Specific Story Disclaimers:
Violence - There is a bit of violence here
Subtext - This story is based on the premise of two women very much in love with each other. While there are no graphic scenes involved, the theme runs through the story and if this bothers you you'll have to find another story to read. There are plenty of good ones left.
This story is the sequel to Away from Home and it picks off a couple of days after that story has finished. It would make sense if you read that first. Although it is not absolutely necessary there may be parts of this story you will not understand otherwise.
Any comments can be emailed to:-
When Xena and Solon returned from their ride, they watched as everyone moved around the village preparing for the celebration of Solon's birthday tomorrow.
"So are you all set for tomorrow" Xena asked, as she dismounted Argo and helped Solon down.
"Yeah but I've already had the best present ever" Solon said
Xena smiled knowingly "And what would that be?"
"My Mom" Solon said as he threw his arms around the surprised warrior.
"And in return you've given me a great present" Xena said
"What's that?" Solon asked, looking up at Xena
"My son" Xena smiled "Now go and tell your uncle you're home"
"OK" Solon said, and he walked in the direction of his hut.
Xena shook her head and walked into the stable so she could settle Argo down herself. She was removing the saddle when she heard someone behind her. Slowly she turned around to see Belart standing there.
"I see you told the lad" The Centaur said
"Yeah, Kaleipus told me I didn't have much option. I thought Solon was going to hate me" She admitted, she turned back to Argo and finished removing her saddle.
"Are you kidding" Belart said "You just made the kids year. He has wanted to hear you say you were his mother since the last time you were here"
"He knew?" Xena asked
"No he hoped that was what was going to happen. He told my boy that he felt a connection with you straight away, he said he had never felt that before not even with Kaleipus" Belart said
"Really?" Xena said "He said that?"
"Yeah" Belart said "I'm glad it worked out for you, Xena. For you and the boy"
"Thanks Belart" Xena said, and Belart left the warrior to her horse. It wasn't long when Xena felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She turned around and wasn't the least bit surprised to see Ares, God of War stood there.
"Well, well, well, Xena" Ares said "I'm surprised at you"
"Why?" Xena asked, hoping that Ares didn't know about Solon.
"Well I see you've reunited with Athena" Ares said "I don't like that"
"I don't care what you like Ares. I was always Athena's chosen, you knew that then. Why is it so different now?"
"You came to me, Xena" Ares said "You followed me during the best part of your life, and you want to know why it bothers me. My sister doesn't know anything about the glory of war. You do" Ares looked at her in disgust and then continued "You belong to me, Xena"
"Somehow I don't think that's quite true" A voice said, behind them, they both turned around and were greeted by Athena
"Sister" Ares said, in a loving voice, well as loving as he could get "What are you doing here?"
"Well, Ares, first you disturb MY Chosen, and then you have the nerve to insult me. Daddy will not be pleased" Athena said
"I never said anything about you or your chosen" Ares lied, hoping for once that Athena hadn't been listening to his conversation with his former follower.
"Ares, you above all else should know that I know exactly what goes on with Xena" Athena said "And believe me I will be telling father of this"
"You do that" Ares said, he turned to look at Xena again "I'll see you again"
With that he was gone. Xena turned and faced Athena "Do you make a habit of listening to everything that happens to me?" She asked, slightly annoyed that a Goddess could have that much insight into her life.
"No, Xena" Athena said "I only listen when my name is mentioned. Ares said my name, so I listened"
"Oh" Xena said
"I know that you still feel uncomfortable with the Olympians after your dealings with Ares, Xena" Athena said "But believe me there are some of us who don't get as involved with the lives of mortals as Ares does. You are my chosen and whenever you say my name I will be there. I have noticed lately you have turned to me for help when you are unsure of things that will come. I am pleased you no longer curse my name as you did before"
Xena looked into the eyes of her goddess and saw something she seldom saw in other Gods, sincerity
"Thank you, Athena" Xena said "So, what can I do for you?"
"Well actually, I'm here to see how you are doing" Athena told her
"Me" Xena questioned "I'm fine"
"Really?" Athena asked "I know about the argument you had with Gabrielle yesterday. I know how badly that hurt you" That was one thing about being an Olympian, having to share the feelings with you chosen definitely had it's downside. Sharing their pain was bad, especially when it was an emotional pain not a physical.
"Yeah you can can't you" Xena said "Well in that case you should know how I am now"
"Well emotionally I can but how you are mentally?" Athena asked, sitting on a hay bale
"Well I feel fine" Xena said "It still hurts to think about how easily Gabrielle expected me to betray her., but I know she has insecurities like everyone else. I can't hole that against her"
"So you forgive her then?" Athena asked
"Definitely" Xena said "Why?"
"Well it will make it easier" Athena said
"Make what easier?" Xena asked, totally confused about what Gabrielle and her relationship had to do with Athena.
"Well as you know, Xena" Athena started "A chosen of a God must have the blessing of their God before they can be joined. I know you are not thinking of doing this yet but when someone hurts my Chosen I remember it for a long time. It takes me a while to forgive anyone who hurts my Chosen. Gabrielle did. She has to prove to me that she is worthy of your hand before you can get joined"
"I don't see how you can do that. As long as I forgive Gabrielle, it is technically none of business" Xena said, sharply.
"You are right" Athena said "I honestly admit that my lack of ability to forgive drives me crazy sometimes. Sometimes I think the fates curse me with it. Anyway like I said having you forgive Gabrielle freely will make that easier"
"Oh" Xena said
"Gabrielle spoke to Artemis, yesterday" Athena said "She isn't really sure you are going to go back to her, but she went to see anyway"
"What did Artemis say?" Xena asked, glad that Gabrielle went, it was one thing she was worried about, she couldn't stand that thought that maybe Gabrielle would take part in the entertaining because she thought Xena wouldn't return to her.
"She told her that because of the argument you had yesterday she would grant you the request for her blessing" Athena told her
"Good" Xena said "I was worried about that"
"Gabrielle wouldn't have taken part in the ceremony. I don't think Artemis would have allowed it" Athena told her, sensing Xena's thoughts "I would have had something to say about that anyway"
"I thought you didn't approve of Gabrielle" Xena said
"No I didn't say that. I said it was hard for me to forgive people who harm my Chosen in anyway. I do like Gabrielle, she brought you back to me. And I know that if she had taken part in the ceremony just because she felt it necessary, she would have been joined to an Amazon and that would have made you miserable. I don't think I would have been able to have stuck that" Athena said "I may not have been able to interfere directly because Amazon territory is Artemis territory but I could have spoken to Artemis about it"
"Thank you, Athena" Xena said
"That's ok" Athena said "So when will you be returning to Gabrielle?"
"In about three or four days most probably" Xena told her
"Why not sooner?" Athena asked, although she already knew about the warrior's son and his upcoming birthday she just wanted to know what Xena would say.
"Well I have friend who is having a birthday" Xena said
"Your son Solon" Athena told her
"You know?" Xena started
"I was there when you gave birth to him, Xena" Athena said "I hope you don't mind that I have been keeping an eye on him since. I didn't want anything to happen to him"
"You've been keeping an eye on my son?" Xena repeated
"Yes" Athena said, just then the door opened and Solon walked in
"Mom did you get... oh you've got company. I'll come back later" Solon said
"No it's ok Solon you can come in" Athena said "I've been wanting to finally get a chance to meet you. I couldn't make myself known to you until Xena had told you she was your mother" Athena held out her hand and Solon hesitated before taking it.
