The warrior looked anxious. "I hope the scouts come back with the witch soon."

"Xena, I spoke with Saras, our eldest healer about this. She was going to search the archives for information on these narcis berries. You may want to have a talk with her."

"Good, the more we know, the better off we are." Xena got up to leave, when she reached the door she turned to Ephiny. "Thanks... for everything."


Much to Xena’s surprise, Gabrielle slept peacefully through the night. But, upon awaking, she was charged with sexual tension and made her intentions known in soft caresses and lingering kisses. The warrior was only able to avoid the bard’s advances by convincing her they needed to eat. Oddly, even in her current state of arousal the bard was open to this.

The trip to the dining hall was challenging. The bard was not shy about revealing her lust for her companion, no matter who happened to be looking. Xena was greatly relieved when the bard’s concentration shifted to her meal. She seemed to have the same passion for her food that she did for her lover. She wondered if the magic was causing that also, trying to keep her strong.

The warrior used this time to speak with her friend. She described the contest that was to take place and explained that she would be obligated to train with the winner the rest of the day. Gabrielle became highly agitated. None of her arguments would sway the warrior from this silly competition. In the end it didn’t matter, she intended to do what ever was necessary to be the one spending the day with the warrior.

The one mile course was laid out behind the sparing field. It contained sixteen individually challenging obstacles. Completion of the course required great strength and stamina. It demanded the use of a variety of skills: running, jumping , rope climbing, and crawling. It also required careful maneuvering, coordination, balance and speed. Even one time through, at the breakneck pace was grueling.

All of the competitors had been informed prior to their entry that they were to lose without making it appear obvious. Gabrielle had easily defeated the competition the first five times through, surprising even Xena. No one had to hold back. It was an amazing sight. The bard traversed every obstacle with grace and agility. The regent felt certain she had set a course record. She had never seen Gabrielle so such focused and determined.

It occurred to Ephiny that the reason this enchantment had such a hold on the bard was because it amplified her existing feelings for the warrior. She knew how deeply Gabrielle loved Xena. The regent glanced at the warrior. She was startled by the intense look of pride and love shining in her eyes. Ephiny knew by the expression on the warrior’s face that somehow they would prevail. Xena would do whatever it took.

The bard had traversed the course nineteen times. Her current opponent tripped repeatedly so that Gabrielle could maintain her lead. By the time the bard crossed the finish line, she was weaving precariously. Nevertheless, she managed to stay on her feet and walked with great determination back to Xena’s side.

She groaned as another Amazon stepped up to challenge her, summoning the last of her reserves she swung at the woman, connecting solidly with her jaw, knocking her unconscious. The effort nearly made the bard topple over. She looked menacingly into the crowd.

"Anyone else?" she growled. The exhausted bard took a wobbly step toward Xena and her knees gave way. She collapsed into the warrior’s arms.

The warrior gently cradled the young woman against her and kissed her lightly on the forehead. "Gods, she has heart."

Ephiny smiled in agreement. "Yes, and it’s all for you."

A tear slide down Xena’s cheek. "I have to find a way to free her from this." She bent and reluctantly handed the spent young woman to Ephiny. "Please, take her back to our hut and keep an eye on her. I’m going to speak with the healer. If the scouts return, come and get me."


Xena found the healer in the library, immersed in scrolls. She took a seat beside her. "Have you been able to find anything?"

"Xena, it doesn’t look good." The healer shifted uncomfortably. "I need to ask you some questions... Rather delicate ones, due to the nature of these berries."

"I understand. Ask me anything you need to. I just want to help Gabrielle."

The healer cleared her throat. "It appears that once the liquid has made contact with the victim’s skin, it preys on her sexual appetite. The more intense the person’s innate desire, the stronger it’s hold." The woman sought a tactful approach. "I need to determine how would this effect Gabrielle?"

"Gabrielle has a very passionate nature. It has a very tight hold on her."

The healer glanced nervously at Xena, reluctant to ask her such intimate questions. "Have you made love to her since she came in contact with this substance?"

"Yes... is that bad?" Xena feared she had done something to harm Gabrielle.

Noting the edge in the warrior’s voice, the healer tried to temper her answer. "Well, yes and no. Apparently, the enchantment causes an individual to bond with the first person that brings them to climax. For many obvious reasons, I think it’s good that it was you." She stopped to collect her thoughts. "Some believe that this liquid contains an entity that binds with the individual’s libido and, is in fact, nurtured by it. It feeds off the energy released during orgasm: the more climaxes, the stronger the entity becomes. How many times has she ah...?"

Xena’s heart hammered in her chest at this new information. "I... I was trying to tire her out... bring her peace. I never wanted... It took awhile for me to realize it wasn’t helping. She was so desperate, so in need." Xena closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. She was awash in guilt. Saras gently took her hand.

"I know you would never knowingly bring harm to Gabrielle. How many..."

"Fifteen times... maybe more... I don’t know. I wasn’t keeping track."

"Fifteen?" Serena was stunned. "One after another?"

Xena face flushed. "She was desperate, driven..."

The healer inhaled sharply at the unfortunate news. "All right, the important thing now, is not to make it worse." She gave Xena a warning glance. "I think it best if you don’t do it again." Noting Xena’s remorseful expression , she smiled sympathetically. "Xena, I know it was very difficult for you to deny her something she needed so much. The enchanted can be very convincing. It won’t help anyone to dwell on what has already been done."

"What if the scouts can’t locate the witch? Is there anything we can do to rid her of this?"

"I read one account where two individuals attempted to exorcise it. They tried to starve it out, so to speak."

"Were they successful?"

"Unfortunately, the possessed woman died. After four days of abstinence. Her suffering became so great that she went mad and drove a dagger into her own chest."

"I won’t let this… thing... harm Gabrielle. There has to be something I can do."

"I have an idea, I think the trick may be to make the host’s body undesirable to the entity, to make it too painful or frustrating to inhabit."


"If I’m correct that it feeds on the energy released at orgasm, maybe it could be weakened by forestalling climax over an extended period of time. It might even attempt to flee such a body, in favor of another, more acceptable one."

"You think I could take this from Gabrielle into myself?"

"Yes, I believe it’s possible. How did it exit from your body before?"

"I drank an elixir that caused the entity to take on vaporous form. The witch expelled it from my lungs and it vanished into the air."

"We don’t have the elixir to transform it, or the power to force it from her. But if the entity were desperate, it might leave her body for a more acceptable host. It might transfer from Gabrielle to you through ... a kiss." She searched the warrior’s face for her reaction.

"It seems logical." Xena took a deep breath. "I might have a chance of taking this from her."

"This is very dangerous. It may end up possessing you both. I truly don’t know what to expect. But I would guess that each transfer would at least weaken it."

"Each transfer?" Xena looked at the healer in disbelief. "If I’m successful getting this thing out of Gabrielle, I will not put her in danger again by giving it back!"

"I see... and you think Gabrielle will just accept your sacrifice and save herself?"

