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Life As We Know It

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February 2nd, 2019

“What you want to do is capture the essence of his expression. It’s all in the eyes!” Clarke instructed, gesturing to the model in the middle of the room. She took in her favorite view, Friday afternoon charcoal sketch class. The class was aimed at high schoolers, most of whom had dreams of going to art school. They were an enthusiastic bunch, she loved affirming their talent and watching them follow their dreams.

Lost in her musings of high school talent, Clarke didn’t notice Harper standing in the doorway. She took a step into the room and held up Clarke’s phone. Clarke usually didn’t keep it on her while she taught but Harper looked panicked as she pointed to it wildly.

“You guys are doing great! I just have to check up on something real quick” Clarke assured as she took off her smock and followed Harper into the hallway.

“Sorry I normally wouldn’t interrupt you but your phone has been going off like crazy, it’s an unknown number.”

Clarke nodded and quickly took the phone from Harper, just as the phone began ringing again. Confused, Clarke answered and a tinny voice replied, “Arkadia Memorial Hospital, is this Clarke Griffin?”

A pit of dread immediately formed in Clarke’s stomach as she made her way to her office. Her hands were shaking now as her mind ran through all the possibilities of why they could be calling her. The operator paused and redirected her to another line. The dread continued to grow for Clarke until the phone reconnected and she confirmed her identity to a doctor. 

“You are listed as one of the emergency contacts for Lincoln and Octavia Blake, I’m sorry to inform you that there’s been an accident. Is it possible for you to come to the hospital?” A nasal voice asked.

At the word accident, Clarke’s mind whited out and her ears began ringing. Moving on autopilot she grabbed her keys and ran out of the school, forgetting her class entirely.

 She had met Lincoln on her first week of art school. As the two oldest people in their freshman lecture, they became fast friends. Neither of them had any family to speak of, so they kind of formed one together. They supported each other during their starving artist years, their first ugly pieces and celebrated their small victories in a cramped apartment that Clarke’s dad had left her in his will. Clarke had never had siblings, but Lincoln was the closest thing to a brother she had ever known.

He was gruff but kind and the best sculptor she had ever met. His sculpting is what had brought Octavia into their lives. Back when they were fresh out of school and doing shitty gallery shows in the bad part of town, a girl with long brown hair who wore funky sweaters would come to every exhibition to stare intently at Lincoln’s art. She came every week without fail, to every gallery that Lincoln’s sculptures were shown at. Lincoln used to watch her from afar and light up whenever he saw her looking at his work. Eventually, the week before Lincoln’s sculptures hit it big, Clarke convinced him to go and talk to her. The rest is history.

Clarke had never seen two people who complimented one another as well as Lincoln and Octavia, they were truly soulmates. Octavia with her bright smile and long limbs quickly became a staple in their lives. Much like Lincoln, she was a little rough around the edges but she loved fiercely with her whole heart. She never really questioned Clarke, just accepted her as Lincoln’s sister and loved her as such. It seemed logical of course when their daughter Madi was born that Clarke would be her Godmother. 

She reached Arkadia Memorial in record time and ran as fast as she could to the emergency department. When she reached the waiting room she skid to a halt, in front of her was none other than Octavia’s brother Bellamy Blake folded over in a chair wearing a worn Arkadia Fire Department sweatshirt and sporting red rimmed eyes.

 

April 11, 2015

“Maybe I should just cancel…” Clarke held the phone between her shoulder and ear as she washed her paintbrushes in the sink.

“You’ve been single for 3 years and  he just moved here, it's the perfect time for you both to start over.”

“I’m going to give you a code word…if I text you a fireball emoji he’s trying to murder me and you need to come save me,” she said seriously, drying the brushes and carefully placing them back into a chipped mug. 

She readjusted the phone and grabbed a rag to wipe down the paint splattered tables.

“You won’t need a code word...you’re being ridiculous, I've met Bellamy. He's exactly the opposite of that oily soft boy who must not be named, it'll be a nice change.” laughter cutting into Lincoln’s fake exasperation.

“You can never be too careful…he might be  a psycho murderer.” Clark continued, "But you're right about Finn, he was a greaseball." 

“Clarke. Bellamy’s a little rough around the edges but he’s great. Plus it'll be nice for you guys to get to know each other before the wedding." 

“The maid of honor and the best man, tale as old as time."

"True as it can be." Lincoln continued, the smile evident in his voice, "I think you guys are really well suited."  

"I'll take your word on this but if he kills me I'll haunt you from beyond the grave.”

“I’m hanging up. Try to be positive about this.”

Logically, Clarke knew that Lincoln was right and that she needed to start putting herself back out there. Her life had been pretty boring since her best friend had met the love of his life and moved out of their apartment. Her cat shockingly doesn’t make for a sparkling conversationalist.

Since Lincoln moved out and Finn had turned out to be a dick, she had thrown herself into work.

And she was now the proud owner of a small art studio and school. Initially, it had been difficult and sad but after a small feature from a popular art blogger, it seemed that she was finally getting her footing. The small studio had grown immensely in the past year and she was able to bring in her childhood friend Harper as a co-teacher.

Clarke finished wiping the tables and examined herself in the mirror by the door. She would need a shower before she met this tall dark and handsome mystery man. She looked like she had been hit with an acrylic paint tornado. 

On her drive home she listened to her favorite motivational podcast, hoping the affirmation would bring her some confidence for the rest of the night.

As time crawled closer to the date, her excitement grew. It had been a long time since she had gotten dressed up for someone else. After a lot of trial and error she finally decided on her favorite red bodycon, a nice pair of black heels and hoop earrings. She curled her hair into loose waves and perched on her couch to wait out her date.

An hour later, Clarke's optimism was quickly dying down. He was already late. Over an hour late. Fidgeting and checking the clock again, she shifted her dress down her legs and tapped her foot. She was starting to get annoyed, restless and hungry. She considered the Babybell cheeses in her fridge and wondered whether eating one would really matter in the long run. Right as she was about to head to the fridge, there was a loud revving outside and her phone pinged with a text from an unknown number,

“Hey it’s Bellamy, I’m here.”

Rolling her eyes at the fact that he didn’t even bother to come to the door. Clarke gathered her purse, took a deep breath and headed out.

She was met by two things, a very hot man and a very large motorcycle. 

“I’m not really dressed for a that,” Clarke mumbled as she took in the sleek black bike and the messy haired man in ripped black jeans and frayed olive-green shirt. Dammit, Lincoln was right...he looked nothing like Finn. He was tall, dark, handsome and his arms were deliciously large. 

“Hold on tight, promise I won’t read too far into it if you cop a feel” he winked at her, arms flexing as he fished a helmet out of the seat

“I said I’m not really dressed for this, I don’t know if my leg will get over it," she replied, irritably crossing her arms over her chest. 

His eyes flitted down to her boobs before he snorted, “Don’t be scared babe I gotcha.”

“I can drive us," she insisted, moving her hands to her hips. 

“C'mon baby, live a little," he groaned, pulling the helmet off his head fully. 

“Either I drive, or I go back inside,” she tapped her foot. 

“We can just go back inside and get to it, if that’s what you really want Princess…” Bellamy winked and dismounted the motorcycle, turning to gesture toward the cars lined down the street.

“I’m not a princess,” Clarke argued while fishing through her purse for her keys.

“If the shoe fits,” Bellamy was about to smirk until Clarke clicked the lock on her car and the lights went up on the smallest car he had ever seen. “There’s no way I can’t fit in it that,” he mumbled gesturing at the mini cooper.

Bellamy looked between Clarke and the car in exasperation, “Like I said…I can drive or you can leave” she said with her hands on her hips. He sighed, looked at the car and then back at her before climbing in the passenger seat and slamming the door.

“Where do you want to go?” He asked, adjusting his messy hair in the rearview mirror. 

“Well where did you make a reservation?” Clarke arched an eyebrow, she could feel her temples beginning to throb.

“I figured we would just go with the flow,” he said irritably, adjusting the collar of his jacket. 

“I know a place, it’s owned by a friend of mine and Lincoln’s from art sch-“ right as Clarke was about to finish, Bellamy’s phone began to blare a cheesy Pitbull song.

“Why don’t you get that, I’ll just wait,” she rolled her eyes and looked pointedly at his phone. The song paused and then began ringing again. 

“No it’s okay give it a sec and it’ll go to voicemail”

“I insist go ahead”

With a pained expression on his face, Bellamy answered the phone, "Heyyyyyy what’s up?” he glanced at Clarke while making affirmative noises, “Yeah how about I stop by around 10-“ he looked at Clarke again, “actually make that 9:30”

“SERIOUSLY” she yelled as he hung up

“What?! It was a sick friend!” he answered defensively, throwing his hands in the air. 

"Right, a 'sick friend'," she mocked, rolling her eyes for what felt like the thousandth time. 

"Yes. They umm very ill and need assistance," 

"I would LOVE to know what illness can only be cured by your PENIS," she yelled, she could feel her face beginning to heat up. 

"Oh my god chill the fuck out!" he yelled back, turning his body fully to face her. 

“We don’t have to do this…I know it means a lot to Lincoln and Octavia but you don’t seem to care since you answered a booty call in front of me,”

“I can't believe Octavia said you were cool, suburbia has gotten to her. You’re literally the most uptight person I've ever met,” He smirked

“GET OUT OF MY SMART CAR” Clarke yelled, jumping out of the car and slammed the door behind her. Bellamy followed and hopped on his motorcycle without saying goodbye.

***

After a hot shower to wash away the terrible night, she put on her comfiest PJs and curled up onto the couch with a glass of wine. Sinking into the pillows, she grabbed her phone to call Lincoln. He answered on the first ring.

“I take it your date didn’t go well.” Lincoln sighed, the disappointment evident in his voice.

“Linc…we didn’t leave my street.”  

“Did you even give him a chance? Behind the motorcycle he really is a good dude,”

“HE ANSWERED A BOOTY CALL IN FRONT OF ME!!"  

“Ugh damn it...Octavia said he had changed. I swear I didn't know."  

“I’m sorry Linc, I know you wanted it to work out but it’s not really salvageable,” Clarke sighed, knowing how much it meant to Lincoln for her to get along with Octavia’s family. Especially since the wedding was coming up soon. 

“You guys didn’t click. It’s fine. Are you going to be fine for the wedding?"

“We can share breathing space for the wedding but I’d prefer to never speak to him directly ever again,”

“Sorry about your night…can’t help but feel a little responsible”. 

“It’s not your fault Bellamy thinks his penis is the best thing since sliced bread. I love you bud. You meant well and that's what matters. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, there's a glass of wine with my name on it,” Clarke hung up the phone and sighed deeply. It stung to know that she had let Lincoln down even if Bellamy was a total asshat.

Clarke closed her eyes and savored her sip of wine, dating sucked and she would honestly prefer to just die alone in peace.

Her phone pinged and much to her surprise it was from Bellamy, “Look…I don’t like you (and you obviously don't like me) but I love Lincoln and my sister so I think we should just ignore each other from now on,” Unfortunately, he was right…they were basically family and she was going to have to see his stupid handsome face at all the time. “Deal”  Clarke replied.  

February 2nd, 2019

Clarke approached Bellamy, his head was in his hands and he looked like he had been crying. He had balled up the sleeves of his sweatshirt and used them to wipe his eyes. 

"They won't tell me anything and I've been here for an hour," he murmured, his voice was ragged and cracked at the end of the sentence.  

"I'm sorry, I was teaching I didn't check my phone," she answered quietly, not really sure why she was apologizing. She couldn't bring herself to meet his gaze. 

"You didn't miss much, I think I scared off a few nurses," he admitted and something about his expression made Clarke want to reach out and touch his hair. She refrained, shoving her hand in her pocket instead. 

"The waiting is somehow the worst part," she mumbled, not quite meeting his gaze. 

Just as Bellamy was about to answer, a solemn faced doctor approached them both, “Clarke Griffin and Bellamy Blake?”

They both nodded, and Bellamy stood to stand behind Clarke, sure to maintain a healthy level of distance. She wrung her hands together and shifted from side to side. The doctor's expression was unreadable and it was making her stomach turn. Bellamy was nervously tapping his fingers against his leg and the sound of his skin hitting the denim was starting to grate on her. 

“Lincoln and Octavia were rear ended on the highway by an 18 wheeler. It was a very serious accident.” The doctor grimaced, gesturing for them both to take a seat. The pit in Bellamy's stomach grew as we took a seat on the bench next to Clarke. Their legs were squished together and she reached out, carefully placing her hand on his knee. His skin tingled, this was the first time Clarke had touched him non-violently in years and it felt strange but he placed his hand over hers. Whether he liked it or not, she was the only person who understood how he felt right now.  

"So when can we see them?" Clarke asked, voice shaking.  

The doctor, set his clipboard down on the bench beside him and leaned forward. "Their injuries were very severe, they were both in surgery for several hours and had the best possible care. We truly did the best that we could. But unfortunately, with accidents like this, it's a lot of pain and stress on the body. In the case of Lincoln and Octavia, their bodies just couldn’t handle the damage. I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but we lost them." 

Clarke crumpled, chest heaving and ears ringing. Bellamy wrapped an arm around her uncertainly, he felt like he was frozen. It didn't feel real. It wasn't possible. Bile rose in his throat and a wave of nausea washed over him. Octavia was dead. 

“Their daughter…they have a daughter, she’s one. Is she okay?” Clarke said suddenly, whipping out of Bellamy's grip. Tears filled his eyes as panic set in, he hadn't considered that Madi could have been in the car with them. 

It was only then that they noticed a police officer standing to the right of the doctor. He was equally solemn faced and took a seat beside the doctor. 

The police officer spoke quietly, “Madi is fine. She was in the care of a minor at the time of the accident and has been released to DCFS. We will look into you both being able to see her tomorrow.”

Bellamy let out a sigh of relief as a complex set of emotions washed over him. Grief for his young, vibrant sister and her strong, caring husband, relief that Madi was alive and overwhelming sadness for the parents that she would never know. Shocked that somehow he was the last Blake standing. He placed his hand over Clarke’s on his shoulder, he might not like her but she’s all he had in this mess.

Chapter Text

January 22nd 2019 

“Dooowwwnnn byyy the bayyyy where the watermelons growwww back to my home, I dare not gooooo for if I do my mother will say, DID YOU EVER SEE A WHALE WITH A POLKA DOT TAIL?” The car stereo blared cutesy xylophone music while Lincoln and Octavia sang along to Raffi.

Clarke looked at her Goddaughter who was sandwiched in her car seat between her and Bellamy. Even with her peripheral view of Bellamy’s stupid face, she couldn’t help but smile at the sight of her best friends singing dumb children’s music to their smiling daughter.

“HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A LLAMA IN POLKA DOT PAJAMAS? DOWN BY THE BAYYYYYYYY DOWN BY THE BAY” Lincoln sang and Maddi shrieked with glee, her dark eyes widening as she slapped her chubby hands together and grabbed fistfuls of Bellamy’s jacket.

It was Madi’s first birthday and it was crazy how fast time had flown by. It seemed like yesterday she was rushing to the hospital to hold Octavia’s hand when Madi was born. They had made their own weird, little family and while this year had been difficult it had been incredible to see Lincoln take on his role as a father in stride.

She had always known he would be a good dad, hell, he had taken care of Clarke since the day they met. But seeing him and Octavia in action made her heart warm. They really were born to be parents. 

As they pulled into the driveway the colorful music faded out and Clarke hauled what seemed like 100 balloons into the house. Bellamy followed close behind spinning Madi around like an airplane.

“Careful Bell, she’s in a pukey phase,” Lincoln warned with a laugh.

“That’s okay…she’ll just puke on Auntie Clarke, right baby,” He cooed at Madi. 

Clarke rolled her eyes…some things never change, “She wouldn’t be the first girl to puke on Uncle Bellamy.”

While her and Bellamy had grown less hostile with time, he was still the overgrown man child he had always been. They tried to keep the bickering to a minimum but sometimes it was hard not to indulge herself by kicking him under the table.

He was still always wearing a stupid baseball cap, it really punctuated his adolescent behavior. His latest fling honest looked like she was nineteen. But as much as Clarke hated to admit it, he was really good with Madi.  

“Clarke come help me with this cupcake tower,” Octavia called from the kitchen, “you have an eye for these things and I can’t figure out why it looks so ugly." 

Clarke followed her, leaving Bellamy and Lincoln alone in the backyard. Bellamy spun Madi around and couldn’t help but smile when she giggled and grabbed his hat.

“Seriously Bell watch it, you’re going to reek if she pukes on you” Lincoln laughed, carefully extracting the worn hat from Madi's mouth. 

“I can handle it, right Madi?” he gave her body a little wiggle and lifted her up in the air again, her little pink dress flying in the wind as her frilly booties kicked, “She’s my main gal”

“Speak of main gals, how’s that girl you’ve been seeing?” Lincoln asked coyly. 

“Oh Gina?"

"No the other one, she was really babyfaced." Lincoln gave Bellamy a side eye, tying a bunch of balloons to a deck chair. 

"Oh Echo. We broke up a while ago. She was getting majorly clingy and I couldn't take it," Bellamy blushed, not meeting Lincoln's gaze. 

“I thought you really liked her?”

“You mean you and Octavia really liked her. She was fine but nothing special." he shrugged, blowing a raspberry at Madi. 

“Settling down isn’t all bad bud” Lincoln shook his head and plucked Madi from Bellamy’s arms before heading back inside.

Bellamy followed Lincoln, the house had filled with people in the span of a few minutes and there were toddlers as far as the eye could see. Scanning the room, he winced. The mommy blog squad was in full force. They were clustered around Octavia who was holding an enormous pile of presents. Honestly, she was glowing. Motherhood really suited Octavia. It wasn't really surprising, she had always wanted a big family but he was a little shocked that she managed to get along with women who unironically wore pearl necklaces. 

His heart warmed, despite her odd taste in friends, he was happy for his baby sister. This is all she had ever wanted. A beautiful house, a kind husband and a perfect baby girl. She deserved it more than anyone else he knew. 

He was jolted out of his musings when Clarke yelled his name from across the room. Damn, she was annoying. Setting his face in a smirk, he weaved through the crowd toward her. As he approached, he realized she was standing beside an enormous piñata and groaned. 

"I'm not hanging that thing up," he argued, wrinkling his nose at the Paw Patrol shaped monstrosity. 

"It's your goddaughter's birthday," Clarke countered, waving the piñata in his face. 

"She's one princess, the only thing she cares about is eating a cupcake," he snapped, grudgingly taking the piñata out of her hand. 

"Make sure it's straight!" she yelled, as he climbed on top of a chair. 

"I'll make it crooked just for you," he chuckled, adjusting the string and stepping back down. Before his feet could even touch the floor, Clarke reached out and began fiddling with it. He returned the chair to it's place and picked a stay piece of candy up off the floor. 

"Try this, I think you're blood sugar is low. It's making you crabby." He suggested innocently, pressing the tootsie roll into her palm and walked away. 

He spent the rest of the party mingling awkwardly with Lincoln's friends and dodging Clarke. It was working pretty well until Octavia called everyone over to cut the cake. Octavia and Lincoln posed beside Madi as Clarke walked out with the world's largest tower of pink and white cupcakes. Bellamy diligently clicked hundreds of pictures, ensuring to get lots of candids which were Octavia's favorite. 

"Okay! Now the Godparents aka. Madi's two favorite people!!" Octavia clapped, grabbing the phone from Bellamy's hand and shoving him toward Madi's highchair. 

He posed awkwardly on one side of Madi while Clarke stood on the other, they both were pointedly trying to keep their arms from brushing. Right before Octavia started counting down for the picture, Clarke reached over and grabbed his hat off his head. He lunged and they ended up with a series of pictures of Clarke and Bellamy wrestling with Madi in the middle. 

Octavia framed it and put it in the living room. She did love a good candid. 

 

February 2nd 2019

Bellamy and Clarke wordlessly drove back to Octavia and Lincoln’s house. Bellamy’s knees were cramped in the passenger side her stupid car that was much too small to fit a fully grown adult.

He couldn’t help but think about how much had changed since the last time he had sat squeezed into this Godforsaken, energy efficient vehicle.

Clarke was still Clarke, both as hot and as annoying as ever. He saw her hands shaking on the wheel and realized she was murmuring to herself, “Breathe in. breathe out.”

Putting his pride aside, he offered to drive, not wanting her emotions to get the better of her.

“Don’t be ridiculous we’re almost there” she snapped, knowing he was trying to be helpful but she couldn’t suppress the rush of irritation.

They sat on the driveway, staring in silence at the enormous, pristine mansion. It was eerie, knowing it was empty. From the outside, the house looked completely normal. If he turned his brain off for a second, he could almost pretend that they were just inside getting Madi ready for bed. 

The sight of the lights on in the living room, caused a new wave of emotions to rush within Clarke. She felt tears clouding her eyes. Wiping her eyes, she felt shame burning in her stomach, she couldn't cry in front of Bellamy again.

Needing to get inside and away from him, she ran out, slamming the car door behind her. 

After Clarke fled, Bellamy slowly made his way up the driveway and into the house. He paused in the entrance, momentarily unable to move.

He took in the beautiful colonial with it’s pillars and arches, the beautiful eclectic furniture that Octavia had collected from around the world. She had built a life they had always dreamed of.

They grew up in dirty, cramped apartments. When they were young, Octavia would steal fancy magazines from their mom's hair salon and rip out pictures of beautiful homes to tape on her bedroom walls. When she became an architect, it seemed almost natural that she would build herself a version of the homes she has once admired.

She had actually followed her dreams and she wouldn’t even get to enjoy it. She wouldn’t get to see her daughter grow up in this beautiful home. It didn’t seem fair really, that so many terrible people in this world got to live and his sister had to die at 26 years old.

He finally closed the door and slammed his fist against it as hard as he could, angry at the world.  He banged the door over and over, sinking to the floor with tears in his eyes. After a few moments, his head cleared and he realized he could hear shouting coming from the other room.

Wiping his eyes, he walked into the kitchen to see Clarke pacing the length of the massive counter screaming at someone over the phone, “What do you mean we can’t see her tonight! What kind of office closes at 5:30pm?!? Absolutely ridiculous.”

“Clarke…” he murmured, grabbing her arm. She almost seemed to snap out of a trance, “I’ll be here at this number, please let me know if anything changes”.

“They’re completely incompetent” Clarke ranted furiously, still pacing “she said they’ll call us at 7:30am tomorrow”

“Clarke, she’s safe and she’s alive. She’s in emergency foster care, I dealt with that a few times back in the day…it’s not too bad, especially for babies,” Bellamy said quietly, shrugging his shoulders. “We should sleep here so we’re ready to go in the morning. We can each take one of the guest rooms," he suggested, before quietly making his way back to the living room.

Clarke stood in the middle of the kitchen stunned, phone still in her hand. She realized that didn’t really know much about how Octavia and Bellamy grew up. She knew they had it rough but Octavia had never really gone into detail about her childhood.

Clarke thought back to the mansion she grew up in. It had felt like an ivory tower at times but it was safe, and she was spoiled in that way. Heading toward the guest room she considered how Madi would grow up now.

Octavia and Lincoln had always been so loving and sure, her heart ached that Madi would never be able to truly know how amazing they were.

She curled up in the guest bedroom and squeezed her eyes shut, hoping desperately that this was all some crazy, drug induced dream and she would wake up to the sound of Lincoln and Octavia’s off-key singing while they made cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

***

Bellamy entered the kitchen was met with a scene of Clarke hopelessly fiddling with Lincoln’s $1,000 expresso machine. She turned when he cleared his throat, “Do you have any idea how to use this thing? I don’t know when Lincoln got so fancy, we used to drink Folgers back when I lived with him.”

He laughed and shouldered her aside before flipping a switch on that whirred the machine to life, “Easy as can be Princess." 

Clarke scowled and pushed her way back toward to machine to retrieve her mug, “Asshole” she murmured before taking a sip, “by the way their lawyer called this morning and said that she’s going to stop by with some paperwork and details about Madi.”

“I hate lawyers.”

“Well probably don't tell her that.” 

"They're always trying to mess with your head." 

"She's reading us a will, not indicting us for tax fraud. Just let me do the talking."  

Bellamy rolled his eyes and filled his own mug with expresso. He leaned against the counter and took Clarke in, he never seen her look so…messy. She was always perfectly dressed in expensive looking clothes and pristine makeup. But she was wearing a ratty pair of paint splattered overalls and her hair was piled in a huge bun on top of her head. He softened a bit, “Cla-“

The doorbell rang and Clarke ran to answer it, leaving Bellamy alone with his weak attempt at an olive branch.

He followed and came face to face with possibly the most terrifying woman he had ever seen. She was hot but had a severe face that made it look like she ate puppies for breakfast. She introduced herself as Lexa and seated herself at the dining room table before motioning for Clarke and Bellamy to sit across from her.

Twisting her face in what Bellamy assumed was supposed to be a sympathetic expression, “I’m so sorry for your loss, Lincoln was a wonderful man who I always enjoyed working with and Octavia was always so kind," she said in a surprisingly feminine voice. 

“Thank you” he and Clarke answered in unison, the response had already become robotic, having heard it dozens of times already. 

Before Lexa could go any further, Clarke pulled out a planner and opened it to a long handwritten list. Squaring her shoulders, she jumped into her list of questions.

"So what will happen to Madi now? Where is she staying? How soon can we see her?" she rattled off, and Bellamy kicked her lightly under the table in an attempt to get her to take a breath. 

Lexa raised her eyebrows and cleared her throat before continuing, “Madi is fine and is already back at the DCFS office, she spent the night with a very nice set of older foster parents. Her case worker has determined that moving forward, Madi will do best in her home environment.  You will need to go to the head office as soon as possible and pick her up from there. You will then need to acclimate her back to her routine to the best of your ability. Everyone wants to ensure as smooth transition. The less traumatic we can make this for Madi, the better.”  Lexa explained gesturing between Bellamy and Clarke.

Clarke and Bellamy looked blankly at Lexa, before Bellamy finally asked with a confused look, “So who exactly is doing all of this? Like am I taking her? We don't have any extended family." 

"Lincoln's family is in New Zealand and they're estranged. I don't think they even know that Madi exists." Clarke agreed. 

Lexa looked suddenly uncomfortable, shifting in her seat and shuffling her papers on the table. Eyeing them both carefully she looked down at her papers and asked gently, “I take it that Octavia and Lincoln didn't speak with you both about their arrangements for Madi should something happen to them?” 

Bellamy felt a pit forming in his stomach, something about Lexa's expression was unsettling. He felt Clarke turn to look at him and he met her gaze. Her brows were furrowed and she looked just as confused as he felt. Well, at least he wasn't the only one in the dark. 

