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: Does a hang over count?
Other: Part eleven in the series "Raising Melosa".
I stood there with my hands on my hips listening to him struggle with her. "If you would relax so would she." I heard her snort at him in agreement. I chuckled. "Solan just relax and shell take the saddle much better."
"But she keeps backing away from it." He said, the frustration clear in his voice.
"Well you wouldnt like it very much if someone tried to put something on you that you hadnt worn before either." I held my hands out and he put the saddle in them. "Hold her bridle." I took a couple steps forward, shifting the saddle to one hand and holding the other out in front of me to make contact with the animal. "Shh its okay." I whispered to the horse as I made contact with her neck and began stroking it. "He just doesnt understand you does he girl?"
I continued to talk to the animal and stroke her as I gently placed the saddle on her back for the first time. I could feel her muscles twitch as she adjusted to the feel of the new object. This was Argos first baby, now two seasons old and ready to be broken, but she had just enough of her mother in her to make her a challenge. "Its okay girl." I whispered to her as I felt my way under and brought the strap up and fastened it into place. "See that wasnt too bad now was it? No it wasnt. Theres a good girl." I stroked and scratched her neck and turned to Solan. "Now take her and just walk her around for a bit. Let her get used to the weight."
I felt the loss of the animal under my hands as I listened to them walk off. She was snorting her displeasure at the saddle and walked much harder than she needed to. Then my attention was drawn to the hands and arms that slipped around my waist. I smiled. "Uh I think you should know, Im a married woman." I said without turning around.
"Is she the jealous type or does she share?" She asked softly as my hands closed around her arms and I leaned back into her.
"Well to tell you the truth shes the jealous type."
"Then I guess we had better not let her catch us huh."
"So tell me tall, dark and gorgeous, do you know somewhere we can go where your extremely jealous wife wont find us?"
"Well actually I do. I just happen to have the little hide away not far from here where I entertain all my mistresses."
"Oh you do huh? And exactly how many mistresses do you have?"
"Dozens." I couldnt contain my grin any longer waiting for her response to that one.
"Oh tell me more." She purred in my ear as she nipped at my neck.
"Well you know that those of us who are without sight have to compensate for it by using our other senses. Touch, taste you get the idea. Im very popular."
"Ill just bet you are. So tell me about your wife. Whats she like?"
Baiting me are you my little bard? Okay two can play at that game. "Well I love her so very much, but shes a very busy woman. Shes Queen of the amazons you know."
"Really? So youre married to the Queen."
"Oh yeah. If you gotta marry an amazon marry the head amazon."
"That sounds like good advice."
"Its made me pretty happy these last few seasons."
"Glad to hear it. So why all the mistresses then if your wife makes you so happy?"
"Well its like I said shes a very busy woman "
"I cant imagine shed ever be so busy that she would leave your needs unattended."
"You know come to think of it, she never has. So maybe this isnt a very good idea." I turned and ran my hands gently over her smiling face.
"Good answer warrior." She leaned up and kissed me. A kiss I felt clear to the bottom of my boots. My arms wrapped firmly around her and I dove deeper into the kiss. When we finally parted we were both breathless.
"Hello wife." I said with a smile. "I thought you were going to be tied up all day with village business and wedding plans."
"What and leave you to entertain all these mistresses you speak of. Dont think so. I decided Id rather be tied up with you."
"Hmm that could be fun too." I said with a grin.
That earned me a gentle slap to the shoulder. "You are truly bad." She said as she rested her head against my shoulder. I took in the scent of her hair. Freshly washed this morning it still smelled of lavender and roses.
"Gods Gabrielle I love you so much."
I could feel her shift and place her hand on my cheek. "What brought that on?"
"Do I need a reason?" I leaned in and took another kiss from my sweet wife.
"Oh get a room you two." Therans sarcastic voice cut into our reality. I felt Ri shudder in my arms as we gave up the kiss.
"Is there any particular reason you decided to interrupt a royal liaison?" I asked as I turned towards the sound of her voice.
"Nope. Im just walking along minding my own business when I happen upon you two standing here trying to devour each other."
"Theran you have never minded your own business. Youve made its your lifes work to mind mine."
"Yes and one day youll thank me for it."
