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
Spoilers: Tiny spoiler for RM 4 "A Visit to Mothers"
Other: Part Thirty-six in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place about six months after "Duty Calls".
I sank the post into the ground pausing long enough to wipe the sweat from my forehead and the sides of my face. I took a deep breath and prepared to return to the task of repairing the corral. Kais pony had gotten caught in and unexpected thunderstorm, so he proceeded to kick a large hole in the enclosure. The pony escaped unharmed, the fence however didnt fare quite as well.
"Why does it always have to be so damn hot when I have to do something like this?"
I thought I was talking to myself until I heard the snicker. "All right Princess show yourself!"
The rope dropped and then Melosa followed, lowering herself out of the trees that ringed the corral and stood before me. "Why hello there tall, dark and sweaty."
"Un-huh. So how long have you been up there watching me struggle with this post?"
"Oh about half a candle mark. I wondered when you were gonna notice me. Either Im getting better or "
"Or what?" I cocked my head waiting for her reply.
"Good choice. Lets just say youre getting better shall we."
"Lets. Here I brought you some cold tea."
She handed me a skin that she had filled with tea from the cellar. Keeping things cool in the darkness of the cellar had been Ris idea and on a day like this I had to admit, one of the best she had ever come up with. I took a long drink and rested against the post. "Thanks."
As I took another drink of the tea I turned to see Ri coming across the field. She had something in her hand and she didnt look happy. As she approached I felt the hairs on the back on my neck stand up. Whatever it was, it wasnt good.
"Ah Mel. Back up into the trees. I think your Mom and I need to be alone."
She took a look in the direction of her mother and nodded. "See you later." With that she was gone.
Ri watched her and tried to give a smile, but it just wouldnt come. She stopped and looked at me, she twisted the parchment she held in her hand. "Xena . I need to go back to Poteidaia."
"What wrong Ri?" I moved to her and slowly stroked her arms.
Tears formed in her eyes as she looked to me. "My father hes dying Xe " The tears flowed freely now and I enfolded her into my arms and let her cry. I kissed the top of her head and just let her get it out. "I know that hes never but hes still my father."
"I know sweetheart I know. Well go back, all of us. He may want the chance to see his grandchildren."
I felt her nod against my chest as she just held onto me and cried.
We were quite the entourage. The entire royal family and a dozen Amazon guards. With three wagons and most of the guards mounted on horseback riding at various intervals around the caravan, we got more than our share of looks from other travelers as we made the trip to Poteidaia. Ri rode in a wagon with Kai and the twins while Mel and I rode on horseback. Mel had graduated from her pony to a small bay that Solan had trained for her. She was very proud of the fact that I had allowed her to bring her own horse on the trip. She rode next to me as we led the caravan.
"If these people dont like you why are you going?"
"Because your mother needs me."
She hesitated for a moment and then continued. "They dont like us much either do they? I mean us you know the grandkids."
My heart sank. I didnt know how to answer her. Ri and I hadnt been back to Poteidaia since Mel was eight months old. Ris parents had never ever seen Kai and the twins. "Honey I dont know what to say. They just didnt understand."
"Do you think they will now?"
"I dont know. Your mom and I wanted to give your grandfather the chance to see you, but if you dont want to "
"No I want to I guess Im just a little afraid."
"Im sure everything will be okay."
"I hope so."
We arrived three days later. The guards and I stayed out in the yard with the kids while Ri went in first. I began roaming around looking for a suitable place to make our camp. Mel stayed with her bother and sisters near the house in case Ri wanted them. I found a nice spot in a field over looking a lake. As I headed back I came across a man a few years younger than me, sitting near the lake, pitching rocks into the water. He looked up at me and smiled.
"Yeah and you are "
He stood and dusted off his hands, extending his right one to me. "Calnos, Im Lilas husband." I smiled and took his hand. "Long trip?"
"Yeah three days. Im glad we made it in time though."
