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.
Sex: Mentioned. Nothing graphic.
Violence: Just a little.
Other: Part ten in the series "Raising Melosa".
By T. Novan
I watch her from my desk. Its the middle of the night and I cant sleep. Even after the wonderful love that my warrior and I made I still just cant seem to find sleep. She has her arms wrapped firmly around the pillow I put there when I got up. Shell hold onto it until I return. Its a trick I had to start using with her after Melosa was born and I had to get up for feedings. Most nights Xena had just returned from patrol duties and was barely able to get into bed, but the second I tried to get up she would get fussier than the baby. I had to find something to keep her happy, the pillow seemed to do the trick and Ive been using it since.
I look down at the decree in front of me. I cant believe this day has come. Its been six months since the accident that took Xenas sight. The counsel has decreed that I must choose a new champion. Ive prayed to every last God that I thought would help us, but they havent answered me. My warrior is blind, for good it would seem. I dont understand why Artemis and Hades have forsaken us like this. Another petty game to be played with our lives I suspect.
Xena is adapting very well, but she does get frustrated and angry when she finds a simple task difficult. Shes very good about trying not to let it show, but I know it troubles her. I also know that tomorrow when she has to step aside as my champion it will be a huge blow to her. She has assured me repeatedly that she understands and knows it is for the best, but I can still see in those eyes that cant see me.
I return to our bed and slide into it, removing my pillow gently. I am once again in her arms. She mumbles something to me without waking as I settle in and run my fingertips over the arm that wraps protectively around my waist, just as it has always done. I bring her hand to my lips and kiss it softly, "No one will ever make me feel as safe as you do my love."
Morning is upon us far too quickly. I open my eyes and stretch. The bed is empty. Im not surprised. She still beats me out of bed every morning. I can hear various voices in the outer rooms. The children, Xe, Solari and that damned Theran. Oh Gods there is just something about that woman I dont like. I dont know what it is, but I cant help it. Shes very good with Solan and has taught him so much and shes also very good to Melosa and Kai. Very polite to everyone and always willing to lend a hand, but as there are Gods on Olympus theres something dangerous about that woman and she directs that at Xe. All of her little barbs and sarcastic remarks have just about worn through. I take a deep breath and shove it down. Xe says shes needed here so be it, but I swear its not going to be much longer before I break my staff over her head.
I get dressed and join my family in the outer room. Solari is helping Xe into her armor and struggling with that side buckle thats always been a problem. Theran smiles at me and says something to Solan. They make a quick exit outside. Good choice. Melosa and Kai are playing on the floor. Now Kai is torturing his sister with I drop it, you pick it up, just like Melosa did with Xe at that age. Melosa seems to handle it better.
I move to Solari and Xena. "Here let me do that." Solari steps back with a smile as I take the buckle and slide it into place. Years of practice coming in handy here.
Xena wraps her arms around me and kisses my forehead. "Thank you my love. No has ever been able to get that buckle but you."
"Oh you did all right before I came along." I say with a smile as I give her a soft kiss on the chin.
"Yeah, but Id be lost without you now." She says as she lets go of me. "You should eat. We have to be in counsel chambers in about a candle mark."
I move to the table and sit down and pour myself some tea. "Another of your many skills warrior, being able to tell time without being able to see the candle?" I ask as I break of a piece of bread.
"Naw, nothing that exciting. Solari told me." She says with a wide grin.
Solari just looks at me and shrugs. She picks up Xenas chakram and sword from the table. She places the chakram in Xenas hand and she fastens it to her side. Solari hands her the sword. She fingers it for a moment. "Umm Sol, undo my sheath will ya?"
I watch as Solari removes the sheath from Xenas back and hands it to her. Xe hesitates for just a moment and then feeling for the opening with one hand she slides the sword in and hands it back to Solari. "I wont be needing it anymore."
Those words cut me to the quick and I can feel my mouth water as my stomach lurches. I want to cry. Solari looks to me. I just close my eyes. It hurts so much.
