Open your eyes
And there was someone else
You sleep beside her. Not because it isn’t dangerous, and not because Clarke is someone you should trust. You don't trust anyone.
But you are so tired. A lifetime of waiting cautious in the dark for a knife at your back or hands round your throat has brought on an apathy so strong as to drag you under. So you succumb, and you fall into dreams. If Clarke chooses to kill you, as you would have if the betrayal was hers, then you might just welcome it. Not because you want to die. But because Clarke’s lust for your death would mean she wants something more than just her own life to end.
And you are very tired.
You dream of a time before battle when you admitted too much. 'Not everyone, not you.'
It’s still dark when you wake so the time that you’ve slept can't be judged. Clarke has turned toward you in sleep, her fingers tangled in the fabric of your dress, and you feel as if you’ve fallen into the pages of a story book. Wrapped around a sleeping princess, you can’t find the motivation to leave. One of your arms is trapped between you, your hand resting against her stomach, the other warm on her hip. Clarke is peaceful and calm in sleep and your fingers twitch in longing to touch her hair or smooth over her cheek.
She lets out a deep breath and her eyes fall open. Her gaze comes into focus and she looks at you with a smile bright with gladness. Something small as a coin flips inside you at the sweetness of it but before you can share your own smile, the light flees from her; from memories of you and the things you both have done.
Her breath quickens in panic. She’s tense, eyes staring and scanning every corner of the room twice before spinning back to you then back to the room again. You force yourself to breathe slowly hoping your own calm will settle her.
Her eyes flick to your mouth, your eyes again and finally holds. You don't know what to say, how to reassure her. You take a breath, to tell her that everything is okay, but she takes that breath and replaces it with her own.
Lips crash into yours, her fingers tangle in your shirt and her kiss charges energy into your lips – into your blood stream.
There's nothing else in your mind then except Clarke as she opens her lips and slants her mouth against yours. Your fingers twist into the fabric over her hip, against her stomach, and you feel her tense, pulling you into her and relaxing. Clarke. Clarke surrounds you, is all you can feel. You groan and breathe heavy into each other's mouths, tongue and lips and teeth fall against yours as you both gasp and pull and shift into lying tight against one another.
She kisses you as if all she's ever needed is to drink your lips and drown in your breath.
A hand wanders up your bare arm, and one slips back down over your thigh past the edge of your dress which is rising with your movements. Her teeth pull at your lower lip as she grips your knee and tugs until your leg is wrapped over her hip. A pulse runs through you and it becomes clear for the first time how much you like being handled like that: Clarke put you where she wants you to be.
You have to pull back just enough to gasp. You lick at her mouth, and pull in her lower lip with both of yours.
"Clarke," you gasp as fuck trips from her tongue but she doesn’t releases the pressure of her lips from yours.
She continues to trail her fingertips up under your knee and higher towards your body, heat joins a thumping pulse between your thighs and your hips jerk forward. She gasps your name urgent and direct, pulls you in tighter, and shifts her thigh to press against you. A grunt escapes your throat and she presses her knee down again, her tongue licking past your teeth, fingers tangling in your hair.
You're already so over heated and she’s barely touched you.
"Please," you say against her lips, not knowing what you're asking for.
At the plea her hands tense against your neck and thigh, tight enough to bruise. Her mouth pulls from yours, both of you gasping.
For a moment you could feel her there with you, warm and present as she gasped your name. Now you feel her withdraw, she pulls away without even moving.
Clarke sighs a shaky breath against your cheek and the air stills between you. Her body curls from yours and she’s slipping away like so much water through you fingers. Her body is warm against you still, but her hands withdraw from your hair, and you can’t help but chase them to tangle your fingers with hers.
As you catch your breath she sighs and you can feel the sharp reprimand against herself in the shape of her spine, and the line of her shoulders. Regret. You share in each other's breath for long agonising minutes, foreheads resting together and your fingers tangled.
Finally, she pulls back, turns over and you chance a kiss to her shoulder. She curls closer to you, her back to your front and she doesn't have to ask you to wrap your arm around her waist. Your heart slams against your ribs and you can't deny any wanting impulse.
Your mind boiling over, you push away the hope her kiss brought you. The best you can ask for right now is that she stays with you for a few hours longer.
You fall back into sleep and dream of blissful impossible summers with Clarke by your side. You sprint through the woods of your childhood for fun instead of from fear, chasing the sun and the sky. You dream of a home with her, of welcome arms and open hearts. Clarke smiles and dances in your arms, twirling and laughing.
A child’s laughter startles you awake.
Clarke has left your arms as you dreamed. The space she occupied is still warm and you allow a deep breath of her beside you, allow yourself another moment of sweet fantasy before sitting up to fully awaken. She’s still there in the room and you find her without searching; out on the balcony she’s leaning against the rail and watching Polis start a new day.
You slide from the bed deliberately making noise as you approach. Her shoulders tense, fingers trail over the scars on one wrist.
