Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all other associated with the television series of the same name are owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Subtext: I guess with my writing so far we'll just quit calling it subtext and call it maintext. Yes they are in love with each other.
Violence: Just a little.
Other: Part nine in the series "Raising Melosa".
A Mothers Love
I knew what I was walking into when I kissed my wife and children good-bye. I knew she would help me because just like my wife she always did what was right. I wouldn't be able to hold her bitterness towards me against her, after all; I had robbed her of her sight. I had my men hold her down while personally poured the sumac oil in her eyes. Then I had her tied to a pole in my tent as I watched the oil take her vision. Through it all she never said a word.
I knocked on the door of the little farmhouse. An older man answered the door. "Xena. Shes expecting you."
I tried to smile at Tomar, but couldnt quite manage it. He was the village healer and the one who took charge of her when I left her here so many years ago. "How is she?"
"Same as always." He said as he closed the door after allowing me entrance.
"She knows why Im here then?"
"Of course." He led me to the back of the house. We stopped out side the door of a room. "Shes already had me pack her things and saddle her horse, but you had better talk to her to make sure its what you really want."
"I have to do this. My son needs her." I said quietly as I knocked lightly on the door.
"Come in Xena." Her voice rang out from the other side.
I took a deep breath and opened the door. She stood in the center of the room, looking exactly as she had so many years before. She was just about a half a head shorter than me. Short dark hair, dressed entirely in black from head to toe, including her trademark black gloves. She smiled at me and took a step forward. "You knocked. Youve gained manners. Must be the little queen that has trained you so well."
I hung my head and drew another deep breath before I spoke. "Youre willing to help my son?"
"You know I am. If you doubted it you wouldnt have come. You do know theres a price?"
"I suspected as much."
"Are you willing to pay it?"
"Yes." I said softly as I stepped forward. She removed her gloves and placed her hands over my eyes.
I settled myself into the saddle and leaned over to speak to my trusty Argo. "Take me home girl."
Argo started for home. She fell in behind me on her own horse. I wondered what demons this darkness would hold for me. It was just as before, when I had gotten sumac in my eyes. Only this time there would be no antidote, just as there hadnt been one for her.
"Ah Xena it really is a beautiful day. Thank you. Its been a long time since Ive actually seen the sun."
"Just remember our deal." I said as Argo continued on. I just let the reigns hang loose in my hand she didnt need me to guide her.
"Right. Tragic accident. What shall it be Your Highness? Saving a cartload of Hestian Virgins and orphans from going over a cliff?
"Very funny. Im sure we can come up with something before we get home." I growled. I was not in the mood for her humor.
"Okay, but we really must come up with something that it worthy of your new found honor."
"My new found honor as you call it isnt that new."
"Oh I know. Trust me you have been the subject of many nights of contemplation. I know a lot about you Warrior Princess. From the things youve done since you left me, to what you do with your little queen in the supposed privacy of your bedchamber. Shes can be quite the little fury between the sheets cant she?"
I reigned Argo and turned towards her voice. "Enough! You may say and do to me what you will. I deserve it, but you leave Gabrielle out of it. Do you understand me?" I could feel the rage building inside me. " She is my wife and the mother of my children and Queen of the Amazons and I wont have you disrespecting her. She has done nothing to deserve your wrath. Blind or not if you continue in this manner I will defend my wife, even if that means losing my life."
"All right, all right. Calm down. Youre right. Im sorry."
I turned around and nudged Argo who started down the road once again. My mind reeled as I realized I was never going to see my wife and children again. I would be with them but I would never see them grow. Melosa was still so small, almost two years and Kai was still a baby, just two months old now. I would have to remember them this way forever. Solan. His grandfather had helped him grow into the fine young man he was destined to be. He had even gifted him by allowing his body to catch up with his mind in years. Solan was almost twelve when he was taken and now he was nearly a grown man of almost seventeen. A fine young man who had aged five years in just one. He really did need her help now more than ever. I just hoped I would be able to live with my own choices.
We made the camp the first night. She made camp, I stumbled around until I was so frustrated I couldnt think straight. She finally sat me down and prepared everything. It was about a candle mark later when I heard her sit down across from me.
"Frustrating isnt it?" She asked. I heard put more wood on the fire.
"Yes. I had a brief experience like this a few years ago, but I was so focused on getting to Gabrielle that I didnt have time to think about "
"I know. I told you Xena I know just about everything. I saw you. I saw you fighting to get her out of that box before it was consumed by the flames and I saw the look on her face when she realized you couldnt see. It was heart breaking. She looked as if her world had just shattered. Im sure Ill see that look again in a few days."
"Youre enjoying this arent you?"
"Yes, yes I am Xena. I spent more than ten years of my life robbed of my sight because of you. Because of your petty fears, if you didnt understand something you destroyed it. You used your power to wreak havoc and instill fear and to destroy."
