LOST – CHAPTER 12
Clarke wanted to deny what Lexa said right away but something stopped her. What Lexa said was true, she had never wanted to love her. It just happened.
"I...Lexa, it doesn't matter. We can't control who we love." Clarke tried to reason with her.
Lexa smiled softly, hiding the hurt and pain she felt now knowing Clarke's answer. Perhaps she still thinks us as savages.
"It does matter Clarke. You shouldn't have to love someone you don't want to. You deserve better than that."
Clarke opened her mouth to protest but was stopped with the feather light brush of the Commander's lips against hers. This was so opposite to the previous passionate, hungry kiss she had shared with the woman in front of her that Clarke, once again, was surprised and hence unable to respond in time.
"Be there at my camp in the morning, Clarke of the Sky People. I will be waiting." Lexa whispered in Clarke's ear, making her shiver. Though, Lexa was disappointed by Clarke's answer, she nonetheless enjoyed the reaction Clarke showed. With a smirk on her face, the Commander left Camp Jaha.
It was decided that in addition to Raven and Kyle, Octavia would accompany Clarke to Polis, as she was the most well versed at speaking the grounder tongue as well as the most aware of the grounder customs among all the Sky People.
They reached the grounder camp at 10 o'clock in the morning (according to Clarke's watch) and were received by the ever brooding Indra.
"Sky People do not know what morning is?" She mocked.
Clarke frowned as she answered, "It is morning, Indra."
Indra barked a laugh before saying, "You people are so weak."
"Only physically." Her ex-second countered.
"Thank you for the pleasantries, but now can we go meet the Commander so we can leave this place?" Raven cut in.
Indra clenched her jaws as she said, "Follow me."
Once she reached the Commander's tent, she allowed only Clarke to enter.
"Good morning, Commander." Clarke greeted the woman who was sitting on the throne, playing with her knife.
"Clarke." Lexa said, putting her knife back in the belt attached to her pants.
"Did you have some problem at your camp?" Lexa asked, concerned, as she got up from her throne and walked towards Clarke.
"Umm...no. Why?" Asked a bewildered Clarke.
"I asked you to be here in the morning." Lexa replied as if stating the obvious.
Clarke rolled her eyes. "This time is morning according to us."
Lexa's eyes widened in disbelief and Clarke couldn't help but laugh at this.
Lexa observed the Sky Princess' laugh with a small twitch of her own lips. She had a beautiful, enchanting laugh.
Clarke, when finally recovered, looked at Lexa to find her gazing at her intensely.
"What?" Clarke asked.
"You have a beautiful laugh, Clarke of the Sky People." Lexa truthfully stated, as if telling Clarke about the weather. Clarke, on the other hand, felt her cheeks heat up and she mumbled awkwardly.
"Thanks, I guess."
Lexa nodded and asked, "Are Wick and Raven ready to leave?"
"Add Octavia with them."
"Any specific reason for her to come?" Lexa asked, putting on her shoulder guard.
"Do I need one?" Clarke asked defiantly.
Lexa stayed quiet but, after a while, replied, "No, you don't Skai Heda."
"Yeah...I think the title Heda only suits you. But thank you."
Lexa's eyes twinkled and it was clear that her lips were dying to twitch upwards, however, before this could happen, she started walking out of her tent knowing full well that Clarke would follow .
"Lexa, I actually do have a reason to take Octavia along." Clarke said, as she matched the Commander's pace.
"She is the most well versed in Trigedasleng among us."
Lexa stopped walking and turned around to face Clarke. This time an actual smile formed on the Commander's lips as if enjoying some inside joke. Clarke narrowed her eyes at her quizzically and the Commander's smile faded from her lips, though her eyes showed that she was still amused. Clearing her throat, she asked in a firm voice, though a bit skeptically,
"And that is the only reason?"
"No. She is our best fighter." Clarke confessed.
Lexa dipped her head and said, "It is wise to have yourself protected."
