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 Sixtyeight in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place right after "The Rescue."
I watched as Artemis laid her hands on Autolycus, healing him of his wounds. "Mother ." I whispered. I couldnt help it.
"NO!" We turned to find Hera behind us. "She gained you your freedom Artemis, but I forbid you to heal her. She must recover on her own."
"Hera be reasonable. Her wounds are severe." Artemis turned to the Queen of the Gods. "She probably wont survive the trip back to the Amazon village."
"And this bothers me because?" Hera crossed her arms. "I swear to you Artemis if you heal this woman I will do more than bring a fever down on your amazons. I will destroy them and no one will be able to help them or you then."
Artemis looked to me as Autolycus got to his feet. Mother remained on the floor, quiet, her eyes closed.
Hera sneered at me then she looked to mother. "Good-bye Xena." She disappeared in a flash of bright blue light.
I knelt down next to mother then carefully laid her out on the ground. "Uncle Auto weve got to get her ready to travel. Can you help me bind these wounds."
I felt a hand on my shoulder. "Melosa," Artemis pulled me to my feet. "Ill send you and your Mother home. Hera said I couldnt heal her but she didnt say anything about making the journey home as simple as possible." She smiled as a form took shape in her hands. I watched as she placed a solid gold circlet on Mothers head. It was beautiful. "She wont get any worse. She has my protection Melosa."
"It is the very least I can do." She turned to Autolycus. "You are a very brave man."
"Theyre my family."
"Would you consider remaining behind and helping me retrieve one more item? I will guarantee you a great reward."
"Well thats good because I only work for free for my family." He grinned as he stroked his mustache.
"Gold Autolycus. If you help me, enough gold to last you for the rest of your life."
I smiled as I patted his arm. "Take her up on it Uncle Auto. You could retire."
"Can you promise no more mice?"
"No more mice, but I cant promise much more than that."
"Ah why not. Ive got nothing better to do." He grinned as he stepped to me. "Get your Mom home Mel. Help her get better. Tell her Ill be by when I get done here."
I nodded as I gave him a hug. "I love you Uncle Auto. Thanks."
"My pleasure. Be good kid."
I stepped back from him then knelt down next to mother. Artemis smiled at me then we were engulfed in a bright white light. When the light cleared we were in the center of the village. Aunt Epinon was crossing the square and saw us first.
"Mel!" She charged across the square kneeling down next to us. "Mel are you all right?"
"Im good. Help me get her to Delias." I moved to grasp Mothers shoulders as Aunt Ep took her legs. "How is the fever?" I asked as we crossed the square toward the healers hut.
"Gone. Just a quickly as it came. Its amazing."
"No, it was brought down on us by Hera. Artemis cured it when we freed her. Kessa?"
"Your sister is fine Mel. Shes doing very well. A few more days of some solid food and she'll be up and running around again."
"She had to go North Mel. Shes with the tribes there. They lost their Queens to the fever. Shes helping them reorganize."
"Terrific." I grumbled as we entered the healers hut.
"Your Highness?" Delia looked at me then to mother. "In the private chamber." She pointed to another room where we took Mother and placed her in bed. "When did you get back?" The healer inquired as she knelt next to mother to begin her examination.
"Just now. Artemis sent us back. Delia whatever you do dont remove the circlet. Its a gift from Artemis to keep her from getting any worse, so that she can have time to heal."
The healer looked to me with a very puzzled expression.
"Trust me its a long story. Just dont take it off."
"Yes Your Highness, as you wish." She returned to Mother and began stripping her of her clothes. "Gods what have you been through?"
"Like I said its a long story. Take good care of her Delia. I want to go check on Kessa."
"Yes Your Highness. Are you injured? Do you need ."
"No Im fine, nothing that a hot bath wont cure. Ill be back soon." I left Mother to Delias care and headed for our house in the village with Epinon hot on my trail. "We need to send a messenger to Mom and let her know were home. I personally dont want to be around when Mother regains consciousness and finds out shes not here." I chuckled as I took the steps to the house two at a time.
"Ill send two of the Royal Guard right away." Epinon paused catching me by the arm. "Mel its good to have you home. Thank you."
"Its good to be home. No thanks needed. We did what we had to do, but Im afraid it may have cost Mother a great deal."
"What do you mean?"
"Im afraid she may have lost the use of her sword arm."
"Oh no." She let her eyes drop. "Lets hope that youre wrong."
"Right." I nodded as I opened the door to the house. "We can hope." I drew a deep breath as I wondered how she would handle this loss. "I need to check Kessa. Can you get Aunt Ephiny for me please and dispatch the guards to get Mom?"
"Absolutely. Consider it done."
I watched as she turned and left. As I closed the door it occurred to me that I had really grown up with about seven mothers. All these women loved my brothers and sisters and I and I was grateful to have them around. Karra sat in front of the fireplace sewing when I entered. She stood up as soon as she saw me and simply opened her arms. I went to her and was engulfed in a hug.
"Welcome home child." She tightened her hold on me as she gave me a kiss on the cheek.
"Thank you Karra. Hows Kessa?"
She stepped back and smiled at me. "She fine. Why dont you go see her?"
