Clarke takes a deep breath as Nyko’s words settle over the room. Despite her initial shock, she has no doubt that he’s was right. She’s been distracted since the moment she arrived in Anapolei, but looking back, it all seems rather obvious now. Clarke knows her body. While the test certainly confirms it, she didn’t really need it to tell her what she already knows.
She nods once she realizes she’s been staring at him silently, swallowing thickly before she speaks. “Okay.” Another deep breath. “Okay, thank you.”
“You should come back in a month and check in with me.”
“Okay,” she agrees, even though it may be a lie. “I um - please...keep this between us.”
Clarke can read the suspicion on Nyko’s face, even though he masks it rather well. But she’s grown up memorizing subtleties in expressions, always needing to be prepared for whatever mood the queen might be in.
“I just - I don’t want to get the king’s hopes up, since it’s so early,” she adds, hoping it’s enough to appease Nyko’s curiosity. “I’ll bring him with me, when I return in a month - as long as I don’t bleed before then.”
“Of course,” he nods. “I’ll keep it between us, your Highness.”
Clarke doesn’t correct him this time. She wants it clear that if he goes back on his word, he’s betrayed his queen.
Clarke watches the city from her usual spot, perched on the window ledge of the dome. Her sketchbook is open on her lap, the blank page daunting, but she can’t find it in her to draw. She isn’t sure where to even begin to sort through the mess she’s in. For a moment, she rests a hand against her stomach, trying to let the knowledge that she’s carrying Bellamy’s baby sink in. She doesn’t let thoughts of it linger though - she cannot be a mother. Thoughts of motherhood inevitably melt into thoughts of her own parents, and she’s forced to confront what she’s most terrified to face.
Tears prick her eyes, trailing down her face when she blinks. There is a reason she didn’t want to face the truth of Bellamy’s words, and it isn’t really because she doesn’t believe her aunt is capable of such things. The real reason is that if Bellamy is right, then Clarke has slaughtered dozens upon dozens of people for no reason at all. Well...that might not be true. The queen certainly had her reasons, but those reasons had nothing to do with avenging her parents and protecting her clan. There is an even harder truth that lurks beneath that one, one that Clarke can’t ignore any longer. Her parents - who she wanted to honor - would be disgusted by what she’s done. They would be horrified by what she’s become. If Bellamy is right, then she has dishonored everything her father believed in, everything he stood for...everything he died for.
Clarke knows in this moment that Wanheda is dead to the world, even if she’ll never exorcise her ghost from her own life. She’s heard the rumors in the last two months, people whispering about how Wanheda must be gone. No bodies showed up, or if they did, someone was always quick to point out that they were missing Wanheda’s mark - the simple slash behind the ear. She didn’t know it at the time, how right they were, but she knows it now. Wanheda is dead.
Clarke feels like a fool, that she didn’t see these truths sooner. She never questioned why her aunt’s descriptions of her parents never aligned with her own memories, but even as a child, she knows she should have. She supposes her aunt’s impression of her mother was never really a lie, it was simply that every one of her qualities was reframed as something weak, something pathetic, something fragile. It makes her chest tight to think of her now, and for the first time, she feels true rage at her aunt’s words.
Her mother was taken from her family, forced to marry a stranger, bore his child, and forced to live in a clan so different from her own, with a family so much colder than her own. It’s a wonder that she didn’t resent her own daughter, but somehow Clarke knows that she didn’t. She was loved, at one point. There was no lack of love from her parents, only a tragic lack of time. When Clarke glances down at her own stomach, despite how terrible this pregnancy surely is for everyone, resentment of her child isn’t one of the dozens of emotions coursing through her.
Clarke loved stories as a girl, but few books were kept in the castle. It wasn’t a pastime that Azgeda valued, or found any purpose in, but her mother indulged her. She would recount stories from the books she read growing up, before she had to leave.
“Mommy, will you tell the one of you and Daddy again?”
Her mother smiled at her, tucking Clarke into her blankets. Her mother’s warm brown eyes contrasted with the icy blue ones Clarke inherited from her father, but she liked her mother’s better.
“Only if you promise to go to sleep,” she said, tapping Clarke’s nose and drawing a giggle from her.
“I do,” Clarke promised, snuggling deeper into her blankets and brushing her blonde hair off her face.
“What part do you want to hear?”
Clarke leaned up again, tapping the hollow behind her mother’s ear. Clarke loved to look at her parents’ matching tattoos, the simple circle drawn into the skin behind the ear. She liked it because her mother’s explanation made it sound romantic, and so pretty - you have the circle tattooed with the person you love, as a vow of loyalty, as a symbol of the infinite nature of your love for each other.
Her mother chuckled in response. “Why do you love to hear that one so much?”
