The tentative truce has settled again around you, the snowfall bringing with it a quiet and calm between the two factions.
Something that lived in your dreams and fantasies until early one morning a few weeks ago.
The first few flurries that fell from the sky looked like tiny pieces of clouds floating to earth. Soft and wet they landed on your cheeks and hands, melting away after only seconds. Tangible and yet not. There and then gone.
It was everything you imagined it to be.
And it hasn't gotten old yet, even though it never manages to actually stick around.
The grounders shrugged it off, grumbling about the snow, not ready to face the long winter ahead.
But, every time you see the snow begin to fall, you can't help but feel like a kid again. A complete and utter sense of wonder overcomes you… the world feels magical and big in a way you're not sure you'll ever comprehend.
It's so different from the books and movies.
So much better.
You make the short walk to the Commander's tent with a smile on your face and your hand stretched out in front of you every step of the way. You tilt your head up every so often, feeling the soft cold caress of the flakes as they land against your skin. Indra scoffs at you as she pulls the tent flap aside.
She still doesn't trust you.
She probably never will.
You hear that familiar voice before you see her. Trigedaslang, harsh and forceful. Three men are gathered around the table hunched over a map and grimacing. Her back is to you and you take a second to study her. Strong posture, straight back, the long hair adorned with braids, her hand clenching around the sword at her side even without her usual armor.
A mumbled gruff Skaikru breaks you from your thoughts and you step forward towards the table, nodding a silent hello to the men staring you down.
She doesn't stop talking, but she continues on in English. Evidence that she's aware of your presence.
It's a new habit of hers, a courtesy, switching to English when you're around. An acknowledgement of the truce and an effort to be more forthcoming.
It makes you blush.
They're discussing the move to Polis, the logistics, how everything will change if you and your people decide to join them for the winter. It's why you're here now, to go over more details and to ask the questions that your mother and Kane have raised.
The men around her continue to speak in Trigedaslang, but she answers in English with some bite in her voice, a hint of warning, before dismissing them. They blunder by Clarke, muttering until they leave the tent.
She takes a deep breath. Your insides squirm.
The feeling of betrayal she left behind in your stomach is almost gone. Gone with the way she looks at you. With the way her lips moved around her apology.
With the way her eyes looked just as broken as yours when you crossed paths again.
"Clarke." She turns and levels her gaze on you. Searching and warm at the same time, and entirely too familiar.
"Commander." You haven't called her by name yet, trying to ease into the peace between you again, find your footing.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?"
You clear your throat, "I was actually just coming by to see if you had figured out the travel back to Polis… I appear to have stumbled into a disagreement."
She moves towards her chair but doesn't sit, "No disagreement. We are packing up and leaving in two days, there is room enough for you and your people to accompany us."
"Where will we stay?"
"We have open lodging enough for those that wish to travel. You do not want to be living under the sky during the winter, Clarke."
You scoff, "It doesn't seem so bad."
"It is not yet winter."
"Yeah, but the snow is already here and we are managing just fine."
She looks down with a smirk on her face and her eyes light. "I do not question you about space or the stars do I?"
You blush, "No."
"Trust me, Clarke."
You can't help but roll your eyes, biting back the scathing retort begging to roll off the tip of your tongue.
She moves next to you, brushing her hand lightly over your wrist. So lightly you wonder if it even happened. But she's still in your space, "Come to Polis, Clarke." It's a whisper, but you feel it more than hear it.
You nod, not trusting your voice will work.
And even though you're trying to keep your space, trying to get to know her again, to let everything that happened stay in the past, you know it's a lost cause.
Her lips are right there… so close.
You lean your head forward as she sucks in a gasp.
You want to close the distance, brush your lips against hers again. Feel that heady rush that only she has been able to bring you.
But you don't.
You step away and clear your throat again. "I'll... uh, I'll talk to my mother and Kane and we'll take a vote."
She watches silently as you take another step back, "I'll join you."
The cold air that hits your face when you leave the tent does nothing to cool the storm raging inside. You take a deep breath and count to five before you head back to the Ark.
Breathing has not come easily since the sky people have wandered back into your life.
With every breath you feel her.
And the way her eyes looked when you left The Mountain.
And how your heart ached.
The time hasn't been long enough to heal anything, to fix the cracks in your resolve. The cracks that started that first day she blazed into your tent, fire and intensity and so unapologetically her.
Octavia comes to deliver the news that most of the sky people will be making the journey to Polis.
You wish it had been her.
Because even though your heart aches when you see her, reopening the old wounds, the old hurt, it aches even more when you don't.
It beguiles you.
She beguiles you.
She's coming to Polis. She's coming to see your city, to see the life you lead there, to see your people happy and unburdened with all this war.
It's what you've wanted for so long.
Everything about her is what you've wanted for so long, even without realizing it..
You send a messenger ahead to alert the elders to make preparations for the extra people who will be joining you. Some have offered to open up their homes to the Skaikru, to help them adapt and settle into winter on the ground.
The others can stay in the extra housing used for visitors and clans who travel to the city.
You will open your home up to Clarke.
Somewhere along the way you became aware of her presence, of her every move.
She's there her in your bones.
It scares you.
She flits around the camp but you two don't speak again. It's different now, since the Mountain. Being near each other, trusting each other, didn't come naturally but you were willing to throw caution to the wind when it came to her.
You could read that same brazen motive in her eyes.
Now, now you must relearn each other, build back what was broken.
Make it stronger.
It was a gift, this truce.
A gift that she came swooping back into your life again.
She stands with you as your address both of your peoples about the journey. Octavia passed along the information from your tent to her, but she herself aided in the preparations. The horses and wagons are all set to go and the Skaikru are looking at you, tired and cold.
They have no idea what awaits.
She is given her own mount and swings up atop the horse with Lincoln's assistance, gifting him a warm smile of thanks.
And something inside of you shifts.
A spark of life, jealousy.
She rides towards the front with your guard, but never close to you.
Everything about her hesitant. So unlike the girl who barged through all of your walls.
You do not regret your actions at the Mountain, saving your people.
Your people are your life.
The quiet conversation she carries with Octavia, Lincoln, even Indra floats around you. Her voice settles in your chest and hums, pulsing through your blood.
You wish the Mountain had not come with so high a price.
The company arrives in Polis on the evening of the second day of travel, tired and hungry. There's a crowd gathered to welcome you home, people cheering and bowing at your return. Shouts of Heda surrounding you.
Pride surges through you.
This, this is your life. This, this is who you are.
They will get to see this, understand this.
She will get to see this.
You dismount in the square and nod to the elders and leaders assembled there waiting for you before you address the weary Skaikru.
She doesn't take her eyes off of you the whole time. They rest heavily on you. Burning.
You step down and move towards her as the elders begin directing people towards their new winter lodgings. She glances away and attempts to follow her mother before you call out her name. "Clarke."
She clears her throat and turns, "Commander."
"It is customary for me to open my home to the leaders of other clans while they stay in Polis. You are no different, my home is your home."
You watch as her eyes brighten, just ever so slightly. She opens her mouth once, twice, before she speaks, "I'm not the leader of the sky people… I share that duty with my mother, with Kane."
"That is untrue, Clarke. Heda kom Skaikru."
She blushes. Her mother tugs on her arm, quietly speaking in her ear, "Clarke, this is their custom. This is what we're all working towards now and as strange as it is, you are our leader here."
Clarke blushes again and tries to hide the way her face changes as she turns to you. "Lead the way, Commander."
Upon arrival you like for the elders to follow you home and report about what has happened of importance in Polis since you've left, but tonight you wave them off. You walk silently with Clarke, her steps next to you reassuring in a way you have not felt in a long time. The evening begins to settle around you and you hear Clarke gasp as you turn the corner to your home.
It's large and ornate, even in the wilderness that is your land.
Though the lodging in Polis is all large and well kept, warm and comforting, your home is the largest. She will see everything tomorrow, you will give her a proper tour and formally introduce her to the elders.
Clarke follows as you enter the house, your home, wide eyed and awestruck, but clearly trying to hide it. Her face remains stoic, but she does not realize how her eyes speak volumes. You lead her upstairs through a long hallway and open the large door at the end, stepping aside for her to enter.
She stays rooted to the spot.
"Clarke," you nod your head towards the open room.
Her name seems to break the spell and she steps forward into the center of the room, her eyes examining everything around them.
"This is the guest quarters. You will find everything you need here." You nod again, towards the fire dancing in the fireplace, the furs covering the bed. "Fast is broken by all in the house in the early morning. Someone will come and collect you when it is time."
She opens her mouth as if to ask a question, but she stops.
"Goodnight, Clarke." You turn to exit, your own familiar bed and a warm fire calling to you.
Except her voice calls louder, even in a hushed whisper, "Wait."
