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Voices in the Water

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It’s still dark when Clarke wakes, the thick leather curtains pulled across their chambers’ windows blocking the sliver of light that rises to the horizon like oil atop water. Bellamy stirs beside her from where he’s sleeping soundly on his side of the bed, a generous space between them, as Clarke climbs out of bed as quietly as possible. Luckily, as she’s discovered, Bellamy is a heavy sleeper. Clarke waking him on their first morning together in Polis seems to have been an isolated incident. Her stomach twists when she makes a mental note that it may be useful to her later. 

It’s become routine since she arrived in Anapolei, two weeks ago to the day, for Clarke to rise before Bellamy. The first few days, he insisted on waking with her. In fact, he insisted on escorting her nearly everywhere, although Clarke could tell that it wasn’t because he didn’t trust her, but because he felt guilty leaving her alone anywhere. She managed to convince him that she was fine by bringing up the very rational point that the people should see her without him if they’re going to recognize her as an equal. She also reminded him that she could take care of herself on the rare occasion she ran into any trouble. He had given her a doubtful look at that and Clarke had to contain her laughter at the irony of him being worried for her, or doubting that she couldn’t take anyone who came for her. Regardless, he relented, and so now Clarke starts every morning with a walk throughout Anapolei. She never strays too far from the castle, but she’s managed to do a decent amount of exploring so far. Clarke is honest with him about the fact that she goes on these walks in order to familiarize herself with the city, even if she isn’t being honest about the reasons why.

Clarke quickly changes into a plain pair of black pants and a long-sleeve gray shirt before slipping on her jacket. Spring has officially arrived, but the mornings are still damp and cool enough to chill her cheeks and hands. She glances at Bellamy as she braids her hair in the half-up style she wears nearly everyday, able to just make out his face given the low glow provided by the embers in the fireplace. He always looks so much younger when he sleeps - boyish despite the decade he has on her. Looking away quickly, she heads to the door, feeling like she’s gotten away with something too delicious to feel guilty about - a second piece of pie for dessert, ten extra minutes in the sun when her mother ordered her to come inside, rides at dawn with Orion when she was supposed to be meeting with her aunt. 

The guards only nod at her when she walks past them, more of an acknowledgement than a greeting. By the time she leaves the castle, the horizon is a bright orange that bleeds into pink and blue. Clarke takes a deep breath as she walks through the streets, the scent of sea salt still new and exciting to her. Unlike Bellamy, many in town are already awake and starting their days, mostly shopkeepers opening their doors. Some offer smiles that don’t reach their eyes, and others avoid her gaze entirely. She’s used to this reaction by now. No one is rude, but no one is warm either. Her presence has been defined by a weariness that she’s yet to escape. She assumes that it will only take time for them to warm up to her, but also recognizes she might be long gone before that happens, one way or another.

Clarke guesses that the walk to the water is about a mile or so, which is where she ends up every morning. It’s stupidly indulgent of her, serves no real purpose to stare at the horizon as the morning drags the sun into the sky, but she always ends up here all the same. Maybe it’s because it reminds her of the Podon Bigas, of her mother. Maybe it’s just because it’s shiny and new, and if she’s likely to die in the coming months, then she might as well see as much of the world as she can manage to grasp at. It’s a bay really, not even the ocean. She can see to the other side, which is already less expansive than her mothers’ lakes, but it’s still something. She can no longer afford to be picky about the small moments of joy she stumbles upon. 

“Clarke!”

Clarke is so lost in her thoughts that the voice startles her, making her physically jump. She curses herself for that small concession when she sees that it’s Octavia walking towards her from the skeleton of a large marble building on the water. Clarke recently learned that it’s used as a training center. 

Clarke does her best to plaster on a warm smile, even if doing so feels as ridiculous as smiling at a panther who regards her as prey.

“Good morning,” she offers, tone more prim than she intends. This woman unnerves her - in part because she’s Bellamy’s protective sister, but also simply because of the intense energy she always seems to vibrate with.

Octavia doesn’t acknowledge the greeting, but her lips twist into something that Clarke assumes is supposed to be a smile. She hasn’t been any less guarded in the last two weeks, but she’s at least seemed to stand down in the only way she knows how. 

“What are you doing out here?” Octavia asks, assuming Clarke must have a particular purpose. Clarke supposes if you grow up with a view like this, it’s easy to lose sight of all the ways in which you should appreciate it. 

