Spoilers: There aren't really any in this one... except a brief mention of an event from Is There a Doctor in the House
Disclaimer: Not mine, we all know that. Rights belong to Universal and NBC.
Author's Note: This takes place roughly near the end of season three, it doesn't follow any storyline or mention any canon events. Season four just feels too late. First time story, and I'd love to dedicate this to any Xenite Retreat attendees who I met last weekend - if you're reading this you are amazing and I love you. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Google! Last but not least, read and enjoy!
“There it is!”
Xena slowed Argo as Gabrielle ran ahead. Just over the crest of the hill lay the Amazon village. The two were headed for a few days rest with the tribe, away from warlords and schemes, and always having to save the day. Gabrielle had wanted to return for quite some time, and Xena couldn’t help but agree that they were in need of a break.
“Gabrielle wait up!” she called, dismounting her horse. She caught up with her companion at the top of the hill, and looked down at her. “Happy?”
“Very,” the blonde replied, laying a hand on Xena’s tanned arm. “Thank you.”
Xena wrapped her arm around Gabrielle’s shoulders in a side hug. “You’re welcome,” she said, smiling softly. “This will be good for both of us. But remember –” she pretended to put on a grumpy glare, “we aren’t staying for long.”
Gabrielle grinned, and squeezed her friend around the middle. “I know, I know. Just a few days!” And she let go, breaking into a run towards the village.
Xena shook her head, still smiling. She took Argo’s reigns and began to lead her down the hill, catching up with Gabrielle as she was being let go from an enthusiastic hug from Ephiny. “Xena!” the Amazon called, stepping toward the warrior. “I’m so happy to see both of you! It’s been far too long.”
She nodded, clasping Ephiny’s hand in greeting. “Yes it has. We’re happy to see you too.”
“What have you been up to? What are you doing here?” Ephiny asked, leading them into the village.
“Not much,” Gabrielle replied. “Fought some warlords, saved the day. You know, the usual stuff. What’s…” she paused, looking around the village. “What’s going on here?” Xena had just noticed; Amazons were rushing around, seeming to be preparing for something. Between the huts decorations had been strung up, and it looked like a festival was about to be celebrated. Everyone was so busy, they hadn’t even noticed their arrival.
“Ah yes I was getting to that,” Ephiny said, hesitating slightly. Xena raised an eyebrow in question, and she forged on. “You’re just in time for our mating season celebration.”
“The what?” Gabrielle asked.
“Our mating season celebration. It’s the one time of year that men come to our village, and mate with us. It’s a night of celebration. There is a dinner, dancing, and we choose a partner to consort with. They spend the evening together, in hopes of creating new life,” she explained.
“I haven’t been present at one of these in a very long time,” Xena mused.
Gabrielle rounded on her. “You’ve been to an Amazon mating celebration?”
She smirked. “Of course,” she replied, turning to Ephiny and ignoring Gabrielle’s curious stare. “When is it?”
Ephiny also looked curiously at her, but answered the question. “Tomorrow night. The men will be arriving in the afternoon.”
Xena nodded. “Well we’d been planning on staying for a few days, so Gabrielle you’ll get to see one too.”
“Wonderful! It’s after dinner now unfortunately, but we can have food sent to the queen’s hut for you, if you wanted?” Ephiny offered.
“Yes,” Gabrielle replied. “But first, the baths. I’ve been looking forward to them for weeks.”
Ephiny nodded. “I’ll have them cleared out for you, the Queen deserves her privacy.” Gabrielle tried to protest, but the Amazon was already calling out orders. “Go relax,” she said. “I will have someone alert you to when your dinner is prepared and ready.” Xena thanked her, and handed off Argo’s reins so she could be taken to the stable. She touched Gabrielle’s arm, guiding her towards the queen’s hut to drop off their bags.
Ten minutes later they entered the bathhouse, which was blessedly empty as Ephiny had promised. Xena was grateful; as much as she didn’t mind bathing with an audience, she knew Gabrielle was less than comfortable with it. And, she thought as they undressed in the quiet space, I’m not going to complain that there are no Amazons around to stare at the bard. They’d been here enough, Xena knew there were women in the village who had taken an interest in her companion, though she was blissfully unaware. If Xena could help it, she was going to keep it that way.
She was just taking off her arm braces as Gabrielle slipped into the water. “Ahhhh,” she said, looking up at Xena. “It’s so warm. Get in!”
Xena slipped in beside her friend. They sat side by side, letting the water warm their tired bodies. It had been a long time since they’d enjoyed such a luxury, every stream they came across in between villages was cold. Gabrielle let her head fall back, exposing her long neck. Her eyes were closed, and a smile graced her face. Xena watched her, the way the dying sunlight fell across her features. She looked so peaceful and relaxed, Xena hoped their time here would make her happy.
Finally Gabrielle opened her eyes, and reached for the soap behind them. Xena covered her hand with her own. “Let me,” she said, smiling at the look of surprise on her companion’s face. Gabrielle silently moved through the water to sit in front of her, and Xena leaned forward to whisper in her ear. “You are the queen, after all.” She felt the shiver go through the younger woman’s body and grinned wickedly. She took the soap and lathered it through the long blonde hair, working carefully to avoid any kinks or tangles. She ran her hands through it, massaging her head gently, eliciting a groan to come from her lips. Xena loved that sound; she let it wash over her. Her hands wandered to the back of her neck, down and across Gabrielle’s shoulders. She was soft and warm and slippery, the soap mingling with the water and creating suds across her skin. She worked to massage some knots in Gabrielle’s back, her strong fingers pressing against her. She closed her eyes, her mind wandered just as her hands did, wondering where else she could touch to bring that sound to her ears again.
“When were you at an Amazon mating celebration?”
“I said – oh… ohhhh,” Gabrielle groaned again, head falling forward as Xena’s hand slipped under the water and worked a particularly tight knot, “when… when were you at an Amazon mating celebration?”
Xena’s eyes snapped open, the fantasy of how her hands could continue to please her companion fading as she came to her senses. She pulled back from Gabrielle, hands reluctantly leaving their place, and let her rinse out her hair before she replied. “A long time ago.”
