A/N: The Drabble Prompt Game strikes again!
*shushes you that drabbles are supposed to be less that 1k words*
*pats your head gently*
*scurries off, giggling*
When You're Low
Clarke sighed when she spied Roan on the outskirts of Polis. He was alone, sitting with his back to the city and looking out over the forest. Tri-kru land, Clarke thought, frowning at his back and supposing he must not be the only one struggling with the discussion that'd taken place within the Council. Quietly, she moved around the rock he'd claimed and lowered herself down until she was sitting beside him, her elbow just barely brushing his. For a long time, neither of them said anything. The morning's meeting with Lexa's council hadn't gone well for either of them and Clarke was tired. Too tired for idle chatter. And fortunately, Roan most decidedly was not the chatty type. It was one of the things she liked most about him.
"What're you doing here?" Roan asked after a little while, his gruff voice quiet in the late afternoon heat and Clarke noticed that the sounds of the city at their back seemed drowned out by the bird songs and the sounds of the wind in the trees amid the forest before them. It almost made her long to disappear into them and never return. Days like today, she missed the months she'd spent on the run, even if she had been lonely.
"Thinking," Clarke shrugged, her elbow brushing Roan's again as she did so, though he didn't seem to mind for he didn't pull away.
"Mmm," he hummed in agreement. "Shit of a meeting."
"Shit of a responsibility," Clarke agreed.
Roan snorted. "Aren't they all?" he murmured.
Clarke sighed, nodding and trying to let some of the tension tightening her shoulders fade away, trying to think about something else for a little while.
"You busy tonight?" Roan asked a while later, squaring his shoulders and beginning to slide down off their shared rock.
"Depends," Clarke said, glancing at him when he turned back to look at her. "What've you got in mind?"
Roan jerked a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the forest and raised his eyebrows at her, silently waiting for her answer like he always did. Half the time Clarke wondered if he'd always been this stoic, or if his time in exile had turned him into such a gruff, standoffish and frequently mute man. What was more, she wondered how someone could convey so much of their meaning without having to open their mouth. It was quite impressive.
"It'll be dark soon," Clarke frowned, noting the rapidly sinking sun on the horizon, disappearing below the line of trees.
"So?" Roan shrugged. "Not like either of us haven't spent a few nights in the darkness..."
Clarke supposed he had a point, shrugging her shoulders and nodding before sliding down the rock as well. Roan still stood at the foot of it, not moving aside to give her room and she was surprised to suddenly find herself very much insider his personal space. She blinked up at him for a moment, noticing the furrow of his brow and the serious glint in his blue eyes. Before she could think of anything to say - impossible with her stomach suddenly in knots and her heart skipping a beat - Roan stepped back and turned away, striding into the forest without looking back. Glancing over her shoulder, Clarke followed him.
For a long time, they simply walked in silence, skirting around the occasional Grounder trap laid by Tri-kru determined to keep the other krus off their land. She didn't know where Roan was taking her or what he had in mind, but if she was being honest, she didn't really care. She was so tired of responsibility. So tired of having to think of her people, and having to worry about the other krus, and having to constantly try to figure out ways to keep the Grounders from killing the people of Skai-Kru. For once, she just wanted to be selfish and think only about what she wanted and what she needed to do to keep herself alive.
It was well after dark when Roan led her around a thick copse of trees and they came across what looked like a house leftover from The Before. Clarke frowned when Roan walked right up the stairs and into the house as though unconcerned that it might be occupied, or that Tri-kru might have it under guard. When no sounds of fighting came from inside, Clarke followed him, finding him crouched by the fireplace and feeding wood into it, providing light in the otherwise dark and messy house. There wasn't much left inside it of value, except the frame of an old futon that'd been re-made with a sagging mattress stolen from – by the look of it – the remains of the Ark.
"What is this place?" she asked, looking around curiously in the low glow from the small fire he'd coaxed to life.
"Haunted, if you ask Tri-kru," Roan smirked over his shoulder at her.
"Why do they think that?"
"Because for a while there, when people came in, they didn't come back out alive," Roan answered quietly.
"This is where you holed up while you were in exile?" Clarke guessed, knowing better after all she'd seen, than to believe in ghosts.
Roan nodded, feeding more wood into the fire.
"Didn't want company?" she guessed.
"Tri-kru didn't like having me on their land," he shrugged his shoulders before her rose to his feet and moved over to sit on the edge of the futon, pulling a few of his weapons off and setting them on the floor.
Hesitantly, Clarke followed suit, sitting beside him and removing her small pack from her back.
"Think they'll miss us?" Roan asked, surprising her when he flopped backwards and stretched out, his hands curled behind his head while he stared at the ceiling.
"Probably," Clarke said quietly, watching him for a few minutes before sighing and copying his posture, spreading her long blonde hair out over the mattress and lying down. "God, I'm tired."
"Uneasy lies the head…" Roan agreed quietly.
"That wears the crown," Clarke finished for him, noting idly that one of his hands moved to toy with her hair where it stretched toward him on the mattress. "Sometimes I wish you'd never caught me and dragged me before the coalition."