"Don’t," she cuts you off but her voice softens as she continues. "If I hurt you enough, do you think you would kill me?"
Your breath pulls in, too much like a sob. Is that why she kissed you like she did? To hurt you? It doesn’t matter.
You consider telling her to go fuck herself but instead give, "No," as your firm reply. "I couldn’t—."
"You should go, Commander." Her voice is cold, and when you take another step toward her, she flinches.
Her reaction catches you in the gut, leaves you breathless, and you retreat to the door. You can't help but want her to stay and you turn back to her.
"There will be people here later if you need anthing."
Clarke doesn't respond but her good ear is turned toward you, listening.
"My home is yours." You hesitate, hoping for some sign that she won’t run from whatever happened last night. "For as long as you choose." Her shoulders move with breath but she doesn’t respond.
In the hallway with nothing but a flimsy door shut between you, a breath catches in your chest harsh enough to burn. You hurt for her. Pressing fingers to your eyelids to clear your mind you stumble into your closed door all elbows and knees. There’s a note pinned at eye level; the militia you set up to protect Polis and the alliance of twelve clans would benefit from their commander’s guidance. You scrunch the summons into a ball and toss it into the farthest corner of your room, resenting the obligation that draws you in.
You bathe first, washing away the soil, smell and textures of the farms. You wash away the feeling of Clarke asleep in your arms, the feeling you likely won’t experience again in this life. After so many months, your armour feels cold and restricting but the metal also feels real and right as it warms and moulds to your body. Your reflection in armour is more familiar than any other. If Anya stood behind you now this would be one of the clearest and most persistent images of your life.
The warrior Heda reflected here is who you are meant to be. Whether you like it or not.
At the barracks you learn that the rumours of bandits stalking the edges of your territory persist and you know you must take greater responsibility for this new Polis militia. The full strength of your Woods Clan with the eleven clans allied under your name must fall upon the criminals in your territory and this fledgling militia is your new right arm.
With a hundred soldiers training in formation at your feet you feel an echo of the elation war brought to your heart. Today you only feel regret. Regret for the rich farming soil so far from your hands, the soft farm clothes left folded in your room. You regret being so far from Clarke.
Despite your fears she stays in your home and takes your place on Ren’s farm. You don’t see her in the few hours you're home but you know that she’s there. You find small markers of her presence, her using your plates, reading your books, living and maybe thriving in a space that has been empty and disused for so long. Small signs of Clarke bringing life to those rooms give you hope that's bright if fleeting.
These past three nights you heard her crying.
Within the high stone walls of the new barracks Indra directs your warriors. She has a fierce growl that you can only ever replicate in war, she lives for the fight in a way that you are expected to, and you wonder why the commander’s Spirit chooses as she does, girls young as yourself. Indra kicks at the back of a straggling warrior, pushes him from her ranks, and you remember. Indra would have seen the sky people burn, could never have kept the coalition together. Only the young dream of peace. A young Heda will die for that dream, another dreamer can take her place, and little by little that peace can be won.
After hours of drills, a young woman wearing messenger colours appears at the barracks entryway and runs toward you.
"Heda, another group of traders was attacked."
You had feared this would happen before your militia was ready. "Any killed?" You will need to respond to this attack on your people.
"Two killed. Gunshots."
Her reply is breathless from more than her run and you can’t help but think of Clarke and her weapons hidden under your mattress.
The messenger continues. "They say it’s a man in Mountain colours."
It takes a long moment for you to register her meaning. The Mountain has fallen, Clarke saw to that. Except there was still one left, Bellamy of the sky people told you as much a year ago, when they came looking for Clarke in Polis, looking for her with you.
"Emmerson," you growl out the name as you remember his face.
You remember that night when the blood of his brethren was fresh hot on your blade and splashed across your skin. He dared look you in the eye as he offered up a deal for your people. Not his deal. A better man’s corrupted attempt at peace.
"Heda?" The messenger knows as well as you that action must be taken, that her day, like yours, has only just started.
"I want his head!" Your voice is loud enough to catch Indra’s attention and she breaks the warriors' formation in favour of joining you. "The Mountain Man has attacked and killed two of our people," you tell her.
Indra doesn’t need the same moment to remember. Your retreat had torn Indra’s prideful spirit and she blames the mountain men rather than you. "Heda, let me take a group of our warriors out to find him—"
"He has evaded us for too long." You turn back to the messenger. "Offer him up to anyone with a blade. Bring his head to me for a reward. Whatever they would ask."
Indra is just as thirsty as you are. "But Heda—"
"Now!" You leave the confining barracks before the urge to draw your sword becomes too strong and Indra has the good sense not to follow you.
You don’t know where you’re walking to until you’re deep into the forest. The air is calm but for the insects and wind and life in the trees. You walk further, and the smells of farmlands mingle with overheated undergrowth. You’re searching for Clarke. You know it’s foolish but that understanding is quashed beneath the need to see her alive and well. You slow just in time to keep from crashing out into the open, the last line of trees between you and Ren’s farm. You don’t know what field she could be working in but instinct has drawn you here.