Gabrielle resurfaced from the water, eyes questioning. “When? What did you do? What happens? Did you… did you participate?”
Xena raised an eyebrow and smirked, lathering soap into her dark hair. “I’m not an Amazon.”
Gabrielle tried to glare at her, but it came out more of a pout than anything else. “Come on Xena. I’m supposed to be the queen and I know nothing!”
She stood up. “Let’s get out of here and I’ll tell you.” She stepped out of the bath, and was reaching for a towel when she heard someone enter the bathhouse. She turned to find a young Amazon staring at her, eyes wide. She felt the young woman’s gaze travel the length of her body, and then watched as she shifted to take in Gabrielle, who was emerging from the water behind her, naked and wet. Xena narrowed her eyes, and picked up a towel. She reached for Gabrielle, pulling her into her embrace to wrap it around her. She could feel the Amazon’s gaze burning into her back, and once satisfied that her friend was decent, turned back to their guest. She didn’t bother with her own cover up. “Yes?”
She was still staring. “I uh – uhm…” She blushed, and lowered her gaze. Xena could feel Gabrielle standing behind her, hugging the towel tightly to herself. She couldn’t help smirking as the young woman spoke again. “Your dinner… it’s in the queen’s hut.”
“Thank you,” Gabrielle replied. “That will be all.” The Amazon bowed to them, and quickly retreated out. Gabrielle picked up another towel, and wrapped it around her hair. “She seemed rather enamoured with you,” she said to Xena.
Xena had wrapped a towel around herself, prepared to walk across the village back to the queen’s hut. She was holding out Gabrielle’s clothes, and arched an eyebrow at the comment. She knew she had admirers within the Amazon nation, she felt the stares, heard the whispers as women raked her over with their eyes. She didn’t mind the attention, she just wasn’t interested in reciprocating it. These Amazons are more interested in you than me, she thought. And you have no idea. She just smiled as Gabrielle took her clothes. She headed towards the door, saying over her shoulder, “Hurry up, I’m starving.”
They made it back to the queen’s hut without incident, most of the tribe had retired for the evening in preparation for the busy day tomorrow. The table was filled with all sorts of food, and wine skins filled to the brim. Both of their stomachs grumbled, and they happily sat down to eat.
Over an hour later they were fed and warm, settling in. Xena had placed her armour on the chest at the foot of the bed, and was sharpening her sword methodically. Gabrielle sat on the floor in front of the fire, scrolls spread out around her. Xena was on the bed, watching over her. She ran her stone back and forth over the sword, the rhythmic sound lulling her into a peaceful state of mind. She watched Gabrielle as she scribbled on one scroll or crossed out something on another. How the firelight danced across her skin, and made her golden hair shine in the dark room. How her back curved as she bent over her stories, their life together. She was beautiful.
Her mind wandered, back to the bathhouse and the Amazon who had so openly stared. How does Gabrielle not see it? she wondered. How does she not see the way others look at her? How beautiful she is? I see it. Everyone sees it. A blind man could see it! She chuckled to herself, and quickly dropped her gaze when Gabrielle looked up questioningly at her. The bard went back to her writing, and Xena went back to her musings. It wasn’t the first time she’d received that look, Gabrielle always seemed to catch her when she let her mind drift to less innocent thoughts. She was just replaying the sound of Gabrielle’s groans in her mind, letting her imagination run wild with all the ways she could make her groan like that again, when Gabrielle’s voice pierced through.
“Hmmm?” she replied, eyes lifting to meet the blonde’s.
“You said after we ate, you’d tell me.”
“Tell you what?” she asked, mind still conjuring up images.
“About the Amazon mating celebration.” She came up on her knees, hands on her hips. Xena wished she could replace them with her own. “As the queen I order you to tell me!” she added, and Xena laughed at the lame attempt at authority over her, finding it endearing.
“Oh you do, do you?” she raised a challenging eyebrow. “And what if I don’t?”
“Then you shall be punished!”
Xena bit back her own groan at this, wondering what her devilish little friend would come up with, but decided now was not the time to find out. Gabrielle had real questions and she could tell she was anxious about the following evening. “Alright, alright,” she relinquished, setting down her sword. “Let’s get ready for bed and I’ll tell you.”
Minutes later they lay side by side in the big bed, a far cry from the ground and furs they normally slept on. They were surrounded by quiet darkness. It was one of the things Xena appreciated about visiting the Amazons; she was surrounded by other warriors, women who would check the perimeter for her, be on high alert. Others who would fight to the death to help protect the woman lying next to her. She could never let her guard down completely, but she felt more relaxed than she did during a night in the forest.
Gabrielle nudged her then, and she could tell she was staring at her expectantly. “Well?”
“It was before I met you,” she began. “You know I’ve not always had a good relationship with the Amazons, but it’s not always been bad, either. The first time I came to a village, they took me in. Protected me until I could fair on my own. I came just a few days before the celebration, much like we have now.” She stared out the high window to the stars, remembering.
“And? What happens?”
“Just what Ephiny said. Men come from neighbouring villages, there’s eating and drinking, dancing and music… and the whole point of the evening, sex. Lots of it.”
“And do you recall… what part the queen had in it? Did she…?”
Xena shook her head. “I don’t remember.”
“I’ll ask Ephiny.” She felt Gabrielle tense for a moment, and then relax against her. “Did… did you participate?” she asked again.
“I was there, yes.”
Gabrielle poked her in the ribs. “You know what I mean.”
Xena turned to look at her, a sliver of moonlight highlighting her face. “You want to know if I had sex with any of the visiting men?”
Even in the moonlight she could tell Gabrielle was blushing very hard. “N-no –” she stuttered, suddenly very interested in looking anywhere besides her friend. “Never mind. It’s none of my business.”
“I didn’t have sex with any of the men that night. I left that to the Amazons.”
Her eyes widened, and she let out what sounded like a sigh of relief. “Oh.”
“Did you have any more questions?”
“Uh… no, not right now. Thank you.” She turned over on her back, away from Xena. “Goodnight.”