"Sol theres a leather cloth in that chest against the wall get it and wrap the sword in it will you?"
"Sure Xena." Solari does as she is asked as Xe moves and kneels before me, taking my hands into hers.
"And you just stop this right now." She says softly as she kisses my hands and reaches up to wipe away an errant tear. "You know its for the best. You need a champion that can protect you properly. I just cant do that any more."
"I cant help it Xe " She places her fingers over my lips to stop the flow of words.
"Its best for the nation and its best for you. Now promise me, no more tears over this."
I could only nod. She raised up and kissed me. "I love you wife."
"I love you too."
I took my seat at the head of the table and the counsel was convened. We spent about a half a candle mark dealing with village business. The issue of my champion was last on the agenda. I just wanted it all to be over so that it would be behind us. Xena, Solari and Epinon sat at the other end of the chamber and waited patiently as we conducted the business at hand. Even as we dealt with the other business I felt myself distracted and looking at my warrior. She never seemed braver to me than she did at this moment. Only on the day that we were joined did she look more regal, than she did today. Her armor and leathers were polished to a high shine, this was to be her last official function as my champion and she was going to make me proud.
Finally she was called forth. She stood, tall and proud and walked purposely forward into the center of the chamber. Epinon and Solari walked three paces behind her. Without a word being spoken to her she knew exactly where to stop. She smiled and knelt before me. "My Queen." She said as she bowed her head.
It was hard for me to address her with the lump in my throat. I looked to Ephiny, who gave me a soft smile and a gentle squeeze to my hand. "Its okay. " She said quietly, giving me the strength to do what was necessary.
"Xena please rise." I said with a shake in my voice I just knew those damned ears of hers had pick up because of the arched eyebrow that greeted me when she rose to face me. "You understand why you have been called before the counsel?"
"Yes my Queen. Due to the injury that has left me sightless we must choose another champion to protect you."
"And you understand why?"
"Of course my Queen. You need a strong champion to defend you and the throne. I am no longer capable."
"Do " I cleared my throat. "Do you have a recommendation?"
"I do my Queen. I would like to recommend the warrior Epinon. She has served well as my second and I believe she would serve you well as champion."
"Very well. Does anyone on the counsel wish to be heard on this matter or is Xenas recommendation enough?"
Murmurs ran through the members of the counsel, but it was agreed that Xenas recommendation was best. Xena stepped back and Epinon stepped forward and knelt before me.
"Epinon, Xena has recommended you to replace her as my champion. Do you wish this position?"
"Your Majesty I would be honored to serve as your champion. I could however, never replace Xena. I only hope to serve you half as well."
"So be it. Epinon please rise and take your position as my champion."
As Epinon got to her feet, Xena raised her hand. "If it please Your Majesty there is one last thing I would like to do."
"Of course Xena." I said to her the confusion evident in my voice.
I watched as Solari handed Xena the leather cloth. The lump rose in my throat again. Xena stepped forward to Epinon. "Ep youve always been one of my best friends. Now you are protecting our queen and my wife. Please take this and use it for that purpose. It always served me well and I hope that it will serve you well too."
I saw Epinons hands shaking as she took the cloth and un-wrapped Xenas sheath and sword. "Xena I I cant take this." She said softly.
"Please Ep take it. This way Ill still feel like part of me is there." Xenas voice quivered just a bit as she closed Eps hands around the sword.
"Im honored my friend. Thank you."
"No. Thank you. Dont let any harm come to her."
"Ill die first." They clasped forearms and Epinon turned and took her place behind me as my champion.
Just as we were about to call the counsel complete, a young warrior came running into the counsel chamber. "Your Majesty! Xena! Come quickly its Princess Melosa!"