Lexa turns again and raises one eyebrow in response, so economical in words, responses.
"This is, this is too much."
"Too much?" The questions dance around her eyes. It's a look you've grown accustomed to. You're beginning to feel like an endless question to her.
You think you like it.
"I don't deserve this. I should be with the rest of my people." Even as you say it, you know your argument is weak, almost invalid.
You cut her off, embarrassed. Not needing to be told again how you lead your people. You know that already, deep down. You've fought to make sure everyone knows that.
"Will you come and get me?" She levels you with that look again, the slightly raised eyebrow, the studying gaze with a hint of amusement. "In the morning, will you be the one who gets me?"
She nods, a slight smile plays at her lips. "If you would like that."
"Very well. Sleep well, Clarke."
You let her name roll off your lips again, feeling a storm inside of you settle at the sound, at the easy way it leaves your mouth. She pauses at the door but doesn't turn again to look at you, instead quietly shutting the large door behind her.
A deep breath doesn't even begin to calm you.
Something warm burrows in your belly as you absorb your new surroundings. Everything is fancy and warm, the wood, the bed, the furs. Even for guest quarters it looks lived in, inviting. You wonder how the others managed, if their lodgings can even compare to this.
And yet, anything here will be different from what you've known. So much the opposite from the sterile environment you grew up in, from the hostile, hard ground you landed on.
This, Lexa's, feels like something new entirely.
You can't help but jump on the bed, landing in a pile of soft furs and blankets, down.
It's the kind of luxury you could only ever dream of before. Something that seemed out of reach up in the sky. A small giggle escapes your lips and you don't attempt to fight it, instead letting the new feelings, the giddiness, flood through you.
There's a soft knock at the door that jolts you awake and you sit straight up, heart pounding and unaware of your surroundings.
It takes a moment for your eyes, your brain, to focus.
The door opens slowly as Lexa enters, stiff and proper, almost looking unsure of herself. Something she never appears to be.
"Did I wake you?" She finds you still sitting in bed rubbing the sleep from your eyes, wearing the same clothes you had on when she saw you last. Her voice soft, gentle.
"You need rest, I will have something brought up for you later." She turns to walk away but you stop her.
"No, I'm awake, I'm ok," you yawn, "Just… give me a minute."
She pauses in her movements and stands like a statue just inside the doorway. Even her pause seems hesitant. And it's new and refreshing to see this shade of the Commander.
You let your eyes study her. No armor, no sword, not even a visible dagger. Her hair is still braided but it's simpler, clean. She looks completely relaxed in her attire, at home. You smirk, because she is home. This is her home.
When you meet her gaze you find her watching you, a knowing smile on her lips and that ever present question and amusement in her eyes.
You can't help but smile, your defenses completely wiped out. Swinging your legs over the bed you try to regain your composure "I just need a minute, I want to wash my face." You look down at the dirty clothes you traveled in still covering your body, "Change…"
There's a wash basin and jug of water in the small adjacent washroom that you noticed the night before and clean clothes laid out on the bed, but you fell asleep before you could wash up. She nods her assent and moves further inside the room, sitting in the chair in the corner.
Lexa waits patiently and still while you get ready.
She smiles when you run your hands through your bedhead, trying to calm the nest of blonde waves.
"Would you like some braids, Clarke?"
"I thought braids were only for warriors?"
"You do yourself a dishonor with those words. You are a true warrior."
A blush creeps around your neck, up to your cheeks. Instead of commenting you change the subject. "I'm famished. I thought you said something about food?"
She stands, straight and true. "This way," before disappearing out the door.
In the daylight you get a better look at the house. The deep, dark wood, the tapestries and paintings, the small touches of outside that have made their way into the decorative nature. Candles everywhere.
It's more than you expected.
Realer. And somehow, even more down to earth.
As large and fancy as it appears, it is still homey.
The silly assumption you had that the grounders lived outside in tents all year weighs on your shoulders. Lexa's added gaze feels heavy as you walk beside her. She leads you into a dining area with a large fireplace, a gorgeous chandelier filled with candles, and a huge wooden table.
It takes your breath away.
There is already food spread out and Lexa encourages you to sit. You've never seen so much food at one time before, not prepared and ready to eat.
A gluttonous rush ignites in your bones. You grab a plate full of food, surprised by the variety and offerings, the colors and smells blending together and making your mouth water.
"Is there always this much?" you can't help but blurt out.
"No, It is customary to offer our visitors a grand meal after travel."
She eyes you, not yet taking a bite of her own food, but watching you take in the delicacies before you.
"Is something displeasing to you?"
You clear your throat, "No, this all smells wonderful. It's overwhelming. We never had anything like this on the Ark. We never ate like this."
She looks at you with such clarity in her eyes that it makes you stutter and drop her gaze. You still don't talk much about your life before.
You stop talking and dig in, both of you eating in silence for a few moments.
"It's so much more than what I expected. Different. Better."
"Most things usually are." Her quiet acceptance of your statement, her wisdom, settles in your stomach around the food.
"Was it like this for you? When you saw our drop ship?"
She meets your gaze with that same clarity again, but this time you hold it. Curious. Always wanting to know her thoughts. "You and your people fell from the sky. I didn't know what to expect, let alone what I would encounter."
You think about her answer for a moment. How it would feel if the roles were reversed, "I guess that makes sense."
She sets her fork down, "My people are more than warriors, Clarke. We are more than bands of nomads who live in tents under the stars, always moving. Polis is different. The ground is so many things, there is much you have yet to see."
You can't help but bristle at her words even though she says them without a hint of malice or judgment. "I know that," you spit out, harsher than expected.
She doesn't flinch or waver. Instead she stands, finished with the food before her. "Come, Clarke. It's time for you to meet my people."
The cold air carries with it the scent of snow. The purple clouds on the horizon look heavy, just waiting for the perfect moment to unravel. It is good that you finished your journey back home yesterday. This snow will fall fast and free, finally sticking to the frozen earth underneath your boots.
Clarke steps outside beside you and blinks away the bright light. She looks at you with excitement in her eyes, standing next to you and waiting for your cue.
"Ready to see the city, Clarke?"
You lead Clarke down the familiar path through the city center, pointing out various buildings and explaining the history of the city as you know it. It used to be one of the most important cities before, and it remains full of infrastructure and detail not lost in the war.
She listens carefully and fully, her eyes absorbing everything around her. You see her eyes spin with questions, which she asks and your stomach flips every time she does.
This is what you imagined when you invited her here. Her questions, her acceptance, the knowledge that life on the ground is many things.
You show her the lodgings where most of the Skaikru are staying. The healer's house where her mother is welcome to learn and teach. The armory, where you introduce her and inquire about fitting her with armor in the coming weeks.
Walking with her through the city like this breathes new life into you. She watches the people react to your presence, the respect and love they show you. And you get to watch them extend that same respect to her, treat her like the leader that she is. The powerful warrior she has become.
It takes her by surprise the first time it happens, but throughout the day with you she begins wearing the label with an ease and confidence you never saw before.
Her eyes light up when you take her to the bazaar. She reaches out and gently touches everything the tents and shops have to offer. There is always so much color and life here, so many beautiful things for sale or barter.
She looks at you and smiles so bright.
It's the biggest smile she's shared with you.
Her hands itch around an opal necklace, flirt with a leather hide jacket, caress a pair of boots that look similar to yours.
One of your favorite vendors calls you over, handing you two steaming bowls of your favorite stew.
"I heard you were coming back to the city, Heda. I knew it wouldn't be long until you found your way down here and I prepared this just for you."
You nod and thank him, handing Clarke the other bowl. "This smells amazing." Her voice alive with a hint of something you cannot pin down.
"Lamb stew, Heda's favorite."
Clarke glances at you with a sly look in her eyes, like she's putting that tidbit of information somewhere deep inside.
"Mochof..." She leaves the end of the sentence open, wanting to address him by name. The Trigedasleng flowing easily off her tongue, your heart stuttering in your chest in that newly familiar way.
"Thank you, Heda kom Skaikru." He reaches out and shakes her free hand between both of his. Thanking her for more than the compliment. The shy blush you've seen so often today creeps back into her cheeks as you turn away, walking and eating silently.
Clarke enters all of the shops as exuberant as a child as she studies everything your city has to offer.
The happiness that radiates off of her is new and infectious.
She looks at you again in a new way, different than before, different since the Mountain.
Open and raw and radiant.
You can't help but smile as she grabs your elbow and pulls you into a familiar doorway towards the end of the street, your belly full and warm with more than just lamb stew.
"What is this place?"
"You'll see." She hasn't removed her hand yet, her warmth buzzing through you. "Hei?" you call out.