“Anytime,” Xena replied. She waited for her to close her eyes, and watched as she relaxed before leaning in to whisper in her ear. “I had sex with women that night though.” She watched as her eyes snapped open in surprise, and grinned wickedly. “Goodnight!”
They awoke bright and early the next morning; Ephiny already waiting at their door with breakfast and a list of things to do. She sat with them in the hut while they ate, and ushered Gabrielle quickly out the door for queenly things. Xena was left to do odd jobs around the village in preparation for the evening.
She met up with Wren, a red headed Amazon in charge of everything Ephiny wasn’t. “Oh thank the gods you’re here,” she said as Xena approached. “Ephiny told us you’d arrived last night. You’re mine for the day to finish setting up.”
“Whatever I can do to help. I’m looking forward to the evening,” she replied.
“We are too. It’s not often there are men around, if you know what I mean.” She wiggled her eyebrows at Xena. “Will you be participating tonight?”
She shook her head. “I’ll let you have all the fun.”
“And what about the queen? This is her first one, she’ll have to participate! Hmm, of course she’ll have to have the strongest, best looking –”
Xena held up her hands. “No. The queen will not be participating.” Not if I have any say in it, she thought. Gabrielle hadn’t explicitly said she didn’t want to, but she was grateful she seemed hesitant. She hopefully wouldn’t have to watch her be seduced by drunk and horny men. The thought made her hands clench and a rush of anger surge through her.
Wren eyed Xena, whatever protest she had dying on her lips at the glare she received. “Anyway! I’ll get you to help out with the heavy lifting and setting up the dining hut. We’ll have a lot more people in there than normal.”
“Sure thing. I’ll head over.”
“Thank you. I think Rayna is in charge over there. I’ll see you and the queen tonight.”
She gave the Amazon a small smile, and departed. She made her way through the village waving hellos to many of the Amazons she hadn’t seen the night before. A few came up to chat with her briefly, everyone keeping it short to carry on with their preparation. She arrived at the dining hut, and heard voices from just inside the door.
“I saw her last night.”
“Gabrielle! The queen.” It was the young woman who had seen them in the baths, Xena recognized her voice.
“In the bathhouse.” Xena heard gasps, and realized there were a few women listening in. She stood outside, waiting to hear what was said. “She was just getting out of the bath…”
“You saw the queen naked!?”
“Only briefly. The woman she was with –” Xena heard her name supplied by someone else, “covered her up.”
“Wouldn’t you?” One of them laughed. “If I was the queen’s consort I wouldn’t want you lot staring at her either!”
“Xena is her consort?” asked the young woman.
More laughter. “Of course she is. Gabrielle even chose her as her Champion. They always travel together. They live and breathe and eat and sleep together.”
Xena’s eyes widened. People thought that of them? She supposed it wasn’t a bad thing, to be an Amazon queen’s consort. She wondered if Gabrielle knew that’s what people thought of them… wondered what she would think of people thinking that.
“I don’t believe it.”
“Watch them tonight. They’re not interested in men. They will only have eyes – and hands – for each other.”
Again images of Gabrielle and the sounds of her under her hands came to the front of her mind, and she swayed a little at the arousal suddenly coursing through her. She gripped the door handle, and decided to break up the discussion. She wrenched open the door and stepped through it, finding four wide-eyed Amazons red in the face and staring at her.
“Xena!” they all squeaked.
She didn’t acknowledge that she’d heard their conversation. “Which of you is Rayna?”
The girl from the night before raised her hand. “I – I am,” she stuttered.
Of course she was. Xena resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Instead, she said, “Wren sent me here to help set up.”
“Sure! Yes, uhm,” Rayna leapt up from the table they were seated at. “We were just taking a break. There are more tables and chairs round the back, and we’ll be bringing them in.”
Xena set off. “I’ll start.”
Moving the tables and chairs was easy enough, and the women she was working with were too terrified to speak to her, which gave her ample time to think over what she’d heard. These four thought she was Gabrielle’s chosen one, her consort… she had chosen her as her Champion… but lover? She felt a twinge inside at that. Should she tell her? How would she feel? Did she even know women could be that to each other? She’d never asked, never mentioned it. She had little experience, and only with Perdicus, whom Xena thought barely counted. But they’d been around the Amazons enough… how could she not know?
She’d thought about it, there was no point in denying that. She’d thought about it more and more often, lately. Had Gabrielle? Had she thought about it like I had? Again, her mind wandered back to the baths, and how she’d felt under her strong hands. How she would look under her, how she would taste… Xena shook her head sharply, nearly dropping the chair she was carrying. The women had said to watch them tonight… to see that they only had eyes and hands for each other. Did that mean Gabrielle… felt something? What were these Amazons picking up on? She wasn’t that obvious, was she? She shook her head again, and set down the chair. She looked around; the women were staring at her.
“Xena? Are you alright?” asked Rayna.
“Yes… yes I’m fine. Are we done here?”
“We are. Lunch won’t be in here today, I think most of us are eating in our huts.”
“Alright. I’ll head back then, and see if Ephiny needs anything else.”
She backed out of the hut, and headed towards the queen’s. She was hoping to eat lunch with Gabrielle, maybe open up a discussion about how she was feeling about the coming evening. See if any of the other Amazons had said anything to her. She was disappointed to find the hut empty, a note waiting for her on the bed.
Sorry to miss lunch with you, Ephiny has been keeping me busy in preparation all morning, and after lunch as well. I’ve left some food for you, Ephiny says not to eat much as there will be lots at dinner. Your spot at the high table will be next to me. I’ll see you tonight.
Xena set the note back on the bed, and surveyed the meal left for her. It wasn’t much, but it would last her until dinner. She would eat, and then go back around the village to see if anyone needed any more help.
