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Not From The Absence of Violence

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The skin on Raven's knuckles starts cracking some time in early November, and there is no single thing Bellamy can do about it.

Somehow, his books never mentioned this part: the piercing chill he feels at dawn, annoyingly persistent sneezing, red skin on his face and hands, and the everpresent itch he vaguely associates with not having bathed in weeks. It's laughable to remember that when they landed, he had time to think of trifles, like war, and power, and alliances. He knows enough about the ground to expect that, come spring, he'll worry about those things again, but for now, his world shrunk to something tiny and barely manageable; to food he has to hunt or dig, to firewood he has to find -- and to the tiny tent he shares with Raven Reyes.

(It was a decision so simple he doesn't even remember making it. She needed his foraging almost as much as he needed her clever hands to build a shelter that would crumble in his. This is how they explain their arrangement to each other.)

"You need something for your hands when you work," he tells her when he sees the blood on her skin. "I think they're cracking from the cold."

Raven gives him an ugly look, and refuses to grace his suggestion with an answer, so Bellamy is smart enough to never mention gloves again. He has crude pair that does its job when he's carrying wood, but Raven could never even get a hold on a screwdriver wearing something like this.

He ends up rubbing her hands as gently as possible, warming them with his flesh and his breath until Raven lets her head drop, her forehead resting softly on his.

***

There are nights when their proximity is just too much, and they end up doing way more than simply huddling for warmth. Bellamy's had some greatly unimpressive sex in the past, but nothing's ever been as annoying as the few nights they share this winter. His fingers are stiff from work and cold, and when he reaches between Raven's legs, she greets him with a hiss instead of a moan. He tries to apologize for his clumsiness, but she won't have any of it -- instead, she flips them swiftly and straddles him, her teeth chattering, until he sits up and pulls her close.

They finish with him on top, because it's the easiest way to keep blankets from sliding down.

Raven never takes off her jacket now, and Bellamy gets used to her soft, padded body. By January, he doesn't exactly remember what her bare flesh felt like; Raven's skin shrinks to her hands, rough and torn under his lips, and to her injured leg he touches every evening, desperately trying to rub away stiffness and pain brought by the merciless weather.

"You don't have to do this," she barks one night when she's feeling particularly prickly.

"The hell I don't."

They're both hungry and sore after a day spent on pointless little fights that came to nothing; their roof is still leaking, and they've had nothing but some barely edible tubers and nuts. Bellamy feels weariness in his very bones, and they only way he can think of to chase it away is to press his lips to Raven's leg just above the knee.

Careful not to get his filthy hands on her thighs, he moves his head higher up until she arches her hips towards him. Before he moves to where she wants him, he takes a moment to press his unshaven cheek to her smooth, hot belly.

The sex is nothing to write home about; he doesn't exactly have the luxury to build her up the way he should. Afterwards, they share the best sleep they've had in weeks.

***

(He was supposed to move out come spring, but somehow he forgets to.)