Clarke shrugged, pulling a blanket up and against her cheek. “Because I want to have matching ones with somebody, just like you and Daddy.”
“You will someday, sweetheart,” she told her, tucking a piece of hair behind Clarke’s ear.
Clarke wonders why her mother went through such lengths to paint her life as something more beautiful than it was. Maybe she was only protecting her, as mothers are supposed to. Maybe it was always as simple as that.
Things are not necessarily tense between Bellamy and her, but they feel unfinished. Clarke owes him...something, given what he’s told her. The reality is that she owes him a lot more than she can give him, but that is out of her control.
They change in silence when they return from dinner, and Bellamy settles into their bed before she does. She spares a glance at him, taking him in, and realizes it’s now impossible not to see him differently, in so many ways.
When Clarke climbs into bed, Bellamy reaches for the book off his bedside table. Despite the strangeness between them, they have not broken this simple tradition. Every night, without fail, he still reads aloud to her. Tonight though, Clarke leans over and takes the book from his hand, setting it back down.
“We should talk,” Clarke prompts, laying back down on her side, hands under her head.
Bellamy mirrors her and nods, but he seems nervous.
“You know I’m not angry with you, don’t you?” Clarke asks.
“To be honest, I’m not sure what you’re thinking at all.”
Clarke nods, understanding. He would be horrified to know all the things she’s truly thinking, but maybe she can give him pieces of her true self, not matter how small and broken.
“My parents,” Clarke answers, voice quiet. “I’ve been thinking a lot about my parents.”
Bellamy remains quiet, patiently waiting for her to continue.
“I’ve been thinking about them, and how my aunt so easily convinced me that they were different people than the ones I had memories of. My parents in my memories...my father is the man that you described. I don’t know what to believe about my aunt, but I must admit that I know in my heart she’s at least capable of it.”
Bellamy interlaces his fingers with hers, leaving their joined hands resting on the bed between them.
“While I’m not sure I agree she sees me as any kind of threat,” she continues, “I can understand why you would. I understand it and I...I appreciate you caring at all, when you were never obligated to. But I suppose I’m confused how I could possibly be a threat, when my own father didn’t see me fit to inherit the throne.”
Bellamy’s expression softens, and he hesitates before he finally speaks.
“I don’t think - I don’t think that’s how it was. He mentioned preparing Roan for the throne, but I don’t think it was because he judged you as incapable. He told me that maintaining the bridge between our clans, being the person with a foot on each side and being able to work with both sides, was more important than whoever was on the Azgeda throne, as that would always change.” He pauses, smiling a little. “I remember him mentioning that you were like your mother - that you would have both the strength and the compassion to handle it.”
Clarke huffs a laugh, unable to keep her tears at bay. “I was ten years old - he couldn’t possibly have known that.”
Bellamy smiles again, that soft smile that makes her feel like someone lit a fire in her abdomen. “He knew who you are, just as I do now,” he tells her, swiping away one of her tears with his free hand. She bites down hard on her bottom lip, the falsity of his words causing a sob to rise in her throat.
“Do you remember when you saved me from the pond?” she asks, abruptly changing the subject.
Bellamy furrows his brow, huffing a laugh. “Of course I remember.”
“The reason you were able to reach my hand is because I was reaching upwards - I saw my mother that night, in the water. I was reaching for her, as if she might provide safety, or comfort, or, peace, and...and that led me to you.”
Bellamy swallows before shifting even closer to her, hands still joined between them, so that he can press a brief kiss to her forehead.
“Your parents loved you, Clarke. Truly.”
Clarke nods. “Strangely enough, I believe you.” She does believe him - that they loved her. What scares her is that they wouldn’t feel the same about the woman she’s become.
“Why do you say strangely enough ?” Bellamy questions.
“Well, I just - my mother, especially. I was the result of her being forced to marry my father. I’m sure it wasn’t what my father wanted either. There was respect between them, friendship and even affection, I think, but...she could have resented me. She could have hated me for what I represented, but she never did. She just loved me, and shielded me from the worst of it.”
Bellamy is quiet for a moment, hesitating. “My own mother,” he starts. “She...well, by that logic, she should have hated me. But that’s just...that isn’t how it works with children.”
Clarke hopes that is true, but she can’t help but wonder if Bellamy would resent their own child if he knew the truth of her.
“What do you mean, about your mother?”
Something vulnerable, something Clarke has never seen before, flashes across Bellamy’s face. She’s never seen him so unsure of himself. His gaze flickers across her face, searching hers for something, although she isn’t sure what.
“I need to tell you something...something that I was supposed to take to the grave with me.”
“I’m not sure I can take any more revelations at the moment,” she teases. His attempt at a smile doesn’t reach his eyes.
