Disclaimers: The characters of Xena:Warrior Princess and all other associated with the televison 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 are in love with each other.

Sex: No

Violence: None.

Other: Part five in the series "Raising Melosa".

Warning: It's a tear jerker.

The Heart of the Warrior

By T. Novan

Even when I got up that morning I knew something was not right in my world. I could feel it. I looked over at Gabrielle who still slumbered peacefully. Then I quietly entered the nursery. I looked down at Melosa who also still slept. Still something was not right.

I dressed as quickly and as quietly as possible and left our home. I headed for the stables to check on Argo and the foal. They were both fine as well. I fed them and gave them both good brushing as my mind tried to pin down exactly what I was feeling. I promised Argo a ride later and left the stables.

As I made my way across the village, I shook my head to clear my vision. Everything seemed kind of fuzzy and out of focus. Then it hit me. The crushing pain in my chest. My arm began to tingle. I rubbed it to try ease some of the feeling back into it. I looked up and saw Ephiny coming towards me a at run. I remember reaching out for her. Then everything went black.

When I opened my eyes. I didn't see the things I expected to see. I expected to see the worried brow of my wife sitting next to me wondering what silly thing I had been doing to cause this little episode. Instead I was laying on the cold hard floor of a darkened cavern. The pain, dizziness and tingling had passed. I got to my feet and looked around. Then I heard the heavy footfalls...

I caught her before she hit the ground, just barely. I lowered her gently to the ground and began looking for signs of life. Shallow breathing and a ragged pulse told me she was still alive. Several others had gathered around us. I looked up and saw Solari. "Get the Queen." I said as calmly as I could. "Take someone with you to stay with the princess." Solari grabbed the first available body and they ran full speed for the Queen's quarters. I pulled my friend into my arms and held her there. "Don't you dare die, Xena. Don't you dare." I told her hoping she could hear me. "Someone go get the healer. Go get Adrin!" I yelled, I was beginning to lose it.

Within moments Gabrielle was pushing her way through the crowd. She dropped to her knees and took Xena from me. "What happened?" She asked me without ever looking at me. She just stared into the face of her soul mate, her consort.

"I don't know. I was walking across the compound when I saw her. She didn't look right. Then she just collapsed." I said trying to make sense. I wondered if I was.

Adrin made her way to the consort and knelt down. She checked for a pulse then instructed four of our warrior's to carefully take her to her hut. Gabrielle wanted to protest, but Adrin made it perfectly clear that to treat Xena she would have to be taken to the healer's own quarters. "All of my medicines are there Your Majesty. I'm doing what is best for your consort." She turned and went back to her quarter's.

I put my arm around Gabrielle and pulled her up off the ground. Her hand covered her mouth as silent tears fell from her eyes. We walked to Adrin's hut and stood in the door watching as the healer worked over Xena. "It's her heart I think." I heard Adrin say to one of her apprentices. I felt Gabrielle falter and shake her head no.

He stood there before me. Not the one I was expecting to see, but a God none the less. "Xena." He said softly.

"Hades. Where am I?" I growled at him.

"In between." He said as her pulled his gloves off. With a wave of his hand there were suddenly two chairs facing each other with an elaborate table between them. The table was laden with food and wine. He motioned for me to have a seat.

I drew a deep, disgusted breath and sat down across from him. "I'm assuming you mean in between Tartarus and Elysia." I said as he took his seat.

"Yes Xena that's exactly what I mean." He poured to cups of wine and handed one to me. I sat it down on the table without drinking from it. I wanted answers, not a meal.

"Why? Why now?" I began to shake just a little.

"There are some things that you need to know Xena and there are some things I want to know." He said as he sipped his wine.

"Such as?"

"Tell me what you know about your father Xena."

"Hades what kind of a sick joke is this. You more than anyone should know what happened to Atrius. That worthless piece of trash you call a nephew got him killed when I was a child."

"Your mother," He paused,a slight smile crossed his face. "Cyrene...she..."

"Yes damn you she did and you know it!" I yelled as I started to get out of the chair.

He raised his hand and motioned for me to sit back down. I sat back down and gripped the arms of the chair...

