had to get up. It was going to be a long day today. First and foremost Xena had to see Sasha because she hadn't seen her the day before. Then her and Gabrielle had to go and see Artemis, then they had to attend Ephiny and Eponin's joining.

Xena looked down at her partner sleeping snuggled up against her and she smiled. Gabrielle looked so peaceful when she slept, it was how, she thought, Gabrielle should look all the time. But the lines of tension and worry were starting to show on her face. She had seen more things in two years than most people would see in a lifetime and Xena still wasn't convinced that was what was best for her.

'Where would I be without her though?' Xena thought to herself 'I came so close to losing her at Thessaly, we were just friends then. How would I survive without her now?' It was something she didn't want to think about.

"Hey" A voice startled her, until she realised Gabrielle was the one speaking to her

"Morning" Xena said, leaning down and kissing her

"What's wrong?" Gabrielle asked, seeing the worried look in the eyes of her partner

"Nothing" Xena said and she saw the disbelieving look in the bards eyes "I was just thinking about Thessaly"

"Oh" Gabrielle said "That was a pretty tough time for you wasn't it?"

"Yeah it was" Xena admitted "Tougher than a lot of other things I've experienced in my life and we all know I've experienced some tough things"

"Yeah" Gabrielle said "It was the same thing for me when you died"

"I know" Xena said "And I'll never forgive myself for causing you that pain"

"There's nothing to forgive Xena" Gabrielle said "You didn't know how I felt about you until it was too late"

"I know that but it doesn't help" Xena told her "You know another thing we don't talk about much is that Ulysses thing. I know that must have hurt you too"

"It did" Gabrielle admitted "I was listening to the two of you when you thought I was asleep and he told you that he thought you were his soulmate. I thought I was going to die"

"What I said to him when we reached Ithaca about all he was saying just embarrassed me, I wasn't lying. I meant it. I didn't know what to say to him after that" Xena admitted

"Yeah I know you don't like that sort of stuff" Gabrielle chuckled, remembering how the warrior had blushed badly when Gabrielle had told her she loved her, even though it was only in a friendship kind of way then. Well so Xena thought anyway.

It had been a busy day and they were both tired. They had just been through that whole Callisto thing and Xena was glad to have Gabrielle back. Even though she wouldn't tell her that.

"Gabrielle?" Xena asked, after they had both settled down to sleep.

"Yeah" Gabrielle said from her side of the fire

"I'm sorry about today" Xena said

Gabrielle sat up frowning "Why?"

"Well it's because of your association with me that Callisto took you" Xena said "I don't like it when people use you to get to me"

Gabrielle stood up, walked over to where the warrior lay and sat down next to her "Xena over the last couple of moths I've come to expect things like that. You are always there in the end. You have nothing to apologise for. You saved my life today" Gabrielle said

"Yeah but if you weren't with me then it wouldn't happen to you in the first place" Xena said.

"Xena there's nothing we can do about it" Gabrielle said "We just have to get on with our lives"

"Gabrielle what happens if another Callisto come along and kidnaps you and what if I can't get there fast enough. I couldn't bear the thought that knowing me got you killed" Xena admitted

"It won't" Gabrielle said

"How do you know that?" Xena asked

"Because it is my fate, to stay by you until the end and make sure you carry on going the way you have been" Gabrielle smiled

"No I was thinking actually maybe you should go home" Xena said

"What?" Gabrielle asked, praying she wasn't hearing this.

"Well at least then, you'll have your family and you won't have people coming after you to use as bait for me" Xena told her

"Is that what you want?" Gabrielle asked

Xena knew she should have said yes but she couldn't "I want you safe and happy"

"Being with you makes me feel safe and I am happy" Gabrielle said "I want to stay with you. I love you Xena"

With that Xena's skin turned a shade Gabrielle had never seen before.

Gabrielle chuckled "I'm sorry if I embarrassed you, but it's true but I feel closer to you than I have with anyone else in my life. Even Lila and me weren't this close"

"Yeah. I love you too, Gabrielle" Xena admitted quietly

That was a wonderful day. For both of them, hearing their feelings mirrored by the other, even if it wasn't the way they wanted it.

