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.
Violence: Yeah a little bit
Other: Part Ninety-one in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place about a three days "How Do You Tell Her".
A Time to Mourn
I placed a blanket around her shoulders as Xe continued to stir the stew over the fire. She didnt move. She just continued to stare out over the lake. I pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders as I ran my hand through her hair. "Love you honey." She didnt acknowledge me, she just stared forward.
I returned to Xe and sat next to her as I pulled a blanket over my own shoulders. "Im worried about her Xe."
"Shes mourning Ri."
"Shes hasnt cried yet."
"She will when shes ready."
"Do you think you can get her to eat?"
"Im gonna try." She nodded as she dished some stew into a bowl.
I watched as Xe moved to Mel and sat down next to her stirring the stew. She was speaking softly trying to urge her to eat. Mel just shook her head. I know Xe wasnt leaving Mels side until she got her to eat so Im not worried too much about the initial refusal.
Soft footsteps caught my attention. I turned to find Eph coming into our little camp. She sat with me lifting her head toward Mel. "How is she?"
"Not good. She just walked away from us when we told her. Dropping weapons and armor as she did, then she came down here and sat down and hasnt said a word or moved since."
"The funeral is tomorrow. Do you think shes ."
I shook my head. "I dont know."
Her voice was soft, but it was Mel. "Ill be there." I watched as she took the bowl from Xe and they spoke in hushed tones as she ate.
Eph laid her hand on my shoulder. I sighed as I covered her hand with my own. "Lets take a walk. I need to stretch."
"Xe? Honey well be back in a bit."
She lifted her hand to acknowledge me, but she never removed her eyes from Mel. It was the first time in three days Mel had spoken and I knew that Xe didnt want to interrupt her now that she was opening up.
Eph and I walked away from the lake slowly. "Eph we need to cancel the wedding. Tell the council that the priestess will simply marry Xe and I in the temple. Mel was going to propose to Celia and she doesnt need ."
"This is just so unbelievable. I know what she needs to do to get through this and Im worried about the fact that shes not. Shes just staring out over the lake."
"We all mourn in our own ways Gabrielle. This is the first time Mel has had to really grieve over someone she loved. She was just a baby when you lost Xena."
"I know. Gods they seemed so happy together, so content. Its so unfair."
Xe and I stood together off the to side. The entire village had come to honor Celia. During the slide, she was the only one killed and she probably would have made it out too except she sacrificed herself to save a child. As she pushed the child out of harms way she tripped and was buried during the second slide. Caught between the rocks that had already fallen and the ones that fell later there was no chance.
Her body was prepared and atop the pyre. Delia and Tera stood nearest the pyre. We were waiting for one person.
The crowd parted and Mel made her way through. She stopped before Xe and I and just nodded without a word as we both brought a hand to her cheek. Then she turned to Delia and Tera. She spoke softly to them for a moment.
Then she turned. She stood up very straight and took a deep breath. She moved forward to the pyre. I watched as she removed two medallions from a pouch at her hip. She took the first and kissed it, placing it around her own neck. Then she kissed the second and placed it on top of the body. She left her hand on top of the form as she raised her head.
I watched my daughters face contorted as she fought the tears. She looked up and gave a bittersweet smile. "I love you. I know what it means to lose now," She gave a little laugh as she bit her lip. "And I dont like it one damn bit. But you knew that about me didnt you? I miss you my love. Be happy. Well be together again."
She let her hand drop slowly, then she turned and walked away from us into the crowd. I looked to Xe as I heard the horse leaving the village. She read my thoughts without my speaking them and she dashed through the crowd.
Oh Gods! I knew I had to stay, but wanted to follow them. I wasnt expecting Mel to leave the village like that. I took a deep breath as I stepped forward and stood with Delia and Tera.
"Your Majesty?" Delia turned to me as she looked from the spot where Mel had disappeared into the crowd. "She wouldnt?"
"No. I dont think so. Xes gone to find her." I whispered softly as I took her hand. "Are you ready?"
"Yes Your Majesty."
The three of us stepped back and I gave the signal. The archers fired the arrows and we stood there as the fire claimed the young hero who had taken my daughters heart with her.
Damn! Damn! Damn!
Shes good, almost too good. Following her isnt as easy as I thought it would be. Seems I have taught her too well.
