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seven years in heaven

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Not even the glimmering, languid blinks of the stars at Earth's midnight can eclipse the dazzling streaks of light sitting next to Clarke. 

 

Though she tries to focus on the bumps of the dirt path in front of her, she can’t help but look to her right. 

 

Madi’s forearm rests on the ledge of the window. Her coppery hair twirls in the wind, strands whipping across her face, even though Clarke isn’t driving particularly fast. The iridescent beads that she wove into the child’s hair shone brightly under the silvery light of the moon. She smiles to herself. Seeing the awe on Madi’s face after she saw the beads was worth the hours spent prowling the ocean floor. And more. 

 

And there it is. That brilliant grin as she sings to a song from Jasper and Maya’s iPod in her small fist. The amount of light that emanates from this child— it defies the rays of the earliest morning sun and surpasses the glow of lightning bugs in the forest. All of that light coming from such a small place. Coming from a tiny human who had experienced so much pain and loss. 

 

Her pale blue tunic billows as a gust of wind sweeps through the warm air. Madi softly lays her head back against the seat, mouth slightly open as she sings to the lyrics. A loud expletive shakes Clarke out of her reverie. 

 

“Madi!” she scolds. “No swearing!” 

 

Only then did she realize that Maya’s indie-acoustic playlist had been replaced by Jasper’s punk-rock. She reminds herself to scold him later, too. 

 

“It’s not like I haven’t heard worse from Murphy,” Madi retorts with a cheeky smile. 

 

“Yeah, well, here’s to hoping that you never pick anything else up from Murphy,” Clarke mutters as she pulls through the gates. 

 

She waves to Miller and Harper as she passes through. 

 

“Jeez, Griffin! You made us worried. It's late,” Miller says with a soft smile. 

 

“I wasn’t worried. I don’t think Clarke Griffin will ever die. And they call Murphy the cockroach,” Harper quips, winking, and earning a giggle from Madi. 

 

Clarke rolls her eyes. “Get some rest, you two. Sorry for keeping you up.” 

 

“It’s no problem,” Miller grins. “Plus, if we left our post before you came back, Bellamy would probably take away our eating privileges for a week.”

 

She laughs, her head thrown back. “You’re forgetting that he’s not in charge here.”  Winking, she drives past the gates and down the paved dirt road of Camp Aurora. When she first told Bellamy what they had named the camp, his face twisted in the goofiest, most elated grin, and she couldn’t help but kiss it off. All night. 

 

“Go sleep, my loves! That’s an order!” she shouts, peeking at them through her rear view mirror. 

 

She sees Harper and Miller’s bodies shake with laughter, and warmth bubbles in her chest. 

 

A few weeks ago marked the 7 year anniversary of them being on the Ground. They came a long way from the days of fighting off Grounders and clinging to dwindling rations. After the Arc dropped, they had more than enough supplies to reconstruct a village for all of them. After months of careful negotiation, they struck a deal with the Trikru, exchanging medical help and access to technology for their knowledge of the Ground. 

 

Everything is as close to peaceful as it could be. 

 

Clarke parks the rover in front of their cabin. Next to their cabin, she sees the dim flickers of light from Jasper and Maya’s. No doubt, him and Monty are still playing video games on the console he and Raven spent months rigging. 

 

She hears a soft ballad coming from the cabin of their other neighbor. Seeing the shadows peek through the curtains, Clarke imagines Octavia and her daughter Claudia (named after the Roman princess, much to Bellamy’s nerdy joy) waltzing around the room, as Lincoln watches with tender eyes. 

 

“Come on, little sprout,” Clarke hops out before moving to the other side of the rover and picking Madi up. She puts her on the ground as they reach into the back of the rover to unload their supplies. 

 

They built the medical center right behind Clarke and Bellamy’s cabin, to ensure that she was available and easily accessible for emergency surgeries or critical injuries. 

 

Her and Madi pad across the stone path through the side alley to the clinic. The two of them make routine visits to Tondc every few weeks, to exchange Clarke’s medical expertise for healing plants, serums, and ointments. Madi has a few friends there, too. 

 

After they deposit the last of the crates, Clarke and Madi head back to the front door. Before they go in, Clarke spins around, hands on her hips. 

 

“Madi.”

 

“Yes?” The child looks up innocently, with big blinks of her full eyelashes. 

 

Clarke holds a hand out. Madi sighs and reaches in her boot, pulling the iPod out. “If you try to steal Jasper’s iPod one more time, he will try to cut off your braids in the middle of the night.” 

 

Madi rolls her eyes and places the device in Clarke’s outstretched hand.

 

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you. We got into a big fight after I forgot to bring home ingredients for the moonshine on Unity Day. The next morning, Harper gave me an impromptu haircut,” Clarke raises an eyebrow. Her and Madi erupt into giggles. “Come on,” she opens the door and pulls her inside. “Let’s get some rest.” 

 

Clarke walks to the kitchen to wet a washrag to clean the dirt off of Madi’s face. But, as she enters the living room, she finds Madi ruffling through Bellamy’s bookshelf, before settling on an anthology about Greek gods. She runs up to Clarke and kisses her on the cheek.

 

“Night, Clarke!” 

 

“Madi! You need to bathe–" but before she can finish, Madi sprints back to her room and closes her door with a soft click.

 

Clarke sighs and retreats to the washroom. She scrubs off the dirt and grime from her limbs, and runs some of the lavender soap that Octavia made through her hair. She tiptoes out of the shower and into her and Bellamy’s room. She sorts through their dresser before pulling on a cotton nightgown. She braids her wet hair into a French braid, but small droplets of water still run down her spinal cord.

 

She lifts up the sheets and tucks herself into bed, careful not to wake her sleeping husband. She lays on her side and stares at him with profound love in her eyes. She swears that every day, her adoration for him only grows stronger. He’s laying on his stomach, his back rising and falling with each breath. His messy curls are splayed across the pillow, and his tan, brown face is flushed because of the heat. He lets out a soft snore. 

 

Clarke stifles a giggle and rests her hands under her cheek, unable to take her eyes off of the gorgeous man in front of her. Bellamy seems to wake up but keeps his eyes closed. A warm smile spreads on his face. 

 

“Good to see you too, Princess,” he uses his left arm to wrap around her waist and tug her towards him. This time, she actually giggles as the momentum pulls her flush against his chest. He turns to fold her into his arms. Clarke sighs into his chest, snuggling into his neck and flinging a leg over his hip. He presses a kiss into her head. 

 

“I missed you.” 

 

“I missed you more.” 

 

“Impossible,” he reaches down to tickle her stomach. She laughs and squirms in his arms. 

 

“What took you so long?”

 

“Madi insisted on taking the long way back so she could listen to Maya and Jasper’s playlist all the way through.” 

 

He chuckles, the deep vibrations pressing against her heart. “That kid is trouble.” 

 

“She learns from you,” Clarke mumbles into his neck, running a finger down his bicep. “Did you really have to be shirtless when I came home from being out all day?”

 

He pulls her back so their noses touch. His eyes twinkle, full of mischief. 

 

“If I didn’t know better, Princess, I’d think you’re trying to seduce me,” he smirks. 

 

“I never have to seduce you to get what I want.” 

 

She uses the leg draped over his hip to push herself up. Straddling him, her hands press his chest. She leans down to place a kiss on his jaw. His eyes darken. 

 

“Damn right,” he flips her over before slotting himself in between her legs, pressing soft kisses down her throat. And then to her chest. And then lower. 

 

They take their time. They make love slowly, but with a burning intensity. They need to feel each other on every inch of skin, every peak and every low. When they shatter, they do it together. They ride through every ounce of pleasure, each shiver,  each earth-shattering scream, and each shudder, weaving together in cathartic symphony. 

 

After they finish, their limbs are wrapped together as if they can’t fathom being a single inch apart. Bellamy lays a sweet kiss on her shoulder. 

 

“Do you know what today is?”

 

She furrows her eyebrows, looking at him. “The day where I came back from Tondc after 15 hours, but you still made me come three times?” 

 

Bellamy laughs and kisses her. “Yes, it's that, too. But, it's something else.” She quirks an eyebrow. 

 

“I’ll give you a hint. Seven years.”

 

“Well, it was the 7 year anniversary of us dropping two weeks ago,” Clarke frowns, confused. 

 

“Yes. And?” 

 

“And… I don’t know. I forfeit.” 

 

He smiles against her shoulder. “Seven years ago, today,” he nuzzles her skin, “is the day I fell in love with you.” 

 

Clarke takes a moment to remember what happened that night. She scoffs. “Bullshit.” 

 

“It’s true.”

 

“Bell, you completely shrugged me off that night. And slept with Raven,” she pouts. 

 

Bellamy laughs, tilting his head down to kiss her collarbone. “Don’t be jealous. Nobody makes me feel the way you do. Or turns me on like you. Or blows—“

 

She bites his cheek. “Ass!”

 

He rubs his face, pretending to be offended, before he pulls her impossibly closer, his brown eyes like melted chocolate as he searches hers. 

 

“Seriously, though,” he says softly. “Do you know when it happened?” 

 

She shakes her head. 

 

“It all started when I saw you in that hammock in the Dropship.” 

 

SEVEN YEARS AGO 

 

“Listen– I can’t do this anymore.”

 

“Why? Literally, for what reason, Clarke?”

 

“What do you mean ‘why’? Are you seriously asking me that?” Her voice resonated in the late-afternoon air, the remnants of the sun still beating on her. Clarke raised a hand to her warm forehead before dragging her fingers through the weather-beaten strands. She felt hot tears itch the corners of her eyes. She’s not sure if they were angry tears or post-acid fog tears. 

 

It's almost been two weeks since they dropped. Clarke felt like it's been a year. 

 

Two weeks of fighting off Grounders. Two weeks of arguing with Bellamy and his idiot ‘ whatever the hell you want’ minions. Two weeks of falling for Finn– and Raven coming down. Two weeks of barely holding on to life as they know it. Two weeks of losing every last person that she loved.  

 

Behind Finn’s shoulder, Clarke saw a coppery shine streak through the air.


That’s why.” Clarke nodded to the figure behind him.

 

Raven is bent down over a stack of logs, presumably making the trek back from the forest to stoke the lofty, incandescent fire in the middle of camp. Her wine-colored bomber jacket seemed to burn harsher than the flames, and her auburn eyes that flicked up to Clarke and Finn were practically ablaze. If looks could kill, Clarke would have a Grounder spear straight through her chest.

 

“I really didn’t think I was going to ever see her again,” Finn pleaded.

 

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Clarke scoffed.

 

“Please, Clarke!”

 

Her face softened as she stared into his warm, caramel-colored eyes. “I’m sorry, Finn. We just don’t have time for drama down here. We need to focus on staying alive.”

She brushed past him and towards the campfire, intending on helping Raven nurse the growing blaze. Clarke made it a few steps before she saw Bellamy at Raven’s side, bumping his shoulder against hers. They exchange a few words, his piercing eyes crinkling as he laughed at something she said. Clarke, feeling like she was intruding, spun on her heel and made her way back to the Dropship. 

As she climbed the ramp, she mentally made a list of all the things they needed to get done in the next few days. They needed to figure out food. Rations were dwindling. Clarke needed more medical supplies if these kids kept coming in with rashes from the questionable fauna in the forest, or the deep gashes from tripping over rocks and branches. Monty needed to figure out how to contact the Ark, Raven needed to design newer, safer housing before the winter, and Bellamy needed to find a way to control the raging mass hysteria that came with each new dilemma in the camp.

Clarke collapsed on one of the makeshift hammocks and stares at the brass ceiling. She raised one of her hands in the air above her face, and winced. The lines on her palm were outnumbered by the crisscrossed gashes and cuts, her knuckles indiscernible from the raw, scabbing skin, and her snowy complexion was filthy, tainted with drying blood, grass stains, and soot. If she peeled off her gray, cotton thermal and her black blouson jacket, her skin would probably be stained with ugly bruises and discoloration. 

“Need a hand, Princess?” 


Clarke dropped her hand on her chest and sat up. “Hilarious.” 


Bellamy crossed the room to her. “Monty figured out that some of the algae and fronds that we found east of the camp can be boiled and made edible. The closest thing we’d get to salad, I guess.” Bellamy offered a lopsided smirk, the amusement not quite reaching his eyes.

 

“Good. We’ll need to gather as much as we can before the rations run out. The younger kids are starving.” Bellamy nodded, before they lapsed into silence for a few seconds.

 

He frowned, his eyebrows collecting together. He stepped closer to Clarke, their knees almost touching. “You good?”

 

Clarke laughed humorlessly and stared at her hands in her lap. “Yeah. It’s stupid. Just realized that I can’t recognize my own body sometimes. My hands, my fingers. They look so... different. Ugly. Not like me, anymore.” 

 

Bellamy’s frown deepened, his gaze turning to her hands. 

 

“They’re fine," He stated bluntly, and dropped them.

 

“Thanks,” Clarke rolled her eyes and scoffed, shaking her head down at her lap.

Bellamy shrugged. “I’m on patrol tonight. I’ll be around.”

 

Clarke nodded half-heartedly. He pushed open the flap and left without a backwards glance.

 

At least they had learned to be civil. But– after Atom’s death, and Wells, and Charlotte– she thought that he'd developed a level of respect for her. But still, he spat out ‘ Princess’ like the word was acid on his tongue.

 

But they got things done. They built a campsite from nothing. They managed to keep most of them alive. That was pretty good.

 

Now antsy for whatever reason, she stood up and decided to tidy the remaining medical supplies. After another hour and a lot of mindless organizing and reorganizing, Clarke figured that there must be something to do with her hands outside. 

 

Pushing open the flap and strolling outside, she breathed in the damp, earthy air. Small licks of the campfire flickered above the flames and dissolved in the atmosphere. She was reminded of the lightning bugs that she read about in Earth Skills on the Arc. 

 

She dropped her head back to look at the sky. It was dark and vast, and Clarke wondered how many other “Arc’s” exist. Her eyes lingered on each star, that small speck of light that fades in and out of view. It was a good image to sketch, she thought.

 

For a moment, it seemed that everything was okay. That Earth was livable, breathable, sustainable– beautiful, even. 

 

––

PRESENT

 

“You’re telling me that when you saw me lying in the hammock, with one hand in the air, clearly unstable– that’s when you fell in love with me?”

 

Bellamy shrugs. “The heart wants what the heart wants,” he says playfully, with a wistful sigh. 

 

“Oh, shut up,” she shoves him, but he grabs her wrists, spinning them over and pinning them down onto the mattress. 

 

“Oh?” Clarke raises an eyebrow and hooks a leg around his waist, raising her hips and rubbing against him. “Round two?”

 

Bellamy groans but moves one hand to her waist, pushing it down. “Later. I still haven’t explained why.” She pouts.

“Oh, right. The next part is quite interesting,” she taps her chin.

He collapses face-down into the pillow and whines, “Do we have to go over this part? Can’t we just skip it?” 

 

“You wanted to tell the story,” she pokes his chest. “So, you have to tell the whole thing.

 

He grumbles into the pillow. “It was not one of my proudest moments.”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Standing on the ramp of the Dropship, all thoughts of her unrecognizable skin gone, Clarke’s eyes, once a deep cobalt, now swirling indigo, sank from the sky to the campsite. A few kids dawdled on scattered tree stumps, warming their hands and throwing nuts in each other’s mouths.

The momentary contentment brought a smile to her face. It also sparked fierce anxiety. Her eyes darkened at the thought of one of those kids being split in half by a Grounder. Shudders racked her body and she tried to push the intrusive thoughts away.

The pleasantness and urgency of the current moment inspired something deep within her. Some sort of need for resolution, for friendship, for amends. As if on a mission, Clarke crossed the camp in large strides, her combat boots crunching the dead leaves and scrap metal parts. Finding her destination, she gripped the edge of the tent flap and peeled it open.


“Raven, I just wanted to–” 

 

Clarke’s words choked in her mouth as she blinked at the sight in front of her. 

 

A very naked Bellamy rolled off an equally naked Raven. She sat up, dragging the sleeping bag over her chest, fire in her eyes. 

 

“What, Griffin?” Raven snapped, at the same time that Bellamy sighed, “Really, Princess?” 

 

Clarke blinked, silently, for a few more seconds.

“Uh– I just–nevermind. Sorry. My bad, I mean,” Clarke tried to piece together some sort of coherent thought, but failed. 

 

She moved to leave, but finds some sort of haughtiness in her.  

 

“Interesting patrol route, Bellamy.”

 

She swore she saw amusement in his eyes before she pushed herself out of the flap, ignoring the hard beat of her heart. She walked over to her own tent and flopped onto her sleeping bag.

 

––

PRESENT

 

“That was hot.” 


She rolls her eyes. “It was gross. And I hated you.”

 

“Hmph.” 

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Clarke’s mind swirled with confusion. She knew Bellamy had a steady stream of women entering and exiting his tent at this time of night, but she never thought she’d see him in Raven’s tent, her glossy hair splayed on her pillow. 

 

Something shifted uncomfortably in her stomach. Why was Raven trying to get back at her– for Finn?

 

Bellamy’s smirk made her blood boil. That fucking asshole . The kind of asshole that forces her to curl her toes in resentment, the kind that makes her want to scream into her pillow. But, admittedly, she found some solace in their relationship as co-leaders, someone to bear a responsibility that she couldn’t endure on her own. 

 

She felt some sort of twisted possessiveness over their relationship. Acquaintanceship, she guessed. She wasn’t quite sure. But his company provided comfort– no– solidarity. Support. All she knew is that when they were together, when they were in the same room in the midst of a crisis, relief came easier. She wouldn’t be able to do that alone. 

 

And, after all, if he was too busy screwing Raven, how would he have the time to lead these delinquents with her?

 

––

PRESENT

 

“I knew it!” He shouts smugly.

 

“Calm down. It wasn’t like that. I just thought I’d be stabbed by one of the delinquents without you helping me.”

 

“Oh, I was definitely helping you,” he smirks, inching his hand down her stomach. 

 

She pushes him away indignantly. “Can we just keep going?”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Bellamy tugged up his pants after he and Raven finished. “Did that help?” 


“No.” 

 

Bellamy shrugged, a half-grumpy look on his face. He pulled on his black thermal, fraying at the collar. 

 

“I’ll be around.” He didn’t wait for Raven’s response before pushing open the tent flap. As he walked to his own tent, he heard the small scratches coming from the Princess’s tent, next to his. He wondered if she’s sketching the scene she witnessed a few minutes ago. His mouth tugged into a smirk at the thought. Before entering his own tent, he spared another glance at her tent, wondering if he should stop by, just to fuck with her. After hesitating for a long second, Bellamy shook his head and ducked nto his tent. He fell asleep to the sounds of her sketching and her huffs of disapproval whenever she makes a mistake.

 

––

PRESENT

 

Clarke snorts. “It wasn’t just a revenge fuck,” she gasps, between laughs, “it was a shitty revenge fuck!” 

 

“Shut up,” he rolls her eyes. “I’m better now, right?”

 

“Whatever the hell you want, baby,” she drawls.

 

He grabs her waist and attacks her with tickles.

 

“Bellamy!” 

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

“Bellamy? Or one of– two of Bellamy’s groupies? Are you awake?”

 

He rolled over onto his stomach with a loud groan. He couldn’t imagine a more painful wake up call. 

 

“Bellamy. We need to go.” 

 

“Fuck off.” 

 

Clarke pushed open the tent flap, peeking at him through a hand covering her eyes. “Are you decent?” 

 

“Don’t worry, Princess. I would rather choke on Jobi nuts before putting myself in a situation where you’d see me naked,” he sat up and cracked his neck. 

 

She dropped her hand, rolling her eyes. “Okay. I let you sleep in. You said you wanted to leave at dawn. It's around afternoon, now.” 

 

“Why did I make any plans that involved you in them?”

 

“You said you’d teach me how to hunt.” 

 

“Oh. Right.” He tugged on his jacket and boots. “Why do I have to do that?” 

 

She shrugged. “A few nights ago, after I complained about not being able to properly handle a knife, you said,” she cleared her throat and imitated his voice. “‘Come Monday night, you will no longer be our Princess. You will join the brave warriors of this new colony! We will hunt with the epic sword!’”

 

“Was I high?”

 

“Drunk.”

 

“Curse Monty’s moonshine,” he muttered under his breath. 

 

Clarke sighed. “Okay. It's fine if you don’t want to anymore. I don’t have time for this. I’ll ask some of your shooters later to teach me how to wield the ‘epic sword’ later.”

 

He stood up. “Nah, it's fine. I have nothing better to do.” 

 

“What about Roma?” 

 

“Oh, the Princess has a sense of humor,” Bellamy said in mock surprise. 

 

Clarke rubbed her forehead. “Can we just go?” 

 

He smirked and followed her out of his tent. They stopped by the post at the gate. He slung a rifle over his shoulder and he offered two blades to Clarke, handles up. 

 

She eyed his firearm. “Why don’t I get a gun?” 

 

“These are for big boys, Princess.” 

 

“Then why do you have one?”

 

He shot her a death glare. Murphy and Miller, assigned to the gate today, laughed loudly at their exchange. 

 

“Man, y’all are annoying as fuck,” Murphy retorted. Miller chuckled.

 

“She brings out the worst in me.” 

 

“How much worse can you get? I’m too young to have a ruptured blood vessel,” Clarke quipped.

 

“Bitch.”

 

“Ass.” She marched forward through the gate, disappearing through the dense thicket. 

 

“This is going to be one fucking long day,” he sighed, looking at Miller.

 

––

PRESENT

 

Clarke giggles.

 

“You really thought you were cute shit, huh?” He asked, shaking his head with a smile. 

 

“I was. And I still am.”

 

I guess I can’t lie to the Princess.”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

As the afternoon sun pressed on their backs, him and Clarke roamed the forest.  

 

“Are we going for a boar?” 

 

“Calm down, Princess. Let’s start small,” he said, nodding up to a squirrel clinging to a tree trunk a few feet away from them. 

 

She stared at him. “What am I supposed to do? Climb up after it like a spider monkey?”

 

He frowned, the reference going over his head. “No, you’re going to throw the knife,” he said slowly.

 

Clarke looked at him incredulously. “You want me to… throw this knife… and impale that squirrel?”

 

He shrugged. “Yeah, basically.” She just stared at him. He sighed. 

 

“Okay, let’s start with the paring knife,” he walked over to her and pulled the knife from the loop of her belt, throwing it up in the air and catching it.


“Was that supposed to impress me?”

“Not really. Just wanted to remind you that if you piss me off, it would take a few seconds for a blade to be lodged in your leg.”


She continued to stare, unfazed. He rolled his eyes.

 

“Okay, look,” he walked over to her and took the knife. “Stand up straight and shift your right foot forward. Grip the handle and leave room between the edge of the blade and your hand. Use four fingers to hold it, and fold your thumb over them to control the knife’s trajectory,” he showed her, his lean, tan fingers pressing into the leather. 

 

“Hold the knife with the blade facing you, handle towards the sky. Angle it slightly backwards. As you reel back, flick the knife as you throw it, and shift your weight forward,” he leaned back and threw.


The air whizzed as Bellamy threw the blade right over Clarke’s head, hitting the tree behind her. She didn’t even turn around.

 

“Again, was that supposed to impress me?”

 

“Brave Princess,” he taunted sarcastically. “Do it, then.” 

 

She retrieved the knife and took up the stance, her right boot in front of the other. “Good?” 

 

“Keep your back straight,” Bellamy stepped towards her, placing one hand at her lower back and the other on her shoulder, straightening out her spinal cord. 

 

“Jeez. Relax, Princess. Your shoulders are practically made of stone,” he sidled up behind her and shifted his left hand to her other shoulder. He squeezed lightly. She tensed. He huffed a laugh, his mouth next to her ear. “Do I make you nervous, Princess?”

 

Suddenly, Bellamy was almost smacked in the nose by her elbow. He watched as the blade spins through the air and sinks into the squirrel’s abdomen. 

 

His eyes grew wide, impressed. “Damn. Nice.” 

 

She nodded, pleased with herself. “What’s next?” 

 

He suppressed a smile at the eager look on her face.

 

––

PRESENT

 

“It was pretty sexy,” Clarke admits, sighing. “The way you handled the knife.”

 

He smirks. “The way you handled the knife was sexy, too. Especially when you almost clocked me in the face.”

 

“Oh, really?” she climbs over him. “I’m pretty good at handling a lot of things.”

 

He gasps as her tongue runs lower, and lower down his chest. Over his abs, his hips, before settling in between his legs.

 

It's not until another hour before they continue their story.

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

She tucked in another squirrel in Bellamy’s rucksack. They'd been hunting for a few hours now. She was ashamed to say that she was having… fun. 

 

They hurled insults back and forth, her occasionally shoving him with her shoulder, and him swinging a branch into her face. But she impressed herself. She tried the other knife he gave her. The utility knife was good for the rabbits. She’d gotten better at throwing from longer distances and throwing while she was crouching, or hiding. 

 

Bellamy gave her approving looks during the whole thing, and she thought he even smiled once. 

 

The sun began to set, and they headed back to camp. 

 

While they were walking, she suddenly ran into Bellamy’s back as he froze in place. 

 

“What the–” 

 

“Shut up,” he responded, and she looked over his shoulder.

 

There, with two thick horns, dusty fur, and a snapping jaw, was a boar. The animal’s breaths came out in small, but loud huffs, as his nose grazed the grass. 

 

“Want to learn how to shoot a gun?” Bellamy whispered over his shoulder.

 

What? ” she hissed. “Right now? As that chubby animal with sharp horns is a few feet away from us?”

 

“Never knew you were one for fat-shaming, Princess.”

 

“Don’t even start.”

 

But she took the gun when he unraveled it from his shoulder and passed it to her. She tucked the rifle up to her neck, the stock pressing into her cheek. One hand on the trigger and the other on the side of the forend.

 

He sidestepped and moved behind her, his chest up against her shoulder. He placed one hand on her shoulder blade, adjusting her stance. She looked over her shoulder, and he nodded.

 

One shot rang through the air. Then another. Clarke’s ears rang a bit as she stared at the now-slumped over mass of fur on the ground, a crimson red spilling beneath it. 

 

Bellamy clapped her back. “What do you know? The Princess can shoot.”

 

She scowled at him and jerked away from his grip. Still, pride swelled in her chest at the praise.

 

Clarke rambled the whole trip back to camp. She faced him, walking backwards.

 

“Do you see how many squirrels we got?” she remarked, raising the bulky rucksack to her eyes. “And, that boar can easily provide one dinner portion per person. Forget the algae farm. If it was this easy for you to teach me, everyone at camp can learn how to hunt.” 


He shifted the boar in his arms. “Slow down, Princess. Not everyone can pick up things as fast as you.”

 

She stopped, her arm dropping to her side. “Bellamy Blake… did you just compliment me?” 

