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one.

It isn’t until they’re back in the forest, hidden under the trees’ shadows, that Clarke allows herself to breathe. Large gulps of air doing wonders to her lungs, fresh and crisp and sweet, as she tilts back her head and enjoys the warm sun tickling her face and the birds welcoming her home. She feels alive again, after so many days dormant under the ground, feels like spring and summer and freedom all at once.

It’s only when someone coughs to her left, the sound hurried yet amused, that Clarke snaps out of her reverie and opens her eyes to the world once more. There is mirth in Bellamy’s eyes as they don’t waver from her, her cheeks warming up under the too-knowing too-amused gaze.

Have some fun. You deserve it.

His words still ring true to her ears, and she wants that, want to run around and feels the grass between her toes, taste the clear water of the river. But the other, rational part of her can’t keep quiet for much longer, bringing her back to the ground and to her responsibilities. She’s still the leader of their little band of misfits, and they’re not safe yet. They need shelter for the night, at the very least, and food, and to be far enough from the mountain to start a fire without the fear of being seen in the dark of the night.

So she squares her shoulders and slips back into her role, nodding at Bellamy, her neck stiff, her head high. Something akin to mischief still dances in his warm pupils, but he nods back before focusing on the teenagers around them – Monty and Jasper whispering to each other, Finn carrying Raver on his back (her legs are still weak, but she’ll thankfully be back on her feet in no time), Miller already patrolling around the others. Bellamy focuses on the group, and Clarke can’t help but focus on Bellamy, because –

“You’re hurt!”

She hadn’t noticed it at first, too busy running for her life to notice anything at all. The sleeve of his jacket is torn leaving his arm for everyone to see. His very injured, very burn arm, from wrist to elbow, skin turning red turning brownish turning an ugly shade of black where the blood coagulated and formed scabs and accumulated the dirt of the forest. It’s nasty to say the least, and it will leave an equally nasty scar – if it doesn’t get infected first.

“It’s just a scratch.”

He almost adds the ‘don’t worry’ at the end but must think better of it, settling for tugging on his torn sleeve at if it would help hiding the injury. Clarke huffs and rolls her eyes at his stubbornness as she moves closer and grabs his arm by the elbow to take a closer look. Not that she can do much anyway, not even having some water to clean the burn.

“It’s nothing, really,” he adds. “You’d rather check on the others instead of –”

“Shut up.”

Not two weeks ago (two weeks before the fight with the Grounders, at least) he would have snapped back immediately, some snide comment with a spiteful ‘princess’ thrown in the middle of it. Now, he indeed does as she says, perhaps with the knowledge of her being as stubborn as he is, if not more.

He keeps silent as she checks the wound, doesn’t say a word as she rips the bottom of her own shirt (didn’t like it anyway, too white, too perfect) and wraps the fabric around the burn. It’s not much, but at least it’ll keep his arm protect until they can finally settle somewhere for the night and she can take better care of it.

“Thanks, princess,” he says in a singsong voice, sarcasm dripping of his every syllable with a smirk she wants to tear off his face.

She punches his shoulder (lightly) before going from kid to kid to make sure everyone is okay before they start their trek once more. His eyes and grin follow her every move all the while.

 

two. 

They’re looking for a new place to settle, and find humans instead.

Saying they’re surprised may be quite the understatement as the group comes to a halt, staring at the people in front of them – neither Mountain Men nor Grounders is the first conclusion Clarke draws from their clothes and makeshifts weapons. At least they have some. The Hundred (or what remains of them) are defenceless on that one.

Clarke’s eyes travel from face to face, all looking as dazed as the teenagers, until she finds familiar eyes belonging to a familiar face – tall and proud, dark mope of hair and even darker eyes.

“Councillor Krane?”

He connects the dots too, and replies with an equally stunned, “Clarke?” and then, louder, “Abby!”

