You suppose you'd always had an adoration of her. From the day she'd saved you and took you away from Poteidaia, you'd felt something akin to attraction to her. Maybe more than just simple attraction, you can't be sure. How could you not harbour such feelings? She was brave, and had strong arms, muscular legs, toned stomach, beautiful blue eyes... well, she was gorgeous.
You don't know if she's always felt the same way, or, if not, when it started. After you died, she seemed a bit more affectionate. But after that searing kiss between the living realm and the dead realm, everything changed.
She'd always looked at you as if you put the stars in the sky, but after that kiss, her eyes took on a new softness when she looked at you.
The first time it happens, it's unexpected. After a quick battle with some foolish bandits, her pupils were blown and her breathing was ragged. She seemed tense, and you didn't understand why. After cautiously looking around for any more attackers, you confronted her.
“What's wrong?” You asked.
She kissed you roughly rather than using her words. It was all teeth and tongue and calloused hands explored your body.
Then it was over, and life carried on.
You often shared fevered kisses after fights after that. Battle-Lust, Xena called it. She always held back though, as if she was afraid of breaking you with the wrong touch or too harsh of a squeeze. Her hands never wandered to your thighs, nor the place between them that ached to be touched.
Then one day, she kissed you in camp. It had never happened in camp before, and, at first, you were too shocked to respond. It was soft and tender, much different to the kisses after a fight. As always, she didn't talk about it after. But, y ou liked the kisses too much to stop them, so you didn't talk about them, either. Over time, the kisses in camp were as heavy as those on the battle field, with wandering hands on both sides.
She loved your stomach, and would often scratch short fingernails along your toned abs, making them twitch under her touch. You loved her hair, and always tangled your fingers in her dark locks. She liked it when you tugged on the hairs just above her neck, and you loved it when she scratched a little too harshly on your stomach, leaving small scratches for the rest of the night.
Xena, you discovered over time (when the kisses in camp were frequent and heavy), was never happy with the men who would flirt with you. Whether they were rich princes, handsome warriors, or mere peasants, she hated all of them. She'd treat them a bit harshly – even Joxer on occasion ended up on her bad side.
After an awkward incident at a tavern (one that involved a man groping your bottom and pulling you uncomfortably close), Xena took to sucking deep, purple marks on you. She placed them on your neck, mostly, and you think it's her way of marking territory, like some kind of animal. A way to say 'stay away' without kissing you in public. She liked to claim you, and you liked being claimed.
Rumours of you two being together romantically started a while after you'd had enough of men flirting with the warrior princess. You had grown sick of watching them fawn over her, and, so, you decided to make a mark or two of your own. Joxer noticed in that village Xena claimed to have repeated the same day in, but he never said anything about it. You were quite proud of that particular mark. (A barmaid was getting too flirtatious with her, and you wanted to make sure the next time she saw Xena, the warrior would have an obvious love mark to say that she was definitely not interested.)
People treated you two differently after the rumours began. They never hesitated to give you the same room with one bed, and never once questioned if two pretty women were really all alone without any handsome men with them. Some even confronted you on the matter, though you would both stay quiet and never reply, and occasionally make a good joke about it.
But, of course, your nights always ended with her lips over your own and her body curled around yours. Xena liked to wrap her arms around you at night, and hold you tightly against her, as if she were afraid you'd disappear.
One night, you were busy with another kissing session in camp when her calloused hand brushed against your inner thigh. It was a light, soft brush – hesitant. Her eyes asked a silent question, so you bucked your hips up with a whimper.
“Please,” you'd begged.
Her eyes almost looked feral as she tore off your clothes and made quick work of making you scream in pleasure all night. Of course, this night was the first of many to follow. You often shared a bedroll, and, occasionally, a bed at an inn. You often found yourself writhing above or beneath her, always finishing a long, hard day of traveling with loud, passionate fucking.
After Hope and Solan and your reconnection, your nights were as awkward and tense as they had been when you'd first traveled together. Eventually, you got back into the beat of things, and found yourself falling even further under her enticing spell. You kissed, at first, and each kiss was gentle and full of an unspoken something that you didn't quite understand. Then, your nights that had once been filled with rough fucking and nothing more became filled with sweet, slow lovemaking and, though she still never talked about it, the change was noticeable. As clear as Apollo's chariot in the sky.
However, your feelings for the warrior had only grown, and it was becoming harder and harder to fight them. Not once had you ever talked about your feelings with Xena, and you were almost certain you never would. Despite the notable differences in your relationship, she seemed reluctant to talk about how she felt, so you let her be. She'd talk to you in time, right?
You find yourself thinking of your feelings often, such as tonight, while you lose yoursel fin our thoughts, rather than your scroll. The blank scroll stares at you, and you sigh. You decide to pack up for the night, and do so in silence.
“Something the matter?” Xena asks from her spot on a large stone, where she'd been sharpening her sword since you put the scroll in your lap. She knows you too well to know that when you can't write, something is wrong.