“I’m an early riser,” Clarke shrugs. “I’ve been going for walks in the morning, trying to familiarize myself with the city.”

Octavia hums at that, her gaze refocusing on where Clarke was staring a moment ago, as if searching for something in particular that piqued Clarke’s interest. She won’t find anything.

“You’re also an early riser,” Clarke observes, mostly for something to say. 

Octavia huffs a laugh. “One of the many differences between my brother and I.”

Clarke’s smile at that is genuine, as she thinks about the man probably still sleeping peacefully in their bed. 

“Another difference,” Octavia continues, “Is that my brother always sees the good in people. Lincoln is like that too, but I’m a little more skeptical.”

Clarke swallows, but manages to maintain a perfect mask at the pointed comment. 

“It’s an admirable trait, but I’m more of a skeptic myself too,” Clarke responds, voice even. 

Octavia’s eyes sweep over her face, trying to find something that she never will. It’s not a matter of Clarke being so good at hiding as it is a result of there being nothing to hide after so many years of this game. Eventually, Octavia simply hums again. 

“Harper and I were about to start training with a few others,” she says, after a beat. “Why don’t you join us?”

Once again, Octavia’s expression reminds Clarke of a panther searching for prey. She grits her teeth to hold in her laugh. Clarke isn’t cocky enough to believe with certainty that she could beat Octavia, but she knows that it would at least be a thoroughly fair fight. Octavia’s hungry expression reveals she believes otherwise, and it’s nothing short of comical. 

“I’m not dressed properly,” Clarke excuses. “Besides, I’m sure I’m hardly up to par with you guys - I’m not a warrior.”

“Well that’s why you need to be trained,” Octavia argues. “You’re a queen, you need to be able to defend yourself.”

“I’ve had basic training,” Clarke bites back, unable to keep the irritation from her voice. She hates to be underestimated, even if that’s exactly what she’s supposed to portray herself as - weak. It’s harder than one would think to constantly fold yourself into a box. Clarke always feels ready to burst.

“Well, you should have more than that. A queen can be a warrior too, it didn’t stop my mother from learning.”

Clarke tries to hide her surprise at the casual mention of the former queen. Bellamy hasn’t spoken of either of his parents since that first day in the dining hall, despite that they’ve eaten two meals a day nearly everyday in front of their paintings. Octavia, however, doesn’t seem to have any reservations about it. 

“Another time,” Clarke agrees. 

Octavia clenches her jaw, not unlike her brother does when he’s frustrated. But in the end, she only nods and tells Clarke that she’ll see her at breakfast. When she finally leaves, Clarke looks back towards the water again, yearning for something that has no name.

--∞--

Bellamy is just stepping out of the bath when Clarke enters their chambers. Although he doesn’t rise as early as Clarke, she now knows that he goes on a short run every morning before returning to bathe. In the short amount of time they’ve spent married, they’ve already fallen into a sort of routine that suggests an intimacy she has no right to.

Clarke sits down on the settee in front of the fire, trying her hardest not to let her gaze linger on Bellamy’s silhouette behind the screen as he dries himself. 

“Morning,” he greets her, emerging from the screen and toweling his hair dry. 

He’s completely naked as he walks over to the dresser. Clarke averts her eyes, staring intently at the fire as she mumbles a greeting in response. It’s not that this is new, it’s that it still catches her off guard every time. It’s something about Bellamy she’s yet to figure out. Not since their consummation ceremony has he so much as touched her while in bed together. There were small touches elsewhere - a guiding hand on her back, a brush of his arm against hers while they eat - but nothing substantial. He has no reservations about flaunting his naked form in front of her, but he’s shown no indication that he wants her again. Part of her worries she did something wrong during the ceremony. He enjoyed himself - it certainly seemed like it - but she’s new to all this. What does she know? All she knows is that the purpose of this union, regardless of false pretenses, is producing an heir. Yet, he seems to have no interest in doing so.

“Ready?” he asks.  

Clarke turns to him and offers a smile, a strange concoction of relief and disappointment flooding her when she finds him fully clothed. 

“Yeah,” she agrees, standing.

