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Up through the ashes I'll rise

Chapter Text

 “What are you doing ?”

The girl cracked an eye open and identified the silhouette standing above her. She smiled and released a humourless laugh, cut short by the intense pain in her chest “It seems I am dying”

“Do you want to ?”

With a soundless voice and another smile the girl answered “I lost”

“Lost what ?”

“Everything” at that tears started trailing the smiling girl’s cheeks.

“People are waiting for you”

The girl breathed as deeply as her aching chest permitted her for a few seconds before repeating in a weak breath “I lost” after another breath she added “And now I am dead”

“Did you want to die ?”

The girl closed her dripping eyes, feeling consciousness leaving her sore and cold body with each intake of air “Maybe”

“Your fight is not over”

The girl opened her eyes again with difficulty and her smile faded “I want to rest”

“It’s selfish”

“I wish I could be” an almost imperceptible breath permitted the girl to add “For once”

After a few seconds of a deadly silence, the girl took what she knew was her last breath and then exhaled a quiet “Clarke” before closing her eyes for good.

 

Black. Cold. Pain. And… something else. Something soft. Something warm, foreign and at the same time terribly familiar. It was strong. Almost sickening. But sweet. A smell ? What was it again ? Cinnamon ! Yes it was Cinnamon. Such a nostalgic smell. She hadn’t smelled cinnamon in an eternity. An eternity ? Had it really been that long ? That long that she had been sick ? That long that she had been a child ? She wished to return to that house she was sharing with her parents before… Before everything. But maybe she was after all. Maybe she had indeed returned to that house. Maybe that’s what happen when you die. Now she wanted to open her eyes. She wanted to see. To confirm. To go back. To rest in this fantasy of hers, wrapped in cinnamon’s smell and the warmth of a bed made of soft, clean furs.

So she opened her eyes. Slowly. She saw nothing at first, her vision blurred by the time her eyes had spent closed. Then forms appeared. Meet drying, hung to the ceiling. A huge wooden cupboard. A table with what looked like a dead rabbit. The room was dark, the only light being a glowing inconstant one coming from her right.

Then she heard. She heard the crackling of the fire. The boiling of the water. And a voice. A sweet, warm, humming voice. She heard the thuds of the rocking chair on the ground. She heard the contented sleepy moans.

It wasn’t her house. Her old family house that had burnt with her parents years ago. She wasn’t familiar with the place. But she felt so warm, so at peace. She got curious. She wanted to know. To know who the owner of the beautiful, soothing voice was but… Fear. Fear seized her. She feared that everything would disappear if she dared looking at her. Her. Yes it was a woman’s voice. She closed her eyes. Relaxing. The voice seemed both distant and close. But most of all so, so warm. It was husky, deep and shining. She didn’t know how but the voice was shining. She loved it. That voice. She loved it and wanted to look. The woman, the owner of the voice would undoubtedly be beautiful.

She opened her eyes again and slowly, she turned her head to her right.

And she saw her.

She saw the blonde hair. The blonde, glowing curly hair. And the bent back. Yes the woman had her back turned on her and she was bent over something, was holding something. The chair she was sitting in was slowly rocking in a calm but regular, soothing rhythm. The thing the woman was holding seemed small, hidden behind the long hair. But then the woman put a blonde lock behind her ear and she saw.

Suddenly she felt out, invading, occupying a place that was not hers. Witnessing something as precious as forbidden, something pure and meant to remain untouched. She was an outsider violating the intimacy of a delicate moment of eternity, a ghost witnessing life. A life she had lost. A life that she didn’t deserved.

She turned her head to the left, focusing her gaze on the wall. Then she closed her eyes. The last thing she remembered before opening them again was the hot, single tear that ran down her cheek.

 

“You’re finally up huh ?” The husky voice said. “You slept for three days you know ?”

Her eyes were still closed when the cold wet cloth gently touched her burning forehead.

“You’re sick. A mean cold. But you’ll be ok in a few days. Well if you’re willing to open your eyes and eat” She felt a weight settling next to her “Open your eyes Lexa, I know you can”

Lexa followed orders then. And green met blue. Green met blue for the first time in two years. Green met blue and green watered. Lexa cried. She didn’t know what was the reason but tears started to run down her cheeks in a steady flow.

She was alive. Clarke was alive. They were here in a comfy and warm house and they were both alive. Or dead. At this point it didn’t mattered for Lexa. Clarke was here with her and she was lying in a bed and felt good and at peace for the first time in forever. If THAT was death then she was glad to be dead.

“Hey Lexa stay with me” Clarke snapped her fingers in front of the brunette’s face “I know you’re weak but you won’t heal if you don’t eat. Come on. Here, drink. You’re dehydrated” Clarke took a glass from the bedside table and raised it to Lexa’s lips. “You can do it. I want you to drink Lexa” The blonde’s tone was soft but worried, hurrying. Blinking her tears out of her eyes one more time, Lexa took a sip. Then a second one. She hadn’t realised how much she needed to drink until the third one. She ended up emptying the glass which brought a small genuine smile on Clarke’s lips.

“Here, that’s better. I’ll fill you a bowl of soup, give me a minute”

Lexa watched her stand and in a blink of a tired eye Clarke was back on the side of her bed, a fuming bowl in her hands. The brunette tried to lift an arm but stopped groaning and wincing in pain.