"Lexa, I didn't mean any disrespect. I know you can protect me and I do trust you. I just don't trust..."
"The Commander." Lexa finished her sentence for her.
Clarke again opened her mouth to explain, "I meant..."
"Clarke, this is very wise of you. Now we shouldn't keep the others waiting." With that she was out.
The journey to Polis was longer than Clarke had expected. It took them nearly a day of non-stop riding to reach the city. Thus, by the time they reached it, the blonde could no longer feel her legs and her hips ached painfully, reminding her very much of their presence.
"I don't care if a nuclear bomb strikes any more as I will already be dead if we don't stop now." Raven finally said, agitated.
"We are almost there, Raven of the Sky People." The Commander responded in a patient voice, which was received with a huff from the woman who had complained.
Wick chucked as he said, "The great Raven Reyes, not so great anymore, huh?"
"You better sh-"
"Guys, look!" Octavia shouted excitedly, interrupting Raven.
Clarke, who had somehow tangled the reins around her hand and was now busy untangling it, looked up at this and her eyes lit up.
Finally the forest had cleared up and the signs of life of a city had started to appear. The path had become clear and there were little colored pebbles decorating the sides. As they moved farther, the main city came into their line of sight.
There were buildings of various sizes and shapes but, unlike Ton DC which was mostly made up of wood, the structures here were built of bricks and stones. It was impressive; very much like the images Clarke had seen in the books on the Ark. Sprawling miles on either side, a marble wall surrounded the city limits. Lexa, who was ahead all of them with Ryder at her side, raised her head proudly and Clarke smiled at the gesture. She had all the right to be proud of her city; after all, she was its builder, maintainer, sustainer.
The descent to the city was scary but everyone went on with it without complaint. After a few minutes, Lexa halted her horse in front of the gates and the Sky People followed her lead. There were guards posted on either side of the gate who, as soon as they saw the Commander, opened them wide open and bowed their heads in respect.
Commander not Heda, Clarke observed.
Lexa nodded, dismounted from her horse and handed the reins to the guards. She gestured for the Sky People to do the same. Once again, Raven complained.
"Why can't we ride the horse inside? I can't feel my legs!"
"I wouldn't have asked you to dismount if it weren't necessary, Raven." Lexa said sharply, shutting up Raven quickly.
As they moved inside the city, people started gathering on the sides, chanting 'Heda, Heda' excitedly. People tried to reach Lexa from everywhere, touching her arm, smiling at her, showering her with presents...showing their gratitude. Four more guards had joined their squad and were leading them through the crowd.
"Wow. She's like a celebrity here." Wick's awe-filled voice reached Clarke's ear.
"Not a celebrity, a hero." Octavia corrected and Clarke silently agreed.
Clarke observed the people; they were in plain clothes, shirts and pants with fur wraps. Their skin was clean, ink free - free from killings. They were citizens, not warriors. Hardly any of them had those thin grounder warrior braids on them. They were just people - people free from pain and destruction.
Suddenly, Lexa stopped and Clarke bumped right into her. She frowned and looked up ahead to see the reason. Lexa was being embraced by a very old woman who Clarke deduced must have been in her 70s or 80s. The woman was sobbing as she hugged the Commander. Then Clarke heard her say, in a voice full of gratitude,
"You brought my son back to me, Commander. He was my only family and the mountain men had taken him from me. You brought him back. Thank you, thank you." She sobbed.
Clarke watched, fascinated, as Lexa brought those trembling hands to her lips and kiss them softly.
"You are my people, my responsibility. You have nothing to thank me for." Lexa said earnestly. This was a totally new side of the Commander and Clarke loved it. She briefly wondered how many layers there were to the young Commander; would she ever be able to see them all? Experience them all?
Clarke had never seen Lexa being praised so much and she was nothing if not humble about it.
She had only seen the respect her warriors showed to her but, as she had inferred, the people surrounding them were no warriors. However, they held equal esteem and love for the Commander as the warriors did, if not more.