“It’s nothing about you,” he assures her.
He focuses on where he’s stroking her side with his free hand, as if he needs the distraction. Only a month ago, Clarke would be eager to collect whatever information he offered and pass it along to the queen. Now, she only wants to help him carry whatever burden he’s been silently suffering through.
“You can tell me,” she murmurs.
“Only my mother and I knew of this - not even Octavia. It must stay that way.”
“You can trust me,” Clarke promises.
It is technically a lie, but it doesn’t feel like one. Not with this.
“My father, he was a cruel man. It was unknown to most - he was charismatic, and respected, but that wasn’t who he was behind closed doors. My father met my mother when she was working at my grandfather’s stand in Polis - she was nineteen, and in love with somebody else. But my father was the type of man who...well, he took what he wanted. Nobody said no to him. I think that if it was just my mother, she would have tried to run, but she had her parents to think of, and Celeste too. So she went with him, married him and became queen.”
Bellamy swallows and Clarke gives his hand a gentle squeeze, a small reassurance.
“You would think if he was so desperate to have my mother as his wife, he would have treated her with respect, at the very least. Instead, he was…” Bellamy shakes his head, as if trying to rid himself of the thought. “My mother trained as a warrior, and was strong, and intelligent. But surviving under the thumb of a man like him, is a different kind of battlefield - one much harder to navigate and a crueler one in so many ways. She had me two years after they married and she raised me the best she could. Growing up around my father was like constantly walking on egg shells...we were most happy when his duties kept him occupied.”
Clarke’s chest aches. Not only because she feels empathy for him, but because she is familiar with the exact fabric of his pain.
“I’m so sorry, Bellamy.”
Clarke wishes so badly that she could take his pain, but she’s never known how - she’s only been trained in inflicting it. Bellamy continues, brushing aside the apology.
“When I was ten, my mother was pregnant again. I suspect some of my father’s anger over the years was because they couldn’t seem to have more children, but things changed after that - for a while anyway. He seemed happier, and things seemed calmer, and nine months later, Octavia was born. I was twelve, Octavia only a year old, when things started to get bad again. It was worse this time though - it wasn’t enough to simply stay out his way. He was angry, and cruel, and as a child, I didn’t understand why. My mother didn’t tell me until later that it was because he found out that Octavia wasn’t his child - she’d had an affair with another man in town.”
Bellamy swallows thickly, taking a deep breath.
“When I was thirteen, just after Octavia’s second birthday, he came into the drawing room where I was reading while my mother entertained Octavia. He - he was livid, and had his sword with him...I noticed that there was already blood on it. He lunged at my mother, who had Octavia in her arms, and she just barely escaped his sword. I - I grabbed the sword I had just finished training with, and the next time he rose his own, I drove mine through his back. We found out later that he killed Octavia’s real father before coming after my mother and Octavia.”
“Bellamy,” Clarke breathes. The tears pricking her own eyes mirror his. When she cups his face, he leans into her touch.
“Killing my own father - the patricide of a beloved king - there would have been challenges to my rule. Especially because nobody knew what he was truly like…they never would have believed it. My mother made up the story of him going mad, being ill rather than simply cruel as he always was, and killing him in self defense. It was a risk - she could have been executed, but her life was spared when it was understood she would only be on the throne long enough for me to take over. Even so, Marcus and Indra were heavily involved in her reign, our people trusting them more than my mother, given that my mother was not born Trikru. I wasn’t supposed to inherit the throne until I was eighteen, but when my mother was killed three years later, they were out of options.”
Clarke isn’t sure what to say, so she wraps herself around him, pressing her face to the crook of his neck and breathing him in. Bellamy clings to her, holding her close to him, but says nothing. Running a hand through his hair, Clarke thinks about how so many broken moments of their histories led them to this exact one - one that doesn’t feel broken at all.
“My whole life, I’ve been terrified of becoming him,” he confesses, a whisper in her ear.
The sheer shock from such a sentiment makes Clarke pull away.
“You aren’t him, Bellamy. You’re - you’re such a good man. We aren’t our parents, and they weren’t us. Our parents weren’t like us, they didn’t-”
Clarke cuts herself off, realizing how close she came to saying something so incredibly foolish. Something she’s been fighting within her subconscious for weeks, no matter how fiercely she tries to smother it, to drown it.
Clarke looks into his eyes, noticing each freckle mapped across his face. She takes a deep breath. This is the worst idea she’s had yet, to say this out loud.
“Didn’t love each other.”
Part of her hopes that Bellamy will turn away from her - from her words, her confession. Part of her hopes that he won’t feel the same way, that he’ll reject her. All of this would be so much easier if he did. Instead, Bellamy’s lips collide with hers, interrupting her doubts, scattering them to the winds, dissolving them into nothing. The kiss is tender, the kiss is desperate. The kiss is everything.
