DISCLAIMER: The characters Xena: Warrior Princess and Gabrielle are owned by Renaissance/Universal Pictures. No infringement is intended and no profit is being made. I have used them in an effort to create a rather amusing, love filled fan fiction for all those Xena “subtext” fans out there. This is an original story, other than the use of the main characters. This story is intended for ages over 18 who do not object to love scenes between partners of the same sex. If this should offend please do not continue to read.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is my first Xena Fan Fiction, so please let me know your thoughts on the story. It would be much appreciated. This story takes place directly after “A Family Affair” in (Season 4)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Unchained Hearts
By Lucy Winchester


This was wonderful, Gabrielle thought, as she nestled down lying beside Xena, with freshly scented spring grasses caressing their skin. As they both looked up toward the night sky, watching the stars and moon shine above them, it was almost impossible to think that the recent alarming events had even occurred.

"Xena! I think this camping trip idea you had was just what we needed."

"I'm glad you agree, after nearly losing you I think we have earned a little time for ourselves, just to relax…and talk. I know talking has never been a problem for you." She said with a grin.  

There was a moment's pause, but Xena soon continued. "There was a time when I thought I would never hear your voice again…" as she turned to face Gabrielle. " I had come to accept the life that I would lead without you, and I saw that it wasn't much of a life." 

Immediately hearing the adoration in Xena's voice Gabrielle instinctively clasped Xena's hand into hers. "Xena, you don't have to say this you know," secretly wanting her friend to continue.

"No I need to say this!" As she clasped her hand tighter into Gabrielle's. "You're my best friend and my life is nothing if I can't share it with you by my side... Promise me you will never leave me again."

As Gabrielle looked into Xena's eyes she felt the love and warmth that existed within her warriors' heart which caused her eyes to swell up with tears, "I promise you" she said as a tear ran down her cheek. Xena reached across to Gabrielle's face and lovingly wiped the tear away.

They both lay in a contented silence staring into each other's eyes, as they slowly drifted off to sleep, with the comforting knowledge that the other would be there upon awakening.

As the sunshine streamed through the trees marking a new day, Xena briskly tidied up her appearance and put on her armour and turned toward Gabrielle. In a most teasingly yet feminine manner, which was so unlike the warrior to express such a mischievous front, she asked "Hey Gabrielle, how does my outfit look today?" as she continuing to straighten up her breast plate.

Gabrielle turned to face her warrior, and immediately conjured the thought that Xena would look better without her outfit, yet she did not convey these thoughts to Xena… she felt that she would never be able to. With an awkward cough she answered, "Yeh sure Xena you look great…" All the while a smile of yearning crossed her face. As she embarrassingly turned away she muttered the words "you always look great" under her breath, feeling her cheeks turn bright red, she covered her awkwardness by busying herself with one of her scrolls.

Seeing Gabrielle turn abruptly away, Xena possessed a sense of longing, a desire that was not able to be soothed. She didn't understand these feelings and instantly brushed them away.   

"I'm going to see if I can catch us some breakfast!" Xena said with such enthusiasm.

With a smile Gabrielle replied "I might join you, and treat myself to a refreshing bath."

"Excellent, let's go!"  

As they made their way to the nearby stream Xena felt the urge to wrap her arm innocently around Gabrielle's shoulders. Gabrielle responding to this sudden display of affection placed her arm around Xena's waist and drew her in close, as they continued to walk happily to the stream. This warm embrace was prompted by Xena's sense of yearning to be intimately closer to Gabrielle, yet she managed to cover her true intentions as a mere casual and friendly embrace.

When they reached the stream, they parted as Xena went off to do some 'serious' fishing, while Gabrielle prepared to bathe. Xena began to wade through the shallows and finding the perfect location to wait and prey on some fish. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Gabrielle removing her clothing. Although the pair had bathed many times together, the affect that the bard's naked body had on Xena, had always been concealed so well by the warrior. Yet lately the beauty she saw in Gabrielle was not so easily hidden as before.

As Xena witnessed each layer of clothing be removed, she felt her heart pound faster in her chest, not understanding why she was not able to compose herself like all the other times. She thought to her self, "By the Gods what is wrong with me, the site of her takes my breath away! Xena come on now….. Get a grip!" Thankfully Gabrielle began to submerge herself into the stream, allowing Xena's heart to steady and regain its natural rhythm. Yet as soon as Gabrielle's body was no longer visible, Xena's mind conjured up the image once again which inturn inspired the same affect as before. Unable to concentrate she leaped into a deeper end of the stream and submerged her entire body into the freezing cold water.

Xena rose from beneath the surface of the water, gasping for air in an attempt to regain her breath and composure. Gabrielle noticing Xena's sudden lunge into the depths of the water, shouted out playfully, "Xena! Those fish aren't giving you a hard time are they?" as she giggled to herself.

"Very funny…" Xena said as she walked back into the shallows, where she resumed her fishing as she had now cooled off due to the previous heated thoughts.

Xena stood absolutely still, stalking her prey that foolishly swam beneath her. With a quick lunge she managed to seize two decent sized fish that she immediately threw to the shore. Gabrielle noticed that Xena was making her way back to the edge of the stream, and impulsively called out to her.

"Xena! Why don't you come join me, you might as well…you're already wet…" 

Xena knew that statement to be true, more than Gabrielle would hopefully ever realise. Xena could think of nothing she wanted more than to join her friend but didn't want to seem too eager, "If I joined you who would cook our breakfast?"

"Breakfast can wait, you may have many skills Xena but cooking isn't one of them," she said with a most cheeky smile.

"Ooo you're going to pay for that," Xena said as she returned also with a mischievous look that masked her desire, as she dived back into the water heading excitedly towards Gabrielle's direction.  

As she finally reached her friend, Gabrielle thought to swim away in a playful defence, yet she let Xena teasingly catch her. All the while splashing water into Xena's face, which did not, perturb Xena's efforts to tickle Gabrielle under the water.

"Xena stop...stop! You win okay!" she said gasping between breaths of giggling amusement.

