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.
Other: Part Forty-eight in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes six months after "Warriors Will Be Warriors
Coming of Age
The music was loud and very fast. I could only sit back and smile as I watched Mel and her friends celebrate another of her birthdays. A very important one this one, her twelve season. By Amazon custom Mel was no longer a child. She was now a member of the tribe and would be expected to perform the duties associated with that position.
I smiled as I watched, all too aware that my baby was no longer a baby. She was currently standing several paces back from Xe in the center of the square. I just shook my head knowing what was coming. I wasnt disappointed. She gave her version of that famous battle cry and started off at a full run. Xe laced her fingers together holding her hands below her waist , Mel jumped, placing her foot in the cup of her mothers hands as Xe pushed up, sending Mel flying backward through the air. She did a double flip, ending in a half twist, landing perfectly on her feet. She smiled, Xe smiled. I just shook my head again. They did so enjoy trying to scare me half out of my mind.
It doesnt matter to me that my daughter is now considered and adult in the eyes of our tribe and our nation. She is still my first born and my baby. I sipped my wine as Xe made her way over to the table taking her seat next to me. "Having fun?" I slipped my hand into hers.
"Actually I am." She reached over and took my cup draining it before handing it back.
Looking into my now empty cup I just sighed. "Im glad."
"Ri whats wrong?"
"Unt-huh. Dont even try it. Come on whats wrong?"
"Shes grown up."
"Well now that depends on how you look at it."
"Oh it does huh?"
"Yeah. Sure as far as the amazons go shes an adult, but as far as youre concerned shes still a little girl." She leaned over placing her forehead to mine. "And my love theres nothing wrong with that. Youre her mother. She is of your body. Shes always going to be a little girl in your eyes. No matter how big she gets." She kissed my forehead and brushed a tear from my cheek with her thumb. "Hard to watch them grow up isnt it?"
I nodded and smiled as I watched Mel with her friends. Even at her young age she was tall and strong, just like Xe. She had the same intensity, the same passion for life. I wondered why I had been blessed with two such magnificent people in my life. I looked to my soulmate and I knew why I had been given such a wonderful gift. Mel was Xenas heir she would carry on the nobility, the honor and the beauty that was my consort.
I reached out and ran my fingers through Xenas hair. They gray was becoming more pronounced and it only served to make her look even more dignified. "I love you." I whispered.
She turned to me with a smile. "And I love you." She took my hand as she brought her chair closer to mine. "Ri come on now this is suppose to be a happy time." She placed her arm around my shoulder drawing me close to her.
"I am happy Xe. Im so very happy."
"So happy youre sad, right?"
"Yeah sort of." I gave her a little smile as she hugged me close to her. I continued to watch Mel, I was proud of the young woman our daughter was becoming.
Xena sat quietly at the table picking through her meal as I took a deep breath and tried to take in what had just been said. Kai, Kessa and Rosa sat there deciding it was best to be quiet too.
"Its really what I should do." Mel looked at me as she leaned in on the table.
"Why do you feel its necessary to move to the village?"
"Because all of the other senior students live in the barracks there. I should too."
"Mel youre position doesnt require ."
"My position is making my life miserable Mom. If I hadnt given up the throne it might be different, but since I did, Im just like everyone else now."
"Youre still a princess of the nation."
"I know, but in title only and because of that I need to go be with everyone else. They think Im using the princess thing to get special treatment. If I want to convince them otherwise then I need to be just like them."
"So you think moving into the barracks will solve that problem?" Finally my silent consort speaks!
Mel looked down at the table to Xe who was now lounging back in her chair, staring at our oldest. "Yeah I think it will help a lot. Maybe theyll see Im not so different. If Im doing all the same duties they are ."
"Mel, your birthright and your parentage make you different." Xe continued as she sipped her tea.
"Only because weve let it." She sighed as she picked through her meal. "Im not trying to be difficult, Im really not. I just thought that it would be easier. I mean Im going to have to perform village patrols now and help with the training of the younger girls ."
Xena held up her hand to silence Mel. "Well think about it."
I took Mels hand, giving it a squeeze. "Yes, we will at least consider it."
I sat in front of the fire watching the flames dance back and forth. I felt a nudge to my shoulder as the wine cup was handed down to me. "Thanks."
"Welcome." Xe took her place next to me. She sipped her wine as she too stared into the flames.
"Should we let her?"
"Well, she does have a very valid argument."
"I know, dont you just hate that?" I chuckled as I drew my legs up, curling them under my body and leaning against Xe.
She put her arm around me as she sighed. "Yeah I sure do."
"You know we really dont have a choice."
"Sure we do. We could tell her no."