Gabrielle sat by her bedside, refusing to move. I watched her from my spot in the corner. I sat there quietly allowing them their privacy, but there was no way in Tartarus I was going to leave my two best friends. I watched her as she rocked back and forth ever so slightly. Her hand gently brushed back Xena's hair from her face. She was trying not to cry. She did everything in her power to keep from it. Her hand would tremble as it moved from Xena's face to her own lips and back again. Tears would slip down her cheeks and her hand would dash back up to wipe them away before returning to Xena. She would lean over from time to time and kiss her forehead and speak to her. I couldn't hear her. I didn't want to. Whatever she was saying to her lover were their words, for them and them alone.

A soft rapping distracted me from my vigil and I stood up and moved to the door. Solari stood in the door with Melosa in her arms. "She's really fussy." Said as quietly as possible.

"Bring her in." Gabrielle called to us. "If Xena passes...she'd...want..." Tears flowed freely now as our queen reached out and took her daughter.

Melosa quieted down immediately as she looked at her mother's tear stained face. She didn't know what was wrong, but she definitely knew something was not right. She looked from Gabrielle to Xena and back again. She was about to cry when Gabrielle smile at her. "It's okay sweetheart. It's going to be okay. I promise." She bought Melosa into a tight hug and held her as she looked to Xena. "We need you my love. Come back to us."

"Xena there's something I want to know. Do you regret what happened between you and Solan?"

"You know I do. If I had it to do over..." He cut me off with a wave of his hand.

"I've been watching you these last few months Xena. I believe you. I've watched you with your daughter."

"And this is my reward! To be ripped from her life before she'll even be able to remember what I looked like! To leave Gabrielle alone to raise her by herself! Seems that because of the Gods I've failed both of my children!"

"No Xena you haven't failed either of them, but I failed mine..."

Melosa slept in my arms as Gabrielle continued her vigil. I looked down at this child of theirs. She was every ounce of Xena. From her dark hair to her blue eyes. Gabrielle had shared with me, her secret wish as she fell asleep in the temple that night. That their child would look like her warrior, Artemis had blessed my queen twice on that evening. I wondered what God was so cruel as to be putting them through this now. Xena had proven herself to be a wonderful parent. She and Gabrielle worshiped this child and provided her with everything a child could want or need. They knew she was a precious gift and they treated her as such. There was no doubt in my mind that she would grow to be a great queen just as her mother before her.

"Eph bring her over her and lay her on the bed with Xena." Gabrielle said softly.

"Are you sure?" I asked as I got up and crossed the room.

"Yes. Maybe if Xena can sense Melosa it will bring her back to us." She brushed Xena's hair back again.

I knelt next to the bed and placed the child next to the warrior. Gabrielle reached across Xena and raised the warrior's limp arm. "There in the crook of her arm, with her head on her shoulder."

I did as I was told. Gabrielle placed Xena's arm around the sleeping baby. "Can you feel her Xena? It's her heart beating with yours. She needs you so much. Come back to her." She whispered as she held Xena's hand firmly in place over their daughter's little form.

I sat there numb and dumfounded. Taking in everything I had just been told. "All this time!" I raged at him. "All these years! You let me go through all these tortures! You could have stopped all of this! All the hurt, all the pain!" I paced the cavern now. He stood and approached me. "Stay away form me! You soulless bastard! How could you do this!? How could you allow these thing to come to pass in my life!"

"That's why I brought you here," He paused and looked at his boots. "To apologize to you my daughter."

"Don't call me that!" I spat it out with more hatred than I even thought possible. "You let Ares torture me, taunt me. He nearly cost me everything. While I fought to hold everything together in the mortal realm, he worked his evil here and nearly destroyed the Olympian Gods..."

"Who do you think sent Gabrielle back to you? After that day you came to me on the battle field, I came back here and found out where she was. Your uncle and I sent her home to you."

"My uncle?" I was so enraged I couldn't think clearly.

"Zeus." He offered.

"Oh by the Gods that was the last thing I needed to be reminded of." I continued to pace.

"Xena please. I want to make it up to you"

"Oh yeah I can tell." I said sarcastically. "That's why you ripped me away from my family. From Gabrielle and Melosa!"

"You have family here too, you know. Lyceus and Solan..."

Gabrielle finally ate a small meal and slept, but only with the promise that I would see to it that someone watched over Xena at all times. A order I was more than glad to carry out personally. While Gabrielle slept in the next room, Melosa continued to sleep next to Xena. It killed me to see Xena's limp arm around the baby. I knew full well that if she realized her daughter was there, that arm would be wrapped firmly and protectively around the little body. I just bowed my head and offered a silent prayer to Artemis.

