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Another Way

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Clarke was stood anxious beside me. Her stance was tall and strong at my side. Her expression was one of control. Calm and collected. Conveying all signs of a leader. But her agitation was visible in her consistent shifting. Her nervousness shone in her eyes which had turned midnight blue with her stress. Clearly she wasn't used to the hard wait before battle. The silence of her people was unnerving her.

I remained still, though her earlier pacing had caused an unusual nerve in me too. I told myself it was sympathetic uneasiness. I was only nervous because Clarke was. And though the strange connection worried me it was far from surprising. My budding feelings for the sky princess were complicated at best. And a hinderance at most. I had learned to leave them curious and mostly unsated. And they would remain so until after we had won this battle and reclaimed what was ours from the mountain. When she was no longer an essential ally still seen as an enemy by my most of people. When it wouldn't be viewed as a complete betrayal. That was when I would fully address the problem.

My eyes stayed on the mountain while she came to a stop beside me and I forced my own uneasiness down. I had to stay calm and in control. Now was the time for strength. With my people all watching their heda for instruction I could not be anything less.

"It's taking too long" Clarke said finally voicing her impatience as she stilled herself entirely.

I kept my eyes on the door, letting them move periodically only to scout the trees around it. I understood she was nervous. Clarke was not born for this. She had not grown to be a warrior like me. War unsettled her. I knew standing here waiting was causing her to worry. She needed me to reassure her. And I needed to stop her walking off alone to see for herself what the wait was.

"It takes as long as it takes" I told her gruffly, eyes moving over the mountain door again.

In the corner of my eye I saw her watch me back carefully. Her short nod said she would be calm but when I peered back at her those eyes told me otherwise. She was still in distress for the silence we stood in. I found myself reacting pityingly to her emotion. I wanted to soothe her of it.

"What are your plans?" I asked her to distract her from her nerves, "When this is all over?"

Clarke stared ahead at the mountain door with me, "I have no idea" she mumbled back.

"Well, what do you want?" I tried, curious to know and eager to get her to speak true with me.

I looked back at her and was unsurprised to see her expression was one heavy with thought. It made me curious for her answer. Made me impatient for it. Whatever her response I would give it to her. Once this was over she would have earned that much from me.

Clarke's eyes fell from the door to the warriors posted just in front of her. Her brow dipped with her thoughts.

"Nothing" she said blankly and glanced back at me, "My people back. I can't think past today"

I nodded, pleased that she was putting her people before her personal wants. That was a true mark of a leader.

I thought to my own answer and it surprised me how selfish it was in comparison to clarke's.

"You should come with me to the capital" I told her meeting her eyes when they snapped back to me in surprise. I moved over my quick embarrassment and gave an excuse for my bluntness, "Polis will change the way you think about us"

Clarke looked back at me gently, as if she saw straight through me.

"You already have" came her soft reply.

I looked back at her staring at me. She had a deep look in her eyes as she watched me. A remembering hue. Especially when they dipped down my face. I shared a tiny smile with her. My mind was reeling with our kiss too.

Shots went up in the woods around us suddenly. I lifted my head and scanned the trees ahead of us. The warriors whispered around me, all trying to pinpoint where the firing came from. It was too muted to be close by.

Linkon rushed to clarke's side, breathing heavy as if he had run to us.

"It's coming from the dam" he told clarke.

"They know we're going for the power" she replied, voice layered in worry again.

"They know we're going for the door" I corrected turning to face it. I kept my eyes trained on it now. I wouldn't let my guard slip this time.

The young skaigada beside me lifted her head. In the corner of my eye I saw her smiling in reassurance to clarke.

"Raven will get it done" she told her leader seriously, "She's one of us"

I felt clarke become less tense beside me and it made me annoyed for not thinking to give her the same comfort the other girl had. I swallowed down the rising emotion in me and redirected it in focus on the mountain.

"As soon as those lights go off, you push that button" The skai guard was saying to clarke behind me.

I turned my head back to see him nod down to clarke's hand. He pointed at the light on the device she held. I frowned at it myself. Their technology confused me but if they were certain it would work, then I had to believe it would.

"We'll do the rest" Linkon promised deadly.

She nodded and I saw her grip the device tighter in her hand before she stepped back to begin pacing again. My eyes followed her a moment before I pulled them back to the mountain door. I kept thinking about what would happen if it opened suddenly and bullets flew at us. Even behind the defence of the rocks we would be cut down too easily.

My mind kept throwing me these concerns as I waited. I waded through all of them and made plans regarding how I would act if any situation came up. I found it calming thinking battle strategies.

Slowly my stress fell and I was able to think freely enough to notice Clarke had stopped pacing. I looked back to where I had last seen her and my breath caught seeing her stood speaking with her people at the tree line. If the door opened now I could not protect her from being fired upon.

"Clarke!" I called out in an ordering voice.

She looked up immediately and saw my summons. She whispered something more to her people and then rushed back.

"Did the scouts come back?" she asked furrowing her brow in confusion for my ordering her back.

I struggled with what to tell her. I couldn't say I had ordered her back just to make sure she stayed close.

"Did your device change at all?" I asked instead, blowing over her concern to make mine the more important. She looked down at it in her palm and sighed aggravated.

"No" She scuffed the ground with her boot and glared down at it.

"Have faith, Clarke" Linkon told her gently, "Your people know what they're doing"

She nodded at him. I turned to her too, "As do mine" I promised her strongly.

She cast me a quick smile and returned her eyes to the device. I moved closer and gave Linkon a look to move back. He bowed his head to me and moved from clarke's side to allow me privacy with her.

I paused hesitantly as she stared down at her device. I wanted to tell her it would be okay. I wanted to assure her that we had this covered. We would not fail. I believed that. I wanted her to believe it too.

"You need to start believing this will work" I told her with a gentle look when she tipped her head back at me, "This was your plan, Clarke. Have faith in it"

"I'm just thinking about what happens when it all goes wrong" she mumbled looking away from me when I stared back at her. I touched her arm in a feeble notion to calm her worry.

"It won't go wrong. I trust you"

She shook her head, "But Bellamy hasn't been in contact. We don't know if your people are even alive. And mine..." Clarke blew out a stressed breath and looked back to me, "What if we do this, get in there, and there's nobody to save?"

I locked eyes with her. I never hesitated my answer.

"Then we kill the mountain men" was my cold reply, "All of them. Jus drein jus draun"

Clarke's eyes looked at me as if in doubt to her own ability to see that happen. I looked back to say she must. She nodded and looked away defeated. I took another step closer and brushed my fingers over hers curled around the device.

"Clarke, your plan will-"

The ground shook beneath our feet stealing my words and breath from me. A faint explosion echoed across the valley. My people shouted out, some afraid. Linkon hushed them while I looked around us. Clarke gasped suddenly when it all subsided and pushed her hand away from mine. She held it up for me to see instead. I looked down to the device. At the lights that had changed color. I didn't understand what it meant.

"She did it!" Clarke's voice cried relief as she grinned to me.

Linkon was back at her side in a flash. He looked down at the device himself and then up at the mountain door. His eyes gleamed with readiness.

"One minute starting now" the sky guard spoke up, nodding for clarke to be ready to press the button. She pulled a bracelet out of her pocket and looked at it nodding.

Clarke looked thoughtfully down at the device after and then raised it in her hand to me. I looked back at her confused.

"For those we've lost" she said offering to share this victory with me.

I swallowed. I wasn't sure it was allowed. The gods cursed us for using skaikru's guns. What would happen if I took up this weapon with her?

One look back at the determination in her eyes had me forgetting about the gods' wrath.

"And those we'll soon find" I told her back, taking hold of her hand. Her skin felt warm beneath mine. It calmed the nerves rising in me. It told me this was right. It reassured me we would win this.

Clarke raised her arm and together we pointed the device towards the mountain. My heart was in my throat as I let my thumb press down with hers over the button that would begin this battle for our people.

The button went down but nothing happened. No explosion. No shouts. No bullets. Just nothing.

The mountain remained silent and unyielding ahead of us.

"What's wrong?" I asked, panicking a little at our failure as she pressed the button again, worried it had been me to break the device, "Why isn't it working?!"

Clarke pulled her hand free of mine and shook the device in her hand, frantically pressing the button. She stopped after a couple more attempts and stared at the mountain thinking. Realisation dawned on her features quickly after.

"They're jamming us" Clarke growled and moved around the rocks shielding her, "I have to get closer"

She raised her arm and pressed the button again. Lights shot down at her from the ridge above the mountain. Shooting echoed as they continued to rain down on us, pinging and ricocheting off the rocks and trees they hit.

Instinctively I ducked. As did most of my people. But not Linkon. He ran forward and grabbed clarke by the waist. Swiftly he lifted her off her feet and yanked her back from the open, forcing her down beside me again. When she was safe between us I looked back at my warriors.

I ordered them to go flank the maunon shooting us and watched them look back at me with fear in their eyes. I barked at them to go and they nodded and ran towards the woods, some of them falling dead from the shooters in the process.

Beside me clarke was breathing heavily. A worried dread that she was injured had me casting her a quick glance before returning my attention to the ridge. She didn't look harmed. She just looked hopeless.

"If I can get there, I can trigger it manually" The skai guard told clarke crouching low behind us. She stared back at him and shook her head.

"No! You can't get there" she told him strongly denying him.

She couldn't see we didn't have any other options here. But I couldn't tell her that. He was her people. It was not my place to command her to let him go. Even right now with us being shot at.

The skai guard argued back and when she relented I quickly ordered a shield wall to take him to the door. Clarke handed him the device and watched with me as the small square of warriors built a steel block around him.

Clarke looked down to the bracelet in her palm,

"Thirty seconds!" she called out as they began walking.

I watched them tense, watching the bullets hit the metal plates around our people as they carried slowly towards the door. The firing became heavier the closer they got. The Maunon's aims became more direct and focused. Eventually a stray bullet here hit one warrior and he fell in pain. Another followed when the wall broke. And another. One by one my people fell until the shield collapsed entirely.

I looked back to clarke staring in shock and loss for the man who had died in sacrifice. I saw her eyes dart about the dirt and bloody bodies to find the device. I knew she would run out at any moment to go find it. I grabbed her arm.

"We'll find another way in" I told her.

"There is no other way in!" she cried back, "You know that!"

I struggled to know what to tell her. She was right after all. We had no hope now.

"We don't need one"

Our eyes pulled over her shoulder to where linkon sat stretching an arrow out to the warrior opposite him. They set it alight and he stood to take aim. I saw hope reignite briefly in clarke's eyes. I felt it stir in me too. If he could set fire to the bomb nothing could stop our advance.

The air felt tense again as the shooting became even heavier on our rocky defense. Linkon took a deep breath and stood quick into an archer's stance. He drew the string right back. I saw his arms hold his position without shaking. With that stability he would not miss.

"Ten seconds!" clarke gasped checking her bracelet again.

The arrow head swayed with his locking of aim. His fingers curled tighter around the string. His expression dipped in complete concentration. And all awhile our ten seconds were quickly fading.

I held my breath the moment Linkon loosed the arrow and I stared obsessively as it shot towards the mountain door. It hit directly against the explosives clarke's people had set against the door. Just as our time ran out.

A red burst of colour and a muted hiss then a massive tremble shook the ground with the bomb's explosion.

It'd worked.

I looked back at clarke's relieved smile and felt myself smiling too. Then I remembered it wasn't over yet.

I looked up at the maunon still shooting at us and glared.

"We need to get to that ridge and take out the shooters" I said staring along the line of them. There were a lot. And my scouts hadn't been able to take them down at all.

Linkon threw his bow down and started to rush off to handle it himself.

"No!" I growled and reached over to pull him back, "You stay with Clarke!" I ordered him angrily, desperate to keep her protected "When the shooting stops, you get that door open"

Clarke leant forward as I turned to lead a party up to the ridge. I saw her look at me, worry in her eyes. She didn't want me to leave her. It caused my heart to swell for reasons I couldn't understand.

I will return, I promised her silently as I looked back to my guards behind us. They watched me ready.

"Gonot!" I ordered them standing to lead them.

I could feel her watching my back every step of the way and it only made me more determined to get this done. In a burst of haste I gripped my sword and took a run towards the woods, my guards straight on my heels.

Ryder came to my side the second we broke free of the army.

"You trust this plan, heda?" he asked as we ran through the trees.

I nodded back and pushed myself faster.

"You do not?" I questioned looking back at the warriors sprinting after us.

Ryder held a smile when we split around a tree.

"My sword will be wet with Maunon blood" he grinned returning to my side, "I trust any plan that promises me that"

I felt myself smile briefly back before I focused on our climb to the ridge. He would get his blood. We all would.

"There, Heda!"

Ryder growled out and pointed to the space ahead of us where my remaining scouts were taking shelter behind some rocks and trees beneath the cliff line. Maunon were stood by another bunker door shooting their guns into the trees. More lined the ridge shooting down at my army.

I glared at them. They would all die.

"Ryder, take two warriors and circle them," Ryder nodded and left quickly. I turned to my archers, "Hailee, take Dale and climb those trees. Shoot anything that moves. The rest of you will regroup with our scouts and rush the maunon together"

"Sha, Heda" They chorused and each began moving into position.

I stopped Talia on her move past me and told her to remove her armour.

She looked to it confused, "Heda?"