She wondered briefly where the men were coming from tonight, and how many Amazons would find one to their liking. The last celebration she’d been at, some Amazons had taken their men back to their huts, others had stayed right in the dining hall to consummate. She’d forgotten to tell Gabrielle that part. How would she react? This village was different from the one she’d been in, but she also found these women to be very open and proud of who they loved and what they did together. Would Ephiny tell Gabrielle about what she might witness tonight? Would she be uncomfortable? Or would she enjoy it? And then what would happen? Xena hadn’t been witness to live sex in a very long time, but she could remember how it affected her. The music, the food and drinking, the lighting… it was such a sensual experience. She smiled to herself; she couldn’t wait to share it with Gabrielle, no matter how she reacted.
It was late in the day, and Xena was in the hut again, the setting sun filtering in through the high window. For what was maybe the first time in her life, she was wondering what to wear. Somehow she didn’t think her regular armour was right for the evening, but she didn’t have anything else. She didn’t enjoy wearing just her leather dress, it left her feeling exposed. The only times she was without her armour was when she slept, or when she and Gabrielle found a stream to swim in. She stared at her reflection in the small mirror. She hadn’t seen Gabrielle all day, but her bags had been moved around the hut from when she’d last been here for lunch. What was she wearing? The green top Xena loved a little too much? Or something else? These Amazons loved their ceremony outfits, after all. A quick search of the bags gave her no answers. She’d find out soon enough, she mused. The sounds outside were growing louder as the celebration began. It was meant to begin at sundown, but men had been arriving for the last candle mark. Shrugging her shoulders, she clipped her armour back into place and headed out. She wasn’t an Amazon, she didn’t need to dress up.
The dining hut had been transformed since lunchtime, with the many tables and chairs she had helped set up, along with torches and decorations. Amazons and men were milling about, she could see people making connections already. Wren waved her over to the high table, where she was sitting with other members of the Amazon council. “Xena! You’ll be sitting up here with us.” She gestured to the two seats in the middle. “These are for the queen and Ephiny. You can sit on the other side, next to Gabrielle. I’m Ephiny’s second in command when Gabrielle isn’t here, but the two of them are in charge.” Xena started to ask where they were, but Wren added, “They’ll be making a separate entrance.”
She nodded, and sat in the proffered chair just to the right of the queen’s seat. She watched as people filed in, many of them women she knew, and many she did not. The high table was small, it held only a few of the Amazons’ most elite. She wondered why she was allowed up here when she wasn’t a part of their tribe. Must have something to do with her title as “Gabrielle’s chosen one,” she thought, smirking to herself.
Wren sat two chairs away, watching the crowd gather. As the last of the sunlight disappeared, she stood, calling attention. “Amazons! Welcome to our annual mating season celebration. Men from all around have joined us tonight, in the hope of sex, finding love, and creating new life.” There were sly grins and chuckles all around. “Tonight we are honoured to have our queen present, a rarity. Join me in welcoming her, Queen Gabrielle!”
All eyes swiveled to the door, and Xena felt her breath catch in her throat as Gabrielle appeared. As predicted, Ephiny had dressed her in Amazon ceremony clothing, but it suited her. It was a dark brown top that hugged her, showing off her curves and the swell of her breasts. The skirt was shorter than the one she normally wore, but it wrapped around her hips, leaving her strong middle exposed, waiting to be touched. Xena’s hands twitched in anticipation, wanting to touch both the brown material that looked so soft, and the warm skin she knew was beneath it. They’d placed white flowers in her hair, as a sign of hoping for fertility from the gods. She was magnificent. She could hear the crowd cheering and whistling, and she wrenched her gaze away from Gabrielle to see everyone staring at her, drinking her in, undressing her with their eyes. She felt a stab of jealousy streak through her. She would not let anyone near the queen tonight, she thought fiercely. Gabrielle made her way across the hut, Ephiny behind her. They stepped up to the table, and she spread her arms. “Let the celebration begin!”
The crowd cheered again, and she took her seat. Xena inched her chair closer, and snaked an arm behind her companion. “Gabrielle…”
The blonde turned to her. “Hi Xena,” she said softly. She looked down at herself, self-conscious. “What do you think?”
Xena brushed hair back from Gabrielle’s face, tucking it behind her ear. “You look beautiful,” she replied, staring into her green eyes. She blushed, and Xena felt a twinge between her legs.
“Thank you,” she said, giving the warrior a brilliant smile. “Ephiny insisted.”
Ephiny grinned over her shoulder. “I told her it’s a queen’s duty to look the part.”
Xena nodded. “You do. Very queenly.” She leaned in closer so Ephiny wouldn’t hear. “Everyone was staring at you.” She felt Gabrielle tense momentarily, and move just a little bit closer to her. She suppressed a grin. She squeezed Gabrielle’s shoulder, and sat back as food was brought to their table. She watched the room, women and men eating and laughing, wine already being served. It was going to be quite the night, she mused.
After the food disappeared, the music picked up. Some of the torches were extinguished, giving the room a warm glow. Men and women crossed the hut, conversation becoming limited as everyone broke off into smaller groups and couples. Most of the high council had left the table, finding men to consort with. Wren had been the first to excuse herself, her attention taken by a handsome man early in the evening. Others had removed themselves, for more wine, to be with their friends, or to find men. So far, three Amazons and two men had come up to the queen, asking for a dance, her attention, anything. Gabrielle had politely declined each of them, and Xena had lost track of how many others she had deterred from even coming up just by glaring. She wondered if Gabrielle had noticed. If she had, she hadn’t said anything. Xena leaned back in her chair, extending her arm behind Gabrielle again. Over the course of dinner, they had moved closer; their bare thighs were now pressed against each other. Xena longed to thread her fingers into the blonde hair, she knew how much Gabrielle enjoyed having it played with. It was an endearing trait she rarely indulged her with, but she restrained herself. At the moment she was content to just have her close as she chatted with Ephiny. Only the three of them were left, watching over the celebration. Ephiny’s gaze kept darting around, though she was engaged in the conversation. Xena took the time to look around, take in the celebration. It was similar to the one she’d attended before, though she wondered just how similar.
She heard Ephiny’s chair scrape back. “You’ll excuse me, Gabrielle, Xena. There’s someone I’ve had my eye on all evening…”
Gabrielle nodded, and Xena smiled at her as she stood. It had been a few years since her centaur husband had been killed, Ephiny deserved someone new. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” she quipped, winking. Ephiny laughed and waved her off, heading into the crowd.