Xena did not respond. The answer was clear. "What could we hope to accomplish by passing this thing between us?"

"I think it will weaken with each exchange. It seems reasonable to assume that if it isn’t fed, eventually its hold will lessen."

"Do you think we can destroy it through starvation?"

"I don’t know. It might attempt to flee, it might fade away or it might reside inside indefinitely."

Xena stiffened. The thought of an indefinite period of torturous yearning for she and Gabrielle was extremely unpleasant. Sensing Xena’s misgivings about Gabrielle’s further involvement, the healer continued, "at the very least it would buy us time to search for other answers."

Xena looked up as Ephiny entered with one of the scouts.

She quickly stood. "Did you bring her back?"

"We weren’t able to find her. The cave showed no signs of any one living there, no furnishings or supplies of any kind."

"You must have gone to the wrong cave. We were there only a couple of days ago." Xena was angry, and frustrated. The scout looked miserable, ashamed for having failed her queen.

"We followed your instructions to the letter. It was as you described, only empty. Alani stayed behind just in case the witch returned. I wanted to get back quickly with the news."

Xena turned to the healer. "It’s looks like we will get to test your theory. Ephiny, Saras will fill you in. Better post a couple of guards at the door to our hut."

The scout looked distraught. Xena squeezed her shoulder, acknowledging her effort and left abruptly. Her hope of overcoming the entity had greatly diminished.


The warrior sat on the corner of the bed watching her lover sleep. The young woman was so relaxed, so peaceful. It seemed, if she were to wake up, she would be herself. Xena knew better. The entity’s hold was insidious and unrelenting. She remembered the agony she had endured: bound, helpless, and alone in the cave before Gabrielle had found her. Her will had been broken and she had transformed into something primitive and untamed. During that time she had but a single purpose: sexual release. She knew that shortly after Gabrielle awoke she, too, would be driven by the same goal.

As she recalled the power of the entity, she feared that they would not be able to overcome it. Although Gabrielle had a strong will, Xena wasn’t sure it would be enough. The warrior’s experience would help. But, the real wild card in their struggle was their love for each. It was the one thing, she hoped, would tip the balance in their favor. Xena was ready to do what ever was necessary to save her companion. She knew that if Gabrielle regained control she would, also.

She slowly removed her armor and donned a simple shift-- an unlikely outfit for the battle she was about to enter. A battle for Gabrielle’s life. The bard stirred in her sleep as if sensing her lover’s presence. She grimaced as she felt her sore muscles complain and slowly opened her eyes. Xena watched her carefully for signs of recognition.

"Xena, I had the strangest nightmare..." As soon as their eyes met, she knew it was no dream. Something stirred deep within her and she could feel the yearning build.

"Gabrielle, I need you to listen to me. Try not to give in, you must try to hold back, delay climax. If the entity becomes desperate, it may attempt to flee your body and pass into me. Then you will need to do the same for me."

The young woman watched in silence as Xena spoke. She understood the warrior’s request. But, it was impossible. Xena didn’t realize what she was asking. Even now, Gabrielle could feel her will surrendering to her need. Her attraction to the dark dark-haired woman was too strong to resist. Her eyes roamed the length of the warrior’s body. Xena was truly exquisite. Her thin white shift accentuated every curve. Gabrielle could see a faint shadow through the sheer fabric. The yearning was insidious, slowly engulfing her, controlling her. Her senses reeled as the hunger surged. There was no resisting it. She knew the softness, the scent, the ecstasy that accompanied the warrior’s touch. It was too much to bear. "Xena, please... touch me...I..."

"I know… Soon." Xena’s only hope was that Gabrielle had heard her words and that she would try to fight. She lovingly stroked the bard’s hair, as she tried to soothe her. "I’m going to release you, slowly… Very slowly..."

Gabrielle watched, her eyes glittering with rapt anticipation as the warrior removed her shift. She focused on Xena’s long fingers, entranced by the grace of their movement as they peeled off the useless garment. The vision enthralled her. She marveled at the loveliness of her partner’s body. The desire to press her body against the warrior, was irresistible. "Now... please." She tore at her own robe, tossing it haphazardly off the bed. Her nipples hardened unbearably as the cool air made contact.

Xena was overcome by the incredible beauty of her companion. Gabrielle’s skin was flushed, her body open, ready to accept whatever she would give. The bard lovingly cupped her breasts, lifting them in offering to the warrior. Xena bent slowly to accept the tender flesh.

Gabrielle felt her lover’s moist breath excruciatingly close to her erect nipple. Her heart raced in expectation as she awaited the pleasurable contact. Moments seemed like candlemarks. She couldn’t endure the longing and locked her free hand around the back of Xena’s neck, firmly urging her forward.

Xena placed her hands under the bard’s arms, holding her back, asserting her control. The bard knew it was useless to force the issue. Her strength was no match for the warrior. She eased her hold on Xena’s neck. In reward, the warrior’s hot tongue flicked lightly over the puckered flesh.

She groaned as Xena’s wet mouth closed on the hardened point. "Ohh, yes... yes..." Her touch was maddeningly light and the bard tried again to pull the warrior to her, only to feel Xena’s tongue lift from her aching nipple.

"Easy... easy."

Gabrielle let her hands drop and felt Xena’s tongue caress her once again. This time the warrior took the hardened tip into her mouth and suckled it greedily. The bard’s skin was irresistibly soft and inviting. She feasted hungrily, stroking the tortured point. Her thumb and forefinger imprisoned the other nipple, delicate and small. She pulled it gently, eliciting a tortured moan from the bard. Her teeth grazed the surface, causing the tip to grow taller, harder. She groaned in ecstasy as the warrior closed her mouth on it. Gabrielle’s hips lifted off the bed. Xena did not release the breast, she continued feasting, licking, nipping.

"Mmmm... yes! Oh, Xena...."

Gabrielle could hardly endure the sweetness of it, the maddening increase in tension as her lover all but devoured her breasts and then backed off, teasing them with delicate strokes of her fingers and tongue. Her desire rose in a tormenting rhythm. She needed more, but she knew if she pressed the warrior she would lose her touch altogether. In desperation she voiced her yearning. "More... please... lower."

Xena complied, slowly releasing the bard’s sensitive breasts. Her mouth began to travel slowly, making it’s way down her lover’s torso. The warrior noted the changes in her lover’s body: the variations in her breathing, the heat of her skin, the trembling of her limbs. Each was a sign of the young woman’s impending climax.

Xena felt her own passion rise to a fever pitch. They were in complete harmony. Her body instinctively knew what the young woman needed. Gabrielle was utterly pliant and responsive. The power she held over the bard excited her. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, catching the scent of her lover as it rose from her core. She was close. Gabrielle began whimpering, making desperate little sounds. It was time. Her arousal had escalated to the next level.

"Yes..." Gabrielle groaned spreading her legs wide, encouraging her lover to proceed.

"Bend your knees."

Gabrielle moaned and obeyed. Her fingers tangled in Xena’s hair, pushing her toward her dripping entrance. The warrior stilled. Gabrielle groaned, desperate for Xena to continue. She writhed, clutching at the warrior, urging her lower. Xena remained passive.