It’s only ten minutes later that they’re seated at breakfast in their usual seats, facing the rest of the tables. Clarke is quiet as she eats a plate of egg, potatoes, and a piece of salted pork, that one of the kitchen workers brought out to her. Bellamy is speaking with Lincoln, seated on his other side, and Octavia is on the end next to Lincoln. On Clarke’s other side sits Indra, who hasn’t said so much as a few words to her since she arrived in Anapolei. The woman is even more intimidating than Octavia, but thankfully she’s occupied by Kane seated on her other side. 

Clarke’s eyes sweep across the various groups of people scattered across the different tables in front of them, enjoying the same breakfast as her. She recognizes many of them - it only took about a week to realize that Bellamy’s statement about allowing people to dine with them in order to “discuss matters of importance in an informal setting” was nothing short of a lie. Nobody has ever approached Bellamy at a meal, although she knows that he isn’t opposed to it. She quickly discovers, given the unkept state of many frequent diners, that they are here for a free meal. Not only is Bellamy making sure the poorest in his city remain fed, but he is offering them dignity with the veiled excuse. Clarke can’t help but find it strange - she certainly has never heard of any king or queen doing something like this, but she supposes she really only has Agzeda and Podakru to compare it to. From what she remembers from her visits with Podakru, they didn’t see it as their responsibility to personally put food on the table for their people. Nia would certainly never consider it - Clarke can’t remember how many times she’s heard Nia lecture that if people were without food or housing, it was because their own failures had led them to that fate.

“Clarke?” Bellamy asks from beside her, pulling her attention away from the diners. “We’re planning to meet in the drawing room after breakfast, is that alright?”

“Of course,” Clarke nods, tripping over the two simple words. It’s still strange for her to be asked rather than demanded, and always throws her off balance for a moment.

Bellamy offers a soft smile before sticking a forkful of potatoes in his mouth.

--∞--

In the two weeks since her arrival, they hadn’t yet discussed Mt. Weather in a formal setting. Needless to say, as Bellamy leads the group from breakfast to the drawing room, Clarke is nervous. This is the kind of information that Nia wants and so Clarke has to pay close attention and can’t let a single fact slip by unnoticed. 

The drawing room isn’t all that different from any other room in the castle, or different from the drawing room in Polis for that matter. There’s a singular long table with chairs, a fireplace, several maps hung on the wall, and a few other couches and chairs lining the walls. Like their bedroom, it’s on the second floor of the front side of the castle, three large windows lining the wall. By the time they walk in, several others are waiting for them. Clarke knows them by name now - Monty, Harper, and Raven are all sitting at the table, Raven’s attention completely absorbed by a piece of paper in front of her. Murphy is sitting on a smaller desk pushed against one of the walls, loudly crunching on an apple, and Miller and Jasper are both lounging in chairs pushed against the opposite wall, the latter’s legs thrown over the arm of his chair. Jasper and Miller immediately jump up when Bellamy enters the room, hurrying to take a seat at the table. Murphy wanders over too, with much less urgency. Clarke hesitates, unsure of where to sit, but Bellamy nods at the seat next to the head of the table where he sits down. Clarke offers a smile at Harper, sitting on the other side of her, having left Clarke’s seat open as if she knew it was reserved for her. Raven, sitting across from Clarke, still doesn’t look up from the paper she’s studying. 

Bellamy knocks on the table next to Raven’s hand, looking at her expectantly. Her head pops up dramatically, looking around at the table, clearing not having noticed everyone’s arrival. 

“Sorry,” she says hurriedly, sliding the paper over to Bellamy. “Here.”

Clarke studies Bellamy as Bellamy studies whatever it is that Raven handed him. There are a few things that Bellamy told Clarke prior to this, so that she wouldn’t be walking into the meeting blind. The most important piece of information was learning that Lincoln was kidnapped by the Mountain Men months ago. They had every intention of turning him into a reaper, and although it was a horrifying prospect, it ended up working in their favor. He was saved by a girl who told him that there was a group of people inside the mountain who didn’t agree with what their leadership was doing. The girl gave him vital intelligence regarding the entrance to the mountain - that the main door was powered by electricity, which was powered by machines in some building sitting on the river. A dam, she thinks she remembers being told. 

The whole thing is hard for Clarke to wrap her head around - while Clarke and most grounders know that electricity was something that existed in the old world, no clan has ever been close to bringing it back. Some clans, like Azgeda, are even openly suspicious of it, believing that kind of power is what led to the bombs that wiped out the old world. Clarke has never quite bought into that, but she’s also never given it much thought - about them not having electricity, or about what having it could mean. 

