“Your people do not sleep inside the metal husk?” Lexa asked with a curious tilt to her head.
“No,” Clarke murmured. “We don’t.”
“Why?” Lexa questioned as she spread the fur pelt out across Clarke’s small cot. “There must be space within your Ark for your people to sleep inside the shelter.”
Clarke nodded her head in agreement. She moved to perch on the edge of her cot running her fingers across the soft strands of fur as she contemplated her next words. “My people, you’ve separated them from those of the Ark, why?”
Lexa narrowed her eyes, her gaze roaming across Clarke’s features in an attempt to work out the processes of the girl’s mind. “They follow you without question.” She mused, her voice tentative and unsure, her mind struggling to vocalise its thoughts. “The young ones, they look to you for guidance, but do not rate the words of your older members.”
Clarke hummed in understanding before shrugging the jacket from her shoulders. “You know that we came down first, the younger ones, don’t you?”
“Yes.” Lexa assured the younger girl as she moved to sit on the edge of Clarke’s clot at her side. “Why does that matter?”
“The Ark survivors sent us to the Ground to die.” Clarke spoke with a sigh. “My Mother sent me to the Ground to die.”
“What do you mean?” The dark haired girl demanded her voice tainted by anger and her eyes trained on Clarke’s expression.
“On the Ark when a child commits a crime that’s worthy of the capital punishment – floating – they’re imprisoned until they reach eighteen.” Clarke explained as she floated her jacket up into a neat pile. “On their eighteenth birthday their crimes are reassessed, and sometimes, they’re given their freedom. I would have floated.”
“Why?” Lexa queried. Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion while the rest of her features remained schooled to indifference. “What was your crime?”
“My Father found a problem with the Ark, our oxygen replenishment systems were failing.” Clarke said as she slipped her boots off the end of her legs and placed them next to the head end of her cot. “He told my Mother, who refused to tell the people, and he plotted to tell everyone regardless. I overheard and old my best friend, then, I told my Dad that I wanted to help him. They arrested us in our home.”
“You went against the rules to help your people?” Lexa surmised. “That is a brave feat Clarke of Griffin.”
“Perhaps,” Clarke murmured. “But that is why my people do not look to our adults for guidance. We remember that they would have killed us for another handful of months in the sky. We know that the Ark is not our protection, and we managed to carve out a life for ourselves on the Ground without them to guide us. We are more Grounder than Ark survivor right now.”
Lexa nodded, her hand reaching out to smooth her fingers across Clarke’s cheek, following the curve of her jaw with her fingertip. “Yes,” She murmured. “I think you are as well.”
Clarke blinked up at Lexa with a tentative smile on her lips leaning her face into Lexa’s gentle touch. “I’m glad you’re here.”
“It is my duty to protect you Clarke.” Lexa murmured with a small smile on her lips. “I would not be a good Commander if I did not.”
“I am not one of your clan people Lexa.” Clarke chuckled lifting her hand to cover Lexa’s hand on her face. “You don’t have to protect me.”
“You are a Leader who I’m trying to bring into my alliance.” Lexa said with a shrug of her shoulders. “It would reflect badly on my honour if I allowed harm to come to you.”
“Is that the only reason you are here?” Clarke questioned, her cheeks flushed pink as she let her gaze fall from Lexa’s deep forest green eyes.
“No.” Lexa stated with a soft laugh. Her grip on Clarke’s jaw tightened, lifting the girl’s face until their gazes met, to watch the emotions flutter across Clarke’s features. “But it can be if that makes you more comfortable.”
“I’m comfortable now.” Clarke assured the other woman turning her head to brush her lips across Lexa’s palm. “Come on, we’d better try to get some sleep tonight, the Council will expect us come morning.”
“It is as you say Clarke.” Lexa muttered sliding her hand away from Clarke’s skin to untie the clasps of her armour. The protective pauldrons falling onto the surface of the fur blanket before Clarke placed them next to her boots on the floor. Clarke and Lexa moved together to remove the pads that formed Lexa’s armour until the two women sat in a pair of loose shirts and trousers each. “Let us sleep Clarke.”
The blonde haired woman smiled, squeezing Lexa’s fingers as she crawled backwards to the top of the bed, pushing the fur blanket down the bed to slide underneath. The corners of Lexa’s lips twitched upwards as she clambered under the blanket beside Clarke. She pulled it back over their bodies, before sliding her arm around Clarke’s stomach. Clarke snuggled back into Lexa’s embrace, luxuriating in the way that the Commander buried her nose in her hair, letting her eyes flutter closed.