After she walked away from Camp Jaha, from her people, her mother, if Clarke could have turned the whole world off, she would have. It wasn't that she wanted to die- she had never been suicidal a day in her life- but she just didn't want to have to bother with the day-to-day when she had so much to think about.
For the first week, she starved. She had taken nothing with her besides the clothes on her back and a handgun that was soon out of bullets, and she had suffered for it. At the dropship, she had been too preoccupied with the burdens of leadership to participate in hunting or tracking, and so she had learned neither skill. One of the perks of being in charge was being able to delegate such things to other people, but alone it was all up to her, and there was no one to blame for her failings but herself.
So, it took a week before she ate, finally managing to kill a rabbit, catching it unawares as it cleaned itself in front of its burrow, and grabbing it by the foot, bashing its head with a rock and spilling its blood across the soft loamy ground. Clarke was starving by then and she ate every last bit of it, lighting a fire to cook its meat, sucking the marrow from its bones, and drinking every drop of its blood. She had never experienced hunger like this, a deep hunger that came not from her stomach but from her entire body, as though her cells were crying out for protein.
It was only after she'd finished her modest feast that that she heard the sounds- an urgent squeaking from inside the earth. She used a stick and her hands to tear away the entrance to the burrow, searching deeper, unburying a treasure of fur and unblinking eyes: baby rabbits, four of them, perhaps only a few days old. Not even big enough to understand what they wanted even as they cried out for their mother's milk.
Clarke wept quietly over them, over the suffering she'd caused, the fact that their bellies were empty because hers was now full. She felt ashamed for her grief.
She couldn't bear to kill them, although part of her wanted desperately to eat them too. Instead, she left them there, even though she knew that they would die anyway. She couldn't bring herself to give them a merciful death, because she couldn't bear to be the one to do it. Their frantic cries haunted her all that night and for much of the next week.
It had been the same at Mount Weather. She hadn't intended to kill anyone, had wanted to spare the innocent while still rescuing her people, had told Lexa's army of that strategy and made sure they agreed. But Dante had caught her off guard when he'd exposed her plan as the wishful thinking of a child.
She, Bellamy, and Monty had stood in the white room where she had first found herself in Mount Weather, looking at Dante, now a prisoner of his son's scheming.
They had come to him to ask for help, help that they quickly realised he was not going to provide.
"Tell me," he'd said, his tone scornful as he looked at Clarke. "If we released your people and theirs, what would have happened to mine?"
The question had shocked her, not just because the answer was so obvious, but also because she'd failed to even consider it. She hadn't realised before then how truly naïve she was, but now she knew: somebody always had to lose.
She had grown up with the belief that, if you worked hard enough, if you were considerate enough, planned well enough, then everyone could win. Bellamy would say it was because she was privileged, had no concept of the gray world that lurked between the black and white, and he would be right. Clarke had been raised to be righteous, but there was no place for righteousness in the real world.
Once, when she was a young girl, Clarke's father had brought her a book home about yogis, ancient wise men who sometimes abandoned society, language, company, even food, just to seek enlightenment, a higher knowledge and state of being. He had brought her the book mainly because of the illustrations, knowing how she loved to draw nature, but Clarke had enjoyed the stories as well.
For a little while, she tried to imagine that she was a yogi and that this journey was about seeking enlightenment, or that her wandering in the woods was some kind of spiritual journey towards inner peace. But she couldn't keep it up for long- she knew there was nothing sacred about running away, and that's exactly what she was doing.
After a month, she had lost track of the days. Surviving was hard work, and was made even harder by the fact that she was restless, unable to sit still for more than a day or two. So her life was consumed by tedium- wake up, find food, prepare food, eat food, break camp, walk, find food again, prepare and eat food again, walk more, make camp again, try to fall asleep… every day the same. The only reprieve was the odd time that she had to hide from Grounders, and she watched them from the shadows, looking for familiar faces that she never saw.
At times she lay awake at night under the stars and thought of Lexa- where she might be, if she ever thought of her too, if she felt bad for what she'd done, betraying her, reneging on their deal, breaking the alliance.
Sometimes she argued with Lexa, at first in her mind and then out loud, soft and murmuring under her breath, telling her that she'd made a mistake, and that their plan should have worked, would have. After all, Bellamy had done his part, so it was only fair that they did theirs, and things had been proceeding fine, on track… Lexa hadn't had to do what she did, save her own people at the expense of Clarke's, because they all could have come out on top.
Usually, Clarke ended up breaking down during these imaginary arguments, realising that she was just as naïve as she had always been. She could imagine Lexa's contemptuous expression as well as she could imagine the tenderness of her lips.
So long had passed since she'd left Camp Jaha, and all at once, as she huddled in front of the fire, she realised that the arbitrary direction she'd chosen to take- north- represented the most shortsighted and idiotic thing she could have possibly done. The season was passing into winter, yet she had decided to walk north. It would have been getting cold anyway, but because of the direction she was moving, it was growing even colder. Maybe she was suicidal after all.
Even after this realisation, she couldn't turn back. The idea of turning around was too frightening, because she knew that her aimless wandering would inevitably lead her back to the gates of Camp Jaha, and she couldn't face it- not yet… maybe not ever.
So she adjusted her path slightly, going northwest instead of due north, hoping that would at least ease the wind chill a little at night. Winter was still on its way, and she remembered what she'd told the Chancellor- what seemed like a lifetime ago- but it was still true: the real danger of being down here at this time wasn't starvation, but hypothermia. That was even more true now that she was alone.
She needed more supplies- food, heavier clothing, and warm furs to sleep in. But she had nothing to trade or sell to get any of those things, even if she had been able to find a village or a market where she wouldn't be in danger. Just to imagine the logistics of it was exhausting.
So she just kept walking, kept putting one foot in front of the other, day in and day out, until she collapsed each night into a fitful sleep. It was only when she walked all day and fell asleep bone tired that she avoided her dreams.
When it got so cold that she couldn't feel her hands or feet in the morning, she started digging a hole each night to sleep in, covering herself with dirt up to her chin, keeping her face as close to the fire as she could risk.
She was like those poor baby bunnies, wrapped up in a blanket of earth, her body yearning for something she didn't even understand, eyes not yet open to it, but knowing in her heart that she would die if it never came.