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 Ninety-four in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place right after "Expecting the Worst".
The Toughest Lessons
I try to hide the smirk as she sits on the edge of her bed holding her head. "Get dressed and come down for the morning meal. Full armor."
"Ohhh " She grabs the sides of her head. "Do I have to eat?"
"Yup. You sure do. Weve got a long day ahead of us."
She looks up and squints at me. "Why arent you hung over? You had more to drink than I did."
"I was drinking apple juice Mel. Last time I checked you cant get drunk on juice."
"Oh Gods. I feel awful."
I move closer and lean over. "Its only gonna get worse runt. Be downstairs in a half a mark."
I hide my smile as I turn and leave the room.
Downstairs Ri and Shadoan are waiting for me. I take a seat and grin.
"Oh you are so bad." Ri smiles at me as she sips her tea.
"You havent seen anything yet." I offer as I pour a mug of tea. Then I wave the waitress over. "I need a bowl of oatmeal and two eggs, runny and another mug of tea."
She nods and leaves to fill my order.
"Cruel." Ri just shakes her head at me.
Mels food arrives before she does, giving me the time to fix it up. I take the tea and thin the oatmeal out so its more of lumpy soup. Then I stir the eggs up and add small bits of bread. I hear Shadoan groan just a bit as she clears her throat. I look up and grin. "Problem?"
"Oh no Your Highness. Im just glad youre not my mother."
"Mel may want to disown me after today too."
"Im sure of it." The young woman chuckles as she sips her tea.
"You will be taking the Queen shopping today." I tell her as I add just a drop, or six of hot sauce to the eggs.
"Yes Your Highness."
I hear her coming slowly down the stairs, groaning with every step. Oh Im going to enjoy this. Yup, runt you got yourself into this.
She finally takes a seat next to me and I place her food in front of her.
"Oh Gods!" I can see the green slowly creeping into her features. "You dont really expect me to eat this?"
"I I cant."
"Sure you can." I offer her with a very hearty slap to her back.
"Oh Gods!" She bolts from the chair and heads for the nearest exit.
I just look to Ri and wiggle my eyebrows.
"Cruel." She says again.
Mel and I make our way to the bog at a relatively easy jog. She throwing daggers at me with her eyes and I just know she wants to throw a fit. As we enter the darkness of the swamp area I stop for a moment and take a deep breath, oh yeah the smell should get to her any moment.
"Youre trying to kill me." She grumbles as she bends over at the waist and takes a deep breath.
"Nah, if I were trying to kill you, youd be dead."
"Gods Mother, what did I do to deserve this?"
"You turned into a horses ass."
She looks up at me as she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. "I miss her."
"I know you do runt, but that doesnt give you the right to turn on the world. You are headed for big trouble and Im just trying to stop that before it happens. Youre young Mel and Gods forgive me, because this is all my fault, youre cocky." I take a deep breath with that admission. "Someone better than you was going to take your head off."
She drops her head and then stands up straight and looks at me. "Im sorry."
"Dont be sorry for missing her. Just learn to carry her love with you. Let it be a cloak that keeps you warm, dry and safe. Dont dishonor her memory by getting yourself killed in a ridiculous fight."
She nods as she looks out into the swamp. "Do we really have to do this?"
"Do you promise to behave and stop being so difficult?"
"Oh I promise."
"Then I think we can forego the swamp."
"Thank the Gods."
"Runt," I offer as I sling my arm over her shoulder and we start back for the village. "The Gods had nothing to do with it."
"Can I ask you a question?"
"You know you can."
"Do you by any chance know how I got a tattoo on the inside of my thigh?"
"Just be glad I didnt go with the soft blue bear like your Mom wanted."
Im betting good dinars the groan could be heard clear back in the village.
The evening meal is a far more pleasant experience for all of us. Mel is acting more like her old self. She even manages to laugh with us and crack a couple of jokes herself. She still has a long way to go, but shes well on her way.
Ri smiles at me and I nod. She reaches under her chair and pulls out a small bag, which she hands to Mel.
"Just a little something your Mother and I thought you might like." Ri offers as she sips her wine.