Finally, they were alone. Xena absently trailed a finger across Gabrielle’s bare shoulder, and she turned to her. “Are you enjoying yourself, Xena?”
“I am,” she replied, voice low. “Are you?” Her fingers traced circles on the soft skin.
“Yes…” her eyes closed briefly as Xena moved her touch from her shoulder into her hair. She slid a hand onto Xena’s thigh to steady herself. “Is this… is it the same as the one you were at?”
Her fingers found purchase at the back of Gabrielle’s neck, massaging gently. “It’s a little bit different.” She looked around, and saw no evidence of live sex, yet. The night was still young. With her free hand she motioned for more wine, and two cups were brought to them. “I was wondering…”
Gabrielle opened her eyes. “What is it?” Xena went to pull her hand away, but Gabrielle caught her wrist. “Please,” she said quietly.
Another, more powerful twinge between her legs as she continued massaging. “Why was I allowed to be here? I’m not an Amazon.”
The blonde smiled up at her, melting Xena’s heart. “Because I wanted you here.” She took a sip of her wine. Xena smiled, and Gabrielle shook her head. “What, I wasn’t going to send you out to the forest and miss this.”
“Of course not.” She drained her wine cup, and motioned for another. Gabrielle hadn’t removed her hand from her leg. In fact, her thumb was rubbing gently across her heated skin, absentmindedly. It felt good. Don’t stop, Xena thought.
“I’m glad you’re here.”
“I am too,” Xena replied.
“Are you – were you going to participate, tonight?” Gabrielle asked, hesitant.
Xena’s eyes widened. She wound her fingers deeper into Gabrielle’s hair. “Not tonight, no. I’m happy where I am.” She thought she felt her shiver. “Were you?”
Gabrielle didn’t answer immediately. Her eyes scanned the room, and Xena felt her chest seize as she waited for an answer. Finally, she turned back to her. “No. I’m happy here too.”
She gave a soft smile in return, one meant only for her. “Good.”
They fell into a comfortable silence, the music pounding around them. Xena slowed her wine intake, but Gabrielle kept drinking. Xena wouldn’t let her become drunk, but she wondered how a tipsy bard would react to what the night still had to bring. She was on her third cup of the evening, and was leaning heavily on the warrior. Each drink had brought her closer, into the strong embrace. Her fingers were still on her thigh, circling gently. Xena’s hand had trailed down Gabrielle’s back, and was now resting on the curve of her waist. She was warm and soft, and Xena was fighting the urge to explore, touch more of the young woman in her arms.
She looked up at her. “Xena? Why do people keep looking over here?”
Xena had only had eyes for the blonde over the last candle mark, taking in as many details as she could, but she raised her eyes to the room. No one appeared to be watching them, just the way she liked it. Everyone was too preoccupied with their own partners, their own activities. “No one is looking at us,” she answered.
Gabrielle sat up a little straighter, pulling slightly away. She pointed. “There, in the corner. That Amazon… she’s staring at us.”
Xena followed her finger, and saw what she was pointing at. Rayna was indeed watching them, over the shoulder of a blonde woman sucking on her neck. Xena tugged on Gabrielle’s waist, bringing her back into her embrace. She watched the Amazon’s eyes narrow, and smirked. “Pay her no mind.”
Gabrielle leaned back into her, and she allowed Xena to snake an arm around her hips. “She’s not the only one… that man over there, too. And those Amazons…”
Xena daringly splayed her fingers across Gabrielle’s abdomen, and leaned into her ear. “They’re staring at you because you’re beautiful,” she murmured. She felt Gabrielle’s breath catch, and she pulled back, despite wanting to nuzzle the soft hair.
Before she had time to answer, Xena heard it. The first sounds of love being made. She whipped her head around, and zeroed in on Wren, who was in the lap of the redheaded man she’d been with all evening. She was bobbing up and down, and Xena felt the twinge between her legs turn into an ache. Wren’s hair fanned out behind her, and her eyes closed as she was pleasured. Moans escaped from her lips, and Xena watched, her eyes transfixed on the woman being made love to. It had been such a long time…
She felt Gabrielle press tighter against her; her back pressing into her armour. “Xena…” her voice was filled with wonder. “What’s happening?” All around them, Amazons followed Wren’s lead, and the room was slowly filled with the sounds of men and women making love. Xena couldn’t help pressing her hand into Gabrielle’s middle, it was an involuntary reaction to the arousal mounting inside of her. She felt Gabrielle twist under her hand, her breasts suddenly against her own.
Xena wrenched her eyes away from the scene in front of her, she was having a hard time controlling her breathing. She focused on the blonde in her arms. “It’s an Amazon mating ceremony, Gabrielle. They’re making love.”
Her eyes were wide. “Should… should we leave?”
“No,” she said sharply, the feel of Gabrielle pressed against her fuelling her arousal. She wanted to see how this played out. “You’re the queen. We have to stay.”
She nodded slowly, eyes roaming the room. “You didn’t tell me… Ephiny didn’t say…” She turned again, settling back against Xena. She picked up her wine cup, and held it to her lips. She watched silently, taking it all in.
Xena watched her carefully, knowing she would take her away if she became uncomfortable. She herself was becoming uncomfortable, the ache and throbbing between her legs growing stronger. She set her own wine cup down, her free hand coming to rest on Gabrielle’s hip. The other was still wrapped around her middle, and she dragged her fingers across the smooth skin. Gabrielle’s eyes never left the room, but Xena felt her breathing become more laboured. She held her hand in place, mind racing. Could she be affected by this too? Could watching men and women in the throes of lovemaking arouse her? Could being this close to one another, being in her arms, turn her on just as much as it was affecting her? Xena was dying to know. The wine was coursing through her, daring her to be bold.