“It was folded in a hole in the tree,” Lincoln explains, Bellamy’s eyes still scanning the drawing. “It’s a blueprint of the mountain - a guide to how we can get in.”

Clarke remembers Bellamy mentioning that the girl directed Lincoln to a specific tree near the Mountain-Trikru border, and somehow found a way to pass notes to Trikru by leaving them there. Trikru is assuming that at least one of the guards with access to their suits is working with the same group the girl mentioned.

“How do we know they aren’t feeding us false information?” Clarke asks.

“Leave it to Azgeda to assume an act of goodwill is a lie,” Raven mumbles.

Bellamy fixes her with a hard stare and she looks back down at the table. 

“We don’t,” Bellamy answers, turning away from a scolded Raven. “Which is why we need to be cautious, think this through.”

“It was the place the girl specifically told me to check,” Lincoln explains to Clarke. “I don’t think it makes sense she would lie, given how she saved me, but you’re right - we don’t know if she’s been compromised since then.”

Bellamy sighs, running his hand through his hair, looking back down at the blueprints. He looks frustrated. 

“We need a way to confirm its validity before we put any trust in it,” Clarke points out.

Bellamy looks up at her, gaze curious. “Like what?”

“Like an inside man.”

Everyone looks up at her comically fast, expressions a mix of surprised and pessimistic. Except Murphy of course - he just looks bored.

“You want to send one of our people,” Octavia starts, speaking slowly, as if she couldn’t have heard Clarke correctly. “Into an enemy’s fortress. I know you’re Azgeda, but here, we try not to kill Trikru people.”

“O,” Bellamy nearly growls at her. “That’s enough.”

Clarke slinks back into her chair, cheeks flushing pink. What she wants to tell them is that she could do it - slinking through the shadows unnoticed, blending in, is what she’s best at. But they would never go for that - not to mention how she would have to explain how she has those skills.

“Sorry,” Clarke immediately mumbles. She shouldn’t have said anything at all.

“No,” Bellamy immediately answers. “You’re on the right track - you’re not wrong. I just don’t know that we can afford the risk.” 

--∞--

Clarke spends the rest of the afternoon wandering, unsure of what to do with herself. If she was being productive, she’d call it snooping, but the truth is she’s simply bored. She’s used to her days being filled with meetings, with following Bellamy around. But they have nothing more to do today, after he instructed the room that he and Clarke would think on what to do next regarding the mountain and the blueprint. Clarke didn’t miss a few scowls at the mention of her name being included with Bellamy’s, namely from Octavia and Raven, but Clarke found she didn’t really care. She liked the way that there was a Bellamy and her a little more than she should. Bellamy went off to train with Lincoln and Clarke declined the invitation, telling Bellamy that she wanted to sketch or read instead. That only lasted about an hour, before she started to become stir crazy in their bedroom, which is how Clarke ended up wandering the halls of the castle like she is now, her sketchbook under her arm. 

She doesn’t pay attention to where she’s going, too lost in her own thoughts to realize that she stumbled upon a narrow hallway split off from the main upstairs corridor. The castle isn’t big enough that she hasn’t already seen most of it - she must have walked by this hallway a dozen times, too distracted to give it a second thought. But now she’s looking at the singular door at the end of it, and she’s curious, and most of all, she’s bored. She feels a little like Wanheda when approaching it, like she’s supposed to be sticking to the shadows, like she isn’t supposed to be caught, despite the fact that nobody told her not to open this door.

The door groans when she pushes it open, but it opens easily enough that Clarke imagines it hasn’t been closed for a long time. She doesn’t know what to make of the area she walks into - a small, square room with no windows. Her gaze is drawn upwards, to where the only light that fills the room seems to be coming from. As her eyes adjust, she notices the iron spiral staircase leading up. It’s melted in a few places, from the bombs probably, and repaired in other sections with stones and wood. Clarke is careful as she steps onto it, cautious as she slowly lets it hold all of her weight. Looking up, all she can see is that there’s natural light coming through. She grips what’s left of the railing and climbs upward, emerging from the hole onto a solid stone floor. 

The dome , she thinks, spinning around the small area. I’m in the dome .

With all the windows blown out and some pieces of the walls and ceiling missing, it nearly feels like she’s on an outdoor balcony, but its surviving walls still provide enough cover that it feels like she’s indoors. She walks around the circle twice, in awe of the view it provides. Clarke can see Anapolei spreading out from the castle in every direction, can see as far as the water and the woods. The people below her look small - not quite ant-sized like they do when looking down from the highest floor of the Polis tower, but comically small all the same.

