~ Dare Frame Thy Fearful Symmetry ~
by Cheaza

*The original vignette sized idea for this fan fiction was SEVERELY damaged during the production of this fan fiction*

*Subtext friendly but no sex*

We sat there for what was literally an eternity, the events that had just took place in the last few candlemarks too overcoming to be true, too unreal to actually have taken place. My Gabrielle, her sweet purity which was the glue to the fabric of her being. . .to have it stolen from her, forced out of her. She had been raped of it, they had mentally and emotionally violated her. How could this handled? How could we deal with this? It was too much, and I don't think I'd ever been more terrified in my entire life.

She shakes in my arms, like there's a chill deep within her soul, yet I know this is no ordinary chill. Her soul is broken, her inner self shattered and she's looking for something solid in the storm, something to grasp in the midst of the chaos. Surprising to me, yet maybe to be expected, it is I that she clings to. She grips my arms in an iron grip, her knuckles white with their force. I know she'll leave bruises on me, but I feel no pain, no physical pain at least. I do feel something very intensely though.

It's her emotional torment. Something is connecting us, something that has always been there but now is so strong. I can hear her thoughts, but they are too scattered and confused to comprehend. I hear my name repeated like a mantra, like her anchor in the storm of her mind right now. I feel her heart broken, her ideals shattered. Most of all though I feel her disgust with herself, her utter contempt for what she has done. She can't believe she was even capable of such an act, an act that she had so firmly decided she would never do.

She turns in my arms and crawls up in my lap. She is practically trying to crawl into my very skin, to get as deep inside me as she can so she can hide and not have to deal with this. She wants to be in me so I can protect her from all this, so I can keep her from facing reality. Even though I know that that is a dangerous path to take, that often once you turn from reality you may never turn back, I wish nothing more than to have the ability to let her do so. I wish I could take her within myself and hide her from it all. I would protect her from it all, because I know I am the reason that she did this at all.

If she had not met me, if I had never taken her on the road with me, she would have never been here today. By Hades, if I had even just kept her by my side, watched over her and kept her safe, all this could have been avoided. But my wrath against Caesar had overcome me, had deafened my senses to any other impending doom. Now Gabrielle paid for this wrath, for this loss of sight of that which is important. These-these people, if they could even be called that, they had seen that I have let my defenses down around Gabrielle, they saw this and snatched her up and away from me. All this, this was my fault, I could have stopped-

"Don't blame yourself for this, Xena." her small, emotion-scarred voice breaks through my revere. I have not said anything out loud, but she knows. I look down at her tear swollen eyes in astonishment. She seems unsure of it aswell, but at this point I can feel she is unsure of everything.

"I heard you," she gestured to her head "in here."

I don't say anything, still so wracked with my own guilt, and now feeling overcome by her confusion. I am as surprised as she is when I feel tears coursing down my cheeks, warm and burning my eyes. In my head I hear her, her sweet, simple voice saying "Don't cry Xena, I don't think I can bear it."

I look up at her and we speak beyond words in this communion for a few moments as my tears stop and I loose the guilt. There is no time for self-pity I realize, not when my tacquin needs me.

"Tacquin. . .some blest peace I am now." Her voice echoes in my head. I hold her tight to me, pressing her into my neck, where her tears have already soaked my skin. Her hands around my arms are still sticky with her first spilt blood. The sight of it makes me physically ill, and I know I need to rid her of it.

I can't wipe them off on my leathers, and I refuse to spread the blood on her clothing. I am desperate in the need to get it off her hands, and as I look back and forth around me, my hair falls into my face. I look at it a moment, then take her hands off my arms and lift them up in front of me. She looks at me, knowing what I am going to do and pulling her hands away from me.