“I do love you,” he nearly gasps when he pulls away, lips brushing hers as he speaks. “I love you.”
Clarke nods, kissing him rather than saying it back. She can’t bear it. It isn’t long before their bodies collide just as seamlessly as their lips had. It feels different this time. Intense and perfect as he slides in and out of her, as she claws at his back and urges him closer, deeper. It feels as if they’re truly trying to become one, as if they’ve forgotten it isn’t possible. Bellamy lets go as soon as she comes, rolling his hips, kissing across any part of her skin that his lips can reach.
Lying in his arms hours later, the room nearly black, Clarke is aware of only three things.
She loves him.
She cannot kill him.
She cannot stay.
Clarke lays on her side, quietly observing her sleeping husband as the rising sun casts orange shadows across their room and over his bronze skin. It makes her regret every morning walk she’s taken since arriving in Anapolei, when she could have been doing this instead. She won’t make that mistake again though, not when her days are numbered. Clarke isn’t sure what her next step is, but she knows it can’t include Bellamy.
It isn’t long before Bellamy stirs, and Clarke doesn’t try to hide the way she’s been watching him. He blinks up at her, his sleepy eyes and lazy smile making her heart flutter.
“You know, I think this is the first time you haven’t been gone when I woke.”
“Should I go?” she teases.
“Don’t you dare,” he laughs, pulling her into his side. Clarke relaxes into his embrace, letting her head drop to his shoulder and her hand to his stomach. One of Bellamy’s arm wraps around her waist as he presses a kiss to her temple, but the other interlaces their fingers. Clarke stares at their joined hands, a little mesmerized by the sight of her ivory one in his bronze one, the dissolving glow of the last moments of the sunrise illuminating them.
“How did you know?” she asks, eyes still on their hands. “How did you know how to calm me, with the counting?”
Bellamy lets their joined hands drop back down to his stomach. “I use to get nightmares - sometimes panic attacks as you did. They were worse after my father died, and my mother use to use that trick with me.”
All this time, Clarke thought Bellamy was so different from her. She thought that he was whole, but really, he was broken in so many of the same places she was. Yet, that’s not what matters. What matters is that Bellamy became whole again, that he used his own tragedy to heal others. What matters is that Clarke stayed broken, and that she made sure everyone around her was as broken as her. For the first time, she has hope that maybe one day, she might be able to change that. It seems impossible that she should be able to achieve any kind of redemption after all she’s done, but Bellamy makes her want to try anyway.
Over the next week and a half, Clarke makes a new plan. Despite the grief she feels for her impending departure from Bellamy, she feels lighter than she has in a long time. She can do the right thing, in her own way. She can break free from her aunt’s power over her. She can start over.
Clarke spends her days trying to soak up her last moments with Bellamy, trying to memorize every piece of him. On the night she must meet Roan, she will leave as planned, except she will not be returning. Instead, she’ll continue onwards to Polis and find Wells. She hopes he will still be willing to run with her, but even so, she prepares for the possibility that he won’t. Whether Wells is with her or not, she’ll make her way North after that.
It’s late spring, the perfect time to travel, and she will settle in one of the northern-most villages until the baby is born. These are the villages overlooked by the queen, the ones deemed generally unimportant, and it is where she will leave her child. She’ll make sure the baby is raised by a good family - a family not poisoned with the tragedy of both hers and Bellamy’s histories. Their child’s life will be simple, and full of love, and blissfully uneventful. Then, she will leave. Where she will go after that, she isn’t sure, but she’ll have plenty of time to ponder that.
Clarke knows she will break Bellamy’s heart, but his heart will remain beating. That is all she can offer, all she can do. Even though he will hate her, Clarke will take comfort in the fact that he is alive. He will remain alive, because if Clarke is certain of anything in this world, it is that he must exist on this Earth.
She cannot kill him because he is a good leader.
She cannot kill him because he is needed to save the people in the mountain.
She cannot kill him because it is not what her father would have wanted.
She cannot kill him because he is the father of her child.
Most of all, she cannot kill him simply because he is Bellamy. She cannot kill him because she cannot bear a world without him in it. It is the most selfish reason of all of them, but it is the one that overshadows the rest.
Clarke holds herself together better than she expected in her final days in Anapolei. She believed that she needed Wanheda to tap into her strength, but she’s beginning to realize that her own strength does not come from the commander of death. Her own strength was diminished by it. Now, she thinks of Bellamy, and her child, and how much better their lives will be because of her choices. It makes everything easier, in a strange way.
