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: Nothing graphic
Other: Part Thirty-nine in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place right after "The Hunt".
Following Her Heart
"Gabrielle if I dont get out of this room Im going to lose my mind!" She growled as she picked at the blanket on the bed.
"Xena you have to let the leg heal. Its only been a week. Adrin says eight weeks will be the minimum time for this to heal." I handed her a cup of tea and sat down on the bed next to her.
"I simply can not stay in bed for eight weeks Ri. Im bored silly as it is."
"Yes I know. Trust me I know. Youve been telling me this for the last two days."
"Well then youve only gotten half the story because Ive been bored for the last four." She grinned and sipped her tea. "Weve got to figure out something anything. If I could just get to the couch, that would be something."
"Oh no warrior. I know better than that. Once you get to the couch then youll want to get to the porch. Then once youre there Ill never be able to stop you "
"Oh Im sure you could catch me of you put your mind to it. Im not moving all that quickly these days." She waved her hand at her splinted leg. "As a matter of fact Im not moving much at all." She tipped her head back, looking at the ceiling. "Do you know how many cracks there are in this ceiling Ri? Two hundred and forty-seven. Two hundred and forty-seven cracks and I know where they all are and how big they are.
She tilted her head back up and looked at me. "And the mattress is getting lumpy. We need to re-stuff it
"In the mornings its too cold in here "
"In the afternoon its too hot "
"None of my friends come see me "
"Xena theyve been by everyday "
"Im bored Ri."
I captured her head in my hands and made her look at me. "Xena stop. Just stop. Ill find a way to get you out to the couch okay?"
"Thank you." The relief in her voice sang volumes. "Then I can count the cracks on the ceiling out there "
"Oh youre just not gonna be happy are you? Are you going to be this way for the next eight weeks?"
"No and yes." She grinned again and gave me a kiss. "Just help me out to the couch."
Helping her get up and then holding her weight on my shoulders so she wouldnt have to put it on her broken leg I helped her from our sleeping chamber to the main room of the house. She settled down on the couch and brought her leg up to rest it. "Damn thing!" She growled as I returned to our room for the pillows to make her more comfortable.
"We need to re-stuff these too." She grinned at me as she tucked a pillow behind her back.
"Yeah well if they didnt have a warrior using them as a back rest they wouldnt need re-stuffed." I put a light blanket over her legs. "Are you hungry?" I brush back a strand of hair from her forehead.
"I could eat. Hey where are the kids?"
"Everyone, thank the Gods, are at lessons."
"Youre sounding a bit stressed there wife " She grinned as she adjusted to get more comfortable.
"Could be because your children are driving me crazy."
"My children? When did they become my children? What happened to our children?"
"When they all started acting like you. I love you darling, I really do but five of you is just a little much." She just grinned at me and adjusted again. I knew she was uncomfortable and probably in a great deal of pain but she would never admit it. "Let me get us something to eat. Ill be right back."
When I returned to the main room. Solan had arrived and he was helping Xena stand up. He handed her two long poles with padded forks near her underarms and grips for her hands about half way down.
"Hi Mom." My son grinned at me as my warrior got a feel for the walking sticks.
"Oh terrific you made her mobile." I teased as I sat the bowls of stew on the table and watched as Xena carefully made her first tentative steps holding the weight off the injured leg.
"Ohh I like this." Xena gave me a bright smile as she moved to me. "This is good. Our son is a brilliant young man."
"Our son just likes to find new and exciting ways for you to get into trouble. You know youre not suppose to be up."
"Come on Ri Im not putting any weight on the leg and now I can get around by myself."
I sighed when I realized just shouldnt argue with her. "All right I know it wont do me any good to tell you what a bad idea this is "
"Youre right it wont." She gave me a soft kiss and turned back to Solan. "Thank you very much. This was truly inspired my boy."
"Well to be honest." He grinned at me again. "I really made them for you Mom."
"Me?" I was a little confused now.
