Summary: Bringing up baby. Story inspired by the Lulu's Lullaby fanvid and "Mordred's Lullaby" by Heather Dale.
The sea rose and fell, thudding against the cliffs at both corners of the bay and reverberating through the soles of the mage's bare feet as she promenaded along the shore. Warm saltwater lapped at her toes. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched the flash of young bodies and limbs at work and play. A new generation of Aurochs was bumbling through morning drills, as eager and artless as their predecessors had been. Now and then she had to sidestep a hurtling blitzball. It was more of a challenge with a baby in her arms, but she had few enough challenges nowadays that she barely minded.
Wakka, sweating in the sun, advanced on the teen who had launched the last one and gave the boy a fierce dressing-down. Listening to his diatribe with mild amusement --she was starting to rub off on him, apparently -- Lulu noted his wink in her direction. His gruff lecture was mostly for show; he knew from old battles how deft she was at dodging.
After doling out assignments to the newest recruits, he trotted over to his family with a goofy grin of paternal pride. "Sorry about dat, Lu. Maybe you and V should get out o' the sun, ya?" Vidina cooed and tugged at Wakka's suspenders as he leaned close.
Lulu looked over at the shelter that Wakka and Tidus had built for her, a few faded awnings stretched on painted wooden poles. The canvas came from the remnants of the tent that had served her for two pilgrimages. She was touched by the thoughtful gift, but saddened too. It was a sign of closure, for good and ill. "In a moment. I need to stretch my legs, Wakka; I've been cooped up in the house for a week."
"Mmmph." He pried Vidina's stubby thumb from his nostril and made ridiculous faces until the infant shrieked with laughter. "Hey, it's my turn to take V tomorrow. I hear there's a few flans on the south trail botherin' people. Jus' the thing to help you relax, eh?"
"Perfect. Just so you don't forget to change his --"
"Yeah, Lu, I promise," he said, blushing. Vidina's first day on the beach had been less than a success; Wakka had received a thorough dressing-down himself after bringing home a cranky and sunburnt baby.
The mage tipped back her chin and closed her eyes, basking in dapples of sunlight flashing off the water. Sun, fire in its most perfected form, made the air thrum with palpable radiance. Lulu could get drunk on the elements out here. For now, Vidina was still delighted by everything indiscriminately; soon she hoped to see the first hints that he, too, could taste those currents to which most Spirans were blind and deaf. The battered old moogle he was clutching was a promising sign: every morning she found him curled up with it, in clear preference to the stuffed toy Rikku had sent him from the New Home Festival.
She snapped out of reverie just in time to duck another blitzball whizzing past.
"Yo! Watch it, Cleis!" Wakka kissed her hastily and pelted off to administer another firm lesson.
Vidina waved the doll after his father vaguely. Stroking the boy's head, Lulu began to chant in a low, purring singsong, lulling him to sleep as she strolled back to the sun-shade and the hammock-chair slung beneath. Sinking into the webbing, she stared off across the sand to the bluff on the far side of the cove. TIdus and Yuna were up there, sitting side by side in the grass. She saw the young man's hands moving animatedly as he regaled the High Summoner with some sort of story. Yuna's clear laughter carried on the breeze, recalling that fateful day three years ago when they set out from Luca. Pensively, Lulu set a toe against the ground and began to swing.
It had been two months now since Tidus' disagreeable revelation. It irked her that she was going to have to make the first move to end this awkward impasse between them. She felt obscurely that he was responsible for the whole mess, although she knew that if anyone was to blame besides Jecht, it was herself. She should never have been so reckless; she could hardly expect wisdom from him.
Dwelling on the past is pointless. Her old truism and Auron's reasserted itself, one he had learned only after getting himself killed by some bitch wearing more eye-shadow than underwear. Lulu had better prove herself wiser.
Vidina stirred again and hiccuped, nuzzling her belly. Well-attuned to the tides of his body and hers by now, the young mother unpinned one shoulder of her gown and pushed it down, catching his doll before it dropped to the sand. This was a quieter sort of magic that she was learning now: her son's eyes squeezed tight as he pressed tiny hands against either side of her breast and suckled, the life flowing between them.
"I'll tell you the story of water," the mage murmured in time to his nursing. "Water, water in the sea, water in the ocean, heavy and vast. Ebb and flow, advance and retreat, the moon's pulse and the land's womb. Sun-kissed it rises, sun-buoyed it spreads, grows wings of mist and fills the sky. Water, water in the clouds, water in the fog that hangs upon the hill. Water, water sinking and falling, gathering into drops that shower down. They batter the land, they sink into the soil, they meet in puddles and lakes and our village well. Water, water, flowing in rivers, seeping from rock-walls, running down towards the sea. Water rejoining the ocean. Water rejoicing in its own tears. And so the dance begins anew--"
She broke off the lesson suddenly, hearing boots scuffing the sand. Tidus came galumping around the corner of the nearest fishing-hut and halted in his tracks, averting his gaze. "Oh. Hi, Lulu."
He was trying to peek at Vidina without staring at her, which was honestly more aggravating than if he'd just stood there ogling. "Um." Swinging his arms and kicking the sand, he seemed to be digging for the right words. "Man, this is just stupid," he said finally. "My -- our -- old man shouldn't be screwing up anyone's lives anymore, right? So... why can't we still be friends?"
"Your father, not mine. I never knew him." Sin she knew as well as anyone steeped in Yevon. But Jecht was a stranger, and she preferred to keep it that way. "I don't recall giving you any sort of edict, Tidus. We are still Yuna's Guardians. You are still the madman who popped out of the sea and turned Spira upside down by saving it, and I am still the one you seek for counsel when you're suffering a bout of cluelessness."
He burst out laughing with relief, causing VIdina to squirm around and peer at him. "Whew. I thought you were furious with me."