I felt my wife go taut and hold back some extremely pithy comment. She was learning not to let Theran get the best of her at every turn and I was glad. There had been more than a few moments between them when I was sure the Gods on Olympus had begun to quake from the tension.
"So are you two ready for the big day?" She asked, the tone in her voice making it quite clear she wasnt going to leave us alone.
"Well as the parents of the groom were about as ready as we can be I guess. I would imagine Alanas mothers are far more enthralled in wedding preparations "
This is where the wife decided to get involved in the conversation. "Im sure theyd be delighted to fill you in if you went over there." She said, the tone in her own voice unmistakable.
"Thanks just the same, but Solan and I have a lesson in a few moments." Theran had given this round to my wife. I heard her trudge after Solan and his mare.
"Well done my love." I said as I kissed her on the forehead.
"Thank you. Now about that hide away of yours "
We walked back from our afternoon together hand in hand. We were two very happy people at this moment and I hoped nothing had gone wrong in the mean time to ruin it for us.
It had been awhile since we had been able to relax enough to make love like that. After Melosas accident, Ri had mentioned having another baby and was nearly devastated when she was told that she shouldnt. Adrin felt that after the first miscarriage and then almost losing Kai we shouldnt take anymore chances. Ri didnt mean too, but she shut herself out from me for sometime and I had spent to better part of the last half season trying to reassure her and get her to relax. She once again thought that somehow all of this was her fault.
As we approached the house I heard a familiar laugh and squeezed Gabrielles hand. "Hercules is here."
"That means mother is here then." I could feel her restraining herself from taking off into a run for the house.
"Are you sure?"
"Go ahead. I can manage. Go on before I change my mind." I gave her a swat on the backside and sent her on her way. Without her to guide me I slowed my pace a bit and continued after her allowing my hearing to guide me. I had always been grateful for my sensitive hearing before, but never more than now when I realized just how much I had actually learn to see by listening to the things around me. Epinon had even gone so far as to nickname me Bat one night at a party and it stuck. Now she and Solari both always got a good giggle when we would go out hunting together. I just bit my lip and kept my mouth shut, Id get them one of these days. I just had to be patient. Thank the Gods Ri had taught me how to be patient, because it was gonna be good.
The approach was slow and deliberate. Trying not to startle me would be my guess. I smiled. "Hello Hercules." I held out my hand and he took it. Drawing me to his side and wrapping my hand around his arm.
"How you doing?" He asked quietly as we walked toward the house.
"Oh were doing okay. Its taken time, but were going to be fine." I gave his hand a squeeze to reassure him.
"Im sorry I havent been around more often."
"Hey youre a busy guy. We understand. Im glad you could make it for the wedding and thank you for bringing mother. I could have sent amazon guards to get her, but I think she prefers traveling with you. Youre much better looking."
"Well it was my pleasure. Your mom is a delight. She reminds me a lot of my mom."
"Well at least the Gods have good taste in women."
"So it would seem. By the way how are you dealing with that cousin." I heard the smirk so I elbowed him in the ribs. He coughed as he sucked in a lung of fresh air. "Pretty well I guess." He gasped as he took in more air.
"Yeah not bad." I said dryly.
"I cant believe how big Melosa and Kai are now."
"Melosas nearly three and Kai is just past his first season. They grow up so damned fast."
"And now Solans getting married. Guess this means youll be a grandmother soon."
"Why does everybody keep saying that? Do I look like Im ready to be a grandmother?"
"No, but thats just the way it happens. Ill make sure I make a special trip back to see you bouncing your first grandchild on your knee." He teased.
"Do you want another poke in the ribs?"
"Umm if I have a choice Id have to go with no."
"Then shut up."
We walked the rest of the way to the house with the big man chuckling all the way. He went on my list just after Ep and Sol. As we entered to house Melosa came running to me and I scooped her up in my arms. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and then licked my lips. "Mmm Princess you taste like raspberries. What did grandma bring for us?"
"None for you." My little girl teased me as she tweaked my nose. "Nana said. None for you."
"Oh she did, did she? Well Ill bet if I tickle you, youll give me some."
"Nope. None for you. Nana said." She began to squirm and giggle as I gave her a light tickle.
"None for me huh?"
"AHH " She giggled and squirmed harder as I tickled more.