Xena triumphant with her victory halted her tickling assault upon Gabrielle. "I think you've had enough…for now…"

"Oh really?" Gabrielle said with such anticipation.

They both smiled at each other while each of them drew quick breaths; unconsciously Xena had latched both arms onto Gabrielle's waist. With a sudden sense of disbelief she was holding onto her best friend's naked body, which provoked those feelings that she had earlier in the day. As she stared into her friends striking green eyes a moment passed between them. Xena knew she loved Gabrielle, but in this moment she realised she had been suppressing intimate feelings for her friend. Frightened by this realisation Xena swiftly removed her hands from their current position, which incited the obvious disappointment in Gabrielle's eyes. The touch of Xena's hands gently caressing her waist seemed to possess and captivate Gabrielle's sensations. When the warriors' hands swiftly moved away from her skin, she felt a yearning desire to put them back where they had previously resided. 

"I think we should start breakfast." Xena said in a most awkward manner.

Gabrielle realised the uncomfortable tone in her friend's voice, yet she was not able to find the source of Xena's discomfort.

"Yeh…umm that's exactly what I was thinking…" unable to conceal the hint of pain and disappointment in her voice as she once again was forced to hide her most desired sentiments.

 Inturn she agreed with the warrior and both women swam to shore.

As they got back to camp, an awkward silence loomed in the air between the two. When Gabrielle had finished cooking the fish that Xena caught, they ate in silence.

As they both finished their meal, Gabrielle sat staring pensively at her warrior, and finally she was the first to break the silence.

"You surely are hungry this morning," as the bard witnessed Xena gorging down her meal, with an appetite so vigorous it startled her.  

Although Xena's hunger did not dwell in her morning meal, but instead the hunger she held resided in Gabrielle's stunning green eyes. The bard had the ability to simply pierce the heart of her warrior with an effortless glance in her direction.

"Well you know I do love your cooking."

Xena's thoughts seemed to wander unexpectedly in her mind. And I love the way you smile, I love the way you laugh, I love how when you touch me your kindness and caring nature fills my soul. I simply… love you…OH STOP IT XENA! She could never love me back the way I love her!

In an effort to distract herself Xena picked up and inspected her sword. 

"So Xena, what shall we do for the rest of the day?"  

Xena looked up towards her friend, while she halted her swords daily polish.

"Anything your heart desires Gabrielle." 

Gabrielle suddenly blushed as she knew that her heart desired her friend. "Well I was thinking I might head down to the nearby market and pick up a few things. Will you join me?" 

"I might pass, there are a few things….umm…that…I'd like to get done around camp." As much as it pained Xena to deny her friend's offer, Xena thought it was best to spend a little time on her own, to once again gain control and a better understanding of her startling new sensations.

Gabrielle was unable to hide the hurt in regards to the warrior's stance to remain behind. "I shouldn't be too long..." She said picking up her staff and soon making her way from the camp. Taking one last pining look towards her friend, she felt her heart leap at the sight of the warrior, yet Gabrielle quickly discarded such thoughts, as she now suspected that she was yearning for something that would never be…

As Xena watched Gabrielle walk down the path, her heart pounded, she was almost convinced that there was something more behind these feelings, something she hadn't experienced before and she didn't know yet how she felt about it. One thing was for sure though, she didn't want to see Gabrielle walking away from her again. That alone hurt enough. She set about shining her sword again.

How could she describe these feelings? Xena pondered as she watched her sword light up again as the sun hit its reflective coat. It was as if something had awakened inside of her, something strong that would last if only she could hold onto it and she was unsure if she could do that. Yes, she was a fighter and had faced some tough times, the loss of Gabrielle and then her return being high on that list, but was this something that she could face. What if Gabrielle was lost to her again? The thought sent shivers down her spine. She never wanted to go through that again; she wasn't going to leave her side again. Was this a sign that she did love her more than what she had thought she did? Xena sighed; she was so confused and didn't know if she could face this let alone let her best friend know the truth. The thought of really *loving* Gabrielle made her a little uncomfortable, and she wondered how she could ever live knowing that Gabrielle didn't feel the same.

 Gabrielle had reached the market, so colourful, so peaceful, even with all the busy voices. She was still upset about Xena's apparent nonchalance. After what they had been through, after what she had been through, she would have thought that Xena would have wanted to have spent as much time with her as possible. Gabrielle knew that that was what she wanted. She noticed that the market was usually busy today from previous days that she had been here, there were also a lot more brightly dressed people strolling around. Gabrielle walked up to one of the merchants and smiled.

"What's going on today? All these people seem to be new"

"It's the festival of Eos, the people flock in from all the surrounding farms and towns and come here to celebrate the start of spring and to honour the Gods for keeping them safe through the winter" Gabrielle smiled she was glad she was able to come in to see this. She thought about running back to the camp to fetch Xena, but somehow she didn't think that she would enjoy it, and Gabrielle was not going to let her ruin her fun. She muttered thank you as he walked away toward the centre of the market, eager to see what this festival involved.

She passed through the myriad of coloured sheets littering the streets all over the town, ahead she could see singing and dancing, and was that…oh yes it was, a theatre…oh how wonderful she thought, excited at the prospect of having an opportunity to perform one of her own plays. Girls were having fun all around her, laughing, dancing; celebrating the beginning of spring…she so desperately wanted to be a part of it. She sat down at the theatre, the girl next to her smiled.

"Are you new around here?"

"Yes, just visiting with a friend of mine, this festival is wonderful, all the colours, does this happen every year?" Gabrielle said almost in a trance.

"Well, usually only every four years, it is hard you see to get everyone together like this, but it is a lot of fun when we do…small celebrations are usually held in the villages, but it is much better when we all get together" Gabrielle felt even more privileged to be here. Her mind skipped to Xena, what would she be doing? Why hadn't she come along? She would have enjoyed this, Gabrielle thought.

The play was beginning and a spectacular rainbow filled the stage.