"Yeah I figured at this point she was driving you completely crazy." He sat down at the table as Xe mad her way over and took a seat next to him. "So I thought if I could make it possible for her to be a little more independent it would be less work for you."
I nodded and just sighed. "Thank you. Im sure that it will help."
Xena gave me her best I told you so" look and took one of the bowls of stew. She sniffed it and then took the other one. She was looking for the black pepper I always spiced her food with. Satisfied that the second bowl held her stew she settled down to eat. She winked at me as she blew on the stew before taking the first bite.
"Solan are you hungry?"
"No Mom actually Ive got to be getting back over to the house I have a mare that is due to deliver any moment."
"Umm speaking of that," Xena swallowed and waved her spoon at Solan as he stood up. "Have you found ponies for Kessa and Rosa yet? Theyre a solid season behind their brother and sister and I want to get them riding as soon as my leg heals."
"Im going on a horse drive in two weeks and Ill be getting them then. I was going to ask you. If its all right Id like to take Kai with me. I think hed really enjoy it."
"No!" The word was out of my mouth before I even realized it. Solan and Xena both turned to me apparently shocked by the outburst.
"Ri what in the name of "
"Im sorry. Im still a little shaken by your hunting trip." I shook my head and cleared my throat. "Of course you can take Kai if you want Solan."
He moved to me and wrapped his arms around me. "I promise everything will be okay. Well only be gone three days. Ill take good care of him."
"I know you will. Im sorry " I hugged my son, knowing I trusted him to take his brother on the drive. Xenas failed hunting trip with Mel just had me a little on edge. I had a feeling I still hadnt gotten the whole story from either one of them.
"Its okay. I understand, but this will be good for him."
"I agree. Ill make sure hes ready."
"Thanks. Well I had better get back." He gave me a little kiss on the forehead and released me. Returning to his mother he did the same and then headed out the front door.
I sat down at the table and stirred a spoon through the stew, suddenly not very hungry. "I just made a complete fool of myself didnt I?" I asked her without looking up.
"No." I felt her take my hand. I looked up into those beautiful blue eyes. "You acted just like a mother. Solan understood. Actually we wouldnt have expected less from you."
I just shook my head. "Hey theres something more to this. Whats wrong?"
"Xe what arent you telling me about the hunting trip?"
She drew a deep breath and licked her lips. "Mel wants to talk to you."
"Honey I promised her Id let her talk to you. Why dont you talk to her after she comes home?"
I looked at her. She wasnt going to betray Mels trust on this one. I just nodded. "Okay I will."
Mel sat at the table looking at me and then looking down at the table. Xena reached out and took her hand and gave it a little squeeze. "Its okay. Go ahead." She assured our daughter. She looked up at me again and drew a deep breath before sighing and nodding.
"Mom I love you and I dont know how to say this because I know that its going to hurt you and I dont want to do that." She sighed again.
"Its okay Mel. Whatever it is well work it out together."
"I know that you expect me to take the throne when Im old enough. But the truth is " she paused and looked at me. "I dont want it. I think that you should give it to Kessa and Rosa."
I hadnt known what to expect but this was the last thing I expected. I remained quiet and tried not to let all the emotions I was feeling show on my face. I looked to Xena who pursed her lips together and waited for me to say something. All I could do was nod my head and sigh.
"Are you all right?" Mel stood and approached the side of my chair.
I turned to her and wrapped my arm around her waist and gave her a little hug. "Of course I am sweetie." I kept my voice even and smooth as lied to my daughter. The truth of the matter was I felt as if my heart had just been torn from my chest. I gave her a smile and another hug. "Why dont you go get ready for bed."
She kissed me and gave me a long loving hug. "I love you Momma. Im sorry if I hurt you." Her voice cracked just a bit as she gave up the hug and turned for her room.
I watched her go and close the door behind her. I turned to Xena. "You knew?" My voice quivered. She nodded slowly. "You could have warned me Xena."
"Mel wanted to handle it."
"Do you have any idea how much that hurt? You should have warned me."