Lexa continued on wearily, “They named you both as Madi’s guardians-ahem-jointly. I know this probably isn’t how you envisioned starting a family but-“

“WOAH WOAH” Bellamy yelled at the same time that Clarke said, “we are NOT together” while wrinkling her nose. They both began to hurriedly explain their botched blind date and how much they hated each other before Lexa held up a hand. Drawing herself back up to her full terrifying stance, she cleared her throat. Both Bellamy and Clarke shrunk back in their chairs a little.

“I wasn't aware that you two weren't married, historically leaving a child in the care of two people who are not together is a bad idea. I understand it’s a lot to ask to have you both move into this house and raise a child. Especially since they obviously didn't speak with either of you about this beforehand. But they were adamant, they wanted you two to raise her. They said that you two were the next best thing if it couldn't be them.”

Clarke looked from Lexa to Bellamy and back again with panic in her eyes. Lexa uncomfortably stood up and rounded the table to pat Clarke’s shoulder, “I know this is a lot to take in, you don’t have to say yes right away. I’m going to leave a folder on the table, it’s got letters in it from Lincoln and Octavia. There’s one for each of you and one for Madi when she is older. Do with them what you will and call me if you need anything.”

Bellamy stood up from the table and ran out of the dining room, the back-door slamming in his wake. Clarke knew better than to try to go after him, so she showed Lexa out and carefully picked up the envelope.

Her name on the envelope was written in Lincoln’s tight, messy scrawl. Eyes filling with tears once more, she carefully opened the envelope.

Clarke,

If you’re reading this…congratulations you outlived me. I hope this letter finds you when we’re 90 years old and you can smile in thoughtful memory about me but just in case I left some things behind I’m hoping this makes its way to you.

You were my first best friend ever, my sister, my partner in crime. I came to this country hoping to make some art, but I never expected to find my first family. Thank you first and foremost for taking me into your home, for all those nights in our shitty apartment drinking wine out of mugs and complimenting each other’s portfolios, for forcing me to be brave and go talk to Octavia after so many months, for standing by me through every major life milestone and for spoiling my daughter absolutely rotten. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without knowing you. You are one of the greatest gifts this life has given me Clarke, which is why I am trusting you with the person I love more than anything I’ve ever known.

If something were to happen to me and Octavia, I know that you would love Madi like she was your own. That you would give her everything, show her light and love and art. That you would make sure she remembered us and that she never goes a day in her life feeling unloved. I trust you to show her that love is not contingent on anything but rather unconditional. I hope you show her how to love the way that you and Octavia showed me. My biggest fear is that she will end up alone in the world and I know that with you she will never feel like she has to figure life out by herself. I know that as my sister you will love her as your own. 

I'm also trusting Bellamy with her because I think that he is the only other person I trust to love her as much as we do. There’s also a part of me that thinks you two have more in common than you believe, please be nice to him...there's a lot going on under the surface.  

All my love,

Lincoln

P.s

I’m not as eloquent as Lincoln (which you know) but I want you to know that there is no person I would trust more with my mini-me than you and my brother. You guys make a great team, all that fighting is going be great preparation for trying to convince my stubborn daughter to do anything. Please make sure she doesn’t forget us and that she gets to see the world in a way that I never did.

Love forever,

Octavia 

Clarke held the letter to her chest and sobbed, she cried like she had never cried before. She got down on her knees and truly mourned for the loss of Octavia and Lincoln in the world. She cried with loss and with fear for the thought of raising a tiny person who hit the parent jackpot and lost them before she could remember. There was also a small blip of anger at Lincoln for dying and leaving her like this. She wasn't built to be a parent and she wasn't sure how she was going to handle this. 

Meanwhile, Bellamy ran around the block. He was wearing work boots and jeans but he sprinted as fast as his legs could take him. He probably looked crazy. In this neighborhood, someone honestly might call the cops on him. But he didn't care. He ran faster and faster until he found himself back in his sister’s front lawn.

He couldn’t seem to catch his breath and his lungs seized. He struggled to breathe, acid flooded his mouth and he felt his stomach churn. Bending over, he threw up all over Lincoln’s beautifully manicured bushes. He wiped his mouth off and headed back inside trying to shake off the panic from before. 

He entered to find the living room absolutely ransacked. Pillows and blankets were thrown everywhere, and a few picture frames were knocked off the table. 

Weaving through the mess carefully, he righted the cushions and tucked away the blankets. He left the frames as is, he didn't know if he could take looking at them. Stepping over the pile, he found Clarke sitting in the kitchen calming sipping on a glass of water. 

“We should go to the DCFS office soon, I’m going to go make myself look a little more presentable,” she said matter of factly before leaving the room.

Bellamy couldn’t bring himself to say anything about the living room, it would be awfully hypocritical of him since he just vomited in a bush. So he just went to go find a toothbrush.

By the time they arrived in the DCFS office both Bellamy and Clarke looked slightly more put together after having had some time to process the past day.

Clarke was nervous, wringing her hands together and tapping her foot against the floor. She couldn't believe Bellamy wore that stupid hat today.

They were greeted by a kind faced woman named Maya who introduced herself as their caseworker and assured them once again that Madi was fine. She squeezed Clarke's arm gently and handed them paperwork to sign while she disappeared through a back door.

“Relax Princess, we gotta act like everything is okay. Otherwise, she going to be able to sense that something is wrong” Bellamy said straightening his shirt and hat.

 “Don’t call me that and I don’t think you trying to brush your hair is going to make this any better,” she snapped

“Who peed in your cereal this morning? Jesus I was just trying to help,”

Just as Clark was about to snap back, Maya came back to the office holding Madi. Her eyes were red rimmed and she was wearing a yellow onesie with ducks on them, the second she caught sight of them she reached out her arms.

Clarke wrapped Madi up in a huge and patted her back as she snuffled into her neck. Bellamy came up behind them and stroked her soft black hair. With her head under Clarke’s chin she reached out and grabbed Bellamy’s hat, pulling it off his head. Bellamy barked out a laugh and his voice cracked a little as he murmured “it’s gonna be okay” quietly. He wasn't really sure if he was talking to Madi or to himself. 

Chapter Text

Clarke was standing in her dad’s old apartment in a sea of boxes, “Can I borrow this dress for my exhibition next month?” Harper called from the other room where she was packing up Clarke’s closet. Clarke entered the room to find Harper swinging around in a floor-length dress, “sure take it, my mom gave that to me for some gala. I’ve never actually worn it.”

She sighed taking in her empty room, this had been the place she’d called home for the past 9 years. It was hard to say goodbye, this had been where her and Lincoln had spent their starving artist years. She wasn't moving out fully, but she didn't really know when she would be back here again. 

With a deep breath Clarke looked at Harper, “C’mon Harp, lets finish up here. Bellamy’s had Madi for like 5 hours, he’s probably throwing her around like a football,”

She and Harper loaded the last 5 boxes into Clarke’s car and Harper gave her a tight hug, “You got this” she affirmed, squeezing Clarke’s shoulders.

She was grateful that Octavia and Lincoln’s house was big enough for two guest rooms, neither her nor Bellamy had the heart to open the door to the master suite yet. She eyed the closed doors as she carried her boxes upstairs, reminiscing on the afternoon her and Octavia had spent painting the double doors blue.  Octavia had said it was because “that’s what doors look like in Greece”. A small smile crossed her as she dropped off the last box and went down the hall to find Bellamy reading one of Octavia’s parenting books while Madi played on the floor.

“Did you know there were so many techniques to parenting? Back when Octavia was little you just had to feed them and making sure they didn’t die” Bellamy furrowed his brow.

“I’m glad you brought this up actually, I think we should get her on a schedule as soon as possible, I actually bought an hourly calendar for us and we can detail out what to do and who-“ she rambled quickly.

“Woah woah woah princess chill the f-u-c-k out”

“Just because you spelled the swear word doesn’t mean it’s okay…” Clarke scolded picking up Madi, “your uncle Bell is a d-u-m-m-y, yes he is!” she cooed. Madi clapped and grabbed her hair playfully, “see she agrees” Clarke huffed carrying Madi out of the room.

Clarke carried Madi into the kitchen and plopped her in her high chair where she immediately began screaming. “She hates eating for some reason” Bellamy said coming up behind them.

“I’m going to try this baby food blender that Octavia had, maybe that’ll do it.” She pulled a complicated looking blender from out of the cabinet and began chopping up carrots and kale.

“She’s not a food critic, she’s a one year old…” Bellamy wrinkled his nose and looked at Madi.

Clarke rolled her eyes at him and began whirring the blender, “I’m not going to feed her a bunch of processed garbage just because it’s easy,” grimacing at the green sludge that it produced.

“Yum yum Madi!!” she exclaimed with fake enthusiasm, moving a spoon toward her like an airplane, to which Madi immediately started screaming.  

“Here lemme do the airplane thing” Bellamy suggested grabbing the spoon and waving it through the air until Madi grabbed it and threw in on the floor.

“Well that worked wonders…”

“At least I’m trying”

While they were arguing Madi took the entire bowl of fancy food and tipped it toward the floor, “well there goes that” Bellamy scooped Madi out of the high chair and carried her screaming off to the living room, grabbing a squeezy applesauce on his way out.

“This is simpler that you’re making it out to be” Bellamy said with a trademark smirk when he returned to the kitchen.

“I don’t know why they did this…we clearly don’t know what we’re doing” Clarke cried from the floor mopping up green goop.

“To be honest I don’t really either” he grabbed a rag and started wiping down the high chair, “but it’s not like they had any other options”

“I guess that’s true, Lincoln only had a grandpa and he’s easily 99 years old”

“Octavia and I have one cousin…she’s a happy endings stripper.” he laughed and looked and Clarke who was clearly trying to hold back a laugh. He held his hand out and helped her up off the ground just as Madi’s screams echoed through the house.

***

After finally getting Madi to bed, they both sat in the living room. Clarke with a glass of wine and Bellamy with a beer, “Here’s to our first week of survival” he said clinking her glass.

They sat in silence for a while, staring at the wall and seeping in their exhaustion.

“So how does this whole Madi thing play into your plan of having your own babies?” he asked casually, taking a sip from his bottle. 

“What?!”

“Well you know all women your age are all fighting over the same 5 guys who don’t suck right? This won’t exact be easy”

“Women MY age?!?” Clarke fumed, slamming her wine glass down on the table. 

“I mean over 30 with a baby…baggage much?” he egged on, he hadn't exactly started this conversation to provoke her but he couldn't drop it now. 

“Just when I think you’re becoming more decent you prove yourself to be human garbage” Clarke huffed, standing up and storming upstairs. Bellamy had been shockingly decently lately, it was about time his true colors came rearing back around. 

***

Clarke was rudely awoken the next morning not by Madi screams but rather by Bellamy’s.

“What the hell is going on in here?!” she groaned stumbling into her room to the sight of Bellamy’s wrinkled face and Madi’s entire body covered in poop.

“Threat level midnight!” he yelled, while holding her in the air like Simba. Sighing, Clarke sprung into action grabbing wipes and going to work cleaning up some of the mess.

“Okay let’s get this diaper off first and foremost” Clarke said, gingerly peeling off the sides of Madi’s exploded diaper.

“We might just have to put her in the bath, I don’t think the wipes are helping," Bellamy huffed, lifting Madi to examine the mess. 

“We can’t sanitarily put her in the sink like this,” Clarke argued, "We put food in there!"

“Here hold her,” Bellamy carefully passed Madi to Clarke before stepping back and whipping off his shirt, leaving him only in a pair of checkered boxers. Clarke froze as she came face to face with two tanned, perfect pecs and 6 well defined abs, “wha-“ but before she even had time to finish her sentence, Bellamy grabbed Madi and headed toward the bathroom.

“I’m going to hold her in the shower while you spray her down with the hose, makes sense that I do it since we wouldn’t want a girls gone wild situation over here”

Clarke dumbly followed him and against her better judgement found herself in the shower with a very wet Bellamy and a very happy Madi. The little girl squealed in delight as Clarke carefully sprayed her with warm water and washed the poop out of her skin.

She really was trying not to look to closely at Bellamy but she couldn’t help but follow the drops of water on his pecs as she washed Madi. She felt her eyes following the drops and wandering down to the dark line of hair leading from his belly button to the top of his boxers before she caught herself and flushed a deep red, “enjoying the view princess?” he said with a wink, “in your dreams…” she replied and turned the water to spray directly into his face.

 “I think we’re all clean now!” she cooed, avoiding Bellamy’s gaze and wrapped Maddie up in a fluffy yellow towel.

“Do you mind changing her? I’m just going to finish up my shower in here” Bellamy called as Clarke exited the rapidly steaming bathroom as quickly as possible.

By the time Bellamy had finished his shower, Clarke had changed Madi into a snuggly pink onesie and was in the kitchen making breakfast.

“I’m making pancakes, would you mind cutting up a banana for Madi’s breakfast?” Clarke called as he came into the kitchen toweling of his hair.

He put the banana into a bowl for Madi just as Clarke set a large stack of pancakes in front of him.

 “Sssooo…I have to go back to work tomorrow” she said sheepishly while taking a bite of her pancakes, “I’m in charge of the school and Harper can’t teach my classes forever”

“My shifts at the station aren’t exactly regular right now, I’ll have to talk to the chief and figure it out.” He sighed, his schedule was purposely erratic because he was one of the few guys on the force who didn’t have anyone to go home to.

“I made a calendar” she gestured to an absolutely massive monthly spread which was affixed to the wall in the kitchen, “it’s color coded, red is mine, blue is yours and yellow is Madi’s. I figured we could arrange it in a way that we would both get a night off every once in a while. If you really have trouble with your work schedule I can try to move my classes around but no promises. There's also a digital version, I emailed you a link.”

Bellamy balked, this was easily the most detailed thing he had ever seen. “I’ll try my best, I actually think that isn’t the worst idea ever,” he said carefully, not wanting to provoke her. 

“Was that a compliment Blake? Because it almost sounded like one.”

“Don’t get your hopes up princess” he said with a smile while digging into his pancakes.

After breakfast they settled into what could almost be considered a cozy Sunday afternoon. Madi sat in the middle of the living room in a sea of toys intently watching Doc McStuffins, Clarke was perched on the couch with her sketchpad and Bellamy laid in the recliner reading a book about the revolutionary war. Clarke eyed Bellamy over her pad, his choice of reading material had been a little surprising, she had never really pegged him as a historical biopic kind of guy. He looked up from his book and caught her eye, expression unreadable. Just as she was about to say something, the doorbell chimed.

Bellamy practically jumped and raced to answer the door as Clarke reached down to scoop up Madi who was a little startled from the sudden noise.  She was smoothing down Madi’s hair when Bellamy called, “Cllarrrkeee”.

She furrowed her brow, “what on earth is going on Madi girl” she said as she made her way toward Bellamy. Clarke froze upon reaching the doorway when she came face to face with six people who were all carrying armfuls of dishes.

Bellamy turned to Clarke with panic in his eyes, “These are all friends of Octavia and Linc, they stopped by to check in on us and drop off some err-“

“Hotdishes” A short dark haired woman supplied before turning to Clarke, “I’m Raven and this is my husband Miles! We live right next door with our three kiddos.” Her husband smiled and gave a small wave.

Behind her another dark haired woman popped out, “I’m Anya and you’ve already met my wife Lexa. She's a lawyer. We live just down the road.”

One of the men stepped forward and clapped Bellamy on the shoulder, “I’m Murphy and this is my wife Emori, we’re just down the way with our four kiddos...soon to be five.”

Bellamy and Clarke stared at them all like deer in headlights, clearly a little overwhelmed. Until Clarke shifted, pushing Bellamy back a little with her torso and gestured inside. 

“Well why don’t we put these in the kitchen,” she smiled, her voice taking on a weird robotic quality, "I think I remember some of you from Madi's birthday!" 

“Oh yeah of course,” Bellamy backed up further, allowing space for everyone to file into the kitchen. He locked eyes with Clarke, the panic was evident in his voice as he murmured, “I’m not ready for the mommy blog squad…” with his eyes darting to the kitchen.

“Relax, this is possibly the only thing I know how to handle. Take Madi and set her up in the Pack'n Play in the living room, I’ll take care of this,”  Clarke smiled reassuringly and gave his shoulder a squeeze.

Bellamy let out a sigh of relief as he turned on Planet Earth for Madi to stare at from her playpen. Rubbing elbows wasn’t exactly his strong suit, especially with people like Octavia's neighbors. All these JCrew models made him nervous, he knew he was going to say something stupid in front of them. Maybe if he was lucky they would be gone by the time he finished in here. 

Triple checking that Madi wasn’t near any chokeable objects, he groaned realizing that he couldn’t stall any longer, “Wish me luck Mads”. He gave her a small salute and turned, wishing he could just hide in here forever. 

He entered what felt like a scene from Mad Men, Clarke’s hair was pulled into some kind of fancy twist and was pouring tall glasses of iced tea from a giant pitcher. There was an absolutely enormous plate of snacks and dips on the table. She finished pouring and turned to retrieve a plate of lemon wedges for the center of the table.

Bellamy took his seat next to Clarke who had perched herself on the edge of her chair. He kicked her gently, hoping the shock would snap her out of this weird trance she seemed to be in. She scowled and subtly pinched his side. He squirmed, focusing his attention back onto the group, catching the awkward guy's-Murphy maybe?-wife eying them wearily. 

“You two seem like you have quite the rhythm going here” Lexa marveled with a pained expression that Bellamy assumed was supposed to be kindness. He got the impression that Lexa was genuinely a nice person but something about her was awkward, almost like she didn’t really understand how to convey emotion.

“We’re figuring it out” Clarke answered honestly, “some days are better than others”

“We think she’s still pretty thrown off” Bellamy continued, “she refuses to eat anything that isn’t a banana or applesauce”

“Don't worry, it's nothing you're doing. That's super normal.” Emori assured with a smile and nudged her husband, “Our youngest is in a phase where she only eats princess Goldfish,”

“It’s a nightmare, we make dinner every night but nobody eats it,” Murphy laughed and patted Bellamy on the shoulder again. He wasn’t quite sure what he thought about this guy, the overfriendliness weirded him out a little.

“Well we all came over here to introduce ourselves and let you know we’re here if you need anything. Our daughter is 13 and a great babysitter if you both ever need any help.” Anya smiled warmly at them both and for the first time in a week, Clarke felt a little better.

As the night went on Clarke finally seemed to relax a little and they both began to genuinely enjoy themselves. By the end of the night she found herself really warming up to Emori and it seemed like Bellamy had finally started feeling less awkward. By the time they were wrapping up, she found herself exchanging numbers with some of the moms and offering to schedule playdates for Madi soon. It felt surreal to be indoctored into this group.

Clarke was washing dishes when Bellamy came up behind her, “Thanks for taking that on, you were great out there. PTA types aren't really my forte,” he began picking up the appetizer plates and stacking them by the sink.

“The Abby Griffin school for hostessing is a hell of a drug,” she shrugged focusing her attention on a stubborn piece of hummus on the plate, "They're all nice. Trust me I know judgmental, these guys aren't it." 

“I always knew you were a princess” he laughed

“Princess is one way to put it” she mumbled turning the water off and leaving the kitchen without saying anything else.

Bellamy couldn’t help but feel like an ass, he owed Clarke big time for handling everyone tonight. And he knew Clarke and her mom had a weird relationship. He probably shouldn’t have pried. But he and Clarke didn’t really apologize to each other…even if they were co-parents now.

In the living room, Clarke bounced Madi on her hip and studied her little face. She honestly never really thought she would have kids and the fact that Lincoln would trust this perfect tiny human blew her mind. She hadn’t been comfortable with kids before Madi was born, not like Bellamy who was bouncing and cooing at his niece from the moment she entered the world. He was a natural at this parent thing and sometimes Clarke worried she was too stiff in comparison…too much like her own mother.

She was broken out of her thoughts when Bellamy nudged a mug of hot chocolate into her hand, “Consider it a peace offering. It used to be Octavia’s favorite when she was a kid."

Clarke held the mug with one hand and clutched Madi tightly with the other, “let’s finish Planet Earth huh” she said to Madi settling down on the couch. Bellamy settled next to them, maybe a little closer than usual…for Madi’s sake of course.

Chapter Text

They’d be doing this whole parenting thing for a month now and while a lot of things had gotten easier, some things had gotten even harder. Bellamy’s job was one of those things. He had started as a firefighter when he was 18, it was a respectable job that could help supplement his mom’s meager income. It wasn’t his dream, but it helped put food on the table and allowed Octavia to have things like field trips which he had always gone without.

He had grown to love the physicality of it, the burn of running up the stairs in pounds of gear and the rush of putting out the fires. The adrenaline was addicting and saving lives didn’t hurt either. The panty dropping was just an added bonus, he was Mr. July in the firefighter’s calendar 3 years running.

The danger aspect of his job hadn't really hit home until today. They had a rough call, an apartment building caught on fire and had spread more quickly than they could keep track of. They had been inside for longer than they were supposed to have been, navigating through fallen beams and sporadic patches of flames. He had emerged drenched in sweat and coughing but it wasn’t until he was washing the soot out of his hair that it occurred to him how differently the day could’ve gone. There was a  very real possibility that he might have died in that fire and Madi would’ve lost another person in her life.

Pulling out his phone and typed out a quick text to Clarke, “Rough day, I’m headed home early. I’ll grab some dinner and pick up Madi from Lexa and Anya’s. See you at home”. He stared down at the blue bubble, almost shocked at how domestic it looked typed out like that. Before he could consider it more closely, his phone buzzed again. Not with a response from Clarke but with a text from his ex-girlfriend Echo, “Guess who’s back in town, lmk if you wanna hang out sometime ; )” . He lingered on the text before flipping back to his chat with Clarke who had suggested Thai food for dinner, not really knowing how to respond to Echo.

***

Their dinner passed uneventfully, and it wasn’t until they were kneeling on the bathroom floor with Madi in the tub that Clarke brought up his earlier text, “So…rough day huh?” she turned away soaping Madi’s hair into a tiny mohawk.

“Serious fire, the apartment building on 42nd went up in like 10 minutes flat. You probably saw it from your building. I went in for a little too long, not bad but it messes with your head sometimes” He shrugged moving a rubber ducky through the water to distract Madi while Clarke poured water over her head.

“I thought you smelled a little musty” but the insult felt flat, he could tell what he said had bothered her, “It could’ve been bad…made me think a little”

“She needs us both” Clarke said almost inaudibly, running her finger through the water before jerking her head up and smacking her hand against Bellamy’s arm, “that’s her poop face” she yelled gesturing at Madi.

“I’m not cleaning poop out of this tub” Bellamy sprung up and grabbed the baby under her armpits. Knowing they didn’t keep diapers in the bathroom he looked around wildly as Clarke began to fiddle with the babysafe toilet lid.

“DAMMIT.” She slammed her fist against the lid, “I can never figure out how to open this thing”

“Clarke I don’t know how much time we have here” he was panicking as he felt Madi’s body start to tense.

“Shoot shoot shoot” Clarke looked around the bathroom before grabbing his favorite AFD hat off his head and holding it over Madi’s butt.

Within seconds his favorite, worn hat was ruined, “dammit Clarke, I’ve had that thing since I was 18” he tried to sound irritated but he could already feel the laughter bubbling up in his chest. Clarke looked from him to the poop filled hat and collapsed in laughter. He followed close behind, falling to the floor before laughter completely overtook him.

“I think this is a lost cause” Clarke said still laughing, before carefully placing his biohazard hat into the trash.

He stood up with Madi still on his hip and held his other hand out for Clarke to grab. Pulling her up with ease, he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her into a hug. Shocked, she stiffened before carefully placing one arm around him and one around Madi. He’d never really hugged Clarke before, not even on the night they lost Lincoln and Octavia but it had felt right in this moment and she didn’t seem to mind.

**

Clarke absently stared at the wall while changing Madi’s diaper, the hug Bellamy had given her last night still sitting in her brain. She ran her hand over Madi’s belly, freezing when her hand hit something foreign. It felt like a bump, “this wasn’t here last time…now was it”. Panic built in her throat as she placed her hand on Madi’s forehead. It wasn’t warm but she just couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

She whipped out her phone and without thinking dialed Lincoln. She froze when the call jumped straight to his voicemail, heart tightening at the sound of his voice. Taking a deep cleansing breath she hung up and called Bellamy.

She could hear the clang of weights and the whirr of treadmills when he answered, “What’s up princess? I’m in full gear on a stairmaster so if this can wait it would be much appreciated”

Ignoring the annoying pet name and the visual of Bellamy in his fireman gear, “Madi has a weird bump on her stomach, I texted you a picture. Something’s wrong”

There was a pause and she could hear a clang as he dismounted the stairmaster to check the photo, “It’s a bellybutton! That’s what her stomach always looks like”

“No it isn’t. That bump wasn’t there last week…”

“Well if you think it looks weird you should call the doctor”

 

Madi’s doctor was hot, Clarke observed when he entered the room. He was tall, had deep dark skin and kind eyes that crinkled in the corners. She found herself unable to look away, it had sadly been a while since she’d spoken to an available man.

“I’m Dr. Wells Jaha” the man said with a kind smile, “I’m sorry to hear about Octavia and Lincoln, they were good people.”

“Thanks…it’s been pretty hard” Clarke said honestly as Dr. Jaha put Madi on the table and gave her a once over.

“Everything normal? Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary?”

“To be totally honest I don’t really even know what to look for, Lincoln was the first person I knew who had kids. I didn’t have siblings or cousins growing up and Madi is the only kid I’ve held for longer than 15 minutes. Did you know he was the first person I tried to call about this? Can you believe for a second I actually forgot he was gone and dialed his goddamn phone number on accident? He was so good with her, always knew what to do. Things like this make me wonder what the hell he was thinking, I don’t know what I’m doing at all.” She was ranting, but the words kept tumbling out, “I’m sorry. That was a lot, we don’t really even know each other”

“I think you’re holding up exceptionally well considering the circumstances” he shockingly didn’t seem annoying but rather gave Clarke another endearing smile, “Madi just has an umbilical hernia, totally benign and normal in kids this age. It should go away on its own.” He ruffled Madi’s hair and handed her back to Clarke before he pulled out a prescription pad.

“I thought you said it was benign” her eyebrows knitted together worriedly.

“It is” he laughed, “this is for you” he ripped off a sheet of paper that read “1-2 glasses of wine and a bath as needed”

She laughed weakly holding the paper in her hand, “you’re doing an amazing job. Don’t forget to give yourself a break” he finished before standing up and giving Madi a squeeze, “feel free to call me if anything else comes up”. The words felt weighted and a little suggestive, but her relief overpowered the curiosity of his statement.