Clarke feels like she is going to faint, and it is only Raven’s gasp somewhere behind her that reassures her in the fact she didn’t imagine the name in Kane’s mouth. It is not a fiddle of her imagination, even if she can’t wrap her head around the idea – he mother is dead, her mother died, she saw the bodies, saw the wrecked spaceship. Her mother is dead, and yet.

And yet she appears out of nowhere, stands of hair falling from her braid and pearls of sweat on her forehead, lips opening into a ‘o’ of surprise before mouthing a ‘oh my god’. She looks at the teenagers, all those kids she sent to Earth to die (most of them did but, then again, they didn’t, they made it that fact and it’s a victory in itself) before her eyes settle on someone in particular, surprise turning into a frown.

“Seize him,” she says, voice cold and even.

It takes longer for the adolescents than for the adults to react – enough time for them to actually move closer to Bellamy. He doesn’t even look surprised, or angry, but Clarke knows better than to trust his lack of reaction – remembers I’m a monster and they’re gonna kill me, Clarke, knows of his guilt and of the weight of responsibilities on his shoulders. He takes it all in stride because even now he still believes her deserves it, the punishment.

She can’t let that happen.

So she screams, “Mom, no!” as she places herself between Abby and Bellamy, ignoring the guards in the process as she puts a hand on her co-leader’s chest and glares at her mother.

(She hears Raven saying, “Finn I swear to god if you don’t let me down…” followed by a grunt. She appears next to Clarke in a matter of second, even on wobbly legs, half-protecting half-leaning against Bellamy.)

“Jaha pardoned him,” Clarke adds for good measure. “I was there.”

Her heart beats a painful staccato against her chest, the happiness at her mother being alive disappeared by now. Only remains the bitterness that was here before, hours of avoiding talking to her, making excuses to wander far from the communication tent. Clarke can only focus on the anger and the betrayal, can only think not again.

Bellamy will not be taken away from her the way her father was.

She won’t let it happen.

(They have plans, okay, they talked about it on the way there. They’re going to build a new camp, a real one, not made out of parachute fabric. Real houses with walls and doors, and even a meeting hall and a hospital wing. They’re going to build their little community, and even try for new peace treaties with the Grounders. It will be nice and, as with so many other things on Earth, she can’t do it without him.)

“He’s a murderer, Clarke,” Abby replies and, oh, the patronizing tone isn’t working, not anymore. Clarke almost wants to laugh because she is on Earth now, she has seen and lived things they could never fathom, has grown beyond her years far too quickly, forced into that position of leadership she never even wanted. So treating her as nothing more than a child who doesn’t know any better… Not the best move, really.

“You are too,” she replies, the words like poison in her mouth, and she can’t even find it in herself to regret them in that moment. The guilt barely settles in her chest at the look of horror on Abby’s face – it will come later, when she gets a moment alone to break down, away from prying eyes. “Now, Bellamy still has a burn I need to tend to, Raven has to lie down, and we haven’t eaten in two days. So do you have a med bay where we can settle?”

It isn’t until she’s applying some ointment made out of plants on Bellamy’s burnt arm that he finally decides to open his damn mouth. “Clarke,” he says – not princess, but Clarke, an introduction to a serious conversation she isn’t ready to have.

“Shut up.”

“I have such a bad influence on you.”

The idiot is smirking, a lopsided smile that would look almost boyish were it not for the fire in his eyes.

She fights against the urge to punch him.

 

three.

It’s not often that Clarke is reminded of the power imbalances in the Ark’s society – she has never been oblivious to them, of course, but being from the wealthiest station as well as a counsellor’s daughter sure helped establishing her privileges over many a person (and did the delinquents liked to remind her when they first arrived on Earth). It’s been sketchiest ever since they joined the Ark survivors – Bellamy and Kane almost ripping each other’s throat on a daily basis at first, not to mention how they had refused to establish the same kind of unequal society they had in space. It was tough, but it got better somewhat. Not perfect, but better.

