The moment she heard the cries, she raised her head from where she was buried in the massive amount of college books that were spread around the dining table, the tip of the pen she was holding stopped midway from the paper.
She glanced towards the clock hung above the doorway, and was surprised to see it was already two in the morning.
That would explain it then.
Reyna stood up, sighing softly as she stretched to get the rid of the kinks in her limbs, and then padded softly towards the soft cries, grabbing the brown stuffed teddy bear Hazel gave as a gift sprawled on the floor along the way. Softly, she pushed the door to her room, and made a beeline towards her daughter's crib beside her bedside.
"Mi amor," She murmured as she set the toy at the corner of the crib, picking her up and bringing her to her chest. "What's the matter, Emma? Hungry?"
When Emma stared at her through those bright blue eyes, Reyna felt her breath caught in her throat, but quickly brush it off as she gave the baby a wry smile. "I'm sure you are," She sat down on the bed, making herself comfortable by leaning against the post. Plucking the baby bottle from the mug filled with warm water, she sprinkled some milk at the back of her hand to test how bearable it was, and started to feed Emma when it was okay.
She let her hand brushed against the baby's hair with the pad of her palm, soft under her touch as she marvelled how she was actually holding her child, her baby. This little human was such a blessing in her life, even if it wasn't as luxurious as it was when she was still living at Camp Jupiter.
Reyna pursed her lips when she thought of her home, and the people that came with it.
(And maybe, with a few who no longer stayed there.)
When she first found out she was expecting, she panicked, because no one could know that she was with child, no one must know that a new life was growing inside her slowly, and will one day be identified as the bastard child of the respected and fearless praetor of the camp.
Especially if the child's father was none other than one of the Heroes of Olympus, Jason Grace.
Even he mustn't know, that was a compulsory rule she was going to obey for as long as she could.
She had made a plan of getting away, finding a place to stay as she gave birth and gave up the baby for adoption, as a gift for couples that couldn't have children of their own. But she needed help in this, she needed someone to back her up if anyone were to ask questions. The only options were Frank, her fellow praetor.
After cleaning herself up at her place, she went to Frank and Hazel.
She couldn't bring herself to tell Gwen or even Dakota, it felt, wrong, she couldn't explain it, but she felt guilty of betraying them in the worst way possible, not trusting them at this one time when they have done whatever it took to help her when she was searching for Jason all those years ago. She was almost ashamed of herself.
But it was the best, Frank's rank was the same as hers, he had the authority to not tell other members of the camp if she told him specifically not to, and if he himself didn't want to. Gwen and Dakota as well as the others knew better than to question that, but that still made the uneasy feeling churn inside her.
To say the least, the couple was shocked, but she made them swear secrecy, and they did, and she told them of her plans.
"I'll have to stay with my sister," She informed them from where she leaned against Frank's desk, an arm wrapped around her stomach, fully aware of the new life. "I'll say that I have business, personal business if you will, to attend with her, and so I'm letting you be in charge of the people while I'm gone, and Hazel, " She levelled her eyes towards the younger girl, who met her gaze unblinkingly. "I want you to take my place, once I've found a family who's willing to take the infant, I'll come back and pick up where you have stopped. By my estimation, it'll take two years tops for me to settle everything, so I'm counting both of you to make this right," She sighed, her shoulders drooping ever so slightly. "I'm sorry for the sudden intrusion, my recklessness is something I'm not proud of."
"Where's Hylla at the moment?" Frank asked from where he stood a distance away from her, Hazel by his side.
She hesitated, already knowing that her older sister was waiting for her around their old home, but she didn't want to tell them yet. "Around," She threaded through her words, not wanting to reveal her past. "I'll find her."
They didn't immediately respond, but Hazel gave a small smile. "Stay safe, Reyna, people need you."
Reyna smile wryly. "Thank you." When she glanced at Frank, she saw the way he kept wringing his fingers nervously. "I know you have something to say, Frank," She called out that he snapped his head up to look at her, looking like a deer caught in headlights. "You might as well say it now before I'm gone."
He took a deep breath, broadening his shoulders. "I know this isn't my business, and I understand if you don't want to answer me. But, " He cleared his throat. "Who's the dad?"