***

That night Clarke decided Dr. Jaha was right and poured herself a hefty serving of wine while Bellamy took Madi to the grocery store. She sat herself in the dining room with her bottle of wine and sketchbook, determined to at least sketch out her pieces for her opening exhibition at the school. As the wine flowed, she began sketching faces, her father’s and Lincoln’s. On her fourth glass Octavia’s face began to form under her charcoal but something about the proportions weren’t coming out correctly. Studying the painting intently, she didn’t hear the door bang open and jerked up when Bellamy rolled in with Madi in one arm and 7 plastic grocery bags in the other.

The room spun in front of her eyes and she laughed as Bellamy came into view, “B-bellamyy” she giggled, “do you ever brush your hair?” squinting she pointed to the mop on his head, “it must really save you soooo much time”.

Bellamy looked shocked before a slow and knowing smile spread across his facef, “you’re drunk off your ass princess” he laughed.

“I AM NOT” she huffed indignantly, trying to get up but stumbling over her feet a little on the way up.

“You really don’t get out much do you?” he eyed the empty bottle of wine and she opened her mouth to protest but he went on, “Let’s get you to bed, you’re going to have a serious headache tomorrow” Bellamy was still laughing as he scooped Clarke up and started hauling her toward the stairs. He pulled her against his side and couldn’t help but notice how well she fit against him, she was close enough that he could smell the floral scent of her shampoo. He drew his eyes away, it had been too long since a woman had been close to him and it was driving him crazy. Just when he thought he had fully centered himself, she turned to look up at him and pushed her boobs directly into Bellamy’s chest.

“You are an a-s-s-h-o-l-e” Clarke muffled against his shoulder, “I’ve always wanted to say that out loud to your face…ever since that blind date. Can you believe my first date in 3 years after some asshole cheated on me?! Lincoln told me you were tall dark and handsome, and that I needed to get a little loosey goosey. But you didn’t even get past my front door asssshollllleeeeeee”

Bellamy wanted to laugh but her boobs were spilling out of her tank top and were still pressing very firmly against him. His dick was getting hard and the smell of her shampoo was going to his head a little. Clarke was clueless and punctuating this dramatic speech by weakly poking him in the chest as she kept repeating “loosey goosey asshole” over and over. Just as he was about to give up on the walking and carry her up the stairs, the doorbell rang.

“OOHHH, it must be a neighbor. I bet its Murphy…I think he has a crush on you, he keeps touching youuu. Or maybe it’s Lexa, she’s scary but it kind of turns me on.” Clarke rambled.

Bellamy paused at the door and reminded himself to file that Lexa comment away for later before pulling the door open only slightly and sticking his head outside. He was met by a short, sweet faced woman who he couldn’t quite place.

“Hi, I’m Maya” the woman stepped forward holding her hand out as Bellamy blankly stared at her, “your case worker from social services. I’m here for your home visit” Bellamy’s eyes widened and he quickly spat out, “sorry the house is extremely dirty…one sec” before slamming the door.

Bellamy turned to Clarke who was still swaying a little bit, “You have 10 minutes to get in the shower, chug some coffee and go back to being the uptight, annoying pain in the ass you have been for the entire time I have known you.”

Clarke stiffened and turned quickly toward the shower before she was yanked back, “wrong way princess” he grabbed her shoulders and redirected her up the stairs.

Clarke stumbled up and began taking cleansing breaths like her meditation podcast had taught her, “sober…sober…sober”. She couldn’t believe the one time she had wanted to let loose, this mess happens. Cursing the attractive pediatrician, she found her way back to the bathroom. Weirdly, she could still feel where Bellamy’s hands had been pressed against her back.

She returned downstairs wearing her best attempt at a conservative stay at home mom outfit, leggings with a soft tee shirt, fuzzy socks and chunky knit cardigan. Slipping into the kitchen she stuffed a few teething crackers into her mouth and made expressos for herself, Bellamy and the guest. In the living room, Bellamy was standing with the social worker and explaining each of Madi’s toys individually.

“So this is umm her Doc McStuffins kit, she doesn’t really know how to use it but we figured we should umm empower her from a young age” He was rambling and clearly stalling.

“That’s great mister Blake but you really don’t need to-“ Maya looked pained, as if Bellamy had been detailing toys for a decent amount of time, “ahhh Ms. Griffin, glad you could join us”

Clarke smiled and handed the coffee mug to the social worker, “Yeah sorry about that, I err had poop on my face and just had to shower”

Bellamy snorted but Maya seemed convinced enough and gestured toward the chairs in the living room for them both to sit.

“So how are you guys holding up?” Maya started, looking at a clipboard in her lap.

“We are doing jussttt dandy” Clarke said as Bellamy nudged her firmly in the side, “there was absolutely a learning curve but I think we’ve really gotten a rhythm going” he continued.

Maya said nothing, just nodded and wrote something on the clipboard, “Can you both tell me about your five year plan, I assume that this has thrown a wrench in it”

“ohh ohh, I can answer this one” Clarke bounced enthusiastically, “I own a small school and art studio and hope with time I can grow it into a gallery for young artists in the area and develop it into a community center for kids who don’t feel supported in their passions at home but I guess that last part is less of a five year and more of a ten year kind of deal” she beamed, clearly proud of her accomplishments until she felt a hard nudge from Bellamy, “of course Madi factors into this as well…” she began as Maya interrupted, “that’s plenty Clarke, and you Bellamy?”

“Well I’m a firefighter, you know big hoses, saving kittens, the calendars…” he rolled into his canned description of his job, freezing when he realized that their social worker wasn’t really an appropriate audience, “but uhh I’ve been looking into deskwork because of the danger and stuff-”

Maya looked up from her clipboard, “I’m going to be totally upfront with you guys. You’re both young professionals who were left with a sizable estate, neither of you are prostitutes and you don’t do drugs. You really should be one of my easiest cases but this little arrangement makes me very uneasy.” She gestured between the two of them, “has there been any errr umm hanky panky so to speak?”

“Oh god no” Clarke almost yelled at the same time that Bellamy jumped into their blind date story.

“I’m glad to hear that. This situation is already a little unconventional…two young, single people living in a house together and raising a child, the last thing that we need is to further complicate that with sexual relations” Maya shifted uncomfortably in her seat at the mention of sex, “because if you two were to have umm ya know…and it didn’t work out, it could lead to Madi losing more people in her life and we really don’t want that to happen”.

They both nodded and Clarke opened her mouth to speak but Maya continued on, “Lincoln and Octavia decided that you two were the best people to provide Madi with a stable life but honestly I’m not convinced.”

Maya clicked her pen and stood up, “I’ll be back for another visit in a month, remember what I said about getting down and dirty”.

Bellamy wordlessly closed the door behind her before joining Clarke back on the couch, “Well that was intense”

“She basically articulated every insecurity I have about this whole mess” she sighed sinking further into the couch.

“We’re better at it than she’s giving us credit for…I cannot believe that she chose the one night you got absolutely shitfaced to pay us a visit”

“Quite literally shit faced” Clarke laughed

“I cannot believe you said that with a straight face” Bellamy’s shoulders were shaking with laugher as he leaned forward on his knees.

Clarke leaned back and studied Bellamy for a second, “I didn’t know you were thinking about switching to a less active job”

“I mean firefighting isn’t exactly my passion, sure I like the adrenaline but it’s never been what I’ve wanted to do for the rest of my life. Plus putting my life in danger doesn’t really have much appeal anymore.” He shrugged shifting back onto the couch to meet her eyes.

“If you were 18 and making that choice again, what would you do instead?”

“Honestly? I would have wanted to be a history teacher. But my mom never had a steady job so we didn’t really have money for college and I had to work to help support Octavia”

“Well that explains the historical novels…”

“Yeah, I love that kind of stuff. I was the one who got to pick Octavia’s name, don’t think she ever quite forgave me for that one…” He laughed but it was colored with something darker, regret maybe.

“You know how she loved being a standout” Clarke laughed too, “Speaking of alternate life paths, did you know I almost went to medical school?”

“No way princess”

“My mom is a hotshot surgeon and I was raised on the idea that it was the only noble profession. I always liked to draw but my mom considered it more of a hobby than a career prospect.”

“What changed?” Bellamy asked, he was genuinely curious, it was beginning to occur to him that even though he had been around Clarke for years…he didn’t really know her at all.

“My dad got sick. It’s weird how dying makes people a lot more honest. He told me that if I lived my life trying to make my mom happy that I would die with a lot of regret one day.” Clarke could feel her throat start to get tight, but she couldn’t stop talking, “he died at the end of my sophomore year of college and left me just enough money to pay for art school and a shitty old apartment he had inherited from his parents. It was the push I needed to tell my mom that I wanted control over my own life”.

“So you quit pre-med?”

“Well I tried but my mom gave me an ultimatum, suck it up or leave. Shocker, I left. Applied to art school and that’s how I met Lincoln. He was my family after that, until whatever this is I guess” she wrung her hands

“We are kind of like a family now in a sense” he mused, “it was always me and Octavia against the world so it’s nice to not be alone in this”

“She really loved you…talked about you like you hung the moon in the sky”

Bellamy smiled but it faltered, “Our mom was, what Maya would call a bad case, she was amazing until Octavia was about 9 but then she got this horrible boyfriend who was really into drugs and was never really the same again.” He clenched his hands, “Octavia doesn’t really remember our mom being good, so I think that’s where the hero big brother thing comes from”.

Clarke gently placed her hand on Bellamy’s knee, “You may be the biggest asshole I know but you were also a really good older brother” she squeezed his knee before continuing, “Lincoln’s sculptures alone make enough money to pay for Madi and they paid for this place in full. We don’t have a lot of expenses Bellamy, if you wanted to go back to school it’s not exactly impossible”

“I might embrace being a ladykiller for litttlleee longer” he smirked trying to break the tension the conversation had brought on.

“Yeah yeah Mr. July, whatever you say” she shook her head before drawing back her hand and pushing off the couch. It was two hours past Madi’s bedtime and they were going to majorly pay for this in a few hours if she didn’t get to sleep soon.

He sat alone on the couch staring intently at the spot Clarke had just vacated. Bellamy wasn’t really sure when it happened, but he didn’t hate Clarke anymore. Sure, she was still annoying as hell but it was almost endearing now. They could definitely be friends he considered but that moment on the stairs had been weird. He wasn’t interested in Clarke like that, she was painfully  hot but firmly off limits.

Sliding his phone out of his pocket he flipped back to the text from Echo, he just needed to get laid. He was sexually frustrated, and Clarke’s boobs had pushed him over the edge, that was it. It was just his dick talking.

“I’m down to have some fun, just let me know when and where” he smiled at the text with a little relief.  

Chapter Text

Clarke bounced Madi nervously against her hip as she adjusted the legs of her shorts, in hindsight, she should’ve changed out of her studio clothes. Just as she considered turning around and going home, the door to the fire department flung open and a gruff looking guy stepped out to squint at her.

“Can I help you ma’am?” he called out, shielding his eyes against the sun to get a better look at her.

Well, it was too late to back down now, “We’re actually here to see Bellamy,” she stepped closer to the door and waved Madi’s little fist at him.

“This must be little miss Madi!” the man’s face spread into a wide grin “I’m Miller and if this is Madi then I’m assuming you’re Clarke”

“I promise I’m not as terrifying as Bellamy made me sound”

Miller chuckled but didn’t disagree as he gestured her into the fire station, “Blake…you’ve got some guests,” he called into the back.

Clarke’s brain stuttered a little when Bellamy emerged wearing a tight navy shirt that made his biceps bulge and the quintessential firefighter pants low on his hips, Mr. July held up to his reputation it seemed.

 His face was crinkled with confusion, “Miller if you make me take a picture with one more group of elderly women I sw-“  he stopped short when he caught sight of Clarke and he raced forward to scoop Madi out of her arms.

“I’m the happiest man alive” he smiled, swinging Madi around like an airplane before turning to Clarke, “well this is quite the surprise.”

“I couldn’t miss the opportunity to put her in that outfit” she gestured to Madi’s dalmatian onesie and red tutu.

“It’s missing something” Bellamy fake frowned, theatrically scrunching up his face and taking Madi back into the office area. He returned with a tiny plastic firefighter helmet on her head. Clarke’s heart stuttered more than a little at the sight of the two of them beaming at one another. As Bellamy murmured quietly to Madi, Clarke pulled out her phone and took candids of the two of them.

“Here, let me take one of the three of you” Miller reached his hand out and gently nudged her toward Bellamy. He looked momentarily unsure but cautiously reached his arm out for Clarke to slide under. She could feel the heat radiating off his bicep as he centered Madi between them and she carefully tipped her head toward Bellamy’s. An odd wave of domesticity washed over her, it felt like a real family picture.

When Miller handed Clarke back her phone she couldn’t help but laugh at the last photo of Madi ripping off the hat and cackling as both Bellamy and Clarke lunged forward to catch it. She felt Bellamy step behind her to look at the pictures over her shoulder. He leaned forward, so close his lips were almost pressed to her hair and murmured, “thanks for this Clarke”. Her heart was beating in her ears as she turned to him and willed the blush to go down on her face.

Miller handed Madi back to Bellamy, his eyes crinkling at the corners “well I gotta go, there’s a fire with my name on it but you should show ‘em around…I’m going to be really pissed if you don’t get a picture of that cutie in a firetruck for your locker”

“You talking about me or Madi there?” Clarke winked and Miller laughed, “I’ll let Blake be the one to decide that”

The tips of Bellamy’s ears turned red and he shuffled uncomfortably as Miller shrugged at him and walked away. He stared intently at his retreating form kind of wishing he could burn a hole through his best friend’s head.

There was an awkward tension in the air between him and Clarke that Bellamy was eager to squash, “You wanna see a truck Mads” he bounced her lightly on his hip and ducked into the truck bay, leaving Clarke to trail behind him out of sight. He walked Madi through the entire station. They occasionally paused to take pictures of her pretending to drive the truck or slide down the fire pole.

“Do you think I should do the siren for her?”

“If you value your life you won’t” Clarke laughed

“wee wooo wee weooo” he mimicked to Madi who babbled her best attempt at a wee woo  back.

Bellamy ended the tour with a grin plastered to his face and walked them back to Clarke’s stupid Mini Cooper. He had purposely avoided taking them into the breakroom because he knew it would just invite merciless teasing about him and Clarke. Hell, Miller had been bad enough and the last thing he needed is for Clarke to notice that he couldn’t stop staring at her legs in those shorts.

“You didn’t have to do this” he said earnestly, “I really appreciate it”

“Like I said the outfit was too good to pass up” She shrugged and ran her hand up his bicep before sliding in to the car, “I’ve got to get back to work, but we’ll see you at home”.

He gave Madi a wave through the window as Clarke peeled out of the parking lot.

Their field trip to the first station thankfully seemed to have worn Madi out. Anya and Lexa’s daughter had a soccer game so Madi was spending the afternoon at the studio. While in theory it seemed cute to teach her afternoon classes with a baby on her hip, Clarke was relieved that she was napping quietly in her stroller instead.

It had been a largely uneventful day and Clarke was drooping by the end of her afternoon, it was Monday and she was ready to go home. She considered texting Bellamy to ask him about dinner but stopped herself, she needed to chill on the domesticity. It was getting a little hard to separate dad mode, co-parent Bellamy from six pack, sex on legs Bellamy. Leaving her phone on the counter she stepped back into the studio for “Adult Relaxation Watercolor Class”.

To her surprise, she was met with a familiar face in the classroom.

“Dr. Jaha, glad to see you’ve decided to unwind with us today” she approached him in the corner as he flashed her a sheepish smile, “Call me Wells, please and I figured I should take my own advice and learn how to relax a little”.

“Well Wells, you came to the right place, I have a killer relaxation playlist for today,” against her better judgement she winked even though she felt a little ridiculous for doing it.

“Looks like I chose the right day to come in then. Glad to see that Madi’s looking pretty relaxed today as well” he gestured down at Madi’s sleeping form.

“My assistant here is really slacking on the job today” she laughed, “speaking of slacking I better get this show on the road,” she gave Dr. Jaha a little salute and turned to introduce the vase of flowers the class would be painting.

Clarke couldn’t help but sneak a few glances at Wells throughout the class, he really was attractive. His profile was beautiful, she’d love to sit down and draw him sometime. She knew she shouldn’t get her hopes up but she couldn’t help but wonder whether his motives for coming to her class went beyond relaxation. Although, it wouldn’t be surprising if he lost interest after her stupid winking.

As she was wrapping up class and collecting brushes to soak in the sink, Wells approached her.

“That was a great class, I feel calmer already” He was still smiling but was shifting back and fourth on his feet.

“Glad you liked it! It’s a new one so it’s always nice to get feedback”

“I hope this isn’t inappropriate, but I was wondering if you would want to get coffee sometime? Obviously, you have a lot on your plate…but I would love to give you my number when I’m not wearing my white coat” He rambled, chuckling nervously.

She could feel heat rising in her cheeks, it was nice to feel wanted after so long and he really was attractive. It couldn’t hurt to take his number, it’s not like she was swimming in options.

“I don’t keep my phone on me while I teach but if you write it down I’ll text you when I find it?” she scrambled grabbing a pen and scrap of paper by the sink.

She was a little giddy, it felt like it had been a million years since she had been hit on and she bounced on her heels a little bit as she made her way to the lobby to grab her phone. Upon picking it up, the screen came to life and a picture of her, Bellamy and Madi popped up as her lock screen. There was a small dip in her excitement as she examined the picture, but she brushed it off and flipped to her texts to add Wells.

***

By the time she got home the sun was setting, Madi was still a little groggy from her nap and snuggled her face into Clarke’s neck as they made their way into the house. Bellamy was out back with the grill and artfully flipped a burger as she entered the backyard.

“How’s my favorite girl?” Bellamy cooed, gently brushing Madi’s hair out of her eyes.

“We had a very exciting day today” Clarke grinned, placing Madi gently at Bellamy’s feet, “I’ll throw together a side dish” she called over her shoulder.

Bellamy had had what was probably the best day at work in the history of his job. Between his visit from Madi, extracting a cat from a tree and getting in a 7-mile run, he was feeling better than he had in a few months. He plated the burgers and plopped down in a lawn chair with Madi at his feet. From his spot he could see Clarke working in the kitchen and once again caught himself following the line of her legs to the hem of her tiny, denim shorts. His mind began to wander, wondering how those legs would feel around his waist or up on his shoulders. Feeling his pants tighten, he shook his head. This was dangerous, it was Clarke he was fantasizing about. He flipped to his texts with Echo, who he was supposed to meet this weekend, “We’re still on for Saturday right?”. Within seconds his phone buzzed, “Works for me, can’t wait baby”. He cringed a little at the petname, it had kind of lost its appeal over the last two months.

He slid his phone back into his pocket as Clarke emerged from the kitchen, he wasn’t exactly sure why, but his stomach turned a little and he felt a small tingle of nagging guilt.

 

It had been a good day in the newfound Griffin-Blake household, Bellamy and Clarke were at peace. So of course, after Madi had been asleep for about an hour, an ear piercing shriek rang through the house.  Clarke and Bellamy both raced to find a very upset Madi standing up in her crib with her blanket balled up in her fist.

Clarke scooped her up and shushed her, hoping to lull her back to sleep but Madi just screamed harder and Bellamy pulled back her diaper only to find it dry.

“Maybe she’s hungry” Bellamy slid out of the room and returned with a bottle which Madi held for a few seconds before throwing it to the ground.

Clarkes eyes widened, “what do we do?”

“How am I supposed to know?” Bellamy waved his arms around helplessly, “She’s not warm and doesn’t have a fever.”

They took turns holding her, rocking her and bouncing her but nothing seemed to dull Madi’s wails. It felt as if they had been soothing her for hours and Bellamy felt like he might be going slightly deaf.

“Ahhhhh” Clarke yelled over Madi’s screams, propping her chin on Madi’s head and bouncing her desperately.

“What time is it?”

“There’s this thing called a watch Bellamy…most adults wear one”

“Jesus Christ can’t you just tell me if it’s before 10? We might have to call reinforcements”

Twenty minutes later, the doorbell rang and a very disgruntled looking Lexa was waiting with her 13 year old daughter.

“Thank God” Clarke sighed, “she won’t stop wailing we’ve tried everything. We thought you might know if there’s anything else”

Lexa looked even more irate as her daughter smiled and took Madi out of Clarkes arms, “Awh little Madi, I think I know just the thing”. She led them into the kitchen, carefully rocking Madi while she flipped on the vent over the stove. The fan whirred to life and within minutes the crying stopped. She rocked Madi for a few more minutes while she calmed down until she shoved her fist in her mouth, “works like a charm and it’s a great trick since I can’t really drive”

Bellamy and Clarke both gaped open mouthed.

“Honey we really should go, it’s a school night” Lexa’s brows were knit together tightly as her daughter gently passed Madi back to Clarke.

“We can’t thank you enough” he said as Clarke nudged him firmly and he paused to reach into his pocket for a $10.

“It’s okay. You guys need the help it doesn’t feel right” she shrugged, and Bellamy began pulling his hand back as Clarke shoved the sharp part of her elbow directly into his rib, “we insist” he placed the money in her hand.

“Goodnight guys” she smiled sweetly and led Lexa out of the house.

They both slumped in relief, leaning against the door.

“That was a good call-“Clarke began as screams echoed the house once more.

“SHHHHIIITTT” Bellamy groaned as he walked back toward the kitchen, scooping Madi up and holding her against the vent.

“That’s wayyy too close Bellamy, you’re going to chop her up in the fan”

“I’m doing it exactly like she did”

“You are not! She was rocking her gently down here not holding her in the air like a football” Clarke motioned rocking with her arms.

“Well whatever she was doing isn’t working anymore Princess, I don’t think holding her down there is going to fix anything”

They tried the fan for a while, but it didn’t seem to be making a difference, from there they switched to a variance of other appliances.

“Should we put a load of laundry in while we put her on top of the washer”

“Literally what the fuck Clarke, no”

“It feels wasteful to run it for no reason”

“Clarke!!!”

She held her hands up in surrender as the washing machine whirred to life and Bellamy placed Madi gently on top. Madi continued to scream as loudly as possible and Bellamy suddenly felt compelled to throw her across the room. Copying Clarke’s deep breathing, he refrained and took a step back as Clarke removed Madi from the washing machine.

“As much as I hate to say this, I think we need to just surrender and put her in the car-“ before he could even finish his sentence, Clarke had already walked out of the laundry room. She returned and threw the keys at him.

He pressed his head into the steering wheel as Clarke strapped Madi into the carseat, “I should probably stay here with her"

“We’re just going around the block” he said more to himself than to Clarke as he glanced at the clock.

He felt his eyes drooping as he rounded another corner, an extremely boring sounding man droned on whatever stupid podcast Clarke had left on. Their drive around the block had turned into a 2-hour endless loop of the city. Madi had thankfully finally fallen asleep in her car seat and Clarke had drifted off with one arm draped over her. He pulled into the driveway and gently shook Clarke, who sleepily blinked at him as he reached over her to pull Madi from the car.

“C’mon princess” he nudged her as she continued to droop until he decided it seemed more efficient to just wrap an arm around her and support her weight. He let himself enjoy the feel of her against him for a moment before dropping her off on the couch and heading upstairs to put Madi down.

She knew she should haul herself upstairs, but the couch was sinfully comfortable, and she could still feel the warmth of Bellamy up against her side. Just as she felt herself slide a little further toward sleep, Bellamy sank down on the couch next to her.

“Well princess, we did it” he slung his arm over the back of the couch, brushing her shoulder with his fingers.

Nearly asleep, she turned toward the warmth, pillowing her head on his chest and rubbed her cheek into his t-shirt. His chest tightened, and he couldn't help but fully wrap his arm around her, rubbing his hand down her back. Clarke woke up slightly at the movement but kept her eyes closed, reveling in the warmth of his arms. When she felt her arms tighten around him, she snuggled further into his chest. He smelled like pine needles and smoke and objectively she knew she was going to regret this in a few minutes, but the heady smell of his skin was muddling her brain. She felt him pull back a little bit and let out a small moan, cringing at how needy it sounded. 

Bellamy was quickly losing his cool, she felt really good. Her skin was soft, and her body felt small in his arms. The little moan went straight to his dick and he gave himself a moment to rest his chin on her head and tighten his arms. Counting to ten he pulled back and stood up, sweeping Clarke up in his arms.

She could not believe that in the year of our Lord 2019, she was pretending to be asleep while Bellamy Blake literally fireman carried her up the stairs. He was being surprisingly gentle as he made his way to her room and tucked her into her covers. She kept her eyes closed and he pushed her bangs back, “Goodnight Princess” he whispered, pulling the covers over her body and padding out of the room.

The second she heard the door click shut, she sat up in her bed and pressed the heels of her hands into her eyeballs. What on earth was she doing, what on earth was that?! She was being possessed or she was losing her mind. There’s no way that she had purposely snuggled with Bellamy Blake and then let him carry her up the stairs. Maybe she had been poisoned. Why had he pushed her bangs back like that and why did he have to smell so damn good. Her body was betraying her. Her skin burned where his hands had been, and she could feel heat pooling between her legs, “stop it. Stop it. You stupid body” she yelled at herself, willing the horniness to go away.  She slammed herself back down on the bed.

“This is all your fault” she said to the ceiling, “left me in this house with this stupid attractive man”. She shook her head, Octavia and Lincoln were 100% sitting up in Heaven with margaritas and laughing her ass off at Clarke right now. She pulled her blanket over her head willing herself to go to sleep.

***

After their little bedtime incident there had been a blanket of awkwardness lingering over the house. Clarke felt like she was constantly tip toeing around Bellamy trying to avoid confronting what had happened the other night, as a result she hadn’t really been home at a normal time in a few days. 

“I get a night off tomorrow, right?” Bellamy was standing in the doorway of the living room, presumably looking at the calendar on his phone.

“What” Clarke looked up from her sketchbook confused, she had almost forgotten about their schedule. Neither of them had really utilized the option to dip out on parental responsibilities.

“You’re taking Mads to Murphy’s kid’s birthday party, right? Do you mind if I just don’t come with?” he shrugged, typing out a quick text to Echo to come over at 5pm.

“No problem” It wasn’t a big deal, she could hang out with Raven and it wasn’t like she needed Bellamy to be there for another kid’s party. Regardless, she couldn’t help but feel a pang in her chest that she soundly ignored.

He shrugged and walked out of the room without a word.

***

Clarke dressed Madi in a frilly blue dress with a big puffy skirt and while shuffling in the drawers she found a matching giant blue bow. Clarke had been wearing a cornflower blue sundress and couldn’t help herself when she saw Madi had a dress in the same color. They were a little matching pair she thought as she hauled Madi up on her hip and carried her toward the Murphy’s house, passing Bellamy who was vacuuming the living room on her way out.