(In the end, it had been Bellamy and Clarke’s relationship with Anya – as rocky as it was – that had won, when the Ark survivors had understood they wouldn’t be Earth survivors without the Grounders’ help.)

Still, there are times when she is reminded that the Griffins used to be at the top of the Ark food chain – now is definitely one of those moments.

The med bay is a mess, there is no other word to describe it. People coughing and groaning and half dying everywhere Clarke looks as she goes from patient to patient to check if they have a fever and are drinking enough fluid.

She, along with her mother and Kane, is among the few not to be affected by the symptoms – it is fair to say it has little to do with luck and a lot with the shots against the flu they received on the Ark. (Something about treating the most valuable members of the community. It sounded fair to Clarke at first, but she knows better now, knows it was nothing but the upper class saving their own ass.)

She’s glad not to be sick, if only because she can properly take care of the others, but she also wishes they didn’t have to go through this. But it is their first winter on Earth, and they had obviously miscalculated how low the temperatures would drop and how few blankets they have for so many people. Sharing beds isn’t even an option when germs travel so fast.

(The snow started falling a week ago. She had heard of it, of course, and saw the pictures, but none of that had prepared her for the real thing. For the snowflakes, big and heavy, for the silence of the nature around them, for the dry air in her lungs. They had all remained silence in front of such a mesmerizing spectacle, admiring the surprises Earth had yet to offer them. That is, until Jasper had let out a loud ‘woop!’ and fall in the snow-covered grass, laughing with an innocence she hadn’t seen on his face in a very long time. The others had followed soon, snowball fights and snowmen appearing all through the camp.

The first coughs had appeared the next morning.)

“You, princess, are a sight for sore eyes.”

Bellamy, as it turns out, goes delirious even with the tiniest of fevers. Which would be hilarious if ‘delirious’ didn’t mean ‘hitting on Clarke at all costs’. At least it gives her ammunitions for blackmail, she thinks with a roll of the eyes as she gives him some water to drink.

His fingers are burning when they brush her – he looks like shit, too, with large purple bags under bloodshot eyes, hair sticking to his sweaty forehead and lips turning white. It’s the same guy who made a harem out of half the female delinquents, she thinks, and how the tables have turned.

“How are you feeling?”

“On a scale from one to ten?” She nods. “’Murphy poisoned the whole camp’.”

She chuckles. “So you’re not dying.”

The look he gives her is downright offended, but it loses some of its strength in a cough. She can only imagine how upset he must be at such a display of weakness, but at least he’s not the only one to be in that pitiful state.

If only she had more than tea and a fire to help them through this. But she doesn’t, so she makes do and pretends having her mother and father-in-law-to-be as only healthy company doesn’t get on her nerves a little more every day. She misses Raven’s witty comebacks and Bellamy’s eye rolls, misses Jasper’s laughs and Monty’s not-so-funny jokes.

God, she misses her friends, even if they’re standing right there.

“Hey princess, you know the story about the princess and the mattress and the pea?” She smiles, because he’s obviously delirious once more, and uses a clean towel to pat his forehead and neck. At least story time doesn’t involve some Greek figure she’s never heard of before – fairytales are more her thing, clearly. “Acting all precious because her back hurts at night. That’s not a real princess. You are, all badass and unbreakable and strong.”

“I’m not unbreakable,” she finds herself replying in barely more than a whisper.

(He wasn’t there in Mount Weather, he can’t even begin to understand how breakable she felt, stuck between those four too-white walls.)

“Yeah, you are.”

There’s a sense of finality to his voice, accepting no alternative. Clarke knows better than to contradict him because, even in this state, he would want to have the last word. So she brushes strands of hair away from his face instead, and smiles softly as she ignores the heat settling high on her cheekbones.

“Do you want some tea?”

She goes for standing up, but he grabs her hand with an impressive speed for such a sick guy, pulling her back down next to him on the makeshift bed. He doesn’t ask her to stay, not in so many words – begging is a weakness, and we can’t have that – but she doesn’t need the words. She stays by his side, and hums a lullaby that brings a smile to his lips until he falls asleep.