You shake your head, then remember she can't see you since she's so focused on her sword, so you mutter out, “No.” You pause. You're too far from Poteidaia to talk your feelings out to your sister, and Xena wouldn't make that travel for something she knew nothing about. So, there was only one person to go to, now. “Hey, isn't there a Temple of Aphrodite somewhere around here?”
She looks up, then, her eyes narrowed. “Sure. Just a short ride towards the mountain. Why?”
“I-I have to... talk to her.” You sputter awkwardly.
“You can talk to me, too,” she says softly.
Your heart drops. “Not about this. Not yet.”
She flinches, as if the words physically hurt her. Guilt gnaws at your stomach. Despite the obvious hurt, she nods in understanding. “Alright.”
You don't like the tense silence that follows.
“I'm sorry!” You blurt when it becomes too much. “I don't mean to keep things from you, but- I just- Aphrodite is the best choice in terms of who to talk to about... my problem.”
She smiles at you and you see the adoration in her eyes. “It's fine, Gabrielle. I understand. We can go in the morning.”
You sigh in relief, and settle into the bedroll laid out beside the fire. It's only a few moments until Xena follows, curling around your back. You enjoy nights like this, where you feel so safe in Xena's arms, despite the growing danger in your heart.
Aphrodite seems to have been waiting for you, as her worshipers lead you wordlessly to a room far into the temple. They say nothing as you open the door and step inside. It's full of offerings such as mirrors, jewelry, dinars, gold, and at the very end of the room, a golden throne with silk cushions, where the Goddess of Love sits proudly.
“Blondie!” She greets. “I was wondering when you'd show up!”
You avoid looking at the... graphic paintings all over the walls and settle your gaze on the goddess. “Aphrodite, I need your advice.”
She scoffs. “I know. That is why you came here.” She stands and starts to walk to you slowly. You're standing in the middle of the room of treasures, and she makes sure her eyes are entirely focused on you as she moves. “Now talk.”
“Xena and I-” you stop. How do you explain it? You start from the beginning, deciding it was the safer choice. “I guess I've always had an adoration of her. From the very day she saved me and took me away from Poteidaia, I felt something like to attraction to her. Maybe more than just simple attraction, I'm not sure...”
The Goddess of Love listens to you silently throughout your story, and, when you're finished, she places a soft hand on your arm.
“Honey, I've seen you both fool yourselves into loving the wrong people, and even into denying how you feel, but the truth is: you two are in love . Even when you thought you hated each other, and anger blinded you, love shined through.” She chuckles. “Even now, I can feel her worry about you. 'Why is she here? Who does she love? Surely, it isn't me.' Oh, how she frets over you.” She laughs and tugs you to her throne. She sits down and takes a dep breath. “Seriously, babe, you gotta talk to her about how you feel.”
“What if she doesn't-”
“She does.” Aphrodite rolls her eyes. “Look, sweetie, you have nothing to fear. Sure, Warrior Babe can close up like a clam, but you're pretty much the only person who can open up her clam and get her to make some noise.” She giggles. “Pun intended, obviously. Anyway, she cares about you so deeply, it's brought her to you even through death. You can't tell me that that's not love. If that's not love, then what is?” She shakes her head. “Very little of my magic was used to get you two together, which is rare. Just a bit of lust here and there, just to keep things going. But what you two have, it's real and pure.” She sighs. “So few loves are like that, now. I've been routing for you two idiots since day one.”
You nod slowly. “You're right, maybe I should just talk to her.”
“Of course I'm right! I'm the Goddess of Love. Now go talk to her. Tell her how you feel, and, if all else fails, I'll step in.” She assures.
You smile. “Thank you, Aphrodite.”
“No problem, cutie. The fates have big plans for you two, and I'm here to make sure those plans go accordingly. Go get your Warrior Babe!”
You decide to question the thing about the fates later, and hurry out of the temple to Xena, who had been waiting outside. You see how tense she is, and when she looks at you, she relaxes only slightly.
“Did... did she help?” She asks.
You nod. “Yes, actually.”
“I'm sorry if I can't help you with whoever – or whatever – is bothering you.” She says quietly, and you're positive that you've never seen that strange sad glimmer in her eyes before.
“I'm ready to talk about it. With you.” You take her hand. “Let's go back to camp. It's... it's important.”
She nods. “Of course.”
When you're both settled down at camp (settling down being sitting awkwardly on a fallen tree, with Xena so tense you swear she's a statue, and you, fiddling with your hands), you take a moment to really think about how to word everything.
“Stop thinking so much. You're worrying her.” Aphrodite's voice chimes in your head. “She's scared that you're leaving her for someone else.”
