Lexa wakes again to the sound of wailing. It’s reedy and high and desperate, and despite the fact that it’s so late it’s early, it’s not stopping. Clarke grunts when Lexa rolls out from under the furs, dragging her warm body to wakefulness.
It’s the fifth time this week that little Costia interrupted the tower’s rest.
The first time, Lexa was at her side in an instant, cooing, consoling the small namesake of her first love. The second time was the same. But the third and fourth…let’s just say those war meetings, training, and Clarke made everything about leaving bed just that much harder.
But Costia was special. Costia was hers.
Lexa pads out of the room, throwing her commander coat over her nightgown, hair mussed and sleep weighing on her lids. The natblida nursery was just down the hall at Lexa’s request- for the specific purpose of being close to them when they needed her. Like Costia does now.
She walks into the room to find Aden at her crib, one of his fingers clasped between Costia’s palms and sweet nothings murmuring from his lips. Lexa places a hand on his back and he glances up- he’d been expecting her.
“Lexa,” he greets her, respectfully nodding.
“Another nightmare, dear one?” Lexa coos, leaning over the crib to stroke a small plump cheek, red with fury and wet with tears. Costia sure had a temper- now not even Lexa’s presence could quiet her as it first did when she’d arrived in Polis.
“Heda, do you need my help?” Aden asks. The purple circles under his eyes are heavy. He’d also been at Costia’s side, just as much as Lexa. He's the oldest Nightblood now, and the responsibility he felt over the others ran deep in his veins.
“No, Aden, thank you,” Lexa smiles tiredly. “You may go get some rest.”
Aden sighs in resignation and relief. “Thank you, Heda. Will you be there for my match tomorrow?”
“I wouldn’t dare miss it.” He smiles at her, his skin sallow with exhaustion, and slips out of the room, careful not to bump the other tiny wooden cribs housing the three new additions to their natblida family.
Lexa turns her attention to the vulnerable child and lifts her into her arms, groaning with effort. Costia was getting heavy.
“Did you know you’re almost two now?” Lexa says sweetly. “You’re one big girl, huh?”
The curly-haired girl takes one look at her and starts wailing again.
“Ohhh, beja, Costia, I am here now, Leksa’s here,” she tucks the child into her shoulder and meanders around the room, rocking her slightly in her arms as she checks on the other young newcomers- all fast asleep.
“Did you know, Costia,” Lexa says through the wailing,”that you were named after a woman I loved very much?”
Costia keeps screaming- probably because this is the fifth time Lexa had told her this story in an effort to quiet her. Or maybe just to spite the Commander’s horrible storytelling skills. Or maybe because Costia desperately missed her own loved ones.
Lexa continues, unperturbed. The story comes easily to her now… the pain and anger had all but gone away. “She was very beautiful, and she was very nice. She always made me laugh very hard, just like you do when you spit on Aden!”
Costia was unamused.
“Well. Something very sad happened to her. But don’t you worry, that will never happen to you, because I speared- well, I made sure that would nobody be a threat to you or anyone I love, ever again.”
Costia pauses for a breath, and Lexa exhales gratefully- the end of her tantrum was in sight.
Then Costia opens her little lips and screamed to the high heavens.
“Oh, child, no, beja, please, Costia-”
“Maybe she needs a different story?” Comes a soft voice at the doorway.
She’s leaning on the door, a soft smile on her lips. Her eyes are full of sleepy love, and she walks toward Lexa, blue robes whispering against the floor.
“Clarke, thank you for coming, she’s-”
“Not listening? Yeah, babe, because that story isn’t for children. It’s for older kids-”
“It is the story of her namesake, is it not?”
Clarke sighs. “Yes, but children want to be comforted, coddled, told sweet things…” She’s looking at the child in Lexa’s arms with concern.
“The world is not always sweet, Clarke.”
“You’re right, and no one knows that better than us, but- here, may I have her?” She puts her arms out, a hopeful, expectant expression on her face.
Lexa looks taken aback. This is the first time Clarke has shown any interest in caring for the younger Nightblood children- they always seemed to make her uncomfortable, or nervous. But Lexa hands Clarke the upset little girl, leaning over to transfer her into the strong, soft arms of her lover.
“There we go,” Clarke whispers.
Costia quiets, intrigued by the new face.
“Hello, Costia.” Clarke grins down at the curious eyes, “I’m Clarke.” She looked up at Lexa’s sleepy smile and added, ”I’m in love with Lexa.”
Lexa’s face lights up and she leans into kiss her cheek. “I’ll never tire of hearing that,” she murmurs.
Clarke kisses her back. “But you will tire out of viewing Aden’s match tomorrow if you stay up much longer, so let’s get you to bed.” She begins to walk toward the door, still holding Costia.
“Clarke? The child’s bed is in here.” Lexa points out.
“I know, honey.” Clarke nods.
“So why are we-”
“Lexa, just come on. She can spend the night with us. Besides, I have a story for both of you.” Lexa shrugs, too tired to argue, and follows Clarke obediently back to their room.
Clarke climbs into their bed, Costia still snuggled into her arms, and Lexa removes her coat and joins them, sliding under the furs. Leaning back against her pillow, Clarke gazes at the two girls waiting patiently, adoringly, and she begins.
“Once upon a time, my mother held me just like this and told me a story- a fairytale. It was about a far-off island in the middle of Earth’s ocean, called Neverland, where no one ever grew old. The island was filled with children, rebellious young children that loved to fight and play all day.
“The path to Neverland was through a rocketship powered on magical dust, one that would enter the Earth’s atmosphere and take you straight to Neverland. Mom said that if you wanted to get on that rocketship, I would have to be a very good girl- and boy, did I try my hardest to do that.
“It was said that sometimes people were chosen to go to the island, that a fairy would come visit them in the night.”
“What’s a fairy?” Lexa murmured, her voice faint.
“A fairy is like a miniature human, that has wings that shimmer, and they can fly. Their laughter is said to tinker off the walls like bells, clear and pure. They shake off fairy dust onto the one they choose, and that child gets to go to the island.
“Sometimes, Mom would tell me, if I asked very nicely, about the boy that lives in Neverland. She said he was the leader of all the Lost Boys and Girls, that someday he might fly up to meet me. His name was Peter, Peter Pan.
“Peter was the favorite of all the fairies, because he was very nice to them. Mom said I could have fairy friends, too. I drew fairies every day when I was five years old, asking only for charcoal and paper on holidays. I wished on every star that one day I would meet a fairy.”
She looked down at Costia, snug between her breast and arm, tiny mouth hanging open. She’d finally fallen asleep.
Lexa had too, her face wiped of all her worries. Her lips were curved into a smile as her hand, tucked under her, smushed against her cheek. Clark smiled and settled back into the pillow, ready to sleep herself.
“Little did I know, my very own fairy was waiting for me when I reached the ground.” Clarke whispered to the darkened room, and closed her eyes, drifting off to a dream world filled with magical dust, green eyes, and tinkling laughter.