"Aw hes a stubborn old mule " He shook his head as he considered his boots. "Im sorry I shouldnt have said that."
"Lemme guess. Youre not one of his favorite people either?"
"Not really but Im higher on his list that you are." He grinned at me.
"Well hes never forgiven me for marrying his daughter."
"Oh I know. Your name isnt even allowed to be spoken in his house. For what its worth Lila and I dont agree with him. We know that you and Gabrielle are happy and have a good life with the amazons."
"Thank you. Its a shame hes had to miss so much time with Ri and his grandchildren."
"Yes it is. So how many children are there now?"
"Well counting my son Solan five and two grandchildren."
"Grandchildren? You and Gabrielle have grandchildren?"
"Yup a granddaughter and a grandson. Gabrielle and Dante."
"You dont seem old enough to be a grandmother."
I had to laugh. "Its a long story, just rest assured that I am indeed a grandmother."
We walked back toward the house. Calnos stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the guards.
"Its okay they wont hurt you unless I tell them too." I patted him on the back and then gave the guards their orders for setting up the camp near the lake. We continued on to the house. The kids were no where to be seen. They must have been called inside with their mother. As we approached the porch I stopped at the bottom of the step. Calnos moved to the door and turned around to face me.
"You coming in?"
"Umm no Ill wait out here. Ill bet since youre not allowed to speak my name in his home my presence wouldnt be appreciated."
He nodded and went inside. I sat down on the steps and waited. The door opened and she came out and sat down next to me. Lila. I glanced over at her. "Im sorry Lila. Im sorry your father is ill."
She interlaced her fingers and wrapped her hands over her knee. She never looked at me. "Hes an old man. Hes lived a long life "
"Still Im sorry."
"Thank you. Gabrielle looks wonderful. Life with you suites her Xena and the children are positively adorable."
"Thank you. Were very proud of them."
"Mother is thrilled that theyre here. Thank you for bringing them."
"We thought maybe your father would want the chance to see them "
She nodded and then finally turned to me. "Thank you."
"For making my sister so happy."
"We have made each other happy Lila."
As evening settled in I sat by the fire at our campsite. Gabrielle came down from the house and took a seat next to me. "Mother wants to keep the children with her. She says she doesnt like the idea of them sleeping outdoors in tents." She chuckled softly. "She almost didnt believe me when I told her they enjoyed it."
"Well there may be more to it than that Ri. She may just want her grandchildren close to her. This is the first time shes ever really spent anytime with them. Remember how mother was with Mel the first time we went to see her. And Mel was just a baby then. Can you imagine having three grandchildren that youve never seen before and one you havent seen since she was a baby?"
"No. No I cant. Id die if I couldnt see Gabrielle and Dante whenever I wanted."
"Did your father want to see them?"
"Yes theyve spent most of the day with him actually."
"Xe Im sorry that they still treat you so badly." She leaned into me and I slid my arm around her. I felt her fighting the tears.
"Hey none of that. As long as they treat you and the kids well, they can treat me anyway they like."
"Its not right. Youre a part of my life you are my life. Why cant they accept that?"
"Gabrielle," I turned to face her and looked her in the eye. "Let it go. It doesnt matter. Just be here for your father right now and Ill be here for you. That my love is all that matters."
She gave me a weak smile and just fell into my shoulder and let me hold her. I kissed the top of her head and rocked her gently back and forth. Very soon the exhaustion over took her and I picked her up in my arms and carried her to our tent. As I lay her down in our bed I hoped that I could be what she needed me to be right now. I covered her and started to leave. I felt her hand grip my arm.
"Stay with me hold me " She whispered still half asleep.
I got into bed and pulled her into my arms. She nestled down into me and soon she fell into a deep sleep. I am what she needs.
We were awoken in the morning by the calls of our children. They all came running into the tent piling on top of us, laughing and giggling. We got them settled down and the six of us spent about a half a candle mark enjoying the feeling of being together.