"Solon this is Athena" Xena said
"The Athena?" Solon asked
"Yes the Athena" Xena said
"Why are you here?" Solon asked
"Well I dropped in to see my Chosen" Athena said
"My Mom's your chosen" Solon gasped
"Yeah she most definitely is" Athena said
"How cool is this" Solon smiled, and he wrapped his arms around his mother "I'm so proud of you Mother"
Xena, who started when she heard the words come from her son's mouth, didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Instead she just returned the pressure.
"Well, Xena, I have to go. Remember if you need anything just ask. It was nice to meet you Solon" Athena said, and she patted the boy on the head, with a last "Goodbye" she was gone.
"She is not how I imagined Gods to be" Solon said "She seems more mortal than God"
"Yes she does" Xena agreed, she couldn't imagine having a conversation like that with Ares, or any other God "Now come on lets go"
So Xena and Solon stood and dusted themselves off and then went in search of something to do.
* * * * *
The Amazon Village one day later
Gabrielle decided the best thing she could do to get her mind of her beloved, who she hoped was safe, was by doing something to help with the festival. Everyone was getting ready for the entertaining of the Regent, which was taking place that night. She was still extremely relieved that she didn't have to take part in this thing. She still hadn't spoken to Ephiny, she couldn't she couldn't face the argument she knew was coming when she did.
"Queen Gabrielle" Someone said, as Gabrielle walked back towards her hut to get changed into something more comfortable for work in, she turned around and was surprised to see Eponin walking towards her.
"Yes Eponin" Gabrielle said "And please it's just Gabrielle"
"This is official business my Queen" Eponin said "The Royal Challenge has been made"
"By who?" Gabrielle asked
"Rayna" Eponin said "She has issued it for the first night of the festival"
"The first night of the festival. I thought the Challenge was on the last night of the festival" Gabrielle said
"It depends, Ephiny has arranged for her joining to take place on the last night of the festival. Therefore the challenge has be chosen as the opening ceremony. It is one week away. Do you wish to name the weapon or the champion" Eponin asked, knowing exactly what Gabrielle was going to name but it was official business and she needed to ask.
"I would name my champion but is no good because I don't know where Xena is and she thinks the challenge is two weeks away" Gabrielle said sadly
"If you wish to name a champion I will get the message to Xena" Eponin said, knowing that she had just admitted to knowing where Xena was but not caring, this was her friend and she just wouldn't tell her where Xena was.
"You know where she is" It was more of a statement than a question
"Yes, she told me before she left. She told me not to tell anyone where she was because she needed time away to think and she couldn't do that with you around" Eponin said, watching as Gabrielle flinched with her words "She made me promise not to tell anyone, and her words were, especially Gabrielle. You really hurt her Gabrielle"
"Will you tell me where she is now?" Gabrielle asked, already knowing that a warrior's honour wouldn't allow her to break her promise to Xena
"I can't" Eponin said "But if you wish to name Xena as your champion I will personally take the message"
"Thank you, Pony" Gabrielle said "In that case I wish to name a champion"
"Good thinking. I will leave tomorrow morning" Eponin smiled and then she turned and walked away.
Gabrielle was for the first time really confused. She was glad that Eponin knew where Xena was because at least she knew that if anything happened Eponin could go and find Xena, however the words the weapons master said cut through her like a knife 'She told me not to tell anyone where she was, especially you' tears started to form in her eyes again 'She needed time away from you to think' with this Gabrielle ran to her hut shut the door and collapsed on the bed, crying 'You've really done it this time, Gabrielle' She thought, believing this more than ever 'You are so stupid. She gives you everything, her heart and her soul and what do you do, rip it out and stamp on it'
* * * * *
The Centaur Village
Solon was busy celebrating his birthday with his friends, but every so often he would come over to see if Xena was ok, which made her smile. She hadn't given his present yet she wanted to leave it until everyone had gone home. When her and Gabrielle had started looking for a present she couldn't decide what to get for him. Having only met him once she was a little unsure of what he like. She smiled as she remembered the day her and Gabrielle had finally decided on something.
It had been an unusually day for them and Gabrielle had managed to drag her off shopping. Something she didn't take a great interest in but she did it just to keep the young woman happy. She had been think about Solon a lot especially after they had rescued that woman and her children two days before. The children were distraught because they thought they had lost their mother. The eldest one who was Solon's age begged her for help and she agreed. When Xena had found their mother and returned her to her children the look of joy and love on the faces of the children and moved her more than anything had in a long time. She wished that one day she would see that look on the face of Solon when she told him that she was his mother.
Looking around the market, she was trying to find something nice for Solon for his birthday which was still quite a few weeks away but you could never be sure what would happen between now and then. Gabrielle had tried to help her pick something out but it wasn't easy.
"Xena you must have something in mind for Solon" Gabrielle had said sounding slightly exasperated
"How can I have something in mind, Gabrielle?" She asked "I don't know Solon well enough to know what to get him"
"Well did he tell you anything the last time you were there?" Gabrielle asked "Something that might make this easier?"
"Well he said that he would like to be a healer or a bard if he had the chance. Maybe we could get him something to help him with that" She had suggested
"That's a good idea. We could get him a couple of quills and two rolls of parchment. Then we could get him some herbs and stuff that would help him if he wanted to be a healer" Gabrielle agreed.
That had sorted it out. They had bought three quills, two rolls of parchment, that should last him a while, and then they had bought a healers bag with a few herbs and needle and thread and a little scroll that had told him a few things about healing, like how to set broken bones and how to sew a wound and things like that.
'I just hope it will do' Xena thought.
* * * * *
After a couple of candle marks the last of the guest left and it was just Solon, Xena and Kaleipus in the hut.
"Well Solon how'd you enjoy you party?" Kaleipus asked
"It was wonderful and it was so much better having my whole family here. Well almost my whole family here. I wish Gabrielle could have been here" Solon admitted
"Yeah me too" Xena admitted "Anyway do you want your present now?"
"Sure" Solon said, and he watched as Xena walked across to her saddle bags and took out a package.
"Wow" Solon said, as he looked at the package
"You haven't even seen it yet" Xena smiled
"It's off you" Solon said "I know I'll love it"
"Well it's off me and Gabrielle actually" Xena handed him the package and then watched as he opened it. He was smiling madly when he saw what it was.
"You remembered" He said as he ran and threw his arms around her and kissed her on the cheek. "Thank you, Mom"
"I'm glad you like it" Xena said "In the bag are a couple of scrolls to help you if you still want to be a healer. On how to set broken bones, and things"
"I love you, Mom" Solon said
"I love you too, Solon" Xena said, then she watched as Solon walked over and hugged his uncle
"Thank you both for a wonderful birthday" Solon said, he yawned then.
"Yeah well to bed with you young man" Kaleipus said
"OK" Solon said "See you both in the morning"
With that he left and went into his bedroom. Xena and Kaleipus watched him go before turning back to each other.
