24 Epiphanies

10

Today was the day. Twenty-three letters and the tears in between had led to this day. Clarke sat out on the porch, lost in thought. It was early morning. She awaited the arrival of the last one, and when she heard the cheery tune of the mailman, she stood to greet him. She strode down the steps and walked up to the head of the driveway

He waved at her, an innocent grin on his face as he pulled out the bundle of letters, handing hers over. "Have great day!" He said as he turned and continued his route. Clarke flashed him a smile before her hands were sifting through the letters.

It wasn't there. Clarke frowned. She quickly hurried after the mailman, calling to him. "Herb!" The man turned, looking at her in surprise from across the street.

"Clarke." He said jovially. "What can I do for you?" She held the mail in her hand as she crossed the street.

"Herb, I was wondering if perhaps there's another letter of mine that you might have missed?" She asked. Herb frowned.

"I'll check in my bag, but I'm sure that's all." He rummaged inside the red canvas bag, searching for her name and address, and after minutes his hand came up empty. "Sorry, there's nothing else for you." He said apologetically.

With a crestfallen look on her face, Clarke nodded. "Okay, thanks for your help." She said, and Herb gave her a lopsided smile before she spun around on her heel and walked back up the steps and into the house.

She threw herself onto the sofa. It didn't make sense. Today was the twenty-fourth. It was supposed to be the last letter.

"Hey Mom." Quinn yawned as she trotted over to the sofa. She smiled at her mother, a nervous energy in her step. Clarke frowned as she looked at her daughter.

"Why do you have that look on your face?" Clarke asked suspiciously. Quinn clasped her hands behind her back, feigning innocence.

"What look?"

"The look that clearly says that you're hiding something behind your back." Clarke said, raising an eyebrow. Quinn gave her mother a wide smile, before she slowly brought her hands in front of her, revealing the white envelope between her fingers.

"What-" Clarke looked at her daughter in wonder and astonishment. Her daughter grinned shyly at her mother.

"Mom gave it to me a few days before the accident." She began to explain as she sat down next to her mother, whose eyes were wide and following her daughter's every movement. "She said that when the big day came, I should give this to you."

"Honey," Clarke shook her head, watching as Quinn gently placed the final letter on her knees.

"Mom, this is the last one." Quinn said, biting her lip as she looked down at the tail-end of the sheepskin rug, and Clarke shuffled closer to her daughter.

"I know sweetie." Clarke whispered, a hand stroking her daughter's cheek.

"Are you going to be okay?" Quinn asked quietly, and Clarke frowned. She had been asking herself that question ever since the first letter came to her.

The past twenty-three days had given her the last connection that she would ever had to Lexa. After this was all over, when the last letter was read, she would truly and utterly be alone in this world. Her wife would no longer be speaking to her through ink and paper, and even acknowledging it now caused her heart to clench in pain.

"I don't know." She confessed quietly to her daughter, thinking back to the previous three days that had passed by so quickly. It was the knowledge that they were the last that made reading them even harder, and Clarke closed her eyes, the twenty-fourth and final one between her trembling hands.


Seventy-two hours ago

The sound of typing echoed off the living room walls as Clarke padded downstairs to see what the racket was about. Quinn was stretched out on the sofa, legs propped up on the cushions as she worked on an essay. She looked up at the sound of her mother stepping on that creaky stair, and she shot her a quick, distracted smile. "Hey Mom." She greeted her briefly as she returned her attention to the word document open in front of her.

Clarke smiled at her daughter before she padded down the hall. She returned seconds later with a laundry basket, which she brought to the living room. She sat down on the recliner and began folding the various articles of clothing in a companionable silence, the rapid typing the only sound that could be heard in the room.

She was finishing up, folding her favorite sweater that once had been Lexa's, when Quinn glanced up at her and scrutinized her through her thick-framed glasses. Clarke's hair was tied in a messy bun atop her head, her ring gleaming under the lamplight as she worked, wearing a simple t-shirt and pajama bottoms that made her look young and refreshed. "You look beautiful Mom." Quinn commented casually. She met Clarke's gaze, giving her a quick smile before she returned to finalizing her conclusion when Clarke interrupted her.

"What did you just say?" Clarke asked. Quinn glanced back at her mom over the screen in mild confusion. Her mother's face was stunned, and she looked unnerved, as if she'd seen a ghost.