"Isn't this exciting?" she whispered to the girl next to her, but as she turned to her she realised she was gone. Disappointed but still excited about the afternoon, all thoughts of her relationship with Xena disappeared.

The play finished and she began to explore the transformed market. Filled with a new sense of joy and peacefulness that she had not felt since before Hope appeared in her life, she searched for something she might take back to Xena, then Xena might come back with her tomorrow. Mixed up in her own world she was sharply awakened by a hard knock to her shoulder.

"Ohhhhhhh…." She hit the ground hard but was able to turn her herself over to see a familiar face staring back at her.

"Oh I'm so sorry…. SELENE!!!" Gabrielle was so surprised she seemed to be lost for words.

"GABRIELLE!!!!... What are you doing here?" Pulling each other off the ground they stood looking at each other, noticing the slight differences in each other's appearances since they had seen each other all those years a go. Selene was surprised that Gabrielle was willing to show so much skin, her top sliding it's way down her what now seemed to be a muscled shoulder; this was the not the girl she left in Potedia. Gabrielle could not believe that they had met again, her childhood friend that she thought she would never see again.

They shared a tear, a moment Gabrielle was sure she would never have. They embraced and Gabrielle finally felt the heart beat of her long lost friend against hers. They beat in rhythm…

They decided to sit down and chat, the market was crowded but they saw a small tavern and decided to go find a table and talk.

"So how are you Gabrielle? What have you been up to?" Selene asked

"I'm good, things have been a little strange lately" She thought of the past months events and then immediately wanted to forget "for the past few years I have been travelling around with Xena, going on adventures, writing stories about the people I meet, I'm an Amazon princess you know" Gabrielle boasted.

"The Xena, the one we use to hear about? The one we talked about in the depths of the night? The one that killed all those people?"

"She is different now, she has changed, become a better person"

"Are you sure Gabrielle? From what I have heard she is pretty ruthless"

"I know her Selene, more than most people do..." Her thoughts turned to Xena and her heart leapt again…"She is better now…I know she is," saying it more to convince herself of this than the girl sitting across from her.

They both ordered another drink, it was a warm evening and the cool drink seemed to melt in their mouths as Gabrielle wished Xena would in hers.

"So how are you? How did you end up here?" Gabrielle turned the questions away from her. "Oh yes good enough I guess…we moved to a small village near the coast and that is where I have been but lately I have been travelling around and writing stories like you have…I want to write a story about this festival, it is so beautiful"

"That is what I thought as well, and everyone is so happy, I haven't seen this kind of happiness in a long time" Gabrielle sighed

"I don't think I have either, it is so calming, and I can't wait to write about it" Selene replied

"You must share some of your stories with me, I want to hear all about your adventures and I will tell you about some of the ones I have had with Xena" Gabrielle stared into Selene's eyes and she knew that they were meant to meet here, after all the pain she had been through, Selene was what she needed to renew her again…she wanted to be the person she was before and Selene would help.

"Oh yes Gabrielle I can't wait…that would be brilliant" Selene saw some darkness in Gabrielle that she had not seen before, perhaps it was because she had not seen her since she was very young but she had a feeling it had something to do with Xena. She watched as Gabrielle lit up as she told of the first adventure she had, had with Xena involving a Cyclops and a fight upon the scaffolding of a hut. It was then that Selene was reminded of Gabrielle's beauty…something she had never forgotten, but had not thought about for a years.

 Yet again they ordered drinks, Gabrielle's hand accidentally falling onto Selene's lap as she tried to steady herself on the stool. Selene felt a shiver move up her spine, just Gabrielle's touch did this to her, she had to have more.

The sun was fading outside and Gabrielle thought she had better get home, but she did not want to leave her childhood friend.

"Would you like to come back with me to my camp? It isn't far from here and I am sure Xena would love to meet you."

"Oh…yeah sure…I am quite keen to meet this Xena myself"

They finished up their last drinks. At this point Gabrielle was not feeling too well and by the looks of it neither was Selene, Gabrielle accidentally whacking the doorway as she left the room.

"Oyyyyyyyyyy" the bar keep yelled

"ooooooohhhhhhhh sorry, woops" Gabrielle cooed back

Selene hooked arms with Gabrielle keen to have any kind of contact with her and they set off into the night.

Back at camp, Xena paced frantically back and forth around the fire, worried that Gabrielle had not yet returned before darkness had fallen.

"Another ten minutes and I'm going to find her! What in Zeus name could she possibly be doing? Oh Gods! What if something has happened to her! No not again! Not after I just got my Gabrielle back! I would never forgive myself!"  Xena worriedly proclaimed out loud.

At that moment Xena heard some wild rustling in the bushes, followed by bouts of hysterical laughter. Unsure at who was approaching, she quickly seized her sword and readied herself to launch into an attack. Although she soon discovered, that it would not be necessary as the supposed attacker stumbled out from the bushes and fell before the warrior.

"Gabrielle!" Xena surprisingly exclaimed as she looked at the intoxicated bard.

"Why hellooooooo Xena!" Gabrielle managed to exclaim as she drunkenly climbed up the warrior coming to rest her hands on the warrior's breast plate. "I finally found you!" tapping Xena's nose affectionately.

A moment later another woman seemed to fall out of the bushes. Xena stared at the stranger, and with a puzzled look, she questioned Gabrielle.

"Where have you been? I've been worried sick. And who in Zeus name is this?" pointing in an unfriendly manner toward Selene.

Gabrielle turning towards her old friend. "This is my childhood friend Selene! Would you believe it Xena we met again at the market today after all these years!" She excitingly explained as she skipped around the warrior.

Selene rose to her feet, staring into the eyes of the warrior in front of her. "Gabrielle has told me sooo much about you. She made you out to be a real hero, I just had to see it for myself."

Xena couldn't help smiling at the way Gabrielle had described her to her friend… Yet Xena quickly wiped the smile from her face, and turned her attention toward Gabrielle, who had now picked up Xena's sword and was now waving it about as she continued her skipping around the camp fire.