 

He rolled his eyes. “‘Asshole’ is not my only state of being.”

 

“Could’ve fooled me,” she mumbled, eyebrows raised. 

 

He raised the boar, as if he’s about to throw it at her. Her eyes widened. “You wouldn't,” she insisted cautiously.

 

“Wouldn’t I?” he retorted, pulling the boar back in the air. She shrieked and spun around, running back to camp. He laughed loudly and picked up his pace. Not a bad trip, after all.

 

When they reached camp, he snatched the rucksack from her hands and dumped the boar in her arms.

 

“Bellamy, what the hell–” she started, fumbling under its weight.

 

“Clarke?” Monty yelled. He stared at the boar in her arms, speechless.

 

“Who’s hungry?” Bellamy howled. Around the camp, teenagers looked up from their posts and saw the boar in Clarke’s arms. Cheers erupted and echoed into the night.

 

“She killed that ?” Roma asked.

 

“That’s sick!” Connor exclaimed. 

 

“She’s all grown up,” Jasper lamented, wiping away a fake tear.

 

The teens swarmed Clarke and Bellamy with huge smiles.  “Not bad, Princess,” Murphy nodded, impressed.

 

Next to Bellamy, Clarke faltered for a bit before he nudged her shoulder. She looked up at him appreciatively. 

 

“Yeah. It wasn’t too far from camp. We caught it by surprise,” she said with a small smile. Whistles and claps arose. “Bellamy taught me how to use the gun, though.” 

 

“All you, Princess,” he said plainly. The boys helped carry the boar to the fire, where Raven and Harper set up two stakes in the ground to hold it up over the flames.

 

For the first night since those teenagers landed, everyone left dinner smiling, full, and hopeful.  

 

––

PRESENT

 

“I love that part,” Clarke smiles, raising a hand to his cheek.

 

He turns to kiss her palm before holding it in his hand. “Me, too.”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Bellamy started to douse the fire after everyone retreated into their tents. After she finally wished goodnight to another girl thanking her for the food, Clarke collapsed on the log bench. The last of the embers scattered as Bellamy smothered them with a rag. Following suit, he settled onto the bench next to hers, relief flooding his limbs as he sat. They sat in silence for a few minutes.

 

“You didn’t have to do that, you know.”

 

He looked over, seeing that she’s now on her back, looking up at the stars. “Do what?”

 

“You know. Give me all the credit, or whatever,” she waved loosely.

 

“You killed the boar.” 

 

“You let me. And you taught me.” 

 

“It wasn’t for you. People hate you less. They’ll stop trying to rebel.” He shrugged.

 

“I thought you wanted people to hate me,” she turned her head towards him.

 

“It’s easier if they don’t hate the only healer we have.”

 

She rolled her eyes. “Forget it.”

 

A few more minutes of silence pass. He grew bored, but was too tired to get up. “Your hands are fine. Your fingers, or whatever,” he stated.

 

She pushed herself up on her arms. “I’m sorry?”

 

“When you were in the Dropship a few days ago. You said that they looked ugly, and you didn’t look like yourself. But they’re fine. I mean, they killed a shit ton of animals today. I’d say they’re good for something.” 

 

She laid back down and didn't respond for a while.

 

“I didn’t recognize them because the cuts, the bruises, the soot– they all covered the marks on my fingertips.” 

 

“Uh, what?” He asked, eyebrows gathered. 

 

“I had these red marks on my fingertips and palm,” she admitted, still facing the stars.

 

“Like, birthmarks?” 

 

She paused. “No. I don’t remember when they showed. I used to dislike them. I thought they made me look weird. But Wells drew roses on them to make me feel better. A poorly drawn doodle by a seven year old. But he said that red roses were the prettiest flower. So, it made me feel better,” she shrugged.

 

Bellamy almost made his usual snarky comment, like ' that’s the cheesiest shit I’ve ever heard' or ' am I supposed to care?'

 

But then he remembered Wells. Alive only a handful of days ago. “Sorry. About Wells.”

 

She nodded. 

 

“So, how did you get them, then? If you weren’t born with them.”

 

She tensed for a bit, but shrugs. “I don’t remember.” 

 

He wasn’t convinced by her answer.

 

Suddenly, she sat up. “I’m exhausted. Night.” Before he could respond, she walked away.

 

What the hell? 

 

––

PRESENT

 

Bellamy simply pulls Clarke closer into his chest, whispering I love you’s into her golden braid.

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Clarke awoke to a female, shrill, frustrated voice. 

 

She thought that her tent nearly shook from the wicked contempt in the girl’s voice. Running her hand over her face, Clarke let out a sleep-deprived sigh. Her limbs were forced to warm as she pushed open the flap of her tent, preparing for another catfight between two girls who spent their night with Bellamy. 

 

Instead, Clarke froze, halfway through the tent flap. 

 

A few feet away, in front of the campfire, stood the man himself. Well, more like paced, as the younger Blake shouted expletives at him.

 

“I’m a fucking teenager, Bellamy! I can’t have a babysitter for the rest of my life!” Octavia screamed, getting in his face, so that their noses nearly touched. 

 

Bellamy turned away from her, running his hands through his curly hair. "It’s not about that, O! There are savages right outside of the gate! They’ve almost killed Jasper! Hell, they killed Atom!” He retorted, jaw twitching.

 

Octavia lowered her voice to a deadly pitch. “Don’t talk about him. You’re the reason he’s dead.” She shoved him backwards, punctuating that last word.

 

Bellamy stumbled back into the firewood. He attempted to brush off the soot, now plastered over his biceps. It smeared more.

 

“I’m tired of this, big brother. I’m not under the floorboards anymore.” She indignantly twisted on her heel, her thick, inky hair slicing the air in half over her shoulder. Clarke watched as the teenager ducked under a gap in the fence and disappeared into the bushes. 

 

Bellamy was still angrily rubbing at his bicep, his breaths coming out as vexed huffs. 

 

Clarke rolled her eyes and retreated into her tent to receive a damp washcloth. She made her way over to him, reaching out to clutch his arm. He jerked away, fire in his eyes.

 

She held her hands up. “Okay. Look like a charred piece of meat for the rest of the day.” Clarke turned to leave, but he reached out to roughly grab her elbow.

 

“Fine.” Bellamy conceded. “Just get it off.”

 

She reached forward, one hand under his bicep, the other holding the washrag to his upper arm. Softly scrubbing the soot off, Clarke didn’t even utter a word before he started ranting again. 

 

“She acts like I’m not allowed to be worried about her! I’ve raised her since she was a fucking child! I’m not some dictator!” he shouted.

 

Clarke went to open her mouth to counter that last claim, but his deadly glare stopped her. “Don’t even think about it.”

 

She rolled her eyes (again) and rubbed his arm more gently now, in small circles. She noticed that he relaxes ever-so-slightly under his touch.

 

“I’m just– I can’t lose her, Clarke,” Bellamy said quietly.

 

Clarke’s eyes widen in surprise at his subdued, vulnerable tone. It was the first time she’d heard it. She pulled the now dirty rag away. 

 

He rubbed his clean arm and looked at her appreciatively. His tender irises inspired a sudden pang in her chest.

 

“She’s your sister. Of course you would move mountains for her. But she’s not a child anymore, Bellamy,” Clarke said softly. “You have to let her be a teenager.”

 

“She’s not just any teenager,” Bellamy snapped, the blaze returning in his eyes. 

 

Clarke’s eyes flickered in submission. Clearly, he was too stubborn and headstrong to appreciate any advice. 

 

She folded up the rag in her hands. She turned around and walked back to her tent, a bit overstimulated by the explosive confrontation so early in the morning. One hand gripped her stomach as a growl ripped through her abdomen. After a handful of nuts and dried berries, Clarke thought, she'd make her way back to the Dropship to carry on her rounds. Probably the usual, steady stream of split knees. 

 

However, before she could carry out her plan, Bellamy jogged over and grabbed her elbow, once again.

 

“Clarke, wait, I’m so–I just–um.” Clarke turned around with a quirked eyebrow. He dropped his hand, and she saw more embarrassment on his face than she thought possible.

 

“Can you– just–” 

 

“Yeah. I’ll go check on her,” Clarke cut him off, and he breathed out in relief. She saw a small glance of gratitude, before his face hardened once again. 

 

“Thanks.” He nodded stoically, turning on his heel and walking away.

 

She rolled her eyes, but ducked under the hole in the fence that Octavia did a few minutes ago. She was surprised to find Octavia sitting under a large oak only a few meters outside of the fence. She was anticipating a brief game of hide-and-seek to find the girl. 

 

Though it was clear that anger still radiated from her small body, Clarke saw the physical and emotional exhaustion from a screaming match settling into her bones. Octavia was slightly hunched over, and her pitch black hair created a small curtain over her upper body. Her chest rose and fell with lingering resentment.

 

A branch crunched under Clarke’s boots. The sound caused Octavia’s head to snap up. As their eyes locked, one set hazel, and the other a deep blue, Clarke saw the penetrating sadness that occupied her pupils. Ultimately, it's Octavia’s eyes that betrayed her seemingly infuriated eye roll. 

 

“Hey,” Clarke said softly, walking over to sit next to Octavia on the damp grass. 

 

“Of course, he couldn’t resist sending the Princess.”

 

Clarke ignored the jab, focusing on the melancholy that occupies Octavia’s features. They sat in silence for a few minutes, only the quiet birdsong and white noise from the camp filling the air. 

 

“Are you okay?” Clarke asked.

 

Silence. 

 

“Can I do anything to help?” She asked again, a few minutes later.

 

Silence.

 

Finally, Clarke sighed. “He’s an ass.”

 

Octavia looked at her, and Clarke was pleased to see the twinkle of amusement in her eyes. “You’re right about that.”

 

Another few minutes passed without any further remarks from the two girls. This time, though, the silence was as close to pleasant as it could be. 

 

“What do I do?” Octavia spoke into the air, eyes still facing forward. 

 

Clarke shifted uncomfortably, the oakwood placing too much pressure on the knots in her back. She moved so that her folded knees were side by side with Octavia’s.

 

“Be patient with him,” Clarke remarked. Octavia shot her a side glare, but Clarke continued before Octavia could snap something back.

 

“I know. You’ve been patient with him for your entire life,” Clarke nodded. “But we’re all new to this unfamiliar, uncertain, unpredictable place.” She gestured haphazardly around her. “We’re vulnerable,” Clarke admitted, a bit of fear breaking through her attempt at advice.

 

“But at least on the Arc, he had the floorboards. He knew exactly how to protect you, keep you safe. He even had comfort in the fact that– though you were locked up– you were safe. He came here for you. You’re all he has,” Clarke quietly finished, realizing that she couldn’t relate, at all. The faces of Wells, her father, and her mother all flashed in front of her eyes in hazy, black splotches. 

 

Octavia seemed to pick up on Clarke’s revelation, and regret and commiseration filled her big eyes. She didn’t say anything, but Clarke understood the apology lingering in the air. 

 

“He appreciates you, you know,” Octavia declared.

 

Clarke looked at her incredulously and laughed. “Have you seen us together? When I’m not itching to throw him to the Grounders, he’s definitely thinking about pushing me into a cloud of acid fog.”

Octavia threw her head back in laughter, gingerly hitting the bark. Clarke giggled, pleased by the genuine grin on Octavia’s face. And the unlikely image of her tiny arms chucking a very muscular Bellamy out of the campsite. After their laughter subsided, Octavia’s eyes were still twinkling.

“I met a Grounder,” Octavia started.

 

Clarke’s eyes widened in fear and she stuttered. “Octavia–”

 

“He’s not like the others,” Octavia tried to reassure her. As Clarke saw the dreamlike gaze not very well-hidden in her eyes, she relaxed for a second, letting her continue.

 

“He took care of me, protected me,” Octavia breathed. “He makes these trails of calla-lily whenever I need to find him. He draws me.” 

 

Clarke raised her eyebrows. Octavia reached inside the pocket of her worn leather jacket and pulls out a crumpled, browned piece of parchment. She offered it to Clarke.

 

With delicate fingers, Clarke unraveled the paper. Her breath caught. 

 

In front of her was a true-to-life charcoal rendering of the girl sitting next to her. Her eyes were penciled in with hard strokes, but her irises were smudged. A gentle touch. The hard lines of her face were sharp, but silken, a testament to the fiery girl with a soft underside. A quality of both Blakes, Clarke thought.

 

Velvety charcoal strokes made up her hair, the dark gray somehow doing justice to Octavia’s Stygian, glossy locks. Clarke ran one finger over the parchment, gently tracing each line. 

 

“This is amazing, Octavia,” Clarke admitted, half in envy, half in wonder.

 

She handed the piece of parchment back to Octavia, who stared at it with fond eyes.

 

“His name is Lincoln. I really like him, Clarke,” Octavia looked up at her, and Clarke finally saw the gossamer, eager, and enamored look glaze over her eyes. Naive and dewy-eyed, like any normal teenager. A normal teenager in love. 

 

Not even a few moments passed before Clarke blurted out the answer to the unspoken question. 

 

“I won’t tell him.” 

 

Octavia held her eyes, a wide grin spreading across her face. “Thank you, Clarke,” Octavia whispered.

 

“Be careful,” Clarke insisted sternly, to which Octavia rolled her eyes.

 

“I already have one overbearing parent. I don’t want another.”

 

They exchanged giggles. Clarke wiped her hands on her thighs and moved to stand. She was stopped by a set of dark, thin arms covering her chest and back.

 

Clarke leaned into Octavia’s embrace, as the girl rested her head on Clarke’s shoulder. Clarke smiled fondly into Octavia’s hair, laughing quietly as a strand got stuck in her mouth. They stayed like that for a few moments before pulling away.

 

Octavia looked at Clarke with something she’d never seen before. Appreciation, affection. Maybe even friendship. 

 

––

PRESENT

 

Bellamy grunts.

 

Clarke looks at him guiltily. “I know. I’m sorry for keeping it from you– but, that is how Octavia and I started to grow closer.”

 

A small smile appears on his face, imagining their goddaughter in the cabin next to them.

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

On a log near the campfire, Bellamy anxiously wrung his hands, waiting for Clarke and Octavia to return. He heard the rustling of leaves and the shuffling of boots.

 

Smiling, and quietly exchanging parting words, Octavia and Clarke ducked back under the fence. His sister caught his eye. Her look of happiness made his heart swell. The smile on her face faded, but her eyes were filled with understanding and apology. Octavia broke his gaze and walked over to her tent. He sighed in relief after she was safely inside.

 

Clarke walked the other way to the Dropship. Before she ducked under the curtain, Bellamy called her name.

 

“Clarke!” He yelled across the camp.

 

She turned around with her arms crossed, an expectant look on her face. “Thanks,” he jerked his chin in the direction of Octavia’s tent.

 

She didn’t respond, just nodded her head, and receded into the ship.

 

Bellamy shifted back towards the unlit campfire, his mind still a bit hazy from anger and regret. He resigned himself to working all day, to shake the thoughts from his head.

 

He made it through the larger part of the day without thinking about his and Octavia’s fight that morning. Now, a rifle slung over his back, he paced the length of the gate on patrol. Ever since they dropped, Bellamy had fixed his face into one of fortitude and threat, figuring that the only way these idiot kids will listen is through fear. It complimented Clarke nicely, who chose an empathetic kind of pragmatism as her leadership strategy. 

 

Clarke . Though he felt as though the tension with Octavia had simmered, as evidenced by their cordial interactions throughout the rest of the day, one question still lingered on his mind.

 

Why did he ask her to go after O? Clarke and O didn’t hate each other, but they’re not exactly close, either. It was just out of convenience. She was cleaning that shit from the fire off of him, she was just the first person he thought of. Maybe he asked just because, you know, it was a girl thing. Octavia wouldn’t want to interact with a guy after a fight with her brother.

 

Then, he thought back to Clarke’s understanding– even soothing– nods and hums that indicate when she listened to any conversation. The way that her own face relaxed to dissolve any tension or fear in someone else’s eyes. And, the way her sensitivity was coupled with her realism, the rational side of her– how she didn’t explode with violent emotion, like he did. She was pretty good at talking to people, he admitted.

 

And, then, he got annoyed with himself for picking up on all her small habits.

 

––

PRESENT

 

Clarke smiles. “I didn’t know you noticed all of that,” she says softly. 

 

“I noticed a lot of things,” he smiles back, tucking a loose piece of her braid behind her ear. “I noticed too much, too often. That’s when you started to become the death of me.”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

After a long day of overthinking on his patrol, Bellamy double checked the gates and the fence before retreating to his tent. For a second night in a row, he paused before entering, glancing at the dim yellow light of Clarke’s tent. Figuring he should thank her more appropriately for today, he sauntered over and pushed open the flap.

 

Clarke sat cross-legged on her sleeping bag in her pajamas, tongue peeking out of the corner of her mouth, sketchbook in hand. Well, whatever pajamas looked like, with the lack of actual clothing on the ground. Her cotton top scrunched up a bit at the inward curve of her waist, and her ivory legs, spotted with bruises, unfurled out of her tan boyshorts. 

 

His eyes lingered a bit too long. Whatever. An attractive female body was still an attractive female body. 

 

Her head jerked up at the sudden noise, and she jumped a little.

 

“Jesus, Bellamy!” Clarke half-yelled, pulling the sleeping bag over her exposed legs. 

 

Bellamy’s mouth turned into a proud smirk at her reaction. He took a moment before shaking his head, remembering why he was there. He shifted uncomfortably.

 

“What do you want?” She snapped. 

 

“Sorry,” he said sharply. “I just wanted to– thank you. I mean, thank you for helping Octavia today,” he blurted out, a bit awkwardly. Clarke raised an eyebrow, amused.

 

“She seemed really happy after you guys talked. So, thanks,” he finished. They lapsed into silence for a bit before she responded.

 

“No problem. I was glad that we could spend some time together. I think we’ve now bonded over our mutual dislike of you."

 

Bellamy rolled his eyes but let out a breath, in relief that the painful apology was over. He plopped down on the sleeping bag next to her, causing her to scrape her pencil across the page. Clarke glared at him while he grinned boyishly. 

 

“What are you drawing?” he asked nosily, shifting his weight to peek over her shoulder. 

 

She tugged the sketchbook away and held it to her chest. “None of your fucking business, Blake.” 

 

Smirking and puffing out his chest, he exclaimed, “Actually, as the Rebel King of this camp, everything is my business. And the Princess has to listen to the King.” 

 

Clarke scoffed at his smugness. “Go float yourself.”

 

“Only if you’re there with me, Princess.”

 

Clarke paused, annoyed by his flirtation. Bellamy internally scolded himself. Curse the female body. 

 

To ease the awkwardness, he snatched her sketchbook from her. 

 

“Hey!” she protested and reached out to take it back. Using one arm to push her away, he glanced down at the drawing. 

 

“Oh, shit.” 

 

Clarke had sketched him and Octavia, nose-to-nose, likely from this morning. However, their eyes were less filled with anger, and more with a kind of heated dedication to one another, a promise that with each fight, each scream, each yell, each tear– they were still together. Still close. Instead of it being morning, thin dots filled the sky above them, small stars that reflected in their eyes. She used the side of the pencil to shade in their shadows– shadows that were thrown back into the sky itself, outlined by stars. The pencil strokes that drew his and O’s bodies were thick, urgent, and messy– but the swirling sky and stars behind them were thin, timid. Smooth and wispy.

 

Clarke angrily snatched the book out of his hands. He looked up at her. Her cheeks flushed fiercely. “Happy? Have you pissed me off enough for the day?” she snapped, throwing aside the sketchbook to the other side of her bed.

 

Bellamy, still a bit shocked by the intensity of the drawing, and her talent, honestly, opened his mouth but didn't say anything. Her gaze burned into his face. 

 

“You’re... really good, Princess.” 

 

Her entire face flushed into a deep, wine red. “Thanks. Really funny.” She scoffed and shook her legs out. 

 

“No,” Bellamy reached over and put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s really good,” he says earnestly. 

 

She looked up to meet his eyes.

 

He’d known that Clarke’s eyes were objectively nice-looking. Everyone complimented their big blueness, and stuff.

 

However, looking into Clarke’s eyes right now, only a few inches from her face, he really saw it.

 

They were vulnerable, but intelligent. They held fire, and still, a dark, luminous, guileless gaze peeked through. They were startlingly blue, a kind of blue that you couldn’t mix using paint– almost sapphire, with small flecks of the sky and indigo. Her irises held something so Clarke – intense sadness, lifelong exhaustion, and... hope. A frightening glimmer of hope. 

 

Her eyelashes were long and feathery. They looked like they would tickle if their faces were close enough. Without knowing, Bellamy leaned a bit closer to test this theory. 

 

When Clarke wrinkled her nose and an irritated breath left her mouth, Bellamy stopped, attempting to conceal how flustered he was. “You have dirt on your face.” Bellamy flicked her cheek.

 

“Ow!” Clarke snapped. Narrowing her eyes, she picked up her thermal from beside her sleeping bag and chucked it at his face. 

 

Oof,” Bellamy said through the fabric smothering his face. As it fell into his lap, he smirked. Clarke’s eyes widened, as she realized what she set herself up for.

 

“Princess... if you wanted me to steal some of your clothes...” he started, a childish glint in his eye. 

 

“Shut up, you idiot.” Clarke snapped, rolling her eyes. Her face still turned scarlet. 

 

Thoroughly pleased with his ability to make her blush, Bellamy stood up. “Goodnight, Princess!” He half-sung. He began to turn, but stopped.

 

“Wait... this morning, when you said that I looked like a charred piece of meat... Does that mean that you think I’m, in fact, extremely meaty, muscular, and jacked?” 

Clarke groaned, burying her face in her hands. “You are insufferable.” 

 

“That wasn’t a no.”

 

She met his gaze again with narrowed eyes. Before he could get lost in her unfairly alluring irises again, he repeated, “Goodnight, Princess. Don’t let the Grounders bite.” 

 

“Wait! What about my shirt?” Clarke questioned in exasperation.

 

Bellamy looked down and realized her shirt was still bundled in his fist. “Oh.” He pretended to be surprised as he raised it to his face, inspecting it. “Yeah, I’ll keep this.” And with that, he pushed the flap open and ducks out.

 

“Bellamy!” He heard Clarke scream as he retreated. 

 

Laughing quietly to himself, he made his way to his own tent. As he laid on his side in his sleeping bag, he stared at Clarke’s wrinkled thermal on the ground next to him. Those last ten minutes, he thought– that was definitely flirtation. Their conversation was definitely tinged with something other than their usual hostility. 

 

He reached out, his fingertips touching the soft fabric. What the hell was he doing? There were many discarded shirts in his tent, but he didn’t think Clarke Griffin’s shirt would be one of them. Gathering it in his fist, he chucked it to the other side of the tent and flipped to his other side.

 

It's been a weird day. It was nice of her to help Octavia. His respect for her started to weave into appreciation, and honestly, affection.   

 

Trying to shake away thoughts of Clarke Griffin, he closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep. That night, he dreamt about Clarke’s drawing. But, in his dream, instead of him staring Octavia down, he found himself gazing into a set of deep blue eyes.

 

––

PRESENT

 

“Yeah. I was a goner.” 

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

A few days later, Monty and Jasper convinced Clarke, Finn, Octavia, and Bellamy to join them on a search for somewhere to bathe. They began by exploring the area just northeast of the camp. The six of them bickered and giggled as they ducked under redwood tree branches and hopped over small holes in the ground, while staying alert for any threats or sudden attacks.

 

They paired off (Clarke and Octavia had assumed a new kind of sisterhood, so much to the boys’ chagrin, Bellamy and Finn found themselves as partners. In fact, when Finn and him initially insisted that the girls needed a ‘man to accompany them', Octavia and Clarke turned up their noses even further and decided to ignore them for the duration of the trip.)

 

“No offense, guys,” Jasper said to him and Clarke, “But if I have to breathe in the scent of another teenage boy when I eat, when I sleep, and when I’m trying to have alone time, I’m staging a coup to overthrow your leadership.” 

 

“Ew,” Octavia wrinkled her nose. “I don’t even want to know what your ‘alone time’ consists of.” 

 

“Ditto," Clarke agreed, exchanging a small giggle with Octavia as they walked side-by-side.

 

Bellamy watched on, warily. He was unsure if he should be frightened or pleased by his sister’s and Clarke’s new friendship. In many ways, their personalities grated against each other viciously– the Princess and the Girl Under the Floor. It really couldn’t get any more disparate. Still, ever since that night where Bellamy asked her to talk to Octavia, they’d spent much more time together. 

 

About thirty minutes into their search, the pairs split off and distanced themselves from each other. Monty and Jasper led the group, Octavia and Clarke followed them a few feet behind, and him and Spacewalker took the rear. Monty stopped to inspect a plant or flower on the ground. He bent forward to finger at a purple leaf, and Jasper poked his butt, which caused Monty to fall flat on his ass, and caused Jasper to dissolve into a fit of giggles. Despite his attempts to stay indifferent, Bellamy’s lips still tugged up at the sight of Monty and Jasper’s antics. Looking around at the verdant, looping vines stuck in between branches, the small light leaks on the ground as the sun poked in through the trees, and the soft tufts of grass underneath the steady clomp of their boots, Bellamy wondered if they will ever be able to enjoy the Earth as it is, instead of it currently being the constant stream of narrowly avoided deaths. 

 

A voice broke him out of his reverie. His head turned to the left, where Finn stared ahead with a blank expression.

 

“What?” 

 

“I asked if you think we’ll be able to haul some of the water back. So we don’t have to walk miles to take baths, I mean.” 

 

Bellamy frowned at his lackluster small talk. “Fuck if I know. We have to find the water source, first.” Finn nodded, clearly giving up at any sort of pleasant conversation.

 

He noticed that no matter which way they turned, what rocks they climbed over– Finn’s eyes were fixated on one thing. Bellamy followed his gaze to the braid of golden hair in front of them. He scoffed quietly. Finn finally broke his gaze to look at Bellamy. “What?”

 

Bellamy shook his head and wore a sarcastic smile. “If you think that our Princess has any time for your moon-eyed, romantic bullshit, you should just go find a Grounder now to put you out of your misery.”

 

Finn shook his head this time, and looked at Clarke again, eyes twinkling. “What if I told you that she already made time?” 

 

The words agitated Bellamy more than they should.

 

––

PRESENT

 

“Watch out, world. Here comes jealous Bell.”

 

His eyes shift downwards, a bit shameful. “Yeah. Here he comes.”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

As they walked together, Clarke and Octavia had to hold each other up to stop laughing as Jasper and Monty wrestled on the ground after Jasper stuffed leaves down Monty’s shirt. 