An old woman appears from the back of the shop and nods towards you before grabbing Clarke's free hand and guiding her to sit. She doesn't speak, but quickly sets to work parting and brushing Clarke's hair.
You have to bite back a laugh at Clarke's expression
Once she starts braiding, Clarke's shoulders relax. It only takes a few moments for a few neat braids to appear, calming Clarke's hair. When she's finished, she pats Clarke on the shoulders and hugs you tightly before disappearing into the back again.
"Mal is the oldest woman in the city. She's been braiding the hair of our warriors since before I was born. She hasn't spoken since she lost her son to The Mountain. I'm not sure I even remember her voice."
Clarke's face falls, that heavy weight she's been carrying on her shoulders settles again. "Oh..."
"It is a rite of passage for young warriors of the Trikru to come here and receive their braids after their first battle."
She nods, but doesn't speak. You step in front of her and wait for her to look at you. "Clarke."
She surprises you and grabs both of your hands, squeezing the tightly and letting you see the pain she's been hiding.
"Thank you, Lexa. Thank you for showing me the city, for allowing me to see this… to see these people."
"You are welcome, Clarke. Thank you for coming to Polis."
The bonfire is raging in the square when you lead Clarke back to the city center, it's heat and warmth apparent before you even get close. '
Her face is puzzled, "Lexa?"
"A feast and celebration tonight to welcome you and your people here."
She grabs your elbow and squeezes. More physical contact between you today than ever before.
The heat from the bonfire paling in comparison to the fire alight within you.
"Another one of your customs?" She doesn't hide the joking nature of her question, but you respond with a small nod.
"Customs are important, Clarke. It is how we honor the life around us."
"Always so serious, Lexa."
You smile this time, unwilling to throw away the ease with which the teasing comes from her, how happy and relaxed she looks.
How it's so different from the Clarke you've known.
She lets go of your arm and walks towards a group of her people standing in awe around the giant fire, including her mother and Raven.
You watch her go, watch her come to life and unburden herself of everything that has been weighing her down since the drop ship landed. You know firsthand that leadership is never easy, but Clarke has adjusted quicker than you ever would have given the same circumstances.
Her spirit was not gifted to her with ages of experience and wisdom, choosing her to lead.
Her life wasn't planned and plotted, prepared for.
She fell from the sky, surviving and fighting every day. Trying not to falter under her new role in this harsh world.
There are no speeches tonight, no formalities. Just food and music, wine and dancing. The sky people taking everything in around them, mixing in with your people, laughing.
You watch her.
Finding her always among the crowd.
Counting her smiles.
A tingling feeling at the back of your neck.
Twice you look up and lock eyes across the crowd. It drowns out everything around you, as if the rowdy crowd has fallen silent.
Her gaze sears into you.
The celebration lasts until the fire begins to die down. Slowly people peel off to bed, laughing and stumbling to their homes. Lincoln leads the Skaikru away down the path that will soon become familiar to them.
Indra's eyes wander behind you as you speak with her, darken. You know why. You felt here there before you even realized it.
A warmth, like the sun.
When Indra leaves you take a deep breath. Clarke steps towards you. "Customs can be fun."
You laugh, unable to hold back. She stumbles as you start back home. "You are drunk, Clarke."
"No. Maybe." She trips again and you reach out to grab her arm, pulling her up and then she's right there, so close to you.
Her eyes flit down and her breath hits your lips.
The air around charged.
You stand there staring at her face wanting to move forward and kiss her the way you did in your tent, but you can't.
Not yet, not like this.
Something flutters down and lands on your cheek. Snow.
Flurries begin falling slowly, and her eyes sparkle. "So beautiful," her voice is hushed in the night air. Her gaze still on your face.
She turns her head up to the sky and lets the flakes fall on her cheeks. It starts to fall steadier now, coating both of your shoulders in white. She begins to spin under the stars, laughing freely.
You let her dance and sway drunkenly in the snow, too enamored to pull her away.
Bright sunlight filters into the room, waking you from sleep. Your head feels fuzzy and heavy and you groan before pulling your blankets up over your head to block out the light. But the pounding in your ears, in your brain, won't stop.
You sit up and take in a deep breath.
So many firsts on the ground.
Last night is a blur, and you don't remember much after you started dancing. Swinging the blankets off your legs you notice yesterday's clothes. Another night without changing.
It's later than you woke yesterday and there is a tray of food and water waiting for you on the table by the door.
You don't know how you got back here last night, how you managed to make it into bed.
Something rattles in your brain when you think about it…. a hint of green.
You nibble at the food, not trusting the sour stomach you woke up with, and drink most of the jug of water left for you before curiosity gets the better of you. Your boots are neatly lined up next to the bed and there is a new, heavier coat hanging on the post. You pull both on and leave the room, the house seemingly empty.
The sun is bright when you step outside, and you gasp at the shock but also at the sparkling white blanket that now covers the ground. The air smells crisp and clean, and the sun shines magnificently back at you off the snow. Even in your tired and rundown state, you can't help but stare at it.
The snow not only stuck this time, but accumulated.
A flash from last night, spinning and dancing in the snow. Lexa.
Shrieks of delight and laughter echo around your ears breaking you from digging through your drunken haze and you follow the many footsteps in the snow. Moving along the path that has been brushed clean to the large group of children playing happily on the great lawn behind Lexa's house.
Upon closer inspection, you see some of your friends rolling around with them, laughing and throwing snow up into the air and at each other.
"Clarke! Finally!" Raven calls out to you, a wide smile on her face.
You step into the snow feeling the cushioning beneath your boots, how the cold surrounds you.
She tackles you as soon as you're close enough and laughs loud and free in your ear. It's the happiest you've seen her in a long time.
It's the happiest you've seen anyone since you landed on earth.
The grounder children show you how to roll the snow to make statues and sculptures, promising that it will be even better when there is more on the ground. Bellamy and Octavia take turns throwing snow at each other, shoving handfuls down the backs of shirts and running around. Everywhere you look another one of your people is smiling and giddy. Even your mother.
Your heart pangs for a moment, thoughts of your father running through your head. Wishing so hard, so fully, that he were here to witness it.
The snow has completely soaked through your clothes when you finally return to the warmth of Lexa's house.
The guest room is cold and dark when you enter, new fresh clothes waiting for you in the middle of the made bed. The cold starts to settle into your skin and you know you need to change, need to warm up, not wanting to get sick.
There's a soft knock at the door and you cross the cold floor to open it, the fire dwindling down in the fireplace. A small, soft, girl enters and looks at the fire and then back to you as if asking permission. You smile and nod and she adds another log and stokes it back to life, the wood popping brightly. She then moves towards the door in the corner and signals something to you behind it. Following, you find a claw foot tub and large bucket of water. The question plain on her face. You nod and smile again, "A bath would be great, thanks."
She smiles and exits quickly, and you begin stripping away the cold, wet clothes from your body throwing them close to the fire. The girl returns with a bucket of water and warm coals ,arranging them in the tub before leaving again. After a few trips, the tub is full and ready for you and you sink in moaning slightly at the warmth that cradles you. It takes a little while for the cold to leave your bones, and you stay in the bath entirely too long. Your fingers are pruny when you reach over and grab a large cloth to dry yourself with.
There is another fresh set of clothes laid out for you on the bed. You smile, not used to anything like this at all. The clothes are similar in style what you've had from your own small collection, and you can't help but wonder if whoever is laying them out was instructed to find them for that reason.
Your stomach grumbles and you decide to explore the house more, except when you open the door you practically run into her.
Lexa, standing the hallway looking shy and startled and altogether taken aback.
"Clarke!" The surprise apparent on her voice.
"Coming to fetch me again for something?" You haven't seen her all day, but you can't help but tease.
"Yes…" She takes a breath and gathers herself, you watch her back straighten again. "I've invited your people to join us for a meal. Everyone has arrived."
She nods and steps back, waiting for you to walk into the hall so she can escort you to the dining room. When you step closer to her, you can't help but notice her blush.
The Commander, caught standing outside of your door like she was trying to work up the courage to knock, looking every bit her young age.
It's impossibly cute.
And you can't help but soften your walls even further around her.
You both walk in silence towards the dining room until you remember what you wanted to ask, "Lexa, who's the girl who tends to me?"
"She doesn't know much English. And you frighten her."
"I frighten her?"
Lexa stops and looks at you, puzzled, "No. That's not the right word. She is in awe of you, Clarke."
She shakes her head at you with a small smile on her face, as if she can't believe you, "Because you fell from the sky."
You blush. "Oh. Right."
"She will do well by you, Clarke." Lexa starts walking again and you follow. "Perhaps you can help her with her English?"
"I don't know, I don't want to frighten her anymore than I already have."
Lexa merely blinks in your direction and turns the corner into the large dining room. Everyone is already standing around the table waiting to sit and there's a roaring fire and plenty of food already set. It's just as grand, if not more, than last night's meal.