"Me too," he said, though if he hadn't, he'd still be banished. "Well… maybe not that I hadn't caught you. Should've just kept you all to myself."
Clarke raised her eyebrows, turning to look at him in surprise while her stomach flipped excitedly at the unexpected assertion. Roan didn't meet her eyes; too busy watching his fingers carding through her loose tresses.
"Kept me where?" she asked quietly, intrigued.
Roan shrugged. "Could've kept moving. Could've found a place. I was banished for years. I've got hidey holes all over this area – every territory, all krus."
"Do they all think those places are haunted?" she asked.
Roan's mouth twitched.
"Most knew I'd been banished and most other krus hate the Ice Nation. They all figured out it was me after a while. Some thought to take my power and kill me," he shrugged his shoulders. "They never tried a second time."
Clarke sighed heavily, closing her eyes and relaxing once more, the feel of his fingers in her hair lulling her toward sleep.
"It was easier on the run," she whispered.
"Only caring about your own survival is a lot easier than worrying about the survival of thousands," he agreed.
"You regret being made King, then?" Clarke guessed.
Roan didn't answer, though beside her she felt him moving, shifting around on the mattress. She blinked her eyes open in surprise when his free hand smoothed across her hips before he rolled to pillow his head on her stomach, curling his arm around her.
"I'd give up the crown and disappear if I could," he confessed to the underside of her breasts and unbidden, Clarke found her own fingers sliding into his hair in silent comfort. "But if I do, who will lead them?"
"Ontari," Clarke answered. "She'll challenge Lexa as Heda and make Ice Nation a tyrant kru subjugating all others, or even killing them for sport."
"Like I said," Roan grumbled. "I'd give it up, if I could."
Clarke hummed in agreement, her eyes closing once more while her fingers played in his hair, finding surprising comfort there, simply pressing against him. How could it be that this man she hardly knew could make her feel so at ease. She couldn't remember being so at ease with anyone else – not even with Wells and her family aboard the Ark before she'd been old enough to understand responsibility.
"What about you, Wanheda?" Roan asked her after a long stretch of silence that made her think he'd fallen asleep.
"What about me?" she hummed curiously in reply.
"You want to run away into the wilderness?" Roan asked. "Or are you happy playing lover to Heda and governing your people?"
Clarke wondered how he knew about her and Lexa, but she didn't ask.
"If I run, who will keep the Grounders from killing my people?" she asked.
"Me," he muttered.
"What point would there be in going without you?" Clarke asked in the dark, her voice but a whisper that she wasn't even sure Roan heard.
"Heda?" he suggested another alternative, rather than acknowledging her soft words.
"Not without me here," Clarke answered. "Not if I wasn't…"
Roan lifted his head from her stomach and leaned over her, peering into her face, his chest pressing to hers. His brow was heavily furrowed, his face twisted into a tight frown that would've frightened her if she hadn't developed this strange level of trust with him.
"You fuck her to protect your people?" he asked lowly, his voice laced with a tone that made the hairs on her arm stand up.
"I killed the man I loved on her orders to protect my people," Clarke whispered in reply. "She was going to wipe us out in retribution for what Finn did to Tri-kru. The twelve clans hate the sky people. Only Lexa's orders keep the Grounders from killing my friends."
Roan's eyes searched her face, his expression unreadable in the low light.
"I can't leave any more than you can," Clarke finished. "And there's no one around here that gets me like you do. No one who understands the need to balance between doing what we want and doing what's right."
Roan nodded slowly, his eyes darting between her eyes and her lips before he raised one eyebrow. Clarke's stomach rioted with butterflies and she licked her lips nervously in turn, her eyes searching his face, one of her hands still tangled in his hair. He wanted to kiss her, she realised. Maybe to do more than kiss her. Clarke bit her bottom lip, wanting to kiss him too. She'd wanted to kiss him since he'd first knocked her off her feet and pinned her under him on her back in the long grass out on the plains, hiding from other Grounders.
Nodding her head quickly in answer to his non-verbal question, Clarke used her grip on his hair to guide his mouth to hers. Roan kissed her quickly, as though worried she'd change her mind, as though he couldn't wait anymore. His beard tickled her lips after so many nights spent kissing Lexa instead, but Clarke liked it. He kissed her hard, his mouth moving over hers before his tongue swept between her lips, tangling with her own and making her dizzy with want. Her whole body thrummed under the attention, her blood singing with desire. How long had she wondered what it would be like to kiss him?
How often had she day-dreamed about the sight he made without a shirt, as she'd been treated to after she'd stabbed him during their first encounter? How often had she recalled the feel of his body pinning hers to the ground while he shushed her?
When he started to pull back, craving oxygen, Clarke caught his hand where it rested on her hip, guiding it under the hem of her shirt and Roan broke their kiss to watch. His hands were rough but warm and she sighed when he took control, smoothing it over her taut stomach and around her ribs, touching her lightly, and her shirt rolling up the higher he moved. In return, Clarke untangled her hand from his hair and reached for the hem of the shirt he wore, pulling it up. Roan let her, moving quickly to shrug out of it when she went to pull it off over his head.