Chairs were tossed backward as everyone in the room rose at that announcement. Ep and I ran to Xena. "Go!" She yelled at me. "Ill be right there, but Ill only slow you down! Go Ri! Go find out whats wrong!" There was a helpless panic in her voice I couldnt miss as she pushed me towards the door. I left the chamber, leaving Xena with Solari who assured me that they would be there as soon as possible.
The time it took to get back to the house seemed like an eternity in Tartarus. When I arrived I found several of our warriors gathered around a well that had been started as a water supply for the house. "Oh Gods no!" I screamed as I continued forward. Solan caught me in his arms and held me back.
"Mom dont!" He wrapped his arms around me and held tight.
"Solan let me go!" I struggled, but he held firm.
"No! Let them work to get her out! Please mom, dont go over there."
I stopped struggling and collapsed into his chest. "Solan is she " I couldnt say it. I couldnt bring myself to ask the question.
"No mom, shes not dead. Shes caught at the bottom. Theyre working to get her out now."
I looked up to see our nanny Terin approaching with Kai in her arms. As she drew closer he reached out for me and I took him and held him close. "How did this happen?!" I demanded of the young woman.
"Forgive me Your Majesty. I only turned my back for a moment "
"I dont want to hear anymore. You are dismissed! Go back to the village."
"Please Your Majesty dont make me "
"Go Terin before I say something Ill regret!"
With tears in her eyes she bowed and backed away. "Yes Your Majesty. Please forgive me."
I turned when I heard the pounding of hooves behind me. Xena dismounted from behind Solari even before the horse stopped, she stumbled slightly as she made her way forward. Solan caught her. "Whats wrong?" Her voice was panicked and I could see eyes straining to view past the blackness that surrounded her.
"Melosa has fallen down the well Xe." My voice broke as her arms went around me. She felt Kai there and stroked his head.
"Solan whats going on?" She asked her voice just as shaken as mine.
"We have several warriors working to get her out."
From near the well we heard someone say that the sides of the well were unstable and were close to collapsing. "Oh Gods Xe were going to lose another child!" I buried my head in her chest and let the tears fall. I just couldnt hold them back anymore.
"No were not sweetheart. No were not!" She gave me a long hug. "Its going to be okay." She gave me a kiss on the forehead and took a deep breath. "Theran!" She called out.
I watched as she approached. "Yes Xena?"
"Is it my daughters fate to die in that well?"
"Xena I cant answer that question."
Xe let go of me and grabbed Theran by the front of her shirt and lifted her off the ground. "Yes you can damnit!" She yelled. "I know you know the answer now tell me! Is my daughter going to die today!? I swear if you dont answer me Ill break you in half right now!"
I saw Theran remove her gloves. Something I had never seen her do in the six months since she had been here. She smiled at Xena and grabbed her wrists. Xena growled. I knew that growl. It was the one that came with great pain. I watched as they fought for control. Xena tried to hold on as Theran let a blue light emanate from her hands into the body of my wife. Xena finally relented and dropped Theran. Theran gave her a disgusted look and retrieved her gloves. Xena crumpled to her knees. I knelt by her side.
"Try that again Xena and Ill kill you." She said as she slipped her gloves back on. "Solan come with me lets get your sister out of that well." I rubbed Xenas back as she gasped for air.
Solan looked between his mother and the well. "Mother?"
"So So lan go!" Xena gasped as she pointed to the well.
He turned and walked to the well with her. "All right everyone, give us some room." Theran commanded as they reached the well. They looked to me and I nodded. The warriors backed off.
"Solan concentrate on your sister. Close your eyes and think of nothing but her. Can you see her?"
"Picture yourself wrapping your arms around her and lifting her out of the well."
"Okay." He seemed to falter a bit. Theran removed her gloves again and sent a stream of golden energy into him.
"Keep thinking of her Solan. Keep seeing yourself lifting her from the well."
"Ive got her."
"I know you do. Now keep lifting. Bringing her closer to the top."
I could see the top of Melosas head at the top of the well. She seemed to simply float out and glide into her brothers arms. Theran stopped the stream and put her gloves back on. Solan collapsed with his sister safely in his arms.
