~ Courting the Amazon Queen and her Lover ~
Dissuasion and Preparation

by Annaria

Disclaimers: Most of the characters are not mine: they belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. Some of them are mine, but MCA and RenPics can have them after I'm done. If the concept of two women making love is illegal where you live, if you are under age or if it bothers you, you should either move to another place, wait until you grow up or you should not be on this altfic-site altogether.
If allusions to a (more or less) heterosexual act should trouble you, it is recommended to skip part 11, although you will deprive yourself of a lot of fun. Furthermore, there is a rather distasteful bit of non-consensual kissing in part 13.
This story is loaded with spoilers. I dare all my readers to find them.
Mail to se590352@12move.nl

It is advised to read Courting the Amazon Queen before this story, but not compulsory.




"I've been thinking."

"'Bout what, my lover?"

Gabrielle swallowed. Being called lover by the Warrior Princess still took her breath away. What was it again that she was going to say? Oh yes. "Uhm? Wouldn't it be nice to have an official Joining Ceremony?"

"Would you like that?" the Warrior asked with a low voice in the blonde locks of the Amazon Queen. Hmm, she smelled so good. The fragrance of their recent lovemaking lingered in her hair.

"Yes I think I would."

"What could possibly join us more than we are already?" Xena asked. The enticing scent hung not only in the blond hair, but covered the soft skin of her neck too.

"Nothing really." Gabrielle turned around in the Royal Bed and their lips melted together. She felt deliriously happy. Sometime later: "It would be more of a statement for the others, that I want to join with you."

"Hmm, I think I like that idea," a lazy Warrior said after careful consideration and some thorough kissing of the delicious mouth, that revealed even more evidence of the pleasure they had shared.

"We could also invite your Mother and Toris?"

"That would be nice." Kiss.

"?.and my parents and Lila." Gabrielle continued.

"Do you feel like ruining the ceremony?" Xena sat up in disgust.

"No, I just felt it would make things clear to them." Gabrielle took the opportunity to caress the beautiful curve of a full breast that came to view.

"We could also invite Joxer then." The older woman said lying back down with a teasing smile.

"Good idea! And half the known world that lusts after you!" Gabrielle laughed, kissing the nipple.

"Or you!" Xena reacted and pushed her breast into Gabrielle's face for more. "Do you realise that the Amazons aren't going to give us another quiet candlemark together until we are actually joined?"

"Yes, I do." Gabrielle sighed, her breath teasing the wet circle she had drawn around the dark aureole.

"We will have to make the most of it now, then." Xena said, pulling the small Queen into a greedy embrace.

And that was what they did. The very most.

During an early evening meal the next day, Ephiny, seated between Gabrielle and Xena, stood up and asked everyone's attention.

"Sisters," the regent called. "Our Queen has conveyed her wish to be officially joined to her Champion Xena by the next Full Moon Ceremony."

"Seems like Xena hasn't disappointed her, then!" somebody called. Everyone roared with laughter. They had all been witness to their Queen's satisfaction each and every night since the last Full Moon Ceremony. Both Xena and Gabrielle had the decency to blush violently and look down at their plates, not even daring to look at each other.

"Since they have proclaimed their intention to be joined," Ephiny decreed, "Amazon tradition wants that they cannot be alone together until the Ceremony and we encourage everybody to dissuade either one of them from joining. Everything is allowed to convince them otherwise, short of murder, violence or treason. This is your final chance to have your way with either of them, everyone! Once they are officially joined, we are to respect their choice!"

Many an Amazon's heart beat at double time. Quite a lot of them were more or less secretly in love with their charming Queen. And more than a few were very much infatuated with her beautiful companion. Who knew, this was their last chance to do something about it! It was going to be fun one way or another!

Ephiny called for volunteers to deliver invitations to the guests and relatives of the couple outside the Village and to other Amazon Tribes, but it remained unusually quiet. Nobody offered to go! At first everyone stared at their plates, but slowly the women dared to look up as they all realised with guilty smiles that nobody wanted to be away from the Amazon Village, when there was a chance to seduce either the Queen or the Warrior Princess.

After an awkward silence Solana, the healer, said: "I will go, if you agree. I'm sure I can leave you in the capable hands of my assistant Galena. I have great confidence in her. Besides, I can do some shopping while I'm at it." It was very unusual for a healer to be sent on such an errand, but since she had been joined to Cook several seasons earlier and was still very much in love with the older woman, she did not want to play an active role in this particular part of the festivities.

Cook looked at her partner, who nodded and then said: "I could go with Solana. I know I will be missed sorely, but," she smiled at Niki, her assistant, "I leave you in capable hands too and besides? you young girls will have other things on your minds. I could do with some shopping too." Niki glowed with pride.

"Xena can stay in our hut, while we're away," Solana added.

"Thank you Cook and Solana. We will accept your offer." Ephiny decided, after exchanging a look with the Queen. "You will be escorted by Trisha and Lena. They are on watch at the Northern Border now." Everyone knew Trisha and Lena were a couple too, neither of them would be interested in courting either the Queen or her lover. "They will have to be replaced, however."

"I will do that." Xena said, to everybody's surprise. There was not much point in staying in the Village if she could not be with Gabrielle. Besides she was not sure she wanted to be around when everybody tried to dissuade the Queen to join with her.

"I will go with Xena," Tessa volunteered immediately, with a violent blush under her reddish curls.

"I would like that very much, Tessa," Xena said. "We will go and relieve Trisha and Lena in a candlemark." Xena felt Gabrielle's look and smiled suggestively at her.

"I will need a little more time to get ready, Xena, and somebody has to take care of the horses while I'm away." Tessa said.


The two lovers parted with an audience looking on. Xena took Gabrielle in her arms and whispered: "I'm gonna miss you!"

"So am I," Gabrielle said against the warrior's lips. "I love you. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise."

"I love you too. Don't believe anything I haven't told you myself, promise?"

"Promise," the young blonde smiled.

"And don't do anything I wouldn't do!" Xena warned her lover, holding her at arm's length.

Gabrielle's grin just widened.

"Yes, yes," Xena admitted, "I know, that gives you a very large scope!"

"I love you, my Champion."

"I love you too, my Queen." When they kissed one long last time, the crowd began to cheer and the two were practically pulled apart. Xena vaulted onto her waiting horse. She looked down at Gabrielle, whose smiling lips formed the words "show off!" soundlessly.

Xena rode off on Argo, accompanied by Tessa on her favourite black stallion. They approached the Northern border. It was fun to ride with Tessa. She was playfully competitive and Xena liked that.

"Race you to that oak tree on the hill," Tessa said, indicating their target with a nod.

"Okay," Xena responded and instantly urged Argo into a gallop. The black stallion took off just behind Argo but started to win back on her.

"Yeah!!" Xena encouraged her faithful horse.

"Yeah!!" Tessa urged on her stallion. "Yeah!!" It was with a nose length that Tessa and her stallion won the race. Xena didn't mind. It was not a bad thing to loose to a good winner. They stood on top of the hill and had a good view of the surroundings in the setting sunlight. They raised their hands above their heads in Amazon fashion.

"Trisha and Lena must surely have spotted us by now," Xena said panting slightly.

"Yes, there they come." Tessa said. The two Amazons emerged from a small forest to the right, recognising their sisters. News was exchanged and just before nightfall, Trisha and Lena were on their way back to the Village, Xena and Tessa taking over their duty. They had a well hidden shelter in the bushes. When the two had made themselves comfortable, they sat against a log, drinking tea completely at ease.

"So how come you ride so well?" Xena asked between two sips.

"My father is a centaur," Tessa answered.

"Really?" Xena asked. "And your mother?"

"She was an Amazon, but she was killed shortly after I was born."

"I'm sorry," the warrior said.

"It's alright. My father raised me in the Centaur Village. I had a very good childhood."

"Do you know Solon?" Xena asked with a lump in her throat.

"Off course I do!" Tessa said. "He's a fine young man. How do you know him?"

"He's my s..special protégé."

"He rides well too. Us two-legged kids could ride before we could walk." Tessa grinned.

"That explains it."

"When I grew up, they sent me to the Amazons. Centaurs don't know how to handle adolescent girls." She grinned again.

"So do you like living with the Amazons?" Xena inquired.

"Very much." Tessa said. "Especially since a certain Queen Gabrielle decided to rule and you came along."

"I see!" Xena said with a smile. Tessa was flirting with her.

"I wonder ? if you are as great a kisser as they say." Tessa said suddenly, putting her cup aside.

"Who say that?" Xena enquired with a smile.

"I'll tell you after I find out if they are right." The redhead laughed.

This sounded suspiciously like a dare, and Xena could never resist one. She took Tessa in her arms and gave her an affectionate kiss on the lips.

Tessa kept her eyes closed, smelled the air, tasted her lips with her tongue and then said with a sigh: "Hmmm? they are right. No doubt about it." They both chuckled.

"Now tell me who they are." Xena demanded.

"Oh, only about half the women at the Amazon Village!" Tessa choked. "I'll give you a name for every kiss if you really want to know."

"Tess, I think we shouldn't," Xena said with compassion.

Another sigh. "I know," she said. "But I am so crazy about you!"

"You will find somebody else. I'm sure. You are so much fun and such good company." Xena said, putting an arm around the tall redhead's shoulder.

"I know. I can understand you are not for me. I see how you and Queen Gabrielle belong together. I wish you and Gabrielle the very best. You will make her very happy. And, seriously, I feel like I've won second prize already." She got up to clean up their things.

"How's that?" Xena asked, getting up too.

"Well, you kissed me, and I get to spend the night alone with you! How many girls can say that?" she grinned again and whistled for her horse. Xena thought that Tessa obviously did not know the reputation of the Destroyer of Nations that she had once been, but she left it that way and laughed with her. They patrolled a large part of the Northern Border, before they turned in for the night, chastely, yet side by side.

By noon the next day Luna, an older Amazon, came from the Village to take Tessa's place.


Meanwhile, at the Village, Queen Gabrielle was on her way to the lake with Hilda. The tall blond Northern Amazon had filled a basket with food and drink and had escorted the Queen to the nearby lake for a swimming party they had been planning the evening of Summer Solstice during dinner. It had been the same evening during which several women, among which had been Hilda, had openly confessed their love for Gabrielle. The Queen had turned all of them down gracefully, in favour of Xena. Hilda had taken it very well.

It was a warm and sunny summer day. The taller woman was very courteous and spread a large blanket for the smaller woman, making sure there was enough shade for their relatively pale skins. She had even brought an ointment to rub both their skins with, in order to protect them from sunburn.

Hilda undressed casually. Northern Amazons weren't known for undue chastity. Hilda didn't have anything to be ashamed of anyway. Gabrielle admired her perfectly trained body as she strode off into the water and swam with powerful, long strokes.

"Come on in, my Qveen," Hilda called, with her heavy northern accent. "Ze vater ees very good!"

Gabrielle decided to follow the good example and stripped, throwing her clothes in a pile. She soon joined Hilda in the cool water.

"You are right, Hilda, the water is good. Ah, I should do this more often."

Hilda approached Gabrielle. "You vork too hard, my Qveen." She said.

"Yes, maybe I do, Hilda, but I want to do my job well."

"You do, my Qveen. But now you relax and play."

They fooled around in the water a bit, before Hilda invited the younger woman for lunch on the blanket.

"But first I veel rub you veez ze ointment, my Qveen, to protect you from sunburn. Lie down on your belly." She ordered. Gabrielle did as she was told and soon enjoyed the powerful hands of the blond Warrior that gently rubbed the oil onto the skin of her shoulders, drew circles on her back, circling lower and lower towards her bottom, slowing down at her legs? What started as an innocent massage, turned out to be quite sensual. Since Xena had first made love to Gabrielle after the last Full Moon Ceremony, she had developed an awareness for sexual stimuli she had never had before. Her skin had become more sensitive than ever before, and the slightest touch initiated a growing hunger in her loins. Gabrielle felt slightly guilty for enjoying Hilda's caress. This had to stop before it went too far.

"Shall I rub your back for you now?" she asked, getting up.

"Yes, thank you, my Qveen," the Amazon replied. If she was disappointed, it didn't show. Gabrielle rubbed the oil onto Hilda's strong shoulders and after that, they ate a great deal of the food they had brought. This of course, was Gabrielle's favourite part. She felt all fulfilled and drowsy after drinking some wine. The women stretched out on the blanket for a nap, from which Gabrielle awoke only to find Hilda looking at her, raised on one elbow. She wondered just how long the Amazon had been looking at her and felt very vulnerable.

"Lets have another swim, Hilda, shall we?" she suggested.

"Yes, zat vould be nice," Hilda replied and they sped into the water. It seemed to have cooled considerably since they were last in. Gabrielle felt her nipples harden, but didn't feel like going out just then. Suddenly she felt Hilda come up behind her and put her arms around her. The oil on Gabrielle's back made her slippery and she felt Hilda's equally hard nipples glide against her back. Oops, this felt very nice. If only the other person had been Xena. Gabrielle made a mental note to do the same with her own Warrior Princess one day. Hilda didn't threaten her, Gabrielle felt completely safe and respected. She leaned into the tall blonde and said: "This was a very good plan, Hilda."

Hilda sighed. "I don't zeenk I can conveence you to change your mind." It was a statement, not a question. She let go of the small blonde.

"No, you can't." Gabrielle felt sorry. "But I like being with you."

"Zank you, Gabrielle."

"Thank you, Hilda."

"Xena ees a very lucky voman."

"So am I." Gabrielle agreed.


Back at the Village, they were awaited by Niki, Cook's young assistant. Niki was a shy Amazon that never said more than she had to. She invited Gabrielle to her hut after the evening meal and advised her not to eat too much at the dinner table.

It was starting to get dark when Niki welcomed Gabrielle in her hut. Only a few candles lit the place and it smelled of freshly baked pastries. Niki led the Amazon Queen to a comfortable pile of pillows next to a low table in the corner of the room and joined her with two mugs of beautiful red port. Gabrielle drank slowly, savouring every drop of the strong beverage. She felt comfortable and relaxed, even though Niki seemed slightly nervous and didn't talk very much.

After some time, Niki cleared her voice and said: "I have an unusual request, my Queen."

"Tell me, Niki," Gabrielle replied.

"I want to ask your permission to blindfold you," she said softly, her eyes to the ground.

Gabrielle smiled in surprise. "Now why would you want to do that, Niki?" she asked.

"I want you to savour something truly delightful and not let your other senses influence your taste, my Queen." Niki said, still unable to look Gabrielle in the eyes.

"Okay, go ahead, you can blindfold me." Gabrielle said with a smile full of anticipation. Niki produced a dark red cloth from behind her back and carefully tied the soft silken fabric around the blonde head.

"You make me very curious," Gabrielle said. She expected the bashful girl would be less timid if Gabrielle couldn't see her.

Gabrielle heard soft footsteps walk away and when Niki returned, she quietly said: "Open your mouth, my Queen."

