How did Lexa come by her signature war paint? A light-hearted flashback to our Heda-to-be spending some quality time with Costia.
"Leksa, stand ste," Costia ordered, braiding Lexa's hair into a plait. It made Lexa laugh."Sha, Heda. Ai will obey every wish gon yun."
Costia lightly hit Lexa's head with her brush. "I am no Heda, and this is no joke. You are the one about to be Heda," she murmured, proud, starting the braid afresh. "Only if I can kill the others in the Conclave, Costia," Lexa said automatically.
Gustus, Anya, Indra, everyone kept telling her she was to be Heda. How could they know? Luna was an amazing fighter, as was her twin brother, Apollo. And then there were Ashia, and Ko, just to name a few. How could she kill them? How could she slaughter the other Natblidas whom she had been living and training with for months?
"I won't make it. I'll freeze as soon as one of them shows up." she added, turning around to catch Costia's worried look. "I don't want to kill any of them."
"Then don't," Costia replied, sitting in front of her. "Hide until the end of the Conclave, until all the others are dead. You can win the Conclave without killing anyone."
"No, ai friend. No one would respect a Heda that is scared of killing. And don't tell me otherwise, because you know perfectly well that things work this way." Lexa's eyes were threatening to spill tears when Costia pressed her lips on her cheeks.
"Don't worry about that, ai friend. I am sure you will find a way to solve things once you are in the Conclave." Costia smiled. "And I will be there the whole time, rooting for you." Costia hugged Lexa before blushing and quickly moving away.
"I realized you still haven't got a typical war paint," she changed the subject. "Can't I just go without it? You don't have one, either," Lexa complained, looking at her braided hair that Costia had tied together with her deer necklace.
"I am not a Natblida, Leksa, you are. You need one, I don't. How many times do I have to explain this to you?" Lexa huffed. "Fine, Costia, I give up."
"Does that mean you'll let me give you your war paint?" Costia asked, head over heels. "When did I say that?" Lexa laughed, alarmed. "But sure, you can give me my war paint... if you let me give yours first."
"Heda attitude." Costia smiled, kissing Lexa's lips slowly. "What did you say, before? Oh, right. Ai will obey every wish gon yun."
Lexa's lips curved into a smile while Costia kept on kissing her, her hands on her hips holding her in a strong grip, trying to tell her that she was safe, she would win the Conclave and come back home as if nothing had happened, as if she had only been a day out to hunt.
After a while, Lexa stopped Costia with a sad smile. "We have no time for..." She started, blushing. "This. I have to go in an hour, or less."
Costia averted her eyes, hurt from the scared and desperate look in Lexa's eyes. She tucked her fingers into the black, thick war paint she wanted to use and smiled. "Then I guess you won't have time to give me my war paint. How sad," she teased.
"I knew the kiss was just a way to waste my precious time and leave this room without one of my amazing paintings on your face," Lexa quipped back.
"You know me too well, ai friend." Both girls smiled again, then Costia ordered Lexa to close her eyes and started painting. Lexa shivered, feeling the cold, oily paint on her skin but not quite getting the design. "What are you even painting, Costia?" Lexa laughed. "A bat? A spider, so that my enemy will run away as soon as they see me?"
"Much better. But please, let me work and be silent. I don't have time to start it all again, do I?" Lexa sighed and closed her eyes again. Before she could think about something else to say, some clue to ask for, Anya entered the door.
"A raccoon, Costia? Is this a bad joke I'm not getting?" Anya punned unimpressed. "A RACCOON? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LOOK SCARY WITH A RACCOON ON MY FACE?" Lexa jumped off the chair, looking for Costia who had gone to hide behind Anya.
"Leksa, osir don kom go. Luna and Ko are already set, and so is Galen. Once you are Heda, you'll get to punish Costia for her awful actions in any way you want," Anya teased, making both the girls blush. "Now let's go. You have a Conclave to win."
Lexa nodded and looked at Costia while Anya was leaving the room. "Anya, wait," Lexa called. "Can I say goodbye? I'll be fast."
"Okay, Leksa. But hurry, we are late already. We don't want you to be the last Natblida to show up at your own Conclave," she explained again, waiting just outside the room.
Before realizing it, Lexa was in Costia's arms. "You'll be safe, Leksa, I just know you will. I promise you'll come back to me, and we will have the rest of today, tomorrow, and next week. We will have a whole life to spend together, ai Heda. You are not leaving me today," she murmured. "You still have to give me my war paint. Right, Commander Raccoon?"
"It will be a red fish. Or a goose. I haven't decided yet." Lexa wavered before leaving the hug and moving towards the door. "I will see you after the Conclave... ai hodnes."