“Xena,” you say almost too loudly, and the warrior visibly jumps. “Sorry! I uh, okay, so, I went to Aphrodite's Temple because I've...” You sputter, and then freeze. “I've been harbouring these... feelings . Feelings for you . And I- Gods, look at me, I'm sputtering like a fool. I'm a bard , I should be good at this.” You look away, tears welling in your eyes. You're scared. You shouldn't be, but you are. You love her too much, you can't lose her now.
A gentle hand takes your hands tightly and another tilts your chin up to look at soft blue eyes.
“Just tell me what's the matter.” Xena requests. “I will listen with open ears, and I won't leave you for anything.”
You chuckle, despite the tear that escapes your eye. Xena quickly wipes it away with the pad of her thumb, and you lean into her hand. “I'm in love with you.” You finally whisper. “And I've been so afraid of how you felt about me, because... after everything we've done, or do, we never talk about them after. We never talk about the kisses, or the- the nights after, and it's driving me crazy , Xena. I can't take kissing you and not knowing what it means. I can't take spending nights wrapped in your arms, and watch you flirt with men. I can't... I can't take not knowing what this-” you gesture between you with your free hand “-means. I love you. I really, really love you, and I can't stand the thought of not having you in my arms to hold.”
When you finish, her oceanic eyes seem to shimmer with emotion. Tears unshed threaten to spill over the ledges of her eyelids, and her mouth twitches up into a smile.
“You were honestly afraid I'd leave you, or I didn't feel the same way?” She asks.
You nod. “I wasn't... I wasn't sure how you'd feel. I didn't know if I was just another warm body at night.”
“You never were, Gabrielle,” she shakes her head. “You were always so much more. Sure, after that kiss when I was in Autolycus' body, I was afraid of how I felt. I never felt such strong emotions for anyone – not Marcus, not Hercules – and it scared me to think of how far I'd go to come back to you, defying even death to do so.” She blinks, and a tear falls. You watch it drip down her cheek in amazement before wiping it away. She smiles wider at the touch, though it's almost a sad smile. “I tried to forget about those feelings, fucking men and women, praying to the Gods that I'd feel something – anything – to make me forget them. But when we started to kiss more, I realized that I couldn't shake those feelings.
“I'd spend entire afternoons watching you talk or cook or tell stories, and I finally knew that there was no running from those feelings. So I thought if you and I... maybe they'd go away. They only grew stronger, once I knew I could have you. When I thought I'd lost you, I almost went mad with grief. And when I found you again, I wanted to take you right in that forest. I vowed to take it slow, after that. To savour every moment I had worshipping your body. And so I did. I do.
“I love you. I'm in love with you, too. No one compares to you, and they never have. Marcus doesn't hold a candle to you, because when I look into your eyes, I believe in soul-mates, and I feel in my very soul that you're mine.”
You smile widely, despite the sob that escapes you. “Xena...”
“I love you,” she whispers before letting out a sob, as well. She says it as if the words hold the weight of the world on them. Like she cannot get enough of them.
“I love you,” you repeat, and the words are sweet on your tongue.
You push yourself against her chest, crying into her shoulder as she hugs you closely to her. She sobs into your hair, kissing your forehead. You curl into her lap, and she holds you even tighter. You love her. You love her so much, you think your heart might burst.
“Told ya it'd be fine!” Aphrodite's voice returns. “I told her to treat you right, and that you're a keeper. I'd say the same for her, but you've already loved her as much as you possibly can. I'll keep in touch, shorty.”
You pull away and kiss Xena. It's salty with tears, but somehow manages to taste as sweet as ever. Her lips are soft and gentle against your own, and all you can think as she lays you down on the bedroll is: I love you, I love you, I love you.
She takes her time to mark your neck and take off your green top. Then, your skirt and britches. She takes even longer to pull off her armour, and all you can think is: I love you, I love you, I love you.
The warrior lets you kiss her all over, before pushing you back down to the bedroll so that she can kiss, lick, and nip her way down your body.
Each forming mark seems to sing: I love you, I love you, I love you.
She makes it to your core, doing the things she knows makes you scream the loudest.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
When you reach climax, she moves to your ear and whispers, “I love you.”
And you believe her. She loves you. You love her. The world seems to be perfect in that very moment, as if you reached the point of equilibrium, or nirvana. I love you, I love you, I love you.
She lets you explore her body, her whimpers spurring you on. You know all the places to caress your fingertips, making her shiver against your body. You know where to place your mouth and when to do so (her collarbone, just as you enter her with your fingers), and you know just how to drive her to the very edge, teetering until she's a quivering mess beneath you. She yells your name, and you tell her, “I love you.”
And you do.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
As you both recover from your intense lovemaking, you curl into Xena's side. She lays on her back, looking up at the night sky.
You swear you can see new stars flickering in the dark sky.
“I love you, Xena.” You murmur.
Xena kisses your forehead affectionately. “I love you, too, Gabrielle.”
To think, this all started with a stupidly brave decision in Poteidaia. The day you met your soul-mate, and didn't know it. The day your fate was set in stone. The day you met Xena, your Warrior Princess.