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Fanfic / Lightning Only Strikes Once

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Lightning Only Strikes Once is a time travel fic for The 100 written by fiona_249, involving Clarke being sent back in time (or rather, her mental essence is sent back) when she stands atop the tower in Polis and is struck by lightning.

Clarke next wakes up in her prison cell on the Ark, and immediately resolves to change the course of history on the ground. You can read it on Archive of our Own here.


This fanfiction provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The story expands a great deal on the Ice Nation, with the second half of the fic taking place there and subsequently the Ice Queen herself who goes from being the Anticlimax Boss/Big Bad Wannabe she was in the show to the Big Bad for the second half of the story.
  • Ascended Extra: From Lexa's perspective, this applies to Wells; while he died before she even met Clarke in the original timeline, in the new history he lives to be appointed the Skaikru ambassador to the Coalition, using his political experience from the Ark to negotiate agreements with the other ambassadors (justifying this as Skaikru don't have the same negative history as the other twelve so nobody's angry at him for past acts), and even becomes a close personal friend to Lexa, to the point that she tells him that the other world was poorer for his absence.
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  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: In chapter 64 Clarke is publicly given the honour of being named Clarke kom Kongeda, the second in command of the Coalition and second only to Lexa in power.
  • Bad Boss: The Ice Queen Nia, who not only forces an entire village of her own people to vacate the premises so that Diana Sydney and her people can set up shop but also forces them to provide food and protection for said invaders so that Diana's people can work on the nuclear missile. Additionally for the Ice Nation as a whole, when things go bad and Nia needs to secure a stronghold, Clarke finds out that she ordered food supplies to be sent North to her capital even though it would mean 9/10ths of her people would starve to death.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Mountain Men, the Azgeda, led by Nia, and Diana Sydney's faction all play parts as the villains of this story.
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  • Blatant Lies: Clarke finds that she isn’t bothered about blackening Lexa’s reputation by lying to Nia about the nature of their relationship because the Lexa she’s talking about is so unlike the real Lexa that it’s more absurd for Clarke than anything else; she compares the idea of Lexa being this selfish to the idea of a passive Raven or a bloodthirsty Kane.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Clarke and Wells do this to Jaha once he arrives on Earth, with Clarke establishing her authority over him and Wells attempting to discreetly ‘control’ his father’s attempts to take charge by forcing him to acknowledge his cultural ignorance.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: There are numerous examples of throwaway lines or events that later become significant. Perhaps the most memorable is when Clarke and Octavia each briefly comfort a sick Grounder child, which lets them give Emerson, Cage and Tsing a double dose of the fast-acting plague in a gambit to make them think they are dying of radiation exposure.
  • The Chosen One: It is observed, both in-narrative and per Word of God, that the nature of the Commander means that Lexa's people won't openly go against her regardless of how strange her orders might seem so long as they work out. This is observed as the main reason her and Clarke's plans to bring the Ark residents into the Coalition works out so well, as Lexa is able to avoid the mistakes she and Clarke made the first time around and establish a more balanced relationship between their people, as opposed to Lexa bending over backwards to help Clarke even when it put her people in trouble.
  • Closest Thing We Got: When planning to infiltrate Diane Sydney's group with John (whose father is one of her followers), Raven notes that their Grounder guide would have to be Lexa, despite the risks of bringing the Commander into enemy territory, as every other available Grounder would never be accepted as a runaway from their people (Lincoln's too built for anyone in the enemy camp to relax, Zion is too old for anyone not to suspect he's using the escapees, and Anya just can't look non-threatening).
  • Culture Clash: Raven in particular attempts to use this theme when making a few jokes, such as telling Abby that Trikru tradition would require her to attend Clarke and Lexa’s wedding wearing a bear-skin with a head-dress including boar’s tusks to prove the strength of Clarke’s bloodline, and telling Anya that Skaikru traditions mean that they need to write a thirty-line poem in their role as bridesmaids for the wedding to be blessed by the Star-Lords. Lincoln turns this against her by claiming that Raven’s advice that he tell Bellamy that he wants an open relationship with Octavia means that Lincoln and Bellamy must now engage in a fight to the death after Bellamy struck Lincoln in public.
  • Death by Adaptation: While quite a few people survive due to Clarke's knowledge of the former timeline a few characters still alive, or die later on in canon, do indeed die. These include:
    • Jaha and Murphy who are captured by Mount Weather and drained of their bone marrow until they die.
    • Pike, who is killed by Lexa in a way that looks like it was done by the Mountain Men in order to prevent Pike from starting a potential war between the Grounders and Skaikru in the future.
    • Wick who is one of the people that dies when The Ark re-enters the earth.