Once again they were stopped, this time however, by a group of 3 young girls. They presented Lexa with a self-made bouquet of roses and beamed up when Lexa ruffled their hair in affection and thanked them. The Commander then waited for them to clear the way, but when they didn't, she asked them kindly,
"What is it, children?"
"Commander, we - who are these people? Is this girl with funny coloured hair your friend?"
Clarke chuckled despite herself and caught Lexa's eyes, which were shining with joy. It momentarily took Clarke's breath away. Lexa looked so much younger now as she was smiling openly and so very kindly at the young children.
"They are the Sky People and this girl is Clarke."
"The destroyer of the mountain?" The three girls squealed in excitement.
"Yes kiddo, she's the one." Came Raven's reply, her tone showing the impatience she was feeling.
Once the kids left the Commander's side, they again walked forward and finally reached their destination. The Great Commander's home; a palace.
There was a bridge they were required to cross to reach the place. In front of the building, there was a beautiful fountain with 7 sculptures. Lexa saw Clarke looking at them with interest and answered her unvoiced question,
"All the previous Commanders."
"Only 7?" Clarke asked curiously.
"No, 14 but they are at the back side of the building." Lexa responded impassively.
Clarke nodded as she followed Lexa inside her mansion. She could hear Octavia, Raven and Wick talk excitedly behind her.
She couldn't blame them - the place was indeed beautiful.
Once they were inside, Clarke took in her surroundings. The floor was made of marble and was decorated with patterns. Looking up, she found that an iron chandelier was chained up to the high ceiling, decorated with tiny flames who lit the whole area. Clarke's line of sight found a throne at the end of the room. It was very much like the throne of branches and vines Lexa had been sitting on the first time they met. However, it looked more comfortable with pure white soft fur covering its seat.
"Wow." Clarke breathed out and was rewarded with a chuckle from the usually stoic Commander. Clarke couldn't help but notice how open Lexa was here.
Suddenly, Clarke heard footsteps walking down the stair case that was situated on the other end of the room. She looked at Lexa from the periphery of her vision. She had a big smile on her face and her eyes were lit up. Now Clarke was beyond curious to know who this mysterious person was, that could bring such a positive reaction out of the Commander.
She was answered by a young woman jogging towards Lexa excitedly. She was very beautiful, Clarke had to admit. She had a well toned body, enchanting brown eyes, which matched the colour of her hair. Clarke clenched her fist as this mysterious woman who engulfed the Commander in a very informal, un-Commander as well as un-Lexa-like hug. What was most surprising and most frustrating for Clarke was that the Commander reciprocated the cordial gesture.
"Who is she?" Octavia whispered.
"No idea, but she is hot."
"Ahem. I think your boyfriend is standing next to you Raven." Wick reminded her.
"That doesn't mean I don't have eyes."
Clarke ignored them and waited for the clingy girl to leave Lexa. She did move back a bit but not a lot, still standing very close to the Commander and telling her how much she missed her. Clarke rolled her eyes at this. Stupid minions, she thought.
"I missed you too, Vera." Lexa said in a very fond voice and Clarke's eyes widened at the tone.
As she could take it no more, she cleared her throat to announce her presence.
"Oh, I am so sorry Lexa. You have guests. It's just really nice to see you after ages and honestly, a bit hard to believe so you need to excuse my absentmindedness today."
Lexa smiled (and Clarke inwardly groaned) then she moved towards the Sky People.
"This is Raven, Wick, Octavia and Clarke." Lexa said, her eyes resting on Clarke.
"The destroyer of the mountain, Clarke?" Vera asked, her eyes wide.
"No, just Clarke works fine." Clarke snapped.
"My apologies Clarke. I didn't know you had a problem with the title you are called by in Polis." Vera said sincerely.
Clarke ignored her, turned to Lexa and asked her, "You didn't introduce her to us, Lexa?"
"I was about to, Clarke of the Sky People; this is Vera, a good friend of mine."