The party was a madhouse, there were screaming children running everywhere, bright balloons floating around and Disney music blaring throughout the backyard. Emori had pulled out all the stops, there was a massive cake and a bouncy castle. Clarke spotted Raven sitting in the corner and weaved her way toward her.

“This is wild” she shouted over the noise.

“I think they’ve become numb to it” Raven laughed tilting her head toward Emori and Murphy who were sitting with their feet in the pool and completely ignoring the chaos, “5 kids and 1 on the way, I would be too I guess”

“The one kid is destroying our sanity, I don’t know how they’re doing five”

“I have three and I still don’t know how she’s doing five”

Madi clapped her hands and waved them at Raven’s son who flashed her a gummy smile back, “he’s quite the cassnova” Raven mused as her son began to give Madi a high five.

As the party progressed, Clarke discovered Madi hates cake but loves to smash it in her hair. She was standing in Emori’s bathroom, a wet napkin in hand dabbing frosting off of Madi. Clarke turned around to throw the napkin away, leaving Madi perched on the counter when she heard a small voice over her shoulder, “Mama”. She froze and waited a beat to make sure she wasn’t going crazy, “Mama” Madi called again, reaching her arms out to Clarke.

“Sweet girl…” Clarke soothed, holding Madi tightly against her body. Her heart was sitting in her shoes, her neck felt hot and tears were pricking in her eyes. As far as Madi knew, Clarke was her mother and it broke her heart. Centering herself, she tried not to cry knowing it would make Madi upset. Still clutching the baby against her body, she left the bathroom and made a beeline for Emori.

“Madi’s getting fussy so I think we’re going to head out. Thank you so much the party was amazing and Happy Birthday to James,” she blurted quickly, giving Emori a hug and sliding out of the party.

It was dark, and she could see the lights on in the house from the street. Part of her felt relieved that he was home, she wanted to tell him about what had happened. She paused at the car parked in front of the house, it was sleek and unfamiliar. Probably a neighbor, she assumed, continuing up the driveway.

A moment later, she regretted her assumption when she swung open the door and came face to face with the bare ass of the woman who probably owned that sleek car. She sprung up and Clarke felt jealousy burn in her chest as she took in her long legs and dark, sleek hair that went down to her ass, which Bellamy’s hand was currently slapping.

“OH MY GOD” Clarke screamed, her hand flying over Madi’s eyes, “WHAT THE HELL BELLAMY”

Bellamy and the woman scrambled for their clothes as Clarke rushed up the stairs to put Madi in her crib. When she returned, the woman was gone, and Bellamy was standing alone in the middle of the living room.

“Literally what the fuck” she yelled, the tears from earlier returning to her eyes. Her throat burned.

“I’m allowed to have a life Clarke” He yelled back, chest heaving and fists clenched.

“Not if having a life means fucking human grasshoppers in the living room” Her throat burned.

His voice was ragged, “Just because you don’t know how to have fun doesn’t mean that you have to go and ruin my life”

The tears were flowing freely from Clarke’s eyes now, “YOU SERIOUSLY THINK MY LIFE ISN’T RUINED TOO”

“Oh please Princess, before this you got off on color coding your highlighter collection. My life before this was the stuff of legends. I had women throwing themselves at me. I had a great life”

“I’m so sorry that parenting isn’t as fun as you thought but I guess that makes sense since your idea of fun is banging 11 prostitutes in the middle of a highway”

“Don’t be bitter just because you haven’t gotten laid since the stone age princess” Bellamy stormed toward the closet, pulling his leather jacket and helmet from where they had been collecting dust in the closet.

“I can’t believe you’re getting on that deathtrap. Your kid’s parents died in a car accident, you should know better” She was still crying but her tears were tinged with anger.

“SHE ISN’T OUR KID CLARKE! SHE’S LINCOLN AND OCTAVIA’S KID AND THEY HAD TO GO AND DIE AND LEAVE US WITH THIS MESS.” He caught the moment the shock of what he said hit Clarke as he turned and slammed the door.

He got on his motorcycle and sped off, knowing that the door slam would wake up Madi. His rage was seeping out of his pores, he wasn’t even sure who he was so angry at. Octavia? Clarke? Echo? Himself? Maybe everyone. He drove aimlessly for a while, eventually finding himself at the fire station.

The rage had simmered down and he just felt numb as he walked through the halls, focusing on the sound of his boots against the tile floor. He eventually made his way to his locker and was met with the photo of himself and Octavia at her college graduation. The lump in his throat returned as he reached back into his locker to retrieve a slightly crumpled envelope. His name was scribbled across it in messy loops. Hands shaking, he ripped the opening and could’ve sworn he felt something in the air shift as he pulled out a sheet of paper. It was smaller than he expected.

My dear big bro,

I really think the years where my life was in immediate danger are thankfully behind me, but I guess shit happens so just in case, I’m leaving you with this. I’m sitting next to Linc, who is probably writing the world’s most beautiful letter to Clarke so spare me if this doesn’t hold up in comparison.

 I don’t really know how to write a letter asking more from a person who has already given me the world, so I’ll start this with a thank you. Thank you for being the first person by my side in the world (even if you stuck me with this name), for being my brother, best friend and parent all rolled into one, for not killing Lincoln when I introduced him to you as my 29 year old boyfriend when I was 21, for giving up your dreams so I could have mine and for giving me hope when we grew up in a place that felt pretty hopeless.

We did pretty well for ourselves for two kids that grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. I am so proud of you, big brother, so lucky to have been given a person who is as selfless and kind as you are. I am the person I am today solely because of you, you loved me so well and sacrificed so much. I know there were nights you didn’t eat so that I could, and I heard the fight between you and mom when you gave up college to help us keep the apartment.

If I were to die and leave Madi behind, I know you are the right person to take care of her because you have never stopped taking care of me. You have been an incredible parent since you were 15 years old and I know that you’ll pour your soul into my daughter the way you did for me. My biggest fear is for her to grow up feeling hopeless and I know you will teach her that there is always a way out. Please love her for me Bell, squeeze her everyday and read her Arabian nights, brush her hair, teacher her how to dream and tell her bedtime stories.

Be nice to Clarke, she loves Madi too and if I’m not around Madi needs a mom like her. She didn’t come out of the womb a parent like you did but she’s strong, generous and full of life. She embodies so much of what I hope Madi grows up to be. I hope one day you’ll pull your head out of your ass and see that too. You’re the two most amazing people I know (Lincoln excluded) and there’s nobody else on earth I would trust with my mini-me.

Love you to the moon, stars, planets and back,

Octavia

P.S.

For someone who claims to be a bad writer, Octavia just wrote a hell of a letter. Bell, you raised the love of my life and she’s the most incredible human being I’ve ever met. I have no doubts that you will teach my daughter to be strong, generous and full of life. You and Clarke make a hell of a team, embrace it…you don’t have to do this alone. You’re an incredible man.

Much love,

Lincoln

 

 

Bellamy read the letter twice and cried the ugliest cry of his entire life. Octavia had so much faith in him, had really believed that he would care for Madi and he had run away. He had resented her so much for dying and leaving him, he hadn’t considered how much it must have hurt her to make this choice. He folded the letter up as small as possible and placed in back into his locker.

He was mean to Clarke and dammit Octavia knew he would be. She was trying so hard to make everything feel normal and he had just verbally slapped her in the face. It was stupid of him to think he could cover her up with Echo and he had clearly fucked up. 

Chapter Text

It had taken her almost an hour to finally get Madi back to sleep after all the yelling and door slamming. Her thoughts were clouded, and her chest ached as Bellamy’s words rang in her head. As much as she hated to admit it, he was right.

The domesticity combined with loneliness had gotten the better of her and it clouded her judgement. She didn’t have feelings for Bellamy, no, she was reading too far into everything he did because of her need for Madi to have two parents. If she stopped touching him and treated him more like a co-parent than a husband, her brain would have to accept that there was nothing there.

Sighing, Clarke leaned her elbows forward on her knees, hanging her head and letting the blood rush to her brain. Her stupid deep breathing exercises hadn’t been working, so maybe she would just black herself out with gravity.

From the weird angle of her eyeline, she caught a glimpse of something shoved under magazines at the bottom of the coffee table. It was an iPad. Kneeling forward she carefully slipped it out from its place, the screen coming to life in her hands. An odd combination of emotions washed over her as she took in the picture of Octavia and Lincoln with Madi squished in the middle of them both. Clarke couldn’t help but marvel at how similar the photo looked to one of her and Bellamy that was hanging on the fridge. It’s really no wonder her emotions had gotten so confusing.

Upon examination she realized the iPad was an older model that Octavia had probably deactivated and given to Madi as a toy. The camera roll was full of closeup pictures of fingers and blurry corners of faces. Smiling, she watched a few older videos Lincoln had taken of Octavia and Madi doing stupid things around the house. It was nice to see them as she remembered, alive and happy. It almost made her miss them less.

Scrolling further through the videos she found one that must’ve been taken a few days after Madi was born. Lincoln was filming as Octavia carried a small bundle of blankets into the nursery, she was glowing, but the exhaustion was clear on her face. As the video progressed Octavia’s expression soured, “Damn it Linc, it smells like paint in here…” she rubbed her eyes with one hand, pulling Madi closer to her chest.

“I painted it two days ago, it’s dry,” his voice had an edge to it, irritation was evident in his tone.

“Well if I can smell the paint it’s not dry” Octavia snapped turning fully to glare at Lincoln.

The image shifted as the camera fell against the leg of Lincoln’s jeans, the sound was muffled while he walked with the iPad at his side, “It’s clearly dry. Do you think I’m dumb enough to let our newborn baby sleep in a room with drying paint?”

“You were dumb enough to wait until two days before she was born to paint this”

“Damn it, Octavia give me a break!”

Clarke paused the video when she heard an engine revving outside the house before Bellamy burst back through the doors.

“I’m sorry” he stood in the doorway sheepishly with the helmet in his hand. His heart hurt at the sight of Clarke’s red rimmed eyes and puffy cheeks. Her linen dress was crumpled and she had wrapped an enormous blanket around herself like a shield against him.

“Me too. I overreacted, I’ve been really strung out lately”

“I shouldn’t have brought Echo to house and I shouldn’t have said what I said”

“Don’t apologize about her, you’re allowed to have a private life. I’m not going to lie, you hurt my feelings earlier, but you had a point.”

Bellamy stepped further into the house, shedding his jacket and cautiously stepping toward Clarke, “I crossed a line, please just let me say sorry for that”

Bellamy stepped forward and reached out to wrap his arms around Clarke. She took a step back, grasping her hands around his wrists instead. He felt his heart twinge a little and tried to will away the way he ached to comfort her.

She looked up at him with a closed mouth smile, “I want you to see something”.

He followed her to the couch, surprised when she handed him a scratched-up iPad.

“Just watch” she restarted a video and leaned back, he could feel her looking at his face as the video began but couldn’t figure out what she was trying to do.

The clip was of an argument between Octavia and Lincoln. Bellamy couldn’t help but be surprised at how familiar the fight felt, it sounded exactly like him and Clarke. The video was startling, he had never seen them so much as disagree on anything.

Clarke reached over and paused it just as the argument was picking up.

“So, what you’re saying is that they were actually just as incompetent as we are?” he mused.

Clarke laughed, “and that it’s normal that we want to kill each other even more”

“I don’t think I want to kill you anymore than usual Princess”

She reached over and placed her hand on his knee, “I think in the process of losing them we’ve turned them into impossibly perfect people. They were amazing, but we’re driving ourselves crazy trying to live up to people that didn’t exist. We need to stop acting like we’re filling in for them while they’re on vacation. We’re her parents now, whether we signed up for it or not.”

Bellamy let out a long breath, processing what Clarke had just said, “I feel like now is a good time to say that I hate this house. It feels like a mausoleum. I keep moving things and then stopping myself because it would’ve made Octavia mad.”

“I think making this place feel like home would be a good start” she smiled tentatively, patting his knee before withdrawing her hand.

***

 In the weeks that followed they began to put their own touches on the house, Clarke carefully went through the photos of Lincoln and Octavia that were hanging on the walls. She ended up taking down most of them, leaving only their wedding picture hanging up and some smaller frames scattered throughout the house. Bellamy had gotten a canvas of their photo at the firehouse and hung it over the fireplace facing the living room.

Bellamy sold the giant desk and bookshelves that had filled the office space on Facebook Marketplace, they were just collecting dust. In their place, Clarke created a lounge space that would work as both a small art studio and a study space as Madi got older. He also took great joy in selling Octavia’s small collection of decorative clown statues, those horrible things had always creeped him out and they didn’t exactly make for great keepsakes, he doubted that Madi would’ve held great sentimental value to them.

As their redecoration came to a close, it felt like a new house. While they hadn’t completely erased all signs of Octavia and Lincoln, the current touches served more as fond memories rather than a constant, ever present memorial.

Clarke wiped her hands off on her thighs, “I think we’re actually finished” she beamed taking in their new home.

“There’s one last thing…” Bellamy opened his phone and handed it to Clarke.

“Damn it, Bell you’re addicted to Facebook Marketplace. We’re not buying anymore of people’s random junk” She shook her head, glancing at the vintage license plates he used to decorate the kitchen.

“Goddamn it Clarke! I’m trying to do a nice thing. Will you actually look at it?” He rolled his eyes and shoved the phone back toward her.

She took his phone back and realized he had pulled up a listing for a black motorcycle and two helmets.

“You don’t have to do this…” she began but Bellamy cut her off, “My kid’s parents died in a car accident”. He looked at her earnestly and Clarke could tell he really meant it.

“I’m really proud of you” She placed her hand on his arm and squeezed, her heart feeling a little more full than usual.

***

Bellamy had tried a few times to hook up with girls after the Echo incident. He had found that with Madi it had become beyond easy to strike up conversations with women in mundane places like the grocery store or Starbucks. But while it was easy, his hook ups never felt quite as good as he remembered them being a few months ago. He used to love the thrill of meeting someone new and the passion of a fling but in the spaces between women he now found himself longing for a firm, secure hug. He was getting soft, he thought as he escorted his most recent conquest out the back door. Shit, he forgot her name…she looked like a Tiffany but it was better to say something vague than mess it up. She was clinging to his neck like a monkey and cooing, “I can’tttt wait to see you again”. He internally cringed a little, feeling guilty that he probably wouldn’t text her, “for sure babe, drive safe” he pecked her lips, gently nudging her out the door and closing it behind her.

“Poor girl, she totallyyy thinks you’re going to call her…” Bellamy jumped at the sound of Clarke’s voice, turning to see her smirking at him with Madi propped against her hip. She seemed so unbothered by the fact that he was bringing girls home, almost like he thought it was funny and it made his stomach turn. He stopped himself…unsure of why he wanted her to feel jealous and confused about why he suddenly felt so hostile toward Tiffany.

Oblivious, she continued on, “how do you get these girls to come home with you anyway? It’s not like they let you into dive bars with toddlers,”

“I’m magic,” he flushed, avoiding further questioning by slipping into the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee.

While he had skillfully managed to avoid divulging where he was meeting his potential hookups, it all came to fruition when they took a family trip to Whole Foods. They were cruising through the salad bar with Madi gleefully clapping at the colorful sighs when he caught sight of so-called Tiffany glaring at him over the sneeze guard. Turning away quickly, his eyes landed on another girl with curly blonde hair that he had hooked up with last week. He felt Clarke shift beside him and could almost hear the gears in her head as she turned to face him, “so this is your little secret…you use Madi as bait to lure yoga moms in the grocery store”

“I’m not using Madi as bait” he whispered harshly.

“You have two girls glaring at you and a third giving you sex eyes. I’m gonna guess the baby doesn’t hurt”

Bellamy felt the conversation getting away from him, so with a deep blush crawling up his neck he quickly pushed the cart toward the vegetable aisle.  He didn’t really need Clarke to notice that his type had turned into girls with curly blonde hair.

Clarke jogged lightly to catch up with him, “I want to see the man in action, flirt with me like one of your French girls” she held up a tomato and made a kissy face at it.

He barked out a laugh, “you’re being ridiculous…there’s no game here”

“You’re such a spoil sport” she dramatically frowned before giving the tomato a wet smacking kiss.

Both Bellamy and Madi laughed as Clarke began to act out a love story with the tomato using her fake deep Bellamy voice. Lost in their little family, they both jumped when an unfamiliar voice called out, “Clarke?”

“Wells!” She waved, quickly dropping the tomato into the cart as the tall man pushed his cart toward them, “this is Madi’s pediatrician Dr. Jaha” she explained gesturing between the two men.

Bellamy frowned and said, “You call him Wells?” at the same time that Dr. Jaha asked, “is this your…”

Clarke ignored Bellamy and continued, “we’re co-parents, he’s Madi’s Godfather”

Wells smiled at Bellamy before shifting his attention fully to Clarke. Bellamy was inexplicably angry at this stupid man, but he also felt uncomfortable observing the conversation that was unfolding in front of him. Tipping his head to the side, he indicated his move to Clarke before pushing Madi toward the Kombucha display. He angled the cart and pretended to examine the different flavors while watching the interaction between Clarke and Wells in his peripheral. He was clearly flirting with her and she didn’t seem to mind, throwing her head back to laugh at whatever stupid joke he was making. What kind of pediatrician hits on the parents of his patients anyway? The guy was probably a creep, Bellamy hated him. Because of his lack of professionalism of course, not because he was hitting on Clarke. He couldn’t believe she was falling for this sleaze ball.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Clarke turning to walk back toward him, bouncing with glee. He nonchalantly turned his head back toward the display and arbitrarily picked out three random bottles to put in the cart, pretending that he hadn’t been watching the entire time. `                                                                                                    

“Guess who has a date on Friday!?!” she sing-songed, grabbing both of Madi’s hands and pumping them in the air.

“He seems like a real nerd. Perfect for you Princess.” He said flippantly, before silently pushing the cart forward.

***

Clarke felt giddy, she hadn’t been on a date in months. She was excited to get out of the house, dress like an actual person and have some time away from Bellamy. They had pretty much recovered from the living room incident, but he had been much more closed off with her since. It was weird because they were getting along better than ever but something about it felt muted.

Speak of the devil, Bellamy peeked his head around the doorframe, “Is Cinderella ready for the ball?” he grinned.

“DOCTOR Charming will be here any minute” she haughtily called over her shoulder dipping into the closet.

She could hear Bellamy plop himself onto her bed as she browsed through her collection of dresses. Her sexy outfit options were limited at best, her wardrobe consisting mainly of paint covered jeans or high-end business skirt sets. Pushing past her peacoat collection, her fingers brushed against a dress she hadn’t thought about in a long time. Clarke smiled, reveling in the satisfaction of her find.

 “Isn’t this a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality or something?” he called from his spot on her bed.

“He’s a pediatrician so if he was dating a patient I think that would be pretty bad”

“You know what I mean princess” She could hear his eye roll through the wall.

She couldn’t help but feel satisfied that he was so annoyed, it felt like the old days before everything got so complicated.

Bellamy flopped back on the bed, rolling his eyes at how long she was taking to get ready for this douchenozzle. He heard rustling from inside the closet and sat up on his elbows to make another quip at her, but he froze when she emerged wearing a skintight red dress and black heels. He felt like he had been kicked in the chest so hard it had taken him back to 2015. It was the same dress. The one from their awful blind date. He honestly felt like he couldn’t breathe.

She couldn’t help but feel smug as Bellamy gaped at the dress, to add insult to injury she slowly turned around and bent over the dresser to apply her lipstick. She had played nice while he brought a revolving door of women through the house, so she didn’t really feel guilty for the show she was putting on. It wasn’t like he actually liked her, it was just a game.

Cocking her hip against the doorframe, she turned to face him, prepared to laugh. But the grin died on her lips when she met his gaze. His eyes were completely black, and he had shifted his knees apart. Even though he was fully clothed but something about it felt pornographic, it didn’t really feel like a game anymore. Heat pooled in between her legs and she resisted the urge to tilt her head back.

He looked away first, shifting uncomfortably and subtly pulling the front of his jeans away from his body. She cleared her throat, pushing away from the doorframe and running into the bathroom. Sliding down the door, she rubbed the back of her neck, that was not the outcome she had intended. She strongly considered splashing herself with cold water, makeup be damned. 

Bellamy sprung up from the bed the minute the bathroom door closed. He was fucked and not in a good way.

There was no way he could be in the house when Dr. Dickbag came to pick her up. He threw on his running shoes and was in the process of grabbing Madi’s stroller when the doorbell rang. Pushing down the urge to swear with Madi in his arms, he waited and hoped desperately that Clarke would come down the stairs. Groaning, he stepped forward and swung the door open. Dr. Fancypants was wearing a full suit and Bellamy had to suppress an eyeroll when he caught sight of the roses in his hand.

“Bellamy! How’s it going?” Wells had a huge smile plastered on his face and Bellamy’s irritation grew further as he stepped back to allow him to step into the house.

“Great, I have a hot date with the prettiest girl in the world” he gave Madi a little shake in his arms and she grinned, “She’s super stoked about it”  

Thankfully, before Wells could ask Bellamy anymore annoying questions, Clarke came running down the stairs.

“Sorry, sorry, we’re probably running late”

“Totally fine” Wells wrapped his arm around Clarke, “looks like I have a date with the prettiest girl in the world too” he winked at Bellamy.

Bellamy feigned a smile while briefly considering whether it was worth it to go to jail for this man’s murder. Clarke was uncomfortably avoiding making eye contact with him as she shepherded Dr. Ballsack out the door.

Clarke felt sick, confusion was clouding her brain and her body was still warm from earlier. In her rush she hadn’t even said bye to Madi and her nausea was replaced with a flare of guilt.

 “Is everything okay?” Wells seemed genuinely concerned, looking across the center console at her and Clarke’s guilt grew. This thing with Bellamy was ridiculous, she needed to stop it, even if she didn’t really want to.

“Yeah, it’s just hard to leave Madi” she half lied, straightening her skirt. She was going to have a good time with this hot doctor, Bellamy be damned.

“We’ll bring her back some ice cream” he teased, pulling his car into the valet of the nicest steakhouse in town. He had clearly put a lot of effort into this date and Clarke needed to be positive. This man was smart, cute, stable and a genuinely nice person, she reminded herself. Pushing Bellamy out of her thoughts she laced her hand with Wells’ as he led her into the restaurant.

***

Bellamy stared blankly into the open fridge door and then turned to face Madi. She was still pretty picky and had thrown the pasta he had made for her on the floor. There was nothing in the fridge. He dug through the cabinets, finding a package of graham crackers toward the back. After Madi was satisfied with her sad excuse for dinner, he placed her on the floor of the living room while he scrolled on his laptop.

He had been researching local history and teaching programs in the last few weeks, it had started out as a distraction from the awkwardness in the house but there were actually a lot of good night school options nearby. Getting out of the house more often would probably be good for him, he was spending way too much time with Clarke and it was making him do crazy things. Today had been a lot, he had been trying to keep his distance lately and all it did was create tension between them.

He was losing his mind, she was the same controlling and annoying know it all as before. This parenthood thing was clearly going to his head, any sane person would start picturing the girl you’re raising a kid with in your bed. He would feel the same about literally anyone in this position, it had nothing to do with Clarke. His reaction to the dress was the nostalgia talking, that was all.

Madi’s little cry of “Daaaaa” interrupted his musings and Bellamy’s head snapped up from his laptop. Madi had hobbled towards him and was holding herself up against the couch. Her cheeks were bright red and her hair was matted against his forehead. Panic rose up in his chest as he scooped her up and carried her into the kitchen.

Clarke’s phone buzzed in her pocket and she silenced it, trying to listen intently to Wells talk about his wood carving hobby. He was nice and respectful, but a little boring. She couldn’t help but long for a little passion but felt guilty for trying to find a fault in a man who was being so kind to her.

Her phone buzzed again and she apologized to Wells as she reached to check it. It was Bellamy.

“Bell you can handle Madi by yourself for one night” she began before he cut her off, “I’m not calling to talk to you, can you put Dr. Jaha on”

Clarke frowned handing the phone to Wells, who looked even more confused than she did.

“Okay you need to take her to the emergency room, it’ll take about an hour for her to be seen so we can meet you there” He said gently.

At the words emergency room, panic washed over her and she desperately tried to read Wells’ facial expression but no avail. He hung up the phone and carefully told Clarke, “Madi is running a little bit of a fever, Bellamy is going to take her to be seen but it should be a while if you wa-“  before he could even finish his sentence she sprang up out of her seat, almost knocking her chair over, “I need to go right now” she sounded hysterical but she didn’t really care.

“Go call the car, I’ll pay” he assured, watching as Clarke ran out of the restaurant.

De Ja Vu hit her like a truck as she raced through the halls of Arkadia Memorial Hospital and it fueled her panic further. She yelled at the receptionist when she had told her to wait for Wells to go back. He had put his arm around her in an attempt to soothe her but it was honestly making her even more agitated. When they neared the door with Madi’s name written on it, Clarke shrugged Wells’ arm off and burst into the room. She sagged with relief to see Madi sitting up in the bed, clutching a stuffed duck with her thumb jammed into her mouth. Tears of relief burned her eyes as she sat on the edge of the bed and kissed the top of Madi’s head.  

Wells knocked gently on the frame of the door, “Madi has a pretty severe soy allergy it seems” he gestured toward the baby, before looking back down at his clipboard, “they’re just giving her some anti-histamine and fluids. She’ll be fine to go home tomorrow morning and from now on you'll need an EpiPen in case she accidentally ingests more,”

“I gave her a graham cracker…” Bellamy shook his head, running his hands through his hair making it stick up at the ends.

“It’s one of those things you would’ve found out eventually, it’s nobody’s fault” Wells gave Bellamy a sympathetic look and stepped out of the room.

Clarke stood up to flatten Bellamy’s hair, “it was an accident, things happen…I could’ve just as easily been the one to give it to her,” She shrugged and followed Wells out of the room.

Wells had been so nice to come to the hospital with her and check in on Madi, but Clarke couldn’t shake how alone she had felt in her panic during all of this. Bellamy may not have been a good choice, but Wells wasn’t right for her either. He was too subdued, and she knew herself well enough to know that they would end up fizzling out sooner rather than later.

“Hey, thanks for all of this. You really went above and beyond. Sorry I panicked so much, I don’t really have a good track record with this hospital.”

“You’re a parent now, I get it” he assured her, once again sliding his arm around her shoulders.

“Yeah I think I’m still in the middle of an adjustment period” she began, stepping back to place her hands on the top of his biceps, “You’re great, and under normal circumstances I would’ve been lucky to go out with you but I have too much on my plate right now to really do this”

“I understand, you’ve been through a lot. Let me know if you ever feel ready and want to try this again.” He looked sad but not hurt and Clarke reached up to kiss him on the cheek, “Goodnight Clarke” he said, slipping out of her arms and walking toward the exit.

