You were right Clarke. Life should be about more than just surviving.
The next Commander will protect you.
I don’t want the next Commander. I want you!
Clarke awoke suddenly on the stony ground. Her muscles tensed reflexively and her breaths came slow and even. Her eyelids fluttered closed after awakening seeking the required peace and detachment that was necessary for survival. At least in dreams, she could remember the spirits of those long past. Her father and mother. Her best friend. Her lovers. She could remember one particular smile and voice above all others. Yet, in the morning, the exact color of her eyes and the quirk of lips faded and all that remained were the sketches of a dead woman’s face unburdened in sleep.
Strong arms pushed from the earth and brought her to sitting. The surrounding warriors were already preparing to ride to the small Trikru village. These men and women were among her personal guard. All were warriors sworn to live and die for her. Wanheda was feared after she had nearly decimated the Skaikru in the war following Heda Lexa’s abrupt death. And then Wanheda destroyed the source of humanity’s end and the very origin of the Skaikru’s presence in space.
Heda’s spirit lived to surpass Lexa’s legacy. And Clarke was still alive much to her own disappointment. Most all of her friends and family were dead or either held at arms length. Out of the original hundred delinquents sent to earth, there were 23 remaining.
“Clarke,” Octavia said quietly standing above her.
The warrior was hardly recognizable from the soft girl who had been trapped under a floorboard for sixteen years. Her face was riddled with scars and her body inked heavily. Her hair was braided and twisted in a fashion held away from her face. She was strong, and capable with weapons adorning her body as royalty in the old world wore jewels. She was one of the few people who actually knew Clarke as a person and not as the legendary Wanheda, the Mountain Slayer, and former lover of Heda Lexa, savior of humanity and protector of the legacy of Heda.
Their gazes met and Clarke found solace in the unrelenting pain and sadness reflected in Octavia’s eyes. They understood one another well.
Wisdom. Compassion. Strength.
It had become her mantra. The pillars of Heda were also her burdens as well as her oath to protect the Heda’s legacy and the peaceful rule that Lexa had begun near the end of her sovereignty. Part of Clarke wished she were strong enough to live as Lexa had wished her to, but she found comfort in the love that she held for the people and they for her. It was enough. It had to be enough.
“We’re almost packed and ready.”
Her dark braids swung as she looked about the camp and Clarke followed her gaze. Octavia stared at her for a moment from her peripheral and Clarke wondered what she saw. She stood and adjusted her clothing. The cobalt blue sash on her left shoulder was a near match to Lexa’s red adornment years before. She donned her armor and brushed her own heavily braided hair way from her face, a face that held scars, although one thickened patch of skin running diagonally from her left temple to her lips was the most noteworthy. She placed her golden circlet about her forehead, the golden symbol of Heda branded in the center.
Octavia ordered the warriors with a shrill whistle and a wave of her hand before turning back to regard Clarke one last time.
“You look like shit.”
Clarke sighed internally walking over to her horse and stroking the mares’ sinewy neck. Once settled she gently pressed her heels into the horses flank and began a light trot into the early morning.
They rode at a moderate pace. They made good time in their journey to the outskirts of Trikru territory. Normally such diminutive assignments were beneath her, but Clarke agreed to humor the current Heda and collect the Night Bloods. In every Night Blood she saw Lexa, and she wanted to protect the chosen as well as distance herself out of fear. Her flighty nature left many confused, herself included. Clarke harbored in Polis as much as she traveled and returned only when she was needed or felt ready to face the reality of a world where she was nearly utterly alone and left with the memories of the hell that had become her life.
Octavia rode besides her on a beautiful dark brown horse opposite of Clarke’s white mare. Her hips swayed easily with the horse underneath her; one of her many talents in addition to the ability of commanding death. It left many afraid of her. She was a ghost, a legendary symbol that made others uncomfortable. To see her was to invite death. Clarke stayed true to the legacy of Heda, and operated with Heda settling disputes or invoking her wrath when she felt it pertinent. She was a soldier of death, and to displease Heda, was to invoke the wrath of Wanheda. In reality, Heda was a symbol that ruled under the order of peace under the scrutiny of Wanheda. To displease Wanheda was to summon death and invoke the Conclave.
