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for we're cinders and shadows (but also the sun)

Chapter Text


 And God said,

“Let there be light,”

And light there was.

-Genesis 1:3


This world truly is unfair for Clarke.

First her Father; killed for the sin of truth.

Then Wells; murdered, after wrongfully hating him for years for a crime he didn’t commit.

Then Finn; and she had plunged that knife into his heart herself.

Lexa twice; once upon a mountain which leaves her wounded and ugly; and a second time to a stray bullet as she begs her forgiveness and love.

The rest blend together; countless, nameless others that succumb to things she does not control but feels wholly responsible for anyway.

She loses everything in this world.

Time and time again she loses everything.

And she hopes this time, her truest and largest sacrifice is warranted, is worth it.

Praimfaya closes in and she does not run.

She stands and embraces it and lets death claim her whole.


They don’t know what happens after you die, and Clarke hopes the endless dark is the last of her consciousness; dying back on Earth, boiling alive.

She floats. For a time.

She cannot do much else.

And she thinks this is perhaps what her Father felt; suffocating in the nothingness of space.

She angers at death’s slowness.

How time seems to drag on and on and on; infinite in every direction.

Clarke?

She turns her head and the formless void seems to twist and turn and pulsate; as much a living being as herself.

Clarke?

Her Father appears first. Shakes his head. And leaves.

Then in quick succession; Wells, Finn, her Mother, Octavia, Raven, Bellamy; all wrong.

Then Lexa is there; stuttering in and out of existence, moving through the inky black as if it were water.

Clarke turns her head. Facing up.

Lexa is above her. Floating. Gazing down.

She had forgotten how soft Lexa is. How her skin glitters in the candlelight glow.

How the seconds before she had fallen into bed with her, Lexa looked up like she was the only thing in the world that mattered.

She had forgotten how much she had loved her.

How every fiber of her body pushed and pulled and reached out when Lexa was near; eager to feel, to touch, to taste.

Clarke?

It’s time to leave, Clarke.

Where? She asks, though she cannot feel her lips move; unsure if she had even truly spoke.

We owe nothing more to our people, Clarke .

It’s time to go.

Yeah. She thinks.

She’s given her everything for her people.

Her Father, the boy she loved, the piece of her that died at the Mountain;

Lexa;

Herself.

Yeah. It’s time to go.

Lexa comes to her, floats closer, the corners of her lips lifting in a smile.

The kiss is as soft as she can remember it being the first time.

And Clarke—

—Clarke begins to fall.

And she is at peace.


Thus the heavens,

And the earth,

Were completed in all their vast array

Genesis: 2:1


She hates waking. Sleep lets her forget, sometimes. Sleep let’s her, not rest— because she has not felt rested since before the Mountain, since before the crash to Earth— but sleep allows her to turn herself off for several hours. Give in and hand herself to the encroaching dark; hoping it takes her with it.

It never does.

The weight of her existence settles over her, crushes her; wakes her with the feeling of falling.

Except, and it takes her far too long to realize, she literally is falling; hurtling through empty space at breakneck speed.

Oh . She thinks. Which is hardly a thought one should be having as they plummet from the sky above to what she assumes is the Earth below; far too nonchalant a thought.

And just before her body collides with the unbroken water, she remembers—

— Everything.


The impact should have killed her.

It should have.

But it doesn’t.

And she knows this because she is underwater, very much alive, watching the bubbles rise from the disturbed water around her.

There is no panic as she steadies herself, searching about the deep blue.

It’s a lake; crystal clear water surrounding every inch of her. Freshly fallen. A place not usually made for holding water. A divot in the Earth. Rare. Once every three years it deigns to fill; and just so have happened to days before she had fallen into it.

When she finally breaks the surface again for air, it hardly feels needed; the breath more habit than anything.

As she floats, inspecting the deep green forest beyond the shore, she tries to trace back; pinpoint the final thing she remembers seeing.

Praimfaya.

Certain death racing at her in a great wall of blistering heat.

And then, falling.

No transition. No in between.

Just everything. And then nothing.

She begins to swim, pushing for the shore in great, strong strokes. She can’t quite remember where she learned to do as such, but the action comes as naturally as any other.

And when the grass meets the water and she is free from its depths, she takes a moment to take stock. Inspecting every inch of herself.

Her clothes are not what she fell to Praimfaya in; but she knows them nonetheless.

They (now shades of white) were blue, the last time she had seen them; worn them. Soft, flowing fabric that fell around her form; her hands tearing spare cloth to change a wound on a loving hand.

Reshop, Heda.

Goodnight, Ambassador .

Lexa—  She thinks as she turns her gaze from herself to the forest beyond.

