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: We have war here folks. Could happen.
Other: Part fourteen in the series "Raising Melosa".
I sat in counsel chambers staring out the window. While these women sat here and talked of war and tactics my warrior and my friends were actually out there doing it. A warlord threatened our western boarders some six moons ago. We had tried everything possible to reason with him. He was bound and determined he would decimate the amazons and sell us off as slaves to the highest bidder.
The decision was finally made to go to war with him to protect the nation. This had been our first real conflict with anyone since we had come to stay at the village. The first time I had to watch her ride away for the protection of the amazons. She told me one night that peace couldnt last forever and that we should be grateful for the time that we had been given.
Xena had ridden out with the first troops and I hadnt seen her since. She would send word as often as possible, mostly with the returning wounded troops, but it had been almost three weeks now and I hadnt heard from her. Ephiny remained in the village with me for the most part, but occasionally she would ride out to check on the troops. I think she did it more often than not to try and find word of Xena for me. Her last two trips had been unsuccessful and I was really beginning to worry.
Before leaving, Xena had moved us back to the village. She told me she would feel better knowing we were there instead at the house with just a handful of guards. I didnt want to leave our home, but I knew she was right. We moved back into the house she had built after Melosa was born. Just walking through the door brought back so many memories. Some so good and others that would have my heart breaking again if I dwelled on them too long, especially now that my wife was so far from home.
Both Melosa and Kai had celebrated birthdays while Xena was gone and Kessa and Rosa would be doing the same soon. I hoped that she would be home in time for the first season celebration of the twins. The children, Melosa especially missed her so very much. From time to time I would find Melosa off on her own looking out a window with a sad look on her face, but when I asked her about it she would always take a deep breath and deny anything was wrong. So much like Xe.
"Your Majesty " The voice brought me back. I turned to the counsel member to my left. "If there is nothing else I believe we can adjourn for today."
"Umm yes thats fine I have nothing else. You may adjourn us."
The meeting was brought to and end and the counsel filed out. I turned back to the window
She was dressed in her full armor. Prepared to leave. I stood there fighting the urge to beg her to stay. I knew it wouldnt do any good. She was to lead the troops with Ep and Sol as her captains. She turned to me. Rosa was in my arms fussy and crying. She came to me and whispered, "Help me out of my armor." For just a moment I thought she had changed her mind. I handed her the baby and she cradled her carefully until she was out of her armor and then she took her to our room and lay down on the bed with her. She rubbed Rosas stomach and hummed a soft lullaby until the baby couldnt fight the sleep that was settling in.
I watched the bittersweet smiled that played on her lips as she watched the baby rub her eyes to fight sleep.
She watched every movement Rosa made. I knew what she was doing. She was committing them to her memory as if they would me the last thing she would ever see one of her children do. I watched as her jaw clenched and unclenched as she fought hard for the control of emotions that threatened to overwhelm her.
Rosas hands continued to rub her eyes as she fought to stay awake, but slowly every so slowly they stopped and fell away from her little face. Xena ran her hand gently over her head and kissed her on the forehead. Her lips lingered there for just a moment. I knew that kiss. That was a good-bye kiss.
"I love you my little Princess. Remember me." She whispered as she got up from the bed and placed a blanket over the baby.
She turned back to me and we went back into the main room. She cleared her throat and turned to face me. "Help me into my armor My Queen?"
"It would be my honor My Warrior." I slid the breast plate into place and she gathered me up in her arms and just held me there as she closed her eyes and rubbed her cheek against the top of my head and inhaled deeply. "You promise me " I said softly.
"I promise." She said as she leaned in and gave me a gentle kiss.
She lifted my face with her hand gently under my chin until our eyes met. "And now your promise to me wife."
I nodded weakly. "I...I promise."
She kissed me again and then she turned on her heals and walked toward the door. She stopped and without looking back. "I love you Gabrielle."
"I love you Xena."