"Grandma sent us down to tell you that the morning meal is ready." Mel finally said as she pounced on top of me and sat with her knees pinning my arms. "And she said YOU should come too." She leaned in and kissed me on the nose.
"Yech " I tossed her to the foot of the bed and sat up stretching. I turned and looked over to Ri who had Rosa and Kessa curled up in each arm. "Well it seems that the ban has been lifted."
"Sounds like it." Ri smiled.
I held to door open as Ri and the kids went in ahead of me. Slowly I entered the house. Memories of my last visit came flooding back. I almost killed him then. He had raised his hand as if he were going to hit Ri while she had Mel in her arms. It was all I could do to keep form breaking his neck that morning. Instead we left here and we never came back.
I smiled at Lila and Calnos as they pulled Kessa and Rosa into their laps. Hecuba had Kai wrapped firmly around her waist as she handed him slices of fruit from a platter on the counter. Mel and Ri took their seats at the table. I just stood in the doorway waiting for Hecuba to tell me what to do.
Kai took his fruit and went to the table to join the rest of the family. Hecuba looked to me and crossed the room slowly. She put her hands on my forearms. "Xena thank you for bringing Gabrielle and the children to see us. To allow him to have this time with them."
"Im sorry weve been away for so long Hecuba and Im sorry it took this to bring us back here."
"So am I. I hope that things can change between us Xena. I want to know my grandchildren."
"Im sure we can see to that." I grinned at her. "But theyre a rotten little bunch. You may regret it."
She wrapped herself around me in a hug. "Never."
After the morning meal I headed back outside to spar and work off that huge meal I had just been forced to eat. Mothers were apparently the same everywhere. As one of the guards and I got into a good sparing match Gabrielle came out of the house. "Xena!" She called to me from the porch. As I turned to her she motioned for me to join her. I handed my sword to the guard and moved to her at a fast sprint.
"What is it Ri?"
"He wants to see you."
"Yes he just asked for you. Please Xena please go see him. I know he doesnt deserve it but "
"Of course." I kissed her on the forehead and we went back inside. She led me to her fathers room and I went in. I closed the door behind me and moved slowly to his bed. I knelt down and looked at him. I could tell he did have much time left. He opened his eyes and stared at me.
"She loves you."
I nodded. "Yes and I love her. I always have."
"I hated you because I thought you would get her killed." He coughed a few times and then recaptured his breath. "I was wrong. You gave her a life, a good life. Beautiful children and a home. Im sorry for being a foolish old man."
"Not a foolish old man Herodotus, a father. A concerned father. No one can fault you for that. Im just sorry you missed so much time with them."
He reached out and took my hand. "So am I. Dont make the same mistake Xena. Your own children will do things that youre not going to like. Dont make the same mistake I did. Dont shut them out."
"I promise you I wont." I gave his hand a gentle squeeze.
He gave me a weak smile. "That Mel shes a real handful isnt she?"
I smiled and nodded. "She can be, but shes actually a very good girl."
He gave a soft laugh. "She looks like you."
"She a beautiful girl. So much like both her mothers."
We spent a few more moments together talking of the children and Gabrielle and letting old wounds heal. Finally I could tell it was time for his children and his wife to be with him. I left the room and sent them in. Calnos and I sat in the main room with the children and waited. A candle mark later Lila and Ri came out, with tears streaming down their faces they came to us and we wrapped them in our arms. Calnos and I looked at each other as we comforted our wives at the loss of their father.
As we prepared for the funeral. I watched Ri fidget around our tent as she dressed and got ready. "Whats wrong love?"
"Xe will you do something for me?"
"Will you sing for him?" She turned to me with tears in her eyes. "I know he doesnt deserve it after the way he treated you but "
I took her into my arms. "I would be honored to sing for him."
As the sun settled, and Herodotus was put to rest, with my wifes hand in mine I sang for him.
The Raising Melosa Series Continues with The Green Eyed Monster
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