 

four.

“You’re a moron, you know that?”

She grabs his arm forcefully, not caring about the hiss of pain escaping his lips at the sudden movement. Good, let him hurt for a little while longer, let him learn from his mistakes. The idiot deserves it. She’s not too gentle in her examination of the wound, skin red and swollen, black leaking out of it – she grumbles about needles and unsanitary conditions, antibodies and immune system, and stupid stupid boys with their stupid stupid ideas. Bellamy listens to her ramblings with his usual smirk on his face, the one that means he’s listening but not caring, and she just wants to punch him to make him stop.

She doesn’t.

Instead, she prepares a tea of seaweeds and forces it down his throat – he chokes on the liquid, and she’d almost feel bad for smiling. Almost.

“Princess, you’re overreacting.”

“Am I now?” she snaps back immediately, not daring to look up from the concoction of plants she’s preparing. He knows her all too well, and a simple glance his way would allow him to see the fear, the concern in her eyes, carefully hidden behind layers of fury. She can’t afford such a weakness. Not with him.

“It was worth it anyway,” Bellamy says, good arm rising up to her shoulder, pulling the fur cape back in place around her neck.

She almost smiles because he’s an idiot, but settles for rolling her eyes instead. The deal had been clear from the beginning – furs against moonshine, simple as that (Grounders like their booze alien-made, apparently) – but of course Bellamy had to budge in and be reckless. Apparently, Grounders show their alliances with other clans by branding them into their skin, for it to be unbreakable, for you to carry the weight of peace indefinitely.

So of course Bellamy had gotten the damn tattoo.

And of course it had gotten infected in a couple of days.

Sometimes, Clarke wonders if he makes her life difficult on purpose, or if he just likes the austere feeling of the med bay. (She knows the real answer, and it is neither of those. It is not one she wants to dwell on either.)

The tattoo is nice enough, mind you, not unlike the one she’s seen branded into Lincoln’s skin. It goes all around his bicep, thick black line above ten round dots. Simple yet effective – and a pain in her ass, too. There’s a joke to be made about him being all soft and sensible, just because it would have him all worked up to know his body isn’t as tough as his mind, but she doesn’t feel in the mood to tease him that way. She’d rather not have him doing it again just to nurse his ego and show his manliness, thank you very much. He does enough of that on a daily basis already.

So, lips pressed into a thin line, Clarke only applies the ointment to his wounded skin before patching him up, white bandage clashing with his dark skin. She finishes it with a pretty bow that she doesn’t hide, just because, and pats his shoulder for good measure.

“They used to do it a lot, before the Cataclysm,” he says eventually, not willing to leave the med bay any time soon. He has his ‘I’m going to tell a story so shut up and listen’ voice on, so Clarke stands her grounds and folds her arms to brace herself. “Getting tattoos, just because it’s pretty. At least that’s what they taught us in Earth Culture classes. Teacher even said some people finds it attractive.”

The snort escapes her lips before she can stop it – should she really be that surprise that it always comes down to that with him?

“Next time, think with your head instead, and sign a contract.”

He shrugs off her words with another smirk of his, standing up and invading her space in a matter of seconds. He smells of spices and smoke and forest, the scent and warmth of him assaulting her senses and having her heart beat faster against her ribcage as she looks up to meet his eyes. His grin grows playful and teasing – he’s always enjoyed how easily he can work her up.

“Do you find tattoos attractive, Clarke?” Voice breathless, soft.

“Get the hell out of my med bay.”

Another medic – or, worse, her mother – could come in at any moment and she’d rather not have them walk in on Bellamy playing that kind of games with her. The rumours are already running wild among the Hundred, spreading to the adults slowly but surely, and adding fuel to the fire is everything but the right way of handling this issue.

“You’re evading the question,” he says as he (finally) backs down, throwing her one last glance before walking toward the exit.

“And you’re being an ass.”

His bark of laughter follows him outside.