Across the room, Rayna now had the blonde Amazon from earlier between her legs, and she was leaned back on her hands, hips bucking. Xena saw Gabrielle staring, and leaned forward. “Like what you’re seeing?” she asked, voice low. She shivered, and it allowed Xena’s hand to slide higher against her, just grazing the bottom of her top. She nodded slowly, and Xena let her hand rest just below her breasts. She dragged her fingers across again, indulging in the way she reacted under her touch.
Gabrielle reached forward to set her wine cup down, and in doing so let her breasts rub against Xena’s hand. She stopped, the position leaving Xena’s fingers cupped around a firm breast. She tried to pull away at the same time Gabrielle leaned back, which let her palm graze against a hard, straining nipple. Xena barely suppressed a groan, unprepared for the intimate contact. She tried to pull away again, but Gabrielle caught her wrist in a vice grip, holding her in place. “Xena…” She froze, waiting. Gabrielle moved her body, pressing into her hand. Xena grit her teeth as the she moved against her, eyes closed. She leaned back again, bringing the hand with her. She dropped her head back onto Xena’s shoulder. Xena was digging her fingers into Gabrielle’s hip, trying to maintain control. After a moment Gabrielle loosened her grip on Xena’s wrist, sliding it down her body to rest on her abdomen, lower than it had been before. She let her own hands sit on top of them, and her eyes stayed closed. Xena was breathing hard. Gabrielle lifted her head, and went back to watching.
What was that? Xena wondered. Why did she stop? She shifted slightly, feeling the wetness between her thighs. She wanted to touch her again, to feel the warm weight of her breasts in her hands, how her nipples hardened under her fingers. Gabrielle had let her hand rest low, just grazing the top of her skirt. Should she move her hand? Would she respond? The bard was now dragging her own fingers up and down the warrior’s thigh; she couldn’t take it. She moved her hand across the blonde’s abdomen, and leaned into her ear again. “What are you doing, Gabrielle?”
She lifted a shoulder. “Enjoying the view,” she replied, surprising Xena.
“Is that the only thing you’re enjoying?” she murmured, her free hand sliding up her side. She was crossing a line, being braver than she ever had been in battle.
“No…” she gasped, as Xena slipped the tip of her fingers under the edge of the brown top.
“No?” Her nimble fingers slid around the front, grazing the underside of her breasts. “What else are you enjoying?”
“I uh – oh gods,” she whispered, as Xena pulled her onto her lap. “You…” she hissed.
“Do you want me to stop?” Xena asked, removing her hand, and resting it on her hip again.
“By the gods, no…” Gabrielle took her hand, and pressed it back against her breast. “Here,” she said, eyes shining with desire.
She rubbed her palm across the soft brown fabric, feeling the hard nipple strain through the top. She found it with her fingers, tweaking and playing with it. Gabrielle grasped the table. Xena grinned wickedly. “Tell me, Gabrielle,” she said, “do you like this?” She tugged hard, and the blonde rocked on her lap. Her hand slid from her breasts down, to rest on the brown leather of her skirt. “Has this affected you? Has watching and hearing love being made, affected you at all?”
“Yes,” Gabrielle ground out, squirming.
Xena was throbbing, Gabrielle’s weight in her lap, and the feel of her in her arms and under her hands was overpowering. The room flickered around them, the sounds of men and women in the throes of pleasure, the wine, the smell of sex and the woman in front of her were making her lightheaded. She was beyond aroused, the wetness between her legs growing unbearable as she touched Gabrielle. Her fingers played with the edge of the brown skirt. How far would she let this go? Gabrielle was breathing heavily, and Xena watched how her breasts rose and fell with each breath. She leaned into her, nuzzling her neck and smelling the flowers adorning her hair. She slipped her fingers beneath the skirt, her other hand massaging her lower back. Gabrielle groaned, and Xena growled in pent up frustration. Gabrielle turned her head, staring into Xena’s eyes. They were only inches apart. She wanted to close the distance between them, press their lips together…
Gabrielle spoke before she got the chance. “Xena, your hand…” her eyes flicked down to her lap and then back up.
She slid it higher up her thigh, watching Gabrielle’s eyes fluttered closed. “Yes?”
“What… what are you – ohhhh,” she hissed out as Xena’s fingers made contact with her breeches. Her legs involuntarily spread to give better access, and she balanced herself on Xena’s lap.
The warrior clenched her own thighs in response to the feeling of the bard. “Gabrielle,” she said in a low voice, “you’re soaked.” She nodded, eyes squeezed tightly closed. “Have you enjoyed the celebration? Watching others?” She was repeating her earlier questions, seeing how they affected her. “Have you enjoyed my touch?” She felt more wetness seep through the fabric.
Around them, people were moving, getting up and taking their lovers to more private quarters. Xena felt the need to do the same. She was going to have Gabrielle tonight, and not in front of anyone. She wasn’t going to share, she was going to love her privately. Gabrielle had curled her small hand around Xena’s arm, urging more contact when she pulled away. She pushed her from her lap, and scraped back her chair. They stood, and Xena leaned forward, forcing Gabrielle to bend backwards over the table. She planted a hand on either side of her, and said, “We’re leaving. Let’s go.” She then wrapped a possessive arm around her waist, and led the queen out of the hut. She was sure to nail anyone watching with a glare, expressing that they were not to be bothered, that their queen was all hers.
They were barely inside the hut when Xena had Gabrielle pressed up against the door, faces only inches apart. “Do you want this?” she rasped out. Gabrielle was trembling, Xena could feel her excitement coursing through her. Gabrielle nodded, eyes wide as she waited for Xena’s next move.
There were so many things Xena wanted to do, so many ways and places to touch her, to please her, to love her. She closed the distance between them, capturing her lips in a searing kiss. Gabrielle responded almost instantly, hands flying up to tangle in dark hair, mouth opening to let in Xena’s insistent and exploring tongue. She was soft and warm and pliant, tasting better than she could have ever imagined. Gabrielle kissed her back, like she’d been dreaming about it just as long as Xena had. Xena pressed the length of her body along the smaller woman’s, feeling her heat even through her leathers. One hand was tangled in the long blonde hair, the other against the door, trapping Gabrielle as their passion grew. Finally, they broke apart, breathing hard as the air crackled around them.