"Yeah well" Xena said "It's not easy for someone who spends most of their life hating to just turn around and admit to loving someone"

"I know" Gabrielle said, snuggling closer to her warrior. They stayed like that for a while.

* * * * *

After a while of lazy around in bed Xena finally got out of bed and changed and then went to find Sasha. The sun was shining brightly as she walked across the courtyard.

Xena knocked on Sira's door and smiled when it was opened by Sasha.

"Xena" Sasha said "I've been waiting for you to come back. I wanted to talk to you"

"Well Sasha here I am" Xena said "What can I do for you?"

"Well see it is my swearing in ceremony soon and I was wondering if you'd be my guardian?" Sasha asked, nervously, she really wanted Xena to do this but she was frightened she wouldn't.

"You want me to be your guardian?" Xena repeated, totally surprised

"I would like it if you would be my guardian yes" Sasha said, moving her hands behind her back and crossing her fingers.

"I don't know what to say" Xena admitted, this was something she hadn't expected. She knew it was a great honour to be asked to be the guardian of a young Amazon warrior.

"Most people either say yes or no" Sasha said, trying to lighten her mood

"I'd love to be your guardian Sasha, you just surprised me" Xena told her.

"Really" Sasha said, smiling

"Yeah in fact I am very honoured you asked" Xena said

"You are" Sasha said giddily

"Yeah" Xena smiled

'Sasha can you come in here please' Came from inside the hut

"I have to go" Sasha said

"That's ok" Xena said "I have some drills to get ready for anyway, and a son to find"

"I like your son Xena. He's a lot like you" Sasha said

"Thanks" Xena said, then she turned around and left.

"Who was at the door sweetie" Sira asked, when Sasha came back into the hut.

"Xena, she agreed to be my guardian" Sasha said, excitedly

"She did" Sira said, pleased for her daughter, when Sasha had expressed the desire to have Xena as her guardian she was upset because she didn't think Xena would do it and she didn't want her daughter to be upset 'No need to worry' she thought to herself.

* * * * *

Back at the Royal Hut Gabrielle was writing in her diary again 'It seems like this is all I do lately' She thought as she finished off and put her diary back on the bedside table.

"Hey" She said, as Xena entered the hut "Did you see Sasha?"

"Yeah" Xena said

"What did you say to her?" Gabrielle asked

"You knew?" Xena accused

"Well of course I knew" Gabrielle said "So what did you say?"

"I said yes" Xena told her "What did you expect me to say?"

"I expected you to say yes" Gabrielle admitted

"Morning, Mom, Gabrielle" Solon said, as he walked into the main room

"Morning Solon" Gabrielle and Xena said simultaneously

"So when is your meeting with Artemis?" Solon asked as he sat on the bed were Gabrielle and Xena were also sitting comfortably.

"At Noon" Gabrielle said

"What's it for?" Solon asked

"To talk to Artemis" Gabrielle said

"I know that but why? Have you done something wrong?" Solon asked

"I don't think so. She wants to bless our relationship that's all" Gabrielle said

"Oh that's ok then" Solon said "Anyway I am going to spend the day with Xenon because Ephiny is going to be busy getting ready for her joining and you are going to be busy having your relationship blessed"

"Well no getting into trouble" Xena warned him

"Me" Solon said, innocently pointing his finger to his chest "I never get into trouble"

"Sure" Xena said, as he walked out of the hut.

At the Temple of Artemis at noon

Xena and Gabrielle walked into the temple and watched as the priestess and the other servants of Artemis ran around getting everything ready for the visit of Artemis.

After everything was ready everyone, except for Karis, Gabrielle and Xena left. They didn't have to wait long before Artemis made her appearance.