Gabrielle did as she was told and Niki put a morsel between Gabrielle's lips.

"Mmm, this is very good, Niki. What is it?" Gabrielle tasted it carefully before she swallowed it.

"I made it with nuts and honey, my Queen. I call it Baklava." The young woman said. Joy was in her voice. Her Queen really liked what she had made for her.

"Mmm, it is great. Is there any more?"

"Yes my Queen." Niki brushed Gabrielle's lips with another bite of the sweet pastry. The Queen's lips parted in reflex. The cook's assistant slowly fed her Queen, her fingers touching Gabrielle's lips with every bite.

"This is food for the Gods, Niki!" Gabrielle said. "I have travelled around a lot, and this is pretty much the best thing I ever tasted."

"I'm so glad you like it, my Queen." Niki said softly, her voice coming from quite near.

Gabrielle realised Niki was seducing her with her most powerful instrument: her cooking. Everybody knew Gabrielle could never resist good food, and Niki was a very good cook.

"Are you having any yourself?" Gabrielle asked.

"I ? I would like some," Niki said hesitantly.

"Show me where it is," Gabrielle asked sofly. Niki took her hand and led it towards the sweet pastry.

She got hold of a morsel and said: "Now you open your mouth, Niki." Gabrielle moved the bite in the general direction of Niki's face. The young Amazon got hold of her hand again, before the Queen could smear the sticky stuff all over her face, and directed the bite into her mouth. Gabrielle slowly licked each one of her own fingers after that, sucking off the remains of the honey. She reached for another bite. She smiled when she heard Niki inhale sharply as she redirected the delicious morsel in midair towards her own mouth, her tongue reaching out to meet it. She fed her the next piece, after which Niki took another morsel and put it in her Queen's mouth. Gabrielle grabbed the young Amazon's hand and while she licked the honey off each of her fingers, she heard her inhale roughly again.

Gabrielle got hold of the last piece of the pastry and aimed for Niki's mouth again. She deliberately smeared some honey around the young Amazon's lips and then pulled her head closer to clean that up with her own lips and tongue. Niki stopped breathing altogether, when the Queen's lips touched hers. Gabrielle could hear her heart beat like a drum, so she made the cleaning short and thorough.

"I would like some more port now," Gabrielle said, sitting back with a satisfied sigh. Niki swallowed and let out an enormous amount of air. She carefully raised a mug to her Queen's lips with trembling fingers. They spilled quite some of the liquid and both started to giggle, which broke the building sexual tension.

"I didn't know you could cook like that, Niki." Gabrielle said, still giggling. "Can I look at you now?"

"Yes, of course," Niki said choking with laughter as she struggled with the blindfold with clumsy fingers. "I am glad you enjoyed it, my Queen." She didn't look shy at all anymore. There was a sparkle in her eyes and a new confidence in her look and her movements as she cleaned up the mess they had made.

"I want to thank you for this very special treat, Niki." Gabrielle said softly.

"You have thanked me enough, my Queen," Niki said, touching her own lips. "And besides," she raised an eyebrow suggestively. "The pleasure was all mine."


After their patrol rounds, Xena and Luna were seated companionably at their campfire. The Warrior liked the woman, which was at least a decade her senior. Luna was wise and skilled. She ought to be, for Amazons usually didn't live long enough to reach her age. Xena did wonder why Luna had come to be with her though. She guessed that, at the Village, the women probably battled for a place in the schedule to be alone with either her or Gabrielle. Luna would not have come for no reason. She could just as well have gone as a messenger if she did not have an explicit motive to be with Xena. And from what she could tell, her purpose was not romantic.

"Xena, you are probably wondering why I am here," Luna said suddenly, as though she had been reading Xena's thoughts.

"Yes." Xena said simply.

"I want you to reconsider your joining." Luna said, carefully choosing her words.

"Why?" Xena asked, on her guard.

"I think you know why. You must have had doubts of your own, before you declared your love to our Queen." The older Amazon said sympathetically.

"Yes. Many." Xena admitted.

"Your past, your sins, your uhm? ability to get into trouble?" Luna guessed.

"Among other things," Xena continued. "Gabrielle's goodness, her youth, her calling as an Amazon Queen."

"All that hasn't stopped you?" Luna asked with compassion.

"All that has stopped me for a very long time." Xena opposed. "I have loved the girl from the very moment I met her. I have tried hard to fight the feeling and to leave her for her own protection on many occasions, but she just would not be left behind." It was a relief to talk about this to someone, Xena felt to her own surprise.

"No, I have noticed that our young Queen has rather a ? determined character." Luna said with a smile.

"Would you believe me if I told you that she is the stronger partner in our relationship?" Xena asked. "She has been from the beginning. I did not think I would ever love again, or that I would ever be loved again." She paused. "Gabrielle has convinced me I am worth it. You are going to have quite a hard time convincing me otherwise." She smiled at Luna, who smiled back at her.

"In that case you have my blessing. I wanted to make sure you two had really thought about it."

"We each have, extensively, I might say. Thank you for your concern, Luna. And thank you for your blessing. It means a lot to me." Xena said. After that, they readied for the night.

Around midday the next day, they heard fast hooves approach.

"Xena, you are wanted in the Village. And I mean wanted." Tessa panted and looked at the Warrior Princess suggestively. "I have come to take your place, so that you can go back."

"Is everything alright with Gabrielle?" Xena asked anxiously, on her feet in an instant.

"Oh yes, don't you worry about the Queen, she is spoiled rotten, as far as I could see." Tessa teased. "No, I mean wanted by another Amazon. It's Galena's turn."

Xena smiled and got her things together.


It was dark. All was quiet at the Amazon Village. Gabrielle was sound asleep between the furs of the large bed in the Royal Hut, probably dreaming of a tall, dark Warrior Princess with stunning blue eyes. Something budged in the hut, not far from the bed.

"Xena??" the young Queen asked with a drowsy voice.

"Yes," came the whispered reply.

Gabrielle was wide-awake in an instant. "I hoped you would come!" she whispered. "I miss you so."

"I miss you too." A tall form bumped into the bed.

"This way," Gabrielle whispered and held out her hand towards the sound. Two hands met and Gabrielle guided the other towards Xena's side of the bed.

"Oh, I'm so glad you could come!" Gabrielle was al excited. "How did you ??"

"Sssh!" she was interrupted. "If they find out ?" the tall form lowered herself and stretched out beside Gabrielle. The Queen wrapped her arms around strong shoulders. Even before her lips touched the unfamiliar woman's she knew.

"You are not Xena!" It remained quiet. Gabrielle angrily pushed the other person out of the bed.

"Did you really think I wouldn't notice?" she asked indignantly, slightly louder than before.

"I hoped so?" came the disappointed answer.

"Keep dreaming!" the Queen laughed pitilessly. "Would you close the door on your way out?"

"I am sorry. I will." The dark figure left as quietly as she had come.

Gabrielle let out a disappointed sigh, turned over and fell back into Morpheus' arms.

Gabrielle had spent the morning doing Queen's business and the afternoon with Amara on a picnic in the forest. They had had a very good time. Amara was great fun. Gabrielle had been in stitches because the brunette had told her all kinds of dirty jokes. Some of them were far beyond Gabrielle, being the innocent farm girl she was. Even the years with Xena had not educated her much, as Xena had always made sure everybody behaved impeccably in Gabrielle's company. Somehow it worried her that she was still so ? naive.

At the end of that entertaining afternoon, Gabrielle was having dinner at the Food Hut. When she saw Ephiny, she joined her at the table and hissed: "Eph, we have to talk."

"Alright," the Regent said, "talk!"

"Not here," Gabrielle said softly, with an embarrassed look around. "Later, in my hut."

"I'll be there," Ephiny promised under her breath.

After dinner Gabrielle quickly checked the stables to see if Argo was there. She was! That meant Xena was not far! Gabrielle brought her some apples and cuddled her instead of her mistress. She slipped a small I-love-you-note into the saddlebag, being sure Xena would find it.

Ephiny joined her friend, half a candlemark later. "How are you holding out?" she asked.

"Oh, I am doing fine," Gabrielle said listlessly. "Everybody is so sweet to me. I feel very privileged." She poured her friend a mug of wine.

"But??" Ephiny asked.

"But I miss Xena, of course. And? I feel so ? inexperienced," she suddenly burst out. "There is a whole lot I don't know anything about."

"On the subject of ??"

"Love, sex,? attraction, seduction ?you know!" She took a large sip.

"Hmm, I see," Ephiny said sympathetically. "You are quite new at the subject, aren't you?"

"Yes. Xena's the only one I've ever been with. Well, except for Perdicus, but that ? Anyway, Hilda tried to seduce me at the lake and Niki showed me food is not only for eating. And I didn't understand half of Amara's jokes. I felt so? stupid!"

"You should have some more ? uhmm?. education before you are joined."

"Yes!" Gabrielle was relieved her friend understood. "I feel so inadequate. I wouldn't want to disappoint Xena."

"You haven't so far, from what I've heard," Ephiny said suggestively.

Gabrielle smiled. "No, Xena has been a very good teacher. But if I knew some things for myself, we would be more equal. I would love to surprise her sometime."

"I understand. And Xena has uhm? been around. I would like to help you out myself, but ? you also have friends in high places, remember?" Ephiny hinted.

"What do you mean?" Gabrielle looked puzzled,

"Aphrodite? Goddess of love? She's the expert, you know!"

"Right! I may go and see Aphrodite in her temple shortly, but I think I need all the help I can get." Gabrielle sighed. "Why don't you start telling me what you know?"

Ephiny swallowed. It was obvious Xena had kept her secret, even from Gabrielle: the Queen knew nothing of Ephiny's love for her, or she would not be talking to her like this. She secretly thanked the Warrior for it. She had been trying to avoid this, but now her friend needed her help.

"Oookay," she sighed. "Let's see? where do we start? Do you pleasure yourself?"

"Uhmm, not lately," Gabrielle answered with an embarrassed smile.

Of course. "But you used to?"


"Did you fantasize?"


"About what?"

"About making love to Xena."

"Right. Any special effects you could act out?"

"Not really, it was mainly about all the different places where I wanted to do it."

Ephiny smiled. The girl was really fresh and unspoiled.

"Eph, what do you fantasize about?" Gabrielle asked.

The Amazon turned crimson and looked away. "All sorts of things." she admitted softly.

"Tell me? Please?"

"Centaurs," she mumbled barely audible. "And threesomes. And?"

"Really?!" Gabrielle was impressed and stunned. "Did you ever ...?"

"No." There was a distinct sadness in Ephiny's eyes and in her voice.

"Do you have an unrequited love, Eph?"


"You can tell me."

"No I can't."

"Why not?"

"Because ?. I cant."

"Do I know her? Or him?"

"Yes you do. I don't want to talk about it, Gabrielle."

"Right. I'm sorry for you, Eph."

"I know you are. Do you want me to tell you what games I used to play with my lovers?" Ephiny tried to distract her friend from the painful subject.

"Yes please." It worked.

"We played mistress and slave."

"You did?" Gabrielle was very interested.

"Yes, it can be quite exciting."

"To be the mistress, no doubt." Gabrielle assumed.

"Yes, but also to be the slave."

"I don't understand."

"It can be very, very exciting to bend to the will of your mistress, to whatever she wants to do with you." Ephiny explained.

"I see," Gabrielle was not convinced.

"She can reward you if you are good, you know."

"I see!" this sounded better.

"And punish you if you are not." Ephiny continued.

"And you let her?" Gabrielle was lost again.

"Yes. I can be incredibly turned on when my mistress hits me."

"Eph! You let somebody actually hit you? I don't believe it!" Gabrielle was shocked.

"Not just anybody, Gabrielle. You have to really really trust someone to play this game together."

"I guess so! Who did you do this with?"


"Before the two of you broke up. Well, this certainly explains some of Amara's jokes."

"And we also used to tie each other's hands. Or bind the other's feet apart. Or both."

"Hmmm. I would not have thought of it myself, but I can see the attraction there." Gabrielle said, savouring the idea. "Niki blindfolded me last night."

"Did she now?" Ephiny asked. Gabrielle had expected her to smile but she didn't. In fact, she looked a little distracted "It's all a matter of trust."

"Do you trust me, Eph?" Gabrielle asked.

"Yes, of course." Ephiny said, caught off guard.

"Won't you tell me about your feelings?"

"Oh Gabrielle," Ephiny begged.

"Is it Xena?" Gabrielle asked.


"Is it ... me?"

"Yes." Ephiny said softly. Was that a tear running down her cheek?

"Oh Eph! I'm so sorry! And here I am, rambling on to you about my sexlife! I am so very sorry."

"I know. It's alright. I know you and Xena belong together. You two are a match made on Mount Olympus. I will get over it. And, like I've told Xena, I will settle for two very happy friends."

"Wait ? do you mean? Xena knew this?" Gabrielle was stunned.

"Yes, I told her."

"She should have told me."

"No, she's a loyal friend to me too." Ephiny said. "I didn't want you to know."

"Oh, I love you, Eph. Come here" Gabrielle pulled the Amazon into her arms.

"I know you do." Ephiny leaned her head onto Gabrielle's shoulder.

Gabrielle stroked the other woman's hair and planted little kisses on her head.

When Ephiny looked up, and Gabrielle saw her tear-stained face, she felt full of tenderness and compassion for her friend. She wiped the tears away and pressed a loving kiss on the Amazon's lips. Ephiny responded with passion. Gabrielle took a decision. Without a word, they went over to the bed together and undressed rather unceremoniously.

"Won't this make it worse for you?" Gabrielle asked softly

"No, it is as bad as it gets. Please let me have this one night." Ephiny begged.

Gabrielle held out her hand to her friend and pulled her down onto the bed, into her arms. She started stroking her curls, her shoulders and her breasts tenderly.

Ephiny wasted no time. She knew this was once in a lifetime, there would be no other chance. She kissed Gabrielle, tasted her and made love to her with great urgency... It was strange for Gabrielle to touch somebody else, Ephiny's skin and hair felt quite unlike Xena's, her scent was completely different, her touch, her sound and her taste were unfamiliar, yet Gabrielle felt quite at ease. She had always found Ephiny a very attractive woman, and she felt her body react to Ephiny's skilled hands and lips. All she had to do was be there for her friend and love her. It felt good to give Ephiny something she longed for so desperately. She was sure Xena would have done the same thing. And she didn't feel all that inadequate: Xena had taught her well. Though Gabrielle didn't feel the overwhelming desire to possess the other woman or be possessed by her, like she felt with Xena, it gave her pleasure to please her friend. Ephiny's passion excited her and before long, she silently climaxed in her arms. Ephiny followed soon after.

No words were uttered until Ephiny softly asked "Can I stay the night?"

"Of course," Gabrielle answered, stroking the wild curls.

"You make me a very happy woman, Gabrielle." Ephiny whispered. "Thank you."

"Thank you for loving me so much," Gabrielle responded with a kiss.