"Well are you glad you told him?" Kaleipus asked
"Yes I am" Xena admitted, with a smile "I have to thank you Kaleipus. I never thought he would accept me as his mother if he knew. Can you imagine, Xena Warrior Princess scared of a young boy"
"It happens Xena. Speaking of things happening. I was hoping I could talk to you about something I feel is important" Kaleipus said
"Sure" Xena said
"Well like I said, Xena, things happen. If something happens to me, I want to know that Solon will be looked after" Kaleipus said "I want you to have him, if something happens to me"
"Of course I will" Xena said
"Good. I was just checking" Kaleipus said "I never could tell with you. Anyway I think I'm going to hit the hay. I'll see you in the morning"
"OK" Xena said, as Kaleipus made his way to his bedroom, or stable. She walked over to her sword and sharpening stone and then started to sharpen it. After she sharpened it, she resheathed it and then she walked out of the hut and started to run. She wanted to do her drills tonight rather than leave it until tomorrow.
* * * * *
The Amazon Village
Ephiny was in the temple of Artemis waiting for her first visitor. She had started out with this festival hoping that Xena would come and entertain her but now she knew that was impossible. She couldn't believe she had to go through this. A few people had said that this could be dangerous because you never knew what you were getting into, but Ephiny knew that it was part of her job as Regent to carry out the tradition for everyone.
After a most of the women had come to see her, she was none the wiser as to who to pick. She lifted her head to see her next entertainer who she had heard enter and she had the surprise of her life when in front of her stood Eponin.
"Pony" Ephiny started "What are you doing here?"
"Isn't it obvious" Pony said
"Well actually no" Ephiny said "Why would you be here to entertain me?"
"Because I love you Ephiny" Eponin said
"You love me but what about your woman" Ephiny said, confusion evident on her face
"You are that woman" Pony said "Talk about dense. I thought you would have seen right through me especially when I was telling you about the woman I loved being in love with someone else and she couldn't let her go"
"That was me?" Ephiny asked
"Yes. I wasn't sure that I could do this, but I have had to live with this for a long time. I broke my heart every time you fell in love with someone else. First there was Sasha, then Phantes and then Xena. I couldn't lose you again without telling you how I felt. I've wanted to be with you since we were kids. Remember when we used to kiss each other when we were growing up, you said we were just practising" Pony said "For you it was nothing, but every kiss meant something to me. I have never had that with anyone else. I know you have feelings for me as well. I know they are not as strong as your feeling for Xena but believe me when I say if you do chose me over the rest of the entertainers I swear I will love you the rest of my life whether you will feel that way with me or not I don't know. But I'm am willing to try if you are"
"You really want to be with me?" Ephiny asked
"More than anything else in this world" Eponin admitted
"Why didn't you tell me before?" Ephiny asked, still a little shocked by this whole thing
"The same reason you never told Xena how you felt about her. I was scared that I would ruin our friendship if I told you. I would rather admire and want you from a distance than lose that" Eponin said
"Why tell me now then?" Ephiny asked
"I can't take it anymore. I needed to let you know how I felt before you chose your consort" Eponin said, feeling her confidence dwindle she decided to make a sharp exit "Well I'm the last entertainer so. I guess I will let you get thinking. I hope whoever you choose, you will be happy, Eph"
With that she left. Leaving a still shocked and confused Ephiny behind.
Now what do I do' She thought 'All those other women seemed false. But can I give half of my heart t my best friend. Will she accept that? She is right though, I have always had sexual feelings for her. Ever since we were kids but can I give into that?' She thought 'If she can, I think I can'
She was surprised at how easily she had come to her decision. Now that it was made she had to go and inform the council that she had taken a Consort.
* * * * *
She knocked on the door of the council hut and then waited until they called her in.
"Regent Ephiny" Kasis said "How did your evening go?"
"Very well, Kasis" Ephiny said "I have chosen a Consort"
"Already" Kasis asked, it was unusual for the Queen or Regent to chose on the same night as the ceremony.
"Yes. It is someone I have known for a long time and I have always been attracted to her" Ephiny said "I just didn't know she felt the same way about me until tonight"
"Who is this?" Kasis asked
"Eponin" Ephiny said
"The weapons master" Kasis said
"Well are there any others?" Ephiny asked sarcastically.
"Very well" Kasis said "You will be joined at the end of the festival. If I was you I would inform Eponin of this tonight, she is leaving in the morning"
"Leaving?" Ephiny questioned
"Yes she has an errand to run for the Queen, she will be leaving early" Kasis said
"Very well. I shall go and tell her now" Ephiny said, with that she turned and left.
It didn't take her long to reach Eponin's hut, she knocked on the door and waited until Eponin opened the door.
"Ephiny" Eponin said
"Pony" Ephiny said "Can I come in?"
"Um... sure... yeah" She said "So... um what can I do for you?"
"Well actually I came to talk to you" Ephiny said "You know how I feel about Xena right?"
"Yes" Eponin said
"I need help to let her go" Ephiny said "I have spoken to the council and I have named you my Consort-to-be. Will you help me let her go?"
"You named me your consort" Pony gasped, tears starting to come to her eyes. After all these years of wanting the woman in front of her for so long she couldn't believe it was finally going to happen. Even if she only had half of her heart, she still had it
"Yes. I was going to tell you tomorrow, but the council told me you are leaving tomorrow on an errand" Ephiny said, asking a question without sounding like she was
"Yes, Gabrielle chose to name her Champion at the challenge and seeing as Xena thinks the challenge will take place on the final day of the festival, she has to be informed" Eponin told her
"How can you do that, Pony?" Ephiny asked "You don't know where she is" Seeing the guilty look on her consort-to-be's face she knew the truth "Where is she?"
"If I tell you promise not to tell Gabrielle" Eponin said
"I promise" Ephiny said "Gabrielle and I aren't even speaking"
"She went to stay with friends at the Centaur Village across the river. She wanted to be close just in case something happened but she want to be far enough away that no-one would know where she was" Eponin told her "She made me promise not to tell anyone"
"Well I'm glad she is still going to fight for Gabrielle. They do belong together don't they?" Ephiny smiled, her first real smile in what seemed like forever and she felt herself actually feeling happy for both the warrior and her Queen.
"Yes they do. We've always known that" Pony said
"Well anyway. I'd better let you get some sleep. Tell Xena to hurry home, tomorrow. Her partner misses her" Ephiny said
"I will" Pony said as she saw Ephiny to the door. She was surprised when Ephiny reached up and brought her head down and then kissed her. She thought she was melting. When they both came up for air they were both smiling.
"If I don't see you before you leave. Be careful. I don't want anything to happen to my consort before we are even joined" Ephiny said
"I will" Eponin smiled "I wouldn't want anything to happen to me before my dreams could come true"
With that Ephiny smiled and left. As she walked towards her own hut she felt freer than she had in a long time. She felt for the first time, that she could actually love someone other than Xena. And she felt that Pony was that someone.
* * * * *
The following morning. Gabrielle and Ephiny were called to the announcement podium where Kasis was to announce to everyone that Ephiny had taken a consort. Usually the consort chosen should have been there but the council had already given Eponin permission to leave the village before she had been chosen.