"Karis, you may leave us" Artemis said. Karis bowed her head and left. "I'm glad you could both make it. I wanted to talk to you both before I can bless you relationship. I know that you are both very much involve with each other, even a blind person could see that. I also know that your recent argument and lack of trust hurt each other a lot. You know about Aphrodite's gift so you both knew how the other was feeling about that"

"Yes we did" Gabrielle said "It was worse than anything I have ever felt"

"Yes it would be, because not only were you feeling your pain, but you were feeling hers as well" Artemis explained "That is why some people call it a curse not a gift. It does help you a lot of the time as well. Has it been explained to you?"

"Athena sort of explained" Gabrielle explained

"Good" Artemis said "I hate having to explain Gods gifts to anyone. Ok now for the formal questions. Do you think that you two will be ready to commit to each other at next years festival?"

"Yes" Xena and Gabrielle said at the same time.

"Good" Artemis said "Apart from your little disagreement before the festival, why aren't you ready to commit yet?"

"We've only been together a couple of weeks and we don't feel ready yet" Gabrielle admitted "We do love each other very much and I don't think anything will ever change that. But we need time to adjust to what we are feeling before we are ready to commit to that"

"I understand" Artemis said "However from what I've been feeling coming from you, Gabrielle and what Athena has said she has felt coming from you Xena, we are both surprised that you won't do this. Have either of you heard of soulmates?"

"Yes" Gabrielle said

"Now I know what they are but could you explain it to me anyway?" Artemis asked

"They are two parts of a whole who are destined to find each other over and over again" Gabrielle said

"Exactly" Artemis said "You two are soulmates, you will find each other every lifetime you live. Although you refuse to commit to each other at this moment in time, you are already committed to each other. The fates have decided so. Therefore I don't have any option but to bless your relationship. I would have anyway. I cannot think of a better protector for my Chosen"

"Thank you Artemis" Gabrielle said

"You're welcome" Artemis said "Now don't forget Gabrielle you have to visit Athena and ask her for her blessing as well"

"I know" Gabrielle said "I will as soon as we get home"

"Good" Artemis said "Now you two go and enjoy yourselves"

"Thank you Artemis" Gabrielle said again

"Xena?" Artemis asked

"Yes" Xena said

"You don't speak much do you" Artemis stated

"No" Xena said

"Speaking isn't one of her many skills" Gabrielle chuckled

"Why do I need that when I have you" Xena said

"Go on you two get out of here" Artemis said, and then she vanished.

"Well that wasn't so bad" Xena said, as they walked out of the temple.

"No it wasn't" Gabrielle said

"I don't know if I like the idea of the fates deciding our future relationships though" Xena admitted

"Really?" Gabrielle said "I think it is quite romantic, to know that where-ever and whenever we live we are destined to find each other. I'm glad to know that in the next life I will be with you again"

"I suppose that is a good point but I don't know" Xena said "To know that if something happened in the next life and we didn't meet up, we would always be incomplete, it's a depressing thought"

"I guess but we'll meet up. I know we will" Gabrielle said, as she slipped her arm around her lover and they walked back to their hut.

Eponin and Ephiny's joining

Everyone was waiting patiently for the ceremony to start. This was one of the highlights of the Artemis Festival when it happened, which wasn't very often. All the Amazons were slightly disappointed that they wouldn't get to see the joining of their queen just yet, but the Regent was just as good.

Everyone was stood around the dais watching Eponin pace back and forth waiting for Ephiny and Gabrielle to come out.

"Pony will you calm down" Xena said "You're making me dizzy"

"I'm sorry" Eponin said, but she never stopped pacing.

"Pony" Xena growled "Stop it or I'll come over there and break both of your legs"

"You and whose army?" Pony said, then realised what she had said started chuckling. It settled her nerves.

Xena looked over and saw Solon standing with Xenan in front. He smiled at his mother when he saw her.

After a while Gabrielle walked down to the dais and stood in front of everyone. Then she called Ephiny out.

Ephiny walked down in full Amazon garb. Eponin was smiling at the love of her life as she took her place next to her.