Her eyes feasted on the sight of him when his chest was bare, her fingers itching to touch him.
"Your turn," he muttered, tugging at her shirt until she sat up and let him relieve her of it. Clarke reached for him hungrily, pulling him close, the feel of his warmth against her bare skin delicious. She traced her hands over him, exploring the magnificent scarring upon his back.
He unsnapped her bra while she touched him, smoothing her hands over every inch of his bared skin that she could reach, and Clarke's nipples tightened against the cool air as they were exposed. Roan looked his fill for a long moment, making her jittery with nerves, which drew a mischievous glint to his blue eyes that made her quiver all over again. He kissed her again then, hungry for her now, his hands smoothing over her soft skin in return, leaving no square untouched. When he pinched her nipples, Clarke arched under him, crying out and breaking their kiss, tingling all over.
"Noisy little thing, aren't you?" Roan muttered into her neck as he kissed a hot trail down it and across her shoulder. "Should've guessed."
Clarke blushed but didn't refute the claim, reaching for more of him, her hands fumbling with the buttons on his pants, desperate to get him naked now. She wanted him. Gods, she'd wanted him for months and she couldn't wait anymore!
"Don't tease," she complained when he rolled her nipples between him thumbs and forefingers, pinched tightly enough to maker her quiver all over, tendrils of delight coursing through her.
"Teasing's the best part," he argued, kissing lower and relinquishing the grip of his fingers on her right nipple to engulf it in the warmth of his mouth.
A low moan of delight escaped her, and Clarke arched again, desperate for friction, her hand sliding under his waistband. He nipped her when she curled her hand around his cock and stroked it lightly.
"Now who's teasing?" he asked when she gripped him loosely, tormenting him more than she was pleasuring him.
"Teasing's the best part," she parroted, and a low laugh escaped him, surprising her before he reached for another kiss, his hands sliding lower to rid her of her pants, too.
After a few fumbles thanks in large parts to weapons-belts, boots, and nerves, finally they were naked together and Clarke reached for Roan eagerly when he moved on top of her.
"You sure about this?" he asked after another delirious kiss while they rocked together, bared skin to bared skin, desperately seeking friction.
"I'm sure," Clarke nodded, smiling a little at his insistence on hearing her say it. "Are you sure?"
Roan lifted off her far enough to meet her gaze, raising his eyebrows at her and grinning a little.
"Yeah, I'm sure," he said quietly before looking down, his hand moving to align their bodies.
Clarke held her breath, tense and waiting, quivering with anticipation. It'd been a long time since she's shared her body with a man, but she was as excited as she was nervous and Roan darted another look at her, their bodies aligned, poised join in delicious carnality. She couldn't help but giggle when his mouth twitched as he waited, just letting the anticipation build all the more, teasing her just because he could.
"Do it," she encouraged, curling her legs around him and trying to pull him in. Roan resisted just long enough to begin annoying her before he smirked and pushed home.
Clarke's breath hitched, her body clenching against the invasion and Roan groaned softly, burying his face in her neck and giving her a long minute to get used to the feel of him inside her. Smoothing her hands over his shoulders and across his back, she breathed deeply, reminding herself to relax.
"You have done this with a man before, right?" Roan asked, his mouth by her ear as he nibbled on her earlobe gently.
"Yeah," Clarke panted softly, squirming a little. "Not for… not for a while."
"Just one man?" he asked.
"Maybe. Why?" she asked, frowning as some of her tension began to ease, her muscles relaxing the longer he held still inside her.
"You're tighter than some virgins," he muttered, slowly withdrawing and eliciting hitched breathing from both of them.
"Is that right?" she asked. "Bedded a lot of virgins, have you?"
"I'm a prince, Clarke," he reminded her quietly. "It's considered a high honour among Azgedakru to offer a virgin daughter to the Ice Nation prince."
"Oh," Clarke frowned. "That… is really weird."
"Skai-kru don't have princes, do they?" he asked, slowly pushing back in and Clarke realised it was his intention to distract her so that she'd stop clenching so hard.
"We don't," she shook her head. "On the Ark, things were democratic. We elected those best suited to lead us, rather than inheriting the birthright to do so."
Roan nodded, withdrawing and pushing in once more, the tension in his shoulders easing slowly as she began to relax, letting her body go lax as she slowly rolled her hips in time with his thrusting. It should have been awkward, she thought idly. Being with Finn had been awkward. Being with Nylah had been awkward. Being with Lexa the first few times had felt awkward. But being with Roan… Clarke felt whole.
"Your family was elected?" he asked between a peppering of kisses down the side of her neck.
"Mmmm… no, not exactly," Clarke hummed, rolling her hip, timing them to his slow, deep thrusts, wanting to pull him even closer.
"But you friends elected you to lead them when you were sent to the ground?" Roan asked, though he sounded distracted, his breath coming in pants as his pace increased.