Clarke huffs a laugh, feeling like she’s stumbled upon a buried treasure. There’s nothing there but a single lantern on the floor. She does a few more laps, doing nothing but staring below at the tiny people. She’s not used to feeling so big amongst them - it somehow makes her feel both powerful and lonely. After a few minutes, she chooses a windowsill with a mostly smooth surface that faces the water and pulls out her sketchbook, smiling in spite of everything.

--∞-- 

Clarke lays still on her back, gaze trained on the ceiling that she can just barely see given the dying glow of the fire. Ordinarily, her eyes would be heavy at this hour, but anticipation and adrenaline have her feeling more alert than ever. Bellamy has long stilled, his breathing steady, sleeping like a rock per usual. Clarke waits until the sounds in the streets below are nearly non-existent, until she knows the witching hour is nearing. As quietly as possible, she climbs out of bed and slides on a thin robe, glancing once more at Bellamy’s sleeping form before she grabs her sketchbook and opens the door to their bedchambers. 

The guards turn to her as she shuts the door behind her.

“Everything alright?” one asks.

Clarke nods. “Just couldn’t sleep - I’m going to have some tea and draw,” she tells them quietly, holding up her sketchbook as if she needs the evidence.

“Do you want an escort?”

“Oh no, I’ll be fine. Thank you.”

She turns away from her before they can answer. When she glances back as she turns the corner, they look unconcerned. It isn’t ideal, but she quickly realized there would be no way to avoid them seeing her and had to think of another way. Her heart races as she makes her way down to the kitchen. The castle is silent, so quiet that the quiet seems to be its own unnerving sound. Every creak has her on edge because of it. The large kitchen is as quiet and dark as the rest of castle, and when she walks in, she’s affronted by a long-forgotten memory. 

Clarke is little, although what age, she can’t say. She sneaks out of her bedroom and down to her castle’s kitchen, feeling like she’s on an important mission long before her days as Wanheda. She was told that she couldn’t have a second helping of honey cake with dinner, but that seemed unjust to her. They almost never had honey cake with dinner, and so, Clarke thinks she deserves that second piece. 

The kitchen is quiet, dark and shadowed. She feels a mischievous thrill run through her as she climbs onto the counter and reaches for the box that she’s almost sure has what she’s looking for. Clarke can’t wait to tell her new friend Wells all about this - he’ll scold her for it, but she’s sure he’ll be jealous of her bravery, of her midnight adventure. She must jinx herself, because the kitchen door swings open at that moment. Clarke’s head whips around, blue eyes widening as she’s caught red handed with her hand on the box. Her father raises an eyebrow at her, seemingly as surprised to see her as she is to see him. Clarke quickly lets go of the box, her clasping each other, but she knows it isn’t looking good for her. 

Of course it had to be her father who catches her. She supposes it could be worse - her aunt, for example, could have caught her. Or Roan, who would certainly have blackmail her. But her father is still the more strict of her parents and she hasn’t seen much of him since he inherited the throne months ago.

“Clarke,” he says, walking towards her. Her name itself sounds like a scolding. 

“What might you be doing down here in the middle of the night?” he asks as he walks towards her, stopping in front of her. With her seated on the counter, she’s face-level with him, her own blue eyes staring back at her. It’s strange to be the same height as him - he’s always been such an intimidating presence. 

“I don’t know,” she mumbles, looking down at her hands. 

“You don’t know?” he asks, using a finger to pull her chin up so that she’s looking at him again. “Could it have something to do with that cake right there?”

“Maybe,” Clarke admits. 

She’s shocked when her usually stern father appears more amused than angry. 

“Well,” he starts, opening the box. She can smell the sugar as soon as he does. “What do you say we split this?” Clarke giggles, excited to have a co-conspirator. “I won’t tell if you don’t.”

“Okay,” she agrees.

“Okay,” he laughs, cutting the large remaining piece in half. 

Clarke stays sitting on the counter as they eat, legs swinging, her father leaning against the adjacent one. 

“Is it bad if we lie about the cake?” she asks, her mouth full of it. Her father laughs, sweeping a crumb from her mouth.