"We are gathered here to witness the joining of The Amazon Regent Ephiny and her chosen consort Weapons master of this village, Eponin" Gabrielle announced to the observers "This union has been blessed by our patron Goddess Artemis"

Xena watched as Gabrielle took on a radiant light that made her more beautiful and more Amazon Queen as she read out the rest of the proclamation.

"Does anyone here have anything to say that may lawfully put a stop to this joining?" Gabrielle asked "If you do come forward and speak now, for this is your last chance"

They waited for about a minute. Nobody came forward so Gabrielle carried on with the ceremony.

* * * * *

The Amazon Reception

Everyone was having a blast at the party to celebrate the joining of Ephiny and Eponin. Everyone said it was about time too. Everyone agreed that they deserved happiness and that they had finally found it. Everyone also told Gabrielle and Xena how disappointed they were not to have them joined but they had to accept it whether they liked it or not.

The party went down really well over all. Everyone enjoyed themselves and nearly everyone got drunk, including Gabrielle. Even though Xena warned her about the ale she was drinking.

"Zeenah" Gabrielle slurred seductively, as they sat and watched the other Amazons dance

"Yes Gabrielle" Xena said 'She is so cute when she's drunk'

"I want to rip your clothes off right now and make love to you in front of everyone" Gabrielle said

"Oh really" Xena said

"Yeeesss" Gabrielle said

"Well I tell you what" Xena said

"What?" Gabrielle asked

"How about you and me go back to the hut and then you can rip my clothes off and make love to me" Xena said

"What about the baby?" Gabrielle said, remembering Solon was staying with them

"Solon should be asleep" Xena said "And if we're really quiet we won't disturb him"

"That's a good idea" Gabrielle said, trying to stand up, holding her hand out to Xena who took it and then Gabrielle lost her balance and fell backwards taking Xena with her "Zeenah I thought you didn't want to do this in front of ev'ryone"

"Uh huh" Xena chuckled, watching Gabrielle blush when she noticed everyone was looking at them

"I think we'd better go back to the hut now" Gabrielle said when a 'You go girl' was shouted from the group of Amazons.

"I think you're right" Xena said, standing up and the pulling Gabrielle up.

"Les go" Gabrielle said, pulling Xena behind her.

When they arrived at the hut Xena went to check on Solon. He was sleeping.

So she walked back to Gabrielle.

"Well is Solon sleeping?" Gabrielle whispered

"Yes Solon is sleeping" Xena whispered

"Good now come here warrior and let me make you mine" Gabrielle said

"Gabrielle, I am already yours" Xena whispered as she joined her lover on the bed.

* * * * *

When Gabrielle woke up the following morning she squinted against the sunlight. Xena was gone and she had the most terrible headache.

'By the Gods I've have to stop Kaliepus from stamping on my head' She thought painfully

She smiled when she heard the familiar voice of her lover coming towards the hut and she watched the door expectantly.

"Good Morning" Xena said quietly when she spotted the bard lying in bed awake.

"Ssssh" Gabrielle hissed, losing her smile "Not so loud"

"Oh that's right you have a hangover" Xena chuckled, she walked over to her supply bag took out a couple of herb's and then mixed them with some hot water. "Here drink this. It'll help your head"

"Thanks" Gabrielle said, taking the cup and sniffing it suspiciously

"Just drink it" Xena said, seeing the look she was getting.

Gabrielle downed it in one. Making a face when her taste buds tasted the disgusting drink as it went down.

"Urggh" She said "You could have told me it tasted disgusting"

"Yeah well" Xena said "Do you still want to head out today?"

"Yeah I want to go home" Gabrielle said "It's seems like months ago since we left the house"

"Yeah it has been a rough couple of weeks" Xena said

"Yeah but at least one thing good came out of it" Gabrielle said

"What?" Xena asked

"You now have your son back in your life" Gabrielle said

"Yeah I do" Xena smiled "I never really thought about how much I missed him being a part of my life until we met up the last time. Seeing him all grown up made me realise how much I had missed. I'm not going to miss anymore"

"Good" Gabrielle said "He deserves to know his mother as much as you deserve to know your son"

"I know" Xena said "And I plan to get to know him"

"I know" Gabrielle said

"Anyway how do you feel now?" Xena asked

Gabrielle thought about it "I feel much better" She admitted "That stuff works fast"

"Yeah it does" Xena said "So what time do you want to head out then?"