Had it been strange to be made love to by another woman, it was even stranger to wake up in somebody else's arms. Ephiny still held on to Gabrielle like a drowning woman the next morning.

When she left the Royal Hut unseen and unheard even by the guard at first light, they both knew it would never happen again, but this night would stay in their hearts forever.


Xena could somehow always sense if Gabrielle was at the Village. Without her, the collection of huts, though filled with busy Amazons, seemed empty and soulless. Since she knew Galena wanted her (she grinned when she thought of the way Tessa had put it) she decided to report to the healer's assistant right away. The door to her hut was open.

"Oh, hi, Xena," Galena jumped slightly when she saw her. "Have some tea." She was still fidgeting with some potion or other and waved in the general direction of the fireplace, where a generous pot of tea and two cups were placed.

"Thanks, I am thirsty," Xena said, while she poured herself and Galena a cup. She sniffed the hot liquid. It had some unfamiliar ingredient in it, but it smelled good. Xena put it down to cool off and made herself comfortable in the healer's assistant's hut.

"How are you doing on your own?" she asked. "Any emergencies?"

"No, nothing but broken hearts around here," Galena smiled. "And I can't cure that I'm afraid. I wish I could." She seemed slightly nervous, but Xena could guess why.

"If there's a cure, I'm sure you'll find it." Xena said reassuringly. "You make a very good healer."

"There is still a lot I don't know." Galena blushed modestly at the Warrior's praise. "And a lot I can learn from you. In fact, I would like to ask your expert opinion about some herbs I came across the other day. I have prepared us a picnic; we will be back by the end of the afternoon."

It was okay with Xena. She liked the petite brunette that was always eager to learn. She also liked sharing her knowledge for the benefit of the entire Amazon Nation. She sipped her tea. When she looked at the small healer's assistant, she noticed the brunette was quite cute. And she somehow seemed to glow. Xena took a better look; Galena had a radiance around her, that Xena had never noticed before. Had she ever looked, really looked at Galena before? Not that she could remember. She felt rather attracted to the smaller woman that was about Gabrielle's size. Gabrielle? she seemed to be of another, distant world right now. It was hard to concentrate on her. Xena finished her tea. Galena wrapped the last of her things with graceful movements, drained her cup in one draught and poured the rest of the tea in a large waterskin.

"I'm ready to go," she said in her soft, melodious voice, looking charmingly shy next to the intimidating form of the tall Warrior. Xena smelled her scent drift by as the small healer passed her on her way out. Good. Very good. Outside, she noticed that the sun lit tiny sparkles in Galena's brown curls. Nice. Very nice. They headed for the stables and before long they were riding east towards the plains. Xena felt the urge to take Galena's hand as they rode side by side, but she resisted. Instead, she smiled warmly at the attractive young woman next to her. Galena looked at her searchingly every now and then, with her beautiful brown eyes. Xena wondered at her own feelings. It was very unlike her to fall for the charms of just anyone. It had taken Gabrielle well over three seasons to get Xena to open up to her and even now Xena didn't usually ride holding hands with Gabrielle or notice the sun play with her lover's hair for that matter! Ridiculous! What was the matter with her? Galena observed her again and Xena could not help but smile at her sheepishly once more. When the petite brunette rode in front for a while, as the track was too narrow, Xena could not resist gazing at the lovely curves of the young woman. She was a very good rider too, Xena noticed. She sighed. Gods! If she didn't know better?

About a candlemark later, they halted for their picnic. Xena looked attentively at the young woman again and suddenly noticed that the radiance around Galena had faded. She still was a lovely young woman, but Xena's silly feelings had vanished, much to her relief. Thinking of Gabrielle was easy again and made her heart jump in her chest.

"So where is this mysterious herb you wanted my opinion on?" Xena asked after they had unsaddled the horses and watered them.

"I'll show you later," Galena said, her voice not particularly melodious. "Let's first eat and drink something ourselves." She poured them both a cup of the now cold tea and broke a large piece of nutbread for each of them. It tasted good. Xena relaxed leaning into a rock, and enjoyed the afternoon. The weather was good. Xena took another drink, and when she looked at Galena again, she saw the glow had returned. Galena passed her some fruit with graceful movements. Xena noticed her thoughts of Gabrielle were blocked again: all she could concentrate on was Galena's beauty and how nice it was to be with her. Xena moved closer to the small healer and put a strong arm around her shoulders. Galena looked at her searchingly and blushed most adorably.

"Oh, Xena, I am sorry." Galena said, leaning her lovely head into Xena's shoulder. "It's just ? I could not resist."

"Resist me?" Xena said, with a voice she hoped sounded sensual and alluring. She smelled the slight perfume of Galena's hair, which was very distracting.

"Yes ?no!" Galena said. "It's cupidsarrow."

It suddenly dawned on Xena. "It's in the tea, right?"

Galena nodded and hid her face in Xena's neck. The Warrior didn't mind in the least.

"I am so very much in love with you," Galena confessed, "and the other day I got my hands on a stray arrow Cupid must have lost. I wanted to test it, to see if it had any effect."

"And you decided to test it on me." Xena stated dryly, trying to look the self-conscious healer into her beautiful brown eyes.

"I was not going to take advantage of you!" Galena said, her eyes cast down. "I just wanted to feel for once what it would be like if the Warrior Princess were in love with me." She sighed. Even her breath smelled like flowers.

Xena softened. "How does it feel?" she asked gently, her lips touching the silky brown curls.

"It feels false." Galena said timidly. "You are nothing like your normal self. How does it feel for you?"

"Strange." The Warrior confessed. "I know I have been in love with Gabrielle for as long as I can remember, but right now I can hardly imagine what she looks like. All I can think about is how beautiful you are and how much I want to be with you. And I feel silly!" Galena smiled despite herself.

"I know it is unethical to test herbs on people when they don't know it," Galena said, trying to justify her act. "But it didn't have any effect on me, as I administered it to myself. And I know your love for the Queen is pure and real and will survive anything. Oh, I wanted you to love me that way so badly, even if it was only for a day! I am really sorry."

"I love you," Xena said softly. "And I forgive you." She stroked Galena's small shoulders.

"Do you think you'll still forgive me when the effect of the cupidsarrow wears off?" the healer didn't dare look at Xena.

"I'm sure. And I will still like you a lot and respect you a great deal, because that is what I felt before." Xena comforted her.

Galena was relieved. A very mischievous look quickly passed over her lovely face. "Would you like to kiss me?"

"Very much," the Warrior replied truthfully.

"Then I think I will take ? just a little advantage of your drugged state after all. Healer's privilege."

When the effect of the cupidsarrow essence was completely gone, they headed back towards the Village.

"So cupidsarrow was the herb you wanted my expert opinion on?" Xena teased.

"Yes, you are the expert now!" Galena retorted with a smile.

"Okay, I will share my experience with you. I loved you. And I was distracted by things I normally don't even see. Did you know you had this radiance around you? And I noticed the sun play in your hair, and you have the most beautiful eyes and ? and I loved even your sweet breath! It is so ? unwarriorlike!" the Warrior said in disgust, "I trust you to keep this a secret though! This is between a healer and her ? uhm patient!" Xena warned.

"I promise. You can count on my discretion. I won't tell anyone you acted like any other hopeless romantic. Not even my Queen," Galena teased carefully. "Can you still forgive me?"

"Yes. It's alright. I'm glad to think like my normal self again. The funny thing is that I can still see how charming you are. It is as though this spell has opened my eyes for you. An awareness of your charms."

"Really?" Galena asked in surprise

"Yes, and you know what? It seems to me you may just have found a cure for broken hearts," the Warrior said with a smile.

"Oh I don't know, it would have to be taken by the party that does not want it," Galena giggled.

"Exactly how much of this arrow do you have left?" Xena enquired.

"I've used only a splinter of the shaft," Galena replied. "I didn't know how strong the effect would be. Like herbs, you can't be too careful with God's stuff."

"You are so right," Xena agreed. "So you have lots left?"

"Yes. I didn't want to overdo it. I mean, I wanted to, but I didn't."

"Thank you," Xena said sincerely.

"I watched you very closely and I could tell when the effect wore off by the way you looked at me. I should have given you at least double this dose!" She giggled, still a bit embarrassed.

"Now don't push your luck, young healer!" Xena mock threatened. They both laughed as they entered the Village.


Gabrielle had just had breakfast at the Food Hut. Tbele stopped her when she was about to leave. She was loaded with pieces of cloth and leather.

"I will come with you to take yourr measurres forr yourr joining drress, my Queen," she said.

"Oh well, alright, Tbele," Gabrielle said. "I had not realised I would be wearing anything other than my usual outfit." They walked over to the Queen's Hut.

Tbele smiled. "It is a special day, my Queen, and a special cerremony. With it go special clothes." Gabrielle let Tbele into her hut.

"Of course. What do I have to do?" the Queen asked.

"Undrress, my Queen." The black woman unloaded her goods.

"Alright." Gabrielle did as she was told. Tbele stood in front of her. She was a little smaller than Gabrielle. The young blonde was very aware of the fact that Tbele had been one of the women that had offered her love to her. She could feel the body warmth of the dark woman, who took a tape measure from around her neck and started to measure Gabrielle's height, made her widen her arms, measured that too, made her turn around and measured her shoulders, all the while softly muttering to herself in her own language. From behind, she put her dark arms around Gabrielle's relatively pale chest and measured her width, brushing her nipples with her wrist and with the tape. Gabrielle swallowed. Tbele's soft hands stroked her sides and her midriff. Wow, this felt good. Tbele then measured her hips and thighs, accidentally stroking her buttocks as she passed them.

"Did you know," she said, "that wherre I come frrom, the young girrls and boys arre initiated by everry experrienced woman, except theirr motherr, beforre they arre joined?"

"No, I didn't," Gabrielle's voice trembled.

"It is to make surre they know what to do when they arre joined. And that way they arre able to enjoy theirr firrst night togetherr, in stead of being nerrvous."

"Seems like a good idea to me."

"Yes, it worrks quite well," Tbele said.

"Were you initiated?" Gabrielle asked breathlessly.

"Yes, that is why I rran away beforre the joining cerremony," Tbele said. "I didn't want no man afterr that, I want only women."

Gabrielle felt excitement fill her. This was obviously an experienced woman; maybe she could teach her a few things to surprise Xena with.

"Could you ? would you initiate me?" Gabrielle asked anxiously.

"It would be an honourr and a pleasurre, my Queen." Tbele smiled with delight. "Yourr joining drress will have to wait, then."

She took Gabrielle to the large comfortable chair and sat her down. She was so calm and confident, that Gabrielle felt no shyness, only curiosity and anticipation.

"The main thing is to know yourr own body and to know what pleases you, what turrns you on. I want you to concentrrate on your body. Feel the blood flow dirrectly to yourr sex and feel the swelling. Brreathe your brreasts full of enerrgy, fill your body with consciousness and desirre. In the meantime, I will have to go and get a few otherr things from my hut. I will rreturrn shorrtly."

Gabrielle did as she was told. When she breathed in deeply she felt her nipples harden. She concentrated on her sex and felt a throbbing warmth spread through it, making it wet and swollen. She lay back and focussed on that feeling until she heard Tbele come back. As the black woman entered, a drum softly started to beat just outside the door of the Queen's Hut.

"I have instrructed the guarrd to play the drrum. It brrings me in the mood and that way she wont hearr us and we will have some prrivacy," she said, putting her things down. She sprinkled some herbs in the kettle over the fire, so that a nice scent filled the room. Then she approached Gabrielle.

"Have you everr seen yourrself?" her teacher asked.

"No," Gabrielle admitted. "But I have seen Xena."

"That is an advantage, but no two women arre the same. I am going to show yourr own sex to you." The black woman brought a shiny metal mirror and placed it between Gabrielle's legs. "Look."

"You are right; I do look different, yet ? familiar." Gabrielle smiled.

"Touch yourrself and feel what you see." Tbele instructed gently.

Gabrielle did as Tbele told her, while looking in the shining metal.

"Do you know how to pleasurre yourrself?" Tbele asked.

"Yes," the young Queen answered.

"Good," the black woman said. "Rrelax, now. Feel your sex, hearr the drrums, smell the arroma. Feel sexy."

Gabrielle felt unexpectedly relaxed. She felt safe and sexy with Tbele.

"Have you everr used toys beforre?" Tbele asked softly.

"Toys? No." Gabrielle watched Tbele produce a large smooth carrot-shaped item and felt a slight nervousness fill her.

"This is called a dildo," Tbele explained. "I suppose you do know wherre it goes?"

"I think I do!" Gabrielle smiled awkwardly, "But it looks rather big to me."

"I keep forrgetting you white girrls are narrrower than we arre," Tbele grinned and produced a smaller one. "The trrick is that you want to be prreparred beforre you use it. If you arre rready, you won't have a prroblem with the larrgerr one. You'll want it."

"I doubt that," Gabrielle grinned and relaxed again, "But you're the expert!"

"Rright," Tbele smiled too. "Let's get you rready."


"Does Xena come inside you?" Tbele sat down behind Gabrielle and pulled the white woman between her dark brown legs.

"Yes," Gabrielle said with a self-conscious smile.

"One fingerr?" Tbele asked matter-of factly.

"Two," Gabrielle mumbled softly as the memory filled her belly with a heavy longing.

"Good. I take it you liked it?" It was not really a question and Gabrielle did not answer.

"Concentrrate on the last time she did it," Tbele now whispered in her ear. "You want it again. Let desirre fill you." To her own surprise, Gabrielle felt the warm need grow in her sex. She let it grow strong before she took the dildo out of Tbele's hands. She noticed it was wet and slippery when she carefully introduced it halfway into her womanhood, sighing with satisfaction.

"Now move it in and out slowly," Tbele said in her neck, fondling Gabrielle's breasts with her small black hands. "Listen to the rrhythm of the drrum. Therre you go. Slowly in and out."

"This feels good," Gabrielle moaned. She got carried away by the drums, Tbele's exotic voice, her warm hands, the aroma in the room and the glorious feeling in her sex. The sight in the mirror turned her on still more. She sighed heavily and her body swayed in excitement.

"It is going to feel even betterr," Tbele promised. "Feel your body, enjoy the feeling. Feel desirrable. Let yourrself go. Now move in and out fasterr. Not too deep, just fasterr."

"Ohhh," Gabrielle moaned, "I am afraid I am gonna pee!"

"No you won't, go on." Tbele encouraged, stimulating Gabrielle's nipples with her nimble black fingers.

Gabrielle went on and felt the excitement reach a thundering summit just as she felt a whole lot of hot fluid gush out of her. It was too late to stop, she had to go on pumping the dildo in and out for quite some time. Tbele held her tight and kissed her neck.

"I peed!" Gabrielle finally moaned, in shock.

"No you didn't," Tbele reassured her, "You ejaculated."

"I did?" Gabrielle was still confused. "I didn't know I could!"