Lexa sits at the head of the table and gestures towards the only open seat left, the seat at the opposite head of the table.
You walk past Octavia, Bellamy and Kane and stand at the opposite end, Your mother is standing in the seat next to you, Raven and Lincoln rounding out the group. Lexa raises her wine glass and lifts it into the air, much like she did the day Gustus betrayed her. They day Raven will never forget.
Raven. Here. In her home.
Raven, the most skeptical and vocal about the truce.
Here. Eating and drinking with you. With Lexa.
You don't know how, or why it came about. But you know Raven's story will be good when she tells it.
And you know that things are really changing now between everyone. Changing in a real way.
Changing for the better.
"Skairku, welcome to Polis. May you find life and happiness within our walls." She raises her glass higher, and you all toast before taking a sip and sitting down.
Dinner goes smoothly and you relish the opportunity to get to know the sky people better, to get to know her people better.
She's quieter than usual throughout dinner, but you notice her listening intently to the tales of everyone's first few days in Polis.
And every time she glances your way with a smile in her blue, blue, eyes, your stomach flips.
The talking and drinking lasts well after the meal is finished. Raven's yawns soon grow too large to ignore, and Lincoln offers to escort everyone home.
And after Clarke hugs everyone goodnight, you're left alone again.
The two of you.
She closes the distance, "Thank you for dinner, that was really nice."
"Can I walk you to bed tonight?"
Her question catches you off guard. Everything about Clarke catches you off guard. You still haven't calmed down since she opened her door to find you standing there earlier.
Clarke follows beside you, her presence always a comfort. You follow the familiar path upstairs and turn down the opposite hall to your living quarters.
You grab the handles of both double doors and swing them inward, ushering Clarke inside. She hesitates at the doorway, almost warring with herself about crossing this last threshold.
Stepping fully into your life, your world.
The room is softly lit from the fire in the fireplace and candles spread around the room. Her eyes take it all in, the rich, dark tapestries that hang on the walls. The various pieces of old armor that you've outgrown or have been ruined in furs, the maps, the knives.
"It's so much like your tent."
She spends more time looking at the few pieces of art, the paintings, the two small sculptures. She dusts her fingers along a marble horse whispering, "Beautiful", under her breath.
"Hmm?" Her attention broken and drawn back to you. Her gaze heavy.
"It was a gift," you signal to the statute, "All of the art pieces were gifts."
"From your people?"
"Yes. I don't like to accept them, but the artwork… the artwork requires so much time, so much skill, I cannot say no."
"Everything in here is wonderful." Her eyes grow wide as she looks behind you, "Is that a balcony?" her excitement palpable.
"It is." You smile back at her and hold her eyes for a moment. "Would you like to stand on the balcony?"
She rushes past you and opens the door stepping out into the cold air before you finish asking your question. You watch her take a deep breath and take in her surroundings before standing just inside the doors.
She hears your approach, "This view… I wish I could see it during the day,"
She tilts her head towards you.
Waits a beat. Hears the true meaning of your words.
"I know it's a silly thing to get excited over, a balcony. But, I always wondered what it would be like to stand on the edge and look out at the world until your eyes couldn't see anymore."
"It is not silly." You step out and stand next to her, the dry air waking your senses. Her hand reaches out and touches the snow settled on the railing, closing her fist around it. "Did you have fun in the snow today, Clarke?"
She looks at you then, full and blooming. "How did you know?"
"I have my ways."
"It was like how I imagined the clouds would be. White and fluffy and so perfect, but cold and fleeting. It's magical." Her voice is so quiet, barely there, like she's telling you a deep secret.
She glares at you and you can't help but smirk.
"Do you remember the first time you saw snow?"
"No. But I remember the first time the snow fell so hard and so fast that it almost destroyed the city. It was unforgiving and relentless for three days. When it was over, it stood taller than I do now."
Her eyes are big and unbelieving, "That doesn't seem possible."
"You've been on the ground for months now, Clarke. You have seen many impossible things. You are an impossible thing." You don't mean to say that last part, but it slips out. She steps closer to you yet.
"But it's so beautiful and soft."
"Everything beautiful has the power to destroy. Nothing is ever hard or soft, but both. Always."
"I don't want to talk about the Mountain again, Lexa." Her voice is heavy, quiet.
"You had too much wine with dinner, I did not mention the Mountain."
"I only had one glass, and yes... " she steps closer, "We're always talking about the Mountain. What's done is done. I have my burden to carry and you have yours."
"Yes, we do."
She steps closer still, until she is breathing your air, warming your skin in the cold. "Polis is the place where we can set those burdens down." Her eyes lock on yours, drift to your mouth.
And then she kisses you.
Her lips brush against yours.
Soft and hard all at once.
Her hand grabs your waist and pulls you closer.
You lose your breath and slide against her.
Feeling the magnitude of this kiss.
The fullness of it as she dips her tongue into your mouth.
She kisses you with all the complexity she embodies.
And when she pulls away from your lips all too soon you fight not to follow.
But she is still in your space, close.
She smiles. Small yet brilliant.
And she is gone before you even know what happened.
The cold, brittle air stings as you take in a deep breath, expelling some of her warmth.
It does nothing to cool the fire raging inside.
You barely sleep.
Tossing and turning away the night, reliving the way her lips felt against yours, the way her breath rushed out against your cheek, the way her hand felt pulling you closer to her.
Her blue eyes are all you can see when you close your own.
The way they looked at you.
How she told you exactly what she was going to do without saying a word.
Your heart is still racing, your fingers tingling.
Clarke is more than you expected.
The way she eased past all your defenses, saw right through you.
Cut to the very core of who you are.
Settled in your heart before you even realized it.
Her presence in Polis, in your home, breathes new life into you.
Makes you wonder why you've been walking around like the myths of the undead for all these years.
You rise before the sun, standing on the cold balcony watching it slowly brighten the horizon.
The elders will be meeting as soon as the sun is fully in the sky to discuss the Solstice celebrations to take place tomorrow evening and your presence is required. Looking at the brilliant orange of the sunrise one more time, you close the balcony door and dress more warmly than you have since the weather turned before leaving the house.
Once again the sun is brightly shining through your window signaling that you have slept away most of the morning hours.
There's a smile on your face that you haven't been able to wipe off since you left Lexa's bedroom last night.
You can still hear the way she gasped so quietly before your lips met hers.
You can still feel the tiny moan she released into your mouth when your bodies connected.
The fireworks carried you all the way back to your room and you fell easily into the most peaceful sleep you've had since you landed on the ground.
All because of Lexa.
Everything about the Commander intrigues you.
You're drawn to her in a way that eludes reason.
It's a magnetic pull.
You don't want to fight it anymore.
It doesn't work.
The sky people are here in Polis. Everything is different now. The truce between the clans is stronger, respected.
The Mountain changed everything.
It changed you.
She changed you.
And the time to embrace what this new life on the ground can bring is here.
You stretch in your bed and soak up the bright winter sun, the warmth soaking into your skin. You wonder how much warmer it would be with Lexa here. Your cheeks burn. Is the Commander ever afforded the luxury of lounging in bed, wiling away the morning hours and greeting the morning only when she's ready?
The clothes Mirri has left for you look heavy and warm and you dress quickly, wanting to find Lexa.
Not even trying to fight the smile that spreads across your face when you think about her.
Both doors to her bedroom are open wide when you approach, and you step inside to find it empty. The bed made, the fire low and the curtains open.
The air is cold but bright when you leave the house, finding your way back to the square and then the bazaar, proud of your memory.
Your mother and Kane are stopped outside a store at the beginning of the street, and you pull her into a big hug, too happy with life not to. Kane excuses himself and you spend the morning with your mother, walking through the shops and talking about life here in Polis.
It's nice, these moments with her.
Finding your footing again in your relationship, moving past the hurt and anger and embracing each other.
You introduce her to Markus and he gifts you two bowls of stew, venison today, refusing any promises of payment or barter. Smiling instead, "A friend of Heda is a friend of mine." He shoos you away.
You can't help but laugh at the look your mother gives you, not missing a beat.
You nod, "Yes. Friend. We're working on it."
"I suppose that is good. The stronger the relationship and trust between you two, the easier it will be for the rest of us, especially those who don't always agree."
"We're getting to know one another again. She's… She's so much more than she seems."
"Aren't we all, Clarke?" She pats your back with her free hand and you don't miss the knowing look in her eye, but choose to ignore it. "Have you been to the healer's yet?"
"No, but I've been curious."
"You'll love it, I'll take you there and introduce you."
"That sounds great, Mom."
Meeting with the elders takes all day and you don't return home until the sky has grown dark, your stomach rumbling. You want food, but you want something else more.