"Please... don’t stop... I..." the bard’s hands released the warrior. The small fingers curled into fists. Her need was maddening. She pounded the bed in frustration.

"That’s it, that’s it," Xena spoke in a gentle reassuring tone. "Let me pleasure you." Her sensual voice caressed the bard, bathed her in rapture.

Gabrielle arched off the bed when she felt the heat of Xena’s tongue on her skin once again, gliding closer and closer to her soft mound. Another jolt of pleasure shot through her as Xena’s finger parted her folds. She clutched at the blanket, trying to control her hands. She could feel the warrior’s breath on her and knew she would soon feel her lover’s tongue where she needed it most. Her entire body glistened with a thin layer of salty sweat, trembling with anticipation.

Xena’s tongue plunged into the bard’s opening. It was ecstasy. A few more thrusts and she would tumble over the edge. Xena drove into her again. She could feel the tightness of her lover’s walls, the trembling of her thighs. Moisture was dripping from her. Xena stilled her movements, trying to remain motionless. She could feel her lover’s sex pulse; Gabrielle was painfully close. The warrior withdrew and spoke softly to the bard, gently calming her. The young woman’s hips churned, trying to draw Xena’s attention back to her pulsing center.

She was about to cry out, to beg for release as Xena’s mouth descended, swallowing her words. Gabrielle’s tongue moved wildly inside the warrior’s mouth, desperate to communicate her need. She could no longer move. Xena’s weight pinned her to the bed. The young woman bucked, but her attempts were futile. Her sex ached for contact she could not provide. Gabrielle’s fists pounded on Xena’s back, as she fought to dislodge her, make her move the tinniest bit. She was completely at the warrior’s mercy.

Xena lightly wiped the bard’s tear soaked cheeks and allowed the small hands the only outlet they had against the torture she endured. At last, exhaustion claimed her and she relaxed. Her hands lay limply at her sides. The only indication of her ongoing misery was the soft whimpering sounds that escaped the seal of their mouths. Xena kissed her softly, longing to give her refuge from her pain.

They lay in peace for a few blessed moments. But all too soon Gabrielle’s need surged. It came back exquisitely soon, in agonizing waves. Xena felt the bard’s body writhe as the currents washed over her. She pinned the bard’s wrist to her sides and lavished her lover’s breasts with languid strokes of her tongue. Gabrielle’s nipples throbbed steadily under the warrior’s ministrations.

Gabrielle cried , "Pleeeease... I need you."


The warrior tried to calm her frantic lover. "Shhh... hold on..."

Again Xena descended, her lips and tongue winding a slow path down Gabrielle’s heaving body.

Gabrielle trembled violently as the warrior’s hands caressed her inner thighs. She tried to edge her throbbing sex toward her lover’s fingers. The gentle stroking of her sensitive skin inflamed her. It stoked a fire that threatened to consume her. Her moisture overflowed her lips and trickled out, adding a maddening itch to her torment. She felt Xena’s fingers poised at her entrance and knew she could not bear another moment of teasing. She cried in relief as the warrior’s fingers glided in, filling her completely.

"Mmmm... yours... take me."

The bard was slick and tight. Her muscles grasped the digits, holding them with amazing strength. Gabrielle breaths were coming in great gasps. Her legs were shaking. She was on the verge of orgasm and Xena knew she had to drive it back. She slid out.

Gabrielle let out a hoarse groan that seemed a cry for mercy. She ached in her emptiness and would have done anything to have Xena inside her again. She belonged to Xena’s hands, Xena’s mouth, belonged to them inside and out. She was close to the edge, throbbing. Her muscles grasped for the warrior’s fingers. Her clitoris was swollen, begging to be touched.

No matter how she struggled, climax was just beyond her reach, her mouth opened in a low moan. She rocked back and forth on the brink, her body pleading in vain. Xena’s mouth was once again locked to hers in a searing kiss. A hot shiver shot down to her sex. She was desperate for a single touch that would hurl her over the edge.

The bard re-doubled her efforts to free herself. It was all Xena could do to hold her in place. Gabrielle could smell her own wetness. The heat of her lover’s body, its very nearness, escalated her pleasure to pain. Her body ached as never before. It had no weight; it had become pure sensation. She screamed aloud, attempting to give herself some form of physical release.

Gabrielle was wild with need. How long could she writhe, dreaming of orgasm? Surely she would loose her mind. Every candlemark of her starvation sharpened her craving. It seemed she would break open like over ripened fruit. Her hunger could not be contained. She would surely perish. She had to find release. Her head tossed from side to side as she struggled against Xena’s strength. She had to have more than the warrior’s kiss.

Xena was lost in their kiss. There was something savage in Gabrielle that called to her. Her own sex contracted in yearning. She envisioned moving inside the bard, pumping her hot fingers into the young woman’s quivering body. In response to her vision, she slid her hand down Gabrielle’s torso. She felt driven to touch her lover’s burning clitoris, to bring her to orgasm. It would take only a few strokes and this would end. Her fingers glided over the slippery wetness on the bard’s thigh. She was almost there.

Gabrielle dug her short nails into the warrior’s back. Xena winced and broke their kiss. She opened her eyes and looked down at her tormented lover. Her head cleared. The entity had nearly won, nearly taken her in. For those few moments she had lost control. She pulled her hand back as if she had been bitten and shuddered.

Gabrielle was awash with emotion, tears rolled down her face. Xena gently wiped them away. The warrior’s touch felt like both a mercy and a punishment. Her hunger gnawed at her as she teetered on the verge of climax. It seem that even the gentle pressure of bringing her legs together would plummet her over, but Xena knelt between them making even that impossible.

Gabrielle was weeping. Her entire body trembling with need. Xena hugged her tight, trying both to comfort and pin the bard’s hands to her sides, afraid of what she might attempt.

Gabrielle pleaded. Her voice ragged. "It hurts..., Xena, please... it hurts..." Her voice broke as her body stiffened in utter anguish. Her words sliced through the warrior heart.

The bard’s pain-filled cries tore at her very soul. She threw her head back, futilely trying to block out the agonizing noise. Her own hands, that could have given her relief from the sound, held the thrashing bard in place. Xena felt an intense burning as tears overflowed her eyes. She tried to focus, steeling herself for the anguish she would find in the bard’s features.

The warrior could not believe her eyes. She blinked rapidly to clear her vision. Gabrielle’s cheeks were smeared with red tears. The moment had come. She locked her mouth to the bard’s and parted her lips savagely with her tongue. With all her strength, she drew the breath out of Gabrielle. Their bodies ground against each other, breast against breast. Through their kiss Xena felt a current of erotic torment surge into her with such force that she was knocked off the bed onto the floor.

Gabrielle was free.


She blinked her eyes and tried to clear her head. Her heart hammered furiously in her chest and her body ached, but her will was once again her own. Xena had saved her and now she had to do the same for the warrior. But how could she hope to control her? She glanced down at her lover.