"You never feared me did you?" She placed a warm cup in my hands. I bought it up and sniffed the contents, tea.
"No I never feared you. Would you be surprised to learn that I let you do those things to me all those years ago because I knew it would bring us here, I knew that your son would need my help. While I may detest you I have a responsibility to him. Your son is part of my own destiny, a very important part."
I resisted the urge to question her. I knew she wouldnt tell me anyhow. She never would. That was one of the reasons I blinded her so many years ago. She would never answer my questions. She would just sit there and watch me. I just sipped my tea and continued to listen to her.
"So how does it feel to be amazon royalty?"
"Im not royalty. My wife and children are." I said quietly. As a vision of Ri, Melosa, Kai and Solan danced before the blackness and swirled in my minds eye, I smiled.
"Ah, but being married to the queen has its perks doesnt it?"
"What do you mean?"
"How many other families in the village have male children? Seems its good to be the queen and the queens consort."
"We dont live in the village. We were prepared to leave when Solan was returned to us, but the counsel wouldnt hear of it. Gabrielles leadership means a lot to her people."
"Yes she will lead them into great things. The amazon nation will never be forgotten because of your wife."
I couldnt help but laugh out loud.
"And just what is so damned funny?"
"Im not a great prophet and I could have told you that." I continued to chuckle as I finished my tea. I just loved it when someone underestimated my knowledge of my wifes importance.
We were almost home when I knew it was time for the inevitable. "Are you ready?" I asked as I carefully dismounted Argo.
"Oh Ive been looking forward to this for two days."
"Yeah Ill just bet you have." I heard her dismount and I could feel her drawing near.
"Just hold still. You wont feel a thing."
"Somehow I " The sound of my own ribs crunching drowned out the rest of my words as I felt myself flying backwards and the last sensation I had was hitting the ground, then nothing.
"Xe? Come on honey, wake up." I heard her soft soothing voice. I felt the warmth and comfort I knew was our bed. I sighed when I realized I was home. I felt a damp cloth being run over my forehead. Which was attached to my throbbing head.
"Bandits " I started.
"I know. Theran told use everything. Gods Im glad your safe."
I reached out and tried to find her.
"Xe whats wrong?"
"I cant see Ri." I heard her gasp as she took both of my hands and brought them to her lips and kissed them. Her lips were so soft against my rough skin. She placed her face between them and let me run my hands over her. I wiped the tears away with my thumbs. "Its going to be okay." I whispered as I pulled her down and kissed her.
She slowly pulled back from my kiss and I felt her hands on my face, gently caressing around my eyes. "Maybe its just the head wound." I heard the hope in her voice.
"Maybe " I said softly. "Ri where are the kids. I really want to " I knew what I had started to say, but stopped short not wanting to upset her.
"Theyre outside with Theran. Solan really seems to like her." She was trying to hide her frustration from me.
"Good. Shell teach him well. Bring them in. Please."
"Of course." She leaned over and kissed me again before leaving.
I tried to sit up and take inventory of my injuries. I could tell I had at least three cracked and one broken rib and a gash in my temple that was now bandaged. "Wont feel a thing." I muttered as I pulled myself up against the headboard of the bed.
Soon the door opened and I heard her. I smiled as the sound of the little feet running across the floor came so clearly to my ears. "Momma!" Melosa exclaimed as she climbed up onto the bed and into my arms. Oh, it hurt like Tartarus, but I wouldnt trade it for the world. I hugged her as she placed little kisses all over my face and wrapped her arms around my neck. "Missed you." She said as she buried her head in my neck.
"I missed you too Princess." I just held her there, close to me for a moment. "Have you been good?"
"Yes." She giggled as she wiggled down and settled next to me in the crook of my arm.
"Are you sure?" I teased as I ran my hands through her hair feeling its silky texture. It might be the color of mine, but it has the same feel as Ris.
"Well then Princess find my saddlebags theres a present in there for you."
I could feel her jerk up and start moving around the bed. I knew my saddlebags would be draped over the post at the foot of the bed. She bounded to the foot of the bed and began digging through the bags. I felt Gabrielle sit down next to me. She took my arm and bent it, laying Kai in my arms. I felt the tears rush forward, but I pushed them back by clenching my jaw. It remained clenched until I felt Ri caress my face. I smiled and nodded my head. I gently ran my hand over my sons face. He was sleeping. I could tell just because he was so still. When he was awake now he wiggled like a fish. Even in his sleep he found one of my fingers and wrapped his hand around it. I brought him up and inhaled the soft sweet scent that babies always have and kissed him on the forehead. "Love you my son." I whispered to him. I settled back against the headboard and continued to cradle Kai in my arms.