 

At this point, Octavia’s arm was looped through hers. Despite her aching limbs and sleep deprivation after what she called, “The Bellamy Incident” a few nights ago, Clarke relished the feeling of having an actual friend. A girlfriend , no less. She never got to talk to Wells about boys or periods. Though Octavia and her had an unsettling start, ever since they spoke at the tree, Octavia stayed in Clarke’s tent until well into the night, gossiping about Lincoln’s newest romantic gesture. Clarke laid on the ground in the Dropship while Octavia helped Raven, complaining about Bellamy, until Octavia went cross-eyed from how much they rolled. They went back to the tree and watched the stars, while they exchanged the stories about Clarke’s dad and Octavia’s mom.

 

Clarke discretely craned her head to make sure no one is in listening distance. “So,” she whispered into Octavia’s ear. “How is Lincoln?” 

 

Octavia beamed, as she always did when she mentioned Lincoln’s name. “He’s good. We kissed for the first time.” Octavia gushed. 

 

Clarke yelped in excitement, hand flying to her mouth. Octavia shushed her angrily and yanked her arm down. Monty and Jasper turned around and shot them a weird look. She could feel Bellamy’s questioning glare on her back. 

 

“Shut up!” Octavia hissed.

 

“How was it?” She asked, eager for details.

 

Octavia sighed. “It was amazing. I thought my heart was going to explode. He didn’t make me feel embarrassed. And he was so gentle, like I was made of glass, or something. But his tongue was really –”

 

“Okay. Nope. That’s enough information,” she assured, making Octavia laugh. 

 

“Have you had your first kiss on the ground?” Octavia made a seductive face and poked her in the ribs. Clarke looked back, glaring at Finn over her shoulder. He smiled sheepishly. Bellamy looked like he was frowning. 

 

Octavia followed her gaze. “Ew! My brother?” 

 

“What about me?” Bellamy overheard and sped up, falling to Octavia’s side.

 

She groaned. “No, O.” 

 

“O? Since when is she ‘O’ to you?” Bellamy frowned and quirked an eyebrow, a bit amused and a bit possessive.

 

“Since you started being an overbearing father and she needed someone to actually listen to her,” Clarke snapped. 

 

Octavia failed to stifle a laugh, and Finn chuckled as he fell into step with Clarke. Octavia looked over at Finn and a wave of understanding swept over her face. 

 

“Oh. Oh. Bell, follow me, I need to complain about these boys who keep harassing me at camp,” Octavia tugged Bellamy away, not-so-subtly winking at Clarke. 

 

“Wait, O–” But, before she could protest, she dragged Bellamy ahead of them. She saw Bellamy look over his shoulder with an expression she couldn’t quite understand.

 

Finn laughed as he looked back down at Clarke. Clarke refused to meet his gaze. 

 

“Clarke, you can’t stay mad at me forever.”

 

“I can try.” 

 

“Listen,” Finn stopped her, placing his hands on her upper arms. “Can we call a truce? I just want you to stop being mad at me. I want to talk to you again. Just friends. Please?”

 

Clarke tried to keep her gaze on Bellamy and Octavia’s backs, but failed when she heard the small crack in Finn’s voice. God, he hurt her. He hurt her a lot . But she didn’t have anyone else who made her smile like Finn did. It was nice to talk to him, she thought.

 

She met his gaze, tempted to drown in his coffee-colored eyes. His face was hopeful and kind. She sighed.

 

“Okay. Friends.” 

 

Finn beamed and bumped her shoulder with his. “Guess what? I found some willow twigs that we can dry to make charcoal for our resident artist."

 

Her mouth tugged up in excitement. “Really?” 

 

Finn nodded, his smile widening at the twinkle in her bright, blue eyes. 

 

“Really.” 

 

Yeah. Yeah, she missed him.

 

––

PRESENT


“A hopeful and kind face? Seriously?” 

 

She shrugs. “He was all I had. And he treated me well.” Bellamy scowls.

 

“But, luckily,” she presses a kiss to Bellamy’s nose. “I can see an even kinder face now. And more hopeful. And sexier.” 

 

He makes a sound of approval before nuzzling his head in her neck.

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Beside him, Octavia rattled on about how her, Clarke, and Raven played Truth or Dare, and how she dared Raven to streak through all the boys’ tents. He tried listening to her, but all he could focus on was Clarke’s peals of laughter and Finn’s gruff voice behind him. Bellamy fought the urge to turn around and glare at the kid by kicking every pebble on the ground.

 

“Bell? What the fuck is wrong with you?” Octavia snapped a finger in front of his face. He was pulled out of the distraction.

 

“What were you and Clarke talking about?” He prodded, ignoring her question.

 

Octavia snorted. “Seriously? You’re mad about me and Clarke being friends? Didn’t you want me to make more friends down here?” 

 

“No, it's not– it’s not that. Forget it,” he spat. Octavia muttered something along the lines of “grumpy bitch” before trouncing forward to join Monty and Jasper at the front of the group.

 

He was alone now, watching his sister and the two idiots in front of him, and hearing Clarke and Finn’s annoyingly loud laughter behind him. He scowled.

 

Finally, after nearly two hours of walking, Jasper cheered. “Water, ho!” 

 

“That’s not the saying, Jasper,” Monty quipped, and they dissolved into mock-fighting once again.

 

Clarke and Finn jogged up to meet the rest of the group. As she ran, she saw a glimmer of turquoise in the distance. When she reached them, they were on a shallow cliff. Her breath caught in her mouth.

 

They all stood silently in awe. “Ho-ly shit.” Monty whispered. 

 

In front of them was the largest lake Clarke has ever seen. And they had a whole unit on bodies of water in Earth Skills. It was the shape of a sideways oval, and it stretched so far that she could only barely see the end. Below them was a spread of white sand, only darkening when it met the waves. The water was a light blue, and almost completely clear, and Clarke immediately saw strands of glistening seaweed and shiny shells under the water. Small branches littered the sand. Some kind of flower grew on them. Lavender, she thought? Other patches of iridescent flowers and plants were scattered among the beach.

 

“Let’s fucking goooooo!” Jasper howled, sliding down the cliffside. Him and Monty sprinted towards the water, hands grappling at their shirts to tug them off.

 

“Monty, Jasper, wait!” Clarke slid down after them, her shirt getting stuck on some sediment. “It could be dangerous!” She barely had time to be panicked. Monty and Jasper were jumping around in the water, splashing each other and pushing each other down. Octavia slid down behind her. 

 

“Wow,” Octavia breathed, her big hazel eyes widening in wonder. 

 

Clarke suddenly felt an overwhelming, bursting-at-the-seems kind of joy at the sight of her friends– carefree, radiant, just... happy. Her eyes softened as she watched Octavia start to bounce with excitement.

 

“Didn’t get this view under the floor?” Clarke beamed, bumping her shoulder with Octavia’s. She mock-glared back, before slipping her hand into Clarke’s.

 

“Ready?” Octavia prompted.

 

“Ready.”

 

Hand in hand, her and Octavia sprinted after Monty and Jasper, almost tripping as their boots got stuck in the sand. As they reached the water, they hurried to tug off their clothes and shoes. The boys cheered as the two girls waded in together in their underwear. 

 

Clarke closed her eyes in contentment, the lukewarm water kissing her shoulders, sending a pleasant tingle throughout her body. She was surprised to feel that the water was particularly shallow, as she only had to dip a few inches below before her toes hit the soft floor of the lake. 

 

She laughed as Jasper and Monty tackled her and Octavia. They used their arms to sweep big waves over each other’s heads. She felt warm arms wrap around her waist. Startled, she broke away and spun around to see Finn’s lopsided grin.

 

Clarke mischievously narrowed her eyes. She tried to dunk Finn but failed, miserably. Instead, she just messed up his russet hair, making it stand up in all directions. In retaliation, he grabbed her by the waist and tossed her over his shoulder, before throwing her back into the water. She yelped before resurfacing. 

 

“For Clarke’s honor!” Jasper announced loudly, picking up a piece of seaweed and slapping Finn with it.

 

“For Clarke!” Monty echoed, wrapping his piece of seaweed around Finn’s chest to trap him.

 

“The Princess shall stay under our protection, forever!” Jasper bellowed as he and Monty tackled him.

 

Her and Octavia broke down into powerful fits of laughter, choking on the water. Grinning, Clarke made a 360 to see all of her friends, mentally reminding herself to sketch this, later.

 

“Come on, Grandpa!” Octavia shouted.

 

Clarke turned her attention to the shore, realizing that Bellamy was just standing there in amusement. 

 

“I’m okay. I’ll make sure none of the toddlers drown,” he drawled with a smirk.

 

Her and Octavia shared a look of quiet understanding, their eyes flickering wickedly. The two girls paddled their way to the shore. Bellamy started to understand what was about to happen, and tried to run away before they could get to him. But, he tumbled on the sand, which was the perfect opportunity for Octavia and Clarke to emerge from the water. Grasping one arm in their hands, they pulled Bellamy towards the water before finally pushing him in with a loud smack

 

Bellamy didn’t really need to resurface, mostly because he was much taller than the water, but he glared up at them with damp, curly hair now plastered all over his forehead. Her eyes widened.

 

“Wow... I mean... I know how people make jokes about looking like a wet dog... but you actually look like a wet dog right now!” Clarke barely sputtered out before her and Octavia nearly collapsed from loud, head-thrown-back laughter.

 

“That’s it,” Bellamy stomped up to her and Octavia. They were too busy clutching each other through tears of laughter to see him approach.

 

“No!” 

 

“Fuck!”

 

Bellamy hauled both girls over each of his shoulders. She didn’t have time to be embarrassed at the fact that he was holding her half-naked body with one hand before he retreated into the water and threw them both in. 

 

Clarke laughed as she resurfaced, while Octavia erupted in a massive pout. 

 

“The Rebel King reigns!” Jasper yelled.

 

Bellamy grinned widely, and her heart warmed as the water seemed to darken his freckles. She had never seen him with such unfiltered, undiluted joyfulness on his face. He stripped off his wet shirt and chucked it onto shore. She tried not to stare at the muscles of his upper body for too long.

 

Bellamy, Monty, and Jasper formed an alliance, dumping handfuls of water on her and Octavia’s head. Finn tickled her side and Clarke shrieked, moving to hide behind Bellamy.

 

“Don’t worry, Princess. I’ll protect you,” he winked and fat drops of water dripped off her eyelashes when she rolled her eyes. 

 

Finn tried to sidestep Bellamy, but his wide frame simply blocked him. Finn shook out his hair and Bellamy sputtered as the water got in his eyes.

 

“What the hell?” Bellamy questioned. “Octavia!” 

 

“I’m on it!” Octavia flicked a large piece of seaweed at Finn’s back. Her, Monty, and Jasper continued their assault on the amused boy. 

 

Clarke, still behind Bellamy, poked the side of his ribs. He chuckled and turned over his shoulder. She ducked and poked the other side of his chest.

 

“Princess. This is a dangerous game.” 

 

He turned around to face her, but she dipped underwater and swam behind him. Breaking the water, she reached up and tugged on the wet curls on the back of his neck. Bellamy laughed and swiveled around too quickly for her to dive underwater again. She frantically paddled backwards to escape him. The attempt was futile, as he literally just walked through the water. 

 

He reached out a hand and tried to grab her shoulder, but she twisted out of the way, wading further out into the water. Bellamy rolled his eyes and strolled casually towards her.

 

“No fair! Uneven height advantage!” Clarke pointed out with an angry pout. She tried to swim away, but Bellamy grabbed her waist with two hands and jerked her towards him. She let out a small shriek while he smugly looked at her.

 

“I win.” 

 

“This wasn’t a game. This was just the underwater version of me trying to avoid you at the campsite,” she teased. 

 

“Pouting is for children,” he remarked, pulling her bottom lip down with his thumb. Her breath caught in her throat, finally feeling how close they were. 

 

They were now in the middle of the lake, a few meters from the rest of the group. He had pulled her flush against his chest, the taut muscles of his abdomen pressing against her stomach. Being a whole head taller than her, the water droplets from his dark curls dripped down onto her forehead as he stared down at her. She could feel the callouses on his fingers, as his left hand ghosted the inward curve of her waist. His thumb lingered on her lips for a moment.

 

Time seemed to still, and Clarke tried to calm the butterflies that erupted in her as she felt his heart pound rapidly against hers. He ran his thumb down to her chin and across her jaw. She tried, but couldn't look away from his dark, dilated pupils. Her eyes flickered to each freckle on his skin, to the scar on his nose, to the birthmark on his upper lip. She had the sudden urge to touch each of them, commit them to memory, and sketch them later. His thumb found the spot where her jaw met her neck next to her right ear. He unfolded his fingers as he softly gripped the right side of her jaw. In her peripherals, Clarke saw the contrast of his bronzed skin against her pale  complexion. He bent down, and the tip of his nose nuzzled the bridge of hers.

 

“Clarke! Bell! We’re playing chicken!” Octavia’s voice echoed through the air. 

 

The yell ripped them apart, and they stared at each other for a moment, chests heaving, before they straightened and Clarke yelled, “Coming!” over Bellamy’s shoulder.

 

Bellamy smirked and turned his back to her. “Hop on, Princess.” 

 

Clarke climbed onto his back and ran her hands up the flex of his back muscles before wrapping around his neck. His palms seized the underside of her thighs, and she suppressed a yelp as his fingers tightened around her. She heard Bellamy laugh under his breath, so she assumed that she failed.

 

––

PRESENT

 

Clarke sighs. “If only I just leaned up a bit higher… we would’ve saved ourselves a lot of trouble.”

 

Bellamy frowns. “You make it seem like I didn’t want to kiss you.”

 

She shrugs with a half-smile. “I didn’t know if you just wanted a quick fuck back then.”

 

A bit offended, Bellamy incredulously exclaims, “Have you heard a word of what I just said for the last few hours?” 

 

“I wasn’t sure! I literally found you in bed with Raven a few days before that!”

 

He looks down, guilt-ridden and embarrassed.

 

“Hey,” Clarke uses a finger to lift his chin so that he’s staring into her eyes. “That was a long time ago.”

 

“You were never a quick fuck to me.”

 

“I know. I know,” she pats her chest, motioning for him to lay his head down. “And look where we are now.”

 

“Can I at least tell you my side?”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

After the sun sank too low in the sky, Bellamy urged the group back to the shore so they could head home. The long hours of wading through heavy waves, throwing Clarke and Octavia, and holding them up on his shoulders made his muscles ache as he stepped onto the sand. They all tugged on their clothes before making the trek back home. Clarke quickly penciled a hasty map of their coordinates on a piece of cloth so that they could return later. As her tongue peeked out of the corner of her mouth, just as she did when she drew, Bellamy realized that the speed in which a smile immediately spread on his face was definitely not normal.

 

They paired off again, making the trek back to camp. Him and Spacewalker followed the girls once again, and he couldn’t help but stare at the wet, golden curls that stuck to Clarke’s back. 

 

The last few hours really, really tested his patience. 

 

When he saw Clarke strip off her tank top and sweatpants, he tried to turn away, but couldn’t help peeking at her body, all soft edges and curves, all silvery white (except for the blue-purple bruises). She managed to make her quite plain, black bra-and-pantie set look alluring.

 

He shook the thoughts away. 

 

When he saw his friends splash around in the water with loud laughs, he couldn’t help but smile. He inched forward to stand at the edge of the shore, arms crossed. He figured that someone should keep watch. Plus, he doesn’t know how much willpower he’d have around a half-naked woman. 

 

That is quickly answered after Clarke and Octavia pull him into the water. He remembers growling at their hysterical laughter, and resented the fact that, according to Clarke, he did not look sexy when wet. And that’s how he found Clarke Griffin’s ass so close to his face when he heaved her and Octavia over his shoulder and into the water. 

 

Well, he was too far gone now. And, he was actually... happy. He laughed as him, Monty, and Jasper dumped yet another handful of water over O’s head, or when they whipped Finn with a strand of seaweed. 

 

Bellamy felt a surge of pride after Clarke scrambled behind him to escape Finn. He knew it wasn’t that deep, but it still stroked his ego. 

 

That’s– that was when things got really bad. 

 

As O and the boys tugged Finn away, he felt a small poke on his ribs. Laughing, he tried to catch the blonde, but she evaded his grasp, poking the other side of his chest and diving underwater to tug on his curls. He finally forced her into the middle of the lake before growing frustrated. A pink pout formed on her lips, and that was the last straw.

 

Bellamy grabbed her by the waist and jerked her towards him. He reached and tugged on her lower lip. He smirked at the way her body tensed, and the way a deep blush flooded her cheeks. But then– he made the mistake of staring down into those beguiling, deep swirls of blue. 

 

Clarke’s eyelashes were dark and wet, nesting small drops of water. Her braid had fallen out during their scuffle, and the strands turned amber in the sun, running down her shoulders and her chest. He itched to run his fingers through each tangle. 

 

As she stared up at him, his thumb reverently traced the length of her jaw. He splayed his fingers out to cup her face. He couldn’t force himself to look away. Leaning down, his nose nuzzled against Clarke’s. He moved to tilt his face towards hers, now feeling her eyelashes flutter against his cheeks. Then, suddenly, Bellamy felt her absence all at once.

 

“Clarke! Bell!” Octavia’s voice broke them apart, and Bellamy leaned his head back and let out a quiet groan. 

 

Clarke had scooted a few feet back, but he relished in the scarlet flush of her face, the rapid heaving of her chest, and the dazed, electrified look in her eyes. Desperate for her body to be against his again, he spun around. 

 

“Hop on, Princess.”


He tried not to let out a grunt while her fingers danced over his shoulder blades. Clarke Griffin truly was a tease. He reached back and yanked her thighs around his waist, his fingertips digging into her lower thighs. He squeezed the soft skin, and smirked as he heard the soft gasp escape her mouth. 

 

And now, as he hiked back to camp with Spacewalker next to him, he clenched his fists so hard that they became white. He wondered if Finn was telling the truth earlier. If he really knew what those rosy lips felt and tasted like.

 

––

PRESENT

 

“For the record, you’re really sexy when you’re wet. I was in denial,” Clarke says with a coy smile.

 

He throws his body over hers, attacking her with kisses.

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Clarke struggled to suppress her flustered disposition as she walked back to camp with Octavia. Luckily, the girl ranted like a politician, so she just smiled and nodded while Octavia spoke about how they had to revisit the lake for her birthday. 

 

She couldn't stop thinking about how she was so close to Bellamy. So close that she could count his freckles one by one. Or the fact that he seemed to want her, the look of longing pooling in his dark eyes. When did they go from hating each other, to being friends? She thought back to the uneasy feeling in her stomach when she walked in on him and Raven, and how Bellamy still has her shirt somewhere. She was growing too attached to him, she realized, and she wasn’t ready for another Finn. 

 

Finn , she thought. The other boy walking behind her. She thought about the way his fresh-faced smile once spurred butterflies in her stomach, and the way he touched her body, eyes wide with reverence, in the bunker. What she felt for Finn left her raw. Stricken. 

 

And it's not the way that her and Bellamy’s relationship felt. She didn’t care much when she saw girls exiting his tent, or when he leaned against the fence with one arm, flirting with Roma. But when she saw him and Raven– she later realized that the sight of them stirred evil thoughts in her mind. An agitated feeling in her stomach. 

 

A saving grace from her thoughts, Monty and Jasper pushed open the gate with a resounding, “Home, sweet home!” Clarke’s heart ached at the words, with a longing to see Wells again.

 

She missed him more than life itself, it seemed. She missed their uncomplicated, easygoing friendship– well, before he lied about being the one who sold out her father. But even when they fought, she felt safe around him.

 

And that’s much more than she can say for Bellamy, or Finn, right now.

 

––

PRESENT

 

“That makes me sad.”

 

“Can you blame me? Especially for what happens next?”

 

He falls quiet. 

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

That night, Clarke and the rest of the gang lounged on the ground of the Dropship. Bellamy had just finished the camp’s nightly meeting, reminding them all that if they wanted to survive, each of them had to play their part. That lecture was particularly biting– when they returned from the lake earlier, they found out that a group of kids accidentally burned a large portion of their rations when one of them forgot to tend to the campfire. The meeting ended on a happier note, though, with Monty and Jasper eagerly announcing that they found “the sickest beach” for everyone to bathe in. 

 

Clarke leaned against a medicine cabinet with Octavia’s head in her lap. Monty and Jasper laid face down in hammocks, a bit high from a plant that Monty figured out has the same effect as their chosen green in space. Finn sat on the cabinet above Clarke. They were all tired, but content from today’s activities.

 

Bellamy excluded. He was pacing the length of the Dropship’s entrance.

 

“Okay. So, we can use the lake as an incentive. Whoever finishes their jobs early and adequately can have the first shot at the beach’s coordinates. After everyone knows about it, we can send out groups of five every other day to gather materials– the sand would be good for buffering the fence. We can use the seaweed for food. The seashells can be made into bowls and jars. And–”

 

“Jesus Christ, big brother!” Octavia cut him off. “Can you just relax? The beach isn’t going anywhere. We have time. All of us are tired.” She shifted her head in Clarke’s lap to face Bellamy.

 

“There’s no time to relax!” Bellamy bellowed, startling everyone. Jasper jerked and fell out of the hammock. He rubbed his head in confusion. 

 

“What the hell, man?” Finn muttered, his knuckles gripping the edge of the cabinet a bit harder.

 

Clarke jumped at the intensity of his voice. Octavia tensed, and she looked down. A bit of fear flickered through her eyes. 

 

Annoyed that he made Octavia unhappy–again– Clarke’s eyes shot up. “What the fuck is your problem, Bellamy?” She hissed. 

 

Bellamy looked at Clarke, irritation in his eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry, Princess, not all of us can prance around with the butterflies like you and O,” he snapped. Clarke swelled with fury, but Finn leaned down to rest his large palm on her shoulder. Seeing that, Bellamy scoffed loudly.

 

“Calm down, dude,” Finn urged, rubbing Clarke’s shoulder and looking down at Octavia in concern. 

 

“Of course. Spacewalker comes to the brave Princess’ rescue,” he barked. 

 

Monty and Jasper grew uncomfortable with the tension and began to creep out of the room. “We’re gonna head to bed, guys. Night,” Monty said. Jasper half-waved and they scurried out. Bellamy didn’t even look up.

 

“What’s wrong, man? We had a great day. Don’t ruin it,” Finn insisted as softly as he could. Clarke reeled back a bit as Bellamy seethed, his chest heaving up and down. 

 

“We had a great day?” He stalked over to Finn and got in his face. “Maybe you had fun, frolicking with the Princess, but someone needs to stay alert so that the Grounders don’t come and gut all of us!” 

 

She frowned at him bringing up her name. She didn’t bother responding, though, after she realized that Octavia was trembling a bit in her lap. Clarke tried to soothe her by smoothing down her hair and scratching lightly at her scalp. 


Bellamy didn’t realize, continuing his rampage. “Those fuckers are savages!” He yelled in Finn’s face. “They will kill us all, while you’re all dicking around on a beach!” 

 

That did it for Octavia. She pulled herself from Clarke’s lap and shot up, her face twisted with fury and agitation. “They’re not all like that, Bell! If you stopped trying to shoot them all on sight, maybe we could have an alliance!” Octavia yelled, which pulled Bellamy away from Finn. 

 

Clarke shivered as Bellamy laughed without any humor in his eyes. 

 

“O, you are completely deluded if you think those people want anything to do with us. You’re still so fucking naive! You might as well be under the floorboards, still!” He growled. 

 

Clarke winced as Octavia grew quiet. She saw angry tears running down the teenager’s face. 

 

Octavia slowly approached Bellamy. “Fuck you, Bell.” She pushed the curtain open, and left.

 

Bellamy swallowed without a response. Clarke looked up at Finn. He seemed to understand, squeezing her shoulder before standing up.

 

“I’ll go make sure she’s okay.” Before he left, he shot her a look– be careful – to which Clarke nodded.

 

Silence overtook the small space. Bellamy was frozen, staring at the space on the ground where Octavia was just a few seconds ago. She noticed that his breathing had slowed, and an anguished look had made its way onto his face. Clarke brought her knees up, resting her cheek on them, waiting for him to say something.

 

After an uncomfortable ten minutes passed, she decided that he was completely shut off. She stood up and made her way to the curtain, walking around him and putting as much space as she could between them. As soon as she was about to push open the curtain, she heard the heartbreaking crack of his usually gruff voice.

 

“It was today.” 

 

Clarke stopped, somehow knowing exactly what he meant. “What?” she still asked.

 

“Today was the day she was floated. A year ago.” 

 

“How do you know?”

 

“It was fourteen days from the day we dropped. It's been two weeks. I’ve counted.”

 

Her chest ached from his resigned, broken tone. He sank to the floor, right where she was against the medicine cabinet. His head fell between his knees. Clarke crouched in front of him. “I’m so sorry, Bellamy.” 

 

“It’s stupid,” he scratched the side of his head. “She was no mother of the year. I really thought she loved Octavia and me. Why else would she sleep with all those members of the Guard, right? To keep us safe for all those years.”

She placed one hand on his knee, her thumb tracing circles against his skin.

 

“But I thought back to when Octavia was born– your sister, your responsibility ,” he mocked, shaking his head. “She didn’t care. She didn’t want Octavia at all.” 

 

Clarke wanted to assure him, promise him that his mother did care about him, did love him and Octavia. But she couldn’t.

 

“Octavia doesn’t know about today. Seeing her so happy, in that stupid lake,” Bellamy smiled sadly. “She deserves better.”

 

“It must be especially hard this time, since we’re on the ground, and everything,” Clarke sympathized. 

 

He looked up at her with that same, sad smile. She sharply inhaled at the sight of his wet cheeks. “That’s the thing. It wasn’t hard, at first. I’ve never seen her smile like she did today. She was so carefree. So happy. With you,” he added 

 

“It was fine until those idiots –” he hissed, his face turning red. Clarke anticipated the rising anger, and gently raised her second hand to his other knee. He seemed to relax.

 

“Until those kids wasted all of those rations. We needed those rations. Octavia and I would’ve killed for those rations growing up,” his voice cracked. She thought back to the steady stream of ration packs she had growing up, and felt a massive wave of guilt wash over her.

 

“We hiked for four hours today, to find a place for everyone to use. And we come back, and they don’t give a shit,” he spat. “If we didn’t spend so much time in the lake, I could’ve prevented that. I’m too old to be playing chicken with a bunch of teenagers. I need to make sure everyone here stays alive.” 

 

“Well... at least we won every round of chicken against Octavia and Finn. Monty and Jasper too,” Clarke declared with a proud look on her face. The corners of his mouth tugged up.

 

Laughing, he shook his head and used his forearm to wipe the tears off of his face. “The Princess has jokes.” 

 

Clarke grinned, crossing her arms over his knees and resting her chin on them. Her eyes softened. “Bellamy– you can’t take care of everyone,” he opened his mouth to protest, but Clarke kept going. 

 

“You took care of Octavia for her whole life– you raised her into a beautiful, fierce, stubborn, and occasionally aggravating woman.” He laughed. She suppressed the warmth that bubbles in her stomach as his freckles dance.

