Battling Herodotus by Lindsey

Battling Herodotus
by Lindsey

Part 1

Our visit to Potadeia started off simply enough. We were in the area when I asked Gabrielle if she minded if we dropped in for a day or two so she could visit with her family. I didn’t mind, we were not in a big rush to get anywhere and it had been too long, in my opinion, since my bard had visited her mother and sister. Her father on the other hand, well it could have been fifty years since her last visit and it still would have been too soon, but that’s just me.

So we strode into town and Gabrielle was instantly recognized by one of the local women who ran off to announce our arrival at “Castle Herodotus,” as I referred to it. When we had finally managed to make it through the throng of people that wanted to greet the bard and arrive at the family farm there were three people waiting for us on the porch. Hecuba and Lila greeted us warmly, and by that I mean they fawned over Gabrielle and said a passing hello to me as they whisked her, and me by way of Gabrielle’s pleading gaze, into the kitchen for a meal.

Herodotus remained on the porch, preferring to shoot lethal glares through the window at me than to join his family for dinner on the eve of his eldest daughter’s return. I wasn’t impressed. I became even less impressed with the man who claimed to be Gabrielle’s loving father when he decided to delegate every chore known to the Gods to me the following morning after my companion had been dragged out to reacquaint with aunts, uncles and cousins. Why he couldn’t just leave me be to find my own entertainment was beyond me.

After almost a full day of mending fences and mucking stables under the reproachful glare of Herodotus I was glad to be sent off alone to the perimeter of the property to repair a stone wall. Although I was sweaty and tired I reminded myself of the fact that I suggested this little visit and that thus far it really hadn’t gone too badly. My appraisal of the situation was about to take a turn for the worse.

I had just about finished with the stone wall when I heard approaching footsteps coming from the forest. I smiled to myself as I recognized the pattern of footfalls as belonging to my bard. Wiping the sweat from my forehead I quickly ducked in behind some large trees intent on surprising my unsuspecting prey.

“Hey.” I said as I jumped from my hiding spot and pinned Gabrielle against a large tree.

“Hades, Xena you scared the life out of me.” She gasped, slapping me playfully on the arm.

“That was the idea; catch you unaware so I can have my way with you.” I waggled my eyebrows suggestively and lowered my head to kiss her neck, careful not to leave any lasting marks.

“Somebody missed me today.” She groaned, tilting her head to give me better access.

“This is all I have been able to think about, kissing you, touching you, feeling your body against mine.” I whispered softly into her ear before taking the lobe into my mouth and sucking gently.

“Gods Xena, what has gotten into you!?” My blonde bard asked as she threaded one hand into my hair and the other came to rest on my hip, pulling me closer. Taking this as encouragement I continued my assault on her sweet skin.

“Maybe this wasn’t such a good time to visit the family. You know how I get the week before my cycle begins.”

It was true that my sex-drive was pretty strong, but the week before I menstruate it shoots into overdrive, so much so that I have been known to pounce on Gabrielle several times a day during that time of the moon, seeking to satiate my raging libido. Being confined in a small town with Gabrielle’s conservative family, who knew nothing of our true relationship, was driving me to distraction.

“Poor baby, a bit frustrated are we?”

She cooed into my ear. In response my hands went to her hips and pulled her against me, parting her legs with one strong knee.

“I want you.” I moaned as my fingers wandered up her taught belly and felt her stiff nipple through the top she was wearing.

“And I want you, but you know we can’t do this right now. My mother is expecting us for dinner….oh gods, Xena!”

My busy fingers had found their way into her shirt and were now fondling her tight flesh.

“Screw dinner! I can find us something later.” I said as the hand on her hip slipped down to her backside and pulled her center into contact with my hard thigh.

“Ohhhhh, yeah…I mean, no. You know we can’t skip dinner. Furthermore, if we show up all sweaty and out of breath my parents will know something is up.” I wasn’t deterred.

“Not me, I’ve been working all day in this hot sun. I am expected to be all hot and bothered. You wanna bother me, Gabrielle?”

I asked as my lips once again found her sweet neck. My bard allowed me a moment to kiss her before her hand left my hair and cupped my chin, bringing my eyes up to meet hers.

“You know I love bothering you, but it’s just…” She let the sentence drop and I sighed deeply, attempting to rein in my desire for the time being.

“I know, I just want to be with you, only you and a nice soft bedroll.” I rested my forehead against hers, closing my eyes.

“Tonight, after dinner, I promise. Once everyone has gone to bed I will sneak out and meet you. We can go to this spot by the river that I know of and take a swim and…and do other stuff.”

This last bit was accompanied by a slight blush as she traced one finger along my lips. It never ceased to amaze me that after all the sexual acts we have done together in various locales throughout Greece that Gabrielle would still blush when talking about sex. She once told me that there was a big difference in talking about sex and having sex and that she would much rather have sex with me than talk about it. How could I resist that logic? So I let it go and just allow the fact that she had had a sheltered upbringing, but didn’t allow it to temper her desires, endear her to me that much more. And that endearment allowed me to try to bring her out of her shell every now and then, without being to obvious about it.

“You promise?” I teased and her eyebrow arched in a pretty good impression of my own expression.

“Seal it with a kiss.” She whispered as she leaned in and captured my lips with her own.

The moment contact was made I felt her hand resettle itself in my hair and I just allowed myself to relax and enjoy the moment…until the sound of a twig snapping behind us made my blood run cold in my veins.

“Gabrielle, your mother sent me to…WHAT IN HADES IS GOING ON HERE?!”

‘Awww, shit’ was my first coherent thought. Instantly my bard froze, her mouth pulling away from mine, her eyes remaining tightly closed. Herodotus was making his way toward us as I tried to remove my hand from Gabrielle’s top without drawing anymore of his attention to our actions. I failed miserably I realized when his face turned five more shades of red.

“Get your FILTHY, MURDERING hands off her!”

Oh no, this was not going to be pretty. I guess ignorance was bliss as far as telling Gabrielle’s father was concerned.

“And as for you,” his gaze shifted to his daughter, “I DID NOT raise a harlot who shacks up with a WOMAN! What are you Gabrielle, some sort of PERVERT?”

His hand rose to grab her arm and pull her away, but instead of capturing her arm he found his hand encased in my fist, my grip belaying my anger.

“If you EVER call her that again, or even make any motion to touch her in anger you will see just how murderous these hands can be.” I growled, shielding my lover from her father so she could compose herself. I was not going to let some close minded farmer talk that way to the woman I loved, I don’t care if he is her father.

“You are brainwashing her you bitch. First you steal my daughter, dragging her off to Gods know where and now you are forcing her to be a slave to your immoral sexual needs.” Herodotus spat, his voice pained as my grip remained tight on his hand.

“She is not brainwashing me, father, or forcing me to do anything I don’t want to do.” I felt Gabrielle’s hand on my elbow as she stepped out from behind me.

“Xena and I are in love. And we express those feelings physically, just like any other normal couple.”

I was surprised; Gabrielle’s voice had not risen above its normal tenor. ‘You go, girl,’ I nodded internally.

“NORMAL!! It is not normal for two women to…to…to be together in THAT way! It’s against the way of the Gods.” Herodotus sneered as he renewed his attempts to break away from my grip.

I released him, but didn’t drop my vigilance in case he made any attempts to lunge at my bard again.

“Who are you to tell me what is against the way of the Gods? Xena and I know many gods, none of which have spoken one word against our relationship!”

Ok, she was loosing her patience, I could tell, as her voice was beginning to rise.

“Well, no daughter of mine is gonna tramp around Greece shacking up with another woman, especially THAT woman.” He pointed at me.

“You are done, Gabrielle. You will not be leaving this village again. I indulged your travel fantasies for long enough; I will find a suitable husband for you and you will live a normal life, never speaking of this to anyone.” Herodotus nodded, as if to indicate that the discussion was over. I was about to speak up when a strong grip on my arm stopped me.

“First of all, father, you don’t own me anymore. I am old enough to make my own decisions. Secondly, I am an Amazon Queen.
If I don’t return to the village as expected they will come looking for me. How long do you think you can hold me against my will with hundreds of Amazons beating down your door? And lastly, I will NOT be separated from Xena, ever! She is my life; and whether you want to believe it or not, we have a good life together. And I know that she would fight to keep me by her side. Do you really want to fight her?”

I looked at Gabrielle, surprised that she would basically give me the go ahead to get physical with her father if he tried to prevent her from leaving. Feeling that the conversation was over she began the walk back to the house, tugging me along with her.

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” Herodotus shouted after us.

Gabrielle ignored him, and taking my cue from her, so did I. We were about half-way back to the house when Gabrielle first spoke.

“You won’t let him keep me here, will you?” I almost choked on my surprise.

“NO! How could you think that?” I stopped our forward progress and turned my bard so she was facing me, my eyes boring in to hers.

“I would tear that house board from board before I would let him keep you away from me. Besides, you are more than capable of kicking his ass if he tried to stop you.” A small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.

“I love you, so much.” She sighed as she wrapped her hands around my waist, hugging me gently. I rested my cheek on her golden hair.

“And I love you; now let’s get back to the house so we can…” I ducked my head and captured her gaze, “what are we going to do when we get back there?”

“Pack and get out of here, hopefully before he gets back.” She tossed her head back in the direction of the stone wall.

“What about your mother, and Lila?” I asked as we resumed walking, at a more brisk pace this time.

“I don’t know, honestly. I can’t say whether they will share his point of view or not, but really it doesn’t matter. As long as I have you I know I will be ok.” I felt her squeeze my hand briefly.

“Are you going to tell them why we are leaving?”

“Nope, I will let him do it.”

“I don’t think that is the best option, Gabrielle. How do you know they will react the same way? I think it’s only fair, to you and to them, that you tell them the truth and let the chips fall where they may.” She sighed and ran her free hand through her hair.

“I know, but I just don’t know if I want to take the time to tell them and risk an altercation when he gets back.”

“I understand. I will follow you, whatever you decide.”

At this point the house had come into view through the forest. I heard my lover take in a deep breath as we stepped into the yard and walked up onto the porch. No sooner had we opened the door when Hecuba was asking where her husband was.

“He is still out by the stone wall, Mother.”

Gabrielle didn’t meet her mother’s gaze as she walked through the kitchen and back into the room where our gear was stored.

“Well, is he going to be back in time for dinner?”

“I doubt it.” Gabrielle was now stuffing our clothing and bathing supplies into an empty saddlebag.

“Are you leaving so soon? Why? What happened, Gabrielle?” Hecuba questioned her daughter.

“Father and I had a disagreement. He made it quite obvious that he disagrees with my lifestyle. Xena and I are leaving, mother. I’m sure that father will explain the whole thing when he returns.” Tossing the now full bag to me, my bard grabbed her staff and headed toward the door.

“What aren’t you telling me, Gabrielle?”

Sighing deeply, my bard stopped walking, squared her shoulders and turned to face her mother and sister.

“Xena and I are lovers, have been for about a year now. Father caught us kissing out by the property line.”

Hecuba’s eyes widened in surprised at her daughter’s matter of fact tone. “You’re what?”

“Lovers. We are in love, with each other. We have sex. Need any more clarification?”

The middle aged woman just held her hand up, stopping Gabrielle’s explanation from going any further.

“No, no I think I understand quite clearly. What did your father say?”

“Hmmm, let’s see, well first he called Xena a murderer and alluded that she had brainwashed me into being her slave. And then he decided that he wasn’t going to let me leave town and that he was going to find me a proper husband.”

“He IS your father, Gabrielle.” Hecuba chastised.

“But he does not own me. I am a grown woman, mother. I can make my own choices, and I choose to be with Xena. Not holed up in this little town, married to a man I don’t even love.”

A door slamming stopped all conversation in the room. Herodotus’ heavy footfalls could be heard coming down the hall as Gabrielle moved away from the door and took her place beside me.

“HECUBA!” He called out, searching for his wife.

“Back here.”

Storming thorough the door his eyes immediately settled on his eldest daughter.

“Did she tell you?” He directed this towards his wife, his eyes never leaving Gabrielle and me. “Did she let you know that she is shaking up with this bitch?” His fists were clenched at his sides.

“Calm down, Herodotus.” His wife tried to sooth him.

“NO! I will NOT calm down. No child of mine is a pervert! She is not leaving this house with HER!”

“Like Tartarus she isn’t.” I growled. “I told you once, never to speak to her like that again, she is not your property to control!”

I could remain silent no longer. I was not going to let this escalate into any bigger of a scene than it already was. Grabbing her hand, I lead Gabrielle out of the room in front of me as Hecuba stepped between her raging husband and our retreat.

“Let her go, Herodotus.” She placed her hands on his arms to stop his advance.

“If you leave this house, young lady, I no longer have two daughters!” He screamed at our backs.

Closing the door behind us, I lead Gabrielle out of the house and towards the stable where Argo was stalled. When we entered the barn, Lila was waiting for us.

“Don’t try to stop us, Lila.” I warned as I threw the saddle blanket over my mount. She raised her hands in supplication.

“I’m not here to stop you. I packed some dinner for you when I heard that you were leaving.” She handed her sister a basket full of food.

“How much did you hear?” The blond asked.

“All of it.”

Gabrielle’s free hand covered her eyes as she sighed. “And now you are gonna lecture me too?”

I buckled the saddle on Argo and strapped on our saddle bags waiting for the next reign of verbal attacks.

“No. I just want you to be happy, Gab. I know you can’t control who you love.”

“Then you don’t have a problem with Xena and me as lovers?”

I took the basket from my bard and placed my free hand on her shoulder. Lila shook her head.

“No, I have a problem with some of Xena’s past, but I know she has changed a lot. And as long as she doesn’t hurt you then she is ok with me.”

I looked at Gabrielle and saw tears of relief had begun to pool in her eyes.

“Thank you, Lila. You have no idea how much that means to me.” She sniffed.

“Just promise me I will see you again.” The younger sister pleaded.

“If you ever want to see me, just send a message to the Amazons and I will arrange for us to meet. Tell mother that, too. That is if she still wants to see me after today.”

Lila approached her sister and pulled her into a warm embrace.

“She will, Gab. She just wants you to be happy, too.”

As the pair broke apart I attached the basket to Argo’s tack and climbed up into the saddle, leaving room for Gabrielle in front of me.

“We should go.” I said softly. She nodded and accepted my help in mounting.

“Thank you for the food, Lila.” I nodded at the young woman. She smiled.

“You’re welcome. Take good care of her, ok?”

I nodded. “Always.”

Gabrielle bid her sister goodbye as we rode out of the stable and headed to the road in a trot. As soon as we reached the main road and were headed out of town my bard let the tears come. I hugged her tighter and spoke consolingly to her till we were well out of range of Potadeia. Only then did I steer Argo off the road to find a spot to stop for the night. Easing her off the horse I lead her to a log where she could sit while I set up camp. After I had a fire going and had unrolled our sleeping furs I returned to the log and sat down next to my upset lover. Taking her into my arms I pulled her onto my lap.

“You ok?” It was a dumb question, I knew, but I didn’t know what else to say.

“Yeah, I guess. I mean I knew that he wouldn’t approve, but I didn’t think he would be so cruel. I’m sorry, Xena.” She looked up at me.

“For what?”

“For what he said to you, for what he called you.”

I chuckled softly. “I’ve been called much worse, Gabrielle.”

She shrugged. “I know, but he had no right to say those things, he doesn’t even know you.”

“No, he doesn’t, but he was upset, people say cruel things when they are upset. I don’t care what he says about me, as long as he doesn’t degrade you. You are the best thing in my life and I won’t allow him to hurt you maliciously.” I squeezed her a little tighter.

“At least Lila understands.” She sighed.

“She loves you, so does your mother and as hard as it is to accept, so does your father. He just doesn’t understand, he refuses to see anything other than his own beliefs. Give them time and I’m sure we will hear that they want to come see you, your mother and Lila especially.”

“Us, they will come see us. You are a part of my life, Xena. They will just have to accept that or I won’t see them.” She shifted position so she could rest her head on my shoulder. I felt her warm breath on my neck and I shivered.

“I don’t want to come between you and your family.”

“You are my family, and I won’t let them come between us.”

I smiled as warmth spread throughout my body at her statement. It was nice to know that I could still have a family, after all the terrible things I had done. She sighed deeply and rose from my lap.

“I am not going to spend one more moment of our time on Herodotus. If he can’t see how much I love you then…” She shrugged and moved to search through the food Lila had packed.

I knew we would be discussing this some more, but at the moment I was happy to let her take control and just enjoy spending some quiet time with my bard.

We had finished eating and were reclining on the sleeping furs when Gabrielle next spoke.

“So, where are we going to go now?”

I rolled onto my side and rested my head on a bent arm so I could look at her.

“How about the Amazons? It’s been awhile since we last saw Ephany and the gang, and it would give us a chance to just hang out for a while. And besides they are having their harvest festival in a few weeks, and I know you like a good festival.” I grinned.

“Are you sure? You know you don’t like to be in one place for too long of a time, and a few weeks is quite a stretch for you to be with that crew.”

I nodded my head. “Yeah, I think it will be good for us to stop for a bit before winter comes. Gives me a chance to make sure we have all of the supplies we need and that the equipment is all in good working condition. Besides, I get a good work out when I’m there. Those women never quit trying to best the Warrior Princess.”

My bard smiled and captured my free hand in her own.

“On one condition.”

I raised an eyebrow, belaying my amusement.

“What is that?”

“You let me tell Ephany that the ambushes in the surrounding woods are to stop. I hate the idea of them attacking you unannounced. Someone is going to get hurt one of these times.”

“I will be fine.”

“It’s not you I worry about. It’s them. Promise me?”

I nodded, it was a reasonable request. One that certainly had its benefits; I could walk freely through the woods, knowing that twenty armed Amazons were not around the next bend waiting to attack. Visions of solitary sword practice danced through my head.

“Yeah, you can tell Ephany that I will only spar in the practice field, and only for a few candle marks a day. Otherwise I will spend all our time there beating up Amazons.”

Gabrielle nodded and rolled us so that she could rest her head on my shoulder, her arm draped across my ribs.

“It’s settled then, tomorrow we head to Amazon country.” I entwined my fingers with hers and closed my eyes waiting for Morpheus to claim my lover so I could gently follow.

———————————————-

We made it to Amazon territory with no problems and were immediately ushered to our customary hut by Ephany, Gabrielle’s devoted regent. At one time I was a bit miffed by the blonde Amazon. Her dedication to my lover was a bit too extreme and I wondered if she didn’t have some secret agenda to steal her away from me. Gabrielle had long since quelled that notion, informing me that she only had feelings of friendship for her regent and that no one could ever hold a candle to what she felt for me. So I relented in my self imposed dislike of Ephany and we have become good friends and more importantly I trusted Gabrielle in her care.

“So, what brings you two to the village?” The regent asked as we all settled down at the main table in the hut.

“Do we have to have a reason to stop by?” I asked, teasing her a bit.

“Uh, no…no you are welcome here anytime. I was just…”

I let her off the hook. “I’m just yanking your chain Eph.” I smiled and she visibly relaxed.

“Xena and I decided that we wanted a few weeks of relaxation before winter and thought that this would be the best place.” Gabrielle remarked as she raised a mug of tea to her lips.

“Great! So does that mean you will be here for the harvest festival?”

This time the regent looked at me, a hint of expectation in her eyes. My bard’s regent had been bugging me recently about finally making our relationship official, usually I avoided her questions. I hardened my facial expression, not wanting to give Gabrielle or her Regent any indication as to why I really wanted to be here for the festival. Gabrielle was oblivious, as she was too engrossed in the tray of food in front of her to notice the exchange.

“Yeah, that is the plan, right Xena?” She looked up at me; an apple slice paused midway between the plate and her mouth.

“Yeah, we will be here.”

My bard smiled and resumed her eating.

“Good. Well, I’d better go let the cooks know you have arrived.” The regent winked at her Queen.

“We will meet up with you at sunset for evening meal, ok?” Gabrielle asked as Ephany made her way to the exit.

“Yeah, see you then.” Closing the door behind her, the blonde headed off in the direction of the dining hut.

Grabbing the one remaining apple slice before Gabrielle could snatch it; I stood and began to remove my armor and to settle in to the familiar surroundings.

“You know Xena,” my bard rose a few moments later and turned to face me, “we never did get to have that little rendezvous the other night.”

I smiled as she made her way over to where I was leaning against the wall. Bringing a finger to my lip, I tapped it gently as if deep in thought.

“No, I guess we didn’t. What ever are we going to do about that?” I asked innocently.

I felt my temperature rise at least five degrees as in response I watched my bard reach behind her back and loosen the ties of her top. Thank the Gods I had already removed my armor, less clothing to remove, perfect for this exact situation. As the flimsy garment fluttered to the floor I moved from my spot on the wall and scooped up a half naked bard and carried her back to our bedroom, intent on making her really hungry for that evening meal we were scheduled to attend.

—————————————–

The first couple of days in the village passed quickly. It was nice to not have to worry about touching or being affectionate with Gabrielle in public; and to not have to worry about catching dinner or finding a suitable campsite?. We took walks in the surrounding woods, sparred with the other warriors and slept soundly in our own bed, bodies entwined in our favorite positions.

On the fourth day I informed my bard that I was going on a day trip with Eponin the best warrior that the Amazons had and by far the one person with whom I spent the most time with, aside from Gabrielle. I told her we were going hunting and she readily agreed, stating that it would be good for me to get away from the hustle and bustle of the village for a while as she knew that all the people made me jumpy. What the fair queen didn’t know was that we were not really going hunting. Eponin had been holding a present for Gabrielle for me and I needed to retrieve it and talk with the warrior about my plans to present it to the Queen.

We had been gone most of the day, just riding through the Amazonian woods and talking in the way that warriors do. The sun was starting to get low on the horizon when we decided that we should at least do a little bit of hunting so no one would be suspicious when we returned to the village. It wouldn’t do at all for the best warrior the nation had to offer and the Warrior Princess to return empty handed. So with a couple of turkeys and a good sized deer in our possession we rode back into the village. After bringing the game to the dining hut and removing Argo’s saddle I returned to our hut expecting to find Gabrielle engrossed in a scroll, either writing or reading. What I didn’t expect was company. Hecuba and Lila to be precise.

“Gabrielle, I’m….” I let the sentence trail off as I took in the three women seated at the table, their faces grim.

“What is going on here?” Immediately I was on the defensive.

Gabrielle rose from her seat and came to stand next to me, taking my hand in her own. “Xena, I need to speak with you in private, please.”

My eyes caught my lover’s. “Oookkaaay…” I drew the word out; wary of what was to come.

“Mother, Lila, if you will excuse us. The guard can show you to your hut. Xena and I will meet you for evening meal in about a candle mark.”

Gabrielle opened the main door and motioned for a guard. Giving quick instructions she ushered her family out of the hut and closed the door, releasing a huge sigh. Something was wrong.

“What’s the matter?”

Instantly I was at her side, leading her to the padded bench near the fireplace. She sat silently for a moment only the insistent pressure of her hand in mine as an indicator that she was upset.

“My father is coming.” She turned to look at me.

“Here? To the village? What for?” I questioned the surprise evident in my simple questions.

“Apparently after we left Potadeia he sought out all of the available men in the village.”

“Oh no.” I groaned.

“Yeah. Well he met up with a man named Thad, he is the son of farmer that lived just down the road from us when I was growing up. Nice kid, but kind lacking in the social aspects of life. Apparently Dad played it like he had a daughter who was planning on returning to the village and who was looking for a husband. So he made an agreement with Thad that if he would marry me that he could build a farm on the back third of our land. Thad agreed. So my father is on his way here with Thad to claim me and force me to marry.”

I was shocked and angered. Herodotus had no right to make decisions for Gabrielle.

“So he sent mother and Lila here to help me pack and make sure I was ready to leave when he arrives.”

Gabrielle’s hand dropped mine and came to settle in her lap. Her eyes were riveted to the fire.

“He has no right!” I said, barely containing the anger that was building within me.

“No, he doesn’t, but he is my father and thinks he knows what is best for me.”

Rising from the bench I knelt between my lover’s legs. “We won’t let him in the village. I won’t let him near you.” I said as I lifted her chin so her eyes met mine.

“I can’t hide here forever, Xena.”

I sighed, she was right, and besides I didn’t really want to have to fight Gabrielle’s father.

“What does your mother have to say about all of this?” I asked trying to withhold judgment about the eldest of the Potadeian women.

“She told me I should leave, not be here when he arrives, but I am not going to run from him. I won’t give him the satisfaction of thinking he can threaten me into doing something I don’t want to do.”

I nodded, we had never run from a fight before, why start now?

“So what are we going to do?” I asked, my hands clasping hers.

“I don’t know, I can’t in good conscience threaten to use violence on my own father, but I am NOT going to be forced into a marriage to someone I don’t love. Besides, I’m already involved with someone.”