Since Heda Lexa’s reign there had been nine other’s to take up her mantle, including the current Heda Armon kom Sandkru. Clarke found him capable and somewhat agreeable. There had only been two successors Clarke had found necessary to replace, one of which was the Heda immediately succeeding Lexa, Ontari kom Azgeda. Few Heda’s lived past a year. Some had died from accidents, a few in battles; one had even taken their own life. Clarke felt partially responsible for their deaths; however, as she swore to protect the legacy that was Heda in honor of Lexa, she could not find it within her heart to care for the people, the hosts that housed the artificial intelligence. Only Lexa had been real to her and she wanted to preserve the memory of her for as long as she remained cursed to walk the Earth.
In truth, Clarke denied that any form of Lexa still existed despite the artificial intelligence’s capacity to store memory and function. She denied it even when each new Heda sought a private audience after their Ascension Day and kneeled at her feet and swore fealty to her. She ignored the way the Heda’s stood with their hands clasped behind their back and asked for her opinion on matters of state and headed her advice and rolled their eyes when they entered into more heated debates. Despite any similarities, Clarke knew that the brain was capable of remembering words and actions and small mannerisms.
None of them were Lexa. It was the way they said her name, or tried to say her name, more importantly. It reminded her each time that Lexa was gone forever. It was why she demanded that the Heda call her Wanheda even in private.
“I heard Titus’ death was sudden.” Octavia said from besides her. The sudden use of Gonasleng startled her despite Octavia’s use of it earlier. She seldom spoke it and rarely visited the thirteenth clan in Arkadia or it’s leader Sinclair.
Clarke kept her gaze forward refusing to acknowledge the statement. “Some kind of accidental gun wound as he was organizing old world artifacts?” Octavia raised an eyebrow and Clarke spared her a small glance but was otherwise silent. Octavia sighed. “I never liked the bastard anyway,” she said under her breath. Clarke’s grip tightened around the reigns of her horse. “It’s a good thing he was training his successor for the last few years. Very convenient.”
The inflection in her voice served to imply that she knew it was not an accident. Clarke finally turned her head. It mattered not if anyone knew the truth. She had been waiting to replace Titus for some time and rid his presence from the world. His replacement was chosen by her specifically and she found the man much more reliable and trustworthy than his predecessor. The new Fleimkeppa also feared her wrath and would never go against her or pose any threat to Heda.
“Yes, it is.” She responded at last. “How is Indra?” Forcing herself to make conversation was not an easy task. Clarke was curt more often than not and very few tings penetrated her heart and ignited the passion she felt for life as when she was eighteen.
Octavia scoffed but a quirk of her lips and the softening of her eyes made Clarke respond in kind.
“She’s a pain in the ass, as usual.”
The words were harsh, but the affection was unmistakable. Indra was a wise general and advisor, but she no longer led armies to battle. There was little battle these days. Indra was the only family Octavia had left. Her brother, Bellamy had been executed by death of a thousand cuts, with her leading the tortuous death and Clarke ending it when he was finally dead with a sword piercing his chest. The list of crimes were too long and justice necessary to end his life and suffering as it had happened with Finn. He had killed too many innocents, and he had welcomed death at that point. Clarke was only too happy to give it to him. She had not seen Octavia cry over his death once. She understood why. Some actions could never be completely forgiven or forgotten. It was one of the reasons they stayed in contact over the last seven years. There were few left who understood the pain and what they had been through. They had both lost their lovers and had never found nor wanted to find another to replace them. It was an impossible task.
“You say this about most people,” Clarke rebuked with a quirk of her eyebrow.
Octavia nodded as if she was being especially dumb. “Because most people are.” Clarke grinned and returned her gaze to the front noting the brush and the thick forest. They were almost at their destination.
“Not that I mind, but why are we collecting a Night Blood?” Octavia questioned. “Usually they get sent straight to the capitol.”
Clarke took a minute to respond and felt Octavia waiting for her response. “Heda Armon requested I bring her to Polis personally.”
“He did, did he? And we all know you answer at his beck and call.” Her voice oozed sarcasm and Clarke looked at her sharply in warning. It was true that Clarke answered to no one, not even Heda. Octavia returned the fierce expression. “What’s the real reason?” she sat up higher in her seat. “Did he finally find what he’s been looking for?”