"Gabrielle! Stop that! You could hurt yourself!... and since when do you drink yourself into such a state."

"Oh Xena, your always worried for nothing… you weren't there to stop me," skipping over to Selene, she grasped Selene's hands eagerly, "Come on Selene! I must show you all my scrolls." Selene barely needed to respond as a look of anticipation crossed her face, as she let Gabrielle playfully lead her away.  

For the rest of the night Xena looked on at the two friends, as they continued to reminisce about their childhood memories. She felt a particular emptiness as she distanced herself from Gabrielle. She was happy for her that she had found her friend once more, yet she could not help sensing a fear of replacement. The thought of Gabrielle with another woman angered Xena, as she saw herself as the only woman that could love her as she deserved to be loved. Xena's thoughts raced about in her mind. They are just friends, nothing more. And why do I continue to care about these things, she is not going to love me in that way. I continue to disappoint her, I would never be able to love me, so why would she? With that final thought Xena drifted off to sleep, to the sounds of Gabrielle's and Selene's laughter.

The next day, Xena was the first to wake up, she immediately searched for Gabrielle. Yet she did not expect to see what she saw. Gabrielle and Selene had fallen asleep by the fire, as they lay beside one another, with Selene's arm unconsciously wrapped around Gabrielle's waist. At this painful site, Xena felt a throbbing pain as her heart sank in her chest. Unable to compose her emotion she frantically picked up her sword and chakram and made a quick dash for Argo. As she mounted the horse, she took one last look at the sleeping pair, and angrily rode away towards the stream.

As Gabrielle awoke, a sense of disorientation overtook her, as she felt an arm encircling her waist. Careful not to wake Selene, Gabrielle slipped quietly away and rose to her feet.

"I am never drinking again." She adamantly whispered to herself as she gently rubbed her throbbing forehead.

Gabrielle looked around for her warrior, yet neither she nor Argo was anywhere to be found. She came to the conclusion that Xena may have risen early to catch us all some breakfast.

Selene soon felt the absence of her friend by her side and caused her also to wake.

"Morning Gabrielle!"

"Good morning, how did you sleep?"

"Marvellously well…though my head…"

"Yeah me too, maybe the ale wasn't such a good idea…Xena's gone to catch us some breakfast I'm sure she won't be too long."

Selene thought the longer that Xena was away the better, the more time she had to re-connect with Gabrielle the better.

"Well while we wait for her to come back, we shall continue to catch up!"

"Oh yes, you have to tell me some of your stories, I want to know about how you came to be here, what adventures you went on" as Gabrielle went and sat affectionately beside Selene, placing her hand on her knee as she urged her to tell a story. A quiver went through Selene's body, not unlike what she had felt the night before when Gabrielle's hand had fallen on her. She grabbed Gabrielle's hand and began the story of the village she had moved to.

"The summer's day that we arrived there, we were welcomed with open arms, the people were so caring, so considerate, and so peaceful. They helped each other out in whatever capacity they could and that was their philosophy. It was how they lived out their everyday lives, constantly helping each other. No war, no violence. Everyone around respected them for this and left them alone."

"So no violence at all, what about forces that came through there? Like warlords and Gods"

Selene knew at this point, that Gabrielle had been through a lot with Xena, she knew now that the pain in her eyes definitely was from what had happened while she had been with her and she couldn't let Xena ruin Gabrielle like this.

"They left us alone, there were paths around the village and so no one needed to come through unless they were visiting and those who had peace in their hearts were allowed to stay and receive the hospitality that the people provided."

"Wow that is so amazing, not even some of the towns we visited that had no violence at all were left alone, Warlords came through looking for slaves, food, any resources, or just to inflict violence" Gabrielle said remembering the pain she had witnessed in the eyes of hundreds of people as they succumbed to the violence that seemed to have taken over what was once a peaceful nation.

"It is because Gabrielle, they did not have peace in their hearts" Selene placed her hand strategically over Gabrielle's heart "If people see this peace, there is no chance that they would pick up a sword to strike."

"It sounds perfect, almost too good; I can't imagine not having to defend myself"

"It is a wonderful feeling, and I can teach it to you, Xena is all about violence, but we are all about peace, breaking the cycle of violence through peace and only peace."

"Breaking the cycle of violence…that sounds so wonderful" Gabrielle felt herself warm inside again, she hadn't felt this way lately.

Xena continued to ride frantically toward the stream, as thoughts rapidly raged through the warriors head.

I've lost her now I know it! I should have known something had gone on between those two in the past. The way they got along together, that closeness doesn't happen over night. She may not even want to stay with me after meeting Selene again. But she promised me she would never leave me… She made that promise before she reunited with Selene. Well what do I do now? I can't live without her, even though she may be leaving me, she obviously cares for this… Selene, maybe even loves her, who knows!... I have to go back no matter what she decides, I will even love her enough to let her go, if it makes her happy…I know it now…I love my bard…I won't deny it any longer.

Xena finally reaching the stream decided not to go back to camp empty handed, this way she would have a perfect excuse to why she left in the first place, without having to blurt out the true reasons for her sudden departure.

Gabrielle and Selene both sat there thinking for a while. Gabrielle thought about her adventures with Xena and whether this was what she wanted when she set off from her village, from her family, is this the adventure that she was after even with all the constant violence and the needless killing? She knew Xena had changed; she did know this but was this really where she was supposed to be, where she was supposed to go? Did she want to turn out like Xena?

Selene sat thinking about Gabrielle, how nice it was to have seen her again and as she looked deep into her eyes and her perfect smile she somehow saw her future, she saw potential, potential for good, for change, a chance to help her gain peace.

"You should come with me Gabrielle, follow me on my travels…I will teach you how to feel only peace and you will not be harmed by anyone or anything. I will take you back to my village and you can tell me all your wonderful stories along the way and I can tell you mine."