"Well I was thinking if we head out about noon we could stay at our usual cave for the night" Gabrielle said "It's nice and quiet and under shelter"

"That's a good idea" Xena said "That cave is warm as well. I think tonight is going to be quiet cold"

"Well then" Gabrielle said "I suppose we'd better go and grab breakfast before we start getting everything ready"

"Yeah. I have to wake Solon first" Xena said "Why don't you get changed"

"Ok" Gabrielle said, then Xena left.

* * * * *

Solon woke up to the sound of Gabrielle and Xena's voice in the other room. He stayed quiet and listened to them talking about him. He listened to Xena talk about her regret at giving him up and missing him grow up and any doubts he had about the relationship with his mother vanished when she said 'I'll never let that happen again'

When he heard Xena say she was going to call him, he closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep.

"Hey Solon" Xena said quietly

He stirred and then opened his eyes.

"Good morning" She smiled

"Morning Mom" Solon said

"How did you sleep last night?" Xena asked

"With my eyes closed" Solon said, quiet seriously

Xena chuckled "Ha ha"

"I slept very well thank you" Solon said "You and Gabrielle must have come in after I went to sleep I never heard you"

"Yeah we did" Xena admitted "I came into check on you when we did and you were asleep"

"I thought so. I was tired last night" Solon said

"I think after that party everyone was" Xena said "Now come and get dressed. We are going to have breakfast then get packed and ready to leave"

"What time are we leaving?" Solon asked

"Noon" Xena told him as she stood up and left the room. Leaving Solon to get dressed.

Xena and Gabrielle sorted everything out before they had to leave.

* * * * *

Xena and Gabrielle stood by Argo waiting for Solon, Ephiny and Eponin. Although Ephiny had told her no, Pony had insisted she was going to Amphipolis as well. It wasn't long before Solon and Ephiny had said goodbye to Xenan and then they were all ready for their journey.

They walked at a leisurely pace from the start. Not feeling any reason to rush. Gabrielle kept everyone occupied with stories and poems. It seemed like only a couple of candlemarks later that Xena was pointing out the cave they were staying in.

They made themselves at home quickly noticing that a cold night was indeed ahead of them. Gabrielle and Xena went searching for food and firewood. They also wanted some time to themselves.

"You know it's been such a long time since I've had to share your company with anyone else. It feels really strange" Gabrielle admitted, as they walked back to the cave.

"I know I felt really stupid for feeling jealous because you were telling them stories. I'm so used to listening to you telling me stories on the road. I missed that like crazy today" Xena told her

"I thought maybe you were glad to have a break from my voice" Gabrielle said, half jokingly and half seriously.

"Gabrielle" Xena said bringing her to a stop "I love the sound of your voice. I always have. There have been times in my life when everything seemed to stop the minute I heard your voice. You've seen before when I was this close to killing someone" Xena made a minute gesture with her thumb and forefinger "You would just say my name and it brought me back and I stopped"

"Yeah I guess I did notice" Gabrielle said "I just wanted to make sure"

"Gabrielle has it ever occurred to you, that if I wanted you to shut up I would have told you" Xena told her, raising her eyebrow slightly

"No not really" Gabrielle said "Knowing you, you wouldn't say a word, because you'd be worried about upsetting me"

"No believe me" Xena said "If I wanted peace and quiet. I would have told you"

"Good" Gabrielle said "Because I like talking to you when we are travelling. I'll enjoy it even more now I know you are actually listening"

"Gabrielle" Xena said "I always listen"

Gabrielle looked at her and smiled and Xena leaned down to place a kiss on her lips.

It wasn't long before they returned to the cave and noticed that the other three had already set up there beds around where they decided the fire was going to be. Solon had set his bed next to Gabrielle and Xena's. Ephiny and Eponin had set theirs up opposite.