"Mommy look!" Melosa exclaimed. She must be showing her new toy to Ri. I could feel her climb back up the bed and into Ris arms. She continued to giggle.
"What is it sweetheart? What did Momma bring you?"
"Did you thank her?"
"Thank you Momma."
"Youre welcome sweetheart. Only the best for my princess." I extended my hand and Ri guided it to Melosas face so I could caress her cheek. "Why dont you take your bear outside and show it to Solan. Ill bet hed like to see it."
"Okay." I heard her hit the floor and go running from the room, yelling for her brother as she did.
I handed Kai back to Ri who left the bed. She returned very quickly and lay down next to me resting her head on my shoulder and gently placing an arm across my stomach. I put my arm around her and gave her a light squeeze.
"Xe what if your sight doesnt come back?"
"Ill manage." I sighed. I hated deceiving her, but all the Gods on Olympus wouldnt be able to help me if she ever discovered the truth.
"No well manage." She said as she kissed my jaw.
"Right." I tried to brighten for her sake. "So how goes it in the village? Have I missed anything exciting?"
"Well Eph is really ticked at you for taking your trip and missing the party for Kai."
"Oh that party wasnt for Kai. That was an excuse."
"Since when do amazons need an excuse?" She chuckled.
"Anyhow she says you can make it up to her when they have his naming festival. Itll be in a couple of weeks."
"I signed a new treaty with the village at the northern boarder thats going to give us lots of extra grain for winter storage."
"Great. What do they get?"
"Just a couple of extra patrols around the village."
"Nicely done Your Majesty." I kissed the top of her head.
There was a knock on the door. I heard it open. Gabrielle lifted her head. " Solan come in." I said very much to the surprise if my wife.
"How did you "
"I have ma.."
"ny skills " We finished together and she sat up. She continued, "Yeah, yeah, yeah well I know you two want to talk so Ill take Kai to his room and fix you something to eat. Youre going to need it if you want those ribs to heal up properly."
"Gabrielle you dont have to " I started.
She whispered in my ear. "Yes I do. Trust me." She gave me a quick kiss and was gone.
I drew a deep breath and patted the edge of the bed. Solan sat down and took my hand. "Oh boy this cant be good." I teased him. "You never hold my hand."
"Mother. Theran told us of your accident. How are you feeling?"
"Well Im having a little trouble focusing on anything at the moment " I joked. He chuckled, that was good. "What do you think of Theran?"
"Shes incredible Mother. Shes already taught me to block out things I dont want to hear."
I nodded. "Good Im glad to hear it. Shell teach you everything you need to know and then some Im sure."
"Yeah Im sure. Have you ever heard her story about the Hestian Virgin, the monkey and the "
"Solan!" I could actually feel myself blushing. Oh Gods. Im going to have to have a talk with that woman. "Yeah Ive heard that story. Dont tell that one in front of your mom."
"Oh I wont. Well anyhow, theres something I need to ask you."
"Alana and I umm " He stammered and got up.
I could hear him pacing back and forth at the foot of the bed. My son was in love, bad from the sound of it. "Go on. Out with it."
"Well Im thinking of asking for her mothers permission to court her."
"Oh you are huh?"
"Yes if its all right with you. Ive already asked mom, she says its all right with her if its all right with you."
"Solan youre very nearly a grown man you dont need my permission to court if thats what you want."
"Yes I do. Its important to me that you be proud of me."
"Solan Ive always been proud of you. Always. I know that youll do everything right with Alana. You do realize that theres a chance her mother will say no. There are members of the village that dont particularly care for your mom being queen. I dont know if her mothers feel that way, but if they do they may say no."
"I dont think that will be a problem. They seem to like me."
"Then go ahead." I wasnt prepared for the rush and then the hug. He nearly knocked me out of bed and I think I can now count two cracked, two broken.
"Youre welcome. Could you do me a favor and send Theran in here."
"Sure." He left and within moment I heard Theran enter.
"Didnt anyone ever teach you to knock?" I asked as she crossed the room. I could almost see the smile on her face fade.
"Umm yeah. Sorry about that."
"Its okay. Well Solan seems to think youre wonderful."
"He says the same about you."
"Thanks. Do me a favor."
"Teach my son everything he needs to know, but dont teach him any more dirty jokes."
"He told me one first!"
"Thats besides the point. And what did you do to me?"
"Just a little jolt delivered to the chest. Youll be up and around in no time. You wanted convincing. You should have seen her when I brought you back here draped over your horse. She was was beside herself."
"She loves me."
"I know." She said softly. "You know its funny I didnt want to believe it, but its true. Someone loves you in spite of what you are."
"Were." Her voice cut in from behind Theran. "Xenas changed." I could hear the ice in her voice. She was in defend Xena mode. I hoped that Theran had brains enough to back down.
