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Seven

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Walking in Clarke’s potion store was like entering a forest. In the cold seasons it smelled like spruces and firs, and when Lexa looked up she swore she saw the very trees extend up to the wooden beams of the high ceiling, where a skylight let the sun and the moon shine through. In the warm seasons it smelled like the earth after rain, fresh and full of promise. Clarke had told Lexa that it smelled like that only to her, because the store smelled like nostalgia, and to Lexa nostalgia had always been the taiga she’d grown up surrounded by.

But the taiga was never as full of danger as Clarke’s store was. It wasn’t that Lexa was particularly clumsy, but the cramped aisles and sharp corners had left more than one bruise on her body. Apparently, witches had such excellent spatial awareness that hitting one’s head against a hanging planter or stubbing one’s toe against the corner of a table was unheard of. Over the years Clarke had moved entire sections around, having seen Lexa hit her funny bone one too many times, but Lexa’s body remained on high alert whenever she walked in, wary of the new ingredients on display, plants, and those chilling clouds of mist near the aisle of crystals. Of course it was a tolerable walk compared to the plant section, where the thorny shrubs were particularly misbehaved around humans. Her ankle still bore a scar, much to Clarke’s dismay.

“Hey, Lexa!”

Lexa waved at Monty, Clarke’s business partner, who was stocking a shelf with jars. They looked empty to the human eye, but Lexa knew there was in fact potent medicinal magic in there that cured violent migraines. Unfortunately, its use had yet to be approved for humans.

“Any luck with the lightning?” asked Lexa. Monty was currently working on a project that required him to capture lightning, but the sky had been too mellow lately, though the cold had started to creep in.

“It’s been white clouds for days,” he answered with a grimace.

“Too bad. I’ll be hoping for storms,” Lexa said as she narrowly avoided a hanging basket. “Rain gets us traffic at the library too.”

“Please do!”

Lexa side-eyed the misty clouds as she made her way to the plant section behind a glass panel. She found her life partner at the back of the room, absentmindedly watering a snappy rose bush with one hand and holding a book on glassmaking with the other. Clarke took great pride in her potions, and so naturally made her own vials to contain them. As of late, strangely shaped vials had been quite the trend, and Clarke was nothing if not trendy.

A small cart grabbed Lexa’s attention. There were several potions on it, some yet to be labeled. One vial in particular made her curious. Lexa picked it up and looked at the strange liquid inside it, which looked like two different shades of red twisting together.

“This is pretty,” she said.

Clarke, who had sensed her presence before she’d even walked in, put down her watering can and took the vial. Her hair was down today, its short ends pushed behind her ears, and her smile made Lexa’s entire being feel at peace. Clarke was her home, even surrounded by rude and occasionally threatening plant life.

“Careful, human, one drop of this and you’ll want to kiss me senseless.”

“I’m not sure that would be the potion’s doing.”

Clarke grinned before tugging on Lexa’s thin belt and kissing her, slow and deep as she’d wished to do all day.

“Mm hold on, I thought there was no such thing as a love potion,” Lexa recalled, her arms now around Clarke’s waist.

“I was kidding; this is a laxative.”

Lexa laughed. “Lovely.”

Clarke felt such affection whenever she heard Lexa’s laugh that she had to kiss her again, grateful that she’d stopped by after such a long day, though there were certainly still a few more hours before closing time. She kept the store open until 2AM on Mondays, the late night being her customers’ peak hours.

As they melted into each other for a few blissful minutes, Lexa’s hand brushed against Clarke’s thin bracelet. It was gold with a ruby, and inside the gemstone were their names in ink magically bound together.

It wasn’t a ring—that was perhaps what most humans thought when seeing it. And truth be told it wasn’t what Lexa had dreamed of ever since she had realized the depth of her feelings for the woman currently wrapped around her, but it was still theirs. It was what witches did.

Rings were too possessive. There was a complicated history there—witches forced to conform to human practices and traditions, centuries ago, long before their emancipation—which Lexa had learned about too late. She had gotten Clarke a ring already. Then Clarke’s best friend, Wells, had taken her aside and advised against proposing with it, saying it simply wasn’t done among witches. A life partnership was symbolized with the bracelets, both made from the same gem and precious metal. You’d be hard pressed to find a ring on any witch. Lexa had felt foolish for not knowing, and selfish for that dream of slipping it on Clarke’s finger, yet she hadn’t been able to let go of it. Even eight months after their union, it remained in one of her old socks, at the bottom of her sock drawer.

