Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, etc. from Xena: Warrior Princess are copyrighted to Renaissance Pictures, and Universal Studios. This story is all mine.

Subtext: Yes, there is some of that here. If the idea of two women in love bothers you, there is plenty of other fic out there. Nothing explicit.

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The Joining, Part II
Ceridwyn2

It was almost the middle of the night by the time that Xena and Gabrielle reached the outskirts of the Amazon Nation. They were both exhausted from the long day of travelling. They stopped and raised their hands over their heads in a sign of peace. The Amazon watcher on guard called out with a bird call to alert the village of guests.

"It'll be nice to lie down. We haven't had a decent bed in a while. That last inn's matress was as hard as rocks." Gabrielle commented.

"That's not what you were mentioning when we were there," Xena teased with a wry grin. For which she got a slap on the arm.

Ephiny and Eponin came out to greet the Queen. Hugs were granted all around. For a couple moments, Ephiny took Gabrielle aside to alert her to some new treaties and border agreements that Gabrielle needed to sign as Queen of the Amazons.

"How have things been lately?" Eponin asked. "Helping villagers, telling stories, beating the pulp out of idiot warlords. Same old stuff. You?" Gabrielle responded nonchalantly which earned her a nice smile from her partner.

"It's been rather hectic with Tamara and Kairany getting joined. Last minute rituals and signing documents of joining. They are both thrilled that you are able to preside over their joining. You've become very important to our community, Gabrielle. You're always welcome here." Ephiny paused for a second. "And you as well, Xena, of course. Can't have one without the other." Eph smiled with a sparkle in her eyes.

Xena placed her arm around her partner's shoulders and smiled. "Thank you." Xena and Gabrielle ckecked their stuff in Argo's saddlebags and then headed into the heart of the village towards the Queen's hut. Xena unloaded their baggage into the hut then went to give Argo a good brushing down. She treated the mare to some oats that they'd carried and set her up in the barn.

Gabrielle in the meantime had taken out her parchment, some ink and a new quill that Xena had bought for her at a market a few days before. She smiled as she set her things on the large oak table and she thought about their recent adventures. She started to put quill to parchment and began writing whatever came to her mind.

I look into her pale blue eyes
And I loose myself in their intensity
The angles of her strong cheekbones
Mirrors the strength of her spirit

Her soul has been dark for many years
But now I see a light brightening
Pushing back the dark into its recesses

We're travelled together now for almost three summers
Encountering warlords, theives, thugs, princes, kings and friends
Ares, Artemis, Aphrodite, Athena - each of these we have met
No one can say our lives have lacked for excitement

These deeds keep moving her towards freeing her spirit and
Lightening her load
I think she will always feel that she has a debt to repay
To society, to me, to herself

She has always been a wanderer for as long as I've known her
And for many years before
Perhaps one day we will settle down somewhere, sometime
But not now. Too much to do

She continies to be amazed by people complementing her on her good deeds
She doesn't show it to others but I see it in her eyes.
It seems to bring her peace
We thank them, perhaps I'll tell a tale or two and then we move on

This night we sat in a tavern in a large town
Like many others there are many patrons, warriors, merchants, healers and maidens
After a while I went to the front of the room and began to tell a tale
I turned my face to hers and her eyes capture mine
Those eyes tell a tale themselves of a future never thought possible
And I believe her
I've never felt so safe as I do by her side.

Gabrielle concluded her writing as her partner opened the door to the hut. The warrior came over to her, put her hands on the bard's shoulders and leaned down and kissed the top of the bard's head.

"How are you doing, love?"

"Just finished writing down some thoughts." Gabrielle smiled up at Xena as she turned. "You?"

"Pretty good, actually. Argo's all settled." She walked over to the large cot and lay down, exhausted from the long day. "Come here."

The fair-haired bard, fighter and Amazon Queen curled up tightly against her partner. Her hands draped over the warrior's torso and buried her face into the hollow of Xena's neck. Xena's arms envolped her into her protective embrace. Before long both of them were asleep.

Dawn came and the early morning's sun shone through the faint separations of thatch and highlighted the golden hues of Gabrielle's hair. The young woman lay partially draped over her warrior princess. She turned her head and nuzzled her partner's chest. This resulted in a raised eyebrow and an amused grin on Xena's face.

"Well, this is certainly a nice way of waking up," Xena commented. "Hmmm. And more comfortable, too." Gabrielle smiled then pushed herself up and rested on her elbow. "Later this morning I have to meet with Ephiny and go over the rites for the joining. This is going to be very exciting." "I'm going to go for a run and then do some drills." "Now that sounds interesting," Gabrielle said wryly, but with a smile on her face. She leaned up to kiss Xena for a second and was slightly startled when the warrior wrapped her arms around the bard and drew the young woman's body on top of hers and returned the kiss with passion. After several minutes, they both grudgingly got up and began to get ready for the day.