The warrior lay against the wall. Her head lolled to one side. She could feel the entity surging through her, spreading it’s tentacles throughout, taking control. It left no part of her untouched. Her body was shocked and throbbing, alive as never before. A tingling began at her scalp and spread rapidly over the surface of her body. Her skin pulsed with energy. Every cell screamed for attention. The force spoke to her seductively, tempting her with promises of rapture. It was power and she wanted to embrace it. She would have release.

Xena’s head raised. Her eyes blazed with an enchanted light. The entity would not be denied. Immediately, she focused on the bard. Her flesh quivered at the sight of the naked woman. Xena was on her feet instantly, moving toward her. The warrior’s desire pulsed within her like a second heart. Her sex felt full, wet, and hungry.

"Take me... now!" The savageness of her command left no doubt that she would have what she needed.

The ferocity of her gaze and the aggressiveness of her movements startled Gabrielle. She stood and cautiously backed away. Xena advanced, pushing her roughly against the wall. Gabrielle was not physically capable of handling the powerful warrior. She stood naked and vulnerable, back against the wall. Her bare hands raised before her were her only protection. She tensed, bracing herself for Xena’s assault.

Something in the bard’s expression stopped the warrior cold. She saw fear. Xena backed away, burying her face in her hands. Gabrielle eased her defenses. She knew Xena was there, fighting for control.

"Gabrielle, help me... I..."

The warrior’s body trembled. Xena feared for her lover’s safety. What would she do to the young woman if the entity succeeded in overpowering her?

Gabrielle gently took her hand and slowly lead her to the bed. "We can do this... stay with me Xena... keep fighting!" The warrior lay flat on her back, eyes closed, jaw set, hands balled into fists. Her neck was corded with tension. Her body quaked from her effort to maintain control. Gabrielle slowly straddled her leg.

"I love you, Xena" She raised her lover’s left arm, stretching it over the warrior’s head. Her thumbs tenderly caressed the inside of Xena’s wrist. Gradually, the warrior relaxed, her fingers slowly uncurled. Gabrielle gently molded Xena’s fingers around the left side of the headboard. She loving repeated the procedure with the right hand. The warrior lay with her arms above her head, her hands gripping opposite corners of the wooden bed frame. She clung to the bed, grateful for something solid to hold on to.

"Yes, that’s right... hold on... I’m going to help you." Gabrielle’s tone was soothing. She brushed Xena’s neck with her lips and whispered in her ear. "I would die for you... don’t give in, I need you."

The warrior’s limbs trembled. But, she held tight to the bed as commanded; her knuckles white. She gazed up at the young woman. Her eyes fixed on the thick golden hair of Gabrielle’s sex, glistening with moisture. The hunger called to her.

She could feel the bard’s touch everywhere. Fingers lingered on her skin: stroking, tormenting, possessing. She was on fire. Her breast exploded in sensation as they were licked, suckled, bitten. Her naked sex throbbed between her legs. She understood now that her hunger was not born of a day of torment, but of years longing. Her body swayed, undulating in response to her lover’s caresses. A part of her mind reasoned that she need not be rendered so helpless. If she let go, she could take control, have what she wanted. It would be so easy. Still, she did not give in. Her lips moved in a silent chant as she fought the entity with her entire being, ‘love you... love you...’

Xena’s sex was flushed and throbbing with pleasure. Her resistance was weakening. She spread her heavily muscled thighs and pumped her hips, issuing a silent invitation to her lover. She groaned as Gabrielle’s fingers entered her wet vagina. Her limbs froze. She needed this sweet contact more than air. Her hips lunged to swallow her lover’s probing fingers and moaned as they went deeper, plunging forward then almost out. Xena was on the edge of the most delicious agony If Gabrielle touched her clitoris, she would be lost, incapable of restraint. Mercifully, her lover slid out.

Gabrielle pressed her mouth to Xena’s. Instantly she yielded opening to the bard. Gabrielle held her tightly, trying to calm the warrior’s passion. But, tide could not be turned. Xena’s body boiled with heat. The sound of her own blood roared in her ears. Something snapped deep inside the warrior, she stiffened. She let go of the bed and pulled Gabrielle’s knee between her legs. She churned against it in a rhythmic motion. Gabrielle pushed away with all her strength, breaking free. Xena sat up. Her eyes shone with lust. This young woman was simply the means to an end.

"I’m done playing..."

Xena straddled the bard’s waist and raised up on her knees. She grabbed the young woman’s wrist and pulled her hand toward her. Gabrielle was helpless against the warrior’s strength. She closed her hand into a fist, struggling futilely.

"Xena, you can’t make me do this."

"We’ll see." Xena smiled and forced the young woman’s fingers to uncurl. "I *will* have what I desire."

Gabrielle looked into her companion’s eyes searching for traces of the woman she loved. "Xena, please...fight. I know we can beat this."

She had lost. The warrior’s eyes glazed over as she pulled the bard’s hand closer...

There was a violent knocking at the door. Ephiny was yelling. "Xena, Velasca’s coming!" Gabrielle’s adrenaline rushed. She struggled to free her wrist from Xena’s hold.

"Ephiny, help me!" She cried.

The door burst open, banging against the wall loudly. Xena released Gabrielle’s hand and shifted to face the intruder. Gabrielle quickly rolled away.

Ephiny went to Xena and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Velasca has come for Gabrielle."

Gabrielle quickly slipped her shift over her head. "Ephiny, It’s in Xena now. The entity is controlling her." The warrior moaned and reached for the bard.

Gabrielle turned to her. "Xena, I need you. Velasca is here!"

She didn’t hear the bard’s words. She gazed at the young woman like a predator. "Now... I need *you* NOW!" She grabbed Gabrielle, intent only on her needs. Ephiny watched horrified, but waited for her friend’s signal.

Gabrielle tried desperately to get through to her. She held the warrior’s chin, forcing Xena to meet her eyes. "She’s going to kill me. Please... help me!"

The warrior grimaced, locked in an intense struggle with the entity. She knew her lover was is great danger.

Gabrielle turned to Ephiny, near panic. "Does she know we are here? Can we hide?" Her physical resources were completely depleted. She was going on mere adrenaline.

Ephiny looked at Gabrielle sadly. "She’s in the village... there’s no time." The regent’s heart sank. She was powerless to help her friend.

Gabrielle sprang into action. "Help me get her into this shift. We have to get her out of here." Xena sat motionless as Gabrielle slipped the shift over her head. Her face contorted in pain, the casual contact was torture. Then came the sound that made the bard’s blood run cold.

"Gabriiieeelle, I know your here. If you come out now, I won’t torch the entire village." Tears welled in the bard’s eyes. She knew she had to go. Her pain came from the knowledge that she was sacrificing Xena. She knew that the warrior would die a terrible death in the clutches of the entity. Xena was bound to Gabrielle and would never find peace without her.

Velasca’s voice boomed. "Gabrielle, this is your last chance." Ephiny felt her friends anguish and grasped her hand.