"They are expecting the commander," I told her glancing back to where the maunon continued shooting, "You will wear my armour and distract them from my approach"

Talia bowed at the honour and immediately unbuckled her armour. I pulled my own shoulder guard off and tucked it over her body, pulling the red sash straight. I stood back after and deemed her suitable in playing my double. Thanks to their spies the maunon knew what the commander looked like now. But in this dark and through their masks I doubted they would look too closely at Talia's face. I was counting on them to see the sash and assume she was me.

"You must be quick" I told her glancing away to the warriors already in position, "Their aim will be directly on you"

She nodded, "Sha, Heda"

I left her then and crept my way through the trees, moving quicker and lighter now without my armour on. The maunon were still shooting, foolishly gunning down anything that moved. I could tell from their position by their bunker that they were not fighters. They would not be coordinated. If my people could get close enough they could take them in seconds.

I slipped around the bunker, ears and eyes open for any movement. The woods were silent save the echoing of the guns in front. I walked on and sheathed my sword to climb the wall to the bunker.

A maunon was laying on his belly on the grass roof. A long looking gun was set up and rested against his shoulder. A radio crackled and buzzed by his elbow.

I crept silently towards him and pulled my knife.

He died quickly without noise.

I approached the ledge after killing the man and looked down at the other maunon below me. They had stopped shooting when they realised there was nothing visible to shoot. I studied their different locations. Most were clustered in a group by the door, too scared to dare leave the safety of the bunker. A few stood alone shooting on the ridge. I counted their number and then signalled my archers.

Arrows flew forward and startled the men. Immediately they began firing again. I peered ahead at the trees and nodded to Ryder. He let loose a loud war cry and suddenly the wood line charged forward to the bunker. The maunon panicked and fired their guns at my people. The radio behind me screamed with their voices shouting to one another.

I watched as Hailee and Dale shot two down. One died immediately while the other fell and clutched screaming at the hole in his suit. Ryder and his group were still charging, many of my people fell from them with wounds. My eyes turned from them crying out at their pain.

I knew the maunon had found my decoy when their fire drew to one place. And I gave my people another signal, telling them to fan out around Talia. The maunon shouted excitedly all of a sudden. A few below even began to walk forward to shoot. Just as I'd planned.

I drew my sword and signalled talia to run away from Ryders group. The maunon's attention split and I took the opportunity of their distraction to leap down into their group.

My deliberate fall landed me into two of them, knocking them into their people and causing more to fall to the ground. My sword was slashing the rest in seconds, taking them down before they could grasp what was happening. Screams and blood covered me with my ferocious attack.

My people swiftly met me, slaying the remaining resistance quickly. When it was done I stood back to catch my breath and reclaimed my armour from Talia.

"Mochof, Talia" I told her grateful for her bravery. She bowed to me and turned to accept her armour off a warrior who had gone back to the trees to retrieve it.

My eyes crept over my people. To the wounded. To the dead. My heart raged seeing so many hurt.

"Heda!"

Ryder's voice was high with fear suddenly. My eyes snapped to his charging forward to me, thunder in his expression, and I didn't understand why until I felt something cold and metal touch my temple.

I froze at the maunon's deep breaths and silently cursed my lapse in focus.

"Drop the sword" he told me, pressing the gun closer.

I refused with a jump when the gun exploded loud next to my ear. A deafening ring shook through my head as I watched a warrior who had began to run to me fall down dead. The gun clicked after and returned to my head.

"Drop the sword" the maunon repeated.

I threw it down and he kicked it further from my reach.

"Tell your archers to come out"

I nodded to Ryder and he gave the order. Hailee and Dale dropped from the trees and threw their bows down at the maunon's command.

"Good!" He praised us, "See, you people can speak my language. Now, the commander here is gonna take a walk with me"

My people moved forward at his words and the gun pressed harder against my head. He wrapped his arm around my throat and pushed down to choke me when they remained moving closer. The gun left my head at their persistence and I heard a growl leave his lips as he aimed it at them.

"Stap daun!" I ordered them, scared he would shoot them if they came any closer.

The maunon watched them back up and the gun returned to my head. Ryder's eyes touched on the knife at my belt and my hand secretly going for it. He moved his head an inch to say no. He could see the man better than I could. He knew it wouldn't help us now.

I moved my hand away again. I would time this better.

"The rest of you are going to walk back to the trees and you're going to stay there. Understand?"

Ryder glared at the man, "Heda, I jak op em daun?"

The gun ground against my head with Ryder's question. The maunon didn't like not knowing what we said.

"Do as he says" I barked the command at them in Gonnasleng.

They began moving back at my order, eyes locked hatefully on the man behind me. The arm around my throat disappeared and a pressure wrapped my arm instead as he yanked me around. I turn and looked down at him hatefully. I was surprised to see him without a suit on. His people needed them to breathe and yet here he stood without one.

Which meant they had started their killing of Clarke's people.

He smiled at my silent rage.

"Wonderful, isn't it?" he questioned gleefully, "It's miraculous what those sky people can offer us. Which is what I want to talk to you about, commander"

He pushed me forward, walking backwards with a hand on my shoulder as he directed me to walk around the bunker. He had his gun pressed firmly to my head in case my people tried to attack him.

"I came to offer you a deal" he told me as he turned and slowly walked us forward, "My president believes you'll hear me out. And you should. It would benefit your people greatly"

I glared at his words and continued to let myself be pushed forwards by him. My hands clenched angrily at my sides. If he had any honour he would fight me like a man. And I would win.

But he isn't a man, I thought hatefully, He is maumon.

"And what is this deal your leader is too afraid to come make himself?" I spat angrily. I turned my head back to him when he failed to speak straight away.

The mountain man grinned at my impatience, "We'll give you your people back. All of them. In return you and your army will leave"

I stared at him in disbelief. I knew it would not be that easy. And yet I found myself considering it.

"And skaikru?" I asked, noticing he had conveniently missed them out.

The mountain man shook his head. His smile was ice cold when he sneered back at me.

"They are not your people"

He stopped us by the same wall I had climbed before and turned me about to face him. His gun raised to point at my head while he waited for me to give an answer.

My head told me to take it. Here I had the chance to be a saviour to my people. To save them all without spilling another drop of blood. Another deal like this would not come again.

But my heart thought of Clarke.

She would never forgive me. To betray her this way would break her heart. And it would not stop her attempt to enter the mountain. I knew she would die without my help. And I would not allow that.

The maunon was still watching me. As if he believed I was considering taking his offer. He even started to smile. It angered me enough to make my decision.

"If you're waiting for my answer you may have it" He stared back at me waiting and I glared, "No"

He laughed out,

"C'mon, commander! Think about it. You want your people back. Mine don't want to die. It's a fair deal"

"Fair to all besides Skaikru!" I growled at him.

He laughed back at me.

"What do you care? You were at war with them only two weeks ago" He smiled with my silence and took a step forward to me, "They slaughtered a hell of a lot of your people. And they'll continue to do that. What I offer would rid you of Skaikru for good. Your people can stick to your lands, mine will stay here in ours. In peace. All of us"

I didn't believe him. Clarke's people were not killers. Not really. They wanted peace. Even the elders of their kru. And right now I believed and trusted their intentions more than I did the maunon.

I strode forward to him and glared down at him. His hand brought the gun up to my head again in warning but I wasn't scared.

"Gyun au jok yu!" I snarled at him.

The maunon looked calmly back at me. Then his face twisted in rage as he slammed the gun into my face. I felt blood fill my mouth with my lip splitting beneath the attack but I refused to make noise for the pain. I would not be so weak to let him believe he had hurt me.

"Now that was rude" he told me wiping my blood off his hand. He stared curiously at its dark color and rubbed it between his fingers before he looked back to me "Is that your final answer?"

I stayed silent and held my head high. I would not waver in this.

He shook his head at me and moved the gun. He adjusted his aim into the centre of my forehead. My heart bounced but I refused to look scared. I would die brave. And then my sprit would find the commander who would slaughter his people. I vowed it to the gods.

"You could have saved your people a lot of pain, Commander. And now.." He sighed tiredly and then gave me a smirk, "Now we're going to kill them all"

His thumb brushed over the top of the gun. It pulled a small lever back to click and his smile widened. I saw his finger pull down on the trigger and I fought the urge in myself to flinch. My thoughts held strong with my decision to refuse him. I was not afraid to die. I knew my spirit would continue to protect my people.

My heart raced in my chest when fear for my people turned into something else. My thoughts span fast into a blur of gold and warm lips and skin that smelt like spring and blue eyes that could see so easily into my soul. I fixed my focus on them as the gun pressed harder into my head.

Clarke, I thought sadly of her again as I stared him down.

"Carl Emerson!" A voice cried out before he could pull the trigger.

His head snapped back over his shoulder to the figure leaving the trees behind him. My heart shook seeing Clarke stride forward to him, gun raised and eyes set meanly on the man holding me captive. The maunon took a step to the side, taking with him the gun. I took the moment to snatch my knife from my belt.

I knocked the gun aside and stabbed him low in the chest with an angry yell. He screamed out and swung the gun up, but I punched his arm aside again, making his shot take the ground instead. I growled at him after and twisted his arm, breaking it at the elbow so that he dropped the weapon. Then I punched harshly into his chest. Causing the knife to knock and him to scream louder.

He fell to his knees panting. His eyes turned wide up at me as Clarke left the tree line and came to my side. They widened even more in disbelief at her.

I watched Clarke raise her gun and turned my head to see her eyes glare at the man that wanted to kill her people. He raised his hands in beg but she wasn't going to be merciful.

Clarke bent to the gasping man and unclipped his radio from his shoulder. She raised it to her mouth to speak into it.

"This is Clarke Griffin" she announced coldly as she set her aim on him, "I'm here with Carl Emerson. And I have a message for your leader"

Emerson choked up at her and made to take the radio back. I kicked him back down and stamped my boot over his chest to stop him trying to stand again. I looked back to her after. Clarke avoided looking at me. Her eyes rested entirely on his bleeding while she waited for an answer.

There was a few seconds silence and then radio crackled in her hand,

"Hello Clarke," A man's voice sneered to her, "It's nice to finally speak with you again. I see you've got more balls than I originally thought"

"I wish I could say the same" she snarled back at the speaker, "I have a message for you"

The radio was quiet. Her eyes touched back on mine a moment. Scared almost. And then their leader answered her.

"I'm listening"

Clarke held the radio out to Emerson and pointed the gun at him to say something. He swallowed and choked up a panicked sentence.

"Don't listen to her, sir! She's a crazy bitch! And they-"

A loud bang echoed around us when Clarke pulled the trigger on her gun. I jumped in surprise at the man falling back with a bullet buried deep inside his skull. I watched him fall back bleeding into the grass. His eyes stared up motionless at the stars as his final breath left him. I watched them dull and fill with blood running from the wound.

I stared back at Clarke. Shocked. Frightened, even. Never had I imagined to see her do that again. I'd believed the last Maunon she'd killed would be her last kill entirely.

From the shake in her arm and the glaze in her eyes, I could see she was thinking the same thing.

"That was one man" she told the maunon leader coldly, voice strong despite her obvious shock, "How many more will you risk to stop us?"

She threw the radio away then and turned to me. Her eyes took me in a second and then she was walking forward.

I stumbled a step back at her angry look for me and I held my hands up in surrender. I understood what she must have seen. What it must have looked like seeing me listen to Emerson's offer. I had to explain myself to her.

"Clarke, wait. I can expl-"

Clarke touched my jacket, fingers curling around the sword belt crossing over my chest. She shoved me back until I felt my back collide with the bunker wall. I grunted, winded, and looked down at her. I didn't know how to calm her. She was mad at me. I understood that. But I didn't know how to make her understand what she'd just seen.

"Beja!" I pleaded, "Let me explain, Clarke"

Her eyes blew icily into me a moment and then she was falling against me, lips kissing me hard. I jumped in surprise and immediately held her tight and kissed her back just as urgent. I understood her anger now. It was not for watching me deal with Emmerson. But for her nearly losing me.

My chest swelled and shook knowing she had been scared for me. And I kissed her knowing that I had felt the same. She was not mine and yet I had been so scared I had been about to leave her alone in this world.

"Don't do that again!" she growled hotly against my mouth.

I smiled back despite myself and stroked her cheek gently.

"I could say the same to you, Clarke" I returned and her lips stilled. With difficulty I moved my head back and met her guilty eyes with a heavy sigh before I looked seriously down at her, "I told you to wait. You were supposed to have stayed with my army. Where I knew you were safe"

"And you were supposed to have come back!" She cried back at me. I felt the cold slap of the bunker wall hit my back when she shoved me away from her, "Instead you were about to sell my people out!"

Now she was angry. I looked back at her calmly.

"Clearly you got lost in translation. I told him no" I locked eyes with her and gave her a sincere look, "I would never betray you, Clarke"

Clarke stared at me thoughtfully and then she nodded. Accepting my promise without question.

She stood further back from me and approached the dead man. Her eyes took in his broken body. She seemed upset but when I tried to comfort her she pulled herself away from my hands and knelt to retrieve my knife from his chest.

Clarke's eyes glared at Emmerson as she wiped the blade clean on his shirt. She frowned at it after and tapped it against her hand.

"You weren't trying to kill him" she remarked looking at the wound. She knew from its depth and location that it wouldn't have been immediately fatal.

"I thought you might use him" I explained, "And that I might avenge my people's deaths with his slower one"

Clarke nodded and stood before me again. Her eyes glanced across the blood on my face before she handed me my knife back. Her expression flickered back and forth between relief and concern and then she looked at me calmly.

"We have a war to win" she told me strongly.