"And by doing that we are making her different. All the other girls her age are living in the barracks now."
"You know I hate these conversations when we know we really dont have a choice in the matter."
"Then I guess were gonna help her move out huh?"
"Ah, I see this disturbs my stoic warrior than shes willing to admit huh?" She just tilted her head slightly as she gave me her look out of the corner of her eye. "Yup bugs you just as much as it bugs me." I smiled as I laid my head on her shoulder. She just growled a little, as we continued to stare into the flames.
She looked around her room as she considered what to take with her. "Can I leave some of my things here?"
"Nope youre moving out, it all goes." Xe chuckled from the doorway. We turned to see her smiling.
I turned back to Mel and shook my head. "Of course you can leave some of your things here."
"Good Id rather not take my formal robes over there. It would kind of be like a reminder you know."
I heard Xena groan. I turned back to the spot where she had been standing just to catch a glimpse of her moving way from the door.
"Is she mad at me?"
"No shes not mad. She trying to accept all of this gracefully."
"Thats not what gracefully sounds like."
"It is for her." I sat down on her bed, giving it a pat. She sat down next to me. "Did I ever tell you about the night you were born?"
I rolled over as Xena slipped into bed. Opening my eyes just a little I could see the sun starting to come up. It had been another long night on patrol for my warrior. I heard her groan just a little as she settles in, wrapping her arm around my very swollen belly. She rubbed her hand over my stomach as the baby moved around, seemingly to say good morning to her mother.
"Umm-hmm. Very tired." She mumbled as she gave me a soft kiss before falling into a deep sleep.
I tried to go back to sleep, but the movement of the baby and the light cramps made it impossible. I lay there for a few moments then slipped out of bed, careful not the wake Xe. Not that it really would have been possible. I looked down into the exhausted face of my warrior as she rolled over, curling into the blankets.
I dressed quietly, leaving our hut. I rubbed my lower back as I made my way to the food hut. Ephiny met me at the door a grinned at me. "Oh is someone a little ."
"Just dont say it Eph. I need some tea." I continue rubbing my back as we went in.
"Gabrielle are you feeling alright?"
"Im just having little cramps and my back is killing me."
Eph counted on her fingers then grinned at me.
"Youre in labor."
"Dont you think Id know if I were in labor?"
"Not necessarily. Sometimes it starts slowly and you cant really tell. Lets go see Adrin."
We walked to the healers hut. Eph pulled the door open and waved me in still wearing a silly little grin on her face.
The healer stood at her counter looking over her medicines. She smiled as Eph closed the door. "Good morning Your Majesty. What can I do for you this morning?"
"The Queen is in labor ." Eph announced before I had a chance to say anything.
"Yes the Regent seems to think I could be in labor."
"Well now let me see." She placed her hands on my stomach moving them slowly around pressing at very points. "Your Majesty please lay down." Eph helped me to the pallet. The healer smiled as she began a more complete examination. "Well we knew there was a good reason that your chose Ephiny as your Regent. Shes right Your Majesty. You are in labor. The very early stages, but labor none the less."
"Told ya." Eph smirked.
"You have a long way to go yet. My guess would be your daughter will arrive sometime tonight."
I felt a multitude of emotions. A great sense of relief coupled with a slight anxiety and just a touch of fear.
"Do you want me to get Xena?" Eph asked as she held my hand.
"No no let her sleep. Theres no reason to wake her if I have some time yet. You might want to find a replacement for her patrols over the next few days."
"No problem there. Ill make sure we do that, even if I have to do it myself."
"Thanks Eph." I looked to Adrin. "So now what?"
"So now we wait Your Majesty. Your daughter will arrive when she is good and ready and not one moment before. In the meantime I suggest you just rest and relax as much as possible."
I nodded, not sure exactly how I was suppose to do that. The cramps seemed to be getting worse.
"Gabrielle why dont you go back to your hut and rest?" Eph said as she helped me sit up.
"No I dont think Ill be able to stay still and I dont want to disturb Xe. She was so tired when she got home this morning."
"Well then be prepared to spend the day with me because I dont intend to incur the wrath of your consort because youre in labor and being stubborn."
I smiled and nodded. "Lets go get that tea."
I sat down in the chair as Eph approached the bed. "Make sure you say her name before you get too close."
She cocked a brow at me as she turns to the bed. "Why?"
"Because if you dont she may throw a punch. I learned that the hard way."
"Xena its Eph. You need to get up now."
"Come on Xena get up. We need to get the bed ready for Gabrielle."
"Why?" She mumbled as she pulled a pillow over her head.