"Mmhmm," she hummed. "Or… well… not elected. I just… took charge."
"Good at that, aren't you?" Roan asked, his voice growing huskier now.
"At taking charge, yes," she answered quietly. "At leading… I'm not so sure."
Roan grunted, nipping her shoulder as though in punishment and he stopped asking her anymore questions after that, driving into her harder now, pushing as deep as he could get on every thrust, filling her perfectly and making her feel whole. Clarke clung to him, nosing aside his long hair to get at his neck. He hissed when she kissed below his ear, tracing her lips over his warm skin and along his jaw, kissing the scars at his temple that indicated his royal status. Roan turned his head, capturing her lips for a searing kiss, his rhythm faltering slightly as his tongue made love to hers as surely as his body did.
They moved together in sync, kissing and thrusting, hips rolling and mouths seeking, and Clarke let the good feelings wash over her, calming her, soothing her, making her feel whole as she couldn't ever remember feeling before. Being there with Roan felt good. It felt right. It felt like she was exactly where she was supposed to be for the first time in her life and when her orgasm crested, a soft sob tore from her, her body spasming and clenching, rhythmically squeezing his until Roan hissed and his pace quickened and grew jerky before he followed her into bliss.
Afterward, they rested, his weight pressing her into the lumpy mattress and feeling so good on top of her that she hoped he'd never move. The silence between them was heavy, but not uncomfortable, and Clarke carded her fingers through his hair, tracing nonsensical patterns over his back, simply taking comfort in his warmth and his presence.
"They're probably looking for us by now," Roan said eventually, disengaging from within her and rolling to the side where he stretched out on his back, panting, before reaching for her and pulling at her until she burrowed into his side, laying her head on his chest.
"They've probably been looking for us since before we left the city," Clarke agreed.
"Mmm," he hummed. "There's no peace in Polis."
"No privacy, either," she sighed. "I don't want to go back."
Roan chuckled. "Neither do I," he said, turning his head and pressing his lips to the middle of her forehead affectionately. "We don't have to go back. Not going back in the dark tonight, anyway. Tri-kru hunt best in the dark, and they've got traps all over."
"Think they'll send a search party?" she asked.
"Nah," he shook his head. "Not if they figure we're together."
"They'll know about this," she sighed, realising there would be no privacy surrounding this tryst either.
"Don't care if they do," he shrugged beneath her. "Perks of being the King include doing whatever the hell I want."
"I'm not a King," she reminded him.
"Mmm," he hummed, and when she tipped her head to look at him, he was frowning deeply, one of his hands carding through her hair and trailing the length of her spine to smooth over her bum before repeating the process, stroking her like she was a big cat. "Did you mean that before… about Lexa?"
"Which bit?" Clarke asked.
"That you're only fucking her to protect your people. I know you… had a thing with that Ice Nation girl at the trading post where I caught you. We all just figured you went that way…" Roan said.
"I go both ways," Clarke shrugged, sighing quietly. "And Lexa's nice enough, once you get used to her."
"But you're fucking her for your people more than for your own desire?" he pressed, and Clarke frowned, wondering why it mattered.
"Sometimes," she nodded. "In the beginning, yes."
"Hmmm," Roan hummed again, indicating his understanding and Clarke raised her eyebrows.
"Why?" she wanted to know.
"There might be another way you can protect your people without relying on Heda's whim," he said quietly.
Clarke raised her eyebrows at him.
"Oh?" She asked, interested even though Lexa had grown on her since this all started. She was, if nothing else, devoted to her people and if there were additional ways Clarke might protect them without solely relying on Lexa and the tenuous hold she had over the coalition of the thirteen clans, Clarke wanted to know about it. She wanted her people to survive, and she had already proven on more than one occasion that she was willing to do whatever was necessary to ensure that they did so, no matter how monstrous.
"Ice Nation could protect Skaikru," Roan offered quietly.
Clarke frowned, her brow furrowing, wondering what he was thinking that his people - the most ruthless of the twelve grounder clans – would possibly offer them protection of any kind.
"At what cost?" she asked, knowing that a large portion of Farm Station had been killed by Azgeda, and other held hostage as slaves by the same clan.
Roan looked at her steadily when Clarke sat up, frowning into his face and trying to look at his suggestions logically when all of her instincts were screaming that Skaikru would never go for it.
"You and I would have to get married," Roan answered finally, his eyes steady as he held her gaze, his expression serious.
Clarke's stomach triple backflipped and she raised her eyebrows.
"Is this a joke?" she wanted to know, unable to tell from his expression if he was actually being serious of if this was his idea of funny. She didn't really peg Roan for the type to make a dumb joke about marriage just because they'd had sex, but anything was possible, right? Her experiences with Finn and Lexa had taught her that. Nylah and the other Azgedakru people she'd met, Roan included, were far more serious by nature, so she wasn't actually sure.