A puzzled expression clouded her face. “He’s been looking for something?”
Octavia was very fond of treating others like idiots, especially when she had the upper hand. “Octavia,” she growled in warning.
“Forgive me oh mighty Wanheda.” She rolled her eyes but divulged the information. “It has been rumored that the Commander’s have been searching for something since-” Octavia paused and Clarke’s heart clenched, “since Lexa.”
Clarke’s shoulders tensed reflexively as her eyes misted. She relaxed her body and took a shaky breath cursing her weakness and the love she still held for a lover long dead.
“I was not aware,” she said softly proud that her voice did not waiver. Octavia spared her a concerned glance to which she ignored. It was not uncommon for them to speak of their past, or of Lincoln and Lexa, but some days were better than others, and some deaths easier to forget.
“What is it that he is looking for?” she asked after subtly clearing her voice.
Octavia shrugged. “I don’t really know. Could be a thing or a person. All I know is that each Heda has been keeping tabs on something, especially around this village, especially since a few years ago. Or I could just be spreading gossip.” She shrugged again clearly unconcerned.
Clarke’s brows wrinkled in confusion. Surely she would have known if there was some secret. There were few things that she was unaware of regarding matters of government.
She pondered her friend’s words but did not respond. Her mind raced with variables and refused to panic. A rational mind was always beneficial especially when given the unknown. Clarke trained to react accordingly and choose her words and actions wisely over the years. Clarke turned her horse around the next ring of trees following one of her larger warriors and was met to the sight of a small village.
The village was quaint and perhaps a hundred in number. The few greeting their party of sixteen dropped to their knees as they entered the village. A select few bowed or merely stood too shocked to move. Other’s trembled in awe and fear. Wanheda was a legend. They were correct to feel overwhelmed; Clarke made few appearances to small villages unless there was a concern to be settled and lives to be taken or judged.
The circlet around her head felt heavy and the brightly colored sash on her side was unmistakable. She held up her hand and her entourage halted. It was a signal perfected over the years, one that she channeled from Lexa.
An elderly man hesitantly approached and Clarke stared at him without emotion. She recognized the fear in his eyes and did not blame him for a second.
“Wanheda,” he trembled as he lowered himself to the ground in front of her horse.
She switched to the more natural Trigedasleng and spoke calmly.
“We are here to collect the honored Night Blood and to bring them to Polis on behalf of Heda Armon.”
She lowered her hand and her eyes swept about the group of villagers all standing still. None made a move to hide their children or present them. To be called was both a great honor and sorrow for the families of the chosen.
The silence stretched and she sighed at the male still on his knees in front of her. She gestured impatiently to one of her guards. “Help him up.” Her warrior did as instructed and the elderly gentlemen rose while a cautious expression passed his face at being handled so gently. Clarke was fierce and unforgiving when it came to enacting justice but she was compassionate and kind to the innocent.
“Forgive me.” She began in a more gentle voice and she could feel Octavia’s approval from besides her. “We have been travelling many days and I would like to return to Polis as soon as possible. We come bearing compensation for your trouble and for the village for housing the chosen. You have the thanks of Heda.”
The man before her bowed his head and whispered quickly to another nearby. There was a name spoken but his words were too soft for her ears to pick up. A door opened to her right and a female figure emerged. As she neared Clarke felt her heart clench painfully and the air escape her lungs. Immense panic overrode her every function. She practically froze upon her horse at the face revealed to her and wondered if her eyes were playing tricks on her or if she was finally going mad.
The young woman continued towards her almost in slow motion. The first thing Clarke recognized were the blue green eyes, followed by the tanned skin and brown hair twisted and pulled back in various braids. Her stance was strong and confidant and her lips looked soft and inviting. She stopped next to the elder and assumed a formal stance with her hands behind her back and Clarke was frozen and utterly terrified. She heard Octavia’s gasp from besides her and knew that she was not the only one aware of the similarities.
Before her stood a woman resembling Lexa so greatly that you could almost disregard the dust of freckles across her cheeks and birth mark gracing her neck.
In the next instant Clarke’s jaw tensed in anger. This was some form of sick joke and she refused to be made a fool of.
“What is this?” she growled low and menacingly.