Clarke edged around me. Her steps were strong but her shaking hands gave her fear away. I struggled to know what to say to her. She felt something for the kill. But I wouldn't have. To comfort her would be patronising. To her and myself. And yet I could not stop this urge in me to try and make her feel better.

"Clarke.."

She turned and waited for me to stand in front of her. I searched her eyes for a hint of what to do. When I found none I risked pushing my arms around her.

Clarke tensed beneath my touch but soon melted into me. I closed my eyes feeling her arms snake around my back. I felt her breath on my neck as she tucked her head into my shoulder. I felt her hands hold me tightly, as if she might be torn away any moment. I tucked a hand against her neck and held her tightly in return.

"Don jova, Clarke" I whispered to her, "We are in this together. And I will not leave you until this is over. I promise you"

Clarke lifted her head back, her eyes were watering when she met my gaze. She looked so afraid. But for what, I couldn't be entirely sure.

She held my eyes a moment longer and then she stretched up.

I bowed my head to meet her lips and kissed her tenderly back. My heart was hurting in my chest. As if it already was losing her.

I pulled Clarke closer, afraid that any space between us would encourage more to keep her away. A voice inside my head warned me against acting this way. It reminded me how she had said she was not ready. It said this could not mean what I hoped it meant. But I ignored it. My heart trusted clarke. And knowing I could die today set aside any worries of future consequences. Sadly it allowed me to take what I wanted.

Clarke's body tucked easily into mine with my tugging her forward. Eager almost. I welcomed it. If this was the last moment I got to share with her I wanted it filled with her. After all, this may be the last time I was allowed to be selfish.

I felt her shake against me before she pulled herself away. Her head brushed against mine. Her breaths gasped gently over my lips. I smiled sadly and nudged my nose against her, opening my eyes to the tingling feeling of her lips hovering over mine.

Her hand gripped mine tight with my look and her expression was fierce again. This time I believed it to be real.

"Let's go get our people"

Chapter Text

I followed Clarke through the bunker. It seemed empty. There was too much silence. I didn't trust it. Everything seemed to echo. Our steps. Our breaths. I was too acutely aware of each scratch her finger made tracing lines on her map of the mountain. It was too quiet.

Clarke had tried to reassure me. She said it was a massive bunker. Of course sound would carry and of course there would be empty spaces throughout it. And with our people fighting against the maunon at its main door there would be a lock down. Nobody would be wandering around. Still, I didn't like it.

I walked on beside her, sword raised ready for an attack. I turned in a slow circle and scouted the halls around us. My worries returned to the open door we'd left behind us. I had wanted to post a guard there, to cover our backs. But Clarke's rush into the mountain alone had forced me to run in after her. Now we were unprotected all round. It caused an annoying itch in my skin. One I forced to the back of my mind with every new corridor we walked down.

The grey walls all looked the same to me. Each one of them dank and depressing. Looming out forever in cold corridors and twisting stairs. The maze of the mountain was dizzying. And its smell was suffocating. It made me crave fresh air again. Made my mind run fast with tempting invitation of the trees and open spaces waiting for me outside.

I tried my best to ignore it. Every fibre of my being was protesting each new step I took after Clarke.

Death is here, it warned, trapped spirits haunt this place.

It was only the determination in me to get my people back that pulled me on. That and the even more demanding instinct to stay at clarke's side, to protect her.

"Hey," she softly whispered after a long while walking. She turned back to look at me, "You okay?"

Clarke's hand touched my forearm, gently squeezing it over my jacket. She thought I was in stress. She wanted to comfort me. I pulled my arm free of her. I was not weak. I did not need her to comfort me.

Shouting echoed around us for a moment again, causing me to spin around, sword raised. But I couldn't tell where it was coming from.

"Its the army" she told me, "The mountain men must be pushing all their guards to the main door"

I nodded. It seemed like a good enough explanation. I looked behind us when I heard guns firing closer. I didn't like imagining my people being cut down by them.

"You think they're doing okay?" Clarke asked. As if she sensed my worry. I looked up to find her quietly worrying too and nodded to her.

"My people will fight to their last breath" I told her strongly. I needed her to believe that. It would keep her focused on our task.

"But what if-"

Clarke watched as I strode silently past her without answer. I heard her sigh in frustration before she walked to hold a fast pace at my side. I felt her watching me but when I glanced back she quickly returned to staring down at the map in her hands. Her brow scrunched up again. The scribbled design of the mountain confused her.

"Trust Raven to think dumb it down meant this" she grumbled beneath her breath as she directed us around another corner to yet another dead end.

Clarke looked up at it in disbelief and then growled out in frustration and slammed her palm into the wall. And though I found it somewhat amusing I quickly took hold of her wrist to silence her. We couldn't get caught here.

"We don't have time for this, Clarke" I told her seriously. She nodded and let me take the map from her.

I studied the drawing and found myself confused too. All the lines and arrows running over each other on the blue paper made no sense. What use was this to anyone? My own frustration with it made me growl internally. More of our people were dying while we wasted our time trying to decipher a complicated map.

"This is taking too long" I mumbled fixing my eyes suddenly on the hallway behind us when I heard steps approaching.

I took clarke's wrist and pulled her against the wall. She looked up at me startled and began telling me how this was hardly the time for us to be fooling around. I shot her an unamused look back and whispered an order to be quiet. She hushed up immediately at my seriousness. And her eyes switched to the corridor when she heard steps too.

I positioned myself to block her body from attack and raised my sword. Clarke took the map from me as the footsteps grew closer.

I waited for them to be turning cautiously toward us before I leapt out.

"Wait!" The stranger squealed out at me in fright.

I blinked down at the girl stood shaking in front of me. I quickly scanned my eyes down her face. Down the wide eyes and shaking pale skin.

Maunon.

A growl went up in the back of my throat and I raised my arm. She flinched back again but stayed quiet. It confused me why. Why would she be silent? She should be screaming for help. I lowered my arm and flicked my wrist up to press the sword to her throat. I tilted my head a little to the side and glared at her.

"Tell me why I should wait" I dared her twisting the blade to nick the edge of her jaw. Seeing the thin pearls of blood slide down the edge of my sword satisfied me, but not nearly as much as watching her eyes squeezing shut in terror.

She flinched when I pressed the sword close again for an answer and quickly stuttered a name back at me. I shook my head. That wasn't a reason.

I raised my sword back to strike her down but Clarke yelped at me to stop. My arm froze mid air at her command and I watched on in frozen fear as she swept around me.

"Mia!" Clarke cried out in relief when she saw the maunon.

She yanked my arm down and span on her heel to approach the maunon, closing the distance to the shaking girl quickly despite my pulling her back.

"It's okay, Lexa" she softly told me and turned to the maunon, "Mia, where are my people?"

The mountain girl looked back at me, eyes wide in fear of me as she raised her hand to her bleeding throat. I stared silent and unapologetically back. She should be scared.

She glanced up at Clarke's serious eyes and pointed her thumb over shoulder, "This way"

Clarke took a step forward. And I immediately grabbed her wrist and pulled her behind me. I would not have her walk into a trap.

I pointed the sword at the other girl, "You first, mountain girl"

Mia shook at my order but quickly turned around and walked into the hallway with a look over her shoulder to make sure we followed. I looked back to Clarke and told her to stay behind me. She rolled her eyes.

"She's a friend" she told me taking a step out around me. I grabbed her back with an angry look. Clarke continued to disobey me and usually I found it an amusing challenge. But right now I needed her to listen to me. Her life depended on it.

"You will do as I command or I will take you back to my armies myself!" I growled impatiently at her. Clarke simply stared back at me.

"You're not my commander" was her calm reply as she yanked my hand from her jacket and moved around me.

I glared at her back and cursed to the gods. Why must she be so stubborn?!

Clarke slowly walked after Mia. She'd pulled her gun from her belt and and was holding it tight ahead of her as she checked every corner they walked past. I quickly brought up the rear, continually treading in circles with eyes scouting everywhere, ears straining to hear the slightest change around me.

"So.. That's the commander of the grounders?" I heard Mia whisper to Clarke. Her voice was a trembling mixture of awe and fear.

I looked back at her to find her staring at the blood of her people staining my face and she immediately looked away from her study of me. Somehow Clarke was smiling at our interaction.

"Don't worry" she whispered to the maunon, "She's doesn't always look like that"

"Clarke" I barked at her to be quiet. I did not want my enemies to know anything about me.

She looked over her shoulder at me and nodded in understanding.

"Where's Bellamy right now?" She asked Mia. Mia shook her head.

"I don't know. The last time I saw him, he was speaking on the radio with Raven. I left to check on Jasper and the others"

"And how are they?" Clarke asked back timidly. Afraid to know if they were alive still.

It had me turning my head from scouting a corridor to look at back her. And I wish I hadn't. I felt my heart ache seeing the hopeful fear in her eyes.

I looked at the girl with Clarke's question. If they had been harmed already her people would pay.

Mia swallowed scared at my threatening eyes and glanced back to Clarke.

"There was a security breach on their level. The entire floor was radiated"

"Bellamy!" Clarke breathed. I flashed her a curious look for her smile of relief, "Did the others get away?"

Mia shook her head, "I don't know. I've been trying to find them. But-"

"Clearly you have not been looking hard enough" I growled at her, impatient for her slow pace through the mountain. She was doing this deliberately. Slowing us down to lead us into a trap. Or to give her people enough time to kill mine. And Clarke might be falling for her scared act but I was not.

Mia shot an angry look back at me.

"If you didn't have a damn army camped outside then-"

Clarke stopped her before I could take the tempting step forward to force her silence. She stepped in between us and told us both to calm down.

"We don't have time to fight over why they haven't been found. We just have to find them" Clarke pushed my sword arm lower and turned to Mia, "Do you know where your people lock up the grounders?"

Mia nodded and flitted her eyes back in my direction when my I growled beneath my breath. She knew where they were which meant she had been one of the ones to lock them up. Clarke's hand squeezed harder on my arm a moment, begging me to relax.

"Show Lexa" Clarke ordered her, "I'll find the others" Clarke raised her gun up and turned herself away from us towards a different corridor.

I held my arm out to stop her leaving. She looked down at the sword blocking her path and when she looked back at me I gave her a strong look. I did not like this plan.

Clarke rolled her eyes and walked forward regardless, pushing the blade away from her. She didn't care for my concern right now. Right now her mind was stuck fast on her reaching her people.

I spoke up after her, "Clarke, I can't let you-"

"Lexa!" she cried out in frustration and turned to me. Her eyes met mine desperately and she shook her head, "We don't have time. You need to find your people. I have to find mine"

I stared down at her. I knew she was right. I just didn't want to leave her alone. I didn't trust this mountain. I didn't trust her to not lose herself inside it like so many others I had known had. As Anya had. I wanted to keep her safe. And the only way to do that was to stay with her.

"I will go with you" I told her though I knew doing so would risk the lives of my people. My heart was torn. It wanted to help clarke but it wanted to save my people too. I could not do both.

Clarke looked at me as if she saw my struggle. She shook her head.

"I'll be fine" she told me staring up at me with a strong look as she raised her gun to make her point, "I'll find jasper and the others and meet you and Mia later"

I peered back to where Mia was curiously watching us and I took Clarke's arm to turn her so I could speak privately with her.

"Do you trust what this girls says is true?" I questioned lowly, "Because I do not"

"She helped jasper and monty get a message to us. She helped Bellamy" Clarke looked back at Mia stood awkward behind us, "I trust her"

I nodded, "Then I will too"

Clarke gave me a smile for my effort and I watched her eyes train heavily on mine before she walked around me. I read the goodbye in them. I felt myself return it before I forced myself to turn to where she stood speaking with the mountain girl. Clearly I wasn't the only one needing reassurance for others' intentions.

"You can trust her" Clarke was whispering to the timid girl.

Mia looked back at me and I saw her take in all the blood staining my face fearfully. She nodded at me in silent agreement to work with me, and pointed down the hall. I simply stared back, waiting for her to go first.

Clarke was giving me an annoyed look when I glanced back at her. I tipped my head at her. What had I done now?

"Be nice" she sternly told me and walked away. I felt my heart pull after her but forced myself to follow Mia.

The mountain girl gave me a slight smile as I approached. I shot her a glare back. I would not be nice just because Clarke ordered it. She was still Maunon.

Mia began walking away. I gave clarke one last look before I reluctantly followed, eyes shooting over my shoulder to watch Clarke's quick walk down the the opposite corridor. I turned my attention back when she disappeared from my sight. I tried to swallow down the fear rising in me for letting her go alone. I had to believe she would be okay. For now I had to focus on getting my people back.

We walked in complete silence for two levels. Nothing but the sounds of our quick footsteps sounded out around us as we took another set of stairs up into a long hallway painted a refreshing white. I looked around at the pristine walls and shining floor. It smelt chemical here. Clean.

"The holding room is over here" Mia mumbled walking quickly through a corridor of rooms. .

I lengthened my stride and followed, eyes flitting around us every so often. The rooms either side of me were empty but one caught my eye. I approached it and frowned at the smashed glass.

"So..."

My attention caught back on Mia struggling to open a door at the end of the hall that had been locked. It rattled while her hands pulled at it before she gave up and pulled a card from her pocket.

"You're the grounder leader, huh?" She asked me casually as she swiped it across the door, "You've gotta be, what, nineteen? Twenty?"

There was a beep and the block on the door flashed red. Mia frowned and tried again.

"Not that its a bad thing" she continued to herself, "Being young and leading and everything. Really. I think its pretty impressive"

I rolled my eyes at her smalltalk and stepped forward to pull her back when her failing attempt to open the door gnawed on my patience. I swung my sword at the flashing block, smashing it in two. Mia jumped beside me when the device crackled and spat sparks at us.