"Xena, no." "Gabrielle." It's all I have to say and she understands. I take her hands and bring them up to my hair. Using it like a towel, I wipe the sticky blood from her hands, from between her fingers and in the small creases in her palms. I cleanse her hands of her sins, and once they are as clean as they can be, I kiss her knuckles, bringing her in close to me. She rests her forehead against me as the tears fall down my cheeks again. This time she allows me the tears, because she knows they are for her, that I am reflecting what I am feeling from her. The tears fall down onto her still sticky hands, as my soiled hair hangs in my face, the scent of blood clinging to it. It makes me sick to smell it.

A story flashes through my head, a story from Gabrielle's thoughts. It's of Artemis, of how her tears turn to diamonds when they hit a mortal. She's comparing my tears to a goddess'. A shadow of a smile passes my lips when I think of this; she pulls back and looks deep into my eyes. 'You're a goddess to me, Xena. My saviour.'

She touches deep within me with this and all I can think of is a way to say this back to her, in my own feeble way. I raise a hand up to my face and take the tears fresh from my face. I gently place them on her forehead and on her hands watching their dampness shimmer in the dim light. She sees what I mean in doing this, that I am trying, in the only way I know how, to return her purity to her. I wish that my tears could turn the violated flesh into diamonds. I wish I could rid her of this.

The smell of blood on my hair brings me back to what is real. I need to rid myself of this, I need to get this sickening burden away from me. 'We need to give it back to the Gods' she says to me in my mind. I know what she means, but I can tell she doesn't think there is a way to do it.

I reach down for the switch blade in my boot and bring it up to my hair. She looks at me strangely for a moment, and I can feel her trying to stop me the moment I raise the blade to my hair and begin to saw it away. I look at her intently for a brief second, and she desists, understanding what I am doing and why.

When I am done I lay my sheared hair on the ground in front of us, still clutching the switchblade in my trembling hand. My hair is jaggedly cut up around my neck now, but I have never felt more cleansed in my entire life. She is sensing that.

The switchblade is removed from my hand quite easily considering the death grip I had on it, and I don't try to stop her as she starts to saw at her own reddish- blond locks. It is harder for her, tears course down her face as she does it. It won't cure all, but in our eyes, it is a tiny step towards redemption.

She puts her sheared hair onto mine and throws the switchblade on top of the pile of hair. We look at it for awhile, both seeing the symbolism of this act, of the sacrifice we have just made.

******Okay this is where the story goes way outta my control. If you want to leave feeling fulfilled and confident in my writing abilities now would be the time to exit. If you really wanna read the rest, which is incomplete but actually still kinda good, read on*****

"Prove to us you are on our side" I say to them, because I know they are near.

Artemis is first, she is weeping. Athena and Apollo follow, with Aphrodite, Cupid and Eros not far behind. Hebe, one of Gabrielle's main goddesses, arrives very distraught and approaches her first of all, lightly stroking my love's tear stained cheek in sympathy. Hermes and Hestia show up together, as well as Hephaestus. Ares arrives and gives me an "I-told-you-so" look that makes me want to slash his throat. Gabrielle's soothing words in my mind calm me. Finally Zeus shows up, and waves his hand over us all.

When the blinding light dies away I know where we are. The brilliance and beauty that surrounds us is incredible.

"Mount Olympus" Gabrielle awes at it all.

"We had to bring you here little one, it's the only place that. . .that god hasn't been able to penetrate." Zeus reaches forward and pulls us to our feet. "We are here to help, all of us."

"All of you?" I look at Ares suspiciously.

"You don't think I'd let anyone hurt my little grandchild now do you Xena?" Ares said with a snide undertone, obviously uncomfortable about being at Mount Olympus.

"Ares!" Zeus bellows at him, warning him. I feel Gabrielle have the same thought as I.

"Grandchild?" she asks.

"Yes, they've impregnated you Gabrielle, but not with their own seed." Athena interjected. "When. . .he said he needed Xena's blood to welcome their god into this world, what they meant is they need the love between you both and the mind to mind bond that exists there to combine to make their god a human body. The baby you have, it is yours and Xena's, but the moment you give birth, they'll claim it as their own."