"Yes, I can see." Clarke muttered under her breath.
"Did you say something, Clarke?" Lexa asked confused.
Lexa nodded and began asking Raven,
"Would you like to go to the libr-"
"No way! I can't feel my limbs. I need some rest first." Raven answered boldly.
Chuckling, Vera suggested, "Lexa, why don't you show Clarke her living quarters and I will do the same for others?"
"Where will Clarke be staying?" Octavia asked protectively.
"She will be staying on the top floor where the leaders stay." Lexa answered coldly.
"What if she doesn't want to stay there?" Octavia countered.
"Then that's her choice though I wouldn't recommend her that as it would look weak in the presence of my other generals."
"What other generals?" Clarke quickly spoke, stopping Octavia's probably heated response. She knew the girl was just doing so for her protection but Clarke had learnt that bodyguards were sometimes not enough for protection. Besides, she did trust Lexa as long as her people weren't involved.
"Whenever the Commander arrives at Polis, all the generals come here to report to the Commander in two days." Vera answered Clarke and Lexa nodded.
"But-" Octavia started.
"No, it's fine O." Clarke said, squeezing Octavia's shoulder and making her look in the eye.
She knew her message was conveyed as Octavia nodded. Octavia, after all, knew firsthand about grounders and their concept of weakness.
"Great, now that's settled can we please go?" Raven asked in an annoyed tone.
Vera dipped her head and gestured the Sky People, except their leader, to follow her.
Once they were gone, Clarke followed Lexa upstairs. The stairs were not very fashionable but clearly strong. Clarke watched Lexa move expertly through the place, through the first floor and now the second; the whole place was decorated with hard carved pieces, some lining the wall, some sitting on various shelves and small tables. And after a few more turns, the Commander finally stopped. She then opened up a wooden door and said, "This is where you will be staying, Clarke."
Clarke moved passed Lexa, their shoulders brushing lightly, and entered the room. It was a large room lit by the sun rays entering through the two large windows at the East side of the room. The bed was placed in the centre and it was larger than any bed Clarke had seen. The head was decorated with obviously handmade carvings and Clarke itched to touch the delicate work. It was covered with soft blankets probably made from the softest furs, as even from distance, Clarke could see how very comfortable it seemed.
There was an office table with a chair on the opposite side of the bed's head which had paper, a feather and ink of some sort. Clarke circled it and touched the carvings on the chair in awe. Then she looked to her left to find a glass door shielding the small balcony attached with her room. There was another door to her right, which she presumed was the washroom. All in all, the room was perfect.
"I will have some clothes sent to you and your friends, so you do not have to worry about it while you're here, working how to destroy the bomb." Lexa said, standing in the doorway, as she watched Clarke wander around the room.
"Thank you, Lexa."
Lexa nodded and said, "Rest Clarke."
Just as she was about to leave, Clarke stopped her, asking, "Where is your room, Lexa?"
Clarke saw, fascinated, as the Commander's cheek turned slightly pink before she answered, "The door opposite to yours is where I sleep."
"Oh, cool. I am living opposite to the great Commander." Clarke said smiling, trying to bring the Commander at ease. This earned her a twitch of lips from her.
Lexa tried to leave but Clarke stopped her again asking,
"Who is Vera, Lexa?"
"She is my friend." Lexa repeated her earlier statement.
"How?" Clarke asked unable to stop herself.
"How are you and Raven friends, Clarke?" Lexa countered.
"I - No, no. I just meant you...I didn't know you had friends." Clarke mumbled.
Lexa now grabbed the door's handle and turned around.
"How did you become friends?" Clarke finally found the right question and Lexa wondered why Clarke was so interested in Vera.
"She was Anya's second too." Lexa said quietly, before shutting the door.
