LOST – CHAPTER 6
Clarke couldn't help but gasp at the knowledge. "What?" She asked, her voice dry. "Lexa didn't avenge Costia's death? I thought your tradition would..."
Indra ignored the interruption and continued. "The Ice nation agreed to join the coalition soon after Costia's death. One of the many clauses of the coalition is that the blood of the people of one clan is forbidden to the others. All the claims for blood before the coalition are to hold no significance after the formation of the coalition. "
Clarke stared at Indra, speechless. For once, Indra thought happily.
"You should leave now, Sky girl. The Ice Queen will be here soon." Indra said dismissively.
"They agreed to the coalition after Costia's death because they never thought that the Commander would agree." Clarke whispered, after her mind finally processed the information.
Indra nodded in confirmation.
"They underestimated the Commander. Lexa proved her commandership to everyone after she accepted the Ice clan in the coalition. Most of the clans agreed to join in the coalition soon after that and heda was shown hardly any resistance." Indra recalled proudly. Clarke just nodded her head in response. Silence followed them.
"You really should depart to your people now, Sky girl." Indra again spoke, breaking the silence.
"You want me to leave?"
"Does that come to you as a surprise? I think I was quite clear from the first day about what I want." Indra said wryly.
"Sucks to be you then, because I am staying." Clarke turned around to leave but Indra grabbed her arm and pulled, pivoting Clarke back to her place. Clarke looked at Indra, surprised and offended at the action.
"The Commander will not want you here, Clarke. She asked you to leave." Indra hissed.
"We both know that the Commander needs me to be there with her. She will not be able to handle this."
"You dare insult the Commander? Call her weak? She does not require your assistance, Sky girl! She is capable of fighting her demons alone." Indra had brought her dagger up, pointing at Clarke's throat.
"Stop with the empty threats, Indra. You know I am right. Otherwise, I wouldn't be standing here; you would've dumped me on some horse and kicked its ass. You wouldn't have told me about your history with the Ice nation if it wasn't important for me to know about it. It wasn't just to shut me up. You know Lexa will not be able to handle this torment. Tell me Indra, would you want to honor the one who murdered your love or have their head? Especially if they were standing right in front of you?"
Indra remained impassive but her eyes flashed some emotion. Maybe reminiscing the past, Clarke was not sure, as she couldn't read her as well as Lexa, but she knew she was moving in the right direction.
"She needs both of us, Indra. She needs your protection externally and mine internally. So please, let me stay and help."
"The Commander will not let you stay here once the Ice Queen arrives." Indra spoke in a resigned voice.
"Like hell, she won't. I am staying here. I cannot let your Commander break the coalition that has brought peace into this land because of her thirst of her past revenge."
Indra studied the girl in front of her intensely and at last gave her verdict. "Do what you have to do, Sky girl. I will not stop you as long as you don't hurt the Commander but if you as much as think about it, you will pay with your life. And I do not give empty threats. Make sure you don't make me prove it to you."
With that threat Indra was gone, leaving Clarke alone. She thought of checking up on Lexa but immediately dismissed the idea, as she knew what would be the result of it. Moving her feet, she made her way out of the tent and finally took in her surroundings. The village was being rebuilt fast, Clarke observed. The heavy machinery brought from Mount Weather was set at multiple places. However, her people were nowhere in sight, probably because Indra had sent them off. Her legs moved forward and she found grounders clearing up the debris and filling the crater that the missile had created.
She couldn't help but recall that day; the decision she had to make yet again to protect someone she cared for. Love is weakness, the mantra repeated itself in Clarke's head. She wanted to move forward and check out the structure that her people had started building when she saw Lexa emerge in the periphery of her vision. She knew if Lexa saw her, she would immediately send her off. And so she hid in Indra's tent, observing the Commander quietly from the little parting of the flaps of the tent.