I drop from my horse and take a close look at the trees then test the air.
"Mel! Come on Mel talk to me! I know youre here!" I sent my horse off with a slap and started into the trees. "Im not leaving Mel. You may as well come out. Ill find you. Ive got forty seasons on you."
"You taught me every thing I know." She said softly as she stepped out from behind a tree I had just passed. Damn shes good.
I turned to face her.
"So why didnt you prepare me for this?"
"Honey there is nothing I could have said or done that would have prepared you for this."
She began to circle me and I knew what was about to happen.
"You should have tried." She growled.
"Mel no matter what you go through in your life you are never prepared to lose someone you love. Especially when its someone you love the way you loved Celia."
"You know if we hadnt gone away we would have been here. She wouldnt have gone. We could have helped with the slide."
I heard the click and my hand went to my own sword.
"If you hadnt taken me away she wouldnt be dead! This is your fault!"
She rushed me and suddenly I found myself in a fight with her. We fought. We didnt spar, we fought. Her anger made her fierce and I was working to hold her off.
As she moved and swung at me I realized for the first time how deadly she really was. It had been a long time since I had come up against an opponent this dangerous. It was only my many seasons of fighting skill that made it possible to keep her in her place and allow her to get her anger out.
Her anger wasnt misplaced. She needed to be angry with someone and she refused to be angry with Celia. I was the next best thing. It was true I had taken her away.
She managed to get a healthy strike at my arm and I knew I had to get that sword out of her hand. I managed to draw her in and lock our blades. Giving a solid twist I sent her blade straight up and into a tree branch above us.
She gave me a grin I recognized as my own when I was at my very darkest. She moved back quickly and went straight up into the trees.
I heard them and dodged first to the left and then the right. The daggers stuck in the trunk of the tree behind me. "Shit." A tuck and a roll allowed the other two to miss me.
I got to my feet as she dropped back to the ground behind me. I turned to find the tip of her sword at my throat as she reached back and removed the daggers from the tree. Her eyes never left mine. I kept my hand and my sword down.
"You know," She grinned as she tucked the daggers back into her belt. "You taught me to be this way. Are you proud of yourself Mother?"
"You asked for this. You asked to be a warrior."
"You didnt expect this though did you? Didnt expect my dark side to creep out. Thats what the last lessons were supposed to keep from happening, but now thats Celias dead, I have no reason to keep it underneath. Do I? Just like you and Uncle Lyceus. It was his death that put you on the path wasnt it?"
"I felt responsible, yes."
"Just like I feel responsible for Celias."
"Mel it was an accident."
"I should have been here." I felt the tip of her sword pushed into my neck.
"Mel if you want to kill me do it."
"I dont want you dead. I know I cant kill you. I just want to understand. I want to understand why she was taken from me."
"She was doing what her path called her to Mel. The same thing that your Mom and I were taught in India, her Way if you will. Celia died doing what she did best, trying to help people."
"I should have been here!"
"Do you remember when youre Mom got hurt?"
She nodded as her sword dropped a bit. "Yes."
"Do you remember being angry with me because I wasnt there to protect her, to keep it from happening."
She nodded slowly as her blade dropped even further. "Yes."
"I lived with that guilt for a long time. Then I realized that I cant be everywhere, I cant keep things from happening anymore than you can. Ive put the pieces together Mel. Do you know what we were doing when Celia was killed?"
"We were fighting those bandits that tried to rob and kill your Uncle Autolycus and his family. We were following our path Mel and we saved four lives. Celia was following her path and she saved a life. Yes she was killed, but by the Gods Mel she would have been proud of you. You should be proud of her."
"I am proud of her."
"Then make her proud of you Mel. The dead can hear your thoughts. Tell her you love her. Tell her everyday. Dont let her death destroy you Mel. Let it make you stronger."
She dropped her sword and fell to her knees sobbing. I knelt down and pulled her into my arms and let her get it out. "I love you Mel. Celia loved you. Honor her memory by letting it make you grow stronger and wiser. Dont ever forget the love you shared with her. Let it be a light in your soul forever. Let that light keep the darkness from claiming you."
She nodded against me as she continued to cry. "I want her to be proud of me."
"She is Mel. She is. I promise you."
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