But Lexa knew it didn’t matter what piece of jewelry they wore. It was only a symbol. The reality was, she was madly in love, and by the look on Clarke’s face when she pulled back from their embrace, so was she. Lexa smiled.

“Uh-oh, that’s the look of someone who knows dinner is nearby.”

Clarke gasped. “How dare you? But also, please tell me you brought food.”

Lexa lifted the tote bag she’d been carrying. “Little Sicily was closed so I went to Gus' Deli instead. I got you the avocado and cheese wrap, and a brownie.”

“You spoil me.”

“Well, I’m not good at much else.”

Clarke shook her head, quietly disagreeing. They moved to a small cluttered table and sat on two wooden stools; a little nook that Clarke used for these moments.

“Before I forget, I made the seven sins cookies this morning,” Clarke said. “They have to settle for a few days so they’re in the cupboard above the oven.”

Lexa nodded. “Stay away from the cupboard cookies—got it. How’d they turn out?”

“I'm not sure. The sin essence made the house smell like dog breath again, but I put in apple additives in the dough so the odor should’ve cleared by now.”

It was simple: whatever magic Clarke dealt with, Lexa knew from experience that it was in her best interest to stay away from it. She enjoyed watching her at work from afar, and she reaped the benefits of magical edibles or bath salts that cured hangovers or sore muscles, but she didn't touch or taste anything Clarke hadn’t expressly approved of, least of all cookies that were made with not-entirely-legal substances.

For Raven’s bachelorette party, Clarke had decided to be in charge of a wicked new underground tradition inspired by the human belief that there were seven cardinal sins. In this game, baked goods were infused with a sin—easily captured by magic—and presented to the bachelorette. Whichever one she picked and ate would reveal which was her most dominant sin for a few minutes. It was all in good fun; a silly game that mocked the now outdated belief that a witch had to be pure and perfect before entering a union. Flaws were a part of nature—something to be acknowledged rather than covered up.

Clarke herself had tasted one the past weekend, then stated it would probably have no effect on her at all, as she was perfectly in control of the situation. Lexa had gently pointed out that the statement might be Clarke’s pride showing. Clarke had argued all of five minutes until the effect had worn off and she’d then realized what she’d said with some embarrassment. In truth, Lexa hadn’t disagreed with Clarke’s boasting. She was one of the best potion-makers and she did deserve recognition from her peers, who found her methods too chaotic. But Lexa loved her chaos and every facet of her. What Clarke had said had been the very words Lexa often told her. Only, they lived in a world that often saw confidence in one’s skills as arrogance.

Lexa unwrapped her sandwich and started eating, enjoying the tranquil evening after a tiresome day at the library. There was a time when eating alone had become so routine that imagining an alternative had felt like a silly wish. Now she never took these moments with Clarke for granted, even if it was only twenty minutes before Clarke went back to work. Lexa didn’t mind the trek to the store, even in the late hours.

Clarke sunk her teeth into her own wrap, briefly closing her eyes at the delicious taste. She hadn’t realized how hungry she was. “I’m excited for the weekend.”

“What exactly-” Lexa paused when Clarke reached out to wipe the bit of avocado at the corner of her mouth. “What exactly is going to happen? Don’t get me wrong, our bachelorette party was a lot of fun, but it was also very… human. Raven is making it seem like this’ll be a congregation of horny witches.”

Clarke laughed. “It won’t be that different from ours, don’t worry. She rented out the club’s magical section and there’ll be about forty witches—tops.”

“That’s the complete opposite of ours. We had a few friends over at the quietest bar on the docks.”

“Raven works fifty-hour weeks in dank labs”, Clarke said with a shrug. “When she gets to party, she parties.”

“Is Finn doing anything?”

“Nothing crazy; Lincoln and Wells are treating him to a hockey game and dinner.”

“For such a showboat, that sounds boringly human.” Lexa rolled her eyes. “Why is Raven making a life commitment to him again?”

“Because despite being an oaf, he’s got a good heart and he makes her happy.”

Lexa wrinkled her nose. “He’s all right.”

Clarke shook her head in amusement. “Are you going to be like this on Wednesday for their final fittings?”

“I’ll behave.”

“You don’t have to talk to him.”

“He’ll talk to me anyway.”

“Babe…”

Lexa looked up at her.

“I’m madly in love with you, so you better not be thinking anyone in the world—let alone Finn Collins—could ever threaten that.”

