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: None

Violence: No real violence here just lots of shattered nerves.

Language: Mild


Other: Part Fifty-eight in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place right after "Together." This is from Xena and Mel’s POV



Small Steps

By T. Novan



I looked around the meadow as Ri and I walked hand in hand. "So do you see a spot you like?"

Ri stops and points to a large tree near the tree line overlooking the lake. "There I think."

"She’ll love it there." I smiled as I wrapped my arm around my wife’s shoulders.

"You know, you don’t have to dig…."

"Oh but I do. I owe her that much."


We walked back to the house. I gave Ri a soft kiss then headed to the barn to get a shovel. As I pulled the door open, the early morning sun streamed in falling across her covered form. I moved over and knelt next to the table that held the body.

"Thank you. Thank you for saving them." I fought the emotions I was feeling right then. "I know the truth you know. I know why you came back. I know why you died protecting them. You gave your life for the only woman you ever loved. Yeah I know. I know you loved her. It’s easy to love her. I’m sure Hades sent you to the fields and I know Ri will go there. In the event I don’t make it, you just stay away from my wife." I laughed as I wiped away the single tear that slid down my cheek. "Thank you. Thank you for loving her enough to die for her."

I stood and took the shovel, heading for the meadow to dig her grave. Ri and I had discussed a funeral fire, but something about that just didn’t feel right for Theran. We couldn’t put our finger on it, we just knew it wouldn’t be right.

After digging the grave I moved through the woods collecting stones to ring it with. I also gathered the things I would need to make a marker. By the time the sun started to set everything was ready. I went back to the house to clean up as several amazons moved her body to the meadow. I was proud that Mel carried the litter too. She also understood Theran’s sacrifice.

When I came out of our room the children had just finished their evening meal. I hesitated as I watched Kessa flinch when she looked to me. I gave a shaky little smile, but my eyes were forced away from her. I was ashamed of the fact that this child now feared me.

She asked to be excused from the table. I heard Ri give a quiet word. When I looked back, Kessa was looking past me to her sleeping chamber door. I stepped back into the doorway of our sleeping chamber. My entire body shuddered and tingled as she made a wide path past me to go to her room. When I heard the door close my body fell back into the frame. "Gods…." I dropped my head. "Gods what have I done…."

Ri was at my side. I felt her hands on my sides holding onto to me, supporting me as my legs still threatened to give out. "Xe it’s all right…." She whispered as she helped me back into our room and closed the door. She guided me to the bed where I sat down letting my head drop even further.

"Oh Ri, she can’t stand to be in the same room with me. Did you see the look of panic on her face when she realized that she had to walk past me?" I looked at my hands, they were shaking and I couldn’t make them stop. "What have I done?"

She took my hands in hers, kissing them and rubbing them. "Time love, it’s going to take time."

"She terrified of me Ri…."

"She’s nervous. There’s a big difference." There was a knock on the door. Ri stood moving to the door. She opened it just a little. "Yes?"

I heard Rosa’s voice on the other side of the door. "Mom are you okay?"

Ri sighed, almost exasperated. "Yes sweetheart I’m fine."

"We thought maybe…."

"Rosa you thought wrong. It’s your Mother who is up…." She stopped in mid sentence realizing that using the word upset right now might not be the best thing to say. "It’s your Mother that is hurting right now. We need some time alone."

"Okay." I heard her say softly. "If you need anything…."

"Thank you, but I’m fine and I’ll be fine." She started to close the door.

"Ri leave it open. If they can see I’m not going to hurt you…."

"No." She closed the door then returned to my side. "They need to understand that you’re not going to hurt anyone." She slipped her arm around my shoulders, pulling me close to her. "You need time too Xe…."


We buried Theran under the tree Ri had chosen for her. There were only four of us there to say good-bye. Eph and Mel joined Ri and I for the very quiet burial. Afterward Ri and I stood there for a few more moments as Eph and Mel made their way back to the house. I stood behind Ri with my arms around her waist as we watched the sun go down over the freshly covered grave.