She never looked back, knowing that when we made our promises our eyes were dry, but when we said our I love you they werent. We refused to have those as our last visions of each other. Our promises were complete. Her promise to return and my promise to go on living if she didnt. That was all that mattered to her.
Solan had volunteered to serve as well, but Xena quelled those plans the moment she found out that Alana was pregnant. Instead he stayed behind and served as an assistant to Adrin with the treatment of the returning wounded. She told him that if she didnt return he would have two families to care for and made him promise that if all were lost he would do his best to help get everyone to safety before the village fell. I remember watching them say good-bye. They started with a traditional warrior parting of clasping forearms, however it ended in a hug that neither wanted to relinquish.
I left the counsel room and headed for the house. Melosa sat on the steps. Her first Amazon staff in her hands. She sat there with her head down tapping the ground with the end of the staff. I sat down next to her and slipped my arm around her shoulder.
"Whats up?" I gave her a little squeeze.
"I miss her." She said softly.
"So do I honey."
"How long will she be gone?"
"I dont know. I do know that shell be home just as soon as she can."
"Is it wrong for me to be mad at her?"
I drew a deep breath and considered the question. "No. No its not wrong, but do you understand why she went?"
"I think so. She wanted to fight the warlord."
"No honey it was much more than that. Much more."
"Thats not what Reena said during lessons today."
"What did she say?"
"She she she said that the only reason Mother went is because thats all she knows. How to fight and kill." Her voice cracked and the tears began to run slowly down her cheeks.
"You know thats not true."
"I tried to tell her that, but all the other kids " She just stopped and dropped her head into my lap and began crying.
I rubbed her back and swallowed all the words of wisdom that had been poised on the tip of my tongue. Xe and I were afraid this day would come. Some people just wouldnt let the past die no matter how many times we thought it was behind us. I just sat there comforting my daughter as best I could and reassuring her that everything would be all right. We would talk later, now it was just time for her to cry.
Kai came out of the house happily munching on an apple until he saw his sister. He came over and put his hand on her shoulder and looked at me.
"Mels sad?" He asked as he tried to see her face.
"Yes she is honey."
"She misses your Mother."
"Me too." He said with a slight quiver of his lip. I expected him to start crying too, but he looked back to his sister and patted her shoulder. "Its okay. Want some apple?" He offered her the fruit. She looked up at him and shook her head. "Its really good apple. Make you feel better. Please Mel."
I smiled at his compassion for his sister. She sat up and wiped her eyes and took a bite of his apple. She smiled and then gave him a hug. "Thanks." She said as she swallowed the apple.
"Welcome. Feel better?"
"Yeah I feel better."
"Told ya." He grinned at her as her took another bite. "Can we see your pony?"
Melosa looked to me. I wiped the remaining tears from her face. "Go ahead."
With that they were both off to the stables. Melosa even decided to stop and wait up for her brother this time.
Solan came out of Adrins temporary infirmary and made his way over to me. He smiled as he took a seat on the steps next to me. He nudged me with his shoulder. "Guess who sent a message home?"
"What? Oh Solan what did she say?" I asked as I squeezed his hand.
"That she is well and hopes to be home very soon." He extracted his hand from my grip and put his arm around me. Now it was my turn to cry. He just put his arms around me and let me cry into his shoulder. It was the first relief I had felt in weeks. "Yeah this was my reaction too." He admitted quietly. "Things are going well. They have apparently finally beaten back Ergards men."
"What of Ergard?"
"Did she " I couldnt ask it.
"Yes." He said quietly as he gave me another hug. "Apparently she did. She met him in combat a few days ago as I understand it."
I knew Xena. She would have given him a chance to surrender. If he had refused she would have been left with only one option and the protection of the village was at stake. It would have been too dangerous to allow him to live otherwise. He would have been back.
My thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of children fighting. Solan and I took off across the village to the stables to find Melosa squared of against Reena. Melosa had Kai behind her and was holding her staff in a defensive pose.
"Leave him alone!" Melosa yelled at the other girl.
