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: Just a little. Nothing serious.
Other: Part eighteen in the series "Raising Melosa". Xenas heart is about to be ripped from her chest.
By T. Novan
Melosa stood in the middle of the hut fidgeting as the seamstress put the hem in her first set of leathers. I remember watching Xe do the exact same thing many seasons ago. Only then it was her robes for our joining. The fidget was however the same.
"Your Highness would you please hold still?" The aged seamstress asked in a soft tone.
"Im sorry maam." Melosa said as she looked at me with eyes that begged to be released from this torture.
"Not much longer sweetheart." I said trying to reassure her. "You have to have these for the ceremony."
"I know. Id just rather be riding."
"And I know that youre going to do that later today if youre good now."
She took a deep breath and straightened up. I knew that would work. Being denied a chance to ride was like denying the child air. I smiled as she got that same look on her face that resigned her to her fate. At least with this one I didnt have to use please.
Once Mel decided to hold still the seamstress finished with very little effort. My daughter stood before me looking very much like the Princess she really was. "Well?" She said with that same cocky smirk and her hands in her hips. I couldnt help but chuckle.
"Youre beautiful Melosa."
"The mask is next Your Majesty." The seamstress said softly.
"Mask? Nobody said anything about a mask." Mel seemed almost terrified.
"Yes sweetheart your mask. Its part of your ceremony. Artemis has called you her Little Lioness. You will wear the lions mask."
"Grrreat " She mumbled as the mask was revealed to her. She took it and looked at it. "I have to wear this huh?"
"Yes." I said firmly.
"Wouldnt want to offend Artemis." She mumbled.
"Melosa! You will NOT speak of our protector and patron Goddess in that manner. Do you understand?"
"Yes Mother, Im sorry. Forgive me."
"When we finish here you will go to the temple and make and offering of apology to Artemis."
"Yes Mother." She dropped her head. "I am sorry."
"Make sure you tell that to Artemis."
I stood outside the temple and sent Melosa in. Gods forgive me but she had Xenas attitude about them as well. Melosa however couldnt afford to be so impertinent. She was after all, my heir and would one day lead the nation. Artemis was also the reason that we had Melosa in the first place. It was later that we had learned of Xenas relationship to Hades that allowed her brother and sisters to be born. Melosa owed her very life to Artemis.
Xe walked across the square, returning from training, with a smile on her face until she saw the look on mine. Her smile faded as she sheathed her sword and took her place next to me.
"Ri whats wrong?"
"What? Whats wrong with Mel? Where is she?" Xena was starting to be concerned for our daughter looking around for her. I caught her by the arm and returned her attention to me.
"Shes in the temple offering a prayer of apology to Artemis. Xena youve got to help me out here. Its important that she show at least Artemis the respect she deserves. Considering your own ties it wouldnt hurt if she showed the same respect to her grandfather as well. She may need them as allies someday when were no longer here."
"Well I dont have a problem with that. As long as she also has a healthy understanding that mostly shes going to be on her own and that she cant count on them to intervene. I mean Hades let us suffer through some horrible things before he revealed himself. Maybe you should bring her with you for the next purification ritual. Let her see what it means to be queen."
"Good idea. Thanks you love." I leaned up and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She rarely accepted more while we were in the village. "So how is everything coming for the contest?"
"Not bad. Well be ready for you Your Majesty." She said with a slight grin and a bow.
"Are you going to participate this year?"
"No. I think Im done with that now that Mel will be doing it. Ill just stand behind you Your Majesty in my position as your Champion and watch my daughter kick their butts."
"You do realize oh mighty Champion, that this is her first year and she could lose?"
"I know." She admitted hesitantly.
"Are you prepared for that?" I asked quietly.
"As prepared as I can be." At least she was being honest with herself and me.
I knew that if Melosa lost her first match Xena would try to take it in stride. I also knew her pride would be hurt. What I couldnt figure out if it would be her mothers pride or her warriors pride or maybe a mix of both.
Melosa came out of the temple and straight to me, it didnt happen very often that shed pass the warrior up without a word. She wrapped her arms around me in a tight hug. "I love you Mother. I am sorry."