 

five.

If winter was beautiful, spring is a whole different thing altogether – everything coming back to life around them, with swans on the lake and little woodland animals everywhere, sky turning pink and orange and purple in the morning.

That’s when Octavia comes back, Lincoln in tow – she has sand in her hair and the sea dancing behind her eyes as she hugs her brother like her life depends of it. They spend that first night far from the bonfire, leaning toward each other as they share excited whispers with the occasional laugh or gasp. Clarke watches them from her place next to Raven, unable to ignore the pang of jealousy settling high in her chest – she wonders, they all do, what it must feel like, to have a sibling, to have that kind of relationship. She will never know, and it breaks her heart a little, longing for someone to share secrets with, someone so close to her she could die for them, not question asked.

Octavia comes to her the following day, and her face means business. “I need to talk to you.”

“I’d gathered,” Clarke replies as she washes her hands with moonshine to clean the blood and the germs.

“It’s about Bell.”

She can’t help it – she chuckles. “Whatever is already going on between you and your brother, I –”

“I need you to cut his hair.”

That was unexpected.

“Seriously, it’s a mess. A bird’s going to think it’s a nest and going to put its eggs up there and the joke’ll be on him. But I’m the little sister so he doesn’t listen to me and…”

“And he’s going to listen to me?”

Octavia throws her a look that means a simple ‘duh’. And she kind of has a point there. But still, Bellamy agreeing to the rounds schedule after hours of arguing is a thing. Bellamy agreeing to let her cut his hair just because his sister said so is a whole different story altogether, and a can of worms Clarke doesn’t want to open. Ever.

But Octavia does the best puppy eyes in the history of canine impressions, and so Clarke rolls her eyes as she grabs the pair of scissors that usually stays in the med bay, wondering what happened in her life that led to that particular moment.

She finds him in the middle of their ‘town square’, planning the next hunting trip with Miller, and doesn’t leave him a chance to understand what is happening as she grabs his wrist and drags him away from the camp and closer to the lake. “Sit,” she tells him, in a voice that leaves no place to argue. And then, “Don’t move.”

“I’m not a dog.”

“You look like the dog in The Little Mermaid.”

He does. The black mope of hair has always been as wild as its owner – far is the first day on Earth, when it was neatly back-combed – and Octavia isn’t wrong in her description of a bird’s nest. The curls are out of control now, falling down the nape of his neck and on his forehead. It gives him a boyish look, almost, far younger than his twenty-four years, especially when he has to push it back because it’s falling in front of his eyes. It’s a mess, but it’s cute somehow.

He laughs at the comparison – the Ark was good at gathering the kids in one room and showing them old Earth movies, just for an hour or two of peace during the weekends. Clarke imagines a little Bellamy, hair falling in front of wild brown eyes as he watches old Disney movies only to retell the story to Octavia once back home.

(It warms her heart. Only a little.)

She grabs a strand before she has time to rethink it – the metallic sound of the scissors startles him more than her fingers in his hair, and she does her best not to focus on that detail.

“What the f–”

Don’t move.”

He’s particularly docile on that one, perhaps afraid she will shave it all if he doesn’t behave, but still makes a show of huffing and puffing as he folds his arms on his chest and stares at the lake in front of him.

What a child.

Clarke works in slow motions, if only because she wants to do things properly. Not because she is afraid of retaliation, but because she doesn’t want him to look bad – he’s among the leaders, after all, and still the only one to deal with the Grounders. He can’t look like an ass doing his job.

Bellamy calms into her touch after a while, turning his head this and that way to help her out. Locks of hair fall to the ground one by one around him, which makes him sigh and her smile in return – she’s heard him complain about girls and combs and shampoo too many times in the past few months not to see the irony there.

“Why do you care anyway?” he asks after a while, breaking the comfortable silence that had settled between them. “You like guys will longer hair.”

“I don’t like guys with longer hair,” she replies in a snort.

