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Bayonet By My Side

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1.

The news comes in the form of an exhausted scout she recognizes from Anya’s troops. He bursts in, streaked with blood and smoke and fear, collapsing at her feet before Indra can catch him.

“Heda, they’re all gone!”

A loud murmur ripples through the crowd of warriors in the tent, everyone knowing exactly who they had to be. Lexa stands, hand resting on the hilt of her sword, flexing anxiously against the well worn leather and metal grip. She gestures with her free hand at Gustus, telling him to pick up the exhausted scout by the arm.

“Speak,” she says and watches as his eyes widen, realising who exactly he is talking to.

“We went to attack them, as you commanded, as Anya commanded. They were weak and untrained and we had them surrounded, it should have been a rout.” He pauses, licking his lips nervously. “But they turned on their spaceship.”

The murmur in the crowd is back, unbelieving with a hint of fear. If the Sky People could fix their ships, who could stop them?

“We broke through their defenses and Anya ordered the final assault when their leader called them all into the ship and closed the door, even leaving some of her own men behind. Anya managed to get in as the door closed. The warriors attacked the ship, but then there was a wall of flames that burned every last warrior alive.”

Lexa turns away as her people shout in anger, closing her eyes and clenching her jaw at the news that Anya, her own mentor, is in the hands of the enemy.

“Who is this leader?” Her voice is soft, but it cuts through the noise in the tent, silencing the calls for another attack.

“They called her Clarke. They say she is a healer, but her people followed her into death.”

Lexa turns back to the crowd, eyes searching for Indra and Gustus.

“I wish to meet this Clarke of the Sky People. Bring her to me.”

 

 

 

2.

Love is weakness.

This has been her mantra since Costia, and it is still something she believes. Mostly.

But trust, that is something that Lexa cannot live without. She trusts her warriors, her advisors, her scouts, her cooks, her guards, her blacksmiths. She trusts her people because without them, she is nothing, just a Commander of shadows.

It comes hard earned, not naturally, and it’s something she chooses to do.

The Sky People have not earned this trust yet.

So when Clarke refuses to leave her behind, even though she is injured and slow and will likely get them both killed, Lexa is surprised. She was at Clarke’s mercy and Clarke extended a hand in good faith. All this just days after Clarke was accused of trying to assassinate her and minutes after one of Lexa’s men tried to murder Clarke.

There still seems to be misunderstandings in every conversation they have, disagreements on how to lead and how to follow. Their people are constantly at each others throats, too much spilt blood running between them, but maybe there’s a chance for real trust to be built between them.

Lexa watches as Clarke sleeps, only the crackle of the fire breaking the silence of the dark night, and she wishes, hopes, that they could come to trust one another.

 

 

 

3.

The Mountain is impenetrable, all of her scouts and advisors and warriors have said this many times, but there was a plan. Clarke would get the doors open and Lexa would bring down the Mountain. Both their people would benefit and be able to remain allies into the future.

So when the doors remain shut and the bullets start raining down, Lexa begins going through back up plans in her head even as Clarke crouches next to her saying that her friends will come through and they just need to open the doors. And they might come through, but Lexa’s entire army is exposed and vulnerable, sitting right at the Mountain’s doorstep and ready for a slaughter.

The prisoner from the Mountain watches her, eyes steady and face smug, because he knows what she suspects. Her people will be mowed down like wheat if they try to enter through that door, victims of the multiple machine guns within.

She turns back to Clarke, taking in the furrow between her brows as she confers with Lincoln, organizing Lexa’s men into teams to pull open the door. She watches as Clarke pushes her blonde hair behind her ear and feels something settle within her chest, resigned.

Tearing her eyes away, she gestures for the prisoner to be brought forward.

“What does your leader propose?”

She tries to ignore how his smirk makes her feel like ice is creeping beneath her ribs. Clarke trusts her and this is what she must do.

But, oh, how she wishes there was another way.

 

 

 

4.

Clarke’s face is lit and burnished by the candlelight in her room, surprise and then a studied blankness slipping across it when she realizes it’s Lexa at the door. Lexa tries to keep her eyes on Clarke’s face, on the tightness of her jaw or the slant of her eyebrows, but she can’t quite help but let her gaze wander down to the robe Clarke is wearing.

“Is this ‘I told you so’?” Clarke asks, bringing Lexa back to her senses.

“No, this is ‘thank you,’” she responds, gratified to see Clarke’s expression soften at her words.

As Clarke wraps her hand in a freshly made bandage, Lexa is filled with the desire to just lean forward those scant inches and press her lips to Clarke’s and hope that Clarke would kiss her back.