"Ephiny, I have to go." Xena sat as if in a trance. The bard longed to hold her, to express her love but knew it would be agony for her partner. She stood and handed Xena’s sword to the regent. "Promise me ... you’ll put her out of her misery, if it comes to that." Tears rolled down the young woman’s cheeks.

Her eyes silently pleaded for a confirmation. "I promise." Ephiny’s voice caught in her throat, barely audible. Gabrielle nodded and stepped outside to face her enemy.


"Velasca, don’t hurt anyone. I’m here."

" So brave," she quipped, her face contorted in hatred. "But this time I will be the hero, ridding the Amazons of an ineffective figurehead and restoring myself to position I was born to hold." She looked coldly at Gabrielle. "And you... you will endure the same death you planned for me." She grabbed the bard roughly by the arm, twisting it cruelly. Gabrielle groaned in pain.

Before Ephiny could stop her, Xena was on her feet, moving swiftly toward Velasca. Her outstretched hands, her only weapons. Velasca saw her coming, but barely had time to react. The warrior was within three feet when the god hit her with a bolt of energy square in the chest. Xena’s body was thrown back a couple hundred feet, falling limp and unconscious to the ground. Her shift was smoldering. Gabrielle cried out and tried futilely to wrench free of the god’s grasp. Ephiny ran to Xena.

Velasca laughed. "You mortals are no match for me."

Ephiny kneeled beside the warrior. "She’s alive."

The god pointed a warning finger at the regent. "If you know what’s good for the village, you won’t try to interfere." She grabbed the bard and both women faded from view.

Solari ran to Ephiny’s side awaiting her command. "Gather volunteers, we’re going after her."

"But, how can we follow?"

"I know where she’s taking Gabrielle. She’s going to throw her into the lava." Solari had no trouble recruiting women. In no time, she had rounded up some of their bravest warriors for what she feared would be a suicide mission. She approached the regent.

"Solari, you don’t have to come."

"You said volunteers. I want to fight alongside my sisters. It’s you who should remain behind. If we fail, the village will need you."

"This is our best chance to defeat Velasca. If we fail, I’ll be her next target."

Solari gripped Ephiny’s arms. Their eyes met in mutual respect. "Then we must succeed."

"Get Argo. We’re bringing Xena with us."

Solari could not help but question her friend’s wisdom. "What can she possibly do? She may not even regain consciousness."

"If she does, no one will fight harder to save Gabrielle."

The Amazons were ready.


"You don’t have long to live now, Gabrielle."

The bard was resigned to her fate, her only hope was that the others would survive. "Give me your word you won’t harm the Amazons."

"Oh, I won’t harm them, not if they follow my commands. The Amazon nation will rise to greatness under my rule. They will once again be a force to be reckoned with."

As they broke through the woods, Gabrielle’s stomach lurched. The acrid stench of the steam rising from molten river below, triggered the memory of her brush with death. It looked as it had seasons before. The rope bridge had been reconstructed. She could still remember the intense heat, burning her skin as she had dangled helpless over the lava.

She was torn from the unpleasant memory as Velasca roughly pushed her toward the bridge. "Let’s try this again, shall we? Get out to the middle!"

Gabrielle began slowly edging her way across the bridge. When she reached the middle, she bravely turned to face her enemy.

"Going to beg for your life again?"

"Would it do me any good?"

"No. This time I will have my revenge. There is no Xena to save you. Say good-bye Gabrielle."

As Velasca raised her hand to release a ball of energy, six arrows struck her in the back. She whirled around in a rage and hurled a bolt in the direction of her attackers. The hidden archers fled the brush as it exploded in fire. More arrows hit their mark, making the god spin to face the aggressors. Again, she released her power.

"Ephiny, you will regret this!" As the brush burned around her, the god yanked the arrows from her body. The uninjured fighters, led by Ephiny and Solari rushed her.

Velasca howled in rage and shot yet another bolt, hurling them back. She laughed as they landed like rag dolls in a helpless tangle on the ground. She was about to turn her attention to the bard when a lone figure appeared. Gabrielle saw her at the same instant as the god. It was Xena, bloody and battered. The white cotton shift was seared in the front where the bolt had hit her chest. It was covered in the warrior’s blood.

Xena’s face was void of expression, but her eyes glimmered with an unnatural aura, as she staggered toward the god. Velasca walked casually toward the unarmed woman, knowing she posed no threat. "Not quite yourself I see." Velasca smiled and swiftly backhanded the warrior. Xena was knocked to the ground from the force of the blow. She appeared to be unconscious.

Fearing for Xena’s life, Gabrielle screamed her name and tried to get to her. The warrior, driven by the sound of her lover’s voice, struggled to sit. She tried to get to her feet, but it was useless. She did not have the strength. Velasca smiled at the warrior’s feeble attempts and watched as Xena’s head lolled forward. She was defeated.

"I wouldn’t want you to miss the show." Velasca hissed as she grabbed the warrior and roughly leaned her against a boulder. She kneeled before Xena and tilted the warrior’s head back so that she could have a good view of Gabrielle’s death, smiling sinisterly at her handy work.

Suddenly, Xena’s arms locked around Velasca’s neck. She pressed her mouth to the gods and held on with all the strength she had left. Xena had caught her off guard. It was the last thing she had expected. The god was stunned by the warrior’s action and hesitated for a moment. In that instant, the entity slammed into her knocking her backward. Although free, Xena collapsed.

Velasca moaned, and struggled to her feet. She clutched her head, reeling from the sensations. The entity had entered the tissue of her lungs and was spreading rapidly through her body, taking possession. Ephiny staggered to her feet and approached the disoriented god. With one forceful kick, she pushed Velasca to the edge of the cliff. The god teetered on the edge. Her arms flailed wildly at she tried to regain her balance. Velasca’s efforts were futile. Ephiny threw one last punch that sent her hurling over the side and into the swirling molten liquid below.

Gabrielle held the motionless warrior in her arms. Blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. "Xena... please, don’t leave me." She gently rocked the battered woman, as her tears splashed on the warrior’s blood stained cheeks. Gabrielle gently wiped the moisture from her lover’s face. Xena’s dark lashes fluttered.



Gotcha! I knew you wouldn’t be able
to resist peeking. How do you like the
story so far?

Tell me: if Velasca hadn’t so rudely
interrupted us, would you have
forced me to take you?

Let’s end the story with a love scene,
Come find me; I need your inspiration.

your own private bard...


Xena winced, she had been caught in the act. She stood up from the bed. A smile lit up her face as she shook her head in disbelief. Gabrielle knew her better than she thought. It was clear that her worries about overwhelming the young woman with her passionate nature were unfounded. She set the parchment down on the table. "Mmmm... when I get my hands on you..." Her pulse raced. She headed out quickly to find her companion.



Part III


She looked everywhere for the young woman. Finally, the last person she spoke with gave her the clue she had been seeking. Gabrielle had talked about how hungry she was, and had been upset that the dining hall was closed. Xena smiled and headed for the kitchen. She walked through the deserted dining room and opened the door to the cooking area. The bard sat on a tall stool in front of a very large butcher block table. She was eating a piece of fruit with obvious delight.