"Gonna give me some now princess?" More tickling.
"NO " A squeal escaped the child Im sure her grand father heard in the Underworld. That was when I felt someone put something to my lips. I took it into my mouth, my mothers raspberry pastries. As I savored the treat Melosa was rescued by her grandmother.
"Hello mother." I said with a kiss as soon as I swallowed.
She laid her hand on my cheek and stroked it with her thumb. "Hello daughter. How are you?"
"Im fine mother. Were all doing very well." I kissed the palm of her hand and smiled as I leaned into it for a moment. "So if I tickle you can I have another one of those?"
"Tell you what, if you dont tickle me you can have another one."
Herc took my arm to help me to the table. Carefully I removed his hand and whispered. "I can do it." I grinned and said for anyone who cared to listen. "Its not so bad now that Ive managed to get Ri to quit moving the furniture." The response told me that we had a house full. I made my way to the table and Ri gave me tea and a plate. After almost a season of this we had gotten down a routine and I knew where everything would be. "Thank you sweetheart."
"Youre welcome." She leaned in and whispered in my ear, "Ill get you for the furniture remark later."
"I cant wait."
Besides my family, my mother and Hercules, Ephiny and Ep were there. Solan and Alana were off in a corner making wedding plans. Theran was in front of the fire playing with Kai and someone was on my couch sound asleep. The incessant snoring gave him away, Autolycus. He was one of my best friends, but the man could snore loud enough to shake the columns in Athens.
"Herc could you wake sleeping beauty there and take him to the spare room. Hes giving me a headache." Before long I heard a groggy Auto being led into the spare room.
I felt two little hands on my leg as my son pulled himself up and began patting my lap. This was a clear hold me command from the young prince. "Comere you." I brought him into my lap and gave him small piece of the sweet pastry. He was going to be sticky before it was over. I was going to be sticky before it was over, but he was happy as he gummed the treat into submission.
"So is everybody ready for the wedding?" My mother asked as Kai and I battled for the piece of pastry I was trying to eat.
"Well I think Xenas more nervous than shes willing to admit." Ep said with a chuckle.
"If you make one crack about my future as a grandmother so help me Ill throw you in the lake." I warned my wifes champion with a low growl.
"Take it from me daughter theres nothing wrong with being a grandmother."
"I never said there was. Besides, you realize the day I become a grandmother is the day you become a great grandmother."
"Oh yeah. I never thought of that. Makes me sound as old a Hera doesnt it? Well no difference. My children and my grandchildren are a gift and the Gods can gift me as many times as they would like."
"Oh youre just too easy to get along with mother. Has anyone heard from Joxer and Meg?"
"They wont be able to make it sweetheart." Mother offered. "Megs expecting you know and its close to her time."
I had a hard time picturing Joxer as a father, but he and Meg had waited along time for this baby and after all that Ri and I had been through with our bunch I could certainly understand not wanting to risk it by traveling. It was then that I heard the soft involuntary gasp from Gabrielle. I offered her my hand and she took it, running her thumb over mine.
"Okay you two whats wrong?" There was no escaping the issue with my mother.
"Well mother umm Ri and I wont be having anymore children. Adrin doesnt think we should risk Ris health and I agree with her."
There was a long silence, a deafening silence. I hated it when it was like this.
"Well then well just have to hope Solan makes you a grandmother soon wont we?"
"Boy you guys just arent going to let this one go are you?"
The days to the wedding passed quickly. Too quickly for Solan I think. The morning of, I found him out in the barn with his mare. So much like me in my early days with Ri. I always found solace with Argo when I was nervous or things werent going well.
"Nervous?" I asked as I made my way to him and leaned on the gate of the stall.
"Would you believe me if I said everything was going to be fine?"
"I know that. I just cant help it. What if I mess up the vows?"
I chuckled. Boy did this bring back memories. "You wont."
"How do you know?"
"I was afraid of the same thing when I married your mom and I got through it okay. You will too."
"Am I doing the right thing?"
"Do you love her?"
"Can you imagine your life being complete without her?"
"Then youre doing the right thing. Im happy for you son. I wasted years with your mom because I was too unsure of what to say to her." I paused and added quietly. "Because I was scared."
"You scared? Youve never been scared of anything in your life."
