Twenty-Seventh in the Melosa Series
Other: Part twenty-seven in the series "Raising Melosa". Most of the Melosa stories have a gap of about six months between them, but this one takes up right after "The Good Life".
I lay here watching her. Its early and I know shell be waking soon, she always does. Apparently she always has, although I dont remember it. I dont remember much really. I have flashes, but nothing solid, nothing long term.
I want to remember her. I want to remember our life together. She seems so dedicated to the children and me. I do love her, I know I do. I discovered that a few days ago, but somehow it doesnt seem to be enough. Enough for me I mean, she seems very happy.
She tells me she was terrified she was going to lose me. She says that we have spent almost half of my life together. She has me read these scrolls. They tell of great adventures and travels I can only imagine now. Its as if I am now a traveler at an inn listening to one of my own stories. I have no memories, only the words from the scrolls.
She stirs slightly, her face twitches. I see the lines that have formed around her eyes. Her mother tells me they are laugh lines and that I put them there. I brush back her dark hair and see that it is slowly going gray. Her mother says the children put those there. She is so strong and beautiful now she must have been truly magnificent when we first met.
The scrolls tell of a fierce warrior. A woman capable of cutting a man in half with a look, a word or a sword all with equal skill. Of battles fought for the greater good and of her own redemption. As I look at her now I wonder if she has forgiven herself for whatever darkness it was that consumed her so. She has promised to tell me everything anytime I ask, but Im not sure Im ready for that yet.
They also tell of a tender caregiver. I read one the other night as she lay sleeping next to me about a time when Melosa was just a baby and she had a fever. Apparently Xena refused to leave the childs side. Sleeping very little and eating even less. She stayed with her day and night for almost a week until the fever finally broke. As I watch them now I can believe every word of that one. You can see the connection between them, its almost something you can reach out and touch.
Of course I have never seen her as anything but firm and fair with all of our children. They know how far they can push her before she loses her temper very rarely do they take it that far.
She has nightmares. I realized what they were a few days ago, when her anguished cries woke me from a sound sleep. I wonder what theyre about. I know that a soft touch and a quiet word from me seems to ease them and shell sleep through them. I am more than happy to ease her pain as she has eased mine. We must share something so very, very special. I dont remember it, but I feel it none the less.
She stirs again, shifting closer to me, draping her arm over my waist. Her touch seems so absolutely natural to me. I know I belong here with her, with our children. I look at her hand. Its rough from years of holding a sword and hard work. Ive seen her wield her sword during her drills. She controls the blade and her body with grace and precision, she most certainly must be a deadly opponent in combat. Ive also watched her as these hands repaired a fence of our corral, so strong and capable.
Yet they can be so gentle. Lifting our son from the ground and tending to a scraped knee or elbow. Holding one of the twins close to her at night as they fall asleep in her arms. Touching me. Loving me. Gods how gentle they are then. They make my own body scream with passion and desire. These hands are as amazing as the person they are attached to.
"Hmmm " She stretches against me and pulls me close as she begins to stir. I curl up next to her. "Youre awake early." She says softly. "Trouble sleeping?"
"No just awake." I say as I snuggle in close to her. Her arms wrap around me, Gods I feel so safe here.
"Kidsll be up soon." She says smoothly in my ear. I smile. I may not remember, but Im already learning her seductive tone.
"Yes they will. Dont you think we should get up and get the fire going?" I tease her.
"I think maybe youve got a fire going of your own right here wife." She growls playfully as she nuzzles my neck.
Were both up long before any of the children. With a silly little grin on my face I get the water for the tea as Xena builds the morning fire. As I walk back and give her the water our eyes meet and our smiles widen. "Oh just stop." I can feel the blush spread across my face.
"Youre so cute when youre embarrassed." She says as she puts the water on.
"And you just love doing it to me." Oh I realize the double meaning of that as soon as its out of my mouth and the blush deepens. "Not one word Xena, not one damn word."
"Watch your language." She says with a very self-satisfied little smirk. As she prepares to fix breakfast. "You know its too bad that you dont remember how to do this because you were always better at than I was."
"Whats that?" I ask as I hand her the spices she prepares the meat with.
"Cooking." A sleepy little voice offers. I turn and see Melosa emerging from her tent. Shes rubbing her eyes and yawning. "She could write a scroll on a hundred and one ways to ruin water." Mel comes over and places herself in my lap. I hold her close to me. "What she does to food shouldnt be allowed." Mel mumbles as she snuggles down into my arms.