"I need to tell you what her last words were."

"No you don’t Ri. I know what they were. She told you that she loved you."

She turned in my arms. "You knew?"

"I guess I’ve always known."


"Well it was pretty obvious after the first time she met you. Even though she couldn’t see you with her eyes she could see you in her mind and in her heart. You cleared up some of the darkness for her too."



I sat with my brother and sisters at the dining table eating the morning meal. "You know you all need to work on this problem you seem to be having with Mother. She’s not going to hurt you, but you’re all hurting her. You’re killing her with your childish fears."

"Mel," Kai dropped his spoon into his bowl. "You saw it. You saw what she did to Mom…."

"She was sick."

"How do we know she’s better now?" Kessa asked me quietly as she stirred her oatmeal.

I drew a deep breath then stood up. "Come with me." I held out my hand to my little sister. She took my hand and we moved to their bedchamber door. I placed my fingers to my lips signaling for her to be quiet. Then I stepped forward and pushed the door open sticking my head in first. When I made sure that they were ‘presentable’ I brought Kessa to the door. "Look at them…." I whispered.

They lay together, sleeping soundly and peacefully. Mom’s head resting comfortably on Mother’s shoulder. Mother had her arms wrapped around Mom, just as always, protecting her. As we watched she stirred a bit, she turned her face toward Mom, brushing her lips to her forehead without either of them waking. Her lips didn’t move from Mom’s forehead, but they did break into a soft smile.

I pulled Kessa from the room, closing the door quietly. "Does it look like she’s going to hurt her?"


"Does it look like Mom is afraid of her?"


"Then if Mom doesn’t fear her, why should we?"

Kessa let her head drop. "I’m sorry."

I chuckled. "As Mother would say, ‘Don’t be sorry. Just improve.’ Kessa I understand why you’re afraid. I was afraid too." I knelt down to my little sister so I could look her in the eye. "But it’s over now. Mother is better. She isn’t going to hurt anyone, but we need to help her. She feels awfully guilty about what happened and every time you flinch and shy away it hurts her. You don’t want her to hurt us. Why would you want to hurt her?"

"I don’t. I didn’t mean too."

"I know. Do you think that maybe you can try to make it better?"

"I’ll try."

I gave her a hug. "That would be great. Now go finish eating." I stood up and looked to Kai and Rosa as Kessa made her way back to the table. "You’re all going to try. Right?"

They nodded their agreement. "Good. I’m going to go put my armor on I’ll be right back."

"Where you going Mel?" Kai asked as he moved from the table toward the kitchen.

"I have to go over the village and help with the building of the pyres, but I want to do some sparring first and Mother’s just not up to it right now."

"Will you be all day?"

"Most of it. Why?"

"Well, I wanted to go over to the centaur village and see how Bailus’ father is. He was wounded the other night."

"Hmm, well why don’t you see if Mother would like to go with you? It would be a good place for you to start. I know she’d go if you asked her."

He smiled and nodded. "I’ll ask her when she gets up."



I drew a deep breath, stretching a little and getting a very grumpy protest from Ri.

"Hold still…." She growled at me as she tightened her hold around my waist.

"I should get up." I kissed her forehead as I hugged her close.



"No and that’s a royal command Warrior." She kissed my shoulder, then moved as close to me as she could get without actually getting under my skin. "We are sleeping in today. Or at least I am and since I’m using you as a bed…."

"I am too then."

"That’s the plan." She adjusted her head on my shoulder preparing to go back to sleep.

"Can I get in just one good stretch before you nod off again."

She loosened her hold on me. "Stretch, but don’t try to get up."

"No Your Majesty." I stretched my arms above my head working and stretching the muscles through my entire body. "I would never disobey a royal command." As I relaxed once again she curled herself back around my body placing her arm across my stomach and throwing a leg over both of mine. I smiled as I felt her relax again, then I realized just what a good idea this was. I let myself fall back into a deep peaceful sleep.