"I dont deserve anything after the way Ive been acting."
"Thats probably true, but we thought youd like it anyhow." I tell her as I give her a friendly little smack to the back of the head.
"Headache, headache ." She groans as she grabs her head.
"Somebody have a little too much to drink last night?" Shadoan asks with a grin.
"Oh bite me buddy." Mel growls as she opens the bag. "What happened to you were gonna look out for me?"
Shadoan points to the bandage on her forehead. "Eleven stitches smart ass. Pay backs are a bitch. Besides its not my place to disobey a royal command and I was told to take a hike."
"Un-huh," Mel looks to her friend as she dumps the medallion out into her hand. She holds it up and reads it carefully. "Celia, in my heart forever." She smiles at us as she slips the medallion around her neck, tucking it under her tunic and then stands to give us each a kiss. "Thanks guys."
"Youre welcome runt."
"Can I go to bed now?"
"Yeah go ahead." I grin as she carries her still hung over body up the steps. "Shes gonna be just fine."
"Of course she is." Ri reaches out and takes my hand giving it a kiss. "She had someone looking out for her and getting her through it."
"Well, I signed on for the job for the long run." I give her hand a little squeeze.
"Your Majesty, Your Highness. It has been a long day." She grins at me as she stands up. "Your Highness Id like to request that you consider taking the Queen shopping a little more often. Shes deadly in the market."
"Ri," I turn to her as my brows come together. "Did you hurt the merchants again?"
"Only in their purses love, only in their purses. I leave the fights up to you and Mel." She offers with a wink.
"Good night." Shadoan offers as she follows after Mel.
"Ohhhhh thats good." I moan as she rubs my back in heavy circles. I dont know what I did to deserve a massage, but Im going with it.
""You like that huh?"
"Like you have to ask." I turn my head and close my eyes as she continues.
"So where to from here?" She asks as rubs more oil into my back. Oh, I love this woman.
"Where do you want to go?"
"How about Athens?"
"I counter offer with Eretria. No chance of my ending up in jail."
"Ewww, boat ride and theres always a chance youll end up in jail."
"Just across the channel you big baby." That was a mistake, and I know it the moment I feel her elbow in my back. "Ri, honey, take your bony elbow out of my spine."
"No. Not until you take it back."
"Nope." I roll over and grab her, flipping her down to the bed. "You are just never gonna learn are you Bard?"
"Hey this was my plan all along." She grins as she wraps her hands in my hair. "Got you right where I want you Warrior." She pulls me into a long kiss.
With our gear packed up and everybody mounted up, the four of us set off for Eretria. Mel and Shadoan offered to go back to the village and leave Ri and I alone for the rest of our honeymoon, but we decided that it would be better to continue traveling with them. Its fun to watch Mel really experience the world and I dont want her to be alone just yet. Shes over the worse of it, but shell backslide. We all do.
The midday meal was a riot. Mel and Shadoan went fishing, but somehow ended up just wet and fishless. Ri actually ended up spearing a couple nice trout, which totally shocked Mel and Shadoan. They are quite unaccustomed to seeing this side of her. Even after all these seasons she remembers how to survive on the road and slides right back into it very easily.
I just stood back and laughed. Then I got smacked in the face with those trout. I know a bard thats gonna pay later.
As we walk through the meadow hand in hand I take a deep, satisfied breath and pull her into my arms. "I love you Ri."
"Youre turning into a sap Xe." She giggles as she wraps her arms around me.
"I remember a time when you used to respond with I love you too. Now I get Your turning into a sap? Something is so very wrong here." I kiss the top of her head.
"You know I love you, but that doesnt stop the fact that youre a sap."
"Youre asking for it." I tease her as I lift her from her feet and meet her face to face.
"What are you gonna do about it?"
"In case you havent noticed shrimp, youre the one two hands off the ground."
"Oh I noticed," She grins as she wraps her legs around my waist. "I ask again. What are you gonna do about it?"
I chuckle as I head for a nice clearing that will serve my purposes quite nicely. "Im gonna make you say it."
"Now theres a plan." She offers as she gives my neck a little bite.
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