AN: Updated 30 April 2015:
It's been brought to my attention that there are some questions in regards to later chapters and my use of spelling of character names in speaking forms. You will see Klark, Leksa, Okteivia, Linkon when these characters and some others are addressing each other in spoken words, but not in the narrative. I did this for you, as the reader, for one very important reason, which is so that you have a better understanding of who accepts and see's each other as "one of them" aka the Trikru. So if Lexa says "Klark", that's for you to understand it's because Lexa has accepted Clarke as a Trikru. So if she or another grounder didn't, I'd still use "Clarke" when they are speaking to each other.
I hope this helps and makes sense and if not, please feel free to hit the comment box and leave me a question. Happy to answer any you may have.
Clarke - 2 days since the fall of the mountain
The sun is hot. Almost too hot as she stops at the edge of the woods to rest. Facing a small lake, she tries to shield her eyes from the sun to see the other side but can't. Sighing, she lowers herself down to the waters edge, splashing her face a few times. The water is cool and soothes her flushed skin. After refilling her canteen, she takes a few steps back and sits against a large tree to get a little shade while her thoughts run wild through her head.
She had left Bellamy standing just outside the fence at Camp Jaha just two days before. She couldn't go in and see her people and be reminded of all that had happened, all that she had done to free them. She knows some understand, but that doesn't matter. It is hers alone to hold in and deal with, and she can't do that around them. Not now. Maybe not ever. Does that make her weak? Probably. But she can't deal with that worry now. There are too many others.
Bellamy had offered her forgiveness, as she had once done for him, but she couldn't accept it. She didn't want to be forgiven, for what she had done to be easily accepted. For it was an impossible decision, but one she had made without hesitation in the moment.
She had lied to him when she said she didn't know where she would go. She had known her destination before she had ever left the horrors of the mountain. She had known she couldn't face the reaction she might have received had she been honest in her intentions. While she is hurt, gutted even, by Lexa's decision on the mountain…she understands. A choice was made for the good of the many. A choice brought on by the roles of leadership. A choice that she knows, despite how much it hurt, wasn't easy nor made lightly. It wasn't a choice made with feelings of love or thoughts of what could be. It was made with the painful responsibility of being a leader and protector of people first. Lexa had done the only thing she could to ensure the release of her people with the fewest amount of casualties. She made the right choice. A choice Clarke knows beyond any shadow of a doubt, she herself would have made as well, for she had made a choice too.
Only her choice was to sacrifice nearly three times as many people on that mountain to save her own. Victory stands on the back of sacrifice. Is this how victory feels? She hates it.
Maybe there could have been another way, but she still can't think of one even now, days later. She had made a choice. She chose to sacrifice men, women and children. She knows most of them were guilty, knows what they and their ancestors had done for years to survive, but the only thought that remains at the forefront of her mind is that many of them didn't agree with it. Many didn't go through with the treatments. And the children…the children were innocent.
Innocent children, all dead at her hand. There were 16 children that died when she pulled the lever. She knows because she counted. Not from the safety of the control room watching on a screen. No, she had walked through every single room of that mountain that held the bodies of the dead caused by the radiation she released. Every room, including the small classroom filled with toys and signs of happiness once contained within its walls. Walls that now hold the bodies of a few adults, maybe teachers, maybe some parents, but walls that now have the crumpled figures of 16 tiny children that died by her choice.
She sighs, chest screaming at her as it seizes up her insides and leans her had back against the tree, closing her eyes. She wants to cry, to scream, to make herself hurt more than she does for what she did. She wants to suffer. It won't relieve the guilt. It won't make it okay. It won't make a damn bit of difference, but she feels she needs it. Not just this gut wrenching despair. Not the feeling of the burn in her chest, her heart thrumming so hard she can't hear anything else but the sound of it in her ears. She wants to hurt physically. To suffer the pain of the 16 deaths she caused in those children.
She snaps her eyes open in realization. Her eyes go cold and her breath catches in her throat. She had thought she understood. She had really thought she did, but only now does she finally see what she had been missing the night she killed Finn. She had provided him a mercy killing. She let him go in the most gentle way she could because she cared. He was meant to suffer for the 18 deaths he caused and he didn't.
If death has no cost, life has no value. She can hear Lincoln's words echo in her mind. The Trigedakru didn't get their justice because she stole that from them. They helped the Skaikru because their heda made an alliance with them. She made an alliance with Clarke, even after she robbed them of their justice for their people, for their elders and for their children they lost at his reckless hand. The reason was no matter. Jus drein, jus daun. Blood must have blood. Lexa had kept their alliance in tact for the good of her people, even though she must have gotten backlash from it. She forged ahead because she knew that Clarke would not only carry the guilt of killing Finn, but by doing so, she had taken on the pain of those 18 deaths to carry with her forever.
And now she's adding another 16 to that total.
Sure, there are more, but Clarke only has it in her to carry the weight of the most innocent of them. The children. She still thinks of the victims of TonDC. She still thinks of the pain in Lexa's eyes that the commander tried to hide when she saw the destruction of the village. The look in her eyes when she told Clarke she did care, but she did what she had to do to save her people at the mountain.
That's when she knows what she must do. That's when she knows who she has to find first, before continuing on to her destination.