i. AGE TWELVE
“‘Nother sandwich, kid?”
Bellamy narrows his eyes at ‘kid’, but he nods and Raven looks back to the waitress. “Another two, then.”
The familiar indignation he remembers from being a kid, when people looked at him and then at O and made sad faces and then kept walking stings his throat. “I didn’t ask for two.”
“It’s a bribe, not charity. But you don’t have to eat it if you don’t want, Bellamy.” Her eyes meet his, dark and frank and warm even though he knows he’s being ungrateful and he should just take the stupid sandwich. “Your call.”
He shrugs, picking at the fries left on his plate. “Clarke said you’re a witch too.” And that Bellamy could trust her no matter what, but as much as he likes Clarke already he’ll only accept the first at face value.
“Clarke’s got a big mouth.” Raven doesn’t look mad, though, and without even checking to see if anybody’s watching them she makes the fry in his hand dance across the table and onto her plate. Popping it into her mouth, she grins. “You don’t seem surprised.”
“Clarke floated Octavia yesterday.” Who is a lot bigger than a fry. It had just been for a second, but still.
Raven gapes at him. “She did what?”
Uncomfortable, Bellamy dips his chin and looks away. “Just a little.”
“Oh for—“ Her brow wrinkles, like she’s mad, but her eyes are proud. “Don’t worry, you didn’t just bust her or anything but don’t let her do that again, okay? Clarke’s powerful, but she’s a little young to hit the mark on reliable one hundred percent of the time. I’d rather keep your sister’s noggin un-cracked.”
His chest squeezes and relaxes like he’s been closed inside somebody’s fist. “I will.”
“Good.” Raven steals another fry, then sits back her in chair. “So, how are the lovebirds?”
“Accurate, but not what I meant. Hey, thanks.” She takes the new sandwiches, then turns back to him. “So?”
Taking a giant bite of one of the new sandwiches, he rolls his eyes. “Marcus likes her. They flirt a lot. But...”
Bellamy hesitates, torn over revealing Marcus’ secrets, even if Marcus is keeping secrets himself. “He thinks Callie knows what happened to somebody who got killed.” Raven’s face goes blank for just a second and she looks old, even though her face doesn’t change. It reminds him of the pictures, brown with age and hung along the walls of the staircase. When she doesn’t say anything else, he blurts out the question he’s been sitting on since Clarke introduced him to Raven and told him to keep her a secret. “How come you’re not old?”
“...what?” Raven’s eyes zoom back to him and Bellamy wishes he hadn’t asked. “Say that again.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“Yes, you did. I’m not mad, Bellamy, I promise.”
“I asked why you’re not old.” She stares at him, cocking a brow, and he licks his dry lips. “You’re in old pictures, but you look the same in all of them.”
“You noticed the pictures?”
“Clarke and Octavia were playing. I got bored. They’re just by the stairs, I didn’t think I wasn’t supposed to look.”
“No, no, it’s just—” She whistles, low and long. “I have literally never had to have this talk with somebody I wasn’t expecting to have it with, is all. Either I’m getting slow in my old age or you got some witch in you, kiddo, because you saw through a pretty powerful spell.”
A fist squeezes his chest again, but gentler this time. More like a hug. “I did?”
“Yep.” She steals a few more fries, munching on them thoughtfully. “Hey, can you do me a favor?” He nods, and she flashes him a grin again. “Let’s keep the not-old thing between us, okay? Clarke’s still in the dark, and kind of a Griffin right of passage to figure it out. Plus I’m pretty sure things are shaken up around here as it is anyway.”
Clarke doesn’t even know yet. Raven is their secret, but this is just his. Bellamy’s stomach flutters, and he shifts in his chair. “I won’t tell anybody.”
Emboldened, he asks, “Is it because you’re a witch?”
Raven hesitates. “There’s a long answer and a short answer, and the short answer is yes, it’s because I’m a witch.”
“What’s the long answer?”
She gives him an approving smile. “That’s more of a ‘when you’re old enough to drink’ story, but the short version of the long version is I have very bad taste in men and made a couple truly stupid life choices.” She looks old again, and far away, and Bellamy feels a familiar anger gather in his throat. Raven notices and pats his hand, shaking her head. “It was way too long ago to waste energy getting mad about, kiddo. Thank you, though.”
He ducks his head, nodding, too caught up in her appreciation to care about the nickname. “‘s nothing.” She winks at him and he falls in love with her, just a little. “Still a little mad, though.”
Raven’s laughter is startled, and when she reaches over to ruffle his hair he lets her. “Now, if only I’d met a guy like you back in the day.”
“You met me now.” The words come from somewhere deep in his chest, yanked up and out of his throat before he can realize how dumb they are and shut up.
Raven doesn’t laugh at him, though. She just purses her lips like he’s said something important and steals another fry. “Good point.”
ii. AGE FOURTEEN
The tux Marcus bought him itches. Bellamy tugs at the neck again, wishing he could just take the stupid tie choking him off already.
“Whoa whoa whoa, let’s not choke out the best man before this thing even gets started.”
Raven’s voice makes him jump, and he realizes somehow she managed to sneak up on him while he fidgeted like a little kid. Blushing hotly, he manages to get out, “I’m the best man.”
“Yeah, exactly. C’mere, let me fix that thing.” Slapping his hands away from his neck, Raven does something that manages to both loosen the tie and make it lay flat against his shirt. “There you go, de-noosified.”