A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips. I chuckled; glad that she could find time for humor in this situation.

“That you are, and I hear that this person doesn’t take kindly to others threatening her girl.” I smiled.

“No, she really doesn’t.” She replied and I playfully tugged on her hand.

“When will he be here?” I asked, a plan formulating in my mind.

“Five days.”

“That is before the harvest festival.”

She nodded sadly; knowing that we had planned on remaining in the village for at least another two weeks.

“Don’t worry, I will think of something.” I said, my plan already coming together. Pulling her into my arms I gave Gabrielle a tight hug and a kiss on the top of her golden head.

“I know, you always do.” She sighed.

“Why don’t you go see that your mother and sister are settled? I have something I need to do before dinner. I will meet you there, ok?”

She looked at me, confused. “What do you need to do?”

“Nothing really, Pony has something of mine and I need to get it back.”

She nodded and allowed me to stand up. Grasping her hands, I pulled her to her feet and kissed her gently on the lips before leaving the hut. Quickly I strode across the village to Eponin’s hut and rapped loudly on the door.

“Xena, back so soon? Didn’t think I would see you for at least a few candle marks.” The Amazon winked conspiratorially.

“Get ready, I am doing it tonight.” I stated as I walked into the hut.

“Tonight? I thought you were going to wait a week or so, you know allow those of us involved to prepare?”

“I was, but Herodotus decided that he was going to try and marry Gabrielle off so I intend to see that she is already officially off the market before he arrives.”

“What? He has no right!” Eponin barked as she strapped on her sword and armor.

“No, he doesn’t, but he won’t back off so something needs to be done.” I fidgeted as I tucked the small brown pouch into a band of my leathers.

Half a candle mark later I was informed that Gabrielle and her family had arrived in the dining hut. Nodding to Eponin, we headed in that direction, stopping outside of the door to wait until I was announced. Joran, one of Eponin’s trusted warriors moved through the flap and could be heard addressing the queen.

“Queen Gabrielle, a warrior has requested a word with you.”

My hands began to shake as I withdrew a silver ring from the leather pouch and placed it on my little finger.

“The queen is eating now; this warrior can wait until she is finished.”

Damn! I should have told Ephany of my plans; I knew that the blonde regent would be the death of me one day. I sighed as I heard Joran continue.

“Pardon me, Regent, but this cannot wait.”

I heard Ephany sigh and Gabrielle’s muted approval of the request. I held my position till Joran exited the hut and took her place next to Eponin; they would lead me into the dining hall.

“Let’s go.” I whispered and they started walking.

Upon entry into the hut Gabrielle’s eyes immediately fixed on me, confusion registering in their green depths.

“Xena?” She questioned.

I walked until I was immediately in front of her and dropped to one knee, removing my sword and placing it at her feet. A few gasps could be heard as other Amazons realized what I was doing, including Ephany who cracked a wide grin of satisfaction. I waited until her eyes rose from the sword on the floor to meet my own before I spoke.

“Queen Gabrielle, I, Xena of Amphipolis pledge my life, and my sword onto you and ask you, here, in front of your tribe and your family, if you would do me the honor of becoming my bond mate in an Amazon joining ceremony?” I asked in a voice that was much calmer than I felt.

As I finished Gabrielle just looked at me, surprise warring with confusion in her facial features. When she didn’t answer after a few moments I began to get nervous.

“Gabrielle?” I whispered, trying to regain her attention.

“Yes.”

I blinked, now it was my turn to be confused.

“Yes, what? Yes, I have your attention or yes you will marry me?” Again I whispered.

“Yes, I will marry you.”

I let out a sigh of relief and scrambled to my feet as a chorus of cheers rose up from behind me. Grinning from ear to ear I pulled her into an embrace and kissed her gently on the lips before she pulled away.

“What’s the matter?” I asked the smile fading.

“Is this your plan?” She whispered painfully, her eyes belaying her emotions.

“What? No, well yes, but…”

I looked around the crowded hall and decided that this was not the place to be having this conversation. Grasping her hand lightly I resheathed my sword and guided her out of the dining hut so we could speak privately. I led her to a rough bench and we both sat down.

“Is this your plan, Xena? To marry me so I won’t have to go with my father.” She asked me again when we were both seated and
I could hear the accusation in her voice.

“No, Gabrielle, love, I had planned on asking you to join with me while we were here, and that’s why I suggested we stay so long, for the festival. I figured that if you agreed we could be joined during the celebration. The situation with your father is just coincidental. I may not have asked you tonight, but I was going to ask you.”

She started to interrupt, but I placed my fingers over her lips.

“Listen to me, I love you and I want to marry you. I have had this planned for a full season now. Remember the last time we were here and I snuck off with Eponin for a few hours?”

She nodded.

“I was asking her to hold something for me till I was ready to use it. She was holding this.” I removed the ring from my finger and held it up for her to see. It was an exact copy of my signet ring, only sized to fit her smaller hand.

“And today, we didn’t really spend the whole day hunting; we were planning how I was going to propose. I wanted it to be a surprise. Ask Eponin she will tell you the whole story if you want her to, she has been dying to tell someone. Believe me, I would never toy with your feelings that way, I know how much you respect the joining ceremony and how much you want to get married.” I looked at her, hoping that she believed me.

“You really want to marry me?” She asked so seriously I almost laughed.

“By the Gods woman, yes! I want to be with you more than anything, be your wife, and have you be mine.” I took her hand in mine and brushed her knuckles against my lips before pressing her hand against my heart, my eyes never left hers.

“You know I am not really good with words and I wish I could have written something spectacular for you, but I can only tell you how I feel. So, please Gabrielle, I love you and want to know if you will marry me?”

“Oh Xena, yes of course I will marry you.” She whispered relief relaxing her features as tears began to fill her eyes.

Feeling the sting of tears in my own eyes I tilted her chin up and pressed my mouth to hers, smiling when I felt her tongue brush my lips, demanding entrance. We kissed softly until the need for air forced us apart.

“I love you, Xena.” She whispered as she wrapped her arms around me, pulling me into a tight hug. I sighed happily.

“And I love you.”

We sat, wrapped in our private embrace for a few moments, reveling in each other until Gabrielle’s stomach reminded us that she hadn’t eaten dinner.

“I think we should go back inside. People are going to wonder where we ran off to and we need to feed that beast.”

She nodded and released me from her grasp. Standing I took her hand in mine and we walked back to the dining hut to eat. Unfortunately we were seen as soon as we entered and were whisked away to a back table where Hecuba and Lila were sitting with Ephany who rose immediately upon seeing us.

“Congratulations.” She smiled happily and pulled Gabrielle into a hug.

“Thank you, Ephany.” Gabrielle beamed, her hand never releasing mine.

“To tell you the truth, we were wondering when she was finally going to ask you.” The Regent nodded in my direction a look of smug satisfaction on her face.

“Yeah, well…” I faded off.

“Yeah we all know, Xena. You are a bit reluctant about public confessions of emotions, too girly. And you do have that warrior image to think about.” She slapped me on the back and laughed; I couldn’t help but join and shrug.

“Ephany, will you get Xena and me something to eat, please?” Gabrielle addressed her regent, knowing that we need to talk to her family in private.

The blonde warrior nodded and headed toward the kitchen. Pulling out the bench we sat, prepared to face Hecuba.

“Gabrielle, I don’t…”

“Mother, don’t,” my bard held her hand up to stop her mother. “Xena and I are to be joined. I don’t care what father has planned for me; I am not going back with him.”

I was proud of my lover for standing up for our relationship.

“I am not suggesting that you don’t love Xena, but is this really the best option? Can she provide you with a good life? And I don’t mean to insult you, Xena, but are you sure that you are doing this for the right reason? Marriage is a life-long commitment, what if someday you meet a nice man and want to settle down?”

I opened my mouth to speak, but closed it when I felt a warm hand on my thigh.

“Yes, for us this is the best option. Xena provides a wonderful life for me, I never go hungry and best of all she understands and respects me as a person, which is more than I can say about most of the men I’ve come across. And as much as this may disappoint you, I am not going to find a man and settle down on some farm, its just not who I am, not the way I want to live my life. Xena loves me and wants to marry me because of the person that I am, not because father is about to arrive on our doorstep in attempt to whisk me away. We are committed to building a life together as a couple, besides, if I am already married then father cannot force me to marry a man I don’t even know, let alone love.”

Hecuba was undeterred. “She can’t provide you with a family, Gabrielle.”

“That depends on your definition of family, Mother. No, she can’t give me children, but I’m sure that if the time comes when I want to have a child, Xena will find a way to make it happen.”

Hecuba turned her gaze to me. “And what about you? Do you think this is the best thing for my daughter?”

“I think that Gabrielle has the right to make her own decisions. She knows that I love her and would respect any decision she makes. If she didn’t want to marry me then she wouldn’t have said yes.”

“What about children?”

I shrugged. “If she wants children, then I will find a way to make it happen.” I said confidently.

“And if she wants to come in off the road and settle down?”

I knew that question was coming. “Then we will settle down, whatever Gabrielle wants.”

Hecuba sighed and I felt the hand on my thigh squeeze slightly.

“Your father just wants what is best for you.”

“Being with Xena is best for me. We will be joined and he can’t stop us.” Gabrielle was defiant.

“He will try.”

“He won’t be here yet; we will be married in two days, at the full moon.” I spoke up and Gabrielle smiled.

“By the time he arrives we will already be joined and there will be nothing he can do and if he wants to put up a fight when he arrives he will have to deal with me and the rest of the Amazon nation. We will not allow our Queen to be taken against her will.”
I was determined not to let Herodotus take Gabrielle from me.

“The question is will you be here mother? Will you stay for our joining?”

Lila decided that it was her turn to speak up.

“I will be here, Gab. I want to see you get joined.”

I smiled, at least one member of the bard’s family was accepting of our relationship. Hecuba smiled slightly.

“Of course I will be here. I just wanted to make sure that this is what you really want. In the end, all I want is for you to be happy.”

I felt my partner relax just a bit. Well, one hurdle had been cleared. Now we just had to let Ephany know of our plan to be joined so soon. Two days was not an extra ordinate amount of time to plan a wedding.

The rest of the evening passed without event, well unless you count a near heart-attack for Ephany when we told her when we wanted to be joined. That commotion settled and Hecuba and Lila settled in, Gabrielle and I retired to our hut only to find Eponin waiting on the porch.

“What’s up, Pony?” I asked as we mounted the steps.

“Ah, well…I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Xena you need to come with me.”

Instantly I was irritated.

“What in Hades for?” I barked, Pony just smiled.

“Mandatory separation and celibacy period.”

I groaned, should have known the Amazons would have some stupid separation ritual.

“Can I at least get a few things from the hut?”

Gabrielle had her free hand covering her mouth and was trying not to laugh.

“You think this is funny, do you? You have to sleep alone too, ya know.” I poked her in the ribs.

“I know, I just think it’s funny that you didn’t know about this.”

“Ha, ha.” I laughed sarcastically as I walked into the hut to gather some clean clothes and bathing supplies.

“Can we at least have one moment alone?” I asked as Pony monitored my every move.

“Well, you really aren’t supposed to, but…” I shot her a dirty look, “go ahead.” She relented and left the hut.

“I’m sorry.” Gabrielle apologized.

“For what?” I asked as I gathered her into my arms.

“This separation, its tradition.” I sighed.

“I know. I’ll survive, that is if you will give me just one kiss before I go.” I gave my bard my most pleading look.

“I think we can manage that.”

She smiled as our lips met in a fiery kiss, tongues battling for control. We remained locked in our passion until a throat being cleared at the door interrupted us.

“I believe I said a moment alone, not a quarter of a candle mark.” Pony stood in the doorway a smile on her face.

“Screw you, Pony.” Gabrielle jabbed, her head buried in my neck.

“As you wish, my queen.”

“Don’t you even think it!” I growled and the dark haired warrior laughed.

“Two days,” I whispered into my lover’s ear.

“Um hmm, wouldn’t miss it for the world.” She purred.

“If you need me just strangle Pony here and I’m sure she will know where I am.”

Gabrielle nodded as I started to walk out of the hut.

“Xena!” She called and I stopped instantly.

“Marry me?”

“You bet, a team of chariots couldn’t drag me away.” I smiled and left the hut before it would take more than Pony to get me away.

——————————————-

My time spent away from Gabrielle prior to our joining afforded me precious candle marks in which I spent contemplating what my future wife and I were going to do about her approaching father. Gabrielle had been right to question my motivations and sincerity when I asked for her hand. Since we had never seriously thought about the two of us getting joined how was she to know that I had every intention of making an “honest” woman out of her during our most recent stay in the village? However, what I didn’t intend was for our joining to be tainted by doubts about my commitment to the young queen.

The truth is that I adore my fair-haired bard and do wish to spend the rest of my life by her side, spoiling her, but having her already be married when Herodotus arrived on our doorstep is the easiest solution to this daunting situation. And since I have absolutely no intention of letting her be joined with anyone else, even if it’s only for show, I had to accelerate my proposal by a week or so. This hastened matrimonial plan then threw the village into chaos as every member of Gabrielle’s tribe tried to prepare a royal wedding in the span of two days.

As I was one of the two people being joined and thus could not be allowed to roam the village for fear of seeing Gabrielle so I had an abundance of time to myself to try and come up with something to say to my bard’s father. To my dismay, as the sun set on the day I was to be joined I had only one single idea about what we could say and I knew my lover wouldn’t go for it. So, with much more pleasant things to think about, most importantly, my wedding night, I decided that we would just accept the situation as it comes and think on our feet.

I must say that I found myself quite nervous in the moments before the ceremony began, but as soon as Gabrielle came into view all my nerves melted away to be replaced with a sense of wonder that as the former Destroyer of Nations I thought I would never feel. Here I was, standing in the middle of an Amazon village, about to be joined with their queen with whom I was totally in love. I would do anything for her, even if that meant sacrificing my life. The only other person to whom I was as devoted had been my brother Lyceus and at that moment I wished he was there as a witness to this event.

—————————————

The ceremony itself was quite simple, as the required blessing by Artemis had already been received when Gabrielle and I first became lovers. Basically we had to declare our love for each other before the entire nation and I had to pledge my fealty to Gabrielle, one of the requirements of marrying a queen; one which I embraced fully. As a sign of our bond we exchanged silver bonding bracelets that would remain on our bodies as long as we were joined. Gabrielle’s would shine visibly for the world to see while mine would be beneath a bracer, but it didn’t matter to us as we both knew who we belonged to and didn’t need a bracelet to prove it. We just chalked it up as another Amazon custom that we were required to follow.

Once the pledges were complete and our bracelets exchanged the ceremony was complete and the party could begin. This was the part that the Amazon’s relished. Although they loved their queen and were ecstatic that she was finally joined, there was nothing more an Amazon liked to do than party. So as Gabrielle and I enjoyed our fist kiss as a bonded couple the barrels of ale were tapped and the celebration began in earnest.

“I think they are starting without us.” I whispered as our lips parted briefly.

“Let ’em. I am perfectly content to just stand her with you.”

I smiled at my wife’s confession and wrapped her in a warm embrace, my cheek coming to rest on her soft hair.

“I think that we should join them if we want to get any of that feast the cooks prepared.”

At the mention of food my wife pulled back from our embrace. Taking my hand in hers she practically pulled me toward the food tables.

“Hungry, Gabrielle?” I laughed as I was pulled along.

“I’m starving, I haven’t eaten since this morning, I was too nervous.” I quirked an eyebrow.

“You were nervous? What for, second thoughts?” I teased.

“You know better than that, and don’t pretend that you weren’t a little nervous too, Pony told me that you were.” She bantered and I knew I was busted.

Damn that Pony, can’t a girl have any secrets?

Gabrielle never released my hand as we walked toward the banquet tables and were handed plates piled high with wild game and vegetables grown in the Amazonian gardens. It felt nice knowing that we could be so free with our emotions in front of such a large group of people. In many places around Greece our relationship was frowned upon and we had to be careful as to how much we interacted in public. That was not the case here and apparently my bard was more than willing to take advantage of our freedom as we had no sooner sat down at the head table when I felt a warm hand come to rest high upon my thigh. My wife’s action took me off guard for a moment, unfortunately that moment involved me attempting to take a drink from a tankard of ale. I choked on the cool liquid and barely escaped spraying it all over the plate in front of me.

“You ok?” She asked me with a not-so-innocent look on her face.

“Yeah, yeah.” I nodded, “went down the wrong way, that’s all.” I lied and I could tell by the look in her eyes that she was amused and pleased by my reaction to her touch.

“Well, I’m glad that you have everything under control.” She smiled at me, the kind of smile that crinkled up her nose and made me smile right back unconsciously.

My grin was immediately replaced by a look of surprise when I felt her hand shift, her fingers sliding to caress the sensitive flesh of my inner thigh. My bard was normally very private about our intimate moments and her sudden boldness caused the muscles in my abdomen to flutter with my immediate arousal. I briefly put aside those pleasant feelings to entertain the worry that someone would catch us or see what the young Amazon Queen was doing with her ever so talented hand, but the brush of the tablecloth against my legs quickly dispelled any notion I had of stopping this most pleasant torture.

So with a façade of calmness I rejoined the conversation that was going on at our table. After a quarter of a candle mark of tracing light circles on my skin I began to wonder if my bard’s boldness had worn off and she was merely keeping me aware of her desire to retreat to our own hut. As I was just about to suggest that we call it a night Gabrielle upped the stakes of her little seduction and moved her roaming hand up to the edge of my now damp breeches, her fingers stroking the crease where thigh met groin. She knew it was a particularly sensitive spot for me and was using that info to tease me mercilessly. Instantly I felt a warm flush spread over my chest and neck.

“Xena, you look a little flushed. You feeling ok?” Eponin asked me as I reached to take a big swig from my water glass.

Gabrielle pressed her free hand to my cheek feigning concern. ‘Ah no Pony, actually I am quite aroused at the moment since your Queen has her hand up my skirt.’ I thought as I swallowed long and hard.

“I’m fine; it’s just a little warm out tonight.” I reassured the warrior who looked at me dubiously.

All the while said Queen never ceased the movement of her fingers, in fact she picked that precise moment to slide a slender digit under my undergarments and began to gently rub against my slick center.

I was barely able to hold back a moan as she gently parted my folds and ran the tip of her finger over my erect bundle of nerves before dipping lower and barely penetrating me, allowing just enough entrance to tease me. I tried to keep my focus on what Pony was asking me, but the insistent throbbing between my legs, my now achingly tight nipples, and the fact that I had a pleasurable new appendage in the vicinity of my crotch was making that nearly impossible.

My talented wife, noticing the rhythmic tightening and relaxing of my thigh muscles, increased the pressure between my legs and suck one finger fully within my depths. The direct pressure on my clit and the feel of her slender digit inside me quickly propelled me toward climax, and as I felt the precipice approach I shifted in my seat and parted my legs a bit more, hoping that my bard would take pity on me and allow me to come. Instead of bringing me to climax she stopped all movement and removed her traitorous hand from between my thighs, leaving me ready to publicly beg her to resume her actions and fuck me senseless.

Realizing that I couldn’t just grab their Queen and throw her on the table and ravish her in front of a hundred Amazons, for one they would enjoy it too much and two, I don’t like to share what is mine, I took the only other option. I stood up and grasped Gabrielle’s still damp hand and practically dragged her away from the party, offering up a lame excuse as we departed.

“If you will excuse us, I require your Queen’s assistance for…for a few moments.” I gritted out as a radiant Gabrielle merely smiled and allowed me to lead her into the near-by forest.

Weaving through the trees till I could no longer see the festivities and was certain that they couldn’t see us I located a large tree and positioned my wife’s back against the smooth bark. Closing the distance between us I pressed my body against hers and lowered my head till our lips were a hair’s breadth apart.

“Tease me, will you.” I whispered. “What shall I do with you now? Hmmmm?” I questioned before gently running the tip of my tongue over her soft lips, smiling when I felt her shiver.

“Tell me Gabrielle; was your little exploration as exciting for you as it was for me?” I asked as I dragged my fingers up her hard thigh and under her short skirt to the crotch of her breeches, they were soaked.

“Gods, Xena!” She groaned, pressing herself harder against my hand.

“Uh uh, love, I think you have some unfinished business to attend to before we can move into other stimulating activities.” I smiled ferally as I removed my hand from her underwear and grasped her wrist. Gently I directed her to my own tortured center where she weaved her way under my clothing and resumed her insistent stroking.

“Oh Gods, harder Gabrielle!” I groaned, I’d had enough teasing and was more than ready to come. Thankfully she complied and I pressed our lips together to muffle my moans. We had moved away from the party, but not far enough so that we couldn’t be heard, and I was quite vocal in my passion.

My tongue gently stroked Gabrielle’s as she brought me to a quick, but much appreciated orgasm with her fingers. Tearing my mouth away from hers I buried my face in her neck in order to catch my breath. I mumbled an incoherent word of thanks when I felt her strong arms wrap around my waist, pulling me closer in order to help me to remain upright.

“I love you.” I whispered when I could finally speak without gasping.

“Oh yeah?” She questioned and I heard the smile in her voice. “Prove it.” She sighed as she lifted one strong leg and wrapped it around my waist, pressing her hips against my own.

“With pleasure.” I groaned as I grasped the shoulder strap of her shirt and moved it aside to give me greater access to her skin. As I delicately kissed her neck I slid my free hand up the outside of her thigh to knead her firm backside.

“Mmmm, Xena, that is so good.” She purred into my ear, urging me on. Taking her cue I ran my fingers under the band of her underwear and down so I could stroke her sex from behind.

“Inside, please.” She sighed and gripped my hips, pulling me against her rhythmically. Releasing her neck I lifted my head so I could watch her face as I entered her.

“Look at me, baby.” I whispered as I slipped two fingers inside of her, penetrating her fully. I watched as she struggled to keep her eyes open as I pumped my hand against her, grazing her clit on each stroke. She moaned loudly as her orgasm approached.

“Xena, oh….I’m close, so close…” She groaned, throwing her head back.

“That’s it, let it come Gab, let it come.” I prompted her as she continued to moan loudly and press her self harder into my hand. I realized a moment too late that I should have kissed her at the moment of her climax, as she too tended to be a bit loud.

“Yes, ahhh…..YES XEEENNNAAA!” She screamed as she came hard, wetness flowing over my hand. Now it was my turn to support her as she descended back to earth.

Gabrielle and I strolled back into the celebration as covertly as possible; hoping that perhaps we hadn’t been missed or heard during our little foray into the forest. That hope rapidly sank when Eponin approached us, a huge grin on her face.

“Feeling better, Xena?” The warrior asked.

“Yes, as a matter of fact that walk cooled me off considerably.” I replied, attempting to keep my face neutral.

“I highly doubt it was the walk, the sex on the other hand…” The Amazon grinned full out at us now.

“PONY!” Gabrielle gasped in mock shock.

“Oh don’t pretend that it didn’t happen, we all heard you.” Ephany piped in as she approached and draped an arm over Eponin’s shoulders. The opportunity to embarrass her Queen didn’t come along every day, but when it did the Amazon’s took every moment they could get.

“All…all of you?” Gabrielle stammered and our two companions began to laugh in earnest.

I watched as a blush began to creep up my lover’s neck. Sensing her discomfort and only wishing to tease their fair Queen the Regent and the Warrior relented.

“Well not everyone, only those of us who were protecting your virtue by preventing any other amorous couples from wandering out and finding you.” Ephany smiled politely.

“How did you know we were…” She let the sentence fade out, but made a small gesture with her hands.

“Gabrielle, they way I jumped up from dinner and practically dragged you away must have been a good clue.” I teased my wife, who was still blushing furiously.

“Yeah, and Xena had been squirming around in her chair for about a half of a candle mark so we figured you must have been doing something interesting under that table.” Again Pony couldn’t resist teasing her ruler.

I think if embarrassment was fatal Gabrielle would have died on the spot as she turned an even deeper shade of red and attempted to merge herself into my body, her face buried in my shoulder.

“No need to be shy now, we’ve already heard you.” Still they teased, my bard only groaned.

“Gabrielle, it’s no big deal, really. It’s not like we haven’t heard it before, we do live in an Amazon village after all.” Ephany tried to soothe her queen.

“And it’s not like we didn’t expect it, especially tonight.” Now it was Pony’s turn to attempt to appease. Gabrielle sighed and lifted her head to look at her friends.

“I know, I just try not to think about people hearing us too much.”

“Well think of it this way, Love, at least they know that I am a competent consort.” I added, hoping to ease her discomfort a bit.

“Mmmm, that you are.” She hummed before standing on tiptoe to press her lips to mine, her shyness from a moment ago seemingly swallowed up by the less publicly inhibited woman who had emerged earlier that evening.