Gabrielle saw the spark in the warrior’s eyes from where she sat. She put the fruit down. "You must have finished the story, huh." She smiled. Her eyes sparkled with anticipation. Xena walked slowly forward. The young woman’s breath caught as she watched the warrior advance toward her like a lioness.

The bard didn’t stand a chance. She could almost feel the heat rising off her lover’s body. Gabrielle swallowed hard. "So what did you think of the story?"

"I think," Xena said, lifting a brow, "that I won’t have to *force* you to do anything." She picked up the bard’s napkin by the corners and twirled it. She pulled the ends sharply, snapping it for effect. The bard’s eyes widened. "When I’m done, you’ll be begging me. Are you game?"

Gabrielle’s throat was so tight that she could not speak. She nodded eagerly. Xena smiled and covered the bard’s eyes with the twisted napkin, tying it firmly behind her head. She leaned in and tasted the bards lips, pulling back slowly. Her lips traveled up the young woman’s jaw line.

She breathed hotly into the bard’s ear. "Anything goes, Gabrielle The only rule is no peeking." She slowly began to untie the laces of the bard’s top. Xena’s energy was palpable. Gabrielle inhaled the warrior’s scent. She felt light headed. The dangling laces tickled her bare skin. She shivered. Xena smiled and laid her hands on the bard’s shoulders slowly caressing them. Then she casually pushed the garment down the bard’s muscled arms. Gabrielle trembled at the touch of Xena’s practiced hands.

"What do you have in mind?" she questioned, unable to keep the edge of excitement from her voice.

Xena did not reply. Instead she reached into the barrel of flour and grabbed two handfuls, hurling them on top of the wooden table behind the bard.

Gabrielle heard two soft pops of air as the flour hit the table top. She turned toward the sound trying to identify it. She could smell the sweet scent.

The flour covered the table in two giant star burst shapes. Xena pulled her up from the stool to a standing position. She ran her flour coated hands over the bard’s bare back, eliciting another shiver. Gabrielle moaned at the soft caress. Xena’s hands felt unusually silky.

She purred in delight. "Mmmm... what is that? It feels... wonderful." She squirmed against the warrior’s hands and nuzzled her lips against her lover’s neck. The heat of Xena’s skin thrilled her.

"What do your senses tell you?" The warrior paused, then lightly grazed Gabrielle’s nipples with her thumbs. The bard cried out, reveling in the incredible sensation. Xena whispered in her ear. "This game is about awareness. What do you feel?"

The bard concentrated. "It’s smooth but..." She grinned. "I need more." Xena smiled and brushed her eager nipples once again. "Mmm..." Gabrielle could feel them harden. She felt the tips lengthen, reaching out for more delicious attention and arched her back, silently urging her partner on.

"Again." Gabrielle’s voice was filled with passion.

"Yes... soon," the warrior promised. Gabrielle shifted, anxiously awaiting her lover’s next move.

Xena’s hands slid down to the bard’s waist and unfastened her leather belt. She snaked it around one wrist then across to the other, grazing her lover’s tight abdomen in the process. Gabrielle gasped. The bite of the leather as it curled against her skin excited her. She felt a pulling deep within as the moisture between her legs overflowed her lips. Xena chuckled at the young woman’s reaction and let the belt fall to the floor.

"Let’s save that... for later." The warrior’s fingers worked the tie on the bard’s skirt. She allowed the material to caress Gabrielle’s hips and bare legs as it slid down to pool at her feet.

Xena knelt before the nearly naked bard. The young woman’s breeches were all that stood between her and what she desired. She slid her hand up the anxious woman’s thigh and hooked her finger through the crotch.

"Hmmm, you’re ready, I see."

"Ohhh... yes, I..." Gabrielle started to answer, but the words dissolved when she felt her lover’s knuckle graze her swollen clitoris. Xena saw the bard’s body tremble in response and removed her hand.

"Oh, I’ll get back to that. I promise." Xena, slowly released the undergarment from the bard’s hips. Gabrielle shivered as she felt them glide down her legs.

Xena drank in the sight of the naked woman. Her golden skin was dusted with flour. Imprints of her hands were visible on various parts of her body. "You are so beautiful." She ran her fingers lightly up the sloping contours of Gabrielle’s waist and lifted her gently, setting her on the flour covered table. The young woman could feel a silky softness under her bottom.

The warrior knelt and removed the bard’s boots, gently massaging each foot. Gabrielle marveled at the sensuality of her lover’s touch. She moaned contentedly and laid back on the table. Xena reluctantly released the bard’s foot and stepped back. She watched with interest as Gabrielle took in her surroundings.

When Gabrielle moved, she could feel a cool smoothness against her skin. As she slid her arms across the surface of the table, she absorbed the sensations. The warmth of the fire radiated from across the room, and she envisioned the glowing embers. She was aware of an array of enticing aromas. If she listened carefully, she could hear Xena’s light footfalls as she walked around her. Occasionally the warrior brushed against her warm skin with cool fingers. The contrast in temperature made her shiver, the anticipation was maddening.

Xena quickly discarded her clothes. She gathered a few items from around the kitchen, putting them within arms reach on the table. After placing the full butter churn next to the fire, she returned to the bard’s side. Xena dipped into the flour again and smoothed it over her own breasts and across her abdomen.

With the blindfold in place, Gabrielle’s other senses were more alert. She was suddenly aware of sounds she had not noticed before. It made her anxious. "What if someone walks in?"

Although she could not see the warrior’s mischievous grin, she could hear the teasing lilt in her voice when she spoke. "I guess they will see their beautiful queen, being ravished by one very attentive warrior princess." Xena knelt on the floor at the end of the table between the bard’s feet.

"And when will this ravishing begin?" Gabrielle teased. Suddenly she felt the warrior’s fingers tighten around her ankles and took a ragged breath. Her body was slowly being pulled toward the edge of the table.

"Oh, you’ll know." Gabrielle’s body melted in response to her lover’s words. "There are so many things I want to do to you." A gasp escaped the young woman’s lips. She felt her lover’s hot breath agonizingly close to her center. The warrior placed the young woman’s toned legs over her broad shoulders and bent forward, giving her a most intimate kiss.

Gabrielle moaned, "Ohhhh... gods"

"I’m beginning" Xena said seductively, her excitement undeniable. She crushed a collection of fresh leaves between her fingers, causing them to release their juices.

"Do you want to know what it felt like to be enchanted?"

"Yes..." Gabrielle replied breathlessly. Her heart beat rapidly in anticipation.

"Relax and concentrate on the sensations." Xena coated the tip of her finger and gently applied it to each of the bard’s nipples. Initially it felt cool, but almost immediately she felt her breast suffused with heat. She arched into the feeling.

"Oh Xena, it’s incredible I..."