  • Demoted to Extra: Bellamy isn't present in a majority of the important events of the show and instead stays in TonDC as a teacher for Grounder children. This was deliberate on Lexa's part as she didn't want to risk a future where Bellamy betrays Clarke and starts another potential war like he did in the first timeline so she wanted him as far away from a position of fighting as possible.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Quite a few people are at least prepared to call Jaha out for trying to deal with the Azgeda's alliance with the Maunon by taking Zion 'prisoner'; Jaha knew far too little about the current political situation on the ground, he chose a 'hostage' who legitimately had no idea about that alliance, and had no real idea how to threaten a group of trained warriors by himself.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: For the first 60 or so chapters of the story the main conflict that the heroes have to contend against is The Mountain Men especially since Emerson is aware of the original timeline and has informed Cage Wallace about it. However at the end of chapter 61 the alliance is able to knock out the majority of the mountain using jobi nuts and, by the end of chapter 64, the majority of the captured Maunon are executed and the few allowed to live are integrated into the Skaikru. The remainder of the story revolves around Lexa and co going after Nia and the Azgeda for their part in helping the Mountain and for kidnapping Clarke and stealing a nuclear missile.
  • Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto Us: Clarke and Lexa explicitly speculate that Emerson is encouraging Mount Weather to escalate their actions against the Coalition based on this premise, although Clarke was planning to at least try and find a more diplomatic solution before Emerson’s actions forced them to fight back.
  • Eye Scream: Finn graphically loses both his eyes when he's struck with a sword during a fight, Clarke's immediate treatment saving his life even as his vision is lost forever.
  • False Flag Operation: Lexa meets Charles Pike, and within a day sets things up so it looks like he died protecting her from the Mountain Men in order to boost her prestige among the Sky People.
  • Family of Choice: In contrast to her isolation in canon, Lexa comes to realise that she has formed a new family that goes beyond herself and Clarke, with the Nightbloods as her children and others such as Wells, Raven, Octavia, Lincoln, Anya, Gustus, and Zion giving her a sense of family, to the extent that they make plans to allow her and Clarke to take a month off after their bonding to enjoy a honeymoon.
  • Going Native: As Clarke notes to herself her time with the Trikru has caused her to use their language more even in her own thoughts and she no longer views herself as a Sky Person.
  • Happily Adopted: Suggested for Charlotte; after the 100 make contact with the Trikru, Clarke notes that Charlotte is left with a Grounder couple who lost their own child.
  • Heroic BSoD: Lexa has a major one in chapter 72 when she realises that the Ice Queen has Clarke and is taunting her by showing her the braids of her First Love Costia. It's enough that Lexa actually starts having a panic attack and breaks down in fear that Clarke will suffer the same fate as Costia.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: One of the clues that Raven noticed that something was off about Lexa and Clarke was when Lexa mentioned Arkadia before the Skaikru had officially named it as such.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Clarke convinces Bellamy that the Grounders don't want the 100 dead by pointing out that they would already be dead if that was the case.
  • In-Series Nickname: As well as Clarke re-earning the name "Wanheda", Lexa earns the name "Newanen", which translates as "the Undying", due to her apparently defying death and seemingly bringing herself back to life.
  • Internal Reveal: When Clarke finds out that Lexa also has memories of the timeline she came from.
  • It Only Works Once: At the fic's conclusion, Clarke and Lexa climb to the top of the tower on the date when Clarke was struck by lightning in the original timeline and make plans regarding how they'll use their third chance, but when nothing happens they accept the whole experience as a one-off event and continue their current lives.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Clarke and Lexa attack the Mountain. Clarke gets captured, but she factored in how long a tranq dart's effects last. What the Mountain Men don't know (because Emerson hadn't planned for that contingency) is that being captured was part of the plan to make them think Clarke had a suitcase nuke armed and ready to blow.
  • Karmic Death: Nia, who viciously and slowly tortured Costia to death, is gutted and later shot to death through the throat by the very same bow she choose to keep as a souvenir after Costia died.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: Much like in canon Lexa kneels to Clarke in order to solidify their alliance. However, unlike in canon she does so in front of the entire gathered Grounder army in order to show the respect she has for Clarke as the Mountain Slayer and to name her the second in command of the coalition.
  • Lighter and Softer: As part of her efforts to reform Grounder civilisation, Lexa suggests an alternative system of choosing a new Commander where the new Commander will appoint an heir before their death or the ambassadors can vote on a heir if the Commander dies before one can be chosen. While Lexa's personal goal is to create a scenario where none of her current Naitblida will have to kill each other, she justifies it to the ambassadors by observing that this method ensures that there will always be more Nightbloods available to take the Flame if the new Commander dies too soon after their ascension rather than having to find more after the last crop have been killed.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: The premise of this fic is based on this trope. Never before or since on Earth has a bolt of lightning sent a person's mental essence moving through time to their younger selves, except the one time needed to kick off the plot.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Clarke explicitly refers to Wells as the closest thing she’s ever had to a brother, and while Wells was initially hurt when he realised that Clarke was now involved with Lexa, he later assures Lexa that he’s happy for them as he now retains his existing bond with Clarke rather than risk losing it by trying for something more and failing.