They spent most of the night talking around the fire and telling stories about everything, before the went to sleep.

* * * * *

The fields were nice and quiet as she walked towards the river but it felt strange. Although she couldn't see any danger she could sense it. It was the feeling she usually felt when Ares was around but it was different. This wasn't Ares.

"ATTACK" Came from one the trees behind her, she recognised the voice immediately. Callisto.

Before she knew what was happening she was surrounded.

She snorted at herself in disgust as she realised she had been caught without her weapons.

"Well, well aren't we in a precarious situation here" Callisto said "You're lucky however because I'm not going to kill you today. I'm going to let you live with your pain"

"What pain?" She asked "What are you talking about?"

"Well last time I tried to kill that precious little blonde of yours I ended up killing her husband. Ok that plan backfired. I ended up doing you both a favour. Getting him out of the way just made it perfect for you two didn't it" Callisto said "So instead I am going to finally get to kill lil'ole blondie here"

Just then Gabrielle was pushed out towards Callisto.

"See everyone knows that blondie here is your weakness without her you couldn't survive. So say goodbye to the love of your life"

Just as Callisto lifted her dagger to Gabrielle's throat Xena could hear her name being called softly. Then as she recognised the voice a sense of peace took over.

* * * * *

Gabrielle woke up to the sound of Xena's nightmare. She looked around and noticed that Ephiny and Eponin were also awake.

"Is she ok?" Eponin asked

"Yeah" Gabrielle said "She's just having a nightmare. Go back to sleep" Then she turned her attentions to the mumbling warrior by her side.

"Xena" She said softly "Hey come on it's just a nightmare"

Gabrielle gently talked her lover back into a peaceful sleep.

"Does that happen a lot?" Ephiny asked, after Xena had settled down.

"It happens quite a lot" Gabrielle admitted "This is how Xena is continuously punished by herself for her past. Everyone thinks it is so easy for her. Until now I was the only one who actually knew what happens during the night. I don't think she even remembers when she isn't woken from them. Don't tell her you saw her like this ok. She doesn't like to feel vulnerable in front of anyone and this will make her feel just that"

"Your secret's safe with us" Ephiny assured her

"Definitely" Pony said, with that they all lay there heads back down and drifted back to sleep.

Chapter 12

Xena was the first to wake up the following morning, she left everyone sleeping while she went to do some drills. Her shoulder was still hurting a bit and it was tight, so doing drills helped to loosen it. She worked quietly outside the cave keeping her strokes quick and sharp. She felt herself being watched a while before Eponin made her way out to her, announcing herself before she walked behind the warrior.

"Hey Pony" Xena said, slowing her movements until she came to a stop.

"It's nice to know that not all partnered warriors lose their early internal alarm" Pony said

"It's a lot harder getting up this early, than it used to be" Xena admitted "I'd much rather stay in bed"

"You know, being involved with Gabrielle has changed you, Xena" Eponin told her, hoping she didn't get her head smashed from her to next week "You're not the same as you were this time last year. You're more open with your friends than you've ever been. The Xena you used to be would have knocked me out for even suggesting you were different" Eponin told her.

Xena listened knowing it was the truth. She had been more open towards her friends since her and Gabrielle had been involved. So much more had changed as well. The way she looked at herself was one of the major changes she had seen. She knew she was still a killer, she always would be, but knowing Gabrielle had tamed her. Knowing Gabrielle had also left her feeling vulnerable in a way she wasn't use to. Every enemy she had knew how important Gabrielle was to her. If they took that away from her, it would kill her. She needed the bard more than she'd ever needed anyone 'Just can't stress that enough can you?' she thought to herself "Yeah they say love changes everything. I guess it's just turning me to mush"

"They also say the bigger they are, the harder they fall" Eponin said, looking at the changed warrior before her "You fell pretty hard my friend"

"Did I ever" Xena admitted "Anyway let's get on with this. I doubt you didn't come out here to discuss my love life"

"You got that right" Eponin said, as she removed the short sword from her back.