“Well,” he starts. “There are a lot of different kinds of lies. Some are bad - the ones that hurt people. Sometimes we lie to protect people, because we love them. But little lies about cake - they don’t do any harm.”

Clarke thinks her mother would disagree - she always tells her not to lie. But she smiles at her father, happy to have any excuse for more cake and more time with him. 

Clarke knows they talked for a long time that night, but what she mostly remembers is a sense of relief at her father’s presence after him being so frequently pulled away from her as a new king. She tries her best to swallow her grief as she makes her way to one of the usually-empty cabinets tucked away in the corner of the kitchen. She’ll never feel that same relief again. 

Clarke pulls her jacket and boots out of the cabinet, having stored them there hours ago, and puts her sketchbook in its place. She doesn’t have the luxury of changing into better clothing, so she only replaces her robe with her jacket and stores it with her sketchbook. The soft trousers and short-sleeved shirt she wore to bed will have to do. She did remember to bring a dagger though, hoping that it’s enough if she runs into any trouble. Glancing around the kitchen once more, it dawns on her that if she does run into any trouble, this might be her last moment spent in the Anapolei castle. It seems like she’s always preparing for last moments , and although she tries not to, she grieves each one. She’s so tired of goodbyes. 

It’s easy enough for Clarke to slip out of the castle unnoticed, given that she’s memorized where any guards usually stand. She also selected her jacket that has a hood, since she knows her blonde hair is her most noticeable feature and she isn’t going to be get away with dying it. Her heart is pounding as she makes her way through the city and toward the main road they traveled in on. Everything about this feels uncomfortable and wrong - she’s never had to sneak out of Suskainau on her way to a mission. She’s never had to go on a mission as Clarke instead of Wanheda. She’s never had to sneak through the night as a person instead of a ghost. Still, Wanheda’s instincts ripple beneath the surface, on alert if she should need them.

Clarke follows the main road by walking parallel to it in the woods, easily navigating the dark. This part is familiar. Enough so that her mind goes on autopilot as she walks towards Severai. She keeps a quick pace, knowing that it will take at least an hour to reach the trading post. Clarke should spend her time thinking up excuses in the case Bellamy finds their bed empty, and the kitchen too. She nearly laughs considering that the success of her plans as a spy are largely dependent on her new husband’s sleep patterns. But as her mind wanders to him, escape plans aren’t exactly the kind of thoughts that take root. In her three weeks in Anapolei, she’s become increasingly fascinated by her new husband. It’s a dangerous practice, but she studies the way that his lips quirk in an imbalanced manner when he smiles, their lopsidedness somehow still perfect. She studies the way that his freckles look differently under the candlelight when he’s reading in their bed. She studies his hands, and wonders how they can hold a sword so fiercely when they so delicately flip the pages of a book. 

In the week since she discovered the dome, she claimed it as her personal hiding space. Somewhere to go and be whoever it is that she is by herself - not Wanheda, or the Azgeda Princess, or the Trikru Queen. Just Clarke. She brings her sketchbook with her and starts to draw buildings and sunsets, but always ends up drawing curls and dimples instead. Her husband is somehow both a distraction and a target, as contradictory as that is.

Clarke slows as she approaches the Severai trading post. There’s a single lantern lit, hanging on the outside wall next to the door, but no one around. She keeps her distance from the actual building, walking deeper into the woods as she passes it, paying more attention to her surroundings as she does. Nia had told her it’s few miles north, and based on Clarke’s internal compass that she’s honed during her travel as Wanheda, it’s an accurate assessment. After heading north for another three quarters of an hour, Clarke finally sees the faint glow of a lantern. The woods clear just barely enough to reveal a path to a single-room stone building, what was presumably a small house in the old world. Half its roof is missing, but the remnants of a chimney remain strong. 

Clarke grips her dagger tightly, ready, just in case. When she cautiously walks through the open doorway, she finds Roan sitting behind the lantern, looking more relaxed than he probably should be. The lantern’s glow lights up his face in a way that makes him look like a predator, but her cousin doesn’t scare her. Annoys her maybe, but never scares her.

“You made it,” he says by way of greeting, voice nearly bored.

Clarke sits down next to him with a huff, back against the adjacent wall. She feels more exhausted from the hike than she ought to, which probably has to do with the spike of adrenaline.

“I don’t have much time,” Clarke tells him.

“Then lets hear it, your highness,” Roan drawls. 