Gabrielle smiled up at her friend as she sat with her elbows resting up on her knees scuffing her feet in the dirt beneath. This was what she had wanted after all, she had wanted help from her, and she was going to get it if only she were to leave Xena, Xena who in the depths of Illusia had asked her to forgive her, how could she possibly leave her? But the pain in her heart was still so great, she couldn't survive with this pain, she couldn't live with this pain, the pain of knowing that Xena was responsible for everything bad that had happened in the last months. But she loved Xena she knew she did, she quivered every time she saw her smile, or laugh (which was rarely), she barely could close her eyes at night worrying that Xena might not be there when she opened them again; all she wanted was for Xena to be happy. Could Xena be happy without her? This was too hard to decide, how could she choose between a life of pain with Xena and a life of peace with Selene? Though, it seemed that when she put it like that there was only one choice.

Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a familiar figure walking towards the campsite. Xena had returned with Argo, carrying three large fish.

 "Xena!" Gabrielle cried. "I wondered where you had gotten to."

Xena stared into Gabrielle's smiling face. A look she could never get tired of. "I got up early and thought I'd do some fishing." As she proudly held up her mornings catch.

"Excellent, I've already started a fire, so hand those fish over to me and I'll get started on breakfast," she said eagerly. "While I cook, why don't you two get to know each other," looking toward Xena then back toward Selene.

Xena and Selene both made their way awkwardly to sit near the camp fire. Xena immediately took her sword from its scabbard and began its daily polish, in an effort to avoid a conversation.

"You sure are fond of that instrument aren't you?" She spoke with a sense of resentment in her voice.

"Well it's saved my life and the lives of others many times, I've grown quite fond of it," Xena said proudly.

"I'm sure it's also taken many lives…" 

Xena willed herself not to response to Selene's last comment. She could see what she was trying to do. In small gestures Selene was hinting to Gabrielle that she would be better off without the warrior. Just the thought of this sent an unbearable rage through Xena's heart…as she composed herself Xena continued the conversation trying to keep the peace.

"Sooo how long do you plan to stay in the area?"

"Well before I met Gabrielle I hadn't planned to stay very long at all, but now that I've found Gabby again my plans are indefinite. I feel this reunion was a blessing.

"Well isn't that nice…" Xena said gritting her teeth.

"I hope you don't mind me staying a little while longer."

"No, why would I mind?" Xena's thoughts began to angrily race about once more. Yes why in Zeus name would I mind, you're only trying to take away my best friend, the woman I love! This trip WAS meant to be about Gabrielle and I and now YOU'RE HERE! Marvellous absolutely marvellous!

"Oh good…you know while you were gone Gabrielle continued to tell me about all your travels together and all the people you have 'saved,' it's quite remarkable."

"Well you know Gabrielle…"

Selene cutting Xena off quickly added "I know who you used to be also, a warlord that killed countless of innocent lives…and yet you pretend you're a reformed person, well why don't you tell that to all the people that you slaughtered…men…women…and children…"

"If you don't mind, you don't even know me! You are really testing my patience. With the help of Gabrielle I've put that part of my past behind me, and with Gabrielle by my side I now fight for the greater good and I am now making up for my past misdeeds, she knows who I have become… the true person I am now, THIS is why she stays!"

"Well that makes me feel so much better, I'm sure you've told yourself that enough times to make you sleep soundly at night! You're leading Gabrielle astray, thank the Gods I found her before you could corrupt her further with your violent ways that you claim is an effort to fight for the greater good!"

Xena was again forced to grit her teeth, for Gabrielle's sake at least.

Selene maliciously continued. "I've also seen what you've done to Gabrielle; she has been scarred by the violence you have surrounded her with. She has grown into a beautiful woman, yet she is captivated by your misguided ideas of redemption."

Xena could not help but agree with what Selene had just said. Gabrielle's life with Xena had lead them both into countless dangerous situations. Yet Gabrielle never wavered in her commitment to her life with Xena.

Gabrielle was the loyal friend that she had always wanted but never had, she could trust Gabrielle with her deepest secrets, her life. She had spent her life protecting herself because no one would do it for her, she had to do everything for herself but Gabrielle had changed that, had changed her life, she was no longer vulnerable with Gabrielle by her side. She could rely on someone else, someone that had shown her how to live, how to love. She was her friend, her family, her life.

Xena did not want to hurt Gabrielle and it seemed that Selene had noticed Gabrielle's pain before even she had. This constant violence and the fact that Gabrielle wanted to help Xena had translated into her being hurt beyond repair.

"You have to let her go, let her live her own life" Selene said as she came to kneel in front of Xena.

"Let her go? What do you mean? It was her choice to come with me in the first place" Xena exclaimed

"Yes, but is this what she wanted when she left Potadia all those years a go? Her soul is hurting, can't you see it? She questions her very being each day and the only reason she stays is because of you, she feels a responsibility toward you. She loves you. But do you think that will last if she does not let her soul heal, if she doesn't recover?"

Xena thought about this, enraged that this girl could blame this on her, when all she did was love her, she kept silent staring down at her sword that was beginning to fade again with all the polishing.

"You have to let her go, let her come with me."

"I will not let her go! I will not give up on her! I will help her recover, why do you think we are on this trip? How dare you, I LOVE HER and I will not let her go" Xena realised what she had just admitted, her impassioned exclamation gave her new strength of this conviction.

"If you love her, you will let her go" Selene said almost silently

Xena was about to reply but stopped herself. She wanted the best for Gabrielle and this wasn't the best she could do. As much as she resented this girl, she had spoken the truth.

"Okay" was all she replied. She got up from the fire and headed over to where Gabrielle was preparing dinner.

"Did you have a nice chat with Selene?" Gabrielle had heard Xena approaching

"You are getting pretty good at that" Xena was so proud of Gabrielle, she had learnt so much in such a short period of time. Gabrielle looked up over her shoulder with a playful smile as Xena sat down beside her, affectionately placing her hand on her shoulder. "I was talking with Selene before and she suggested that maybe you should go with her for a while."