Her bare feet move before she can really comprehend the direction they’re taking her in; deeper and deeper into land that is as familiar to her as the sky.


She has no concept of how long she walks for.

But the sun, she notices, has barely moved an inch since she began.

The lake is long out of sight and at some point she had begun to trek alongside a river.

She had been too lost in her mind; retracing mental footsteps. Remembering all the way back to when she and a hundred others had crashed into a world no longer their own.

It seems forever ago now, that memory; not that she has any concept of when actually is.

She considers that she might be dead. And that this land is Heaven; the great beyond.

But the sun beats too heavy on her neck; the terrain too difficult underfoot; the world too loud. Her Heaven is quiet; calm. A field perhaps. A drawing pad. All those that she had ever dared given pieces of herself to.

A sound somewhere off into the forest diverts her course. Up and away from the flowing stream and deeper into the untame.

She thinks maybe this is a fever dream— her brain pulling her from the agony of death and showing her the world that could have been.

And she thinks maybe her people are beyond these trees; those Hundred that she had come down with all wide-eyed curiosity and well deserved freedom.

But it’s not, and they aren’t.

Because it’s children.


Nothing quite prepares her for the sight.

All gangly limbs and bright voices and loud, excited movements.

They do not see her; do not even look in her direction. Too caught up in their little games.

She hasn’t seen children since—

—The Conclave.

Her heart aches as she remembers them. All so small and strong and dearly loved .

These ones remind her of them; using crafted sticks as swords and torn bark as shields. Their faces painted with ashen-mud, not unlike she recalls Lexa’s. Sweeping curves and jagged edges.

She is too far to make out their words but close enough that she can drink her fill of them; watching until her heart’s content.

A horn, somewhere off in the distance, breaks them from their play; and they are quick to drop their makeshift weapons and derobe their armor; scrub at wrongly painted faces with torn and dirtied sleeves, more smudging the mud than cleaning.

When they are long gone— Clarke having watched them go down the path and into the woods until they disappeared entirely— she makes her way out into the small clearing, inspecting at their pile of discarded toys; reaching down to grab at one, twisting it in her hand; relishing the feel of the splintered wood against her skin.

She is so deep into her thoughts that she doesn’t register the sound of footsteps until it is too late; and her eyes rise to meet wide-curious ones on the other end of the clearing.


They are not scared.

Not wary.

Just curious. Tentative.

She places the makeshift weapon back into the pile, slowly, so as not to spook them.

Their face tingles at the back of her mind. A memory. She has seen this child before.

Her brain rifles for a name.

Something behind them must spook them out of their reverie though. And they turn quickly, just in time to not be caught up in the arms of another child. A different one. And then more and more flood in. All wearing similar armor; like badges of honor. Black. Leather.

And there, again. Her mind sparks. A roaring flame. She knows these children— all of them.

But they do not look at her. Do not notice her. Move around her like she isn’t there.

Even the first, who had laids eyes on her (she’s sure of it), does not look for her again. As if he had never seen her to begin with. Forgotten as quick as first seen.

And when the final child joins the clearing, shadowed by two guards, their existence falls into place for her.

Aden.

The Nightbloods.


They’re younger here.

Younger than she can remember them being; or happier, maybe.

Aden is fresh faced. Childish. Gleeful.

None of the hardened boy who had promised her fealty and protection in Lexa’s stead.

Whatever magic she had draped herself in, or death had draped her in— because what else would shroud her from another's eyes— lets her walk amongst them. Study them. Unseen. Unheard.

She dares not touch at them; fearing the worst of herself.

She longs to though; longs to touch and hold and promise them a better life than dying at a mad woman’s sword. To promise them long lives free of torment. Of war.

Children do not deserve this burden, she thinks, watching them now. Children deserve freedom. Deserve play. Deserve all the love of a parent and village and town.

But they are here to train; she notices.

Here to hone their skills for the moment Lexa falls to death and they are forced to take a mantle well beyond their years.

So she sits by them. Watches them. Cheers for them.

And when one happens to brush slightly too close; letting his hand scrape by at her leg. They do not drop dead. Do not come down with a curse or worse. They look at their hand, confused, as if static shocked by a charged stone. But they move on with their life. Settle in amongst their friends and comrades as if nothing happened at all.

After that, she tests it purposely.

First on the Guards; standing in front of them, demanding attention. Grabbing at their arm and watching as their face twists, confused. Hand reaching up to brush at thin air; not quite able to touch at the space she fills.

They move around her, too. Both children and adults. If she stands purposefully in their way their bodies unconsciously dodge, move, apologize wordlessly.

And when she blows a gentle wind in their face, it sends a cold shiver down their spine. And they look about. Make comment on how a stranger walks on their grave. And the others laugh.

Not magic then, she thinks.