Bracing herself for some sadness, she was surprised when she didn’t feel any and the only emotion that washed over her was relief. She re-entered the hospital room to find Bellamy lying on his side in the bed with Madi. Without thinking, she took off her heels and climbed on the bed to lay on Madi’s other side. Her and Bellamy were face to face now.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared” he admitted, looking down at Madi’s tiny head, “she got so red so fast and then the coughing started”

Clarke put her hand over his, “You did a great job, she’s perfectly fine” she lifted her head up hoping he would just make eye contact with her, “I’ve never been more scared than I was on the way over here. I hate this hospital”

“I’m not going to lie, being in that waiting room again was terrible” he met her gaze, "I thought I was going to throw up, I lost my mom and my sister in that waiting room" 

“My dad died in this hospital too” Clarke murmured quietly, brushing his bangs out of his eyes as Bellamy wrapped his arm around both her and Madi, “I got it in my head that I was going to get here and she was going to be dead too, I didn’t even say goodbye to her today when I left” the last words got caught on a sob and Bellamy ran his hand up her arm gently.

“Hey, look at her, she’s right here” he said it cautiously as if he were convincing himself as well, “nothing bad actually happened”

She looked back up at him to find that his eyes were full of tears too and wrapped her arm around his.

“We should get some sleep” she said reaching behind her to flick off the light, arm and then returning to their embrace.

“Goodnight Clarke” he said into the darkness, pulling her a little tighter and sandwiching Madi in between them. For the first time, the aching that had been there ever since Octavia had died subsided a little and he drifted off to sleep easily.

Chapter Text

Clarke entered the kitchen to find Madi on the floor amidst a sea of cardboard, very intently trying to turn a box on its side. Meanwhile, Bellamy was at the counter focused on chopping carrots, sweet potatoes and something she couldn’t identify. Next to him sat a brand-new Instant Pot. 

She smiled, leaning against the doorframe and observing as Madi played and he tried to cube the sweet potato into even slices. He had really been trying since the soy allergy incident, looking up recipes online and testing different combinations to find something she would eat. Madi was still as stubborn as ever and thwarted most of his attempts, but he was soldiering on. An overwhelming sense of fondness washed over her as she took him in. His brows were furrowed in focus and there was a goofy apron around his waist. It made Clarke want to come up from behind and wrap her arms around him. 

She paused as the thought crossed her mind-- it had been happening more often lately. At some point when she wasn’t paying attention, he had grown on her.  As if he could read her thoughts, he looked up and a dopey grin spread over his face. 

“I’m a man on a mission,” he said proudly. “She’s going to like this.” 

“If this works, you should invest in a lottery ticket! We’ve had her for six months, and she’s still as fussy as ever with food.” Clarke rolled her eyes with a smile and was stepping forward to examine his work when she realized that Bellamy was frozen with a knife in midair. 

 Confused, she met his gaze, “What?”

“Has it really been six months already?” 

“Yeah, I got a highly insensitive Facebook memory of a picture your dumb cousin posted from the wake. They really should screen those things,” she shrugged, plucking a carrot off his cutting board. 

“This feels momentous to me. Why are you being so lame?” 

“It’s been six months without them.”

“I know. But that also means we made it six months. We survived. If you had asked me back then, I would’ve guessed that we wouldn’t last six days,” he smiled earnestly, stepping around the counter and placing his hands on Clarke’s shoulders. Despite herself, she smiled back and wrapped her arms around him. 

“I think this calls for a celebration!” he exclaimed, giving her a squeeze. 

She groaned, “Have you seen what passes for a party in this neighborhood? Emori entered her baby shower on a horse!” 

“I mean, we can get a horse if you want and maybe a pony for Madi to ride in on… but I was thinking more like getting at least one use out of that pool before it gets cold.” 

And that was how Clarke found herself sitting at the counter making a shopping list for a pool party. It felt like a lifetime ago that she bought a brand new black bikini while shopping with Octavia. It was way past her comfort zone, skimpy and daring. But, according to Octavia, it made her “boobs look like watermelons.” It had never seen the light of day, collecting dust in the back of her closet. The pseudo-mom life wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was growing on her. She jumped from her stool when Bellamy yelled, “HECK YEAH!” and turned to find Madi swallowing the meal he had cooked. 

He cautiously bent over and fed her another bite, jumping and pumping his fist in the air when she ate it happily. 

***

Bellamy slipped on a worn pair of swim trunks. He had never felt self-conscious about his body, but he felt a rush of nervousness at the thought of being basically naked in front of Clarke. He had been avoiding being shirtless since the red dress incident a few weeks ago; less clothes seemed to just muddle both their heads. But against his better judgement, he left the T-shirt thrown on a chair in his room. It probably wouldn’t matter. His problem with Clarke lately had been less about his dick and more about his chest. 

He stepped out and found Clarke in the hallway wrestling Madi into a red one piece with white stars. Madi finally resigned, flopping against Clarke as she tied two little red bows into her hair. 

“How’s my shining star?!” Bellamy cooed, plucking her from Clarke’s arms and swinging her around as Madi giggled and gave him a toothy smile.Clarke felt her neck get hot as she took in Bellamy’s shirtless form, the combination of his body and the way he was swinging Madi was making it hard for her to concentrate. Her nipples pebbled.

 “I’m going to go change,” she ground out, trying to hide the rasp in her voice. 

With shirtless Bellamy in the back of her mind, she stared at the black bikini. It didn’t feel decent to wear it in front of a bunch of kids, but she doubted any of their friends would actually mind. She slipped it on before she could chicken out and slid a pair of shorts on over it to make it more conservative. 

She admired herself in the mirror by the stairs on the way down. Skimpy or not, the bikini looked good. 

Downstairs, Bellamy was chatting with Miles and Murphy while Raven and Emori were congregated around the food on the counter. When she walked into the kitchen, Raven raced toward her wrapping Clarke in a bone-crushing hug, Emori moving slowly behind her, waddling to accommodate her belly. 

Clarke’s heart swelled as she hugged both Raven and Emori. It finally felt like they were starting to belong in this parents’ group. These weren’t just Octavia and Lincoln’s pitying friends anymore. Raven had really been there for her after Madi’s allergy diagnosis. She was a wealth of knowledge since her oldest had celiac. It was nice. Clarke had forgotten what it was like to have close friends. Lincoln was the only person that she had ever called a best friend, and Harper had kept a distance from her over the past few months. She had invited her today, but she wouldn’t exactly blame her if she didn’t come.  

 

  “Every time I look at your stomach, I honestly want to kill you,” Raven said, looking her over. 

“Umm, think about how I feel,” Emori raised her eyebrows and gestured to her belly. 

Clarke laughed. “Raven, shut up. Your body is better than mine, and Emori enjoy eating Bellamy’s pigs in a blanket while you can still eat for two.” 

“Dude, I can’t even imagine what being pregnant would do to you. Your boobs are ridiculous already.” Raven reached over to poke the cup of her top.  

“The boobs are honestly the singular perk of being pregnant. I swear half the reason John and I have so many kids is because of it,” Emori cackled, glancing at an unsuspecting Murphy who was once again patting Bellamy on the shoulder. 

Clarke suppressed a laugh as Bellamy turned to meet her eyes. Murphy was growing on him, but the shoulder touching made his skin crawl.  

“I think John has a man crush on Bellamy,” Emori giggled, following Clarke’s gaze. 

Raven snorted. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happily married woman, but I think we all have a crush on Bellamy.”  

Clarke laughed uncomfortably, adjusting her top but thankfully before she had to respond, the doorbell rang. She lunged to answer it, her thoughts clouded with her confusing feelings about Bellamy. It couldn’t quite be classified it as a crush, but it went farther than his body now. She liked him for the person and dad that he was. 

She swung the door open to find Lexa and Anya standing in front of five gigantic firemen who were each holding plates of food. 

“We made some friends on the driveway!” Anya told her happily, bouncing past her with Lexa tailing behind. 

“Hey Clarke, our wives all sent us with food,” Miller chucked, giving her a hug and herding the other fireman into the house. 

Clarke grinned as cheers filled the house, and Bellamy yelled in surprise at the sight of his coworkers. She might have been the one to tip Miller off about this, and the look on Bellamy’s face made the awkwardness of that phone call worth it. 

 

The party was in full swing and the air filled with screams of glee as Bellamy lifted Madi out of the water and threw her in the air. She kicked her little legs when he caught her and kissed her nose. He placed Madi back into her floatie and then dipped his head in the water. Pulling his head back, he reveled in the heat of the sun on his skin and the cool water. After the past two weeks he really needed a break. Madi’s allergy had been an adjustment period. They spent all their time making up recipes and cleaning all the soy out of the house. His solo trips to the grocery store had become a thing of the past too, but he had honestly enjoyed pouring over labels with Clarke so much that he didn’t really care.

He snuck a sideways glance at her as she pulled up the strap of her sinfully small bikini but before he could even fully take in the view, Murphy splashed him in the face with water. He was about to splash back when Miller came up from behind and threw a water balloon at the back of Murphy’s head. From there, the backyard erupted into an all-out war, children and adults alike pelting each other with water balloons. From his vantage point in the pool, he pegged a balloon across the patio and hit Clarke in the arm. 

Shock crossed her face before morphing into determination as she sprung up from her chair and launched herself into the pool. Lunging forward, she took a balloon and smashed it directly over his head. 

“Oh, that’s it, princess” he growled, playfully grabbing her around the waist and spinning her around in the water as she flailed her arms. He loosened his grip and she spun, wrapping her arms and legs around his torso while smashing another water balloon into his shoulder. 

She slipped down a little and he grabbed her ass to keep her head above water, her grip tightening on his shoulders. 

Flexing his fingers against her ass, he looked up and met her gaze. Eyes darkening, she slid her hands from his shoulders to his neck. He felt his shorts tighten and knew she could feel his dick pressing into her bikini bottoms. He was two seconds from losing his cool when she ground down against him, pressing her center against his dick before unwrapping her legs from around his waist and casually swimming away. 

Bellamy felt like time had stopped, only to look up and realize nobody had really noticed him and Clarke. He hissed out a breath and ran his fingers through his wet hair, that interaction had felt different than usual. They had crossed a line. That look she gave him was loaded and maybe laced with a little promise, but that could’ve just been his imagination. 

 

Clarke felt like smacking herself. That was way too bold even by her standards. It was this fucking bikini, it was making her act like an idiot. But Bellamy hadn’t exactly seemed to mind. Her body felt warm. This was confusing: she wanted him to snuggle her while they made breakfast, but she also wanted him to fuck her against the side of the pool. The way he was acting lately, it kind of seemed like he felt the same way, but he was so hard to read she couldn’t be sure. 

She lifted herself out of the pool, and before she could give Bellamy any further thought, she came face to face with Harper. Clarke’s heart swelled, and she reached forward to give her a hug, momentarily forgetting that she was soaking wet. 

“Harp, I’m so glad you came…” 

“Honestly, I almost didn’t,” Harper looked at her shoes, shuffling her feet back and forth. 

“I’m sorry, I’ve been so caught up in being a mom and taking care of everything here. I’ve been a bad friend and a worse business partner.” 

“Look Clarke, I know that this is hard, and I’m not mad. I was hurt, but I came to terms with the fact that it’s nobody’s fault,” she stepped forward and wrapped Clarke in a wet hug. 

“Love you, Harp,” Clarke whispered, tightening her hold around her friend. 

“Love you, too,” she smiled, “buuuttttt you can thank me for taking over your 7:30 a.m. sunrise class by introducing me to that cutie over there.” She subtly pointed at one of Bellamy’s coworkers. 

“That’s one of the firefighters. I know his name is Monty, but we’ve never met. I’ll talk to Bellamy and see what I can do, but I’m pretty sure he’s the one that’s not married.” Clarke glanced over at  Bellamy, chuckling to herself. It had been a while since she had run a good setup scheme. 

 

It was past dark by the time the party started wrapping up. The adults were nowhere near ready to end the night, but most of the kids had started to get cranky or had already fallen asleep in the living room. It had taken John and Bellamy the trips to get all the sleeping Murphy kids home. The 11-year old had arguably been too big for his father to carry. 

 Sun-kissed and exhausted, Bellamy flopped down on the couch. From his spot he scanned the mess that spread across their entire house and knew it only got worse in the kitchen. Exhaling, he leaned his head against the back of the couch and closed his eyes. The mess would be there tomorrow. It was too comfortable to get up now. He cracked his eyes open when he felt the couch dip beside him. Still in her bikini, Clarke smelled like chlorine and beer. He couldn’t help but turn his head toward her when she sat down. 

“That was one hell of a party,” she drawled lazily. “But the house is a disaster. I dodged like five solo cups on my way down here.” 

“Parents gone wild for sure,” he chuckled, eyes half open. “I think Lexa and Anya banged in the upstairs bathroom.” 

 “It’s always the ones you least expect,” she winced. “The funniest part is that I don’t think a single person was drunk.” 

Bellamy began laughing. “I don’t know if you noticed, but Monty, Jasper and your friend Harper were stoned out of their minds. But yeah, everyone else was just drunk off the free babysitting.” 

His laughter was contagious, and Clarke found herself hysterically laughing, falling against Bellamy’s side. His hand trailed lightly up her arm, and she tilted her neck to look up at him carefully from under her lashes.  

She held the eye contact, her cheeks tinging a soft pink. Bellamy stared right back, tilting his head to the side after a few moments and raising an eyebrow. She just bit her lip in response, heartbeat starting to accelerate. She felt like she was in a dream when Bellamy moved his hand from her shoulders to her back. Coming to life, she leaned forward and slid her arms up his chest and across his shoulders. 

Her breath caught in her chest; she couldn’t look away. The intensity of his gaze was too much to handle, and she leaned forward, pressing her lips to his. 

He immediately pushed forward, sliding his mouth against hers and tangling a hand in her hair. His other hand toyed with the strings on the back of bikini. She reveled in the slide of their lips together and the feel of his hands roaming over her body. The combination of relief and arousal was intoxicating. Her brain felt like it was about to explode as her pulse thudded in her throat. 

She swung her leg over his hips and settled into his lap, grinding experimentally along the outline of his dick. He moaned deeply at her movement, hands moving down her back before settling on her ass. Just as he had done earlier, he flexed his fingers against the soft flesh, grinding her further down onto him. He let out a deep moan, one hand moving from her ass back to the tie of her bikini. 

“Can I?” He asked cautiously. 

Wordlessly, Clarke nudged his hand away and undid the top herself, allowing it to fall onto the ground. He groaned, cupping her breasts in his hands and lunged forward to kiss her neck. She tipped her head back, lacing her fingers in his hair as he kissed down her chest and sucked a pebbled nipple into his mouth. His other hand moved to pinch her neglected nipple and she gasped, grinding her body roughly against his. 

He pulled off with a wet noise and glanced back at Clarke. She looked wrecked, and he couldn’t get enough. He leaned forward to take her mouth again, reveling in the press of her body against his. 

“Should we…upstairs…?” she panted, smoothing his curls down with her palms. 

“Mhmm,” he murmured, kissing her again before standing up and taking her into his arms, her legs still wrapped around him. Clarke yelped, burying her face in his neck as he whisked her up the stairs. 

“You know people aren’t supposed to be able to do this is real life,” she said muffled against his neck. 

Bellamy laughed, bopping her nose before swinging his door open and gently tossing her on the bed. 

She spread out on the bed leaning back on her elbows, “I’ve never been in here before. It’s really clean,” she marveled and then paused. “Are those maps on the wall? You’re such a nerd,” she laughed fondly. 

“I’m full of surprises but also comfortably predictable.” he winked, settling down between her legs and moving his way up her body, kissing the inside of her knees, the tops of her thighs and each of her breasts before focusing his attention on her neck. He sucked her pulse point and she gasped, grabbing his backside and rubbing up against him. 

They both still had their bottoms on, and Bellamy felt drunk. He couldn’t stop breathing in her skin. It seemed like if he stopped kissing her for even a second, he would die, but he couldn’t help the nagging sense in the back of his head that she deserved more than this. Garnering up all the willpower in the world, he pulled back, “We should do this right.” 

Clarke paused, analyzing his face intently, “What do you mean?” she almost whispered as she smoothed her hands through his hair again. 

“Like dinner, the whole deal.” 

She was a little taken aback, a rush of fondness washing over her. Pulling him up so she could meet his gaze, she whispered, “This is the first time, Bell, not the last time.”Fully lacing her hands through his hair, she pulled him forward and kissed him softly. It wasn’t as hungry as before, but it was loaded with promise, and Bellamy’s heart seized.

He had been fucking lying to himself: he had a gigantic crush on Clarke Griffin. 

They kissed languidly, and Clarke relished in the feel of his muscles under his skin. She had ached to touch him for so long that this was making her desperate. Losing patience, she nudged him off and slide her bathing suit bottoms down her legs before pulling him back into place. 

“Fuck, Clarke,” he moaned, gaping at her wonderstruck and dipping down to slip a nipple into his mouth. His other hand snaked down, hovering between her legs and spreading her open. 

Her head slammed back when he sunk a finger into her, eyes rolling back as he slowly pumped in and out. Pleasure prickled up her neck as he continued his movements. 

“More…Bell…fuck…” she ground out, hooking her feet into the waistband of his briefs and trying to pull them down. 

“What do you want, baby?” he drawled, moving back up her body to mouth at her neck. She had finally managed to remove his clothes and could feel how big he was pressed up against her thigh. Rubbing up against him desperately, she tried to catch her breath, “Fuck me.” 

His brain felt like it was short circuiting as he half fell off the bed, fumbling through his bedside table for a condom. Clarke whined again, and he swore he almost pulled a muscle in his rush to slip on the condom. 

“This is…” he began, trying to explain the rush of emotions that were flooding through him. She didn’t wait for him to finish, kissing him gently. He laced his fingers with hers, pushing their joined hands over her head. Lining up, he nudged her entrance, groaning as he sank fully into her. 

She moaned loudly, running her hands across his back and gently scraping her nails along his skin. 

“Bell…” she breathed out, wrapping her legs around him as he pushed farther into her. He decided in this moment that he could die right now and be happy, the sounds of Clarke’s moans swirling in his brain. It was too fast, and he wanted desperately for time to stop but was slowly losing his grip on reality as she bucked against him. 

“You’re so good, baby,” he murmured against her neck, sucking a light bruise at her pulse point. 

Clarke fell over the edge with his name on her lips, nails digging into his shoulders, leaving half-moon circles in their wake. Her vision whited out, and every nerve ending in her body sang as he pulsed inside of her. 

Sleepily, her mind drifted back to their first date, wondering  if things had gone differently whether she could’ve been having sex like this for the past half-decade. Sighing in satisfaction, she snuggled against his chest. 

He wrapped a strong arm around her and felt her drape her leg across him. It felt safe and right, and her eyes began to droop, reveling in the tingle running through her veins and the warmth of his skin against hers.

“Do you think they planned this?” Clarke asked, running her finger down his chest. 

“I doubt it,” he chuckled. “Octavia told me not to be mean to you in her letter, so I don’t think she expected much.” 

“I never really understood why they set us up before, but I think I get it now,” she continued, as he wrapped her up in his warms, “We balance each other out.” 

“We’re quite the team, princess” he murmured, nuzzling his face into her hair. 

Bellamy squinted as the sun poured into the room. Clarke was wrapped around him with her face pressed up against his neck. She was snoring lightly, and he pushed her hair back, dropping a kiss on her forehead before he slid out of bed. Madi was going to be up really soon, and he needed coffee desperately. 

He padded through the kitchen, clad only in a pair of shorts and winced when he stepped on a Lego. The house was a disaster. He had misjudged how bad it was last night, but the kitchen was covered in towels, spilled Cheetos and plastic cups. Leaning forward against the counter, he grimaced. It was sticky. Flipping on the coffee maker he wiped the counter and began to carefully collect the cups. He paused when he spotted a small plate tucked next to the toaster. It held three brownies covered in a layer of cling wrap. Upon further examination, a small note was affixed to it, To the best parents we know -Monty, Jasper and Harper with a small pot leaf drawn beside their names. 

Bellamy rolled his eyes, crumpling the note in his hand and turning  back to his cleaning. 

The kitchen had progressed from trashed frat house to just plain messy when the doorbell chimed.  It was probably just the damn mailman he thought, pouring two cups of coffee for himself and Clarke and starting up the stairs. The doorbell rang again as he found Clarke sitting in the playroom brushing Madi’s little tuft of hair. 

“Bless you,” she grinned. Bellamy leaned down and pressed a kiss to both her and Madi’s heads while slipping the mug into Clarke’s free hand. 

“Who’s at the door?” She asked over her mug. 

“No clue,” he shrugged before the doorbell chimed again. 

“Bellamy! Who do we know who would show up to our house this early in the morning and then ring the doorbell without warning,” her eyes widened as she sprung up in a wild panic. 

He held back a swear as the realization sunk in, “Maya.” 

Their hopes of a quiet Sunday morning dissolved as they burst into a fit of panic, leaving their coffee mugs abandoned in the playroom. 

“Clarke the house is trashed,” he was panicking. “I tried to straighten up but it looks like a tornado went through-“ 

“Okay, relax,” she grabbed his shoulders. “You get the door, and I’ll finish the cleaning.” 

Bellamy raced down the stairs with Madi in tow, hurrying before Maya had a chance to ring the doorbell a fourth time.  

He whipped the door open to find Maya in her sundress, looking more than a little impatient. 

“Mr. Blake, I err-“ He followed her gaze and realized he was not wearing a shirt. 

“One sec,“ he slammed the door shut and winced, realizing it was the second time he had closed the door in that woman’s face. Scrambling, he found a shirt lying in the living room and after placing Madi in her high chair, he used this opportunity to throw some of the toys and towels lying around into the closet and fold a few stray blankets. 

Returning to the foyer, he met Clarke who was whipping around with two cans of air freshener. 

“Chill, Princess, we’re not trying to suffocate her,” he grinned, taking one of the cans and setting it aside. 

She laughed, tucking her hair behind her ear before pulling the door open. 

“Good morning, Maya,” she said with a wide, almost plastic grin. “Sorry about the wait. We don’t normally get up so early on the weekends.”

Clarke shepherded Maya into the kitchen and gesturing for her to take a seat at the kitchen table. The kitchen was spotless, but Bellamy’s heart almost stopped when he saw that Clarke had shifted the plate of brownies toward the center of the counter. Shit. He had forgotten to warn her. He shifted so that he and Clarke were seated on the bench with Maya’s back to the counter. 

“So how are things?” Maya asked primly, eyeing them both. 

“Honestly, really good. Madi is walking and talking a little now. She’s even eating a little better.” Clarke dropped a comforting hand over Bellamy’s knee, which was bouncing up and down with nerves. 

“We found out she had a soy allergy and have been experimenting with new foods,” Bellamy agreed. 

“Bellamy’s a pro with the Instant Pot. Madi’s been a much better eater since he started cooking for her.” There was pride in her voice, and his ears flushed as he felt her squeeze his knee, smiling at her and placing his arm around the back of the bench.  

Maya’s expression was unreadable, “So you guys have been getting along better? No tension?” 

“No, no, we’re just dandy…been just sailing along, you know,” Clarke stumbled, shifting awkwardly under Maya’s gaze. 

“Mhmm,” she clicked her pen, “Any changes of plans?” 

“I mean,a lot of things are changing. Some…umm… unexpected things happened without a plan,” she stuttered again 

“I mean, I kind of had a plan in mind,” Bellamy said, turning toward her. 

“Really? I didn’t know you included me in your plans…” she said slyly. 

“How could you think I wouldn’t want to plan with you?” he gasped, feigning insult and slapping Madi’s tiny hand over his chest. 

“I just wasn’t aware of any plan-“ Clarke began as Maya slammed her hand against the table. 

They both jumped. The irritation was clear on her face. “Dammit! You guys had sex, and now you’re flirting right in front of me!” 

“It’s so new—“ Clarke tried. 

“We’re still not sure exactly what it is,” Bellamy managed before Maya interrupted with, “So you guys are getting married now?”

“Woah, woah. It’s been like 9 hours., The sheets are still cooling down,” Bellamy’s eyes widened.

“Well if this doesn’t work out, do you intend to pitch a tent in the backyard when Clarke throws you out?!” she turned on Bellamy, shaking her head in disappointment at them both.  “I get that this is very titillating and forbidden, but sex in situations like this is poison to an otherwise happy family.” 

Clarke tried to cut in, but Maya continued on, “You guys were my easy family. I was like, ‘oh, I’ll get a coffee and wear a nice dress. It’s practically like a cheat day.’ Clearly, I was mistaken.” She stood up, leaning her hip against the counter, “We have one more home visit scheduled. Sort your shit out. I don’t care whether you decide to pretend this never happened or get engaged.” 

“Yes, yes we understand,” Clarke choked out nervously. 

Bellamy’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline as Maya turned, eyeing the brownies, “Do you mind if I take one of these?” 

“Oh, NO!” Bellamy lunged forward, stepping between Maya and the plate, “Those are… umm … laxatives. I’ve been having some errrr issues,” he stammered. 

Maya backed away. “Oh jeez, well I hope you feel better. I’ll see you guys later,” she awkwardly mumbled, taking off in the direction of the door. 

He sighed in relief when the door slammed as Clarke broke into peals of laughter, tears springing into her eyes. 

“LAXTIVES?!?” she choked out. 

“Dude, they’re fucking edibles,” Bellamy laughed joining her, “you should be thanking me.” 

Clarke laughed harder, falling from her chair and crumpling to the floor. 



 



Chapter Text

Sun filtered in through the blinds and Clarke groaned, rolling over to throw an arm over her throbbing eyes. She reached her other arm out, extending it toward Bellamy and frowning when her hand hit an empty space. He always woke up earlier than her, but he usually brought his coffee back to bed so that she could snuggle into him when she woke up. Grudgingly blinking her eyes open, she caught sight of a blue post-it note stuck to Bellamy’s pillow, Morning Princess, took Madi to hang with the Murphy kids today. Enjoy the peace and quiet. (Maybe get to those drawings that have been sitting in the sunroom for 100 years.) -Bell. He had squiggled a messy heart next to his name and she smiled, folding the note and tucking it in the bedside table. 

Padding down the stairs, she marveled at how empty the house felt: no kids’ TV shows ringing in the background or clanging as Bellamy messed around in the kitchen. She kind of hated it. It shocked her how quickly she had grown used to the chaos. Less than a year ago she had been living alone. After pouring herself a cup of coffee from the pot that Bellamy left behind, she walked into the sunroom. Her charcoals had been tucked away for months and with her exhibition only a few weeks away, they had been stressing her out. 