Gabrielle stopped stirring the food but looked down at the ground ashamed to think what Xena must think of her. "…And I think that it" Xena's words caught in her throat, her heart was breaking, her eyes swelled up with the emotion that she felt toward Gabrielle, her love of her was all rolled up into these words "…might be a good idea if you go"

Gabrielle could not believe what she was hearing, was Xena telling her that she wanted her to go. Xena knew what Gabrielle was thinking "I don't want you to go" Xena said "Of course I don't want you to go, but I also don't think that this life is right for you. If the last couple months have shown us anything it is that I only get you into trouble and I don't want to do that anymore"

"But Xena-" Xena cut her off.

"I know it will be hard, but I think it is for the best, my life takes me to dangerous places, and it is you that has shown me the best route to take, the way to go, but I don't want to hurt you anymore"

"Xena, I DON'T WANT TO GO" Xena looked up quickly

"You don't? But Selene…"

"Selene is a great person and a good friend but her life is not for me, I would be going back to the life I left behind which is what I have been fighting against after all. I willingly put myself in these situations because I want to; I want to be with you, by your side, fighting for the greater good. I always feel better when I am with you, I feel whole because you are my other half." Gabrielle said looking her friend straight in the eye. Xena was so relieved to hear this, so joyful that her companion wanted to stay with her despite what they had been through, but maybe it was because what they had been through that they stayed together she thought, she stayed silent still surprised that Gabrielle wanted to stay. Gabrielle however was hurt. She couldn't believe that Xena thought that this friendship meant nothing to her so much so that she was willing to send her off with someone else.

Gabrielle looked up and saw Selene coming towards them. She quickly brought her mind back to the fire and the fish that was now nearly burnt.

"Oh, look what I have done…you are going to have to eat lunch like this now"

"No matter" Selene said excitedly, "Let's eat!"

After the meal was finished, afternoon was setting in. There had been little or no conversation between the three of them over lunch, they were all thinking about different things. Gabrielle still hurt that Xena wanted her to leave, but Xena was happy that Gabrielle wanted her to stay. Selene sat thinking how nice it would be to have Gabrielle as her companion on the road, she was pretty sure that with Xena's approval she would come with her.

"Would you come for a walk with me Selene?" Gabrielle asked, hoping that there would be no questions as to why she wanted to go off alone with her.

"Sure Gabrielle" Selene said, getting up from the ground, nodding her head at Xena as she turned to leave.

They made their way back toward the town in relative silence until they could just see the flags still present from the festival.

"So Gabrielle, what have you decided?"

"Selene, you are a great friend and always will be, and I really can't believe that we met again, a sign maybe that I should go with you, especially after these last month's events. But I don't want to leave Xena, we belong together. You probably won't understand this but I have to stay with her and I know I have a long road of recovery to go, but Xena will only help me, she is my road to recovery, she lights my path. I am really sorry Selene, I would have loved to have learnt some more about what you teach and hear some more of your stories but I am happy here, I am happy with Xena"

Selene looked down at the ground, she had not expected this and yet she kind of guessed that Gabrielle knew where she wanted to be. She tried one last time. "Even though Xena thinks it would be a good idea?"

"Xena wants to protect me in every way that she can and she must still blame herself for what has happened and so she believes I will be better off without her, but the truth is there is no way I could be better off without my best friend, my family my.." She trailed off not wanting to speak the last words but thinking them and hearing them reverberate throughout her whole self…my love.

"Okay Gabrielle, I am glad that you know where you want to be. I hope that you are able to heal and I hope that you are happy, that is all I ever wanted for you. But since you aren't coming with me, I might head off now and let you have some time with Xena."

"Thank you Selene, Are you sure you want to go?"

"I think it is for the best, I have many places I am yet to see, many stories I am yet to write"

"Okay, But I will always think fondly of our times together and especially this meeting now. I hope we meet again somewhere, somehow. I am sure we will. Where will you go now?"

"I might start heading back towards Potedia and see where the road takes me. Being here with you has made me want to see my childhood home and the other girls we grew up with"

"Sounds like a good plan, best of luck my dear friend, keep writing!!! Take care"

"Good bye Gabrielle, I wish you peace" She started off into the town waving over her shoulder. Gabrielle stood there waving until Selene disappeared into the crowds. She knew she had made the right choice. As she turned to leave she could see the sun beginning to set through the clouds, it had been a long, emotional day and she still was a little annoyed that Xena had suggested that she should leave even though after explaining it to Selene it did make sense. Xena only wanted the best for her.

She slowly began the walk back to her friend.

Xena waited anxiously back at camp, thinking about what Gabrielle could possibly be saying to Selene.

Gabrielle returned to camp just before the sun had set. Xena was quite surprised to see that the bard had returned alone and not with Selene.

"Gabrielle where is Selene?" Xena said with a puzzled expression on her face. 

"She left…she is going back to Potedia…after I told her I wasn't going to join her on her travels she thought it was best to go back." Gabrielle could not conceal the remaining feelings of hurt from her conversation with Xena earlier on in the day. Gabrielle lingered woefully toward the camp fire, sitting down to absorb the heat of the fire.  As she stared into the flames she felt her eyes fill up and sting with tears.

Xena also sensed this coldness and reserve in Gabrielle's voice and went to sit beside her near the camp fire.

"Gabrielle I know you must be hurting… and it breaks my heart to think that I've caused this hurt, because it's the last thing I ever imagined doing."

"You wanted me to leave Xena…after all we have been through," as this statement was voiced tears that previously threatened, now flowed down Gabrielle's cheeks.

Xena was alarmed that Gabrielle continued to think such thing, in a distressed voice she attempted to reassure her.

"No! I never wanted you to leave, I just thought that it is what you wanted, and I wanted to give you the option to do so if it is what you desired."  As she reassuringly placed a hand on Gabrielle's thigh.

"I don't desire any life, other than the life I already share with you. This will never change. When I first followed you all those years ago I knew then that this was going to be the life I wanted forever."

"I'm sorry Gabrielle, I was so foolish to think otherwise, I was just so scared that I would lose you all over again, I just didn't know what to do, all I wanted you to be was happy." Xena then gently wiped the tears away from her bards face.