"Mom," She closed the lid of her laptop and placed it on the coffee table, "what's going on?"

"What you-" Clarke licked her lips, steadying herself, "what did you say to me a few minutes ago?" Quinn frowned at her mother's question.

"I said you look beautiful." She repeated, an eyebrow raised. "Mom, are you okay?" Clarke stared at her in bewilderment, and Quinn nervously padded over to her mother and knelt at the side of the recliner, a hand on her knee.

"Mom?" She squeezed gently, and Clarke seemed to pull herself out of whatever she was thinking of, and she shot her a distracted smile.

"I'm fine sweetie." She answered quickly enough, and that only made Quinn more suspicious.

"What are you not telling me?" She stood to her full height, trying to capture her mother's gaze in her own. Clarke finally tilted her chin to look up into serious green eyes, and she smiled tightly before she explained.

"You basically repeated what your mother had said to me on that sofa," She indicated with a tilt of her head, "a few days before the accident."


Clarke walked down the stairs one foot at a time, her hands full with the overflowing laundry basket. The palm of her right foot felt out the final step, and she let out a sigh of relief before she started towards the laundry room. She piled everything into the washing machine and collected all the recently dried clothes for folding.

In the living room, Lexa was busy reading over a case file, a frown plastered over her features as she read and wrote on a notepad. She had pushed the coffee table closer to the sofa so she could work, her hair balanced haphazardly in a messy ponytail and her glasses slowly slipping off the bridge of her nose.

Clarke smiled, content at the sight of her wife at home – working, but here nonetheless. The blonde joined her on the sofa, giving her a kiss on the cheek in greeting before she set the laundry basket down and began folding the clothes on the unoccupied part of the coffee table. Lexa hummed in approval at Clarke's presence, but didn't bother saying anything as she wrote furiously on the notepad, the pen flying across the page.

This was Lexa when she worked. Focused and determined, hardly deterred or distracted by anything else, she honed into the facts of the case and chased leads with stunning efficiency. It was a part of Lexa that Clarke loved – and simultaneously hated at times. The blonde just took it all in, the sight of her wife engrossed in the pages and pages within the manila folder. She stared, an affectionate look in her eyes. She hadn't realized how long she had been gazing, love-struck, until she heard a throat clearing loudly. Instantly, her eyes snapped up and met an amused green gaze.

"A little distracted tonight?" Lexa asked, the corner of her mouth quirking in amusement, and Clarke stuck her tongue out at her wife.

"You're an ass." Clarke retorted, and her hands hastily reached for the jeans at the top of the basket, busying herself with folding and organizing. She heard Lexa chuckled heartily, and wholly expected the sound the scribbling to commence, but when it did not, she chanced a look up at the brunette, only to see her wife gazing at her with what Anya had mockingly coined 'heart eyes'.

"Are you going to continue working?" Clarke asked as she returned her attention to folding a linen blouse.

"You look beautiful." Lexa said quietly, and Clarke smiled as her hands moved deftly in completing her chore.

"I know, you've been saying that almost every day since we've been together." Clarke commented as she placed the folded laundry into the basket. She stood from the sofa and deposited the basket at the foot of the stairs amid the low chuckle from her wife. She hummed under her breath and ambled over to the kitchen. The dishes were not going to wash themselves.

Clarke had just padded over to the sink, the sponge in her hand when she suddenly felt warm breath against the exposed skin at her neck and nimble fingers on her waist. "Stop distracting me." She scolded Lexa, fighting a grin.

The brunette pressed a soft kiss to her clothed shoulder, her arms encircling her waist. "I love this." Lexa whispered, gentle lips grazing and lighting a fire under Clarke's skin.

"You love seeing your wife washing the dishes?" Clarke joked, leaning back against the strong body behind her.

"I love having time to ourselves after a very long, very frustrating day." Lexa elaborated, and she reached out one hand to take the sponge from between Clarke's fingers, dropping it ceremoniously on the slink. Clarke smiled and turned in Lexa's arms, swooning under her wife's loving gaze.