"It's not a joke, Wanheda," Roan answered, shaking his head slowly. "Skaikru's position among the thirteen clans is dependent on you – and in case you hadn't noticed, most of them don't like you – and on Lexa's favour, since she's the only one other than me and maybe Indra, who does like you. You might not have been elected by your people to lead them in any formal capacity, but you represent them on the council. I can tell you now, there's at least three plots to have your people captured and enslaved to teach the other clans your skills and get hold of your tech, and at least eight different plots to have you killed to take your power."
Clarke huffed, surprised by the numbers.
"Currently, fear of Lexa and of you is keeping them at bay, but it won't last. Lexa has to remain as impartial as possible and already there is unrest because she is favouring Skaikru too much because she likes fucking you. You know this," Roan told her, sitting up as well and surprising Clarke when he reached over to tuck a stray wave behind her ear as her head lowered.
Yes, she knew that Lexa's favour was causing bad feelings among the other clans. Skairkru had caused a lot of damage, taken a lot of lives, and encroached on a lot of Kru territories when they'd crash landed.
"Roan…" Clarke said, her eyes lifting to search his face once more, looking for reasons he might even suggest the idea, still not sure it wasn't a joke.
"I'm king of Azgedakru, Wanheda," he reminded her quietly. "You and Lexa plotted to make me king. It got Lexa her revenge, and bought your people some time with me leading Ice Nation instead of my mother. But that time is running out."
"What do you mean?" Clarke asked.
Roan sighed, running a hand through his hair in a rare show of what she suspected was nervousness.
"I'm king," he answered. "But I won't stay king for long if I don't… take certain steps."
"Meaning?" she pushed.
"I have no heir," he answered. "I have no queen. And I have taken no steps to appease my people's thirst for Skairkru blood. If I don't take a queen and sire an heir soon, they'll have me killed. Echo's been warning of it for weeks."
"She's heard plots to stage your assassination?" Clarke frowned.
"Blood must have blood, Wanheda," he told Clarke quietly. "Lexa broke the rules of our battle when she had Nia killed. She was a ruthless bitch plotting to overthrow Lexa and the coalition, and Lexa killed her over a blood feud. My people want her to pay for that. And they see it as killing two birds with one stone if I kill you and take your power, wounding Lexa in the process because that she cares for you is evident."
"What are you saying?" Clarke asked, drawing back a little and reach for the shirt he'd peeled her out of in the absence of any blankets or covering to hide her nudity. "You're planning to have me killed? Or just looking to hurt Lexa by suggesting we marry?"
"I'm trying to save your life," he answered quietly. "Again."
"With marriage?" she asked, baffled.
"If you and I were to marry, Ice Nation would stop calling for your head. Killing you to take your power would appease their thirst, but making you their queen and having you sire their next king? They'd sing songs about it for decades," Roan answered truthfully. "If we married, you would have the backing of Ice Nation to protect Skaikru from the other clans, and the power to execute any of my people who sought to kill yours. You wouldn't be reliant on Lexa for protection, the coalition wouldn't be at risk of falling due to her favouritism… everything would stabilise."
"And Ice Nation gets access to Skairkru technologies and knowledge," she said. "And my 'power' as Wanheda," she said, seeing that there was hardly an unequal balance of protection over Ice Nation gain. "I could never sell it to my people, Roan. When Farm Station crash landed in the Ice Nation, two hundred survivors were on board. Barely a third of that made it out. Azgeda killed the rest of them, and took a lot of them captive and forced them to work like slaves in their own ship."
"I know," Roan sighed. "A lot of my people were killed in those skirmishes too."
"And blood must have blood," Clarke finished, frustrated. "They'll keep feuding if something's not done?"
"Echo has already foiled seventeen plots to directly attack Skairkru on your land and retake those hostages, along with all your tech. They'll kill whoever fights too hard – like Marcus, Octavia, Bellamy, and the others. And they'll enslave Raven and Monty and whoever else they can subjugate for their own ends."
"You can't stop them?" Clarke asked.
"No more than you can stop those among Skaikru who still think Grounders are their ultimate enemy and believe their survival hinges on wiping us out."
"We have the bullets to make that a reality." Clarke told him.
"We have the people to spare," Roan shrugged his shoulders. "In Ice Nation, a good death is the best we hope for. Avenging a fallen comrade is one of the better ways to go."
"They'll just keep killing each other," Clarke sighed.
"And will kill you and me if we don't do something to stop it," Roan nodded.
"You really think getting married would fix it?" she asked.
"Ice Nation question my leadership because I have no bloodline to succeed me and have taken no action against Skaikru or against Lexa," he nodded. "Marrying you robs Lexa of her lover, brings the power of Wanheda to Azgeda, and secures my bloodline."
"So we'd have to have a child," Clarke finished for him.
Roan nodded, his eyes still searching her face, gauging her reaction, trying to figure out if she was offended or angry or upset.
"Skaikru gets the protection of the Ice Nation, you get power over my people to some extent, the coalition survives, rather than devolving to times where clan wars with clan, once more, and you don't have to sell yourself to Lexa for her protection."
"I'd have to sell myself and my firstborn to you instead," Clarke answered, frowning at him.
