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 Eighty-three in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place right after "Fearless"
The Rules of Engagement
Im trying to hide the grin on my face I really, really am, but I just cant. The council has refused to simply void the divorce. Which now means that Xe and I have to go through the entire courtship, proposal and ceremony all over again. Xe is absolutely fuming.
The courtship, the council has decreed, must last at least half a season and during that time we must at least sleep apart and they would prefer we live apart. There is to be absolutely no sex between us during that time. I cant help but laugh that the first part has to be chaperoned as well. If they make too many more rules Im afraid shes going to back out and forget the whole thing.
The proposal, the council has decreed, must be made in front of the entire village, on bent knee. I bring my hand to my lips to try and hide the smile as my suitor narrows her blue eyes at me and lifts a brow. I shake my head as I try to make her believe Im innocent of this. I have nothing to do with what they are doing. She doesnt believe me. I can tell, by the way shes scowling at me. I love it when she does that. Some part of her is still that bitter warlord who has a mouthy tag along with her. That look worked on me twenty seasons ago, it doesnt anymore, but she still tries. Now I just wink at her and smile. She hates that.
The ceremony, the council has decreed, must take place during the spring festival, during the full moon. I wonder as I watch her now why she isnt ranting, shes fighting it with her very soul. I watch as her head twitches behind her hand and her eyes search mine. Oh Ive seen that twitch too many times over the seasons, she is about ready to start hurting people.
"Might I suggest we adjourn for the mid day meal." I offer very quickly before another rule can be tossed out at my very irritated spouse.
Xe remains seated as everyone files out. I move to her and run my hands across her shoulders as she looks up to me. "Tell me theyre kidding. Tell me this is all a joke and theyre going to let me off the hook after the break."
"Well theres nothing I would like more love, but I cant. Theyre not joking. They may be playing with you a bit, but they are serious. This is how they want it done."
"Ri this is ridiculous. We should be allowed to get married again in a nice quiet ceremony ."
"Xe honey. It doesnt matter what we have to go through."
She takes my hand and brings it to her lip. She nods. "I know," She turns her head back and smiles at me. "And youre really looking forward to this arent you? You want to be courted and swept off your feet dontcha?"
"Yeah I thought as much." She draws a deep breath as she smiles at me. "Okay my love if its courtship and romance you want then courtship and romance you shall have. Guess you really didnt get a lot of that the first time around did you?"
"All right then." She stands, straightening her leathers as she does and offers me her arm. "Shall we go eat?"
"Lets." I loop my arms through hers and we leave the council hall.
As we exit the building Eph joins us. Xe turns to our friend giving her an evil little smile. "You did this didnt you Eph? Youre the one who put all these ideas ."
"Hey," Eph throws her ands up in defense. "Wasnt me. I had nothing to do with it."
"Un-huh sure." Xes not convinced. "Im betting that all of my friends had something to do with this."
"Actually darling if they did it would make them more my friends dont you think?" I nudge her a bit as we continue walking.
"Hey Xena look at it this way." Eph was pushing it and she knew it but there was just no way to resist it. "You and Mel can do this together. You can court Gabrielle and Mel can court Celia."
"Ah yeah thats funny. Real funny." I watch as Xe just shakes her head. She stops and pulls the door to the food hut open. Giving me a slight bow as she waves me in. "After you Your Majesty." As I step past her I feel her move in behind me, and growl to Eph. "You can just follow me in, you trouble maker."
Eph laughs as she holds the door for Xe. Oh yeah the entire village is going to have fun with this. Why do I have a vision of being kidnapped in the dark of night and carried off to some small temple, somewhere. Because I know damn good and well that shes very likely to do it.
As I take my seat she leans over and kisses my hand. "Ill take my leave of you Your Majesty ."
"Wait just a," I tug on her hand. "Where do you think youre going?"
"This table is reserved for the royal family Your Majesty. I simply dont qualify."
"Oh sit down and stop being silly."
"I do hate to argue with you Your Majesty, but the council has decreed that this must be a proper courting and it would not be ."
I grab her arm and pull her down. "Sit damn it." Now I get to sit here and listen to Xe and Eph laugh hysterically. "Could you two please behave?"
"We were being perfectly good." Eph laughs as Xe nearly falls off her chair. "Youre the one who broke protocol."
Xe sits up and looks to Eph with a big grin on her face. "How long do you think the abstinence rule is going to last?"
"With you two? Im surprised that one hasnt been broken yet."
I turn on my suitor and give her my most charming smile. "If you dont behave then that will be the one that doesnt get broken."
"Umm-hmm. Eph you want to start the betting or should I?" Xe laughs as she tosses a dinar on the table. I grab the dinar off the table and press it into Xes hand then I pull her to me and whisper in her ear. She nods and returns her gaze to Eph. "Forget I said anything."
Eph snorts as they begin serving our meal. I keep glancing over to Xe who just sits there quietly. Eating and smirking, two things she does really well.