On her last evening in Anapolei, she sits on her ledge in the dome, feeling as grateful for the small moment of peace as she did when she first discovered the dome. Her sketchbook sits on her lap, her charcoal pencil in her hand, as Clarke searches her mind for the words that will make the most sense. Clarke won’t reveal herself as Wanheda to him, and it isn’t for his sake, although she wishes she were that selfless. The reality is that Wanheda is her deepest shame, and she cannot bear Bellamy seeing her as a monster, even if he will certainly hate her all the same. She also won’t reveal their baby to him. Bellamy deserves a fresh start, just as their baby will get. Taking a deep breath, she brings her pencil to the paper.
If you’re reading this, I am already gone. I can’t imagine what you must be thinking. If you take anything from this, know that I did not leave because I do not love you, but because I do.
You were right about the queen, in more ways than you know. My presence here, our marriage, was a lie. I was sent here as a spy - I was sent here to report on you, and when you were no longer useful, to kill you and destabilize your clan. I was sent here so that the battle against the mountain would never happen. I do not expect, nor deserve, your forgiveness. But please rest easy knowing that I shared your deepest secrets with no one, and will take them to the grave with me.
I know you will never be mine, but-
Clarke closes her sketchbook when she finishes, the whole ordeal feeling quite final. She will leave her sketchbook somewhere he will eventually discover it, but hopefully she will be long gone by the time he does, as will any trace of her.
When Bellamy reads to her that night, she tries to memorize the sound of his voice - the depth of it, the warmth of it. Even so, she has a hard time listening to the actual words. Instead, she wonders if their baby will have his freckles, his dark hair, his heart. Eventually, she closes her eyes, pretending to drift off to sleep. She hears Bellamy blow out the lantern and the color behind her eyelids shifts from dark orange to black. She hears his breath steady, and opens her eyes to see the steady rise and fall of his chest in the dim light of the fire’s dying embers. She knows it’s time to go.
Clarke uses the same method she did last time to excuse her presence to the guards, and like last time, they think nothing of it. In the dark kitchen, she changes into more durable clothing. This time, she took the time to slowly add more supplies to the cabinet over the last few days, in order to prepare for her journey to Polis, and then north. With her father’s pocket watch in her jacket pocket, she takes off into the cool night, the town sleeping as deeply as her husband is. She looks around as she walks out of the city, feeling more paranoid and cautious than last time she left. Shadows move and she tries to ignore the sensation of being followed, but when she finally enters the forest, she knows with certainty that it was in her head.
Just like last time, Clarke sees the familiar glow from a lantern within the old stone building, alerting her of Roan’s arrival. She knows it’s foolish to stop and speak with him, but she doesn’t plan to tell him anything about her plans. Foolish or not, she needs to ask him about her parents. She needs some sort of confirmation, some sense of closure, before she leaves and never looks back. Clarke isn’t sure if she’ll get that, but she has to try.
Roan isn’t relaxed, sitting with his back against the wall like last time. Instead, he’s standing, posture tense. It makes her heart beat wildly before she can really consider why that is.
“Do you have anything more?”
“No hello?” Clarke asks.
Roan smirks at her, crossing his arms. “Good evening, Princess.”
Clarke rolls her eyes before responding. “I don’t have anything more - nothing new has come up since Polis.”
Roan nods, quiet for a moment. Clarke decides that this is her chance, before she loses her nerve entirely.
“I have to ask you something.”
Roan raises a brow at her. Clarke swallows thickly.
“Did she - did the queen kill them? My parents?” Her voice is shaky, quiet, instead of strong and confident like she intended.
Roan says nothing, but Clarke doesn’t miss the strange expression on his face. He grimaces and looks...ashamed, of all things.
“It’s true.” Her voice cracks over the word.
“I don’t know,” he tells her, voice quiet and measured. “Honest, I don’t. But I was older, and from what I - from what I saw, and heard...I suspected it.”
Tears fill Clarke’s eyes, her plan to remain strong no matter his answer quickly dissolving. “And you did nothing .”
“It was over, and my mother was queen - there was nothing to do ,” he nearly growls at her. “You think I have any more power over her than you do? She banished me, for three damn years, simply because I-”
He cuts himself off, looking away.
“Because you what? You owe me that much, Roan. You owe me the the truth.”
He exhales a long breath. “She banished me because I pushed her regarding your...missions. I could see what it was doing to you. It wasn’t right, and I tried to stop it, but was banished instead. I learned my lesson regarding challenging the queen, and you should too.”
Clarke swallows, looking away. She was under the impression Roan was banished because he wasn’t taking his title seriously enough - because he spent more time in taverns and in bed with women. She never would have guessed it had anything to do with her.
“Clarke, that isn’t all.”
Clarke looks up at him again, her blue eyes glistening in the faint glow of the lantern.