Once she was gone, Clarke threw herself on the bed and, as she had predicted, it was really comfortable. However, sleep didn't come to Clarke as swiftly as she had thought it would. She couldn't stop feeling jealous of the relation Vera had with the Commander. Knowing that Vera and Lexa had trained together, shared a mentor, shared defeats and victories did nothing to make her feel any better. She sighed and mentally scolded herself for thinking about such things when there was a much more important matter at hand. She really hoped the books in Polis would help Wick and Raven to stop the bomb, otherwise they were all doomed and Vera would be the least of her problems.
When Clarke woke up again, she felt well rested and fresh. A look at her watch told her that she had slept for 3 hours but, as no one had bothered her sleep, she presumed that her friends were still not ready to get to work. She moved around her room a bit, took a shower and changed into the clothes that had been provided to her. They were pants with a lot of pockets and a tunic longer in length than the shirts she wore - grounder clothes. Brushing her hair with the wooden comb she had found in the washroom, she left her room.
Now that she was out of her room, she wondered where to go. She wanted to look around the palace but the one place she really wanted to look at was Lexa's room. She wanted to know more about Lexa, about who was behind the Commander's mask. She stared at the door in front on her for quite some time before finally knocking. As soon as she had performed the action, she regretted it. What if Lexa was sleeping?
Her doubts vanished when she heard the woman say, "Enter."
Clarke poked her head in and said, "Hey", chewing her lips.
"Clarke." Lexa greeted, turning around from the balcony where she was standing and enjoying the view. She smiled and motioned for Clarke to come inside. Clarke looked at the Commander and realized she was only wearing a green shirt with a pair of black pants. Somehow, the green shirt made the Commander's eyes look greener and the sun rays, reaching her eyes from the sides, made the green look so vibrant, so full of life.
Clarke gulped, entered the room and, as she took in her surrounding, couldn't help but gasp. The room was larger than Clarke's and much more filled. She quickly took it all in, in one glance. There was a huge bookshelf with various books that covered a whole wall of the room. Different carved animals were also pinned on the wall.
However, what caught Clarke's attention was a list of names on a small portion of the wall next to Lexa's bed, which was exactly like Clarke's. Clarke moved and read the different names. From her periphery, she watched the Commander move towards the bookshelf and touch absentmindedly covers of books. It was clear to her that the Commander was trying to avoid Clarke's gaze in case she decided to turn around. This brought her to the conclusion that whoever those names belonged to, she shouldn't ask. It was up to the Commander to tell her about them...if she wanted to.
Just as she was about to move from her place, she heard Lexa whisper.
"The people whose spirit I have released."
"You learned their names and wrote them down." Clarke said in a matter of fact voice, no judgment involved.
Lexa slowly dipped her head.
Clarke slowly walked towards Lexa, and stood behind her. She watched as the Commander's hand delicately brushed against the books and Clarke raised hers to do the same. She stopped as her fingers brushed with the Commander's and watched as Lexa realized their proximity. She subtly tried to move back but only collided with Clarke's front in the process. Lexa's breath hitched as she felt Clarke's breath on her neck. Her raspy voice reached her ear, "I didn't know you knew how to read, Commander."
"Sh-should I be offended, Clarke?" She stumbled on her words for the first time in forever and knew Clarke was smirking as she said,
"You never told me that Lexa, even though we had been alone a few times." Clarke replied, her hands touching Lexa's shoulders now and slowly moving down.
And Lexa got it then, Clarke wanted her to surrender. That Clarke thought what she was doing was wrong, that wanting to love someone wasn't necessary for love. She didn't understand how wrong she was, Lexa thought. Because of all her musings, Lexa had remained quiet for quite some time, which Clarke took advantage of to press their bodies together further, her arms hovering over Lexa's waist ready to be placed on them.
However, now that Lexa had been able to clear her head, she gracefully moved to the side and freed herself from the tempting heat of the other body in the room. She already missed it.
Clarke's face dropped as she realized she's been caught and wouldn't be able to peruse her plans. She wanted to complain but knew she shouldn't, so instead asked her, "Do all of your people know how to read then?"
"Hardly any of them do." Responded the Commander.
