It starts like this: Clarke banishes Finn.
In the end it is all she can do for him. The Grounders want him dead, The Commander wants him dead, and so more than two thirds of their camp want him dead, in turn. It’s an easy choice to make. Give up the Spacewalker — the Murderer, they’re now calling him — or be murdered, in turn.
Abby holds that it is immoral to give him up, Jaha pleads that it is her duty to think of all under her care. The council meets, and deliberates, and reaches no conclusion.
What kind of society are we that we would build ourselves up from the death of a child, a councilman asks, gritty voiced, his hands digging into his skull.
Who will be left to build a society from, Jaha responds, dull voiced, wet eyed. No one has an answer.
Clarke sees her mother, sees the tired rings around her eyes, sees her slumped shoulders and her nervous fidgeting. Sees the way her eyes flick towards the medic tent — towards Kane, who is still asleep. Kane, who has always had to ability to do the wrong thing for the right reasons, would know what needs to be done. Clarke knows Abby, knows her mother desperately wants Kane to wake, to help her with this, to help her with it all. Kane is needed, badly.
He is needed to give the order.
(But Kane hasn’t awoken since his return. The Grounders dropped him unceremoniously at the front of the camp, two men with thick beards and hard eyes. They followed the sea of guns pointed at their heads with open resentment, their gaze landing on Clarke's. One motioned to her, approached her cautiously. He will be alright, he said. He needs only resting, he said. And then, one hour left.)
Clarke can feel the restlessness in the camp growing, knows they have very little time to make a decision. Knows the Commander is minutes away from giving the order to storm the camp. Knows people are scared, Abby is scared, Raven is scared. Finn is terrified. Clarke knows.
She thinks of running away with him, briefly. Murphy, who has taken to following Finn around with a gun pointed at anyone who so much as looks at him, is sending her looks she knows mean run. Octavia would come, Raven would come. Lincoln, maybe. Bellamy. They could get guns. Enough bullets for a couple dozen Grounders, if they're lucky. But Clarke doesn't know where they would go. Doesn't know that there is anywhere left to run to. Doesn't know that she has the strength.
And she is so tired of running.
In the end, it falls to Clarke. Jaha cracks first, and Abby cracks last. She lets out half-a-sob, half-a-sigh, and her shoulders slump until she's barely supporting her weight on the table. All of them know what must be done. None of them know how to do it. Her voice trembles slightly.
"Clarke," she says. "Clarke, what would you have me do?"
She is not asking for advice, this much is clear.
Clarke swallows the bile rising in her throat, and feels it burn all the way down. She is acutely aware of the eyes that are trailed, not on Finn, as they were before, but on her. Raven looks up, quick, pleading. Finn is immobile. She feels Bellamy's eyes the hardest, digging into her skull, and she wants to reach back to him, wants to find support. She stays still. Bellamy knows, she thinks. Maybe.
She doesn't remember a time when it was this hard to be Clarke Griffin. Wishes things could go back to that, somehow.
But it was never Abby who knew how to rule on Earth, and Clarke thinks people have begun to perceive this. It was never Jaha, or Kane, who knew how to survive down here, on the ground. The council members were more reluctant than others, perhaps, to recognize this. But in the end...
So it starts like this: Clarke banishes Finn.
She turns around, motions for the doors to be opened, gives her hand to Finn, and hoists him to his feet. She feels the stillness of his palms, and strokes her thumb across his fingers out of habit, out of comfort. It’s going to be alright, she wants to say, but she finds she cannot speak. Finn’s eyes are pleading, she feels them on her back. She cannot turn around, so she allows herself the small comfort of his hand in hers. Across the room, her eyes meet Bellamy's. He already knows, she thinks, because he presses the button to open the door, and follows immediately when Clarke marches Finn out of the council room.
Outside the crowd has gathered to hear the final decision. Restless, they mutter when they see her drag Finn out into the open, eyes glazed with suspicion. There is the man who called for his death, and Murphy is quick to point his gun at him. There are concerned parents who have yet to see their children return from Mount Wether. Above all, there are grown men, grown women, children, trembling. Scared.
"Murderer," someone says. Out of the corner of her eye, Clarke sees Finn’s shoulders slump.
"I can’t let you do this, I can’t let you, I deserve to die," Finn whispers, and his shoulders shake slightly. She cannot look him in the eye, but this is nothing new. Her eyes are glued onto Bellamy's. She runs her hand softly across Finn's palm.
You misunderstand me, she hopes the action says. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, she hopes it says. She cannot look away from Bellamy.
“I have been given the authority to make a decision” Clarke says, and her voice does not waver.
A small victory.
“The Grounders want Finn for retribution’s sake, but this is not the way of our people," she starts. Her eyes do not move from Bellamy's. "The Chancellor cannot condemn a child to suffer for our benefit. That is not our way. We have endured life in space, as we have endured life on Earth. And we have done so by doing what is right for our people. And we will do now what is right for our people. And Finn...Finn is one of us, too. We must do what is right by him.”
The crowd starts to murmur, but is silenced by Bellamy’s raised hand, and Murphy's gun.
“The law of our people is clear. For the crime of murder, the punishment —“
"The punishment is death!", someone from the crowd calls. Murphy swivels the barrel towards the source of the sound. Clarke shakes her head.
“No,” she says. “No, the punishment is banishment. We float him.”
There is silence.
“Finn will be free to choose to run, or to turn himself in to the Grounders. But this camp no longer claims any affiliation with him. We renounce his protection. We renounce...”
Clarke tries her best to ignore the silent tears that streak down Finn’s face. Ignores Raven's cry of protest, ignores the way Octavia catches her eye in surprise. Ignores Murphy, whose gun is now lowered, pointed at the ground. Ignores the wavering of her voice, suddenly shaky. She pulls her hand out of Finn's, and finds she still cannot look at him. Finds, perhaps, that she cannot look away from Bellamy.
"I'm sorry," she says to Finn. Bellamy's eyes are dark and she cannot read them, but she sees no tears. Raven reaches out - perhaps to throw a punch, perhaps to shake some sense into Clarke, but she is stopped by Octavia's arm. Clarke thinks she hears Raven swear at her before she is pulled off by Octavia. Vicious bitch, she thinks she hears. How could you.
"We renounce," Clarke tries to say against the oppressive silence, but there is not air enough in her lungs to finish the sentence.
“We renounce him,” Bellamy finishes. There is no waver in his voice.