She shuffled through the piles and found her half-drawn pictures of Octavia and Lincoln. Staring at the picture of Octavia again, it was striking how much she resembled Bellamy. Her features were finer but had the same shape to them. There was the same dusting of freckles on her nose. Plopping down on the floor, she propped the board in her lap and began filling in Bellamy’s face on the other side of Octavia’s. 

When she had finished, her eyes filled with tears. Octavia and Bellamy had had a unique bond but seeing their faces like this truly broke Clarke’s heart. Using her sorrow as fuel, she picked up the portrait of Lincoln. In his face she saw Madi, and she quickly began to fill in the other side of his profile with Madi’s smaller and softer one. She pulled back and looked at the portraits side by side, fathers and daughters…she had been searching for a theme for her next series and this felt oddly fitting. The tears continued to slip down her cheeks as she began to carefully outline her own father’s face. 

***

Bellamy bounced Madi in his lap as she smeared red paint all over a giant plate. It had been Murphy’s idea to bring the kids to ColorMeMine, and Bellamy was quickly growing to regret the decision. It was supposed to have been a peaceful morning painting pottery, but it had quickly devolved into chaos. He had always envisioned himself with a big family, but sometimes these kids made him question that fantasy.

 Murphy’s youngest, Jacob was shoving a paintbrush in his brother John’s ear while he held him down against the table. The girls had seemed quieter in comparison, until Bellamy realized it was because they were painting the table, floor and each other instead of a flower vase. Murphy seemed largely unperturbed and was calmly trying to get paint out of Clara’s hair with a wet rag. Bellamy could only imagine what their house was like daily if he was so unbothered by this. 

He wasn’t sure if he would ever get used to the rowdiness of the Murphy bunch, but he had to admit they were entertaining. 

“Do you think we should wrap up here?” Murphy called from across the table, confiscating the paintbrush from his son. 

Bellamy’s nodded, dipping Madi’s hand in yellow paint and pressing it to the plate. It was messy, and the colors had blended to look a little brown…but it would be a nice present for Clarke. 

Satisfied with the plate, he scooped Madi up and headed toward the handwashing station, grabbing Murphy’s youngest on the way. He wrapped one hand around each of their stomachs and pressed them up against the sink. They rubbed their hands together clumsily, and Bellamy laughed as the water splashed all over. From behind him, he heard screaming and the skid of shoes against linoleum. “John Jr. if you don’t put your brother down right now, you are grounded!” 

One hour, two ruined shirts and one broken mug they had to pay for later, the entire crew finally made their way out of ColorMeMine and toward the Red Robin next door. 

Bellamy cut up Madi’s chicken fingers while Murphy painstakingly counted French Fries so that “everything was fair.”

“I don’t know how you do this every day,” Bellamy murmured as Murphy leaned back and tiredly eyed his burger. 

“Some days are definitely better than others. I want to shove a knife in my ears 90% of the time, but then they do something cute, and I forget it all,” he laughed, taking a large bite out of a fry before continuing. “But I signed up for this. How’s this whole thing going for you?” 

“It’s been an adjustment; my life was nothing like this before the accident.” 

“You mean you didn’t watch Sophia the First and paint pottery in your free time when you were childless?! I’m shocked,” Murphy fake gasped and slapped his hand over his chest. 

“Shut up” Bellamy shoved his shoulder, suppressing a chuckle. “Clarke and I are better now, which has made everything a lot easier.” 

“Kids are tough on a marriage when you plan for them. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be surprised with one.” 

“Clarke and I aren’t married…” Bellamy flushed a deep red, shifting toward Madi and stealing one of her French fries. 

“Oh, sorry man, I just assumed…damn it! I owe Raven 40 bucks.” 

“What?!” Bellamy shifted back toward Murphy. 

“Yeah, she’s the one who guessed you guys were just dating. Emori said you guys weren’t together at all, but that’s just ridiculous.” 

Bellamy chuckled, “In that case, you owe Emori 40 bucks because Clarke and I have only been together for a month.” 

“Somehow that woman always manages to be right,” Murphy huffed as the realization of what Bellamy had said dawned on him. “Wait? What? So you moved in with a girl you weren’t dating and just started raising a kid together? That’s absolutely wild!” 

“We actually couldn’t stand each other when this whole mess started,” Bellamy smiled, thinking back to the early weeks where he and Clarke had done nothing but scream at one another. 

“And here I was thinking my life was like a TV show…” 

“Not the best situation, but I don’t think I’ve ever had feelings like this for anyone else” 

“That’s amazing! Emori and I got married when we were 19, so I’m a firm believer in soulmates,” Murphy laughed, a soft smile etched into his features. 

Bellamy’s brain stuttered a little over what Murphy had said. Sometimes it did feel like he and Clarke were meant to be. 

***

Bellamy quietly slipped back into the house. Madi was fast asleep against his chest, and he knew that if he jostled her too much they would be left with a grouchy, cranky toddler. The house was oddly quiet, he mused, carefully putting Madi in the Pack’n Play. 

He found Clarke in the sunroom, surrounded by sketches with charcoal smeared on her face. Leaning in the doorframe he watched her in her element, intently focused on the face she was drawing. She looked vulnerable like this, unguarded and young…it almost felt like he was intruding on something private. He cleared his throat, and she jerked up, springing to her feet. 

“Sorry-“ he began, feeling guilty for interrupting, but she cut him off with a hug. He wrapped her up in his arms, pulling her against his chest and breathing in the earthy smell of charcoal and paper on her skin. 

“Thank you, I really hit my stride today. I haven’t sketched like this in a long time.” She propped her chin against his chest and flashed a huge smile at him. 

“Am I allowed to see? I understand if they’re private, but I would love to.” 

She stepped out of his grip and carefully bent down to arrange the sketches in a row. When she stepped back, his breath caught in his throat. They were striking yet simple. Each drawing was a duality of two faces. The first was of himself and Octavia, the second of Lincoln and Madi, which was followed by one of himself and Madi and finally one of Clarke and a man he didn’t recognize. 

“It’s fathers and daughters,” she said quietly, turning to him. 

He was speechless; the portraits were striking. The faces looked as if they could come alive at any moment. In life, he had never been able to see the resemblance between himself and Octavia, but it was so obvious here that he was shocked to have never noticed it before. Clarke had drawn her younger, and it took him back to a time when he was 17 years old and pretending to be the man of the house. He jerked when he felt Clarke’s hand on his arm and realized his eyes had filled with tears. 

She carefully guided him to the overstuffed chair and slid into his lap, quietly holding him while he cried. 

“The last one is of me and my dad,” she murmured quietly, rubbing his shoulders. He breathed deeply and wiped his eyes, shifting so his arms were wrapped around Clarke fully. 

“How old were you when you lost him?” he asked gently. 

“I was 19 when he got sick and 20 when he died... it destroyed me. He was my person and honestly the only person holding me and mom my together. This whole thing has made me realize how lucky I was that I even got 19 years with him because I got to grow up with him and make memories with him.” 

Both Clarke and Bellamy shifted their gaze to the portrait of Lincoln and Madi, the heaviness in the air was palatable. 

“Madi won’t get that.” 

“Nope, all she’s going to have are the stories we tell her and the pictures around the house,” Clarke agreed, picking absently at a loose thread in her sweater. 

Bellamy sighed deeply, “I don’t know if Octavia ever told you, but mine died when I was young, before she was even born. Sometimes I can’t even remember what his face looked like.” He leaned his head against Clarke, conjuring up the fuzzy memories he had of his father. 

“She always said you were the closest thing she had ever known to a father.” 

“You wanna hear something super fucked up?” He broke eye contact with her and lowered his head to rest on her shoulder, “I was so pissed at her about this at first. Can you imagine? Pissed at my dead baby sister. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I spent my teenage years and early 20s being a dad…I thought I would have more time before I had to do it again.” 

Clarke continued to run her hand over his chest, processing his words. It makes sense now why Bellamy had acted like a 19-year-old when she first met him. He never actually got to be young and stupid. 

“You don’t give yourself enough credit. You just as easily could’ve run off to college and left Octavia with your mom,” she hooked her finger under his chin and gently nudged it, tilting his head so she could meet his eyes. He smiled at her softly, but his brows were still furrowed. “You’re a good person Bellamy,” she continued, leaning down to softly press her lips against his. 

“Sometimes I’m not so sure about that one,” he pulled back, rubbing his nose against her cheek. 

“I was pissed at Lincoln too,” she admitted quietly, “I’ve always been kind of cold and closed off. My relationship with my mom is terrible, and I had kind of decided I never wanted to be a mom myself.” 

“You’re a good mom Clarke.” 

She sighed and buried her face deeply into his neck, reveling in the feel of his skin against hers and the safety of his arms.  

“Why don’t we make some dinner? I ate like 5 cold fries for lunch and I’m starving,” he suggested, attempting to soften the mood. 

“Oh yeah…how was you day with the Murphy family?” She giggled and tried to shake the weight off her shoulders. 

“Absolutely the most exhausting day of my life.” 

“I think now is a really good time to tell you that I want fifty kids,” she teased. 

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” he replied, reaching down to poke his finger into her side. She squirmed and wiggled out of his lap before reaching out to help him up. 

***

Three hours later, Clarke stretched out on the couch with a stomach full of Bellamy’s famous lasagna. Her head was in his lap and Madi lay flat on her chest, snoring softly. She had never felt so content and closed her eyes as he began to card his fingers through her hair. 

“You look beautiful,” he said softly, turning his gaze away from the TV to meet her eyes. 

“I missed you today,” she admitted, nuzzling into his thigh. He moved his fingers down her arm, rubbing them up and down, “That bed is awfully big for just one person.” 

He threw his head back with a laugh. “You sure act like it isn’t. Remember when you pushed me off the bed at 3 a.m. the other night?!” 

“YOU were hogging all the blankets!” she huffed playfully. 

“A princess is a princess even in bed,” he teased, and Clarke was about to retort when Bellamy’s phone rang. 

“Hey Murphy, what’s up?” he answered, and Clarke shifted to sit up. Bellamy’s face twisted into a frown as Murphy began talking a mile a minute, voice slightly elevated. 

“Hey sorry to bother you like this, you honestly must be sick of us…but I literally don’t know who else to call. Emori went into labor, and it’s way earlier than we expected. Her mom was supposed to come and watch the other kids, but her flight is booked for next week, and it’ll take her a while to get here. I would ask Raven, but Jacob has strep throat and Lexa’s daughter has some weird beef with Eloise, and they refuse to be in the same room. I’m majorly freaking out.” 

“Woah, woah, woah, breathe, dude,” Bellamy soothed, trying desperately to get Murphy to slow down. “We can watch the kids.” 

“Oh my god, thank you. I’ll pack them right up. It should only take a sec-“ he was cut off by a loud bang, and Bellamy could hear yelling in the background followed by a groan from Murphy. 

“Why don’t we just come to you? Packing up one kid is easier than packing up four,” Bellamy offered before Murphy could grow even more panicked. 

“Seriously, thank you! I owe you one, man.” Before Bellamy could even respond, the line went dead. 

He turned to Clarke who looked both worried and deeply concerned. “Emori went into labor unexpectedly. They need us to watch their kids. Sorry, I just kind of volunteered us, but Murphy literally sounded like he was about to have a nervous breakdown.”

“Don’t apologize, of course we’re going to help them. Why don’t you go over there so they can leave, and I’ll pack up some stuff for us and Madi?” she stood, balancing Madi carefully on her hip and reaching up to give him a light peck on the lips. He wrapped his hand around her neck and kissed her more firmly before grabbing his jacket and heading out the door. 

Clarke’s mind was racing as she packed up clothes for the three of them and folded up Madi’s playpen. The Murphy kids were a serious undertaking. It was going to be a long night. After a final sweep of the house, she loaded Madi into the car and headed next door. 

The front door of the enormous Tudor style home was already ajar, and Clarke propped the door fully with Madi’s stroller. As she stepped inside, she was greeted with what felt like a warzone.

 A large, dark-haired boy lay flat on the floor among a sea of pillows and blankets in the sitting room as his smaller brother prepared to launch himself off the couch and onto his back. They were both screaming unintelligibly in Spanish, and both seemed to have a pair of underwear on their heads. 

“Woah, woah, woah,” Clarke yelled, lunging forward to catch Jacob across his midsection. He immediately froze when she grabbed him before screaming in protest. 

“WE WERE PLAYING MEXICAN WRESTLERS!” John Jr. yelled, standing up to grab at Clarke’s arms to free Jacob. 

“I’M NACHO LIBRE!” Jacob exclaimed as he wiggled out of her grasp and tried to run farther into the house until Clarke caught him by the back of the shirt. 

She squared her shoulders and narrowed her eyes at the boys. “Stay here,” she ordered, gesturing for them to sit on the couch. John Jr. began to argue but backed down at the sight of her glare. 

Sighing, she shoved some of the blankets back into the wicker basket near the entrance and unwedged Madi’s stroller from the doorjamb.  Laughing to herself, she turned Madi’s stroller to face the boys like a tiny prison guard. 

“Make sure they don’t go anywhere,” she instructed fake seriously to Madi while pointing to each of the boys. John and Jacob straightened in their seats while giving her and Madi unsure stares. She held back a laugh and ventured fully into the house. The kitchen was in disarray; it looked like they had been in the middle of dinner when shit had hit the fan. Clarke was starting to get worried that Bellamy was nowhere in sight until she caught a glimpse of him in the backyard through the glass door. 

She didn’t know whether to laugh or panic when she realized Bellamy was chasing Clara in circles around the pool as she cackled manically and pulled off all her clothes. Whipping the door open she lunged forward, blocking Clara’s path and allowing Bellamy to grab her around the midsection. She screamed, “I WANNA SWIM!” and kicked her little feet against Bellamy’s legs. 

Clarke collected the clothes scattered around the yard and laughed when she realized Bellamy was panting. 

“Shut up, she’s shockingly fast for a four-year-old.” 

“Looks like somebody needs to do some more Stairmaster,” Clarke teased.  

“Excuse me!” a small voice interrupted, “Mr. Bellamy can you peas put me down?” 

Bellamy laughed, “That depends. Are you going to run away the second your feet hit the ground?” 

“Noooo, I pwomise I’ll be super still,” Clara kicked more, pointing her toes as if it would help her reach the ground. 

Clarke tipped her head toward the door and Bellamy carried Clara inside and gingerly placed her on a chair. 

“The boys are in the sitting room,” Clarke called as he retreated toward the entrance. 

“I just wan’ed to swim,” Clara huffed, pulling her arms through her shirt. 

“I know, baby, but it’s dark outside and the water gets icy cold when it’s dark,” Clarke said gently, poking Clara’s sides. 

“What if I like icy cold…” 

Clarke ruffled Clara’s hair and lifted her off the chair. Holding out her hand she winked and bent down to whisper, “Wanna go watch Mr. Bellamy yell at your brothers?” and Clara perked up, pulling Clarke back to the entrance. 

Clarke could hear Madi’s giggles from the entrance and turned the corner to find Bellamy gently holding John Jr. in a chokehold while Jacob bounced up and down on the couch cheering. 

“Ummm,” Clarke said, at the same time Clara huffed, “He was ‘upposed to be yellin’!” 

Bellamy froze and turned bright red. “I couldn’t let the kid have bad form,” he shrugged, releasing John and helping him back to his feet. 

“Mr. Bellamy is the coolest!!” John Jr. exclaimed as Jacob continued to cheer. 

Clarke laughed and rolled her eyes at Bellamy. He really was a giant kid at heart. Ruffling Jacob’s hair and plucking Madi out of her stroller, Clarke thought back to the mess in the kitchen and decided it wasn’t worth salvaging. 

“Who wants a pizza?” she asked, widening her eyes and feigning excitement. 

She was met by a chorus of cheers and jumping up and down. Bellamy shook his head and pulled out his phone to make the order while Clarke shepherded the kids into the living room. 

After ordering the pizza, he returned to find Clarke flipping through Netflix as the kids filtered through the suggestions. 

“Trolls is stupid!” John Jr. proclaimed at the same time Clara said, “I wanna watch Olaf.” 

“I hate Frozen,” Jacob declared, crossing his arms and sinking further into the couch. 

“ -‘OZEN” Madi yelled, clapping her hands together. 

“How about Lion King?! Everyone likes lions,” Clarke suggested, turning toward the kids. When there were no screams of opposition, she clicked the movie on and left the kids to their own devices. 

Bellamy held his arms out and caught Clarke as she fell toward him, smoothing his hands over her back. 

“It’s been an hour, and I’m already exhausted,” she groaned. 

“Hey, you’re not the one who chased a butt naked four-year-old in a circle for 25 minutes,” he quipped, reaching down to pinch her butt. 

“You seem right at home Nacho Libre,” she said, bopping his nose. 

“Jacob is Nacho Libre. I’m just a rip off John Cena,” he smiled, propping his chin on top of her head. 

“Hey…aren’t we missing one?” Clarke drew back and looked at the crowd in the living room. 

“Yeah, Eloise.” Bellamy’s brows knit together, and Clarke could see the gears turning in his head. 

“Hold your horses, Dateline…she’s probably in the house. Hold down the fort here. I’ll go look for her.” She slipped out of Bellamy’s grip and bounded up the grand staircase. 

The upstairs hallway was lined with doors, and it took quite a bit of trial and error for her to find the room that clearly belonged to a prepubescent girl. The purple walls were lined with posters of Shawn Mendes, The Descendants and pictures of girls in floral dresses with braces. Clarke smiled, it reminded her a lot of her own childhood room. Upon first glance it looked empty, but the closet door was slightly ajar. Remembering how important privacy was to her at this age, she stood at the doorway and rapped lightly against the frame. 

“Eloise?” She called, purposely pointing her head in the direction of the closet. 

“GO AWAY!” a muffled voice called from the closet. 

“It’s Clarke, we ordered a pizza. Do you want to come out and eat with us?” she asked gently, taking a few steps into the room. 

“I just want to be left alone,” the voice huffed shakily. Clarke’s heart seized; it was obvious that she had been crying. 

She looked around the room, taking a seat on the desk chair. The desk was covered in worksheets, colorful sticky notes, gel pens and an open pre-algebra book that lay in the corner. Hung up in the front of the desk were some sketches of flowers. They weren’t great, but they had potential. 

“I like your drawings,” she tried again carefully, “Did you know I’m an artist?” 

The closet door creaked, and Eloise’s curtain of curly brown hair peaked out from around the door. “Really?” she asked, her voice still clouded with tears. 

“Yeah, I have an art school. Have you ever taken lessons?” Clarke leaned forward on her knees and gave Eloise a soft smile, “Maybe you could come see my studio sometime.” 

Eloise’s eyes widened, and she pushed the door fully open, scooting on the floor, so she sat halfway between Clarke and the door. 

“Do you have paint brushes? I really like painting at school.” 

“I have a whole drawer of paintbrushes and paint in every color you could think of!” Clarke exclaimed, pushing off the chair to kneel on the floor with Eloise. 

“I want to be an artist when I grow up too,” she said nervously, looking down at the ground. 

“Well then we can be artist buddies, you can come visit me at the studio whenever you want!” Clarke reached out and placed a hand over Eloise’s smaller one. 

“My mom and daddy don’t know about the drawings. They don’t have time for me anymore,” she said almost inaudibly, still looking at the ground. 

“Oh Eloise, that’s not true! They love you so much and they are going to be so proud of your art,” Clarke’s heart broke at the sad look on the little girl’s face, and she reached forward to give her a hug. The second Clarke’s arms wrapped around her, Eloise burst into tears, burying her head into Clarke’s neck. 

“I didn’t want another baby,” she sobbed. 

Clarke squeezed her, rubbing a hand up and down her back. “Eloise, you are going to have four siblings who look up to you so much. That’s so special.” 

“It’s too loud here, and they always come into my room,” she huffed, the tears subsiding. 

“Well how about this? If you ever feel like it’s too loud, you can ask your mom to come over and paint with me,” Clarke pulled back and gave Eloise a wide smile. “And then, one day when you’re a famous artist…you’ll have four amazing siblings to come to see your art! It’s like a built in fan club” 

“Really?” she asked, rubbing her eyes and smiling tentatively. 

“Of course. I don’t have any siblings, but I had a best friend who was like a brother, and he came to every single one of my art shows.” 

Eloise nodded, and Clarke gave her another tight hug before standing up. 

“Now if you’re hungry, there’s pizza coming soon,” Clarke grinned and held out her hand, leading Eloise back downstairs. 

In the living room, the pizzas had arrived and were laid out on the coffee table. Clarke helped herself to a slice and tucked herself against Bellamy’s side. Eloise curled up by her feet, wrapping herself in a blanket. 

It was almost peaceful, she decided, leaning back to take in all six kids eating happily and watching the movie. 

“I can’t believe we got this under control,” Bellamy murmured, pressing a kiss into the side of her head. 

“See? Fifty kids wouldn’t be so bad,” she replied, nuzzling into his chest and focusing in on the movie. It was her favorite part. 

By the time the credits rolled across Pride Rock, all five kids were sound asleep. 

“I’ll take the big ones if you take the little ones?” Bellamy said, removing his arm from around her. 

“Works for me,” Clarke replied as Bellamy effortlessly scooped up Eloise and lay her over his shoulder before reaching down and tossing John Jr. over the other. Clarke suppressed a gasp, something about the sight of him hauling kids up the stairs made her skin feel hot. Shaking the heat off, she placed Madi in her playpen and scooped up Clara and Jacob. 

She tucked Clara into bed, silently grateful that Murphy had put them all in their PJs before he left. Bellamy was waiting in the hallway and wrapped an arm around her shoulders as they made their way into the guest room.

“Honestly, that wasn’t so bad,” Bellamy said, shelling off his clothes and sliding into bed in his boxers. 

“We’re a good team, Blake,” she called from the bathroom, rinsing out her mouth and padding to the bed. 

She pressed a kiss into his chest and snuggled deeply under the covers. Her entire body ached from the past few hours. 

“I’d love a boy someday,” Bellamy admitted quietly, murmuring against her hairline. 

“You’d be a good boy dad,” she replied, shifting up so his head was tucked into her neck and her hands could card through his hair. He turned his head, so he could press wet kisses into her neck. Clarke moaned, tipping her head back so he had better access and arched her back to rub her nipples against his bare chest. 

“Can’t wait until you make me a daddy” he grunted, shifting so his body was over hers. Clarke moaned at his words, grinding down on the knee he slipped between her legs. He slid his hand under her shirt and went to push her shirt up when a small voice called out from the doorway. 

“Miss Clarke, Mr. Bell’my…can I peas sleep in here? There’s a monster under my bed, and his fingers are gonna grab me,” Clara called from the doorway. 

They both froze and Bellamy carefully rolled himself off of Clarke, ensuring that his movement wasn’t visible from the doorway and slid out of bed, padding toward the small girl. 

He knelt down in front of her, and his heart melted at her messy hair and lopsided nightgown, “Come here, sweetheart, it’s okay,” he soothed, wrapping his arms around her and carrying her back into the bed. 

She immediately snuggled in, pressing her face against Clarke’s arm. Bellamy climbed back into bed and silently laughed, “Well if you want fifty kids, you better get used to this.”

“Shut up,” Clarke whispered, swatting him in the face over Clara’s head. Her fingers lingered, rubbing against his cheek before reaching down to lace his fingers with hers. 

“Goodnight, Clarke,” he whispered. 

“Goodnight, Bell,” she replied, sleep laced in her voice. 

“GOODNIGHT, EVERYONE!” Clara exclaimed loudly, sending both of them into a fit of silent giggles.

Chapter Text

Clarke surveyed her 4 p.m. high school oil painting class. Harper had been teaching it for the past few months, and Clarke had honestly missed it. There was an infectious excitement that this class had about art, and she always left it feeling inspired. She had been lacking in inspiration lately, and her exhibition was inching closer every day. It would be her first solo show since starting the school, and it was a lot to live up to. 

Milling slowly throughout the classroom, she took in each student’s work. They were drawing a simple flower arrangement. While most had taken a realistic approach, a few had drawn surrealist or post-modern takes on the bouquet. She smiled. Modern art wasn’t exactly her style, but it reminded her of Lincoln. Circling back to the front, she hovered behind her youngest student. 

“Your lightwork has improved so much!” she exclaimed, placing a hand on Eloise’s shoulder. She didn’t normally teach students so young, but Eloise was a quick study and what she lacked in age, she made up for in enthusiasm. 

“It’s not quite right…but I think if I add more yellow, it will look realistic!” she responded, so engrossed in her painting she didn’t even look up at Clarke. 

Smiling to herself, she wrapped up the class and left Eloise alone in the studio to finish her roses in peace. She found Harper in the lobby, perched on the front desk and checking her lipstick in her selfie camera. 

“Hot date tonight?” Clarke giggled, bumping her hip against her friend’s. “You look cute!” 

“Monty is picking me up in 10 minutes! We’re going to a drive-in movie!” Harper was bouncing from excitement. “I was going for a vintage vibe!” she stood, twirling her circle skirt. 

“I had no idea we had one of those…” Clarke replied, “What’re you seeing?” 

“Some new Marvel movie. I have no idea to be honest,” Harper laughed, “but the drive-in is super fun! They sell vintage snacks, too. You and Bellamy should go next time you have a date night. It’s way more private than a normal movie theatre.” She gave an overexaggerated wink, hopping back on the counter.  

Clarke froze. Had she and Bellamy ever been on a date? Like a real date just the two of them? They usually hung out with Madi or did family activities, but they had never actually gone out to dinner or a movie alone. A pit of nerves formed in Clarke’s stomach. Sometimes it wore away at her that they were doing this all backwards. They had been together for almost two months and had somehow managed to never go out. 

Sneaking a glance at Harper who was reapplying her foundation in her camera, Clarke slipped out her phone. 

CG: You free Friday night, Blake?

BB: Actually…I have a hot date with a toddler and some crushed watermelon. 

CG: How about a hot date with me instead? 

BB: Hmm…I could be convinced.

CG: Well, it looks like me and Madi are going out for a glass of wine together! Enjoy your alone time.

BB: Fine, I’m sold. But I get to pick the place. 

CG: HEY! This was my idea! I was thinking we could go to the drive-in. 

BB: Oh princess, what I have in mind is way more exciting than a drive-in movie.

CG: Last time I let you plan the date you forgot to make a reservation… 

BB: Ouch. Low blow. But I’ll take the hit.

  The text was followed by a picture of Bellamy frowning with his hand clutching his heart, and Clarke snorted. 

Harper’s phone chimed, and Clarke jerked her head up. She had honestly forgotten where she was for a second. 

“Monty’s here!” Harper exclaimed, jumping down from the desk excitedly. 

“Have fun, Harp! And tell him thanks for those brownies…” Clarke said slyly.  