"Only of your mom." He laughed and we left the barn, my arm wrapped firmly around my sons waist. "Be good to her son and make her happy."
"I will. I hope we can be as happy as you and mom are."
I awoke the next morning and found that Hephaetus had moved into my head and was pounding out something with sharp and exact blows and that Poseidon had taken up residence in my stomach. Im not sure what died in my mouth. Very slowly I felt around the bed. Ri was gone. Well it had finally happened. Not only was I hung over to the point of wishing that my father would come claim me, but I had just lost a long standing bet with my wife. Having no desire to consider the consequences of this at the moment I pulled a pillow over my head and waited to die.
I heard the door open oh how it opened. Had it always been that loud? Since when did Ri wear heavy boots? Now that she was seated next to me on the bed why did she insist on making it rock like that? The pillow lifted from my face and for the first time in nearly a season I was glad I couldnt see. Im sure that it would only have made it worse.
"Good morning love." She said, with so much sweetness I could almost taste it. "How you feelin this morning?" Why was she yelling?
"Hmm-hmm. Thought as much. Here this should help."
She placed the cup in my hand and I knew immediately it was my hangover remedy. All I had to do now was get upright enough to drink it.
"So it would seem that being half God doesnt keep you from having a really, really bad hang over does it?"
Oh the tone of that question told me I must have said some positively stupid things last night.
"Here let me help you so we can get that potion of yours into you." She said as she helped me sit up just enough that I could bring the cup to my lips and sip.
The first taste was always the worst and I knew I always made a terrible face. This time was no different except the wife chose to be uncharacteristically unsympathetic to my plight. She was even laughing just a little under her breath.
"Want some thing to eat?" Her mouth was close to my ear as she whispered these unkind words.
I could only moan my displeasure at that idea. Gods why was she being so cruel this morning? After a couple more mouthfuls of the drink I finally found my tongue. Turns out it had curled up somewhere in the back of my throat.
"Youre mean." I said softly, not wanting to rattle my brain anymore than need be.
"Im not being any meaner today than you were last night."
"Oh what did I do?"
"You mean you dont remember?"
"So youre claiming ignorance?"
"Total and complete."
"So you dont remember throwing me over your shoulder and announcing to anyone who cared to listen that you were going to bring me home and make love to me until I passed out."
"Well you brought me home and made love to me until you passed out."
"Oh Gods. Im sorry."
"Oh I didnt say you had anything to be sorry for." She purred as she stroked my cheek. "It was just kind of embarrassing thats all."
"The announcement or the love making?"
"The announcement the other was actually quite nice."
"Thanks." I paused as I remembered something Ri had said at the party last night. "Did Hades really show up?"
"Yes he did."
"He wanted to wish his grandson well. Is there something wrong with that?"
"No except that I seem to remember him scaring the Tartarus out of everyone when he arrived."
"Well thats true. Thats when you really started drinking."
"What exactly did I drink?"
"I was afraid of that. Oh Ri Im sorry. Is Solan mad at me?"
"Oh no. He and Alana had left long before you got really hammered."
"Good. Please dont say hammered, it just makes the pounding worse."
"So I guess youre going to lose that bet with Hercules and Autolycus huh?"
"What bet?" Somehow I could tell it just wasnt going to be my day.
"You bet them that you would be up and ready to spar with both of them before mid morning."
"Oh Gods." I pulled the pillow back over my head.
"So should I just go pay them now?"
"No. Ill do it. I just need to finish this." I said giving the cup a slight shake.
There was a knock at our door. "Come in." Ri called. I listened. Great Theran, just what I needed this morning.
"How you feeling Xena!" She called, much louder than needed, but hey this was Theran.
I brought my head out from under the pillow and tried to stare her into submission. It didnt work very well these days, but I had to give it a shot.
"That good huh?" Her laughter was as cruel as the sweetness in my wifes voice. "Well anyhow I brought you a gift." She came over and sat on the other side of the bed.
Ri started to get up but Theran reached across my body to stop her. "No stay." There was movement and I flinched as I felt a hand cover my eyes. "Close them Xena." I did as Theran said. Her hands remained over my face for a moment and then I felt my head being turned. "Open them."
"Ri " It was all I could say as her beautiful face came into focus for the first time in almost a season.
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