There’s so much between them that remains unsaid, whether for fear of what it could mean or for the knowledge that their world is on the brink of war. Lexa knows that much of her life would be much easier if she didn’t put so much faith in Clarke and her people, binding them to her in an alliance that nearly resulted in her death in the arena and the destruction of the Coalition.

She loves Clarke, had admitted as much to herself during the months of Clarke’s absence. Lexa loves her, but knows that to do anything about it could tip them and their delicate alliance off the edge of the knife they’re all balancing on.

So she stays silent, just watches Clarke’s gentle movements tying the strip of fabric across her palm.

She stays silent and wishes they could do as they liked, without having to worry about the weight of the world upon their shoulders.

 

 

 

5.

Clarke has come to say goodbye.

She hasn’t yet said the words, but Lexa can read them in every line of her face and the way she’s standing. There’s regret and longing and resignation in her expression, emotions that Lexa knows all too well.

“I can’t stay here,” Clarke says, voice hesitant and cracking a bit at the edges. “Every day I’m here is another day that your people get closer to rebellion.”

“Clarke,” Lexa says, soft and trailing off into silence.

“They view me as your weakness, as something for them to blame you for and use against you.” She’s not wrong, Lexa has heard the rumours and mutterings both in the council and out in the world beyond the tower.

“Love is weakness,” she murmurs, a hint of a smile pulling at the corner of her mouth.

Clarke lets out a huff of laughter, eyes already wet with unshed tears. “You don’t mean that.” Her smile fades, leaving her looking lost.

“No, I don’t.” Lexa watches her steadily. “Clarke, you must know that I-“

“Please don’t say it,” Clarke chokes out, lifting a hand as if to stop the words in the air, “because then it will be way too hard to leave this room, and we both know I have to.”

Lexa steps forward, almost close enough to touch.

“Maybe someday, you and I will owe nothing more to our people.” Her voice is hopeful, hinting at a world where they could just be them, without the burdens and responsibilities of being the leaders of two nations on the brink of war.

The smile comes to Lexa’s face at the thought before fading as she realizes that this will be their last meeting for some time. “If you will not let me say it, then let me just say this.” Clarke’s eyes rise to meet hers. “It has been an honour to know you, Clarke of the Sky People.”

Clarke reaches forward and touches the back of Lexa’s hand. “Goodbye, Lexa.” And then she steps back, breaking their contact, and turns to leave the room.

Lexa watches her go and sends up a wish to whoever is listening that they meet again, in this lifetime or the next.

 

 

 

6.

She is bleeding out.

Black blood spreads on the dirt like a pool of tar, taking her life with it. Octavia presses down on the wound, fingers slipping on the thoroughly soaked cloth that is all that stands between Lexa and death.

Dimly, Lexa registers Octavia yelling a name repeatedly behind her. “Clarke! Where are you? Indra, find Clarke now!”

“Where’s Clarke?” Her voice is weak and lilting strangely to her ears.

“She’s coming, don’t worry.” Lexa’s not worried, but Octavia is crying, tears trailing kohl down her cheeks. “She’ll fix you.”

Clarke. Lexa hasn’t seen her since she left Polis weeks ago. They’ve been on opposite sides of a war neither of them truly believed in and Lexa just wishes she could have seen her one more time.

Lexa isn’t even feeling the pain anymore, just the sensation that she’s floating above her body, staring down at herself sprawled out on the ground with dead guards surrounding her. So many of her warriors have fallen, Lexa has no idea if they’re even winning anymore.

“Arkadia has surrendered! Bellamy shot Pike just as he was about to- Lexa!“ Clarke’s voice drifts over her, exultant and then terrified.

There are another pair of hands on her abdomen now, pressing down hard enough that it’s difficult to breathe, or maybe that’s the blood staining her mouth.

“Lexa? Stay with me, please stay with me!” The voice is familiar and desperate and Lexa opens her eyes. When had she closed them?

“Clarke,” she murmurs, looking up into those blue eyes that have haunted her for months. She’s about to say more when a coughing fit sends her into convulsions.

“Shhh, don’t talk, we need to get you to my mom, she’ll know what to do.” Clarke’s hands lift momentarily from the wound and then clamp down again when blood pumps out of it even faster.

“I’m done, Clarke,” Lexa says. Her vision is fuzzy around the edges and she can’t feel her feet. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t say that, don’t you dare tell me that you’re sorry.”

Tender fingers touch Lexa’s cheek softly and she smiles. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Clarke sobs, her shoulders heaving even as she leans forward to press a kiss to Lexa’s mouth, their first in weeks. “Your fight is over.”

Lexa reaches up to grab the hand on her cheek, holding on as her eyes close for the last time.

Clarke’s face is the last thing she sees.