Instantly I felt my desire rage anew and before I caused any more embarrassment with my roaming hands I ended the exchange.

“And on that note, unless there are any objections, I think we will retire for the evening.” I arched an eyebrow to see if there were any complaints to my plan.

“Sounds like a good idea.” Gabrielle smiled sweetly and I grasped her hand and began to lead her back to our hut.

My plan did encounter some resistance as we tried to navigate the path back to our living quarters. First we encountered Gabrielle’s mother and sister, who fortunately hadn’t heard about our earlier escapades, and only wanted to congratulate us. Once free of that hurdle we had to graciously accept warm wishes from what seemed to me, every member of the tribe, before we were finally able to escape.

With a wave of my hand I dismissed the guards sitting on our front porch and let my bride inside. As Gabrielle went about lighting candles and rekindling the fire I closed and locked the door to our hut and poured two glasses of cider before removing my boots and joining a now seated bard on the rug in front of the fireplace.

“I must say, this is a whole lot nicer than sitting on a hard bench and trying to make small talk with Pony.” I smiled as I wrapped my arms around my bard and encouraged her to sit between my bent knees.

“Yes, much more private.” She hummed.

“Are you upset that they heard us in the woods?” I asked gently as ran my free hand lightly up and down her arm.

“I was a bit embarrassed, but upset, no. I should have realized that something interesting was bound to happen as soon as I stuck my hand up your skirt at dinner.”

“Well, you certainly got my attention.” I joked.

“That I did, that’s half the reason I did it, because I knew you wouldn’t expect it.”

“Well, I certainly didn’t, but I definitely enjoyed seeing that side of you.”

“Does it bother you that I am a bit…shy about those types of things?” She turned sideways in my embrace so she could look me in the eye.

“Oh no, I don’t ever want you to think that. I know you like to keep our intimate moments private and I should have known that even though we were out of sight that someone might hear us. I’m sorry, I know that Ep and Pony embarrassed you and I never want you to be embarrassed by or regret anything that we do together.” I confessed as I interlaced our fingers and squeezed gently.

“I am never embarrassed by anything we do, honest. And I was the one who initiated the whole thing; I knew what would happen as soon as I started teasing you. I also knew that we could be caught, but I did it anyway. It was part of the thrill. Besides, I want to work on being less inhibited, you know, being a bit more adventurous in public.” I arched one brow.

“Well I don’t mean getting naked in the middle of the village or anything.” She clarified.

“I’m happy to just let you take the lead there, Love. Anything you want to do you know I’m willing.” She smiled and nodded slightly.

“Well,” she began as she took the now empty mugs and set them aside, “we are alone now, sitting here in front of this warm fire and not a single visitor expected. What are we to do?” She asked in her most innocent of voices.

“Oh, I can think of a few things.” I purred into her ear as I turned her so she was once again facing the fire, her back against my chest. When I felt her lean back completely I resumed lightly stroking her arms with my fingertips.

“Close your eyes, Baby, and just feel me.” Again I whispered, before lowering my mouth to where her shoulder met neck and sucked lightly. Instantly, I felt goose bumps race along her flesh.

“Cold?” I asked.

“You know I’m not. That feels good.” She whispered.

“I’m just getting started.” I added as I began kissing her neck, alternating between light fluttery kisses and wet, open mouthed ones. I was careful not to suck too hard as we did have business to attend to in the next few days, and as much as she said she wanted to be less inhibited, I was sure she didn’t want to face her father with her neck covered in hickeys.

When I had my fill of her exposed skin my hands left their position on her arms and began to loosen the ties of her top. Once free, I allowed it to slide down her torso and land between her bent knees. Once her upper body was exposed I admired her smooth skin, it glowed a golden hue in the flickering firelight. When I could no longer just admire I began tracing my fingertips over her collar bones and then slowly descended until I could cup her soft breasts in my hands. With callous-roughened fingers I gently coaxed her pliant flesh until her nipples pebbled beneath my touch. I pinched the hardened points gently and my lover moaned and dropped her head back to rest on my shoulder, her breath puffing softly against my neck, the feeling made me shiver.

“Good?” I questioned as I continued to alternately squeeze and twist.

“Yyyeeesss.” She hissed and I felt her try to free her arms from beneath mine. I released her for a moment and rearranged our limbs so that hers were on top with my longer arms looped underneath. My hands resumed their position on her breasts and hers rose up to cover them and encourage me to squeeze her whole breast rhythmically and rub my palms over hardened nipples during the release. I sighed at the feeling of her stiff flesh on my sensitive hands.

I indulged her wishes for a few moments before abandoning her soft mounds to her own manipulations, she continued without missing a beat. Moving lower, I trailed my fingers over her taught abdomen, her muscles contracted lightly as my fingers skimmed over a particularly sensitive spot. I stopped my downward journey momentarily to run my fingers around her navel before dipping lower to where the waistband of her skirt interrupted my downward progress. Working quickly I unfastened her soft leather belt and loosened the ties of her skirt.

“Lift.” I breathed into her ear.

When she complied I slid my hands under the material of her skirt and breeches and slid them down and off her legs. When she resettled and was comfortable I used my hands to part her knees even further, brining them into contact with my inner thighs. I smiled when I heard her gasp, as this action exposed her sex to the cool air of the hut. Grasping a hand in each of my own I urged her to place them on my upraised knees, giving my arms more room to move and touch her.

“Hold on.” I instructed as my fingers began to stroke the soft skin just to the outside of her sex. I rubbed with just enough pressure to cause her arousal to move up a notch. I felt and heard her already irregular breathing speed up as her hands flexed on my knees.

“Please, Xena.” She gasped.

“Please, what? What is it you want me to do, Love?” I coaxed her, wanting to hear her vocalize her desires to me. This was another attempt to make her less inhibited.

“Touch me.” She tried, but it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

“I am touching you.” I replied, urging her to say where she longed for my fingers to be.

“My sex, touch me there, please.”

I smiled, pleased with her request, and I slid my fingers inward and gently fondled her swollen labia, just parting the folds with the tips of my fingers.

“Oh Gods!” She jerked at the softness of my touch.

“Too much?” I questioned, knowing full well that she would need firmer caresses to elevate her to climax.

“No! No, I need more…harder, please.”

Not wanting to tease her anymore than necessary I used one hand to part and hold open her swollen outer folds and the other to firmly run two fingers the length of her sex, reveling in the abundance of fluids I felt.

“Mmmm, Baby, you’re so warm and wet.” I moaned into her ear, feeling my own need rising as I set up a slow rhythm of strokes, my fingers just brushing her erect clit on the upstroke and circling her opening on the down.

“Xena…ahh…I…need, more.” My lover gasped out between heavy breaths. Knowing that if I brought her to a quick release now it would leave ample opportunity for more mutual pleasuring later, on the next downward sweep I thrusted fully into her with two fingers.

“Sweet Artemis, yes.” She moaned loudly and I felt an answering tug in my own sex. Pumping steadily I used my free hand to focus on my bards erect bundle of nerves applying direct pressure to the hard node. Gabrielle’s hips began moving in counterpoint to my plunging fingers so I added a third finger, knowing that the additional digit would stretch her enough to allow her to reach orgasm. Moments later she was coming, her thighs contracting and her nails digging little moon-shaped indents into my knees.

“OH! XENA….AHHH, YES…..YES!” She screamed, apparently not caring about the level of soundproofing provided by our living quarters.

When I felt her weight collapse back against me I withdrew my fingers slowly, feeling her shudder at the sensation. Quickly I brought my passion slicked fingers to my lips and greedily sucked at the evidence of my bard’s passion. Gabrielle’s breathing was slowly returning to normal as I lowered her to the soft rug. Rising to my feet I padded over to the bed and retrieved a couple of pillows. Lifting her head and shoulders I propped her up slightly so she could see what I was doing.

Regaining my feet I removed my arm bands and reached behind my back to release my own clothing ties. I watched my wife lick her lips in anticipation as I lowered my garment to the floor. Standing before her clad only in a short shift and breeches I decided that I would allow her to remove the rest of my clothing at her leisure. Dropping to my knees I crawled up her body till our lips were even. She looked at me with an amused smile before looping her arms around my neck and pulling me into a deep kiss. I moaned into her mouth as I felt her soft body caress me. We continued to kiss hotly and Gabrielle grew impatient with my clothed state. Her hands deftly found the hem of my shift and yanked it up and over my head, tossing it in the direction of our bed.

“Much better.” She sighed as the bare skin of our breasts met. I shifted slightly so my own hardened nipples rubbed against hers, it felt like Elysium.

“Mmmhmm, definitely better.” I echoed.

My bard was not satisfied though and I felt her strong hands slide beneath the waist band of my underwear and come to rest on my ass. She flexed her fingers and pulled my hips hard against her. I moaned and lifted slightly so my lover could slide the offending fabric down. I kicked my legs slightly and the unwanted article was tossed free. I resettled so that one of her thighs was between my legs and I pumped my hips in attempts to gain some friction against my now insistent sex.

“Uh uh.” She chided, “not yet.” Bracing her hands on my shoulders and using her strong legs she flipped us over. Now on top she began an assault on my neck. I hummed deep in my throat as I felt her sharp teeth nipping at my skin. She obviously didn’t have any concerns about marking me as I had with her and I knew that come morning my neck would bear the evidence of the Amazon Queen’s passion.

Satisfied that my throat had received enough attention she began her descent, stopping only when she could take the stiff peak of my breast into her mouth and suck hard.

“GODS, Gabrielle!” I groaned when she pulled even harder. I fought valiantly to keep my eyes open so I could watch her fondle one breast while lavishing attention with her mouth on the other. I realized that my lover was a breast woman not long after we first became intimate. She could spend candle marks just kissing and caressing my full mounds and I usually relished her attentions for as long as I could bear, but I had little control left at this point. So I enjoyed her attentions for a few more moments before I threaded my hands into her short hair and gently pushed her lower.

“Please, I need you lower.” I pleaded with her. I think she realized that I had been pushed to the edge, my last orgasm seeming like days rather than candle marks ago.

Releasing my nipple with an audible sucking sound she trailed her kisses lower, swirling her tongue in my navel before lifting her head so that she could position herself between my legs. Happily I allowed her to drape one thigh over her shoulders while she bent one knee and moved my leg outwards to give her more room. I cried out when I first felt her warm breath on my heated sex. Once again my hands were in her hair, although this time they were merely one more connection to my lover’s body.

The fair-haired queen finally ended my suffering when she ran her warm, wet tongue through my folds and flicked the tip against my clit, causing my hips to jump.

“So…good!” I moaned as she continued to lap at my sex, collecting the abundant wetness she found there. My desire mounted quickly and I nearly climaxed when she plunged three fingers into my depths and began to pump in and out of me forcefully.

“Gab…yes…OH…harder, harder.” I was moaning nearly non-stop now.

“That’s it, Baby. Ride my hand, you love it when I take you like this don’t you?”

“Yyyeeessss.” I hissed as I rocked my hips forcefully against her probing digits.

“Gods, Xena, you are so sexy when I fuck you like this!” She whispered hoarsely.

My eyes immediately popped open and locked on hers, my surprise obvious in my expression. I would have come right on the spot if her wantonness hadn’t surprised me so much.

“Hades, Gabrielle! You trying to kill me?” I forced out as she continued to pound into me, crushing my clit with her thumb after every stroke.

“Come for me, Baby.” She coaxed, “let everyone hear how much you love it when I do you like this.”

I felt my orgasm approaching rapidly the longer she talked to me in such a manner and I knew that she was going to get her wish. This was going to be a loud one.

“GODS…GAB-RI-ELLE! YES….UNGH…I’M COMING!” I shouted as I climaxed hard, clamping my thighs around her to keep her in place while I rode out the sensations. When I finally quieted Gabrielle had freed herself from my grip and was lying beside me, her gaze fixed on my flushed face.

“Hey.” She said as she brushed my bangs out of my eyes.

“Hey, yourself.” Ok, it wasn’t the most brilliant reply, but it was the first thing that came into my head.

“That was fun.” She smiled and her eyes crinkled at the edges. I found that expression very cute, but I would never tell her that.

“Mmmmhmmm. I think you bout gave me a heart attack.” I teased, knowing she would remember my surprised expression.

“I got a bit carried away, but after our little tryst earlier I was feeling bold. Was it ok?” For a moment she looked concerned and I rushed to reassure her.

“More than ok, you have no idea how much you’re talking like that turns me on.” I confessed.

“I think I have an idea.” She replied as she showed me a large scratch on her shoulder.

“Sorry.” I muttered as I caressed the area.

“Don’t be, you haven’t seen your neck.” Again the eye crinkling smile and I laughed at her attempts to look guilty. We lay there for a few moments longer before moving to the bed. After making ourselves comfortable we made love again slowly before falling into a sated sleep.

——————————————

My new wife and I spend the next day secluded in our hut. The only time we saw any visitors was when we had food delivered. We decided that the world would come crashing down soon enough and that we deserved a little time to ourselves. We mostly stayed in bed, lounging comfortably in each other’s arms. Between bouts of lovemaking we discussed how we were going to deal with her father when he arrived.

“My plan? I don’t think you really want to hear my plan.” I said seriously after Gabrielle asked how I thought we should handle the situation.

“Of course I do. Now tell me.” She replied.

“I don’t think we should let him into the village at all.” I said as I popped one of the few remaining pieces of fruit into my mouth.

“Why not?” Gabrielle asked.

“In all honesty, I would like for you to stay here in the village and I’ll ride out to meet him and explain that you are a grown woman and thus he no longer has any claim to you, including telling you who you should marry, and that you will not be returning to Potadeia with Thad. And since you are already married, you are not free to marry anyone else.” I met my wife’s gaze and could tell that she knew that I didn’t think she would go for that plan.

“That’s it, huh? You just want to talk to him?” She asked in a disbelieving tone.

“Well…” She chuckled at me.

“That’s what I thought. Look, Xena, I love the fact that you are so willing to fight for my honor, but I do think that this is something that I have to face in person.” She smiled as she removed the food tray from our bed so that we could once again lounge, laying face to face.

“I know,” I sighed, “what do you think we should do?” I asked.

“Well,” she began, “I think that we need to have him escorted into the village and into the meeting hut. Then I think that he should find out just what it means when I tell him I am the Amazon Queen. I will wear my ceremonial leathers and have my full compliment of guards. I will then explain to him that I have already married and thus am not able to marry Thad and that I will not be returning with him to Potadeia for that purpose, ever.” She finished matter-of-factly.

“I knew you were going to say that and I do agree with you. I just needed to get my plan out in the open.” I smiled.

“I know, and I know that you want to protect me from him, but I need to stand up to him once and for all.” She sighed and patted my hand reassuringly.

“If he tries something…”

“If he does, and I don’t think he will with all the guards around, I will make one final plea for him to let it go and then I leave you to take care of it. Promise me something though.” I nodded, encouraging her to finish.

“Don’t hurt him too badly, Mother and Lila need him and I don’t want them to dislike you because he has forced your hand.”

“I promise I will only do what is necessary to drive the point home. No lasting damage, I couldn’t do that to you or the rest of your family. I never want something like that to be between us.” She nodded her understanding.

“It’s settled then?” She asked.

“Yes.” I nodded, happy to be able to move onto happier subjects. Sighing deeply I rolled onto my back, pulling Gabrielle closer. She quickly settled on her stomach, head resting on my shoulder and one arm draped across my ribs. Content to have settled what was going to happen when Herodotus arrived we drifted in and out of a light sleep, with our moments of wakefulness filled with gentle words and soft touches.

—————————————

Gabrielle’s father arrived, with her intended husband, right on schedule, at dawn the following morning. The information about his arrival was passed on to us by an apologetic Ephany, who dragged us out of bed to share the unhappy news. My bard asked her regent to relay the message that she would meet her father at mid-day in the meeting hut.

“Of course, I will have Pony assemble the guards a candle mark prior and have them meet you in the hall.” The Queen nodded.

“Thank you, Ep.” The Regent gave a curt nod and quickly left the hut.

“So much for our honeymoon.” I joked as I wrapped my arms around her. She gratefully accepted the embrace and sighed.

“I am so sorry about this.” She mumbled into my neck.

“Hey, it’s not your fault. And once we take care of him we will go away for a while. Just you and me, we’ll go someplace private where there are no prying Amazons and no disapproving family members. We will have a private honeymoon.” I said as I gently placed my fingers under her chin and lifted so that her gaze met mine and she could see the sincerity of my words.

“Promise?”

“I promise.” I whispered before I gently kissed her lips and urged her back to our bed for a couple more candle marks of sleep as it was going to be a long day for my bard.

Mid-day came much too quickly for both Gabrielle and I and before we knew it we were seated in the main hall surrounded by Royal Guards. Gabrielle looked every bit the Amazon Queen, but I could tell by the way she kept drumming her fingers against her thigh that she was nervous about the impending confrontation.

“My Queen, Herodotus of Potadeia has arrived and wishes to speak with you.” Ephany delivered the required request. ‘Show time.’ I thought as I took my position, standing just to the left and slightly behind Gabrielle.

“Show him in.” She replied and stood to meet her father.

Herodotus strode into the meeting hall with a man no more than twenty five summers right on his heels. I assumed this was Thad, the man he intended for Gabrielle. Subtly I sized him up; he was shorter than me by a good hand-length leaving him just slightly taller than Gabrielle. He was well built, I assumed from his work on a farm, but I could tell he was no warrior. This fact pleased me; I now knew that if this meeting went south I would not have to hold back till I gauged his fighting skill, I could just charge in and kick his ass. His outward appearance was about what I expected, his skin was light, but tanned and his hair was a shade or two darker than my wife’s. Herodotus obviously wanted blonde grandchildren. Or he wanted someone for his daughter that reminded her nothing of me, the latter being more probable.

“For what reason do you wish to speak to me?” Gabrielle began.

“Gabrielle, you know damn well why I am here, now collect your things and we will be leaving.” I mentally rolled my eyes; this was not going to go well.

“You will show our Queen the proper respect or I will escort you from this village on the end of my sword.” Pony spat, as she drew her weapon and stepped up to confront Gabrielle’s father. The Amazon warrior had reached the limit of her patience with my lover’s father.

“Eponin, that is not necessary, I am sure that he will address me with the proper respect from here on.” The Queen stopped the dedicated warrior’s forward advance with her statement.

“As you can see, I am the leader of these people and they obey my commands so choose your words carefully. They would kill you where you stand if I should ask them to. Now, why don’t you take a seat and we will discuss this problem.” I saw Herodotus look around at the twenty armed women and blanch slightly when his daughter told him that the Amazons would kill him if he didn’t watch himself and I was pleased with Gabrielle’s show of power. With two sentences she showed him who was in charge at this meeting, and that it wasn’t him. Begrudgingly the eldest Potadeian male took a seat and for the first time noticed that his wife and youngest daughter were also seated at the table, but not near his end.

“What is this? Did you turn them against me too?” He turned toward me and asked angrily.

“Xena has nothing to do with their position at this table. Their seats represent their own show of support. They were asked how they felt about this situation and they chose to stand at my side.” My bard answered.

“We have chosen to support Gabrielle’s relationship with Xena.” Hecuba stood and stared at her husband.

“Her relationship?! You actually believe that what they are doing is right? It’s immoral.” He spat, disgust evident in his voice.

“That is for the gods to decide.” Hecuba stood firm as her husband slammed his fists on the table.

“Now, what is it you desire from me?” Gabrielle took control once again.

“Desire? I DESIRE nothing; I demand that you end this game and return home with me immediately. There is to be no more traveling, I have made arrangements for you to be wed to Thad, and you will see that arrangement through and settle down like a normal woman and you will not see Xena again. Your mother was to inform you of my decision and see to it that you were packed when I arrived, but I see that she too has been corrupted.” At his implication of ownership of Gabrielle and his insinuation that she was merely playing a game with the Amazons I glanced around the room and saw twenty fists tighten on sword hilts. I had to fight my own anger at his demand that Gabrielle never see me again. ‘Like he could ever follow through with that threat.’ I told myself and I felt my anger abate slightly.

“I see,” I saw my wife take a stabilizing breath and knew that she was fighting her own anger at his comments and working hard not to snap back. “First of all you are in no position to demand anything of me; I am a grown woman, Queen of this tribe and free from your close-minded influence. Secondly, and this is the important one, I am currently not available to be married.” I saw a small smirk play at the corners of Gabrielle’s mouth; she was anticipating her father’s reaction.

“What are you talking about?” Herodotus barked.

“I am already married. I was wed two days ago, by an Amazon Priestess.” I stood up a little straighter at the mention of our marriage, it was the happiest day of my life and I wasn’t about to let it’s memory be sullied.

“Who did you marry? Where is he and why didn’t you wait for me, you knew I was coming?” Herodotus looked around the room again, seeing no other men his gaze returned to his daughter. Now it was my turn to play.

“She married me. And we didn’t wait because we didn’t want your hatred to sour our day.” I stepped up to Gabrielle’s side, my hand coming to rest on her shoulder. Herodotus exploded at this, standing up so quickly that his chair fell over behind him.

“HOW DARE YOU!” He said; his voice low and full of hatred. “HOW DARE YOU TWIST HER INTO SOME SORT OF ABOMINATION, YOU WHORE!” He spat, his fists clenched. I spared a glance at Thad, who had not moved from his chair and seemed to have no inclination to get involved. I felt Gabrielle stand and I allowed my hand to come to rest at my side, ready to defend her if he decided to move.

“Xena and I are married, father. I chose to marry her, not because she tricked me into it, but because I love her. I am in love with her. Now I am sorry you are unwilling to accept that, but it’s true.” I saw Herodotus begin to move around the table and knew that this discussion was over. Stepping in front of my wife I prepared to meet him head on.

“YOU FUCKING BITCH!” He yelled with venom as he rounded the table. I held my hand up to stay the guards that were prepared to take him down.

“No, let me.” I said; my tone even.

“Herodotus, think about what you’re doing. You don’t want to fight me.” Still he advanced.

“Oh yes I do. I’ve waited a long time for this moment ‘Warrior Princess’ and it’s about time I reclaimed what is mine.” I rolled my eyes, knowing that there was no way out of it now; I had given him his final chance. As he came within striking distance I allowed him the first blow. His fist connected with my cheek and I felt my head turn to the side. ‘Ok, that’s enough.’ I thought to myself as I caught his next attempt, his fist encased in my hand. Roughly I pushed him back, he stumbled a bit and I placed a foot against his chest, forcing him back some more. I kept him on the retreat until we were out of the meeting hut.

After my discussion with Gabrielle about how I was going to deal with her father I decided that I would not use any weapons against the middle aged man and I didn’t even have my Chakram with me during the meeting. Herodotus had made no such promises, however, and he drew a dagger as he was picking himself up off the ground for the third time.

“I’m going to kill you, Xena.” He whispered harshly.

“No, you’re not, but you are going to wish that you had.” I remarked as I side-stepped his first lunge and connected a strong punch to his jaw. I saw him stumble a bit. He regained his balance and lunged again connecting with air as I hit him again, this time in the abdomen with a well placed kick. He continued his attempts at stabbing me and I continued to hit him till I drew blood from his nose, breaking it with one well placed jab. I heard my wife take in a sharp breath and knew that it was time for this to end.

“Back off, Herodotus. It’s over, Gabrielle and I are married, and our relationship has been blessed by Artemis. Don’t perpetuate this violence, I am the better fighter and we both know it. Stop before you really get hurt.” I tried to reason with him, it didn’t work he still lunged at me, missing by a mile. I knew that if I hit him in the face again it would knock him unconscious so I decided to take him off his feet and let the guard take him into custody.

“Well, I tried.” I shrugged at him right before I dropped to the ground and swept his feet out from under him. As soon as he hit the dirt I stepped back, the fight was over.

“Take him into custody.” I heard Gabrielle order and four armed guards were instantly surrounding him.

“I’LL KILL YOU, YOU BITCH! YOU STOLE MY DAUGHTER!” He was panting, but he still tried to come at me and was stopped by a sword to his throat.

“Get him out of here.” I said to Pony and she pulled the still cursing Herodotus away. He would be put into the jail until he had calmed down and then Gabrielle would address him before he was escorted off Amazon lands. As soon as he was out of sight I felt a strong hand on my arm, turning me around. Gabrielle placed a cool hand against my bruised cheek and I met her sad eyes with my own.

“I’m sorry it came to that.” I said truthfully.

“I know; he left us no choice.” I shook my head and allowed her to lead me back into the meeting hut where she would decide what was to be done about her father.

“How badly is he hurt?” I heard asked as soon as we entered the large hut. Gabrielle’s mother and sister had decided to stay inside rather than witness the fight.

“His nose is broken and he will be bruised for a few weeks, but nothing serious.” I said as I approached the other members of my wife’s family.