"I love that too." Clarke connected their lips, her hand on Lexa's cheek. The hold around her waist tightened, and then she felt her backside hit the kitchen counter. Lexa swiped her tongue at Clarke's bottom lip, and she allowed her access immediately, the blonde melting into her wife's touch. Lexa's snaked under her shirt, a hand cupped at her breast, and Clarke moaned loudly at the contact. She leaned back against the sink, and Lexa lavished attention to her neck.

"I especially love this part." Lexa murmured hotly against her skin, and Clarke pulled closer to her, her heart beating fast with anticipation as deft hands wandered all over her body. It was this kind of teasing that made Clarke slightly impatient. She wanted Lexa, badly, tonight, and when the brunette continued to kiss and tease, a finger hesitating at her hipbone as she panted heavily under her touch, Clarke took matters into her own hands.

A hand went to the zipper on Lexa's jeans, and she was just about to pull it down when she heard the sound of the door opening and heartbeats later, footsteps clumping down the hallway. Before she could peel herself off her wife, Quinn walked into the kitchen.

"Oh my god!" Quinn's shriek of horror had Lexa immediately jerking her hand out from Clarke's shirt, jumping so far apart from her wife that her hip collided with the kitchen island.

"Shit!" Lexa swore loudly, and Clarke instantly had a hand on between her shoulder blades, rubbing comfortingly while she looked sheepishly at their daughter. "Are you okay sweetie?" She asked her wife in a hushed voice. The brunette didn't utter a word, her jaw clenched in pain as she nodded unconvincingly.

Situated on the other side of the kitchen, Quinn quietly counted to twenty in her head. At the sight of her mothers in such a compromising position, Quinn had hastily thrown her hands over her eyes, turning her back on them. Ordinarily, she would have streaked up the stairs and hid in her room, but after a late night exam, she was starving. "Are you two decent?" She called over her shoulder.

Clarke readjusted her bra, her cheeks red with embarrassment before she answered her. "We're good." Lexa was leaning heavily on the countertop, rubbing her now-tender hip with an equally flushed face.

Quinn slowly turned around, and Clarke smiled brightly at her, trying her best to not look too guilty at being caught. "How was your exam?" She asked, and Lexa also turned her head to await their daughter's answer.

"Oh it went okay, I think I managed at least a B+." Quinn marched stiffly over to the fridge, opening it without looking either mother in the eye.

"That's great!" Lexa praised her daughter loudly. She walked over to pat Quinn on the back heartily before she limped away to return to the sofa. Clarke shot her a glare, astounded that she had ditched her to awkwardly hover at Quinn's side.

"Yea it is." Quinn said as she finally pulled her head out from the fridge, a tupperware box filled with last night's leftovers in her hand. She turned to Clarke, and awkwardly cleared her throat. "Uh, Mom, you're kind of blocking my way to the microwave."

"Oh of course!" Clarke shuffled out of her daughter's path immediately, and after a pause, quickly moved to join her wife in the living room.

"Oh, and Moms?" Quinn was starting down the hallway, and she threw her next words over her shoulder. Clarke met Lexa's unnerved gaze, and the blonde decided to answer for the both of them.

"Yes?"

"Next time you two want to do the dirty, maybe don't do it in the kitchen." Lexa instantly cleared her throat, suddenly very interested in the file in front of her, while Clarke flushed a deep red. She had to take a moment to collect herself before she answered.

"We'll keep that in mind." She heard Quinn scoff as she disappeared upstairs, and Lexa released a pent-up breath of air.

"That was embarrassing." She chuckled as she leaned back on the sofa. Clarke swatted her on the shoulder.

"And it's all your fault!" She scolded as she collapsed onto the unoccupied side of the leather couch, her legs swinging up to rest on Lexa's lap. Clarke covered her face with her hands, trying to forget what just happened.

"Maybe I started it," Lexa conceded, "but you were definitely just as eager and willing." She added. That only earned her a heel digging into her abdomen.

"Are you even embarrassed?" Clarke asked, peering at her wife through her fingers as she nudged the brunette's elbow with her toe.

"Of course, but it's happened already, so there's really no point in stressing out." Lexa glanced sideways at her wife with a raised eyebrow, and Clarke just groaned and rested her head on the armrest.

"Remember when she was still a baby, and we always knew where she was? Instead of unknowingly walking in on us about to have sex in the kitchen?" Clarke asked contemplatively, and Lexa chuckled.