Roan's brow furrowed.
"You don't have to do anything," he replied gruffly, and Clarke suspected she'd offended him. "It's a mutually beneficial political arrangement that achieves a multitude of ends and ensures the survival of both our peoples in a tenuous time of peace."
"Farm Station are all likeminded with the Grounder belief that blood must have blood, Roan," Clarke reminded him. "And my people don't have the same respect for authority that yours have cultivated. For too long, every aspect of our lives upon the Ark was controlled, from what clothes we were allowed to wear, when and with whom we might reproduce, how many children we could have, how much food we were rationed… everything. On the ground, we have more freedom. Already, people have ripped out their birth control devices and begun having kids. They can eat their fill because growing more food is easy…"
"Ice Nation won't stop any of that," Roan frowned at her. "We didn't become the most prosperous clan entirely by ruthlessness. We have the numbers because we fuck like rabbits and we have the largest territory of any clan to accommodate it."
"I meant that they won't listen to me. Even making me Queen of the Ice Nation won't raise me in their esteem. I irradiated three hundred and eighty-one people, Roan. And I did it to save forty-eight of my friends. They don't look to me as a leader, they look at me like I'm a monster. Jasper still hasn't forgiven me because his girlfriend was one of those three hundred and eighty-one people."
"You saved a lot more people than that, Clarke," Roan argued, frowning at her. "Forty-eight Skairkru, maybe, but how many Grounders? Your actions saved thousands of people from all twelve clans who'd been captured and were being harvested for their bone marrow. How many did you save from life as a Reaver?"
"That's not the point," Clarke sighed, running her hands through her hair. "I did what I did and I saved who I saved, and to be honest, in the same situation, I'd kill them all, all over again. But everyone from the Ark who wasn't there – who didn't meet them and didn't see the Fog and the Reavers and everything else horrible that the Mountain Men had done and were routinely doing; hell, even those who did, like Jasper, who got their feelings all tangled up in that mess… they don't want to listen to me. They think me little more than a Grounder whore. I killed Finn, and I killed the Mountain Men and I ran away. I hooked up with Nylah and I've been hooking up with Lexa and now I've hooked up with you. Roan, even if I marry you, Skairkru won't listen to me."
"But you're their leader," Roan protested.
"I'm not," Clarke shook her head. "That's what I'm saying. When it was just the 100, Bellamy and I were their unofficial leaders. Hell, we practically stepped into the role of Mum and Dad for a bunch of randy teenagers…. But now? With all the Ark down on the ground? Those who survived, anyway… I'm not their leader. I'm just a silly teenage girl who killed a lot of people to save her friends. My own mother thinks I'm a monster for killing the Mountain Men, even though they had her on the table and were harvesting her bone marrow right in front of me without painkillers while she screamed in agony. Marcus or Thelonius or my mother are their leaders."
"Not as far as the twelve clans are concerned," Roan shook his head.
"Which, so far, has worked out alright because they respect Wanheda," Clarke nodded. "But you said it yourself. They don't like me. They want to kill me and take my power. They want retribution from Skairkru for stealing their land and invading their homes and killing their people. And Skaikru think the Clans primitive and violent and uncivilised. They imagine themselves smarter and more humane than all of you."
"They are," Roan shrugged his shoulders. "Before the coalition, clan warred with clan for decades. Blood must have blood and we raised blood feuds every other day. We've been killing each other since we all clawed our way out of the bunkers and other hiding places that protected our ancestors from the radiation when the world ended."
"So how is this any kind of solution?" Clarke wanted to know, frowning at him.
"Keeps you alive," Roan shrugged a second time, reaching over and tucking back another lock of her hair that she'd unsettled by running her hands through the blonde mess. "Keeps me alive. Keeps me in power as King. You said it yourself. If I fall, they'll crown one of my brothers king – probably Kodru. He's been fucking Ontari for years, so he'll want her in power. She'll kill Lexa, become Heda, and Ice Nation will rule over all the other clans – or more likely, the coalition will fail and we'll all go back to killing each other, starting with enslaving the smart Skairkru members, and killing the thugs and anyone else making waves or getting in the way."
"So it's in everyone's best interests if you remain king," Clarke sighed. "Which you can't do without an heir and a queen."
"And it protects you from the biggest threats to yourself and your people. Ice Nation won't try to kill you if you're their queen."
"They're planning to kill you, even though you're their king," Clarke pointed out.
"Only because they think me weak for not striking back at Lexa and not taking your power."
Clarke sighed heavily and put her head in her hands.
"Did you lure me out here just for this?" she asked, though her voice was muffled by her hands.
"When I lured you out here, I thought you only preferred girls," Roan said, amusement lacing his tone. "I was going to warn you to run for your life… bind you and leave you somewhere if I had to. Keep you out of the way while staging a coup to overthrow Lexa and install Ontari as Heda like my people want."
Clarke lifted her head.
"You'd have tied me up?" she frowned at him.
"And left you bound in this house under guard until it was over, and safe for me to release you into the wilds to live on the run again, like before," Roan nodded.