“Thank you for not hurting him too badly.” Hecuba sighed as she looked at my swollen cheek.

“I hope you realize he left me no choice. I wasn’t about to let him insult Gabrielle and I defiantly wasn’t about to let him touch her.” Hecuba nodded.

“I know, he is just so stubborn, refuses to see things in anyway but his own. He thinks you rode into town and abducted her and are now keeping her against her will.” I was about to speak when my bard broke in.

“She didn’t steal me, I left on my own. And I choose to stay with her now, I hope you understand that.” She came to my side and took my hand in her own; I couldn’t help but smile a bit.

“It’s going to be hard now, seeing you.” I could see the pain in Hecuba’s eyes and I wished that there had been another way to settle this.

“No, it won’t. I am going to see to it.” Gabrielle nodded and then motioned for her Regent to come to her.

“Ephany, see to it that my father is cleaned up and have him brought in to hear the charges being brought against him and his sentence.

“Yes, my Queen.” Ephany bowed and left the room, two guards in tow.

A quarter of a candle mark later and we were all once again assembled in the meeting hut, but this time Herodotus was under close guard. Gabrielle remained seated when he was brought before her. She appraised his bruised nose and face and began her sentencing.

“As Queen of the Amazons, I do here by charge you with assaulting the Consort to the Queen, Xena of Amphipolis. As a result your public display of violence you will be sentenced without a trial. From this day forward you will be banished from the Amazon Nation, never again to be allowed voluntary entry. Furthermore, you will return to your home in Potadeia under guard and allowed to remain there as long as you follow one rule. You will not seek retribution against the mother or sister of the Queen as a result of their standing in this meeting today. If it is ever found that you have sought vengeance in anyway you will be brought back to this village and punished under Amazon law.” Gabrielle turned her gaze away from her father’s angry stare and onto the young man who had entered the village with him.

“Thad, as you have not caused any harm or shown any aggression in this village you will be allowed to leave, however, you are to understand that any arrangement you made surrounding my marriage to you is void.” The young man nodded and rose to speak.

“I am sorry for this trouble. I was not made aware of all the details in this situation. I was unaware that you were already involved.” Gabrielle nodded and I could see that she believed that her childhood acquaintance was indeed left in the dark about her relationship with me.

“Do you have anything to say?” Gabrielle asked her father.

“As long as you are with her I have, but one daughter.” Herodotus sneered.

“So be it, but it is your loss.” Gabrielle replied in a low voice. I knew his words hurt her, but she refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing it.

“You are dismissed.” The Queen raised her hand and her father and Thad were escorted from the room and out of the village.

———————————————–

“Mmmmm, that feels sooo good. Thank you.” Gabrielle purred as I massaged all the knots out of her neck and shoulders. It had been a long, emotional day for my Queen. Herodotus and Thad had been escorted to the edge of Amazon land and were informed that Hecuba, Lila and an armed escort would be meeting them in the morning for the trip back to Potadeia. After seeing that I wasn’t injured too badly, my bard had then gone and talked with her mother. They had come to an understanding about Gabrielle’s choices in life. And while Hecuba didn’t necessarily understand why her eldest daughter chose to live and travel with an female ex-warlord, she accepted that I made Gabrielle happy and that is all that really mattered to her in the long run. So after all the emotional matters had been attended to the Queen and I had retired to our hut for a private dinner and a relaxing evening and currently we were spread out on our bed as I tried to release all her tension with my strong fingers.

“Do you think I did the right thing today?” She asked suddenly, rolling to her side so that she could look at me directly.

“Yes, I do and I am very proud of you for how you stood up to him. It takes courage to stand up to your family when they disagree with you so vehemently.” I said truthfully as I gently brushed a stray lock of hair from her forehead.

“I feel guilty for allowing you to fight with him.”

“I don’t think there was any other option, Love. He doesn’t like me and he thinks that I stole you from him. And the fact that you stay with me willingly makes him even angrier. His confronting me physically allowed him to vent his anger about what he perceived as a wrongdoing toward him. And as much as he doesn’t want to admit it, he now knows that I am more than capable of protecting you, even if it is from him.” I offered, trying to make her feel better about her actions.

“He doesn’t even know you. Not like I do.” She stated in a voice that allowed me to feel how much this whole situation was hurting her.

“No one knows me like you do.” I smiled softly and pulled her into a comforting hug. “I know that his refusal to accept me as a part of your life hurts you deeply and I hope that someday, for your sake, he can see past his hate so that you and he may have a relationship.”

“Why can’t he see how much I love you, Xena?” She asked finally as the tears she had been holding in all day began to fall. My heart ached for my wife as I tried to comfort her.

“I don’t know, Love.” I replied, honestly.

“You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and you would think that he would want to share in my happiness.” She got out between sobs.

“Shh, it’s ok, I’m here.” I consoled her gently. “I think that we should be happy that your mother and Lila support us and that my family and the Amazons support us. With their help we have a chance at making peace with your father.”

“I know, and I am grateful for their help, but it doesn’t make it any easier.” Her tears had slowed slightly and I gently wiped my fingers across the tracks of moisture on her cheeks.

“No, it doesn’t, but I am here to help in any way that I can. I’m in this for the long haul, Gabrielle. I love you and I want us to be together forever.” I confessed, feeling my own eyes sting with potential tears.

“Me too, forever.” She echoed before pushing me back so that I was lying flat on the bed. With my body situated to her liking she shifted so that her head rested on my chest. Happy with this arrangement I pulled a blanket up over us and wrapped my arms around her snugly.

“Tomorrow, Love. After your mother and Lila leave we will try and put all of this behind us. We will head out on that little vacation I promised you. I know just the place.” I felt my bard nod and place a light kiss on my neck before she snuggled in deeper against me. As I felt her body slowly begin to relax into slumber I allowed a few of my own tears to fall in hopes that our troubles with Gabrielle’s family were over for now and that we could move on to making happier memories of our first weeks of marriage.

Part 2: Mitycene Expedition

Immediately upon leaving my mother, sister and the Amazon village behind I felt the weight of the past day lift from my shoulders. What should have been a joyous time had been pocked by the unfortunate arrival of my father, but as promised after seeing the Amazon escort as well as the female members of my family off toward Potidaea we packed our belongings, mounted Argo and trotted off to locations unknown. Well unknown to me anyway. My new wife had been steadfast in keeping the location of our honeymoon a secret, and no matter how many times I asked her where we were headed I always got the same response; “it’s a surprise, Gabrielle, but trust me, you’ll love it.” After about the hundredth rendition of this response I quit asking, figuring she must really want me to be surprised. So after a full day of riding, stopping only to collect some dinars from one of Xena’s private stashes, which she knew I didn’t like to use because of its origin, but I made an exception this time, we made camp just outside the seaport town of Stagira. Only once we had eaten and were settling in for the night did Xena speak of our secret destination.

“Tomorrow we board a ship, Gabrielle. I know you don’t like to be at sea, but there is no other way to get where I want us to go.” She looked intently at me, trying to gauge my reaction to her news.

“A boat?” I gulped, audibly. Even though I pretty much knew we were going to have to set sail, hearing her say it made my stomach tighten. She knew I hated water travel and that I got terrible sea-sickness. So for her to decided to take us somewhere off the mainland meant that it was a special location indeed.

“It shouldn’t be too bad, the weather is clear and it’s only a half a day’s voyage. I can mix some herbs to settle your stomach if you want.” She smiled in sympathy as I shook my head no. The herbs settled my stomach yes, but they also put me out and I didn’t want to be sleepy when we arrived back on land.

“And where is it exactly that we are going?” I knew I probably wouldn’t get an answer, but I had to try again. “I think I deserve to know, especially since I have to get on a boat, for an entire HALF day.” I whined and I could tell by the playful look on her face that I wasn’t fooling her for a minute.

“To an island.” She tossed at me and I rolled my eyes.

“I know that. What island? Have you ever been there? Where are we staying? Does it have any shopping? Those are the things I wanna know about.” I said breathlessly.

“Well, you are just gonna have to wait till tomorrow to find out because I’m not telling.” My wife teased and I stuck my tongue out at her in response. When that didn’t work I tried my poutiest expression and she laughed softly.

“Please tell me.”

“Oh no, that’s not gonna work, Bard. No information. Tonight you are just going to have to be satisfied with what you already know for tomorrow all will be revealed.” She said grandly. I groaned in defeat and tossed the pillow I had been leaning against in her direction.

“Thanks.” She said as she snatched it out of the air and put it under her head before she pulled the sleeping firs up around her shoulders. “Now, are you gonna come to bed with me or do I have to keep these firs warm all on my own?” She asked while flashing me a small smile coupled with the brow lift that I found so alluring. Laughing I removed my boots and climbed into bed not bothering to remove my clothes as I knew that before long they would litter our campsite.

—————————————–

Morning dawned sunny and warm as Xena and I made our way into Stagira. My warrior quickly found a stable in which to board Argo and by the time the sun was rising above the horizon we had boarded a ship and set sail for Xena’s ‘mysterious’ island. And as the mainland shrunk from our vision we enjoyed a light breakfast of fresh bread and cheese.

“So what do you want to know about Lesbos?” My wife asked some time later as we relaxed on deck, her arms draped over my shoulders from behind as I leaned on the strong rail.

“Oh, so you are finally gonna tell me about it?” I asked as I playfully elbowed her in the ribs.

“Anything you want to know.”

“Well, I know that is where Sappho spends most of her time.” I always liked reading her scrolls in the Amazon library.

“Yeah, but she lives on the other side of the island from where we are going. We are headed to the port village of Mitycene.” My lover’s low voice drawled into my ear.

“Where are we staying?” I was dying to know.

“It’s a place called the Dew Drop Inn.” I chuckled a bit, “yeah I thought you would enjoy that little bit of literary humor.”

“What’s it like?” I closed my eyes so I could envision what she was about to tell me.

“Well it’s not really a conventional inn. It’s set up more like a little village, actually. There are individual huts instead of one main building with lots of rooms. As a result each guest, or guests in our case, is completely secluded.” I hummed deep in my throat when she paused.

“Hmmm, that sounds nice. Private.” I felt her nod.

“Yeah, it is, on both accounts.” I sighed when I felt her lean into me a little more, her hips pressed firmly into my backside.

“The inside of the huts are nice, too. They each have a big, soft bed and a private bath that is fed by a tank of constantly warm water located outside of the hut. There is also a table, chairs and a small desk should you find the time or the desire to write.” I shivered as I felt a soft nip on my earlobe. ‘Ok, don’t think there will be much time for writing on this trip.’ I thought dreamily.

“And since we eventually might want to actually leave the room there is a marketplace where I’m sure you can find something to spend your dinars on.” She finished.

“Sounds wonderful, Xena.” And it did, especially the big bed part, lots of room to move around.

“It is, just think a place where nobody knows us and we are free to spend some uninterrupted time together.”

“I’m sure there is somebody on that island that knows you, after all you are the Warrior Princess.” I turned in her embrace so that I could look her in the eye, she didn’t drop her gaze.

“I used to come here a long time ago; whenever I needed a break from all the destruction in my life. I would stay for a week or so, mostly secluded in my room and just think until I was a little more comfortable in my own skin, but I haven’t been here in years.” She finished and I felt one more question bubble up to the surface.

“Did you come alone?” The small tug of jealousy pulled the question out of my mouth before I could stop it. My wife must have seen the expression on my face as she was quick to reassure me.

“I never brought anyone here. And I never shared my bed with anyone on that island, I promise.” Instantly I felt the tension in my abdomen abate. I didn’t realize how much I cared about what Xena did when she was on that island in the past, but I discovered in that moment that it was important to me to start off our joining somewhere new, somewhere that was bereft of any of my wife’s past relationships.

“Until now.” I said quietly, letting the smile return to my features.

“Yeah, until now.” We shared a comfortable moment of silence as we both were content to just look at each other.

The call of land-ho brought us out of our trace and we both turned to see the port of Mitycene in the distance. I took a deep breath and smiled broadly as I realized how good it was to escape from out troubles for a while. Xena must have been entertaining similar thoughts as when I turned to look at her, her blue eyes were shining with contentment.

——————————————-

With a saddle bag tossed comfortably over one shoulder I followed my wife through the crowded streets of Mitycene. As we walked I tried to covertly gaze at the other people in the area in order to gauge the sentiment about women in relationships with each other. I wasn’t gaining much insight and was beginning to feel frustrated with my powers of observation when Xena took my hand. This simple action erased any doubts I had about the reception we would receive while here. I looked down at our interlaced fingers then up into the smiling face of an amused Warrior Princess.

“How did you know I was wondering…?” She didn’t let me finish.

“I’ve made it my job to know what it is that you are thinking. And besides you didn’t think I would take you to a place where we might be scorned on our honeymoon did you?” I shook my head. “We are almost as free here as we are with the Amazons.”

“Really?” I raised a brow at her knowing she would be remembering our little trip the woods the night of our joining.

“I said almost.” She smiled.

“Good.” I replied as I went up on tip toes and gently kissed her, just barely allowing my tongue to sweep across her bottom lip.

“The inn is this way.” She said in a voice that was slightly lower than it had been a moment ago.

“Lead on, Princess.” I winked and my wife turned up the busy street began walking toward a moderately sized building. A small bell rung as we opened the door and a dark-haired, middle-aged man came out of the back to greet us.

“Xena,” he stepped forward and grasped her forearm in a friendly gesture, “it’s good to see you.”

“Nicos, good to see you as well. Did you get my message?” She asked and I quirked an eyebrow. ‘So, she had been planning this, had she?’

“Yes, yesterday. Your customary hut awaits.” He handed my partner a small key.

“Before we go, I’d like you to meet Gabrielle, my wife.” Nicos smiled broadly at me.

“Your wife! Goddess, Xena, we’d heard that you had met and were traveling with a Bard, but news of your marriage hadn’t reached us yet.” I fought the urge to blush as the inn keeper gently clasped my hand and placed a chaste kiss on the back.

“We were married three days ago, Nicos, and although word travels fast in Greece, it doesn’t travel that fast.” Xena grinned.

“No, no I suppose not. Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you Gabrielle.” He chuckled as he released my arm.

“Nicos has owned this inn for as long as I have been coming here.” My companion added.

“It’s nice to meet you as well.” I returned and smiled politely.

“If you need anything during your stay do not hesitate to seek me out.” We nodded as Xena took the offered key. Now if you will excuse me, ladies, I have some work that needs to be finished.” We both assented and he disappeared back into the back rooms of the building.

As we exited the lobby my partner led me along a well worn path past a dozen or so individual huts. I looked at them curiously, trying to imagine how the water in the tanks flowed into the tubs inside. When we were well past the furthest hut the path made a left into the forest. In companionable silence we walked until suddenly I realized that the sounds of the Aegean hitting the shore were suddenly much closer. Just as I was about to ask my lover about it the path curved and the forest ended.

“It’s beautiful.” I gasped at the sight before me. A small hut was sitting about fifty feet in front of us on a small point of land. Surrounding it on three sides was rocky shore then blue sea as far as I could see.

“You like it?” My companion asked.

“Like it? I love it! And I haven’t even seen the inside yet.” I dropped my bag and threw my arms around my startled wife. “Thank you for bringing me here.” I said before kissing her soundly on the lips.

“Let’s go in then.” She said softly as she swept me off my feet to carry me inside.

“Xena, I can walk!” I gasped, exasperated.

“I know I want to carry you across the threshold.” For a stoic warrior, my wife sure knew how to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when she did let loose the romantic inside of her. I laughed gaily as Xena walked toward our hut without allowing me to escape her embrace. When we reached the door she hesitated, realizing that she couldn’t unlock the door while using both of her hands to hold me and our belongings. Being the observant bard that I am I quickly assessed the situation and stuck my hands down the front of her breast plate.

“Gabrielle, can’t you wait at least until we get inside?” She teased as I wiggled my fingers a bit against the soft swells of her breasts while withdrawing the key from her ‘secret hiding place.’

“Hey, you’re the one who kept the key down there.” I said innocently as I reached to unlock the door. Turning the knob I pushed the heavy wood open and we stepped inside our home for the next week.

“Our honeymoon suite.” She said grandly as she allowed me to slide down her tall frame and regain my footing.

“Quick, close the door and lock it before anyone realizes we are here.” I teased as I grabbed her saddlebag and threw it along with my own on the grandiose bed.

“We can’t lock it quite yet.” Xena remarked as she moved to the table where a scroll and quill lay, waiting for our attention.

“What’s that?” I questioned as she unrolled the stiff parchment and read its contents.

“Tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast menus. You mark which choice you would like, leave it in the box outside the door and one of the inn’s employees picks it up and delivers your meal at the appropriate time.” She explained.

“Oh, that’s great! Don’t even have to leave to eat; now that’s service!” I tilted the scroll in my wife’s hands so that I could read the menu as well.

“So, what’s your pleasure, Love?” The warrior asked and instead of continuing my perusal of the menu my eyes raked over her body hungrily.

“Do you really have to ask?” She looked up from the parchment and her breath caught when she realized that instead of the menu my eyes were on her.

“Well, ahh, no, but your dinner choice is what I meant.” She stammered uncharacteristically.

“You actually want me to think about food? Especially now, considering why we are here and with that HUGE tub just sitting there practically begging for us to hurry up and get wet?” I said as I began tugging at the clips of her breast plate, she didn’t resist.

“How about I make the food choices while you go start filling the bath.” She turned so that I could release the other fasteners and the armor fell free.

“Ok,” I sighed dramatically, “but you best hurry. I wouldn’t want to have to start without you.” Turning away from her I walked to the large wooden tub and turned the spigot to begin the flow of water. Satisfied with the temperature I began untying the lacings of my shirt with practiced ease. Pulling free the last strings the leather top fluttered to the floor. Next I began on my skirt, loosening the belt as I heard the door close and latch behind me. Before my wife could erase the distance between us I dropped the remainder of my clothing and submerged in the warm water. Happy with the water level I turned it off and rested my arms on the wooden ledge, resting my chin on my forearms my eyes anxious to watch my wife disrobe.

“See something you like?” She asked in a sexy drawl.

“You know I do.” I responded as I made a hurry up motion with my hands, indicating that she should get on with it. Moving more slowly than I would like my warrior started by removing her boots, arm guards and bracers. Straightening up she then reached behind herself to loosen the ties of the leather battle dress she wore and with a thud it slid to the floor. Finding the hem of her shift, she quickly yanked it up over her head and tossed it to join the rest of her clothing. Clad only in a thin pair of breeches she sidled up to the edge of the bath and lifted one dark eyebrow.

“You want to do the honors?” She asked as she gently threaded her fingers through my hair. Lifting my chin from its resting place I gripped her hips and pulled her against the warm wood edge, the scent of her skin causing my heart to hammer loudly in my ears.

“You smell good.” I hummed as my lips gently brushed against the skin of her belly. Slowly I placed wet kisses along her abdomen, making sure to pay special attention to the spot just below her navel. Softly I ran my tongue over the small dip, knowing that it was very sensitive. I continued to worship her abdomen as I ran my fingertips down from her hips, stopping my downward progress when I reached the spot where upper thigh met breeches. Easily I changed directions, slipping just the tips of my index fingers under the rough material so I could follow the hem around to her backside. Removing my lips from her skin I leaned back so I could watch her expression as the firm flesh of her ass brushed lightly across my knuckles. She didn’t disappoint, her eyes met mine and I noticed that the usual china blue had been replaced by a darker shade that told me that she was enjoying this very much.

“I love your ass, Xena.” I purred as I slipped my hand fully under her breeches and grasped her, my fingers splayed out and kneading the muscular flesh. In response she let her head drop back and her eyes drift closed. With one firm squeeze I turned my hands and grasped the last remaining barrier between us and pulled them down her legs so that they pooled on the floor beneath her. Automatically she lifted one foot so she could kick out of the restrictive cloth. As she resettled herself I scooted up onto my knees so that I was eye level with her full breasts. Thank the Gods for the built-in bench in this tub. Licking my lips I leaned toward her and captured one turgid nipple with my teeth, biting lightly before taking it into my mouth and sucking hard.

“Gods, Gabrielle!” My lover hissed as goose bumps pebbled her skin and she swayed slightly.

“Hang on, Xena.” I released her breast briefly so that I could position her hands on the edge of the bath. It would do no good for her to fall over, not when I was just getting to the good parts. Satisfied that she was once again sturdy I recaptured her breast with my mouth as I covered the neglected one with my warm hand. She moaned loudly as simultaneously I squeezed her between my thumb and forefinger and raked my teeth over her sensitive nipples. I feasted on her flesh, alternating between each mound, for as long as she would let me. The slow thrusting of her hips against my belly reminding me that there were other matters to attend to.

“Lift your foot onto the step, Baby.” I cooed and she complied with a grateful moan. The height of the tub rim would prevent me from taking her the way I wanted to, so I settled for a brief taste. Lightly I traced her swollen sex, reveling in the abundant wetness I found there. Knowing it would ratchet her arousal up another notch I pulled back so she could watch as I painstakingly licked her wetness from my fingers. She groaned at the sight and I saw her hands flex against the wooden rim, her knuckles white from the effort of holding on. I knew she wanted to touch me, but at the same time denying herself made this little session all the more exciting for her. Smiling at her efforts I decided to speed up this little seduction and replaced my hand between her legs. She groaned appreciatively. Quickly I found her erect bundle of nerves and began stroking the slippery flesh to each side, setting up a steady rhythm that I knew would make her climb toward orgasm rapidly.

“Tell me what you want.” I whispered as my free hand snaked its way around her waist and my mouth latched on to the creamy swell of one breast, sucking hard enough to leave a mark.

“Ahhh…inside…please, Gabrielle…please.” She pleaded and I complied, quickly sinking two fingers into her warm depths.

“Like that?”

“Yeah….yeah, just like that.” She moaned and I continued to thrust deeply inside of her. I could tell by the increased tempo of her thrusting against my hand that she was close to release. Knowing that the sooner I brought her over the sooner I could feel her slick body rubbing against mine in the warm water, I picked up my pace, adding an occasional flick of my thumb against her swollen clit. She responded immediately, a long moan that may have contained my name echoed through the cabin and her thighs began to quiver, tightening and then releasing around my hand and wrist.

“That’s it, Baby, ride my hand, show me how much you love what I do to you.” I groaned harshly against her flushed skin.

“Gods, Gab….almost….there…ahhh, yessss….keep talking…” She panted breathlessly.

“Come for me, Xena. Let yourself go.” I lifted my mouth from her chest so that she could hear me better over her labored breathing. My wife loved it when I talked to her during our lovemaking sessions. She told me once, when we first became intimate, that before we expressed our feelings she used to masturbate while thinking about me telling my stories, that it was the sound of my voice that brought her over.

“I love the feel of my fingers inside you, fucking you. You make me so hot, Xena.” She groaned and I felt her orgasm begin, her inner walls clamping down hard on my thrusting fingers.

“Ahhh….yesssss….GAB-RI-ELLLLLLEEE!” She screamed as her knees finally gave out and her weight came to rest against my shoulders. I smiled as I felt the flutter of aftershocks wash through her body.

“Have I told you how much I love you?” I felt and heard her say after a few minutes of allowing her breathing to return to some semblance of normal. She still hadn’t lifted her body off of mine and I tried to shift us so that she could slide into the tub.

“Mmmm, you just love me for my oratory skills.” I joked as I helped her to settle herself onto the wooden seat.

“I do love that talented tongue of yours.” She purred into my ear as I rested my back against her chest. If I hadn’t already been flush from the heat of the water combined with a moderate hum of arousal I would have blushed.

“Xena,” I admonished gently, as I lightly scraped my nails over her thigh, “you are so bad.”

“Ah, but I do believe that the words ‘I love fucking you’ came out of your mouth not more than a quarter of a candle mark ago.” She teased and I felt a small tug of modesty from my belly so I turned and buried my face against her neck.

“Now that is the way to start our honeymoon, huh?” She whispered and I nodded.

“Oh yeah.” Came my muffled reply.

We lay quietly together for a time until my wife grew tired of the inactivity. Turning slightly, she grabbed the herbal smelling soap from the tub ledge and began rubbing the slick soap over my chest. It wasn’t long before her gentle cleansing motions became more of an intimate caress that rekindled the fire of arousal I had stoked during our earlier encounter. Rapidly I lost myself in her touch and before I was able to register what was happening I found myself dried with a soft towel and being lowered onto the soft bed with Xena on all fours above me intent on repaying the favor I had paid her at the edge of the tub. Once ignited, our passion lasted past the dinner hour and well into the night. Once sated, we collapsed into a heap of arms and legs and quickly fell into a passion induced sleep.