You follow your feet up the stairs and down the familiar path until you're standing outside the wide door, taking a deep breath.
Something about this door requires an extra moment, an extra beat.
Except just as you're about to knock, the door swings open again and takes you by surprise.
Something in you deflates and you turn and walk with Mirri downstairs to the kitchen where you find food enough for yourself before heading sullenly to bed.
You rise before dawn to meet again with the elders. They wait for you huddled together by the back gate leading out of Polis. When you join them, the gate is opened and you file out into the wilderness beyond the city.
The Solstice rituals will be complete before most of the city is even awake.
Winter Solstice has always been your favorite time of year, even before you were chosen to lead your people. The dark and quiet of winter settles within you in a way that soothes your heart and frees your mind.
Listening to the women chanting around you, watching their movements, hearing their prayers, the spirit that resides within you strengthens.
It beats against your ribcage.
It strums through your veins.
It forces itself from your lips, needing to participate in the ritual around you.
A feeling of wholeness comes over you as you thrum with the ancient power and wisdom of everyone that came before and everyone that will come after.
You all leave the woods again in silence, following the elders this time. Buzzing with the feelings coursing through you.
Once again you find yourself standing outside that familiar door. Except you don't hesitate this time.
You knock softly and wait.
She opens the door slowly, a smile already on her face, even in the early hour.
"Are you hungry?" You nod and she moves aside. The room is warm and the smell of roasted meat wafts from the tray on the table. "Mirri brought me food, even though I'm not very hungry. Help yourself."
You stand still by the door, not moving. Not able to do anything but look at her, your stomach bouncing.
"You're all muddy… what's all over your face?"
"The Solstice ritual took place at dawn. I was in the woods." You know you're filthy, smelling the soil and cold air that coats your clothes. That is all you can explain, no one is allowed to know what happens during the ceremony.
But that spark you felt hasn't died down and you stand and look at Clarke as it dances in your blood, in the air you breathe.
"Clarke, I…" You lose all thought, stepping to her in one motion and guiding her lips to yours.
She meets you immediately, surprised but relaxing into the kiss in a heartbeat.
And this isn't how you planned it.
Attacking her lips as soon as you saw her again.
But you can't seem to think when she's around.
Not when there is so much left unsaid between you, but feelings speaking louder than ever.
She twists her fingers into your hair, nipping at your lip and sighing into your mouth and you feel as though you could float away.
Except she keeps you tethered to her.
And everything that happened in the past and the hurt, the anger, the betrayal, it all stays where it is. But you, you and Clarke, here and now, move forward.
Her smile is big and brilliant when you break apart from each other, her eyes sparkling and dancing as they lock with yours.
"Is this how you're always going to greet me now? Because I could get used to this."
"I mean, I haven't seen you since the other night and then you show up here and sweep me off my feet with that kiss. I'm just saying, you've got moves, Lexa."
She laughs, loud and clear in your ear, before kissing you again. "It's… hard to explain."
Your brow furrows, wondering if she's mocking you. "Mockery is not the product of a strong mind, Clarke."
"Yes, funny how you keep saying that." Another kiss, short and sweet on your lips. "Don't worry, Heda, I'm not teasing you. It's a compliment."
The way she whispers Heda in your ear sends a fire through you. You pull her into another deep kiss, everything sparking inside of you.
You pull away gently, suddenly aware of everything that's happened this morning, of the way your hands feel gritty and dirty with the forest.
"Don't stop." She breathes it into your mouth, connecting your lips again and making you dizzy.
"I don't care." Her arms twist around your back and hold you close to her, her lips unending in their pursuit.
You don't know why you're fighting it.
And yet, "You wish to smell like mud and smoke?"
"I don't smell anything, Lexa."
Her words amuse you and you break away from her lips. She pouts at the loss, but leans her forehead against yours and breathes deeply.
"I don't want to fight it anymore." Her voice is a whisper, quiet but strong.
"This. You. My feelings for you." Again, something blooms in your chest. "Everything is different now."
Somehow you managed to pull Lexa towards your bed.
It's not what you imagined, but you can't deny you've wanted it all the same.
She's lying on top of your furs fast asleep and fully clothed. Mud spattered on her face, warpaint smudged and bleeding. She smells like battle and sweat and the forest.
And she looks so breathtakingly beautiful you cannot stand it.
So young. So unburdened. Relaxed and peaceful.
You could stare at her for hours and still not understand the beauty that you find.
You brush a wild strand of hair off her face and watch as her eyebrow rises just the slightest amount. An almost imperceptible grin on her face.
"Aren't you ignoring all your responsibilities, Commander?"
She still hasn't opened her eyes, and her face remains soft. You don't say anything else, too distracted by her presence in your room. On your bed.
The softness she allows you to see still surprises you.
It's a warm and fluttery sensation.
"Entertaining my guests is also one of my responsibilities."
"Is that what we're calling this?"
Her eyes pop open, brilliant and captivating. You gasp, all retorts fleeing from your mind under her searching gaze. That hint of amusement dancing around the green.
"Would you like me to leave you, Clarke?"
"No." An immediate, breathy response.
She doesn't say anything else. She doesn't move.
You can't help but let your eyes wander, committing her cheeks, her brow, her sharp jaw to memory. Afraid to reach out and touch, as if the image in front of you will evaporate.
Her gaze rests on your face, heavy and searching.
She's doing the same.
You're not sure how long you both lie there, but the sun has moved slowly across the windows in your room and the afternoon is almost upon you.
It's not lost on you, how you wondered if she ever had the opportunity to do this.
To sleep and relax and soak up the warm sun filtering through the window.
And even though she's here now, you have a feeling this isn't a usual occurrence for her.
The fire burns low in the fireplace and the chill begins to seep back into the room, but you don't feel it.
You just feel her.
"I must leave soon." Her voice is soft, gentle. You nod, not wanting to break this spell that's fallen over both of you.
She leans in and barely brushes her lips over yours.
A ghost of a kiss.
Her hand rests on your cheek and she strokes her thumb softly, saying so many things in her silence.
Lexa speaks loudest in silence.
She removes her hand and rises slowly from the bed and something skips inside of you, watching as she moves gracefully from your shared space.
The way her back moves and stretches with the cloth that covers her.
You sit up as she navigates around the bed picking up her coat and boots from the floor, a shy look crossing her face.
"I'll send Mirri in here with new clean furs for your bed. She'll help you get ready for the ceremony."
"There's a ceremony?"
"For Solstice. The longest night ushers in winter. We gather around the fire to sing and tell stories, keep the light burning through the night."
"That sounds nice."
She nods, "It is."
"Lexa?" She turns at the door, her eyebrow raised in answer, "I don't want the new furs."
She blushes as she exits the room.
Not only does Mirri help you prepare and dress for the Solstice ceremony, she escorts you outside. Your people file into the square across from you and smile at the pageantry of it all.
The giant bonfire has been rebuilt, though it remains unlit. There are torches blazing all around the area, lighting up the square as if it was the middle of the day instead of just after sunset. Long tents and tables have been set up all around the city center.
You notice a few unfamiliar flags representing differing clans. Sometimes you forget that there are more than just the Trikru here on the ground.
Everyone, grounder and Skaikru alike, gather around the fires. Small whispers of conversation float through the crowd, but the air is quiet and still.
Until you begin to hear singing, you're not sure where it's coming from but it grows stronger with each passing second. The grounders begin turning towards the front gate and you spin with them, the singing growing louder.
Soon they all pick up the song and begin to raise their voices around you.
It's haunting and soothing all at once.
A hand slips into yours and you turn to find Raven, wide eyed and spellbound.
Bellamy, Octavia and Lincoln behind her. Lincoln whispering the song.
Then you see it, the group that appears around the corner.
Lexa on horseback.
Her warpaint fresh and black on her face.
A heavy, beautiful green cloak around her shoulders, covering her armor.
A group of older women surrounding her mount, walking with her, singing and chanting.
Your heart jumps into your throat at the sight.
The crowd parts for them to pass, Lexa guides her horse towards the center of the circle. She dismounts when she reaches the fire, and the singing raises up.
Indra hands Lexa a torch and she raises it up, scanning the crowd. Her people.
Her eyes lock with yours and you see her nod in greeting. It's almost nonexistent but for the way her eyes soften around the edges.
"To the Night. May the Winter be kind and the Spring find us anew." Her voice is clear and strong, and she doesn't pull her eyes from yours.
"To the Night." The voices around you respond, reply, catching you unexpectedly. Lexa turns and lowers the torch and the bonfire ignites, providing instant warmth in the cold air.
Everyone around you cheers and you join in, buzzing with the thrill of this new life, new tradition.
The music begins immediately and the grounders around you begin dancing and singing along, festive and jolly. You can't help the smile that splits your face as Octavia pulls you along into the crowd.