  • Like My Own Children: Lexa muses more than once that while Aiden is her personal choice of successor, she considers all of the current class of Nightbloods to be like her own children, which motivates her decision to change the rules of the Conclave so that none of them will have to kill each other.
  • Morton's Fork: Invoked when Lexa observes that the Ice Nation forces who almost capture her and the others during their search for Clarke have a series of bad options once they realise that she is a Nightblood (Lexa not revealing that she is the Commander and claiming to just be one of the Nightbloods from Polis); they will starve if they keep serving Diane Sydney’s Skaikru forces in the village Nia has given them, the Skaikru will kill them if they don’t provide them with food, and Nia will kill them if they harm ‘Saska’ and she turns out to be Ontari, so the only scenario where the villagers live is the one where Lexa is telling the truth that she doesn’t serve Nia and her current captors choose to trust her.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: After resetting the timeline Clarke is now no longer under any illusions about the hypocrisy and bigotry that a lot of the Sky People possess towards the Grounders. After she is proclaimed the Kongeda of the Coalition Clarke expresses relieve as this means she no longer has to defend actions her people take which are inexcusable.
  • Not So Stoic: When Raven starts panicking at the idea that she may have provoked a situation where Bellamy and Lincoln have to fight to the death, even Anya and Lincoln can’t resist smiling.
  • Official Couple:
    • The author makes no bones that Lexa and Clarke are the main couple in this story and all other potential love interests for the two are immediately shot down before they can even start.
    • Much like in canon Octavia and Lincoln are the Beta Couple of the fic.
    • After the metric ton of ship teasing the two had over the majority of the story Raven and Anya become a couple at the end of chapter 117.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Clarke realizes that the mechanism of time travel she underwent means Carl Emerson also remembers future events.
  • Peggy Sue: Clarke and Lexa who, thanks to a stray Lightning Bolt and being covered in the love of her life's blood allow Clarke to travel back in time from before the dropship carrying The 100 lands on earth and Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Unfortunately for them Emerson has also come back in time with them and he doesn't intend to let Clarke have her happy ending easily.
  • Precrime Arrest: Basically the reason Lexa kills Pike, as she has observed the way he reacted to learning that anyone was alive on the ground and recognised that he would never be willing to adapt to the situation; however, most of the time Clarke and Lexa are determined to avoid judging people for what they did in the first history, to the extent that Lexa acknowledges that Finn killing the villagers in the original timeline was an exceptional case for him and leaving him alive (even if she still takes care that he'll never get the chance to be in that situation again by preventing him becoming a soldier).
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Lexa is able to set herself up as one with Clarke’s help to mitigate and avoid the more negative effects of her actions the first time around. This is most prominent when she alters the rules for ‘Blood Must Have Blood’ in a manner that makes it clear that she won’t condemn an entire clan for the sins of their leaders without giving the impression that she’s become weak, such as sparing around eighty of the Maunon (everyone under eighteen and any adults who never personally did anything to any of the captured members of the Coalition), and affirming that any of the Ice Nation who help them against Nia won’t be punished for their Queen’s actions.
  • Rookie Red Ranger: Technically not the most powerful, but Wells essentially takes on a leadership role for the other twelve ambassadors when he’s appointed as Skaikru’s Ambassador to the Coalition while Clarke and Lexa are absent and even after they return, albeit through a process of explaining everything calmly and rationally until they go along with it; Wells argues that he only fell into the position of leader because Skaikru don’t have a history with the other clans so nobody resents him for some past slight and thus find it easier to follow his orders.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • When Kane creates a house in the Skaikru camp exclusively for Lexa's use, he justifies it by arguing that the Skaikru don't share the same 'reverence' for the traditional symbols of the Commander as the other twelve clans, and so the creation of the most elaborate house in the area that is exclusively reserved for whoever Lexa allows to live there is his way of creating a symbol that Skaikru can understand.
    • Lexa reflects that this applies to her and Clarke’s choices to get their bonding tattoos done on Lexa’s left side and Clarke’s right, each reflecting their near-crippling injuries; Lexa’s left arm and Clarke’s right leg will never be as strong as they could be, but the other will always fight to protect their weakness and thus ensure that they will be stronger together than apart.
  • Rules Lawyer: Lexa demonstrates this when coming with the new rules for choosing a new commander by preventing potential future obstacles, such as arguing that the ambassadors can vote on a new Commander if the previous one hasn't chosen an heir themselves before death to give the ambassadors at least the illusion of more power, or ruling out the idea of a Nightblood becoming the Flamekeeper as that creates a scenario where a future Nightblood might be able to make themselves Commander rather than making a more practical choice (she trusts that none of her current Nightbloods would do such a thing, but recognises that there is a risk of this happening in future).