"You can. Many women can, but verry few know it."

"Gods, that felt so good!" Gabrielle felt drained and exhausted. She leaned back into Tbele, who stroked her head, her shoulders and her breasts. The drum outside now sounded soothing.

"I am going to make you a cup of tea, to rrecoverr." Tbele said, getting up from behind Gabrielle.

"Now I do have to pee," Gabrielle said in surprise.

"You see? You didn't earrlierr."

When Tbele brought two cups of tea to the chair, Gabrielle grabbed her hand.

"What about you?" she asked lazily as Tbele sat down beside her.

"An initiation is not about one's own satisfaction," Tbele explained. "Though it is verry rrewarrding to do." She smiled.

"But how do I learn how to please my lover?" Gabrielle asked.

"Your lover will teach you. Everybody is different. I could show you how to please me, but maybe the same thing would not please Xena. You arre the key. Once you know how to take pleasurre in yourrself, you can show yourr loverr and yourr loverr will show you."

"Thank you so much," Gabrielle said, in awe.

"I told you, it is an honourr and a pleasurre, my Queen." The dark woman said. "You know I love you verry much. I want to give you the dildo as a prresent forr yourr joining. And I tell you one morre thing: therre arre differrent places in which to put it." a smile played around her full lips.

"I see!" Gabrielle was figuring out the possibilities. "Thank you very much, Tbele. I see I have more to learn." She sipped her tea.

"Yes, you do," Tbele said, "But you can find all that out forr yourrself now that you have been prroperrly initiated. Rrememberr what I told you: know yourr own body."

"I will." Gabrielle assured her.

"Arre you able to get on with the drress?" Tbele asked gently.

"Yes, I think I am. And let's give the guard a cup of tea too."


"Today you are to go to Artemis' temple," Ephiny announced the next morning before breakfast.

"Okay, what for?" the young Queen asked.

"To have a ritual cleaning to prepare you for the Joining Ceremony," Ephiny explained. "Artemis wants you all to herself one last time, I suppose." she teased. Gabrielle was relieved to notice that nothing had changed between them; Ephiny was still her friend and trustee, her guide to the intricate Amazon traditions and ceremonies.

"I can eat first, cant I?" she asked.

"Of course you can. Artemis knows her Chosen!" Ephiny smiled.

Gabrielle could do with a hearty breakfast, as she had had rather too much to drink at the campfire the previous night. Many Amazons had obviously wanted her to get drunk before trying their luck with her. One after the other had filled her mug to the brim and she had danced her feet off. At one point she had seen Xena join in, surrounded by a flock of young Amazons, that all wanted her attention. Their eyes had met across the crowded fireplace and Xena had smiled that very special, teasing smile at her that always made her stomach jump. Gabrielle had started flirting with the women around her ostentatiously, in order to make Xena jealous, and Xena had done the same with her gang. It was great fun. Gabrielle had this constant awareness of Xena being near all the time. Their bond was like an invisible thread between them. It felt as though a very special treat was there waiting for her, but she was not yet allowed to have it. Suddenly, at one point, she had lost sight of Xena. As she turned around to look for her, she had found the beautiful Warrior right behind her, looking down at her from breathtakingly near. Gabrielle had wrapped her arms around the tall woman's neck and their lips met in a hungry kiss, before a cheering crowd had pulled them apart again. It had felt sooo very good to hold Xena even for only a moment! Other Amazons had reclaimed them both, but Gabrielle could only vaguely remember what had happened after that. She knew Ephiny had taken her to her hut when the Regent had thought the Queen had had enough to drink. She was thankful for it.

After breakfast, Gabrielle thought for a moment that her eyes were deceiving her as she caught a glimpse of the familiar form of her beautiful dark Warrior Princess again, all gorgeous six feet of her, leaning into a tree. Xena had spotted her too and their eyes met in a long and loving glance. They were unable to talk, however, as Xena was claimed by three young Amazons wearing masks. Gabrielle could not hear what was being said. Xena looked back several times as she rode away with them. Gabrielle looked at the retreating strong back of her lover until there was nothing left to be seen? Wouldn't it be nice if she could make Xena a token of her love, that she could have with her at all times, she thought. No jewellery would do, because Xena only wore practical things. It would have to be useful. Indispensable. Yet personal. It would have to be part of her armour. No new sword, as Xena was very attached to the one's she had. A new sheath for the sword on her back, maybe. With a quill engraved in it, as a constant public sign of the Bard who loved her. Yes, that was a good idea. She was going to start on it right after the meeting with Artemis.

As Gabrielle reached the temple, she was met by three young Nymphs, who invited her inside the large building. The three girls, all even younger than Gabrielle, took her to a side room in which a steam bath was prepared. Gabrielle was told to undress and received a towel to wrap around her naked body. She instantly started to sweat. The steam washed the dust off her skin and ran in rivulets down her body. The three Nymphs left her to her thoughts without a word. A faint pan flute was heard. After some time, when she was thoroughly warm, one of the Nymphs came back in and took Gabrielle to an adjoining room, which consisted mainly of a cold-water tub sunken into the floor. The Nymph took Gabrielle's towel and urged her in. Gabrielle tried to enter the freezing water in a dignified manner. She inhaled sharply as the more than refreshing water crept up around her heated skin. She didn't have to stay in long: the Nymph accompanied her to yet another room, in the middle of which there was a table. It was obvious what Gabrielle had to do. She climbed on and lay down on her front. The other girls joined the first and softly started to hit her with bunches of flexible twigs. One hit her shoulders and back, one her bottom and upper legs and one her lower legs and feet. They slowly increased the speed and the intensity. It didn't hurt, in fact, it made her body tingle. When they stopped, Gabrielle wanted to climb off the table, but one of the Nymphs softly said: "Please turn over."

Gabrielle lay back down on her rear this time. The Nymphs softly started to hit her again. When Gabrielle tried to protect the tender flesh of her breasts with her arms, two of them got hold of her wrists and spread-eagled her.

Gabrielle realised this was a very thorough purification ritual. She tried very hard to make her mind as pure as her body, but it didn't work, she couldn't help thinking of what Ephiny had told her, and of what she wanted to do with Xena. The stinging of the rods was very stimulating and turned her on to no end. It took all her willpower to lie still and not let the Nymphs see her excitement. She was glad when she was invited into the cold bath again to chill. It surprised her the water didn't start to simmer.

After she had cooled off a bit, the girls took her to the table again and scrubbed her entire body with a mixture of lavender oil and sand. This was even worse than the hitting. Gabrielle thoroughly enjoyed the touch of the nimble hands of all three Nymphs on her back and legs. She watched their faces as they massaged her front, but they remained completely blank. Maybe they did this every day? It was impossible not to react. Gabrielle moaned softly as two hands kneaded her breasts, two others her belly and two more her thighs. Gods! Maybe she could have endured this when she had still been untouched by Xena's passion, but now that it had awakened her own slumbering sexuality, it was impossible to submit to this without reacting. She was no longer an innocent, she realised as a moan of pleasure escaped her.

The serene Nymphs scraped off the sand and oil, before they bathed her and then made her go through the whole purification ritual once more, before she was dressed in a pure white robe and taken back to the Temple. Her whole skin prickled and blushed. The white silk felt smooth and soothing. And arousing as she walked barefoot to the main hall... Gods, she had become incorrigible!

Like always, Gabrielle was struck with awe in the cool temple with the high ceiling. The Nymphs accompanied Gabrielle to Artemis' altar, which was loaded with offerings like fruits and nuts on large golden platters and bowls. They sang in beautiful harmony that Artemis' Chosen had arrived. Chills ran down Gabrielle's spine. As a white deer casually walked into the temple, stood up on its hind legs and changed into the Goddess of Forests and hunting, the Nymphs stopped singing and bowed.

"Gabrielle, welcome," Artemis said with a smile, "I can tell my Nymphs had a hard time trying to purify you!" The girls were dismissed. "Last time you came here, you were a virgin, like me," she stated. Artemis took Gabrielle's hand and brought her to a comfortable seat. She offered her some grapes from the altar.

"Yes, I'm afraid it is a lost cause," Gabrielle admitted, her eyes cast down, accepting the fruit.

"Good," Artemis said to Gabrielle's surprise. "Otherwise I would have had to ask a favour from Aphrodite, to initiate you before your joining with Xena. You know I'm a virgin, I couldn't help you."

Gabrielle was at a loss for words.

"Oh, you didn't think I would let my Chosen take the big step unprepared, did you?"

"No, but?"

"Anyway, I can tell Xena possesses you body and soul."

"Yes," Gabrielle sighed.

"What is the sigh for?" Artemis asked.

"I rather miss her body and soul." Gabrielle admitted, smiling at the double meaning of what she just said. "We've never been apart for so long."

The double meaning was lost on the Virgin Goddess, but she asked: "Is she good to you?"

"Yes," Gabrielle said simply.

"Is she everything you have dreamed she was?"

"Yes! And more!"

"Then I will give you my blessing for the joining."

"Thank you Artemis."

"You are still my Chosen too, you know."

"I know. I will never forget."


That morning after breakfast, Xena leaned into a tree to wait for her next rendezvous, when she saw Gabrielle leave the Royal Hut. Her heart jumped. Gods, Gabrielle looked terrific! It had been so good to hold her again last night! Even if it was for only a few heartbeats!

The Amazons mostly managed to never let the two of them meet, but last night Xena had gone to the campfire surrounded by half a dozen horny Amazons that wanted to drink Xena under the table, hoping she would take one of them to her bedrolls. Of course they never stood a chance. Xena could hold her liquor better than any of them and never ever let herself get out of control. Moreover, she had no desire whatsoever to bed any of them. She longed to be with Gabrielle again. She could not remember being apart for so long. To her pleasant surprise, she had spotted the lovely blonde instantly among the other dancing Amazons. It had been great fun to tease and tantalize her from a distance, and she had managed to steel a kiss and pull that lovely agile body against her before her groupies could repossess her.

Xena sighed like a lovesick puppy at the memory, and grinned at herself.

They exchanged one more long, loving glance, before three young masked Amazons came up to her and invited her to come with them. Xena didn't know who they were and they did not introduce themselves. One was a tall brunette, the second was a small dark haired girl and the third was a blonde of generous build. She had full breasts, a round behind and a generous belly. The tall one looked vaguely familiar, but since they wanted to be anonymous, Xena pried no further. Their leather masks left their noses, mouths and hair uncovered.

"We have come to take you on a picnic, Xena," the tall brunette said.

"We want to be your Slavegirls for a day," the blonde added.

"You can give us a name of your liking," the small Amazon concluded.

"Hmm, lets see," Xena played along. "That will be Tall, Cute and Luscious." The Amazons grinned. It was obvious who was who.

"We are at your service, Xena." Tall said.

"Alright, let's get on with that picnic," Xena ordered. The Amazons were well prepared. They had even saddled Argo. When they rode off, Xena looked back several times to where Gabrielle stood and felt the Queen's gaze caress her back until they rounded a bend. Tall and Luscious rode in front. The Warrior wondered where this game would lead. It was not very like her, to be so out of control, it made her feel slightly uneasy.

Cute, who rode beside Xena, looked up to her and said: "We want to pay you tribute. To you and our Queen, on behalf of the entire Amazon Nation." Xena nodded.

When they reached the lake, Tall and Cute spread a large blanket, while Luscious went to collect firewood. Xena felt a little useless. It was obvious she was not supposed to do anything, with three Slavegirls around.

Tall approached her. "I will help you undress, uhm ? mistress." They both grinned at the title, but it made it easier for Xena to play the game.

"Alright," she said. "I think I will have a swim now."

"Can we swim too, mistress?"

"Yes, you all have to play with me in the water," Xena ordered.

The tree Amazons quickly stripped but for their masks. They giggled when they saw each other. Cute was in the water with Xena first, while the other two arranged things on the sand.

They fooled around in the water for quite a long time. Xena teased the girls with her underwater-skills and even caught a fish, which was thankfully taken to shore by one of the Slaves.

The Warrior Princess flashed, uhm ? practiced a few flips and was a bit carried away, so she didn't notice that the Slavegirls had left the water and sat on the beach together with very mischievous smiles behind three masks. Suddenly Xena realised she was alone and as she started to come out, she noticed her clothes were nowhere in sight. She regrouped and then decided to give the Amazons their money's worth. She walked out of the water in a slow, very sensual dance, stretching, turning and showing off her beautiful body in all its wet glory. All the time she kept looking straight at the three girls from under her eyebrows.

The Slaves looked breathlessly, as far as Xena could tell. Luscious had her mouth slightly open. Xena circled them and danced all the way to her saddlebags, quickly got hold of a rope and, within a heartbeat, had bound all three of them with their backs together.

"Now what am I going to do with three naughty Slavegirls like you?" she thought aloud. "I think I'll sell you to the highest bidder. No, I have a better idea. You have one more chance. I'll forgive you if you make me a nice lunch."

"Mistress, we are sorry. It will not happen again", Cute said with a barely concealed giggle. When Xena had released them, she quickly produced Xena's leathers and armour. Xena left the armour off. The Slavegirls set to work while Xena lay down in the sun. Going through her saddlebag, she found Gabrielle's note and felt a luxurious warmth fill her. She was so lucky that this beautiful creature was in love with her. She still had some trouble believing it. Somehow, deep down inside, she still had the feeling she did not quite deserve to be this happy.

In the meantime the three Amazons made a delicious lunch with a very satisfactory stew, sweet berry's, tasty cake and lots of port.

"Mistress, it is almost time for your massage," Cute said well after the copious lunch.

"Alright," Xena said, "I think I will have my massage in the shade."

They found a nice shady spot under the trees. Tall ran back to their things and collected them all. Xena undressed again and stretched onto the large blanket. Cute slowly started to rub warm oil onto her shoulders and her dexterous hands made very relaxing movements over the powerful muscles of Xena's shoulders. Before long, Xena felt a second pair of hands join the first, rubbing lower down her back. A third pair smeared the relaxing oil on her bottom and thighs. Xena shivered when some oil ran down her inner thighs. Ah! Gradually she noticed the massage changed from an innocent relaxing rub into something else. Cute's hands just barely brushed the sides of her breasts. Ahh, Xena felt she reacted involuntarily. Tall, at least Xena was pretty sure it was Tall, also detoured to her sensitive sides. And Luscious' hands followed the running oil to her inner thighs. Xena could not help but give her easier access; she spread her legs a little. Gods, what was she to do?

Cute whispered in her ear, while the others continued their expert handiwork. "Let us honour you, as a tribute to you and our Queen." Xena froze and thought about it. Gabrielle's position in the Amazon Nation was very special. The Amazon Queen was a part of a great number of traditions and ceremonies. As her Consort, Xena was going to have to accept, or at least respect them. Moreover, to the Warrior Princess, what was going on had a second meaning. This was not the first time she had Slavegirls pamper and serve her and it brought back memories. Memories she was not very proud of. As the Destroyer of Nations, she had often forced one or more girls to satisfy her needs. By doing it voluntarily and of their own accord, these anonymous Amazons could somehow conclude and irreversibly close and seal that chapter forever and set her off into Amazon tradition. It would be like making a fresh start. She decided to let them have their way.