"Shes out." I could only whisper it to Xena. My voice was lost to the sight I had just witnessed. Xena took Kai and settled back with him.
"Go get her." She said to me.
I crossed over and knelt down next to Solan who was lying with his eyes closed, breathing hard. I brushed the hair back from his face. "Solan are you all right?"
"Yes Mom Im fine I just feel so drained. Is Melosa okay?"
I checked her over, she was scared and crying softly into her brothers chest but short of a few cuts and bruises she seemed fine. "Yes I think so. Let me have her." I lifted her into my arms and looked at her dirty little face and placed kisses all over it as I held her close. "Ive got you sweetheart. Youre safe now."
"Scared." She cried as her body trembled into mine. "Very scared. Dark."
"I know but its okay now. Youre safe."
Theran came over and helped Solan up and rubbed his back. "You did good my boy. Very good."
"I feel sick." He said as she led him away.
"I know go with it. Its your body adjusting to doing something that it wasnt quite ready to do." I watched her comfort Solan as he threw up. She was gently rubbing him back and talking him through it.
I moved to Xena and Kai. Xena reached out for Melosa. "Is she okay?"
"She seems to be, but I want Adrin to look at her to make sure."
"Ive already sent for her." Ephiny said. Eph reached down and took Kai from Xena as Epinon and Solari help my warrior to her feet. Her knees buckled as she tried to stand.
"What did she do to you my love?" I asked ask our friends picked her up and simply carried her into our home.
"Not sure." She mumbled, as she lost consciousness.
They carefully laid her in our bed. Eph put Kai down in his room and came to help me care for both my warrior and my daughter. I sent Ep and Sol outside with orders than no one except for Adrin and Solan should be allowed to enter. Eph gave me a wet cloth and I began to wash Melosa who still clung to me trembling. "Its okay sweetheart, youre safe."
"Dark." She cried into my shoulder as I continued to clean her up.
"I know, but its okay now. Mommys got you." I washed her face and stripped her clothes off to look for more injuries. I didnt see anything that looked too bad. She had a small cut on her forehead. That seemed to be the worst of it really. I took a deep breath and thanked the Gods.
Adrin entered the room and I turned Melosa over to her and turned my attention to Xena. She was simply unconscious. Eph and I got her undressed and put her in bed. As we slipped the covers over her Eph caught my hand. "What happened out there?" She paused. "Between them."
"I have no idea, but Im going to find out right now. Stay here will you?"
I went outside. Theran and Solan were sitting on the porch. Ep and Sol stood guard at the door. I put my hand on Therans shoulder. "We need to talk." I stepped down and Ep started to follow, but I shook my head and she stepped back.
"Yes Your Majesty." She patted Solan on the back and followed me to the side of the house where I watched as various warriors cover up the well that nearly claimed my daughter. I turned to her and drew a deep calming breath before speaking.
"What did you do to Xena?"
"I defended myself."
"Against a blind woman?"
"Shes still very dangerous and she was concerned for your child. She was like a mother wolf protecting a pup."
"Would you expect any less? She seemed to think you knew Melosas fate. She wanted answers. You see weve already lost " I trailed off. Even after all this time it still hurt.
"I know about your baby Your Majesty and Im sorry for your loss."
"Did Xena tell you?"
"No she didnt. I know. I know more than any one person should ever know."
"Then she was right. You did know if "
"Gabrielle," Her sudden familiarity shocked me, but I let it pass. I wanted to hear whatever she was going to tell me. Maybe now I would get some answers. "Melosa was suppose to die today."
I felt myself falter and she caught me. I watched her hands waiting for some kind of a light. She smiled at me "Its okay I cant hurt you. I have to remove my gloves to utilize that particular gift." She wrapped my arm around hers and we began walking. I dont know why, but I needed to talk with her, so I went with her. "I want you to know that I would never hurt you or your children." She continued as we walked through the field behind the house.