"And I wouldn't recommend trying to hide it, cause they have a nasty way of showing up again" Zeus looked at Athena for a moment, putting a hand to his forehead.

"So what do I do?" Gabrielle puts a hand to her womb, suddenly aware of the other life in there.

"Gabrielle, sweetest one, we need to take it." Hebe comes forward and takes Gabrielle's hand, then looks at me a moment. She is scared of me I know this. But she is more scared of my love's reaction.

"I don't. . .I don't want the baby to die, I mean, we may never have another chance. . .and I want one so badly." I can feel Gabrielle's internal battle waging. I come up behind her and embrace her; she leans back into me and closes her eyes a moment. She is tired and getting her rested suddenly becomes the most important thing. The gods are silent as they observe this moment between us. Aphrodite and Cupid smile slightly and look at one another. Aphrodite then steps forward, with Cupid behind her.

"Sweetie, we can give you another child, I promise. One for you two to keep, and one that's created out of an act of love, not this evil." Aphrodite assures us.

Hestia steps forward and rests a hand on my arm. "Her innocence, her blood innocence, they stole it from her. I will return it." She bursts into a moan at this, and collapses into me in tears.

"Do it!" I implore Hestia, frantic over Gabrielle's mental state.

"I will, just not now. She must rest, you both must."

Morpheus appeared behind us, and wrapped us in his embrace before either of us could stop him. When I awake we're in a large beautiful room, shining with an inner lite in it's white and silver decor. There are lightening bolt symbols through out, and through the great windows, taller than I am, I see Pegasus diving through the clouds. I lay there watching it all for a brief while, cuddling my Gabrielle close to me. She has found some peace in her sleep thanks to Morpheus' intervention, but I know once we are back in the mortal realm that a restful sleep will be rare for her. I lightly stroke her severed hair, cupping the uneven edge that hangs about her neck. I notice a braided chain around her neck, very intricate in it's design, seeming to be made of a reddish and raven coloured- I lean over closer for a better look and realize it's our sheared hair, braided into a beautiful necklace, a tourque style one, like the Turks would wear. I raise my hand to own throat and feel a similar necklace.

Gabrielle awakens now and looks around drowisly, confused at where she is. I can feel her mind going through it all, realizing what has happened and where we are now, and I feel the tears brimming in her eyes before she even lifts her face up to me. When she does, what I see shocks me.

In the center of her forehead, directly where I put my tears earlier is a shining little gem, a diamond. It is placed there in a perfect pear shape. She reads me seeing this and looks awed a moment, then we both look down at her hands. On her fingers, where my tears had fallen and where I had kissed her, are beautiful rings, with diamonds on each one, and intricate gold chains down from the rings to diamond encrusted bracelets . They have to be the most beautiful glimmer to them, I have never seen anything so spectacular. She puts a hand under my chin and raises my face up to look at her and smiles like an awed child. Through her I learn that there are small, sparkling diamonds like goddess freckles under my eyes, where my tears have fallen. We sit in the huge bed like this for some time, awed by it all.

There's a knock at the door, and it swings open entirely on it's own. Hermes, the messenger god enters. He smiles at us both broadly, and bows in reverence.

"Good day, to you Amazon and Warrior Princesses. I'm here to escort you to Zeus' main room, on the other side of the temple."

"We're in Zeus' temple?" Gabrielle is blown away by this.

"Haven't noticed the lightening bolt motif yet eh?" Hermes smiles at her then continues. "There are clothes in the cupboard here. We, um, we burned your other clothes because of. . ."

"Thank you Hermes." I cut him off from saying it for Gabrielle's sake, and she raises her diamond laidened hand to my face in thanks. He leaves us and I get out of bed and walk over to the cupboard. I notice the floor below me is made of clouds.