“Spacewalker…”

Oh my god, it’s been a year. Get over it.”

“I will if he does.” His voice is so smug Clarke can only slap his shoulder. It makes him laugh, even louder when she threatens to give him Miller’s haircut if he continues being a moron – those are empty words and they both know it.

She kneels in front of him after a while, using two fingers to straighten his fringe and cut it. He makes a face (seriously, he’s supposed to be the oldest of their clan, and he acts like such a child more often than not) but doesn’t comment any further when the little pieces of hair fall on his nose and cheeks.

“So if long hair is not your thing…” She sighs – here we go again with Bellamy ‘I’m a pain in the ass’ Blake. She hadn’t missed it. “What is it that turns you on, princess?”

She feels her cheeks burning up in a matter of seconds, and has to force herself to keep the focus on his forehead, if only not to stare at his eyes – too mocking, too knowing, and she doesn’t want to read anything in them. Or for him to read anything in hers, either.

(She does not think of dark curls against her tights, of strong arms around her waist. She does not think of skin turned golden by the candlelight, of drawing constellations with a splatter of freckles on a shoulder. Of ‘princess’ whispered, moaned, branded into her skin with kissing lips and burning tongue.

She shakes her head.)

“That’s none of your business.”

And it’s impressive, really, how the Blake siblings master the ‘yeah right’ expression without even having to open their mouth, and how effective it is on her every time. Her glare back is ineffective, to say the least.

“I know you like tattoos…” he adds, the perfect mix of smug and amused. It’s a good thing they’re on Earth now, because the Ark would have never supported the weight of such a big ego.

“I don’t like arrogant assholes.”

She cuts one last strand of hair, and stands back to look at her work – not bad, if she says so herself, even if the effect is ruined by the smirk and mischievous eyes. Still, she gives him a nod, and that’s enough for him to brush his shoulders and chest with the back of a hand before standing up and shaking the last remains of hair off his body. He doesn’t even check his reflexion in the lake – the closer thing they have to a mirror – instead bow to her in a mocking way that is Bellamy.

“Keep telling yourself that,” is his only reply, ultimate attempt at having the last word in their discussion slash argument. She huffs and throws the pair of scissors at him, missing her target.

 

one.

Her skull is pounding like a thousand Grounder war drums give a private representation inside her head, making her wince with every movement she makes. Every inch of her body is on fire, sweating from head to toes in warm droplets that stink to her skin and make her shiver, eyes feeling like dry parchment and tongue as dry as sand in her mouth. She’s a rightful mess.

(Her periods came back a couple of months ago, fertility meds given on the Ark to avoid unwanted pregnancies finally wearing off. Not even the cramps and backaches coming along were as painful as what she’s going through right now.)

Winter had been bad to all of them. Summer feels like some kind of personal hell for the only blonde-haired, fair-skinned girl of the camp.

She had been careful, of course, drinking as much water as possible, but the obvious lack of shadows, so far from the welcome shades offered by the forest, had ultimately been her undoing.

After the war with the Grounders, the wildlife and the harsh winters, sunstroke had finally vanquished her.

Clarke hates that weakness of her body when there is so much to do – the camp making the best of the long, warm days to built houses and a town hall, to work on the fields and even on small fishing boats. But every attempt at standing up had ending in yet another vertigo after a few seconds and even her unfaltering stubbornness had given up after a while. Lying in bed it is, even if she despises every second of it.

She’s reaching for the glass of water on her makeshift bedside table when Bellamy appears at the door of her small hunt.

Summer favours him, of course – he traded his usual pants for softer fabric that reaches his knees, and barely ever wears a shirt these days. His dark skin has taken golden hues under the sun, eyes shinning with a new light and lips always curved into a smile. He’s put on some weight too (they all have), in strong muscles from many an hour of hard work, skin glistening with a thin coat of sweat and hair falling lazily on his forehead. A few new tattoos adorn his skin now, as he quite obviously took a liking to it, intricate patterns above his heart and on his shoulder blade as well as the ones around his arm.

