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: Yeah we got violence in this one.
Other: Part Eighty-two in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place right after "The Plot Thickens"
I feel her hand on my arm, even as the anger rises in my chest I cant turn it on her. I take a deep breath and turn around as she leads me off to the side.
"Xe," she says very quietly. "Is Dana on your list?"
"Oh yeah shes at the very top of my damn list right now!" I growl as I look at her. "Ive had it with her Ri."
"You knew this was going to be hard. Shes reacting to what weve been showing them. You knew people would challenge you."
I glance around and watch the group standing across the field from us. I nod as I realize shes right. "Okay, okay. Im sorry. Just get her out of here before I kill her."
"All right Xe. Do you think she could be responsible?"
"My gut tells me no. I think she just wants a chance to take my place."
"Well dont worry about that. So care to tell me who you really suspect at the moment?"
"Leland and Mira."
She nods as she looks past me to the group. "Xe I love you. You know that right?"
"Of course love."
"Then forgive me for what Im about to do."
Im sure the slap knocked the puzzled looked right off my face. I just rub my cheek as she walks past me, back to the group. I dont even bother to turn around I just walk away into the woods.
Im not sure how long I walk before I take a seat under a tree. So here I sit waiting for an assassin to take another strike at my wife, er, ex-wife. Officially we are divorced in the eyes of the nation, which means Im going to have to go through that whole petitioning thing again. Gods! Amazons. Then there is the issue of the circlet, what it really means and what Ive done. Maybe I should tell her about that before I petition the council to marry her again. Nah! Ill wait until were on our honeymoon. I hope she chooses to go to Lesbos. I can tell her while shes recovering from her seasickness and maybe she wont try to kill me.
I make my way back to the village and back to my house. As I enter and the door closes behind me I turn to find her.
"Ri ." I growl.
"No one saw me Xe. I wanted to make sure I didnt hurt you when I slapped you." She turns my face to examine it.
"Honey Im fine really."
"I hit you hard. I didnt mean to. It bruised a bit near your jaw."
"Too bad you didnt do it earlier I could have divorced you for battery." I laugh as I capture her hands and kiss them.
"Oh ha, ha." She leans up and gives me a gentle kiss. "Umm while Im here I have to get a couple of things."
"The circlet and umm this." Her fingers tug on my joining bracelet. "The council has demanded that you surrender them."
"Ri honey please, buy me a few days. I cant give them up." I can feel the panic in my chest. "I just cant. Regardless of what the council has decided, we are still married and I just can remove these things like were not. Ive never removed this bracelet and I dont intend to now. Ive had it on my wrist for more than sixteen seasons its a part of me. And Artemis herself told me to wear the circlet ."
"All right Xe, all right. Easy sweetheart. I can buy you a few days." I realize her tone is like one that you would use to soothe a wounded animal.
I take a deep breath and nod. "Thank you." I smile a little as I meet her eyes. "Silly huh? That I would get upset about something like that."
"No, oh no. I think its wonderful and very sweet." She wraps her arms around my waist.
As I place my arms around her and just hold her I realize how much my very life depends on her. I dont ever want to let her go. "Ri theres something I need to tell you."
I carefully watch everyone who approaches Ri during the festival. Leland is with her as is Eph. I know Eph is there to keep a closer eye on her than I can right now.
She took the news with good grace and a wonderful sense of humor, making several jokes out of it. I should have known she would. Then she sealed the promise of silence about the issue with a kiss that I wont soon forget.
I feel a hand on my shoulder and I look up to find Raven, I smile at my young mistress. I take her hand and give it a gentle squeeze. "Thank you for your help."
"Trust me Your Highness," She says softly as she stands behind me rubbing my shoulders. "It has been my pleasure."
I look back at her and just smile. "Well Ri and I both knew we could trust you."
"You both have my loyalty."
"We know. It means a great deal to us in times like this."
"Well in my life, I have never seen two people who belonged together the way you two do. Its almost as if you are I cant describe it."
"Your Queen and I are two sides of the same coin. We share one soul and are bound to each other." I continue to watch my wife as she makes her way through the crowd. "She is so beautiful." I hear her laugh softly, it is then that I realize I have spoken aloud. I glance back at her and smile. "Im sorry."
"Dont be sorry for loving someone so much Your Highness it is a rare and special gift."
"It is indeed." I watch as Leland takes Ri in her arms to dance with her. I hear a soft laugh from behind me. "Something funny Raven?"
"Every muscle in your shoulders tightened when you saw that."
"Yeah well its all I can do to keep from going over there and breaking Leland in half."
"I know. It must be just as difficult for the Queen to see us together."
"Im sure of it."
I turn my attention to the dais. Mel is watching the food that is being served there. Paying careful attention to who is near the food her Mom will eat. Were pretty sure the would-be-assassin will make another attempt tonight. The pace of a festival is the perfect place for it. We have made it possible for the two people we suspect the most to be close to her. I glance back at Ri and Leland as they continue to dance.
"Your Highness?" I feel her tap my shoulder.
"Look." A nudge of my shoulder takes me back to the dais. Mira is moving near the main table.
I catch Mels eyes and nod to the guard as I slowly get to my feet, never taking my eyes from the table. "Raven go to the Queen and be ready to get her out of here."
"Yes Your Highness."
As I walk across the square I watch as Mira drops something, first into Ris plate and then into Lelands. Taking off at a full run Im dodging through the crowd to get to the dais before she can make her escape. "Mel! Take her!"
As I make my way through the crowd, several people try to slow my progress and I have to shake them off. They probably think Ive snapped. I watch as Mira tries to make her escape from the front of the dais to disappear into the crowd. Unfortunately for her Mel is right behind her and a flip executed from the dais brings my eldest daughter down in front of the warrior. Mel has her sword drawn, pointed at the womans throat.