"Ri I "
"No dont say anything. I really have no desire to hear any excuse." I got up from the table and went to the door. "Just give me a few moments will you? Dont follow me. I need time to think."
"Gabrielle please " She began to get out of the chair reaching for her walking sticks.
I turned to her and raised a hand. "Damn it Xena I mean it! Just let me go." I watched as she eased herself back into the chair. "Thank you."
I left the house and walked out into the cool air of the evening. I walked slowly to the lake trying to let my mind wrap itself around what Melosa had said to me. She didnt want the throne. She had no desire to succeed me. I felt the tears running down my cheeks as the hurt just took over. I stopped by the lake and wiped my cheeks.
"Gabrielle " Her voice was soft in my ear. I turned to find Artemis standing behind me. She opened her arms and I stepped into her embrace. "She is so much like Xena."
I just nodded. I knew it was true.
"You have to know that this is Mels own choice. She was not influenced in anyway by your warrior."
I sighed when I realized that somewhere in the back of my mind I had started to blame Xena for Mels decision.
"I always thought she would follow me." I said as Artemis continued to hold me.
"Yes and your parents always assumed that you would marry a young man from your village and be a farmers wife." She turned me in her arms and looked down at me. "Can you deny your own child the chances you wouldnt deny yourself? Think of why you have Melosa. She was born to you and the warrior you chose to follow even after your parents had your future planned for you."
"Youre right of course. It just hurt so much when I heard her say it."
"I know it did, but you have to let her know you understand. Shes very upset. Shes afraid that she has really hurt you, that you will love her less now. You need to return to your home and go to your daughter."
I nodded and stepped back as she disappeared, her voice lingered briefly. "And dont be too hard on your warrior. She was only keeping a promise to your daughter. It is her code. It was her honor that bound her to her promise to Melosa."
I headed back to the house and entered slowly. Xena sat at the table with her forehead resting against her fingertips. She looked to me but didnt say anything. I moved to her and wrapped my arms around her shoulders. Kissing her on the neck. "Im sorry."
"No Ri Im sorry. I was just keeping my promise to Mel "
"I know. Its okay. I need to go see her. Ill be back." I kissed her again and headed for Mels room.
I entered slowly. Kessa and Rosa were sound asleep in their beds. Mel was sitting up against the wall in her bed, her head buried against her knees. I could tell she was crying softly. I crossed and sat down and pulled her into my arms.
"Im so sorry Momma Im so sorry." She cried into my arms. "I didnt mean to hurt you."
"Shhh its okay. Its okay." I stroked her hair as I rocked her gently. "I love you Mel. Nothing with ever change that. All I ever want you to do is follow your heart. I was just reminded that I followed mine and because of it I was blessed with you and your brothers and sisters. How could I deny you the same chance to be happy? No matter what you do with your life Ill always love you and Ill always be here for you."
I felt her exhale with great relief as she nodded against me. "Thank you."
"So my little one do you know what it is that you want to do?"
"No. I just know that Im not the leader these people need. If I tried I would only fail. That would be worse than not trying at all. Youre a great queen. I would never be able to do you justice. Id hate to fail you in that way."
"You could never fail me Mel. Im glad youre following your heart. Ill support you in any way I can when you decide what it is you want to do. Now my little one its time to sleep." I tucked her in and pulled the blanket up over her. "Dont ever forget that I love you." I kissed her and quietly left her room.
In the main room Xena had moved to the couch. I sat down next to her and took her hand.
"Ri I really am "
"Dont apologize again. I understand, I really do. I was just a little shocked thats all. Im okay."
"Are you sure?"
"Im sure. She has to do the same thing we did. She has to follow her heart. I think shes going to follow you." I smiled at her and squeezed her hand.
"Did she say that?"
"No, but I can tell. She has your warriors heart. Just promise that when she asks you will train her well Xena. Make her as good as you are."
"If and when she asks I promise."
She pulled me into her arms and we just sat there watching the fire together, preparing ourselves mentally for what would need to be done to prepare our oldest daughter for the path that she would choose.
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