"Because your daughter is going to arrive soon and it would be nice if your wife had a place to give birth." Eph grinned and jumped back as Xena came up out of the bed as if she had been set on fire.
I couldnt help but laugh as she looked around the room as she threw on a robe. She seemed totally disoriented as she ran her hands through her hair. "Gabrielle?
"Over here ." I waved at her. She crossed the room, kneeling at my side and placing her hand on my stomach.
"Oh yeah. I actually went into labor earlier today ."
"Why didnt you wake me?"
"Why? There was nothing you could do and I have a feeling were in for a long night. Ive been with Eph all day, but Adrin thinks its time to get ready. The contractions are getting worse, coming closer together now."
Eph had already changed the sheets on the bed and prepared it for what was about to come. Xena picked me up in her arms, carrying me to the bed and kissing me as she did. "I love you Gabrielle." They helped me undress and get into bed. Xena pulled the sheet up as she moved her hands to my stomach for an examination of her own. "Oh yeah anytime now." I had never seen her smile the way she smiled now. I knew there was no way anyone would be able to get the grin off her face.
"Why dont you get dressed and go get some food. Youre going to need your strength tonight warrior."
"No I dont want to leave you." She ran her fingers through my hair, stroking it gently over and over again.
Eph grinned down at us. "Ill go get you some food." She winked at me as she nodded to Xena and left the hut. She had made a bet with me about how Xena would react to the announcement that our daughter was about to arrive. I maintained that Xena would be calm and her usual relaxed self. Eph said shed be overprotective and nervous. Eph won.
Xena dressed quickly then pulled a chair up to the bed. She took my hand as I gasped with the first really strong pain. "Oh this isnt going to be fun." I grinned as I tried to force myself to relax.
"Well probably not, but Im right here for you. Do you want me to deliver her or would you prefer Adrin do it?"
"Oh I want you right where you are, so I guess Adrin will be doing it." I panted through the pain as she caressed my hand.
"Okay Im right here. Not going anywhere. Not moving a muscle." I laughed as she really did begin to show how nervous she really was. "What? Whats so funny?"
"You. Youd think you had never been around a woman giving birth before."
"Its different this time. I wasnt in love with any of them and it wasnt my child coming into the world. Whole different set of emotions at play here." She leaned in and kissed me.
I sat up slightly with a pain. I felt the tears spring to my eyes. I tried to force them back. Biting my lip I drew deep, long breaths as the pain passed.
"Hey its okay to cry. I know it hurts."
"Dont want to cry. This is a good pain not a crying pain."
"Honey this is a fierce pain. Its okay to cry."
"Cry. When Solan was born?"
"Oh yeah. So you see if I can do it, you can do it." She smiled at me.
I fell back into the bed as she gave her first shrill cry. I smiled as I looked to Xena who was watching Adrin cleaned our daughter and wrapped her up. The warrior was absolutely beaming.
"Xena ." I reached out for her hand. She turned and smiled down at me.
"Oh Gabrielle she is so beautiful."
"Her hair. What color is her hair?"
I sighed and nodded. "Thank you Artemis."
Adrin tried to hand the baby to Xena who put her hands up and shook her head. The healer cocked her head just a bit, then handed our daughter down to me. I cradled her in my arms. The tears came now. She was so beautiful, so perfect. I noticed she seemed awfully small. "Is she okay? She seems so tiny."
"Yes Your Majesty she is just perfect, very healthy and from the sound of that first yell, she has lungs like your consort." She grinned at Xena.
The warrior knelt down next to the bed, reaching a shaky hand over she moved the blanket back. "By the Gods Gabrielle she is beautiful."
"We did good huh?" I smiled at her as she continued to watch the baby.
"Well Im not sure how much I really had to do with it, but you did great."
"Oh Xena you only have to look at her. She is a part of you. Look at that dark hair. She is a part of us both. Just like Artemis promised."
"Gabrielle it doesnt matter to me one way or the other. Shes my daughter and I love her. Ill always love her. Ill always be here for her. She is our future and I intend to see to it that she has a good one."
"So Mel you see, she just wants to make sure that youre doing the right thing. She wants you to be happy."
Mel laughed softly as she looked to the door. "Well Ill be. She really said all that?"
"Every word. You had her heart from the first breath you drew that night. She loves you so very much. You two are bonded in more ways than you will ever be able to imagine. She gave you her heart. You have it now and you always will."
She looked to the door. "Excuse me."
I watched her leave the room. I gave her a moment then followed. As I reached the door, I watched them. They had their arms wrapped around each other in a long loving hug. Xena kissed the top of Mels head then rested her cheek there as she turned to face me. I smiled as I saw the single tear run down my consorts face.
Return to The Bard's Corner