"Okay, you can honour me as a tribute to my Queen," Xena said finally. She relaxed and surrendered to the skilled hands of the three masked Slavegirls. They turned the Warrior over and started to massage her front, using lots of oil. Xena stretched her full length and felt hunger grow in her loins. These Slavegirls certainly knew what they were doing? Tall began to give her left breast the full treatment, while Cute started on her right. Luscious widened Xena's legs and stroked the tender flesh of her abdomen and the soft skin of her inner thighs. Her whole body was on fire! Xena closed her eyes in luxury, only to open them again when she felt a warm tongue tease her right nipple, while the hand that had been doing such a good job at it, dwelled further south. Ah! Her left nipple got the same treatment, this felt very, very nice! With a jolt she felt nimble fingers start to explore the intimate folds of her womanhood too and she moaned with pleasure. The girls were encouraged by the sound and redoubled their efforts. Xena felt soft skin against hers that she identified as an erect nipple and ? a hungry mouth explore her now soaked sex! The skilful tongue soon found what it was looking for and softly started to dart around her clit, making it impossible to lie still. It was sweet torture until Luscious finally took the swollen clit into her mouth and sucked with growing intensity. Sensory overload washed over Xena and a loud, low growl escaped her when she climaxed.

Tall covered Xena with a thin cloth before the girls modestly retreated like good Slaves should and left Xena alone to recuperate. The Warrior fell into a relaxed slumber. When she awoke, she found the Slavegirls had made tea and were softly talking to each other around the campfire. As soon as they noticed their Mistress was awake, they brought her a hot cup of tea and some fresh fruit. Xena sighed in contentment.

"You girls really know how to treat a Consort to the Queen. You are very good Slaves. I will recommend you to your next mistress," she said. They all grinned.


The first of the guests arrived. It was Autolycus, King of Thieves. Xena went to meet him at the Guest Hut.

He was handsome as ever and stood up to embrace the Warrior Princess.

"Xena! How are you? Seems like you are going to take the big step, huh?"

Xena grinned. "Yes, I have to make an honest woman out of her!"

"I like to pride myself in thinking I shared your first kiss," Autolycus said smiling smugly. "Remember when you took over my body? That kiss was most definitely the best part!"

"Yes, I remember!" Xena said, raising an eyebrow.

"I never quite understood what happened to you. Where were you all of a sudden?"

"I fainted," Xena said, barely audible, looking around if there was anyone who could possibly overhear them.

"What?" Autolycus asked.

"You heard me."

"No I didn't!"

"I fainted! It is so embarrassing! It was all I ever dreamed about," Xena complained between clenched teeth. "And when it finally happened, I fainted!"

"Well, that explains it. I found myself kissing Gabrielle. If my memory serves me well, I even had my hand ? uhm? on her butt!"

"Yes, you old scum, because I put it there before I passed out!" Now two eyebrows were raised to a dangerous height.

"Now Xena, there's no need to get angry, you know I didn't start it. And the Gods know I couldn't help liking it!" Autolycus stroked his moustache a little nervously.

"Oh, I know," Xena softened. "You did very well back then. You are a good friend. I'm glad you could come."

"'Uhm? Xena," Autolycus said. "I wonder?. uhm ? Do you still have it?"

"Have what?" Xena was puzzled.

"Do you still have that fainting-problem when you kiss her?"

"No! On the contrary, I assure you!" Xena burst out in uncharacteristic laughter.

"Too b? oh good. Well I uhm ? would have been honoured to help you out any time, you know." Autolycus said. "Any time at all."

"That is a very tempting offer," Xena was all serious again. "Would you really?"

"Would I what?"

"Help us out again?" An idea obviously formed in the quick mind of the Warrior Princess.

"Of course! What can I do for you?" Autolycus asked in his own charming manner.

"Well? Gabrielle and I haven't been together in ? what? the better part of seven days!" Autolycus looked puzzled, so she explained further: "The Amazons keep us apart until the joining!"

"They do?" He sounded concerned and indignant.

"Yes, Amazon custom and all that!" Xena clarified with just a touch of distaste.

"Must be rough. And you would like to ? " Autolycus looked cautious as understanding started to dawn in his mind.

"Yes, get into your body once more, so that I can be with her and take her in my arms. Only for a candlemark or so." She added when she saw hesitation on his face.

Autolycus sighed. He thought about it for a moment. "Oh well, alright. Consider it my joining present to you."

"You are a real pal," Xena said.

"How are we going to do it this time? You didn't have a body to trade last time, you just took over mine, if I remember correctly. Uhm ? rather unceremoniously, I might add."

They both grinned at the memory, one a little more painfully than the other.

"Come with me," Xena said. "I stay at the Healer's Hut. She may just have the stuff for me to leave my body with." They walked over to Solana's hut. "Then you get into mine and I enter yours. All you have to do is stay inside the hut until I return."

"But you know the conditions!" Autolycus warned.

"Yes, yes, I don't look at yours, if you don't look at mine!" Xena grinned.


Xena went through Solana's herbs and found what she was looking for. She made a mixture and administered it to both of them. It took a little while for the mushrooms to do their work, but soon, she could feel her spirit become light and loose. She let go of her physical form and watched Autolycus' spirit enter her empty body. Xena's spirit then entered Autolycus'. It was not her first time, but it took some getting used to none the less.

"I will be back here in a candlemark," Xena said in Autolycus' lower voice, "You stay put, okay?"

"Can't I ?? No, alright." Autolycus said accepting the inevitable. He went over to the bed and lay down with his hands under his head, surprised to feel the silky texture of the long dark hair. "I'll stay here. You have fun, and give the girl a big hug on my behalf."

"You bet I will." Xena grinned as she sped over to the Queen's Hut.

She greeted the guard. "Would you tell the Queen that Autolycus, King of ? uhm that Autolycus is here?" she asked with a modest, barely concealed grin.

The guard did as she was told and Gabrielle, who was busy working on Xena's sheath, hurriedly put it away and opened the door to greet him enthusiastically. "Autolycus! Come in!"

Xena waited for them to be alone, before she wrapped her arms around the small blonde. "Oh, Gabrielle," she moaned.

"Xena?" Gabrielle looked up and a broad grin graced her lovely features. "I knew you would find a way!" She closed her eyes and passionately kissed her love. After a long moment she said, slightly out of breath: "The moustache ought to go."

"I think Autolycus would have a fit." Xena said. They both grinned.

"Gods, Xena, I miss you so much! It almost hurts physically!" Gabrielle said and dove back into the embrace. "Are they giving you a hard time?"

"Depends which way you look at it," Xena said. "I hate being apart. I miss you more than I can say."

"I can't wait for the Ceremony to be over," Gabrielle sighed.

"What? I thought the Ceremony was what you wanted!" Xena was puzzled.

"Oh, it is!" Gabrielle replied. "But I have so much to ? uhm .. tell you when you get back into your own body. And into my bedrolls!" she smiled suggestively and looked over to the Royal Bed.

"You do, huh?" Xena grinned and tried to raise one eyebrow.

"Yes I do."

"Uhm? Gabrielle?"


"It just occurred to me that this body does have one little advantage." Xena said. "But it feels like it is growing!"

Both Gabrielle and Xena paused in shocked silence.

"Do you think we could ??" Gabrielle marvelled.

"I don't know if ?" Xena had reservations.

"He will never need to know." Gabrielle pleaded eagerly.

"But I promised I wouldn't look at his if he would not look at mine." Xena hesitated.

Gabrielle grinned. "I don't believe for a moment he can keep his word on that one. The King of Thieves can never keep his hands to himself." she tried to convince her lover. "By now, he will have thoroughly inspected everything under your leathers. You'd better check if the whole lot is still there when you get your body back!"

"You are probably right," Xena was almost won over. "Well, I can still keep my side of the bargain if I don't look."

"Let's not waste any more time." The blonde grabbed her lover's hand eagerly.

"Do you really want to? I mean, doesn't it repulse you?" Xena still wavered, indicating Autolycus' body.

"No. Xena, you are inside. I will close my eyes too, if I need to. This is an incredible bit of luck. Probably our only chance ever."

That did it. They raced over to the bed and practically tore Gabrielle's underwear in the haste. "Wait, Xena, wait?.. before you come on top of me, I want to try something," Gabrielle said, "Just relax. Let me?."

"Oh, but Gabrielle, I want you so badly! I've missed you so much, I don't know if I can wait any longer, and we have so little time!" Xena said. There was a distinct note of despair in her voice.

"Oh come on, my love, just wait and see. It will only take a moment." With a naughty twinkle in her eyes, Gabrielle unbuckled the belt and lowered the trousers. "Wow, I always suspected Autolycus to be well equipped, but now I know for sure." Gabrielle said, carefully taking Autolycus erect dick in her right hand and fondling it softly.

"Gabrielle, what are you doing?, oh Gods this feels great!" Xena moaned. Gabrielle lowered her head and started sucking Autolycus hard cock. A bit shy at first and hesitating, for lack of experience, but soon with growing passion and hunger. Xena could not help herself looking down and saw the still growing shaft disappear into Gabrielle's mouth, again and again. The small woman increased the speed until Xena got the feeling she would burst if Gabrielle would carry on what she was doing.

"Oh, Gabrielle you've got to stop now before I come all over you. I really need to come inside you now. Please, go lie down on the bed on your belly?"

Her curiosity satisfied for the moment, Gabrielle did as she was told and shifted a pillow under her belly. The sight of Gabrielle lying there with her delicious, tempting ass in the air and her moist and swollen sex inviting, no begging her to enter, almost made Xena come instantly. She closed her eyes and concentrated very hard, because she knew this was only going to be once in a lifetime and she really, really wanted it to last as long as it possibly could. She also desperately wanted Gabrielle to enjoy it thoroughly.

"Spread your legs as wide as you can," she said in a husky voice. Xena sat down between Gabrielle's thighs and moved her hips forward until Autolycus' cock brushed Gabrielle's wet lips. With her thumbs, she carefully spread the moist folds and slowly thrust back and forth, just enough to let the tip of the cock enter Gabrielle's centre.

"Oh Xena, you drive me insane! P-Please just f-fuck me, as h-hard and as d-deep as you can," Gabrielle supplicated, twisting her hips. Xena grabbed hold of Gabrielle's hips and held her tight, controlling the pace and the depth of the thrusts. With every stroke, Gabrielle's warm, wet lips stretched tight and welcomed the huge shaft all the way in to the hilt, and Xena needed every bit of strength to control herself and let it last. Gabrielle moaned with each push, a deep, earthly groan. And moaned again at the loss every time Xena slowly pulled out.

"Oh, Xena, I ? I need to hold you," Gabrielle begged finally.

"Okay, roll over." Xena said in the end. She retreated and gave her lover the chance to lie down on her back.

Without wasting any more time, Xena hastily entered and filled Gabrielle's warm, wet and welcoming centre again and lay down on top of her, taking care not to crush her with Autolycus' weight. Gabrielle wrapped her arms around her lover and pulled her tight. They both moaned with delight and for a long moment, they lay very still to relish this feeling of mutual possession. Looking in each other's eyes, they saw love and lust combined. They kissed intimately, while Xena started to move her hips again, slowly in and out at first, but faster and faster as she could no longer contain herself.

"Oh Gods, I'm sorry, Gabrielle," she panted desperately, against her lover's lips "I can't control this anymore! I'm coming, oh Gods, I'm coming?."

"It is alright, Xena. It's okay, come for me, I want you, I love you. Come!" Gabrielle grabbed Autolycus' ass and pulled Xena possibly even deeper inside.

"Yes, oh yes, YES!" Xena climaxed wildly into Gabrielle before she collapsed in her arms on top of her.

"Gods, this was great!" Xena sighed in awe after some time. "How was it for you?" she was concerned.

"Good. Very good. Really special." Gabrielle sighed deeply fulfilled.

"Give me a minute and I will make it as good for you as it was for me." Xena was still slightly out of breath. "Luckily I do know what to do now!" She lowered herself between Gabrielle's legs and started to treat her sodden folds with expertise. Before long, Gabrielle was pumping her hips toward Xena's mouth in order to get more and still more of this scrumptious treatment.

"Oh Gods, Xena, this is soo good, sooo very good, oh yes!" she sighed, with growing urgency until she came with the intensity of a thunderstorm. Xena waited through the outburst and then carefully took the spent Queen in her arms to whisper sweet words into her ears. She rolled Gabrielle on top of her.

Gabrielle slowly opened her eyes. "The moustache definitely has to go!" she smiled. "This was so yummy! Xena, do you think that maybe you could come into me again?"

"You horny little girl! Let's see, oh, I think I could!" Xena was pleasantly surprised. Gabrielle lowered herself on top of the hard shaft and Xena was rewarded with a very contented sigh from the woman she loved. She felt forced to start thrusting in and out again, but this time, she was more in control. They both sighed in luxury and passion. Xena prolonged the slow pumping until she thought she would burst and then ? she actually burst inside Gabrielle again, while Gabrielle climaxed with her.

"Wow, this is really great," Xena said after a while. "You should be at this end once!" They both giggled.

"This end is very good too," Gabrielle sighed, very satisfied. "Hmmm, I could go on and on."

"So could I," Xena moaned, "but I ought to give this body back to it's rightful owner." She got up reluctantly.

"Be sure to freshen up first!" Gabrielle warned with a languid smile. "And will you thank Autolycus warmly for me?" She stretched out luxuriously.

"I will." Xena sighed. "Just a few more days before we will be together again."

"I can hardly wait. I love you so much."

"Yes, I love you too, Gabrielle." Xena washed thoroughly before leaving the Queen's Hut, giving extra attention to the moustache.

In the mean time, Autolycus, lying on the bed, was indeed systematically inspecting Xena's body, starting with her bountiful bosom. Sitting up on the large bed, he lifted the heavy armour a few thumbs with one hand, before raising the leathers. Underneath he found what he was looking for. He deftly inserted another hand and tentatively touched the soft flesh, then grabbed a bigger portion of full mound and shook it up and down a little. He had wanted to do that ever since he had first laid eyes on the Warrior Princess' cleavage, but his life had been too dear to him to try. Now was his chance. The nipple hardened as it rubbed against the inside of the leathers accidentally and it surprised Autolycus how good that felt. There seemed to be a direct connection with another spot that he was going to investigate shortly. First, he wanted to try if the other breast worked the same way. It did! Nipples appeared to work like buttons! He wanted to grab both breasts, but the armour was very much in the way. Of course it shouldn't have to be a problem for the King of Thieves, but he wasn't? uhm .. quite himself today, he mused with a naughty grin. He tried unsuccessfully to unfasten the bolts but then gave up and decided to investigate further south first, for fear of loosing time. He lay back down again, widened the long shapely legs and reached the black breeches. Hmmm, good taste. Would have to go, though. This was much easier to get rid of, probably also because he was a veteran at this! Underneath, he found soft curls, full lips and in between ah?! He tried to look down, but the armour was obstructing his view. 'Oh well', he thought, 'I did promise not to look at hers!' so he let his finely tuned hands do the exploring. It was not as if the territory was completely unknown to him, but it felt like he had seen a map of it in the past and was now going there blindfolded. He stroked his way around a very sensitive clit and a wet opening. He was aware of a warm, joyous feeling that filled his, uhm her entire body. It seemed like this clit had a mind of it's own, as he felt his hips involuntarily follow his hands so that his fingers kept touching it, tickling it, and roll it around until it swelled with hunger. Autolycus was just about to insert a finger into the moist opening below, when he heard a knock on the door. Whoever it was did not wait for an answer and walked right in.