"Oh God those were the days." Lexa sighed wistfully, putting down her pen to wink playfully at Clarke. "We literally could have sex everywhere."


"Are you talking about when I walked in on you two after my exam?" Quinn asked after Clarke had recounted the memory to her – leaving out the content of her and Lexa's conversation after the awkward encounter. Unlike the other memories that Lexa had written about on the twenty-four day journey, this was one that Clarke still had relatively fresh on her mind. That night had been the last time she would ever feel Lexa's skin pressed intimately against her own, and that brought Clarke near tears.

She sniffed to keep them at bay, and Quinn sensed the shift in her mother's emotions. She sat on the arm of the recliner, rubbing Clarke's back gently. "I'm sorry I keep reminding you of Mom." Quinn said quietly.

"No, don't apologize." Clarke blinked away the wetness clouding her eyes to pull her daughter into her arms, comforted by the contact. "You remind me of your mother for all the right reasons." She smiled, her eyes watery as she looked at her daughter. "She was always so proud of you. She'd point you out to other people on the stands during your soccer games and say 'that's my girl' with that ridiculous smile on her face."

Quinn smiled shyly. She remembered those moments just as well as her mother did. Both parents had been present at her last game, and she had recalled rather clearly when Lexa had stood and cheered louder than anyone else in the stands, her green eyes glinting with happiness. "She was always so supportive." Quinn agreed. She felt a twinge of guilt; she had been slightly embarrassed at her mother's outpour of support then. Now she would never have her mother there, cheering her on at her games any longer.

"She was your number one fan." Clarke informed her with a watery chuckle. "She used to parade you around in the living room when you were just a ten-month old baby." The blonde smiled. "She would sweep you up in her strong arms, she'd look at me and say: 'look at her, look at this beautiful human in my arms, she's ours, can you believe that?'" Quinn fought back her own tears as she watched her mother breaking apart in front of her very eyes. "At night, she would cradle you in her arms and promise you the sun, the sky, and the stars."


Clarke stretched out one hand in the middle of the night to reach for her wife, but instead she was met with cold sheets and an empty space. Frowning, she cracked open both eyes. She was alone. The baby monitor was silent, and Clarke had an inkling of where her wife was. She padded barefoot out of the open door and to the wide open space of the living room.

Lexa was rocking their child back and forth in the middle of the room, cooing to her as she swayed. She turned around at the sound of the blonde's footsteps, giving her a wide, affectionate grin. Clarke leaned against the wall with a tired smile. "Lex, come to bed." She whispered quietly so as not to wake the sleeping babe.

"Soon." Lexa promised in a hushed voice. "She just fell asleep a few minutes ago." Clarke strode over to her on light feet, getting a good look at their child. She was gripping tightly to the stuffed purple octopus in her tiny fingers – the toy that Lexa had bought for her down at the hospital gift shop, and Clarke felt her heart fill with love and adoration.

"She's so beautiful when she's asleep." Clarke whispered, and Lexa agreed with a gentle hum.

"She is." Lexa said softly, a tender look in her eyes, and Clarke couldn't resist leaning close to drop a kiss on the brunette's forehead.

"She's our baby." Lexa said in wonder as she looked at the bundle in her arms. "This is our child, the greatest and only creation we can ever claim to have had a part in."

"Our little princess." Clarke added affectionately, her index finger brushing lightly over the tiny fist balled up around one of the octopus's tentacles. Lexa chuckled at the term of endearment.

"Do you think she'll remember these moments, when she's older?" Lexa asked her wife, and Clarke smiled and kissed the brunette's brow.

"I don't know, but even if she doesn't, I'll be there to remind her whenever she's mad at you." Lexa made a face, and Clarke put a hand over her own mouth to muffle the gentle laughter shaking her shoulders.

"What makes you think she'll be mad at me most of the time?"

"Well," Clarke coiled her finger around a loose strand of brown hair, "you did say that you would scare the hell out of every single boy or girl she brings home."

"You bring up a good point." Lexa yawned, and Clarke chuckled again, shaking her head at her ridiculous, goofy, doting wife.

"Come on Lex, time for bed." Clarke urged her, and she took the slumbering child from her wife's arms. Lexa let out a low murmur of protest, but she allowed Quinn to slip through her fingers nonetheless. She settled with following her wife down the hall to the baby's room, watching the love of her life putting their child in the crib.