"All is forgiven little one. Youve done what you had to do. Lets forget it now okay?"
"Okay." She turned to Xe and smiled. "And just what have YOU been doing while I was being measured, poked and prodded all morning." She said as she wrapped her arms around Xena for a hug.
Xe picked her up and gave her a hug. "Staying away so I wouldnt get measured, poked and prodded all morning." She said with a chuckle.
"Thanks a lot pal. Did you know theres a mask?" She asked as we walked towards home. She was still held firmly in Xes strong arms.
"Yup I sure did." Xe answered.
"You coulda warned me you know?" She said as she leaned her forehead against Xenas.
"Well that wouldnt have been any fun. What did Artemis choose for you Your Highness?"
"A Lioness." Mel said throwing her head back and giving a little roar just to get her point across.
"Oh good choice." Another chuckle from my warrior as she slipped her hand into mine and we continued our walk home.
The days to the festival passed quickly. Kai and his puppy were sent to Solans for the week. I had to admit that while the little rascal had come into our lives as a complete surprise and had been trouble when he first got here I had grown rather fond of him. Watching how he followed Kai everywhere he had earned a place in my heart. I was going to miss them both terribly.
We moved back over to the village for the week. As Queen I was expected to be there all week. Im sure we made quite the picture this year. Mel was nearly eight seasons old and Kessa and Rosa were almost three. Im sure the five of us moving back in for the week was more than some people were ready to face.
Mel was finally going to take her place with me on the dais as a true Princess of the nation. Her titles of Princess and Your Highness, which had been most ceremonial, would now become just as real and as permanent as my title of Queen and Your Majesty. Our family had finally come full circle with the nation. It was after all Melosa who was Queen when I became a Princess. Normally I didnt go for all the pomp and circumstance that went with my position in the nation, but this week I was proud. I also noticed that a certain warrior was walking around the village with a little grin too.
As she said she would be Xena took her position to my left standing behind me as my Champion, not seated to my left as my consort when Melosas first turn at staff combat came around. I think that was for my benefit as well as hers I knew she was tense about this and I dont think she wanted me to see her reaction.
Melosa took her place in front of me. She looked at me through her mask and bowed. I drew a deep breath and tried not to beam too much. Very motherly, but not very Queen like and here I was the Queen first, a mother second. Her opponent was an another young girl about the same height and weight. Her name was Trina and I knew from Xe that for one so young she was quite good with the staff. Trina bowed to me and I gave the signal.
Mel removed her mask and handed it to her instructor. She looked so relieved just to be out of it, I did kind of feel sorry for her now. To be the only child her aged forced into a mask simply because of her rank.
Without further signals the match began. I felt myself gripping the arms of my chair as Mel came close to being defeated in the very beginning. Soon however she found her pace and her stride and she was giving Trina a run for her dinars, matching her stroke for stroke. At one point she looked up, past me over my shoulder. She gave that little warrior smirk and then executed a beautiful sweep of Trinas feet. She planted her staff firmly against the girls throat and the command was calm and clear, "Submit!"
"Yes Your Highness I submit. The match is yours."
Mel removed her staff and helped Tina to her feet offering a small bow as she did. "Well played Trina."
"Yes Your Highness. Well played."
They both turned and bowed to me. Mel then took her mask and her staff and left the field to go speak with her instructor. I turned and looked at my Champion who allowed herself a self satisfied little smirk that only someone who has known her as long as I have would even be able to see. She shifted her blue eyes to me and I smiled at her. A proud moment shared between two very proud mothers.
Mels match was the last of the day. After that it was on with the evening feast and party. She would move to the next round, but that wouldnt be until the next day. After giving the feast the proper blessing and starting the festivities with a toast my Champion and I went to find our daughter. She was sitting on the porch of the house looking all for the world as if she had lost her best friend. Xena knelt and took her hands in her own. I took a seat next to her.
"Whats wrong Mel." Xe asked obviously concerned.
"I have to spar with Reena tomorrow."
"Afraid of getting beaten?" I asked as I rubbed her back.
"Yeah." Her head drooped a little further.