I took my staff from my back and my blades from my back and boots, tucking them in the chest before I went into my sisters room. She was sitting up in bed, reading when I entered. Rilex was perched on the windowsill and began his silly little bouncing dance when I came in.
"Mel!" She started to get up, but I moved to the bed and tucked her back in.
"Ah,ah,ah stay in bed. Youve been sick."
"I feel ."
I put my hand over her mouth and shook my head. "No arguments little sister. Youre staying in bed."
"Okay. Wheres Mother?" She asked as she settled into bed.
"Shes over at Delias. Shes hurt pretty bad Kes."
"Is she going to die?"
"Oh no. Artemis has seen to that, but its going to take a long time for her to get well."
"Can I see her?"
"Maybe tomorrow. We need to let Delia take care of her right now." I noticed Rilex as pacing back and forth on the sill. I lifted my hand. "Come here boy." He left his perch landing smoothly on my hand. "You still mad cause I left you behind this time?"
Kessa giggled. "You could say that."
"Oh oh, whatd you do you overgrown pigeon?"
"You know that blue silk shirt Mother brought you from Corinth?"
"Un-huh." I eyed Rilex wondering if he was gonna be dinner.
"You know that big tree out by the new house Mother is building?"
"Well, Rilex decided it was a great place for a nest for his new mate and that your shirt would be great bedding."
"Aww not my shirt!" I looked to my little companion. "Remind me to pluck you when I get married. Youll make a great necklace for my chosen." I heard Kessa laugh as Rilex took to the air and flew out the window. "Yeah run you little chicken!" I stood and yelled out the window as I watched him fly toward the meadow. I turned back to my sister who was still laughing. "Oh so you think its funny huh?" I grinned at her as I turned back the bed and moved next to her giving her a good tickle.
"I give." She giggled as I stopped. I dropped down to the floor as I tucked her back in bed. "Get some rest brat. Im going to get a hot bath and then go see Mother. Ill be back later."
She yawned as she lay down. "Okay. Love you Mel."
"Love you too brat." I gave her a kiss on the forehead before leaving the room.
Out in the main room I began stripping my armor off. As I laid it on the chest I wondered if it would ever come clean. It was covered in muck I didnt even want to think about. As I bent to remove my leggings Karra came out of the sleeping chamber that led to the bathing chamber.
"I prepared you a bath child and laid out fresh clothes for you."
"Ah Karra I do so love you."
"Yeah well go soak in that hot tub and relax." She gave a soft chuckle as she pushed me toward the door.
"Whats so funny?"
"I remember a time when your mothers and I would chase you little bare backside all over the house trying to get you to take a bath."
"Oh Gods ." I groaned as I felt the flush creep up my neck right into my face.
"Yup used to make your Mother half crazy," She continued to tease me clear into the sleeping chamber. "Just about the time they thought they had you cornered youd dash through her legs and be gone again. The Queen said it was you Mothers own fault for having such long legs for you to escape through."
"Okay youve done your job Karra. Im sufficiently embarrassed. Can I take my bath now?"
She nodded as she placed my clothes in my hands. She put her hand on my cheek. "So grown up now ." She murmured as she turned and walked away.
I returned to Delias hut with Aunt Ephiny. Mothers wounds had been cleaned and tended. She had been changed into fresh, clean clothes. I pulled up a stool and sat down next to her taking her hand. "Hey pal. Time to get better. Were home, were safe and Kessa and the others are better. Its your turn." I felt Aunt Ephs hand on my shoulder as she stood behind me. "You know youre in big trouble if Mom gets back and finds you just laying around like this."
I knew she wasnt going to die, but it just hurt so much to see her like this. Battered and bruised almost beyond recognition. I sat with her for a long time. Aunt Eph left to make sure the guards had been dispatched to get Mom. My mind wandered back through my childhood. All my life she had always been there for me. As I sat looking at her I pictured what must have been my first true memory of my mother.
We were in a meadow, near the river I think. I remember it was a warm sunny day, I couldnt have been more than three or four. I remember I was running through the tall grass, laughing and trying to get away from her. I know she was behind me when I turned to run, but all of the sudden she dropped down right in front of me. Standing there grinning down at me with her hands on her hips.
"Where do you think youre going runt."
She scooped me up and tossed me over her shoulder. I remember laughing and begging her to put me down. She refused giving me a loving little swat to my backside. Oh over the seasons I learned the difference between those playful swats and the serious ones. As we continued walking through the meadow I remember trying to get away from her. I never made it. I dont know why I bothered.
Mom met us as we walked toward the house. When she reached us Mother wrapped her arm around Moms waist and started to kiss her, even as she held me over her shoulder. I was still squirming and apparently making it difficult for her to do what she wanted.
"Hang on." She told Mom as she moved to a near by tree. She removed a dagger from her boot and stuck in the tree. Then she hung me on it by the collar of my tunic, leaving me there while she returned to Mom and completed the kiss.
I spent a lot of time hanging from trees as a child.
I looked back down at her, as the smiled crossed my lips. "Do you have any idea what you have given me? Everything that I am now and will become in the future is because of you." I leaned in and gave her a kiss. "Thank you Mother. I love you."
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