Once Clarke had finished tucking Quinn in, she stood and pulled an exhausted by the wrist to their room. Lexa collapsed into the bed, sliding under the covers with Clarke in tow. The blonde settled against her wife's shoulder, her arm on her waist. Lexa tucked an arm around her, holding her snugly against her side, and Clarke fell asleep to the lulling sounds of the familiar rhythm beating strongly for their family.


It had been three months and two weeks since her wife's death, and Clarke still felt the pain piercing her heart so strongly as if it had only been yesterday that Lexa's heart had beat for the last time. The most ironic part about her death however, had been the cause.

For years on end, Clarke had always fretted and worried about her wife dying on the job. Several sleepless nights had been spent concerned about her wife's decisions, of her selfless actions. She had, in the darkest of moments, wished that her wife wasn't so self-sacrificing, that her sense of duty did not overpower her, guiding her actions in dangerous situations that she faced every day.

The stint in the Intelligence unit had only made Lexa dissatisfied and jumpy. She had all this energy that was cooped up behind a desk, yet she had suffered through it for almost two years before Clarke had noticed the dip in her wife's interest in work. She used to walk with a rangy powerful lope, but in those few years behind a desk, she seemed to slump and drag her feet.

Clarke had been blind to her wife's discomfort for months, but once she had noticed it, she had been quick to find a solution for her. That was not a memory that she would ever let slip through her fingers, and Lexa's words on the ink were an insurance of remembrance.


Lexa had her chin resting against her forearms as she sat at the kitchen table. She had just sat through a twelve hour shift in the office, and she felt a migraine tapping at the back of her head tauntingly. Work no longer seemed to bring her the joy and excitement as it had in her stint with Major Crimes. She dreaded the sight of her desk at the office, sitting there for hours with nothing but stare at the department-issued computers all day – computers that were exceedingly slow and froze sporadically. At times, she considered throwing the monitor out the window in frustration. She hated it, and she wanted to pull her hair out. She needed to tell Clarke.

She heard the unmistakable clicking of the lock, and then the door opened, revealing her wife laden with multiple grocery bags. Lexa leapt from her seat to help her, plastering a smile on her face. "Let me take those for you." She said hastily, her hands already reaching out to do just that.

"Thank you." Clarke said gratefully, relieved of the heavy load that she had carried all the way up from the parking lot. Lexa shuffled efficiently to put away the groceries for her, and Clarke slid onto a stool to remove her heels.

Catching her wife's weariness, Lexa retrieved the nice bottle of red wine from the rack, pouring a glass which she handed deftly to Clarke. "Just what I needed." The blonde sighed as she took a sip.

Lexa wrung her hands nervously from across the counter, waiting for Clarke to finish savoring the mouthful of wine. But should she? The internal war was not lost on Clarke, who honed into the struggle immediately.

"Lexa, what is it?" She frowned at Lexa's shifty behaviour, and the brunette cracked under her inquisitive gaze.

"I um…was wondering," Lexa stalled by staring up at the ceiling, feigning forgetfulness of the subject matter, "uh-"

"You're about to ask if you can transfer out of Intelligence and into Homicide." Clarke looked at her with a raised eyebrow, and Lexa gaped at her. Her jaw wagged, trying to buy herself some time. Her wife did not look particularly annoyed or disappointed, but neither did she look happy. In fact, Clarke's expression was completely unreadable.

Lexa cleared her throat, rubbing her neck awkwardly. "How did you know?"

"You've been twitchy for months." Clarke explained casually before she took another healthy swig of her wine. She swallowed it with a hum of satisfaction before she fixed Lexa with a perceptive gaze. "At first I didn't notice it, but in recent months you've been grumpy and even more impatient than usual."

Lexa ran her hand over her face, shaking her head. "So you're not…mad that I want to go back out there?" She asked tentatively, and Clarke smiled resignedly at her.

"I can't be mad at you. You've been trying for a year and a half to respect my wishes, and I love you for that." Clarke gave Lexa a lopsided smile. "But I know you, and you won't be able to take sitting around, shackled to a desk for any longer."

Lexa exhaled breathily, but she had to ask one more time. "And you're absolutely sure you're okay with this? Homicide won't be as dangerous, but I won't do it unless you say so."