"Little one as long as you do your best youre never beaten." Xena said as she pulled Mel into her arms.
"I dont want to disappoint you." Her comment was directed at Xe, but she turned to me. "Either of you."
Xena stood and sat down on the porch next to me, still holding Mel. "Youve never been or will you ever be a disappointment to us. Just do your best tomorrow Princess."
Xe kissed her on the top of the head and I rubbed her arm. She nodded her head and relaxed into Xe. Before long she was sound asleep.
After putting Mel down and checking on Kessa and Rosa Xena and I changed into more comfortable clothes and returned to the party. For the first time ever Xena enjoyed a party. Mainly because of the slaps on the back she was receiving over Melosas victory. She sat down at a long table and I joined her there, offering her a cup of wine.
"Shes going to lose tomorrow. You know that." She said softly.
"What makes you say that?"
"She too unsure of herself. The doubts that she has will be her defeat. I wish there was something I could do to help her."
"She has to do this on her own." I said as I rubbed Xes arm.
"Yeah I know."
"There are just going to be things that even we cant help her with." I said as I rested my head on her shoulder. She kissed me on the forehead allowing her lips to linger there for just a moment. "You okay?" I asked after I heard her sigh.
"Yeah Ill be fine."
I watched from a distance as Xena knelt down and spoke with Melosa just before her next match. I took my place on the dais and waited. Xena came over and sat down to my left and took my hand. I turned and questioned her silently.
"Mel asked me too." She said quietly. I gave her hand a squeeze and turned my attention back to the field.
Soon the contest had begun, Mel and Reena squared off against each other. I could actually feel Xes hand twitching nervously under my own. We watched as Mel defended herself from blow after blow. Reena was driving her backward and she couldnt get her footing. She fell backward, but managed to roll away before Reena could demand submission. She remained on the ground and bought her staff under Reena and knocked her to the ground as well. She rolled right and quickly moved on top of the girl and pinned her to the ground with her staff across her shoulders.
"Submit!" Melosa demanded she used her legs and knees to pin the other girls arms making escape almost impossible. "Submit!" Melosa demanded a second time.
"The match is yours." Reena conceded, refusing to use Melosas title. Mel looked to me and I gave a slight nod. Mel got up and offered her hand to the girl who refused and got up on her own. Mel turned to me for the final departing gesture.
"Mel watch out!" Xena yelled as she jumped to her feet.
Before I had realized it, Reena was about to deliver a blow to Mels back. Xena vaulted from the dais and grabbed the end of the staff and pulled it from Reenas hands.
Mel spun around and looked at her opponent. "I won. Why couldnt you leave it at that?"
"And lose to the likes of you? Never."
"You lost Reena." Xe said calmly. "Go to your instructor."
"Are you ever going to tell her the truth?" Reena accused Xena.
"I have all the truth I need Reena." Mel said.
"Really? We all know the Queen is your birth mother but, why dont you ask them about your father?" Reena took her staff from Xena and walked away.
Xena looked to me, then back to Mel. The crowd that had built for the match slowly and quietly dissipated. Ephiny left the dais to go find Reenas mothers. I went quietly to my wife and daughter. We had never considered this. That someone might do this to her. Suddenly I didnt have any answers for my little girl who looked back and forth between us.
"What did she mean? What about my father?" Mel asked as I knelt down next to her.
"Well honey lets go back to the house and talk about this." I pushed her hair back from her face.
"No! Lets talk about it here, now."
Xe knelt down and caressed her face. "Mel you were a gift."
"Whats that mean a gift?" He voice cracked as tears formed in her eyes.
"You were giving to us by the Gods Mel. Artemis gave you to us." Xe continued.
"Im a freak. I dont have a father. Thats what she meant, right?"
"No Mel. Youre not. She was just trying to hurt you." I said softly.
"You you gave birth to me." She said to me softly. Then she turned to Xe, "But that means youre nothing to me." Her face twitched as the tears fell freely. Xena was speechless. "Nothing!" She yelled as she turned and ran from us.
I looked to Xena who had tears forming in her own eyes. She seemed rooted to the spot. I caressed her face and then turned to follow Mel.