————————————————

The next day found us loathe to leave the confines of our bed, as we only ventured as far as the front door to collect our meals. Once the food was consumed, often a lengthy process as it involved a lot of interpersonal feeding and kissing, we would abandon the trays and once again immerse ourselves in each other’s company either sharing our favorite stories or indulging in short naps followed by periods of gentle caresses. By the third day we were ready to venture out into town. I had convinced my lover to let me parade her around Mitycene to the various shops and eateries that she had told me about. Xena, to her credit, never once complained as I dragged her by the hand, from vendor to vendor. She was even indulgent enough to try on a few articles of clothing that I thought would look good on her.

It was well past midday when I decided that I was shopped out and a bit hungry. So I allowed my wife to lead me and our new possessions to a small café along the city’s main street. Little did I know that her patience merely masked her own hidden agenda, one that I was to become privy to during our meal in the crowded dining area.

“So, now that you have exhausted the market place and increased the number of saddle bags Argo has to carry two fold will you indulge me and go to a vendor that I want to see? It’s about two streets over.” She asked as we finished off a particularly satisfying meal of lamb stew and fresh rolls.

“This isn’t some sort of weapons vendor, is it, because you are already a walking armory?” I teased, knowing full well that even if it was I would go with her.

“No,” she shook her head, “it’s more of a novelty shop.” I raised an eyebrow in question.

“Never heard of a novelty shop, what do they sell?” I asked as I mopped up the last bits of stew with my bread.

“Well, it’s kind of a toy store.” She admitted and I was confused.

“A toy store? What could you possibly want from a toy store, we don’t know any children?” I questioned and noticed that she suddenly found her napkin highly interesting.

“It’s not a child’s toy store.” She explained in a lowered voice.

“What other kinds of toys are…” then it came to me. Damn that Potidaean naiveté. “Oh!” Instantly I felt a flush begin to creep up over my chest and neck. Covertly I looked around us to see if anyone had overheard our conversation. No one was paying us any mind so I assumed not.

“Xena, are you saying that you want me to go into an establishment of ill repute with you?” I teased in a low voice. I was surprised when I saw my lover blush, Xena rarely blushed.

“Well, I thought that maybe…I know we’ve talked about trying…I mean we don’t have to go if…” she stammered and I was quick to reassure her.

“Xena, Love, its ok, I was just teasing you.” I assured her as I placed one hand over hers and squeezed gently. She gave me a sheepish smile.

“You know I would go anywhere with you, even if it does challenge my modesty a bit.” She smiled full out now.

“It’s quite a nice place, comparatively speaking. I wouldn’t take you there if I thought it was of ‘ill repute’.” I nodded and we paused our conversation for a moment as the barmaid approached and collected payment for our meal.

“So I take it you’ve been here before.” I asked as we exited the café and began a slow walk up the street.

“Yeah, once or twice. Whenever I came to Lesbos I stopped in. All of my past accessories came from Isis’ shop.” My wife shrugged and I momentarily had to remind myself that she’d had intimate relationships before me, and that was ok because she was committed to me now.

“Accessories?” I had never used a sex toy before and had only spoken about them with Xena a few times, more questioning her about them then anything else.

“Yeah, you’ll see. This may be a bit shocking for you, Gabrielle, so remember we don’t have to buy anything, we can just look.” She reassured me and I nodded.

“Yeah, I know.” I nodded. I knew that there were all types of items that could be used during the act of sex, but growing up in a conservative village and only having had one other intimate partner aside from my wife I tended to be a bit shy about our private moments. Taking a few deep breaths I tried to prepare myself for what I was about to see.

“And this is a safe place for us to just browse. The shop is owned by a woman and it is clean and the island’s population is pretty open-minded so we don’t have to worry about anyone making comments about us being in there together. Trust me, I’ve been in a few of these types of places and they are not nearly as classy as this one.” She added as we approached the small structure that held Madam Isis’ Boutique.

My wife took my hand in hers as we entered the moderately sized shop. A middle aged woman was behind a small counter and she nodded to us as we walked past her. I expected her to ask us if we were looking for anything in particular, as most vendors did, and I was relieved when she allowed us to pass in silence. Xena lead us to a row of shelves on the back wall and positioned herself behind me so that she could speak to me and not be overheard in the practically empty room.

“Remember when we talked about possibly trying out a phallus?” She spoke in a low voice. I nodded slowly remembering the conversation we had while staying at in the Amazon village about a half a year prior. We had been lovers for about three moons and Xena had finally worked up the nerve to ask me about my wedding night with Perdicus. She knew we had been intimate, but that it wasn’t very enjoyable for me. She had asked me if I had read any of the Amazon scrolls about sex toys and I admitted that I had. My warrior then proceeded to ask me if I ever thought about using one. I had belayed my feeling a bit of fear surrounding the phallus as when Perdicus had penetrated me it hurt quite profusely. She then assured me that if we ever decided to try one out that it wouldn’t hurt and that if I didn’t like it we would never have to try it again. From that night on we had discussed it a few times and I had decided that I would like Xena to use a phallus with me during sex at least once. To at least try it out so to speak.

“Well take a look around; there are many different types and sizes to choose from.” I scanned the shelves and fought back a deep wave of embarrassment as I took in the vast array of objects before me. There were so many, each one a different size or material.

“What is the difference, aside from the size?” I questioned in a low whisper.

“Well, what they are carved from for one. Some are wooden, sanded really smooth, some are stone or bone and some are covered with a soft leather to make it feel more realistic. Another difference is the base, some are meant to be fitted into a harness and worn and some are meant just as a hand tool of sorts.”

“Oh.” Was all I managed to get out.

“See any particular one that you like?” She asked and I scanned the shelf once more. I fought down my sense of impropriety and allowed myself to think of this in terms of an adventure. Wasn’t my life with Xena always an adventure, why should this be any different? I slowly scanned the shelves, my eyes settling on a cream colored piece that was about the length of my hand and as thick as two to three fingers.

“That one is nice.” I motioned without actually pointing.

“The one carved from ivory?” My wife asked and I nodded.

“Yeah. Is it a good one?” I questioned, not really knowing what kind she had in mind.

“Mmmm, yeah it’s not too long and you see how it is a bit thicker at the end with a little nub on the flattened end?” I nodded. “The flared base is so it fits into a harness and the small nub is to increase the pleasure for the one wearing it.” She explained as she reached out and picked up the object in question. She handed it to me and I was surprised at how smooth and light it was.

“You like that one?” She asked.

“Yeah, I do.” I nodded, feeling a bit more relaxed and slightly aroused as I realized that my wife was totally at ease with the situation.

“Now we need to pick out a harness.” She explained as she led me to a different set of shelves where leather harnesses of various shades hung on pegs. Instantly I noticed one that was about the same shade as my lover’s skin. Without hesitation I reached out for it.

“I like this one; it matches your skin tone.” I said as she looked over the leather, inspecting it for cuts or weak spots.

“Ok, it is well made, and adjustable, that’s good, means we can both fit into it.” She smiled and asked me if there was anything else I thought I might want. We browsed the store for a bit longer and I saw many things that I had never seen before. Xena explained what each one was used for and I decided that for now I would just concentrate on the one object we were getting. After browsing we made our way to the counter where Xena made our purchases. The woman behind the counter packed our items in a plain brown leather bag and bid us a good day. Taking the bag in hand, we left the boutique.

As Xena and I walked down the street I quickly stuffed our purchase into my shoulder bag. I realized with some dismay that my comfort from a few moments ago had been replaced with a bit of embarrassment. The thought that someone on the street could have seen us walking out of the store and known what we bought made cringe. I thought for a moment and realized that my reserved upbringing still had a bit of a hold on me and that irritated me. Most of my father’s narrow-minded views about life had been buried in Potidaea when I left to travel with, at that point, a stranger. Those that remained were slowly chipped away until the day that I realized that I was in love with my traveling companion. It had been hard, at first, to let go of the idea that women were supposed to fall in love and marry a man, but when the realization hit me that I not only loved the woman before me, but desired her as a lover, all my previous inclinations hit the trail I was walking on; the only proof that they ever existed being an invisible puff of dust.

I fully embraced my new emotional freedom, examining and relishing in my feelings for my friend and when we finally became lovers a little over a year later the only guilt I felt was over the fact that I wished I knew more about how to please my lover. One night with Perdicus did not an expert make.

As time went by though, even my feelings of inadequacy abated as I gained confidence in my sexual abilities. Xena had helped, a lot. She was so uninhibited and didn’t think twice about telling me what she wanted when we were making love. As a result I learned quickly and now all that was left of my discomfort were the twinges of modesty I felt surrounding overtly sexual public displays of affection and using what my wife called ‘dirty words’ when we were intimate and the mood was right.

The purchase of a phallus and harness themselves was the easy part. It was getting past all of the embarrassment of potentially being caught with it that caused me a moment’s pause. I figured that it was comparable to your mother knowing you have sex and having her walk in while you were in the act. It’s not something I am ashamed of, but I don’t want to put on a live show either. So as we walked back toward our honeymoon retreat I spoke very little and as per usual my attentive wife knew something was bothering me.

“Where are we going?” I asked as I was pulled from my reverie by an abrupt change in direction.

“We are gonna sit on that log there for a minute. That ok?” My dark-haired warrior asked as she led me off the main path. I nodded and sat down.

“What is wrong, Gabrielle?” She asked after straddling the log so that she could face me.

“How did you…nothing, I’m fine.” I stammered a bit and knew I was caught.

“I know you too well, Love. I know that something is bothering you. Is it the phallus? Cause if it is, you know I would never force you to…”

“NO! No,” I interrupted, not wanting her to get the wrong impression, “it’s not what you think, honest. We talked about using one before and I want to, I promise. And I know you would never force me into anything. I would go willing anyplace you lead.” She lifted an eyebrow and I decided that I need to amend. “Well almost anywhere.”

“What were you thinking about, then?” She inquired gently as she took my hand in hers and began to slowly stroke the back with her thumb.

“Just about my own insecurities I guess. You know, trying to be less inhibited.” I shrugged.

“What prompted this wave of insecurity?”

“Just the thought of someone seeing us coming out of that boutique and automatically knowing what it was that we purchased.” I felt a blush start and I looked down at my hands in attempts to hide it.

“Gabrielle, look at me,” I did as she asked; “I know that you have some reservations still, and that is ok. I want to help you in any way that I can in removing those. I don’t want you to be embarrassed, but you have to let me know when something is bothering you.” She held my eyes and I nodded.

“I know. It’s just hard sometimes, it sneaks up on me.” I smiled slightly and she did as well.

“Promise me, that from now on when you feel this way you will talk to me.”

“I promise.” I swore and was rewarded with a huge smile.

“I love you, Gabrielle.”

“I love you, too.” I returned the sentiment and tugged gently on the hand that was still holding mine, forcing my wife to lean in closer. I took advantage of the opportunity and gave her a quick kiss, just flicking my tongue across her bottom lip.

“Take me back to the cabin, Xena. I do believe that we have a few new toys to try out.” I drawled in a low voice, my face no more than an inch away from hers.

“Gods, woman! You are gonna kill me with that tone.” She groaned and then pulled me up off our impromptu bench and practically dragged me back toward the cabin.

————————————————

Less than a quarter of a candle mark later my amorous wife had me pinned up against the inside of our cabin door and was doing wonderful things to the inside of my mouth with her tongue.

“You drive me crazy.” She hummed in my ear before dropping her lips to suckle and nip at my neck.

I groaned in response and found my hands working their way to the back of her battle dress in attempt to loosen the ties, hoping to have her naked in short order. My wife had other plans, however, and I felt her none to gentle attempts at freeing the strings that held my own halter in place. In an instant I felt the strings come free and Xena backed up just enough to allow the impeding garment to fall to our feet.

“Gods, Xena.” I groaned when I felt her strong hands find my breasts. With practiced skill she pinched and gently twisted the already turgid flesh causing bolts of arousal to pool in my sex.

Giving up on her clothing for the time being, my fingers moved through her hair and urged her head up till our mouths met in a searing kiss, tongues battling for dominance. The need for air finally broke us apart long moments later.

“This, off!” I demanded as I pulled at the leather dress that was blocking my access to my lover’s body. In the span of three heartbeats the dress was discarded, leaving her clad only in her cream colored breeches.

“Your turn.” She hissed before reaching out and tugging at my belt; once loosened my skirt dropped away. We both moaned in appreciation when our hot flesh met a moment later. I was ready to spend the next few minutes lavishing attention on Xena’s perfect chest when my warrior surprised me by spinning me around and whispering into my ear.

“Grab hold.” I did as told, bracing myself on my forearms against the door. I barely had time to register the erotic feeling of my lover’s breasts sliding up my back when I felt her fingers find their way up under my breeches and rub hard against my swollen clit.

“Fuck!” I growled as she stroked me, the abundant wetness I was producing allowing her to move freely.

“Yes.” She panted into my ear and I nearly cursed again when I felt her hips begin to grind against my ass. My own hips were now in motion, riding her hand as she deftly pushed me toward orgasm.

“I love your ass, Baby. So firm…” She continued to thrust against me and despite my own distracted state I could feel her wetness through the material of our underwear as she sought out her own release against me.

“Gods, I’m close, already.” She breathed heavily. I voiced my agreement.

“Me…too…” I dropped my head between my arms as I felt the tell-tale signs of my orgasm begin. I knew my lover could feel my body tightening in preparation for release so I just allowed her to pace herself against me, knowing that she would come along with me.

“Xena…ahhhh….I’m…Gods, I’m coming…” I moaned loud and long as I rode out the pleasure her fingers were providing. I felt my wife thrust once more against me and she too fell over the edge.

“GAB-RI…GODS!” She was louder than I was. I felt a few more sporadic thrusts before she fell against me. We both remained standing, supporting each other for a few moments while our breathing slowed.

“Mmmm, I needed that.” She growled as she placed a wet kiss on my neck. “Just thinking about us using that phallus has me all hot and bothered.” She sighed.

“I hadn’t noticed.” I teased and we both chuckled. Her throaty laugh causing a warm tingle to erupt in my abdomen.

“Come’ ere.” She prompted as she pulled me back and led us toward the soft bed, stopping only long enough to retrieve my shoulder bag, before discarding it on the night table, within easy reach.

“Lay down on your back, Gab.” She instructed. I did as told and smiled when she reclined on her side on the bed next to me, one hand propping her head the other coming to rest on my stomach. “We’re gonna take this slow, ok?” She asked and I nodded while I reached up and twirled a piece of her hair around my finger.

“Ok, I trust you.” I smiled when I felt her fingers lightly circle my navel.

“I know.” She whispered as she lowered her face toward mine. I closed my eyes slowly, expecting a kiss. When it didn’t happen I opened my eyes and jumped slightly as her face was a hairs breadth away from mine, her crystal eyes looking deeply into me.

“Hi.” She breathed.

“Hi.” I felt my breathing hitch slightly. She quirked an eyebrow at my obvious reaction to her nearness before tracing her tongue over my lower lip. I opened my mouth to respond to her and she covered it completely. She kissed me softly at first, her tongue barely coming into contact with my own, just teasing. I gave a soft moan of disappointment and she pressed harder, sealing our lips together and exploring my mouth with knowing thrusts. For a time we were merely content to kiss, the earlier round of passion taking the edge off our need. Eventually, however, we wanted more. With a purpose I grabbed my wife’s hand off my abdomen and gave it a hard pull causing her body to fall on top of mine. I arched my back at the contact.

“Cheater.” She stated as her mouth left mine and began it’s descent over my throat and collarbones.

“It worked.” I replied breathlessly as I placed my hands on her shoulders and began to knead deeply. She continued her downward trek until I could feel her warm breath on my hardened nipple, it made me shiver.

“Please…” I pleaded.

“Please, what?” I heard her deep reply.

“Please, Xena. Your mouth, on me, I need you.” I knew it wasn’t the most eloquent of requests, but she got the point and I sighed in satisfaction when I felt her take me into her mouth and suck firmly. Knowing what I liked she alternated between breasts, sucking and nipping until I could stand it no longer and began urging her to move lower. Her lips never left my breasts, but her hands came to rest on the waistband of my breeches. When I felt her weight shift off to the side I lifted my hips an allowed her to remove my last vestige of clothing. So caught up in what she was doing to my sensitive nipples I didn’t notice when her hands didn’t return immediately. When they did, however, she had the leather harness in her hands.

“Lift your legs, Baby.” She instructed as she sat up. Momentarily confused I didn’t move. “I want you to wear this first, to get a feel for how it works.”

“Ok,” I breathed, as just the feeling of her warm fingers on my skin made little bolts of pleasure to shoot through me. I allowed her to put the harness on me, adjusting it so that it was slung low over my hips. Next came the phallus, she gently inserted into the harness before tightening the straps that pressed the nub end of our toy into my reawakening clit.

“Yikes,” I gasped. “That’s nice.” She just nodded her head as I squirmed a bit, trying to settle into the best possible position. Satisfied with her handiwork my wife quickly removed her own breeches and repositioned herself so that she was kneeling between my outstretched legs.

“Now I want you to just relax and enjoy.” I nodded and she began her assault.

“Xena.” I moaned softly when her warm mouth enveloped a sensitive nipple and sucked gently. She lavished attention on my neck and breasts for what seemed like ages. Starting with gentle kisses and swipes of her tongue, but with each pass the caresses became firmer until I was moaning with each sharp nip of her teeth on my turgid flesh. Satisfied that I had had enough she dropped her kisses lower, her breath now teasing the skin around my navel.

“Gabrielle, open your eyes.” She coaxed and I complied unaware as to when I had closed them.

“Watch me, Baby.” She purred and it took every ounce of will power I possessed to keep my eyes open when she ran her wet tongue along the full length of my borrowed erection. I nearly choked on my rising arousal when in the next instant she enveloped the entire length in her mouth.

“Oh Gods, Xena!” I moaned loudly, “that is so hot!” I was panting now as my eyes were riveted to my wife who was giving me quite an enthusiastic blow-job. My hands tangled themselves into her hair as she began humming on the down stroke, the vibration being transferred to my clit as the nub of the phallus repeatedly pressed against me. For a fleeting instant I entertained the wish that I had been born a male so that I could actually feel my lover’s tongue on me, but as soon as it came the thought was replaced by the remembered feeling of her mouth on my sex. That thought, coupled with the gentle vibrations and the vision of her dark head bobbing in my lap rapidly brought me toward orgasm.

“I’m…close…” I choked out between irregular breaths. I fully expected my warrior to let me come and I was immediately disappointed when she pulled away.

“NO!” I cried as I attempted to urge her back down.

“Easy,” she purred, “I’m not leaving, just changing positions.” She added as she sat up and moved to straddle my hips.

“Bend your knees a bit for me, Gab.” I complied and allowed her to place her hands on my thighs and position me as she liked.

“Ready?” She asked as I propped myself up against a few pillows.

“Yeah.” I smiled and placed my hands on her bare hips. Slowly she rose up and positioned herself above me. I groaned along with her as she lowered her body until she had taken in the entire length of the phallus easily, her sex was now resting against mine.

“How…how does that feel?” I asked, aroused and curious at the same time.

“Hmmm, good. It makes me feel full.” She hummed as her eyes slipped closed and she began to lift and descend slowly. Gently she rocked her hips, allowing me to feel the pleasure of wearing the harness without giving me enough friction to take me over.

“How bout you? How does it feel to you?” She asked in a passion lowered voice, I shivered as it washed over me.

“Nice, the pressure…so good.” I breathed. “Harder, please.” I requested as I moved my hands from her hips to her gently bobbing breasts. Hoping to urge her on, I pinched her tight flesh and rolled her nipples in between my fingers. The added stimulation worked, as I noticed a slight flush begin to cover her neck and chest as she began to increase the pace. Feeling the added friction against my sex emboldened me.

“That’s it, ride me, Baby.” I hissed as I watched the phallus appear and disappear between her legs.

“Ahhh…yeah…” She grunted and leaned forward a bit more, changing the angle of penetration and putting more direct pressure on her clit.

“Come for me, Xena.” I urged and she opened her eyes and locked them on mine.

“Yes, Love…I’m gonna…AHHHH YEEESSS!” She moaned loudly as she came. She pressed herself hard against me and the sudden increase in contact sent me over moments later. I released a sharp scream that evolved into my wife’s name as I came.

“Am I too heavy?” My dark-haired warrior asked some time later, after our breathing had evened out. She had collapsed against me, her head resting on the pillow above my shoulder.

“No, you’re good.” I sighed and tightened my hold on her to prevent any movement. I loved the feeling of her warm body pressed against mine. It was rare that she allowed me to hold her this way for she feared that she would crush me. So, when the opportunity arose I never passed it up. We remained locked in our embrace for long moments and I began to drift off. Xena must have felt my body begin to relax as she gently lifted herself off of me.

“Hey, where you going?” I protested sleepily.

“Shhh, nowhere. I’m just making us more comfortable.” She whispered against me and I felt her warm hands remove the harness from around my waist before she readjusted our position so that my back was to her chest. It didn’t take long for her comforting embrace to lull me to sleep.

—————————————-

I don’t know how much later it was when I awoke, but the sun had set and the coolness of the sheets beside me let me know that my wife was awake.

“Hmmmm.” I hummed loudly as I raised my arms for a full body stretch. I heard a few familiar pops as my back resettled itself and I sighed. ‘I’m getting old.’ I thought wistfully.

“What is that little smile for?” I heard Xena’s rich voice ask from across the room.

“Oh nothing, I’m just happy to be here, relaxing, with you, finally.” I said sweetly, without opening my eyes.

“Well, are you content enough to join me for dinner, my Queen?” She asked with a slight chuckle.

“Depends,” I said haughtily as I tried to sniff out clues as to what was for dinner.

“On what?” She asked in an amused tone.

“On this evening’s dress code. Do I have to get dressed?” I heard her laugh full out now.

“Why don’t you open your eyes and see for yourself.” I did as she bid and realized, as I scanned the room, that my lover had been up for awhile. There was now a large fire in the stone fireplace and several candles provided enough illumination for me to see across the room to where she was sitting, her only clothing our leather harness, slung low over her hips. I whistled a short cat-call and she smiled.

“I must say I heartily approve of this evening’s casual attire.” I purred as I strolled over to the table and perused the meal that was laid out before me.

“Hmmm, I wonder which one I’d like to sample first.” I placed a finger to my lips in thought as my eyes took in both the food and her firm body.

“Why don’t you have some of the food first,” she purred in my ear as she pressed her warm flesh against my back. “You’ll need your strength.” I shivered when I felt her nip my ear and then pull away completely to cross the room and drop into a padded chair. Interested in what she was planning I began to eat and noticed that she didn’t intend to join me.

“Aren’t you going to have any?” I inquired between bites, she merely shook her head.

“I already ate, besides, I want to watch you.” I gulped when I saw her change positions, throwing one leg casually over an arm of the chair leaving her harness enclosed sex exposed to my view.

“Oh.” I squeaked, knowing that a blush had begun to creep across my cheeks at the erotic images her position caused to flash through my brain.

“Eat, Gabrielle.” She instructed. ‘Easier said, than done.’ I thought to myself as I fumbled with a piece of apple as I brought it to my lips. The food was all but forgotten as I watched large hands begin to caress her own breasts, her nipples tightening at the attention. Realizing that she had my complete attention she slowly dropped on hand down until it rested where the phallus inserted into the harness. I felt a familiar warmth begin in my abdomen and my breathed hitched.

“Did you know that even while you were wearing the harness I could have gone inside you if I had desired?” I shook my head mutely. “Oh yeah, it’s easy. You see where the one strap splits into two?” Her fingers trailed along the tan leather stopping at the indicated spot. I continued to eat reflexively, not tasting a single bite as my attention was focused on her hand.

“Well,” she continued, “if you slide your fingers along just under where the straps split you’ll find…” She trailed off as I watched two of her fingers slip easily into herself. “Oooh, that’s good.” She moaned as she tilted her head back to rest against the chair back.

I abandoned the remainder of my meal and my own hands began a journey toward my now aching breasts. I watched as my lover continued to plunder her own depths slowly. I smiled when I saw her eyes slowly travel down to watch my movements. I focused my fingers on my itchy nipples. Xena’s blue eyes sparkled with need as we continued to torment each other, each desiring to be touching the flesh the other fondled.

“Stop.” I froze at her unexpected command. I had one hand poised to slide over my now slippery sex. “That’s mine.” She hissed as she removed her own digits from beneath the leather. With elegant grace she rose from the chair and crossed to where I was sitting, dropping to her knees before me. More roughly than I had anticipated she spread my knees in order to make room before she descended and placed one long, heated lick across my center.

“Sweet Artemis!” I exclaimed, my hands abandoning my breasts in order to grasp the legs of my chair. The feel of her warm tongue on me so unexpectedly had nearly brought me to completion. I grit my teeth in order to regain some control.