"I'll never be okay with you throwing yourself in danger." Clarke sighed. "But we've tried keeping you indoors, you're like a border collie that needs to go out and run every day." The blonde walked around the counter, moving close to Lexa, her hands moving up to cup her wife's cheeks affectionately. "You're an amazing, wonderful person who loves to protect people, and I can't fault you for that."

Lexa smiled, pressing a kiss to Clarke's palm. "I love you so much."


Three months and two weeks ago

Clarke had gotten the frantic call from her daughter hours after the sun had fallen. She was still in the upstairs office of the gallery, busy sketching out a rough draft of her centerpiece for the new exhibit when her phone started ringing. With her pencil still in one hand, Clarke answered with the phone wedged between her ear and shoulder. "Hey love."

"Mom, you have to come to the hospital right now." She could barely hear what Quinn was saying amidst the sobs, and she sought to understand, her heart clenching tightly in fear.

"What's happened? Where are you?" Clarke stopped mid-sketch, listening intently for her daughter to answer her.

"Mom was driving home and-" She broke down into a mess of loud sobs, and Clarke dropped the pencil, pushing out of her chair and almost knocking it over in her haste.

"Honey, which hospital?" She asked, trying to hold back the feeling of terror and immense dread creeping up into her chest.

"Clarke?" Lincoln's voice suddenly was heard on the other side, and Clarke barraged him with questions immediately.

"What happened? Where are you?" She fired off each word quickly as she grabbed her purse and pushed through the glass doors of the office.

"Washington Medical." Lincoln answered just as quickly. "Lexa and Quinn got t-boned by a drunk driver. Lexa's in the OR right now, it's not looking good. Clarke, you need to get here as soon as you can." He added.

"I'm already out the door." Clarke snapped impatiently. "Send someone down to fetch me when I get there."

When she had finally found parking for her car, Clarke had leapt out of the seat and pelted through the automatic double doors. Lincoln was waiting right there for her, and he led her up to the waiting area. Octavia was sitting next to Quinn, whose tears were flowing freely. At the sight of her mother, Quinn jumped out of her seat and rushed into her arms.

"We were arguing, and the car suddenly came out of nowhere. There was blood everywhere and Mom kept telling me not to panic, there was blood all over her face and her chest and I-"

"Honey, stop." Clarke held her daughter's cheeks between her palms, looking into those frantic, green eyes. "It's going to be okay, everything's going to be all right." She clenched her arms around Quinn's waist tightly, rubbing her back in an attempt to soothe her child.

"She can't die, Mom, she can't."

"She won't." Clarke promised her daughter emptily, and Octavia met her gaze over her daughter's bowed head, the other woman looking just as despondent as her husband, who stood quietly with his jaw clenched.

When Lexa woke up, eyes blinking groggily under fluorescent lights, Clarke had felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders, and the ice-cold grip that had held her heart hostage for two days had melted. She had peppered her wife's forehead with kisses, her hand gentle as she brushed away the mess of stray hair on her brow with a tender, heart-weary expression on her face.

She had smiled up at Clarke weakly, her chest wrapped in layers and layers of bandages. Her left shoulder had been badly injured in the crash; she would need replacement surgery once she had regained most of her strength.

"Don't ever scare me again." Clarke had whispered onto Lexa's skin, and the other woman had simply grinned weakly at her wife.

"I wasn't trying to." She quipped, the hint of a laugh gleaming in her eyes.

"You almost died." Clarke snapped. "You almost left me." Her blue eyes tinged with anguish and fear, and Lexa wanted to kiss away her pain.

When Clarke looked despondently at her, eyes worn and wet, Lexa lifted her right hand, gently cupping the back of her wife's neck to bring their foreheads together. "I could never leave you, not without saying goodbye first."

Quinn sat next to Lexa for days after, holding her mother's hand like she was a toddler again, afraid of being swept away from the safety and the protection that the brunette had embodied.

She had gotten better, and she was working towards some recovery, when one day it made a turn for the worst. Her condition had deteriorated rapidly, and Clarke had watched as her wife – once brimming with a tireless energy and a power that lay under her skin, ready to be unleashed – went cold.

Quinn had rushed out of the room when it happened, inconsolable as she broke down in her Aunt Anya's arms.