“Both of your arms are broken. Same goes for your ribcage. It’s a miracle you survived”

So I really am alive huh ?

“I’ll feed you. Open your mouth” Clarke lifted the big spoon, blew on it to cool the soup before stuffing it into the brunette’s mouth.

A whimper escaped Lexa’s throat at the feeling of the warm tasty liquid sinking in her. Clarke smiled and repeated the operation. They continued like that, in silence until the bowl was empty. Then Clarke stood and Lexa spoke for the first time in what seemed like forever.

“I’m alive” Her voice was husky and tired and broken.

“You are”

“Why did you save me ?”

“You said ‘could’” Lexa’s questioning brow hurried Clarke to pursue. The blonde sighed “You… You said ‘I wish I could be selfish’. You said ‘could’. You didn’t want to die” she paused and added “It wasn’t your time and you know it” as if her previous explanation wasn’t enough.

Lexa took some time to process and let Clarke’s words sink into her. In the meantime the blonde had gone to retrieve the rocking chair from the corner of the room and placed it next to Lexa’s bed.

“Still. Why saving me?” I betrayed you. You hate me. “You have a life” She nodded in the cradle direction “You have a life far from war and horror. I am the war”

Clarke sat in the rocking chair, eyes focused on her hands in her lap, lost in thoughts. After a minute, she talked “I’m not sure”

“I heard you were dead”

“Well officially I am.  But starting today I’ll plan my resurrection” Lexa frowned. Maybe Clarke had lost her mind in the end. Maybe they were both dead and half crazy. “I’ll tell you my side of the story and I’ll say it just once so pay attention” Lexa gave her a firm nod and the blonde smiled briefly before turning expressionless and Lexa’s heart froze.

“Ok. I’ll start from the beginning. Two years ago, after the mountain, I left camp Jaha. I survived two weeks. And when I say survive I mean it. Then out of hunger and thirst and exhaustion, I collapsed somewhere on the river’s bank. The next thing I remember is waking up in the same bed you’re in, being taken care of by an old man and his wife. Their names were Bran and Lissa. They saved me, welcomed me as their own without asking any question. They didn’t know English and I was mentally broken so my first weeks here were spent in silence” The blonde let out a shaky breath, reliving her painful memories. Then she sighed “After two months of doing nothing but contemplating the world moving around me, I finally asked him what was the trigedasleng for spoon” The blonde’s face lit up with a small smile, smile that grew wider with every syllables of the rest of her story and Lexa started to feel warm again. “After that I decided that I’d pay them back for their kindness. I started to help them with the farm. They were horse breeders. They taught me trigedasleng, to take care of horses, to hunt, to fish and even fight. Bran was always saying I should know how to fight because we needed to protect the horses. There are bears in this forest. They took ten horses from us in the past two years but we managed to kill three of them” Clarke motioned to the fur covering Lexa. The blonde’s tone was light, like a child telling a story “They also had a cow and some chicken”

Then Clarke suddenly shut down, her shoulders dropping and her eyes watering. It was unexpected and Lexa didn’t know what to do. She tried to lift an arm again but the simple movement of her fingers was painful. So she just stared at the crumbling girl in front of her and she felt so weak… Clarke looked to the ceiling taking a jerky breath then looked back at Lexa, trying to hold her tears. “Then last winter Lissa fell sick. A terrible virus. She died in a week. I did all I could but…” The blonde had to pause and Lexa to close her eyes. The epidemic that had raged last year had been a blast and the beginning of the end...

“Then two weeks later it was Bran’s turn. He told me to take care of the horses. Told me he and his wife had had a son a long time ago but he had been taken by the mountain and turned into reaper. Told me they hadn’t known me for a long time but for a moment they had been happy to have me making them feel like a family again” Tears were running on Clarke’s cheeks when Lexa opened her eyes again. The brunette opened her mouth to talk but the girl raised a hand to shut her. Clarke breathed deeply for a moment. She sighed again and pusued “After that I took over their farm. Then six months ago by a quirk of fate, a couple knocked at my door. It was Lincoln and Octavia and she was on the verge of giving birth. I had never thought that I would be so happy to have spent my childhood in my mom’s operation room. The delivery was hard. She lost a lot of blood and almost died but she made it” At that Clarke’s smile was back and the tears still wetting her cheeks seemed lighter and brighter.

Then realisation hit the brunette and her cheeks flushed “You mean, that baby… Isn’t yours …?”

The blonde frowned “What ? No !” she laughed lightly, finally wipping her face with the back and palms of her hands “No, of course not !”

Lexa released a breath she didn’t know she was holding and felt ridiculous. She hated that when her jealousy blinded her and made her jump to conclusions. She was 22 now but she felt like an 8 years old and it frustrated her. Her cheeks reddened even more and she wished the other girl could think it was the fever’s fault.

Clarke fully aware of the weird look on the woman’s face pitied her and went back to her story “Her name is Selina” She pointed to the cradle “I’ll show her to you later when she’ll wake up. You’ll see, she’s Octavia’s exact replica !” she laughed again then sobered and said seriously “I heard about political tensions and the war against the Azgeda. So tell me Lexa, why were you dying in this river three days ago ?”