"You know," I say as I lean over and rest my hand on the inside of her thigh. "I could put the rest of the agenda on hold for today. If youd like to umm join me for ."
"Now, now Ri." Xe takes my hand continuing to hold it. "You go back and finish with the council and Ill go to my training classes. Maybe if we can find someone who wants to take a walk with us later ."
"Oh Gods ." What have I let them do to us? The fact that Xe has decided to have so much fun with it Im not finding it nearly as funny. Suddenly this is not amusing at all.
When the council session comes to and end I find her standing outside with Ep. She still got that silly grin on her face. I just shake my head as I take her hand.
"Ep offered to join us."
"Yeah but I got a class of warriors to run through their paces in half a mark so we got to make this quick." Ep chuckles as she gives the ground a little kick.
"Yes Your Majesty?"
"Make like the wind."
I watch as Xe quirks a brow. "Blow." She offers.
"Ah I got you. Are you sure you can trust this warrior Your Majesty?"
"I hope not. Now go away."
Ep laughs as she walks away. Xe simply offers me her arm and we begin walking toward the river. "Im sorry theyre making us do this." I whisper as I take another hold on her upper arm getting just as close to her as I can.
"No youre not." She looks down at me and grins. "Youre loving every moment of this. Youre only sorry now because you know I have absolutely no intentions of breaking the abstinence rule.
"Hey dont get ."
She holds her hand up. "Nope Ri. They want it this way then so be it."
"Look Warrior." I stop her and turn her to face me. "The council isnt the one who has to live without it."
"Well unfortunately now so do you."
"Arrrgghhh ." I just cant come up with anything else as I walk away from her toward the river. That arrogant laugh behind me doesnt help either. Suddenly my attention is caught by a glint of armor. Mel and Celia have apparently decided to spend some time together too. My only concern is the fact that Mel has her hand under Celias tunic. Now granted its on her back but . I motion Xe to join me. I feel her hands on my shoulders as I continue to watch.
"Well now what do you know?" Xe whispers.
"That Celias gonna get lucky and Im not if we dont stop them now."
"Oh yeah. If the Queen isnt then no one is."
"Vindictive too. Oh I like that in a woman.
"Xe Im serious here. Mel is too young to be ."
"No shes not Ri. I suggest we back off and let them enjoy."
"Come on Ri. Theyre young, theyre in love and its bound to happen." She points over my shoulder. "Look at her Ri. Shes happy."
"This is her first crush Xe. Gods I had all kinds of crushes before I ." I realize now would be a great time to shut up.
"Times have changed my love."
"Well what in Tartarus happened to waiting til your married? I did."
"Once. You didnt wait until we were married. I certainly wasnt a Hestian Virgin when I met you."
"Oh Gods Xe thats my baby standing down there by that river."
"Ri, honey. That is an attractive young woman who is about to find about the more intimate side of life. Now we have three choices. We can stop it and embarrass her half way to Tartarus. We can leave now and wait to find out about it later or we can stay here ."
"Oh dont even suggest that! Lets go." I growl, knowing full well Xes right.
We are sitting on the porch of the house when Mel finally comes strolling home. She meets my silent inquiry and smiles at me. "What? What did I do?"
"You tell us." Xe laughs as she sips her tea.
"Huh?" Mel is obviously confused as she looks back and forth between us.
"Hows Celia?" I ask as I readjust next to Xe.
"Shes fine." Mel is still looking at us like weve lost our minds. "Why do you ask?"
"We saw you down by the river." I offer as I wait.
"And your point would be? We were taking a walk."
"Well your Mom seems to think that you two were getting to know each other realllyy well."
"What?! No! We just took a walk. We didnt I mean well not really ."
"Ah Mel," Xe wraps her arm around me. "Honey quit while youre ahead here."
She takes a seat on the steps as she turns to face us. "How do we get on this subject anyhow?" She laces her hand over her knee as she leans back against the porch.
"Well since were down to sitting on the porch sipping tea at the moment ." I give Xe a good hard poke in the ribs to stop this overflow of the mouth.
"Ah I get it. Just because you cant, you think I am."
"That pretty much sums it up." Xe continues as I stretch out, leaning against her. She does enjoy this, teasing Mel that is.
"Well I hate to break this to you, but nothing has happened between Celia and I, that you havent done."
Im pretty sure Mel timed that last comment with the drink of tea Xe was taking because now Im trying to keep my suitor from choking to death on the front porch.
"Mel that wasnt nice." I laugh as I pat and rub Xes back through her coughing fit.
"Neither is trying to pry into my love life. Its not my fault that my parents are exhibitionists, but Im not." She grins as she gets to her feet. She stops and pats Xe on the back. " You know. Everything I do know about the subject I learned from you. I thank you and eventually Im sure Celia will want to thank you too." She laughs again as she goes into the house.
Poor Xe. Shes still trying to breathe as I rub her back. "And youre the one who didnt want to stop them."
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