The commander had her chin up, shoulders square and her face void of emotions but what gave her away, to Clarke, was her tight hold on the sword's hilt. It was like she was clinging to it for her dear life; her knuckles had gone white. This made Clarke realize how alone the Commander was. Just like Clarke, she had to put on a strong face for her people. Clarke, however, was fortunate enough to have people in her life who genuinely cared about her and wanted to help ease her worries. It was another matter why she just couldn't let them in - she cared for them but she knew that they would not be able to help or understand her. Lexa, on the other hand, was the grounder Commander. And for some annoying reason, the grounders considered their Commander as a robot who had no life of their own, no feelings of their own. Strangely enough, she felt sorry for Lexa, the one whom Clarke blamed for her worst nightmares. Some part of her had actually thought that she would enjoy the Commander's misery after what she had put Clarke through but that part was proven wrong.
Clarke saw Lexa ordering the warriors and moving around impatiently. Clarke finally got bored of observing the Commander and slumped on a chair in Indra's tent. She had to wait for nearly an hour, during which Indra thankfully didn't appear in her tent, before she heard the cries of 'Heda! Heda!'
Clarke immediately moved towards the entrance on the tent and looked outside. The tent was placed in an ideal location, Clarke noted. She literally had the view of the whole village. Of course. This was Indra's village. Clarke came to the conclusion after recalling what Indra had said in their first meeting. She had used the words my village and not ourvillage. Clarke had lived with the grounders long enough to know that they meant each and every single thing they said. It was both a remarkable and unnerving quality.
Lexa moved forward, with Indra and one other warrior on either side of her, to greet the Ice Queen who was herself accompanied by only two guards. Lexa knew this wasn't to show that the Ice Queen trusted her and her people rather than to show power.
Power that the Queen was fierce enough to walk into a rather hostile territory with minimal protection. The Ice Queen reached the Commander and extended her arm to reach the Commander's in a grounder handshake. Lexa reciprocated the gesture with a blank look on her face.
"It's good to finally meet you, Lexa."
"Commander Lexa." Lexa corrected her in a cold tone.
"Ah, yes. You are the Commander now. Last time I had the pleasure of your company was when you were a young warrior, Anya's second. You had come with a friend of yours."
"To what do we owe this special visit of yours?" She asked, ignoring what the Ice Queen had said, though her palm was tightly clenched into a fist now.
"I wanted to see the place where my Commander breathed her last."
Lexa remained unaffected by her answer and didn't respond; with only her eyes commanding the Ice Queen to tell the real reason.
"And I thought it was time to officially meet the great Commander. You were looking for me some years ago, as I recall."
"Your memory serves you well, Avina. Though, you must thank the heavens that you weren't found." Lexa replied menacingly, her face betraying no emotions though her eyes were fierce.
Avina clenched her jaws as she said, "I wanted to discuss some of our trading policies with you, Commander. After all, the Mountain's down now."
Lexa nodded. "Follow me."
Lexa took Avina inside a cabin; the place where the sky workers rested. She did not want their conversation to be overheard and the cabin was more sound proof, as compared to the tents. As per the criteria, both leaders abandoned their guards outside before entering.
"Make sure no one of our people comes in." The Commander ordered Indra who was standing outside the door. Indra nodded.
"Why is there mountain men's equipment here?" The Ice Queen asked with a frown on her face.
"The Sky people are helping us rebuild Ton DC."
"The Sky people? Why? Didn't your alliance with them broke at the Mountain when you rescued our people? My representative only said that we had a peace treaty with them."
"They are offering help in exchange for something."
"So they do know trade."
Lexa nodded in answer. "What did you wish to discuss about?"
"Impatient, aren't we?" Avina mocked. She knew how hard this was for the Commander and was thoroughly enjoying torturing her.
"I do not have time for games, Avina. Speak and leave." Lexa said in a bored tone.
"Very well. I wish a change of route for dispatching goods to the Desert clan. There is no more fear of acid fog and the route through the Sea clan is much shorter and easier."
"All right, I will permit you that."
"Though you could have asked this through a messenger, so tell me what is the real problem?" The Commander continued.
Avina slowly spoke, "The Sea Clan's heda's daughter was your lover."
"And you killed her and therefore are not welcome there." Lexa said in a matter-of-factly tone.