Clarke is close, crouched down in a small crop plucking something green into a cloth bag. She looks serene in the sunlight, pretty and golden, face shaded by a wide floppy hat, her body wrapped in light coloured cloth. She appears almost happy and you understand the selfishness of your impulse to come here. You aim to turn away but it’s too late, your arrival was noticed, your purpose assumed and a girl you recognise from your time here approaches Clarke.
Clarke turns to Elise as she approaches and you feel a spike of jealousy at the smile the girl receives. Elise says something and points toward the trees where you’re still visible enough though shrouded in cold shadow. Clarke says a few more words to Elise and passes the bag of greens to her with thanks. When she turns back to the woods the smile has fallen from her eyes and you hate that you came here. It’s too late to leave so you wait, holding tight to the hilt of your sword and praying for some kind of strength.
Clarke takes off her layers of sun protection as she reaches the shade, indulging in the cool that you know will be welcome after the heat outside. There’s that small flip in your stomach as you drink her in. She appears soft and young again dressed as she is in loose slacks and a soft singlet which clings to her sides. There’s more scars visible on her arms, her neck and shoulders but still she appears more girl than warrior.
You can’t help the mental leap that brings the image to your mind of Emmerson standing over her – the image of Clarke as she is now, except broken and bloodied by his hands. Clarke sees the tension in you and steps closer, reaching out on impulse.
"What’s wrong?" Concern for others is like breathing to Clarke and you smother the hope her tone provokes in you.
You remember how she begged with tears in her eyes for you to take away her burdens and you don’t want to tell her, but you can’t deny her answers when she looks at you as she does now.
"Emmerson." Only his name makes it through your gritted teeth but Clarke understands.
She freezes over in a second, the openness of moments ago is shuttered and gone. You think you see a glimmer of fear in her eyes and rush to sooth her.
"You are safe here." It’s more than you should promise.
"I should go." She turns, wrapping herself up against the bright sun and not waiting for a response before walking way.
You want to call after her. You want to say her name and see her turn back to you with all the sweetness you remember from a year ago. You want to hold and protect her but she doesn’t want you, your comfort or your protection. She knows and she will keep herself safe if she chooses to.
The militia keeps you from returning home until late in the evening and by the time you can check, Clarke her weapons and everything she arrived with are already gone. Clarke has fled and you can't send someone after her – she is not yours to keep.
You allow Indra to form her hunting party but don’t revoke the bounty on Emmerson, seeing every advantage in hurrying the man’s execution by whatever means available to you.
Clarke is gone for two restless nights and on the second morning you wake with a resolve to find her, to protect her until Emmerson is dealt with. The sky is only grey with dawn and it takes the thought of what could have woken you to notice the weight on the edge of your bed. A knife is in your hand and against her throat before you realise that Clarke has slipped so quietly into your room.
"You are getting too complacent here," she comments, turning to look at you.
She’s dressed as she was on her arrival in Polis though her clothes show more mud and green now than dust. She has a fresh cut on her cheek which will likely scar but she looks almost lighter for it. Her eyes are less haunted than they were a few days ago.
You take your blade from her throat – her blade really, since it is the one you took from her when she first arrived, and turn your back on her to return the weapon to your bedside. She scoffs at how comfortable you are with her.
"I am tired," you shrug as you settle against your pillows, feet tucked under the blankets and hands resting on your knees.
"You kwelness," she says and you know she’s not talking about your lack of sleep. She makes you weak.
"I’m glad to see you, Clarke." The admission comes half from your exhaustion, half from relief that she is safe. All logic says you are foolish to trust her now and maybe you are but you would risk much more than death for her.
"Is the bounty still offered for Emmerson?" She turns away from you, from the way that you look at her.
"You are safe here," you insist longing to touch her in some small way.
"That’s not what I asked." Her voice is soft, like she’s reminding you of some small thing.
"Yes, there is still an offer."
"Good." She kicks something with her feet and you peer over the edge of your bed to see a rough knotted bag rolled across the floor toward you. Bile rises in your throat as you recognise the shape and weight of its contents. Clarke stands, silhouetted against the window with her hand resting on the hilt of a machete hanging new and heavy on her hips. "I’m here to collect."
You swallow, breathing hard through your nose. You have made the mistake of assuming too much based on too little. Clarke is scared, and she wants to die, but she is far from helpless. That’s why she needs you.
"Why would you go after him?" You swing your legs off the bed avoiding the bag with Emmerson’s head.
Her lips are a firm line before she replies. "The bounty." You know there are wounds festering beneath this cool mask.
You scoff wanting to provoke her, to see the fire which drove her to hunt him down, which only shows as a flicker behind her eyes. "I thought I was the liar."
Clarke bristles at you using her own words. "He– whatever else has happened to me…" She points at the bag on the floor. ‘He is one of my nightmares."
She straightens and grips the hilt of the machete hanging heavy from her belt. "Dead men aren’t hungry."