Clarke picks up a small stone and chucks it at him, but he easily doges it. She relays to him everything she’s learned so far - namely about Lincoln and the people inside the mountain that are apparently helping them, and about the electricity-powered door that guards the mountain.

“Interesting,” Roan hums. “The king seems to have forgotten to share that bit with the coalition.”

“Well, he probably will during the next meeting,” she quickly replies, unable to discern why it felt like an instinct to defend him.

Roan raises his eyebrows at her.

What ?” she asks, rolling her eyes. She knows exactly what.

“Don’t get stupid on me.”

“I’m not.”

Roan looks at her a little longer, but eventually just asks her what else she has. Clarke tells him less important things that may still be useful to Nia, like Raven and Monty’s inventions and about the people closest to Bellamy. Clarke still doesn’t share anything about Bellamy’s family in Polis. She convinces herself it’s because it isn’t relevant, but feels like she’s lying by omitting it anyway. Her father’s words come back to her, prodding at the corners of her mind. 

“There are a lot of different kinds of lies. Some are bad - the ones that hurt people. Sometimes we lie to protect people, because we love them. But little lies about cake - they don’t do any harm.”

She wonders what type of lie it is to keep things from Nia, and she wonders what type of lie it is to spy on Bellamy and Trikru. Most of all, she wonders what category the lies you tell yourself fall under.

“That all?” Roan asks, once she’s finished.

“Yeah, that’s all for now.”

“I know it’s hard for you to break away - we can wait until the coalition meeting next month to talk again. We’ll find a way to meet in Polis, but if there’s something urgent, find a way to get it to us.”

Clarke nods. She doesn’t ask how she might do that, knowing she’ll have to figure it out like she always does - like she figured out how to slip away from Anapolei tonight. 

--∞--

The sun is low in the sky, setting it ablaze all around her from her usual spot curled on the dome’s blown out window. She looks over to the water, how it shines brightly, before turning back towards her drawing. She needs to go down for dinner soon, but she’s almost done with this sketch, which may or may not be another one of Bellamy, and she can’t pull herself away. 

It’s been a week since her meeting with Roan, when she successfully slipped back into the castle early in the morning. The guards said nothing, Bellamy didn’t wake, and she dared to believe she’d successfully gotten away with it. To say that she’s been calm since then would be an exaggeration - she can never be calm in Anapolei, not given what she’s ultimately here to do. But at least that particular hurdle is behind her. Meeting with Roan or Nia in Polis will be miles easier.

“I see you’ve found a nice hiding spot.”

Clarke is so focused on getting his curls right, that she thinks she’s hallucinating his voice. Her head snaps up to find him standing next to the stairs, looking at her curiously. She steels herself for a scolding, knowing there’s a chance she isn’t supposed to be up here, but he only seems amused. As discretely as she can, she lays her arm over her sketchbook so that he won’t see it.

“It must not be a very good one,” she quips, offering a hesitant smile.

Bellamy chuckles, walking over closer to her, gaze trained on the water for a brief moment.

“Oh, from my experience, it’s actually a very good hiding spot,” he tells her, leaning against the wall next to her. “But that’s probably because I’ve banned everyone else from coming up here.”

Clarke’s smile drops, an apology on her lips, but he waves it off.

“I would have said something, if I didn’t want you here. Maybe we can share.”

Clarke smiles again, dreadful butterflies swarming in her when she takes in the way the evening sun reflects off his tan skin. “If you’re sure it’s okay.”

“More than sure - but we have dinner now, if you’re ready,” he tells her, nodding towards the stairs. 

Clarke quickly closes her sketchbook, still obscuring its view from him, and hops off the windowsill. Bellamy standing in the dome with her is a strange experience. The dome makes her feel large - bigger than human life, like a detached God watching down on everyone else. Bellamy’s presence anchors her in a way that she didn’t know she craved until now, shaves off a layer of her loneliness. Often, when she looks at something beautiful like the view from the dome, she feels like there’s an appreciation or feeling that she simply can’t reach. She can recognize its beauty, but there’s an emptiness to it. Clarke never realized the emptiness could be filled by another person, but with Bellamy standing next to her in front of the sunset, she knows it can. He’s taken the shell of a pretty picture and given it substance.  

In another life, she might insist that they stay up here a bit longer, that they watch the sun surrender, standing side by side. In another life, she might even kiss him. But there is no side by side, there is only her own surrender, and it cannot be to him.