I started forward, but Solan stopped me. "No Mom lets see how this plays out. If we have to well stop them before they hurt each other. This had to happen. Its been building between them for a long time."
"He doesnt belong here!" Reena shouted back. She banged her own staff into the ground to accent her point.
Amazon children began training with staffs around the age of five. Mostly just to prepare then for much more difficult weapons later, but they also knew they were not toys and they werent to be taken or treated lightly. It was rare for a fight to come to blows with staffs between young ones. The thought of losing training privileges was enough to keep it from happening, most of the time. I was beginning to wonder as I watched Melosa twist her staff in her hands. I could see Xenas tempter flaring here, but she took a deep breath before speaking.
"Yes he does. Hes my brother." Melosa relaxed a little. Kai peeked over her shoulder and stuck his tongue out at Reena.
"You little brat!" Reena shouted at Kai and charged. Melosa took another deep breath, put her arm out and brushed Kai further back and side stepped. Reena went charging by them and stumbled forward into the dirt.
Solan and I stepped forward. It was time to break this up. Solan took charge of his siblings and I helped Reena up.
"Reena I think you should go home now." I said softly as I brushed her off. The look the child gave me told me that she came from a family that was not one of my biggest supporters. Still she was amazon and she would follow my suggestion only because I was queen. She pulled away from me and started towards her home.
I turned to my own children. They stood one on either side of Solan, who was trying to contain his grin. They had their heads down and where waiting.
She took and deep breath and looked at me. "Yes Momma."
"Thank you for defending your brother."
"I had too."
"I know and you did it very well. Im very proud of you."
She smiled at me and took Solans hand. Kai on the other hand knew he was in trouble and already had tears falling down his cheeks.
He looked up at me. "Yes maam?"
"What you did was not only rude, but it was dangerous. Reena is much bigger than you are; she could have hurt you. Now go back to the house and stay there the rest of the day."
"Ill take him." Solan said as he picked his brother up and walked away.
Melosa stepped forward and took my hand. "Can we take a walk?" She asked as she leaned into my legs and gave me a hug.
"Sure. Where do you want to go?"
"Can we go to the river? We havent been there since Mother left."
We walked down to the river hand in hand. I could tell it was time for that talk. I had hoped Melosa would be a little older, but if it had to happen now then so be it. I let her choose where we would stop. She picked the big tree that she and Xena always sat under during their many trips to the river. She sat down and faced me, crossing her legs and resting her head on her fists as I settled back against the tree.
"Have something on your mind honey?" I brushed her hair from her forehead. She needed a haircut.
"Why did Reena say those mean things about Mother?"
"Well sweetheart, a very long time ago, your mother was a different person. She was a warlord."
"You mean like the man she went to fight?"
"She hurt people? She really killed people?"
I looked her in the eye. "Yes." I said softly.
"Then Reena was right." I could see Melosas image of Xena crumbling before my very eyes as tears welled up in her eyes. She wrapped her arms around herself and began shaking.
I pulled her onto my lap and wrapped my arms around her to comfort her. "No little one Reena wasnt right. Your Mother is person that you know. That Xena, the one from so long ago doesnt exist anymore and never did for you. Your Mother is the person that you love, the person that youve been missing."
"But she did do all those things. All those bad things."
"Yes. Yes she did a very long time ago. Now she only fights to protect our home and us. Melosa youre always going to hear stories of your Mother. Some will be good and some will be bad. Whats important is what you choose to believe. You have to weigh the stories against the woman that you know and love. Theses people who say these things dont know her like we do. They dont see her playing on the floor with you and your brother and sisters. They dont see her making you eat your vegetables "
She chuckled. "I could live without that part."
I hugged her close and kissed the top of her head. "I bet you could, but she only does that because she loves you."
"I know. When is she coming home? I miss her."
"I dont know honey but lets pray to Artemis that it is soon. Now dear dont you have lessons you should be attending? Math I believe."
"Uggg." She said as she buried her head in my shoulder.