Harper paused and threw her head back in a laugh, “Oh he’ll be thrilled to hear that,” she called over her shoulder, waving and bouncing out the door. 

Clarke couldn’t help but be a little jealous of the couple’s carefree relationship. 

Shoot, she should probably call Lexa to ask about Jenna babysitting for Madi before Bellamy got too ahead of himself with the planning. 

Eloise popped out from the classroom just as Clarke pulled out her phone to make the call. 

“I think I’m done. If I look at it anymore, I’m going to mess it up!” she announced, hands set on her hips. 

“Good call, I’ve definitely done that before.” Clarke hopped off the counter and held up her phone, “I’m just going to call Lexa really quick and then we can leave.”  

Clarke locked up the school and herded a suspiciously quiet Eloise into the car. Her dark brows were scrunched up, and she had hunched her shoulders dramatically. 

“How’s everything at home with the new baby?” Clarke asked, wondering if the sudden shift in demeanor had to do with going back to the house. 

“It’s fine. She’s a lot quieter than Clara was, and she sleeps a lot. Sometimes mom helps me with my paintings when she naps,” Eloise shrugged her skinny shoulders, still despondent.  

“What’s up then? You should be celebrating your amazing lightwork!” 

“Does Jenna come to the studio with you, too?” Eloise asked carefully, sneaking a sideways glance at Clarke. 

“What? No, she likes to babysit Madi. You’re the youngest student I’ve ever had!” Clarke reassured, “Why do you ask?” 

“Jenna is really mean.” Eloise said bluntly, shrugging her shoulders again, “We used to be best friends until she started calling me ‘baby boobs’ and ‘daddy long legs’ in front of our whole class.” 

Clarke’s heart broke, and she reached across the center console to place a hand on Eloise’s leg, “You know that’s not true, right? Your body is perfect the way it is. There is no wrong way for a body to look.” 

“I’m the smallest kid in my class! Everyone has a bra except for me, and Jenna pointed it out to literally everyone.” 

“Sometimes, when people are bullies, it’s because they’re insecure. Jenna might be feeling bad about her body, too. I had really big boobs when I was young, and I was always jealous of girls with smaller chests like yours.” Clarke said carefully, squeezing her knee, “Here’s a secret nobody ever tells you…bras hurt, and if you don’t have to wear them, you’re really lucky.” 

“Really?” 

“Yup, really. But don’t let anyone tell you there’s anything wrong with you. You’re beautiful because you’re Eloise, and if someone doesn’t like that, then that’s on them, not on you.” 

“Thanks, Clarke.” Eloise smiled tentatively and squeezed her hand. 

“Of course, but if Jenna teases you like that again, you should tell your parents. What she’s doing isn’t okay. She shouldn’t be making you feel bad about yourself. You deserve better than that.” Clarke gave her one last reassuring smile before sending her off and watching her tiny form retreat into the house. God, she did not miss being a 12-year-old girl… 

***

The rest of the week seemed to crawl by. It was possibly the slowest week of Clarke’s life. By Friday, she wished she could fast forward through her adult relaxation workshop and just go home. 

It didn’t help that Wells kept coming to the class even after their date. Clarke didn’t mind. He was friendly enough, but it was always an effort to make small talk with him and she didn’t have the patience for it today. Flipping through her calming music playlist, she absently wondered what she should wear for her date with Bellamy. The red dress was officially cursed and therefore off the table, leaving her with limited options. It also didn’t help that Bellamy refused to tell her where they were going. Mentally flipping through her closet was becoming frustrating so she chose a song and stood to walk circles around the room to make the time go faster.  

By the time she finally got home, she still had no idea what to wear. She stood in her closet and flipped through items until she heard Bellamy enter and flop down on the bed. 

“Now why does this feel like a familiar scene?” She asked, entering the room in only her bra and underwear. 

“Key word is familiar but not the same…” Bellamy laughed, moving toward the edge of the bed, so Clarke could step in between his legs, “I’m not borderline homicidal this time.” 

Clarke rolled her eyes, smoothing her hands over his shoulders as he rubbed the sides of her thighs. “Want to clue me in on where we’re going?” she tried, batting her eyelashes and pushing her boobs up against his chest. 

He slid his hands around her waist and pressed his lips against hers, nipping her bottom lip with his teeth as he pulled away, “Nice try, princess. I’m not ruining the surprise. Think nice but not fancy.” He gave her a light smack on the ass and smirked, pushing up off the bed and sauntering out of the room. 

Clearly seduction wasn’t going to work, so she had to figure this one out on her own. If she weren’t worried about scarring Jenna for the rest of her life, she would just show up to the date naked. Sifting through her clothes again, she found a blush pink, off-the-shoulder dress. It was sexy but respectable and would pair well with comfortable booties. It wouldn’t work well for physical activities, but the motorcycle was long gone anyway. She quickly curled her hair before descending downstairs. Grateful that she wouldn’t have to anxiously wait for Bellamy to arrive this time.  

At the bottom of the stairs, she was greeted by Madi in baby blue footie pajamas. She was holding a giant bouquet of flowers, struggling to stay upright under the weight. 

“Are these for me sweet girl?” Clarke asked, scooping Madi up and gently prying the bouquet from her hands. 

“Mama pwetty!” Madi exclaimed, smacking a wet kiss onto Clarke’s cheek. Clarke giggled and carried Madi into the kitchen. 

“Tsk tsk, using the baby for slave labor,” she fake scolded Bellamy who was writing out emergency numbers to put on the fridge. It was the first time they were leaving Madi at night or for longer than 1-2 hours. Clarke had written out two pages of bedtime instructions earlier in a fit of anxiety, and it seemed Bellamy was working through a similar panic right now. 

“Do you think she knows about 9-1-1?” Bellamy asked, not taking his eyes off the paper. 

“Bell. Oh my God. She’s 12! She knows how to call 9-1-1. Honestly, I think Madi is capable of calling 9-1-1 herself.” Clarke said with a hint of teasing in her voice. She came up behind Bellamy and placed a hand on his back, “She’ll be fine. Jenna’s been watching her for longer than we have. She knows her stuff.” 

The doorbell rang, and Clarke turned to answer it, handing Madi off to Bellamy and hoping that holding her would calm him down. She swung the door open and shepherded Jenna inside. 

“You look really pretty, Clarke!” Jenna said a little awkwardly before pausing and turning toward Bellamy, “Uhh you too, Mr. Bellamy. I mean not pretty but ummm nice.” 

Bellamy laughed and patted Jenna on the shoulder, “Thanks, kiddo!” before turning toward Madi and telling her, “You’re in for a fun time tonight!!” 

After running through both of their extensive lists and a ten minute long goodbye, Bellamy and Clarke were finally out the door. Embarrassingly, Jenna had to push them out since Bellamy had insisted on walking through the entire house as if things disappeared when it got dark. 

“So, do I get to know where we’re going now!?” Clarke asked, wiggling her eyebrows. 

“Not yet. You look beautiful by the way. Part of me wants to skip the entire night and make out in the backseat like high schoolers,” he admitted, wrapping his arms around her. 

“As tempting as that sounds, I will die of the suspense if I don’t find out what this date is,” she pushed up on her toes and pressed a soft kiss to his lips. 

“Okay, fine. Get in the car and then maybe I’ll tell you,” he unwrapped his arms and reached to open the car door for her. 

He pulled the car into reverse and could practically feel Clarke vibrating in the seat next to him. Hopefully his surprise would live up to all this suspense. 

“Okay open the glove compartment!” he grinned, keeping his gaze forward, so he wouldn’t be able to read her expression. 

Clarke opened the little drawer and found a beautifully rolled piece of paper, it was handwritten and lettered elegantly. 

 

-A Tasting Menu Fit for a Princess-

Pre-Dinner Drinks

Yvonne’s 

(Raven suggests the Negroni, but I’m partial to the martini myself) 

Appetizers 

Deuxave 

Yelp suggests the lobster gnocchi (when have strangers on the internet led us astray…) 

Course One 

The Salty Pig 

For an assortment of “stinky cheese” and overpriced olives 

Course Two 

Yvonne’s 

To be honest, I have no idea what kind of food this place serves, but the inside looks like a Great Gatsby fever dream and I like it.

Course Three 

Myers and Chang’s 

This place has a special called “cheap date night,” and that’s all you need to know 

Aperitif 

Marliave 

True to form, this place is French and that’s the only thing Murphy and I could find about it, but you can’t really go wrong with alcohol. I guess they do some sort of expresso. Emori has been here, but she wants you to know she was blacked out at the time. 

Dessert 

A surprise 😉   

**Reservations have been made at all of these restaurants**

 

Clarke gaped at the piece of paper in her hand. She was totally speechless. Her chest felt warm, and a wave of affection washed over her. This man continued to be full of surprises. 

“Bellamy…” she began, looking for the right words to express how touched she was. 

“We don’t have to go to all of them, or any of them-“ he started, a hint of nervousness tinged in his voice. 

“It’s perfect, this is incredible!” she interrupted, placing a hand on his thigh and squeezing. 

“Really?” he beamed, running a hand through his hair and sagging in relief. 

She leaned over the center console and pressed a kiss to his cheek, “I’m very excited for overpriced olives,” she insisted.

Turns out the research he had done with Murphy had paid off, and the first few restaurants were absolutely delicious. The Salty Pig was a hidden gem, he had never seen so many different types of cheese, and it had even come with tiny glasses of wine to pair with it. Clarke was a little drunk, so it was probably good that the next place served actual entrees. 

“I LOVE tiny wine glasses, they are SO cute. Do you think we could find them on Amazon?” Clarke tripped a little and grabbed onto Bellamy’s arm for balance. 

“You can find anything on Amazon!” He stifled a laugh, swinging an arm around her to keep her from falling over. 

“This is the best night ever! You are the sweetest! I can’t believe I ever called you an asshole. I mean look at that face! It’s just so cute! I could kiss every one of your freckles.” She turned in his arms, leaning back so she fell against the car, taking him with her. 

She pressed small, feather light kisses to each of Bellamy’s freckles and he felt like his heart might beat out of his chest. Stifling the urge to say something stupid, he buried his head in her hair and pressed wet kisses along her jawline. 

“Mhmmm maybe we should just make out in the backseat,” she moaned, pulling on his hair lightly. 

Despite the tightness in his pants, Bellamy pulled back slightly, “As tempting as that sounds, let’s get some food in you,” he said gently, opening the door. “But don’t think I’ll forget that you called me the cutest.” 

The Great Gatsby fever dream restaurant was just as insane as Bellamy had imagined, and he subtly snapped a few pictures to send to Murphy. Clarke was on her fourth slice of bread and was seemingly more sober than she had been a few minutes ago. 

“I think we should just share something because I looked up the next place, and they have bottomless dim sum,” Clarke suggested, eyeing the menu. 

“I only picked this place for aesthetics so literally whatever you want.” he laughed. 

They shared a weird apple and brie toast at the Gatsby place. It was mainly targeted toward drinks, and Clarke needed a break from the liquor. This was easily the best date of her life. Every restaurant was amazing, and she finally got to see Bellamy in full charm mode. She would never admit it, but he lived up to the hype. 

It felt like she wasn’t a mom with a toddler waiting at home, but rather a 28-year-old woman who was on a date with a very hot guy. It was nice to feel normal for a change. In fact, it was kind of exhilarating. She felt giddy, partly from the cocktails and partly because she was running around Arkadia like a teenager.  

As they were waiting for their check at the Dim Sum place, Bellamy leaned across the table and whispered, “I think Danny Devito and Rhea Pearlman are sitting over there.” 

“Literally what?!” Clarke balked, subtly turning and scanning the Asian restaurant for the couple, “Danny Devito?” 

Bellamy started laughing, “They’re at your two o’clock. Pretend like you’re cracking your back.” 

Clarke was trying to keep herself from laughing as she turned her body and caught sight of a short, portly man and a tall blonde woman. She snapped back around, “Oh my god. It is them!” she gasped wide eyed. 

“I told you…” he said, trying to catch his breath between sips of water. 

“I wonder why nobody’s saying anything?!” Clarke choked, still laughing. 

“I mean what’re they going to do, walk over there and ask them to recreate scenes from Matilda?” Bellamy replied, breaking into a fit of laughter again. 

“Should we send him a shot?” 

Still laughing, Bellamy slid his card back into his wallet and offered a hand to help Clarke up. 

“We can live with the fact that we let him eat his dumplings in peace.” 

They left the Dim Sum restaurant and dipped into the bar Emori suggested. It was crowded and extremely loud. The lighting was dim and he could barely see three steps in front of him. Bellamy and Clarke shared a look before turning around and walking back outside. 

“She said she was blacked out when she was there,” Bellamy chuckled shaking his head, “I don’t think anyone could tolerate that sober.” 

“Why don’t we just skip to the dessert surprise…” Clarke suggested, siding up to Bellamy and running her hand up his chest. 

“As much as I love where this is going, that wasn’t quite the surprise I had in mind,” he murmured, lacing his fingers with hers. 

“What? But the winky face!” She was genuinely confused as Bellamy led her back to the car. 

“Trust me on this one,” he smiled genuinely and pulled out of his parking spot. Clarke didn’t recognize the direction they were driving but based on their surroundings, they were heading back to the suburbs. Bellamy flipped the turn signal and drove into a shopping complex. 

“Oh my God. Are we going to Dairy Queen?” Clarke exclaimed, laughing as he pulled into the drive thru. “My dad used to bring me here when I was a kid.” 

They ordered their blizzards and parked. Bellamy rolled the windows down, and the crisp fall air filtered into the car. Cozying up in Bellamy’s jacket, Clarke propped her legs up on the dashboard. “Thank you, this had been a great night,” she still had a huge smile plastered on her face. 

“I’m glad. I can’t believe it took me this long to ask you out.” 

“You planned a great date, but I asked YOU out,” she countered.  

“Touché, Princess.” 

“You know, as much as I love that we can just lie around and watch movies together, it kind of makes me sad that we missed out on this.” She admitted, tipping her head back and rolling it to the side to look at Bellamy’s profile. 

“Sometimes I think about how much time I wasted thinking you were annoying, and I want to hit myself.” 

Clarke laughed and punched him in the arm lightly, “I mean I was annoying…and you were a dick. There was no way we could’ve actually dated back then.” 

“Can’t change the past I guess,” he shrugged, lacing their fingers together and bringing their joint hands up to kiss her knuckles. 

“I don’t know, the present’s pretty great.” She blushed, turning her focus back to her melting ice cream. Changing the subject, she shook her cup. “How do you think they turn these things upside down?” 

“It’s obviously black magic,” he shook his head, “Every suburban teenager is trained in ice cream voodoo.” 

“Ahhh of course, how could I forget!” she giggled, playing with his fingers. “We should watch Harry Potter when we get home!” she exclaimed suddenly, bouncing in her seat. 

“I’m down. But here’s the ultimate question. Which one is the best one?” he asked, turning to her seriously and pointing his spoon at her. 

“Prisoner of Azkaban is the best movie,” Clarke declared, smugly taking a bite of ice cream. 

“WHAT?! You are crazy. Insane. I don’t know if we can raise a child together anymore. Goblet of Fire is the best movie,” he gasped, widening his eyes and dramatically waving his arms. 

“This is a moral dilemma!” 

“Indeed, we might just have to watch both and defend our choices…” 

“Prisoner of Azkaban has the first appearance of Sirius! The werewolves, the patronuses and the graphics were just…incredible. I mean the Whomping Willow, c’mon!”

“Okay but Yule Ball! Dragons! Rita Skeeter being super fucking annoying!” 

“This is literally unacceptable.” 

She shook her head. She knew there had to be something wrong with this perfect man, and his taste in movies seemed to be it. 

Back at home, Clarke waited for Bellamy to return from dropping off Jenna. She had changed into her PJs and was snuggled in on the couch, grateful to be rid of the dress after the amount of food they had eaten. She had tucked Bellamy’s handwritten schedule into her jewelry box; it seriously had been one of the best nights of her life. The backdoor creaked, and Bellamy emerged from the kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of basketball shorts. 

Clarke held her arms out, making grabby motions with her hands, and Bellamy lay down half on top of her and half on the couch. She threaded her fingers through his long hair and grabbed the remote to play the movie she had set up. 

“Ready to watch a cinematic masterpiece, Blake?” 

“I’m preparing to watch the second-best movie in this franchise,” he replied, burying his face further into her shoulder as she started the movie. 

“At least we can both agree that Half Blood Prince was the worst.” She laughed, twirling strands of his hair around her fingers. 

“Agreed, completely botched storyline and a total waste of Ginny as a character,” he agreed, moaning in satisfaction at the feel of her hands on his scalp. 

“Now there’s an opinion I can agree with,” she said, squirming as Bellamy slid his hands under her baggy t-shirt. The rest of her sentence died on her lips, and she groaned when he palmed her bare breast and reached to pull the shirt over her head. 

Bellamy mouthed at her neck, nipping under her ear and moved his way down to her chest. He loved a lot of things about Clarke, but these were definitely in his top five. He cupped her breasts with both hands and palmed them, rolling her nipples between his fingers. She moaned again, squirming to get friction against his hip and grunting when she couldn’t get the right angle. 

Her panties were drenched, and her clit ached for friction, but Bellamy was busy sucking on her nipple and she needed more. Shifting, she placed her hands on Bellamy’s shoulders and pushed him, “Sit up!” she commanded. 

He obliged, and she climbed into his lap, immediately grinding down against him. 

“Fuck, baby,” he ground out, digging his fingers into her ass and pushing her down harder against his dick. She moaned his name, crushing her mouth against his and sliding her tongue between his lips. Nipping his bottom lip between her teeth, she pulled away to focus her attention on his neck.

 Following the line of freckles, she pressed wet kisses against his throat and across his chest. 

“I love these. They’re like little stars.” She murmured between kisses, making a trail down his abdomen, pausing to tweak his nipple and relishing the buck of his hips against her. 

His abs were ridiculous, and she leaned back to admire them as she made her way to his waistband. She licked each of the ridges, nipping at his hipbones to leave a small purple bruise. Bellamy groaned loudly, grappling for purchase on her arms and back. 

She smirked and looked up at him as she pulled his shorts down, sliding so she could kneel in between his legs. 

He leaned his head back against the back of the couch. The sight of Clarke on her knees in front of him was almost too much, and he stared at the ceiling hoping it would make help him last. He felt like a teenager, damn, she hadn’t even touched his dick yet. She kissed the juncture between his hip and groin and pulled back. He whined, blushing at how needy it sounded and watched awestruck as she swept her curls into a ponytail. His dick twitched, and she smirked, running her hands up his thighs and spreading them wider. 

“So beautiful…” he whispered, running a finger gently across her cheek and wrapping a hand across the back of her neck. 

Clarke flushed, tipping her head back as he rubbed his thumb across her pulse point. Opening her eyes lazily, she met his gaze and bent down to lick up the length of his shaft. He moaned, eyes fluttering closed. Feeling bold, she licked her palm and rubbed her hand up and down his cock as she ran her tongue under the head. She could feel herself getting wetter and reached down to press a thumb to her clit, rubbing herself as she took his cock into her mouth fully. 

She could taste the precome on her tongue and opened her throat to take him in fully, moaning around him. He was big, and a rush of excitement pulsed through her as he swore and whispered her name. Gripping both sides of his thighs, she flexed her fingers, bobbing up and down. In time with her movements, she rubbed her clit, bucking her hips against her fingers. 

He might die…but he didn’t really care. A ball of pleasure burned at the base of his spine as Clarke worked his cock. Prying his eyes open, he caught the moment her cheeks hollowed as she rubbed at her clit furiously. 

“Oh my god, come here.” He gritted out, gently tugging her back up. She obliged but whined, “I wanted to taste you…” 

His hips bucked again, and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her in his lap. 

 “I wanna come inside you, baby,” he whispered into her neck, grinding up against her again. 

“Bell, need you,” she whined, pushing her panties down her legs. He growled, helping her remove the tiny scrap of lace and throwing it across the room. 

“Pleaseee,” she said breathily as he lined himself up, running his hands up her waist and hissing as she sank down onto him. 

Their bodies slid against each other, friction building as their thrusts grew more desperate. 

“So big, yes, oh my God.” Clarke moaned as she bounced up and down, gripping desperately onto his biceps. 

The sight of her boobs bouncing in his face was too much, and he felt the knot of pleasure slowly come undone in his belly. He quickened his pace, reaching down to rub her clit and palming one of her breasts. 

“BELLAMY!!” Clarke screamed, digging her nails into his shoulders as her climax washed over her. He followed closely behind, digging his fingers into her hips as he spilled inside her. 

“So good, baby girl, so good,” he babbled, mouthing at her collarbones and neck. The pleasure was almost too much. He couldn’t catch his breath and it felt like his bones were going to melt into the couch. Feeling Clarke’s hands on his cheeks, he pried his eyes open just in time to catch her smile as she leaned in to kiss him. 

Clarke snuggled into Bellamy’s chest, reveling in the smell of his skin as he laid back down on the couch. Her whole body tingled with a pleasant buzz, and she had never felt more content.

“You’re incredible,” he said, almost imperceptibly. 

“You’re even more incredible, even if you have shit opinions about Harry Potter,” she giggled, hugging him tighter and pressing a kiss into his chest, “Thank you for one of the best nights of my life.” 

“Thank you for being a part of my life, Princess,” he responded to her hug, squeezing her gently and kissing the top of her head. 

Clarke felt her eyes beginning to droop. The warmth of Bellamy’s arms and the weight of her orgasm lulling her to sleep. Her last thoughts lingered on how she just might be falling in love with him. 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Bellamy!! Hold still!” Clarke instructed, focusing intently on the swirls under her paintbrush. 

“Ya know, when I asked you to paint me, this isn’t what I had in mind…” Bellamy complained, voice muffled against a pillow. 

“You’re going to mess it up!” she exclaimed, adjusting her knees on each side of his torso as she moved her brush from his shoulders to his back. 

“I swear if you’re painting a giant penis on me…” he said, and Clarke pushed his head into the pillow with one hand as she continued to paint with the other. 

As much as she had been tempted to draw a penis just to spite him, the urge to finally connect his freckles into constellations proved to be too strong. An inky black sky spread across the expanse of his torso, peppered with golden lines and white stars. With a flourish, she finished a small galaxy on his right shoulder and leaned back to admire her handiwork. 

“It’s perfect baby,” she whispered, pressing a soft kiss to the base of his neck and carefully rolling off his back. 

Bellamy stood, strutting across the room to admire his back in the mirror and gasped. 

 “You are literally the most talented person on earth,” he declared, “It’s beautiful.” 

“Well, I had an excellent canvas” she replied, holding her arms out for him to return to bed. He crawled into bed, resting his head in her lap. 

“Are you feeling more relaxed?” he asked, turning his head to meet her gaze. 

“Not really…but I am pretty proud of this piece,” she replied, running a hand across his back. 

He gave her a lazy smile, rubbing his thumb across her waist. 

“The exhibition is going to be great…your pieces are incredible. Your dad and Lincoln would both be so proud,” he assured. 

Her eyes burned, and she avoided his gaze. Instead, she reached out to grab her wine glass from the side table. Taking a long sip, she let the emotion wash over her. Sadness that two of her favorite people wouldn’t get to see her show and regret that she hadn’t been able to show either of them her work. She blinked and looked down at Bellamy, whose gaze was filled with concern. 

“My dad would’ve really liked you…” she said quietly, returning her hands to their usual spot in his hair. 

“That’s a serious compliment,” he smiled softly. 

“He was a major Han Solo type, would’ve fucking loved that stupid motorcycle,” Clarke laughed, wrapping a piece of hair around his finger. 

“Well in that case…I probably would’ve really liked him too,” He whispered, shifting onto his side so she could lie beside him. 

“You definitely would’ve. I hate that you’ll never get to meet him and that he’ll never get to meet Madi,” she continued, burying her head into his chest as she felt the tears prick at her eyes again. 

“Sometimes I try to imagine what introducing you to my mom would’ve been like,” he murmured into her hair. “When she was good, she was a lot like Octavia, so I’d like to think she would’ve loved you too.” 

“I would’ve liked to meet her,” Clarke replied gently, pressing a kiss to his neck, “I honestly think you would be better off never crossing paths with my mother. She’s…very judgmental.”

“Well that’s her loss.” 

“There are times when I wonder if I’m being too harsh with her but then I remember how she made me feel and how she treated my dad…and I just can’t.”

“You don’t owe anyone anything, not even your mom,” he said firmly, tipping her chin up to meet her gaze. 

Clarke snuggled further into Bellamy. Her mom didn’t cross her mind often. But something about publicly showing her art brought all her feelings about Abby to a head. Back when she had her first exhibition, she had mailed her mom a flyer and a small invitation. She had scanned the room hopefully all night, but she never came. Lincoln had held her while she cried afterward. But it was the final push she needed to come to terms with the fact that her mom would never accept her for who she was.  She was long past needing her mom’s approval, but it still stung to know that she didn’t care enough to be there. 

She wondered about Bellamy’s mom though; he always mentioned her as “bad” or “good.” Maybe she had been sick? He never really went into details about her, and Clarke didn’t want to pry. Looking down at him she wondered what he had been through. Sometimes it felt like she still didn’t really know him that well. 

The next morning, Bellamy awoke with Clarke splayed across his body. His back was tacky and sticky; he could feel the dried paint pulling against his skin. Grimacing, he carefully extracted himself from Clarke’s grip and made his way to the shower. Stepping under the warm spray, he scrubbed the paint lightly with his nails. 

Things with Clarke had been good lately. It was making him a little anxious. Life didn’t really work that way for Bellamy. He couldn’t help but feel like he didn’t deserve this. It was too perfect. 

He was pretty sure that he was falling in love with her, but he knew that if he said something, shit would hit the fan. That’s how the universe worked around here. He would tell Clarke he loved her and then she would fall into a well. He knew better than to get his hopes up by now. 

Everyone he loved died and that was just the way it was. He should probably pull back a bit, like cool it on the kids talk. With Echo he had been the one to get too invested, and he couldn’t keep doing it. An emotional buffer was probably good. 

 Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t hear the door creak open and jumped when Clarke slipped under the spray. 

“Destroying my masterpiece I see,” she teased, moving his hands so she could take over scrubbing his back. 

“More like giving myself a chemical peel,” he groaned, squirming as her nails ran over his skin. 

“Big strong man is actually a baby…” she cooed, sliding her hands up his back to massage his neck. He turned in her arms and pulled her against his chest, tilting her chin to press his lips to hers. 

“You sure about that, baby?” he murmured against her lips, sliding his hands down to her ass and sweeping her up. She yelped, wrapping her legs around his waist, and then moaned at the press of hardness rubbing against her. 

Bellamy smirked, this may be too good to be true, but he might as well enjoy it while it lasted. 