Reyna clutched the desk behind her, mind racing with thoughts. On one hand, she didn't want to tell him, it was something that she would only keep in her room where they had their rendezvous meeting, another secret to be hidden. But, she already told them her current state, and her coward acts that would be taken place later, her dignity didn't seem to be standing so tall in front of them now. And they need to know after hearing all of that. "Jason," She replied curtly, ignoring the look of disbelief on his face and the soft gasp from Hazel. "This is only between us," She warned them. "One word slips out, it'll be the end of everything."
Frank opened and closed his mouth multiple times, as if wanting to speak but words were unable to form. "But, " He stuttered. "Jason, he's with-"
"I know, " She replied a little too sharply, before heaving out a breath to calm herself. "I know."
The silence was almost deafening, and she straightened herself, giving a nod towards them. "I'll announce it tomorrow, and leave a week from now," She walked towards the door, and hesitated just when she pushed open the door. "Thank you," She said softly. "Both of you, for this. "
She only walked a few feet when Hazel came out, catching up with her. "Reyna," She called out as the young woman stopped. "I have no right to ask you of this, " Hazel said quietly among the halls they stood. "But will you tell the others about Jason being its dad when you come back?"
Reyna stared at her, wetting her lips. Then, she sighed, averting her eyes. "I don't know, maybe it won't even know its own heritage," She straightened her back, standing tall in her toga. "It's for the best," She continued gravelly. "It shouldn't know that its parents are actually demigods, especially if one of them is the son of Jupiter, King of the Gods," She gritted her jaw discreetly, already feeling the pressure on her shoulders. "Trouble won't come upon it."
The seventeen year old was studying her from where she stood, eyes searching her face. "It hasn't even been formed into a zygote and yet, you care about it as if the baby is here," She commented quietly, watching the way the older woman looked at her sharply. Hazel pursed her lips. "Is giving up the baby an option?"
Reyna glanced around for anyone that might eavesdrop, and narrowed her eyes at the girl. "Motherhood is yet ready for me," She replied in a low tone. "And there are people who would want a child more than I do, my work here isn't done yet," She searched Hazel's face. "I bid you goodnight, Hazel." And she turned around and left.
A week later, once she landed in Spain, she was greeted by her sister, who was waiting for her with a closed expression on her face, making Reyna difficult to read her. They didn't say anything on the way to the headquarters the Amazons were currently occupying, full of other women and girls as they stared at the Ramiréz Sisters as Hylla explained the situation. Some had looks of disgust, thinking how revolting it was to have a woman who had been with a man and was having his child. Most of them actually looked curious and happy when they heard the news, a new life was going to grow among the Amazons.
Nine months later, Reyna gave birth to Emma Maria Ramiréz.
At the hospital, she was admiring how small the baby was, how soft the skin of the infant as she grazed her cheek with a finger. She let her finger explore every inch of her face, running her finger down Emma's nose, softly feeling her small mouth. It was a miracle really, that Reyna created such a fragile thing, who would one day grow into a wonderful person.
She looked up when there was a soft knock on the door, and saw Hylla coming in, but she wasn't alone. Another guest Reyna didn't expect came in behind her, and her electric blue eyes rested on the mother and new born child on the bed.
Thalia Grace was holding a bag, with a small bunch of flowers in hand. She set them on the table beside the bed, and then standing there as she gave Reyna a small smile. "Hey, Reyna," She then nodded towards her and the baby. "How are you two?"
Reyna looked down at Emma, who was sleeping soundly as she was oblivious to those around her. "We're fine," Reyna replied as she faced Thalia, a bit wary on what the girl was thinking. "I just fed Emma, she wouldn't be awake in a while."
Thalia raised an eyebrow, and sat down at the edge of the bed. "Emma Ramiréz, huh?"
Reyna averted her eyes and instead looked at her daughter, didn't want to look into the eyes of the Hunter. "Yes," She paused. "Hylla told you, didn't she?" She asked as she gave her sister a glance, who was sitting on the chair on the other side of the bed, staring at the baby with a soft look Reyna haven't seen in a long time.
Thalia nodded slowly. "I can't believe I'm an aunt though," She muttered as she grazed the back of her hand on Emma's cheek. Then, she met Reyna's eyes. "Does Jason know?"