The Ice Queen regretfully agreed. "Yes. I need you to..."
"Make them forgive you when I myself cannot?" Lexa said, her voice louder this time.
"I did what I had to do for my people."
"Do not say what you did was for your people, Avina. You did it only for your Queen who did not see me fit as Commander of all the clans."
"So be it. But I did only because of political reasons."
"Do you regret what you did?" Lexa asked, her voice finally quivering a bit.
"No." The new Ice Queen replied sharply.
"I agree with my dead Commander that you are too soft to be the Commander of the coalition."
"Don't mistake rational with soft. If I didn't have the responsibility of our people on my shoulders, you and I wouldn't be breathing in the same air today." Lexa said, moving dangerously close.
"You are weak. Just like that girl you loved. Did I ever tell you how amusing it was to torture her? She used to scream like a wild wolf. Her screams echoed for 3 whole days and still you couldn't save her. Should I tell you how she begged me to stop tearing her skin over and over? Stop breaking her bones? How she cried in pain after I burnt her flesh? Should I..."
"Shop op, Avina!" Lexa shouted; her vision had started to become blurry. She wanted to unsheathe her dagger and kill her there and then but her mind cautioned her against it. She knew another war would begin if she killed the murderer who was standing in front of her.
Avina took another step closer to Lexa as she finally broke Lexa's composure with the words, "You know what she kept on repeating? 'Lexa, Lexa', she thought you were going to save her."
Lexa was about to unsheathe her sword and remove Avina's head from her body when the door burst open and Clarke entered.
The abrupt entrance of the Sky leader was enough to bring Lexa back to her senses. She, however, was still angry, so she chose her words wisely to greet the Sky Princess.
"Clarke of the Sky people has graced us with her presence."
Clarke stood some distance from the cabin and mentally debated whether or not to go in. After a while though, the loud voices of both leaders could be heard. She found her feet moving in the cabin's direction immediately.
"I have been ordered not to let anybody in, Sky Princess." Indra said sternly.
"You have been asked not to let any of your people in, Indra. You don't have orders to stop me." Clarke stated.
Indra miraculously produced a small smile on her face and let the Sky leader pass.
As soon as Clarke turned the doorknob and entered the little cabin, she could easily read the atmosphere of the room as hostile. The Ice Queen and Lexa were facing each other. The Ice Queen had her back on Clarke but Clarke could see the other leader. Lexa's normally impassive face was filled with rage. Her jaws were tightly clenched together and her eyes were on fire. Clarke noticed Lexa's hand releasing the tight grip of her sword's hilt as she welcomed her with the same words she had used before the war, which were a message Clarke easily interpreted. The Commander was surprised as well as angry at her presence. Clarke, on the other hand, thanked God for her timely arrival. She had connected the dots and knew why the Commander had such a strong hold on the hilt of the sword moments before Clarke had made her presence known.
Clarke opened her mouth to say something but the Ice Queen beat her.
"You are Clarke of the Sky people? The one who brought the Mountain down?" The Ice Queen asked, walking towards Clarke.
"Yes." Clarke stiffened, hearing about how the woman recognized her.
"You are a legend among our people but now that I see you I see that you are no warrior." The Queen accused after looking at her up and down.
"No but she is learning fast. And it does not change the fact that she is the one who brought down the Mountain." Lexa intervened, in a slightly threatening voice.
"And who is teaching her?"
"That's not of your concern, Avina. Now is there anything else you wished to say?"
"Clarke, I would like to know more about your people. Maybe we can mutually benefit by knowing each other better." Avina said, ignoring the Commander.
"You are most welcome Avina, once you sort out your disputes with the Commander. After all, in the past I made the alliance with her and now the peace treaty with her."
Avina clenched her jaws as she said, "Very well, Sky heda."
"I will see what I can do about your demand, Avina. A feast has been put up in the honor of the Ice nation's Queen. We should not keep our people waiting." Lexa said dismissively.
For the Ice nation's leader not for you was easily implied by the Commander.
Avina watched in complete surprise at how quickly the Commander had regained her composure. She just nodded at the Commander and left the cabin.