  • Something Only They Would Say: Clarke and Lexa confirm that they have both moved in time after Clarke calls Lexa by her name and Lexa in turn refers to Clarke by her full name, information that neither of them could have been told by anyone else unless they came from the future.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Wells, Finn, and a good chunk of the original 100 are spared in this fic due to Clarke's actions in preventing the war with the Grounders before it stars.
    • Due to the war with The Sky People not happening Anya and Gustus don't end up as casualties.
    • Diana Sydney and her faction are captured early on before they can screw things up on The Ark and safely make it to the ground with the rest of Prison Station. Unfortunately this allows them to escape and create their own faction to bite Arkadia in the ass.
    • Due to Clarke not having to irradiate Mount Weather like in the first timeline Maya and the Mountain Men who refused the bone marrow treatments and blood work, as well as the children to young to refuse said treatments, are allowed to live and are integrated into Skaikru after the war is won.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Gustus and Zion believe that this applies to them, as Gustus expresses concern that a relationship would distract them from their duties even if Zion becomes the new Flamekeeper, but Clarke assures him that Lexa would want them both to be happy.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: Although Lexa and Clarke dislike their near-deification after the war with the Azgeda, they decide that it’s better to work on gradually dispelling these assumptions rather than denounce them completely as they recognise the advantages of being thought of as immortals.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Subverted carefully. Explosives are treated with greater respect and apprehension in this world than they were in the original timeline, when the 100 used explosives impulsively in their initial conflicts with the Grounders and thus robbed them of much of their existing mystique; Wells and Aden use this against the Ice Nation by planting bombs at the border to deter attacks.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Neither the Ice Queen or Diana Sydney like each other and their alliance is born more for convenience then equal opportunity. Diana refers to Nia as the Savage Queen and makes no bones about her and the Azgeda being too stupid to know how to operate a nuclear missile. Nia meanwhile sees Diana and her people as weak, making barbs about Diana's failure to hold Clarke and keeping extra guards around their village for "protection".
  • Token Good Teammate: While Lexa is proud of all of her class of Nightbloods, she identifies Saska and Dazi as the kindest, musing that while they would not have won a traditional Conclave, they are best suited to act as ambassadors to the Flonkru and convince Luna that she needs to become part of the Coalition rather than trying to change her small part of the world.
  • Unflinching Walk: Clarke does exactly this as she walks away from Mount Weather with it exploding behind her after the self-destruct code activates.
  • Unwanted False Faith: To a degree, as Clarke and Lexa are each uncomfortable at their near-deification after the war with the Azgeda, with Clarke as Wanheda (the Commander of Death) and Lexa as Newanen (the Undying); Lexa herself explicitly muses that, while her people now believe she can command where their souls will go after death, she is content to have ‘command’ of her own soul.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: In chapter 112 Lexa finally achieves her revenge against Nia by gutting her with Costia's bow a wound that, as Clarke notes, will cause Nia to slowly die over the course of several hours. However Lexa isn't able to feel satisfaction about said kill as it feels like a hollow victory and that Costia, how practised mercy over cruelty, deserved better then to have her memory tainted by giving Nia a slow death. So instead Clarke and Lexa together shot Nia through the neck with their last arrow and spend what they believe to be their last few moments together.
  • Villain Team-Up: Happens twice with the Ice Nation in the story:
    • Firstly the Ice Nation desides to help out Mount Weather by providing a spy in Lexa's group in order to monitor the groups journey and try and kill them once they enter Trikru territory in order for Nia to wipe out her greatest enemy without placing any of the blame on herself.
    • Secondly Nia teams up with Diana Sydney and her people in order to kidnap Clarke and steal the Nuclear Missile from Arcadia.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: While Clarke briefly kicks around ideas of negotiating with Mount Weather to try and broker some kind of armistice, that option goes by the boards almost immediately in favor of vanquishing the Mountain as a threat once she realises that Emerson remembers the original timeline and is going to try and attack them in turn.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Lexa observes at one point that Luna is basically this, reflecting that, if Luna had become Commander, she would have tried to force the world to fit her vision of peace and gotten her people slaughtered by their enemies, where Lexa and Clarke are working to gently guide the world towards such a goal.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are!: When talking with some of the Nightbloods after defeating Nia, Lexa singles out two in particular, Dazi and Saska, to seek out Luna and her people to encourage them to return to the Coalition. While both have long been aware that they could never win a future Conclave, Lexa assures them both that she and Luna will both recognise the strength of their compassion, observing that each of her Nightbloods have their own particular strengths even if Aden remains her chosen heir.

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