"Not this time." She nodded towards the breakers. "I am more displeased with Jecht."
"Yeah." He sighed. "No kidding. I'm sor--"
"Stop apologizing," she said sharply.
"Okay, okay." He waved his hands and scooted a little closer. "So. He really is... ours?"
"Yes," she said. "And no."
"Wakka is his father." She draped Vidina over her shoulder, tapping his back and ignoring the small fists yanking her braids. "He was there for the birth. He held me in his arms, put up with every curse I rained down on his head, anchored me breath for breath. I think his shoulder still bears the marks from my nails." She gave Tidus a meaningful look. "A night's casual liaison is nothing more than idle pleasure, Tidus. Childbirth is the hardest trial one can face in this life, both for the mother who endures it and for the father who can do nothing but watch and pray. Do you understand?"
Tidus was staring at his shoes; apparently the frank description was more information than he wanted. "Um. I guess so. But... does Wakka know? I mean, shouldn't he?"
"He should." She sighed. "But he does not. Were I still a believer, I would say your news about Jecht is my punishment from Yevon for keeping this from my husband. But Vidina is healthy, and Wakka is overjoyed, and I will not have either of them burdened by our mistake. Unlike Yunalesca's secret, this one would cause more distress by revealing than concealing it."
"Okay." He sounded disappointed, but grinned weakly at Vidina's tiny burp. "May I... may I hold him, Lulu?"
"You won't tell Wakka?"
Tidus nodded. "No. That's a promise."
"All right." She handed Vidina across. The drowsy baby fumbled at the steel Abes symbol dangling from his necklace, and Lulu had to snatch it out of reach before Vidina cut his mouth. Thwarted, he began to cry.
"Aw, man," Tidus said, reddening. "I'm not that bad, am I?" Vidina's face began to pucker and turn purple as he worked himself up to a full-blown tantrum. Lulu observed but did not intervene. As far as she was concerned, the stormy outbursts were Vidina's version of a thunderbolt, a perfectly healthy release as long as they didn't happen too often.
Just in time, Tidus staved off the imminent explosion with a lullaby. He stumbled through the first few notes of the Hymn of the Fayth, or at least Lulu assumed that's what it was. Perhaps Vidina was also confused; he stopped pouting and goggled instead.
Sir Auron was right, as usual: Tidus was no singer. At least she had not inherited that from Jecht, she mused tiredly.
His body rose and fell above hers like the crash of the sea --
"Lu? Lu! C'mon, Lu, wake up."
She hissed and twisted out from under the broad hand covering her cheek. Suddenly Lulu found herself back in her own bed, staring up at the complex woven patterns on the ceiling backlit by moonlight. The burning sun and the unnerving mantra of sister at her ear were replaced by darkness and the shimmering hum of cicadas. "Wakka?"
"You okay?" His eased his arm around her waist cautiously -- she had moods like the weather, and he misread them at his peril. "Must've been some dream, ya? You nearly kicked me outta bed."
Lulu snuggled back against him and closed her eyes. "Sorry, Wakka. Preemptive strike after you stole all the blankets two nights in a row." He opened his mouth to defend himself, but his retort evaporated when he heard her whispered afterthought. "No, I want you right here."
"Aw, Lu." Guessing there was no high surf advisory for the moment, he curled around her and planted a few of those endearingly clumsy kisses against the side of her neck, soothing. "I was jus' worried, dat's all. It's not like you. When you're asleep, anyway."
Her lips curled in a weak smile at the dig. "Wakka, have I told you lately how much I love you?"
"Uh." He paused, savoring the rare admission. "Not for a while. And I love you all the way, Lu-- you know dat, right?"
"So I've noticed."
"Good." He squeezed her lightly. "I asked if you were okay."
"I will be." Her hand drifted up his arm to his shoulder and held on. Slowly her racing heartbeat subsided. At length, she rolled towards him, and they fell to drowsy kisses for some minutes.
"What the heck is going on?" he asked finally. "It sounded like you said 'Tidus.' And you two have been acting funny lately." He paused, feeling her stiffen. "Whoah, we don't have to talk about it now. But if he's done anything stupid -- you let me know, ya?"
Damn. "It was an accident, Wakka. And he's apologized," she said. "And if you ask him about it, I shall have to hurt you, so don't bother."
He laughed and hugged her close. "Ah, there's my Lu. Okay, then."
Right on cue, Vidina roused and started fussing. Wakka gave her another squeeze, silently telling her to stay put, and went to fetch him. She lay listening to the quiet domestic sounds with detached wonder and a twinge of melancholy: was this really the life they lived now? Sometimes she could not wrap her mind around the Calm. But Wakka's dopey patter of "who's a big man?" and "where's momma, now?" made it a little easier to grasp. Soon he returned and settled Vidina on her stomach, then slid under the covers and wrapped his arms loosely around both of them. "Hey-ya. Hungry little boy we got here."
"Mmm-hmm." She exhaled, relaxing as the child settled down to nurse. "Did you remember the moogle?"
"Yeah, 's right here." Wakka sighed. "Are you sure that thing's safe, Lu? That stuffed Zu that Rikku sent is awfully cute."
"Stop worrying. That's my oldest moogle; it knows how to behave itself."
He shook his head. "Ya. That's what worries me."
"Wakka, shut up." She turned her head and kissed his stubbly chin affectionately. "Idiot. I cast the magic, not the dolls. They just helped me focus when I was learning new spells. Anyway, if you're taking Vidina to the beach when the Aurochs are practicing, you have no excuse to be worrying about that doll."
"You got me." He yawned and reached out to flip her bangs down over her eyes, taking advantage of the temporary immunity afforded by the baby's proximity. "Momma Lulu knows best."