I ignored her telling me I'd probably just broken it and tried the handle, leaning back triumphant when it gave to kick the door open. I held my sword up but nothing came at us. The room was empty. I relaxed and turned back to her. She was stood frozen. Staring at me in complete surprise.

I nodded at her, "Yes. I am Heda. Do you have more pointless questions or can we proceed?"

Mia stuttered back and I let out a breath of impatience as I walked around her into the room. It was dark for a moment until she crept around me and opened another door. Light filtered in, blinding me suddenly.

I rapidly blinked my eyes into adjusting and ran them over the small beds lining the room in front of me, and the few pale and weak looking people sitting up in them. They stared at me in fear as I stepped into the room and raised my sword.

More maunon.

"They're okay!" Mia told me quickly taking hold of my arm to stop me striking anyone down, "They're just sick"

I pulled her grip from me and shoved her away, "Do not touch me, maunon!" I snarled at her.

Mia nodded apologetically and told me to follow her.

My eyes watched the sick people around us as I strode past their beds. Their frightened eyes stared at me in shock. Clearly none of them had ever seen someone like me before. I wondered if they had ever been told about my people. The stunned looks on their faces looked too genuine. My eyes ran cautiously over sick men and women. Even a child. I realised suddenly why Clarke had wanted us to spare the civilians. Why she'd assured us it would be easy. These people looked too pathetic to fight.

"Its okay" mia was whispering to them as she lead me past, "She's a friend"

I felt myself rear back at her words. I was no friend of theirs.

She moved towards the door at the end of the room. I stopped my follow of her when I noticed red tubes twisting down into one man. I neared it and he flinched back from me. I ignored him and stared at the liquid flowing through the tube to his body.

Blood.

"What is this?" I demanded pointing to it.

Mia turned from opening the new door. She looked back at my point to the tubes and swallowed scared.

"Look," she began holding her hands up, "You're gonna be pretty pissed in the next couple seconds. But I need you to just stay calm and remember what Clarke told you about me being a friend"

I glared at her and approached her at the door.

"You are Clarke's friend" I told her in a stoney threatening voice, "Not mine"

"Would you, uh.. k-kill.. a friend of Clarke's?"

I heard her fright and it made me smirk. I pulled my sword up against her throat again, making sure to line it in place with the last cut I had gifted her. Behind us her people gasped. I ignored them.

"Was that an invitation, mountain girl?"

"No!" she squealed inching herself back from my blade, "I-.. It.. It wasn't a.. um.. invitation. Look, c-can we just.. Your people are behind here"

I withdrew the blade and allowed her to turn to swipe her card against the door. I was smiling with my game. She was too easy to scare. All these mountain men were.

Mia opened the door and leant herself against it to keep it open. She nodded inside. Slowly I crossed the threshold into the new room with my sword held out ahead of me.

The smell of filth hit me as I walked further in. This place reeked of death. My eyes adjusted quickly to the change in light and I breathed slowly to hide my stress for the sounds of rattling and moans that I heard.

"Remember," Mia spoke quietly as she closed the door again. I turned my head to look at her, "I'm your friend here. Not an enemy"

I narrowed my eyes at her. I didn't like the feeling of unease I got from her words. Turning my head back I walked past a table and rounded the corner. My caution fell away the second I saw the cages.

I stared at them all piled on top of one another and cramped in little spaces. Their bodies looked pale and weak, and filthy. I could see blood and bruises clinging to the dirty skin beneath the scanty clothing. They all sat still in the gloomy backs of their cages. Their eyes stared hopelessly in fear at one another as they turned their heads to see who would be chosen to die next.

I could not call this an army. Not one hint of my fearsome warriors remained.

Fury flooded my mind. I'd never expected to find this. Finding them dead would have been less of a shock.

I span immediately back to Mia and grabbed hold of her shoulder. I backed her harshly into the wall.

"You caged my people like animals?!" I snarled at her, pushing my sword up against her throat.

She squeaked a reply. A soft mention of Clarke's name again. It only made me angrier.

Mia clutched at my sword arm. It was a feeble attempt to keep the blade from cutting her. Her eyes begged me to stop. Begged me to listen. But I would not. I could not.

"It w-wasn't..me!" She choked at me as the sword pushed lower, "I h-h-..elped!"

I growled as I started pushing down to cut her.

"Heda!"

I froze. My eyes locked over my shoulder onto the cage beside us. The warrior inside was sat up with hands pressed against the cage wall, eyes set on us. I barely recognised her. Not until I saw the scars on her face and the tattoo on her shoulder. I felt my eyes widen and my jaw drop in disbelief.

"Eko?!"

I stared at her. I couldn't believe it was her. I could not believe my friend had been stolen by the mountain too. It only doubled the rage in me to get revenge. Which in turn tightened my hold on the Maunon choking beneath my hand.

Eko nodded to my hold on Mia.

"She speaks true, Heda" she told me solemnly, "I saw her help the sky boy myself. And she brought us food. And water. She is not like the other maunon"

I looked back to Mia still struggling against me. I let my fury out in a few sharp breaths before I growled and moved away from her completely. I ignored her choked fall to the floor and turned to my friend instead.

"Eko" I touched her cage and let out a breath of relief when her fingers touched my hand over the bars. It made me feel terrible to know I had mourned her death already. I had given up on her. And she had been here all along.

I looked up at her sadly, with regret in my heart, "Wigod ai op, lukot. I didn't know you had been taken"

Eko's fingers pressed harder on mine. She gave me a smile, "There is nothing to forgive, Heda. You are here now"

I nodded.

Around me I heard whispers of my name. First hushed in disbelief and then my people began shouting it out in relief to one another. I turned and looked around at them all. I felt in shock still to their treatment from the mountain men. How could we be the barbaric ones?

"Shh!" Mia panicked at them all, "Please! Or they'll hear you"

My people ignored her. Cages rattled loudly with their tugging and kicking at their prisons to be free. The noise grew the further down the room my name was passed.

"Hosh op!" I barked at them all. Immediately they hushed up hearing Heda's voice.

"We prayed you would come" Eko whispered in the silence after. She was staring at me in awe when I looked back at her,

"We thought the gods had ignored us. And we were being punished to die here" her voice hitched suddenly and her eyes looked like they might water, "But you came" she smiled.

I nodded and touched her hand again, "And now I will free you"

I moved around the cage and studied the lock on the front of the metal gate. The maunon came to my side when I cupped it in my palm.

"The guards have the keys" Mia told me as I tested the lock's strength, "If you give me a second I can-"

My sword slashed down in one strong swipe. The metal snapped and I quickly reached out to untwist it.

"Or you could do that" Mia mumbled.

Eko pushed open the cage door and awkwardly began shifting herself out of her prison. I reached my hands inside the cage and allowed her to wrap her arms around my neck while I pulled her the rest of the way out. She held onto me as I steadied her onto her feet. Her thinned body trembled against mine. I heard her crying softly and held her tighter to me, allowing her to hide her tears into my shoulder.

"Yu laik klir nau" I murmured into her ear and gently let her go.

The ice warrior leant back and nodded. She looked past me after and turned with held her arm out. Mia walked shyly over and gently took hold of it. I frowned. She had a small thin blade in her hand. One she intended to cut Eko with.

"What're you doing?!" I demanded watching her run her fingers over Eko's arm, probing the skin there. She stopped just before the warrior's elbow and before I could stop her pushed the blade in.

I took an angry step forward at Eko's gasp but stopped seeing Mia stand back seconds later with something she'd extracted from Eko's arm held in her fingers. I stared at the dark capsule flashing beneath the blood.

"It's a tracker" Mia explained and leant around me to place it in Eko's cage, "They all have them. If we get them all out and leave them here the guards won't know we've gotten everybody out"

She walked away before I could think to thank her for her idea. I turned to see Eko holding her palm over her bleeding arm.

"Are you ready to fight?"

Eko's eyes gleamed darker. She looked ready to kill every maunon in this mountain for her torture. She nodded to me. I handed her my knife and told her to release the others.

"Mia" I summoned and she stepped forward cowering a little from me, "You will help Eko release my people. Then you will show them the way to the reaper tunnels. If you are loyal to us in your assistance I will reconsider my decision to kill you"

She shook at my words. Behind her I caught Eko smile at my teasing the mountain girl.

"Eko, watch the mountain girl" I commanded and she nodded, "If she tries to raise the alarm to her people, put that knife in her throat"

Eko bowed her head to me, "Sha, Heda"

She grabbed hold of Mia and told her to start breaking the locks on the other cages. The mountain girl nodded and went to do it. As they released a warrior each my people began to shout out again, begging to be freed next. Eko growled and walked down the room.

"Taim yu gaf ge breik au, taim yu shof op!" she shouted at them. She returned to the cage she had been unlocking when they went silent again.

Eko looked back at me as she broke the lock free.

"Do you trust her, Heda?" She asked catching the warrior from falling down.

Echo nodded over at Mia coaxing another of my people out of their cage. I shook my head and went to free a warrior myself.

"But Clarke does" I answered. That was good enough for me.

"Clarke?"

Eko looked confused. I forgot she didn't know who was helping us.

"Skaikru's leader" I replied, heart pumping scared at being reminded how alone clarke was right now. I prayed she had found her people. I prayed she was safe.

I expected Eko to say something back. To argue with my working with the people we had warred with only weeks ago. But she didn't. It made me think what had happened here for her to change her opinion of clarke's people so quickly.

I pulled the trapped warrior out and watched as she sagged back against the cages breathing heavily. Beside her Eko's freed warrior was doing the same. Our plan to use them as an army wouldn't work. They couldn't fight. They could barely stand. They were far too weak. I could only imagine how long they had been caged like this.

"Indra is waiting in the reaper tunnels" I told Eko, quickly making the decision to change the plan in order to get them all to safety, "Mia will take you there"

Mia looked up from her cutting another tracker out of a warrior's arm and saw our joint glance over to her. She nodded to us. I turned back to Eko and touched her arm.

"Get them home, Eko" I ordered.

She nodded and promised it would be done. I looked around at my other people. They were watching me. Some in fear, others still in disbelief. I knew they needed Heda's strength to help them now.

"Ste yuj!" I shouted out to them, "We will make the maunon pay for this. Ai swega yu klin"

I left then, on the short shouts of my people cheering me before Eko hushed them again.

My people were safe.

Now I had to save clarke's.

Chapter Text

The corridor was dark. The lights went out minutes ago. But I didn't need light to see.

My steps pressed light and cautious across the floor, following the gray walls silently through the mountain. My breathing was still a little too heavy. And my face and hands were dripping with fresh blood. To me the corridors still echoed with the maunon guards' short screams. My eyes still flashed with their pale faces crashing from anger to terror before their quick deaths. Deaths I felt no regret for. Angrily my lust for revenge screamed for more. More blood. More screams. Until all the maunon were gone.

I followed the cold dark, letting its familiar presence around me lull my suffocated stress for the while. It was easier to walk through the mountain this way. I needed no map or guide. Just my instincts pulling me in the right direction. As they faithfully had so many times before.

I walked for some time with nothing but the echoes of shouts and shots growing further and further away. I worried for my people constantly. Those fighting outside and those I'd left in Eko's care. Multiple times through my walk I had been tempted to turn back and make sure they had reached the tunnels unharmed. But my concern for clarke had me pressing selfishly on. I had to make sure she was safe. My heart would not stop this hurtful abuse of me until I had.

I strode up another set of stairs and all too soon the silence of the mountain died and I could hear voices echo through the lonely corridors to me. Just gently filling the air. They sounded happy. Too happy for those who had an army at their door.

I entered a lit set of corridors and followed the sound of of people talking over a strange music. Doing so carried me on towards the noise and had me stopping outside a massive colorful room full of people sitting and standing around tables littered in plates and food, all of them laughing and smiling.

I automatically leapt out of sight and slowly inched my head around the door to peer in at them. I stared around at them all. There were young and old here. Civilians. All sitting at tables or standing in corners. All speaking to one another with happy smiles. All completely oblivious to the fact that their mountain had been infiltrated by their greatest enemy.

Me.

My eyes crept hatefully from the laughing people towards the guards in the corners of the room talking into their radios. They all held smiles but I could see the stress beneath their expressions easily enough. Their pale faces shone with anxiety. Especially when they heard something on their radios they did not like.

I growled under my breath watching them all. Below their feet my people were still struggling out of their cages after months of being held like animals just so these people could breathe their routines and gray walls. My people had bled for this. It was in no way a fair trade.

My hand gripped my sword painfully tight while a pleasing thought of slipping into the room to cut them all down crossed my mind. Looking around I saw them all weak and frail, guards included. It would be easy.

Too easy.

My heavy bloodlust had me starting a walk forward.

"Excuse me" A small voice behind me had me jumping all of a sudden.

I span around and looked down at the little boy that had been standing at my back tugging on the end of my shirt. He was fairly young. Maybe only five or six summers. His eyes shone up at me brightly from underneath a mop of brown hair and it stunned me how blue they were. Like Clarke's.

My fingers relaxed around my sword.

"You're not from here" he told me, staring up at the markings on my face.

I looked around myself at the empty hall. I shook my head at him before I began to walk quickly away. I couldn't stay here. Killing these people was pointless. I needed to find clarke. I needed to make sure she was safe.

"Where do you come from?" The boy asked following me.

I turned around and stopped him with a hand on his chest.