She clenched her teeth as the nerves of her nipples became highly sensitized. She squirmed and gripped the edges of the table. "Oh it’s... ahh." She felt as if she were being lightly stroked by a million feathers. It was a delectably titillating sensation. But not nearly enough to satisfy her. She groaned. Her back arched and fell, over and over. "I need more!"

The warrior immediately captured one nipple in her mouth then the other. The pressure of her tongue soothed the maddening itch, bringing Gabrielle closer to the ecstasy she sought. She thought she would climax, lose control. The touch of the warrior’s mouth on her breasts drove her wild. But, gradually, the sensations from the herbs receded. She was enveloped in a comforting warmth.

Gabrielle struggle to recapture her breath. "Gods, that was extraordinary."

"Do you want me to go lower?" Gabrielle swallowed and nodded.

Xena parted the young woman’s delicate lips, leaving her exposed. She applied a drop of the juice to her finger tip and grazed Gabrielle’s swollen clitoris. Gabrielle went rigid as a jolt of pleasure coursed through her. Soon , her entire being felt flooded with warmth. All of her senses had come alive. A low thrumming feeling centered in her sex, intensified with each second that passed. Her clitoris pulsed wildly. Then the teasing sensation began. She moaned, lifting her hips.

"I’ll lick it off, if you ask."

The sounds from her lips were unintelligible. Gabrielle thrust her hips toward the warriors voice. She could not form the words. Her mind was reeling.

The warrior bent forward, wrapping her arms around the bard’s thighs. She knew the bard would not be able to hold back. Moments after Gabrielle felt her lover’s hot tongue move against her, she came. Her body was quaking uncontrollably. She went rigid as wave after wave of pleasure washed over her. Xena held her tight as the aftershocks claimed her like mini orgasms. At last, her body calmed and she floated in the embrace of her lover’s arms. It was ecstasy. Bathed in the glow of Xena’s love, she drifted into a peaceful sleep.

Gabrielle awoke a half a candlemark later, feeling as if she had slept the entire night: completely rested and revitalized. Shifting in her lover’s arms, she was puzzled that her eyes could not penetrate the darkness and realized she was still wearing the blindfold. She raised her hands to remove it.

She felt her lover’s hands stop her. "Not yet." She breathed. "I’m not finished with you."

Gabrielle’s hands reached for Xena. She pulled the warrior to her for a passionate kiss. Xena gently broke the kiss and rose to retrieve the butter churn, placing it within reach. She dipped into it, checking the temperature. It was perfect. She stood beside the table and poised her hand over the bard, letting the warm liquid splash on her lover’s chest.

Gabrielle was startled at first, then relaxed into the sensation. The droplets felt like warm rain as they hit, leaving wet trails across her skin.

"That feels wonderful," The bard purred.

Again, Xena dunked her finger into the churn. This time, she let the warm liquid drip on the bard’s lips. She lightly sprinkled a chestnut colored powder over her finger and coated her lover’s lips, gently separating them as she put the tip of her finger in the bard’s mouth. Gabrielle moaned and swirled her tongue around the warrior’s digit. Xena’s slowly pulled back.

"Mmmm… cinnamon." She grinned. "Again…"

Xena smiled and began pouring the warm butter over her lover’s breasts. Gabrielle gasped at the sensation. It was like nothing she had ever experienced. It warmed her body to the core.

The warrior looked hungrily at her young lover’s body as it glistened in the firelight. She was a vision, tanned and greased. Her skin shone with a incandescent beauty. Xena bent down. She pressed her lips to the bard’s as their bodies slid sensually against each other.

The warrior straightened, standing before the bard. Gabrielle sat up and felt for her lover. She wrapped her legs around the warrior’s waist and glided up and down her lover’s torso, never breaking the kiss. Xena’s tongue caressed her own as their bodies, slippery and hot rubbed desperately against each other. Gabrielle was dizzy with pleasure. She pulled back, breathing heavily.

"I want to see you… please."

Xena reached behind the young woman’s head and untied the blindfold. Gabrielle eyes remained closed, awaiting a signal from her lover. Xena brushed the stray hairs from her lovers’ face and lightly kissed each eyelid. Her hands traced the curves of Gabrielle’s body, coming to rest at the young woman’s waist.

Gabrielle placed her hands behind the warrior’s neck and slowly opened her eyes. Her first sight was Xena’s face. The blue eyes were locked to hers and the depth of the love Gabrielle saw there made her heart race.

"Set me down, I want to see, all of you."

Xena set the bard on the table and stepped back. She watch as Gabrielle’s eyes devoured her. There was no mistaking the bard’s passion for her.

The young woman was stunned by the raw sensuality before her. The warrior’s body gleamed in the faint light. It was a vision the bard would never forget. Emotions welled up inside. Gabrielle had never wanted anything this much. She tried to clear her throat. Her voice was barely a whisper.

"Come here." Her voice was smoldering.

Xena’s approach was slow, deliberate. She stood like a goddess before the young woman. Gabrielle’s hand traced the swell of the warrior’s hip. She caressed the warrior’s silky thigh with the back of her hand and slowly dipped her fingers between her lover’s legs.

Xena gasped as she felt the bard’s gentle fingers slip across her sex. She slowly rolled her hips, encouraging the young woman. To her dismay, Gabrielle removed her fingers, examining them in the firelight. They sparkled with Xena’s essence. She was barely able to restrain herself from taking them into her mouth. The aroma was intoxicating. She reached for her lover, slowly painting each of the warrior’s nipples, reveling in their silky softness. They hardened instantly under her gentle touch.

Xena sighed and let her head fall back. Gabrielle teased the delicate points with her fingers, driving the warrior wild. She pumped them gently. The warrior moaned, raising her head. Her eyes were hooded in pleasure. But, Gabrielle wanted Xena’s full attention. She paused and waited for Xena’s eyes to slowly focus on her.

As Xena watched, Gabrielle’s pulled her closer.

The warrior’s breast was so close to Gabrielle’s mouth that a full breath would cause her nipple to brush the bard’s moist lips. She began to inhale, but froze as she saw the tip of her lovers tongue extend forward. What little air she had been able to collect was forced from her as the young woman teasingly flicked the tip. Immediately Gabrielle leaned in, taking the nipple fully into her mouth. It was electric. Xena’s eyes snapped shut as ripples of pleasure shot through her. Gabrielle suckled each breast as if it were her only sustenance. Soft sounds of pleasure escaped Xena’s throat. The warrior’s hips began to move in response to her increasing desire.

Gabrielle gradually became aware of the gentle rocking and pulled back to watch the sensual motion. Her lover groaned at the loss, anxious to resume the irresistible contact. Gabrielle discovered if she moved forward a few inches, her knee would be positioned directly under Xena’s dark mound. She picked up the bucket of warm butter and poured it over her own thigh. When she glanced up she saw her dark-haired lover gasp. Xena realized what Gabrielle intended to do.