She had stayed long after that last breath had exited her body, and she kissed her face, looking upon the woman who would never smile or kiss back. Her fingers stroked her jawline, her cheekbones for the final time, committing her face to memory for as long as she lived. "Goodbye, my love." She whispered quietly, and she buried her face into Lexa's shoulder one last time.


July 24, 2015

Clarke held the letter in her hand, the envelope open but the contents inside untouched. Quinn had gone back upstairs, giving Clarke some privacy as she read the last letter. It was the last one, and once she read it, there would be nothing connecting her to her wife anymore. With trembling fingers, she pulled the letter out of the envelope, unfolding it to see its contents.

Clarke,

Today is the day that marks the beginning of our life together. For twenty-four years, I have fallen deeper and deeper in love with you with each passing second. You are my everything; the love of my life, the keeper of my heart, and the mother of our beautiful, intelligent daughter.

We've been on so many adventures together. But our greatest adventure we have ever undertaken, was the raising of our Quinn. She is the greatest thing we've ever made. She is the best of us, and watching her sprout from the tiny little bundle that I used to hold in my arms into this soccer player extraordinaire and brilliant student has made my heart well with pride. We made this wonderful, beautiful creature.

And now as we've reached this moment, I would like to confess something to you. All the letters you've received, they really are just long, drawn out ways for me to make this anniversary gift special. I wanted it to be twenty-four letters so that it could represent one year since the day we bound ourselves eternal to one another.

What I have been trying to say for the past twenty-four days, is that I love you. I love you with all my heart and my soul, and you make me a woman fulfilled, the happiest individual in the world, because you loved me for so many years in return. For all your love, for all your patience and your kindness, I am eternally grateful.

You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. My life didn't start until you had hit me on the head with your sketchbook. Life as I knew it ended when I saw you, all bedraggled and flustered, and I knew I would love you for as long as I live.

Yours, always and forever.

Clarke let the tears flow, the streams of salty liquid dripping onto the words, smudging them as she wept openly for the first time since Lexa's death. She had been tight-lipped at the funeral, and in the months leading up to this day, she had been quiet, desolate and silent. But today, today her breaths came out in shuddering gasps.

Quinn was rushing down the stairs, and she hastened to her mother's side. At the sight of her mother, shattered and broken, Quinn felt her own tears soon leaving trails down her cheeks and to her chin.

They held each other until finally the tears stopped, and they sat there in silence. "How do you do this?" Quinn asked, and when Clarke gave her a confused gaze, she said: "How do you read all these letters without completely breaking down?"

Clarke smiled, her eyes red as she gazed the letter that she had placed on the surface of the coffee table. "I saw it as the last thing that connected me to her." She grinned ruefully. "At first, that's what I thought before."

"And now?" Quinn asked, and Clarke closed her eyes, breathing heavily through her nostrils.

"Now, I see that I've been wrong all this time." She said quietly. She gestured for Quinn to read the letter, and she obeyed easily enough.

The way she was slightly hunched as she read it, her elbows on her knees and her wild brown hair in a haphazard bun, even now Clarke shook her head in her own stupidity. She had been blind all along. "Your mother loved you with all your heart." Clarke said softly. "And you are the best of us."

"Mom." Quinn sighed, unable to hear these words, not when they brought her so much pain. "I was so mad at her sometimes, so frustrated with her when she treated me like a child." She sniffed, rubbing her eyes. "Now I'll never know if she'll forgive me."

"She didn't want you to make the mistakes she did." Clarke explained, a hand rubbing between her daughter's shoulder blades. "She'll be proud to know you understand now." Clarke pulled Quinn into her arms. "Honey, you've already been forgiven."


April 12, 2016

She sat on the park bench alone. The birds chirped from the branches, and the wind blew over the lake gently. It was almost a year now since Lexa's death, but she still felt her around her. She felt her presence with her, watching over her, and she saw her in their daughter with every gesture and chuckle. And it was upon this realization that Clarke knew what Lexa's intent had been all along. Those letters had been a reminder; out of twenty-four years of marriage, and twenty-six years together, the absolute best thing that had come out of it was Quinn, and that thought soothed Clarke, warming her heart and quieting her soul with content.

She looked out across the lake. All was peaceful and bright, and if Clarke just closed her eyes, she could feel Lexa's forehead on her shoulder and her gentle laugh echo across the water.

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