"The ground, little one" I told him and turned him back towards the room of people, "You are late for your food. I'm sure your mother is worried"

He ignored my push for him to return to his people and turned back to me frowning. I was annoyed for it. It was an adorable scrunching of his face that made me instantly regret the tight grip I placed around my sword. If he did not return to his people I would have to kill him.

The little boy took a step back from me when he saw my stoney look, with eyes still staring up at me in childish wonder. I nodded at him to keep going and breathed in relief at his slow steps back.

But he stopped again and I breathed deeply to ready myself to kill him if I had to. I shifted slowly into a pre attack stance, raising the blade in my hand as I did. He didn't notice. Just kept staring at me. Then he held his hand out to me.

"I'm felix" he announced grinning for some reason.

I raised a brow at his empty hand. It looked like a greeting. The boy's smile fell when I failed to reciprocate.

"You don't want to shake hands?" He asked looking up at me tearfully.

I swallowed and panicked to know what to do. I could't let him wail like his scrunched up tears suggested was coming. I needed to remain unknown to the maunon.

"I don't know how" I told him gently to stop his crying. His tears immediately stopped and he beamed at me as if nothing had upset him.

"It's easy!" He giggled gleefully, "You say your name and then you hold my hand and I say my name and I hold your hand and we shake!"

I stared down at him. At his bright blue eyes and his dark mop of hair. His smile especially was making my mind stir against harming him. I couldn't help matching his awed stare. It didn't make sense to me. I'd come here expecting dark people filled with dark hearts and corrupted spirits. Instead I'd found sick people. And smiling people. And this gentle child.

How could something so innocent be a part of something so cruel?

Felix looked back at me scared all of sudden, "You don't want to shake hands with me?" He whimpered tearing up again.

I panicked knowing he would start crying any second and quickly knelt in front of him. I took his hand gently and shook it as he had instructed.

"My name is Leska" I told him in a small whisper. His face smoothed and he immediately beamed back at me.

"I'm felix!" he announced again, swinging our joined hands merrily, "Now we're friends!" he told me proudly.

I nodded in hope it would make him quiet. He giggled back at me and I hated how it pulled a smile from me. Somehow he reminded me of my nightbloods.

Felix looked down at my other hand and he stared at the sword as if he had just noticed it. I slid it away from his reaching fingers.

"What's that?" He whispered in complete wonderment.

"It's a sword" I told him quickly, voice dipping annoyed. I was wasting time here. I had to leave.

Felix saw me begin to stand and suddenly launched himself into me. I froze at his little arms wrapping around my neck. I had no idea what to do. All my instincts said to kill him now so I could carry on unhindered. But I felt his little heart beating against my chest. I felt his arms squeeze loosely around my neck. I heard his little giggle into my skin. And somehow to my complete fury and confusion it changed everything.

"Felix" a soft summons called out of the room suddenly.

I looked up at the woman's voice and instantly panicked when he leant away to call back to her.

"You have to go, little one" I told him quickly pulling his grip off me when I heard her reply louder. Closer.

He looked up at me as I waved him off towards his mother. He didn't go like I needed. He didn't understand why I needed to disappear now. So I turned on my heel and took long strides away from him.

Felix walked after me, "Can we play again later?" He asked catching up to tug on my hand.

I stopped with a frustrated breath. He pulled his hands behind his back when I turned back to him. His lips puckered at the look I gave him. But the moment I relented long enough to replace it with a calmer one he gave me a wide smile.

"Please?" he asked blue eyes watering again.

Footsteps came out of the big room towards us and his mother called out for him again. Worried this time.

I took a step towards him, sword raised ready to grab him and hold him hostage the moment she discovered us and screamed for her people.

Felix grinned up at me and I bared my teeth as the sword lowered against my will in my hand. I knelt in front of him again and brushed my thumb over his dimpled cheek. I silently nodded to him and his smile widened as he hugged me again. I wrapped an arm around his body this time, gently hold him back.

"May we meet again, strikon" I whispered letting him go and telling him to return to his mother.

I stood back as he skipped away singing as children do. I smiled at his excited chatter to his mother about me. I listened out for her reply and breathed easy knowing she believed he spoke of an imaginary friend.

A hand grabbed mine before I could move on and I span around to attack. I stopped mid strike when clarke's eyes met seriously with mine. She ignored the furious look I shot her and pressed a finger to her lips and pulled on my hand. I nodded and let her guide me away.

"Who'd have thought the great commander of clans would be brought to her knees by a toddler" I glared at her tease and she squeezed my hand gently, "There was a moment there I thought you were going to kill him"

I pulled my hand free of her and lengthened my stride past her.

"For a moment there I almost did" I growled walking faster.

Clarke was silent as she hurried to keep up.

"Did you find your people?" She asked. I nodded, "And Mia?"

I peered back at her narrowed look for me and felt myself bristle at her mistrust.

"She is helping them to the reaper tunnels. Indra will take over from there"

Clarke nodded, relief in her eyes, "My people are being held somewhere in the lower levels. They've started to.." Her eyes closed painfully a second before she opened them with fire inside them, "Monty and Bellamy are waiting for us in the control room"

She lead me up a set of stairs and over to a locked door that had a couple unconscious maunon laying outside it. She knocked on it and it opened to reveal the Bellamy boy aiming his gun at our faces. He took us in with a relieved gleam in his eyes for Clarke and lowered the weapon. He nodded to me as he stood aside to let us in.

I entered the room and stared at all the screens lit up showing us the different areas of the mountain. My eyes fixed on one in particular held on the largest screen in the room. On it I saw Raven being tied down to a table by the mountain men.

"How many have died?" I asked Clarke as she came to stand silent beside me.

"I don't know" she whispered tearfully.

I peered sideways at her and gently touched her hand. Silently I promised her I would avenge this. She looked back at me but she didn't look strengthened by my words. Instead her eyes dulled even more.

"Monty, how long?" She ordered moving away from me. I turned confused.

"How long for what?" I asked looking between them all.

Bellamy strode forward, "Monty's switching the air feed" he explained, "We can all breathe the air outside. The mountain men can't. Once we reverse the vents the air from outside will flood the mountains and-"

"They'll all die" I finished looking to Clarke. Surely she didn't agree with this. She'd been the one to beg for the civilians to be spared. This can't have been her idea.

She stared dead back at me.

"If we don't do this all my people die"

I edged quickly to her and drew her aside, "Clarke, there are people here who don't know what's going on. Elderly. Sick. Children"

She shook her head, "Lexa, we knew that already. You knew that. You still wanted to kill them all"

"That was before I saw it for myself. Killing hundreds to spite one is not right"

"Then their leaders should have thought about that before they started using our people as lab rats" she spat and walked to a radio.

She picked it up and called for the leader of the mountain. I could only stare at her. What happened to her? She seemed so changed all of a sudden. My heart questioned whether this was the real Clarke I was seeing. I wanted to believe it wasn't. As much as I wanted to hope it was

"Have you got an answer for me, Cage?" She asked aggressively into the radio, "Or was your father's death not enough to convince you?"

"You will pay for that!" He growled back at her. Anger and grief had his voice screeching at her.

I stared at Clarke, confused for their exchange. Monty's eyes found mine and he looked to the corner of the room. I turned my head. A body was lying on the floor. An old man that had been shot in the chest. I stared at the blood on his shirt. It reminded me of Emerson.

I looked back at the sky leader behind me. Clarke did this? Monty looking nervous told me yes.

"You have five minutes" she told Cage coldly as she wrapped up their conversation. She slammed the radio down onto the table beside her gun, "He's not going to take this deal" she told the two boys in a panicked voice.

"Would he really risk all his people for this?" Monty questioned frowning hard.

Bellamy walked forward and nodded.

"The guy is insane. He'd risk an earth full of people if it got him more of our blood"

"So what do we do?" Monty asked back helplessly.

They stared between each other. Neither of them had the answer.

"Radiate them"

We all looked up. Clarke was staring up at the screens. She'd been quiet throughout their panicking, calmly watching her friends being tortured. Her eyes were set coldly on the maunon moving over her people with drills. I saw in them the same lust for revenge I saw the night TonDc was bombed. It promised her unrelenting anger. Her pain and her people's pain would be answered. She didn't say the words but she didn't need to. I could read it in her expression.

Blood must have blood.

Bellamy strode quickly forward, "Wait a second, Clarke. We need to think about this. There are kids in there I know. And people who helped us"

"Then please give me a better idea" she shot back turning to face him. Her expression begged for another way. Her eyes said she knew there wasn't one.

I looked down and stared hard at the table in front of me. I thought about how I would react as the maunon's leader. What I would do to make my enemies leave my home? I looked up when I had the answer. It was simple.

"You tell his people"

All three of them looked back at me.

Clarke frowned, her eyes hinted a lighter shade of hope, "What?" she asked turning to me.

I stepped towards her.

"Tell his people what he's doing. Let them know of this ultimatum. Tell them that to keep the sky people is to die from the air"

Monty started nodding, "Civilian revolt. These people don't want to die"

He looked convinced my plan would work. Clarke didn't. She looked to Bellamy.

"Bel?"

He was staring down at the ground when Clarke said his name. He looked up at her, eyes heavy in emotion.

"It's worth a shot" he told her, voice cracked with mild hope. She shared a look with him and glanced back at me before she nodded to herself.

"Monty, can you rig me up to the mountain's intercom system?"

"Piece of cake" he told her spinning his chair around to tap at a keyboard on the desk behind him.

"Make sure it's chocolate" she told him seriously as she turned to me.

Her eyes lifted to mine and I could see her gratitude for my input. For saving her from a terrible decision. I held her eyes but I couldn't return the hoping look she gave me. She might still need to make that decision.

Clarke started to move towards me but stopped when she realised Bellamy's eyes were on her. Immediately she pulled herself back and twisted round to face him.

"Bellamy, this door has to stay locked in case this goes wrong"

"Roger that" he mumbled and turned to leave the room.

Clarke took my hand the second he was gone. Her trembling fingers clasped mine tight in fear. I peered back at the other skaiskat before I let myself hold them back. Clarke's eyes moved down to our hands. Her thumb rubbed through the blood staining mine. I felt her fingers shake on my skin and I listened as her breaths drew deeper. She looked scared again. Like she were once more pacing tirelessly in wait for battle. I hated to see her in such a state.

So I set my sword on the table and moved my other hand to tip her chin up, "This will work" I told her strongly when she met my eyes again.

"I hope you're right" she whispered shakily.

I bowed my head to the desperate plea in her voice to rest against hers and she closed her eyes with a shuddering breath.

"Clarke!" Monty's voice snapped us away from our moment of peace and she immediately went to him, "I've done it"

"How do I speak to them?" She asked looking up at the screens above her.

Monty pressed his finger down over a button on a board beneath his hand and nodded at her to talk. I walked up behind her as she began to address the mountain.

"Residents of Mount Weather"

Three pairs of eyes watched the screens as the Maunon looked up at Clarke's voice suddenly echoing through their meal.

"My name is Clarke Griffin," she continued, "Some of you know me. I was a guest here for a while. I was brought here along with more of my people by yours. And there's something you need to know"

The door opened behind us as she carried on. I snatched up my sword and turned with my body obstructing Clarke's, blade ready in hand. I relaxed when Bellamy walked in and quickly locked the door behind him. He saw my protective position beside Clarke and gave a curt nod.

"Bellamy, we have guards headed our way" monty told him staring up at the screens to his left.

Bellamy's eyes moved off me to them himself. He turned immediately and walked to corner of the room.

Monty panicked at him, "Bellamy! They're nearly-"

"Monty!" Bellamy growled, "Worry less about the guards and more about us. I need a hand"

Bellamy huffed as he began dragging the closest table towards the door to barricade us in. Monty leapt up and reached over his table to Clarke. He grabbed her hand and pressed her index finger over the correct button before he turned to assist Bellamy.

Clarke spoke louder above the sounds of the boys barricading the door.

"Your president lied to my people when we came here," she said calmly, "He told us we would be safe. And maybe he believed that himself. But he was wrong. Your leaders have been kidnapping my people. They've been bleeding them. Those blood transfusions you all receive to keep your health stable? That's our blood. Stolen from us against our will"

Clarke looked up at the screen to view the reaction to her words. The dining room was full of shocked faces. Some were speaking and others stood to calm them down. Clarke glanced back at me and I nodded for her to continue.

"President Cage is currently in a room downstairs with a group of my people held prisoner. You want to know what he's doing to them?"

Clarke looked back to Monty. He told her which button to press and we all cringed together at Raven's agonised screams playing over the radio.

I looked at the screen showing her torment and clenched a hand around my sword. I held no love for Raven. She was irritating. And loud. But I did pity her. Especially when Clarke's eyes filled tearfully watching her friend's pain.

Clarke left the screams playing for a moment before she shut it off with tears running down her cheeks. Her hand reached back. Her fingers curling around the tips of mine over the sword. In search of comfort to steal herself for the next part of her speech. It had me standing closer in response.

"Waiting outside your front door is the combined army of the twelve grounder clans. And trust me, they are a lot of them and they are very angry"

I nodded at her when she looked back to ask if that had been the right thing to say. I bumped her hand back to keep her talking. Clarke nodded and drew a deep breath. When she looked back to the screens she looked calm. Ready to negotiate. But I could read the fierceness in her eyes. It was easy to see she would kill them all in a heartbeat if it would save the people she loved. If they failed to agree. I found myself staring at her in admiration.