As Ephiny and Gabrielle stood on opposite sides of the podium, the tension was thick. Neither looked at each other for fear of the hate they would see in the other's eyes.
"Good Morning to everyone" Kasis said "As everyone knows last night was the Night of Choosing. Queen Gabrielle was excused for this due to the blessing from Artemis herself. However Regent Ephiny did take part in this and we are pleased to announce that she has taken a Consort. Eponin, weapons master of this village and Regent Ephiny will be joined on the final night of the festival. Also The Royal Challenge has been made by Rayna of this village. Will she please step forward" Gabrielle watched as an Amazon about the same height as Xena walked forward and made her way towards the podium. She had jet black hair and brown eyes. She was well muscled as well. "Are you Rayna, who has challenged the Queen?"
"Yes I am" Rayna answered
"What is your reason for the challenge?" Kasis asked
"She knows nothing of our ways. She is not a true Amazon, she has no right to rule us" Rayna said
"Queen Gabrielle, do you wish to choose your weapon or your champion?" Kasis asked, being the royal member of the challenge Gabrielle was the only one allowed to name a champion, anyone who wanted to challenge her had to fight the challenge herself.
"I choose my Champion" Gabrielle said proudly "Xena of Amphipolis"
Whispered murmurs went around the women at the mention of Xena's name.
"How can you do that when the woman isn't in the village. She hasn't been informed of this" Rayna said nervously, she had hoped that having Xena out of the village and the challenge being two weeks earlier than planned she might actually get to fight another Amazon, not the former Destroyer of Nations.
"Xena has been informed and she will be her before the opening ceremony of the festival" Ephiny spoke up surprising everyone.
"Whose has informed her?" Rayna asked
"My Consort" Ephiny said.
"Well Rayna you must now choose the weapon. You have until two days prior to the festival in which to do so" Kasis said "That will be all for today"
With that the crowd dispersed. Everyone going their separate ways. Ephiny went to her hut, Gabrielle went to her hut and Rayna stood there staring at the back of the Queen she had challenged, the Queen whose champion was most probably going to kill her.
* * * * *
The Centaur Village later that day
Eponin walked forward towards the Centaur border guard. She didn't walk quietly like she normally did because she didn't want to end up dead before she could deliver her message to Xena.
"Who goes there?" The Guard asked when he heard the woman walking towards him.
"I am Eponin of the Amazons. I am here to speak to Xena of Amphipolis" Eponin said
"What business do you have with Xena?" The Guard asked
"She is requested to return to the Amazon village with me" Eponin said "Our Queen needs her"
"Oh the Royal Challenge" The guard said "Xena asked me to keep an eye out for someone who wanted to see her. I am Belart"
"Nice to meet you" Eponin said
"Come I'll take you to Xena" Belart said "Calen watch my post for me"
"OK" Calen said.
"So the Queen needs her Champion huh" Belart said
"Yes" Eponin said
"Not surprising she has Xena as her champion. She's the best damned fighter I've ever seen. Blessed by Athena is that woman" Belart said
"Is she ever" Pony agreed "How has Xena been?"
"Fine. She was a bit of a mess when she arrived, really upset but she's been spending time with the boy which cheered her up" Belart said as they arrived at the village.
Eponin was surprised by the picture in front of her. Xena was playing tag with a group of children. She seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it as well. She had always known Xena was a complex woman, but nobody ever thought of Xena as having a soft spot for children. She watched for about a minute before Xena realised she was being watched.
Xena spotted Eponin watching her just after she arrived and immediately started to worry about Gabrielle. Eponin seeing the panic in Xena's eyes at her presence quelled her fear by smiling and walking over to the warrior.
"Well at least you're still in one piece" Eponin said "The children haven't killed you yet then"
"No" Xena said "It's good to see you Pony"
"It's good to see you too" Eponin said "Well anyway I was asked to inform you that the Royal Challenge has been made and that the Queen has named you as her champion"
"OK" Xena said
"You see the problem is because there is only one joining ceremony this year it, the challenge is going to take place on the opening day of the festival. Gabrielle asked me to inform you and she hopes you will return for it" Eponin said
"Of course I'll return for it" Xena said "She doesn't know where I am does she?"
"No I told her I knew where you were and that you needed time to think. She did ask but she knew my warrior's honour wouldn't let me break a promise" Eponin said
"Thanks, Pony" Xena said "So how did Ephiny's night at the temple go last night?"
"Well not to bad actually" Eponin smiled
"Oh really" Xena said, seeing the heat rise up the face of the amazon "I take it she picked someone"
"Oh yeah" Eponin said
"And who might that by?" Xena asked, already knowing the answer just wanted to make the amazon suffer
"Me" Eponin admitted
"Well, I'm pleased for you Eponin" Xena said "I really am"
"I never thought she would pick me but I had to try. She was shocked when I showed up" Pony admitted
"I bet she was" Xena said "Anyway come with me, I want you to meet someone"
So Eponin followed Xena to where all the children were playing and then they waited patiently until a young boy ran over to them. Eponin watched as he threw his arms around Xena and had a go at her for running off during their game. She was seeing a whole different side to the Warrior Princess now. A side she never thought she would see. She wondered briefly what her connection to the boy was.
"Pony, I want you to meet Solon" Xena said "My son"
"Your son" Eponin said, completely shocked, she hadn't expected this at all.
"Yes" Xena said "Solon this is Eponin an Amazon"
"Hi" Solon said as he held his hand out and Eponin shook it.
"Why don't you go finish playing, Solon" Xena said, as she saw the questioning look in the weapon masters eyes.
"OK Mom" Solon said "I'll see you in a bit. Bye Eponin"
"Bye Solon" Eponin said. They both watched as Solon ran and rejoined his friends.
"You kept that quiet" Eponin said
"Yeah well he didn't know until a few days ago" Xena told her
"Oh right" Eponin said "Anyway I can't stay long but I had to deliver the message. There is four days until you have to be in the village. So will you join me on my journey back to the village or can I expect you later?"
"Why don't you stay here for the night Pony?" Xena said "It will give me someone to spar with for a bit. I've been getting lazy" Xena smiled sheepishly, she had been getting lazy. She was still doing her drills and running but it wasn't the same.
"Are you sure they won't mind?" Pony asked
"No of course not. It would look better if you didn't return today. Gabrielle could figure out where I am if you returned so quickly" Xena reminded her
"Does she know about Solon?" Eponin asked
"Yes but she doesn't know he knows" Xena said
"Well ok" Eponin said "I'll leave first thing in the morning"
"OK" Xena said "Fancy a game of tag with the kids?"
"Um..." Eponin hadn't expected that
"Come on Pony. It never hurt anyone to have some fun once in a while" Xena said
"I know I just never thought about you..."Eponin started but was interrupted by the warrior
"Having fun" Xena said "Hey I might have been a warlord once but even then I had fun. Come on"
With that Xena and Eponin walked over to where the kids were playing
"You two playing?" Solon asked, when he spotted them
"Yeah" Xena said
"Good" Solon said, as he tagged Eponin "You're it"
Xena just started laughing and heard Eponin growl before she started her tracking someone to take her place as 'it'
* * * * *
The Amazon Village later that day
Solari was walking around the village when she noticed that Ephiny was sitting on a bench over looking the river. So she quietly made her way over to her.