 

“But you can’t do that with everyone. You can’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You’re already doing everything you can to keep us alive. I mean, you’re the reason we’re all still alive. You kept us together. You inspire people.

 

“You have such a big heart, Bellamy,” she started, placing a hand over his heart. “But if you want to lead, you have to use this, too,” she moved a finger to his temple. She couldn't read his expression. 

 

“You’re right, those kids are idiots. But we’re all idiots, here– no one knows what the hell we’re doing,” she laughed. “But look how fast we found a solution. How you found a solution. We have that algae you mentioned, the one Monty found. And you thought of the seaweed.

 

“You’re the leader we need. But you can’t lead if you’re too busy punishing yourself,” she pulled her arms rest on his knees again.

 

Clarke looked at him, hard, with a reassuring look in her eyes. His face relaxed, and tears pricked the corners of his eyes. They stayed like that for a few seconds, their breaths eventually falling in sync.

 

Suddenly, his knees dropped and Clarke felt him pull her into a tight embrace. His arms wrapped around her waist. Her palms dropped to his chest. She smiled against his shoulder, as his hand tightly gripped the back of her braid. She nuzzled her cheek into his neck. I’m not going anywhere.

 

She eventually snaked her arms around his neck. He fell limp in her arms as she traced small shapes onto his neck with her fingers. He squeezed her waist once before pulling away.

 

“Thank you,” he choked out, looking at her with appreciation. Clarke just smiled back, wiping away one of his tears with her thumb. “Come on. It's late,” she got up and walked to the curtain.

 

“Clarke?” 

 

“Hm?” She turned around and found him right behind her, staring intensely. Their noses barely brushed against each other. 

 

Bellamy didn’t answer. He just raised his right hand and cupped her face, before bringing his lips down to hers. 

 

She froze. His lips were still salty from the tears. He was gentle, threading his fingers through her hair and back to her neck. He pulled her closer to him. She found the courage to move her mouth against his. They tangled together seamlessly. She tried to open her mouth into the kiss, but he pulled away before she could. She stared at him in shock. He smiled down at her, stroking her cheek with his thumb.

 

“Goodnight,” he whispered, brushing past her and ducking through the curtain.

 

Clarke stood there, unmoving. She brought her fingertips to her mouth, where Bellamy’s lips were just a second ago. A bit dazed, she waited a few moments before stumbling out and collapsing in her tent. 

 

––

PRESENT

 

“If only that kiss solved everything,” Clarke says wryly.

 

Guilt overrides his features. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, Clarke,” he whispers.

 

“I know,” she holds him against her chest, using her left hand to press his head down.

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

He couldn’t sleep. 

 

The stars peeked through the hole in the roof of his tent, and he tried to count each one to help him fall asleep. It didn’t work. His mind worked overtime. Guilt rippled through his head as he thought back to the way he snapped at Octavia. Shame throbbed in his skull when he remembered the discomfort on Monty and Jasper’s faces. Irrational anger pulsed through his veins when he recalled how Finn touched Clarke, and how he went after Octavia. And, worst of all, fear flashed in front of his eyes– images of his mother dissolving into space, of Octavia being pulled away from him by the Guard, of Clarke resenting him, of Octavia dying... of all of them dying.

 

He sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. Today had been exhausting. Feeling freedom with his friends. Almost kissing Clarke, then actually kissing Clarke. Screaming at stupid kids. Stupidly screaming at his own sister. Crying in Clarke’s arms. 

 

She made him feel at ease. Like she understood, despite their polar opposite upbringings. She listened to him– nobody had ever wanted to listen to him. At least, not the way she did. She made him feel seen. 

 

But he wished she didn’t see through him so easily. He didn’t want to be seen. He knows that if she really saw it all– she would run. He didn’t deserve her.

 

He longed to travel the five feet over to her tent and rest his head in her lap. He wanted her to draw shapes on his chest with her fingers, and detangle the knots in his hair. He knew sleep would come easy if he could hold her, attach himself to her. But what they had before he complicated things, worked. And he didn’t know if he could handle another rejection. More abandonment. 

 

So he got up. And walked to the girl’s tent. 

 

––

PRESENT

 


Clarke tenses. Bellamy doesn’t have the courage to look into her eyes. 

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Clarke woke up the next morning, still a bit dazed from yesterday’s events. It felt much like the soap operas she and Wells watched on the Arc, now that she thought back to it. It made her laugh to herself. She remembered how sweet Bellamy’s lips felt on hers. She was– yes, she definitely was– excited to see him. 


But then she remembered how his lips actually felt on hers. They felt like he was desperate, acting in the heat of the moment. Needing a warm body after a hard day. And she had a feeling that she tasted like sadness. Sadness that arose from the thought that she was just another one of his girls.

 

She pushed open her tent and ran her eyes over the kids scattered throughout the camp, trying to find the familiar head of russet curls. Today, they needed to figure out how to organize and schedule lake trips for everyone else in camp. She heard soprano laughter to her right. Looking over, Clarke saw a familiar brunette exit Bellamy’s tent. Roma.

 

He followed closely behind her, holding her hand. He smiled down at her. Like the way he smiled at Clarke last night.

 

Clarke stills as a frown materializes on her face. Something inside her snapped.

 

Roma kissed Bellamy’s cheek before heading off to her shift. He exhaled loudly and ran a hand through his hair. The hair her fingers tended to last night. She cleared her throat. His head snapped over to her.

 

“Hey,” Clarke started, pushing down those broken pieces inside of her. 

 

“Good morning,” he responded, with an odd look on his face. 

 

She decided to choose her battles. Gripping the map she sketched yesterday, she made her way over to Bellamy. “Here’s what I was thinking,” Clarke held out the map so they could both see it. “If we trace a line from the beach back to camp, there’s actually a faster way to get to the lake. Instead of wrapping around like we did yesterday,” she used the pencil to sketch an arrow between the two points. “We can actually cut the travel time in half by clearing this path.” 

 

Bellamy hummed approvingly. She ignored the heat emanating off his body and shuffled further away. He seemed to notice, hurt appearing on his face. 

 

“Clarke–” 

 

She folded the map and tucked it in her pocket. “Don’t. Let’s just focus on how we’ll integrate the lake trips into everyday life. Cool?” she said coldly.

 

She wasn’t about to be Finn -ed, again. There wasn’t time for that. He just nodded, jaw clenching.

 

She spun on her heel to look for Octavia.

 

 

 

Later, Bellamy dropped another wooden plank at Monty’s feet. Him and Jasper were helping Monty construct the base for an algae and seaweed farm, to ensure that they had a means to eat as soon as possible. 

 

The three kneeled on the ground just outside of the fence. Monty arranged the logs to resemble a kind of raised flat, shoveling in piles of dirt with space for water. Jasper threaded plant fibers into thick twine to tie the wooden pieces together. Bellamy used a hunting knife to strip and carve logs into thinner planks for Monty.

 

At first, they worked in silence, a certain kind of awkwardness still lingering from the night before. Eventually, Monty threw a wood scrap at Jasper when he whipped Monty with a piece of his rope. Bellamy laughed, and the other two relaxed, the tension dissolving into the air. 

 

Bellamy’s thumb gripped the knife that carefully sheared the rough surface of the oakwood. He was such a fucking idiot. Why did he sleep with Roma? Well, he knew why he slept with her before– his sex drive was unusually high on the Ground– but last night, he didn’t have a single desire to be with anyone, except for a blonde with a sketchbook a tent away from him. 

 

And that look on her face that morning. He hated himself for twisting her soft, pretty features into that expression. Frustrated with himself, he dropped the knife and the plank on the ground with a resounding 'ugh'. 

 

Monty and Jasper looked up. “Oh god,” Jasper said, eyes wide. “Are we to bear witness to another infamous meltdown by the Rebel King?” 

 

Bellamy rolled his eyes, recognizing his playful tone. He leaned back against a tree trunk, arms crossed. "If you guys kissed a girl, and then went and fucked another girl right after, what would you do? Or, like, if you did, why would you do it?” Bellamy blurted out, trying to be as vague as he could.

 

Monty’s eyebrows raised. “Jeez, Bellamy. We knew you’re a hot commodity, but two girls in one night? Right after one another? Impressive.” Jasper hummed in approval and they both held up a hand for Bellamy to five. He ignored them and they dropped them with a grumble. 

 

“I never said it was me!” Bellamy insisted. Monty and Jasper stared expectantly. 

 

He sighed. “It’s not like that.” 

 

They waited. 

 

“It’s like… what if you were too… distracted by one girl? So you went… to the other?” 

 

They were silent. 

 

After a few seconds, Jasper started laughing hysterically. He tumbled over and clutched his stomach. Monty just shook his head. 

 

“What?” Bellamy snapped, glaring at Jasper, who was still rocking back and forth with glee. 

 

“It sounds like you already know why you did it, my guy,” Monty conceded, a sheepish look on his face.

 

“What the hell are you talking about?”

 

Jasper finally managed to sit back up and wipe the tears that escaped from his eyes. “You were definitely trying to get over the first chick. The kiss clearly meant something to you, so you thought you could just fuck it away,” Jasper rolled his eyes, as though this is all obvious. “You like the first girl. Duh.”

 

“I don’t feel a thing for the first girl, Jasper,” Bellamy huffed. Liar .  

 

“Actually, it's pretty clear that you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be concerned or asking us about this in the first place. You haven’t bat an eye for the many- and I mean, like, many girls that you’ve hooked up with since we dropped. But you care for the first girl. You know that sleeping with that other chick was a shitty thing to do. Wait, now that I’m thinking about it, that’s super fucked up. You’re a dickhead.

 

“I fucking knew that, Jasper.”

 

“Moreover, suddenly, you’re resorting to the ‘bro’ approach? Not that Jonty isn’t the perfect pair for wise and prudent advice, but you would literally die before you ask other people for help, dude,” Jasper pointed out. 

 

“And that probably lends itself to the fact that you grew up without any help, at all. You’ve learned to trust only yourself. So, opening yourself up to advice would require a kind of vulnerability that the chip on your shoulder refuses to surrender itself too. Your psyche is constantly battling this push and pull between wanting to ask for help, but not wanting to get burned again,” he shrugged.

 

Monty looks at him with wide eyes. “Nice, dude.” They hold out one hand to high five each other, but Jasper stares at Bellamy.  

 

“But seriously… that was a dick move. Like, your psyche must be really fucked up for you to do those two girls so dirty. And that’s saying a lot, especially from you,” Jasper finished.

 

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Bellamy stood up, fury written across his face.

 

“I mean, like, your track record with women isn’t…” 

 

“O-kay Jasper, that’s enough advice!” He moved to Jasper’s side, patting his shoulder and looking at Bellamy apologetically. But, to be frank, he was also in agreement with his friend.

 

Bellamy just stared back, warily. 

 

“Then again… ” Jasper narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips. “This first girl seems to be worth your inner emo-boy bar fight.” He squinted at Bellamy. Then, his face twisted into the most scary, Chesire-cat, five-year-old grin that Bellamy had ever seen.

 

“So…” 

 

Bellamy groaned.  

 

“Who is she?” Jasper asked, as he rose to his knees, bouncing excitedly. 

 

“No one you know,” Bellamy retorted, picking up the knife and log to continue his work. 

 

“Uh, dude, I hate to break it to you, but…” Monty gestured to the camp behind them. “It’s literally impossible for us to not know either of these girls.” 

 

Bellamy huffed. “Forget it. Let’s just finish this damn algae farm.”

 

“Hey!” Monty scolded. “Do not speak the algae farm’s name in vain.” 

 

“Why do I hang out with you guys?”

 

“Because you looove us!” Jasper sang. He shuffled to Bellamy’s side and nudged his shoulder. “Who is it? Who is it?”

 

Monty followed suit, going to his other shoulder. 

 

“Who is it? Who is it?” They started to chant together. 

 

“Shut the hell up!” Bellamy tried to get up and leave, but each boy pulled him back down. 

 

“Is she cute?”

 

“Does she have a nice ass?”

 

“Is she smart? 

 

“Is she cool with smoking?”

 

“What are her thoughts on moral relativism?”

 

“Black hair?” 

 

“No, Jas, Bellamy has a type.”

 

“Brunette?”

 

“Brunette!” 

 

“Thin.”

 

“Annoying voice.”

 

“Clarke isn’t even my type , you idiots!” Bellamy yelled. Wide eyed, he slaps a hand over his mouth. 

 

“Ho.”

 

“Ly.”

 

“Shit!” Jasper and Monty looked at each other incredulously. They burst out laughing for a few seconds, before immediately sobering up.

 

“Wait a minute…” Jasper started. “You did that shit to Clarke Griffin ? Fearless leader, caring, badass, obnoxiously selfless Clarke Griffin?” He shook his head. “That’s not cool, dude.”

 

Monty’s face turned distrustful. “Seriously, man. She’s done so much for us. And she’s way nicer to you than you deserve. Like, this is fucked up to do to any girl, but that is especially bad.”

 

“You think I don’t know that?” Bellamy snapped, throwing his hands up. He saw the hesitant expressions on the two boys’ faces. “Look, I know,” he said, softer. “I just–it’s– like, all of those things you just said! She’s too nice . And clearly, I can’t go a day without hurting a nice girl.”

 

“Then… why did you kiss her?” Monty said slowly.

 

“I– I don’t know,” he admitted. “I was really sad. And she’s just a good listener. And she’s been taking care of Octavia, on top of all of her responsibilities. She’s a good person to be around, like you guys just said."

 

“Uh, huh,” Monty nodded condescendingly. 

 

“So… you used her to make her happier when you were sad after you yelled at all of us?” Jasper stood up and narrowed his eyes. Bellamy didn’t realize that these two were capable of having anything else but goofy grins on their faces.

 

“No!” Bellamy exclaimed exasperatedly. “I… wanted to. Kiss her. I’ve been wanting to kiss her for a few days, now. It was just horrible timing.”

 

“So, you…” Jasper started.

 

“I…” 

 

“You…” Monty prompted. 

 

“I…” Bellamy sighed. “I like her.”

 

“You like her,” Monty and Jasper said in unison with him. 

 

Silence descends on the three. Slowly, a stupid grin grew on Jasper’s face. “It’s a miracle! The Rebel King has found his Queen!” Bellamy winced, knowing what’s coming next. “Or… should I say, his Princess?” Jasper wiggled his eyebrows. 

 

Monty and Jasper cheered with a joyous high-five. “Young love,” Monty sighed, clapping Jasper on the shoulder. Jasper hummed in agreement.

 

Bellamy rubbed a hand over his face. “Christ…” 

 

“Okay, seriously, though,” Monty’s smile dropped. “You need to apologize to her. You really fucked up.” 

 

“She’s probably really hurt by it,” Jasper added.

 

Bellamy sighed. “I know. You’re right. How do I even begin?” 

 

“That’s on you, my man,” Monty said bluntly. “You need to un-fuck things up.” 

 

Bellamy frowned at his phrasing. “Okay,” he took a deep breath. “Can you guys, not–” 

 

“Don’t worry, your secret is safe with Jonty,” Jasper finished. They high fived. Again. 

 

Bellamy grumbled. “Whatever. Can we please finish this?”

 

Jasper winked. “Anything for our Rebel King.” Bellamy chucked a piece of wood at Jasper's forehead. 

 

“Also, what the fuck is a ‘Jonty’?”

 

––

PRESENT

 

 

Clarke smiles at Monty and Jasper’s constant quips, despite the context. 

 

“Do we… Do we really have to talk about the next part?” Bellamy asks, hesitantly. 

 

Clarke sits up. “You can’t just avoid the shitty parts in our relationship, Bell. It wasn’t perfect. It was completely awful, sometimes. But it was so, so worth it. What will we tell our children? And– and besides, you wanted to tell this whole story in the first place!” she waves her hands around them.

 

Bellamy is quiet. “Children?” 

 

Clarke curses, burying her face in her hands. “Whatever, Bell,” she mumbles quietly. He pulls her hands away and hovers over her.

 

“Really?” He asks with the most brilliant, glowing, world-shattering smile. She can’t help it. Her mouth twitches up.

 

“I mean, yeah,” Clarke responds softly. “I told you. You’re it for me. I’m all in, Bell.” 

 

Bellamy breathes a laugh and beams. “All in. I’m all in.” He flops back on his pillow, staring at the ceiling in awe. Clarke frowns, propping herself up on her elbow. 

 

“Bell? Did I break you?” 

 

Suddenly, she’s pulled off the bed and her legs are in the air. “You want kids with me?” Bellamy grins, spinning her around. She throws her head back in laughter.

 

“I’m assuming you know the answer, since I’m currently hovering a few feet above the ground.” His peals of laughter echo around the room. He puts her down and cups her face in his hands.

 

“I want a daughter. A tiny Clarke. Or… maybe… a few tiny Clarke’s?” he says shyly.

 

“Okay, now,” she pokes his nose. “Let’s see if we can make the first one happen. I will try to tell my body that my husband desperately needs a girl.”

 

Bellamy looks down to her stomach. “Little embryo. You must do this for me,” he says sternly.

 

Clarke giggles. “I’m pretty sure that only works when the embryo is actually in there.” 

 

He shrugs and pulls her back into bed, so that they’re facing each other. He takes a deep breath. “You’re right. I need to stop avoiding the past. Avoiding it all,” he nods, searching her eyes. “I just… whenever I remember how much pain I inflicted onto you…” he swallows. “I can’t imagine ever hurting you that badly ever again.”

 

“And you won't,” she smiles, placing a hand on his cheek.

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

 

A few nights later, Clarke and Finn sat on a log bench in front of the fire. They huddled close against the cold. 

 

She had her sketchbook in her hands, using a new piece of charcoal that Finn carved for her to draw a picture of Octavia. She decided to capture the time where she twirled in the butterfly field. Her head was thrown back with a stunning smile on her face, hair cascading to her waist, as a sapphire set of wings perches on the bridge of her nose.


After Bellamy yelled at her yesterday night, Octavia was feeling resentful. But, now, Clarke knew her well enough to see the heartache that lingers behind her steely eyes. She was planning on telling Bellamy about Lincoln, but that argument made her realize that he’d never see him as anything else as a “savage”. 

 

Clarke’s chest stung for her. Octavia had never experienced love before. At least, not that kind of love. And it seemed like the only other boy that she loves as much, doesn’t care, at all. Intent on making her feel better, she sketched with care. She stole some blue flowers from Monty to test out making pigments to color the butterfly. 


Admittedly, being with Finn made her feel better. The temporary hurt of being Bellamy’s warm body subsided. Clarke looked around the camp, waiting for Bellamy. They decided to meet to discuss the plans for the lake at dusk. She heard the familiar clomp of boots and looked up. Bellamy hovered over her and Finn.

 

“Hey,” Clarke smiled softly. 


––

PRESENT

 

Bellamy’s body goes rigid, a pained look in his eyes. 

 

“It’s okay, Bell,” Clarke murmurs. “You can do it.”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Bellamy took a deep breath in his tent. Okay, Blake. You can do this.  

 

Him and Clarke had decided that they’d meet after dinner to discuss his plans for the lake. He’d been working on his apology for a few days. It was an agonizing process, as he never really… had to make an apology for anything, before. But Clarke was worth it, he decided.

 

First, he would thank her for being there for him when he was upset. And he would reassure her that he wasn’t using her or looking for a pity fuck, or something. He would tell her that he actually wanted to kiss–

 

Nope. That’s too soon. Instead, he would apologize for taking advantage of her in that situation. And finally, he would explain that what he did with Roma was super, super fucked up. And that he cared about her, and wanted to make sure that they could continue to become friends. And, as Monty and Jasper said– Clarke is understanding. She’s forgiving. This was reparable. 

 

Taking one last, deep inhale, he pushed himself out of the tent. He ran over the apology once more in his head as he approached the campfire. A few feet away now, he looked up.

 

And every nerve in his body began to sting. Spacewalker and Clarke were cuddling on the bench. She laughed at something he said, and he felt shame wash over his body. It was too late. He was stroking her hair. Bellamy’s hands clutched that same hair a few nights ago. Finn was staring at her rose-colored lips. She was completely oblivious. Bellamy claimed those lips twenty-four hours ago.

 

He knew he shouldn’t be this aggravated at the sight of them huddled together. But– he couldn’t help but wonder. She looked so flustered when he’d flirted with her in her tent. And he saw that her eyes couldn’t stop wandering over his half-naked body, and not Finn’s, at the lake. And he noticed that she tried to deepen the kiss before he pulled away in the Dropship. And how she held him, and ran her hand through his curls, and stroked his face. It all seemed so natural. Like they fit together just right, yin and yang. 

 

Who was he even kidding? Jasper was right. Clarke was too good. And moreover, too good for him. I mean, he went from being a total asshole for a week since they dropped, to being unusually attached to her. No wonder she thought that he was using her. She just came out of nowhere. A tropical storm without the hurricane sirens, the loud crack of a firework that’s set off without warning, the violent tremors on the Arc after a particularly brutal sunflare. And he didn’t know why it happened. It just did.

 

But then… There was that moment where the air left his lungs when he saw the look on her face after Roma left his tent. Maybe it wasn’t all heartbreak, but there was something in her gaze that tugged at his own heart. 

 

Suddenly, an evil, venomous thought flooded his mind. Of course. How could he not see this, before? 

 

It was payback. Spacewalker was pissed that he’d slept with Raven. So he’s getting back at him with Clarke. And she was just going along with it.

 

And then, an odd cocktail of emotions swirled inside of him. There was irritation, at himself, for being a dickhead to two girls at once. Desperation, too, just needing to know why he wanted Clarke Griffin. Frustration that Octavia was still mad at him. Envy that Octavia went to Clarke for her issues now, and not him. Lingering resentment for those kids who stole the rations. Annoyance that Monty and Jasper wrestled the truth out of him, called him an idiot, an asshole, a dickhead. Disappointment, because he knew that they were right. Bitter that Clarke felt comfortable cozying up to Spacewalker, even though she bared his soul to him, and his with hers. 

 

It was this stick of dynamite that just needed the flick of a match. He scoffed at himself. He wasn’t a teenager anymore. But he really was acting like one. Yet, this ugly thing coiled inside of him, and he couldn’t focus on what it was, with the overwhelming stream of immature thoughts flooding his head.

 

“Bellamy?” 

 

Her voice dissolved the haze in his mind. He realized that he was standing right in front of them. He looked from Finn, to her. 

 

“Hi,” Bellamy responded indifferently.

 

He saw Clarke frown for a second. But a smile quickly returned on her face, as she flipped to the page in her sketchbook where the layout of the lake’s travel plan is. “Ready to talk bathtime?” she teased.

 

His gaze softened a bit. No matter how angry he was, her smile seemed to reach something inside of him. But he steeled himself. Nodding sternly, he stared at Finn. “Is Spacewalker staying?”

 

“I don’t see why I ca–” Finn started, but Clarke gently placed a hand on his forearm.

 

“It’s okay,” she reassured. “It might be better that Bellamy and I figure it out on our own. So nobody thinks we have any kind of favoritism.” 

 

Fuck off, asshole, he thought to himself.

 

Finn’s eyes flickered between her kind face and his unfeeling one. “Okay. Stay warm,” he shrugged off his jacket and draped it over Clarke’s shoulders. Bellamy’s eyes burned at the sight of his clothes on her body.

 

She smiled up at him appreciatively. “Get some rest.” He nodded and retreated to his tent.

 

Clarke looked up at Bellamy and patted the spot next to her on the log, where Finn was. He didn’t move, staring at the ground.

 

She stared at him for a second. “O-kay then. So, there’s 94 of us. I figure that everyone can get two trips to the lake per week, in groups of five to eight. They can choose their own groups, I know some of the younger kids feel safer with the older girls. And, maybe–” 

 

And then, the coil snapped. And then the venom spilled from his mouth. Bile rose and it tainted every word. “Should I be worried? Will I get mono? Herpes? Syphilis?” Bellamy snapped. He was disoriented for a few moments, in disbelief that those words just spilled from his mouth.

 

Her eyes grew larger than the moon. “I’m– I’m sorry?” she stuttered incredulously. 

 

“Spacewalker’s lips seem a bit worse for wear. Since you two are fucking, maybe I should be worried about that kiss yesterday. After all, your mouth has been on his–” 

 

“You better not finish that sentence, Blake,” Clarke hissed, a deadly look in her eyes. 

 

What was he even saying? 

 

“Oh, no!” He pouted mockingly. “Did I offend the Princess?” He enunciated each word like he was speaking to a five-year-old. 

 

“Maybe if you could’ve warned me that your mouth gets more action than a–” 

 

He was silenced by a loud crack

 

She was fuming, her hand still suspended in the air after whipping it across his face. His head snapped to the left, a red handprint on his cheek. He stared at her. God, he deserved that.

 

“Are you seriously talking to me about my sex life? You? I’m pretty sure not all the medicinal plants in the world could treat the amount of girls that now have chlamydia on the Ground because of you,” she spat, laughing humorlessly. 

 

He faltered, a startled look on his face. She was right.

 

“What the fuck is wrong with you these days?” she yelled, getting in his face. Her rage radiated off her body in red-hot waves. “Do you need to bend over so I can help you get that stick out of your ass? 

 

“You’ve been acting like a child for the last few days! Yelling at everyone for no reason, having sex with every girl you see and then kissing me. And now, you’re screaming at me? That I should give you a warning? You kissed me! I was the one who had no warning!

 

“You’ve been an insensitive asshole from the moment we dropped, but now,” she shook her head sadly. “You’re just being cruel.

 

She was right. She was right about everything.

 

“You’re hurting too many people for no reason! Fine, Bellamy. Do it. Do ‘whatever the hell you want’ to me. But to Monty and Jasper? To Octavia? Your fucking sister?” 

 

The mention of Octavia produced bile in his mouth. “Don’t bring her into this, Princess,” he snarled, getting so close to her face that he could feel her huffs of air fan his cheeks.

 

“Bring her into this? Bring her into this?” Clarke threw her hands up exasperatedly. “She’s the one you’re hurting the most! Do you know how many times I’ve held her in my lap as she cried in the past few days? Because she didn’t know why you were angry at her? Or ignoring her? Why you wanted to pick a fight with her at the end of every hour? She’s in pain , Bellamy!”

 

A twist of guilt flickered on his face.

 

“What the fuck do you know about pain, Princess?” he growled, burning holes in her eyes. “You’ve never known pain. You have everything. Pretty family. Lots of money for pretty clothes. A pretty doctor-in-training. The perfect little Princess.” 

 

He was lying. He knew that she understands pain. Vicious, profound, bottomless pain. He saw it when she talked about her father. Or when she revealed that her mother was actually the one who betrayed him. He saw it firsthand as she found Wells’ lifeless body. Her devastating wails haunted the entire camp that night. 

 

But, the words and sentences kept unraveling, strings of poison ruining all the progress they’ve made in their relationship. They hurled from his mouth like spears, trying to hit her in each major organ. 

