It's been a while, but here they are in Arkadia, in Clarke's room, separated by only a thin layer of blanket. Niylah is lying behind her on the side, propped up by one elbow, still trying to catch her breath. Even with her back to the woman and her eyes fluttered shut, Clarke feels as she watches her in awe and calming desire. But now she feels quite uncomfortable; the waves of Niylah's warm breath on her bare neck doesn't even send shivers down her spine, nor the past minutes. The worst is that the woman's free fingers are tracing lines along her exposed upper arm and thus this situation seems even more familiar to Clarke... awfully familiar. Eventually, knowing Niylah can't see it, Clarke lets her face disfigure with sorrow and shame.
She keeps running on a circle which always leads her back... to Lexa.
She can't help the heavy sigh that escapes her lungs; she hopes Niylah wouldn't notice it. But of course, she does... how couldn't she?
"What's the matter, darling?" She asks and the motions of her fingers stop, giving Clarke a hint of relief yet generating a new lump of nerve in her throat.
"N-Nothing... I just let out a breath I was holding when you caressed me." She lies perfectly and turns her head to Niylah to give her a fake grin in addittion. The woman's worried frown eases and with that she leans in to give Clarke a peck on the lips and then the forehead, murmuring something incoherent against it.
Clarke shudders but only because of her guilt.
"You should sleep. I really wore you out." Nyilah smirks when she pulls away to look into her eyes. Clarke has a hard time to keep her sea-blue irises hidden from emotions, and the only way she can avoid the truth is moving her head into the crook of the woman's neck and closing the mirror of her soul.
"You're right." She mumbles and when she hears Nyilah's laughter, she'd rather bury herself into the ground. She hears a blow and opens an eye for a moment to see everything darken. Then she feels Niylah's arms sliding around her hips and pulling her against her chest slowly; Clarke's body almost twitches, but manages to not react eventually. At last, the smell of blown candles fills the room for a few minutes, making her fall asleep with the memory of Lexa... again.
She keeps running on that circle.
Every time when she feels the warmth of Niylah's hand on her skin, she sees Lexa's face, looking at her fascianted, love written all over her. Every time when she gets up at the morning, she shares a longing, subconscious glance with that drawing on the wall she'd made the day when she'd lost everything. Every time when her fingers run along Niylah's back, she imagines Lexa's tattoo instead of hers. In fact, everything reminds Clarke of the Commander, every breath is about her and nobody else.
And here she is months after that day, and she still keeps running on that circle.
Love is not a weakness, but mourn is; you can't move forward without letting the past go. Clarke doesn't want to seem weak by the mourn, that's why she tries to get over Lexa. However, she just can't. Whether she calls Niylah 'my love', kisses her, sleeps beneath her arms or touches her, it doesn't feel natural. And the more she wants it to, the more she doesn't feel right with this woman. By the time, she gets increasingly sure about the painful fact that Niylah is just being a distraction. A tool she can use whenever she needs something, whether she needs physical attention or just a talk. Niylah became rather a friend if not less, but definitely not more and Clarke slowly comes to realize she knew this. However, there's a big difference between just being aware of a fact, and actually dealing with it.
Clarke had chose the case which seemed easier at the time, but now it's obviously the harder one to handle.
Niylah is a kind woman, there's no doubt about it. She cares about Clarke and so does she. The only difference between them is that Clarke is just attempting to care about Niylah the way she does. And that's not good. That's not good at all because it makes Clarke guilty, no matter how hard she tried to hide it from herself. No matter how many times she told herself the opposite of her true feelings.
Now, the time has come. The peak of Clarke's confusion is right here, meaning that the fog around her mind has vanished. She can't fool herself anymore, even Niylah. So that when she gets up at the following morning and looks at the drawing instinctively, she understands everything.
I'm sorry, Lexa. Floating on the sky as a star and seeing me with Niylah must've hurt you. -she wonders and glances to the side to see the woman missing. She didn't even notice it; actually she never does until the long glance with the drawing of Lexa ends.
She sighs and not bothering with might getting caught anymore, she lets out her voice.
"I miss you. I miss everything about you and now I understand why I can't move forward. I always seek you in Niylah and that's not right because she doesn't even know how much I hurt her all the time." Clarke looks back at the drawing and she wishes Lexa could open her eyes or say something. However, the beautiful frame of hers is just lying on the paper, sleeping... dead. So Clarke closes her eyes and imagines Lexa instead of searching for green irises on the paper.