"You would… let your people enslave mine?" she asked, horror twisting her stomach.
"In all your time as leader of your people, how often have you found it to be wise to defy their wishes, Clarke?" Roan appealed quietly. "You don't stay leader for long unless you rule by fear and they fear you as much as they hate you. In our line of work, you appease the people as often as you can, or you die and someone more likely to appease them takes your place. You know that."
"Why not just kill me, then?" she asked. "You had to know how I'd react if Ice Nation overthrew the coalition, killed Lexa and enslaved Skaikru. You had to know I'd live by Jus drein jus daun and dedicate the remainder of my life to trying to free my people and seeking retribution. Why not just kill me and get it over with? Take my power and secure your place as king once and for all?"
Roan's serious expression flawed her, his icy blue eyes softening just a little as he reached one large hand to cup her cheek gently, and Clarke leaned into the touch, unbidden, despite the uncertainty and fear and anger and confusion churning in her gut.
"Don't you know?" he asked quietly, raising his eyebrows.
Clarke sighed, closing her eyes before she nodded.
Since she'd met him, she'd known.
"You really think getting married is the best option?" she asked, her eyes still closed, her cheek pillowed in his palm.
"Unless you'd rather I tie you up and leave you here?" he asked quietly.
"Pretty sure threatening me with bodily harm counts as a denial of consent. Coercion, at best. Blackmail."
Roan chuckled quietly. "When have you ever known me to leave anything to chance?" he asked, and when she opened her eyes, he was grinning at her.
"If I say no?" she asked.
"You condemn your people to death," he shrugged his shoulders. "Even if I didn't allow Azgedakru to harm them, some other clan would turn on them. The longer Lexa favours you, the more danger the coalition is in. The longer you live free, the bigger target you become. They will turn on Heda. And on you. And on your people. And I…"
Roan paused, shaking his head and leaning in, his grip on her cheek guiding her lips to his before he kissed her fiercely, his tongue sweeping into her mouth, tangling with her own a little desperately. Clarke reached for him in return, her hands cupping his strong jaw and holding him close as she shuffled across the mattress and climbed into his lap, straddling him easily. Gods, why did everything with Roan always feel so easy? Why did his touch soothe her as much as it excited her? Why did the sound of his voice make her tremble and simultaneously make her feel so safe?
Roan's voice was husky when he broke their kiss and laid his forehead against her.
"I can't see you suffer, Wanheda," he murmured. "I won't watch you die. You're… you're my…"
Clarke's mouth pulled up at the corners as he struggled to express whatever sentiment he felt. He didn't need to voice it. In the short time she'd known him, even when she was angry with him, he was the one she sought out for comfort. He was the one she went to after those early encounters with Lexa, seeking out his company afterward when she felt dirty and like she was whoring herself for her people's protection. When the nightmares woke her in the dark, of mountains and torture and explosions and death, it was Roan's room she invaded. When everything felt too hard and it was all too much, it was Roan she sat beside in silence and simply took quiet comfort from his strength and his presence.
"You're the only one who gets me," she repeated her sentiments from earlier. "You're who I seek out when I'm feeling low."
"My fortress when then nightmares come," Roan agreed quietly, his eyes closed and his arms around her, holding her to him snugly
Clarke sighed, relaxing into him, realising in that moment just what it was she was going to do.
"What if it doesn't work?" she asked. "What if your people and mine still can't overcome their hatred?"
"We'll kill the ones making the most trouble and rule by fear if necessary," Roan answered.
"Rule by fear?" she clarified, not liking the sound of that.
"Strength is the only thing my people respect," he told her.
"Brutality is one of the things my people revile," she reminded him.
"Then they need a reality check of what the rest of the world is like outside that damn fence of theirs," Roan muttered. "The world is brutal, and only the strong survive. They'll come around, Clarke. Trust me."
"How can they?" she asked. "They have their stolen land and their crops and their water and everything else they believe they need to survive now that they're on the ground. Even if I do marry you, they won't respect whatever truce we barter."
"They will when winter comes," Roan answered quietly.
"The 100 have already survived one winter," she shrugged her shoulders. "It wasn't so bad."
Roan snorted and opened his eyes, pulling back a little to peer into her face with that condescending I'm-smarter-than-you expression he'd mastered so well.
"That wasn't winter, Wanheda," he said, smirking a little. "That was a summer snow."
"What?" she frowned at him. "But it got so cold. It snowed!"
"Summer snow," he nodded. "The radiation screwed up the seasons. We don't endure a few short months of summer, autumn, winter, and spring here on the ground like we did from The Before."
"What do you mean?"
"This," he waved a finger to the atmosphere in general. "Ever since your 100 first fell to earth? It's all been summer."
"But it's…" Clarke's eyes widened.
"The Twelve Clans have been sniggering and laughing, toasting the fact that even if nothing else gets you, the winter will. Your people are woefully unprepared for a year-long winter of snow deeper than I am tall," he told her.
"They… oh, shit," Clarke frowned.