"Hey" She said as she put her hand on the Regent's shoulder.
"Hey Sol" Ephiny said
"So you chose Eponin" Solari smiled
"Yeah" Ephiny said "You know I have always had feeling for Pony. When we younger I always hoped we would get together. She was the first woman I ever loved. It's funny, she has these feelings for me and she never said anything. I had feeling like that for her and I never said anything and then people came and changed the way I felt"
"So you think it'll work?" Solari asked
"Yeah I think it will" Ephiny said "It worked out well really. Eponin was the only one I didn't really have to think about choosing. As soon as I knew she wanted me like that it was a breeze. I know Eponin almost as well as I know myself. I know her faults and she knows mine and we've always been able to accept them"
"I hope you are both happy, Ephiny" Solari said, sincerely "You both deserve it"
"Thank you, Solari" Ephiny said "Sol, I want you to know. I never meant to cause trouble between Xena and Gabrielle. I never even intended on telling Gabrielle I was in love with Xena, but she is very perceptive and she saw right through me"
"Yeah she can do that" Solari said "And I know you didn't want to cause trouble between them, some things just happen Ephiny. And I think in the long run both will be glad that you did. Because of you Artemis agreed to bless them"
"Yeah I guess so" Ephiny said "You know since the first time since we started organising this festival, I'm actually starting to look forward to getting joined"
"Good" Solari said "Anyway I'm off to see Saras. I'll see you later"
"OK" Ephiny said, and Solari left, leaving her alone with her thoughts.
The Amazon Village four days later
"So Xena has to be here tomorrow?" Gabrielle asked, looking forward to seeing her partner again. She had missed her terribly in the few days she had been gone. She had been gone over a week and it had been one of the hardest weeks of her life. Knowing that maybe she had blown her chance at happiness with the woman she loved more than life was killing her quicker than a knife wound would.
"Yes Xena will be here tomorrow" Eponin said "Don't panic, Gabrielle"
"I'm not panicking" Gabrielle lied, causing Eponin and Solari to smile knowingly.
Gabrielle had been relieved when Eponin had returned and told her that Xena was well and that she would be here the day before the festival started. Eponin still wouldn't tell her where the warrior was but knowing that Xena was well and coming back to the village made that seem not as important anymore.
"OK" Gabrielle admitted "I am panicking"
"We know" Solari and Eponin said simultaneously "Oh I forgot to tell you" Eponin continued "She will not be spending the night in your hut. She has asked for a separate one"
"Why?" Gabrielle asked
"She didn't say" Eponin lied, she had been there when Xena had told Solon that she was returning to the Amazon Village and she had seen how hard Xena had tried to refuse that Solon shouldn't come with her for this. But he had insisted that if she was going to fight a battle to the death he wanted to be there just in case she lost. Neither Eponin or Solon thought that was going to happen but he had used the saying 'If something happens to you, I want to be there' Xena had buckled with that. Eponin had arranged a hut for the two but again Xena had made her promise not to tell Gabrielle that Solon was coming. She wanted to surprise her.
"Did she say she forgave me?" Gabrielle asked
"She didn't say" Eponin lied again, Xena had made it quite obvious that she had forgiven Gabrielle. She had said that she wanted to have a word with Gabrielle about her reaction and it wasn't going to be a nice one but she had forgiven her completely. However Eponin didn't think it was appropriate for her to tell Gabrielle that.
"Come on Pony. We've got some decorating to finish" Solari said when she noticed the 'I want to be alone' look in Gabrielle's eyes.
Eponin noticed it as well "Yeah, there's only two days to get them finished. It's come really quickly hasn't it?"
"Yeah. How are you and Ephiny doing?" Gabrielle asked, she still hadn't spoken to Ephiny since she all this had happened.
"It's going great" Eponin said "I can't wait until the end of this festival"
"Yeah I bet?" Solari said "We'll see you later Gabrielle"
"OK" Gabrielle said, as the two amazon warriors left.
Gabrielle sat down at her desk and started to write the day's entry into her diary.
Well only one day until Xena comes back. I'm really looking forward to seeing her. I miss her so much. I never thought I could miss her as much as I did when I was in Poteidaia and she was in Amphipolis, well I lied. Having what we have now and being away from that hurts. I'm glad Ephiny has taken Eponin as her Consort, for her sake as well as my own selfish reasons. I know I shouldn't worry about Xena leaving me for Ephiny but when you love something as much as I love her, it hurts to think about her leaving me at all, it seems worse when I think about her leaving me for another woman. I felt jealous when she was attracted to Ulysses before we even got together. Now I realise how she felt when I left her for Perdicus and knowing how she felt makes me hate myself even more for making the decision to marry him. I couldn't go through that again.
Well the festival starts tomorrow it should be fun. The Amazons don't do anything better than they throw parties. With Ephiny getting joined I think it will be an even better party. I have to go and talk to Ephiny because I haven't spoken to her in over a week but I can't. I don't want to argue with her anymore. I think that will happen if I go now. Life can be so confusing sometimes. There are times when I wish I hadn't grown up. The best thing about growing up was falling in love with Xena. No matter how many arguments we have that I will never regret.
With that the bard climbed into the bath that had been prepared for her and let it soak away the aches and pains of the day. Before changing into her night shift and going to bed.
* * * * *
The following day
Xena and Solon had arrived from the Centaur village about two candle marks before the opening ceremony of the festival started. She had been training all morning and she spent a lot of her morning chasing Solon, rather than running after nothing, it was better to be running after a boy who was at thirteen summers was almost as fast as she was.
Xena knew that most of the Amazons hadn't expected her to champion Gabrielle but even though they was having problems with their personal situation she would still defend Gabrielle's Queen hood. Xena also wasn't thrilled about Solon being here when she was about to face a battle to the death and she knew that Amazons weren't to happy about having males in their camp. She was glad that if she did die in this fight one of the last faces she would see would be the one of her son.
"So Mom" Solon said as he held his mothers hand and walked into the hut Xena had arranged for them to stay in "What happens if you lose this fight?"
"Well apart from the obvious, the other Amazon would become Queen of the Amazons" Xena explained
"Why?" Solon asked, he still didn't understand all this. Being from a fairly peaceful village this hadn't happened often. Mostly because everyone was pleased with the way Tyldus lead the Centaurs and they didn't feel the need to challenge him because they were bored. Which is what he thought seemed to be happening here. Everyone he knew thought that Gabrielle and Ephiny did a good job of leading the Amazons.
"Well I'm Gabrielle's champion, so I'm fighting on her behalf" Xena told him
"But why?" Solon asked "Why doesn't she fight? It's her battle not yours"
"Because Gabrielle isn't a warrior, Solon. She wouldn't have a chance against Rayna" Xena told him, not believing that was true any more either. Gabrielle had as good a chance as any to beat the Amazon, the only thing she lacked in this was the killer instinct. The ability to kill in self defence and not feel totally devastated about it "At least I have a chance to beat her"
"You'll be careful won't you?" Solon asked "Mom, I've just found you. I don't want to lose you now"
Xena saw the tears in his eyes as he spoke. She could feel the tears in her own eyes when she hugged Solon "Of course I'll be careful"
"I love you" Solon said
Xena felt the breath catch in her throat at the words "I love you too, Solon" She said "And no matter what happens out there tonight I want you to remember that ok"
"I will" Solon said. Xena stood up and walked over to her bags. She searched in one of then until she found what she was looking for, then she walked back over to where Solon was set on the bed.