“I’m not. But I also can’t imagine anyone getting over you, no matter how long ago the heartbreak was.”

“Over a decade ago,” Clarke reminded her. “I promise you Finn is long over me. He’s crazy about Raven. He climbed Mount Weather in the dead of winter just to get the right gem for their bracelets. He survived on warmth potions and crushed honeysuckle powder. Trust me, witches only do that for who they know is their greatest love.”

Lexa considered this. “I’d climb Mount Weather for you.”

“Err, no you wouldn’t. I forbid it.”

“I’d survive it.”

“Lexa, you get a cold just from shopping in the frozen section of the grocery store. You don’t even like breezes in the summer.”

“I could still do it.”

Clarke sighed. Sometimes Lexa was too stubborn for sensible arguments. “How’s work? Did you talk to Nia?”

Lexa shook her head. “As soon as I mention digitization she walks away.”

“I don’t get her. You have one of the largest collections of rare magical books but only witches with badges can access them—it’s a waste.”

“I know that. Everyone at the library knows that. But she’s worked there for forty years and she famously resents change. She thinks digitization of magical books will lead to humans accessing them too easily.”

Clarke huffed. “That’s the point. Education was the number one tool to facilitate our emancipation. She should know, she lived it!”

Lexa wiped her mouth. “She’s not that old.”

“She’s retirement age.”

“Didn’t you say you’ll work at the store until you drop?”

“Yeah, but I don’t have a hot, competent, forward-thinking employee lined up to replace me.” Clarke winked at her before finishing her wrap.

Lexa blushed. “I’m hardly qualified for her job. But it would be nice to get a promotion…”

“You’ll get it. Eventually someone higher up will listen to you and realize there’s a wealth of magical knowledge the library could be advertising to humans. The good PR on that alone would attract a ton of people, not to mention students. It’s insane she’s not seeing the potential.”

Lexa picked at her brownie. “She sees it, she’s just more interested in gatekeeping.”

Clarke scoffed. “I hate that stubborn crow and I’ve only met her twice. Can’t you talk to someone else?”

“Hm, Gaia suggested we go directly to the board. They’re fifty/fifty humans and witches, so they might be more receptive.”

Clarke’s expression soured for a split-second. “That’s a good idea. So Gaia didn’t take that new job in Central after all?”

There was a pause before a slow smile spread on Lexa’s face. “Clarke.”

Clarke refused to look at her, chewing quite aggressively on her brownie.

“Really? You’re just not going to look at me?”

“Huh? I can’t hear you.”

Lexa laughed as she leaned over and lifted Clarke’s chin up. “Gaia is my colleague.”

Clarke frowned. “I’m not jealous of Gaia.”

“I didn’t say you were jealous.”

“Great, because I’m not. Why would I be jealous of an incredibly smart, incredibly attractive human working with you for eight hours a day?”

“Technically nine if we grab lunch together.”

“I’m happy you get along with your colleagues.”

“I do.”

Clarke looked up and glared when she realized Lexa was teasing. “I’m not totally fond of you right now.”

“But you are a little fond?”

“Barely a smidgen.”

Lexa got up and cupped Clarke’s cheeks. “I can work with a smidgen.” She leaned down and smiled. “I’m known to turn smidgens into mountains.”

“Shut up,” Clarke laughed before pulling her into a deep kiss. Taking advantage of her seat, she allowed her hands to wander to Lexa’s ass to pull her closer. Lexa’s tongue brushed against hers and eventually the position became too restrictive. She got up and sat on the table instead, pulling Lexa until she was between her thighs and back to kissing her intently.

For her part, Lexa was happy to follow Clarke’s lead, feeling like she had missed out on a good kiss when she’d left for work in the morning, rushing to catch the streetcar. Clarke moaned softly in her mouth, which was undoubtedly the easiest way for Lexa to feel weak in the knees. After years together she had thought she knew everything about Clarke’s desires and her own, but the past few months had proved her wrong, as if their union had awoken an even stronger need between them.

Sometimes Lexa wanted to shove everything off the table and… and… Her ears went red. No, she couldn’t do that in the back of Clarke’s store, but it was an easy thought to have when the woman of her dreams was her everyday reality. Many said that witches and humans were not compatible in the long run because the intensity couldn’t make up for the differences in lifestyles, but it’d been years now since their first kiss on Lexa’s worn leather couch, and she still felt her heart beat out of her chest whenever Clarke pressed her body against hers. They’d had to compromise, and be more vulnerable than was comfortable sometimes, but it had gotten them here, building a good life together, and that alone made Lexa love and want this woman with her entire being.