The pair spared for about a candlemark when Eponin decided she couldn't keep up with the former warlord. Something she didn't admit easily.

Solon and Ephiny were awake when they returned back at the cave, Gabrielle was still asleep. Xena went and sat next to her sleeping lover preparing to wake her up "Gabrielle" She said quietly, then watched as Gabrielle smiled and snuggled up to her. She turned and gave the other's her patented warlord looked when they started chuckling. They quickly shut up "Gabrielle come on it's time to get up" She smiled as a sleepy green eyes opened a looked at her.

Gabrielle opened her eyes and saw Xena's smiling face looking down at her "I could get used to waking up to this site" she smiled, the blushed when she remembered where she was and who was in the cave with them.

So she just closed her eyes and waited until the heat had left her face. She was relieved when she saw that Ephiny and Eponin were no longer in the cave.

"They've gone to get breakfast" Xena said, seeing Gabrielle's questioning gaze.

"Oh" Gabrielle said

It wasn't long before Ephiny and Eponin had come back, breakfast was eaten and the were ready to leave.

* * * * *

The rest of the day was pretty quiet. They had a run in with a small gang of bandits, who stood no chance against Xena on her own let alone her and three Amazons. The bandits ran away quickly with their tails between their legs.

The day was spent pretty much the same way as it had been yesterday, Gabrielle telling the stories, Xena keeping her eyes and ears open for any signs of trouble, and Solon, Ephiny and Eponin walking quietly listening to Gabrielle.

They wanted to keep going as long as the could so they wouldn't have so far to walk tomorrow and they stopped just before sunset. The camp was arranged the same way as it had been the night before, this time with Xena and Eponin on the outside of the camp ready to defend the rest of them if anyone were to attack.

Nobody did. It was a quiet night all round. Everyone slept peacefully, even Xena and the following morning the were all awake refreshed and ready to get to Amphipolis.

* * * * *

Gabrielle decided to stop at Athena's temple on the way home so they could get everything sorted out and they wouldn't have that hanging over their heads at the homecoming. Ephiny and Eponin decided to go with them.

The temple of Athena was a typical temple really. Nothing colourful or eye catching about it, which wasn't something you would have expected for Athena anyway, that was left to Aphrodite and Apollo.

Ephiny, Eponin and Solon waited outside the temple while Gabrielle and Xena went in. The inside of the temple was pretty much the same as the outside, plain and simple. Nothing fancy or posh about it. The stone alter in the middle of the room held a few offerings from others but that was it.

The priestess noticed them when they came in, she gave Xena a friendly nod and left, knowing that when the Goddess Chosen one arrived, she had to leave.

"My Goddess Athena, I, Xena of Amphipolis, your Chosen, request your presence" Xena said, once the priestess had left. It wasn't long before Athena made her entrance, in the same manner that Artemis usually did. A blue light and then she stood there.

"You have requested my presence my Chosen, what is it I can do for you?" Athena asked

"Well actually it's not me that wishes to speak with you" Xena admitted, as Gabrielle stepped forward.

'The girl had the guts then did she?' Athena thought with an inward smile, as she spotted Gabrielle standing in front of her. Athena liked Gabrielle, there was no getting away from it but when she hurt her Chosen, she hurt her and Athena wouldn't stand for that 'Good I like that. She will stand up for what she wants. This means she will stand up for Xena. Very good'

"What is it you want Gabrielle?" Athena asked

Gabrielle swallowed nervously, she wanted Athena's blessing more than anything and to be standing face to face with her again, this time on less friendly terms was terrifying her. That was until she felt the warmth of Xena's hand on her back. Giving her the strength to face this "I, Gabrielle of Poteidaia, have come to ask for your forgiveness" She said "I realise that I offended and hurt you, with my mistrust of your Chosen. I only wish that you do not hold this against me"

'By the Gods I hate formal speeches' Both Gabrielle and Athena thought at the same time.

"Tell me why you think, you are worthy of my forgiveness" Athena said, she knew she was going to give it to her anyway but she decided to see what Gabrielle would say.

