Conclusion

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"Well look who finally decided to show up..." whispered Xena into her bards' ear, pointing in the direction of the pair now casually strolling arm in arm across the compound. "Oooooo and will you look at the poop-eating grins on their faces!"

"Xena!" said the bard as she quickly grabbed the warrior's arm and steered her in the opposite direction..."Oh no you don't! You are going to leave them be dear, and get that 'I'm going to tease the Hades out of them' look off your face this instant!"

"Me?" replied Xena. "Come now Gabrielle, I would never do anything like that...." She shot the queen an innocent grin as she turned back toward the duo.

"Yes you. Oh, and don't think you are fooling me for one minute missy! I know you are just DYING to go give them grief!" said the bard, turning Xena around again. "Besides...after your hectic workout at the training grounds with Pony this afternoon, I do believe you need a good scrub down in the bath hut oh Warrior Princess of Sweat."

"Gabrielle....now now...." admonished the warrior. "You know I have gone far longer without a bath than just a half-day...."

"Oh yes...BELIEVE me I know...and that is the EXACT reason we are going to go get you washed up now." stated the bard matter-of-factly. "Didn't you ever wonder why I kept my distance from you on certain days? You know what they say...'Cleanliness is next to Godliness." She gave her warrior a push toward the awaiting mineral springs.

"Godliness? Please don't bring them into this or you will never get me NEAR that hut!"

"Oh please..." said the bard. And with that she gave her lover a last shove towards the one place that would allow her nose a chance to recover...

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It was dusk and the ceremony would begin when the moon reached its' highest point in the clear night sky. They walked together toward Cal's hut staring at the stars and each other.

"You know Eph...." said the warrior...."I've really never looked at the stars before. I had no idea a night sky could be so entrancing. In the last couple of days, I realized exactly all that I have been missing." She sighed. "I remember when I made Xena confess her crimes in some no-name city, in front of all those strangers....I think that was that moment in time when it started to get through to me that everything I was doing was wrong...." A pause. "And when I think of the cruel joke I made about Gabrielle's husband..." She shivered.

"Dearest...." whispered the regent..."Don't be so hard on yourself. We all make bad choices in our lives, but all we can do is learn from our mistakes and move on. You shouldn't punish your soul for what is in the past, especially when so much can be learned from it." She leaned over and gave her lover a quick peck on the cheek. "Besides.....look how it all turned out..." She smiled warmly. "I think The Fates have worked in our favor, don't you?"

Callisto smiled back and sighed again. "Alright already...I see your point. I'll try not to do that in the future."

"Good." stated Ephiny. "Because I don't want to see you beating yourself up over something we can't change now. The future is ours to make, so I propose we make it the best future we can."

"Agreed." replied Callisto. "But Eph? I have to ask that you take it easy on me for a little while....I mean, I'm a goddess, and my senses are a tad more heightened than yours are. Gods woman, you almost killed me back there in the woods!"

A full scale blush crept up onto Ephiny's face. "I'm....ummm...sorry..." She giggled nervously. "It's just that.....ummmm.....I couldn't help myself! I never intended for it to go that far...just you looked so...what's the word I'm looking for....irresistable....yes that's it!" A pause. "I wanted to make you feel good....show you just what you mean to me Cal." The regent suddenly felt very awkward, and turned her eyes away.

"Eph....hey....don't feel guilty. I loved every moment of it." said Cal. "I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have never felt anything so right in my life...really. I'm just saying that if it's always going to be like that between us, I don't know how many times a day I can handle it!" She laughed as they neared her hut. She leaned over close to the regent and dropped her voice...."But I never said I wasn't willing to find out just how many times the limit is...." She let her tongue trace Ephiny's earlobe and was pleased at the shiver she felt go through the woman's body.

"Cal honey...if you keep that up, I'm sure we will be late for your induction ceremony."

"Would that be such a great loss?" inquired the warrior.

"Well......certainly not my loss...." She giggled again. "Come on, let's get you ready." she said as they entered Cal's hut.....

"You know...." said Solari as she and Eponin watched the exchange from across the courtyard...."I could swear Aphrodite is putting in a lot of overtime around here as of late...."

"Oh yeah?" replied the weaponsmaster. She stopped her work on the preparations for the nights' festivities...."That would explain many things."

"Such as?"

"Ohhhhhh nothing....ummmm just an observation."

"Is that so?" said Solari.

"Yeah that's so. What did you mean by that?" said Pony as she went back to her task tying off the posts for the podium.

"Nothing...nothing at all." She cast a sidelong glance at Ep, silently appreciating the way the woman's muscles moved as she worked. 'Nothing at all...Yeah right!' she mused to herself as she went back to her tasks with a very devilish grin on her face.

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The drums began beating as Ephiny escorted her through the crowd. She couldn't remember ever feeling so good inside...so excited about anything. Two days ago she was a wanton killer of men, women and children....today? The thought of it was almost enough to make her lose her lunch. She pushed the horrid thoughts from her mind and straightened her stance as they neared the podium. 'Yesterday doesn't matter...it's what I do from now on that counts.' They reached the stairs and proceeded to climb them. She stole a quick look at Ephiny. 'What a beautiful woman.' she thought. 'And a courageous one at that! I can't believe she wants to be with me...after all I have done.' She sighed softly.

