They have an understanding.
It’s born of necessity. Their hands are soaked with blood and dirt, their teeth stained red; their nailbeds rusty; their bones weary from carrying the weight of other people’s souls.
They have an understanding, the two of them, that if one should stumble in late at night they will be welcomed, without question. Most nights it’s Katarina, covered in gashes, blood smeared on her cheek, reeking of alcohol.
But tonight, it’s Lux who stumbles in through Katarina’s window. Tonight, Katarina comes home to find her huddled in a corner, hugging her knees. Her beautiful golden hair is tangled in knots; her bright blue eyes rimmed ruby red; her freckles indistinguishable from the dirt and grime. There’s a bruise on her cheek. Her lower lip is swollen. And when she looks up at Katarina, god, she’s so…
She’s seen something horrible tonight. Gotten her hands dirty. Her knuckles are bruised, and she can’t close her hands.
And Katarina doesn’t ask her where she’s been, or what she’s done, or what it felt like to take a life.
She already knows.
But she scoops her up in her arms, and she holds her, and in the dark of the night she kisses Lux’s forehead. She talks about the minutiae of her day, the parts that don’t matter; she talks about Cass’s latest gossip, about Talon’s new knives.
And as Lux softly sobs on her, reaches for her and clings to her shoulder, they pretend they’re normal.
They pretend this is what real people do.