The cupboard holds some of the finest material and clothing I have ever laid eyes on. It is all in rich shades of the purest whites and shimmering golds and silvers. Gabrielle can feel my wonderment and walks up behind me to peer in. Her small strong arms wrap around my waist and she leans against my back, laying a kiss in between my shoulder blades. I grasp her arms in front of me and bow my head as she has and we speak with in ourselves for a few moments, reassuring each other and making sure all is well for the time being. The euphoria of Mount Olympus is keeping her from really facing all that has happened, and I know now why the gods are keeping us here.

She releases me and goes to the cupboard and leafs through the gowns in there. These are dressings for a goddess, and I feel so odd at the thought of being able to wear them. She turns and looks at me. 'My goddess deserves these clothes.'

"And my Princess deserves them aswell." I smile at her and embrace her again. She now notices the necklace around my neck and raises her hand to the one around hers. She seems horrified by them and begins to pull at hers.

"Get it off me Xena!" she struggles, tears starting to form. Before I can answer, Hebe is beside me and rushing to Gabrielle's side. The young girl embraces my love and soothes her tears, holding her close like a sister, rather than a mortal to a god.

"Sweetest Gabrielle, I made these for you, but not to bind you to your sin as you're believing. It's to remind you of the interlocking love between you and Xena and the sacrifices you are willing to make for one another. There is no traces of sin on these necklaces, only a show of your bond to Xena." Hebe looks at me a moment, intimidated, and looks back at Gabrielle. We understand now, and my love wraps her arms around the young goddess. I can hear Hebe's sigh of relief and when she looks over at me again, I take her hand and pull her gently over to beside me.

"You're scared of me." it's more of an observation than a threat, but the young goddess quivers slightly.

"Well you're alittle outta my league Xena." she smiles nervously. I smile at her and lightly touch her cheek.

"I owe you a lot for all you've done for Gabrielle, so don't feel intimidated, please." she blushes a deep shade of scarlet and I agree with my love through our bond that she does indeed have a small crush on me.

"I'll, um, I'll see you both at the banquet later." with that she disappears in that way only gods can.

"Banqueting with the gods eh? I think we're gonna eat good up here Xena." Gabrielle smiles at me and turns back to the cupboard to find something to wear. Her smile makes me wish we could stay here forever.

As we dressed, I couldn't take my eyes off Gabrielle. It seems that her natural beauty is intensified here, that her already emerald-shaded eyes are even more brilliant and her jagged reddish hair gleams like with a sunset's glorious colours. Her skin seems to glow from inside, and it's the most incredible cream colour I have ever seen on a mortal before.

"If you think I look good you should see yourself love." she smiles at me "Your hair is like the night sky, and your eyes. . ."she looks deeply into them for a moment then looks away "Their intense blue, it hurts me in its beauty."

'Always the bard' I say through our bond and she grins to herself, looking at me in the corner of her eye.

"So Xena, what shall we wear?" She pulls out garment after garment, giggling in delight at each one. The lightness of her mood hurts me in it's impermancy.

"You pick for me Gabrielle, you know I'm not one for a good fashion eye." I sit back on the bed and cross my legs, leaning back on my elbows to watch her.

"Oh by the Gods Xena, this is gorgeous!" she coos as she pulls out a thin golden silk sleeveless gown, made of one continuous length of fabric and designed to wrap about the body. She throws off her shift that she's wearing and pulls the gown on. The sight of her in it is awe-inspiring.

"Does it look okay?" she's uncertain for a moment, then feels my reaction and grins at me. "I'll take that as a yes."

I go over to her, now draped in this diaphanous dress and wrap her in my arms, kissing her. 'You look like your one of the goddesses from the Parthenon temples.' She grins at this and turns back to the closet to find somehting for me.

What she brings out is a diamond and azure encrusted gown, close fitting and opulatent in its excess. She holds it up to me and nods her head enthusiastically. I grin at her expression, and catch her wondering how I ever dressed myself before she came along.