"So only the Commanders?"
"No. It wasn't part of my Commander training."
"Then how d-"
"She liked reading?" Clarke asks in a very careful tone.
"Loved it. She spent her days in the library, crouched over some book." Lexa supplied with a small smile adorning her face and this smile was what encouraged Clarke to ask this,
"Would you like to tell me about her?"
A heavy silence greeted her words and she thought she might've made a mistake asking the Commander such a personal question.
Finally, Lexa sighed and said, "I haven't talked about her to anyone."
Clarke nodded in understanding. "I know. But do you need to?"
Lexa shook her head and said in a remorseful voice, "It just brings pain."
"That's because you only try to remember the painful parts."
Lexa sat on her bed and Clarke followed suit, sitting at her side shoulder to shoulder. Silence followed them until Lexa finally spoke up,
"She was the daughter of the Desert clan's general. It was my second year as Commander and I was trying hard to convince other clans to join the coalition, telling them it was the only way to survive. I had visited the Desert clans several times and her father was half convinced with my proposition.
After about five months of preaching my ideals, I decided to finally check my success and called all the Hedas to Polis for a meeting. I met her in that meeting as her father could not perform the journey to Polis; she was representing the Desert clan. I remember thinking that she must be remarkable for Malakoff to trust her with his lands and I am glad to say I wasn't disappointed. She had a brilliant mind and was so optimistic, so peace-loving." Lexa paused and cleared her throat, which had become thick with emotions. Clarke took Lexa's hand and rubbed soothing circles on it, smiling and encouraging her to continue.
"She was the first one who agreed to join the coalition and that was the first time I properly looked at her and there was something about her that attracted me towards her. It wasn't just her beauty but...our similar natures. She was the only one in front of whom I actually felt nervous, because I wanted to be perfect in front of her; I was young. I didn't know it was impossible then. We only talked about the coalition the first time she visited Polis but as her visits increased, so did our friendship and my likeness towards her. I would find time for her, to talk to her, to just be with her. And as it turned out, I usually found her in the library. She had a very intense look while reading and this is what prompted me to ask her to teach me how to read. And teach me she did." Lexa smiled, lost in some far away memory.
"When did you finally confess your feelings towards her?"
Lexa chuckled at this. "I didn't, she did. She kissed me right after I formed the coalition between the 12 clans."
Clarke smiled, thinking about Lexa being shy.
"You seem to have had a beautiful relation with her. Was she a warrior too or a leader or both like you?"
"No, no, no. Costia hated fighting. She wasn't the one to rule either, she just was happy supporting me. Bandaging me up after a bad day, fixing me up. She used to be my strength." Lexa said, closing her eyes and Clarke watched a single tear drop roll down her cheeks. She looked so vulnerable at the moment, so small, so human.
"Her death made me weak." She said after a while, her eyes hiding away all the emotions and vulnerabilities again.
"No, Lexa. It made you strong. Love makes one strong. She shaped you up. Her death did too." Clarke said, shrugging.
Lexa turned her head to stare at the clear blue eyes.
"Her death made you understand the tough decisions you need to make as a leader. Not only yours but her ideals for a peaceful world made you stand by the coalition and not destroy yourself. She would have been proud."
Clarke was surprised when the Commander leaned in, pressed her lips to her cheek and whispered, "Thank you, Clarke."
"You are welcome, Lexa."
Lexa opened her mouth to say something when there was a knock on her door.
"Lex, feast has been prepared for the Sky People and I have called them. If you both are free then please join us."
"Thank you, Vera. We will following you in a moment."
Vera nodded and left.
"Clarke?" Lexa said, standing in the doorway.
"Oh, yes, yes. I am coming." Clarke said, dismissing the thought that Vera had actually called Lexa with a nickname.
They walked down the staircase and stopped at the first floor, then Lexa led Clarke to the great hall but, before entering, halted for a bit.
"Our clothes suit you." With that she nudged Clarke in and followed after her.