The time passes quickly, with song, dance, food and wine to keep you all company. You only feel like an outsider for a short while before the mood and the merriment sink in. This city, these people, are opening up to you. Whenever you make eye contact with another one of the Skaikru, you see the same awe and acceptance on their face.
You spend most of the night with Raven, Octavia, and Lincoln. Lincoln explains the proceedings, the different stories people tell, helping you adapt and understand. Your mother joins you for a bit before disappearing into the crowd.
Lexa appears in your vision from time to time but always far away. Or locked in discussion with others. Or pulled away to perform another part of the ceremony.
Every time you lock eyes with her you get that same feeling in your stomach, in your bones.
The green of her eyes brought out by her cloak, so brilliant even from across the flames.
You want to pull her aside into the darkness and kiss her until neither one of you can breathe anymore.
It's as if a dam has burst within you and all your longing for her has poured forth, unwilling to be stopped.
It's wild and real.
A quiet falls around you, the ceremonial proceedings finished for the night and the festivities making way for the quiet comfort of waiting for dawn.
Many people begin nodding off or peeling away to bed, but you must be present for the entire night and greet the dawn with the elders. Lead your people into the new season.
It's one of your favorite traditions.
But you wish you could sit with Clarke, pull her away from everyone and teach her the ways of your people.
The small token heavy in your cloak pocket, burning into your thoughts.
Whenever you find her eyes across the crowd you want nothing more than to take her back to the privacy of your home and kiss her softly.
A heavy sigh leaves your lips.
The darkest part of the night has passed and the early morning hours remain the hardest. You watch as her group leaves the bonfire escorted by Lincoln. You move quickly to catch up with them, unable to go any longer without talking to Clarke.
They all turn and Clarke smiles with her eyes more than her mouth, secretive, just for you. "Heda."
"May I speak with you?"
Lincoln bows his head and Clarke joins you, matching your gait. "Did you enjoy Solstice, Clarke?"
"It is not yet over."
"What do you mean?"
"I must stay awake with the elders. Greet the dawn."
She stops walking and turns to you, pulling your arm. Even in the dark away from the fire you can see how her eyes shine. "Can I wait with you?"
Your stomach flips and tingles, "Yes."
You turn and lead her back towards the bonfire and your tent.
She surprises you and grabs your hand, sliding her fingers between yours.
It's brazen and bold.
So much like her.
Indra pulls the flap of your tent aside with a raised brow and you enter, pulling Clarke behind you. It's quiet and warm in here.
Clarke's hand brushes along the cloak at your shoulders, studying it.
"This color suits you. It brings out your eyes."
"My eyes remain in my head, Clarke."
She chuckles at you, "It's an expression… Um, it makes the color of your eyes stronger, more noticeable."
You nod, remembering how blue her eyes look when she dons her jacket, or when she's simply under the sky.
It's fitting. Clarke of the Sky People with the sky in her eyes.
"Did you enjoy our singing and dancing?"
"You should have told me about all these festivals you host in Polis, I would have come ages ago." Her mouth tilts up with her teasing, you want to kiss it.
"Solstice is not merely a festival. It represents the end of the season and the quiet of winter. The Longest Night."
She nods, "Lincoln explained some of that to me, though I wish I could have heard it from you." She grabs your hand and twines her fingers through yours. Your heart stutters in your chest, not yet used to the easy, familiar way in which she reaches out and touches you.
"As do I. I wanted to spend Solstice with you. It is a time to remain close to those we hold dear."
"Do you hold me dear?"
"You know that to be true, Clarke." You match her hushed whisper and hold her gaze.
She kisses you then, without hesitation. Everything thrumming inside of you again. The ancient spirit you host shaking your bones.
Clarke shaking your bones.
She rests her forehead against yours and runs her thumbs over your cheeks, your jaw. "Lexa…. I'm ready."
You pull your head back from hers, needing to look in her eyes. She must see an unasked question in them, because she repeats herself with a smile on her face. "I'm ready. To be with someone again. To be with you."
"Clarke…" You kiss her like you did that day in the tent. Gentle and yet burning. Burning with everything you've begun to feel again.
And you let yourself really feel it this time.
Opening yourself up to the new possibility of her. A new reality.
A life you locked away after Costia.
Clarke is too much.
Too much and not enough.
When you finally break for air you don't attempt to hide your smile. It matches hers.
"There is one Solstice tradition left," you reach into your pocket and pull out the token wrapped in a silk cloth that matches her eyes, the perfect weight balancing in your hands. "It is a custom to present those closest to you with small gifts or tokens before the dawn."
She opens her hand and her eyes moves between the gift and your eyes. "Lexa…" She unwraps the cloth and takes in a small breath. You watch her face change, her eyes study the small object the ornate face.
"Press the button." You reach out and guide her hand to the latch at the top, and she pushes down releasing the opening. The small arrow pointed northeast.
"Is this some kind of clock?"
You smile at her quizzical expression, "A compass. To guide you."
"How does it work?" She turns it over and twists it around, watching as the arrow spins and moves, but always ends up pointing towards the same spot when she stops.
"The arrow will always show which direction you are headed. Right now you are facing northeast. The sun will rise in the east at dawn and travel across the sky to fall in the west. It will be useful for you to learn how to navigate on the ground and this will aid you. This is your home now, Clarke."
"I had no idea… this is so cool, why does it move?"
You smile, "When my grandfather gave this to me as a child he explained the secret to me. He took me out into the forest beyond anything I knew, anything I explored when I was not training. It was important to him that I learn the skill of finding my way back. Of learning the land. The familiar landmarks, the tracks, the way the moss grew on the trees… how the stars drew a map. Every time we went out he would take me somewhere new and leave me with the compass and a knife."
"He would just leave you?" She cuts you off, her eyes wide.
"Yes. I always found my way home. I have had no need for that compass, or any other, since I was very small."
She spins the compass around again, watching the arrow dance. "Will you teach me?"
"Of course, Clarke."
You formally introduce Clarke to the elders while you wait for the dawn to rise. None of them say anything to her. They simply bow their heads to acknowledge her presence, a sign of respect, before you guide Clarke back to your tent.
"The elders rarely speak. They live their lives in silence, listening and learning about the world around them. They offer guidance to me, and to our people, only when needed."
You watch her absorb that information, the tension in her face falling away.
The first chirps sound from the trees, the birds alerting to the impending dawn. Slowly more people begin to fill the square again, voices talking and singing quietly in the early morning hours. You return to the bonfire, Clarke at your side and face the East.
The sky begins to lighten. The pink hues reach out and turn the dark, stripes of indigo and violet painting the horizon.
Clarke gasps next to you, and you turn your head to look at her.
Her face in awe.
The elders begin their chanting behind you, and the crowd of people slowly joins in.
But you can't take your eyes off of the girl next to you.
Who looks as if she's seeing the world for the first time.
She looks at you with a wide smile on her face, happier than you've ever seen her.
When the sun is fully in the sky everyone disbands, moving towards home. Towards sleep.
You turn to Clarke, still smiling, still giddy. "Happy Solstice, Clarke."
She meets your eyes, "Happy Solstice."
Lexa leads you back to her house, her long green cloak sweeping around her feet. Her posture straight, but her gait tired.
You can see the exhaustion on her bones. Her face.
She leads you upstairs, but pulls your hand when you attempt to turn and walk to the guest room. Her face shy and unguarded when you look at her with the question on your lips. "Lexa?"
"Would you like to see the view from the balcony in the daylight?"
Your heart thuds in your ears as she leads you by the hand to her room. Something so simple and yet so big.
And you know that this is the beginning for you. The winter ushering in something more. Something real.
She leads you to the double doors and opens them wide, bringing the cool, crisp air into the warm room before ushering you out to the edge of the balcony. The sunlight looks so clean in the early morning hours. The city spread out before you like a picture.
Her presence leaves you, and you let her. Taking in all there is to see, watching grounders mill around below you, locating the bazaar and the familiar colorful tents.
A chill sweeps through you and you reluctantly return to her room, ready to crawl under the pile of furs waiting for you on your bed.
She's there, lying on top of hers. Her cloak strewn over the large chair in the corner, her face clean and relaxed. Her armor and formal wear piled by the fire, leaving her in a long sleeved shirt and leggings. Her breathing deep and measured.
You close the balcony doors quietly and tip toe towards the door.
"Stay." Barely a whisper. Her eyes still closed. "Ste. Beja."
Peeling the heavy coat off your arms, you walk to the bed. She turns to her side and opens her eyes to watch you. Soft.
Your heart swoops in your chest. The Commander asking you to stay. Inviting you into her bed. Not a trace of hardness or callousness.
Just a girl.
A girl offering her world.