Less than a candle mark later Melosa began to stir. She opened her eyes and just looked at me. I smiled at her. She made no effort to move at first. She just lay perfectly still. She looked into the face of her mother and then started to crawl up Xena's side and simply lay on top of her. I had seen them this way so many times I knew it was natural for Melosa to want to be there. My concern however was for my friend and her ragged attempts at breathing. I was afraid that Melosa's extra weight would make it more difficult.

I tried to move her but she started to fuss and I realized that it would only make the situation worse. I rubbed her back as I had seen Xena do when they would lay like this near the lake or under a tree. She seemed to relax and calm down, but her eyes never left me. She looked so sad. Did she know Xena was ill? She lifted her head to look again at her mother. She reached out and put her hand to Xena's lips. A tear slipped down my cheek. I knew what she wanted, she wanted a kiss. Xena always kissed her hand when she would put it to her lips. It was a game they had played since she was a very small. Melosa was just over ten months old now. Soon she would be taking her first steps and speaking her first words. I did so hope that my friend would be here to experience them. Melosa looked back at me and then back to Xena. Again she tried to coax her mother to kiss her hand. My heart broke as I watched her. There would be no kisses for her today.

"You want me to stay here?" I asked him in disbelief. "Now that my life has finally come together?"

He lowered his head and shook it slowly, "It's not that I want you to stay..."

"I want to go back! I want to be with Melosa and Gabrielle!"

"Xena, you collapsed this morning. By all rights you will be mine in a few hours. If you can't accept it and continue to fight it I'll have no choice but to send you to Tartarus. If you calm down and accept what has happened to you I'll send you to Elysia to be with Solan and Lyceus."

"You owe me! Damnit Hades you owe me! Don't do this to me...please! Please let me go back to them."

"I can't." He said as he threw himself into his chair. "I promised..." He said softly.

"Promised? Promised who!? Ares!? Zeus!?"

"No. My promise wasn't to a God Xena."

"Who then!" I stormed over to his chair and stood face to face with him. "Who did you promise!?"

"MY GRANDSON! YOUR SON! SOLAN! Solan wants you to stay with him. He wants to know his mother."

I staggered backward and stared at him. Only one word escaped my throat. "Solan..."

I watched as Melosa's little brows came together as she tried to figure out why Xena wouldn't respond to her touch. She looked over at me again and began softly crying. She reached back for Xena again as her body began to shudder from the sobs. I stood and gathered her up in my arms. As I did realized something my heart didn't want to admit. I went quickly outside with the baby and handed her to Solari who sat watch at the door. Adrin had been talking to her and I motioned her inside. I simply pointed to Xena and the healer went to her. She checked for a pulse. Then she laid her ear to the warrior's chest. She looked up and bit her lips as she held her hand under Xena's nose for a moment. She swallowed hard and looked at me, shaking her head.

I felt myself falter backwards into my chair. I covered my mouth with my hand as I watched Adrin pull the blanket over Xena's face. "I'll go tell the Queen." She said softly.

"No! I'll tell her." I said as I choked back all of the emotions that threatened to tear me apart. I stood and walked into the next room. I waited in the doorway for a moment hoping that if I didn't wake her and tell her, it wouldn't be true. I looked back at the covered form of my friend, I lowered my head and closed my eyes. "Sweet Artemis please give my Queen the strength to carry on." I prayed aloud, softly before continuing to Gabrielle's bedside.

I knelt and place a gentle hand on her arm. "Gabrielle." I said softly, trying not to let my voice shake. She opened her eyes and looked at me. She must have seen it in my eyes. She bolted upright and ran into the next room. I heard her agonizing cries and my heart shattered again.

When I returned to the room , she was sitting in the middle of the bed with the warrior cradled in her arms. She rocked her back and forth and was talking to her.

"No." She said defiantly. "No. I won't let her go. It's not true. Not again." She continued to hold Xena's body and deny her love was gone.

I walked over and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "My Queen it's over. Let her go."

She pulled away from me and turned to look at me with pure rage. "No! She's not...I won't let her..."

I knew it was sheer grief that filled and enraged my friend. I looked to Adrin who had already begun mixing the sedatives that we would need to calm our queen. She coated the end of a small dart and handed it to me indicating that I should deliver it into her neck. I reached down and quickly delivered a jab to her neck. She spun as her hand moved to her neck.

"Ephiny what have you..." She didn't get anymore than that out before she started to falter. She held tighter to the warrior's body and she too was overcome by the darkness...

To be continued.... (Yes you can breath now. There will be a part six.)


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