"We will give you the option your president never gave us" she told the mountain men steadily, voice growing in strength. I watched her proudly as she handed them her deal, "You help us. You say no to your president and you help us stop this. Or, you don't help us. In which case we will be forced to kill you all"

The people on screen began to panic. Some ran from the room. Others turned on the guards. All of them looked furious with this hard choice thrown on their shoulders. Clarke's eyes followed them as if in pain as they shouted at one another, scared and confused. It was hard to know what she was thinking. Regret, I think. She didn't wish to harm these people.

"It's your choice" she told them before shutting off the microphone. Her hands braced the table after. Her back shook. I looked down at her and saw her struggling to hold herself together.

"Clarke"

She glanced back at me but quickly looked away at the look I gave her. She shook her head. Ignoring the silent advice in my eyes. I found myself frowning at her. She should listen.

"Okay," Bellamy panted out behind us, "That should hold us for now"

We both turned to look over at the two boys half collapsed against the barricade. I rolled my eyes away at their exhaustion. Skaikru were so weak.

"Just in time" Monty was staring at the screens behind us. He nodded to them and then backed up quickly to brace his body against the door.

Bellamy tipped his head up and swore loudly before he leapt against it himself. When I glanced at the screens I realised why. Maunon guards were charging to the other side of the door. It banged as they slammed their bodies into it. Beside me Clarke breathed scared.

"Everybody against the door!" Bellamy barked as the bangs grew louder behind him, "Now!"

I ignored the urge to growl at him for ordering me and moved after Clarke to brace myself against the tables holding the door shut. They jerked a little with the maunon's continued bombardment. And it scared the others as they pushed themselves harder against the door.

"Anybody else starting to regret this plan?" Monty asked looking down the line of us pushing back.

"You fear for nothing" I told them over the continued pounding behind us, "This wood is the strongest in the forest"

"Then why are you here?" Clarke whispered to me. I shot her a short look for her question, and gained myself a hint of a smirk from her, before I looked back at the screens. My attention fell immediately from the room of maunon to the screen that held Clarke's people. In it I saw a maunon pacing up and down between his people and Clarke's.

"It's taking too long for them to decide" she sighed watching her own screen beside me. I glanced back at her and saw her eyes on the mountain men speaking in groups.

"It takes as long as it takes" I reminded her hollowly, "This is a heavy decision. One that will either save them or kill them"

Clarke looked back at me, eyes searching my face intently, "Why did you tell me to offer them that? Why not just kill them?"

I looked away from her. I didn't know what to tell her. The decision still confused me.

"They killed my people" I answered dryly, "Hundreds in TonDc. And thousands more over the last century. This last year I have campaigned hard to wipe them out. But I realised today that I was wrong. Not all of them are to be blamed for the actions against my people. To eradicate them entirely would prove me no better than them"

"Sounds like someone's been around Clarke for too long" I heard monty mutter amused to Bellamy. I broke my stare with Clarke to throw the boy an annoyed glare

"Monty" she warned seeing my hand go for my sword. He looked back at me nervously.

"Sorry" he mumbled to me.

Clarke looked back at me after and leant closer, "It was that kid, wasn't it?" she whispered quietly.

I peered back at her. I refused to answer. Instead I glanced away at the screens. The maunon were moving on them. Quickly. I stepped forward to watch them.

"Shh!" Clarke was hushing the two boys' whispering, "You hear that?"

They were silent a moment.

"No"

"Exactly" Clarke mumbled, confusion in her voice, "They've walked away"

The tables creaked a little when the three Skaikru removed their weight off them. I heard them turn to the door. I could guess the looks they gave it trying to understand why the guards had suddenly decided to give up entering the room. My body hummed with the tension building between them. They believed more danger was coming. They were too slow. None of them had noticed what I had yet.

The pale mounon on the screen was pointing at Raven and his mouth moved with orders for her to be replaced with another. I frowned watching them drag the panting girl away, and then glared watching the man point at another chained skaikru. A gasp behind me dragged my attention away before I knew the identity of the mounon's new victim.

"Clarke, the screens!" Bellamy jumped to my side finally seeing the movements on screen. I looked to the ones he pointed at.

The mountain people were walking fast through the corridors. Jumping from screen to screen. In one I watched some men approach and threaten a guard, shouting at him to show them something. In another I saw a group of guards give up their weapons and guide their people through the halls.

I clenched my sword tight when they approached the corridor that lead to us. I moved back and pulled Clarke behind me when I heard their footsteps crashing at the door. Her hand held my arm tightly as I took up a defensive stance. I was prepared to kill the entire mountain, and die in the process, if it saved Clarke's life.

Bellamy backed up on Clarke's other side, his gun raised with a hard expression. In it I saw his readiness to die for her too.

We all held our breath. I counted down the seconds as the shouting came closer. I drew a deep breath and I readied myself to protect her.

But the moment never came.

The crowd of maunon walked past the door. Their shouts echoing back to us as they moved further through the mountain. I turned confused to Clarke. She waw frowning too. She shook her head. She didn't know either. Together we looked back at the screens and watched the maunon hopping faster through the screens, racing through their mountain.

"They're going down" Clarke whispered, voice mangled lightly in hope.

I turned back to her smile and felt my own twitch across my lips. I held it back to walk to the door.

"Let's go get your people" I told her fiercely.

Clarke held my eyes and with a quick nod started ordering the boys to rip down the barricade. With my help the door was free in minutes. I exited the room first, with cautious steps as I scouted the corridor.

"Clear?" Monty whispered out to me.

I held my hand up to hush him. I thought I'd heard something.

I forced my hearing sharper and span around at the angry yell cried out behind me. A man was lunging at me, hands raised in attack.

I ducked my head back to avoid the maunon guard's fist and slashed my sword across the back of his left leg. He screamed and buckled to his knees clutching at his leg. Clarke rushed to trap my hand in her grip before I could finish him off.

"Wait! Lexa, we need him!"

I read the plea in her eyes and snarled under my breath. I looked back at the sobbing man with hateful eyes.

"Yu gonplei ste odon" I promised him darkly and turned away. I heard Clarke approach the man behind me.

"You're going to lead us to your president" she ordered him coldly. The short grunts from him after said he was being dragged to his feet. I turned back to them and had to hide a smile at Clarke's hard watch of the man.

"Start walking" Bellamy growled shoving the maunon forward. Clarke stole a quick breath and short look my way before she followed.

Between threats from Bellamy and gasps from the guard he dragged ahead with him we soon made it to the room holding clarke's people. We entered it to find the maunon civilians facing off to a pale man holding a gun. Chained to the walls were Clarke's people. On the floor were unconscious guards and dead maunon. Blood soaked the ground around them.

I locked my eyes on the pale maunon. He looked angry at being betrayed by his own people. His eyes flickered around all the people in the room, darting scared around at them. His hand shook around his gun. His aim changed every few seconds. He looked trapped standing there with no way out.

His cold black eyes found Clarke at her cry of relief and rush forward to the bloody table. I stared blankly at the woman tied to it. It was Abby. I peered angrily at the pale man again. Of course he would try to hurt Clarke that way. Clarke's hands rushed to touch her mother's face and then smacked Markus' ones away to free her from the straps holding her down. Her mother cried up seeing Clarke. She reached out and held her daughter tightly to her as Clarke helped her to sit up.

"Are you okay?" I heard Clarke whimper, hands holding her mother's face to her shoulder with eyes rushing all over her in pain. Her mother weakly nodded.

Clarke's eyes continued their scan of the older woman before she allowed herself to look to the threat in the room. I felt a shiver run down my back at the look she gave him.

"This could have been so easy, Cage" Clarke told him angrily as she let go of her nomom and stepped over the dead bodies littering the floor between them. She pulled her gun from her belt as she neared him. She looked ruthless. And blood thirsty.

I followed her, staying at her back with my sword ready. Bellamy crept to flank Clarke's other side. He nodded to me on my glance back to him and raised his gun to aim it at Cage's head. The mountain leader growled at our approach and pointed his gun at Clarke. My heart froze in my chest and I moved quicker to her. She didn't stop her walk to the man. She wasn't scared. But he was. Cage squeezed his finger before I could move to be in front of Clarke and the gun clicked, causing more than a few in the room to gasp loudly. His eyes flooded fearfully before he threw it down at our approach. My eyes ran all over the sky princess as she continued her angry walk to the man. She hadn't even flinched. I glared murderously at him as he glared at Clarke.

"C'mon then, Clarke. Tell us all how it could have been easy" he barked at her.

Clarke walked straight up to him and pressed her gun to his head.

"You could have asked" she whispered simply.

He looked back at her, smug smile fading. Clarke's finger slipped over the trigger and he shook, pleading out suddenly for his life like a coward. Markus came to Clarke's side.

"Clarke, you don't need to kill him. He can be put on trial" To my rage she hesitated. Markus touched her hand holding the gun, "We are not grounders" he told her gently.

I felt angry for his comment but forced myself to appear calm and unmoved by his words. Clarke had looked back at her elder. Her eyes staring thoughtfully back at his. She let him take her arm down and nodded. Markus looked relieved. He believed this was over.

But I knew that look in her eyes. I recognised the fire in them.

"You're right. You're not grounders" Clarke stood back from him and looked back to me at her side, "But we are"

I nodded at her silent command and leapt forward with her permission.

Cage yelled out at my sword plunging into his chest. Everybody behind me gasped. Some screamed in shock. I ignored them. My focus remained entirely on the screaming man.

Cage's voice screeched higher at the sword's continued push through his body. He fell to his knees while his hands clutched at the steel to stop it. But my weight won easily against his feeble strength. I pushed the blade deeper, twisting it against the jarring shock it pushed up against my arm as I made it go through him to the handle. My eyes eyes glared down at him as his screams died in his throat at his look down at himself. His breaths shuddered and his eyes widened in terrified shock.

"Jus drein jus draun" I growled at him, pulling the blade out.

He coughed back with wide eyes. Blood splashed from his chest and mouth up over my front as I released him of my sword. More splattered over my face at his choking up at me. The light was fading from his dark eyes. His fight was ending.

I turned while he collapsed behind me and breathed heavily once his breaths stopped. I felt a heavy weight drift from my shoulders with his death. Finally my people were avenged.

The sky people and mountain people alike were staring at me. In fear. In shock. I ignored them all to walk back to Clarke. She nodded at me when my eyes ran concerned across her blank face, asking that we leave now. She turned to go with the agreeing tilt of my head.

"Clarke!" her mother reached out and tugged at her wrist as we strode past the table together.

Clarke stopped to look down at her nomon's face. At the shocked questions lying inside them.

"I tried, mom" Clarke told her in a shaking voice, "I really tried to be the good guy. But you know what?" Clarke slipped a brief look back to me, "Maybe there are no good guys"

Her mother stared at her. She didn't understand what Clarke meant. Clarke ignored her. Her eyes shifted back to me and they held mine a moment before she walked through the crowd of people and out of the room.

"Clarke, you can't just walk away from this!" Clarke's nomon shouted and twisted herself around with a pained cry as she made to go after Clarke. Markus rushed to her side to stop her with a concerned look and a restraining hand on her arm.

"Let her go" he gently told her.

I took a step back from them then. Clarke needed me. Abby turned her head the second I moved and she looked at me crossly. It made me pause. I hadn't been looked at like that since I was a natblida in training.

"Look after her" the sky healer growled at me. Her voice promised pain if I failed to protect her daughter.

I resisted handing a punishment to her for it and instead gave her a curt nod.

"Otaim" I promised and quickly left the room to follow after Clarke.

Maunon and the newly freed Skaikru all backed away from me when I neared. They all feared me. I set a hard look ahead of myself. Their fear didn't upset me. I gained power from it. The commander in me enjoyed it.

Clarke was waiting for me in the corridor outside the room. Her hands were pressed against her knees while she leant against the wall for support. I walked immediately over and touched her shoulder. She flinched a little but didn't refuse the comfort.

"You did the right thing" I told her, knowing of the shock filling her right now. She looked back at me.

"Did I?" she questioned back frowning deeply, "Sometimes I wonder what defines us being right.. Lately its getting harder to know"

I gave her an understanding look and brushed my thumb against her neck. Her cheeks flushed a rosy pink and it made me smile.

"You ended a war and saved everybody" I told her gently, "You brought justice and peace, Clarke. That is right"

Clarke shook her head at me and turned to stand close to me. She rubbed her thumb against a stain on my jaw and looked at me with so much admiration I was tempted to look away through embarrassment. She smiled at me. Her blue eyes were bright with it.

"We brought justice and peace" she corrected quietly.

I smiled at her and nodded, "Come" I whispered taking her hand in mine to lead her away, "My people wait to hear of our victory"

Clarke nodded and walked along beside me, her hand clutched firmly in mine.

"What will happen to the mountain men?" She asked me as we climbed the stairs to the surface.

I kept my eyes to the floor. Watching my feet pound up the steps instead of meeting the hard look I could feel her give me.

"My people will convene a summit of clans. Together we will decide their fate"

Clarke nodded, "And my people?" she asked nervous.

I let out a long breath. I had yet to decide skaikru's place in this world. They were too different. Too strange. Too set apart from our ways. And like children in tantrum they seemed to crash about the earth destroying everything their feet stomped on. And yet they were gentle too. And clever. And willing to change.

And then there was Clarke. Strong. Beautiful. Curious. Kind. A woman who continued to challenge me. Continued to question the world I lived in and the better one I was trying to carve for my people.

Perhaps I could find them a place among us for Skaikru. And if not, I could make one. If only to keep this perfect creature surviving.