“The queen says it’s time. You need to take out the king.”
“I won’t.” Her voice comes back to her, stronger than it has been all evening. “I won’t be her pawn any longer, and I won’t kill him.”
Clarke tenses, preparing for the possibility she may need to fight Roan to escape. Despite her size, she’s technically better trained than he is. It would be difficult, but not impossible, to get away from him. She expects Roan to be surprised by her answer, but he simply shakes his head at her, as if disappointed.
“I will not.”
“She has him.”
Clarke knits her brow. He can’t be referring to Bellamy - not only did she leave him sleeping soundly in their bed, but if they had him, they wouldn’t need Clarke to kill him-
“You were foolish, to think you could hide him from her - to think you could care for someone so deeply without the queen knowing. She will always be two steps ahead of everyone.”
Clarke’s stomach plummets, her heart beating wildly as the panic in her rises like a wave.
“Yes - the boy from Polis. She already has him, and if you finish your job and return to Suskainau in three days time, he will live.”
Clarke cannot help the tears that stream down her face. “You can’t - you can’t do this,” Clarke nearly yells, clenching her fists.
“Trust me when I say that I am not doing anything - I don’t even know where he’s being kept. I don’t want him to die anymore than you do. Finish the mission, Wanheda. If you’re back in three days time, you will have a happy reunion with him in Suskainau before he is safely escorted back to Polis. If not, the queen will assume you failed, and the boy will pay for it with his life.”
“I can’t.” It comes out like a whimper, her strength draining.
“You can. It is your choice to make. Your friend, or the king - and his death will need to be confirmed before your friend is released, so don’t do anything stupid.”
Roan doesn’t say anything more to her before he leaves her alone in the crumbling stone house. She stands dumbly - for how long, she isn’t sure. Then a sob rises in her throat that she is unable to hold back, and wave after wave of sobs wrack her body until she makes herself sick. Only in the strange calmness that settles over her when her body has nothing left to give does she make herself leave.
Clarke sighs in relief when she finds her belongings where she left them in the kitchen cabinet, including her sketchbook. She quickly changes and walks back into hers and Bellamy’s bedchambers, offering a smile to the guards when she does, as if her entire life hasn’t just fallen apart. She is wide awake as she lies in bed, certain that she won’t be able to sleep another wink before the sun rises. She lays on her side facing the wall, unable to even look at Bellamy as he sleeps.
The queen has cornered her, and there is no way out. Clarke wants to claim that she’s given her no choice, but she has. She has given her no choice as to whether to kill, but she has given her the tragic choice of who lives: Wells or Bellamy.
If she kills Bellamy, not only will she lose him, but the war against the mountain probably won’t happen. It will mean her father’s attempts at peace have failed. It will mean murdering the father of her child. A piece of him will forever be tied to her, his existence entangled with hers. This child will bind her to Bellamy’s ghost whether she gives it away or not. He’ll haunt her forever. She’ll never survive it.
But she cannot kill Wells - it is not an option. How can she put Bellamy’s life above his, after all they’ve been through together. Wells is the only person in the world who loved her after her parents were taken from her. Wells is the only person who knows exactly who she is and has loved her anyway, the only person who loves her for exactly who she is, even the worst parts of her. Bellamy doesn’t love her. You cannot love someone that you don’t even know. When Clarke imagines them keeping Wells hostage, she feels sick again. He may be alive, but she doubts that the conditions of where they are holding him are anything but cruel. This is not simply an ultimatum from the queen, but a punishment too. It is a punishment because the queen knew that an ultimatum would be needed.
Clarke doesn’t have long to decide what she’ll do. She only has three days to make it back to Suskainau, which gives her less than two days to finish her mission. If she had more time, maybe she could come clean to Bellamy. Maybe she would have enough time to convince him to execute her later, but help save her friend. But she doesn’t have enough time. By the time she’ll be allowed to speak at all, to explain herself, Wells will already be dead.
Clarke walks through life like a ghost over the next two days. She thinks Bellamy notices - he asks if she’s okay, but she brushes off his concerns. He would usually pry more, but his head is wrapped up in his plans for the battle against the mountain, now less than two months away, and he’s more distracted than usual. After dinner on the second night, Bellamy tells her he’s going to work on a few things in the drawing room. Clarke finds herself in the dome after parting ways with him. She stands, the breeze blowing her hair around her face as she looks over the city. The sky is black and the lanterns across the city are glowing specks of orange, reminding her of the fireflies she used to catch in the woods on the outskirts of Suskainau during the summers as a child. She grieves for that little girl as much as she does for Bellamy.