When I did wake up, my Queen was gone. "Sleeping in my foot." I grumbled as I got out of bed. "You tricked me my little bard. It’s not nice to trick a warrior." I moved to the cabinet and removed my robe.

"Nice no, but very effective." She snickered from behind me.

I turned to find her in the doorway with a cup of tea. I smiled as I wiggled my finger at her. "You tricked me." I slipped into my robe and tied it off.

She wiggled her finger back at me. "Yes I did." She moved into the room, handing me the tea. "You were exhausted and needed the sleep. It didn’t kill you to get an extra two candle marks."

"Ri there’s so much to be done. I should be over at the village…."

"Mel is handling everything over in the village. Besides Kai wants you to take him to the centaur village today."


"It seems that Bailus’ father was in the fight. He was wounded and Kai wants to go see how he’s doing."

"Well then I’ll be in the centaur village. They can probably use some help there too."

"Probably. But I don’t want you going over there and working yourself half to death either."

"Ri what has gotten into you?"

"I know you Xe. Until you come to terms with everything, you’re going to keep yourself so busy you won’t know if you’re coming or going."

"And that a bad thing because…."

"Okay no punches…it’s a bad thing my love because your not thirty seasons old anymore. As a matter of fact you’re close to fifty…."


"I said close to fifty…."

"This has nothing to do with my age."

"Oh yea it does. Xe it’s time for you to relax and enjoy life." She brushes her fingers through my hair. I know what she’s looking at as she does.

"How can I after everything that has happened?"

"Xe I’m not asking you to forget everything that has happened and I’m not asking you not to do what you feel you need to do. I’m asking you to take it easy. I’m asking you not to work yourself to exhaustion. I’m requesting that you come home at a reasonable time, get some rest and then you can go back out tomorrow okay?"

I smile and nod. "All right Ri. I promise to be back before sundown."



Kai and I rode over to the centaur village in relative silence. I didn’t want to push him and he didn’t make any overtures to me either.

"Hungry? We could stop and eat?" I asked as he rode slightly ahead of me.

"Yeah I could eat. Whatcha got?" He turned around and grinned at me.

"Salted pork and Mom’s dumplings."

"Oh now that’s nice. What does she want that we get dumplings…."

"You’ve learned quick my boy." I chuckled as I reined my horse. I dismounted then pulled our food out of my saddlebags. "I had to promise to be back early tonight…."

He slid from the saddle and we sat under a shade tree to eat. "How you feeling?" He asked, as he took a dumpling from the bag I offered him.

"Not too bad. There’s a lot to be done. How are you doing?"

"I’m better now. I’m a little confused I guess. A lot has happened. It’s hard to understand."

"I know. Listen if you need to talk I’m here for you."

He smiled at me as he swallowed. "Same here."



Our arrival in the centaur village was not what we expected. Tyldus met us as we rode in. His news was not good. His village had lost twenty men and centaurs in our fight, among them, Bailus’ father. Kai went to be with his friend as Tyldus and I continued to talk.

"The boy is an orphan now." Tyldus said as he drew a deep breath. "His mother died last winter of a fever."

"Surely he has relatives here who will care for him."

"No. I mean of course the village will care for the boy and he is more than welcome to come live with my family, but his parents came here from the north many seasons ago after their village was destroyed. He has no relatives here."

"Tyldus can you send a messenger to my house?"

"Of course Xena why?"

"Let’s just wait and see what kind of a response I get." I sat down at a table and wrote a note as Tyldus sent for a messenger.



"Are you sure?" I asked Bailus.

"Yes please. I can’t think of anyplace I’d rather be. Father thought a lot of you Xena. He always told me great stories of you. I think he’d approve."

I nodded to the boy then looked to Tyldus. "And this is all right with you?"

"Of course Xena. The boy is lucky to have you and Gabrielle taking him in. He will be loved and taught well in your home."

"Thank you my friend."