The elder before her nearly trembled and the imposter besides him tensed.
“Wanheda, this is Dria kom Trikru. The Night Blood you seek.”
Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. Night Bloods were typically children and required to be reported the minute they were found to be of the chosen.
“This is not possible. Explain.” She straightened in her seat and a drop of nervous sweat ran down his forehead and into his eyes.
“Heda Cassandra ordered us to train her here until you came to collect her.”
Clarke racked her brain and noted that Cassandra was the seventh Heda after Lexa. She was also one of the most annoying. She had fawned over Wanheda and looked at her in a way that reminded her too much of Lexa. They were beseeching and earnest eyes. Clarke had not been able to stand her presence or similarities to Lexa despite the auburn hair and brown eyes.
“You have one chance.” Clarke warned her anger barely contained. “Speak truth or die.”
His eyes widened before in panic. “I swear it, Wanheda, it is the truth!”
In her fury Clarke’s hand raised and another warrior came to seize the elder. She narrowed her eyes and ignored Octavia’s voice of reason besides her.
“It is as he says, Wanheda,” the voice stilled her hand and subsequently saved his life.
Clarke slowly rested her hand on top of her horse and turned fiery eyes to the woman who had spoken, the one who resembled Lexa nearly as she had been before she had died. There were differences yes, less tattoos and scars and softer lines to her face. There was emotion displayed in them that Lexa had not allowed to show in public; emotion hidden away that only Clarke had been able to see.
There was a note of hesitation in her voice, but it was firm. Clarke stared at the girl, Dria kom Trikru, and before changing her mind she ordered her sentry to release the elder and swung one leg over her horse and walked purposefully to the imposter.
She stepped closer to the woman eyes never wavering. The one called Dria took a step back and Clarke nearly smirked. “We’ll see” she spoke with promise and threat.
She unsheathed her blade, Lexa’s blade, and grabbed Dria’s arm. The woman tensed but Clarke warned her with her eyes not to make a move. Carefully, she cut the woman’s palm and black blood oozed from the wound. Clarke’s lips pursed and she wiped the blood angrily on her pant leg.
“We leave now!” she barked turning away and her guards all but forced the woman on a horse.
In her mind she knew she was being somewhat irrational but she did not care. Her only thought was to return to Polis. Heda Armon and Fleimkeppa Byron had a lot to answer for if they wanted to keep their lives.
“Clarke!” Octavia dared to question. “We can’t just leave. Be reasonable.”
She paused and took a moment to collect herself. “Leave the provisions for the village as promised.” Clarke said more calmly than she felt. She hated to direct her attention to Dria but it was necessary. “Family? Belongings?” She asked in short order.
The woman shook her head negatively and Clarke nodded. “Satisfied?” she directed to Octavia.
“Hardly,” was the reply.
They rode in a grueling pace towards Polis, Clarke seething and unsettled the entire trip.
The doors to the Heda’s throne room opened and Clarke strode through with purpose. Octavia followed behind and two of her sentry’s brought Dria in last. The woman looked tired and slightly frightened but was holding up. They were all tired and agitated having little rest during their journey to the capitol.
Heda Armon rose from his throne with Fleimkeppa Byron at his side. Heda Armon was a handsome young man with olive skin and hazel eyes. He took one look at the irate Mountain Slayer and another at Dria and clenched his jaw.
“Wanheda-” he began.
“Stop!” Clarke all but yelled in Trigedasleng, her Gonasleng accent breaking free in her irritation. Her fury had not lessened in the journey back to Polis. “You don’t get to talk unless it’s about this!” she pointed at Dria.
Heda Armon narrowed his eyes trying to maintain his position in front of the others. Wanheda was not to be trifled with. “Release her.” He ordered to Clarke’s guards.
They held fast without blinking and he boiled inside at their insubordination. What was the use of holding the spirit of Heda when none listened to his commands?
“Wanheda,” he attempted with more composure and authority.
With a dismissive wave and irritation clearly evident in her posture, Clarke signaled her guards to release Dria. The girl stumbled a few steps but remained standing. Clarke was suddenly bombarded with images and memories of when she was first captured and brought to Polis by Roan the current King of Azgeda. How ironic that he was actually one of her closest comrades to this day.