“You need to get out of here or I’m eating dessert in ten seconds,” Clarke warned breathily.

“You mean your brownie?” Lexa asked with a smirk.

Clarke pulled back. “Do you write these little quips down before coming here?”

“No, but I should consider it,” Lexa pondered. “I’d make a great comedian.”

“Oh you would, and I’d have an excuse for when I laugh at you in bed.”

Lexa’s mouth dropped open. “Oh my god. Oh, I’m leaving.”

Clarke wrapped her arms around her neck. “No, no, no, I was teasing.”

“A stamina jab, really? Cheap shot, witch.”

“My love, my honey, I didn’t mean it.”

“No I don’t think you did, because I really didn’t hear any laughing when I was between your legs last night, but I could be wrong. Let me see if I remember what you said right-“

“Don’t you fucking dare-“

“Oh Lexa, Lexa, right there, oh, oh-!“

Clarke covered Lexa’s mouth with her hand, muffling her imitation of wildly exaggerated moaning. “Will you stop? Monty has freakishly good hearing.”

Lexa gently nipped at her palm and then nodded. Clarke retracted her hand, her eyes alight with happiness.

“You do make me laugh in the best of ways.”

Lexa smiled. “That’s all I could hope for.”

Clarke kissed her softly. “Text me when you get home.”

“I will. Kiss me when you come to bed.”

“I will.”

Lexa knew she’d be deep asleep by then, but somehow when she woke up she remembered Clarke’s lips against her cheek. She always did.

~

Half an hour later, after getting off the streetcar two blocks from their neighborhood, Lexa enjoyed the crisp evening air as she walked home. They lived on a quiet lane up one of the many hills in their city, a witch-centric residential area that Lexa still felt was home.

With witches only needing four hours of sleep on average, it was rare to be alone in these streets. She walked by witches working on their garden, children playing in the moonlight, and friends meeting up for dinner at 11pm. She walked by the park where families ate at the picnic tables and finally made it to their house, yawning for the tenth time when she unlocked the front door.

But a strange sensation immediately overwhelmed her: hunger. Lexa had finished her wrap less than an hour ago and been content with it… so it was a mystery why her stomach suddenly growled and her mouth watered.

She dropped her keys and sniffed the air, licking her lips when the most appetizing smell of apples hit her. It was buttery and sweet—almost as if Lexa could feel it melting on her tongue.

She walked to the kitchen and looked around, only to find spotless countertops and utensils set out to dry. Clarke had cleaned up after herself and nothing seemed to stand out… certainly not an apple pie. A bit miffed, Lexa shook her head and tried to forget about the smell. She’d eaten more than enough already.

She changed into her sleep pants and Bullsfrog t-shirt (the very terrible hockey team Clarke cheered for), readying herself for bed, but nothing seemed to take her mind off of her sudden hunger, and that smell, and the possibility that something delicious was in the kitchen.

After failing to focus on the new book she had started, Lexa huffed and went back into the kitchen, determined to find the source of her sweet anguish.

Then, her eyes zeroed in on the cupboard above the oven.

Oh.”

~

When their souls had been entwined during their union, Clarke had sensed an immediate shift. She’d been attuned to Lexa’s feelings before, but this had felt different. Like a tether between them. She couldn’t tell what Lexa felt all the time, but spikes or oddities stood out.

So when a jolt coursed through her body, Clarke immediately stopped what she was doing and rushed to Monty, who had just sold two potions to a customer.

“Monty, I have to go home. I can’t explain it but something’s wrong with Lexa.”

“Oh shit, yeah of course. I’ll close up.”

“Thank you, I owe you!”

Clarke quickly made her way to the station, prepared to look for a cab if the streetcar didn’t come soon. She could tell that nothing horrible had happened—nothing even bad, but it was something, and it was enough for her to feel a surge of anxiety.

She hopped on the streetcar when it miraculously arrived, and focused on the strange queasiness she felt, trying to figure out what trouble Lexa could have encountered.

~

Running into the kitchen, no scenario Clarke had imagined quite matched this sight: Lexa shoving cookie after cookie in her mouth, munching on them like she couldn't stop herself but was also utterly confused as to why she was eating them in the first place. Of course she would be, as magical foods not made with humans in mind had a terrible hold on them.

