The throne room was quiet, and that wasn't a problem. If the world were on fire and the heavens were crumbling, it would have to wait until tomorrow. For now, they stand there, eyeing each other in silence whilst the news settles the room and makes the air too thick to breathe.
"Pregnant?" Clarke whispers, eyes lighting up like constellations with her smile between the inside of her teeth. "You're pregnant?" she says it again, in absolute happy disbelief.
Lexa nods and it's strange, because this should be the otherway around. Clarke should be the one carrying the tiny and precious, she was far more equipped for it, more careful and tender and maternal. But like everything else of any importance in their lives, these things were decided for them by the politics of the world and if the Heda was to marry, then she was to bear a nightblood child too.
“I just saw my mom and she said nothing.” Clarke laughed in disbelief, suddenly aware of why her mother was so oddly skittish around her. “I was there this morning dropping supplies…”
“I told her to wait. I wanted to be the one to tell you, Clarke.” Lexa stepped forward and seemed so much more innately feminine even in the infancy of her pregnancy. It was the trapped light in the room that did it, breaking through the balcony in bright beams that framed her in aureate gold as she footed tentatively towards her gentle and mighty commander of death.
"How do you feel?" Clarke swallowed and resisted the urge to reach out and graze her belly. She would wait for the invitation, small as it would be, there would be a symptom of permission and Lexa would let her know it was okay to touch her. Until then Clarke waited, nervous and unwanting to smother her whilst she adjusted to the fact that there was a tiny them in her belly.
"Happy." Lexa admitted with that rare smile and dragged her nose along the apex of Clarke's own. "How do you feel?"
"Protective. Terrified. Excited. Terrified. In love with you?" she chuckled and pressed a kiss to the side of her temple, aching to just reach out and take her belly in her hands and not let go.
"No." Lexa shook her head and did that rare smirk, pulling away.
"No?" Clarke puzzled.
"You don't get to repeat terrified twice, and I love you once. You married a woman above that."
Clarke rolled her eyes and chuckled, because it was the truth. "I love you." she whispered again at her brooding heda, stepping forward to close the space between them. "Both of you." she hesitated and slipped a hand along her hip behind the slip of her coat, barely waiting for permission to take the desired in her hands.
A calloused palm slipped on top of hers gently, pulling her up from hip to side to centre of the commander's barely pregnant belly. "I was waiting for you to ask…" Lexa smiled, a little smug at how careful Clarke was trying to be.
Clarke didn't mind, for a moment she was without form, just a wisp of smoke lost in the air the moment she touched that bump. It didn't matter whether their baby's blood was black, red or blue. It was their baby. Both of them. A tiny person who would be an amalgamation of Lexa's strength and wits, and Clarke's determination and perseverance.
"Have we broken you?" Lexa whispered.
Clarke closed her eyes and smiled, nodding and aware that she'd never be the same again.
The click of the doors opening signalled that they were no longer alone. Absolutely used to these little burst entrances and methodical at hiding away the intimate, Clarke snatched her hand from inside of her wife's coat and crossed her arms. Lexa glared over her shoulder at the intruder, shoulders poised and nostrils flared, suddenly the master of the universe once again and Clarke was amazed at how easily she did it… switching from wife to warlord in the flutter of a single heartbeat.
"Apologies Heda," Titus swallowed and bowed his head. "A nightblood child has been discovered in a Trikru village south of Polis, she will be here by dawn tomorrow and I expected you would want to know immediately."
"Thank you, Titus." Lexa forced an air of control over her voice.
"Three in total now?" Clarke swallowed and tried not to think about the ten that were lost during the failed coup, burying the image of Lexa's stiff and quietly grieving figure lighting their funeral pyres into the deepest parts of her belly where Mount Weather and Finn and Wells all lived.
"Four." Lexa said after a moment, glancing down at her stomach at their soon-to-be nightblood.