I put the gown on, and with no surprise, it fits perfectly. The neck is halter style, the necklace of diamonds and gold holding it up. It flares around the knees into gentle folds, yet the rest of the white silk is skin tight. Gabrielle pratically purrs at the sight of me in it.

"I'll take that as a yes." I say at her expression and kiss her lightly. There's another knock on the door and Hermes comes back in.

"Come on ladies, Zeus waits for no one, especially not mortals!"

I help Gabrielle on with her sandals, like I have done with her boots since we first begun to travel together and slip on my own and we follow Hermes out through the long caverns and promenades. We see a basic who's who of gods and goddesses, from the Three Graces to the Iris the goddess of Rainbows aswell as a messenger god. She smiles hello at Hermes and stops us a moment to greet us, giving Gabrielle a small rainbow ring to add to her collection. Many of the Gods stop to greet us, for apparently this cult and our involvement has reached up here. These gods are worried about there security, and I can tell they are as scared as Gabrielle and I are. This worries me even more. Gabrielle grasps my hand as we walk and smiles reassuringly at me. We arrive at Zeus' main room, and it is humming with activity. There are gods everywhere we look and as we enter, all eyes turn to look at us. Gabrielle's hand goes to her stomach in a reflex to protect the seed in there. I stand in front of her slightly, daring anyone to approach her with harmful intent. Zeus quietens everyone with a sweep of his hand, and gestures for us to approach him where he sits.

"Don't fear for your safety, no one here means you any harm." he implores us to come forward and we do slowly, the gods parting to form a path for us. They all look at us with intense interest, each surmising us with their knowing gazes. I grip Gabrielle's hand tightly and she squeezes it back.

We are invited to sit up beside Zeus, a place of high honour. He then proceeds to call up each god and goddess one by one, introducing not only them to us, but all their offspring. I find this tedious after a while, but Gabrielle is enthraled by them all. She greets each one with an enchanting smile, and all, from the Gorgons representive to Hades to the lesser gods are charmed by her. This causes a slight grin to come to my face, that only my Bard could charm all the gods combined.

When all have been introduced they take an assigned seat, and a hearing of sorts begins. The seriousness of this cult has not be underestimated here. Zeus speaks with authority yet is not overly demanding, as if surrounded by friends.

"We all know what has happened with this cult, that although Xena here was able to defeat their god and throw him back into whatever pit he came from, the followers are still out there" he looks back at Gabrielle with a look of compassion "and they want what is in this young girl's body. The Amazon Princess here has been given a child, a child that they have created from her innocence and Xena's warrior blood. We have looked at this child and into the life threads that the Fates have woven into them. If we allow this baby to live, these people will find it no matter where we hide it, even here on Mount Olympus is not safe. We have looked into the future, and this child is anything but from any realm we know of. This is no child, it is a beast created by these people."

Gabrielle put a hand to her womb and felt momentarily ill. I rub her back and question her through our bond if she is okay. She nodded slightly and looked back up at Zeus.

"We have others here who have suggestions on what to do, and I'm going to give them their chance to speak. Artemis, would you go ahead." Zeus stepped aside so the Moon Goddess could take the floor. She looked at Xena and Gabrielle for a moment than begun.

"As she is an Amazon Princess, I am Gabrielle's chief Goddess, and I want nothing more than to protect her. This beast within her, I suggest we separate them and banish this thing to the same pit that the Warrior Princess has put their god. However, I refuse to allow Gabrielle's life to be endangered, and I know if these people have to kill to get to their *god* than they will." Artemis went over to Gabrielle and stroked her cheek, lightly carressing her diamond laidened hand. "I hope you like these."

With a wink she went back to her seat and Aphrodite stood up and took the floor. Some playful hooting and hollering accompanied her, and she gave a jokingly exasperated face to the crowd, cause a small laugh to go through them.