"Oh, hi Xena," Galena said, but Autolycus, who quickly stood up from the bed and readjusted his skirt in one fluent motion, had no way of knowing who she was. "I didn't realise ? Oh, I'm sorry," the young healer's assistant suddenly realised what she had seen as her eye fell on the breeches on the ground and blushed. "I didn't want to disturb you?, I am so sorry," she stammered. "I ? will come back later, sorry!"

She was on her way out again when Xena's voice stopped her. "No wait, I am not who you think?..uh, did not what you thought I?..oh Zeus. How can I explain?"

Autolycus felt rather embarrassed too, but he realised the charming young Amazon didn't know it was him, so?

"It's alright," he said. "I could use some help here anyway." The hunger in his loins was still there. Maybe ?

"What?" Galena could not believe her ears. "I mean, what can I do for you?"

"Unfasten this damn armour for me," Autolycus said. Galena was perplexed.

"You want me to ??"

"Yes, please, undo the armour for me. I seem to be having trouble doing it myself." Autolycus said. "Today." He added quickly.

Galena didn't know what Xena had in mind, but she was quite eager to find out.

"Okay, turn around so I can unfasten your buckles," she said, stepping towards the Warrior Princess. She quickly got Autolycus out of Xena's metal armour.

"Right, that's a beginning." Autolycus said, raising an eyebrow. "Could you possibly help me with my boots too? I really want to take them off." Galena was ? confused to say the least. She scrutinised the Warrior's bright blue eyes. Maybe the potion did have a delayed effect? Or maybe? Xena was so uptight after all these days and nights without Gabrielle that she wanted to have sex with the first person who entered the hut? It didn't really matter to Galena. There seemed to be a chance she could finally do with Xena what she had wanted to do with her from the very first time she saw her. Fuck her brains out. (and who wouldn't?.)

Autolycus watched the Amazon, while she took off his boots. She was very pretty, had gorgeous brown, curly hair and a beautiful feminine shape he would be very glad to explore. If he were in his own body, he would know exactly how to seduce her, but he felt somewhat awkward in Xena's. He experienced a certain excitement and arousal, but also a slight hesitation. There was a significant piece of equipment missing..! Oh well, it was a challenge for him to do without it. After all, he was the, you no what?

"Is there ? anything else I can do for you?" Galena asked in her soft voice seductively, looking the warrior straight in the eyes. Autolycus didn't know Galena, but his instincts told him the Amazon had a crush on Xena and he was about to take advantage of that shamelessly. He slowly bent over and kissed Galena carefully on her lips. When he noticed she didn't get hit in the face (which did happen occasionally) he became a bit bolder. He kissed her again, with more passion this time and felt Galena respond.

"Oh, Xena do you really want this? A few days ago you ??. " she still hesitated, not daring to believe her luck.

"Ssht, I guess I wasn't really myself then. I definitely know I want you now," Autolycus said against her lips. He started to undress the Amazon and felt his own arousal grow. Where he normally felt something harden outside, he now felt something grow warm and full inside and a strange wetness start to flow where he had felt the entrance of Xena's hidden sex earlier. It felt good!

"Oh Gods, you are beautiful," he said when he looked over Galena's naked body.

"Thank you," she giggled. Autolycus fondled her firm, full breasts. Galena pressed her body against Xena's and started to wiggle her hips. Autolycus took it as a sign to move to lower regions.

"Wait," Galena whispered. "I want you to take off your leathers too. I've always wanted to see you completely naked." Autolycus stalled for a moment and Galena helped him out of the supple leather dress Xena wore underneath her armour and finally stripped her of the cotton chemise. They both joined the breeches, the boots, the armour and the Amazon's clothes on the floor. Galena looked breathlessly at the stunning beauty of the tall and very naked Warrior Princess. While she kept looking into Xena's eyes searchingly, she stepped closer and tentatively touched the side of one perfect breast. Still looking into the bright blue eyes, she lowered her head and took one nipple into her mouth. Autolycus' reaction was reflected in Xena's eyes, so Galena dared to go on.

"Mmm ? there is one thing?" Autolycus said with some difficulty.

"What's that?" Galena asked with her mouth full.

"We have only half a candlemark."

" ?have to come right to the point, then," the small Amazon remarked, nudging the six foot Warrior back on the bed. She straddled wide legged on the bed just above his head and started to kiss him intimately upside down, working her way south until her breasts were hanging over Autolycus' face. He grabbed all he could possibly get and tried to catch a nipple in his mouth as Galena was doing the exact same thing to him. It turned him on incredibly. He took her nipples in his mouth one by one and suckled them thoroughly. The Amazon didn't dwell there as long as he would have liked, but descended footwards, kissing and licking her way down Xena's belly, rubbing his face with hers?. Soon she reached the soft pubic curls and stroked them, carefully parting the swollen lips. The tension rose as Autolycus felt her breath caress the wet folds and her tongue approach the centre of this hunger he felt, while at the same time he had this unbelievable view of the Amazons' beautiful ass. Her cunt was right above his mouth and inviting him to take her into his mouth, which he did. He grabbed her ass and pulled her sex closer. He didn't know what turned him on more: the feeling of the Amazon suckling his sex, her shameless exposure above him, or the reciprocity of it all: he did what he felt and he felt what he did. It felt so right, so mutual! This had to be Elysia!

Suddenly he sensed one hand of the Amazon approach his sex and slowly play around just below where her tongue was expertly manipulating his clit. Autolycus held his breath in anticipation. Galena didn't need to, but she wet two fingers just the same and then slid them deep inside the slippery tunnel slowly.

"Ah!" Autolycus moaned noisily in equal shock and ecstasy, which was luckily smothered mostly into the wet sex of the Amazon. He pushed his hips upward in hunger for more, and that was what Galena gave him, more, much more. She pumped in and out the sodden channel and added an extra finger. It was the first time Autolycus was ever penetrated. He hadn't realized it could feel this ? magnificent and he nearly went out of his mind, as Galena gave him the full treatment. He feared he would hurt the Amazon's sex as he was carried away by what she did to him, so he stopped suckling her and just took her in, both visually and physically? He tried to keep his eyes open in order to see her mouth-watering ass, he felt her weight on top of him and her wet lips on his sex, while her fingers moved in and out, in and out? Sex had never been sooo good.

When Autolycus felt the first of his multiple orgasms overwhelm him, he thought he was loosing it completely. Galena gave him no time to recover but assaulted his sex on and on with her skilled tongue and fingers until he could take no more.

He then grabbed hold of her delicious ass again and took her dripping sex into his mouth once again. That finally made her stop and concentrate on her own feelings. Autolycus suckled at the swollen clit until he felt the Amazon go rigid and kept pulling her close and suckling her until she collapsed on top of him, completely limp?

"Sweet Goddess," Autolycus mumbled when he was able to speak again. "This was incredible!" He had indeed trouble believing that a woman could climax more than once?

"It certainly was," Galena said with a smile, only slightly out of breath. She climbed off the bed and gathered her clothes, got dressed quickly and started to help Autolycus with the leathers, boots and armour. She handed him a wet cloth to clean up with and then stole a last kiss, before she left, whispering: "Xena can count on my discretion."

"Thanks," was all Autolycus could utter. The Amazon knew! She was on her way out, when she quickly returned and took something from a shelf, as an afterthought.

When Xena returned to the Healer's Hut, she caught one guilty-looking Warrior Princess on the bed, where she had left Autolycus just over a candlemark before. She could imagine what might have happened, but she didn't really mind. They swiftly changed back into their own bodies again and opened a good bottle of port together.

"This was a very ?uhm ? instructive candlemark, I must say," Autolycus said. He looked rather bewildered and took a large swig.

"Were you bored?" Xena asked with a secretive smile.

"No, on the contrary!" Autolycus hurried to deny. "Uhm? did you two have a good time?"

"Yes. Very good. Gabrielle sends her thanks. We both are eternally in your debt, my friend."

"It was my pleasure."

And in many ways, of course, it was.

"Did anyone see you?" the Warrior enquired.

"Well, there was this one Amazon, but she was in and out before I knew it." Autolycus said more or less truthfully. "She got something from the shelves over there." He added.

Must have been Galena, Xena thought. Probably needed something from Solana's supplies. Hope she hadn't noticed anything with her keen eye. Well, nothing could be done about that anymore. "Right. One more thing, Autolycus," she said.

"What's that, Warrior?" he asked.

"Don't betray us when you see Gabrielle, will you?"

"Xena!" he sounded almost offended. "You know you can rely on me!"

Autolycus had some trouble getting up to go to the Food Hut for dinner. "I must have had too much to drink, Xena. I feel like I've been run over by a chariot!" he complained.

Xena grinned and discretely refastened a bolt of her armour indulgently. "You don't hold your liquor like you used to, pal!" she teased.


When Gabrielle entered her hut after dinner that evening, she found a scantily clad pink Goddess lying on her bed, exhibiting all her charms and playing with? the dildo!

"Aphrodite! How nice of you to come!" Gabrielle was genuinely glad to see her, but very embarrassed by Tbele's present in the hands of the Goddess. "Gimme that!" She quickly grabbed the toy and put it away.

"Sweetie-pie, how have you been?" the Goddess of Love asked with her radiant smile. "Seems like you've kept yourself busy!" she was obviously referring to the dildo.

"Yes, well, you know? I mean, I felt in need of some education on the subject of uhm ? physical love." Gabrielle said, blushing to her ears.

"Duh! I could have showed you anything you wanted to know!" Aphrodite pouted.

"Well, you didn't. I'm glad others did."

"Oh well. Is there anything left that my little honey-cup would like to know about?"

"I don't know, Aphrodite, what is there?" Gabrielle said honestly.

"Uhm? lets see. Have they told you about aphrodisiacs?" Aphrodite inquired.


"Didn't think so. You don't need them yet, anyway."

"What are they?" Gabrielle asked.

"An aphrodisiac is a drug to make you feel like making love and to make you perform better in the bedrolls." The Goddess explained. "It isn't named after me for nothing!" she giggled. "It's a turn-on!"

"Who uses it?" Gabrielle asked.

"Oh, mostly men who think they don't pull off well enough. Or aging people who haven't had enough."

"I see." Gabrielle was back feeling very inexperienced again.

"Don't bother," Aphrodite tried to comfort her. "From what I've heard you really don't need any!"

Gabrielle tried to look modest, but she had to admit she didn't need a turn-on with her Warrior around. "I think I understand! Xena is my aphrodisiac!" she said. "You know, I never felt this way before with anyone. Making love to her makes me feel so special! I just never seem to get enough. I mean I am really insatiable! To be honest, I can't think of anything but making love to her when she's around," she confided. Gods, did she miss her right now! She felt a thud in her belly.

"Right, buttercup!" the Goddess of love was elated. "This is real lust, uhm ?love!"

"Is there anything else?" Gabrielle asked.

"Duh, plenty!" Aphrodite replied.

"Tell me all about it." Gabrielle begged. "Please?"

"Are you sure you want to know, honeybun?"

"Yes! I have the feeling Xena is going to protect me forever, so if you don't show me now, nobody ever will."

"Well, I could take you over to Athens for the night," Aphrodite considered. "You could see every kind of action there. No place like Athens if you want kinky!" She giggled.

"Then what are we waiting for?" Gabrielle asked.

"Right! Let's go!" In a pink whirl, the Goddess of Love took Gabrielle for a sightseeing tour of Athens by night that was very, very enlightening indeed.


The Warrior Princess was alone in the Healer's Hut and thought about the upcoming Joining Ceremony. She felt so very proud that Gabrielle, beautiful, sweet young Gabrielle wanted to join with her, knowing her like she did, and after all they had been through. How on earth did she get to be so lucky? It would be nice to give Gabrielle a token of her love after the Ceremony. Something that was personal and unique, that Gabrielle could have with her all the time, something she could wear. A ring! Yes, a ring consisting of two halves, that made one whole, symbolising the two of them, intertwined like? like the pattern on Xena's chakram! In silver and gold. Brilliant! But it would take a very skilled goldsmith to make it. Of course the Warrior Princess had made a ring before, but that had been simple: pouring liquid gold into a mould. This was quite a different matter. She would have to go to the City of Thessaloniki to find an artisan. There was not much time left, she'd have to leave right now.

The Warrior didn't mind escaping from the brooding atmosphere at the Amazon Village for some time. She quickly saddled Argo, let Ephiny know what her plans were and left. It was good not to feel the unrelenting attention of eager Amazons. Very good. This surely was what hunted animals must feel like! The Warrior urged Argo into a fast gallop and relaxed, the wind in her hair, yelling "Yiyiyiyiyiyiyi!" at the top of her lungs.

Relief didn't last long however. Xena was not far from the Village when she felt as though someone was watching her. A very familiar, creepy feeling. She tried to ignore it for a while, but it didn't go away. She halted, frustrated by the delay.

"Alright, Ares! Show yourself!" she grunted.

The God of War materialized, shaking his handsome head in wonder at the angry tone.

"You know I hate it when I can't see you." Xena scorned.

"I have been waiting for you to say that, Xena, you make me very happy!" Ares said with a self satisfied grin, deliberately grasping the wrong sense.

"You know I don't mean that, Ares, I hate it when I know you're there but I can't see you." She said, with barely contained impatience.

"How do you do it, Xena? You always know when I am near." He ignored her explanation.

"It must be the stench, Ares, I'm pretty sure it must be the stench."

"My, my, are we touchy today." the God of War replied, not at all hurt. "Are the Amazons giving you a hard time? Or could it be that you are in need of a man for a change?"

"Keep dreaming, Ares!"

"Oh, come on Xena, we used to get on really well, don't you remember?" The conceited God came dangerously close and stroked his little beard, a sensual smile playing on his lips.

"Come to the point, Ares. What do you want?" Xena wanted to get this over with and get on with her mission.

"I have come to comfort you."

"Comfort me?" Xena was astonished.

"Yes. Rumour has it that the irritating little blonde has cheated on you. I have come to offer my condolences, my consolation, and of course, my everlasting and undying love for you."