“Who is she? You better explain or blood will be spilt.”
The fact that not even the Fleimkeppa moved a muscle or reacted in protest to Clarke’s threat proved how much her influence was over the Trigedakru.
“I thank you for Dria kom Trikru’s safe passage, Wanheda.”
“You should probably explain why there is an adult Night Blood hidden away in the woods and why she looks like Heda Lexa.” Octavia quirked an eyebrow trying to aid the current Heda.
He looked at Octavia kom Trikru, formerly Skaikru, and dismissed her presence. He was still Heda. He shifted his posture and stood tall with his hands clasped behind his back as he did normally.
“Heda Cassandra discovered her years ago,” he began nodding to Dria. “The spirit of Heda has been searching for this particular vessel since the passing of Heda Lexa.”
Clarke’s fists clenched at her sides wanting to berate him for daring to speak her former lovers name.
“The Night Blood in her called strongly until she was found. Because of their genetic similarities, we thought it best to train her in secret for her protection.”
Clarke glanced between Fleimkeppa Byron waiting for more information. The Fleimkeppa stepped forward with his white knuckled hands clasped tightly in front.
He spoke to her quietly, beseechingly. “Wanheda, we have been searching for the perfect vessel to host the spirit of Heda.”
“Leave us,” Clarke signaled her guards to leave sensing the sensitive information about to be discussed. Once the doors closed she scrutinized him and Heda Armon. Octavia and Dria stood observing quietly. Dria’s presence alone served to make Clarke uneasy. “There is no perfect vessel,” she scoffed. “Your predecessor killed her in cold blood.” The Fleimkeppa bowed his head. “I hope you have something reasonable to say, or you might be training your replacement.”
The man swallowed but assumed a more confidant posture. “It is as we have always told you, Fleimkeppa Titus included, Wanheda. The spirit of Heda lives on and with each life gains awareness. Death is not the end, Heda Lexa lives on and has been trying to reach you for the last seven years but you have refused to make that connection. You refuse to see what is in front of you.”
“Have I not sworn fealty to you as all have done since Heda Lexa?” Heda Armon spoke calmly and in earnest with warm eyes. “The spirit has been locating each Night Blood until a match was found close enough to Heda Lexa in order to host her spirit once more. This girl,” he motioned to Dria “she is the one chance that Heda Lexa has to live again until another compatible vessel is found.”
“These are lies,” Clarke choked and took a breath not willing to believe that Lexa was really alive. The spirit of the Commander was alive in the form of an artificial intelligence. The City of Light had fallen, and just because A.L.I.E. 2.0 lived on did not mean she had access to the City of Light or the former Commanders any more. No one could replace Lexa.
“Clarke,” he said softly trying to still her resentment. He only ignited it further.
She turned around sharply and spat at him. “Wanheda! You do not call me that! You will never call me that!” They all stood frozen in the face of her emotional outburst. “Do what you will, I am done assisting you.”
She strode from the room, not daring to look at anyone, especially Dria, who resembled her lover so much lest she fall to pieces and weep brokenly. Heda Armon watched her leave and beyond his eyes another pair looked on with longing.
The vessel Heda Armon sat with legs crossed in his private chambers diagonally from the Night Blood Dria. The woman was composed and would be a fine vessel.
“She doesn’t understand.” Dria spoke beyond him to the one inhabiting his body.
“She will, do not underestimate her. You have much to learn before you take my place. You have one year.”
“I will not fail you Heda Lexa.”
It was almost a year to the day that Clarke had spoken in depth to Heda Armon and the Night Blood Dria. Polis was her home, but she spent as much time away from it as she could. When she was in the capitol she avoided the current Heda or was brief. When she saw Dria at his side, she ignored the girl completely. Every moment gazing upon her felt like torture. It was like looking at Lexa all over again. Clarke could not help but get lost in the memories of Lexa and the last moments they had shared together.
Today was different. Today was Ascension Day. It was Dria’s Ascension Day. Heda Armon’s death raised questions, and she had been surprised and skeptical at first. It was one of the reasons that she decided to return for Dria’s coronation. He was a young man when she had left him and he had reportedly died of natural causes.