 

Her hand rose in the air again, but he grabbed her wrist, wrapping his fingers in a vice grip around her skin, pressing viciously into her pulse point. She yanked it down, pushing his chest.

 

“Touch me again, and we’ll have a problem,” she said with a deadly tone. 

 

She gripped her wrist and rubbed it. Suddenly, a wave of nausea and dizziness overtook her entire body. Memories of scarlet embers and iron plates flashed in front of her eyes. Before she could process them, they were gone. She took a deep breath to steady herself, pushing the nausea away. But what Bellamy said next made her crumble. 

 

“Don’t worry, I’ll leave that to Finn.” 

 

And then, she surrendered. Her resolve seemed to crack as the last of her energy fizzled out. He realized that she spent the morning cleaning up the Dropship after a particularly windy night, that toppled over every cabinet and ripped down every hammock. Then, in the afternoon, he saw her holding a sobbing Octavia underneath the tree they frequented. She probably had to treat a shit ton of people throughout the day, too. The windstorm left a lot of kids with cuts or mild bang ups. She must be completely drained.

 

Tears welled up in her eyes as the emotional exhaustion convulsed through her body. She collapsed back on the log and glanced at her wrist, a small bruise forming across the bone. He’s horrified by his roughness. 

 

“Clarke, I–” he started. He was dangerous. Why did he keep seeing fear in the eyes of those who mattered to him? 

 

“I’m tired. We can revisit the plans tomorrow,” her voice was small, and she seemed out of breath. She didn’t wait for a response. He watched as she gathered herself and stumbled back to her tent. 

 

Shaking, Bellamy sat on the log and held his head in his hands. What the fuck was going on with him?

 

He didn’t mean it. He didn’t mean it. That fury, the screaming, the way he seized her wrist…

 

He shuddered.

 

It was… jealousy. Volatile jealousy. Toxic jealousy. 

 

It was jealousy of a relationship he’d never know. It was jealousy of the fact that Clarke managed to make Octavia open up in a week, while it took him years. It was jealousy of the fact that despite all of this– his egotism, his volatile anger, his cruelty– that she could still smile at him, try to repair their relationship. 

 

It was all those ugly, toxic, vulgar, repulsive feelings that led him to push away someone who, he realized, was more important to him than he realized.

 

He smothered the fire. Before he turned to leave, he saw a streak of blue on the ground. As he kneeled down, he saw a breathtaking illustration of his sister, hair drawn with thick ashy lines. Smudges of pale blue color the butterfly on her nose. The pencilling of her spellbinding smile rivaled the beauty of it in real time.

 

Fuck

 

––

PRESENT

 

Bellamy stares at the ceiling, catatonic. Even after seven years, he couldn’t believe how badly he hurt her. The love of his life. He spent so many years wondering how she could learn to love him even though he violently sent daggers through her body.

 

“Bell?” Clarke shakes his shoulder. “Please talk to me.” 

 

He laughs inwardly. It's the most Clarke Griffin thing he can imagine– being concerned about him during a moment where he recalls the time he physically and emotionally hurt her. 

 

“God, Clarke,” he chokes. “I am so, so sorry.” Silent tears spill down his cheek.

 

“It’s okay, Bell,” she shuffles over to lay her head on his chest.

 

They’d discussed that night many times over the years, of course. But this was the first time that he came to terms with it being a part of their seven-year love story. And that made him realize that the woman next to him was his whole reason to exist. And it hit him hard. 

 

He gathers her in his arms and holds her as if she could disappear any minute. “I will never, ever be that man again. I will never hurt you,” he pauses. “Or our children that way.”

 

He feels her smile against his chest. “I know. That’s why I forgave you a long time ago.”

 

“I don’t deserve your forgiveness.” 

 

“Hey,” she says seriously, grabbing his chin and forcing him to look at her. “You don’t get to decide what you deserve. You are a good man. You are the best man I know. You have been, and will forever be, my lifeline. That night doesn’t define the way you treat me.


“I’m proud of you for talking about it. You were struggling, Bellamy,” she says softly. “It’s okay. You got help. We saw it through.”

 

And she’s right. After the Arc came down, he asked Abby if she knew any of the psychotherapists made it. Sure enough, one did. He learned that his past– abandonment by his mother, seeing her with all those men, taking care of a child when he himself was a child– stirred up some destructive anger issues and anxiety. After many months of talking to her and support from Clarke, he learned how to keep his intrusive thoughts at bay. He rarely snapped or lashed out after that.

 

“I love you, Princess,” he whispers against her mouth.

 

She pulls back a little, amusement sparking in her eyes. “You haven’t called me that for awhile.” 

 

He smirks and grabs her waist, pulling her flush against him. “You will always be my Princess.”

 

She sighs. “I guess it's my turn, hm?”

 

Bellamy holds back a sob. “Hey,” she places a hand on his cheek. “But it gets happier from here, right?” she jokes.

 

He winces. “I’m not too sure about that.”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Clarke had sobbed throughout the night. She didn't get any sleep– it felt like she’d been up for 30 hours straight. Her limbs ached, her mouth was dry, and her chest felt empty. Bellamy’s words– her not knowing pain, her ‘getting around’– and the way that he held her wrist so tightly that it would break, sent waves of grief throughout her body. She was so hopeful about him before last night. That kiss felt special to her, and her heartache intensified as she realized it wasn’t like that for him.

 

She had to force herself out of her fetal position when the rays of the morning sun that filled her space became unbearable. When she left her tent, there was a small bundle just next to the flap. It was folded neatly, resting on… her sketchbook? She leaned down to pick it up. 

 

The white cotton feels soft in her hands. It was the shirt Bellamy took. She slowly raises it to her face. It smells like pine. Like him.

 

She flips open the sketchbook. On the first page, in the corner, scribbled in thick charcoal: 

 

I’m sorry

 

She froze for a few moments before she slapped the book shut with shaky hands. She stalked to the patch of grass just outside of the gate, where Monty and Jasper are constructing the algae farm. As she pushed past the wooden opening, she saw him.

 

He was crouched next to Monty, holding two pieces of wood together as Jasper ties them with rope. He heard the heavy footsteps, and looked up. Regret and guilt shrouded his freckled face. His eyes looked anguished.

 

“You’re sorry? You’re sorry?” Clarke shrieked, holding up the bundle of her shirt and sketchbook. She balled up her shirt and hurled it at him. After, she ripped out the piece of paper he scribbled the words on, and crumpled it up, flinging it at him. It hit his side before pathetically falling to the ground. All the rage from last night began to spill out in an inundating flood

 

Monty and Jasper looked alarmed. She had never sounded this vicious. “Dude, why is her shirt…” Jasper muttered. Monty hit his stomach to shut him up.

 

“Clarke–” Bellamy’s throat closed up.

 

“What exactly are you sorry for, Bellamy? Reducing my body to a trade center for STDs?” 

 

“Oh, shi–” Monty’s eyes widened.

 

The sharp exhaustion descended on her as she screamed. “Or telling me I’m a spoiled Princess? That I’ve never known pain? Yeah, fuck my dad, right? Fuck Wells, right?

 

“Or are you sorry for this?” She raised her right wrist, which was now encircled by a purplish bruise. 

 

Monty and Jasper inhaled sharply. They looked at Bellamy, half-ashamed, half-appalled. 

 

Bellamy’s eyes darkened in horror as he saw the bruise. He stood up, taking a careful step towards her. 

 

“Clarke, I am so, so sorry–”

 

“Don’t! Don’t touch me!” She recoiled. The sudden movement made her hollow stomach lurch. 

 

His heart almost crumbled in his chest when he recognized the emotion in her eyes. Fear.

 

“Just...don’t,” her eyes watered and she hugged herself. 

 

The memories from the last two weeks washed over her in violent tides. Jasper with a spear in his chest. Pressing a knife into Atom’s neck. Sobbing over Wells’ body. Octavia’s tears soaking the sleeve of her thermal. She looked down at her hands. Sickness swelled in her stomach. They were even uglier than they were a week ago, as she laid in the hammock, staring at the ceiling of the Dropship. When Bellamy walked in and shrugged them off. They’re fine

 

Bruises, and cuts, and callouses, and ash. Mixing together to make a revolting quilt. As her gaze ran down her palm, her eyes locked on the deep violent bruise that circled her wrist bone. Small flushes of red peek through where Bellamy’s thumb pressed down. 

 

Suddenly, her mind fills with wool, just like last night– distorted light spots surge from pupil to pupil, roping in flashbacks of her pale palm on a silver surface, flakes of shedding skin, and wine-red eyes. She wanted to go home. But she didn't have a home anymore. Her tears won’t bring back her father. Or Wells. They won’t take away her pain. 

 

Then, her limbs began to tingle and a dull pain spread in the back of her skull. It felt like her lungs inhaled too much air, too fast. She choked on nothing and felt her skin flush hot, sweat arising as fast as the light spots shifted. It felt like her mind had completely detached from her body. In the space behind the blurred spots, she saw the blur of falling trees before her mind shut her eyes off, for good.

 

Monty and Jasper watched in horror as Clarke began to sway and slump to the ground. They reached forward to catch her before her head hit the dirt. They held her as she curled up on the grass, her body trembling.

 

White noise rang in Bellamy’s ears. He was frozen, his chest heaving at the sight of Clarke on the ground, blonde hair spilling everywhere. He thought back to the body of his own mother on the steel ground. Slumped against an oakwood trunk, he shoved his fists into his hair. He pulled and pulled until small curls unfurled in his knuckles. He bit the inside of his cheek until he could taste blood.   

 

He watched as Monty and Jasper’s mouths moved, but he couldn’t hear anything. He wanted to scoop her up, hold her, rock her, tell her that he was so sorry, and that he would do anything to fix it all. He will fix it all. 

 

“Bellamy!” Monty’s scream forced him into action. He jolted forward. The two boys glared at him with fire in their eyes. He winced at the sheer disgust written on their usually kind faces. Clarke was curled up in their laps, trembling and sweating.

 

“Get help!” Jasper yelled. 

 

Blood pounded in his ears. He strode forward and reached down. Jasper scowled and pulled away, not letting him touch her, but Monty caught his eye and nodded at him. They loosened their grip, reluctantly letting go.

 

Bellamy crouched down to gather her in his arms. He supported her head with his palm as he cradled her against his chest. Frantically running back to camp, he blinked back tears as he looked down and saw the water droplets still running down her face.

 

Octavia was in front of the Dropship when she saw Clarke in his arms. She rushed over, her eyes frantic, looking for blood or injuries. 

 

He just shook his head. She looked puzzled, but he continued running. Where does he go? Clarke is the only one who knew her way around the Dropship. 

 

He saw her tent and swallowed. He used his shoulder to open her tent and placed her gently on her sleeping bag. Grabbing the damp washcloth that she keeps in the corner, he dabbed at her forehead and cheeks. He turned her over on her side in case she threw up, later. He panicked, not knowing what to do. Clarke had since stopped shaking, but she was still clearly unconscious. 

 

He felt a shove on his shoulder. Turning around, he saw Octavia holding a navy blanket, a bucket of water, and a cracked stopwatch from the Dropship. She stared at Clarke with worried eyes. Her face swivels to his.

 

“What the hell happened?” 

 

He was silent. Loathing overcame her features as she realized that he had something to do with this. She shoved him aside as she joined Clarke’s side.

 

“Hey, lady,” she stroked away the hair plastered to Clarke’s forehead. “You’re gonna be fine. You have to be fine. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” 

 

Octavia shot him a venomous look over her shoulder, her eyes burning with hot tears. She placed a pillow under Clarke’s head and draped the blanket over her lower half. She glanced at the stopwatch. 

 

“Why are you putting a blanket on her? She’s sweating–”

 

“She’s going through a cold sweat,” she cut him off. “It happens when someone suddenly experiences an immense amount of stress– physical or psychological. Or both,” she added coldly. 

 

Octavia gathered Clarke’s hair and tied it in a knot above her head. She started to untie Clarke’s belt.

 

“You just said she’s in a cold sweat! And what’s with the stopwatch–” 

 

Octavia spun around, fury in her eyes. “I know what I’m doing, Bellamy! I’ve spent the last week with her! Maybe if you cared to talk to her at all, instead of yelling at me and drowning in testosterone-fueled jealousy, you might know that she has a history of seizures! The stopwatch is to time the seizures. You know what happens when someone has a seizure? Their limbs go stiff! Do you want her blood flow to be cut off because her belt clenches around her body too tight, asshole?”

 

“No!”

 

“Well, then get the fuck out!” she screamed, panic in her eyes.

 

“O–” 

 

"Get out ! Get Raven! And Harper!” 

 

His face fell as he spared one last look at the girl he pushed away, before leaving the tent. As soon as he left, he saw Raven and Harper pushing through the crowd of concerned kids. 

 

“What the fuck did you do, Blake?” Raven growled, pushing past him into the tent. Harper followed with a worried look on her face.

 

“Oh god, Clarke…” he overheard Raven say. Her tone was tinged with such despondency that he didn't think was possible from Raven Reyes. He heard Raven, Octavia, and Harper in hushed whispers for a few more minutes.

 

In a glossy flash, Raven sprinted out of the tent and under the fence, into the woods. Bellamy rubbed his eyes, unsure if what he was seeing was real or not. His head felt so heavy that he thought it might just roll off his body. Blinking, he tried to weave through the throng of concerned teens, but people kept trying to get his attention.

 

“Dude, what the hell is going on?” Murphy muttered in his ear.

 

“Where is she?” Finn prodded, head searching over the crowd.

 

“Bellamy? What’s wrong?” Roma asked, trying to place a hand on his forearm. He jerked away, and she looked offended. He didn’t care.

 

He felt the glares of Monty and Jasper burning into his right cheek. They were sitting against one of the benches near the campfire. He staggered over, dazed. They didn’t say anything, though, when he slumped down next to them and leaned against the log, too. His eyes slid shut and prayed that he could take away any and all of Clarke’s pain. 

 

––

PRESENT


Tears slide down Bellamy and Clarke’s cheeks. She takes his hand and places it on her chest. He puts her hand over his chest, too. Together, they lay there, listening to each other’s heartbeats, clinging to them, thinking about what they both could’ve lost that day.

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Bellamy awoke to Harper tapping on his shoulder. He blinked, eyes adjusting. Somehow, he had been dragged to his own tent. It took him a minute to remember what happened. He sat up, panicked.

 

“Where’s Clarke?” he half-yelled, but his voice was too hoarse, so it came out as a croak. 

 

“Take it easy,” Harper said softly. “She’s okay. You can see her. She’s awake.” 

 

The emptiness in his chest alleviated just slightly when he heard Harper’s words. “What happened?” 

 

She sighed. “So, apparently, she hadn’t eaten or had water all day, because she was running around everywhere. And she hadn’t slept, because,” she looked away and bit her lip.

 

“Because of me,” he finished.

 

“Yeah, because of you,” she said, annoyance thick in her voice. “I think Octavia told you that Clarke has a history of seizures. She thinks Clarke has some sort of epilepsy. Her seizures flare up when she hasn’t slept or had water, and I think the physical exhaustion, and all of the emotional labor she had to do, just pushed her over the edge.” 

 

He nodded wordlessly, guilt seeping through his system. Anxious to see her, he quickly stood up. That was a mistake, as the blood rushed to his head and he swayed, about to trip. Harper placed her hands on his shoulders, steadying him.

 

“Thanks, Harp,” he rasped, looking over his shoulder. She just patted his back. 

 

“Go see her. She asked for you.”

 

His eyes briefly lit up, before he realized that she probably just wanted to yell at him. Which he deserved. 

 

“Wait, Harper–” he turned around. “When we were fighting and I…” he cringed. “ I grabbed her wrist… it looked like she dissociated, or something. She froze. And it happened again when she looked at her hands at the algae farm.”

 

Harper bristled.

 

“And a few days ago, she told me how she grew up with red marks on her palms, and fingertips. But they weren’t birthmarks. And I…” he paused. “I don’t know what happened.”

 

Harper didn’t look at him. She was braiding her hair to the side, and her fingers faltered at his last statement. Suddenly, she gripped the blonde strands tightly. “I think that’s something you should talk to Clarke about,” she said sharply.

 

He furrowed his brows, wanting to ask more, but was persuaded otherwise after seeing the stone cold look on Harper’s face. He silently ducked out of his tent and saw that it was well past dusk. He hesitantly walked to Clarke’s tent. He laughed inwardly. The few feet seemed like miles. 

 

You couldn’t exactly knock on tents, so Bellamy settled for a quiet, “Clarke?” before peeking his head in. 

 

Her head was propped up on some folded jackets and pillows. She was on her side, though, with both hands under her cheek, smiling at the person next to her. Octavia was on her other side, combing through the golden strands of Clarke’s hair with a wooden comb. Her wet hair shone a bit under the moonlight, and Bellamy had the urge to run his fingers through it.

 

“Bellamy,” she croaked when she saw him. “Hi,” she smiled. Octavia didn’t look up.

 

That small smile sent ripples of affection and regret down to his toes. 

 

“Clarke, I am so sorry,” he pleaded, moving closer to her. The man sitting next to her, who Bellamy realized he didn’t recognize, stood in his path, arms crossed. He towered over him. His shoulders spanned twice the size of Bellamy’s, and the muscles of his tanned, Herculean upper body clenched when he stood. Swirls of black crept up his forearms.

 

“It’s okay, Linc,” Clarke said softly, reaching her fingers out. His gaze softened as he turned back to her. He crouched down and held her hand in between his palms. 

 

Yu ste yuj. Ai gada ”, he whispered to her, while squeezing her hand. 

 

Mochof ”, she responded with a grateful smile. 

 

He nodded and stood up, his head almost hitting the top of the tent. He turned to Octavia, who was now braiding Clarke’s hair.

 

Ai hod yu in ," the man murmured to Octavia. She beamed. Bellamy had never seen her smile like that.

 

En ai, yu, ai hodnes ”, she responded.

 

He looked at both women with a soft smile. He brushed past Bellamy, shoving his shoulder on his way out of the tent. He noticed Octavia and Clarke share an amused look while they thought he wasn’t looking.

 

“Bellamy, I need to tell you–” Clarke started.

 

“Who the hell was that?” he shouted. “A Grounder? How do you both know what the hell he was saying?” 

 

Clarke winced and snuggled into the pillow a bit deeper, facing away from him. Octavia released an angry breath and threw the comb on the ground next to her. “Yes, big brother, a grounder,” she stated plainly, finally looking up at him. “More specifically, a Grounder who is also a healer, who basically saved Clarke’s life.”

 

Bellamy looked at Clarke for confirmation. She nodded.

 

“What the hell are you doing with a Grounder? He looks like a goddamn bodybuilder on steroids,” he muttered.

 

“You’re just mad that someone around here finally has more muscles than you,” Octavia said with a smirk. The comment drew out a small laugh from Clarke’s chapped lips. Octavia perked up with a bright smile, smoothly stroking her hair back off of Clarke’s forehead.

 

It took Bellamy a few seconds for everything to click. “You’re dating a Grounder?” he roared.

 

Clarke yelped, and Bellamy immediately felt guilty. Octavia hurried to reach over to place her hands over Clarke’s ears and temple. 

 

“You idiot!” she hissed. “Clarke’s post-seizure state isn’t exactly pleased by loud noises,” 

 

“It really was a real seizure?”

 

“Yeah, Bell,” Octavia looked at him murderously. “A real seizure. Clarke has a form of epilepsy that requires medication to be treated. Clearly, we don’t have that down here. Luckily, Lincoln helped us." She looked at Clarke, like there was something more, but Clarke shook her head.

 

"He really did save my life. By risking his. He’s a really selfless and sensitive guy,” she looked over to Octavia, who was smiling at Clarke appreciatively. 

 

“He stuck around for hours to make sure I was okay. He comforted me through my many complaints and annoying moans of pain.” Her and Octavia laughed together, and Octavia grabbed and squeezed Clarke’s hand.

 

“He’s perfect for Octavia, Bellamy, I promise. He would do anything for her.” 

 

Bellamy glared at Octavia, who had a dewy-eyed and dreamlike expression on her face. 

 

“He even taught O and I some Trigedasleng,” Clarke said, excitedly.

 

“Listen!” she clears her throat. “ Ai laik krei happy yu are hir ,” she stated with a small smile.

 

Octavia looked at her with a raised eyebrow. Clarke just shrugged and nodded at her. 

 

Bellamy was still near seething. “Great. Now, you both can go run with the savages. Don’t start prancing around half-naked, like that guy,” he jerked this thumb behind him, rolling his eyes.

 

“Enough, Bell!” Octavia exclaimed in frustration. “Why can’t you just be happy for me? I really like him.” She looked at Clarke for courage. “I love him,” she admitted with a shy smile.

 

“Are you kidding me? You’re seventeen. You have no idea what love is!” he scoffed.

 

“You know, I was so excited to tell you,” Octavia’s upper lip trembled. “I know you go hard on that whole ‘obsessive-controlling-big-brother’ act, but I just thought–

 

“I thought you’d be happy for me,” her voice cracked. Clarke squeezed Octavia’s hand, raising it up to her cheek.

 

“I mean, Clarke and I weren’t even friends, and she was supportive from the very beginning. She was wary of it, but she trusted me to make my own decisions,” the girls shared a warm, sisterly smile. 

 

“You… you knew?” he asked Clarke, his eyes turning black. “You knew all this time, and you didn’t tell me?” 

 

Clarke looked at him, confused. “I didn’t think it was my place to tell you, and she only told me–”

 

“You said leaders were supposed to tell each other everything!” 

 

Clarke’s face crumpled. She turned on her other side to face away from him. 

 

“I asked her not to tell, Bell!” Octavia insisted. “Stop being a jerk!”

 

“I’m the jerk?” he countered. “The Princess is a hypocrite! She didn’t tell me about Lincoln. And now, she won't even tell me what the hell is going on! She’s being all cryptic about this thing on her hands!” 

 

Clarke retched into the bucket next to her sleeping bag. His eyes snapped to her body, and fear filled his eyes.

 

“Clarke? Oh, Clarke…” Octavia looked down to see Clarke’s body shaking with silent tears. She titled Clarke on her side and stroked her hair. Her jaw locked, and he looked at Bellamy like she didn’t know him.

 

“You just crossed a serious line,” her voice reached a deadly pitch. She saw red.

 

The Blakes held eye contact, her hazel eyes murderous, and his, disconcerted, but concerned. They didn’t break apart until they heard quiet sniffles, again.

 

“Look what you did. Are you happy?”

 

“Fuck,” he whispered. “Fuck, Clarke, I’m so sorry,” he reached for her.

 

Octavia tugged her closer to her chest. “I think you’ve done enough for now,” she said, scarily unfazed.

 

He went to protest, but saw Clarke bury herself in Octavia’s lap. He nodded and ducked out of the tent. 

 

––

PRESENT

 

“I’m a fucking asshole,” Bellamy stares at the ceiling.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“What kind of brother talks to his sister like that? I know I’m protective, but that was just… completely selfish.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“And who makes a girl who just had a seizure, cry? And… makes her throw up. An asshole, that’s who.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Bellamy looks over at Clarke, who’s staring straight up at the ceiling. He reaches down to twine his fingers with hers. “How… how do you even forgive me, for all I did to you?”

 

“You couldn’t have known about the hands thing.” 

 

“But, what about the rest of it?

 

She shrugs. “How did you fall in love with me?” 

 

He blinks. “I mean… it just happened. It just was. Is. That's the point of this whole thing, I guess.” 

 

“It’s scary, the things you’d do for someone you love,” she still gazes at the ceiling.

 

Bellamy grows anxious, and his face twists into a pained expression. “You… think it was a bad choice?” 

 

“No,” she responds, softly. 

 

“How do you know?”

 

She turns her head to him. “Because, I’d rather have a million nights like that one, instead of none at all.”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Bellamy couldn’t sleep. He fucked up, so much. 

 

His sister hated him. His friends looked at him like he’s a monster. And he hurt the only person in this world who listened to him. Probably beyond repair.

 

And the worst part? He can’t blame any of them. 

 

His mind spun in circles, trying to find any loophole, any way out. To fix all of this. To repair his relationships. 

 

He sighed and sat up, figuring that sleep just wouldn’t come tonight. He walked outside and sat on the ramp of the Dropship. His friends would come around– Monty, Jasper, Harper, Murphy– with a good apology and maybe an offer to be the one who hunted for the ingredients for their next batch of moonshine. He’d spent some time thinking about Lincoln and coming to terms with the fact that Octavia now depended on someone else. And he hated that. But seeing her so happy– it was worth it. He could deal.

 

It would be even easier to deal if he had his other girl back. The previous apology he’d created for Clarke still stood. Now, he just had to add a million other things.

 

He groaned and held his head in his hands. He looked up and saw her tent. He’s not sleeping tonight. And it might be the only time for him to be alone with her before Octavia and Harper clung to her and fawned over her all day.

 

Bellamy tiptoed across camp to her tent. Being as quiet as possible, he ducked into Clarke’s tent and sat in the corner. Thankfully, she didn’t wake. He brought his knees to his chest. Even asleep, she was beautiful. Her face was flushed pink with exertion, and pieces of her braid were falling out. But her round face still emulated warmth, an empathy that he could never know. Her eyelashes, still thick with tears, flickered as she breathed. Her lips opened slightly as she inhaled. He wishes he could press his lips to every inch of her and heal her, take away her pain. His fingers itched to wipe away the tears, to push her hair out of her eyes, to smooth the trembles. 

 

Trying to distract himself, he forced his eyes away from her. As his gaze traveled around her tent, he spotted a crumpled and torn piece of parchment in the corner. He leaned over and pulled it towards him, gingerly unfolding the piece of paper. 

 

His breath caught.

 

It was him. She drew him.

 

It was his profile. His face was angled upwards, in mid-laugh. His eyes were crinkled at the edges as they looked up. The mass of brown curls swirled on the paper, sweeping over his forehead and down his neck. His nose was peppered with freckles. She got the dimple placement just right. Her charcoal strokes were soft and light, making him gentle, despite his hard lines and edges. 

 

He blinked, and tears dropped down his cheeks. Because, that’s when he realized that he would live with regret for the rest of his life.

 

Because he was pretty sure that he was in love with the girl laying across from him. But he’s positive that he just made sure that she will never love him back. He sat and stared at the drawing for what seemed like hours. But he heard rustling and hastily put it down. 

 

“Bellamy?” Clarke’s voice was weak. His heart ached.

 

“Hey,” he answered softly. She turned over in her sleeping bag.

 

“Hey,” she whispered. Her eyes flickered down to the drawing in front of him.

 

“I–I’m sorry. I wasn’t snooping, I just found it torn up in the corner, and was curious. I didn’t pry, I swear,” he promised, but it came out more like a plea.