(He’s added four of those in the past few months, trading alcohol and medical knowledge and modern supplies with the Grounders. If ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ hadn’t worked with the Reapers, being friends with one Grounder tribe has helped forging alliances with others. He’d even been bold enough to create an alliance they didn’t particularly need, and had received five horses for it. “Thought the princess wanted a pony,” he’d said, voice mocking but eyes warm with affection, and Clarke’s heart had jumped in her chest. Four of the beasts are now used for ploughing the fields and helping with the hard work, but the grey mare had been hers from the very first day.)

She watches as he approaches her, taking the glass and pulling it to her lips so she can sip slowly. Girls in the camp call him a supernova – the Ark slang obsolete now, even if still wildly used – but Clarke can’t agree with them. Bellamy is so much more than that, with the constellations of freckles kissing his face, with the colourful galaxies shining in his eyes. He’s a universe of his own, planets and suns and stars, inspiring awe and fear and adoration.

Or maybe it’s her hazy mind talking.

He takes in her small frame, and Clarke would feel self-conscious about the ratty shirt and lack of pants if it weren’t for his eyes, wider than usual. His poker face is inexistent when worry and protectiveness overcome him – always with Octavia, often with Clarke. Even burning up with a fever, blood smudging his face, he’d asked for her well-doing first, in that selfless way of his she had come to appreciate.

It is no surprise then that, with careful and measured movements, he presses a wet clothe to her forehead and cheeks. Clarke hisses at the coldness clashing with her burning body, even more so when Bellamy helps her up into a sitting position and, gathering her hair up, presses the clothe to the back of her neck. An appreciative groan escapes her lips as she leans her forehead against his shoulder. She usually would resent that display of weakness, but it’s Bellamy. They’ve seen worse, when it comes to each other.

“Why are you doing this?” she asks, voice hoarse and low.

“Raven wanted to throw you into the lake. So I wouldn’t complain, if I were you.”

She tries for a chuckle for, no matter how brutal, Raven’s idea sounds heavenly right now, but only manages to cough, throat too dry for even the tiniest display of amusement. Still, she marvels at Bellamy’s effort to change to subject and ignore the real meaning of her question.

“No. Why are you taking care of me?”

That sobers him up, hand still against her neck and body going stiff. It lasts less than a second before he goes back to his ministrations, but the mood obviously shifts between them, growing into something more, something they’ve tried their best to ignore so far.

“You know why.”

(She does.)

He helps her drink once more, before pressing the clothe to her forehead and shoulders, brushing wet strands of hair away from her face with a delicacy she didn’t know him. His hands are calloused from handwork but his movements soft, smiling down at her with that lopsided grin that does wonders to her belly.

“You should rest now, princess.”

He pushes her back into a lying position and brushes his knuckles against her cheek one last time before standing up. She’s quick enough to grab his wrist, but doesn’t fool herself into thinking she has the strength to pull him back down. He does that on his own, looking back at her with a corked eyebrow.

“Stay,” she asks in a murmur.

Bellamy doesn’t try to argue, even if he must have a hundred things to do with the building of their village, he simply nods for her to scoot over before wordlessly lying down next to her, careful in not touching her. For that, and for him staying, she’s grateful.

“We’ll go swimming later, then,” is all he says, his deep low voice lulling her back to sleep easily. “Wouldn’t want you to miss Miller learning to surf on the lake.”

Clarke frowns. “There’s no waves, how does he…”

Bellamy might answer something, for she hears his voice, but she falls asleep before her mudded brain has time to turn the sounds into words and the words into a coherent sentence.

(She wakes up to the sun setting, head no longer pounding, propped up on Bellamy’s chest, his arm wrapped around her shoulders and holding her close to him. He blinks sleep away too, looking somewhat young and innocent, a sight that can only make her smile. Until the arrogant smirk comes back as he teases, “So, this skinny-dipping you talked about?”

He laughs when she punches him.)