"And I am happy…here with you! And I don't want that to change no matter the dangers. We will face them together…" as she gently reached out to grasp the hand that rested on her thigh.

Xena smiled at these comforting thoughts. "You know…you really had me going there, I thought you loved Selene."

"Oh Xena…sometimes under that impassive warrior exterior of yours, you are just one big softy," as Gabrielle giggled resting her head on Xena's shoulder. "You worried for nothing."

"I wouldn't call worrying over you nothing, I was just being…protective!"

"Spoken like a true warrior Xena, I'm almost flattered you would feel threatened."

"Almost?!" Xena nudged the bard affectionately.

"Okay okay I'm flattered, who am I to argue with my very own warrior princess."

Xena smiled appreciatively.

Xena felt the bard beside her, once again they were at peace with one another, as they were a few nights ago, declaring their commitment to one another. Xena felt that it was finally time to reveal to the woman she loved, her true feelings.

"You know Gabrielle… there is something I need to tell you, something that I've held inside me silently for too long…and this recent experience has showed me that we can't waste any more time."

"Yes Xena go on I'm listening." Turning to face her friend.

"I...umm…I…Gods this is hard!"

Placing her hands into the warriors, Gabrielle willed Xena to continue.

"Let yourself speak from you heart."

"I'm in love with you Gabrielle…I've always loved you. And I've thought of nothing more than taking you in my arms and keeping you there forever."

Gabrielle could not believe she was hearing such genuine sentiments from her warrior's lips. She had dreamed of a moment like this, a moment where Xena would express her eternal love, which would captivate and seize them both into a much anticipated union of their lips.

The bard was paralysed in her efforts to speak, as she only managed to utter a few syllables, as this state of awe and disbelief over took her.

"I …I..."

Xena watched closely for Gabrielle's reaction, frantically placing her hands on the bard's shoulders.

"Please…Please tell me you feel the same way," as her hands tightened their grip, squeezing her bard in an attempt to prompt an immediate answer.

Gabrielle knew that the reason she was unable to express how she felt was because there were no words to convey how she was feeling at that moment. With that thought Gabrielle's heart ached for her warrior and in a sudden quick thrust forward her lips met Xena's. As soon as the bard pulled back she instantly craved for more. As the pair stared lustfully into each other's eyes, a silent acknowledgment passed between them. For the first time they both knew how the other truly felt. A truth and honesty that overwhelmed their souls.

With this undeniable realisation, Xena now lovingly moved her hands to her lovers cheeks, and finally drew her bard in, as their lips met more passionately and desperately than before. Gabrielle closed her eyes and felt her lovers' lips pressing tenderly against her own. Xena soon parted her bard's lips, where she was met with a warm gentle sensation that they had both craved…for so long. Gabrielle's gently threaded her fingers through Xena's hair, in an effort to further nourish their desire. Xena soon moved her hands around her lovers back deepening the kiss, letting Gabrielle know that their love was everlasting. Xena at last pulled away from her love but not before teasingly capturing Gabrielle's bottom lip with her teeth.

"By the Gods…" Gabrielle moaned with pleasure as she collapsed forward to rest her head on Xena's chest, which was then instantly embraced by Xena's strong warrior arms.
While Xena adoringly clutched her bard to her chest she allowed herself to be overcome by her most intimate thoughts, and in a sense of liberation she began to bare her soul to her Gabrielle.

In a soothing voice she whispered affectionately into Gabrielle's ear. "Every time we parted, my heart ached…yearned to be reunited with yours once more, to be joined, beating together for one love, united souls for eternity."  

Gabrielle lifting her head from Xena's chest, finally mustering up the strength to speak.

"I've waited years to hear you say that! Before you came into my life, I lacked a part of my soul…I've had this love for you for so long, keeping it to myself, afraid that if  I told you…you would not feel the same way. And when I found you again, that day in the forest, when I embraced you, when I shed tears with you, I didn't think I could love you anymore than I did then. But after hearing you say those words…"

Xena grasped Gabrielle's hand in hers and gave it a gentle kiss. Making sure not to break eye contact with her love.

"I love you Xena…you are my joy…my light…my way….I love you so much, and I will dedicate my life to loving you…you've stolen my heart…"

 With hearing Gabrielle's confession of her everlasting love, Xena felt the need to immediately respond to such heartfelt sentiments, as she passionately bent forward kissing her bard once more. Gabrielle embraced the love in Xena's lips, while wrapping her arms around the warriors back. Gabrielle pulled her lips away from Xena's, yet began to gently kiss her way down Xena's neck.

 "Make love to me Xena." She whispered as a sense of longing and vulnerability filled her voice.

Without hesitation Xena picked up the bard. Gabrielle responding to this display of such strength wrapped her arms around her lovers' neck.

While holding Gabrielle lovingly she stared into her green eyes. "Are you sure this is what you want?"

Gabrielle was grateful that her lover respected her wishes so tenderly.

"I've wanted to be with you for so long Xena. Every time you touched me… I wanted nothing more than for you to love me as only you could."

Overwhelmed with her bards' eagerness, Xena bent forward to place a gentle kiss on the bards' forehead, displaying her own anticipation of their union. Xena proceeded gently toward their bed roll near the warm glow of the campfire, as she carefully laid Gabrielle down upon it.  As Gabrielle felt herself being lowered down, she couldn't resist caressing her loves' cheek, trying to savour the purity of the moment. 

Gabrielle reached her arms around Xena's waist taking the initiative to remove her warriors' breast plate.

"Shall we see what lies beneath this?" She said as a cheeky smile crossed the bards face, as she slowly unclipped the armour. 

Xena smiled surprisingly at her loves' mischievous ways, responding with a long loving kiss.  While their lips united Xena moved her hands smoothly over Gabrielle's green top, and began to untie the front of it. Still in a loving embrace of their lips, Xena removed the bards top revealing Gabrielle's beautiful breasts. Breaking away from the bards' lips, Xena kissed her way down to the bards' chest. Oh how I've dreamed to be this close to her, she is finally mine…

Xena allowed her lips to trace the softness of each breast, kissing them tenderly. The feeling of Xena's lips on Gabrielle's skin caused Gabrielle to let slip a sigh of sheer bliss. While Xena's lips were engaged, her hands were gracefully removing her bard's skirt.