“Babe, no—fuck!" Clarke exclaimed, grabbing the now empty box and throwing it across the room.

Lexa looked at her with wide eyes and crumbs on her cheeks and chin. She swallowed the last bite and blinked several times, slowly snapping out of the magical pull that had wrecked her self-control. She realized with dread that she’d eaten Clarke’s cookies.

“How bad is it?" she immediately asked, not unused to being the accidental victim of her partner’s magic.

Clarke felt the blood drain from her face. "Let’s go lie down."

~

“I feel fine.”

Clarke frowned as she heard Lexa proclaim her immunity once more. Though Clarke wasn’t sure how exactly the cookies would affect Lexa, she did know it was only a matter of time until they did. One didn’t shove powerful edibles down their throat and come out of it unscathed. But Lexa was insistent, and maybe even a little self-congratulatory, that she felt perfectly normal.

“I’m around your magic all the time,” she said from the bathroom as she brushed her teeth. “Maybe it doesn’t affect me as much anymore.”

Clarke had slipped beneath the covers already, but listened intently to Lexa’s every word, trying to pick up on anything alarming. “Lex, that’s literally what I said last week before you told me my pride was showing.”

“Don't worry, I don't think very highly of myself right now,” Lexa replied mid-yawn. “We need more toothpaste and more face wash.”

Clarke laughed under her breath. That wasn’t exactly the kind of sign she was waiting for. Lexa walked out with a sleepy smile, her face clean and her hair swept to the side. She flopped down on her side of the bed and sighed.

“They were good cookies though.”

“Well thanks, babe, but I’m not making them ever again. Maybe Anya knows someone who can bake a batch for Raven.”

Lexa mulled something over. “Why did it feel like I was starving when I walked in and why did the cookies smell like the best apple pie ever made?”

Clarke covered her face with her hands. “It’s the additives. I forgot they’re addictive to humans and I used… I used a lot! Those cookies smelled like garbage without them. Ugh, I wasn’t thinking. It’s so stupid.”

Lexa shuffled close to her and took her hands. “Hey, none of that. Baby, it’s fine… I don’t feel any different. I’m just exhausted, but I have been since lunch.”

If Clarke had to guess, tiredness was going to be the least of their problems soon.

“I really think you should call in sick tomorrow,” she cautioned. “I have no idea what we’re dealing with here.”

“When you ate one it showed a few minutes later. I ate a bunch and it’s been two hours of nothing. Maybe the other sins you bought were a dud.”

“I got them from Anya, she doesn’t do duds. And I don’t understand how you’re so relaxed about this. You freaked out when you accidentally drank a sip of my coffee the other day!”

“That was different, your coffee keeps me awake for a week. I can’t go into work shaking like a leaf when Nia is obsessing over our presentation these days.”

At Clarke’s worried frown, Lexa ran a finger down her temple. “Look, I promise I’ll call in sick if I feel off tomorrow.”

“You swear?”

Lexa nodded and kissed her neck. “On my vows to you.” She inched closer to her, kissing her earlobe as her hand sneaked beneath the covers and around Clarke’s waist. Clarke ran a hand through Lexa’s long hair, breath hitching when she felt Lexa nip her soft spot next.

“Hm, are you really sure you’re not feeling different? Maybe… lustful?”

Lexa lifted her head and smirked, looking uncharacteristically smug. “That’s usually how I feel when I’m on top of my wife.”

Clarke froze. She did love that term, even if she couldn’t say it out loud, not to anyone outside of the confines of their house at least. Witches weren’t wives, even if Lexa had made the word sound so lovely. 

“My partner,” Lexa corrected herself as her expression fell.

“Lex-“

“Do you ever wish we’d had a bigger ceremony?” Lexa abruptly asked. “That we’d done it at the lake with more people?”

Clarke frowned, having never heard Lexa voice such a thought before. “No, I love what we did. It was perfect for us.”

“It was,” Lexa acquiesced, but then frowned. “But it could’ve been bigger. It could’ve been…"

“What?” Clarke asked, feeling oddly apprehensive. Lexa had always said she’d loved their ceremony.

“I don’t know. Just... more.”

Clarke waited a beat before kissing her cheek. “Maybe we should try to get some sleep.”

Lexa nodded and settled next to her, whispering a soft good night before falling asleep soon after. Clarke found it harder to sleep, unsure what the morning would offer. But it would not be quiet, that much she knew.