"Titus." Clarke said over shoulder, hesitating briefly. "May we have a moment in private." she nodded back towards the commander.
The flamekeeper simmered in his disapproval but gruffly relented and turned on his feet, muttering quiet things beneath his breath as he closed the doors behind him.
"Hey," Clarke whispered and slipped her hands beneath Lexa's chin. "Don't do that."
"What?" Lexa asked too defensively.
"Worry." she softened. "Remember what we talked about? Things will change. Your people will see there are better ways of choosing leaders than the conclave. The world is changing, and blood must not have blood." she repeated the mantra.
"I hope for your sake you are right, Clarke." Lexa rubbed her mouth and tensed into her thoughts. "If I die and our child doesn't win the conclave you'll lose…" she trails off with a dry mouth, unable to finish the sentence.
"I'm not going to lose either of you." Clarke slipped a palm behind Lexa's neck where the raised little scar that represented their greatest fears existed, pulling her wife to rest her forehead against her shoulder. "I am going to keep you on that throne with my life if I have to." she promised.
"Okay." Lexa relented with a whisper, pretending that thought wasn't the precise thing that terrified her the most. "Can we talk about something else?" she sighed.
Clarke allowed herself a tiny grin at that, "Like how impossible my mom is going to be now?" she teased her mighty heda.
"I preferred the talks of me dying."
"You always do."
"You're doing it wrong."
"No, I'm not." Lexa grew frustrated.
Lexa drew a breath inside of her mouth, exhaling through her nose with a roll of her eyes at the absolute redundancy of these lessons.
Clarke hesitated for a moment, aware they were on the brink of a fight. "That's… better." she lied awkwardly. "Now, try it like this—"
"No." Lexa said gruffly and slipped out of bed, wrapping her nightgown around herself in the process. "I am tired of these lessons, Clarke.”
Clarke flopped backwards into the pillows and watched her wife move through their room towards the table where maps and trade routes and other logistic proposals that Lexa could make sense of laid scattered and waiting for her appraisal.
"You'll thank me when you're giving birth." she promised her wife.
"I already know how to breathe." Lexa found herself pulling a face on the ridiculousness of the statement alone. "Women have gave birth for a dozen generations before your people came to the ground, and we managed just fine." she peered over her shoulder with those piercing green eyes that completely shut Clarke up, if only ever for a fleeting moment.
"Am I being terrible?" Clarke raised her brow and slipped out of bed. Lexa rolled her eyes and leaned over the lip of the table, peering down at the maps but barely focusing on anything beyond the sound of bare feet thudding closer towards her.
Clarke didn't wrap her arms around her mighty heda from behind when she was annoyed, she knew better than to do that. They may live in times of prosperous peace but that didn't renege the years of training and war that Lexa was forged in, and the mere act of having someone, even Clarke, unexpectedly wrap her from behind always made her tense awkwardly, and then burn in embarrassment at the fact she tensed in the first place. So Clarke just didn't go there during disagreements.
"Am I?" Clarke asked again after a moment with raised brows, leaning against the table beside her.
"Are you what?"
"No, just unbearable." Lexa softened and glanced to her side at her wife. "But, I do know it's because you care."
"Can I touch your belly?" Clarke blurted, already bored of whatever it was they were arguing about and pining for the bump again.
"You don't have to ask… but yes, I'd like that my love."
Lexa tried to seem nonplus but she was grateful that Clarke respected her body. She felt guilty at first for not being soft the way other women are soft but Clarke never let her feel guilty for long: Hey, you're the Heda. If I can't respect you commanding your own body, how can I possibly ask you to go and command an entire world every morning? Clarke always assured her when she felt guilty for not wanting to be touched, and somehow, it always made it better.
"I know I don't have to ask but I like asking, I like hearing you say out loud that you want me to touch you and I like respecting you when you don't." Clarke promised and slipped her hand inside the soft material of her nightgown, her hand lovingly taking the swell of a child in her palm like it was the sole purpose her hands were made for.