She inched forward on the table and brought her knee between Xena’s legs. Gabrielle locked eyes with her lover and firmly grabbed the warrior’s hips. Xena grasped the bard’s shoulders as her knees went weak. A hoarse cry wrenched from her depths as the bard slowly glided Xena’s sex along her slippery thigh and back again. The warrior was delirious as the bard gradually quickened her pace.

Xena’s face was the picture of rapture that enveloped her. She was gasping for breath, allowing more of her weight to rest on the bard’s hot thigh, in an effort to increase the pressure against her throbbing center. Gabrielle knew Xena was close, but could not bear for it to end. Slowly, she slid off the edge of the table, removing the exquisite pressure of her thigh. Xena’s mouth was agape. Her eyes opened in a silent plea.

"I want to taste you." The bard whispered.

Gabrielle maneuvered the warrior so that Xena was backed against the table. She offered no resistance as the bard eased her back. Her legs dangled helplessly over the edge. Gabrielle spread Xena’s knees apart and kneeled between them.

"Oh, Gabrielle..."

"Yes…soon, very soon." The bard let two fingers glide the length of Xena’s sex. She separated her fingers, nestling the warrior’s swollen clitoris between them. She glided the digits back and forth, creating an incredible friction. Xena’s hips lifted off the table. She groaned.

"Yes…don’t stop…ohh." Gabrielle continued stroking her lover. She felt Xena begin to tremble. As she bent to taste the warrior, she moved her fingers to Xena’s entrance, slowly gliding deep within. She pulled backed to her entrance and stilled her motions. Her attention was now focused on her lover’s engorged clitoris, which she gently sucked. Xena was overwhelmed with sensation as the bard’s fingers thrust inside her once again.. Xena tossed her head from side to side and went rigid as the powerful climax over took her. She erupted in pleasure, pushing her hips against Gabrielle’s hot mouth. It went on and on, rocking her to her very core.

When her spasms subsided, Gabrielle rested beside her. Cradling the spent warrior in her arms, she felt the warrior give in to the euphoria and fall asleep. It was nearly a candlemark before Xena returned to her and opened her eyes.

"Do you have any idea what you do to me?"

The bard blushed. The idea that she could return half the pleasure Xena gave her filled her with joy. "I love you Xena, with all my heart."

The warrior kissed her tenderly. "And I you."

Xena glanced out the window at the sky. "We had better get baths. There are only a few candlemarks until dawn."

Gabrielle sat up and looked around the room. It was a mess. She winced. "I’m going to have to wake up early and come back to clean this up." Xena lifted a brow.

"What was that look?" She asked teasingly.

Xena smiled. "Nothing"

"Come on, I know that look. You don’t think I’ll be able to get up early."

"Well, you usually are pretty hard to wake up and it is pretty late," Xena replied delicately. Gabrielle knew that her partner was probably right but hated to admit it.

"I’ve been getting better, you know."

Xena grinned. "Hmm... okay, if you say so."

"Just because I don’t wake up at the crack of dawn like *some* people."

"It takes a little discipline. That’s all."

"Okay, I’ll admit discipline isn’t easy for me. Just like letting loose isn’t easy for you."

"What do you mean? I can be loose, even playful."

"Hmm... okay, if you say so." Gabrielle turned her back to the warrior and grinned wickedly. She reached into the flour barrel, grabbing two handfuls. As quickly as she was able she hurled them at the warrior. Xena saw her just in time but when she attempted to move she lost her footing in the butter on the floor. The flour caught her on the side of the face and squarely on the chest.

She looked menacingly at the bard.

Gabrielle lifted her arms in a defensive move. "You said you were playful." The sight of Xena half cover in butter and flour started her laughing uncontrollably. Xena lunged toward the bard, and would have had her, but she slipped once again.

"I *will* get you," Xena grinned.

Gabrielle took off running toward the baths buck naked, the echoes of her laughter trailing behind her. Xena smiled. For her, life could not be any better. She gathered up their clothing and quickly followed.


Xena had been awake for nearly a candlemark but could not force herself to untangle from her lover’s limbs. They fit together so perfectly. The bard nuzzled into the warrior’s chest and sighed contentedly. "Are you up?" The young woman mumbled.

"Yeah, I’ve been up awhile. Watching you sleep."

Gabrielle looked into the warrior’s eyes. "I’m glad I don’t snore. I’d hate to think of you awake, listening to me." Xena wasn’t about to tell the bard she did indeed snore. She found it endearing. The soft whistling sound had comforted her through many rough nights. She leaned down and kissed the bard tenderly.

They were interrupted by a knock on the door. Xena jumped out of bed and slipped her shift over her head. She quickly tossed a robe to Gabrielle. She donned a stony expression and opened the door.

"Good morning, Ephiny."

"Morning, Xena." Ephiny glanced at Gabrielle, still in bed.

"I just wanted to let you know that breakfast will be delayed this morning. It seems someone broke into the kitchen last night and made a mess of things. Serena, our cook is hopping mad. She is looking to have the guilty party’s head on a platter by lunch time.

Gabrielle glanced at Xena with a guilty look. Xena’s face remained unreadable. "Any leads on the perpetrators?" She asked innocently.

"No there were no clues left in the kitchen. There were however, two sets of flour footprints leading to the baths."

"Could have been anyone." Xena offered.

"Yeah," Ephiny answered, giving the warrior a wry expression. "Anyone who wears a short green top." The regent handed the flour covered top to Xena.

Gabrielle blushed bright red and Xena could not contain a smile. The warrior took the top from Ephiny. "Thanks for covering for us. Things got... a little out of hand."

"Uh huh... I see that." She let her face break into a warm smile. "I’m happy... for both of you."

Gabrielle got up and hugged her friend. "Thanks Ephiny... for everything." She gave her a knowing wink. Xena stood uncomfortably, awkwardly holding the bard’s top.

Ephiny turned to go. "I’ll leave you two alone. But, I hope you will refrain from using the dining facilities for anything except eating in the future."

"Right," Gabrielle said, looking properly chastised. Ephiny shook her head as she closed the door. She had a feeling things would never be dull when these two visited from now on.

Gabrielle flashed an accusatory look at the warrior.

"Don’t look at me... I was eating."

Gabrielle tossed a pillow at her. "Very funny."

Xena caught it easily and walked toward the bard, holding the pillow menacingly.

Gabrielle had yet to win a pillow fight against the warrior, so she retreated until the backs of her legs bumped the bed. The warrior gently pushed her down, gracefully slipping the pillow under the young woman’s head as she fell.

"So you never did tell me what you thought of my story."

"I think I did... and quite graphically, at that." Xena replied as she lounged languidly beside her.

Gabrielle grinned. "Hmm, yes. I have never received such a… stimulating critique."

Xena looked at the bard mischievously, raising her eyebrow. "But, there were parts that seemed highly exaggerated. "

"Like what?"

"Fifteen orgasms?"

"Oh, that" Gabrielle blushed. "Well, it’s something to shoot for." She winked at the warrior. I’m up to the challenge, if you are."

The warrior became thoughtful as her eyes took in the beautiful body of her young lover, devouring every inch. Xena smiled. Of course, she was.


The end....

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