"Dont move!" Mel orders.
Apparently Mira isnt very bright, not only has she tried to kill my wife, but also she has decided to challenge Mel. The warrior draws her sword I have to trust in Mel to fight the good fight as I continue for the dais. I get to the serving of Ris food and taste it, spitting it out immediately when I taste the poison. I hear the clanging of swords as I check Lelands meal as well. Both servings have been tainted. I see them coming up the stairs. I reach my hand out to Ri and wrap her in my arms. "Stay here! Ill be right back." I look to Raven who nods as Eph comes up the steps. Leaving the dais I stop and look to Leland. "I just saved your life now stay away from my wife."
I draw one of my swords and move to the fight. "Back off Mel! Shes mine."
Mel gives me time to get into place then she moves out of the way as Mira charges me with an overhead chop. As I block it our swords meet at the hilts, giving me a chance to look in her eyes. "Why?!"
"I wanted her!"
"Interesting." I growl as I push her off and twirl my sword. " I tend to find I enjoy my women more when theyre breathing, buy hey ." I grin as we engage again.
"I knew she would never leave you!"
"True. Why backslide when you already have perfection?" She draws around trying to get in a slice at my side. It was a nice try. "Mira, you know Im going to kill you right?"
"You can try Xena."
"Oh no Ill do it." As I begin my drive to take her from her feet I see her eyes widen with the realization that she is truly about to die. "Why did you join Delcar?"
"He was my father. I asked him to attack you ." She moves back rapidly trying to escape the blows of my blade.
"Thanks thats all I really wanted to know." I began moving, harder and faster finally her sword flies from her hand as she stumbles back. "For the crime of attempted murder of the Amazon Queen the punishment is death!"
I make the blow quick and as painless as possible. She falls back to the ground, unmoving. The crowd gathers around us as I wipe my blade and re-sheathed it. Ri and Mel come through the group. Mel takes charge and removes the body quickly as Ri wraps her arms around my waist. "Im sorry my love I had to."
She nods as she watches them take the body away. "I know. Doesnt mean I have to like it."
"No my love it doesnt." I turn her and we begin walking back to the dais.
Leland comes to stand in front of us. "You mean to tell us this was all a ruse to find the person ."
"Very good Leland. You are smarter that the average ." I feel Ris elbow in my ribs and I let the rest of the comment die on my lips.
"Your Majesty I hope you will understand when I make a formal complaint to the council."
Should I kill her now? I really want to. I release my hold on my wife and step forward. With great restraint I wrap my arm around her shoulders and turn her away from the crowd for a private word.
"Leland dont make me hurt you. Pack your gear and go back to your village and serve your Queen as regent."
"Xena what you did. ."
"I did to save my wifes life and Id do it again. Unfortunately for you I have no such attachment to you and a really bad temper. I have also been pushed to the edge of every extreme I have during this ordeal and Im doing my best to keep from killing you right here because I realize you were only reacting to what you believed. You see, for the most part, the only thing around here that keeps me from being a snarling beast is the fact that the Queen has me on a very short leash. We played a role, to catch a killer. Its over now. My Queen will snap her leash back into place around my neck and the world will be safe once again. However, you see, if you stay, Ill be forced to challenge you for her hand. Which means Ill have to kill you too. Now that thought doesnt bother me in the least ."
She squirms away from me as she slowly turns and looks at Ri. "She is yours isnt she?"
"Always has been and always will be. We will be together for all of eternity. I will do whatever is necessary to make sure that happens."
"I wont challenge you."
"Wise, very wise. You will serve her well as a regent."
"Yes I will."
"Good. She needs strong leadership in her absence among the further tribes."
She turns back to me and smiles. "Youre really not the snarling beast you pretend to be."
I cross my arms as I stand up quite straight and growl. "Oh yes I am."
She shakes her head as she turns around and walks away murmuring. "No youre not, but Im not crazy either."
Ri stands against the edge of the dais looking out into the village. The party had died down pretty quickly, now there are just a few women milling about straightening the village and putting out a few fires. I move to my Queen and stand in front of her. She looks to me and smiles. "You did it again my love."
"I did? Dunno if thats good or bad."
"Its good." She steps forward and wraps her arms around my waist. "You saved us again."
"Nope team effort. Always has been, always will be."
"Is there any other way?"
"Absolutely not." She agrees with a sigh.
I take a step back and grin at her.
"What?" She raises her eyebrow at me.
Dropping to one knee I take her hand. "My Queen. Will you please consider this humble warrior as a potential candidate for Consort?"
"Umm," She leans back against the dais as she looks down at me. "I dunno Warrior. Its a very demanding," She pauses as she considers her next words. "Position."
I knew it! I knew she was gonna say that. I grin as I raise my eyes. "Your Majesty I think I am suited for any position you might like me to fill."
"Hmm awfully sure of yourself Warrior. Any references?"
"Just one. Theres this little bard who can give me an absolutely astounding reference."
"Well now, Ill have to check on that. Any special talents?"
"I call them skills and yes Your Majesty I have," Now its my turn to pause. "Many."
"I can tie cherry stems in a knot with my tongue." I grin as I get up from my knees and turn to walk away. I only get a few steps away when I hear her come after me and tug on my arm.
"How come you never showed me that one?"
"Got to keep some secrets if I want to keep you interested." I just keep walking as I feel her hand slide into mine.
"Well too bad for you that you let that one slip, because now youre about to give a private command performance."
"Un-huh. Just as soon as we stop by the food hut and get a bowl of cherries."
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