"Gabrielle has cheated on me?" Xena asked, ignoring the rest.

"With a man, a so called friend of yours no less!" Ares was enjoying this. "You must be devastated."

"Oh, yes I am," Xena smiled inwardly. "Tell me all about it." She finally dismounted.

"You mean you don't know?" Ares gloated. He had her attention at last. They sat down on the grass. "I've been told that ?"

"By whom?" Xena interrupted.

"Never mind by whom. I've been told that your friend Autolycus spent some very intimate time with your little girlfriend shortly after arriving at the Amazons."

"He did, huh?" Xena had trouble keeping her face straight. "I'm going to have to kill him."

"I'm told that the little get-together was indeed very passionate." Ares wanted to make sure to get his point across.

"The little slut!" Xena said with a silent apology in the direction of the Village.

"Oh, and Xena, I also happen to know that you have not been entirely faithful either?"

Xena thought of the afternoon at the lake with the three masked Amazons and said nothing. It was just as well she didn't feel obliged to explain it to Ares, for the God of War was not referring to that little orgy, but to Autolycus' encounter with Galena instead.

"I'm glad this happened before the joining," Ares said. "Now you can still call it off."

"And then what?" Xena sighed in mock-despair.

Ares put his arm around Xena's shoulders and said: "Come back to me, my Princess. Your place is on Mount Olympus, with me. Face it: I am the only one that can keep you satisfied in the long run. No mortal could, much less a woman." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively and wanted to pull Xena in for a kiss. His eyes were closed and his mouth ready to cover hers, but all he felt was air.

Xena ducked and peeled his hand off her shoulders with two fingers and a disgusted look on her face. "Thanks, Ares, but no thanks." She got up, mounted Argo with a perfect vault and dashed off with a demonic smile on her face. Away from the Amazon Village, Ares noted with surprise, but, as he reconsidered, with satisfaction. He was moving on to plan beta.

The irritating little blonde? He made his appearance in the Queen's Hut where Gabrielle was writing a scroll. She nearly jumped when Ares put his large hand on her shoulder.

"Hello Gabrielle!" he said, delighted he had caught her off guard.

"Ares! What are you doing here?" she was obviously nervous, stood up and backed off a little.

"Gabrielle," he said with his deep, masculine voice, "I want to tell you that Xena has left the Village."

"So?" Gabrielle was a little defensive.

"Don't you understand? She will not return for you. I have just spoken to her and she has agreed to come back to me. I am so sorry for you." he faked compassion.

"I don't believe you." Gabrielle said, with a voice that sounded stronger than she felt inside.

"Suit yourself, Gabrielle." Ares said. "Xena told me she needs a man more than she needs you. I believe even you can understand that now." Gabrielle blushed. It was obvious he referred to the rendezvous with "Autolycus". She didn't say anything. There was no denying Xena had a notorious sexual appetite.

"Besides, I have a lot more to offer?" Ares looked around with unmistakable disdain at the interior of the Royal Hut. That could not be contradicted either. Her heart sank.

Don't believe anything I haven't told you myself, Xena had said. She must have anticipated this! "I still don't believe you." Gabrielle said, more firmly now.

"Poor little Gabrielle, you should not have lured her into having a Joining Ceremony." Ares continued. "I know I won't." Could it be true that Xena had become scared of committing herself? The idea of joining had indeed been Gabrielle's.

"Of course you won't, Ares, she will join with me." Gabrielle tried to sound confidently.

"Poor little mortal." The God of War shook his head and moved closer. He wanted to make a comforting gesture.

"I think you are jealous." Gabrielle suggested.

"I was for some time, I must admit. But not anymore." He smiled self-assuredly.

"Keep dreaming, Ares, she loves me!"

"You wake up, Gabrielle! Xena could never be faithful to you, face it!"

"Why couldn't she be faithful to me?" Gabrielle felt she was winning. Ares had not denied that Xena loved her.

"Let me put it this way?," Ares said. He unexpectedly pulled Gabrielle close and before she even knew what happened to her, he covered her lips with his mouth long, hard and intimately, while the small woman was so perplexed she was unable to do anything substantial to stop him. "?you could never kiss her this way." he said with a deep voice and lowered his lips on hers again. As his tongue penetrated her mouth this time, Gabrielle bit as hard as she could. He let her go instantly, bleeding from his mouth and swearing under his breath.

Gabrielle was livid. "Get out Ares!" she said between clenched teeth, while wiping her lips. "Guard!" she called aloud in the direction of the door. The guard instantly appeared.

Ares smiled sarcastically, wiping the blood off with the back of his hand. "And just what were you two insignificant and very mortal women going to do about me?" he asked, leaning into the table casually.

"Get Artemis," Gabrielle grunted, as she spat on the floor.

Ares suddenly seemed to have second thoughts. "I believe I have some urgent business elsewhere," he announced and disappeared with his usual display of sparkles.

It took Gabrielle quite some time to calm down a little. The Guard went for Ephiny, who took her to the hot springs to have an extensive bath. Besides, Gabrielle brushed her teeth several times before she got rid of the awful taste the encounter with the God of War had left her with. How she longed to be with Xena right now! When Ephiny confirmed that Xena had indeed left the Village, the Queen had another moment of fear, but the Regent could quickly reassure her.


The next guest arrived: Joxer. When he entered the Village, he asked to be taken directly to the Queen's Hut.

"Hi, Joxer!" Gabrielle greeted him. "How nice of you to come."

"Gabrielle, I hope it is not too late." He panted. "Maybe I can still talk you out of this joining, because I really think?"

"Joxer, save your breath," Gabrielle interrupted him. "I don't want to hear it."

"I can see your mind is all made up, but I really don't understand that you ?"

Again Gabrielle interrupted him. "You don't need to understand, Joxer. You just need to accept that I want to join with Xena."

"But I ?" the would-be warrior tried again.

"No buts. My mind is made up. I love her. Live with it, Joxer." Gabrielle was uncharacteristically harsh. She knew Joxer was not very bright, but in this case, he obviously just didn't want to know.

"You are making a mistake, Gabrielle. And I will be there for you when you find that out for yourself," he gave up. His shoulders sank even further than normal.

Gabrielle softened. "I know you mean well, Joxer. Thank you for your concern. I hope you will stay for the Ceremony?"

Joxer nodded wordlessly.

"The guard will take you to the Guest Hut. Autolycus should be there." Gabrielle said, trying to change the subject.

Joxer took his leave, but instead of letting the guard show him to the Guest Hut, he asked her to take him to Xena. There might still be a chance?

Xena had only recently returned from the City, where she had found an expert goldsmith, who was able to make exactly what Xena had in mind. With some extra dinars and a little extra pressure from the Warrior Princess, Xena had returned to the Village within three days with her precious chakram-ring.

"Hi, Joxer, Welcome," Xena greeted him. She waved goodbye to Galena, who seemed to need something or other out of Solana's hut remarkably often these days.

"Hi Xena. I'm afraid there is a mistake," he said gravely.

"Tell me, old friend," Xena invited him to sit down and offered him a drink, which he accepted.

"It's this joining," he sighed. "Gabrielle shouldn't join with you, you know, she loves me."

Xena looked at him with compassion.

"You love her, don't you?" she asked.

"Yes. I have for ages," Joxer admitted. "She is making a mistake by joining with you."

"I don't think so. I love her too, you know." Xena said gently, as though talking to a small child. "Listen Joxer, we both want her to be happy, right?"

"Yes, but?" he said.

"Then we should let her choose, shouldn't we?" Xena asked patiently.


"She chose to join with me." Xena declared.

"Maybe she doesn't know she could join with me instead. I never dared to ask her."

"She asked me to join with her."

"She did?" he had trouble believing it.

"She did. And I promise you I will be very good to her."

"You'd better be!" he threatened. His reaction made Xena grin inwardly.

"Joxer, would you do something for me?" she asked.

"Of course!"

"Would you be there for her if anything should ever happen to me?" The Fates forbid that it should ever come to that again, the Warrior thought.

"I will, Xena, I promise you that." He said solemnly, straightening his shoulders, his fist on his heart.

"Thank you. That means a lot to me, old friend." Xena said.


The arrival of the next guests was announced by a scout, so that a committee could welcome them. Gabrielle, Xena, Ephiny and many more Amazons stood in front of the Royal Hut waiting, curious to see what their Queen's parents would look like. Gabrielle managed to move to Xena's side discreetly and slipped her hand secretly into Xena's. The Warrior smiled without looking at her and squeezed her lover's small hand, glad for this moment's contact. When Gabrielle's mother and her young sister came into the Clearing, Gabrielle let go however, and ran towards them, hugging them both at once.

"Oh I'm so glad you could come!" she exclaimed, and then, looking around: "Where's Father?"

Lila stared down at her boots, but Hecuba said sadly: "Your father couldn't make it, Gabrielle. This is just too much for him: his eldest marrying a woman, and a warrior no less."

Gabrielle sighed wearily. "Oh well, I could have known he couldn't handle it. It would have meant a lot to me though."

"He doesn't have it in him," Hecuba said in a resigned voice.

"I'm so glad you two do!" Gabrielle recovered quickly. "Come, let's go over to Xena and meet my other friends."

They walked over to the waiting women. Lila practically jumped into the embrace of the tall grinning Warrior, who was really glad to see her too. Xena kissed and tickled Lila playfully before putting her down.

"Hey little sister, how have you been?"

"I'm fine, Xena! I'm so excited to be invited to the Amazon Village!"

Xena smiled. "You'll like it. I will show you around."

Xena turned to Hecuba and politely kissed her on both cheeks.

"I want a word with you, Xena, privately." Hecuba muttered under her breath.

Xena's heart sank. "Alright, we can talk at the Healer's Hut later." She replied, equally hushed.

Introductions followed and the party slowly moved towards the Food Hut, where everybody sat down for tea.

Before long, Gabrielle took Lila to the Royal Hut on the pretext of looking at the dress.

"Oh Gabrielle, I'm so excited!" Lila said again. "To think that you are Queen of all those Amazons! They look so cool!" She sighed. "And to think you are going to get married to the most beautiful of them all."

"Join with her. You like Xena a lot, don't you?" Gabrielle smiled.

"Like her? I adore her. If my big sister wasn't going to marry her?"

"Join with her." Gabrielle corrected again.

" ?join with her," Lila continued, "I'm sure I would have tried to make a pass at her!" she giggled.

"You'd have to get in line!" Gabrielle said scornfully.

Lila looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"

"This is Amazon Territory, remember? Half the Amazons really fancy her."

Lila sighed again dreamily. "I can imagine. She is absolutely gorgeous. She looks more beautiful every time I see her." Lila's girlish giggle was contagious.

"She does, doesn't she? You seem to have great taste in women, little sister!" Gabrielle complimented.

"So have you obviously! Tell me how you finally managed to seduce her." The sisters sat down together. "I know you have loved her ever since you left with her."

"Yeah, I fell for her right away, didn't I? ? but I never dared to tell her. I thought I was too young for her. Too insignificant. Until recently. You know what? She declared her love for me in front of all the Amazons during a Full Moon Ceremony!"

"Oh how incredibly romantic!" Lila crooned.

"Seems she has loved me secretly for ages too!"

"Really? Oh Gabrielle! And did she ask you to join with her?"

"I asked her."

"You did?" Lila was impressed. "Oh Gabrielle! And have you? you know ?"

"Yeees?" Gabrielle smiled a very telling smile.

"Well? How was it?" Lila looked like she wanted to know every detail.

"I can't begin to tell you how fantastic it is. Wonderful..." Gabrielle couldn't wipe the silly grin off her face if she had wanted to.

"But ? you are not going to share the specifics with me." Lila pouted.

"Uhm, it's rather private, you know?"

"Oh, come on, I'm your sister!"

"Well, alright. She is tender and passionate and experienced and delicious and? oh, I can only hope your first time will be with somebody as gentle as Xena!"

"Yeah. Well, if you ever grow tired of her?"

"Father would get a fit." Gabrielle was serious again. "I think he would never get over his younger daughter running away with the big bad Warrior Princess too!"

"You are probably right." Lila sighed. "Well, I don't really go for women in general, but I am prepared to make one tall dark exception."

"You would do us all a very big favour if you would find a nice tall and dark young man and marry him."

"Right, and let you have all the fun with a scrumptious Warrior!" Lila giggled.

"O Lila, I'm so glad you came. It wouldn't be the same without you. I would so much have liked Father to be here too."

"He can't. He cannot even say her name, you know. I'm sure he just wants what is best for you, but he is convinced that is not Xena."

"He could at least respect my choice and be present at the most important event of my life."

"Listen, you don't want Father to be here now, believe me." Lila said. "He would spoil everything for you and you would be so ashamed. He can't, Gabrielle, you'll have to accept it."

"You are probably right." Gabrielle sighed.

Meanwhile, at the Healer's Hut, Hecuba was having that talk with Xena.

"Uhm, normally Herodotus should be having this conversation with you, but since he isn't? " she said. "I just want to make sure that you will take good care of my baby." She didn't sound stern, just serious.

"I will, Hecuba," Xena said passionately. "Gabrielle means the world to me and I promise I will do anything to make her happy."

"I know you did, and I know you will, Xena. I trust you." Xena sighed with relief. "The Amazons that brought us the invitation think very highly of you. They have told us of your adventures. I always thought Gabrielle's stories were rather ? uhm, well, rather influenced by her feelings of admiration for you."

"I'm afraid Gabrielle's scrolls do tend to be just a little exaggerated." Xena smiled modestly.

"I know permission isn't mine to give?" Hecuba continued earnestly. "My daughter chooses her own path, but?"

Suddenly Xena knew just what to do. She got down on one knee before her lover's mother. "Hecuba, I humbly ask for your blessing on our joining."

The older woman took Xena's hand in hers and pulled her back on her feet. "You have my blessing, Xena. I wish you and Gabrielle the very best. Make my daughter happy."

"Thank you, Hecuba, that means a lot to me. Thank you very much." Xena was so relieved she could have hugged Gabrielle's mother. She didn't, however.

"I'm sorry Herodotus will not be here and I'm sorry he doesn't recognise your joining." Hecuba felt the need to apologise for her husband.

"I am glad you and Lila do," Xena said.

"I fear that he will loose his daughter like this, Xena." Hecuba sighed.

"I will not let that happen, I promise you."

"Thank you, my uhm? my daughter." there was a glimmer in Hecuba's eyes and a hint of a smile on her lips, probably the first since she arrived at the Village.

Both Xena and Gabrielle had quite some time to spend with their guests, which gave them, as a side effect, the opportunity to be together. The relatives, however, had been very well instructed not to leave the two alone together, and they took this particular item of the Amazon Rituals very seriously indeed. And with some apparent pleasure. Xena showed Lila around the Amazon Village, as she had promised. The girl could see with her own eyes that many of the Amazons fancied the Warrior Princess and teased her with it. Xena was mildly embarrassed, but Gabrielle's sister got away with it easily.