And it hits you, how lucky you are. That you are here in her life in this way. That she trusts you enough to show you this side of her. To open up her heart to you… to care for you.
You sit on the edge of the bed and slide your boots off, feeling movement behind you as she burrows under the furs covering her bed.
"Sha. Frozen." She lifts up the blankets for you to join her. To slip inside, into her cocoon.
When you do she surprises you and wraps her feet around yours, pulling you closer. Her hand on your hip, her cold nose against yours.
"You forgot some of your paint." You reach out and wipe the black from her cheeks, around her ears.
Her face relaxes even more, a small smile plays on her lips. "Mochof."
A whisper before her eyes finally close and she sinks heavily into sleep.
She's still here in front of you when you stir. Her wild blonde hair spread out against the pillow, her face serene in sleep.
Your heart skips a beat inside of you.
A warmth you thought you'd forgotten fans out from your stomach until it touches every piece of you.
She sighs heavily in her sleep and you pull yourself away from the bed to build the fire back up. You slip out of the room to gather food from the kitchen. She's still asleep when you return to your room.
You set the tray down and begin picking your discarded armor off the floor. You must dress and gather with the clans here for Solstice. The buckles clink and chime as you dress, but she still does not stir from her heavy sleep. The paint cold and silky as you drag it over your face, around your eyes.
As you finish preparing your gaze wanders back to Clarke.
That ancient thrumming back in your bones.
Her eyes are open and watching you and that warm, familiar blush creeps back into your cheeks.
"Yes. I must go and visit with the clans who came for Solstice. There is food here for you."
You pull the cloak back around your shoulders, feeling her eyes on you. "I would much rather spend the day with you, Clarke."
She smiles and rises from the bed to help you fasten your cloth, kissing you softly. "I understand your duties, Lexa."
"There will be another dinner tonight. The leaders will join me much like our dinner with the Skaikru. I will come and fetch you."
"I'd like that."
You explore the bazaar again, this time with Raven.
She marvels over the compass when you show her. The wheels spinning in her head as she takes it in with mechanic's eyes, wondering how it works.
You laugh when you realize that it puzzles even her.
"Nothing. I've never seen you not know how something works before. It's refreshing."
"Well, if you let me actually take it apart and spend some time with it, I'm sure I could come up with an answer."
"This was a gift?"
"It was." She gives you a knowing look. "Hey, how did you end up at dinner the other night?"
"It took some convincing, but this truce is important."
"Convincing from who? My mom?"
"She came to see me when we got here. She apologized and I saw something in her eyes that I just… believed."
"I'm glad to hear that." You fight a smile from taking over your face, but Raven notices.
"Nothing. Hey have you been to the big bookstore yet?"
Raven pulls you through the street to the giant building that houses the books in Polis. Part bookstore, part library, it's breathtaking. You've never seen so many books all in one place.
You've never seen so many books ever.
Raven has busied herself here every day since you've arrived in Polis, reading and learning and searching.
"You can buy the ones over there," she points to a section to the right. "The rest are just for reading here."
"I don't have anything to barter."
"Clarke, you're Sky Heda or whatever… plus you're a special guest of the Commander. Your money is probably no good here."
"She speaks the truth." A deep voice sounds from behind you and a giant of a man nods towards you. "Klark kom Skaikru, welcome."
"You are always welcome to any book you like."
"No, I couldn't."
"I insist. It is the least I can do."
You blush, not always ready to remember the Mountain.
He nods again at both of you and disappears quickly into the books. More quickly than a man of his size. Raven gives you a cocky smirk and tells you she's going upstairs and you run your hands along the books as you explore.
Feeling the cracked and broken spines beneath your hands.
Breathing in the smell.
You weave your way through the rows of books, smiling ear to ear, pulling out selections and reading from them. There were only a few real physical books on the Ark, everything else could be accessed in the system or on tablets.
You're almost at the end of the section when a small book catches your eye.
The binding is an eggshell blue and it is almost hidden between the two larger texts around it. You can't read the title on the binding and you pull it free, gasping when you see the front. The little blonde boy standing on the moon, the stars and space behind him.
Your heart clutches in your chest as you run your fingers over it, trace the outline of the title. You flip through the pages, sliding to the floor to read it, and wiping away at the tears that pool in your eyes as you remember the low gruff voice who used to read them with you.
When you finish you take a deep breath and stand, pocketing the book and feeling the heavy, foreign, compass still in your coat pocket.
You run your fingers over the intricate design of the metal and feel the memory of Lexa's gaze on you as you examined it that first time.
And you warm when you think about the book in your pocket.
Dinner lasts longer than last time, and you're glad Mirri laid out new clothes for you that were a bit nicer than the ones you had on because you seem to be the center of attention. Everyone wants to know how you felled the Mountain.
Something darkens Lexa's eyes for a second when you're asked. But then her face returns to it's normal, stoic impassiveness.
You find it odd that this person in front of you embodies both the hard, cold Commander and the soft, gentle girl who pulled you into her bed today.
She catches your gaze throughout the night, not shying away when you catch her looking. Something inside her eyes is warm and alive and makes your stomach somersault inside of you. You remember how it felt when you kissed her. How your toes tingled and how you had to remind yourself how to breathe.
Again, a flicker goes through you when you think that you are the person she chooses to share both sides with.
Lexa escorts you upstairs when the guests have left, but stops when you reach the top. She looks at you with her eyes dark and hooded and you feel it.
You want her. You want this.
You don't know if you ever really stopped.
She watches your face change and places her hand on your back guiding you towards her end of the hallway again. Towards her bed again.
She opens the door and waits for you to enter first. The fire warm in the hearth, the curtains open with the almost full moon.
"Clarke." Her voice is a whisper, and you find her eyes searching. It doesn't surprise you when she leans forward and kisses you.
Kisses you in that way she always seems to.
Like she may never get the chance to get to do so again.
Hungry and heated, but soft.
Softer than you ever imagined the Commander could be.
You breathe her in and tangle your hand in her hair, slide the other around her waist.
She's speaking to you again.
Speaking in her way without words.
And your kisses grow more heated, more passionate. A primal urge crashes over you like a wave and you need to feel her. Her nose grazes against yours as she tilts her head and changes the kiss.
You surrender. To her and the moment.
Knowing you want nothing else. Nothing more.
You tug at her belt and she stops. "Clarke?"
You simply nod, answering the question that resides in her eyes.
When she kisses you again she takes her time, pours herself into you. Tugs at your shirt and works at the buttons on your pants. You drag your mouth from hers and watch as she works the buttons free before sliding them under your shirt.
Her warm hands burn on your stomach.
You grab the hem of her shirt and rip it over her head, watching as her arms rise up to free themselves from the cloth. Her skin is painted with ink. Her breasts small but round. You brush your hands over the scars that line her torso.
She flinches when you trace the one on her stomach.
She merely nods, her eyes full and heavy on your face.
You work her belt off and she bends down to pull her tall boots from her legs, before sliding her pants off.
And as she stands before you, you lose all breath.
Something burns within you and you reach out to pull her towards you, back to you.
Her lips fight with yours, as if she can't get enough of you.
As if you can't get enough of each other.
She works your pants down your legs and you kick them free with your boots, tripping backwards. But she reaches out and steadies you, guides you to the bed.
Her hair brushes along your shoulders as she leans over you. The furs tickle the skin of your back, completely new and foreign.
But then she's on top of you, her skin against yours. Her tongue tracing patterns on your neck, her hands burning trails on your sides.
She melts into you.
She kisses her way all over you, drinking you in.
She kisses your mouth, breathing you in instead of air.
She stops and nips at your lips, noses your cheeks so that you'll meet her eyes.
Her paint smudged. Probably all over you.
Green eyes blazing bright.
You place your hand on her cheek and draw her down to your lips in answer, your heart warm with her concern, her care.
Her body resting against yours sets off something wild inside of you.
You twist your hips and flip her onto her back, moving on top of her.
Your lips caress her tattoos, her scars. Watch has her belly twitches with the surprise of your touch. Her skin even more beautiful in the moonlight, soft beneath yours, smooth over the swell of her muscles. She shudders and shivers under your lips.
Her breathing grows heavier and heavier as you explore her skin, her mouth. You nip at her throat, the slope of her jaw and she growls softly beneath you, scratching her nails along your back.
Until she's had enough. Her whispered "Beja," hot in your ear.
It sends a chill down your spine.
Her eyes blaze into yours once you're inside her. You watch as her neck stretches up in her pleasure, watch the way her face changes, how the color rushes to her cheeks and the sweat dots her brow, her chest.
You move through her, fearless. Bursting with the pride of bringing her pleasure.
The slow ache in your muscles welcome, watching her writhe beneath your touch. How she submits to you so willingly. How she opens up for you. Your kisses, your touch.