It was almost too much to see her. Heda Dria kom Trikru was every bit as fierce and beautiful as Lexa. Clarke tried to deny the resemblance and the way she held herself so confidently upon her throne as if she had done so before. The chants and praises of her name echoed in the throne room. Clarke thought of Heda Armon kom Sandkru and sent a silent prayer to his spirit.
As the last of the clans bowed, including Sinclair from Skaikru, Clarke stepped forward as she had done nine times before. She had refused to do so for Ontari kom Azgeda and had not been in a position to do so both physically and emotionally. Back then all she was capable of thinking was of how to get rid of the threat and unite the clans. Then it was to save humanity. And when she was left with nothing else to do her mind wondered and her heart ached. She threw herself into helping the clans and upholding Lexa’s legacy.
Jus nou drein jus daun.
Clarke approached last. She stopped before Heda Dria in her ceremonial clothes and stared up into the woman’s eyes. Her facial expression was one of barely concealed awe and longing so obvious to Clarke’s eyes that she broke eye contact and slowly got to one knee.
“All hail Heda Dria kom Trikru!”
Clarke stood a moment later and met Dria’s eyes. The newly pronounced Heda nodded to her and Clarke hesitated but responded in kind. In the next moment she took her rightful place at Heda Dria’s left side.
“Welcome. Today we celebrate Ascension Day together in the spirit of harmony and peace. I have taken my vows and have sworn to uphold the ideals of our people for the thirteen clans. Jus nou drein jus daun.” Clarke took a moment to view her regal profile. Her jaw line was so similar and her words passionate and commanding. “And we welcome back Wanheda, legendary Mountain Slayer, savior of humanity, protector of the legacy of Heda.”
The choice of words and the voice caused her to tip her head up and meet blue green eyes lined with elaborate eye makeup. The black dress hung easily off of her shoulders exposing tattoos so similar that a small gasp escaped her lips. They had not been drawn into her skin when she had collected her at the small Trikru village. Clarke knew those tattoos. She had traced them lovingly once upon a time. Dria’s eyes met hers briefly in a soft expression until she turned to address the audience once more.
Clarke spent the evening staring at the new Heda watching her every move. She was always watchful of each Heda. In truth each one had small similarities that reminded her of Lexa. Whether that was because a Heda carried specific traits or because the spirit of A.L.I.E. picked her successor carefully was unknown. Either way, something about Heda Dria kom Trikru seemed familiar, reminiscent of a dream and a life long ago.
Clarke stood gazing out of the window. Even after so many years of living on Earth she still could not fathom the way the sky looked and the stars shown in the night. She wondered if the Gods were up there protecting her loved ones and if the dead were truly watching over the living. She had never held strong religious beliefs, but she wanted some things to be true. She wanted life after death and to find solace in a world beyond this one. It was one of the things that had almost compelled her to stay in the City of Light. Lexa had been there. But it was not real. None of it was. And life, no matter how painful it was, it was real. The pain and ability to choose to live, to die, or to feel at all and live on despite death and tragedy and all of the horrors in life and still see some form of beauty that is why she left. Because that was what Lexa had told her and she had wanted her to live. Lexa’s claim that they would meet again was full of promise that Clarke still grasped onto that hope and belief that one day they would be reunited in death.
She wanted it to be now. She was so tired.
A knock sounded at her door and she bid them enter. The door behind her creaked open and closed. Soft footfalls padded across the room. Still Clarke did not turn. She was expecting her. They all came to her after addressing the clans on Ascension Day. Whether it was because they remembered her, she had no idea. But each time it was the same.
The sound of her title broke her trance. She turned her head seeing the woman in her peripheral. Clarke slowly turned to meet her. She stopped immediately and her eyes widened ever so slightly. It was not Heda Dria but Lexa. Lexa with her soft eyes and hopeful expression looking into her very soul.
“Lexa,” she breathed. The woman before her relaxed her posture and her eyes softened even more. Clarke stepped back and the woman followed. Clarke held up a hand. “Don’t come any closer.”
Instead, the woman held her gaze and dropped to her knees. Her eyes were unavoidable and imploring. Clarke could not look away; she could not breath. She begged her not the say the words in her mind.
“I swear fealty to you, Clarke kom Skaikru. I vow to treat your needs as my own and your people as my people.”