Maybe it was the truth, the skin of Lexa's belly felt more like home than any weapon ever did.
"It makes me feel weak." Lexa admitted with a quiet huff and her eyes blistered. "It makes me feel as if I'm vulnerable. As if I couldn't protect you if I had to, and I've never felt that way before."
"Being pregnant makes you feel like that?" Clarke clarified, their baby safely in her hands.
Clarke felt guilty for smiling, hands stuck around the bump and chin tucked into the side of her wife's shoulder. Lexa stood still, breathing through her nose and out through her mouth.
"You're entering the second trimester, that's a lot of hormones to deal with."
"This again?" she rolled her eyes.
Clarke's hand smoothed down the small of her back. "You are doing the most important thing in the world, and getting to be the one to support you is the greatest gift. We are safe, Lexa, and you don't have to protect me from anything."
"There will always be something for me to protect you from, that's the deal. That's what marriage is…"
"Okay," Clarke rolled her eyes and slipped a brief kiss against the bit of her neck that always smelled so definitively Lexa. "Can you come and protect me from an empty side of the bed?" she nodded back to the pile of blankets.
"Clarke—" she exasperatedly sighed and closed her eyes.
"Mighty heda," she whispered and nuzzled her neck. "Commander of the thirteen…"
Lexa relented with a tiny smile at the way she said her long nomenclature so lovingly, so needily. It took barely any effort on Clarke's part after that to get her back in bed, back to the place where she could quietly love and worry over the most important woman in the world and the swelling bump settling her belly that offset her wife so frequently with questions of whether this made her weak. Clarke hated that. How could this possibly be weak? How could bringing life into the world ever be anything other than a miracle?
Rain pattering the windows, candles flickering in the low breeze, Clarke spent the night curled into Lexa's side with hands against her belly. She was beautiful like this, Clarke decided that after the breath she drew when she first knew of the child. It was the tiny bits of quietness between the franticity of ruling the world, the moments where their people needed nothing from them, that was when Lexa was most beautiful. That was when she was more inclined to just be still for five minutes and let Clarke worry over her swollen belly with tender hands.
There's a low rumble of voices stilling into silence as they enter the clan building. Clarke trails behind her a few paces behind, disappearing into the small crowd of guards who are always only ever footsteps behind her wife. Lexa walks with her hands behind her back, eight month bump protruding from her coat, still just as much a force of nature as she ever was — even if the mornings were spent rubbing the trapped nerve in her back and the stretch marks on her hips.
"Heda, to what do we owe the honour?" the Trishanakru chief gruffly nodded his head and eyed her with that familiar disdain.
"Kronos." she nodded her head back and eyed the men huddled around the plans one by one. "Word drifts to me that Trishanakru intend on advancing to the Delfikru borders…" her teeth suddenly became a precarious snarl. "I will not allow it."
Behind him, a senior advisor pushes to the front and slams his hands into the table. "Trishanakru does not recognise the legitimacy of your command whilst you are weak, Lexa kom Trikru." he curls on her name as if it's an insult.
"Trishanakru will fall in line, or Trishanakru will fall!" she snaps, eyes alight with the kindling of war.
Clarke feels her knees give way first, they want to buckle and send her crashing into the floor but she doesn't let them. Instead she stands there, almost gagging on what she just heard fly out of her pregnant wife's mouth. She bustles to the front past stocky men twice her size, all elbows and wide eyes the entire time.
Kronos hesitated for a moment, lips curling into a disbelieving kind of sneer. "The commander thinks herself still strong enough to rule." he calls to his men and they jeer at that.
No. Clarke bites her mouth until she tastes the headiness of hot iron and feels her heat dessicate into a dusty nothingness at what is coming: they will issue the challenge and demand her wife fight for her throne, and whilst there are few women who carry a weapon and a child with such equal grace as her wife, she knows it's a fight she will not win.