She’s wracked her mind for any solution at all, anyway to help Wells, but there isn’t any. There is simply not enough time to convince anyone to help her, and as it is, she is alone. Just as she’s always been. She has no friends, no allies, and no one to help her if she reveals herself. Even then, the simple truth is that even if Bellamy wanted to help, he would not launch a war against Azgeda to save one person. He could not risk the war with the mountain, when so many other lives are at stake. The only chance Wells has of surviving is Clarke, and there is no way to reach Wells in time unless she does what the queen wants. Clarke is the reason he’s in danger, and she is also his last lifeline. Clarke needs to finish this tonight, and make it back to Suskainau in time. It’s the only option. She is out of time.
Clarke’s mind is empty as she makes her way to the drawing room, Wanheda occupying her once again, despite Clarke’s promise to herself that she would remain dead. That was a foolish vow - you cannot kill the commander of death. That is the whole point.
In the long corridor that leads her to the drawing room, she feels as if she’s being watched again, but she knows now that it’s only her paranoia. In a sense, she is being watched. She feels the queen’s presence everywhere. The queen has poisoned her to the bone.
Clarke doesn’t bother knocking before she walks into the room, finding Bellamy sitting at the table, a map in front of him. She closes the door behind her and he looks up at her and smiles, but Clarke doesn’t allow herself to see him. Not this time.
“I didn’t know you were coming down,” he tells her.
Clarke doesn’t answer. She walks up to his chair, ignoring his curious eyes, before wrapping him in the same headlock that Dev taught her.
“Clarke,” he chokes out, as she quickly brings the knife to his throat. She knows that his shock is the only reason she was able to so easily take him, but she has him now. That is all that matters. He can try to escape, but any struggle will likely lead to his throat being slashed in the process.
“I’m sorry, I am.” Her heart is racing, breath heavy. She’s grateful she cannot see his face.
Do it. Get it over with , a voice inside her head whispers. But she’s frozen, grip tight, blade against his skin.
“What are you doing?” Bellamy rasps. She can feel the struggle to get the words out, from the way his throat moves under her, but she doesn’t let up.
“What I have to, like always,” she murmurs. “I’m sorry.”
She can’t let Wells die, even if she kills a piece of herself in the process.
The knife digs into his flesh when he speaks, blood trickling down his throat. She doesn’t let up.
There are so many reasons why, really. There are so many reasons this is happening, so many choices she’s made that have led them both to this exact moment.
“Because you married Wanheda,” she says quietly. That is really what it comes down to. He should have the truth in death. He deserves that much.
Bellamy doesn’t respond before the doors burst open, Lincoln leading a few guards into the room. Clarke tightens her grip on him even further.
“But the knife down,” Lincoln warns, somehow sounding as calm as always.
So she’s not making it out of this alive - but maybe Nia will still honor her agreement, when she hears word of his death. There is no reason for Wells to suffer if she and the king are both dead.
“Don’t come closer.”
“Clarke,” Lincoln growls. Bellamy struggles against her and she tightens her grip, pressing the blade deeper, but not deep enough. Lincoln eyes where the knife is pressed to Bellamy’s throat. He knows that the king is one sudden movement away from death.
This is it. This is how Wells lives. One more impossible choice. One more piece of her soul torn away. Clarke shakes her head, tears now rolling down her cheeks as she wills herself to kill yet another person. Not just another person. The person who means everything to her. He might not love her, but she loves him. That love broke something in her, something she’ll never put back together.
Her hand trembles as she loosens her grip on him, just barely.
Clarke lets go of him, and the sound of the knife clattering to the ground echoes through the room. The minute the knife is out of her hand, Bellamy is on her, grabbing her by her shirt and slamming her back against the wall. He probably wouldn’t be able take her so easily if she put up any kind of fight, but she doesn’t. It’s over. Nothing matters anymore.
Bellamy’s dark eyes are filled with so much emotion - there’s grief and confusion, but mostly anger. She’s not sure she’s ever seen him so furious, his neck smeared with blood from his wound. He’s shaking with anger, but says nothing.
“Bellamy, careful,” Lincoln says quietly. “She’s pregnant.”
Clarke can hear the breath catch in Bellamy’s throat and watches him clench his jaw. Clarke is no less surprised, and looks over at Lincoln with wide eyes, but Lincoln is looking at Bellamy. Waiting for direction, she realizes. Bellamy lets her go, pushing her firmly into Lincoln, who takes her and holds her arms behind her back. Bellamy walks a few feet away, his back to them.
“Take her downstairs,” he tells him, without turning around. “Breathe a word of this to no one.”
Lincoln pushes her forward, towards the door.
“Careful with her,” Bellamy adds. Clarke isn’t sure if he means to be careful with her because of the baby, or careful with her because of who she is. Probably both.