She’s dead, she thinks.

A ghost, she thinks.


It leaves a sour taste in her mouth.

The realization that this is where the afterlife would send her; back to the war-scorn Earth. Rather than to the world beyond. Sickens her.

Of course though.

Of course she who killed thousands does not deserve a place in the Gods realms.

Cursed instead to walk about and relive these horrors; forced to watch the same mistakes made time and time again.

She shakes her fist at the sky. Yells expletives (though no words come out). Eventually resorts to pointing and accusing and flipping whatever God might be watching off; and truly, she hopes they are. Because fuck them .

She’s so wrapped up in her anger at the Heavens that she doesn’t notice the new arrival.

And it’s only when her heart almost literally leaps from her chest that she turns. Pivots so fast that it leaves her with the feeling of whiplash.

The children crowd her, eager eyes and flailing hands.

And she greets them with as much intensity and love as a doting Mother.

Lexa.

Her breath catches in her throat. Her stomach filling with a thousand butterflies and releasing them over and over.

God’s how she had missed her.

No Lexa. I love you.

I’ll always be with you .

At least the afterlife had blessed her with this; and this is a blessing. Even if Lexa does not look at her. Does not see her. Cannot.

Lexa had protected her. Watched over her in the City of Light. And now here Clarke was; the roles reversed.

She approaches slowly, carefully; lest the divine image disappear. Her tears fall uncontrolled. Heart aching.

The children scatter on a loving order, told to resume their duties. And for a moment, when the girl looks up to watch them, Clarke believes she is looking at her. But her eyes drag on, focused behind her, through her.

She cannot help herself, when Lexa moves closer, to reach out and touch. To feel at the soft skin of a love taken too soon.

I loved her, mom .

When her hand runs over Lexa’s cheek, she can see the confusion in her eyes. Can see how her brows knit together just enough at the sensation. And when Lexa’s hand comes up to join hers, connecting for a moment, before seemingly dropping through to rub at the spot touched. Clarke’s heart soars.

She had touched her. Not like the others. Not like the children who moved about and could not occupy the same space as herself. No. Lexa had, for only a moment, touched Clarke’s hand.

She watches as Lexa touches at her cheek, green eyes scanning about, looking, searching. But she shakes her head, just enough that Clarke knows that she must be feeling like she’s going crazy.

And Clarke smiles.

Lexa had touched her. Had felt her.


The afternoon goes by quick after that.

Clarke is drowned in everything that Lexa is. Walking beside her. Listening intently to the commands and lessons she gives the children. Stands by her as she fixes posture and form; occupying Lexa’s space but not daring to touch her again.

And as the sun reaches its lowest point, struggling to stay above the mountains, Lexa dismisses the children with a wave of her hand.

They leave with yells of glee and thrown fists of freedom, running about collecting their things before sprinting off down the forest path.

And Lexa stays. Hands tucked at her back. Eyes dragging along her city below. A careful watcher; a keeper; a Commander of all its citizens.

Clarke stays with her. Just a little ways off. Cherishing how the afternoon sun still warms her, even as the night approaches fast.

She’s content just watching her. Soaking up this moment of tranquil peace. She had only seen her like this twice. Once when wrapping her hand in gauze, when Lexa had worn some kind of glitter that made her skin glow, just for Clarke. And twice, when Lexa had fallen backwards into her bed, eyes filled with knowing tears, begging her not to leave.

When Lexa turns, she knows— she knows — that Lexa is looking at her.

Not around. Not through. At.

It’s the knit in her eyebrows again. It’s the straightening of her back. It’s the missed breath.

Clarke smiles.

The sun is nearly behind the mountains.

Lexa closes her eyes, rubs fingers at them. And Clarke silently begs her not to. To look and see her and take her in because she does not know when the next time will come.

She moves towards her, slowly. Lexa opens her eyes, still seeing.

And for just a moment, Clarke can see herself reflected in those pools of green. A shimmer of the evening light. Vague features. Not quite human. And the most brilliant thing of all—

—Great golden wings, folded neatly at her back.

And the sun sets. And her image is gone. Faded into the shadows of night.

Lexa lurches forward. Occupying her space. Not touching. Eyes desperately searching. Breath fast and heavy against Clarke’s face. But she cannot see her. Whatever the fleeting sunlight had shown her was gone with it.

Clarke leans up into her and presses a feather soft kiss to her cheek. Not enough to elicit the electric shock like before.

“What—” Lexa says, quietly; confused eyes still searching the clearing.

But Lexa straightens with a shake of her head. Rubbing at her eyes again before taking off down the path.

And Clarke?

Clarke follows.

Not a ghost then, she thinks.

An angel, she thinks. She knows.

An angel with great golden wings—