"I realise that I was wrong about Xena and Ephiny. I was just being stupid and insecure. I had to live with the thought that she had left me for over a week, that was more punishment than I could bare. I love Xena, Athena, more than I could ever love anyone else and I know she loves me as much. If you decided to punish me by not blessing our relationship you would not only be punishing me, you would be punishing your Chosen" Gabrielle said "Please don't make either of us go through that. I don't think we could survive"

"I do believe you are correct in that statement" Athena told her "All you had to do was turn up before me to be forgiven Gabrielle. Most people wouldn't go before an Immortal if they knew that they were mad at them. You have proven yourself worthy of the love of my Chosen and therefore you are worthy of my blessing" Xena and Gabrielle both released a breath they hadn't realised they were holding "I do however have a request of you both?"

'Great' Xena thought 'There's always a something afterward. All Gods are the same'

"Xena, I heard that" Athena told her "And no not all Gods are the same, thank you very much"

Xena flushed as she heard Athena read her thoughts back to her. That was something she would never get used to.

"So what is the request?" Gabrielle asked, trying to take the Goddess's attention off her partner.

"When you are both ready to settle down and take Solon home to live with you. I would like it if you would bear a child, Gabrielle. Xena has been through it once. I don't think she would thank me for making her do it again" Athena said "I do not expect you to go and jump into bed with someone you don't know, like a lot of your sisters do. What I would like is for you to come to me when you are ready. I will help you conceive a child that is both of yours"

"How can you do that?" Xena asked 'That just isn't possible'

"Anything is possible for a goddess Xena" Athena said

'Damn it all to Hades' Xena thought and watched as Athena smiled at her

"I would like to help you conceive a child so that you continue on both of your lifelines" Athena said "People in the future will benefit from you ancestors and I don't think Solon would be able to do that by himself"

Gabrielle and Xena chuckled at that thought.

"Do you think you would be able to do this for me?" Athena asked

"I think we would be able to" Gabrielle said "In fact I would be more than honoured to carry Xena's child"

"Very well than" Athena said "I shall remember this and when you are ready you may come to me"

"Thank you Athena" Xena said

"You're more than welcome" Athena said "Now go, you have a family to get back to" With that she vanished.

"There that wasn't do bad was it" Xena said, as they walked out of the temple.

Gabrielle felt like crying with relief. It felt so good to be in everyone's favour again.

* * * * *

The next stop was home. It didn't take long for them to arrive home after the stop at the temple. Ephiny was nervous about seeing her mother again. Eponin was worried about meeting her mother-in-law and Solon was worried about meeting his grandmother. Gabrielle and Xena kept telling them they would be fine but they wouldn't listen.

The town was pretty quiet when they arrived. So they all made their way over to the Inn. Ephiny's mother usually helped out there, so they figured that would be the best place to start.

When they arrived at the Inn it was also pretty quiet. The lunch hour was over and everyone was working in the fields. Cyrene noticed her daughters immediately. She practically ran over to them, threw her arms around Xena and Gabrielle and whispered in their ear "Is that my grandson?"

She knew it was a stupid question because Solon looked so much like his mother, that he couldn't be anyone else's.

"Yes" Xena said, letting her mother go and turning to face Solon "Solon this your grandmother, Mom this is Solon"

Cyrene smiled and walked over to her grandson, she threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly. Solon did the same.

"Mother is Yanis about?" Xena asked, as she watched the family reunion.

"Uh yeah she's in the kitchen. Why?" She asked

Xena walked over to the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with Yanis behind her. As soon as Yanis saw Ephiny she knew it was her daughter. "Ephiny" She said, already moving towards her.

"Mother" Ephiny said, as she moved towards her mother, before long they were wrapped in each other's arms as well.

This is where they were supposed to be. HOME.


Note:- Sorry the end of this seems pretty rushed, the truth is, it was. I was getting so fed up with being miles away from the end that I just had to finish it. There will be another story coming up after I have finished Young At Heart.

Thank you all for putting up with my slowness and for being patient enough to wait for this.



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