“Thanks.” Raven’s hands stay on his collar, fiddling with his shirt, and Bellamy wishes with all his heart that he was part witch, because if he was he could make time stop.
“You have to put on your dress, Clarke, or I swear…” Callie skids around the corner, her own dress nowhere to be seen. “Raven, would you please tell Clarke if she misses her mom’s wedding I’m going to be forced to turn her into a newt?”
“I have to finish the lights, Aunt Callie! Raven, tell her I have to do the lights first.”
Safe with her back to the interlopers, Raven good naturedly rolls her eyes at Bellamy. “No rest for the immortal. Clarke, honey, let’s go get the lights done together so your aunt doesn’t have a heart attack. Okay?”
When they open the doors an hour later to start the wedding party’s procession in, even Bellamy’s own eyes widen a little. He’s spent enough time around magic to get used to the little things, but the twinkling fairy lights scattered all through the little chapel glow brightly without a single cord in sight, and out of the corner of his eye Bellamy can see some of them swirling in slow, lazy circles, only stilling their movement when he looks at them head-on.
When Raven takes his arm, he leans in close enough to whisper, “The lights look good.” She always smells like jasmine, and up this close he feels wrapped in delicate vines and surrounded entirely by their perfume.
“Clarke did a good job. If I was going to get married, I’d let that kid do the lights anyday. Kind of makes me want to do it just to get some, actually.”
“I guess I could marry you.” He stumbles a little, mid-step, red as the flowers lining the pews, but Raven pretends she doesn’t notice.
“Well, then, if I pull the trigger on lights mania two-point-oh, you’re head of the line.”
Maybe it’s his imagination, but Bellamy could swear the lights on his periphery swoop in wilder circles on their way to the altar, echoing the beat of his heart.
iii. AGE SIXTEEN
His key won’t work on the door. Bellamy curses and tries again, fumbling at the lock and wincing when his efforts produce an angry squeal of metal on metal and not an open door.
“Had some fun tonight, huh?”
The moon spins crazily as Bellamy wheels to face Raven’s amused voice, and his knees lock against the way his body wants to follow that same trajectory. “I can’t get the door.”
“Yeah, I can see that. Here, let me.” She looks at him like she always does (fond, but the kind of fond he feels for Octavia, not the kind he feels for her) but behind her is the ocean and the moon glints off her hair and Bellamy finds the welcome mat under his knees without a second thought.
“The moon’s in your hair, Raven.”
“Oh, wow, you are so lucky the girls are asleep. You’re pretty pickled, kiddo.”
“Yeah.” There’s no use denying it; with Abby and Marcus gone for the weekend and Callie out with her girlfriend, Miller’s offer of his dad’s whiskey and a bonfire felt like a great way to work around the way being alone with Raven made his palms sweat. “But it is, though. The moon. In your hair.”
“I’m upgrading you from pickled to smashed.” She ruffles his hair, nails scratching lightly at his scalp like she does to the cats and Bellamy just knows; what he knows is as maddeningly hard to grasp as the lights in her hair, but the knowledge seeps down into his bones all the same. “You’re not gonna be getting up those stairs alone, are you?”
Thoughtfully, Bellamy considers the semi-liquid state of his knees. “I can sleep on the couch.”
“No you can’t, you’re a foot taller than it is long.” Opening the door with a flick of her hand, Raven grins down at him. “Ready to go for a little magic carpet ride?” Floating doesn’t feel like he thought it would. There’s no weightlessness, or even much of a sense of movement, even as Raven nods towards the stairs and his body follows, ground a good four feet below him.
“Watch your head, okay? I’m careful, but accidents happen.”
The house floats by in a lazy blur, nowhere near as important as Raven’s eyes on his, amused and full of warmth when she neatly drops him in bed, with barely a bounce to prove he hadn’t been there all along. Bellamy closes his eyes when she strokes his hair, breathing deep and pulling in flowers and tea and a hint of scorched metal, the things that make Raven Raven.
“I love you,” he tells her seriously, eyes going half-crossed with the effort needed to keep them open. It’s important she know, even if a shadow of the self he’ll be tomorrow screams a warning.
“I love you too, kid.”
She doesn’t hear; or she doesn’t understand, and Bellamy reaches up with one clumsy hand to grab her own and hold it tight. “No, Raven, I love you.”
For a moment she’s stone; then she smiles and it’s not happy. He would do anything to make it a happy smile, but she’s already speaking before he can tell her so. “Trust me, I’m not cut out for love anymore.”
“But you said…”
She inhales, brow creasing. “I meant it. I do love you, Bellamy. And I’m sure I’ll love the man you grow into just as much.”
“That man’s going to age, and I’m not. It’s not fair to you—to anybody.”
“I don’t care about fair, Raven. I care about you.” There’s so much more he could say, but sleep drags at his limbs and pulls him closer to unconsciousness with each breath even as frustrated tears gather behind his eyelids and threaten to spill over. “I don’t care, I promise.”
“Shhh, shhh.” She strokes his hair again and starts to hum a tune he can’t quite make out, the notes seizing his heart and making darkness crinkle at the edges of his vision. “Just sleep, Bellamy. It’ll be better in the morning.”
The next morning he wakes up without a hangover and with a vague memory of a dream where Raven kissed him and he tasted salt on her lips.