The words were the same as each Commander before her but the tone of voice, while not exactly the same but similar enough, was spoken with such passion and tenderness that it disturbed her calm even more. Clarke’s eyes misted and her hands trembled as she looked at the woman before her. Formerly, she would nod and turn away dismissing the newly appointed Heda, but now she could do nothing but wish and hope and dream, as she had been afraid to do for years. She had not wanted to hope or listen before when the other Heda’s had spoken to her, tried to reason with her, tell her that Lexa was still there, still protecting her.
The next Commander will protect you.
I don’t want the next Commander. I want you!
She still wanted Lexa. She always had. A tear escaped her eye and Dria rose silently. Clarke stood frozen unable to move as Dria lifted a hand to her cheek and stopped the tear from trailing down her face.
Clarke gasped and moved away sharply. Dria’s hand was left hanging in the air fingers twitching at the loss of contact.
“Clarke.” She said softly.
Clarke closed her eyes tightly taking deep breaths. When she opened them Lexa, no Dria was still there. But the way she said her name. Only one other person had the ability to say her name in such a fashion. It was how she always reminded herself that Lexa was gone. Her memories may live on in Heda, but Lexa was dead. She had accepted that long ago.
“Stop.” Dria paused waiting for Clarke to regain her composure. “I don’t know what you want, or what you’re trying to do, but it’s going to stop.” Clarke straightened up and hardened her gaze.
“I have tried to reason with you, we all have.”
“No.” The unyielding stance and tone of her voice made Clarke pause. Dria took a step closer this time and Clarke faltered backwards. “It has taken us seven years to find a match and now you are going to accept it. You can’t run away from who you are, from who I am, who we are together.”
“You are not her!” Clarke screamed and Dria paused. “I’m tired of this. Can’t you just let me be?” Clarke nearly begged. “I’ve protected your legacy, but you can’t give her back to me, stop trying to. I couldn’t save her, I tried but I just couldn’t.” Another tear escaped her eyes and soon another followed. She furiously wiped the tears away.
“You are drawn to fix everything, Clarke. You need not fix this.” Dria’s voice was soft and warm. It felt like home. Dria stepped close enough so that their chests were nearly touching with each breath. “It’s time for you to listen. I know how fond you are of making plans and charging into battle, but I also know that you are smart.” Dria’s left eyebrow raised and a smirk appeared on her face despite the bittersweet sadness in her eyes.
Clarke was speechless. These words were new, but they sounded as if they were coming from Lexa.
“I see that I have your attention.” A sway of her shoulder and a cock of her head to the side made it difficult to swallow. “Good.”
Clarke frowned and crossed her arms. It caused an affectionate smile to replace Dria’s smirk.
“You saved the spirit of Heda, united the thirteen clans, and saved humanity at a great personal cost. Your heart shows no sign of weakness, Clarke. But there are still times when you are exceptionally unreasonable.”
Clarke’s jaw opened and closed and her tears halted. Dria’s eyes were soft, and teasing and she did not know what to make of it. She struggled to find words but was unable.
“I never thought I would find you without words.”
Clarke balked her inner fire stoked. “Ya well, you usually do something that warrants my verbal skills.” The answering smirk and warmth in Dria’s eyes made Clarke forget whom she was talking to for a brief moment.
She sighed and nearly rolled her eyes reminding her of when Lexa used to do the same to her. “You came here to talk I’m assuming. So talk.”
“Death is not the end, you have seen this. The spirit of Heda, what you know as A.L.I.E., preserves the memories of each Commander. Love is weakness. The spirit was designed to know what it meant to be human. Wisdom, strength, and compassion are the three pillars of Heda.” She took a step closer to Clarke to place a hand on her waist and another to cup her jaw. “But love,” her eyes shone with deep affection, “that was never experienced never needed or realized until you Clarke. It was weakness, but you showed me- us, how strong it could be, how limitless it is.” Her thumb stroked along Clarke’s jaw. “You would do anything for your people and that’s what makes you you. That’s why I love you. I always have.”
Clarke shook her head wanting to believe her words but afraid to hope. “I watched you,” she swallowed and corrected, “I watched her die.”
“And I did,” Dria nodded. “The spirit of Heda and the other Commanders agreed to find a host that would synchronize with my spirit to relinquish control in order for me to resume my fight in this life.”