"Solon I want you to have this" She said, as she handed him a pendant that she used to wear in the bad days. It symbolised who she was. It was also the only one in existence, it was a chakrum with a X in the middle of it "So if anything does happen to me, you'll always have a piece of me"
Solon started crying openly now as she put the pendant around his neck. He threw his arms around her and hugged her tightly, never wanting to let her go.
They stayed like that for a while, then Xena reluctantly let go and went behind the curtain so she could clean up and get ready.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, Gabrielle was pacing back and forth, trying to calm herself. She had tried to talk to Xena when she had first arrived but Xena had walked straight past her into the hut that had been set up for her.
"Gabrielle why don't you go to her hut and talk to her?" Solari asked, knowing that was the problem with her Queen.
"You saw her Solari. I tried to talk to her and she walked straight passed me" Gabrielle reminded her
"I think she was in a hurry to get back to her hut. They said she had someone with her when she came in. She must have left them in the hut" Solari told her
"Who was with her?" Gabrielle asked
"I don't know. I didn't see her come in the first time" Solari said
"Oh" Gabrielle said, slightly curious. She didn't know who could have come have in with Xena or why. 'Could she have already replaced me?' She thought 'No that wasn't possible. She would have done that. Would She?'
"Gabrielle if you don't talk to her and sort this out and she loses this fight you'll end up regretting it for as long as you live" Solari told her "You do remember this is a fight to the death, don't you? Don't let what could be the last words you say to each other be words spoken in anger"
Gabrielle listened to what Solari said and she knew the warrior was right. What would she do if Xena died defending her and the last words she said to Xena were words of mistrust and anger. She would be able to live with herself.
"You're right, Solari" Gabrielle said "I'll go and see her now"
Solari smiled "Good"
Just as they started towards the door, one of Rayna's followers walked up to her hut.
"Well, Queen Gabrielle, the battle is about to begin. Wouldn't you rather be there to watch you champion get slaughtered" The Amazon sneered
"They've started" Gabrielle said, panic building rapidly in her
"They are just waiting for you" The Amazon said
Gabrielle didn't know whether to run, walk or just stay there. If she stayed there, then Xena and Rayna wouldn't fight and after a while they would get fed up of waiting and leave the battle then she could talk to Xena.
As if reading her thoughts, the Amazon said "It doesn't matter if you don't turn up, they will only wait a few minutes, then they will start"
Finally Gabrielle sent a prayer to Artemis and Athena asking them to keep Xena safe. Then she left.
* * * * *
After a while there was a knock on the door "Come" Xena shouted
A very shy Ephiny entered "Um... Xena can I speak with you?"
Xena smiled "Sure"
A look of relief crossed Ephiny's face as she saw Xena wasn't going to pounce on her, which is what she had expected. "Xena I just want to tell you how sorry I am about the situation I caused between you and Gabrielle"
You have nothing to be sorry for, Ephiny. This is between Gabrielle and me. It has nothing to do with you" Xena assured her
"Yeah but if I hadn't said anything to Gabrielle then...." Ephiny started but was soon interrupted by Xena
"Ephiny" She said "This has nothing to do with that. Gabrielle never accused me of cheating on her before you told her how you felt about me, that's true, but she should have trusted me. She knows me better than that. Besides" Xena continued watching Ephiny blush "I am kind of flattered to know I have two beautiful and courageous women in love with me. I'm not sure I deserve that"
"Of course you do" Ephiny said "Come on, you've got a fight to win. Then I would suggest you go and make up with that partner of yours"
"Coming then, Solon" Xena said "You don't mind if he comes to watch do you, Eph?"
"No of course not" Ephiny said "Solon, you are Kaleipus foster son aren't you?"
"Yes" Solon said, then he turned and smiled at Xena both knowing that only Gabrielle and Eponin knew they were mother and son "And you're Xenon's mother aren't you?"
"Yes, you know him?" Ephiny said, as she thought about her centaur son
"Yes he is one of my best friends" Solon said
"Well, I'm glad his got some good friends" Ephiny smiled as Xena, Solon and her made their way out to where the battle was to take place.
* * * * *
As Gabrielle made her way to the front of the crowd she saw Xena and Rayna circle each other, swords unsheathed and ready. The Amazon that had fetched Gabrielle alerted the two of the Queen's presence and with that they fighting started.
Xena first went on the defensive. She knew this was probably going to take a while, so she wanted to wear her opponent down first. Xena also knew she wasn't totally healed from the arrow she received a few weeks ago.
Gabrielle watched as Xena parried, blocked and dodged the blows coming from Rayna.
When Xena felt Rayna start to tire, she went on the offensive. She wanted to get this over with, so she lunged at Rayna with what would have been a killer blow but someone threw a stone at her distracting her enough for Rayna to get the upper hand, which she took by lunging at Xena and plunging her sword into the left shoulder of the Queen's Champion
"Xena" Gabrielle shouted as she watched Rayna's sword go through her lover's shoulder.
"Mom" Solon shouted at the same time. Gabrielle, Ephiny, Eponin and Solari all heard this.
"Xena's your mother?" Ephiny asked, completely stunned
"Yes" Solon said as he tried to wriggle out of the strong arms of Eponin, who was trying to stopped him from running to his mother's side.
Gabrielle heard the shout of 'Mom' and she looked around then she saw Solon standing next to Ephiny trying to wriggle away from the Regent and her consort-to-be. She watched Xena kick off Rayna and she knew that Solon needed comforting. So she quickly ran to him.
"Solon" She said
"Gabrielle" Solon said as he wrapped his arms around her "Is she going to be ok?"
"She's going to be fine, Solon" Gabrielle said, hoping she was right. Just as she looked up, she saw Xena gut Rayna, killing her immediately. Xena turned to face Gabrielle and Solon, the sword still protruding from her shoulder. She pulled it out before collapsing to the floor. Ephiny, Solon, Gabrielle, Eponin and Gemi one of the healers ran over to Xena. Gemi immediately called for a litter. Xena had lost a lot of blood and she needed to stitch up the wound. She quickly took Xena to her hut and immediately stitched up the wound.
Ephiny left the healer's hut and went to her own shortly after. She couldn't stand being there and feeling so helpless. She already felt bad enough about causing trouble between Xena and Gabrielle.
Xena remained unconscious through the surgery on her shoulder which was good. Gabrielle had watched Ephiny leave and decided to go and talk to her.
* * * * *
As she knocked on Ephiny's door she listened to her and Pony talking.
"Come" Ephiny shouted and Gabrielle walked in
"Ephiny can we talk?" Gabrielle asked
"I think that would be a good idea" Ephiny agreed, not that she really wanted to talk to Gabrielle right now though.
"Look Ephiny, I'm sorry about the way I went off the other day" Gabrielle said
"It's not me you should be apologising to. She's your partner Gabrielle, the least you could do is trust her" Ephiny told her, her anger rising again.