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The Council Chambers were comfortably large but not lavishly decorated. Three medium length mahogany tables stood in U-shaped formation with the Queen's chair being in the centre of the curve. A statue dedicated to Artemis's honour stood behind and to the left of the Queen's chair. Hangings depicting the Nation's history adorned the walls. In the back of the room was a large desk which held the Council records, Amazon law, rites and traditions. The door to the chamber room was opened and two women entered. A woman of average height with medium length blond curly hair, and a shorter woman with longer reddish blond hair. The shorter of the two was laughing. "Ephiny, you mean to tell me that Solari and Kentara ended stuck in mud an hour before they were intended to be joined? What happened?"

"Well Pony had gone to up to their cabins early in the morning to make sure they were going to be on time for the ceremony. Apparently they had already left their cabins and gone out on a short hunting trip. Pony found them just after noon, along the Northern parameter. They had caught two hares which they had in sacks. But they were on the trail of another when the hare suddenly disappeared. So they went in search of it, but fell directly into a mudpit that had resulted from the recent rains."

"Ooohhh. That must have been a sight."

"Yeah. So anyway, Pony managed to get them out and they all returned with mud all over their leathers. You don't know how hard it was for me not to just burst out laughing. So they got showered and changed into ceremonial leathers for the joining."

"Wow. They're doing well I hear. I'll see them at the joining thes afternoon and congratulate them." She looked over at the Queen's chair and thought for a few minutes before she turned back to Ephiny. "Eph, are you sure that you want me to officiate this joining? You're here and their Regent. You know these traditions much better than I do."

"Gabrielle, you are a very good friend of mine and my Queen. If I didn't want you here I wouldn't have asked. Besides which, the Council would have challenged me if I even tried." Ephiny smiled and gave the younger woman a hug. "Tamara and Kairany requested you officiate their joining. It's important to them, it's important to the Nation and it's important to me."

"Thanks." Gabrielle began to pour over the documents and traditions behind joining ceremonies. "I think this is going to be a wonderful celebration. I'm going to look this over and then go meet with Xena for a while. The ceremony is just before sundown.and it takes a while to get into those ceremonial leathers," Gabrielle remarked with a smile.

Ephiny gave her a hug and stated before she left, "If you need a hand just let me know." Gabrielle nodded and then Ephiny left.

Xena had run through along the Amazon Nation's borderlines to burn off some excess energy. She finally came to a stop at a nearby stream where she crouched down and brought up a handful of water to splash her face with. "Hmmm that's refreshing." She smiled and sat back. She was looking forward to Gabrielle wearing her traditional ceremonial leathers. She didn't wear them too often so when she did, it was certainly a time to enjoy. So when she arrived back to the hut that was designated for Gabrielle and herself, she was surprised to see that the bard wasn't there. So she headed over to the Council Chambers.

"Hey there, love. What's up?" the warrior came up behind Gabrielle and placed her hands on the younger woman's shoulders. Gabrielle startled.

"Sorry. I've just been so engrossed in reading the scrolls of previous joinings to get an idea for tonight's celebration. I'm supposed to meet with Tamara and Kairany this afternoon so there won't be any big surprises for the joining."

"Done?" Xena asked inquiring. "Ive got something to show you...or rather to something to help you relax."

"Yeah." She stopped for a second. "How?"

"You're shoulders are incredibly tight. Come on." The warrior led the way out and back to their hut. When they arrived there Gabrielle rested on the cot while Xena changed into a soft shift.

"Come here," the warrior told her. "I've got something that will help you relax, it's something I learned a long time ago. It's about using the bodies natural energies." Gabrielle came over and sat at the warrior's side. "Sounds interesting. What do I have to do?"

"Just sit there. Try and focus on something that relaxes you." Xena stood and focused on trying to relieve the bard's tension. Then she began by grounding the bard's energy by placing her hands on the bard's boots on the floor. She stood and took a few deep breaths and began to run her hands about six inches from the bard's body, checking for changes in energy sources within Gabrielle. She went and added a little extra attention to the middle of her lower back, thinking some cool thoughts and the energies and soon she noticed that the heat and tension from the bard's back was gone. She finished assessing her body and went on to rid the bard of negative energies from head to toe. She evaluated the bard of how it worked on her. Then she concluded her therapeutic touch. The bard was completely relaxed. "How was that?"

"Thanks. That was fantastic. Wow, can you teach me that sometime?"

"Sure. But not now. "Don't you have to meet with Tamara and Kairany?"

"Oh dear. I've gotta go. Thanks." And with that Gabrielle left for her meeting.

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