"What are you doing here, Clarke?" Lexa asked angrily.
"I thought I explained to you the usage of the word 'thank you'." Clarke said, moving closer to the disturbed Commander.
"I didn't ask for your help."
"But that doesn't mean you didn't need it." Clarke retorted.
"We should go to the feast or we will be missed." Lexa said, changing the topic.
Clarke nodded and started to move towards the door.
"Clarke, wait. About what you said to Avina. You are in no way bound to me. If you can benefit from Avina than by all means."
"I know, Commander. But who do you think will benefit me more; the Commander of 12 clans or the Commander of only 1 clan?" Lexa smiled a little in response and both of them made their way to the feast.
It wasn't as grand as the celebration Clarke had attended some weeks back at the grounder camp but it was good food nevertheless. While eating, Lexa observed the Ice Queen trying to converse with Clarke. She knew the reason all too well; Avina had finally found a potential ally who could help bring down Lexa. Truth be told, Lexa was capable enough to defend herself from any kind of attack but she wasn't sure she would be able to defend herself against the blonde if she decided to turn against her. But, she also knew that Clarke despised battles let alone wars so she knew that she would never side up with Avina. This brought a little content to her heart but watching Costia's killer alive and well, dinning with her was too much for Lexa. However, she did not want to give the Ice Queen the satisfaction of being able to affect her and kept sitting at her table with clenched fists.
Finally, the feast was over and Avina got ready to leave. Normally, Lexa would offer another leader to rest at her camp if night had descended on them but she obviously did no such thing for Avina. She remained stoic throughout the evening.
"Commander, we might have our differences but I would be obliged if you consider my request." Avina said, making her way to Lexa after finally accepting her defeat at provoking the Commander.
"Avina, I rule with my head and not my heart. I will talk to the Desert clan about your request but I will not force them to obey me."
"Didn't you say that you rule with your head?"
"And my head says it is not a something that needs to be necessarily obeyed." Lexa said sharply.
Avina reluctantly bowed and saying, "heda" rode off in the dark.
"I should leave too." Clarke said, emerging from behind her.
Lexa nodded and said, " As should I."
"I would advise you against it, heda. The Sky people's camp and our camp is downhill and it poured a little today which turned the ground slippery and chances are that it will rain later tonight as well so it will be very difficult to ride on horseback tonight." Indra spoke in Trigedasleng.
Clarke, who hadn't understood a word Indra had spoken, had mounted on her horse and was ready to ride. She frowned when she didn't see Lexa imitate her actions.
"Now what's the problem?" Clarke asked annoyed.
Lexa explained the situation to Clarke who reluctantly got off her horse.
"Heda, I am afraid that you and Sky Princess will have to share the same tent. The construction is still ongoing and we have hardly any tent suitable for Commanders." Indra spoke, this time in English.
Indra had asked Lexa but she remained silent, waiting for Clarke to answer. Clarke, seeing no other option, agreed.
Indra led them to a tent that was much larger than the tent Clarke had hidden in. The interior only had a wooden table, of the size of an office table, and a wooden chair. It had a basin of water placed on it. Two cots were placed parallel to each other with quite some distance between them. Indra asked if the Commander needed something else but Lexa declined and allowed Indra to retire for the night.
She turned around from Indra and found the blond-haired woman sitting cross-legged on a cot, having taken her jacked and boots off. Lexa knew she wanted to talk about today,the stupid tendency of Sky people to discuss each and every thing, she thought disapprovingly. Lexa ignored her presence as she got ready to sleep.
Clarke, on the other hand, watched her as she took off her cloak, her armour and then finally all her weapons. Clarke had never seen Lexa without her weapons on her; even during physical combat with her, Lexa always had her daggers on. Clarke couldn't help but note how young, vulnerable and less intimidating the Commander looked without all her accessories. She looked like a young girl and not like a young Commander.
Lexa kept on ignoring Clarke and made her way to her cot after blowing out all the candles.
"How are you?" Clarke asked in a voice full of concern as she finally broke the silence battle, accepting her defeat.