"Yeah yeah yeah, you all wish." she joked, winking at Xena and Gabrielle then taking a serious tone. "The *thing* thats in there right now, because it is part Xena and part Gabrielle has formed a telepathic bond between them. This, friends, could benefit them and humankind greatly in the future. Plus, "she smiled at Gabrielle again "I think the Amazon Princess would rather like a little one with the warrior. The love that exists between them is pure and strong, and I would be willing to help Astarte with giving them children, ones that are real mortals, well maybe even alittle demi-god in their make-up."

Astarte stood up at her seat "I agree to help in this."

A rumbling went through the crowd as they agreed on all this. Zeus called for silence and took the floor again.

"It is up to Gabrielle and the Warrior Princess to do what they see fit, I can not make anymore decisions without their consent." he looked back at us, and even though we had verbally spoken about it to one another, we both nodded to him.

"Very well, after the Feast of the Gods, and after all our gifts have been bestowed on them, we shall gather the council of Twelve together and commense with the disposal of the beast. Know this though" he looked at us again "That when we return you to the mortal realm once the sandglass is empty, we will have to gather the followers together and rid the realm of them. It may be a few moons, but I know the Warrior Princess' help in this will speed things up considerable." Zeus looked down at Ares "Maybe you actually did something good for a change when you trained Xena, Ares."

Ares rolls his eyes at this and disappears, obviously annoyed with the amount of praise Gabrielle and I are recieving. I have to keep from laughing at his sour expression. Zeus dismisses the group and they file out in their separate directions. Many, however come over to us and speak with Gabrielle for a moment. I sit and watch her work the crowd, engaging each god with the same manners she would use to speak to any mortal, be them prince or peasant. The Gods seem taken with her, as is no shock to me, watching my Bard charm each one of them with her sweet smile and eloquent diction.

Hebe is last of all and she walks us back to our room. As we walk she tells us what will be happening over the next little while.

"When you are ready, there's a banquet in the Great Olympic Hall, which all the Gods will be attending. It's one of the those real big events that everyone and their centaur shows up for, so expect to see every god and hero this side of the Aegean and beyond." As she speaks, her hands emphasize her speech in interesting patterns. Her natural actions around us are striking, that she is so relaxed in the prescence of mortals.

"When we're ready? Well, how long do we take then?" Gabrielle is confused.

"This is Mount Olympus, love, there is no time. When you're ready then the banquet will be starting. Simple as that. Why do you think gods are always alittle slow in the mortal realm? Time's a bit of a foreign concept to us." Hebe smiles at Gabrielle then glances shyly for a moment at me. "This thing is big time formal, though, so you two will probably be seeing some of the most beautiful sites any mortal can experience, not to mention you'll be looking pretty good yourself. I can't wait to see what you'll-" she stopped herself, and I could have sworn I saw her blush. "Anyways, here we are. I've gotta go get ready, you know, run back to mom and dad's end of the temple and get dressed. I'll see you guys tonite!"

With that she was gone in a poof of gold mist and we were in a large ornate room, heavily adorned with gold and filled with chairs and couches of the same nature.

"Her mom and dad?"

"Zeus and Hera. She's Hercules' half-sister, as well as, well if Ares is your dad, then you're Aunt." Gabrielle got going in this rant full steam, filled with the knowledge of the gods she had just met. "Which would mean Zeus is your grandfather, and Hera your Grandmother, Hestia, Pluto, Poseidon and Demeter your great Aunts and Uncles, I mean even Aphrodite, Hermes, Artemis and Apollo are your Aunts and Uncles. Oh and then Persephone would be your cousin and-"

"Gabrielle!" I put a hand to my head, not as excited about this lineage as she is.

"Sorry, love. I just think it's interesting to think that our little babies will have this rockin' family tree. I mean what a thing to impress your buddies eh?" She was full force on it again, gazing into space as she gabbed on and on. "I can just see it now 'Oh yeah, you think you're cool, well my great grandpa is Zeus so there!' Man, our kids are gonna kick ass! Except-"

Silence fell and I turn to her to see what's wrong. Her hands are over her womb and she has a sad, worried look on her face. I walk over to her and pull her into my arms. She rests her face against my shoulder and sighs, trying to regain her composure.