“Xenaxenaxena…” I chanted her name like a mantra as she continued to work her tongue against me, alternating between long strokes to my engorged labia and short stabs against my inflamed clit. Awash in the feeling of her loving me I didn’t notice as she inserted the phallus she had been hiding into the harness. Her fingers replaced her mouth a moment later as she straightened up and captured my lips with hers. I tasted myself on her lips and increased the pressure I was using on the chair. When she pulled away I looked down to where her hands were touching me and started briefly when I saw the now moistened phallus protruding from her sex. She didn’t allow me much time to ponder her next move before she gently guided the ivory rod into my depths, stopping her forward motion when her hips contacted mine.

“Gods!” I gasped and dropped my head against her shoulder.

“You ok?” She hadn’t moved, allowing me to adjust to the feeling.

“Yeah, I’m alright.” I breathed.

“Hold on to me.” She moved her hands to my lower back and prompted me to wrap my legs around her waist before she stood, lifting me out of the chair. We resettled on the bed a moment later. She laid us down so that she was resting above me, her weight mostly held on her elbows.

“Any discomfort?” She asked softly.

“Oh, no.” I hadn’t felt anything, but pleasure when she had penetrated me, nothing like my night with Perdicus.

“Ready for more?” She asked with a raised eyebrow and a small smirk. I nodded and she started to slowly thrust against me. Her lips found the sensitive hollow of my throat as she set up a constant rhythm. The feel of her body sliding against my own was like Elysium and I prompted her to pick up her pace.

“Harder.” I requested as my hands squeezed her firm ass, pulling her against me.

“Like this?” Her hoarse voice whispered.

“Yes…yes…yesssss.” I groaned with each thrust.

“That’s it, feel me, Baby. How does it feel, my cock inside you?” She asked, her natural wantonness emerging.

“Good…so good…ahhh…hard…oooh…so deep.” I tried to focus on her question as she once again picked up the pace, her lower body now pounding into mine with each thrust. The feralness of our coupling causing me to moan almost constantly.

“So hard for you…only you, Baby…yessss…I love feel of you, fucking you.” She continued to push me with her passionate words. Her hips were thrusting into me with force now, withdrawing until on the tip of the phallus remained inside and then pistoning back in quickly.

“Love…it…too.” I tried to say more, but the open adoration in my lover’s azure eyes choked off any words that tried to escape.

“I love being able to look at you like this, you are so beautiful, Baby.” She said softly. No one could make me feel as sexy as my wife did during our lovemaking.

“Almost,” thrust, “there,” thrust, “Gods,” thrust, “I love you,” thrust, “Xena!” I moaned. I was close to coming and suddenly had the desire for us to fall over together. Remembering her little show in the chair I slid my hand down between her legs from behind. Quickly I found the spot where the leather split and I buried two fingers into her hot center, she was soaked.

“GAB-RI-ELLE!” She choked out as her movements became erratic for a moment and her inner muscles fluttered slightly at the sudden invasion.

“Come with me.” I implored.

“Yeah,” She grunted as I set up a rhythm similar to the one she was using on me, allowing her own thrusting to provide needed leverage. I choked back a scream as I felt my climax begin as a warm tingle and spread rapidly through my body as a white hot flash of heat. I felt my inner walls clamp down on the hardness of the phallus moving inside of me, my wife’s continued thrusting propelled me off the final edge and prolonging my release.

“I’m…coming…argh…ahhh!” I groaned and arched my hips against her.

“Yes…Gab…I’m there…” She echoed in my ear as her sex clamped down hard on my fingers. I felt two or three more erratic thrusts and my warrior was once again collapsing on top of me.

————————————————–

“That was fun.” I said some time later when my breathing once again allowed for coherent speech.

“Ummhmm. It’s nice not having anyone banging down our door with some problem they want us to fix. Nice to have time to ourselves, to just relax.” She hummed as she braced her weight on her elbows and knees and gently eased out of me and flopped on her back on the bed.

“Too bad we ever have to leave, I like being here, having you all to myself.” I mumbled as I attempted to make myself comfortable against my lover’s long body.

“Hang on.” She sat up in order to remove our now christened accessory, placing it on the bedside table before reclining once again.

“You know, we seem to be the Greece’s only problem solvers lately and that if we stayed here too long someone would find us.” I nodded against her neck.

“I know, but it’s nice to dream.” I yawned and snuggled into the warm blanket that Xena settled over us.

“It is, but unfortunately we need to start thinking about where we want to go when we do leave what with winter coming. You know what that means, bad traveling weather. Any suggestions?” I fought off sleep and thought for a moment.

“Maybe we can go see Cyrene or we could always go stay with the Amazons.”

“We could do that…either one is a good option.” She too was fighting Morpheus.

“I mean, when you think about it, where would you be less restless?”

“Probably with the Amazons, there is always something going on with that group.” She shrugged.

“It would be nice to have a normal life for once, especially during winter. Think about it a soft bed, no worries about finding suitable campsites and food.” I was warming to the idea the more I thought about it.

“That would be nice.” My wife yawned.

“We wouldn’t have to be so on guard about showing affection.” Yeah the Amazons would be good indeed. I was having visions of snuggling in front of a warm winter bonfire.

“Yep.” Ok, she was monosyllabic now, she was fading fast.

“All those women to keep me company when you are out gallivanting with Pony.” I teased.

“Yeah…WHAT?!” Her eyes snapped open and met mine, she was awake now.

“Kidding.” I smiled and she poked me in the ribs in response as her own lips cracked into a grin.

“You had better be, woman.” She growled playfully.

“Oh yeah, you know me, a wild woman. No one can tame me.” I was on a roll, barely holding back the threatening giggles.

“Yeah right, just remember my Queen you are bonded to me, and I tend to be the jealous type.” She smiled, but I could tell by her eyes that although we were joking she hated even thinking about me being with someone else.

“You know I would never even think about it.” I reassured her. “I only want you, my Warrior.” I sat up slightly and kissed her playfully on the nose.

“Me too, my Bard.” She sighed.

“To the Amazons then, I guess.” I settled back into my favorite position.

“I think it would be a good idea, especially since Ephany mentioned that they might need some help on an upcoming hunting slash scouting trip.” Now it was my turn to raise an eyebrow as my Regent never spoke of this to me before we left.

“You wouldn’t mind being so confined?” I asked her.

“No, not if I could get away every now and then.” She shrugged.

“I think that can be arranged, we could always slip away for awhile.” I added in what I hoped was an inviting tone.

“Can I trust you there all alone for a few days? What with all those ‘women’ around. You know, with your wild-woman nature and all.” Now it was her turn to tease.

“Of course you can, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt to stake your claim before you left.” I smiled and nipped at her neck.

“Oh that is something I definitely intend on doing.” She promised before we settled down for the evening. Now that our destination when we left Lesbos was settled we were free to fully enjoy our last two days of solitude before heading back to the close confines of the Amazon village. Little did we know that our visions of a conflict free winter were not to be. Problems were on the horizon, and they were in the shape of an unassuming stranger.

Part 3: The Best of Intentions

Xena was packing her travel bag when I returned from the dining hut with a basket of breakfast foods. The hunting party was set to depart in a little less than a candle mark and I found myself saddened at the prospect of saying good bye to my wife so shortly after returning from our honeymoon. Just below the emotions on the surface, however, knew I was being silly. It wasn’t as if she was leaving me forever. It was just a short trip and it wasn’t like we had never been separated before and that I was going to be all alone. The Amazon village was teeming with life this time of year as all able-bodied members prepared the community for the up-coming winter season. I had more than enough to occupy me and keep me out of trouble, but I still felt the tug of sadness when she pulled out her worn leather backpack.

“Are you sure you really want to go?” I asked as I deposited my wares on our dining table and moved to wrap my arms around her in a loose embrace.

“Gabrielle…” She sighed. We had been over this subject before, numerous times, but still I had to ask one more time.

“I know, I know. It will be good for you to get away from the village for awhile.” She chuckled as my attempts at a forlorn look.

“It’s not as if I WANT to leave you behind, you know that.” I nodded slightly as she placed a warm hand on my cheek. “It’s just been so long since I lived in the confines of a village; all these people constantly milling about drive me crazy sometimes. Besides, Pony can really use my help managing the group. Some of them are experienced hunters, but the rest are no more than kids going on their first big hunt. It’s important that we bring back as much as we can so that during the snowiest part of the season no one has to brave the cold to get fresh meat.”

“I just wish I could go with you.” I groused, unhappily. “Unfortunately duty calls. I have mandates to go over and winter storage to oversee.” Our absence from the village had left me with plenty to do while my wife was gone.

“Tsk…the trials of being queen.” Xena sighed dramatically. I laughed and pulled out of our embrace in order to cross over to the clothes cabinet.

“Gabrielle, Love, I don’t think it is going to be THAT cold.” She tilted her head, indicating the heavy weight tunic and leather pants I had pulled out for her.

“Well, you never know and I don’t want you to be caught unprepared. How would it look if the Queen allowed her wife to leave without her winter clothes?” I teased. She sighed in relentment and I packed the garments in the bottom of her pack, tossing her remaining gear on top before tying it closed.

“Always looking out for me, huh?” I smiled at her softly before responding.

“Always. I do have an ulterior motive, though. I want you healthy when you get back. So we can celebrate properly.”

“Ooh, are we going to have a party?” She asked in a sarcastic tone. She knew the Amazons really needed little excuse to throw a party.

“Mmm, most likely, but I was thinking more along the lines of a little private party. You know a guest list of only two.” I lowered my voice and sidled up to where she was now leaning against the wall. I noticed her eyes had darkened in response to my comments. When I was close enough she roughly pulled me against her.

“Even better.” She whispered hoarsely before covering my mouth with hers. Immediately I felt her soft tongue trace my lips, seeking entrance and deepening our contact. Breathless moments later we parted and I rested my forehead against her collarbone.

“You don’t have much time, we should eat.” I breathed when I once again had control over my vocal chords.

“We should.” My dark-haired warrior answered as her hands began to softly trace my backside through my leather skirt. She made no indication that she was letting go anytime soon. I allowed her indulgence for a few moments.

“Ok.” I sighed heavily as I reluctantly pulled away and backed away a few steps. “We need to stop this or else you are going to be late meeting Pony.” I ran my hands through my short hair, still surprised at how quickly my body responded her hers. Even after a year of being together all she had to do was look at me right and I was raring to go.

“Wouldn’t do for the Queen’s consort to be late.” She teased as she captured my wrist and drew me back against her body. “They might think I was up to no good, fraternizing with the Queen while I was supposed to be leading a hunting party.” She spoke conspiratorially into my ear; her warm breath causing goose bumps to race up my arms.

“Xena.” I moaned when I felt her callous-roughened fingers begin to slide up the backs of my thighs, under my clothing.

“Maybe we should give them something to talk about, huh? Think if I make you scream loud enough they could hear you?” She teased.

“Oh Gods!” Her explorations had led her beneath the edge of my breeches where she was softly stroking the tender skin where thigh became ass. I was rapidly becoming aroused now, my breathing beginning to hitch. Abruptly my traitorous wife pulled away and began gathering food items off the table. “Wha…What are you doing?!” I managed to choke out as I struggled to bring my body back under control.

“Packing some breakfast to go; can’t be late meeting Pony.” She smiled evilly.

“You are so bad! I can’t believe you are gonna leave me like this.” I walked toward an available chair on unsteady legs. Xena merely laughed. My wife knew my body almost as well as I did and there was no way she didn’t know how much her attentions had turned me on.

“Hey, you started it, Baby.” She ruffled my hair as she passed by, on her way to retrieve her travel gear.

“I did not.” I protested.

“Um, yeah, you did. All that talk about ‘private parties’ Sure got me all hot and bothered so I figured it would only be fair if I left you in the same state, you know communal suffering.” She reasoned before giving me a quick peck on the lips, shouldering her pack and heading toward the door. “See you in two weeks. Love ya!” She called cheerily as she opened the door and headed out into the predawn of the village.

“Warriors!” I groaned loudly before padding back into the bedroom for an attempt at a few more candle marks of sleep. Hopefully my libido will have calmed down by then. Sleep was not to be, however, as a rather loud knock woke me less than a candle mark later. Tossing on a robe I grumpily opened the door.

“Sorry to disturb you, My Queen,” Joran, one of my guards bowed slightly, “but something has come up and Regent Ephany would like to see you.”

“In her hut?” I asked, becoming more alert by the moment.

“Yes, My Queen.” I shook my head in amusement–would I ever get it through their heads– ‘Gabrielle!!!’

“Ephany?” I called as I knocked lightly and opened the door to my Regent’s hut.

“Come in, Gabrielle.” I heard her voice and followed it back into her sitting room.

“What’s up?” I asked as she indicated that I should take a seat. Gratefully I smiled as she handed me a steaming mug of tea.

“Sorry to wake you so early, but it seems as though this morning’s scouts found a young woman unconscious just over our eastern border.” Ephany’s brow was crinkled with a combination of concern and anger.

“By the Gods! Is it anyone we know? Is she ok?” I asked in rapid-fire fashion.

“No, it’s no one we know. As far as for the rest, she was taken into the healer’s hut about a candle mark ago and treated for her injuries. I was told she is starting to come around. I figured you would want to be there when she wakes.” The curly-haired woman rose and set her cup down on a small table.

“Yeah, I’d like to find out who did this to her and why?” I followed my friend out of her hut. With grim purpose we strode into the healer’s hut.

“My Queen, Regent.” Asia, the healer nodded and quickly made room for the two of us to approach the treatment pallet. A young, dark haired woman who I guessed was close to my own age was reclining on its surface, her face littered with bruises and one large cut over her brow that had been closed with several stitches.

“How are you feeling?” I asked gently.

“Better, thank you.” She answered in a medium toned voice.

“My name is Gabrielle; I am ruler of this village. This is Ephany, my Regent.” I indicated over my right shoulder. “What is your name?”

“Micah.” She responded.

“Can you tell us what happened to you, Micah? How you got to the edge of Amazon territory.” I settled into a chair for her story.

“I don’t know how I got here; several men from the village must have brought me. We all know about the Amazon village that is less than a day’s walk from our own. The cuts and bruises, however, I can tell you about. The villagers stoned me.” She said, a touch of anger coloring her voice.

“Sweet Artemis, why?!” I asked, wondering what she might have done to make her own village treat her so harshly.

“I was having an affair with the Blacksmith’s daughter. We were found out.”

“I take it they didn’t take the news too well.” Ephany sighed, it was a familiar story, and one many non-native Amazons shared.

“No. Her father told everyone that I had molested her; that eventually I would tire of her and move on to another unsuspecting young woman. That all I wanted was to have my way with her. He made me out as some sort of predator, but it wasn’t like that. We were both consenting adults, we cared for each other.” She paused and I noticed she tried to hold back a few tears that threatened to fall before continuing. “When he had finished twisting around the story the villagers came as a mob to my house, dragged me outside and tied me to a tree. When I asked them why they were doing this to me they said they didn’t like ‘my kind’ and that I needed to be punished for my ungodly ways. Even my own parents turned against me. Anyway, I tried to endure it for as long as I could, but I must have been knocked out, because the next thing I remember is waking up here.” She shifted uncomfortably as she finished her tale.

“How awful.” I sighed as I remembered my own family’s reaction to the news that Xena and I were in love. My heart went out to the woman who had obviously endured a great deal of pain, both physical and emotional.

“What about the woman you were involved with?” Ephany asked.

“She was made out to be a victim. She didn’t want to cause herself anymore trouble so she didn’t speak out one way or another. Her father had already entered negotiations for her to marry before we were found out. I assume she will be married as soon as possible.” Again I nodded in understanding, what is it with men, that they think they can just marry off their children whenever they see fit?

“Well, Micah,” I sighed, “you are more than welcome to stay here with us, permanently or until you decide what you want to do.” I looked to her for a response. It was pretty standard for the Amazons to take in women that were in trouble, or looking for a different life. Micah was no different. Provided she could prove to be a contributing member of the village she could stay.

“I’d like that very much, thank you.”

“Ok, then. You are free to roam about the village. One of Asia’s aides can show you to a guest hut whenever you are ready. And anything you need you ask Ephany and she will see to it that you get it.” I finished as I stood and straightened my skirt. Smiling one last time at our newest member, I left the hut, Ephany right on my heels.

“I can’t believe that people can be so cold and close-minded, especially to members of their own community.” I vented once we were outside.

“I know, but it’s a common story. Most people don’t like what they don’t understand.” The curly-haired woman reasoned.

“What they refuse to take time to understand is more like it.” I added. Sadly Ephany agreed. Knowing that we had done all we could we decided to meet for lunch and parted. Feeling a bit down about Micah’s story and about my own Xenaless state I gloomily returned to my hut and attempted to tidy it up a bit before mid-day.

I didn’t see Micah until lunch the following day. I was walking toward the dining hut when a slightly limping form caught my eye.

“Hello, Micah.” I said cheerily as I made my way to her side.

“Hello, Queen Gabrielle.” She responded and I rolled my eyes. It didn’t take long, I guess.

“Please, just Gabrielle. I’m not that formal a leader during everyday life.” I smiled broadly when she nodded in assent. “Care to join me for lunch? You can fill me in on how you’re adapting and tell me a bit about yourself.” I wasn’t about to take no for an answer as I ushered her inside and urged her to take a seat as I flagged down a server.

Come to find out the winter preparations that I counted on to keep me busy while Xena was gone were further along that I had realized leaving me with the duty of merely signing off on work well done. With nothing else to do I found myself spending a lot of time with our newest recruit. She was healing quickly and as soon as she was walking normally I offered to take her on a detailed tour of the village, including the armory, where she could choose a weapon to train with, the practice fields and the stables.

I found Micah to be a pleasant companion, she wasn’t overly talkative, but she was inquisitive about the village, Amazon customs and me especially. Happy to indulge her inquiries I chatted on contentedly about my life in Potidaea, how I first met Xena and began traveling with her, my inheritance of Terrais’ rite of caste and the death of the former Queen, Melosa. We spent many of the days of her first week just sitting somewhere or another in the village while I talked of Xena and my adventures. The time we spent together made my feelings of longing for my wife’s safe return lessen as it made me feel closer to her when I spoke about her many heroic deeds. As the days past her many questions about my life, travels and how I came to be Queen should have been a clue that something was amiss with the newest Amazon.

Oblivious to her ever increasing tendencies to stay near me I didn’t think it odd that she began to share all her meals with Ephany and me. I just assumed she felt most comfortable with us since we were the first people to really talk to her the day she arrived in the village. My Regent, however, had her own suspicions. At first Eph didn’t say anything, she merely regarded Micah with a curious eye that I contributed to her newness in the village. However, when she noticed that Micah had been meeting me at my hut and “escorting” me to my meals for about a week straight she decided that she should bring it up.

“Do you think that there is something just a bit off about Micah’s behavior when it comes to you?” She asked me when we were sparring and out of ear-shot of Micah and the others occupying the practice field.

“What do you mean?” I asked as I unloaded a particularly hard overhead strike with my staff. ::THWACK!::

“I think she has taken a bit of a liking to you, my Queen.” She replied as she blocked my blow with her own weapon. ::THWACK!::

“That’s ridiculous. I’m married for Artemis’ sake! Besides, she hasn’t even know me that long.” I spun to my right and attempted to sweep her legs out from under her.

“Nice move.” She complimented in mid-jump. “True she doesn’t, but that didn’t stop almost everyone in this village from becoming smitten with you after only knowing you for a few days.” Now I was on the defensive as she thrust the end of her staff at my midsection. I jumped back.

“Missed.” I laughed. “Come on, Eph, no one was smitten with me.” I couldn’t imagine a whole village falling for someone so quickly, especially a girl as young and naïve as I was back then.

“I swear, we were. We were just a bit more reserved about our feelings; after all you did have one tall, dark and deadly bodyguard.” We were now trading blows, the sound of wood connecting reverberated all around us.

“True,” I sighed, “Xena is quite impressive, but I’ve talked about Xena with Micah. She was interested in my life so I told her that we have been traveling together for a few years and about some of our more entertaining adventures.”

“Did you tell her you two were married?” I thought about it for a moment as I concentrated on disarming my friend.

“I guess I didn’t say anything straight out, but I pretty much talk about her non-stop and I wear a bonding bracelet. It’s in plain sight for anyone to see. I would think it was obvious what our relationship is.” I reasoned.

“Micah’s not an Amazon; she might just think it’s a nice piece of jewelry. And that you and Xena are just really good friends, since I assume you didn’t tell her any of your more private stories.” Ephany winked and reminded me.

“NO! Those are private moments.” I felt myself begin to blush.

“You tell me some of them.” She teased and smiled.

“That’s different, you are one of my best friends and still I don’t tell you everything. As for the bracelet, I didn’t think about that. I guess I just assume that everyone knows.” I admitted.

“Well, it may be nothing, but I just noticed that she spends a lot of time with you. She makes it a point to sit next to you at every meal. Solari tells me she is always talking about you at weapons practice. She is even taking up the staff, one of only two weapons that you use. We have at least twenty weapons to choose from, why that one? It’s not a common choice.” I noticed we were now drawing an audience, as our sparring had picked up speed. I lowered my voice as we now traded blows in a frenzied fashion.

“Could be a coincidence?” I asked, not really believing it myself.

“Could be, but just in case, be careful. We don’t know her THAT well. And it seems to me that you could be getting more than you asked for from that one.”

“Well the hunters should be back in a few days and if there is any sort of misconception on her part it will definitely be squelched by the afore mentioned tall, dark and deadly. You know how possessive she is.” I smiled at my Regents emphatic ‘do I ever.’ “Until then, I will keep my eyes and ears open.” I promised before engaging in one more spurt of hard hits. Sweating profusely, we both agreed that we had had enough and I wrapped my arm through my Regent’s, allowing her to lead me back down the main path to the village. Physical contact between us wasn’t uncommon, but I did notice one set of eyes that narrowed at our familiarity. ‘Oh, boy.’ I though as we weeded our way through the numerous Amazons that were also returning from the field.

A little over two candle marks later, a soft knock on the door surprised me, for I wasn’t expecting any visitors. I had just emerged from my private bath and was clad merely in a towel.

“I’m coming.” I announced as I tucked in a corner of my towel, securing it in place. “Micah, hi.” I said a bit surprised to see her. Her unexpected visit made me feel a bit unsettled after my conversation with Ephany earlier.

“I…uh…” She stuttered and I watched as her eyes took in my scant attire. “I was wondering if you would care to join me for dinner.” Her gaze shifted back to focus on my face. I sensed a bit more than a friendly interest from her.

“It’s nice of you to ask, but I already made plans to eat with Ephany.” I watched closely as her shoulders and jaw visibly tensed. I wondered at her changing expression, thinking that maybe she was thinking about the Regent and my behavior while walking back from sparring earlier.

“Oh, well, I thought…I didn’t realize. Maybe tomorrow then?” Her tone was a bit sharp, but I let it slide.

“Yeah, that sounds fine. Breakfast, then?” I offered, knowing full well that I would ask Ephany to “accidentally” run into us on the way to the dining hut. I was also beginning to believe that my friend was right when it came to her observations about Micah harboring more than feelings of friendship towards me. I hoped that she didn’t decide to confront me with them before Xena returned for I sensed that she didn’t take kindly to being rejected and having Xena around to keep an eye on things would make the whole situation a bit easier to bear.

“Yes, breakfast.” She agreed tersely and then abruptly turned and walked away.

“Phew, that should be a fun meal.” I said to myself as I closed the door and padded back to my bedroom where I had already set out clean clothes.

My dinner with Ephany was pleasant and I told her about Micha’s impromptu visit to my hut earlier and my plans to have morning meal with her as she walked me back to my hut.

“Are you sure that is such a good idea, given what you have just told me?” She asked as we reached my porch.

“Well, I was hoping that you could kind of happen by us as we are leaving. Then you could join me.” I gave her my best please-won’t-you-help-me smiles. She was helpless to resist.

“Fine. I hate it when you do that, you know that smile will get you just about anything.” The Regent pouted. Sighing dramatically she hugged me and headed back toward her own dwelling. Happy to have snagged a “bodyguard” I waved politely at my guards and entered my home. Knowingly I walked through the darkness back to the bedroom. Quickly I lit a lone candle and placed it on my writing desk. Deciding that I was in no mood to write I deftly removed my tunic in preparation for bed.

“Keep goin’ Queenie.” A low voice behind me drawled. Surprised I turned around without remembering that I was now nude from the waist up.

“XENA!!” I practically shrieked before bounding onto the bed where my wife was reclining. “When did you get in? Why didn’t you come find me?” I questioned as she repositioned me to straddle her legs and wrapped me in a strong hug.

“We rode in about a candle mark ago. Solari told me that you were with Ephany so I figured I could bathe and be all clean and fresh-smelling when you got home. Surprised?”

“Mmmm very, such a wonderful surprise. I missed you.” I confessed.