Ephiny chose that moment to give her shoulder a gentle squeeze as she met her new lover's eyes. Acceptance...pride...love....it was all there for Callisto to see. They reached their spots and the drums stopped. A few seconds later the rythmic beating began again as the queen made her entrance.

Cal's eyes swept toward the oncoming procession....'Whoa!' she thought...'That's Gabrielle? Oh I have definitely been blind the last couple years! She really isn't a kid anymore.'

Indeed Gabrielle looked every bit the Amazon Queen. She could feel the inner strength practically rolling off the bard the closer she got. And there was Xena, at her immediate side, carefully scanning the area to make sure no one tried anything funny. 'Typical.' She smiled inwardly.

The procession finally made it to the podium and took their places. The pounding of the drums stopped...Gabrielle turned to the crowd and began....

"Sisters of Arboria....As most of you already know, Callisto has petitioned to join our great Nation. The council has met and agreed on this." She turned back towards Callisto and Ephiny. "Who sponsors this warrior?"

"I do." said the regent stepping forward and kneeling before her queen, raising her token in two hands.

Gabrielle took the token, holding it up and and turning around so all could see it, as Ephiny returned to her place.

A woven leather shoulder strap in purple and gold lay draped between the queen's slender fingers. Cal's eyes popped out in suprise as Gabrielle lowered her arms and crossed over to the blonde warrior. She felt a gentle pressure on her shoulder encouraging her to kneel, and she did so.

"Callisto of Sirra....You have petitioned for acceptance into the Amazon Nation. What do you swear?" inquired the queen.

Cal looked up into the softest green eyes. They gave her courage to find her voice and she spoke....

"I swear to defend the Nation with my life, to live with honor, and respect all my sisters. I swear fealty to you my Queen and never another. My sword is yours to command until my dying day." She bowed her head.

"Rise sister of Arboria." said Gabrielle.

Cal rose slowly, and the bard took a step forward to attach the strap to her outfit. "Let this emblem signify your rank among our people." She attached the strap to Cal's left shoulderpiece and turned back to the crowd....

"Sisters, I present to you your new Captain of the Queen's Guard. Please accept her with open arms."

With that Ephiny led her to the front of the podium and raised their joined hands for all to see. The village erupted in joyous hoots and applause that didn't die down for quite a few minutes.

Cal couldn't keep the beaming smile off her face. This was definitely going to be added as one of the best moments in her life...one that would not be forgotten ever. Her thoughts were interrupted as Ephiny raised her free arm to finally try and calm down the crowd.

"Sisters!" shouted the regent above the din..."Attention! May I please have your attention for a moment more!"

The crowd quieted considerably as Ephiny patiently waited.

"Tonight's celebration is more than just an induction party." she continued. "I stand before you and ask that you not only accept Callisto as one of us, but as my consort."

Gabrielle's jaw hit the floor, followed by Solari's, then Eponin's...and then everyone else's, except for Xena who just smirked.

The regent continued..."I understand what some of you might think, but in that respect I ask you this...you know me, and you know I do not make rash decisions." She looked at Cal. "This woman is no longer the person we once knew, but a caring and loving individual. One that I care very much about. I cannot explain what has happened to my heart so quickly, but I can honestly say this feels right, and I ask that you support us on this."

There was dead silence, Then she heard two sets of hands begin to applaud....she looked over and Gabrielle winked at her, her eyes twinkling and the regent knew the grilling session would not be far off. Xena just smiled that winning smile and kept clapping. Soon the village was in uproar again, applauding wildly and enthusiastically.

During this whole speech Callisto could do nothing but stand there and be in shock while sporting a truly goofy grin on her face.

Ephiny again motioned for quiet and proceeded..."The joining will occur one moon from tonight on the eve of the summer solstice. Thank you sisters for your support." She bowed and turned to Cal, meeting her eyes and lifting their still entwined fingers to her lips, placing a gentle kiss upon them. "I love you." she said simply.

A single tear began its' trek down Callisto's cheek, and she closed her eyes in order to imprint this memory into her mind forever. She felt Ephiny reach over to softly wipe that tear away, and opening her eyes, she found herself falling into the regent's own, her heart feeling as if it would burst from the intensity. At a total loss for words she did the only thing she could think of....she raised her free arm to caress the regents' face and pulled her close, into a kiss full of love and commitment. The crowd once again broke into applause, and the drums began in earnest signaling the start of the celebration.

As the kiss ended, Callisto spoke softly to the regent. "A new beginning...." She smiled.

"Yes." replied Ephiny smiling back. "Together."

And with that they descended from the platform and into the throng of well-wishers.

The End

Author's Note:

Well I hope u all enjoyed my little story as much as I enjoyed writing it for u! Like I stated at the beginning, this was the first piece of FanFic I have ever written, so please be gentle as I re-learn the bardic skills I haven't used since my school days. (hehe) I like to think it's like riding a bicycle...the more u do, the easier it gets, and once it's inside u it only takes a little while to resurface. ;)

It looks as if Alexiares and myself will be combining our efforts on the next story...should be quite interesting as we are now throwing ideas back and forth as to how to integrate our characters and plotlines. I don't have a date as to when u will see the first few parts show up, but if i have my way, I'm sure u all wont have to wait too long hehehe.

I thank u again for taking the the time to read "Diary", and a special thank u goes out to all who wrote me with encouragement to keep going. Lexi, u crazy bard...couldnt have done it without u! And Ted, Skip and Jenny...I owe u all thanks. Until next time.......

Rachel

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