"Your people are pardoned for your crimes against my clan" I decided with an honest look back to her when she stopped walking beside me, "For your help to end this war you'll have your land and your lives. None of my people will attack you again" I looked deep into her eyes, "You have my word"

Clarke stared at me in complete wonder a moment. Wide blue eyes locking mine. Looking straight into my soul. She looked speechless. As if my mercy had taken her right to a voice. Seconds passed uneasily under her blank staring. And then she crashed into me.

I moaned low as she pushed me into the wall and lower still when her soft lips pressed delicately over mine, kissing me gratefully. The shock of having her on me again faded quickly. Though in the back of my mind I did find myself questioning her reasoning behind this. Tucking those dim thoughts aside I snaked my arms around her and kissed her quickly back, as if this were the last chance I had with her. As if this were finally life after survival.

And I kissed her like I deserved it.

Clarke's body rolled into mine with my eager lips. Her hands cupped my face, not caring at all for the paint or blood smudging her fingertips. Her chest pushed against mine as she pinned me to the wall, sharp breaths staggering out under my lips between kisses. Breaths that grew more and more laboured the longer we stood there pressed to one another. Her palms touched tighter on my face when I stepped forward, with hands moving down to her hips to grip her so I might reverse our positions against the wall. She kissed me lighter a moment before she stopped entirely. Something that had me swallowing down a pathetic whimper over the loss.

"We should..go talk to your people.." She panted breathless after pulling herself away from me.

Though she said it with sincerity her body betrayed her true desire. I found her resting heavier against me. Her hands shook against holding me still from her. Her closed eyes and slight frown of concentration said in no way did she wish to leave this moment yet. I fought off the strong urge in me to pull her closer. This time I knew I could not take what I wanted.

"They'll be wondering what's taking us so long" She mumbled finally beginning to move herself away.

Or maybe I could..

Without thought I pulled her back before she could entirely escape my arms and I smiled at her surprised look back at me.

"It takes as long as it takes" I whispered against her lips before leaning forward to trap them in my own again.

Chapter Text

"We will convene at the summit. For now have yourselves some rest. This war has been hard on us. We deserve peace"

The few remaining war commanders each bowed to me and walked tiredly from the tent. Their steps were heavy with their wounds and exhaustion. Their eyes glowed with nothing but their angry bitter relief. Tonight they would celebrate our survival. Tomorrow was for grieving those we'd lost. The days to come after were for questioning whether or not this night had been a victory.

My eyes ran tiredly past their exiting the tent. I felt exhausted, both in body and mind. Both were heavy from this war and all the new burdens it had shifted onto my shoulders. It made me feel centuries old on my throne.

The last of the generals slipped out of the tent, drawing my attention to the flash of gold moving to walk out too.

"Clarke" I called to her softly and stood off my throne.

She paused by the warrior I'd assigned to be her guard and turned herself back to me, her eyes reaching over to me curiously. I found it incredibly hard to not smile at her. Looking at her now instantly reminded me of the moments we'd shared through the battle; our short fleeting desperate moments. It made my heart jump dizzyingly inside my chest and left my face feeling inexplicably hot. Impulsive reactions that scared and excited me.

"May I talk with you?" I asked her, with my lips twitching upwards despite my best efforts while my eyes lightened over her features.

She looked tired, and her face was still dirty and bloodied from battle. She'd hastily wiped my handprints away from her neck and cheek before the war meeting, but traces of my fingertips remained still. I liked it. In a way it'd meant I'd marked her, had left a part of myself on her. It was a longing thought that gave me a strange warm and fluttering feeling inside.

Clarke's expression rippled a little at me in mild surprise for my request. She seemed to search me a moment and then tipped her head curtly in consent. I looked behind her to her escort and nodded for him to leave. Clarke walked towards the table once her bodyguard was gone. Her hand trailed over the map there, her lips twisting with sour remembrance.

I studied her as I approached it too. She looked as she had hours ago. Thoughtful and calm. But with a slow stress rushing through her too. This time I didn't understand its presence. The war was won.

Or is it? I thought watching her carefully.

Clarke looked too tense. And I immediately feared why.

"What will happen to them?" she asked before I could speak.

Her finger was trailing along the curved spine of the mountain. Her eyes stared at it hard. I'd known her long enough now to put a name to that look she wore. She hardly ever relaxed from it. She was concerned for them. Them. The enemy who not six hours ago were bleeding her people dry. And now she cared for them.

I couldn't help but feel a little angry and even betrayed by it. Perhaps now that Clarke had her people back I would be the enemy again.

I hoped not.

"I don't know" I told her truthfully, meeting her eyes with honesty when she glanced back at me.

I knew it was likely my people would demand the Maunon's blood. And I knew Clarke knew it too. But there was still a chance they would be spared.

Clarke watched me carefully, almost like she didn't trust my intent. I told myself to ignore it. It wasn't distrust for me but for what she had heard from my field commanders after our announcement of mercy. Their hatred had fed Clarke's obvious fear for the Maunon's future. And it made her cautious around me, the leader of their biggest threat.

Not for the first time since meeting this beautiful Skaigona did I regret my place among my people when it set me on the wrong side of her.

Clarke looked away from me again, and I took the opportunity of the silence that followed to study her. She just kept to her own study of the map at her fingertips. Refusing to meet my eyes like I wanted her to. I wanted her to look at me as she had not one hour ago. I wanted her to see me and leap forward like her life depended on it. Because I was not so certain I could refrain from doing it myself for much longer.

"I wanted to ask if you would stay with us tonight" I told her calmly through the sudden nervous and hungry fluttering of my chest. I swallowed nervously and continued to speak, "My people will be celebrating this victory for weeks to come. As you are the one who saved them, I think it only right to invite you to the celebrations too"

Clarke was silent a moment, thinking my invitation over.

"You saved them" she mumbled to me.

I smiled at her shyly avoiding my eye.

So humble..

"We saved them" I conceded happily. I could share this triumph with her. It was no task to.

Clarke said nothing. Just tapped her fingers on the map by her hand.

I entered some daze while she thought through my offer. Without meaning to I was staring at her, transfixed strongly by her beauty. As commander I had seen and been offered many women from all over my lands. But none had ever matched Clarke's beauty. Not even Costia.

Greedily I grazed my eyes over the distracted Skaiprisa's face. Taking in the messy curls of her golden hair hailing the soft glow of her skin, and the curve of her jaw down to the rounded edge of her chin beneath her perfect soft lips, the relaxed lines around her deep blue eyes buried beneath her currently furrowed brows..

It mesmerised me how Clarke could look so calm and thoughtful one moment and so furiously fierce the next; and still look so utterly beautiful. I remembered the way she'd shot Emerson and then kissed me after. She'd looked so angry but the second her lips had touched mine she'd melted. Reminiscing the moment over had my lips tingling and my heart pumping quicker. I didn't know how she did it really. Clarke just kept knocking my heart alive when she was near. And somehow, despite weeks of continuously denying myself, I'd grown used to the feeling.

I reached out toward her after noticing her left braid had come loose in battle, unbalancing the crown of gold that normally circled her head. Gently I fixed it back into place to match her usual style. Her eyes shot to my face and she stared like I were a stranger touching her. Sensing I was breaching some personal line, I immediately moved back.

Clarke watched my hand lower to my side and then she let out a deep breath.

"I would be honoured, Commander" she husked graciously in reply. I smiled at her. I was pleased with her answer, "But I should return to my people" she mumbled making my smile fall, "We don't have enough healers to help the wounded. And my mom's hurt. They need me tonight"

My heart crashed in my chest but I reluctantly accepted her answer. She was a leader. Like me. Her people came first.

"Perhaps you'd allow me to send my healers in your stead" I offered her instantly, "To assist your-"

"Lexa.." she sighed my name softly and shook her head, still refusing to look at me, "They need me"

I felt my disappointment like a blade to the heart. But I could not be angry with her. Clarke was simply putting her people first. As she always had. And though I wanted her to take one night to allow herself freedom, I knew I could not push this on her. We were leaders first.

"Then at least stay long enough to see what peace we have won tonight" I tried in tired hope.

The weaker part of me didn't want us to part ways just yet. With everything that had happened tonight I just wanted to keep her close. The maunon were still alive. That meant the threat on our lives was too. Regardless of their decision of surrender tonight.

And, secretly, I did not want to give her up just yet. Our time together lately had been fleeting and full of worries of our burdens. Only now could we speak with one another without the force of treaties and alliances, without the mention of battles to come. I was more than a little curious to know Clarke without her people and her duties.

Selfishly I wanted her to myself for just a little while longer.

Clarke's head dipped into a consenting nod and my heart bumped strangely for it. I unconsciously felt myself move closer again and stood beside her to watch her fingers still moving over the mountain on the map beneath her hand. Her eyes seemed distant as she stared at it. I could tell it was in regret. Maybe for killing their leader. Or even my killing the pale man, Cage.

I knew not to offer any words of comfort. Not when I myself felt nothing for the kills. Clarke had done these things herself. She would need to learn how to live with them herself. She'd need to learn how to carry these burdens. As I had to being Heda.

Still, any sadness of hers, personal or empathetic, brought me pain also. So I decided to take her mind from her guilt.

"I also have another invitation"

Clarke looked back at me when I spoke again. Her blue eyes watched me carefully, distantly. Coldly even. It had me hesitating in my offer. And I quickly became frustrated trying to understand the lack of emotion in her expression when she looked back at me.

"I want you to come back to Polis with me" I told her bluntly, despite feeling a little nervous when she lacked a reaction.

I swallowed my uncertainty and quickly gave an excuse to cover my eagerness for her to come home with me. One I hoped she would believe easier than my admitting I didn't want to leave her yet. I wanted her at my side. That much I had accepted for myself. But we seemed too fragile for me to ask that of her.

"It's the capital of my people" I explained quickly, "The home of our birth and the seat of the commander. I want to show it to you"

Clarke looked thoughtfully at me for my offer. Then she nodded.

"I guess Kane and my mom would like to-" I broke over her quiet answer with a shake of my head.

My hand glanced along the table to take hers. She stood a little rigid at the sudden contact but that didn't stop my confidence. I held her eyes steadily with my own as I guided her arm back and brought her hand up in mine. I moved closer in the same moment, leaning and pressing into her side so that we were sharing the same air. My head bent a fraction so my cheek brushed her hair. Inhaling the smell of her skin again made me smile. I saw her eyes glimmering softer a moment.

"You, Clarke," I whispered brushing my lips with her fingertips, "I want to show you"

My heart hammered in my chest while I waited for her answer. She seemed surprised. I hoped she would say yes. I knew I could show her my people were more than an army killing enemies. We were an entire civilisation waiting to be seen by her. And me. I wanted to show her who I was beyond the Commander. Something I had refused anyone else for years.

But Clarke was already shaking her head. Already pulling her hand out of my grip and stepping away from me. I didn't understand it. Before she had seemed so eager to be near me. What had changed?

My heart twisted seeing her eyes glance up at me so distantly.

"I can't" she told me shortly in a quiet husk of a whisper.

I frowned after her. I didn't understand.

"Have I done something to offend you?" I asked in concern, turning with her to stop her walk around me. I would not let her walk away from this.

"No!" she rushed spinning back to me, "I just..-"

Clarke shook her head looking confused before her features hardened. She met my eyes again, holding me in her blue gaze with a strong distance that had me feeling cold inside.

"This can't happen, Lexa. I lead my people. And you lead yours. We can't blur the lines"

I stared at her. Blur the lines? She had been the one to leap at me during that battle. She had been the one to repeat herself after our victory. And now she was telling me that she didn't want to go forward with this?

My heart hurt feeling her rejection. My mind too. But I couldn't help but believe it wasn't real at all. She didn't mean this. I knew.

"What if I choose to?" I demanded stepping into her space and tipping her chin up so she was forced to look at me.

Clarke closed her eyes at my touch and shuddered around a quick inhale. I thought she might give in then and lean herself forward to me. I tipped forward seeing her sway. Her chin lifted so her lips could reach mine.

But she jerked backwards at the last second.

Clarke retreated a short couple of steps, looking like she was trying to calm herself enough to talk.

"We should draw a line here" was her blunt answer to my curious look.

I saw her body standing tense and nervous in front of me. And her eyes turning midnight blue in distress. Watching me so carefully as well as so scared. I read that look she gave me. I read the coming disappointment.

"I can't go back to Polis with you" she whispered giving me a steady look to beg that I understand.

I didn't. She had walked away from her people. She had left with me. Surely that meant she had made her choice?

Staring into her eyes I knew it didn't.

I stepped back and straightened myself. I wouldn't show how her rejection hurt me. I wouldn't let her believe she had that power. I had seen this coming when she'd backed out of my first kiss in this tent with a vague promise of something someday. And again when she'd kissed me first in battle. I should have listened to my head. Not my heart.

"I see.."

I moved from her and back to my throne. I heard Clarke turn with my walk away from her.

"It's not-" she stopped herself and breathed deeply. I closed my eyes waiting for it, "It's not you. Lexa.. I- My people need me, Lexa. I can't be selfish"

I nodded. I understood. I would choose the same for the sake of my people. I could not blame her.

"Of course"

I turned to give her a gentle look to show I was not angry with her. She watched back cautious still. She didn't trust my reaction. It made my smile the more fonder.

"Heda" my guard called for me from outside the tent, causing Clarke to jump and us both to look to the opening. His muffled voice carried the news of a gathering of my people outside.

I growled under my breath and forced myself to answer him. Clarke was smiling sadly the entire time I spoke back to my guard to make my people wait.