“I missed you too, My Bard.” My wife smiled before gently brushing her lips over my own. “Have any more plans for this evening?” She asked in between kisses.

“Nope. At least none that involve leaving this bed.” I purred.

“Good cause I think I remember you promising me a private party.” She whispered as her hands moved to gently cover my exposed breasts. While her tongue began to map the familiar contours of my mouth she lightly fondled my hardening nipples. Pinching and rubbing the sensitive flesh.

“Gods, that feels so good!” I moaned when her lips abandoned my own and headed south to kiss and suck the column of my throat and shoulders. Lost in the familiar sensations of Xena’s wet tongue on my skin I dropped my head back, allowing her to keep me upright with one arm wrapped around my lower back. Her free hand had gone to work on loosening my belt so that she could remove my skirt.

“Lift.” She commanded, urging me to come up to rest on my knees. In two heart beats my skirt joined my tunic on the floor of the bedroom. Clad only in my underwear I wondered how my talented lover was going to remove them without lifting me off her lap. Xena, the ever adaptable woman that she was decided that she would just work around them for now. Deftly she worked her hands under the leg bands and placed her warm palms on my behind, kneading the flesh rhythmically.

“Mmmm, Xena…” I groaned when her lips once again joined in the action; closing around one turgid nipple and sucking hard. Without conscious thought I tangled my hands in her hair and held her against my breasts. “More…” I breathed when she switched between breasts. Immediately she added little nips to her ministrations. I allowed her to lavish attention on me for a while before I decided that I wanted to get in on some of the action. After all I hadn’t seen her in TWO weeks!

“Loose the shift.” I stated as I yanked up on the thin fabric, forcing her to remove her hands from my ass. Obediently she lifted her arms so that I could remove the offending garment. “Yes, that is MUCH better.” I purred as my hands found her achingly hard nipples. “I want to touch you, too.” I added as my lover dropped her body back against the pillows, giving me free rein over her body. I loved Xena’s breasts, Hades; I loved all of her body, but her breasts in particular. I loved to kiss and caress them, paying special attention to the small scar above her left breast. She never told me how she got that scar, but I liked to fantasize that I could banish it’s memory with a few well placed kisses.

“Yes, Gabrielle, that’s nice.” Xena practically purred as I flicked my tongue over her left nipple before taking it fully into my mouth and adding some firm suction. Her right breast didn’t go unattended. My knowing fingers pulled and twisted her sensitive nub with practiced precision. Inching my way down I nuzzled the soft skin on the underside of her fleshy mounds, evoking a groan from above me. Having loftier goals I adjusted my positioning so that I was stretched out between my lover’s long legs, my lips mapping a familiar path past her navel and to the patch of curly hair that protected her sex. Fortunately for me, after her bath Xena hadn’t put on any breeches giving me free access to the places I so wanted to visit. Running my tongue along the crease where groin met thigh I gently urged her to spread her legs a bit more. I moaned loudly as the scent of my wife’s arousal assailed my senses.

“Gods, you smell so good, Baby.” I groaned before lightly tracing the tip of my tongue along her outer lips, not hard enough for her to really feel any pressure.

“Gabrielle…don’t tease…” Xena pleaded as she buried her hands in my short hair in attempts to steer me where she wanted my attentions. Knowing first hand just how long two week is when you are used to daily interaction I decided not to delay my wife’s pleasure.

“Sweet Artemis!” My warrior exclaimed when I used my fingers to spread her open before running my tongue the length of her sex, stopping to flick at her engorged clit. ‘Sweet Artemis, indeed’ I thought as I lapped at the abundant wetness before me. I loved it that Xena was so responsive to my touch. My wife’s hips began to rock against my mouth as I added more pressure to my caresses. Knowing that my mouth alone would probably not provide a quick enough release for my wife I traced two fingers around her tempting opening before slowly penetrating her.

“Gab-ri-elle, ahhhh! Harder, please.” She pleaded. I was eager to please my beautiful wife so I added another finger and set up a hard and fast rhythm alternating my thrusts with quick jabs of my tongue against her clit. The response was instantaneous. My wife’s hands latched more firmly in my hair as she ground her sex into my mouth. I maintained my ministrations as I felt the muscles in the thighs surrounding my head begin to tighten, signaling her impending orgasm.

“Gods! I’m….coming…yeeessss…GAB-RI-ELLE!!!” She roared as her hips surged off the bed, her inner muscles clamping down hard on my fingers. I happily rode out her climax, leaving my fingers inside of her until her fluttering muscles quieted. Softly I continued to lick at her, knowing that she would let me know when she had had enough.

“Come up here.” My wife’s deep voice beckoned when her breathing had quieted. Reluctantly I left my spot between her legs only to find another comfortable position when her arms wrapped around me and rolled us onto our sides.

“Phew, I needed that.” I laughed at the comment before accepting a kiss for my efforts. I happily opened my lips to the tongue that sought entrance moments later. Eagerly we shared any remaining taste of her on my tongue. Warm tingles of arousal pooled in my belly as her hands worked in tandem with her probing tongue, lightly caressing my back and ass. Battling my wife for dominance of the kiss I was surprised when she pulled away and rolled to get off the bed.

“Where are you going?” I asked, confused, I thought we were just getting started on round two.

“I’m not going far, just to the trunk.” She assured me as she padded to the end of the bed. “Take off your breeches, I want you naked.” She sneered lasciviously from behind the open lid of our storage bin. Without question I complied, knowing exactly what she was searching for and feeling my sex tingle at the thought of using our recently christened phallus. I loved it when Xena and I loved each other with our mouths and hands, but it I also enjoyed it when we could use the sex toy as it freed up fingers and lips for other pleasurable activities. When she returned to the bed my warrior had already donned the leather harness and I knew that I was going to be on the receiving end of this round. Crawling on her knees, Xena positioned herself in the middle of the bed and sat back on her calves.

“Come here.” She took my hand and pulled me up so that I was facing away from her, also on my knees. “Put your hands on the headboard, Baby.” She instructed and I felt her hands urging me to widen my stance as I gripped the sturdy wooden frame of our bed. Glancing over my shoulders I took a deep breath when I felt her firm body come into full contact with my back, her breasts pressed against my shoulder blades, nipples hardened points rubbing against my heated skin.

“Nice.” I sighed.

“Ummhmm,” was her reply as she laved and sucked my shoulder and neck as her hands came to rest on my hips. They remained in place briefly so that she could circle the points of bone just under the skin before moving on to trace up the midline of my abdomen and split to cover each breast, squeezing firmly. Lulled into a warm haze of arousal I jumped slightly when I felt the cool material of the phallus as my wife slid it between my thighs, gathering wetness as Xena’s hips began a slow thrust against my ass.

“You ok?” She asked.

“Yeah, it was just a bit cold.” I wrapped one arm back around my wife’s behind, pulling her against me to show just how ok our current position was.

“I missed you soooo much, Gab. All I could think about each night while I was laying in my bedroll was how much I wanted to touch you, taste you, feel you moving beneath me.” Xena punctuated her words with a hard grind of her hips. The phallus must have been adequately lubricated by now as it felt as if my arousal was just pouring out of me. “Two weeks is too long for us to be apart.”

“I agree. You are not allowed to leave me for that long, ever again.” I instructed with a hiss as I felt her hips drop lower and the tip of the phallus prod my opening.

“Yes, My Queen.” She acquiesced. “Lean forward a bit.” My lover instructed as she placed her hands on my hips and tilted me forward.

“Oh, Xeeennnaah…” I moaned, loud and long as my wife penetrated me fully with one thrust. Quickly she set up a smooth rhythm, withdrawing till just the tip remained inside of me and plunging back in forcefully. Wanting more purchase so that I could thrust back against her and allow her to feel the pleasure I knew the nubbed end of the phallus could provide; I replaced my hand on the headboard and using my arms for leverage I moved in counterpoint to her thrusts.

“Feel that?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s good.” She moaned and wrapped one arm across my chest and guided her free hand south, till she was able to stroke my pulsing clit in time with our movements. The white-hot bolts of pleasure that resulted from her multiple fronts of attack quickly propelled me toward orgasm.

“It’s not…ahh…going to be…long.” I warned her. My breath was now hitching in my chest and I could feel the flush of imminent release beginning to rise up my neck and face.

“Me,” thrust, “either,” thrust, “gonna,” thrust, “come,” thrust, “with you.” She panted, picking up her pace even more.

“Gods, XENA!!” I called out as I came, pushing my hips back against her, forcing the phallus against her clit, propelling her over the edge with me.

“GABRIELLE! Gabgabgab…” The stuttered as she spasmed behind me. Knowing that my arms would not be strong enough to hold us both upright I released the headboard and allowed us to collapse onto the soft blankets Xena’s long body covering mine. We lay there; content to just be together for a few moments before my wife gently withdrew from my body and discarded the phallus and harness at the end of the bed.

“Get under the blankets.” She urged softly as she blew out the one candle in the room before rejoining me.

“Spoon with me?” I requested and she readily complied, wrapping her strong arm around me and cocooning us in our own warm, soft world, even if it was only for the night.

“I love you.” My wife said in a sleepy voice.

“Love you too, Xe. I’m glad you’re home.” I yawned and entwined my hand with hers. Hearing her happy sigh, I smiled and allowed myself to be claimed by Morpheus.

—————————————

A knock on the door startled me out of a light sleep the next morning. Grumpily I pulled myself free from Gabrielle, who let out unhappy sleepy noises as I covered her to her chin with a blanket. Pulling on my discarded shift I padded toward the door and opened it just after the second knock.

“Hello.” I said to the unfamiliar woman who was standing on our porch.

“Hi.” She responded tentatively, looking around the front of the hut in what I figured was an attempt to determine if she had the correct dwelling. “Is Gabrielle here?” She asked when she concluded she was in the right place.

“She’s sleeping, can I help you?” I questioned while searching my brain to determine if I had ever met this particular Amazon. She had a cut above her eye that looked to be not that old, but other than that her face didn’t spark any recognition.

“Ah, we were supposed to meet for breakfast this morning.”

“Well, she was up pretty late last night so I don’t think she will be up in time for breakfast. I can tell her you stopped by when she wakes.” I noticed a stiffening of the woman’s posture before me. She seemed confused by my presence and angry that Gabrielle was not going to be joining her.

“That’s fine.” She said curtly.

“I don’t believe we’ve met, I’m Xena.” I offered after a moment of strained silence.

“Micah.” She paused before continuing, “Gabrielle told me about you, how you travel together, but I wasn’t aware that you lived here, in her hut.” I smiled, amused by Micah’s obvious confusion. She was definitely new to the Amazons if she didn’t know about Gabrielle and my marriage. Briefly I thought about our love session the night before and I wondered if we might have been overheard by Micah. The huts were not nearly soundproof and it wasn’t uncommon for couples engaged in intimate moments to be heard throughout the community.

“Why wouldn’t I live here, we’re married, Gabrielle is my wife.” I unconsciously stroked the bonding bracelet that circled my wrist. The action didn’t go unnoticed by the woman before me. This time her displeasure was more obvious, her eyes narrowed a bit and her tone sharpened.

“No I was unaware that Gabrielle was involved.” She bit off curtly and I sensed a bit of jealousy. Immediately an alarm started going off in my head. This woman was definitely feeling slighted for some reason and I intended to find out her story from Gabrielle when she woke. My protective streak when it came to my wife was beginning to surface and I wanted to ensure that I knew as much as possible about Micah so that I could employ appropriate action toward her if it became necessary. I had a feeling that My Bard and her charming personality had a sparked interest in Micah, who obviously thought she had some sort of chance with the Amazon Queen. I wanted it made clear that my wife and I had an exclusive relationship and I didn’t appreciate any untoward attention by other people.

“Well then, I will inform my wife that you stopped by.” I purposely added the endearment to see if I could elicit another response from the stranger.

“Good.” She huffed then turned on her heel and left. I watched her walk away and noticed that although the tried to hide it she had a slight limp and that from the set of her shoulders she was angry, more so than she should have been over a canceled breakfast appointment. ‘Wonder if I should talk to Ephany before Gabrielle wakes up?’ I thought as I looked across the village to where the Regent’s hut was located.

“Xena?” I heard a sleepy voice calling me from the back of the hut and I decided that my chat with Eph would have to wait, at least until lunch time. Happily I walked back through the hut discarding my shift along the way and rejoined my half-asleep wife in our bed.

“Tell me about Micah.” I said to my wife as we sat at our dining table enjoying some fresh bread and tea.

“Oh, Tartarus! I was supposed to have breakfast with her today.” My wife cursed and I nodded my head slightly.

“Yeah, she stopped by earlier, you were sleeping, and I told her that I would tell you she was here.”

“What did she say when you opened the door?” My wife questioned, waving her slice of bread toward the front entrance of our hut for emphasis.

“Well, she didn’t seem to impressed that I was taking your messages. In fact she seemed a bit pissed.”

“That doesn’t surprise me actually. She is new here and Eph seems to think she has taken a liking to me.” I raised an eyebrow as she confirmed my own suspicions.

“Seems so. Didn’t you tell her you were married?”

“When she first got here we spend a good bit of time together, trying to get her acclimated. During that first week I told her all about you, how we traveled together and how we met, but I guess I never came right out and said it, you know, I guess I just assume everyone either knows or can see that I wear a bonding bracelet.” I shook my head, understanding her logic.

“But Micah’s not an Amazon, so she doesn’t recognize the symbolism, huh?” This time it was the Queen’s turn to nod.

“Exactly, and Eph was really the first to notice something was up with her. She told me to be careful yesterday when we were sparring. I told her you would be home soon and that once she saw us together that she would drop it.” Gabrielle took a sip of tea and waited for my response.

“Doubt it.” I stated as I popped a slice of apple into my mouth. “What’s her story, how did she get here?” I questioned, wanting to know what we were possibly facing.

“Scouts found her on the border, beaten and unconscious. They brought her here and she said she was stoned by her village for having an affair with the Blacksmith’s daughter, but the daughter wasn’t cast out. She was painted as a victim. I felt bad, you know, especially after how my own father treated me when he found out about us, so I told her she could stay. She started joining Eph and me at meals and then spending a lot of time asking me questions about Amazon custom and my life. I guess I should have recognized the signs.” She finished with a sigh. ‘My poor Gabrielle,’ I thought, ‘doesn’t realize that everyone we meet falls in love with her to some degree.’

“Did anyone check out her story?” I asked, suspicious of the tale.

“No, I guess we didn’t think that she could be lying. You think there were other circumstances surrounding her outcast?” I nodded.

“Maybe, think we can get Pony to send out a runner, you know get the other side from the villagers? Just in case.”

“Sure, I think that’s a good idea. I’ll make sure someone is sent out today.” She didn’t hesitate.

“I’ll see to it, don’t worry about it, but until we know more about her I think that you shouldn’t be alone with Micah. Don’t give her an opportunity to corner you.”

“Aren’t you being a bit paranoid, Xena? She may just have an innocent crush, besides she hasn’t shown any aggression while she has been here.” I shook my head in the negative as memories of many similar situations that occurred during my warlord days wheeled through my mind.

“Maybe, but I still don’t want her alone with you, just in case.” I took her hand across the table. “Look, I’m just trying to do what is best, to keep you safe, until I know she is harmless. Odds are she is that she just doesn’t know how to channel her emotions in healthy ways because of the environment she grew up in.”

“I know.” She sighed and squeezed my fingers. “It shouldn’t be too hard avoiding her, especially with the celebration going on tonight, Ephany and I have lots to do today and tonight there will be lots of people milling around; not much of a chance of anyone being caught alone.” She gave a short laugh, “at the party or in the huts.”

“True enough.” I chuckled knowing that once the Amazon ale was uncorked many would wind up waking next to someone they didn’t expect to at the onset of the celebration.

Ephany came to collect Gabrielle around mid-day saying something about approving the menu for the evening’s festivities. We chatted briefly about the Micha situation and Ephany agreed not to let Gabrielle out of her sight alone. As my wife was under the watchful eye of her Regent I decided to seek out Pony and have her choose her messenger.

“Pony! Wait up.” I called out to the weapons master when I saw her leaving the armory. She slowed her pace, allowing me to catch up.

“What’s up, Xena?” I cut right to the chase.

“I need you to send a scout to Micah’s village, to see if we can get the ‘whole story’ about her, you know?” I steered us away from the main path so that we wouldn’t be overheard.

“Yeah, I heard she was getting a bit possessive about the Queen’s attentions. Think something’s up?” I smiled as she casually grasped the hilt of her sword. One thing is for sure, the Amazons didn’t take kindly to people threatening their Queen.

“Not sure, something just seems kind of strange. I want to get some background so I know whether or not to be concerned. Gabrielle has had her share of unwanted attention in the past. I just don’t want this to get out of hand.” I confessed, knowing that Pony would understand my suspicious nature. After all she had heard stories about Najara and a few others.

“Say no more, I will send out my quickest scout. She can be there and back before the celebration ends tonight.” I nodded and we grasped forearms. Pony was one of my trusted friends and completely dedicated to my wife. I knew that she would be true to her word.

The day past without so much as a sighting of Micah and I for one was glad. Although it meant that she might be off brooding about my presence, it also meant that I could just enjoy being back in Gabrielle’s company without seeming as though I was her bodyguard instead of her wife. As promised, Pony’s scout returned to the village about halfway through the celebratory meal. Gabrielle had praised the hunting party and informed the nation that barring any unfortunate incidents that there should be enough meat to last the winter. Upon hearing the news the village broke out the ‘party wine’ and things really began to swing. I was relaxing and enjoying a drink up on the dais when the weapons master got my attention.

“Be right back,” I said to my wife, “looks like Pony’s scout has returned.” Gabrielle nodded and I gave Ephany a knowing look. She nodded, taking over protective duty while I was gone.

“Well?” I asked as soon as we were within the confines of her hut.

“It’s not good.” I felt my stomach churn at the confession. I gave a hurry up gesture and she continued. “Seems that Micah didn’t take kindly to her lover ending their affair; it’s true the Blacksmith ordered it and that she was eventually outcast, but not because of the reasons she gave. She took the girl hostage, Xena.” I dropped my head in my hands; this was not going to be pretty.

“She convinced her that they needed to talk, to end things amicably, but when they were alone she snapped. She tied her up and threatened to kill them both if they couldn’t be together. A day later the townspeople rescued the girl but not without a fight. Apparently that is how she got all the bruises and the cut on her head, she took a club hit.

When she came to she was given an ultimatum leave or be imprisoned for kidnapping. She left. From what I can tell she came this way and eventually landed outside of our borders, she would have arrived sometime during the night so she must have tripped and knocked herself out while fumbling around in the dark. Then the scouts found her the next morning. Her being unconscious gave her more credibility during her explanation to Gabrielle” Pony finished and sat back in her chair.

“She figured she could make a fresh start here, knowing that if she said she was attacked because of her lifestyle that the Amazons would take her in. She fooled all of them.” I shook my head, knowing how hurt Gabrielle would feel knowing that she was lied to about such a close to her heart subject.

“We need to tell the Queen.” Pony stood to leave, but I placed a hand on her arm, stopping her.

“I will, tonight, after the celebration. Until then don’t do anything that may allow Micah to be suspicious. I’ll keep an eye on Gabrielle and tomorrow we can decide what to do about this problem.” The weapons master agreed and we both ventured back out into the night. Pony took up position with the other warriors and I rejoined my wife, making sure I knew exactly where Micah was at all times.

——————————————

I still couldn’t believe that Micah had lied to all of us, played us for fools. I was furious when Xena told me what Pony had learned, but I knew we couldn’t really do anything until Micah gave us a reason to. Thus far she had only showed interest, but hadn’t confronted me about her feelings or about Xena. My wife asked that whenever I left the hut or traveled through the village that I have an escort. She informed me that like it or not she had made a commitment to Pony and she couldn’t spend the whole day with me because she needed to help with storing the meat they had brought back from the hunt. Explaining to her that I would be fine and could take care of myself for one measly day I ushered a reluctant Warrior Princess out of our hut.

So around mid-day I decided to head to the dining hut for lunch. I opened the door expecting to see my usual guards in attendance, neither was present. Sighing in frustration and hearing Xena’s voice in my head I walked down the steps thinking that it was a short trip to the food hut and how dangerous could it be for me to just walk there. Besides, despite what I had been told, I didn’t really think Micah would pose much of a threat to me. Knowing that I would catch Hades if my wife found out I shrugged my shoulders and followed the well worn path through the village.

“Hello, Gabrielle.” I heard a familiar voice behind me. ‘Aw shit.’ I thought as I turned around.

“Hi Micah, sorry about yesterday, Xena got home early I was up late listening to stories about the hunting trip.” I lied casually, knowing that Micah didn’t believe that I was merely talking with my wife.

“You’re married. You didn’t tell me that.” She said coolly, her face set in a grim expression.

“I guess I didn’t, I assumed you would have recognized the bonding bracelet. I was wrong, I forgot you weren’t an Amazon, that you might think it was just a piece of jewelry.” I apologized as I covertly looked to see who might be around, whose attention I could get. ‘FUCK!’ I cursed in my head, go figure that I just happened to be passing behind the healer’s hut when Micah showed up. “Care to join me for lunch?” I offered taking a step away from her.

“No.” Her tone was crisp. “You lied to me, led me to believe that I might have a chance with you.” She accused.

“I did no such thing, Micah. I never indicated that I might be interested in you that way.” I defended myself, taking another step backward; she mimicked my movement, taking one step forward. ‘Why didn’t I bring my staff?’ I berated my sense of comfort when I was in the village.

“That’s a lie! If you weren’t interested, why did you spend all that time with me, alone, walking through the village, telling me about your life?” Her voice was getting louder and I hoped that someone would hear it and come to find the source.

“You asked me about my life and I wanted to be your friend; friends tell each other things about themselves.” I explained, noticing for the first time how much taller Micah was than myself and how well built she seemed. This could be bad. I was good at defending myself with my staff, but barehanded I was at a disadvantage.

“You know what I think? I think you led me on on purpose. You knew that I was attracted to you and you thought that my interest could entertain you until your Xena got home.” She spat, taking another step forward. She was really angry now, her eyes had gotten hard and her hands were balled into fists. ‘Alright Gabrielle, it’s time to get out of here.’ Deciding that my best option was just to turn around and run past the healer’s hut and into the center of the village I bolted. I didn’t expect Micah to be carrying a weapon or for her to be quite as fast as she was considering her recent injuries. I think I counted three steps before I felt her body impact mine and the cool metal of a short sword at my throat when I hit the ground.

“Oh no, My Queen. I think you need to be taught a lesson.” She hissed into my ear as she dragged me to my feet. “Go ahead, scream. Before anyone can get here I’ll slit your throat and leave you bleeding here for your wife to find. So I suggest you cooperate, hear me?” I swallowed hard and nodded. ‘Xena is really gonna be pissed.’ I thought as my captor dragged me back toward my own hut. Unfortunately for me, my guards were still missing and it was prime lunch time so no one was around to notice as Micah pushed me through the front door of my home, closing and barring it with a chair behind her. ‘How do I get myself into these things?’

“Ephany told me you were studying the staff.” I said as I glanced at the shiny blade of her sword.

“What, you assumed that since I chose such a weapon that I didn’t know how to fight? You shouldn’t assume, Gabrielle, assumptions can get you killed out on the road. Oh, but I guess you wouldn’t know about that, you do have the Warrior Princess to protect you.” She sneered out Xena’s wayward title. “There’s a lot you don’t know about me.”

“Like what really happened in your village?” I taunted her, letting her know I did indeed know the truth.

“Ooh, smarter than you look, now sit down!” She demanded harshly and indicated one of our dining chairs. Obediently I sat not wanting to enrage her to the point where she would use her sword against me. I decided to try and keep her talking, hoping that if that went on long enough Xena or Ephany might come looking for me. “Now, tell me, was that your idea, checking up one me or Xena’s? Was she feeling threatened by my arrival at your door yesterday morning? Did she ask you if there was anything going on between us that she should know about?” She asked as she roughly pulled my hands behind my back and tied them with a leather thong. I didn’t resist as her short sword had been replaced by a dagger and it was poking into my back as she tied the knots. “Speaking of which, where is that imposing wife of yours. Did you tell her about us, about all the time we spent together? Does she know how you lead people on when she is not around? Walking around in that short skirt and that revealing top, does she?” She asked as she circled back around so that she was facing me.

“There is no us and I didn’t lead you on, Micah.” I said calmly as I tested the strength of my bonds covertly. I definitely didn’t expect the slap that exploded across my cheek the next instant.