Seated on the floor of her cell, Clarke leans back against the damp cement wall. Lincoln nor any of the other guards said anything to her once they locked her in. She went obediently, the fight in her drained. It’s over, all of it, and she only feels numb. She’s exhausted from the weight of her life.
Wells is dead. She killed Wells, and herself too, although she doesn’t care much about that. Bellamy won’t kill her right away. He’ll let her live long enough to give birth to their child. She knows he’ll still want their child, even if they are half her. Half treacherous murderer. There’s comfort in the fact that Clarke knows Bellamy will love the child anyway. She is the monster in his story - just like his father - but Bellamy will love their child anyway. Just as his mother loved him. About six more months of suffering before he executes her, and then it will finally be over.
Clarke is thankful that Lincoln was there to tell Bellamy about the pregnancy. She should have been the one to tell him, in case he decided to kill her right then and there. Shame floods her. She didn’t speak up quickly enough. It’s one of the many reasons that she isn’t fit to be a mother.
Clarke wonders how Lincoln even knew. Nyko must have told him - she remembers now that they’re friends, but Clarke still thought she could trust him, for some reason. She has no right to feel betrayed by Nyko, or Lincoln, or anyone else, but somehow she does. She thought that she had all of them fooled, that they were as embedded in her fantasy as much as she was, but it wasn’t real for them either. They saw right through her, and somehow that hurts - the revelation that maybe none of her relationships were any more real to them than they were to her. She still isn’t sure how Lincoln figured it out, but then she remembers feeling watched, and how she so quickly assumed she was being paranoid. What a fool this place has made her.
Clarke watches the sky outside the small barred window at the top of the wall. It changes from black, to gray, and to a pastel orange, before she hears the door that leads down to the handful of cells in the castle’s basement open. Clarke doesn’t move, even when she looks up and sees that it’s Bellamy standing at her cell. She doesn’t want to face him. Just because he hates her doesn’t mean that she loves him any less.
Clarke looks up, unsure if it’s a question or an accusation. She nods anyway.
Bellamy grimaces, his body tense. “Get up.”
Clarke does as she’s told, walking closer to him. Bellamy’s gaze sweeps across her face, searching for something - for what, she isn’t sure. Maybe he’s searching for the woman he thought he loved, but that was only a mask. A mask torn to tatters, that can never be worn again.
“Wanheda belongs to the queen. I should have known.”
“I’ll tell you whatever you want to know.” Her voice is deflated, devoid of any emotion. It is not a bargaining chip, or a desperate plea. She just wants it to be over. This is the end of the road, and she has nothing left to lose.
Bellamy ignores her offer, and Clarke realizes that there are tears pricking his eyes that contrast with the harsh expression on his face. Her heart shatters over and over again, and she wonders if the pain will ever stop. She wonders if she will ever have a breath of reprieve from it again, or if this is how every moment will feel in the final months of her life.
Her own pain is so clearly reflected in Bellamy’s face, and she is responsible for it. She did that to him - broke him. All she does is break, kill, destroy. All she does is take. The fact that she somehow created a child with this man, who is everything she doesn’t deserve, is all wrong. It is a hiccup in the universe that never should have been allowed to happen.
Bellamy swallows thickly before speaking again.
“This child...if this is some ploy, some part of your plot-” he starts, voice cracking over the last word.
“Lincoln was telling the truth.”
Bellamy’s gaze hardens. “I know he was - I spoke to Nyko. I’m asking- I’m asking if this was part of your plan.”
Clarke looks away in shame as she realizes what he is really asking her. He thinks her such a monster that she would purposely get pregnant, trap him, bring a child into this mess. The reality is, she’s given him no reason to believe she’s not that monster, or even something worse. She cannot blame him for such assumptions.
Bellamy reaches through the bars, roughly grabbing her chin and forcing her to look up at him again. His dark eyes are still shining with unshed tears. She wishes she could cry too, to show him how sorry she is, but she has nothing left inside of her. She has been bled dry.
“Answer me - and so help me, if you lie to me,” he starts, tightening his hold on her chin until it hurts. She embraces the pain, rather than try to move away from him.
“The opposite,” she tells him, voice rough. “It wasn’t part of the plan, it was a mistake. Collateral damage. I was drinking a tea, it was supposed to...it doesn’t matter. It was a mistake.”
Bellamy stares at her for a moment longer. “Did you tell anyone about my father?”
Bellamy searches her face for a beat longer, pushing her away with a huff. “I don’t know why I’m asking, when I can’t trust a word that comes out of your mouth,” he spits.
Bellamy walks away without another word. Clarke stands where he left her, listening to his footsteps echo through the small cement corridor. Listening as the door slams shut. After that, she takes a seat again. Eyes on the cement wall in front of her, she stares blankly ahead.