"Of course Your Majesty. I meant no disrespect. Its just that Xena and I havent seen each other in a long time and Im not quite adjusted to the changes." She lied.
"Theran I know Xena believes that you are the only one who can teach Solan how to use his abilities, but in order for you to remain here and work with our family youre going to have to believe in Xena as much as I do. As much as her children do. If you cant then we may have to make other arrangements."
"I shall do my best Your Majesty."
With that I heard her leave. Ri continued to my side and sat a tray on my lap. "What was that all about?" I asked as she placed my hand on a warm mug.
"I wont have you insulted in your own home." I heard her voice crack. "In our home."
"I love you."
"I love you too warrior. Now I want you to eat."
I smiled and considered the tray on my lap. "Mmm lets me guess. Stew, bread, a little cheese and tea."
"What kind of stew?"
"Venison. With just a touch of that black pepper I like."
"You see more without your eyes than most people ever will with theirs." She said softly as she put the spoon in my hand.
"Ri are you okay?"
She drew a deep ragged breath. "Yeah, yeah Ill be fine. I guess Im just kind of tired. You had me so scared again. I really wish you wouldnt let people bring you home draped over Argos back. Bad warrior!"
"Listen why dont we have the nanny spend the night here and after I eat well both settle down for the evening. I still have a splitting headache and I could use the rest."
"Un-huh." She sounded skeptical.
"You doubt my word wife?" I couldnt help but grin. She hated it when I did that.
"Okay. Ill see if Terin can stay. Ill be right back. Can you manage here?"
" Is the venison dead?"
"Yeah " I could almost hear the smile on her face when I asked this question.
"I think I can handle it." I slowly moved my hand over the tray to get a feel for where everything was. She gave my hand a squeeze and left our room.
Silently I wondered what time of day it really was. My guess was late in the day. I could feel the sun on my face coming in through the window. I knew that it came in this window late in the day just before sunset. Yeah this could be good. Just resting tonight. Holding her close to me hmmm yes this could be good indeed, very good. Realizing where my thoughts were headed I put a stop to it and got down to the task of eating.
I had finished and even managed to set the tray aside on the floor by the time she returned. "So is Terin going to stay?"
"Yeah she said shed be happy to." I heard my son gurgle and she joined me on the bed. "Im going to feed him before I settle in. Terin said shed manage with his feeding later."
"Let me help." I couldnt resist. Feeding times were always special for us. I would hold Ri in my arms as she would feed the babies and I would just sit and take it all in. Now I wouldnt be able to do that anymore. My heart lurched at the thought. I found the shoulder knot in her tunic and carefully untied it. As I lowered it, she placed my hand on the back of Kais head as she guided him to her breast. I put my other arm around her and pulled her to my shoulder. I couldnt see them, but I could feel them. The warmth of her body against mine, the bobbing of Kais head as he ate. Quite the appetite my son has. "Wheres Melosa?"
"Showing that new toy to anyone who will stand still long enough to look at it."
"I love it when I bring something back for her. Her little face always just " I stopped again. Damn this is going to be harder than I thought.
"It did this time too Xe." She said softly.
I dropped my head back and closed my eyes. Gods this was going to be hard, but it was for Solan. I knew full well that without Therans help he would be in real trouble. The voices had started to become a real problem. He couldnt shut out the thoughts of others. He had started getting headaches that would incapacitate him for days. I had tried everything I knew to help him and hadnt succeeded the way I wanted. It was then that I knew who would be able to help him. She really was his only hope. Their powers were very much alike.
Ri finished feeding Kai and I took him and put him over my shoulder gently rubbing his back in small circles. She got up and moved to the chest at the foot of the bed, I could hear the lid creaking. Funny, that never bothered me before, but now it just seemed so loud. I continued to rub Kais back. "Come on I know its in there." I encouraged him and was promptly rewarded, with more than I hoped. "Ah Ri dig me out a clean one too will you?"
"Get you did he?"
I heard her snicker and made a mental note to get her later when my ribs were healed. Laugh at me bard. She took him from me and I struggled around to get changed. My busted ribs made the job harder than it had to be and by the time I was done I could feel the sweat breaking out on my forehead. Ri had taken Kai back to his room and when she returned I was sitting up panting through the pain.
"Are you all right!?" Fear. There was fear in her voice as she came across the room and knelt at my side.
"Im fine just a little too much movement there. Come to bed."
She slipped in next to me and helped me lay down. We carefully adjusted until it was just right and she was lying in my arms. "Hey I almost forgot I brought something back for you too."
"Yes yourself. Everything else can wait until tomorrow." She said as she settled in and drifted off to sleep.
I held her close and took in the feel of her and her scent. They both calmed my nerves and my fears as I too drifted off to sleep.
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