'This is right, isn't it Xena? I mean killing this thing, cause it's really not a baby, more of a beast right?' she asks through our bond. 'The gods say that it is no human, that it is evil, and I don't believe they would lie to us about this.'

"Besides" I say out loud, pulling her face up to look at me "We can have our own now, when we're ready to settle down that is."

"Which will be never." she smiles at me and we kiss, just to reassure one another of some reality in this very unreal world. I feel a presence behind me and spin around to face whoever it is.

"Oh there's the demi-god in you!" Artemis smiled at us and walked over to Gabrielle wrapping an arm around her and clutching the bard's hands in her own diamond-covered ones. "It's hard I know, Princess, but it really is for the best in the long run, I promise."

Gabrielle smiled meekly at her and ducked her head into Artemis' neck. I know that there is definitely a place in my love's heart for her patron goddess, as there is in Artemis' heart for Gabrielle.

"So my dear," Artemis tries to smile and lighten the mood some "Are you excited about the banquet being thrown in your and Xena's honour? It's gonna be a grand celebration, and let me tell you, no one can celebrate quite like the gods!" She lead Gabrielle over to the center of the room and stood back from her, looking her figure up and down. "Now, what should you wear?"

"Are you going to make it for me?" Gabrielle smiled a delighted grin as the goddess nodded at her, still deep in thought over this decision. After a moment, she waved her finger at Gabrielle, and instantaneously her clothing was changed.

"Whatcha think Xena?" Artemis turned to me for my approval.

She was now clothed in a small half top, much like the one she regularly wears, but a million times nicer. This one is made of a deep crimson red silk, with gold accents in an intricate stitched on pattern and golden rope as trim. The sleeves were tight and extended half way down her forearms, with a gold snake bracelet wrapping around her upper left arm. The front was cut low over her decollete, and on her chest rested a large gold pendent, sprinkled with diamonds and azure blue stones. Her hip hugging skirt was of a sheer red material that flowed in long folds down to a train behind her feet, which were decorated with bottomless sandals, golden and diamond encrusted as well. Under the sheer skirt, I could see the embroidered red silk material of her shirt made into high shorts, tight to her body. Even in her navel, there is a diamond pressed into it. She looks lush in the gold and crimson and diamonds, her lips a deep red, her eyes shining like emeralds and even her jaggedly cut hair shining like a ruddy-golden sunset.

"She looks incredible." It's about all I can say, but I know Gabrielle can tell what I am really thinking, as she always has been able to. "I've seen never seen this style before."

"It's from places not known to your people yet, Xena. Now," Artemis turns to me, and looks me up and down "what for you?"

With a flip of her hand I feel my clothes change and look up at Gabrielle to see what she is thinking. From her I learn I'm wearing a long over-coat style dress of a thick satin the exact shade of blue that my eyes are. It has long tight fitting sleeves that come down over the backs of my hands in points, trimmed with golden rope, layers upon layers of it. It dips low in the front, down to the gold and diamond buttons that rest on my upper torso, and around my neck is the same pendent as Gabrielle wears, except with rubies instead of azure stones. The dress splits high up to the waist, revealing my legs and tighter shorts like Gabrielle's only mine are of the blue satin material. The dress trails behind me in it's fuller skirt and around the hem is intricate gold trimming, encrusted with diamonds and azure stones. On my feet are stacked sandals, with gold and diamond encrusted ribbons that wrap around my ankles and calves.

"Lovely! Oh I do good work sometimes!" Artemis smiles at both off us, satisfied with our appearances. Gabrielle and I, meanwhile can't stop looking at one another.

*You get a big gold star for reading this far! And a big "I'm sorry from me!"* If you liked this, email me and maybe I'll pick it up again, but no promises.

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