"Yeah," Roan smirked, laying back and putting his hands behind his head while Clarke straddled him, their bodies pressing intimately and making her think another round wouldn't be a bad idea. "It's going to be a wake-up call. There's no way they have enough wood or enough food laid in to survive a winter on the ground."
"They're all going to die…" Clarke frowned.
"They're going to learn to get along with Azgeda," he grinned. "And their queen will helpfully provide for them from the royal stocks laid aside in the Azgeda capital."
"Oh yeah?" Clarke frowned. "Generous queen, is she?"
"Bit of a bitch, actually," he smirked. "Ruthless in the service of her people. Complete martyr."
"You're one to talk," Clarke rolled her eyes.
Roan grinned like a Cheshire cat, wicked amusement glittering in those blue eyes.
"You'll do it, then?" he asked. "Marry me?"
Clarke raised her eyebrows, looking down at him where he laid bare chested beneath her, his hands curled behind his head, the picture of smug masculinity.
"Are you sure that's what you want?" she asked. "You and I are often at odds when it comes to protecting our own people, Roan."
"I know," he nodded. "It's what will make you a good Queen. Like I said, Wanheda, you are ruthless in the service of your people."
"Making me Queen of Azgeda would make your people, my people," she pointed out.
"I know," he said again, grinning. "Won't be at odds if we're protecting the same people, will we?"
"What about Skaikru?" she asked.
"They're stubborn," he said, his grin fading into that brooding frown he wore so well. "They'll resist. They might even cast you out, for a time, if you marry me. They already think you're a Grounder whore, don't they?"
"Some of them," Clarke nodded, unhappy.
"But when the snow comes, they'll need you. They'll crawl on their bellies to you, then, I think," Roan said. "Those who don't embrace this change with you will have no choice but to see reason and seek your aid if they want to survive. The truly stubborn will strike out on their own and die in the attempt or return all the stronger and have no need of you anymore. But you'll live. I'll live. Lexa will live. The coalition will survive. Peace will stand between the clans long enough to replenish the numbers we've all lost and to prosper a little, lay in the harvest for the year and make certain we can all survive another turn of the seasons."
"And then?" she asked.
Roan shrugged. "Then we'll figure it out after that. The dangers we're currently facing will be gone, but more always lurk right around the corner."
"You really want to marry me?" she asked. "Before this evening you thought I was a lesbian and had never laid an amorous finger on me."
"Doesn't mean I didn't want to," Roan pointed out quietly, reaching with one arm to trace a hand up her bare thigh and to rest on her hip under the hem of the shirt she'd donned. "Those nights when you help yourself to my room in Polis and help yourself to my bed, it's been hard keeping my hands to myself."
Clarke smiled gently.
"Sometimes I really wish you hadn't kept them to yourself," she admitted.
Roan grinned again, his hips rolling up underneath her and making her tingle with desire, she could feel his body hardening under her rump, letting her know that evidently he would have no qualms marrying her and especially not at trying for the heir he needed to keep his throne.
"Now that I know you like men – like me – I won't," he promised, his hand gliding over her hip and down to the junction of her thighs, his thumb seeking the little pearl of pleasure at the top of her sex and drawing a gasp from her lips. "What'll it be, Wanheda? Will you marry me? Become Queen of Azgeda? Carry my heirs?"
"Now it's heirs, plural?" she teased, her hips rolling into the caress of his hand grinding on the hardness beneath her.
"You think I'd keep my hands off you after just one?" Roan challenged, raising his eyebrows and looking lustful and condescending all at the same time.
Clarke laughed, shaking her head as Roan reached up, breaking their rhythm and leaving her needy so he could peel her shirt back off her.
"Good thing I always wanted a whole herd of children, then isn't it?" she asked, teasing. "I hated on the Ark that the law stated one child per couple because resources were finite. People were floated for having more than one, you know?"
"How many did you wish for?" Roan asked, seeming surprised at her confession that she'd wanted a lot of children.
"Half a dozen, at least," Clarke admitted, blushing a little at so silly a fantasy.
Roan's mouth twitched at the corners. "Did you dream up with names for them all?" he teased gently.
"Yes," she nodded. "Everything from the names of characters in books and films we had access to on the Ark, to names of my grandparents, and people I admired throughout history. I had more than twenty written down in a notebook that I adored."
"Twenty?" he asked, stunned.
"I don't want that many kids," she assured him.
"That many would probably kill you," Roan told her.
"And the point of getting married would be to avoid our mutual deaths," she nodded.
"You'll do it, then?" he confirmed, pushing her for a definitive answer even though he'd moved to trail his hands over her bare breasts.
Clarke nodded her head, rising up on her knees and reaching between her legs, guiding his body to the entrance of her before meeting his gaze and slowly sliding down upon him.
"I'll do it, Roan," she said huskily. "I'll marry you."
Roan's answering smile almost blinded her, surprising her with its appearance when usually he was so stern. He reached for her hungrily, his hips bucking up to meet her downward plunge and his arms encircling her frame, his mouth crashing against her and claiming it for himself once and for all.