Reluctantly, breaking a vow she swore never to break again, her hand slipped down her thigh.
"Lexa kom Trikru, Trishanakru demands—" Kronos' words are cut short and his eyes grow wide, peering down at the steel blade that quickly sticks inside his chest. His hands instinctively wrapping around the handle for just a moment before he folds forward, boneless, dead before he even hits the table.
Lexa's eyes snap to the responsible hand, mouth hung open and eyes confused. Clarke just stands there, blinking and righting herself, burying the bitter taste of another kill quickly in order to make her powerplay. She closes the distance from her spot to Lexa's side, careful to seem unafraid of the dozen blades now drawn and pointed by the hands of men who scream for blood.
"Quiet!" Wanheda demands and earns her silence. "If any man here thinks my wife too weak to lead: remember who stands at her side. I fight for the Heda whilst she is with my child. I accept any challenge for the throne, on her behalf. So let the strongest among you issue the challenge first." Clarke growled, chest hollowed out and filled with violence instead.
The men grow quiet, murmuring among themselves as death stands before them and waits for a brave fool to rise from their ranks. Clarke feels Lexa's eyes burning into her, the sheer rage of them, the disbelief that she would diminish the Heda's station with this display. Clarke cares for none of it and holds her ground, heaving and watching the men sheath their swords one by one.
"Trishanakru will not advance the Delphi border, Heda." the second in command, and now the new chief, says tentatively in embarrassment.
Clarke glances over her shoulder at her wife for her satisfaction, aware of the reckoning that would wait for her at home but pleased with herself nonetheless. Nostrils flaring and eyes flitching from each ashen face, Lexa nods and clears her throat. "Then the matter is settled." she forced calmness into her voice and eyes her wife. "Wanheda, join me in the throne room I'd like to meet with you. In private." her voice becomes a low growl.
Clarke nods sheepishly, and knows no matter how beautiful the sunset, she will not join her wife on the balcony.
"How dare you!"
"How could you?!"
"Why would you be so reckless?!"
The questions, or rather attacks, come one after another whilst she paces each side of the room like a caged lion. And all Clarke can do is sit with her eyes trained on the stone floor like a scolded child.
Lexa was angry in the same kind of way that lightening struck or thunderclouds rolled in, from a distance it was beautiful, but to be within the eye of the storm, beneath it's insurmountable wrath, was terrifying.
"They could have killed you!" Lexa finally roared and stood still, bent over her belly and heaving on the mere thought. "You slaughtered their chief and they could have retaliated! They could have strung you up right there and gave you back to me in pieces and I wouldn't have been able to stop them!" Clarke grew guilty at that.
"But they didn't."
"They could demand your death, Clarke! They could call on me, as Heda, to surrender you for retribution and I…" Lexa folded, tears in her eyes and the strength of her voice wavering completely.
If she thought she'd experienced guilt before, it was nothing compared to this. Watching her wife break, watching her hands slip down to cradle that bump, hurting her like this, it was a special kind of warfare against her heart and resolve.
"If it meant keeping you both safe I would take a thousand cuts gladly." Clarke promised and couldn't bear the distance any longer, carefully, she footed closer towards her wife with outstretched hands that wanted nothing more than to take her and quell the ache in her heart. Lexa's palm quickly shoved her chest, not too hard, but hard enough to warn her not come any closer. "Okay, alright." she whispered and stood there, waiting.
"I will not lose you." Lexa righted herself and looked to the ceiling, blinking and flexing her jaw with her hands around the furious fluttering in her belly. "I won't."
"And I won't lose you." Clarke told her defiantly. "I won't stand there and watch you let them back you into a corner, Lexa. I won't listen to them threaten my wife and baby. Please, Lexa, please don't ask it of me."
"That's what it is to be my wife, Clarke. That's what it is to be a leader."