 

She just stared at him for a few seconds before a small smile played on her lips. “That’s okay. It's not like you haven’t seen my art before,” she motioned up to the numerous drawings that she hung across the fabric of her tent. 

 

Clarke wrinkled her nose when she saw how torn up and crumpled the paper was. “Yeah,” she grimaced. “That was after the day I saw Roma walk out of your tent. Sorry,” she said sheepishly.

 

“You don’t have to apologize for anything, Clarke,” he hesitantly moved closer, not wanting to spook her. She seemed to notice and scooted over, leaving him space to sit down. His heart pounded rapidly in his chest. He crawled over and sat with his knees up, while she’d pulled herself from her blankets and sat up too, cross-legged. 

 

“Oh, you can lay back down–”

 

“That’s okay,” she insisted with a smile. “I don’t like being in bed all day.”

 

Bellamy shook his head with a laugh. “The last time you avoided your bed all day, you had a seizure.”

 

She rolled her eyes. “I know, Bell, I was there.” 

 

She giggled and he laughed, relishing in the twinkle in her eyes. 

 

“So,” he laid back, raising an eyebrow, “you’re calling me Bell, now?”

 

Her face flushed and she looked down at her lap. God , she was cute.

 

“It– I just– I’ve spent a lot of time with Octavia, and I kind of just picked it up, I guess. I’ll stop.”

 

“No!” he blurted, putting a hand on her knee. “No,” he repeated softly. “It sounds nice when you say it.”

 

The smile on her face grew. “Well, good, because I think I’d started to scream ‘Bellamy’ way too much, and it reminded me of evil things. Like guns and boars and ugly leather jackets,” her nose scrunched.

 

“Hey! I like my leather jacket,” he smirked. “Well, I can think of better ways to make you scream my name.” 

 

“You ass!” she tried to squeal, but her voice was still shredded from earlier. 

 

For a few seconds, it felt like everything was back to normal. The bickering, with... a hint of sexual tension. But he had to do this.

 

“Clarke, I,” he started, taking a deep breath. “I have so much to tell you.”

 

“Bell, it’s okay, we can talk about this later,” she insisted. 

 

“No,” he shook his head. “I need to do this now. I care about our friendship too much to let this keep happening. And I care about you, too. I’m tired of hurting you. And, honestly, the fact that you're letting me in right now, letting me talk to you, laugh with you, after three days of me yelling at you for no reason, hurting you… hurting you so much,” his voice cracked. 

 

“That’s how I know I have to do it. Even though I don’t deserve to have you in my life, you’re too good to let go without fighting.”

 

Clarke’s eyes shot up. She wasn’t used to this kind of Bellamy. Vulnerable, kind, sweet Bellamy. She always knew he was a softie.

 

“I’m… so sorry, Clarke. The things I said, and I did,” he grimaced, looking at the bruise on her wrist. She noticed and quickly tucked it into her lap, so he couldn’t see it. “They were unacceptable. I was taking out my irrational anger and frustration on you, and it was as unfair as it was cruel. 

 

“The things I said about you not knowing pain…” he shook his head. He looked up, and her eyes grew concerned at the wetness in the corners. “I will never forgive myself for saying those things. I was so out of line, and so wrong . You have experienced so much pain, and so much hardship– I don’t know how you got through it all without breaking,” he admitted. “You are the strongest person I know.”


She scoffed, expecting him to follow up with an insult, but he just stared at her with his piercing brown eyes. There wasn’t a shred of dishonesty in them.

 

“And the stuff about Finn, and you being with him,” he huffed in disbelief. “I was such a dick.” A laugh escaped her lips, and the sweet sound made him brave enough to keep going.

 

“Honestly… I was just so, so jealous. I was jealous that you were so good . You’re everything I’m not, Clarke. You are amazing to Octavia– you listen to her, and make her feel like she’s not just the ‘Girl Under the Floor’. Jesus, you’re practically sisters, now. You were there when I wasn’t. And Monty, Jasper, Harper, Raven– you would do anything for them. You travelled across the forest and went back for Jasper when he had a spear in his chest. You’ve set up Monty and Harper very impressively,” he winked, making her laugh and causing a small pink to spread on her cheeks. “Don’t think I didn’t notice.

 

“And, come on! You and Raven somehow forged a friendship through a guy who fucked you both over,” he winced, wondering if he was overstepping. But her face still had that soft smile on it. “You all care about each other. But you– you take care of them. You make sure they’re happy, and safe, and fuck, alive.

 

“And…” he started hesitantly. “You take care of me, too. No matter how much of an asshole I am, no matter how many times I call you a Princess– you’re always there. With that stupid, adorable smile,” he groaned. “Like that one, right there.”

 

She throws her head back in laughter, clutching the blanket to her chest. 

 

“You’re just too good. And that made me upset, because I wanted to be that good, too. But the real reason it made me angry– like, really angry– is that I knew you were too good for me ,” he rushed through the last part. “And, that stupid thing with Roma,” he slapped a hand to his face. “I’m such an idiot,” he mumbled. 

 

Clarke smiled and reached over to pull the hand off of his face. She slid her fingers down his arm and grasped his hand, squeezing it. He stared down in awe. The simple touch sent shivers down his spine. He squeezed back, gratefully, rubbing a thumb over her knuckles. 

 

“I was...I was scared. Kissing you made me feel something… else. Something I hadn’t ever felt before. And I knew you’d think that I was using you as a pity fuck, but it wasn’t that, at all. You’re so much more than that,” he finished quietly, staring at the floor. 

 

“I thought sleeping with Roma would push those feelings away, but they didn’t. Because I’m an idiot. And Jonty made me realize that.” 

 

She quirked an eyebrow. “Jonty?” 

 

“Jesus,” his face fell into his hands. “They’re rubbing off on me.

 

“When we were going to talk about the lake’s travel plans… that’s when I was going to apologize to you. I wanted to tell you that I’d been wanting to kiss you for a long time, not just that night in the Dropship. And I was going to tell you that way you listened to me, and validated me on the anniversary of– you know– it helped me, so much. It made me fall for you, even harder. Even if I went and slept with Roma afterwards. Idiot ,” he slapped his forehead again.

 

“Stop that,” she fake-scolded, grabbing his hand again.

 

“Well, if it makes you hold my hand every time, I’d say it's a pretty good habit.”

 

She just shook her head, smiling. 

 

“And, finally,” he looked at her wrist, buried in her lap. “I just– Clarke, when I say how I will never forgive myself for doing that,” he looked away, swallowing the tears. “I mean it. I mean it more than you know. And I will spend the rest of my life making sure you know that. I will never hurt you again.”


He was desperate to ask about the marks on her hands, and the times where she disassociated during their fights. But he didn’t want to push it. She would tell him when she's ready.

 

“Even if I make you give me extra berries and make you braid my hair every night?” she teased.

 

“I would love to do both of those things,” he reached forward and tugged on a strand of her hair. “I will never hurt you again,” he repeats, his tone somber and firm. 

 

The smile on her face, somehow, grew larger. 

 

“Okay, so, what have I missed?” he propped up his head with a hand on his knee. “Oh, right. Sorry that you walked in on Raven and I,” he smiled sheepishly. “It didn’t mean anything. I swear.”

 

“I believe you.”

 

This time, his smile grew. 

 

“And, I’m sorry for stealing your notebook from you. And, uh, your shirt,” he scratched the back of his neck. “I washed it before I gave it back!

 

“Oh. But then, you threw it at me, and it landed on the ground,” she flashed him a fierce glare. “But, it was for a good reason! I mean, I deserved it. I’ll wash it again.” 

 

She just groaned into her hands, giggling. “You’re crazy.”

 

“And, I’m sorry for unabashedly flirting with you and trying to kiss you… twice…” he trailed off, his gaze flicking to her lips. They were just so pretty. And small. And rosy.

 

“Rosy, huh?”

 

“Did I say that out loud?” Fuck.

 

She playfully pushed him but he leaned into the shove and pulled her down with him. She laughed as they both collapsed on the ground. She was lying right on top of him, her palms trapping his face. Their faces were barely a few inches apart, her hair forming a curtain over his face. 

 

“I’m uh–I’m sorry for slapping you,” she said sheepishly. 

 

“Hey,” he put a hand on her cheek. “I deserved that. Hell, I deserve to be punched. Or beat up by Lincoln,” she laughed.

 

He abruptly sat up, and Clarke tumbled onto the ground, half in his lap. He reached down and grabbed her non-injured hand and raised it to his face. She looked at him, amused.

 

“Slap me.”

 

“W-what?” she choked. 

 

“Slap me,” he clutched her hand, patting it on his face.

 

She rolled her eyes. “No, Bell.”

“Come on!”

 

“No!”

 

“Please?”

 

“Fine.” 

 

He dropped his hand and she hesitated. She brought up her hand and softly pressed it on his face, dragging her hand across his cheek. He looked at her with annoyance.  “Seriously?” 

 

“I don’t want to slap you again,” she admitted, looking down at her bruised wrist. “I don’t want to hurt you, either.”

 

Horror dawned on his face, as he remembered what happened the last time she slapped him. 

 

“Fuck. Clarke, I didn’t mean–”

 

“I know. It's okay.” 

 

Words couldn’t leave his mouth. He didn’t know what to say. Because it wasn’t okay, at all. So, instead, they just stared at each other with Clarke’s legs wrapped around him. After a few minutes, she spoke up.  

 

“Thanks, Bell,” she said softly, blowing a curl out of his eyes. 

 

He looked at her, surprised. “For what?”

 

“For apologizing.”

 

“Did you just thank me… for apologizing… for all the fucked up things I did? Literally, minutes after I just fucked up again?” he cocked his head to the right.

 

“It was a really good apology,” she shrugged. 

 

They both dissolve into laughter, the vibrations of Bellamy’s chuckles echoing against Clarke’s ribcage. She looked down, mischievously.

 

“Uh oh,” Bellamy trailed off. 

 

“Are you ticklish?” she cocked her head, this time. 

 

“No,” he huffed. “Big, manly men like me are certainly not ticklish.” 

 

“Hm…” Clarke’s hand trailed down her chest, and he inhaled sharply. 

 

But all the very inappropriate–but very hot– fantasies were pushed aside as Clarke dug her fingers into his sides.

 

“Clarke!” he yelped, squirming under her. She pushed him down and straddled him, effectively trapping him, as her knees kept his hips in place. She tickled the curve of his waist, and near his lower back. Though, she quickly learned that his most ticklish spot was just under the right side of his ribcage. He suffered for at least ten minutes before he thought he might die a painful death by the tickles of Clarke Griffin.

 

He huffed as he pushed her off of him and onto her back. She hit the sleeping bag with an “ oof! ” He hovered over her, his forearms trapping her head. As he looked down, her face flushed with exertion, and her golden hair splayed on the ground like spools of thread, he felt extremely weak. Like, extremely weak. 

 

Her hands started running down his sides, poking the indents of his ribcage, eliciting multiple yelps from him. But, by the end, her hands dipped a bit too low. Bellamy sucked in a breath as her fingers ghosted the top of his hip bones over his shirt.

 

“Princess,” he started, his voice a bit too deep, “you’re asking for trouble.” 

 

She didn’t stop. Instead, she played with the ends of his thermal, grazing his bare skin underneath. She bit her lip. “I am trouble.” 

 

The way those three words languidly tumbled out of her mouth while her teeth rested on her bottom lips almost made him rip off her jeans, push aside her panties, and take her, right there. But he shouldn’t. And, he couldn’t.

 

He pulled himself off of her and moved back to a seated position. “Clearly.”

 

She lifted herself onto her elbows and pouted. He almost growled . “You remember what happened the last time you pouted in front of me?”

 

“Hm…” she pretended to think hard, pressing a finger against her temple. “No, I don’t. I think you’ll have to remind me.” 

 

She crawled over to him and sat back down in front of him. She pouted. 

 

He laughed and looked away. “You’re something else.”

 

“Are you gonna remind me, or what?” 

 

He sighed and reached forward, tugging her bottom lip with his thumb. “Pouting is for children, Princess.” But before he could pull his finger away, she caught it in her mouth. After a second, she let it go, an innocent look on her face.

 

His pupils had turned shadowy. “Clarke. Stop.”

 

She rolled her eyes before turning away. “You’re no fun.” 

 

He laughed. “What has gotten into you?”

 

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Apologies turn me on.”

 

She turned his head and he stared at her. They exploded in laughter, and she fell onto her back, getting tangled in her sleeping bag. After a few minutes and mild hysterics, they fall into a companionable silence.

 

“Clarke?” 

 

“Hm?” she looked at him.

 

“I just need to know, before anything else,” he said slowly. “If you truly accept my apology. Not just joking about it, or laughing it off. And it’s really okay if you don’t. I just– I need to know.”

 

She stared at the ceiling for a bit, thinking. His heart skipped in his chest. “Do you want me to be honest?” 

 

He winced. That was not a good sign. But he nodded.

 

“I’m just… I don’t know.” 

 

He paled. 

 

“I won’t be able to just go back to whatever it was before. Your words– I can’t explain it. But they cut me, deep. I mean, they hurt more than this,” she waved her wrist in the air. 

 

His body went cold. “Clarke,” he pleaded. “I’m so, so—“

 

“Sorry, I know,” she finished. “It’s not just that. I thought you would be happy that I pulled through this whole seizure nonsense. And would come comfort me, or something.” 

 

“I swear, I was so relieved–“

 

“Please, let me finish.” Her eyes were more somber than they’ve ever been.

 

“And then, even today, you cared more about me not telling you about Lincoln than me just being alive.”

 

His heart leapt up to this throat. He can’t blame her for thinking that, after what he said. 

 

“And, I know Octavia is your whole life, your number one, and you care about her being safe, and whatever. And Lincoln seemed like a threat to you, I get it. But it would be nice if you could, you know, put me somewhere on that list?” she smiles meekly. 

 

He wanted to tell her that she’s already on that list. And high on it. But he couldn’t now. 

 

“I know that you’re on my list,” she whispers. “I cared a lot about you. Even when you yelled at me in the Dropship, I needed to make sure that you were okay. You were important to me.”

 

He chokes at all of the past tense she was using. 

 

“And, finally, when I thought we were becoming something like friends, you blew up at me. Told me I should check if I have STDs. Told me that I’m a spoiled, rich, bitch who never experienced pain. And then, you–

 

“You hurt me.” She stared down at her wrist. “I didn’t tell you this, when you grabbed my wrist, it triggered some sort of… flashback? And it–” She paused, about to say more, but didn’t.

 

Mind swirling in confusion, he thought back to when Clarke told him about the marks she had on her hands growing up. That’s what happened when she dissociated those two times. He wanted to interrupt, to ask more questions, but he knew he couldn’t press it, right now.

 

“And your apology was giving back my own shirt and scribbling a note in charcoal. Can you see why that...  broke me?”

 

Yes . Yes , he wanted to say.

 

“And,” she paused. “This may sound manipulative, but that seizure, today, it was pretty bad. Octavia, Raven, and Harper weren’t sure I’d pull through. And, you kind of had a part in that seizure,” she admitted.

 

“And then, today, during the whole Lincoln thing– I get it. We’re on the ground, it's life and death every day. And we prioritize the people we love. And for you, that’s Octavia. And nobody else. And that’s totally okay. But, I can’t keep putting you on my list, when I have no place on yours, you know?

 

He knows. He knows.

 

“But…  I want to try. I don’t want to never forgive you. I just don’t know how long it'll take me to get there.”

 

She breathed out. “Okay. That’s all, I think.” 

 

“Clarke, I promise you’re on my list, high on it, and–” 

 

But she held a hand up. “Can we keep talking about it later? We were so happy, earlier. I want to keep being happy, at least for tonight. Okay?” 

 

“Okay.” 

 

And they were. Happy. They spent the next hour talking and laughing. Clarke gushed about her new ability to speak Trig. He told Clarke how Monty and Jasper were like protective older brothers, and how he thought Raven would stab him with a wrench in his sleep. Every time he made her giggle, his heart lifted, a little. 

 

“Hey, wait–” he paused. “You never told me what you said in the tent, earlier. With O.”

 

“Hm?” she idly played with the fringes of the blanket. “Oh. Which part?” 

 

He looked at her exasperatedly. “Uh… the eye, crappy thing?”

 

“Oh!” she laughed. “ Ai laik krei happy yu are hir.”

 

“Yeah. That.” Her eyes softened. “It means, ‘I’m happy you’re here.’” 

 

His heart spasmed. “God,” he muttered. “Now, I feel like even more of an asshole.”

 

But she just reached out her hand, and placed it on his knee. “But, you’re here now. That’s what matters.”

 

After a while, a pleasant silence settled over them. 

 

“Alright. I’m gonna go back to my tent. It's late, sunrise is only a few hours,” Bellamy stated, shuffling to get up.

 

“Wait, Bell,” he stopped, looking at Clarke, who was curled up in a ball on top of her sleeping bag. “Are you tired?

 

He sighed. “Not really.” 

 

Her eyes lit up. “Stay here for a little while longer,” she patted the sleeping bag. “I’m not sleepy either.” 

 

“Sleepy? Are you a child?”

 

“Yes.”

 

He shook his head with a smile, but crawled over to her side. She lifted up the covers of the sleeping bag, but he frowned.

 

“Isn’t that… weird?” he questioned.

 

“What?” Clarke responded, confusion written on her face.

 

“Me… getting in your bed,” Bellamy waved his hands between her and the sleeping bag.

 

“I mean… don’t you do that with Roma and your other groupies?” 

 

He rolled his eyes. “Yes, but–”

 

“Great! Hop in!” she wiggled into the blanket and opened it for him.

 

“Clarke,” he said, sternly.

 

“What?” she deadpanned. 

 

“That’s different.”

 

“How?”

 

“You’re not… you’re not like Roma or the others.” A pale shade of pink crept onto her cheeks. 

 

“Well… did you know that after seizures, people can get really bad chills? Like, super cold?”

 

“Uh, huh,” he said with a smirk, “do they really?” 

 

“Mhm,” she nodded. “Having someone here would really help increase my body temperature."

 

“Sleeping after a seizure is just so hard. I’m so cold all the time, and I’m always shivering. It must’ve been all that yelling at you,” she shrugged.

 

Bellamy’s eyes narrowed. “Low blow.”

 

“I mean, I could always ask Finn–”

 

No ,” he growled, climbing over her to lay in the sleeping bag. She sighed happily.

 

“Ah, yes. The human furnace.”

 

“Wait– this is really all you wanted from me, wasn’t it?” he looked down at her. 

 

She smiled coyly. “What else did you think I wanted?”

 

His cheeks darkened. “Hmph.”

 

They settled into silence. Clarke scooted closer so that her and Bellamy were side to side, staring at the top of her tent. The stars peeked through the clear netting. 

 

“Let’s play a game,” she declared. 

 

“Okay…?” he raised an eyebrow. “What kind of game?” 

 

She paused, thinking for awhile. “Okay. So, we split the stars in half.” She points above them. “We’ll use Cassiopeia as the border. I get the stars to the left of her, you get the right. After we count to three, whoever’s star twinkles first gets to ask the other person a question.”

 

She looked at him. His eyebrows were raised. “What?”

 

“Somebody knows her Greek constellations.”

 

She scoffed. “I should’ve known that Greek constellations would be the thing to impress you.” 

 

“Well, what else would you use to impress me?” his eyes twinkled, looking down at her.

 

“My extensive knowledge of complex medical procedures,” he scrunches his nose. “Also, this really cute lacy bra.” 

 

He glared at her. “Not fair. Now, I’m going to be thinking of a lacy bra all night,” he crossed his arms over his chest.

 

She shrugged. “Sounds like a you problem.”

 

He huffed. They both turned to look at each other, and they were both grinning brightly.

 

“Okay, so, if a star on the left side blinks faster, you get to ask me a question, and if a star on the right blinks faster, I get to ask you a question?”

 

“Yes, sir.” 

 

He frowned. “I’m not into that shit.”

 

“Geez, everything is about sex with you, huh?”

 

“Welcome to the life of a twenty three year old who didn’t spend time with women for most of his time in space.”

 

She laughed. “Okay, ready? One, two, three, go!”

 

They both stared at the stars until their eyes hurt. A bright star on the left twinkled. “Ha!” Clarke pointed at the sky. “You lose!” she stuck her tongue out.

 

He rolled his eyes. “Are you gonna ask me a question, or what?”

 

“Hm…” she thought for a moment. Her eyes sparkled. “Who’s prettier, me, or Roma?”

 

He turned his head to look at her. “Seriously? Are you twelve?” 

 

“A game is a game. A loser is a loser. So?” 

 

“You’re a child.” 

 

“So?” 

 

“I’m not answering your immature question.”

 

She scooted closer and pressed a hand against his abdomen, clutching his shirt lightly. He sharply inhaled. “Please?” 

 

“Jesus,” he shoved her hand away. “ You ,” he mumbled.

 

“Sorry, what was that?”

 

“You, you idiot,” he poked her side and she squirmed, giggling.

 

“Okay. Again. One, two, three, go!”

 

A star to the left twinkled, again. “Oh, come on!” Bellamy whined, throwing his hands up.

 

“Okay, I promise I’ll do a real one this time,” she thought for a bit. “Okay. What’s your favorite memory with Octavia?” 

 

He was startled by her sincerity. “Uh, I guess the time I first read her the tale of Octavia the Younger . She was so excited to see why she was named after her,” he smiled softly. “We were sitting on the bed, side by side. She was clutching her rabbit as the huge anthology was spread out on our laps. At first, she was really into it.

 

“But then, we got to the end of Octavia the Younger’s second marriage, and O threw a tantrum,” he laughed. “‘She kept yelling, ‘I don't want to just be a wife to men who are failures! I want to be the Queen! Why didn’t you name me Cleopatra, Bell?’” 

 

Clarke’s burst into peals of laughter. “That’s the most Octavia thing I’ve ever heard. A feminist from the very start.”

 

“Damn right.” 

 

Bellamy looked back up, but Clarke kept watching him. She counted each freckle on his face, wondering if a constellation could be made with them.

 

“Are you staring, Princess?” 

 

“Yeah.” 

 

His head snapped back. “What is with you–”

 

“Nope! No questions unless a star blinks.”

 

He rolled his eyes. “One, two, three, go.” 

 

Not even ten seconds later, a star twinkled on the right side. Clarke sighed.

 

“Thank you, Cassiopeia,” Bellamy spoke wistfully to the constellation. 

 

“You’re weird.” 

 

“Yeah, yeah. Time for my question. What is with you, tonight?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“It’s just, like… you’re even flirtier than me. That’s really saying something. And it's you fanning the sexual tension,” he explained, as if it's obvious.

 

She raised an eyebrow. “Sexual tension? Oh, I’m sorry. I'll make sure that my spread of Herpes is strong and steady.”

 

He winced. “I’m so sorry, Clarke. I wish I could take it all back,” he whispered.

 

“I know,” she said, punching his shoulder. “It’s good to lighten up sometimes, Blake.” He stared at her warily. She sighed, folding her hands over her stomach, but still staring at the sky.

 

“Honestly,” she started. “I don’t really know why. I guess almost dying kind of freaked me out,” she laughed. He didn’t.

 

“Okay. Fine. I just– ever since I woke up, I felt this desperate need to cling to the good moments. The happy ones, I mean.” 

 

He looked at her curiously.

 

“While you were asleep, Octavia and I laughed for hours. We braided each other’s hair, she tried to paint my nails with the pigment I used for my paintings. I drew doodles of her and Lincoln. We gossiped about boys,” she smiled. “We were just being teenage girls, you know? I hadn’t felt that in a long time. I mean, not even on the Arc.

 

“She didn’t let me worry about anything for those few hours. She reassured me that Jasper, Monty, Harper, and Raven were okay. That no one had come to the Dropship with major injuries. No Grounder attacks,” she explained. “For those few hours, I felt pure, unadulterated happiness. And peace.

 

“And I didn’t realize how healing it was. So, I guess I’m just trying to stretch those moments out. Keep being a teenager,” she stared at the stars with a grin. “Teasing. Flirting with boys.” 

 

“So, I’m just your outlet to recreate excitting teenage fantasies?” 

 

“No,” she frowned. “I wouldn’t want to spend time with anyone else.”

 

“Not even Finn?”

 

“No.”

 

“Why?”

 

She shrugged. “You make me feel safe. I know that you won’t take advantage of me, or make me do anything I wouldn’t want to do.”

 

He tried hard to contain the colossal smile that spread on his face. 

 

––

PRESENT

 

Clarke lays her head on his chest as he twirls a strand of her hair in his fingers. “It was all true, you know.” 

 

He looks down, fairly surprised. “Even the Finn part?”

 

“Even the Finn part.”

 

He smiles and kisses the top of her head. “Hey. You never told what you and O were gossiping about.”

 

“Hm?” she hums, drawing circles on his stomach. 

 

“You said you were gossiping about boys. Which ones?” 

 

She looks up at him, her eyes twinkling. “A very handsome, rugged one.” 

 

“Oh, really?” he smirks. 

 

“Yeah. Lincoln.”

 

“Hey!” He tugs on the piece of her hair as she laughs.

 

“It was you. It was always you.” 

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

They had been playing what Clarke aptly named, “Truth or Star”, for an hour. He didn’t gather the courage to ask about her hands.

 

“Ready?” He nodded.

 

“One, two, three!”

 

After a few seconds, she cheered. “I win!” But when she turned to look at him, she realized that he’d been staring at her the whole time, with a soft smile. 

 

The air left her lungs for a second, as she looked down at him for the first time in a few minutes. The moon had curved right above them in the sky, peeking through Cassiopeia’s flecks. Bellamy’s tan skin effused gold. The glow of the moon and the stars splashed shadows all over his features. They flickered from his cheek, to his nose, to his forehead. It made it look like his freckles were moving. She grew dizzy. He was beautiful. 

 

It seemed like the stars fell through the sky and exploded in the air around them. Everything was slow, bright. She could see the air particles glitter in the space between them. He seemed to notice, too.

 

“What’s your question, Clarke?” he murmured, searching her face. 

 

“Will you kiss me?” 

 

His eyes grew wide, and he shuddered a bit. “What?” 

 

“Will you kiss me?” 

 

His jaw clenched, and he forced himself to look away. “Clarke, I can’t–”

 

But she slid across to him, leaning over him with a hand on his chest. “Please?”

 

He tore his eyes away from the sky and looked at her. Her spellbinding, sapphire pupils stared at him with a hopeful gleam. The ones he gazed into in her tent a few days ago. The ones that weakened his knees when they were only a few inches from his in the lake. And, all at once, his resolve cracked. 

 

He swiftly closed the distance between them and pushed her onto her back. Leaning over her, on his side, his lips captured hers with a startling urgency. Their mouths twined together desperately as his large hand held the right side of her face. He pulled away for one second, to catch his breath, but she fisted a hand in his collar and tugged him back down. He gasped against her lips, which had curved into a smile. Her mouth was unrelenting, but he reigned the kiss in, keeping it tame.