“You’re saying that Dria just rolled over so you could play invasion of the body snatchers?” Clarke said in disbelief.
Dria’s brows furrowed in a manner that Clarke knew well. Lexa had always found her expressions odd, especially the references to the old world and her casual slang and eccentric phrases. Clarke shook her head and grasped the hand holding her jaw. She pulled the hand away form her face and their hands fell to their sides and entwined out of familiarity.
“Dria kom Trikru was as close of a genetic match that we could find. Heda Cassandra located her and since then she has been prepared and trained for this moment. It was an honor that she chose and welcomed. She wanted to be able to lend her life to the spirit of Heda Lexa kom Trikru as companion to the great Wanheda. But don’t worry,” she cocked an eyebrow, “she’s still here. They are all here.”
“I want to believe you,” Clarke whispered.
“I never wanted to turn you into this.” She softened the words and added. “I’m proud of you. But you’ve forgotten that life is about more than just surviving.”
“I haven’t,” she rebutted. “I’ve done everything to uphold what we started and protected our people.” Dria’s, no Lexa’s eyes glistened as they listened to her words. She was getting closer to Clarke acknowledging the truth in her words.
“Yes, but you haven’t lived. You’ve allowed everyone else to do so, but yourself. We deserve more than that don’t we?”
She waited a few beats until Clarke’s body began to melt into hers. “Maybe we do.” Clarke’s free hand wrapped around the back of Lexa’s neck and brought their lips together in a soft and hesitant kiss. It was a gentle brush of lips and they parted slowly until Lexa saw the realization dawn in her eyes and replace the fear.
“Lexa?” She whispered daring to hope.
Lexa’s face bloomed into a gentle smile filled with adoration. It was a look that Clarke had grown suspect of after Mount Weather until she realized the expression for what it was. It was love. Pure and unadulterated love.
Clarke’s lips trembled and she grasped Lexa feverishly pressing their lips together. Clarke hungrily captured her lips and brought her hands on either side of Lexa’s face holding her in place. Lexa’s hand trailed up and down her back bringing their body’s flush together. They separated gasping for breath as their foreheads rested against one another.
“You can’t leave me, you can’t ever leave me,” Clarke gasped in ragged breaths.
“I won’t.” Clarke trembled feeling the heat of her hands stroking along her spine and suddenly wishing they were wearing less clothing. Clarke’s hands kneaded Lexa’s neck and found the scar still fresh from where the technology hid implanted in her cervical spine.
Lexa pulled away slowly to meet blue eyes. “If you wish it, there is a way for us to be together as we are in this life and in the next.”
“What do you mean?”
Lexa regrettably released Clarke and the woman nearly whined at the loss of contact. They had been separated for too long. From her waist Lexa produced a small box with the sacred symbol of Heda.
“What is it?” She eyed the box with suspicion.
“It is a link. A companion spirit or technology program as you might say.”
She opened the box and a small chip like the one Clarke had seen come from Lexa’s neck sat idly. “That’s for me?” Her eyes fluttered to meet Lexa’s in perplexity.
Lexa nodded. “It was the companion spirit to the first commander. It’s program made in foresight to operate with the blood of those that would one day come back to the ground. It has been protected for over a hundred years waiting to find the spirit of one that was worthy to be joined. You have the spirit inside of you already Clarke. From this day forth you will be the spirit of Wanheda. Our spirits will never separate again. If you wish it.”
Clarke looked at the innocent piece of technology in apprehension and longing. She knew what the cost of this might be, but it was not the City of Light. She had destroyed that program and the artificial intelligence that harbored ill will towards humanity.
“And it’s safe?” Lexa nodded. “And we can be together?” Her eyes searched Lexa’s for a long moment contemplating all of the risks and the desperate need for connection and to finally feel like a human being again.
Slowly she nodded in agreement and a soft small graced both of their lips. Clarke leaned in to kiss her once more. What began as a sweet meeting of lips soon turned into desperate passion and promise. Tomorrow they would begin a new reign of peace at one another’s side and their spirits would be linked for all times reincarnated until the end of time. Tonight, they relished in their union and homecoming.
Jus nou drein jus daun.
Hodnes nou laik kwelnes.