"But Xena is a different story right? Youd kill her if you had the chance wouldnt you?"
"Gabrielle," She stopped and looked at me. For the first time I noticed her eyes were black, where my eyes were green and Xes blue. This woman simply had black eyes. "I can will Xenas death. If I wanted her dead I would only have to think about it and it would happen. So the answer there would be no. I dont want her dead."
"How long have you known her?"
"All her life. From the day she was born. We met personally about a year or so before she decided to reform."
"Did you have anything to do with that?"
"No I was just another victim. She blinded me with sumac oil after taking me prisoner."
"But you can see."
"Yes I used my powers to regain my sight."
Suddenly it hit my like one of Zeus lightening bolts. "You did this! You took her sight!" I yelled at her as I pulled away from her.
"Yes. It was the price she had to pay for "
I knew the moment I did it; it was a huge mistake. I lashed out and slapped her hard across the face. She cleared her throat and just shook her head slightly. "How could you!? How could you do this to her? We would have paid you anything to help Solan."
"I have no interest in money."
"No just in destroying Xena. Slowly but surely this is destroying her, you must know that too."
"It isnt. It is making her stronger. You just wont know that for sometime to come."
"I dont want to know that! I want her back the way she was. I want her whole and complete."
"Why? Do you love her less now?"
"No of course not "
"Is she any less the woman you profess to love so much?"
"Is she any less a mother to your children? Any less the wonderful lover youve always had? Last night she seemed to be in top form."
Now she was getting personal. How much did she know anyhow? It seemed that no part of our life was private from this woman.
She removed her gloves and very gently brushed the tips of her fingertips across my cheek. I felt a calming, tingling sensation and she smiled and said. "Then trust me."
I pulled back from her touch and turned for the house. "I dont see where I have any choice. My son and apparently my wife need you right now." I walked away, leaving her laughing at me in the distance.
When I got home. Ep still stood guard at the door. She smiled and pushed it open for me, pulling it closed as I entered. Eph and Adrin were at the table drinking tea. I sat down and was hand a cup almost immediately.
"Your Majesty are you all right?" The healer inquired as I took the cup from her.
"Ive had a very stressful day. Hows Melosa?"
"She fine. Shes a very lucky little girl."
"Yes, yes she is." Therans word rang in my ears. "Hows Xena?"
"They are both fine Your Majesty. They are sleeping very soundly in your chambers."
"I need to check on them. Excuse me." I went to our room and sat on the bed. Xena stirred and opened her eyes. She clutched Melosa close to her, protecting her. She was still waking and she knew she had Melosa with her. She wasnt focused enough to know it was me. "Hiya warrior." I said as I brushed the hair from her forehead.
"Ri." She smiled and relaxed. "Is she really okay?" Her hand gently brushed through our daughters hair.
"Shes fine. A few cuts and bruises, but fine. Shes getting more and more like you everyday it would seem. Now shes scaring me half way to Tartarus too."
"Well well just have to remind her that shes a princess and heir to the throne and that she has to behave." She grinned at me.
"Yes she is isnt she?" I asked quietly.
Xe took my hand. "What? What is it my love?"
"Shes my only heir. If something happens to her "
"Ri shes okay."
"She she " I knew I wouldnt be able to hold back the tears. "She was suppose to die today Xe. Solan and Theran got her out."
"How do you know this?"
"Theran told me."
"Why did she tell you that?"
"Im not sure. Im not sure why she told me half the things she did." She drew a deep breath and waited for me. "Yes she told me what price you paid for her help."
"Im sorry I lied." She said softly. "I didnt know what else to do."
"I know, I know its okay. Dont worry about it. You did what any mother would do. We would have given our lives for Melosas today if it would have made a difference."
"If I could rest assured that all my children would grow up healthy and happy I would " I placed my finger to her lips.
"Dont say that. I dont trust Theran enough not to take you up on it."
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