"I didn't want to hurt you by forcing you to bear the thought that I was with Niylah. And I didn't want to hurt Niylah either, by secretly dealing with you instead of her... B-But... But I managed to do it anyways. I always do." She whispered, bent her head down to mentally avoid Lexa's gaze, and she just stayed there silently for long minutes.
Clarke doesn't want to act like she isn't running on that circle. She doesn't want to lie to Niylah any longer, nor to herself.
"I am still in love with you." She breathes out deliriously, almost feeling her lover's hand ghosting on her cheekbone as if she tried to sooth her. She leans into the vision of Lexa's hand and finally opens her eyes to return to reality...
Which is always the worst.
Suddenly she hears a heavy, erratic sigh behind her and she freezes. When she hears the footsteps continuing their way towards her, Clarke squeezes her eyes shut; she's not able to look into Niylah's eyes. Then she feels the mattress sinking as the woman sits beside her.
"I've been standing here long enough to feel the need of asking you if you wanted to tell me something." Niylah states in a surpsrisingly calm tone, reading Clarke's mind. All Clarke manages to respond is a small nod. Yet, she needs some more silence to finally start.
"First I have to tell you I didn't want this to happen like... this." She swallowes hardly, still not finding enough courage to open her sea-blue eyes. She interwines her own fingers and crushes them in unease. A warm palm drops on them to cover it and she winces.
"I know. You don't have to feel nervous."
Oh please, don't speak! Your broken voice makes this so much harder... even your touch.
"I like you, Niylah. I truly do. But I... I just don't feel the things I'm supposed to feel. You understand that?" Clarke explains, finally forcing her gaze to meet hers. Niylah quietly nods and starts to stand up, but before her hands could leave Clarke's, Clarke grabs them and looks up at the half-standing woman. "I don't want to end us in this way. Let me explain, it's not that easy as you think it is."
Niylah lets out another painful sigh and sits back, but her hands now leave Clarke's and withdraw into her lap. She doesn't say anything just stays quiet, waiting for Clarke to speak.
"I... I wanted us to work, I believed it works, but..."
"There was Lexa." The woman says, her voice raspy from the lack of speaking. "Clarke, I get it, there's nothing to apologyze."
"Yes there is." She shakes her head and continues before Niylah can protest "As I said, I wanted this... I think. As the time was passing, however, my previous feelings just didn't fade, and you couldn't replace the hole they had left when she died... I know this is so damn rude and selfish and unfair, a-and vicious. I never meant to hurt you. I didn't want anything more than fighting them. And... And the reason I've been waiting so long is that I thought they will just go away..."
"But they didn't, did they?"
Clarke hesitates before nodding; there would have been no use lying.
"I know you're sorry." Niylah states softly before Clarke can open her mouth to say the same thing. Silence follows, chilling and awkward. Clarke looks away guiltily.
"So, this is the end?" Niylah lets out a strange snort and Clarke glances back at the woman to see her smiling bitterly.
"I am so sorry." She manages to whisper instead of the direct answer and she feels Niylah's hand stroking her arm before she stands up again and says
"I hope you will get rid of haunting one day... And just so you know... I'll be here."
And with that, she silently takes a round in the room and gathers her stuff.
"Leida, Clarke kom Skaikru." Are her last words before she finally leaves.
Clarke doesn't cry, doesn't feel sorrowful. She's just relieved by finally not having to act. Though, she really feels sorry for Niylah. The way she reacted was showing exactly that she understood her and respected her feelings. She lets out a half-laugh half-groan and falls on the bed with her back. Tears begin to threaten her from the back of her eyes and she allows them to set themselves free. She doesn't really know the reason of her crying but she doesn't care either; Clarke just lets out her restrained feelings, including confusion, grief, bliss, guilt, remaining love. She still loves Lexa and Niylah could never replace her. At this point, Clarke feels a little crazy, but she doesn't care; she had went totally insane the day her feet had touched the ground. Everyone did.
And she's okay with that, she doesn't have much of a choice. Someday the pain will fade and she'll have nothing to owe her people. And someday, she will have peace.