"I know" Gabrielle admitted
"You know Gabrielle. You don't deserve someone like her. She deserved better. Do you know how hurt she was about your lack of trust. She has given you everything, things some of us only ever dreamed of having, her heart, her soul, her mind and her trust. And you repay her by accusing her of cheating on you" Ephiny said her voice getting louder with every word until she was practically shouting
"You're right" Gabrielle agreed quietly
"What?" Ephiny asked
"You're right" Gabrielle repeated "She gave me everything. I am ashamed of myself for not trusting her. I am also ashamed for not trusting you"
"Do you have any idea how lucky you are?" Ephiny asked
"Yes I do" Gabrielle said "I just hope you and Xena will be able to forgive me"
"I already have" Ephiny smiled as she put her arms around Gabrielle "I'm sorry about some of the things I said as well"
"That's ok" Gabrielle smiled
"Now you'd better get over and stay with your partner" Ephiny said, pushing her towards the door.
"Yeah I don't want to stay away for long" Gabrielle admitted
"Hey how long have you known about Solon?" Ephiny asked
"Since we helped save him last year" Gabrielle said, then she turned and walked back to the healer's hut.
* * * * *
Xena regained consciousness not long after Gabrielle had left the healer's hut. The first thing she was Solon looking at her.
"Mom" He said, as she saw her open her eyes.
"Hi Solon" Xena smiled
"I'm glad you're all right. I was so afraid you wouldn't be" Solon said
"Hey Solon it'll take more than a sword wound to finish me off" Xena told him and he smiled
"So that was a challenge to the death" Solon said
Unbeknownst to the two, Gabrielle quietly entered the hut and she was listening to the pair talking.
"Do you have to Champion Gabrielle often?" Solon asked
"This is the second time I've done it. It's only the first time it was to protect Gabrielle's queen hood though" Xena admitted
"I'm not surprised. It's a wonder anyone is stupid enough to even challenge Gabrielle if they know they have to fight the best fighter in Greece" Solon said proudly
Xena laughed and immediately regretted it "Oh, don't make me laugh"
"It's true. My mom is the best and most feared and loved fighter in the history of Greece" Solon said, as Xena sat up "In years to come you won't just have Gabrielle telling stories of Xena: Warrior Princess. Bards will be telling them all over Greece. You have to believe that" Solon said "I do and so does Gabrielle. Even Kaleipus does"
"I don't know how anyone can call a former murderous warlord a hero" Xena admitted
Just then Gabrielle entered "Because your story isn't the fairy tale story of Hercules. It's the story of loss and the struggle against evil and then finding yourself and giving back yourself to heal what bad things you have done in your life" Gabrielle told her "That story proves to everyone that you are just like us, human"
"See" Solon smiled
"Solon can I speak to your mom for a minute?" Gabrielle asked
Solon looked at Gabrielle and then back at Xena, who smiled at him.
"Go on. Go back to the hut and try to get some rest" Xena said
"What if some of the Amazons start. I know how they feel about men" Solon said
"Don't worry, Solon. They won't do anything to you, now they know you're my son" Xena assured him
"And if they do start anything tell them, they'll have to answer to me" Gabrielle said
"OK" Solon smiled "The best warrior and the Amazon Queen willing to stand up for me. Cool"
With that Solon turned and left.
"How are you feeling?" Gabrielle asked
"I've been better" Xena admitted
"Xena" Gabrielle said "I'm so sorry I didn't trust you"
"I'm sorry you didn't trust me too" Xena admitted "I thought you knew me better than that"
"I do know you better than that. That was just me insecurities surfacing" Gabrielle admitted
"It really hurt, Gabrielle" Xena admitted.
Hearing this, Gabrielle started to cry. She hated Xena getting hurt and it killed her when she was the doing the hurting.
"I know" Gabrielle said "I know your angry"
"Yes I am" Xena admitted
Gabrielle sighed sadly and stood up "I'm sorry I ruined what we had, Xena" She said and she turned to leave, looking back at Xena again "I will always love you"
Xena frowned, then she realised that Gabrielle thought it was over between them 'Not on my life, bard' She thought as she reached out and grabbed Gabrielle's arm with her right hand and pulled her around so they were facing again.
"I said I was angry, Gabrielle. I never said I was stupid" Xena smiled "I love you and I'm not going to throw what we have away over this"
"You're not" Gabrielle said, a smiled etching her face
"No" Xena smiled as she pulled Gabrielle down to her. Then she kissed her softly.
"Gods I've missed that" Gabrielle admitted, as they broke off.
"Me too" Xena smiled
"It's been two weeks since you've kissed me like that" Gabrielle said sadly
"Well, I guess we've got some time to make up for then" Xena smiled as she leaned forward to kiss her partner again.
"I thought you'd never kiss me like that again" Gabrielle said "I really am sorry"
"I know" Xena said "I also know that next time we have a problem, we need to sort it out together before I have to go and fight for my life"
"I totally agree" Gabrielle said "I wanted to talk to you earlier but the fight had already started. I don't know what I would have done if something had happened to you"
"I knew I couldn't leave with this between" Xena said as she kissed the bard again. The kiss was not meant to be passionate just loving, and full of promises. Then Xena smiled as she fell back to sleep.
Gabrielle watched as she slept and decided to go and get her dairy so she could write about her day.
On the way she bumped into Solon.
"Hey Gabrielle" He said
"Hi, Solon" Gabrielle said
"How is she now?" Solon asked
"She is sleeping, but she is going to be fine. Her shoulder is going to hurt for a while but other than that there is nothing wrong with her" Gabrielle said
"Good" Solon said "I was worried about her"
"I was too" Gabrielle admitted
"She loves you, you know" Solon said
"I know" Gabrielle said "So what does it feel like to have a mother again?"
"It's wonderful. I always hoped that maybe someone would tell me that Xena was my mother. I felt that we were closer than my and Kaleipus were" Solon admitted "I loved her like a mother before"
"Well I'm glad she finally told you" Gabrielle said "She loves you a lot as well"
"I know" Solon smiled "Oh and thank you for my presents"
"She gave them to you" Gabrielle frowned "I thought your birthday was coming up at the end of the festival"
"No my birthday was two days after Mom arrived at the village" Solon said
"Well happy birthday then Solon" Gabrielle smiled
"Thanks" Solon said "Gabrielle can you do me a favour?"
"If I can" Gabrielle said
"Mom told me that I had an uncle and a grandmother. I really want to meet them. Can you remind her she is supposed to be thinking about taking me to Amphipolis to meet them" Solon asked
"Oh I think I can do that" Gabrielle said
"Well I better get to bed. It's been a long day" Solon said
"That it has" Gabrielle agreed "Goodnight, Solon"
"Goodnight" Solon said and he turned and walked into his hut. While Gabrielle carried onto her own hut to retrieve her diary and a quill.
* * * * *
Once Gabrielle returned to the healer's hut, she checked on the temperature of her partner, hoping that she hadn't come down with a fever, relieved when she hadn't. Then she sat down by her side and started on her diary.