When Gabrielle first saw Autolycus in the Guest Hut she almost gave them away. She approached him with a welcoming smile and wanted to say something enthusiastically, but the King of Thieves saved the situation by quickly grabbing the Queen's hand, saying with his trademark charm: "Gabrielle, how nice to see you!" he kissed her hand gallantly, "Again." The tickle of the moustache brought back some very pleasant memories and Gabrielle smiled mysteriously. And winked a thank-you at their old friend.

Some time later, Autolycus asked Gabrielle who the small Amazon was, with the gorgeous brown, curly hair and learned she was the Healer's Assistant, and her name was Galena. Gabrielle smiled at the sudden interest of the King of Thieves, but luckily asked no further.

Xena was out on a hunting party when Cyrene and Toris arrived from Amphipolis. Xena's mother and brother received a warm welcome from the Amazon Queen. Hecuba and Cyrene seemed to hit it off right away and headed for the Cooking Hut, to help Cook and Niki with the culinary preparations for the Ceremony.

"Mother!" Xena took the older woman into her arms and hugged her affectionately when she came back. "So glad you could come!" The Warrior Princess was truly moved by her mother's presence. Her throat felt funny. She wasn't getting sentimental, now was she?

Cyrene seemed to sense the delicate state of mind of her only daughter and said, "Let's take a walk together, shall we?" Xena nodded wordlessly.

The tall warrior escorted her small mother into the forest surrounding the Village and put an arm around her shoulders. They had never really been that intimate before, and the gesture confirmed what Cyrene was thinking. The two women walked in silence for some time.

"I'm so glad you finally opened up to Gabrielle, Xena." Cyrene said after a long time.

"Yes, so am I," the Warrior swallowed the lump and cleared her voice.

"Took you long enough, though," her mother mildly teased her, trying to lighten the mood.

"How did you know?" Xena asked.

"A mother just knows. When she first followed you home to Amphipolis, I saw you two together and I knew you were made for each other. Gabrielle has just the right combination of wisdom, courage and vulnerability for you."

"You are so right," Xena wondered at her mother's intuition.

"I was scared you'd be too arrogant to ever admit you needed her."

"Gabrielle has been very convincing. And persistent." Xena acknowledged with half a smile. "And she gave me time to discover I loved her all by myself."

"You are joining with a smart woman, Xena. I can't think of anyone I would rather have you join with." She squeezed Xena's arm. "You make me a very happy woman."

"That makes two of us." Xena said. "Or rather three!" They laughed as they turned back in the direction of the Amazon Village.

"Now you have to take very good care of this relationship, my daughter." Cyrene warned.

"Yes, I know, mother, and I will." Without explicitly naming anyone, they both thought of Xena's previous affairs.

"Even when it will not be easy." Cyrene added.

"Mother, this is the single most important thing in my life. Now that I finally have Gabrielle I am never going to let her slip away, trust me." Xena assured.

"I have faith in you. Ever since you were a little girl, you could do anything if you really put your mind to it," her mother said.

"And this, mother, is something I have really put my mind to!" they roared with happy laughter as they entered the Village.

They found Autolycus, Joxer and Toris outside the Guest Hut, mobbing together and, at least some of them, sulking a bit. It had to be quite odd for them to be such a small minority. Toris smiled widely however when he saw the familiar forms of his mother and Xena arrive. He stood up to greet his sister.

"Hi Toris, how've you been?"

"Hi Xena. I am well. And so are you! You look splendid!" and under his breath he asked: "Tell me, are all these gorgeous women lesbian?"

Xena looked around, taking her time to scan every Amazon in sight. "Well, yes, most of ?nah," she wavered."? not all of them," Xena poked his arm "I think!" she added mischievously.

"Such a shame!" Toris sighed.

"Was there anyone in particular you were interested in?" his sister asked.

"Nah, just wondering. Do you happen to know if Lila is?" he asked softly.

Xena roared with laughter. "I don't know, Toris, but I will find out for you!"


All during the day of the Ceremony, large numbers of Amazons of other Tribes arrived, as well as a delegation of the Centaurs, among which was Solon. Xena was more than pleased to see him, as was, of course, Tessa.

They enjoyed an enormous banquet, on long tables in the open air. Both Xena and Gabrielle had the chance to talk to all the guests. One of the people who had been invited, had not yet arrived, though, and Xena feared he would not make it in time: Hercules was not among the visitors. He could be anywhere.

As the warm summer day slowly drew to an end, the Amazons and their guests gathered around the platform, which was lit by several torches. Drums were beating and a few Amazons, their bodies decorated with white pigments and hung with feathers, started chanting and dancing around the fire. In the east, a full moon was rising just above the tree line and the first stars appeared, while the western sky was painted in fading fairy-like colours. Xena, dressed in black leather pants and her armour glimmering, her dark hair hanging loose and groomed to a shine, was nervously standing at the far corner of the platform, waiting for the Ceremony to begin. Solana was with her and spoke softly to her, but Xena didn't hear a word she said. Her presence was comforting, though.

It was fully dark when suddenly three deities appeared, stuck closely together, on the other side of the platform. One was a pink clad beauty; another was a young Goddess dressed like a hunter and, in their midst, but struggling to get away, was a very reluctant Ares, God of War in his usual black attire. The reason why they were so close together soon became apparent. Ares was fastened to both his sister and his half-sister by handcuffs, one on each hand! That the cuffs were of no ordinary making, was very clear. Any God would have the ability to undo mortal-made manacles in an instant, but these were made by Hephaestos, the Blacksmith God, Aphrodite's husband. Ares didn't stand a chance. There was no godly disappearing act when you were attached to two very determined Goddesses by Olympic steel. His siblings were going to make him witness the Joining between Xena and Gabrielle, whether he wanted to or not. The swelling of his lower lip had almost disappeared. They sat down on a pink sofa that Aphrodite created behind their backs without even looking.

A little in the same way, and for basically the same reasons, Joxer was accompanied by Toris on his left and Autolycus on his right. The two men expected Joxer to voice his objections during the Ceremony and were ready for it. Next to Toris, and on ordinary wooden benches, sat Cyrene, Hecuba and Lila. Most of the others remained standing behind them, waiting for the Ritual to begin. The majority of the Amazons had been honoured by the presence of Artemis before, but even they were impressed by seeing three Olympians at once. Artemis nodded her acknowledgment with dignity. Ares looked stern, but Aphrodite waved and smiled at everybody with her free hand.

Suddenly Xena saw Hercules, closely followed by his friend Iolus, enter the circle of light around the platform, and she sighed thankfully. Hercules spotted her in an instant and waved at her, giving her the thumbs-up signal for approval, before he and Iolus sat down next to the Olympians. The support of this particular old friend was very important to Xena. Hercules was the one who had believed in her when nobody else did. Besides, he was the only one who could possibly safe the day if somebody decided to mess up this Ceremony. The Warrior was glad he was here and relaxed a little.

The volume of the drums slowly increased as the general tension rose. Suddenly they stopped as the Amazon Queen emerged from her hut. It was as though the crowd collectively held her breath. The Royal Guard, that had been waiting for the Queen outside her hut, escorted her to the platform. They were all fully armed and wore ceremonial painting. Xena stretched her neck to spot Gabrielle between them. She was completely dressed in white leather decorated with beads, feathers and stones and she wore the Ceremonial Mask of the Amazon Queen. But even without the mask, Xena would have known it was her: the way she walked was so familiar to the Warrior, she could have picked her Bard out in a crowded marketplace anytime. Ephiny awaited the little procession on the platform and helped the Queen mount it. The drums softly resumed their beat.

"Honoured guests and friends, my sister Amazons, welcome!" Ephiny addressed the gathered crowd. Her voice was clearly heard above the drums. She looked around. "This is a very special Full Moon Ceremony. Our Queen has chosen her Consort. We have all tried our best to dissuade her," she said with a smile, "but there was no changing her mind." Many Amazons grinned with the memory of the past few days, and there were a few mock-disappointed sighs.

"Our Queen has invited you all to witness her Joining and celebrate her happiness with her." The Regent continued. "So, as for the formal part of the Ceremony," she spoke up now, "Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons, take off your mask, please. One should face such an important moment in your life with uncovered face."

Gabrielle took off the mask, smiled and handed it to her. What Xena saw, took her breath away: Gabrielle had never looked more beautiful than she did tonight. In her short blond hair, she had jewels that reflected the moonlight and the fire, but her eyes rivalled even the most brilliant of gems. Gabrielle briefly looked at Xena and her eyes mirrored all the love she felt for the Warrior Princess and all the pride and happiness she felt about publicly making Xena her Consort. Xena felt a lump in her throat. This beautiful creature wanted to be hers and to declare in front of both Gods and mortals, that she loved her! She felt a warm, liquid happiness flow through her entire body and she sighed unconsciously. Solana nudged her softly, grinned and said: "You should close your mouth now, Warrior! You're on next."

"Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons," Ephiny continued, "Who have you chosen to be your Consort?"

Gabrielle cleared her throat and said with a firm voice: "I have chosen Xena of Amphipolis to be my Consort." She looked down at Xena and held out her hand to her. Xena would have flipped up on the platform in a double vault, like her heart did, but she controlled her nerves. She climbed up the conventional way and joined her lover on the podium, taking her outstretched hand. They made a beautiful pair: dark and light, tall and delicate, one completing and accentuating the other.

"Is there anybody opposed to the Joining of Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons and Xena of Amphipolis?" Ephiny asked aloud. Gabrielle squeezed Xena's hand and felt her heart beat like a drum. Xena could not swallow the lump in her throat.

Although everybody had anticipated some form of interruption, it came from quite an unexpected direction. Joxer kept quiet, flanked by the two other men and Ares seemed to be under some kind of spell, but?.

"I object!" an elderly man called, from the edge of the clearing. He stood next to one of the guards of the Eastern Border. Everybody turned to look at him. He made his way towards the podium passing trough the guests and was quickly surrounded by the Royal Guards. The drums fell silent.

"Father!" Gabrielle was the first to recognise Herodotus.

"Gabrielle, I object! I know I am rather late, but you simply cannot get married without your father present." He panted. "You know your choice would not have been mine?, but I still want to be here. There is only one person who can give you away in marriage?, and that should be your father." The older man was helped onto the platform and Gabrielle fell into his arms with suspiciously shiny eyes. Xena finally swallowed the lump.

"This means a lot to me, Father," Gabrielle said softly. "Thank you for coming." She wiped away a single tear.

"I am sorry, my daughter? Am I too late?" He was still panting and looked at Ephiny, in whom he recognised the master of Ceremony.

"No?" the Regent said. "In fact, you are just in time to give her away. Uhm?right now."

Herodotus instantly turned around, took Gabrielle's hand in his and said to the assembled crowd: "I, Herodotus of Potedea, give my daughter Gabrielle to the person of her choice," he paused and then said, with obvious difficulty: "Xena of Amphipolis." He turned to the Warrior and offered her his hand, which she shook cautiously.

"Thank you, Herodotus," she said, clearing her voice.

There was a shocked silence before everybody started to cheer, which continued quite some time after Herodotus descended from the stage and was welcomed and hugged by his wife and younger daughter.

Ephiny cut in after some time. "I take it there are no further objections." She deliberately did not look at ether Ares or Joxer. "Xena, do you want to join with Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons?" she continued.

"With all my heart and soul, I do." Xena said, looking down into Gabrielle's eyes, but speaking loud enough for all those present to hear.

"Then we would like to ask the approval of our Patron Goddess Artemis for this Joining." She continued, turning to the pink couch.

Artemis, closely followed by Aphrodite and with an unwilling Ares between them, rose and declared, clearly audible: "I gladly give my blessing to the joining of my Chosen Gabrielle and Xena."

"So do I, my two favourite mortals!" Aphrodite squealed entirely un-called for, and threw them hand kisses, which materialised into handfuls of pink flower petals. Ares just grunted, and as the two Goddesses sat back down again, Ares was obliged to do the same.

"Thank you, my Goddess." The Regent bowed and turned back to the couple. "According to Amazon Law and ancient tradition, you two are now officially joined." Ephiny declared.

While the flowers were still raining down on them, Xena took Gabrielle into her arms and pulled her close. Their lips met in a long and loving kiss.

"I love you, my Queen." Xena whispered against her lips.

"I love you, my Consort." Gabrielle whispered back with a smile, before they turned to the crowd, which cheered them their blessings.

"Before we continue with the Full Moon Ceremony, you will all have the opportunity to congratulate the Royal Couple in person!" Ephiny called, trying to make herself heard. She turned to Xena and Gabrielle. "But I want to be the first. I love you both, I wish you the very best." She hugged them both at the same time and the couple hugged her right back.

"Thank you, Ephiny, for everything." Xena said softly.

"Yes, thanks, Eph," Gabrielle added.

"Now step down, you two, and? you are excused from the rest of the Ceremony." She looked at them suggestively.

When the door to the Royal Hut closed behind them, they fell into each other's arms for a proper kiss.

"At long last!" sighed Xena, as they paused for breath, while Gabrielle panted "Finally!" at the same time. They laughed and resumed their kiss. It was so good to feel each other again! They both felt passion rise, and a desire for more than just kissing.

"Gods, I missed you so much!" Xena said, while Gabrielle got rid of a pink flower petal that was caught in a Xena's cleavage.

"Yes, and knowing you were so close made it worse!"

"Before I will take you to the Royal Bed to devour you," Xena said finally, with a promising smile, "I want to give you something personal. A token of my eternal love for you." She got hold of Gabrielle's hand, took the Chakram ring out of her pocket and tenderly put it on one of Gabrielle's fingers. The Bard walked over to a candle flame and took a good look. She recognised immediately what it was, and for the second time in a short period, her eyes were shining with emotion.

"This is so beautiful, Xena. Thank you." Gabrielle said with a thick voice, tuning back to her Warrior. Xena kissed the wetness away from her eyes. "This is how I see us too: you and me, intertwined, being two halves of a whole. I will be so proud to wear it." Xena was very pleased.

"I have a token for you too," Gabrielle said softly. "Although I had a hard time thinking of something that you would want to have with you at all times. You are so ? complete, so ? self-sufficient as it is. You don't want to have anything you don't need, so that rules out any jewellery." She felt a bit inadequate as she took the sheath out from under the bed and placed it in the hands of the Warrior.

Xena's reaction however made up for the feeling of shortcoming completely, as she saw the Warrior look at the artfully designed quill on the sheath. "Oh, Gabrielle, this is beautiful! This is your symbol on mine! I love it!" She immediately took off her armour and replaced her old sheath. "I will have you with me all the time. You will watch my back."

Gabrielle smiled. "I'm glad you like it."

"Like it? It's a pity I won't be wearing it tonight!" They both laughed as Xena began to undress further in a very sensuous way? "So tell me? what was it you wanted to tell me after the Ceremony?" the Warrior asked with a provoking smile.

The End

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