“Yes you did!” She said loudly as my head snapped back. I swallowed back the tears that threatened to fall from the force of her blow. ‘Ok, its ok, Gabrielle, you’ve experienced worse, just keep her talking.’ I coached myself. “Now,” she started in a calmer tone, “I’ll tell you what we’re gonna do. I figure we got at least another two candle marks before that warrior of yours comes back, until then I think you need to be taught what happens when a bitch like you plays with someone’s emotions. Then when she comes walking in here expecting to see her sweet little wife, she can see what kind of woman you really are.” She laughed and I tried not to shudder as I though of all the things she could do to me. ‘Please Artemis, send Xena home early, before this psycho and do any real damage.’ I silently prayed.

“I never intended to play with your emotions; I just wanted to be your friend.” I tried again.

“Now, how bout we stand up,” she ignored my comments and yanked my bound arms, forcing me to stand, “and head back here. Let’s see, one of these doorways must lead to the bedroom, she looked from room to room. Ah ha! Here it is.” She pushed me forward and I stumbled back toward the bed. Regaining my balance I turned around to face her.

“You hurt me and Xena will kill you.” I threatened with all the boldness I could muster, no effect.

“You know, after two weeks of watching you prance around in that outfit I really think I would like to see what you look like under there.” She thoughtfully tapped the blade of the dagger against her lips as she circled the spot where I stood her free hand lightly dragging across my back and arm. “The way I see it, we can go about this one of two ways. The first, and oh so much easier way, would be for you to just agree to play along. I know you want me; I tell by the way you casually touched me while we talked.” She stopped her circling when she came around to stand right in front of me, her hand dropping to caress my bare abdomen; instinctively I pulled away from her unwanted touch.

“I don’t want you, Micah. I never did.” I spat, loosing my patience and yanking harder on my wrist restraints, I felt the leather stretch slightly.

“I guess that means you pick option number two.” She sighed dramatically before expertly sliding the dagger under my shoulder straps and slicing the fabric. I closed my eyes momentarily and took in a giant steadying breath as I felt the fabric fall to circle my waist.

“Mmm, very nice,” she purred, as she stepped back and took in my naked chest, “I see the Warrior Princess likes the view as well. Tell me, is she rough with you, do you like it?” She focused on a series of bright red passion marks that had been covered by my top. Xena had been a bit overzealous after the celebration the previous night.

“That is none of your business.” I said coolly, I was not about to talk about my sex life with this psycho.

“Think she would mind sharing?” She asked as she approached where I stood. Gauging her intent I waited until she was in striking distance again and lashed out with my foot, rotating to the side and kicking high in attempt to catch her in the face. She didn’t expect the move and took a solid impact to her chest, knocking her back far enough so that her hand hit the door frame and she dropped her weapon.

“Don’t fucking touch me.” I had had enough of this and while I wasn’t going to give her a chance to slit my throat I wasn’t about to let her molest me either.

“Big mistake.” She hissed and advanced on me again, the tenuous control she had over her anger snapping and causing her to forget her blade. The fight was on. Micah came in swinging. Fortunately I had the best combat teacher in all of Greece. Easily I ducked her initial blows, but with my hands tied I couldn’t fight back easily. Frantically I pulled on the leather, feeling the skin at my wrists rubbing raw. Knowing that the damage to my wrists was already done I yanked hard letting out a wail of pain as I contorted my arms in attempt to free myself. Fortunately it worked. As a jolting stab of pain raced from my shoulder to my hand I felt one hand come loose, I was free, that was all I needed.

Remembering that she had barred the door I decided try and inflict as much damage as possible on the first blow so that I might have time to escape. Balling my fists I threw a hard left hook, making impact with her jaw. If she felt it she made no indication as she launched her body against mine, knocking me back onto the bed. Quickly she climbed on top of me in attempts to pin me down. I struggled even harder when I felt her reach for the belt of my skirt. ‘XENA!!!’ I screamed in my head as I continued to struggle against the heavier woman.

—————————————-

I had been working diligently with the rest of the hunting party so that we could get the fresh kills into storage and I could get back to my wife when a nervous flutter in my stomach got my attention. Passing it off as hunger pains, I hadn’t eaten since leaving the hut this morning I continued to shelve the wrapped cuts of meat, but when it happened again, this time stronger I stopped what I was doing and tried to concentrate on what might be making me uneasy. Something wasn’t right.

“Hey Pony?” I called the weapons master to me as I exited the storage cellars.

“Yeah.” She looked up from her own work and headed in my direction.

“Something’s not right, I’m gonna go check on Gabrielle.” I tossed aside a rag I used to wipe off my hands.

“What do you mean?” She asked.

“I don’t know, I just don’t feel right, I think something may be wrong. I’ve had moments like this in the past and I just wanna check it out. Better safe than sorry.” I shrugged, heading toward my hut.

“Want me to come with?” She asked, concern coloring her voice.

“Yeah, just in case.” I called and began a quick jog across the village. I heard Pony’s footsteps fall in stride. Quickly we reached the hut and I tried the door, it wouldn’t open. ‘What the…we never lock our door, we don’t even have a lock!?’ The sinking feeling in my stomach intensified. “Stand back.” I told my companion. Taking one step back I spun around and kicked the door sending it crashing inward.

“GABRIELLE?” I called to my wife.

“XENA?? XENA, HELP ME!!” I heard her call and I was immediately in motion, charging into the bedroom with Pony hot on my heels.

“WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!?” I raged at the woman I immediately recognized as Micah. She was straddling Gabrielle and attempting to cover her mouth. In one stride I was across the room. Grabbing her by the neck and shoulder I pulled her off the bed and tossed her in Pony’s direction. “Get her out of here, Pony!” I growled before turning and taking in Gabrielle’s half naked form on the bed. Obediently the weapons master dragged a struggling Micah out of our hut, kicking and cursing the whole way.

“Thank the Gods, Xena!” She cried and I was instantly taking shaking form into my arms.

“Did she hurt you?” I asked, trying to get a good look at her.

“No, I’m alright.” She responded, but I saw her injured wrists and a red welt on her cheek and I went ballistic. “Stay here, I’ll be right back.” I told her as the venom began to seep through my pores. Walking through the hut I could hear Pony barking instructions. Stepping outside I saw that the weapons master had tied the hands of Gabrielle’s attacker and was preparing to bring her to the holding cells. ‘Uh uh, not without facing me first.’ I thought as I charged out of the hut, jumped over the porch railing and was halfway across the clearing before I even realized it.

“Xena, wait!” Ephany, who had just arrived, called out to me. I ignored her. “Xena!” She stepped in front of me and placed her hands on my arms.

“Let me go, Eph.”

“No, not like this. Wait till we get her into custody, then you can talk to her.” She tried.

“I don’t want to talk to her.” I continued to stare at Pony’s prisoner, the Regent understood what I was implying and attempted to steer me back toward my hut.

“Go take care of Gabrielle. Go on.” She urged and at last I relented, realizing that I probably would have killed Micah if I had gotten a hold of her and that wouldn’t have done anyone any good. Tamping my anger down to a controllable level I hurried back into Gabrielle. Grabbing the healing kit as I passed through the sitting area I entered the bedroom where my wife was just pulling on a shift.

“Gabrielle.” I said gently. When she looked up I noticed that she was still crying. “Shh, Baby, it’s ok, I’m here.” I took the shivering woman into my arms and held her to my chest. Wrapping a blanket around us I let her try and compose herself while I protected her.

“Did she hurt you?” I asked again when she had finally stopped crying. Gently I put two fingers under her chin and lifted her eyes to meet mine.

“No, not in that way.” She replied and I expelled a huge sigh of relief. I definitely would have ripped her limb from limb had she even touched my sweet bard.

“How bout this?” I asked as I brushed a finger over her swollen cheek.

“She slapped me.” She explained as I placed a light kiss on the reddened skin.

“And your wrists?” I took her hands and gently rotated the wrists, examining the abraded skin.

“I did that freeing my hands. I wasn’t about to let her molest me, not in my own hut.” She said adamantly. I smiled at her, proud that she was able to break her bonds.

“They are going to need to be wrapped.” I told her as I grabbed the healing kit and pulled out some ointment and two soft bandage strips.

“I think I hurt my shoulder, too.” She informed me when I had finished tending to her wrists. “I was struggling to get free and I felt a stabbing pain down my whole arm.” She explained as I gingerly felt around the afflicted joint.

“Its not dislocated or broken, I think you just pulled some muscles. Try and keep your movement to a minimum and soak it in some cold water and it will feel better in a few days.” I instructed as I massaged the knots out of the wounded arm. “Are you sure you are ok?” I asked again.

“I’m fine, Xena, just glad you got here when you did. She was a lot stronger than I thought.” My wife explained in calmer voice as she rotated in my arms and I wrapped her in an embrace. Noting that she was no longer crying I realized that her wellspring of tears were just a reaction to all the adrenalin surging through her from her struggle to protect herself and not because she had been badly hurt.

“What happened, Gab? How did she get to you?” I finally asked.

“I’ll tell you, but you promise you won’t be mad at me?” She questioned and I chuckled, typical Gabrielle response.

“I promise.” I gently kissed the top of her head.

“I wanted to go to lunch, but when I went outside my guards were missing and no one else was around so I decided that I could at least make it to the dining hut alone, after all it’s not that far…” She started her story and I prepared to check my reaction to what I was about to hear.

“I’m so proud of you, Gabrielle.” I said to her when she finally finished her story.

“Even though I forgot my staff and went out without an escort?” She questioned disbelievingly before sipping the warm tea I had made in order to calm both of our nerves.

“Yes, although I must ask you to please, please, carry your staff with you at all times, even if we are in the village.” I implored her with a raised eyebrow.

“I promise. Although I bet I won’t get very far without armed guard for a while.” She smiled sadly.

“Afraid so.” I agreed. “Do you need anything?” I asked as I got up from my seated position on the bed and gathered our empty cups.

“No, I think I’m just gonna go take a warm bath. You know, try and wash away the day.” She kept the blanket around her shoulders as she followed me out into the sitting room.

“Do you want me to join you?” I offered.

“No, actually, I’d kind of like some time by myself, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course I don’t mind. You go ahead. I want to go talk to Ephany. We’ll have a nice quiet dinner afterwards. Sound good?” I placed my hands on her shoulders and rubbed circles with my thumbs.

“Yeah, sounds good. Thank you, Xena.”

“For what, Love?” I asked.

“For everything, for storming in here today, for not being mad when I told you what happened, that it was my own fault.”

“Listen to me, Gab,” I pulled her into my embrace, “this was NOT your fault, Micah is sick, and nothing you could have done could have prevented what happened, ok? I don’t blame you one bit.” I felt her nod. “Good, now go take your bath and I will see you in a while.” I ruffled her hair playfully before she turned around and padded barefoot back to the bathing room.

Once I was sure that my wife was tucked away in the bath I left the hut and headed in the direction of the holding cells.

“I wanna talk to her.” I said sternly as soon as I entered the hut.

“I don’t think that is a good idea, Xena.” Eponin said, standing up from her stool

“I don’t care if it’s a good idea or not, let me in there Pony.” The weapons master relented and dug for her key.

“You know the rules, Xena, try and follow ’em ok?” She instructed me as she opened the cell doors. Nodding, but not providing a comment either way I stepped in the cell. Micah was standing, chained spread-eagle to the back wall of the cell.

“How’s the jaw?” I asked sarcastically. “She packs a mean punch, don’t ya think?” The prisoner raised her head and looked me in the eye. “She told me what happened, you’re lucky I don’t break every bone in your pathetic body for even thinking about touching her.” I sneered, my hands balling into fists. “I know what really happened in your village, Micah; how you kidnapped the girl you claimed to care for when she came to break it off with you. It was during the scuffle to free her that you got clubbed and ended up with that scar as a souvenir. I would have beaten you as well if it had been my daughter, and it would have had nothing to do with the fact that you’re a woman. You’re a bully, Micah. You have a hot temper and when you don’t get your way you try and force it. Guess what, you picked the wrong woman to try and force, not only is Gabrielle not interested in your pathetic advances she is married to one of the scariest women in all of Greece. Nobody wants to make me mad, Micha, and unfortunately for you, you really pissed me off.” I paused, waiting for her to respond.

“Bet you’re little wife didn’t tell you all of what happened between us this while you were gone.” She replied, arrogantly looking me in the eye. I noticed the slight tilt of her head and the gleam of madness in her brown orbs. I crossed my arms over my chest in annoyance.

“What in Tartarus are you talking about?” I snapped knowing that I shouldn’t goad her on. That she would make up lies just to push my buttons.

“You sure she told you ALL of what happened, I mean before you came crashing in and she decided to safe face.” I didn’t respond and she took that as her cue to continue her story. “How well do you really know you’re wife, Xena…?”

My anger was overwhelming when I left the holding cells; it took all the restraint I possessed not to rip the door off of its hinges as I stormed through. I had broken Micah’s nose, of that I was sure, but what I wasn’t so sure about was how I would tell Gabrielle about Micah’s version of the day’s events. I trusted my wife and was confident she told me the whole truth about what happened before I busted into our hut, but just the same I had let Micah get to me, let her plant images in my head that I didn’t want to see and feelings in my soul that I desperately didn’t want to feel. Knowing that I couldn’t face my lover in this state, for I might say something foolish, I walked quickly to the stables. My anger and frustration exploded when I noticed Argo wasn’t in her stall. With all of my might I put my fist through the side wall of her enclosure. The sharp pain in my knuckles as my skin and the wood split didn’t calm me.

“Xena!” I heard my name shouted through the large stable.

“Where is my horse?” I asked with a voice that belayed a deadly intent if someone didn’t give me an answer promptly.

“She is in the pasture, where you left her.” Eponin said calmly. Apparently she was concerned about me for she had followed me from the holding cells after pulling me off of Micha. Curtly I nodded my head, remembering that I allowed my mare some time to roam that afternoon. Reaching for the tack that I kept hanging on a peg near her stall I grabbed her bridle and threw her saddle over my shoulder. The weapons master stepped into my path as I was leaving, forcing me to stop or run into her. Not wanting to hurt my friend I stopped.

“Get out of my way, Pony.” I demanded, she didn’t budge.

“Where are you going?” I blinked, realizing in my haze of emotion, that I didn’t know.

“Out!” I snapped and tried to step around her, she moved once again to block my way.

“You know Gabrielle is going to follow you.” She said calmly. “I just don’t want her wandering around the territory looking for you after what happened today.” I sighed deeply, knowing Pony was right, I needed to set a destination to leave for my wife and knowing Gabrielle the way I did I knew it was no use to try and stop her from following me.

“To the pond, the east-side camp site.” I paused for a moment, thinking. “Keep her in the village for at least a candle mark, I need some time.”

“Ok.” Pony nodded, appreciating the state I was in, having witnessed both of my acts of violence. She knew I just needed a few moments to rein in my rage.

“Pack a horse for her. In our hut, at the foot of the bed there’s a trunk; our bedrolls are inside. Get those and some dinner. Send it with her; we may be out all night. Her escort can come back to the village once they see her to the pond.” She nodded and I walked around her and out of the stables. One sharp whistle and Argo was trotting into view. With practiced efficiency I saddled her and we headed out of the village in a run.

Just as I suspected I heard Gabrielle’s horse walking into the campsite a candle mark and a half later. I was seated on a rock facing the pond, my knees drawn up to my chest, my arms wrapped around them. I had calmed considerably yet I still didn’t trust my voice to be gentle, I didn’t want her to think I was mad at her so I didn’t greet her. I waited for her to make the first move.

“Hey.” She said softly as she stepped up along side of me.

“Hey,” my gaze never shifted from the horizon.

“Mind if I join you?” She asked tentatively.

“Take a seat.” I gestured to the flat spot next to me.

“You ok?” Her soft voice caused my heart to clench. She was the one who had been held captive and yet she was still concerned about my well-being.

“I’ve had better days.” I sighed and dared to look at her. She had changed clothes after her bath, discarding her torn skirt. She was now clad in one of my old tunics and the worn leather pants I had purchased for her out first winter together.

“Yeah, me too.” She said sadly before reaching out and gently grasping my beaten hand. “I know what happened, Xena; with Micah and in the stables.” I flinched as she ran her fingertips lightly over my split knuckles. “Wanna tell me about it?” I briefly thought about clamming up, but discarded that notion. She needed to hear what happened with Micah, what she had said, and I knew that I needed to be totally honest with her if I expected it in return.

“I went to confront her, let her know that I knew what really happened in her village. I also wanted to make it really clear that you were MY wife and I wouldn’t tolerate her so much as looking at you from across the village after what she pulled. When I said all I wanted to I should have turned to leave, but I didn’t and she started spouting off…” I trailed off hoping that she would leave it at that, she didn’t.

“What did she say to you?” I shook my head.

“I don’t think…”

“Please Xena, I want to know.” She asked me gently and I caved, I felt my eyes sting with eminent tears as I remembered my earlier confrontation.

“She said that you came on to her while I was gone. That you let her know that you were interested in pursuing an intimate relationship with her and that you no longer wanted to be with me, that you didn’t love me anymore, that you didn’t know if you ever really did. She said that you wanted to be with her, that you told her as much before I returned and that is why the two of you were in our hut. She also said that you…” I had to stop as I was battling for control over my emotions. I wiped vainly at the tears that were now streaking my face.

“Please, go on.” My wife beseeched and I could tell by the thickness of her voice that she too was crying.

“She said that you had already been together, before I broke down the door and that is why your clothes were torn. She said that she had fucked you in our bed and you called out her name when you…”

“STOP!” Gabrielle finally interrupted me. “Stop it right there.” She said firmly before she removed my arms from around my knees and settled herself so that she was resting on her knees, straddling my bent thighs. Her face was now level with mine and that she was indeed crying.

“So you hit her.” She said simply and I nodded.

“I knew that what she said couldn’t possibly be true, but just the thought…it hurt so much that I just lashed out. I broke her nose, I’m sure of it.” I dropped my eyes, ashamed that I had let Micah get to me.

“I would have done the same thing.” I shook my head, knowing that My Bard rarely resorted to violence except to save her own life or the life of those she loved. “Yes, I would have. If she had said those things about you…I…I wouldn’t have been able to control my reaction.” She lifted my chin so that I was once again looking at her. “Xena, listen to me, it didn’t happen, none of it. I know that in your heart you believe that, but I also know you, I know you need to hear it directly from me. I was never intimate with Micah; I don’t ever want to be intimate with her.

The only thing I ever felt for her was friendship and now I don’t even feel that, not after what she did to me and especially not after what she did to you. I love YOU, Xena, only you. We are married, and like it or not you are stuck with me forever, and even that is not long enough for me. I don’t want you to even think for a minute that I would be unfaithful to you. It will never happen; you are everything that I desire.” My wife finished her monologue with large tears rolling down her cheeks. Sniffling back my own wave of emotion I gently wiped hers away with my thumbs avoiding the rapidly forming bruise from where Micah had hit her, wincing when my cut flesh came in contact with the salty fluid. I felt monumentally better after being reassured of her love and commitment to me.

“I love you, Gabrielle, forever.” I whispered before gently urging her mouth to meet mine. At first the kiss was gentle, reassuring, but before long I deepened it, thrusting my tongue into her mouth and probing the sweet depths. Suddenly I felt the need to reclaim what I viewed as mine. Micah had threatened MY wife and now I wanted to stake my claim, make her scream my name in ecstasy; to make her forget all about the woman who attacked her and banish the images that had been maliciously planted in my head. Gabrielle, feeling the change in my kiss began to respond and untie the strings of her tunic.

“Off, take it off.” She demanded when we parted for much needed oxygen. Eager to comply with her wishes I assisted her in getting the garment off and tossing it aside. Hungrily my eyes took in her full breasts, rosy nipples already hard and begging for my touch. Fighting a battle to be gentle I traced her turgid flesh with the fingers of my good hand. I couldn’t contain a moan when she arched her back, inviting a firmer caress.

“Xena…” she breathed, “harder!” She cried. I obliged, letting my mouth and tongue attend to the breast that my injured hand was neglecting. Roughly I raked my teeth over her hardened flesh before sucking forcefully. I alternated between her soft globes as my hand trailed down across her taught abdomen and to the lacings on her pants. One-handed I attempted to untie the leather ties only succeeding in tangling the laces.

“Damn!” I cursed softly as I abandoned her chest so that I could focus on the knots I had made.

“Let me.” She offered as she deftly loosened the ties and separated the front flaps, once free she surprised me by grabbing my hand and shoving it down the front of her pants. I gasped when I realized she wasn’t wearing any underwear.

“Take me, Xena. Make me yours.” She husked into my ear before running her soft tongue along the shell and blowing gently. Goosebumps instantly raced up my arms.

“Gods, Baby!” I moaned at her actions, as always my attentive wife had anticipated my mood and was obviously willing to accommodate me. I felt more than heard her long moan as I latched onto her neck and plunged two fingers into her depths unannounced.

“Yessssss.” She hissed as she began riding my hand, her abundant wetness aiding my movements in the tight confines of her pants. Wrapping my unusable hand around her waist I guided her movements, adding a bit of lift to her rocking.

“That’s it, feel me Baby. Feel you’re wife fucking you. You feel soooo good.” I panted into her ear. Her breathing hitched at my words and she picked up her pace a bit.

“Xenaxenaxena…” She chanted as her hands tangled in my hair and guided my mouth back to her chest. Flicking the tip of my tongue over her nipple I continued to torment her. Alternating between forceful sucking and sharp nips with my teeth I lavished attention on her beautiful body. When I pulled away to kiss her lips I realized that she would bear new marks of our passion in the morning, but that was part of the point of our frenzied coupling.

“Ahhh…I’m close…Gods! I’m so close Xena!” My fair-haired lover panted and I attempted to position my hand so that I could apply direct pressure to her engorged clit, knowing that it would bring her over more quickly.

“That’s it.” I encouraged as she dropped her head back, allowing me an unobstructed view of her breasts as they bounced enticingly with the force of her rocking. “Come for me, scream my name, Gabrielle.” I deftly added another finger as I rapidly flicked my thumb over her clit. I felt her climax begin before she let me hear it, her inner walls clamped down my probing fingers as my wife reached orgasm.

“Xeee-nnnnn-ahhhh!” She screamed as she rode out the waves of pleasure. I felt my heart swell in my chest as she collapsed against me, her muscles still fluttering against my fingers, her breath coming in great gasps.

“Thank you.” I sighed a few minutes later, before placing a sweet kiss to the top of my wife’s head.

“Mmmm, I think I should be the one thanking you, My Love.” She replied as she lifted her head from my chest.

“No, you knew what I needed and you gave it to me. I love you for that, for knowing me.” I sighed, hoping that I got across the point I was trying to make.

“I do know you, and even though you don’t believe me some times, I do like it when you get all possessive. It makes me feel special, wanted.” I smiled, not quite believing that my wife liked to feel like a possession from time to time.

“You hate it when I get all jealous.” I lifted one dubious eyebrow and she laughed.

“No, I don’t hate it. Sometimes it’s a bit infuriating when your feathers get all ruffled over something that doesn’t deserve it, but I must admit when you truly feel threatened the sex is great.” An evil smirk broke across my wife’s face and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“You little vixen.” I teased her.

“Mmm hmmm, but I prefer pleasure hound.” She teased right back and I was about to start round two when I heard her stomach growl. Up to that point I had forgotten that we hadn’t eaten dinner.

“Did you bring a dinner basket on that horse of yours?” I questioned as I helped her straighten her pants and don her tunic.

“Yeah, how bout you start a fire and I will set up the blankets and lay out dinner.”

“Sounds like a plan.” I pecked her on the nose as we rose and headed back toward the now-grazing horses. Half a candle mark later the horses were de-saddled, a fire was blazing and we were finishing up a quiet dinner. It was a relief to just have some time to ourselves after the days taxing events.

“Leave it.” I said as I beckoned my wife over to me from where she was attempting to clean up our dinner plates.

“But, you always say that we need…” My wife protested and I smiled.

“I know, but tonight we are going to leave them. Come here and relax with me.” I patted the bedroll next to where I was lounging. Smiling her nose-crinkling smile my wife dropped the plates and eagerly stretched out beside me, wrapping my arm around her waist I pulled her closer.

“We ok?” She asked me as we gazed up at the stars.

“Yeah, we’re good. I promise.”

“I guess our winter isn’t going to be as uneventful as we hoped, huh?” She asked as she repositioned us. Rolling up on her side she placed her head on my chest and her arm across my stomach. Sighing happily I thought for a moment.

“Well hopefully we’ve met our quota for a little while.” I squeezed her gently, aware of her sore shoulder.

“Just don’t leave me alone again, ok?”

“Ok.” It was as simple as that, we could face anything together.

“We staying out here all night?” She asked, lifting her head to look at me.

“I thought we could, that ok?” I raised one brow.

“Perfect.” She yawned and I gently stroked her back until I felt her relax into slumber. Quickly I sent up a prayer to Artemis that she would sleep through the night, without any nightmares to disturb her, but knowing that if she did as long as I was by her side she would make it through.

 

 

The End

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