Xena has already gotten a blanket from our tent and drapes it over Mel who is dozing in my arms now.
"Thank you." I whisper.
"Well when shes right, she right." Xena chuckles as she returns to breakfast. "I miss those dumplings."
"Dumplings?" I ask as my lips brush Mels forehead in a soft kiss.
"Yeah you use to make these little dumplings with this red filling. Ohhh they were good. You use to bribe me with them when you wanted something."
"Oh really? What kind of things were these little dumplings good for?"
"ANYTHING!" She said with a big grin.
"Well theres only one thing better and Ive already had that this morning." She wiggled those damn eyebrows at me. I found myself wondering how she did that. They seemed to work independently of each other. I just shook my head. " Whaaat?" She asked in that ever so sweet voice of hers,
"Nothing. I have no comment for you because if I say anything youll just turn it around on me and make me blush again and I think Ive done quite enough blushing for you this morning."
"Why YES you have and I thank you for it." She turned the meat and added the eggs.
She still managed to turn it around. Oh shes so lucky I have Mel in my lap. The sound of another child rising floats to my ears. Its one of the twins. Rosa I think. She tends to be fussy in the mornings. I hand Mel to Xena who re-wraps her and makes her comfortable on the ground next to the fire. I head into the tent that the girls have been sharing. Rosa is sitting up and rubbing her eyes. She reaches for me. "Momma." I wrap her in a blanket and take her into my arms. She clings to me. "Momma I awake."
"Only about half little one." I tell her as I move outside and settle down with her in my arms. She continues to rub her eyes as she fights falling back to sleep. This is so bittersweet for me. These children, these loving, bright, beautiful children, my children, our children. These children that I carried in my body, gave birth to, fed at my breast, the children I dont remember. Gods they love me so unconditionally and trust me with their very lives.
I dont remember any of them as babies. I dont remember holding them for the first time or feeding them for the first time. Or hearing their first cries after they were born. I dont remember first words or first steps. I only know them as they are right now. Mel, so much like Xena, oh there is no doubt in my mind about her. She is a walking, talking copy of the original and far too bright for her own good. Shes going to be a handful for us as she gets older. Kai, hes so sweet and he absolutely worships the ground Xena walks on. Rosa, the sweet bundle in my arms, seems to be my baby. She always wants to be close to me and constantly demands my attention, which I am more than happy to give so freely to her. Her sister Kessa, much quieter, but a happy child and very independent. I hope I am half the mother to them now that I was then. Xena is so good with all of them she just amazes me. No matter how tired she is, no matter what kind of day she has had, she always has time for them. She can take them separately or as a group, but she never fails to find time for them.
Rosa is asleep again. Shes clutching my tunic and looks so peaceful. I love them so much. Xena gives me a gentle nudge and hands me a cup of tea as she takes the baby and lays her out next to Mel, making sure theyre both covered. Then she fixes a plate of food and slides in behind me and wraps me in her arms.
"Whaddya say I hold you for awhile huh?" She says as she slips the plate into my hands.
"This is nice." I settle back into her and begin eating my meal. I offer her a bite over my shoulder, which she accepts. "Hey this isnt too bad." I offer as I try the eggs.
"Nah its hard to mess up eggs." She laughs lightly as she swallows. "But dont rush to judgement you still havent tried the pork."
Deciding there was no time like the present I try the meat on the plate. Its not good. As a matter of fact its really bad. Its everything I can do to swallow it. I feel her chuckle as she hands me my tea and I take a deep drink.
"That bad huh?" She said with a laugh.
"Umm well its not good." I feel bad about saying it, but it is the truth.
"Then dont eat it."
"Oh I cant believe you let me put that in my mouth."
"Come on its not that bad."
"Yeah, yeah it is. I need to learn to cook again." I laughed softly as I took another drink of my tea.
Just as I was about to be subjected to some rather terse comment from my warrior I looked up to see the rest of the family walking over the ridge to join us. Solan, Alana, Little Gabrielle and of course Cyrene, who had now taken up residence with Solan and Alana. I gave Xena a little nudge and pointed at them walking toward us.
"We thought wed come see how you were surviving life in the wilds." Solan laughed as he put the baby down.
She was wide-awake and wasted no time in running to us. She practically threw herself into my arms. "Nanna." She snuggled into me and gave me a fierce hug. My granddaughter, Gods so much was missing, yet I was so blessed by the Gods to be here with them. They knew me and they loved me, no questions no concerns. I held her close to me and gave her little kisses, which made her giggle.