Xena then seized her lover's arms and wrapped them over her shoulders drawing the bard's naked body off the bed roll, until she was sitting up facing her warrior.

As they stared into each others eyes Gabrielle began to slip off Xena's leather garment until they both were sitting in front of one another unveiled, cherishing the sacred moment.

Xena moved in closer to seize her bard, encircling her arms around her love in an effort to press their bodies nearer together, until there was no space between them. Gabrielle's breaths started to quicken as Xena felt her heart race against her chest. As Xena continued to hold her, in an effort to calm her lover she brushed her cheek against Gabrielle's and whispered,

"You're beautiful…"

As their bodies remained coupled, Gabrielle blushed at the comment, sincerely replying, "As are you…" Moving her head down to kiss Xena's heart, "…my warrior." 

Xena reacted with a deep desirous kiss, while she unconsciously parted the bard's legs, slipping her body between them.  Gabrielle leaned back onto the bed roll, whilst making sure not to break the union of their lips, pulling the warrior down with her. 

As Xena moved her hands down Gabrielle's thigh she was able to feel the warmth between Gabrielle's legs, gently meeting her bard's warm sensation with her own. As they touched for the first time, Gabrielle uncontrollably gripped the warrior's shoulders as she felt herself being lost in their fusion of affection. From Gabrielle's lips, Xena kissed her way lovingly down Gabrielle's body. Each kiss was soft…tender...unique to the bard's senses as she felt each one touch her heart.

As Xena reached the centre of Gabrielle's passion, she leant forward placing a final kiss, signalling she had found her destination. As Gabrielle felt Xena between her legs she let out an instinctive sigh of fulfilment.


Xena looked up toward her cry of elation, as she smiled and reassuringly replied,

"Hold on my bard…we've barely begun."

With this statement Xena's tongue made its way into her loves' centre. Xena felt her bard tighten between her in response to the pleasure that she bestowed. In a quick motion Xena's tongue flickered in and out of the bard. Xena sensing that Gabrielle was close to her limit of the amount of satisfaction she could actually take, she teasingly left her bards centre and climbed up on top of her love.

As her lips gently touched the bards, Xena once again met her loves centre with her own, yet on this occasion using one hand Xena pinned Gabrielle's hands above her head. With her other hand softly grasping Gabrielle's thigh, she gently thrust forward, which caused Gabrielle to meet each thrust with her own force. With each thrust Gabrielle felt herself come closer and closer to completion.  

As Xena's thrusts became stronger, she also felt herself losing herself to their joy, while Gabrielle's hands furiously gripped Xena's, signalling her satisfaction.  

Xena continued to look into Gabrielle's eyes, this never faltered as they each wanted to share their own moment of elation with the other. With a few final quick and powerful thrusts their love came to fruition as Xena fell breathlessly onto her bard. Now that Gabrielle's hands were now free she grasped them intensely around the warriors back as a wave of ecstasy overcame them both.

Their hearts raced against each other as Xena turned on her back drawing her bard in once more. As they now lay in a secure embrace, Gabrielle wrapped her arm around Xena's waist, while her head rested on Xena's chest. Xena's arms instinctively were cuddled around the bards back gently caressing her loves warm skin. All they felt now was the affection and abiding love that this embrace so intimately had brought forth.  

With the purest of voices Gabrielle's reaffirmed her love as she looked up toward her warrior. 

"I love you Xena…" as she tightened her grip on the warrior.

"I love you too Gabrielle…" as she placed a kiss on the bard's lips.

With this final sentiment they both fell asleep in each others arms.

Xena again was the first to wake and on finding Gabrielle sleeping upon her, her arm

still wrapped around her waist she was reminded of the previous nights' events. She smiled and a warmth filled her as she finally felt light and alive. She had given Gabrielle her all; they were as Gabrielle had said each other's halves that only the other could complete, if anything had shown this it was their actions last night. They were finally one.

Gabrielle stirred, her eyes flickering open to the bright day that was before them. It took a moment but as she realised where she was and remembered what had happened she was filled with joy and optimism. This was the beginning of her new life with Xena. Their life as one. Suddenly everything in the world seemed better.

"I love you Xena" Was all she could say.

"I love you too Gabrielle" Xena replied, feeling their hearts beating in rhythm, their breathing in sync. They watched the sun rise, not daring to move and disrupt the peace that they both now felt.

Midday came and both Xena and Gabrielle decided that they should pack up and leave on their next adventure. Xena thought that maybe they could head into the mountains to visit the Amazons and then further to the coast. Gabrielle didn't mind where they went as long as they were together. As they gathered their things making playful glances at each other they knew that whatever lay before them in the future, they would be together no matter what and that was a comforting feeling in itself. Both felt warm and alive.

Gabrielle could hardly believe that this is where she has ended up after she left her town, she had the love of the woman that she loved and would forever and that is all she could have ever hoped for.

Xena finally felt like she was completely open with Gabrielle, as if nothing could keep them apart anymore, nothing to stop them from having the love that both dreamed of. Xena finished packing Argo and Gabrielle grabbed her staff from the tree it had lay against for the whole trip, she hadn't needed it at all and she was sure Xena was surprised that she hadn't needed her sword. Xena waited for Gabrielle with an outstretched arm and they parted the campsite together hand in hand.

"Thank you Xena for bringing me here, I really do feel better" Gabrielle said looking up into her warrior's eyes, reminded again of the events of the previous night.

"I am glad that you are Gabrielle" She smiled at her playfully.

"I think it really was a great trip…for all involved" Gabrielle exclaimed, they both laughed.

"I completely agree" Xena concluded

They left down the path, looking out over the horizon; they both knew that this was their future, a future together.

The End

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