"I didn't go to a battle, Clarke. I am fine. You should sleep now."
"Why do you do that?" Clarke asked in a voice barely audible to Lexa.
"Do what?" Lexa asked.
"Push people away? Don't let anyone help you? Suffer alone?" Clarke asked with a desperation in her voice that surprised her.
Lexa remained silent for so long that Clarke thought she had fallen asleep.
"You know the answer Clarke. Because that's what you have been doing since Mount Weather." Lexa spoke just when Clarke had lost hope she would.
"I do it because no one would understand." Clarke said in a small voice. Clarke saw the whites of Lexa's eyes move up and down as she nodded.
"But, why do you push me away? When you know I understand?" Clarke asked, half resting on her elbow now and turning towards the other cot.
"You are asking a lot of questions today, Clarke of the Sky people. " Lexa said in a tired voice.
"But that is not the answer to my question."
"Tell me Clarke, why won't you let me in your mind? Let me help you? You also know I am the only one who would understand you."
"How can I? You betrayed me."
Lexa flinched at the answer but, keeping her voice steady, replied, "Then it is safe to say that we both have our reasons, Clarke."
Neither of them spoke a word and they only heard the drip drop of water falling on the ground. It had started raining.
"Clarke, what exactly do you blame me for?" Lexa spoke up again.
"Honestly, I don't blame you for anything now. I understand you. You always have to put your people first. I just...it was hard not to hate myself after all that I've done and I needed someone to share the blame, you were the easiest target. But you have shown me the other way now; of being happy when my people are happy. Living for them. Thank you."
"It's the least I could do." Lexa responded.
"Shoot!" Clarke exclaimed jumping off her bed and quickly lightning up the candle nearest to her.
Lexa raised her eyebrows questioningly.
"I forgot to inform camp Jaha that I have to stay here for the night." Clarke said, taking out the radio from her jacket's pocket.
"Clarke here. Raven?" Clarke spoke in the radio but got no response back. She tried again.
"Bel, you there?" Still no response. She tried once again before giving up.
"It must be because of the rain. The signals are being distorted." Clarke mumbled as she put the radio back in her pocket and blew off the candle.
Lexa simply nodded.
"Hey listen, if you want to talk to me about today, you can." Clarke offered gently after a while.
"Why would I want to talk to you about today?" Lexa asked rather sharply.
"Maybe because you let Costia's killer walk away unharmed when every fiber of your body wanted to rip her head off her body." Clarke tried to provoke her so she would speak her mind.
"Do not assume to know my mind, Clarke. This discussion is over."
"Good night, Clarke of the Sky people."
"Good night, frustrating Commander."
The last thing Clarke heard before she finally gave in to sleep was Lexa's light chuckle. It was a very soothing sound was her last thought.
Clarke woke up in the middle of the night, as usual, but not because of a nightmare but rather because of nature's call. Nice change, Clarke groaned as she got off the bed and, rubbing her eyes, went outside to answer nature's call.
She returned, yawning, and was about to collapse back onto her cot when her eyes fell on one beside her. It was empty. Frowning, she moved towards the makeshift bed. Maybe the Commander fell off the cot? Even the thought of the Lexa falling from anywhere was funny. But obviously, that was not the case. And so Clarke made her way out of the tent in search of the Commander.
She was nowhere in sight so she moved her legs forward. The whole area was quiet, even the animals were sleeping. She had almost roamed the whole area but still hadn't found the Commander. Just when she was about to abandon the search, she heard someone panting heavily and the noises of someone chopping of wood accompanied it. Wait What? Were the workers still working?
Clarke slowly moved forward and the sight that greeted her nearly took her breath away. Lexa had a sword in her hand and was repeatedly attacking a large tree trunk. She had beads of sweat running down her forehead and her shirt was wet from perspiration due to which it was clinging to her body, giving Clarke an idea of the well-toned muscles underneath it. The moon was shining on Lexa's face and reflecting off Lexa's sword. She looked like an angry yet beautiful goddess. She looked terrifying and endearing at the same time.