She comes undone with a quiet cry, her eyes locked onto yours. Her breathless gasps bringing a smile to your face.
She holds you where you are, letting the aftershocks settle through her. Her sweat against you, her warmth. Her breathy murmurs in your ear.
The way she looks right now in this moment is breathtaking.
She kisses your lips, sloppy and wild. Pushing you up and back until she's on top of you.
Between your legs.
She slides through you and you can't hold back the moan that slips from your lips. She smiles above you and works through you, slowly, slowly.
You grip at her back and wrap your leg around her waist, needing more. "Lexa."
She kisses you and dips her tongue into your mouth before her fingers enter you. Your hips buck up to meet her and you feel complete.
And it's raw.
It's everything you know Lexa to be.
And when the wave of ecstasy crashes over you, you're floating weightless and free.
Back in the sky that you fell from.
Clarke is strewn over you when you wake. Her arm across your stomach, her legs wrapped with yours, her measured breathing soft on your neck.
It sets you buzzing.
You turn and kiss her forehead, brushing away the mess of hair covering her face.
She's relaxed and smiling even in sleep.
She curls further into you, burying her nose into your neck and kissing it softly. You turn your body to her wanting to hold her tighter.
She breathes deep in the crook of your neck before kissing you again, nipping gently at the skin.
The force of her kisses rolls you onto your back and she crawls on top of you, a smirk on her face. She sits up as she straddles your hips. You spot the paint from your face along her body. The black smudges telling the story of your passion.
She follows your eyes and laughs, loud and clear. "You should see yourself… you look like a sad racoon."
You let yourself laugh with her. Feeling light and happy.
Her eyes shine. "You should do that more often."
"Forget to take my warpaint off before bed? It is not worth the headache."
She smiles and rolls her eyes, "No...Laugh."
You blush again, all over. Enjoying the way this girl has crawled past your walls and into your heart and brought out the best parts of you.
The parts that you buried.
You study her in the daylight. Her muscles against your hands, her freckled skin, the sharp collarbones and soft, full breasts. She watches you. Lets you soak her in as long as you want in the light of day.
A smile in her eyes.
"We must face the day, Clarke." She groans. "You cannot keep sleeping away the precious daylight."
"Who said anything about sleeping?" She bucks against you warm, ready.
You groan as you sit up, steadying her in your lap and capturing her gasp in your mouth as you kiss her.
Full and deep.
A promise for later.
Her laugh when you spring out of bed and away from her reaching arms echos through your soul.
You spend the morning in a meeting with the visiting clans, discussing their winter provisions and hunting patterns.
It's long and tedious and your mind wanders back to Clarke. How she glowed this morning.
When you've finally had enough you call an end to the meeting and dismiss everyone. You want to find Clarke and pull her back to your bedroom.
Instead you make your way to Mal's, needing fresh braids after last night.
You blush when you remember Clarke's focused eyes on your face as you tilted your head back, giving yourself over to her.
Mal quickly braids your hair, patting you on the cheek when she's finished. A knowing smile in her eyes.
She kisses your cheek gently and disappears.
The young children training as warriors flock around you when you exit the shop, pulling you along to their training ground. They sit you on the tree stump to watch as they perform for you. Many show promise, but your critical eye calls out suggestions and directions.
Indra joins you, agrees with your comments and also calls out instructions. You talk of nothing except the children before you, until it is time to leave.
Her voice, low and serious, "Be careful, Heda."
She doesn't shy away from the stern look you give her, knowing exactly what she is warning you about.
Who she is warning you about.
It's after dark when you return to Lexa's. The house quiet and still.
The noise of the day still alive in your ears. The time spent with your mother at the healer's, learning more about the herbs and medicines the grounders use to heal many wounds and maladies. Learning more than teaching.
You watch a new happiness settle over your mother, one that you didn't know was possible. But, you're beginning to see a lot of impossible things on the ground.
The healer requests that you both stay for dinner, to share a meal prepared by her husband. And even though you can think of nothing more than finding Lexa, you agree, too happy and welcome to say no.
You walk with your mother back to the square where you will depart in separate directions. The snow falls gently around you, dotting the air and adding a fresh covering of white over the dirt and the mud.
She stops and pulls you into a fierce hug before you can turn towards the massive house you are beginning to feel at home in.
"Merry Christmas Eve, Clarke."
You gasp, forgetting the date that snuck up on you. "Merry Christmas Eve, Mom."
"Some of us were talking about having a big dinner in the house we're staying in tomorrow. We want to keep some of our traditions alive down here, too."
You warm, "That sounds great, Mom."
"I'll see you tomorrow, baby."
You turn and head down the now familiar road, the guard posted outside opening the giant door for you.
And even though it's late, you know she'll be awake.
Waiting for you.
You stop in your room to grab the book before approaching her door and knocking quietly.
You don't expect for her to open it, instead of call you in.
But she does.
And her smile is there, soft and steady.
"Clarke." Your name so much more than that on her lips.
She steps aside and you slide in, waiting for her to close the door before pulling her into a soft kiss. Finally feeling relaxed and whole again.
Her lips soothing away the hours spent apart.
"Did you enjoy your day?"
"I did," you pause, "I spent the day with my mother at the healer's house."
She nods and smiles. Reaches out and touches your hand, urging you to continue.
"My mom reminded me that tomorrow is kind of a special day…" You trail off, not knowing how to finish.
Her eyebrow quirks up and the amused confusion she so often displays when looking at you is back in her eyes, "Clarke?"
"Christmas. Tomorrow is Christmas… it's one of the main holidays we celebrated on the Ark."
"I have heard of Christmas."
She nods. "We know of the history of this land… before the war. Two of our elders knew that time."
"Tell me more about Christmas" She leans down and captures your eyes again, soft and open, willing you to speak. You lead her to the chairs before the fire and sit, letting the heat chase the cold air from your bones.
"Well… some celebrate it as a religious holiday. But, mostly on the Ark it was a day where we would spend time with one another. We'd all have a big dinner together, which wasn't typical, and sing songs. It's kind of like Solstice. Sometimes we'd make small gifts for each other."
She nods quietly taking it all in, "Are you planning on celebrating here in Polis?"
"I guess some of my people have planned a dinner tomorrow night."
"May I come?"
Your heart flutters, "Yes."
And you want to pull her up and into your arms.
Hug her and feel her against you.
But you can't get lost in her, not yet. You stand up, feeling the book against your leg, hidden in your boot. "I got you a gift."
"You gave me that wonderful compass and it's custom to exchange gifts on the holiday and I saw this and… well, here." You pull the book out from your boot, making sure the same blue silk she wrapped your compass in is tight around it. "Merry Christmas, Lexa."
She takes it gently from your hands and stands next to you. As she opens it her eyes soften around the edges even more than usual. "A book."
"The Little Prince." She turns it over and examines it, reading the back flap and flipping through the pages.
"My dad used to read that to me when I was little." Your voice breaks, and you clear your throat.
Her eyes sear into you, giving you her full attention as she waits for the rest of your story. Your heart flutters again over the way she always does that. Always seems to know when you're not finished speaking yet.
Always waits patiently for you.
"We didn't have many books on the Ark because space. All of our books and documents were loaded onto servers and into drives to access. I mostly read things on tablets…"
You watch her eyebrow tick up again, but you continue.
"This was my favorite book growing up. I've never seen a physical copy of it. Ever. And then I was at the library or whatever and I found it there. I read it all again even though I know it by heart, just absorbing the words on the page and feeling the paper beneath my fingers."
"When I finished reading I knew, I knew that I wanted you to have it. To read it. To understand this part of me."
Her eyes are wide and searching. She stares back at the book for a moment, taking it all in. "Will you read it with me?"
Her lips almost swallow your reply as she leans in and kisses you. Her hands brush away tears you didn't know were falling from your eyes.
"Mochof, ai hodnes." Her words fall so tenderly from her lips that you feel them everywhere. It takes you by surprise.
"What does that one mean?" you whisper.
"You will understand in time, ai hodnes."
She pulls you to the bed and sits up with the book in her lap waiting for you to join her.
"This is how you want to spend your evening, Heda?" You can't help but tease her.
"You are the only one who never uses my title appropriately." She tries to keep her voice stern and her face stoic, but you see the sparkle in her eyes.
You let a bark of laughter free, crawling onto the bed and kissing her lips softly. "And I'm probably never going to start."
She smirks at you as you settle next to her, opening the book to the front page and preparing to start reading. She kisses your cheek before you start and it blooms inside of you.
"Thank you for my gift, Clarke. Merry Christmas."
And when she kisses your lips, quiet and yet full of feeling, you finally understand.
The ancient truth sparks and lives in the air between you.
Settling within your chest.
A flame that flickers to life.
This is love.