 

But the splayed fingers she placed on his chest inched down, slowly. They slinked past his heart and down to his ribcage, before tracing each curve and fall of his abdomen. He shivered at her gentle touch. She traced swirls around his stomach before teasing the line where his shirt met his jeans, slung low over his hips. 

 

“Clarke…” he warned, murmuring against her lips. 

 

She ignored him and ran one finger above the waistband of his jeans. Finally, her hand dipped to graze the skin beneath his shirt. 

 

He moaned into the kiss, but suddenly, her lips were ripped away from his. He was confused for a split second, but then she raised up and pulled his neck down, closer to her face, before grazing his jaw and pressing small kisses down his neck. 

 

He couldn’t stop the groan that spilled from his lips. “ God, Princess ,” he breathed. 

 

She took the advantage of his mouth opening to drag her tongue against his lower lip. He froze. She pulled back for a moment, her eyes searching for his approval. But his pupils were blown, and the sudden absence of her lips sent sparks throughout his body. And that tipped him over.

 

Growling, he shifted until he was fully above her, pressing himself flush against her chest. His tongue demanded entry. She complied, the open-mouth kiss becoming hot, and furious. Clarke was frenzied. Her fists seized his shirt, pulling him down until it seemed like nothing was keeping them apart. Her arms then wrapped around his neck, something akin to a chokehold. 

 

He snaked his hand around to cup her neck, tilting her head back so his mouth could descend on her neck. His mouth was primitive, sucking patches of her skin. He wanted Clarke to be his. As he pulled away to admire his efforts, he smirked– the purplish spots spanned the entire length of her neck. It looked like an animal had mauled her. She was going to kill him tomorrow. 

 

“Bell,” she whimpered, and he noticed her squirming beneath him. He took a moment to really look at her. The ivory skin of her face was flushed scarlet, and her hair was fanned out on the pillow in satiny knots. Her chest heaved forcefully as her breaths came out in large huffs. 

 

She propped herself up on her elbows, wondering why he’d stopped. Small whines left her mouth, and he resisted the urge to tear her shirt apart. He crashed his lips to hers again, running his hand down her hips. 

 

She unwrapped her arms from his neck and moved them down to his belt. The friction of her small hands against his pelvis made him groan, burying his head in her shoulder. Her fingertips moved down until they hit the tightness that had stretched across his jeans. She gasped and ran her fingers across it. 

 

“Bell,” she breathed.

 

That did it. His name tumbling out of her soft, pink lips pushed him over. He was practically animalistic. 

 

He grabbed her wrists at his waist and slammed them above her head. 

 

As her head struck the pillow, Clarke was pulled out of the moment with Bellamy and plunged into a rush of blinding light. 

 

Her seven year old self was in a colorless room on the Arc, miscellaneous gray furniture spattered throughout the space. A burning, white-hot pain in her palm made her look down. A man with disheveled brown hair held her wrist down onto some device. Pain spread through her fingers as the burns flew across her skin and dissolved into her nerves.

 

A future doctor needs her hands, Clarke, he sneered, lip curling in a petrifying smirk. “This is what will happen when you try to tattle again, okay, sweetheart?”  

 

He released her wrists and she screamed, falling to the floor. Her left hand clutched her right, and her nails pressed into her skin so hard that pricks of blood appeared on her fingertips. She scrambled away from him on her hands, as he advanced on her.

“Be a good girl, next time.”

 

Clarke’s yelp made Bellamy stop cold. He flew off of her as she gasped, sitting up. She was rubbing her wrist, an anguished look on her face. Hot tears ran down her cheeks. 

 

“Bellamy?” she questioned. 

 

He stood in the corner of the tent, facing away from her. Blood pounded in his ears, and every nerve ending in his body stung. The image of him grabbing her wrist and slamming it on the floor replayed in his head like a violent broken record.

 

He hurt her. Again

 

“Bell?” she crawled closer to him. “Please come back,” she pleaded.

 

His white-knuckled fists were clenched at his sides. His fingernails drew blood in his palm. He felt a small nudge on his calf, and spun around to see Clarke beneath him, sitting on her heels. Her face was pained, pure, and petrified, all at once. 

 

“Please come back,” she repeated with a whimper. “I’m okay,” she reached up to unravel his fist. He jerked away, and she flinched. 

 

“Clarke,” he choked out. “I–I can’t.” 

 

Tears ran down her cheeks, and he stifled a sob, falling on both knees. He used his thumbs to shove aside the wetness. She tried to wrap her arms around him but he pulled away.

 

“I hurt you, again. All I do is hurt you,” he looked away and stood back up.

 

“You didn’t mean to,” she pleaded, scooting closer to him. “Please, please, come back.” 

 

“I can’t,” he said, shaking his head. He looked down at her, “I’m so, so sorry, Princess.”

 

Before he succumbed to the temptation of holding her in his arms all night and rocking her to sleep, he pushed through the tent flap and fled outside.

 

“Bellamy!” he heard as he left, followed by quiet sobs. And that thing in his chest– the thing he didn’t know existed for him, the thing that made him capable of love– it broke. 

 

It broke, hard.

 

––

PRESENT 

 

This time, as Clarke sobs, he holds her tight to his chest, refusing to ever let her go, again.  

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Clarke wished she could say that the week after her and Bellamy kissed passed quickly. It didn’t. It was painfully, agonizingly slow.

 

He fell back into his same routine– him and the Guard on patrol, or going to hunt. Occasionally helping Monty and Jasper with the farm. Leading the nightly meetings. Containing the panic of the delinquents when they heard a rustle in the trees.

 

But she did not. Octavia, Raven, and Harper insisted that she stayed on bedrest for a few days, at the very least. They took shifts to take care of her. Octavia had mornings, sometimes bringing Lincoln, which consistently earned a grin from Clarke. Harper took afternoons. She sighed while talking about how Monty said her hair was pretty. And Raven took nights, pacing back and forth, ranting about the stupidity of various delinquents. 

 

“He didn’t even know the difference between hydraulic floor jacks and piston jacks, Clarke!”

 

She felt like she was made of glass, but she was thankful for their constant companionship, and the steady stream of smiles that appeared on her face.

 

But she wanted to see him. She felt disappointed that he didn’t want to see her. 

 

Octavia yelled and yelled about his insensitivity. She thought that he didn’t deserve to see Clarke, not after all he said to her. But, late at night, as all the girls gathered in her tent, Octavia listened and held her hand when she talked about how she missed him. She even told them about the kiss.

 

Okay, ew . Octavia said at first, encouraging laughter from the girls. But I understand. I get it. 

 

And that’s when Clarke realized her and Octavia had developed a profound, intense, sisterly bond. Their hearts felt connected, and it came to the point where Clarke was sure that the two would risk anything to keep each other safe. 

 

She grew unbelievably close to Harper and Raven, as well. One night, when a sweaty, screaming Clarke kept waking up from nightmares of burning fingers and a man with wild, red eyes, the two girls held her until she fell back asleep. Harper sang a soft melody that her father had sung to her when she was little. 

 

But, at long last, the final day of Clarke’s bedrest came. And she decided to do something. 

 

Harper gently braided daisies into her hair while Octavia gushed to Raven about how Lincoln had sewn her a chiffon, cream dress for her birthday, after gathering silk fibers for a month. 

 

“I want silk fibers,” Harper frowned. “I could probably sew a nightgown that Monty would definitely like.” 

 

Raven threw a pillow at her. “You two are disgusting. No one needs to hear about your sex life.”

 

“I do,” Octavia sighed. “Lincoln and I haven’t, yet.”

 

“What?!” shrieked Harper and Raven. Harper tucked in the last daisy in Clarke’s braid before turning to Octavia.

 

Clarke smiled at the three girls, a rush of love and gratitude sweeping through her chest. They got her through this week, that’s for sure. 

 

While they prodded Octavia about Lincoln, Clarke reached down to grab her sketchbook. Holding a charcoal piece, she closed her eyes, and let her hands move on their own. 

 

Her wrist sweeped over the paper, using the side of the charcoal to drag thick, gray lines across the page. Afterwards, her thumbs smudged the harsh lines that she drew with the tip of the charcoal. Her eyes remained shut, but she could feel her fingers sketching uneven shapes, the rectangles and circles blending together. Her hand seemed to swirl across the page for ten minutes before she felt the need to stop. 

 

Slowly opening her eyes, she saw that Harper, Raven, and Octavia were at her side with wide eyes. She glanced down and her breath caught in her throat– there, on her lap, was a drawing of a room, a table, and the dark, red shadow of a man towering over a child. 

 

Suddenly, the two shadowy hands emerged from the paper, grabbing her face and pulling her under. She felt herself thrust into a washed out room on the Arc. The only color in the room was the red swirls that replaced the eyes on the shadow man. She looked down at her body, and saw that she was curled up against the wall. She was quite small, with thin limbs. It was her, as a child.

 

“Please, don’t,” she whispered. 

 

The man advanced on her, until he was only a few feet away. His body finally emerged from the shadows, and his face came into view.

 

Kaplan. Council Member Kaplan. 

 

His wicked smile made bile rise in Clarke’s throat. He stepped closer.

 

“It wasn’t very nice to try to break our deal, Miss Clarke,” he crouched down to meet her at eye-level. Only a few inches away, his breath made the strands of hair covering her eyes sweep to the side. He smelled like mint and cigarettes– toothpaste or floss, probably, to mask the smell of the contraband. 

 

“Do you know what happens when you try to break our deal?” He asked, silentt rage spreading on his face. He reached down and forced her chin up, causing her to yelp.

 

“It’s time to show you what happens when you tattle like a child." He jerked her arm up and dragged her across the floor by her elbow. 

 

“Please, stop!” Clarke writhed as she slid across the porcelain floor of one of the Arc’s rec rooms. 

 

But he kept going. When they reached the steel table, he forced her upper arm up so that it lay flat on the surface. The rest of her body dangled, knees barely reaching the floor. 

 

“Do you know what this is?” He waved up the metal tablet in the air. A thick, black wire no more than three feet long dangled from the back of it. A silver panel was attached to a thick, gray square. Two black knobs were at each end of the square, and two small, infrared screens sat in between them. Numbers flashed on the red surfaces. 

 

Clarke whimpered. “Please! I won’t do it again! I promise!” 

 

He just laughed. “That’s good, Miss Clarke. But I need to make sure that you remember what happens if you do.”

 

With one hand still pinning her forearm on the table, he set down the device and forced the wire into a slot in the wall. The machine hummed to life.

 

“Perks of Go-Sci station. Hot plates are quite the commodity, you know. Maybe if you’re good, I’ll give you one to take home. It could be useful for some very effective, sterile syringes. Perfect for a future Dr. Griffin.” 

 

Tears stung her face as she tried to tug her arm down. But his grip on her wrist was unyielding and heavy. He yanked her fist forward onto the cold, steel plate. She whimpered. He chuckled, unraveling each of her fingers so that they’re splayed on the surface. 

 

“We’ll start with a warm up.” His other hand grabbed one of the dials, slowly moving it to the right.

 

Clarke cried, feeling heat unfurl into her hand, up through her fingers, and down to her palm to wrist. 

 

“This must hurt, huh?” He asked, exaggerated pity on his face. Clarke nodded, sniffling.

 

“You know, I could lose my council position if anyone finds out about us, Miss Griffin. That would really, really hurt me. I could lose my family– my wife, my daughter. I could be floated. That thought brings me a lot of pain. Kind of like this.”

 

He twisted the knob violently, red numbers rapidly flickering on the screen. 

 

Clarke screamed. An intense, excruciating heat spills onto her skin. White spots blur her vision. She felt the burns snake up through her fingers, as he used his other hand to place his fingertips onto hers.

 

“A future surgeon needs her hands, you know,” Council Member Kaplan nodded. “Your mother would know.

 

“Speaking of your mother,” he swiveled the knob even further. Clarke wails, her tonsils beginning to bleed from the ear-splitting noises erupting in her mouth. The acoustic panels and foam on the walls swallow her cries. “It’s pretty important that she doesn’t know.”

 

He placed his other hand on her wrist, forcing her lower palm deeper into the blistering heat. 

 

“So, what should we tell her when she sees your hand? Asks you what happened? Maybe something about how you were… hm… playing with stun batons? With your boyfriend? I’ve seen you both sneak into Tesla Station, before.” His smile was paralyzing. 

 

Clarke didn’t say anything, her eyes starting to drift close from the sheer pain. She felt herself slipping out of consciousness. But he jerked her hand.

 

“What do we tell her?” He hisses.

 

“Me and– me and Wells snuck into Tesla Station to play with the stun batons. We accidentally broke one with our hands,” she stuttered, the familiar curtain of darkness overtaking her.

 

“Well done– good idea. You’re so bright, Ms. Griffin. You’ll be a good doctor.” Kaplan let go of her wrist and she tumbled to the floor. She curled into herself, holding the wrist to her chest. She was breathing heavily, and the corners of her vision began to blur. 

 

She felt him grab her arms and start dragging him to the couch on the other side of the room.

 

“Now. Let’s try this, again. No tattling, this time,” he said, with a vicious smirk.

 

The last thing she felt was her pants being pulled down before descending into darkness.

 

––

PRESENT

 

Bellamy tries to contain his anger, but his fists still clutch the bedsheets. He lets out a sob before Clarke turns on her side and snuggles into his chest, pulling his abdomen flesh against her back. She takes his hand and lifts it to her hair. And he understands. 

 

He untangles the braid, which was falling out, and runs his fingers through her golden curls. They twist in her hair, kneading the top of her skull, just the way she likes. His touch is gentle and reverent. He closes his eyes, begging his fingers to take away all of the pain in her mind. To tend to each electron, each band in her nervous system. He runs his hands down her neck and spinal cord, pressing soft kisses on each vertebrae. Love, desire, and compassion drip from his lips, murmuring I love you's like prayer. It is worship. 


“Hold me.”

 

He doesn’t need to be asked twice.

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

Clarke gasped and lurched back into the present, cold sweat pooling on the sides of her forehead. Her hands were shaking, and her sketchbook was no longer in her lap. She felt three pairs of hands on her– on her back, on her neck, and on her arms. 

 

“Clarke?” 

 

The vacuum around her broke apart. The air was breathable. She became less disoriented. Her pupils dilated, and her eyes adjusted to the dim light of the lantern in the corner. 

 

“Clarke?” the voice repeated.

 

Finally, each of her senses came to be.

 

“Clarke?! What happened?” Octavia was kneeling in front of her, two hands on Clarke’s cheeks. The rubbing on her back and arm released the tension from each limb. She slumped into the arms behind her.

 

Above her, Harper and Raven looked down with terror-stricken expressions. She breathed easier. She was safe. She was safe.

 

“I’m– I’m okay,” she curled into Raven’s lap, head laying on her thighs. Raven brushed her hair back.

 

“Jeez, Clarke. You terrified us. We think you had another seizure.” 

 

“Another? But, I just had the most vivid memory after looking at what I’d drawn. I couldn’t have had a seizure. It was so real,” her voice cracked.

 

Harper laid down next to Clarke, propped up on her elbow. “We think it was a dissociative-absence seizure.”

 

“A what-what?” She sat up.

 

“After last week, Octavia talked to Lincoln about the things you’d been experiencing. He had little knowledge of epilepsy, but he went to his Commander and begged her to contact the healers from the other clans. Some members of Sangedakru came forward and described how many of their peoples experienced something similar to you. Staring off into space in silence, certain images flashing in their eyes. At first, they mistook it as just daydreaming. But that was questioned when the person having the seizure was completely unresponsive.

 

“Then, the healers from Sangedakru described how they found a text buried in the sand on a hunt, one day. It was in a different language, but the translators from Azgeda and Floukru deciphered it. It was a medical book all about seizures, and epilepsy,” Harper rambled.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Clarke frowned.

 

“We didn’t know if the information was reliable. But, when we're looking at your drawing, right now– it makes sense. The book explained that people with dissociative seizures often experienced the same flood of vivid memories, like you explained. And, in replacement of the dissociation, the individual tends to rescript their memories on something tangible. Like, in writing. Or, in a picture,” she gestured to Clarke’s sketchbook.

 

“Where’s the book?” 

 

“Lincoln’s commander has it. They’re studying it, but, hopefully, they’ll allow us to read it all afterward,” Raven explained. 

 

“Oh.”

 

It made sense, Clarke thought. The sudden triggers, the flashbacks, how she froze in place. All because of one movement– Bellamy grabbing her hand.

 

“How do we treat it?”

 

“Lincoln brought us some antiserums.” Octavia reached into her satchel and pulled out the vials.

 

Clarke frowned. Her mother had briefly told her about antiserums on the Arc, but they were used to combat antigens. Immune disorders.

 

“What about the serums he brought earlier this week?” Clarke questioned.

 

“The medical journal described how the blood serum can dissolve the pathogens and rebuild your plasma. The clan healers think that the acid fog agitated your immune system, and that’s what severed your brain’s electrical activity,” Raven revealed.

 

Clarke blinked.

 

“What? I’m a fast learner,” she shrugged, with a sly smile.

 

“Maybe you should be the healer, instead. I’ve never even heard of most of those words.”

 

“God. I’d have to carry this camp on my back. But, I’d be the first engineer-doctor that existed on the Ground,” Raven said confidently. 

 

Clarke, Harper, and Octavia laughed. Clarke felt lighter, despite the flashback and the massive amounts of information flung at her. 

 

But she saw how the girls’ eyes occasionally flicked to her sketchbook. 

 

“Do you think– that’s related to the memories you kept seeing earlier, when Bellamy grabbed your wrist?” Octavia hesitantly asked.

 

Clarke had told the girls a bit about the flashbacks after her seizure. She described that she kept seeing images of black-red blood, sharp steel, her fingertips burning, and the man with tangled, brown hair. But the four girls couldn’t make sense of it.

 

Clarke could, now. The last few minutes had distracted her, but now, as the sketchbook stared up at her, she began to dry heave. 

 

Kaplan. The hot plate. Her hands. Her pants.

 

“Clarke!” Octavia brought her head into her lap. Harper and Raven rushed forward to hold each hand. 

 

“Breathe, Clarke,” Harper whispered, caressing her bruised hand with a gentle touch. 

 

“I’m so sorry– I shouldn’t have asked.” 

 

But the soft touch of the three girls relaxed her. She was safe. “No, it's okay,” She took a deep breath. “I want to talk about it.”

 

The three girls looked at her hesitantly, but she nodded. Clarke curled up in Octavia’s lap as Raven and Harper scooted to her side, still holding her hands.

 

“The man– it was Kaplan,” she revealed. Harper gasped, Octavia made a choking sound, and Raven wavered.

 

“Kaplan? Council Member Kaplan?” Raven asked. Clarke nodded.

 

“He… he was from Gov-Sci station, remember?” The three girls nodded, a confused look on their face.

 

“We were in one of the Arc’s rec rooms. That’s the room in my drawing. He had…  a hot plate. That’s the steel I kept seeing. He was mad at me. He kept asking why I had tattled.”

 

“Tattled?” Harper’s eyebrows raised. 

 

“He said that I almost broke our ‘deal’. And that he needed to show me what happens when I tried to tell on him. So, he started dragging me across the room.”

 

Octavia paled. Harper inhaled. Raven winced.

 

“He dragged me to the table, and put the hot plate down. He grabbed my wrist and slammed my hand down on the plate. My body hung off the table.”

 

“The wrist. Your trigger,” Octavia spoke into the air.

 

Clarke nodded. “And… he plugged in the hot plate. And turned it on.”

 

“What?” The three girls shrieked. 

 

“He told me that he could be floated if our deal was broken. He could lose his daughter, and wife. If I tattled. He increased the heat with the knob.” 

 

Harper choked back a sob. 

 

“He told me to fabricate a story, for when my mom, or other people would see the burns on my fingers. He turned the knob, again.”

 

From above her, Octavia’s tears dripped onto Clarke’s cheek. 

 

“He pressed on my palm and fingertips harder. Wells and I snuck into Tesla station. We broke a stun baton. That was the story. He let me go, then. I fell on the floor, and started to pass out. But he jerked me awake. I felt him dragging me to the couch, and throwing me onto it.”

 

“But– what was the ‘deal’? What were you tattling on?” Raven whispered.

 

“I felt my pants being ripped off. The air on my bare legs. Then I passed out.”

 

Silence overcame the tent for one minute, before Octavia couldn’t stay quiet anymore. She erupted into loud, heart-shattering sobs. Her chest hunched over Clarke and her tears spilled down her face in steady waves.

 

“Oh god. Oh god.” Harper repeated, her upper lip quivering. Her eyes were pink and puffy. Her braid was twisted and messy as she violently ran her hand through it. 

 

Raven was silent, a single tear falling from her eyes. Her features were twisted into harsh lines– her lips thin, her nose flaring, and her eyes murderous. "He was one of my mentors," she whispered.

 

Clarke paled, thinking about a young Raven being alone with him.

 

I’m going to fucking kill him,” she uttered, wrath dripping from every syllable. " I’m going to fix the radio, contact the Arc, and tell them to s hred his limbs and castrate him, before propelling him into space. ” 

 

Clarke was quiet, too. Her eyes were wet, but not a single tear fell from her lashes. She thought that every tear had been wrung from her body after the last few days.

 

After a few minutes, the three girls huddled around Clarke. They tied together the sleeping bags that Fox brought them and spread the covers over them. Laying down together, arms wrapped around each other, strands of black, brown, and blonde hair tangled and knotted, they held each other’s hands under the blanket. Their faces were still damp, and dark spots arose on the pillows, but they didn’t care.

 

Clarke fell asleep to the symphony of Octavia, Harper, and Raven’s breaths. This, she realized, is home. She is safe. She is safe.

 

 

The next morning, standing in the middle of camp, Bellamy grew concerned as he couldn’t find Clarke, Octavia, Harper, or Raven anywhere. It was his understanding that Clarke was finally off bed-rest. But there was no sign of his sister’s striking features, Harper’s perfect, blonde braid, Raven’s snarky voice, or the beautiful, deep blue eyes that he falls into. 

 

It wasn’t until well into the afternoon that he found them. They stumbled out of Clarke’s tent, all laughter and smiles. Clarke was on Octavia’s back, Harper held Clarke’s hand, and Raven’s arm was slung over Harper. Bellamy’s heart warmed. Not just because the two girls he loved, loved each other even more– but because the four girls looked like they had a reason to be happy. To be happy on the ground. To live on the ground.

 

Octavia caught his eye and gently placed Clarke on the ground. She motioned to Clarke about something, and the blonde nodded, walking off in the direction of the Dropship. To treat the patients that piled up in the last week, no doubt. Monty and Jasper had tried their hardest to find herbs that could treat the rashes, bleeds, and cuts– but as soon as they tried to stitch up Miller with a pine needle, Bellamy put an end to their pop-up clinic.

 

Raven, Harper, and Octavia walked across camp to him with unreadable faces. When they finally reached him, they stared at him, silent. After a few moments, Raven punched his shoulder. 

 

“Ow!” He scowled, rubbing the top of his arm. 

 

“That’s for triggering Clarke.” 

 

He winced. “I know, I deserve that–“

 

Octavia punched his other shoulder. 

 

“What the- ow, O! What the hell is Lincoln teaching you?”

 

“For yelling at her after she had a seizure.”

 

Harper punched his chest. 

 

“Seriously, Harp? You, too?”

 

“For kissing her and walking away.”

 

His cheeks burned. He didn’t know that she told them all of that. Maybe he assumed that she wouldn’t tell Octavia, because he was her brother. But I guess the four are soul sisters, now.

 

The three of them advanced on him, forming a half-circle and trapping him against the fence. Raven stood before him, while Octavia and Harper flanked her sides. 

 

“If you ever hurt her again, Blake,” she jabbed a finger at his chest. “I will personally build a shock strap that I’ll tie to your balls when you sleep. And I will make sure the shocks last long.” 

 

He winced. 

 

“Ew. Did not have to hear about my brothers balls,” Octavia's face scrunched in disgust. “And if you ever lay a hand on her, again,” her eyes darkened. “I will tell Lincoln about each time you called me stupid, or naive. And he’s scary when he’s angry.” 

 

He faltered, trying to walk backwards, but his back just bumps against the fence. 

 

Harper, despite her tiny frame, looms over him. “And Monty has lots of spare poison ivy. Shame if it got anywhere a bit… sensitive,” Harper said, with a smile. 

 

“Okay. I get it. I won’t. I promise. Please let me see her,” he pleaded. 

 

The three girls narrowed their eyes, but looked at each other. They seemed to communicate with their gaze, before nodding. 

 

“Fine,” Raven snapped. “But we’ll wait just outside the tent.”

 

“But–“

 

“Outside. The. Tent.” 

 

He sighed. “Okay. Fine.” 

 

She nodded solemnly. No one said anything for ten seconds. 

 

“Okay, bye big brother! I’m off to kiss Lincoln!” Octavia gave him an evil smile and flounced away. 

 

He scowled, moving to follow her. Raven placed a hand on his chest and slammed him back against the fence.  “I don’t think so. Unless you don’t want to see Clarke?”

 

He fell limp against the fence. “I do.”

 

“Great.” She looped her arm through Harper's. “Let’s go get lunch!” 

 

And they skipped away, leaving Bellamy against the fence, alone. 

 

––

PRESENT

 

Daylight starts to peek through the windows. 

 

Clarke sighs. “I love protective Harper. And Raven. And Octavia." She stretches, looking at the curtains hovering in the morning breeze. “Jeez. Who knew our story was so long?” 

 

“Seven years, Princess.”

 

“Are we done yet?” She yawns. 

 

“Almost. Thank Gods it gets better from here.”

 

“Bell, we’re not characters in an early Greek myth.” 

 

“You’re no fun.”

 

“Also, are you forgetting, you know, Mount Weather, Praimfaya, the Nightbloods, the six years in space…” Clarke counts on her fingers.

 

He grabs them and weaves them through his. “Can you just let me have this?”

 

––

SEVEN YEARS AGO

 

She was aching to see him. And he was aching to see her. 

 

Harper, Raven, and Octavia blurted out at least fifty Are you sure? ’s before they relented. Sitting criss-crossed on her sleeping bag, they draped a blanket over her knees and placed a bowl of water and her sketchbook next to her.

 

“Guys,” Clarke whined. “I’m not on bedrest anymore.”



“Yeah, well, he’s the reason you were initially on bedrest. And I don’t trust him to not repeat his mistakes,” Raven turned her nose up.

 

“It’ll be okay, Clarke,” Harper softly placed a hand on her shoulder. “Just holler if you need anything.”

 

“We will be standing right outside,” Octavia stated with a firm nod.

 

Clarke rolled her eyes good-naturedly, but smiled at her friends. “Okay.”

 

Octavia kissed her on the cheek and flounced out, Raven and Harper following her with a wave goodbye and two blown kisses. 