Xena stepped back, and held out a hand. Gabrielle laced her fingers through Xena’s as they moved across the hut, and fell back against the bed. Gabrielle was on top of her, flushed. Xena ran her hands over the exposed skin of her back, sliding across the fabric of her top. They traveled up and down, unable to stay still in her exploring, pressing their bodies tightly together. She found the ties holding her small top together, and pulled. It unraveled, and Gabrielle sat up, revealing beautiful breasts. She looked down at herself, self-conscious again, and Xena slid her hands over her hips. “You have no idea how beautiful you are,” she whispered.
Gabrielle blushed, the colouring extending across her body. Xena wanted to touch all of it, kiss the pink skin. Gabrielle reached forward to unclip the armour adorning Xena’s chest. She sat up so it could be removed, pulling her closer at the same time. She straddled Xena’s lap, her full breasts begging for attention. Xena reached up, feeling their weight in her hands. Milky white, with pebbled pink nipples under her fingers. She bent her neck, enveloping one breast between her lips. Gabrielle cried out, rocking against Xena, hands grasping at her shoulders as she bit and licked and sucked, tasting her skin for the first time. “Xena…” she groaned, pushing herself harder against her lover’s mouth.
Xena pulled back, looking into green eyes burning with desire. She felt hands in her hair, and was being pulled forward, into Gabrielle’s kiss. It was passionate, intoxicating, their mouths fused together, tongues duelling for dominance. Her arousal was sky high. They broke apart again, staring into one another’s eyes. Without a word, Gabrielle lifted herself from Xena’s lap, and with her help, removed her skirt and breeches in one movement, kicking her boots off at the same time. She kneeled on the bed, allowing Xena to appreciate the view. The bard was lean and strong, her legs soft and golden from all the time they spent in the sun. Her muscled abs led to a patch of golden hair, covering her centre. Xena desperately wanted to touch, to taste. The flowers were still in her hair, and the light from the moon illuminated her, nearly rendering Xena speechless. She stood to remove her own clothing, watching Gabrielle watch her. She sat back on the bed, reaching for Gabrielle to resume her place on her lap. She complied, and settled herself. They both groaned at the contact, their bare skin pressed together. The position left Gabrielle’s legs spread, her centre open and waiting. Xena had a desperate need for release, but all she wanted was to touch Gabrielle, to mark her, to love her.
Gabrielle hesitantly explored Xena’s skin, raising goosebumps in the wake of her touch. She ran her fingers across her shoulders, her collarbone, dipping between the valley of Xena’s breasts. Xena closed her eyes at the contact, letting Gabrielle explore and learn. She gently caught her wrists, and placed the smaller hands over her aching breasts, letting her feel her nipples harden at the touch. Gabrielle’s name slipped from her lips, and she stared in wonder, repeating the touch, heightening Xena’s need. Her own hands were pressing against the small of her back, pulling her as close as she could, wanting to feel all of her.
They met in another fierce kiss. Xena’s hands slipped down to rest on her spread thighs. She could already smell her, and all the visions that had recently been playing in her mind about the ways she could pleasure her came to the forefront. She slipped a hand down, toying with the golden curls, feeling the gasp come from her lips in between kisses. “Gabrielle…”
She nodded, hands gripping her strong shoulders. They locked eyes, and Xena reached between their bodies, running a single finger through Gabrielle’s wetness. Her head snapped back, and she groaned deeply, hips bucking forward. Xena wanted more of her, all of her, but steeled herself to move slowly, to take her time. Gabrielle was dripping with arousal, her finger slipped easily through the folds, the bundle of nerves hard and begging for attention. She cried out her name, coming before Xena had done more than gently circle it. She slumped against her, and the warrior stilled her fingers.
After a moment she sat up, smiling sheepishly. “That was quick,” Xena murmured.
Gabrielle blushed. “I… I don’t know…”
Xena used her free hand to caress her cheek. “It’s okay,” she assured her. “First times can be like that.”
She started to move again, a feather light touch against her centre. It took her a moment to feel it, and when she did her eyes burned with desire again. Xena smirked, knowing she was nowhere near done with her. She applied more pressure, avoiding the bundle of nerves, working towards building another orgasm for her. Her finger slipped lower down, poised against her entrance. She probed gently, and Gabrielle whimpered as she pulled away and pushed up again. Xena was torturing her, and loving every moment of it. She could feel her growing impatient, wanting and needing more. “Xena,” she ground out, hips rocking against her. “Please…”
Xena leaned forward and kissed her, pressing a lone finger up inside her heat at the same time. She’d intended to go slow, to have the bard open slowly for her, but she slid in easily, being enveloped by the wetness. Gabrielle pitched forward, the movement sending Xena deeper inside. She steadied herself on the headboard behind Xena, using it as leverage to lift herself as Xena pulled away. She lowered herself back down as Xena thrust back up, and they set a rhythm so perfectly Xena could have sworn they’d been making love like this for eternity. Her hips were rocking hard against her, and Xena dared to add a second finger, filling the woman in her lap.
They moved together as one; every vision, every dream, every fantasy Xena had ever had about pleasuring her companion was nothing compared to the real thing. The way she looked, moving above her, she was more beautiful than anyone she had ever seen. Her soft skin glowed in the moonlight, and her eyes were bright with lust. Their position let them be at eye level, and Xena wanted to watch her lover come, watch her unravel because of her touch. She could feel her twitching in anticipation, she knew the orgasm was close before Gabrielle did. She closed her eyes in preparation. “Don’t, Gabrielle,” she commanded. “Look at me.” Her eyes flew open, hips rocking frantically as it built up inside of her. She thrust up once, twice, three more times, adding pressure on the bundle of nerves, and Gabrielle came hard in her arms, her name falling from her lover’s lips over and over.
She was spent, and Xena held her close, despite teetering on the edge of her own orgasm. She let her come down from her high, soothing hands running across her back. After a long moment, she sat back up. Xena ran gentle hands up her sides, and caressed her flushed cheek again. She kissed her forehead. “Are you alright?” she whispered.
Gabrielle nodded. “Yes. I’m… I’m wonderful.”