"Well apparently wed be a lot better off if I wasnt cooking." Xena said as she got up to help Cyrene. Mother Cyrene was still perfectly capable woman, but for some reason Xena was finding it difficult not to be a tad over protective of her mother. Cyrene would humor her for all of about a quarter of a candle mark before letting her have it.
Cyrene sat down and accepted a hot cup of tea from Xena and then leaned over to take a bite of the eggs still left in the pan. It was clear from the expression on her face she was not impressed.
She picked the pan up and handed it to Xena. "Get rid of that. You are not feeding that to my grandchildren and dont throw it in the lake. Youll kill the fish."
"Oh hardy har, har " Xena mumbled as she walked a distance away and tossed the food in some weeds. She washed the pan and returned to us. At which point Cyrene took it upon herself to begin preparing something more edible for the group.
Solan for his part was trying without great success to hide his amusement at what was transpiring between his mother and grandmother. He tried to hide his laughter behind his fist as he pretended to cough a lot. Alana just sat there with her head down and a huge smile on her face, trying not to catch the warriors attention.
"All right laughing boy come with me. Xena said as she grabbed our son and drug him into a field and tossed him one of the practice staffs she had brought with us so she and Mel could spar. Mel of course had her own smaller staff which she used, but Xena had brought two, explaining that I was quite handy with a staff and if I felt like giving it a try I should.
I watched as she used her foot to kick the other staff into her hand and take up a stance against him. Soon they were engaged in what looked like extremely fierce staff fighting, but you could tell they were both holding back. This was practice, not a fight and they were both perfectly capable of hurting the other if they didnt control their actions very carefully.
"Nanna " An irritated little tug on my tunic brought me back to the face of my granddaughter. "Nanna Ri."
"Yes sweetheart." I brushed back her hair from her face.
"Tea " I held my mug so she could have a drink of the warm tea. She took her drink and smiled at me as she fell into me and lay her head on my shoulder watching her father and her grandmother. "Daddy "
"Yup thats your Daddy. Whos that with him?
"Nanna Eea." Little Gabrielle had some problems with that z sound. I smiled because I knew Xena hated the Eea thing. She said it made her feel like a fish or an eel or something slimy.
"Xxeena." I tell her putting the emphasis on the z sound.
"NO!" Little Ri argued with me shaking her head.
"Okay have it your way. Shell get use to it."
Kai stumbled from his tent with Auto on his heels. With the puppy up and offering wet sloppy kisses to anyone who would hold still it wasnt long until our little camp was alive and full of the sounds of happy children. All except for Mel who threatened to make a dog-skin rug as she trudged toward the lake for a swim. Solan and Xena sparred for almost a full candle mark before Solan made a mistake and Xena dropped him to the ground. He lay there for a moment and then allowed her to help him up.
"Whats the matter old man, cant take it?" She teased him as they came back to us.
"Youre going to be a hundred seasons old and still thumping my backside."
"You better believe it." She told him as she slapped him on the back. Somehow I didnt doubt his words about his mother.
As they came back, Little Gabrielle clamored over to Xena and reached out. "Up!" She demanded.
"Oh well okaayy if you say so." Xena laughed as she picked the baby up. "Boy you get more and more like Nanna Ri all the time."
"And exactly what is that suppose to mean?" I asked with a smile.
"Do you really want to know, right here in front of everybody?" She asked with a smirk as she shifted the baby in her arms.
I thought about it for just a moment before I realized what she was referring to. "No." I said quickly. "Thats quite alright. Dont worry about it."
"Ummm-hmmm. Somehow I figured that would be your answer."
Auto started barking and jumping at something in the weeds then digging furiously he began growling and continued to dig. Xena handed the baby down to me and went to see what all the commotion was about. "Oh for Zeus sake it wasnt that bad!" She growled as the dog proceeded to bury the food she had dumped into the weeds.
We simply couldnt help ourselves as the tears streamed down the cheeks of every person around the fire. The great Warrior Princess stood there with her hands on her hips. Glaring back and forth between her family who was laughing hysterically at her and the black dog who gave two final backward kicks at the food he had just buried deep into the ground so it wouldnt be a threat to anyone else in the future.
If I had to belong anywhere this is where I wanted to be.
The Raising Melosa Series Continues with The Challenge
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