Reyna shook her head. "I don't plan to tell him. He can't know about this, that I had his child when he was actually with another woman."
"But Emma's his first kid," Thalia pointed out. "He deserves to know."
Reyna bit her lip. "I'll change his life if I do."
"As if he hasn't changed yours," Hylla commented in an offhand way.
Thalia stared at them. "Was it a mistake?"
Reyna stayed quiet for a while, and then answered with some sort pain in her voice. "Yes."
Thalia pursed her lips, before offering her arms. "Can I, uh, hold her?"
Reyna carefully handed the baby towards Thalia, and leaned back on the bed as she watched her cooing softly at Emma. "Hey there Emma, it's your dad's sister talking. Older sister, even if I look younger," She paused. "It's Aunt Lia here, and one day, I'm going to show you how we work with the Hunters of Artemis, it's pretty cool, no guys to disturb us," Reyna gave a small smile when the baby yawned, pink gums showing, and Thalia looked on with wonder. "Such a little thing you are."
"Reyna is thinking of giving her up for adoption," Hylla told her, causing Thalia to snap her head up to look at her in surprise. "Give her a nice family to live with, and apparently, away from us."
Thalia's shoulders drooped a little. "Oh," She seemed a little sad that her first niece was going to be taken away. "I guess it'll be safer, but, do grandkids of the gods actually have effects like demigods? Are they a magnet to monsters like we are? If they are, we have to train them how to protect themselves, or they won't survive in the world more than a day."
Reyna pursed her lips. "I'll think about it. "
"And what can be more perfect than letting her own mother, a daughter of Bellona, to train her?" Thalia pressed on the matter. "Emma would know how to defend herself perfectly, and nothing would get in her way."
"I'll think about it, " Reyna repeated her words firmly. "I don't know whether it's safe for her to be with me, I have to-"
"She needs a demigod mother," Thalia cut her off. "She has a quarter of god blood inside her, there are bound to have monsters to sniff her out once we're near within their area. Reyna," Thalia looked at her with such intensity that Reyna believed that her bright eyes were as sharp as lightning. "It's for her own good."
She was about to reply when Emma woke up, her eyes fluttering open as she looked at Thalia with a curious gaze etched on her face.
Thalia seemed off guard by the sudden movement. "What do you know," She gave a small chuckle, tapping Emma's nose with a finger. "She has his eyes," She smiled at the baby. "Hello, Emma."
Reyna resolved right then and there that Emma had melted so many hearts since she was first introduced to the world.
Such a trait her father had.
After checking out of the hospital, Reyna bought Emma to her apartment she rented the whole time she was staying at the country, she had decided she would keep her daughter like Thalia suggested.
It had been four months since that day.
She looked down to Emma, who was no longer drinking her milk but was trying to get her mother's attention by gurgling at her, eyes sparkling with happiness. Reyna couldn't help but feel the corner of her lips raised up at that, and left a kiss on her daughter's forehead. "You need to sleep, mi princessa, it's in the middle of the night. Look," She pointed to the window, where the curtains were only partially closed, showing them the twinkling stars. "It's time to sleep."
She couldn't believe she was trying to reason with a baby about the days and nights of the world, and let out a chuckle when Emma answered with more gurgles. Reyna held the baby to her shoulder and started to burp her. Once the wind was out, she stood up and walked towards the window. "Do you see that? Those are stars, something so far away from where we are now. And that's the moon, it only gets full during the middle of the month."
She hesitated to continue when an unwanted memory flashed through her mind, about stars and blue eyes, and she shook them away. "You're my star, Emma," She murmured. "My light in the dark sky. And I'll catch you if you ever fall, mi amor. I will always be here with you."
The single mother hummed a tune that was sung to her by Hylla when she was much younger, when they were still on Circe's island, alone in their room as her sister braided her hair. She could feel her daughter snuggled to her neck, hearing her yawn as sleep was starting take hold on her again. Reyna felt the obstacle lodged in her throat, rubbing Emma's back slowly, and continued humming the song.
She couldn't afford to think of having him there with them, it'll be a different story all together, their lives would be much different than before.
And so, she kept singing.
Out of all the love and pain she experienced.
Into words of melody.