I stand next to her just outside the gate, exhaustion and aching sore wounds and muscles weighing me down every second, but I can't help the feeling of pride as I take in the scene in front of us. Camp Jaha residents treat and feed the remaining 48 as well as the guard, family and friends reuniting as recognition is common on my people's faces.
"I think we deserve a drink." I tell the princess.
"Have one for me." An uneasy feeling begins to creep through my chest at her words.
"Hey, we'll get through this." I say determinedly, though as I nod my head, I'm not sure if I'm trying to convince her or myself as well.
"I'm not going in." She says in a defeated tone and the unease blossoms into panic. My mind races as to what can convince her otherwise and I remember the words she once spoke to me.
"Clarke, if you need forgiveness," I start, turning to make eye contact with her. "Then I'll give it to you. Alright? You're forgiven." Her tearful eyes that reveal her guilt, turn from mine back to the Camp and I can see her wavering.
This beautiful, strong, courageous girl, who I'd written off on Day One as an annoying stuck up know-it-all princess, was now the only person who truly understood me and the decisions I'd made and the reasoning behind them all. She was my partner, my equal, my friend, and now she wanted to leave.
I understood that in my absence, and even before I'd left to spy, that she was being burdened with choices no one should have to make, and she'd purposefully shouldered them herself, making sure I wasn't even given the option to lessen that load. That burden was only just now starting to sink in. I could see it in the lost look in her eyes and this time I wanted her to see that I could help. That I would help.
But after just a moment she steels herself and I realize I'm going to lose her. "Please come inside." I practically beg her, my voice trembling from my desperation. After days of separation and only using a radio for communication, I couldn't bear the thought of not having her with me. She was my co-leader, always challenging me, thinking logically and always calculatingly when I wanted to act rashly. We worried about our people together, always looking out for them.
She takes a breath. "Take care of them for me." She requests and my eyes widen.
"No, seeing their faces every day, is just gonna remind me of what I did to get them there." She explains but I shake my head vehemently.
"What we did . . . you don't have to do this alone." I tell her solemnly, wishing she would realize that I can help her carry the weight of her misery and remorse. But she takes a shaky breath and takes one more look at the Camp before turning back to me.
"I bear it, so they don't have to." Clarke says, a tear finally escaping down her cheek and with it, my hopes of her standing by my side to help rebuild, come crumbling down.
"Where are you gonna go?" I ask, hoping she'll have some sort of plan like she always does that will eventually bring her back to where she belongs.
"I don't know." She answers honestly. She takes a step forward, embracing me and I feel a tingle of electricity as she kisses me on the cheek, her lips soft and supple. My arms automatically come up around her and I try to savor this lasting moment with her before she turns her mouth to my ear and breathes four final words.
"May we meet again." Her voice cracks and with it so does my heart knowing she's not just leaving her mom or the remaining 48 . . . but me as well and I can't help it as my own eyes start to water. Clarke steps back and I catch her gaze and in it I can see just how much she is struggling against her grief and guilt at the wake of death from the war. It makes me realize she's more than just strong and brave. She's . . . Clarke.
She starts to walk away and I stare at my feet for a moment before tempting a glance back. Her retreating figure is only a few yards away and I have to fight every instinct in my body that is screaming to run after her and refuse to let her leave. I turn back to the Camp and take a deep breath as a single drop spills down my face.
"May we meet again." I breathe to myself, praying that it will come true.