"They want to see their commander celebrating" she told me in a quiet voice when I turned back to her. Clarke took a couple steps away from me, "You should go"

I nodded despite the deep urge to ignore the festivities altogether to continue our talk instead. To me it felt like we both had more to say. But she was already standing with a goodbye. Clarke offered me a slight smile as she held her hand out for me to take.

"You're sure you can't stay a while?" I asked offering one last chance for herself.

Her smile shortened and I saw the misery beneath her cracking mask before she set her chin and lifted her head. Clarke shook her head and looked to her hand hanging in the space between us.

I looked down disheartened before I gave my hand for her to shake in her strange Skaikru fashion. Clarke ignored it. She gently pulled her hand free of mine and firmly grasped my forearm instead.

Her eyes held mine after. This was an offer of peace. But not a surrender. She stood by what she said about drawing a line. And though it made me ache a little, I forced myself to accept it. For peace. I wouldn't allow these emotions or my weakness for her start a new war between us and our people.

So I grasped her arm back, returning her respectful clasp.

"I'm sorry" she mumbled looking down at my hand holding her arm tight.

I squeezed it and touched my free hand to her chin, curling my finger beneath it to push her head up. She looked up at me, with her gorgeous blue eyes burning into mine apologetically. Tearfully even. It hurt my chest to watch.

"Don't be" I told her seriously and then let up my tone enough to huskily add, "They're your people"

Clarke nodded back and looked down at my hand still holding her face up. I understood the nervous request and reluctantly withdrew my touch from her skin. Clarke took a step forward at my dropping her arm too to make a slow retreat back to my throne.

"I'll send word of the mountain" she promised me in earnest, "And I'll heal your people here. I'm still interested in peace" Clarke gave a short smile, "Heavily interested"

I nodded, "Of course. I appreciate your help"

I looked to the opening of the tent in the heavy silence that followed my reply and nodded her leave. Clarke glanced over her shoulder at it too and then nodded. She came forward and touched my hand. Her eyes left mine to trace across the blood still staining my wrist and fingers, and I thought I saw a blur of reluctance in them before she let my hand go and stepped back.

"Goodbye, Commander" she whispered sombrely to me.

I swallowed before making myself whisper back, "Goodbye, Skaiprisa"

Clarke hung her head as she turned away. I thought I saw her looking tearful when I refused to call her by her name. I watched her walk away. Slowly. And heavily. As if each step caused her pain.

I called out for her guard and counted her steps away. I turned the second she was gone. I looked up at the canvas above my head and drew a long deep breath to steady the hard beat inside my chest. I pursed my lips to keep from screaming with frustrated anger.

She made this choice, I told myself sternly, Now make yours.

I moved back to my throne and slumped down into it. To walk after Clarke would be too easy. Too tempting. I could not do that. Not yet. For now I had to return to the promise I had made myself to wait for her. I told myself it would be easy. I'd waited this long. I was patient enough to let Clarke have time to think about her decision. As I knew she would. Nothing had really changed. She was just simply not ready.

Not yet.

"Heda?" Indra's voice called in through the tent, sharp and demanding.

I slouched further in my throne. I was in no mood for warriors right now.

"Heda, your people wait for their commander"

I sighed tiredly to myself and ordered her to enter the tent. She walked quickly inside with a stuttering step when she saw my defeated stance on my throne. Her eyes drew all over me and then she was striding forward. Indra knelt at my feet and carefully watched my face. I didn't know what she was looking for. All I knew was it annoyed me. Greatly.

"What is it, Indra?" I snapped moodily at her.

She gave me a stern look back, "I hope you have not forgotten I am still your clan chief, trigoufa"

Somehow her old nickname for me made the smallest of smiles crack through my angry mood. I nodded to her.

"But I am still your Heda" I returned making myself stand tall over her.

Indra's face calmed as she looked up at me. She bowed her head respectfully.

"Otaim, Lexa" Indra rose and stood tall opposite me with a hand resting ready on her sword. I wasn't sure I'd ever seen Indra relax. She was always the obedient warrior.

I peered at her as she stood waiting for orders. A few bruises shone angry around her jaw in the flickering candlelight. Blood stained her neck and hands and the metal grip of her sword.

"You found trouble in the tunnels?" I asked nodding to her marked face.

Indra's eyes held the shaded colour of irritation, "The Maunon did not take well to being snuck up on" She reported back in a low voice. Her lips twisted into a short smile, "They also did not take dying very well either"

I looked away from her proud expression. She was expecting me to praise her for the bloodshed. To revel in it with her. I could not. Thinking about it brought a hollow numbness to my chest. Maybe I was just tired. Maybe Clarke had influenced my opinion on it all too much.

I turned and walked to the other side of the tent to pour myself a drink, "And the Skaigona you insisted on making your sekon? How did she handle the fight?"

I was curious over the girl, and not just because Indra had taken a very unlikely attachment to her. Octavia was on of the few members of Skaikru that held real potential on the ground. And dangerous threat. She saw too much and acted too rash. I knew I would have to watch her.

I turned and held a cup out to my war chief. She took it slowly from me. I lifted a brow at her to answer my question.

Indra nodded, "Octavia proved herself a true warrior today. I have decided to continue our training"

I locked her gaze. That meant she planned to stay here, with Skaikru. Something that I couldn't allow. I needed Indra to there when I addressed the clans about the Maunon.

I watched her take a sip of her wine and thought how I would persuade her to join me. I could just simply order it. But I believed Indra had earned more than my command over her.

"You wish to remain here?" I asked her.

The chief of Trikru gave an expression close to disgust before she schooled her features straight.

"I only wish to train my sekon, Heda" was her easy response.

"Then bring her to Polis" I quickly ordered the warrior, who stared back at me in surprise, "She might learn more in the city of our people"

Indra looked like she was unsure of what to say to me. I kept my eyes locked on her waiting for a response.

"I will extend your invitation, Heda" she finally replied, "But Octavia may not be so willing to leave her people"

I smiled, "You didn't take her on as your sekon because you thought her to be truly Skaikru, Indra. She will come. She's too curious about us not to"

I only wish Clarke was as curious, I thought bitterly to myself.

Indra nodded. I saw her glance at the map in the corner. Saw her jaw visibly clench when her focus landed on the mountain. Clearly she like my other war leaders believed it had been a wrong move letting the Maunon keep their lives. I understood on her part why. That mountain still owed Indra blood.

My warrior set her cup down while I drained the rest of mine and she came to stand in front of me. Her brown eyes held the lift of her age as she looked deeply into my eyes with that searching look again. It had me tilting my head at her.

She pursed her lips before she came out with it, "Something is troubling you, Lexa. I can tell"

I shook my head at her and returned to my usual commander scowl. It seemed to ease her when I looked at her that way. She let up with her study of me anyway.

"Can I not be battle weary without it being misread to being something troubling me, Indra?" I shot sharply at her.

Indra smiled genuinely at me for my snapping at her. She breathed a soft laugh and touched my shoulder.

"You have always put your troubles before your need to rest. Its what makes you a good commander"

Her hand squeezed my shoulder and she held it there firmly despite my obvious look for her to remove it.

Indra bent her head and lowered her voice, "If there is something troubling you, Heda, please remember that I am not just your warrior or kru chief. I would like to believe these years fighting side by side have made us friends. As such, I would offer my help if it is ever needed"

I didn't know what to say. In all my life of knowing this woman she had never once spoken to me so kindly before. I was touched by her sincerity, truly. It had me realising that maybe I did treat her a little roughly at times, and not just because that was the way of being a commander. I promised myself I would act differently with Indra in private from now on. As a friend would. Because she was a friend to me. Of course she was.

Indra pulled her hand down off my shoulder and held it out for me. After grasping my arm she nodded to the loud chanting of my name beginning outside, "Our people wish to see their Heda. Some worry the mountain had claimed you"

I smiled warily at the teasing twinkle in her eye, "I am not so easily caged. Tell them I will be out shortly"

Indra nodded and turned to go. She lifted the tents awning but was almost immediately thrown backwards by another storming into the tent. I stood at the warrior barging her way into my private quarters.

Eko stopped in the centre of the tent. She looked between the two of us with a shaking body that had almost nothing to do with her still being scantily dressed. The Azgedian's head turned to fix her glare solely on me.

"Tell me the word spreading among our people is wrong" she slowly growled coming closer, "Tell me you didn't offer those monsters mercy!"

Indra stalked forward, "Non chip tu Heda thau chich op Heda!" She growled to the other woman.

Eko ignored her. Her eyes kept a tight cold lock on mine.

"You promised the mountain's fall" she spat at me, "The Twelve clans joined as one because of that promise. Jus drein jus daun. Or did you forget that when you made friends with your enemy?"

"I forgot nothing" I spoke calmly back, holding my own anger back from lashing out at her, "The danger within the mountain has been dealt with. Those remaining are no threat to us and do not deserve immediate death. They could instead be of use, as Skaikru have been. It is up to the krus to decide. For my part I have upheld my promise"

"Skaikru!" Eko spat viciously, her bruised face wrinkled in disgust, "They are like the Maunon. Sly and deceitful"

"Skaikru are not my enemy anymore" I replied growing bored of her argument, "Just as Delphikru, and Sankru, and-"

"What does Indra think about it?" Eko interrupted and span to face the war chief, "Are you so happy to hold hands with the ones who had killed your warriors?"

Indra did not answer. She knew better than that. However, her eyes did flicker away from Eko's pale face, and they did darken angrily. It took no words to show Indra had not forgiven Clarke's people. She worked with them only on my order. Without it I had no doubt Indra would take Skaikru down herself.

Eko began to say more in Indra's silence, making more points to make me see Skaikru were not good for us in any sort of alliance. I took slow steps towards her. She was slowly beginning to wear my patience.

"Your people slew and butchered mine" I reminded her in a harsh voice, "Your Queen has long ordered the abdication of my command. You yourself came against me in battle not so long ago, Eko. If I had not offered you mercy then, you would not be standing here now"

"Azgeda will not support this" Eko warned me carefully, disregarding my argument, "And I doubt the other krus will either. You risk a whole new war by letting the mountain live"

Eko held my eyes as I came to stop in front of her.

"Lexa, my Queen will not accept this-"

"Your Queen killed one dear to me and delivered me her head!" I was shouting suddenly, losing all grip on my emotions because my patience had fully ran dry now, "I do not care what she has to say about this decision, nor on any others that I choose to make!"

Eko averted her eyes under my anger. She stood obediently silent while I calmed myself. I nodded to Indra to remove the Azgedian from my sight. Eko spoke up when Indra took hold of her arm to escort her out.

"What of us, Heda? What of those who had to endure months of being bled and starved by those Maunon beasts? What of those who had died for this? Do you think they would hold you with respect knowing you happily forgave the ones who had stolen their lives? I do not"

Eko watched me fight a wince when my heart hurt with the memory of Anya. I didn't want to think of how she'd been cramped in those cages suffering at the hands of the Maunon before Clarke had freed her, like Eko had. She would have never agreed with this. I knew that much.

"Lexa..." I glanced back to Eko looking on me strongly, "Ai du nou. Jus drein jus daun"

I ground my teeth and squared my jaw, "Get. Out"

I stormed back to my throne while Indra barked for a guard to see Eko back to her people. Indra came back to me after, stopping in front of me and watching on as I furiously stabbed my dagger into the wooded rest of my throne.

"She has always had trouble showing any who weren't her Queen respect" I heard the chief grumble tiredly. I glanced back at her. She took a step forward, "But she does speak sense, Heda"

I shook my head, "Eko is unwell and not thinking clearly. Clarke assured me her people could disarm the mountains weapons. If they hold no power, they hold no threat"

"And what if Eko is right and Skaikru are our enemy still?" Indra straightened her stance having my eyes snap to an icy stop on her, "I have been among these Skaikru, Heda. I have trained with them. Most have good intentions, its true. Markus and Clarke being the foremost. But the others are quick to violence when their way is not met. How could we possibly fight back against them if they decided to take the mountain for themselves?"

I leant back against my throne and considered her question. It was a worry and I would be naive to not believe such a thing could happen. But it was my trust in Clarke that held my belief in Skaikru firm. I knew she would not betray me. Without any reassurance at all, I knew.

"There is a possibility, its true. I have not ruled it out. But I believe Clarke kom Skaikru will herself remain and oversee the Maunon whilst we decide their fate as a collective people. She gave me her word and I trust she will keep it. But if you're concerned, Indra, then I give you permission to stay and watch the mountain yourself"

Indra looked confused, and I didn't blame her when I was taking back my previous order of her return to Polis. Perhaps it was her concern and Eko's anger that had changed my mind so easily. Maybe I just wanted somebody capable there to protect Clarke.

Indra nodded, "Sha, Heda"

Outside our people were seemingly growing restless without my presence. Their voices called louder for their Heda. I gave Indra leave to go settle them. I was no longer in the mood to entertain any celebrations with my people.

"And Indra" I called stopping her bend out of the tent. She looked back to me, "Send some of our healers to the mountain to see to the Sky people. But only the Sky people. They are not to speak with any Maunon. Make sure Nyko is among them. He is to report to Clarke"

Indra looked curious for my order but kept her questions to herself. She nodded again before leaving me.

I looked around my tent when I was alone again and played with my dagger against my throne. My mind raced with this entire day while my eyes rested on the table holding our war plan. I tiredly stood and walked over to it. I gazed down and touched a finger to the mountain, contemplating again my decision to show the Maunon mercy for now.

Had it been right? Would I regret it?

Time would tell.