Well today as been different. There were really good things about it and bad things about it. Xena returned to the village today. She brought Solon with her and she has told him he is her son. When I tried to speak to her this afternoon she ignored me, it was then that I found out she had brought someone back to the village with her. Solari told me I should have spoken to her about what happened before she fought In case something happened and she was killed. I have to agree that if she had and I didn't know if she was still mad at me or not, I don't know what I would have done. I couldn't have lived my life knowing that the last thing that I said to her, were words accusing her of cheating on me. Something I know she wouldn't have done.
The more I think of it, the more I realise how stupid I was. Well anyway when I tried to talk to her before the fight, the fight had already started. I don't think that I really doubted that she would win, until Nelia threw that stone at her, it distracted her. Ephiny has had her arrested for interfering, but it was too late. Rayna stabbed her in the shoulder. Xena turned around and killed her, before collapsing to the floor. Gemi says she will be fine. I have to believe she will be. I spoke to her afterwards and we made up. I have to admit I hope I never have to go through that again. She does as well. I don't think I would survive it. No sense in dwelling in the past, we are together now and that is the most important thing.
Solon wants me to try and talk her into letting him come to Amphipolis and meet Mom and Toris. I think Xena will agree. She has an important sense of family values and she knows how much Solon wants to meet them both. I know she is happy that Solon knows she is his mother now. She hasn't said that, but I can see it in her eyes. It makes me want to cry. Everything is going well for both of us and thinking that something, like what happened here last week, could take all that away from us makes me and to cry. If I lose what we have.... well I don't even want to think about that.
She smiled as she reread her entry and then put her diary away and climbed onto the pallet next to Xena and before long Morpheus called to her and she joined her partner in the first peaceful sleep since the day after they had arrived at the village. The day Xena had left.
* * * * *
It was early in the morning when Xena stirred again and she instant felt the ache in her shoulder as she tried to move it slightly. She groaned and then she felt a gentle presence next to her, a presence she knew very well and it wasn't any threat. She opened her eyes and looked into the green eyes of her partner.
"Good morning" Gabrielle said, cheerfully from her position next to the warrior.
"Morning" Xena said "What are you doing out of bed so early?"
"I'm not" Gabrielle smiled, sheepishly "I stayed here last night"
"Oh" Xena said "How was Solon after?"
"He was fine" Gabrielle assured her "I think he was glad he was here"
"Yeah he wanted to be here in case anything happened to me" She smiled
"So you decided to tell him huh" Gabrielle said. She had wanted Xena to tell Solon she was his mother from the moment she found out Xena had a son and Solon didn't know about it. Xena had refused saying she wasn't capable of being a mother to Solon and that she didn't see the point in turning everything around. Solon thought his mother was dead and that was the way Xena had wanted it to stay. 'What changed?' She thought
"Yeah" Xena said "Kaleipus told me that it was best he found out from me. He said he was after all my son. You can tell that mostly by looking at him. He looks like Lyceus"
"He looks like you" Gabrielle told her
"He does, doesn't he" Xena smiled
"Are you going to tell Mom?" Gabrielle asked
"I don't know" Xena admitted "She deserves to know"
"Yes she does and Solon deserves to know his Grandmother" Gabrielle said
"Are you two ganging up on me?" Xena asked, remembering the conversation she had, had with Solon on the journey over from the Centaur village about him wanting to meet his Uncle and Grandmother.
"Well he did ask me to remind you that you were thinking about it" Gabrielle admitted "I just thought I'd give you my opinion too"
"Great it was bad enough having one of you to argue with. Now I have two. Kill me now" She chuckled, not expecting the reaction that caused from the young bard until she felt Gabrielle shift and straddle her then grab her night shift and yank her up from her lying position, which irritated her wound.
"Don't say that Xena. You were almost killed last night. It isn't a joke. Please don't talk like that" She pleaded, then she noticed the pained expression on the warrior's face "Oh Xena your arm, I'm sorry"
"It's ok" Xena said "Just let go of my shift" Which the bard did. Then she watched as Xena straightened up and lean against the headboard "Why don't you go and tell Solon I want to talk to him"
"OK" Gabrielle said "Are you sure you are ok?"
"I'm fine. I swear" Xena said, and then she watched as Gabrielle turned and went in search of Solon.
* * * * *
A few minutes later Solon entered the healer's hut. He smiled when he saw his mother sitting up in bed and walked over and hugged her, being careful not to hurt her arm.
"Good morning, Mother" Solon said
"Good morning" Xena said "How did you sleep last night?"
"Great" Solon said "You?"
"Like a baby" Xena admitted "Solon thank you for setting Gabrielle on me about you coming to Amphipolis"
"I didn't set her on you. I just asked her to remind you that you were thinking about it" Solon said
"Well I've thought about it" Xena said "Solon, I know you want to meet your uncle and grandmother but.." She sure his shoulders drop in defeat at what he knew she was going to say "I think you need to ask Kaleipus first"
Solon looked totally shocked he hadn't expected that "Really?" He asked unsure of his mother's tone
"Solon, I may be your mother but you still live with Kaleipus and he is still your guardian. You need to ask him first" Xena said
"I will. Thanks Mom" Solon said as he hugged her again.
"Is this a private party, or can anyone join in?" Gabrielle asked as she and Ephiny walked into the room.
"Sorry but this is a private party" Xena said, smiling when neither Gabrielle or Ephiny listened to her.
"How are you this morning?" Ephiny asked, taking in the colour of the warrior, it was more or less her normal colour now, not the deathly white it had been the night before.
"Fine thanks" Xena said "Hey I never got to congratulate you yesterday. I'm glad you choose Eponin. I had her constantly complaining about you when we first arrived"
"Really" Ephiny said
"Yeah" Xena smiled "You made a friend very happy this week, Eph"
"Thanks, Xena" Ephiny smiled
"So why did you decide to leave it until the end of the festival?" Xena asked
"Well that was mine and Pony's decision. We both want to at least make it seem like we are courting before we jump straight into a joining ceremony" Ephiny said "So Solon why don't you come and tell me about my son"
"OK" Solon said "See you later, Mom, Gabrielle"
"Bye Solon" Both said simultaneously, as the Regent lead Solon out of the hut.
"I spoke to Artemis" Gabrielle said, as she sat next to the warrior
"I know" Xena said
"How do you know?" Gabrielle frowned
"Well Pony told me" Xena said, not wanting to tell Gabrielle at the moment about her meeting with Athena. She wanted to see what Gabrielle said first.
"Oh, well anyway afterwards Karis told me that I need to seek forgiveness from you and Athena before we can be joined" Gabrielle said
"Well you don't have to worry about that. I forgive you for what happened and I think Athena will as well" Xena told her
"I don't know" Gabrielle said, sadly "Karis seemed certain that Athena would have difficulty forgiving me because I hurt her Life Chosen"
"Yes but if freely forgive you, Gabrielle, Athena will not have much option" Xena said "She told me that"
"You've spoken to her?" Gabrielle asked
"Yes when I was at the Centaur village, I had a visit from Ares, Athena wasn't amused by something he said so she came and got rid of him. Then we had a nice chat. She even met Solon" Xena told her
"Good because when, not if, when we decided that we want to get joined, I don't want that in our way" Gabrielle admitted
"It won't be. I promise you that, Gabrielle" Xena said as she leaned over and kissed her partner. This time the passion was there, and this led to other things, which led to a gentle sharing of that passion.Continued in Part 3.