 

A few moments passed before Clarke heard rustling. “Remember, Blake– Electric. Shock.”

 

Clarke laughed to herself, thankful for the protective (and scary) girls that looked after her. 

 

Finally, his head poked in through the tent. Upon seeing her, his face softened. “Hey,” he said softly,

 

“Hey.” She had the urge to bounce over and kiss every inch of his face. 

 

He sat down in front of her with his knees up, eyes cast downwards. She stared at him.

 

“I missed you,” he finally said, lifting his eyes to hers. Her heart stopped. Because she saw the sincerity and guilt swirling in his eyes. 

 

“Then why didn’t you see me?” she said quietly. 

 

He sighed. “They wouldn’t let me.”

 

She didn’t have to ask who he was referring to. “Those girls,” she huffed.

 

“No, I mean– they were right. It was for the better,” he insisted.

 

“Oh.”



“No– not like that. I did want to see you. I just,” he looked away. “I wanted to make sure that I finally had gathered all my thoughts, carefully and deliberately. The ones you deserved to hear.”

 

She nodded. “So?” 

 

Bellamy opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off.

 

“Wait. Me first.”

 

He furrowed his eyebrows, but she pulled out her sketchbook and flipped open to the page. She handed it to him. His face darkened as his eyes roamed over the shadowy figure, the terrified child, the blood-red eyes. 

 

“What– what is this?” He looked up at her, hands shaking. She reached forward and placed her hands on his knuckles to steady them. 

 

“Remember the flashbacks I told you about?” He nodded. 

 

“It was this,” she cleared her throat. “That was me. And Council Member Kaplan, in one of the Arc’s rec rooms.”

 

The sketchbook dropped from his hands. His face paled. “What happened?”

 

She told him everything. The colorless room, the knobs of the hotplate, the burns, the tattling, the punishment. Dangling from the table. Scrambling into the corner. Her pants being pulled down before it all faded into black.

 

He had stopped breathing by the end of her retelling. Not a single muscle in his body moved, excluding the twitch of his jaw. His fingernails drew blood in his fists. She had never seen a more lethal, murderous look on someone’s face. Not even Raven’s. It seemed like his freckles turned black. His eyes were bloodshot. Rage gripped him from head to toe. Choking on disgust. Cold with fury. 

 

“Bellamy?”

 

He finally looked back at her, all of his anger melting away as he saw the young, vulnerable, fragile girl from the drawing.

 

Before she could comprehend what was happening, the wind was knocked out of her, as warm, strong arms enveloped her. Large hands gripped her braid, and a face was buried into her neck. He held on tightly, but with a gentle, tender grip. 

 

After a few moments, she fell limp into his arms. She felt warmth, comfort, relief, and everything in between.

 

Love. She felt love. And in that moment, she felt safer than she had ever since they dropped. This is home. She is safe.

 

“I’m so, sorry. Clarke. I’m sorry.” 

 

And she let herself break. She sobbed violent, hot tears. Her body shook with overwhelming grief. She crawled into his lap and curled her head under his chin. He rocked her in his arms, murmuring soothing phrases into her hair, pressing his cheek against her head. She swore that she heard the three words that would make her heart burst out of her chest. 

 

They stayed like that for hours. After he used a damp washcloth to wipe her face, she sighed. 

 

“Thank you, Bell.” 

 

He didn’t respond, he just wrapped his arms around her tighter. 

 

After she mustered up enough courage, she told him about what Octavia, Raven, Harper, and Lincoln had found about her dissociative-absence seizures. His mouth had dropped into a small o , shocked that the three girls managed to make peace with the other clans and their healers for medical information. 

 

He thought back to what she had been saying for the last few weeks.

 

“I can’t recognize the way my hands look. They’re ugly.”

 

“They’re not birthmarks. But I don’t remember when I got them.”

 

“When you grabbed my wrist, I had these… flashbacks?”

 

And it all made sense. Thinking about the trauma, pain, and hurt she endured– and the fact that he had a part to play in that– made his chest collapse into itself. This time, he cried, the water droplets falling onto strands of hair at the crown of her head. 

 

She comforted him, running and hand up and down his chest, stopping at his heart. Tracing her fingers in small circles over it, she willed his heartbeat to slow down. Their breaths fell in sync, as they faded into each other. After a while, she spoke up. 

 

“Tell me something,” she whispered into his neck. His lips were pressed into her hair. He lifted his head and thought for a second. 

 

With a small smile, he told her that the algae farm was finally built, and while the algae soup wasn’t particularly delicious, they were all elated to have a steady food source. She laughed when he recalled how Monty and Jasper tried to sew up Miller’s cut earlier that week. She frowned a bit when he told her that every girl in camp sent daggers at him with their eyes, but smiled when he told her that Monroe and Fox had pushed him into the mud on one of their hunts. 

 

He started telling her the story of Bellerophon and Pegasus. How the famous slayer of monsters tumbled into arrogance after his many kills. His hubris made him believe that he deserved to join the Gods in the sky. So, he saw Pegasus one day at the river bank, with its ivory, silken wings, and insisted on taming it so he could fly to the Gods. But Zeus was angered by his egotism, and struck Pegasus with a gadfly. Bellerophon fell from the sky. He, literally, got off of his high horse.

 

“I’m sensing that you’re Bellerophon in this tale,” Clarke teased. He just smiled back at her.

 

They heard Raven scoff from outside the tent. 

 

“No fair. Why do I have to be the tamed animal? I definitely can’t be tamed. Not by you, especially.” 

 

“You’re not.” 

 

“What am I then?

 

“Athena.”

 

“What did she do?”

 

He looked down at her, with warm eyes. “She broke his fall.”




 

They fell back into normalcy within the next few days. But their once malicious bickering turned into teasing shoves. Their avoidance of one another turned into Bellamy slinging his arm around her shoulders, or Clarke brushing the hair out of his eyes after a hunt. 

 

But they hadn’t kissed again. 

 

Not until a week later, when Bellamy finally relented after Clarke had been demanding to draw him. Harper, Octavia, and Raven were still wary about Clarke being alone with him. So, much to his annoyance, they stood outside the tent.

 

She sat across from him, a tiny bit of tongue sticking out from the corner of her mouth. The stars above them cast a white glow onto her golden hair. Every so often, as she looked up at him, he caught a glimpse of her cobalt irises. And he couldn’t help but grin every time she glanced at him.

 

At one point, she frowned. “Stop doing that!”

 

“Doing what?” He laughed.

 

“I’m drawing a close-mouthed smile. You keep showing your teeth when I look up at you.” 

 

“I can’t help it. You’re beautiful.” 

 

Her cheeks burned red, and she grumbled something along the lines of “is that your best pick up line ” before returning to her sketch. 

 

After she showed him the final product, and he stared at it in awe for at least ten minutes, they laid on Clarke’s sleeping bag, looking up at the stars.

 

“Truth or star?” Clarke turned her head, with a sly smile. He rolled his eyes, but grinned.

 

“Whatever the hell you want, Princess.” She stuck her tongue out at him.

 

“One, two, three.”

 

A star blinked on the right. Bellamy cheered. He looked at her with a smirk.

 

“Oh, lord.” 

 

“Who’s sexier… Finn, or me?” 

 

“Who's the 12 year old, now?” 

 

He shrugged. “As you said, Princess,” he cleared his throat and raised his voice an octave. “A game is a game. A loser is a loser.”

 

“I do not sound like that!” She exclaimed. 

 

“Answer the question, Princess.” 

 

“Fine,” she huffed. “You. Okay? You.” Bellamy grinned widely.

 

They heard a squeal and an ew! from outside the tent. 

 

“Can you leave?” Clarke and Bellamy yelled in unison. They heard giggles at first, then footsteps trotting away. 

 

“Good to know, Princess,” he winked. 

 

The way he looked under the stars made her breathless, and his flirting did not help. She crossed one leg over the other to calm herself. 

 

They went back and forth for a few minutes, Bellamy asking about her father, and Clarke asking about his mother. Finally, after a particularly bright star flickered on the left side, Clarke took it as a sign, and took the leap.

 

“Am I a good kisser?” She asked softly.

 

His head snapped over, surprised by her question. His eyes flickered to her lips.

 

“The best.” His voice was low. Heat pooled between her legs. 

 

His eyes lingered on her lips for a good ten seconds. But he abruptly turned his head away. Disappointment trickled down her chest. 

 

They exchanged some more questions. Clarke learned that Bellamy’s favorite Greek god was Apollo, despite everyone calling him Hades. He learned that Clarke’s favorite book was Sense and Sensibility .

 

“And you call me a dork?” He laughed, running one of his hands through his hair. Clarke watched the curls fall onto his face and the sheen layer of sweat in the summer night.

 

That’s it. 

 

A star blinked on the left. 

 

“Kiss me.”

 

He turned his head with an amused look on his face. “That’s not a question.”

 

“I don’t care.” 

 

She surged forward and captured his lips with hers, placing her palms on his cheeks. He faltered for a few seconds.

 

“Clarke–”

 

But she swung her leg over his hips and sat on top of him. She tugged on his lower lip between her teeth, and he groaned into her mouth. He let his mouth move against hers, letting her slip her tongue between his lips. He placed his hands gently on her hips, as her fingers gripped his hair, tightly. His lips were gentle and delicate. 

 

She huffed against his mouth. “Kiss me for real.”

 

He laughed. “I am kissing you for real.”

 

“Stop treating me like I’m a glass doll. I’ve been treated like one for the last week,” she muttered, running her hips down his neck. She left searing kisses in her wake, stopping below his ear to bite at his skin.

 

Bellamy gasped and slightly tightened his grip. “I’m not–” 

 

She dragged her hips across his, and her bare thighs glided across the tightness in his jeans. He buried his face in his shoulder with a groan, before flipping her over and propping himself up on his forearms. 

 

“Clarke,” he started, cutting her off as he placed one hand on her cheek. “Let me do this right.” 

 

She sighed, but nodded. 

 

His lips descended on hers, sweet, and intimate. The back of his knuckles trailed down her face. "You’re beautiful,” he murmured against her lips.

 

“Yeah, yeah.”

 

She grabbed the back of his head and pulled him back down. They moved slowly, but reverently, his thumb running down her arms. His hand reached her hip and he twined his fingers with hers. She gave him a squeeze. Yes .

 

He untangled his fingers and ran his own across the bare skin that only just separates her cotton shirt and pajama shorts. She sighed and ran her hands down her chest. Reaching his waistline, she tugged at his belt. His hand moved down to grasp hers. He kissed it from her fingertips to her wrist, softly rubbing the bruises and cuts. He places it back next to her head. 

 

The frown on her face quickly dissolved as his palms ducked under her top and traveled across her ribcage. She gasped and placed one hand in his hair. He pushed up the top until it was bunched up against her collarbone. He ran his hand against the fabric of her plain, cotton bralette. 

 

Silent laughter filled her body, as he looked at it as if it was the sexiest, laciest piece of lingerie. She twitched as his hands then passed over the sensitive peak, her lips jerking up. He just smiled as his mouth descended on her neck, sucking and biting spots across her jawline. Blues and purples rippled onto her skin. 

 

“You’re mine.” He said, but softly. He tweaked her nose and she laughed.

 

“That was the least possessive or sexiest thing ever .”

 

“Hey!” He fake pouts. But he kept going, lifting her lower back with one hand as the other snuck under to find the clasp of the bra.

 

“What the–”

 

She giggled. “It’s a bralette. It doesn’t have a clasp.”

 

“Why do you wear clothes that make it even harder for me to undress you?”

 

“Well, I wasn’t exactly planning on stripping for you, tonight.”

 

He pulled away, concerned. “We don’t have to–” 

 

“No, you idiot. You didn’t get the hint, apparently. I’ve been giving you sex eyes all week . And you avoid me at all costs when I try to kiss you! If I had my way, this bralette would’ve been torn, a long time ago.”

 

His eyes darkened, but he shook his head. “Sex eyes, huh?” he smirked. “I’m sorry for resisting them. Let me make it up to you.” 

 

He lifted her up with one hand on her lower back. The other tugged the bralette up and over her head. He pulled her flush against them, their chests pressing together. He looked down at her bare skin, and sighed.

 

“Clarke, you’re–” 

 

“Beautiful. I know.”

 

“I was going to say sexy, but okay.”

 

He laid her back down and kissed his way down to her sternum. He slowly lifted his right hand and brushed his thumb over one of her nipples. His lips fell to the other. 

 

God ,” she squirmed, her toes curling into the blanket. His tongue moved leisurely, and his thumb skimmed the other in soft strokes. 

 

“That’s not my name,” he whispers, after a swirl of his tongue.

 

She stared down at him. He grinned up boyishly. “Hilarious.”

 

His teeth grazed her nipple as she softly nibbled at her skin. She whimpered. “Bell, please.” 

 

His pupils dilated at the sound of his name. He licked and kissed down her stomach and used his teeth to tug her pajama shorts down. When he went to slip off her panties, his fingers brushed her middle. His eyes widened.

 

“Holy shit, Clarke,” he padded at her dampness. “How long have you been wanting this?” 

 

“A really long time, apparently.”

 

He groaned, holding back a growl. Instead of taking her panties off, he just pulled aside the fabric and sank a finger inside her. It slid in and out effortlessly, a wetness dripping from her skin. 

 

“Jesus,” he breathed, working another finger in. 

 

She whimpered and trembled, but managed to gasp, “That’s not my name, either.”

 

His head snapped up, an amused expression on his face. “The Princess has jokes," he repeated. His fingers start to move a bit faster and deeper, curling upwards. 

 

“Faster,” she demanded. 

 

He obliged, thrusting into her rapidly. Her back began to arch.

 

“Can you fit another?” he whispered.

 

“I–I don’t know,” she stuttered.

 

He leaned down to capture her lips, brushing away the strands of hair stuck on her forehead. He didn’t say anything, but swirled a third finger around her, eliciting a whine against his mouth.

 

He teased the finger around her entrance before pushing it in. It’s tight, but curled into her easily. “ Holy –” 

 

He stared up at her, transfixed by the way her eyes squeezed shut and the way her mouth dropped open. Thrusting faster, he kissed her neck as her chest heaved up and down.

 

“Bell– I’m going to–” 

 

He dropped down and lowered his mouth to her, swirling his tongue and sliding it into her. 

 

“Bellamy!” She screamed, and with a flick of his tongue, she convulsed, hard, against his mouth, one hand tangled in his hair. His mouth rode through her orgasm as she came down.

 

He kissed his way up to her neck and pressed a short peck to her lips.

 

“Was that good?” He murmured into her neck.

 

Her voice was shaky. “Good?” she laughed. “Yeah, it was good.” She felt his smile against her skin. 

 

She hooked her legs around his waist and flipped them over, straddling him. Ripping off his thermal, she saw that she had torn open the hole in the shoulder even further. She stared at it, in her fist.  “Oops,” she shrugged, and threw it in the corner.

 

He laughed. “I liked that shirt.”

 

“I like you better without a shirt.” She ran her tongue down his collarbone to his abdomen.

 

“I will no longer wear that shirt.”

 

Her tongue drew swirls on his chest, muscles flexing under her touch. She crawled upwards and kissed him fiercely, feeling him grow rigid against her. Her touch was searing, desperate. She tangled his tongue with his, as it forced its way into every inch of his mouth. It was a heated battle that he had no chance of winning.

 

But he pulled back. She was panting, a look of annoyance on her face. “Slow down. We have time.” 

 

She glowered. “Didn’t take you for the boring type, Blake.”

 

He laughed, reaching up to stroke her cheek. “Nice try. It’s not gonna work, Princess.” 

 

Her eyes narrowed. “We’ll see about that.”

 

In a flash, she was at his waist, ripping off his belt so hard that he felt the leather lash against his skin. He gasped at the delicious pain, which Clarke noticed. She kissed and licked the skin just above his jeans. But, only for a moment. It took seconds for her to pull down the zipper and whip off his pants. He barely moved. As he looked down, this goddess of a girl crawling up his chest, he tried to control the heartbeat that threatened to beat out of his chest. His resolve was cracking. He felt the desire to flip her over, rip her panties and fuck her senseless, rise in his gut. He took deep breaths. 

 

Suddenly, he felt an agonizing streak of desire. Her hand was on his boxers, massaging him. His fingers dug into the blanket, repressing the need to pull on her hair. She pulled the fabric off and sat on her knees, wide-eyed.

 

“Um,” she gaped.

 

Usually, Bellamy smirked whenever girls were shocked at his size. This time, it was different. Clarke was different. 

 

So he flew up, placing his hands on her lower back, pulling her close to him.

 

“We don’t have to.” He lifted her chin with his finger. But, when her eyes lifted to his, all he saw was mischief.

 

“I thought you’d know me better, by now.” 

 

With a resounding oof , he was on his back again, Clarke still on her knees. She kept her eyes locked on his as her mouth drew closer to him. Before she even touched it, it twitched.

 

“Awww,” Clarke cooed. “He likes me!” 

 

Bellamy scrunched his nose. “Ew.” 

 

She laughed and slowly wrapped her hand around him. A groan tumbled from his mouth.

 

Fuck.” 

 

Without a blink, her mouth was on him, her tongue swirling and licking at full tilt. Nothing about her touch was slow or delicate– it was a craving, an ache. It had been a long time coming. 

 

Her mouth descended further and further, using her hand to stroke him as her mouth moved up and down. With every duck, her mouth fell until it couldn’t go any further. Bellamy finally let out a lustful growl. It was music to Clarke’s ears. 

 

He tugged her up by her arms and flipped them over.

 

“Take it slow, huh?” She teased slyly. 

 

His voice was deep and gruff as he laughed in her ear. “You drive me crazy, you know that?”

 

She reached down and held him in her hand, running her palm up and down. “I do, actually.” She brought it to her entrance and rubbed it against her clit. 

 

A grunt rumbled in his chest. 

 

“Come on, Bell.” She used her other hand to jerk his chin up to look at her. He hesitated.

 

“Please?” She pouted, and that set him off. 

 

“You know what happens when you pout at me.”

 

He plunged into her with one, hard thrust, immediately hitting the back of her wall. She screamed his name so loudly that he was afraid the neighboring tents would hear. He gently raised his hand to cover her lips, but looked down when he felt rapid spasms clamping down around him. 


He looked up at her face in awe. “Did you– just?”

 

She nodded, her own hand now covering her mouth to smother the anguished whines erupting from her throat.

 

His pupils dilated. “ God, that’s hot.”

 

Unable to control himself, he completely pulled out before continuously impaling her to the hilt. She was painfully tight, and the residual convulsions made his eyes cloud over. He was unrelenting, pounding into her like their time was running out. 

 

Fuck,” he growled, as he bottomed out. He grabbed her hips and held them in the air, simultaneously slamming them into him as he thrust into her, over, and over. He grabbed her right leg and threw it over his shoulder, hitting an angle he didn’t know existed. 

 

A wail slipped through the fingers covering Clarke’s mouth. Placing his own hand overs hers, he bent down to press his chest flush against her. He brought her hand to his lips, gently kissing her fingers, palm, wrist. Some of his curls spilled onto her forehead.

 

“It’s okay, Princess. Let it out. Whoever hears you will know that you’re mine."

 

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! ” she sobbed, chest raising off the ground.

 

“Who makes you scream like that?” He whispered in her ear. 

 

“You,” she whined. 

 

His hand slunk down to her core, rubbing it as he kept thrusting into her, not slowing his pace.

 

“Say it.”

 

“Say what?”

 

“Say. My. Name.” He articulated each word with a forceful thrust. 

 

“Bellamy!” She screamed, spasming around him, toes curling. The stars above her blurred and danced together, creating a kaleidoscopic, dizzying world.

 

“Look at me.” He grabbed her chin and pulled it down. The stars fell on his face and sparkled across his features. She came again, violent convulsions wracking her body, electricity pricking each nerve ending. 

 

The sensation of her double orgasm sent him over the edge, as he buried his neck in his shoulder and thrust into her one, two, three times. He roared into her ear, chanting her name as if it was birdsong. 

 

Their bodies twitched and fluttered together until they both came down. Bellamy collapsed beside her. As they both lay on their sides, chests heaving, staring at each other, they were silent, letting their eyes talk to each other. After they both caught their breath, Bellamy wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her flush against him. Clarke swung a leg over his hip. He traced stars on her back. 

 

“Bellamy,” she breathed into her chest.

 

“Hm?” He snuggled his chin over her head.

 

“I love you.”



He was silent. She tensed for a bit, ready to tell him that it's okay if he doesn’t–

 

But she’s suddenly in the air as he sits up and pulls her into his lap, her legs wrapping around him. 

 

“Really?”

 

She smiled, and nodded.

 

“Say it again.”

 

“Bellamy Blake, I love you.”

 

He laughed in disbelief and pressed his forehead against hers.

 

“Can you say it back now, you ass?” She flicked a finger against his chest. 

 

He cupped her face in his hands, letting himself fall into her irises. “Clarke, I have been in love with you for so long. I was just waiting for you to catch up.” He pressed a reverent kiss on her lips.

 

“Sorry for the wait.”

 

He laughed breathlessly, and tugged her down with him, tickling her sides. Their lips and limbs tangled and twisted together as they breathed in every inch of each other. Crashing together again, and, again, and again, until daylight.



––

PRESENT

 

Clarke lies on her side, staring at her husband. His kind eyes, all liquid gold, looking at her like she’s one of the Greek goddesses from his favorite myths. The curve of his cupid’s bow, nuzzling every inch of her skin. The spattering of bronze freckles across his nose shifting up as he grins at her. The curls that fall in his face, annoying her as she tries to kiss him. His laugh. His smile. His pout. Her mind unravels him like a spool, trying to capture all the things that make her heart flutter. 

 

He is everything, all at once. Forever.

 

She is safe. She is safe.

 

––

 

EPILOGUE

 

“Monty and Jasper did a good job,” Clarke nods. 

 

“I was afraid they’d sneak in their moonshine bottles into one of the building blocks.”

 

Clarke throws her head back in laughter as she cuddles into Bellamy’s side on the log bench. They watch as the toddlers and kids of the camp stumble around the new playground that Monty and Jasper made with wood, netting, and vines. 

 

Lincoln chases Claudia’s tiny legs around one of the climbing domes that Jasper cleverly named, “Mount Aurora.” Harper holds her and Monty’s newborn, Jordan, (Jasper squealed as he was the first to hold the blood and goo-covered infant) on the swings, murmuring a melody to him. Shaw holds Zeke on his shoulders, walking him through the monkey bars. Raven is on his side, fingers twined with his.

 

Clarke hears one of her favorite sounds in the world approaching her.

 

“Daddy!”

 

Clarke feels herself knocked backwards as a small set of arms wraps around Bellamy.

 

“Whoa!” Alexandra has now jumped onto him and crawled over his shoulders. “Hey, little newt.” 

 

She hung upside down over his face, knees on Bellamy’s shoulders. “I hate it when you call me that,” she whined. 

 

“Too bad,” he fake-scolded. “That was what you looked like in your first picture. In your Mama’s tummy.” He poked her stomach.

 

Bellamy was thrilled to see that Alexandra was, indeed, a tiny Clarke. She had curly, golden hair, and the biggest, bluest eyes. The only part of Bellamy that appears is the small smattering of freckles on her nose. You could only see them when the sun hit a very particular part of the sky. But, when Bellamy saw those eyes in that little, bundled blanket– he remembered what it felt like to fall in love, all over again.

 

Reaching up over his head, he grabs the toddler and sets her in his lap.

 

“Ooooh,” she sways in his lap. “Dizzy,” she giggles. She rubs her eyes.

 

“Mama!” she leaps from Bellamy’s lap into Clarke’s arms.

 

“Baby!” she shifts uncomfortably. “Be careful, Mama has another little newt in there.” 

 

She frowns. “But I’m little newt.”

 

Clarke tweaks her nose. “You’re right. This little one is more like a banana, right now.”

 

“I don’t want a banana as a brother or sister.” Bellamy laughs and picks her up, tickling her feet.

 

“Alex!” Madi sprints over, hands on her knees. “Geez. You can't run off like that!” 

 

“You let her run away?” Clarke looks at Madi sternly. 

 

“It wasn’t my fault! I think she got into Artigas’ stash of sweets. Now she’s all on this sugar high,” she gestures at the child, who was now spinning in circles around Clarke and Bellamy.

 

“You’re seeing Artigas, again?” Bellamy narrows his eyes, catching Alex when she spins past him again, without looking down. “You’ve seen him twice this week.”

 

Madi rolls her eyes. “Chill, Bellamy. It's not like that.”



It was, though. Madi confided in Clarke last night, explaining that Artigas kissed her after walking her home. Clarke made her promise that she would always be safe, and before she got into the birds-and-bees lecture, Madi stopped her with a “ ew, Clarke! ” And then promised. 

 

“Come on, Alex,” Madi holds out her hand. “Uncle Jasper can do the Dropship with you again.” 

 

Alex perks up and sprints past Madi to the playground. Madi sighs and follows her reluctantly. 

 

“Do I even want to know what ‘the Dropship’ is?” Bellamy scrunches his nose.

 

“It might be better if we don’t ask,” Clarke laughs, watching as Jasper picks up Alex and holds her over his head.

 

“Well, that’s promising.” 

 

They laugh together and Bellamy looks at Clarke lovingly. He places a hand on her belly. “When are we due again?”

 

“Twenty more weeks,” Clarke smiles down at her belly. “Hang in there, little baby.”

 

“Twenty one more weeks and we can start trying for another!"

 

She looks at him incredulously. “How many tiny Clarke’s do you want?”

 

“Hm…” he thinks. “Five.”

 

“Five!?” Clarke shrieks. “ You try going through pregnancy and childbirth first. Then you can demand more children from me. Plus, I want a little Bellamy, too.”

 

He sighs. “I thought you would say that.” He pulls her head into his lap and traces circles on her stomach. “I just– I love them, so much, Clarke. It feels like every time Alex grows another inch or Madi does another stupid teenager-y thing– I want to hold them and keep them like this forever. I don’t want what happened to us to happen to them,” he quietly says the last part.

 

“Hey,” Clarke reaches up to touch his face. “Nothing like that will happen. Look what we’ve all done, together.” 

 

They look out at Camp Aurora, with the bustling playground full of overactive, healthy children. Mothers and fathers watching on from their porches, lovingly. Definitely underaged teenagers drinking moonshine on the patio of the mess hall. The cabins exuding a soft, orange glow. Harper, Monty, Miller, Jasper, Maya, Raven, Octavia, Murphy, all scattered around camp– with light returned to their eyes. Happiness and safety sparks around the camp like lightning bugs. 

 

“We all did that. Together. We’re creating a better world for them.”

 

“So… can this ‘better world’ fit a few more tiny Clarke’s?”

 

“You’re ridiculous,” she playfully slaps his chest.

 

 

And, a few years later, they were a family of seven.