Clarke couldn't help but let a small smile appear on her face watching the sight. However, as soon as Clarke observed the Commander's face with a little more attention, the smile immediately wiped itself off her face. Beads of sweat were not the only cause for the moisture on the Lexa's face. Those emerald coloured eyes had a transparent film over them, which would occasionally dissolve and form a line traveling down from her eyes, reaching her jaws and continue the journey farther down. The Commander was crying.
Clarke finally understood the matter; Lexa was trying to exhaust herself. She was trying to distract herself. She was running away from her mind. Clarke knew that well, as she had done it herself when she left Camp Jaha. She would swim for hours, jog around, draw and literally do each and every little thing she knew till her mind would decide to give up and shut up. However, Clarke also knew this was not a permanent solution. The Commander was just torturing herself and it pained Clarke to see this strong woman break down in the dark. Taking long strides, she made her way to Lexa. Lexa didn't turn, meaning she hadn't sensed another's presence; something that proved to Clarke that her mind was elsewhere.
"Commander, stop!" Clarke shouted.
But Lexa didn't. She didn't even seem to hear her.
Clarke knew she had to be careful because of the sword being swung right and left. As soon as the sword hit the wood and Lexa was about to pull it out, Clarke pounced on her, turning her around and slamming her against the tree adjacent to the one she was hitting.
Lexa struggled against Clarke but as Clarke had anticipated this, she was ready. She had tied both her arms on the trunk by her own and had pressed her thighs tightly against Lexa's, disabling her from using her legs too. Clarke finally looked into Lexa's eyes and found them to be wild and unrecognizing. There was a storm in them.
"Shhh, Commander. Calm down, it's Clarke."
Lexa did calm a bit after hearing her voice but her eyes still remained unfocused and faraway.
"Commander, please." Clarke pleaded pressing, her body a bit more into the other girl's to gain her attention.
"Lexa, don't do this to yourself. Please, Lexa." The Commander's name from Clarke's mouth seemed to have done the trick. Clarke felt Lexa take a sharp breath in and the cloudiness of her eyes dissolved, bringing out the clear green ones.
"Clarke?" Lexa questioned in a broken voice.
Clarke instinctively wrapped her arms around Lexa's neck placing her head on her shoulder.
"Lexa, I am here. I am here." Clarke murmured as Lexa slowly slipped down the trunk and landed on the ground.
Clarke kept hugging her awkwardly as Lexa folded her legs around herself. Finally Lexa started speaking incoherently, "Clar…Clarke...she was...she...was in so m...much pain. She...thought ...I would save her. I ...could have...if I...if I tried. She..."
"No, Lexa. You did the right thing. You saved so many lives, Lexa. Besides, you would have never been able to save her. They would've killed her as well as you." Clarke reasoned, now sitting beside her.
"She was killed because of me! If I had not loved her, if I had..."
"It is not your fault, Lexa. It is not. It is only the Ice nation's."
"Clarke, I left her murderer alive. I wanted to kill her. I wanted to torture her just like she had tortured Costia. I wanted her to beg for her life and then kill her. "
"I know it is hard, Lexa. I know. But remember all the lives at stake. All those people who look up to you, who love you. Your people, Lexa. "
"I have so many people yet I am so alone. I miss Costia, Clarke. I miss her." Lexa confessed. It seemed that Lexa was not only failing, but not even trying to put her mask up.
"Costia would want you to forgive yourself, she would want you to be happy."
Lexa stared at Clarke for what seemed like an eternity before finally nodding.
"And Lexa, you are not alone. You have me."
"You hate me, Clarke." Lexa said in a matter-of-fact voice.
"I do not, Lexa. I cannot." Clarke whispered the last part.
"Because I know you. I know what you did was not what you wanted to do. I forgive you, Lexa."
Lexa's eyes widened in disbelief before a small smile appeared on her face.
"I think we should go to bed now, Commander."
Lexa nodded and followed Clarke towards the tent they shared.
Clarke watched Lexa until she finally fell asleep. Only then the blonde was able to close her eyes.