"I am begging you to not be so reactionary with them for just one last month. Just until that baby is wrapped in blankets and I can breathe. Because right now, I am terrified. I'm terrified because I know if they ever hurt you, if they so much as dared to issue the challenge—"
"You would kill them as you did Kronos?" Lexa levelled her stare.
Clarke stepped forward, eyes alight with the death of a thousand who fell at her wrath before. "I would burn their women, their children, and their villages to ash and bone." she said it as if it were nothing, unhinging her wife with the coldness of her words. "I would take and blacken and kill everything they have ever loved so that they would know my pain. If they took you from me? I wouldn't stop. I wouldn't rest. I would never be me again. And so I am begging you, Lexa, give me a month where I don't have to wake up in the morning wondering if it will be my last with you."
Head hung and guilty in the rapture of her own words, Clarke stood there beneath her wife's repulsed stare like a wounded predator. It felt like the most apt description, a scrawny revealed beast that would willingly kill and die to protect its mistress. She wished she could be above it, she wish she could be human and restrained in all the ways Lexa managed to be on her worst days, and yet she couldn't.
"Clarke." her voice was soft, but she refused to peer up at those green eyes. "Clarke." she said her name again, slipping her hands either side of her neck.
Clarke breathed and glanced up, tears welling in her eyes like dirty little puddles, chest aching and raw.
"Okay, alright." Lexa whispered and drew her nose against her wife's nose, "It's alright." she hummed and buried her fingers into the blondness of her hair. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Okay." Clarke released with a sigh, human again.
Her hand falls to the baby bump and she can't help but cling there, eyes closed and hands smoothing backwards and forwards over the tiny person she would die protecting. She felt flutters against her palm, followed by Lexa wincing and steadying her breath.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes. It's just…" she hesitated and trailed off. "It's nothing."
"No, tell me." Clarke pulled back, blue eyes full of concern.
"You made the baby angry."
She felt guilty for smiling, for wanting to laugh, for enjoying the absolute seriousness in her wife's face as she uttered those words. It was too late to hide her amusement, and so all she could do was try to soften her wife too. "Would a back rub win me back into their good favours Heda?" she raised her brow.
Lexa tempered a rare smirk, successfully softened. "I think it would, Wanheda."
They travelled to Arkadia the week before her due date. It takes all of Clarke's patience until she found herself wondering if it would be better to sedate her wife and drag her by the ankles the entire way.
Better? No. Easier? Well, quite possibly. Clarke decided after the twelfth quiet scolding directed at her from her brooding and exhausted heda who wanted little more than their own bedroom. Instead, they had a six hour ride ahead of them. It could have been two in the rover but Lexa refused to have her people see her leaving their holiest city in a machine from the sky.
It was once the due date came and passed them by that Clarke had to become better at dealing with her wife, more adept at keeping an eye on her.
"Where do you think you're going?" she asked calmly on the third day past her due date, still bleary-eyed as the shifting bed stirred her in a hour that could barely be considered morning.
"Just a glass of water, love."
"Why do you need your boots and coat for a glass of water?" she acquiesced with a little sternness in her voice.
Lexa hesitated at that, shoulders melting and big green eyes peering over her shoulder, begging for just a little freedom. "Indra and the generals from Delphi will be arriving at dawn to discuss the scouting mission with Kane…"
"No." Clarke raised her finger and warned with a strong brow. "You agreed Indra would act on your behalf this week. That means staying in bed. That means not sneaking off and going into labour during a conglomerate meeting whilst I'm asleep."
"You would have sensed that I was having fun and woke up." she complained.
Clarke let it slide and simply rolled her eyes. "If you go, I'm coming with you."
Lexa's eyes practically lit up into entire solar systems.
"No. Don't give me that look. There's rules, Lexa." Clarke sighed and sat up. "You have to stay in my sights — no more trying to sneak around."
At that Lexa settled into a dumbfounded expression, rubbing the massive swell of her protruding stomach that didn't seem to fit behind any shirt or coat. "I could hardly sneak, my love."
"You know what I mean."