For the first time in as many weeks sleep came easy to me. I settled into bed knowing at this very moment she could be on her way home. I watched the stars from our sleeping chamber window. "Its a bear." I said softly as I drifted off to sleep.
It was a glorious dream. I was wrapped tightly in her arms as we slept curled up around each other. I could feel her heart beating with mine, feel her breath on my neck. I could feel a soft breeze coming in through the window blowing across the bed, but I was warm and safe in my warriors arms. This dream was so wonderful as I felt myself awaking I didnt want it to end. I tried to put myself back to sleep so that I wouldnt lose the wonderful sensations. I rolled over and opened my eyes. This was no dream. She was home and here in our bed with me.
"Xena!" I yelped as I bolted upright in bed and jumped on top of her leaning over and kissing my warrior awake.
I felt her arms wrap around me as she kissed me back through the smile on her face. "Good morning." She said as I sat up and looked down at her. Tears slipped down my cheeks as I caressed her face and leaned in and kissed her again.
"Oh Gods Im so glad youre home!"
"Me too." She sighed as she held me close.
I sat back up and gave her a slap on the shoulder. "You rat! Why didnt you wake me?"
"You looked so peaceful. I didnt want to disturb you. Besides I was exhausted and grumpy. I figured that a few hours of sleep would be good."
"You," I said between little kisses all over her face. "Are still a rat."
There is no way to describe the joy in my heart as I fell into her arms and shared kisses that wouldnt end. It was in the middle of one of those kisses that someone knocked on the door. I sat up and smiled and covered Xenas mouth. I motioned for her to be quiet and made her get out of bed. I put her behind the door and then I reached over and opened it. Melosa stood there, rubbing her eyes. Still about half asleep she just walked over to my bed and crawled in. This had become a ritual for us in Xenas absence. She would come sleep with me for about another candle mark or so until it was time to get up. I motioned for Xe to stay in the corner for a moment. She smiled at me and nodded.
I went back to the bed and lay down with Melosa. She curled up next to me and started to fall back to sleep. "I miss her." She mumbled as she snuggled into me.
Xe had moved quietly over to the bed and knelt down next to the side of the bed. "Miss who Princess?"
Her eyes flew open and she bolted upright. "Mother!" She jumped up and threw her arms around Xes neck knocking them both backward onto the floor. They were both laughing and crying at the same time as Melosa showered her mother with kisses and hugs. "Ive missed you!"
"And Ive missed you, but Im home now." Xe picked them both up off the floor. She tossed Melosa down on the bed and climbed in with us. She pulled us both close and the three of us just lay there together for another half a candle mark. We were all content just to be together.
I stood on the porch watching. I dont know why I continued to torture myself like this. Every time Xe put Melosa on that damn pony my heart wanted to stop. We had been home only a few days and I just wanted her to relax and rest her leg. She had received a pretty nasty wound in her thigh and I knew she needed to rest the leg.
She, however, didnt see it my way and told me that during her time away from home it was the thoughts of getting back into the routine at home that made it all bearable for her. She said she had never felt anything like it before. Even after the worst of the battles, thoughts of Melosa on her pony, Kai running away so she would chase him and the twins giggling as she tickled their stomachs would bring her comfort that she had never known before.
So now there they were out in the yard. Melosa handled the pony on her own now, no lead rope giving Xe control. Melosa followed her instructions as she called them out.
"Slow him up a little." Xe called to her.
Then it happened. Something spooked the pony and he jerked sideways sending Melosa to the ground. I started off the porch as Xena limped over to her. Before either of us made it, she picked herself up and slapped the ground. "Son of a Bacchae!" She yelled as she got up and brushed the dirt off her pants.
I stood next to Xe and crossed my arms, looking over to my wife who just cleared her throat nervously. "Where do you suppose she picked that up? Hmmm " I asked as Xe fidgeted nervously with a sly grin on her face.
"Im sure I wouldnt know. Ive been away for awhile you know."
"Fix this and fast, very fast warrior."
"Um yeah " She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek before heading over to Melosa. "Sweetheart we need to talk."
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