She yawned, and Xena couldn’t help chuckling. “Wore you out, did I?”
She arched an eyebrow, never one to back down from a challenge. “Not at all.”
The fire in her eyes reminded Xena once again how badly she needed release. She didn’t want to push Gabrielle into reciprocating, but she couldn’t wait any longer. Gabrielle’s hands were suddenly on her again, and her head fell back against the headboard. She growled at the touch, her own legs opening, even with Gabrielle still in her lap. Gabrielle was maddeningly fascinated with her breasts, and she felt something snap inside of her. She grasped a wrist, and directed her further down, to her own aching centre. “Gabrielle,” she growled, “I need you here.”
She complied, and with Xena’s guidance, touched the warrior for the first time. She nearly came at the first hesitant touch, but held on, wanting to feel more of Gabrielle before the first time was over. She gently held onto her wrist, teaching her through her aroused haze how to touch her, to pleasure her, to love her. As always she was a quick learner and caught on, and Xena pulled her hand away, letting the bard make love to her unaided. Fingers slid through her wet folds, against her clit, inside of her. She was everywhere at once, and Xena was so tightly coiled with arousal she couldn’t hold on. Gabrielle hit a particularly sensitive spot inside of her, and she let go, coming hard and fast, trapping her hand between their bodies. She cried out her name, eyes squeezed shut as wave after wave of pleasure rolled through her. Gabrielle blessedly stayed where she was, allowing Xena to ride out her orgasm.
She relaxed, and Gabrielle slowly removed her hand. She wrapped her arms around Xena’s neck, and she responded by wrapping her own around the smaller woman. Xena leaned back, bringing Gabrielle with her, and they sat in each other’s arms, basking in the afterglow.
Xena didn’t know when they’d fallen asleep or shifted their position, but she awoke to find the naked bard pressed tightly against her, head tucked under her chin. Their legs were tangled together under the sleeping furs, and early morning sunlight drifted in through the window. She shook the sleep out of her eyes, remembering the night before; the touches, the kisses, and the lovemaking they had shared. She was warm and content, a feeling she rarely allowed herself. She was happy where she was, she didn’t want to disentangle herself from the blonde. She pressed her lips to her forehead, and settled in to wait for her to wake up.
More than a candle mark later, Gabrielle began to stir. She stretched, eyes still closed. Xena couldn’t help grinning. Finally she opened her eyes, and her early morning confusion morphed into a brilliant smile, causing Xena’s heart to twist happily.
“Morning,” she said softly.
Gabrielle shifted, snuggling closer to the warrior. “Morning,” she replied. She looked up at the window. “You let me sleep so late!”
Xena lifted a shoulder, hand coming to rest on Gabrielle’s hip. “We have nowhere to be.” Her thumb grazed the soft skin. “I assume most of the Amazons are off to a late start this morning.”
“I guess they are.” She blushed. “So we…?”
Xena nodded. “We did.”
Gabrielle grinned shyly, hiding her face into Xena’s shoulder. “Mhm. Okay. I’m hungry.”
Xena’s grin mirrored her lover’s. “I figured as much,” she chuckled. Only her bard could cross the line between friendship and lover in one night and focus on food the next morning. “Do you want to stay here, or head to the dining hut?”
Gabrielle easily snaked an arm around her waist. “I’d rather stay here… but I suppose I should make an appearance.”
Xena nodded in understanding. “We can come back afterwards. Like I said, we’ve got nowhere to be.”
They disentangled themselves from the bed, dressed, and headed out into the village. Gabrielle was back to her green top and brown skirt, covering more than Xena liked, but she appreciated being the only one to know what she had hidden beneath her clothes.
Ephiny met them as she was coming out of the dining hut, a man trailing after her. She gave them a knowing smile. “Good morning,” she greeted them. “Have a nice time last night?”
Gabrielle placed a gentle hand on Xena’s stomach, stopping her walk, and the warrior slid a casual arm around her companion. “We did,” she answered. “And you?”
Ephiny nodded, smiling up at the man behind her. “Definitely.”
They parted ways, Xena and Gabrielle heading into the hut. Some men from the night before were still present with their Amazon lovers. Wren was nowhere to be seen, though Xena had an idea of where the redhead was. Breakfast was a casual affair, and they chose a small table in the corner, where Xena was able to watch over the crowd. Gabrielle happily dug into her food as Xena saw Rayna enter the hut and look their way. She was reminded of the conversation she’d heard the day before. “Gabrielle…” she began. “Did you know…” she faltered, unsure of how to explain.
“Did I know what, Xena?” she asked, pausing between bites.
Rayna was watching them carefully; Xena could tell she was trying to gauge if she had a shot with the queen. It irritated her, but Gabrielle was waiting for an answer. She lowered her voice, and laced their fingers together on the table. “Did you know some of these Amazons thought we were together?”
“Like… my chosen one?” Xena arched an eyebrow in surprise. Gabrielle shrugged. “Every queen has someone,” she explained. “Ephiny told me…” she set her fork down. “She told me some Amazons were under the impression that yes, you are my chosen one, my… consort.”
Xena sat back, amused. “Did they now?”
“I was going to correct them…”
Xena smiled. “Well there’s no need for that now, is there?” She winked. “Though Rayna,” she gestured with her chin at the Amazon, “may need an actual talking to.”
Gabrielle grinned, and resumed eating. “Later. I’m still hungry.”
Xena watched her eat. Their hands stayed laced together across the table. “So did you enjoy your first Amazon mating ceremony?”
She gave Xena a smirk that sent a shiver down her spine. “I did. Did you enjoy your second one?”
“Very much so,” she replied.
“Even better than the first?”
Xena gave her lover a smirk of her own, watching as she swallowed hard. She squeezed her hand. “Much better.”
They finished up their breakfast, and agreed to spend a few more days in the village. This trip had turned out better than Xena had expected, she was truly in no rush to leave. They rose from their table, and felt all eyes in the hut turn to look at them. Xena paid them no mind, and instead wrapped a protective and loving arm around Gabrielle, and led her lover out.