***

Clarke rolled her shoulders. She couldn’t believe she had gone almost two years without having sex. Her body felt alive for the first time in a long time, and it was incredible. Smiling to herself, she entered the kitchen to find Bellamy making pancakes while Madi sat on the counter. He flipped one and Madi squealed with glee, “AGAIN! AGAIN!” 

She paused, watching her two favorite people in the world. Madi looked at Bellamy like he was her entire universe. Grinning, she ran into the kitchen, plucking Madi off the counter and spinning her in circles. Madi giggled and pressed a slobbery kiss to Clarke’s cheek. Clarke laughed with her, setting her into her high chair as Bellamy placed a huge stack on pancakes on the table. 

“So, I wanted to ask. Would you want us out of your hair today, or do you want to keep busy until the show?” he asked, cutting up a pancake into small squares for Madi. 

“Well, I have to go to the studio in the afternoon, but my morning is all for you two.” 

“Works for me,” he replied, taking a bite, “By the way, did you check your texts? Murphy, Emori, Lexa, Anya and Raven are all coming tonight! Poor Miles offered to watch all of the kids.” 

Clarke choked on her coffee, “WHAT? Is he going to survive that? I wouldn’t wish 10 kids on literally anyone.” 

“Luckily, Emori’s mom is still in town, so he’s only watching six, and he has Jenna’s help.” 

“Well in that case, I’m hyped and a little nervous. I haven’t shown my work in years,” she admitted, turning her gaze back down to her breakfast. 

“You’re going to be great,” he assured, covering her hand with his. 

They finished up breakfast and shifted to the living room. Clarke spread out on the floor with Madi watching Annie on TV while Bellamy clicked on his laptop. He was almost done with his applications for teaching programs. His stomach churned as he looked from the applications to Clarke and back again. He hadn’t exactly told her about them yet. He wasn’t sure what was holding him back, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell her. 

Clarke leaned back against Bellamy’s legs, watching Madi dance and sing to the cheerful music. They should probably learn the songs from this, so they could sing it to her in the car. She flipped through her phone, adding the Annie soundtrack to her Spotify. 

Bellamy was being kind of stiff; he had seemed stilted all morning, but it had been getting more obvious as the day went on. Clarke felt uneasy about it but chalked the weird vibe up to her nerves. She stood, sneaking a side-glance at Bellamy and running a hand over his knee. 

“I’m gonna go get dressed,” she called over her shoulder, scooping Madi up. She needed a hype squad after all. 

She was curling her hair when she heard footsteps and Bellamy entered the room, sprawling out on the floor next to Madi. 

“Mama looks like an artist,” he said to Madi, tucking a tuft of hair behind her ear. 

“Pwetty,” Madi agreed, rubbing her hand against his face. 

Clarke’s heart seized, and she finished up her hair before lowering herself to the floor to wrap Madi and Bellamy into a joint hug. 

“You’re going to be great tonight baby,” he whispered against her hairline, pressing a soft kiss to her temple and standing. 

“I’m nervous, but I’m glad you’ll be there,” she smiled, taking his offered hand to help her up. 

She still couldn’t help but feel like something was off as she finished getting ready and left. Bellamy was being weird, but she didn’t really have time to consider it. 

Harper was already at the studio when she arrived, hanging black curtains in the lobby to make it seem more formal. 

“Oh yay! You brought snacks!” Harper exclaimed, hopping off from her ladder. 

“I figured the cheese plates could use some crackers!” Clarke agreed, dumping grocery bags onto the tablecloth covered front desk. 

“I ordered edible arrangements too, so we can be extra fancy!” Harper giggled, bumping her hip against Clarke’s, “Monty and Jasper should be here any minute with the alcohol too.” 

“You’re the best, Harp,” Clarke sighed, pulling her friend into a tight hug. This whole thing would never have been possible without Harper. The lobby looked amazing already, and Clarke could focus solely on setting up her pieces. 

She stepped into her office and collected her framed sketches. This was definitely her most emotional collection of works. Her fathers-and-daughters idea had expanded into a set of works surrounding families, biological and chosen. 

She had illustrated the families of each of the people closest to her. In the center of the room were three portraits: Madi and Clarke, Madi and Bellamy and Bellamy and Clarke. Her family by circumstance. To the side, there were portraits of Lincoln and Clarke and Lincoln and Octavia, family by choice. She had done portraits of every possible combination of the people that she loved. In the far right corner, she had placed what was possibly the most difficult thing she had ever drawn: a portrait of her and her mother. 

As she had been drawing it, it made Clarke’s chest ache to see how similar they looked. They shared the same pointed nose and high cheekbones. It was her biggest fear to be like her mother, and this portrait embodied that. It hurt her to look at it for too long, so she turned and moved to hang her last portrait. It was her favorite one of her and her dad, and she wanted it as far away from the other one as possible. 

The gallery looked perfect, Harper had done an incredible job transforming their lobby into a high-end space that really allowed her work to shine. Christmas lights lined the ceiling, twinkling against the spotlights, and Nora Jones sang softly in the background. It was perfect. 

Clarke’s stomach flipped as the door swung open and the first few guests filtered into the studio. She felt her childhood training kicking in as she milled around, politely greeting each new guest. After pulling away from a very involved conversation with a local reporter, she was surprised to find that the room was filled with people. 

She honestly couldn’t believe it; it never felt possible that this many people would want to see her work. Happy tears filled her eyes and started to spill over when she caught sight of Bellamy and all her friends.  

“Hi, Princess,” he whispered, cupping her face in his hands and pressing a firm kiss against her forehead, “This is incredible, people are going crazy over your pieces.” 

“There are so many people here. I honestly can’t believe it,” she said, beaming at him and then scanning the room. 

She pulled away from him and hugged each of her friends. It was touching that they had all made an effort to come to support her. She hugged Emori extra tight; she had come even though she had a brand new human at home. 

Eventually, she found her way back to Bellamy and wrapped her arms around his torso. 

“I’m really proud of you,” he smiled, but there was something tinged in his look. He seemed uneasy but before Clarke could mention it, Harper came running up to her. 

“Ummm I don’t really know how to tell you this,” she said nervously, wringing her hands together, “but Abby is here…” 

Clarke felt like someone had dumped a bucket of ice water over her head. Her neck started to heat up, and she honestly thought she might vomit. Stepping away from Bellamy, she scanned the room, catching sight of her mother at the same time that Abby turned toward her. 

Abby began making a beeline for her, and Clarke bolted. She weaved through the crowd and dipped into one of the vacant classrooms. 

She was sitting on a stool, breathing deeply to calm down, when the door opened. 

“I know you aren’t happy to see me…” Abby began, sitting across the table from her. 

“That’s the understatement of the century,” Clarke mumbled, struggling to keep her voice even. 

“This is an excellent turnout. You’ve really made something of yourself,” Abby continued, standing to move closer but retracting when Clarke recoiled. 

“Good to know I’m worthy of you now that I’m successful,” Clarke snapped, rising from her stool to face her mother. 

“Clarke…” Abby began, stepping toward her. 

“Why now? I invited you to come to my show 7 years ago. I was crushed when you didn’t show up. I had already lost my dad, and it’s your fault I had to lose my mom too,” Clarke’s voice cracked, and she paused, willing the tears back into her eyes. “You stopped loving me because I didn’t do what you wanted.” 

“Clarke. I never stopped loving you. I don’t think it’s possible for me to stop loving you. Being a mother was never easy for me. You know that. I’m not nurturing or good with emotions. That was always your father’s role. In hindsight I wasn’t really built to have children. I’m sorry I couldn’t be the mother that you needed.” 

“That’s bullshit, and you know it!” Clarke yelled, angry tears spilling down her cheeks. 

“We can’t change who we are, Clarke, and unfortunately you’re a lot like me. I know you always got along better with your father, but you have all my traits.” 

“STOP!” Clarke gritted out, slamming her fist against the table. 

Abby ignored her, taking a seat in a nearby stool and directing her gaze toward Clarke, “I came here tonight because I’m worried. Thelonius Jaha told me that you’ve adopted a child and are pretending to be married to some firefighter,” she said coolly.  

“Jaha…” Clarke muttered. Every damn doctor in this town knew her mother. She should’ve known better than to expect Wells was harmless. 

“Yes, I hear you turned his son Wells down for this firefighter of yours. Why do you insist on throwing your life away?” 

Shaking her head in disappointed rage, Clarke erupted.. 

“His name is Bellamy!! And dammit I knew this wasn’t about me, this is about you controlling my life again. I’m sorry I’m such a huge disappointment!” Clarke was fuming, and she tried to level her voice to prevent it from carrying through the studio. 

“I know your friend died and that you’re trying to honor him, it is very noble. But you’re not thinking clearly. This child is not yours. You’re playing house with some guy and helping him raise his niece. You barely know this man!” 

Clarke’s composure slipped, and tears flowed freely from her eyes, her breath choking in her chest, “You don’t know anything about me,” she said shakily, wiping at her eyes angrily, “I love Bellamy, and I love Madi.” 

“Clarke, you’re being ridiculous. You barely know him, and now you’re in love with him?! You’re not thinking clearly. Your brain is clouded with grief and baby hormones! In the span of less than a year, you’ve gone from living alone with your father’s geriatric cat to being a wife and mother. You’re playing house. This isn’t real life; it’s complete lunacy.” 

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” she tried again. She felt defeated. Her mother was hitting her in her soft spots. She had always had a knack for jabbing Clarke where it hurt. 

“Honey, he’s using you. He has a dangerous job, and you are stable enough to care for the baby when he’s not home. You have no relation to this child. When push comes to shove, she’s his niece. If he ever fights you for her, he will win. You’re being set up to get hurt here.” Abby stood, gently placing a hand on Clarkes shoulder, “I’m not trying to ruin your life, but sometimes the truth hurts.” 

She gave Clarke’s shoulder a squeeze and exited without another word, leaving Clarke crying alone in the art room. 

Her temples throbbed, and her heart burned. She hated her mother for saying those things, but she couldn’t help herself from wondering if her mom was right. Bellamy had been distant lately. Had she been stupid, jumping into all of this so quickly? Was she in love with him? She honestly didn’t know for sure. This was probably him pulling back, knowing it was all happening too fast. Maybe all he really wanted was for her to get attached enough to Madi so he wouldn’t have to raise a kid alone. Was it possible he was faking the deeper connection between them to lock her in? She thought back to the first time she’d met him, him responding to a booty call right in front of her face. 

But now she was attached to Madi. It would kill her to leave now. She felt used and alone. Sobs wracked her body, and hot, wet tears fell down her cheeks. She ached to call Lincoln to ask him what to do, beg him to tell her that her mother was wrong. But of course, Lincoln wasn’t here. She had never felt more alone in her life. For the first time, she truly had nobody. 

The floor creaked, and Clarke jerked her head up to find Bellamy standing in the doorway. At the sight of her tear-stained face, he stepped in the classroom. Concern etched his features and he bent down, sitting on the stool across from her. 

“What happened?” he asked carefully. 

“She basically called me an idiot. Maybe she’s right, and I am one,” she began, not meeting his gaze, “What are we doing here, Bellamy?” 

“Clarke, what are you talking about?” Bellamy felt panic rising in his throat, his realization from earlier churning in his stomach. 

“Are you just using me to give Madi stability? It would make sense, I wouldn’t necessarily blame you, but I’d just like to know,” she snapped, “I put my whole life on hold to play this part, and I’d like to know if I’m just some joke to you.”  

“Play this part, Clarke?! What the hell does that mean?”

“You have a dangerous job. Maybe your plan was to sweet talk me, so I could be around for Madi if anything happens to you.” 

Bellamy scoffed, running his hands through his hair in frustration. 

“Listen to yourself! You’re blaming me for using you, but you agreed to all this upfront. You knew what you were getting yourself into.” Bellamy felt his emotions shifting from concern to anger, heat burning his face. 

“I’m not blaming you! But you can’t blame me for wondering. It kind of makes sense. I don’t really fit into this equation. She’s your niece…I’m just a convenient babysitter,” Clarke shrugged, she was trying to come off as nonchalant, but she felt like screaming.   

“Yes, I can blame you! That’s fucking insulting. How dare you, I thought you knew me better than that. I thought you understood that I cared about you more than that!” 

“You blew me off from the first time you saw me. I’m so stupid! I can’t believe I fell for all of this,” a single tear rolled down her cheek. 

“How can you think I’m still the same person I was 7 years ago?! I’ve changed, Clarke, I’m an adult now.” 

“People don’t change, Bellamy. Not really.” 

“Have you been acting with Madi then?” he asked, anger clouding his features. 

“No. I love her-“ Clarke began, eyes widening as the implication of what he said. 

“Oh good. So it’s just me you can’t stand. Good to know,” Bellamy interrupted, the expression on his face shifting from anger to hurt. 

“It’s just hard to know if any of this is real,” she tried again, wishing she could just bring herself to tell him how she felt. 

He stared at her for a long moment as if contemplating his next words. 

“Maybe you were right,” he said slowly. “You weren’t built for this. You should’ve just let me deal with Madi from the start.” 

Clarke felt like she had been punched in the face. Tears started flowing once again. She couldn’t look at Bellamy anymore; she needed to get out. She stood and ran out of the room, ignoring Bellamy’s attempts to call after her. Glancing at the room full of people, she wiped her tears before slipping out of the back door. 

It was raining, but she didn’t care, letting the water soak through her hair and dress as she rounded the building and got in her car. She was soaking wet, and her whole body ached, but she pushed the ignition and peeled out of the parking lot. She had made it to the stoplight when the Bluetooth connected, and her Spotify began playing, 

“The sun will come out…tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, is only a day, awayyyyy!” 

Clarke slammed her hand against the dial turning the music off, suppressing the sob that was building in her throat. She wished she had hugged Madi a little tighter before she had left. She couldn’t go back to the house. Maybe it was for the best. Her mother and Bellamy were right; she wasn’t meant to have a child. Madi was better off without her. 

She drove aimlessly, wallowing in the silence. She didn’t know where she was going, but she knew she couldn’t go back to Bellamy. She was beginning to droop, fatigue hitting her, and she found herself parked in front of her dad’s old apartment. 

XXX

Bellamy paced the length of the art room. He was furious at Clarke, but he also felt guilty for calling her a bad parent. He knew this was all too good to be true. Of course she thought he was using her. It’s not like he’d admitted he’d fallen in love with her. He felt like an idiot. The last month and a half had felt real, but now it was all tumbling down around him like a house of cards. 

Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. He had been too distracted. He needed to focus on Madi and on pursing his teaching license. Love was a stupid idea for someone like him. He didn’t really know where Clarke had gone, but he knew she wasn’t coming back. 

He slipped out the side door, calling an Uber to come pick him up. He didn’t really want to talk to anyone right now. 

There were 5 unread texts on his phone, from Murphy, Raven and Monty. 

MurphDog: “Hey, where’d you go?” 

MurphDog: “Have you seen Clarke, everyone is looking for her.” 

Raven: “Dude did you die? Where the hell are you?” 

MurphDog: “Bellamy, wtf did you go to the bathroom?” 

Murphdog: “I’m getting worried about you man. Where the hell are you?” 

Monty (firestation): “Harper wants me to ask if you’ve seen Clarke. She seems really worried.”

Murphdog: “We’re just going to assume that you guys left. Call me if you need anything.” 

He ignored most of them and sent Murphy a quick text saying that something came up and he was heading home. 

The Uber stopped in front of the Murphy house, and he stepped out, praying that Madi didn’t ask for Clarke tonight. 

XXX

Clarke laid in her old bed and stared at the ceiling. It felt surreal to be back here again. The apartment felt full of ghosts, full of a life that she didn’t even recognize anymore. She missed Mr. Paws, wishing she had the foresight to have picked him up from the house. Without him, she was truly alone here. But it was seemingly fitting, considering the state of her life. 

 The silence was deafening, and she flipped on the TV to make the apartment feel less empty. She wondered how long it would take before Madi stopped asking about her, whether she would ask about her at all. Maybe Bellamy would just get a new girlfriend and move her right in. That though made her heart ache. She had felt guilty for accusing him at first. But as each hour passed, her guilt steeped into anger and bubbled against her skin. 

She hated him right now, and she hated her mother even more for being right. The conversation was playing over and over in her head. She couldn’t believe she had admitted she was in love with Bellamy. He would never know now. There was a part of her that wanted to cry, but she didn’t have any tears left. Her head throbbed, and her throat ached. Rolling over, she tried to sleep, leaving the TV on just to have some company. 

XXX

Madi was inconsolable. She was fussy after leaving the Murphy’s, but her whining had slowly devolved into screaming as the night went on. It was 3 a.m. and Bellamy thought he might drown himself in the pool. His ears were ringing, and the weight of the night was starting to take its toll. 

He was dangerously near his wit’s end as he carried Madi to the kitchen, flipping on the damn kitchen fan. He rocked her gently, sighing with relief when she finally calmed down. After a few minutes, he flipped off the fan and placed her gently into her Pack’n Play. Once she was safely asleep, he sank to the floor and let himself cry. 

He sobbed until his eyes burned and his palms felt numb, running them up and down his legs. Standing up, he removed the giant canvas of him and Clarke from the living room. It was too painful to look at. He carefully placed it in the back closet, with the large portraits of Octavia and Lincoln. It was where dead things went to rest apparently. 

He slept on the couch, the bedroom too painful. Too full of Clarke. 

***

It had been a full week after their fight before Clarke could drag herself out of bed and head into the studio. Harper was a saint. She should buy her a vacation to Hawaii after all the shit she’s put up with this year. 

“Clarke…are you sure you want to be here?” Harper asked tentatively when Clarke entered their shared office. 

“I can’t be in that apartment anymore,” Clarke began, her voice scratchy from disuse. 

“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry. I know you’re hurting,” she soothed, placing a comforting hand on Clarke’s arm. “But you really need to shower and change. You’re looking a little ripe.” 

A laugh bubbled in Clarke’s chest before it exploded, and she broke into hysterical laughter. She was a mess. She literally didn’t know what to do with herself and had spent the last week watching Simpsons reruns and eating stale animal crackers. All she could do was cry and sleep. She had thought the sadness would eventually wear away, but it really just seemed like it was getting worse. 

A few days ago, she had driven to the house in the middle of the night and parked in the street. Sitting in the dark, she had looked at Madi’s window, contemplating whether it was worth it to try and go inside. She had sat there staring until the sun began to rise, and she had to leave for fear of someone calling the cops on her. 

“I promise I didn’t come here to teach like this,” Clarke agreed, “I came to pick up some of the portraits. They belong in a fireplace.” 

“Clarke…you’re not burning your artwork!” Harper exclaimed, jumping back. 

“My whole idea was about families! Little did I know I don’t actually have a family,” she answered stubbornly.  

“Maybe you should just talk to him. This whole thing seems like a confusing mess,” Harper offered, silencing her phone in her pocket as it began to vibrate. 

“There’s nothing confusing about it, Harp. I played myself.” 

“Ending your entire life over a single conversation? That involved your mother no less? Seems a little insane to me. Just call him, Clarke.” 

“I can’t. We were just meant to hate each other. It was a rift in the universe for us to date in the first place.” 

“Clarke.” 

“I wasn’t meant to be a mom. There’s no use forcing it,” Clarke said with finality, turning around to leave. She paused and walked back, wrapping Harper in a hug. 

“I just need to move on from all this. Thank you for covering my ass,” she said, squeezing her friend. 

“If you say so. Now go shower, for real,” Harper laughed, pushing Clarke gently out the door. 

She got into the car, still not wanting to go back to her apartment. Somehow, she ended up at Target, mindlessly browsing the aisles. She aimlessly roamed, sniffing candles and twirling around in cardigans. Without really thinking she walked over to the baby section, spotting a fluffy yellow jacket that Madi would love. She pulled it off the hanger before registering what she was doing. Jacket hanging from her fingers, she froze. Shaking her head, she abandoned the sweater on a shelf and quickly pushed the cart toward the shampoo. Her hair was disgusting, and a new bottle of Pantene really couldn’t wait. 

Thankfully, she made it back to her Mini Cooper before she broke down again. Pulling out of the parking lot, she played the Annie soundtrack. Might as well rub salt into the wound. She had to stop thinking of herself as a mom and accept that Madi was better off without her.

Chapter Text

Madi screamed, and Bellamy grudgingly rolled off the couch. It was where he seemed to be spending most of his time these days. The bedroom was too painful to be in right now. The couch was uncomfortable, but it didn’t feel as empty as the bed. Parenting was a lot harder alone, and it was moments like this where he longed for Clarke.

Scooping Madi out of her crib, he bounced her against his hip and carried her back downstairs to give her a snack. The first few days without Clarke had been the hardest, but it was getting easier as Madi cried for “mama” less and less frequently. It broke his heart that she had lost another mother in her life and that made him angry at Clarke all over again.

The day after their fight he had quit his job at the fire station; he couldn’t risk his life now that he was a single parent. His classes were online for now, but he would hopefully be able to transfer to Arkadia University once Madi was old enough for daycare.

 It was hard being home alone all day though; it did made it a lot easier for him to avoid social interaction though. With the exception of caring for Madi’s basic needs, he couldn’t bring himself to do much else. The guilt was wearing away at him though, knowing that Madi needed to go to the park and be outside.

As the days wore on, he picked through every moment of his interactions with Clarke and wondered whether there was something he could’ve done to prevent this. There had to be a reason that every single one of his relationships exploded in his face. Maybe this was a sign he should just quietly die alone. He could be a single dad. Maybe once Madi was a little older he would get a dog or something. He had always wanted a Bernese Mountain dog.

He was about to lie back down on the couch and wallow in his failures when the doorbell rang. He groaned and pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes. He quickly sent up a quiet prayer that it wasn’t Maya. He couldn’t really handle being grilled right now. He hauled himself up and shuffled toward the door, grabbing a shirt to pull over his head on the way.

He opened it to reveal Murphy, who was standing in the doorway with a giant grin and a pizza.

“I also brought Spiked Seltzers!” he beamed, pushing past Bellamy and walking into the house.

“Sure, Murphy, come in. Mi casa es su casa,” Bellamy said sarcastically, following him into the kitchen. He wasn’t sure exactly when Murphy became his best friend, but here he was drinking a girlie cranberry seltzer with him in the middle of the day.

“Yikes, man,” Murphy grimaced, taking in the kitchen. It wasn’t exactly pristine: the trash was overflowing, the counter was more than a little sticky, the sink was piled high with dishes and there were a lot of empty Jimmy Johns bags littered on the floor.

“Pretty much reflects where I’m at right now…” he admitted, clearing a space on the messy counter for the pizza.

“I figured as much,” Murphy said, cracking open a can of seltzer and helping himself to a slice of pizza, “What happened? Everyone has been speculating, and you won’t answer your damn phone.”

“Well, let’s see. First, Clarke accused me of sleeping with her for free babysitting, then she decides that she is an unfit mother and that I intend to sue her for custody of Madi annnd then she left and never came back. So that’s where we’re at,” Bellamy answered, punctuating the end of his sentence by taking an enormous bite of pizza.

“Okay, was not expecting that,” Murphy looked stricken. “That is honestly the most bizarre thing I have ever heard.”

“Yeah, no kidding, talk about a weird way to get dumped.”

“Have you guys been fighting? This seems like a really serious thing to come out of nowhere.”

“No, her mom came to the art show, but literally nothing else weird had happened. I was going to tell her I loved her,” Bellamy sighed, willing himself not to cry and took a long sip from his can.

“Did her mom say something maybe?”  

“I have absolutely no idea. Clarke was the one who snapped at me,” Bellamy answered, trying to remember all the details of their fight. “But I did say some things while we were fighting that were pretty terrible.”

“Yikes, like below the belt?” Murphy asked, his eyebrows rising into his hairline.

“I might have possibly confirmed that she wasn’t fit to take care of Madi.”

Murphy hissed, scrunching up his face into a grimace, “Okay, so like really bad.”

“In my defense, she literally accused me of being a soulless fuckface who was using her! I love her, dude. I have a ring, and it doesn’t matter because she thinks I’m human shit. There’s nothing to discuss here, it’s over,” Bellamy snapped, crushing his empty can in his fist and throwing it into the overly full trashcan.

“Hold up…you bought a ring?” Murphy grimaced as he chugged his can.

Bellamy cracked open two new seltzers, “I didn’t buy it; it was my mom’s,” he answered defensively.

“Bell, you and Clarke have been together for like three months.”

“Look Murph, I don’t really want to talk about this anymore…”

“Well TOO FUCKING BAD! From start to finish this is literally the most insane thing I’ve ever heard. First Octavia and Lincoln leave their baby to two people who hate each other. Then you two somehow stop hating each other and fall in love AND THEN you have some sort of explosive Come to Jesus, and Clarke moves to Alaska or some shit.” Murph was ranting and Bellamy wanted to interrupt, but he was on a roll.

“Did either of you talk at any point in the past nine months? Do you seriously think that this whole meltdown was totally unprompted? Have you considered that what you said might be what is keeping her from trying to come back? Were you just planning on proposing without talking about it at all? You’re both not 17 fucking years old and you dickbags implicated a one-year-old in this mess. What the hell is wrong with all of you?” Murphy yelled, knocking stray pieces of trash off the counter, “I’m sorry to be a dick about this but like c’mon!”  

Bellamy opened his mouth but felt a lump forming in his throat. Before he could really process what was happening, he began to cry. Murphy froze, standing immediately to hug Bellamy. They stood like that for a long time: Bellamy hunched over on a stool and crying into Murphy’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry for being harsh; this isn’t completely your fault. I’m not arguing that Clarke was out of line and acted like an insane person. I’m also saying with full respect for the dead that Lincoln and Octavia are dicks for putting you in this position. But you’re obviously miserable, and if you don’t do something about it, it’s going to reach the point of no return,” Murphy said soothingly, rubbing his back gently.

“At this point, Madi is the only thing keeping me going. If it weren’t for her, I probably would have turned into some sort of depressed blob,” Bellamy sighed, scrubbing a hand over his face, “I’m miserable, Murph, but I can’t force her to be with me if she doesn’t want to.”

“Why don’t I take Madi for a little while? Give you some time to shower and clean up around here. Maybe go for a run? You’ll feel better if you start acting like a person again,” Murphy suggested, carefully extracting himself from Bellamy’s grip.

“You really don’t have to; I swear it’s not as bad as it looks here.”

“Bellamy. Being a parent of a kid that young is hard. Really fucking hard. Hell, I planned for all five of my kids, and I still wonder if I’m a terrible dad sometimes. There was a day back when John Jr. was a newborn, and Emori locked herself in a closet because she was so overwhelmed. You and Clarke got thrown into this with literally no preparation at all. You are an incredible dad and doing the best job you can, but I’m not really surprised that this whole thing went to shit,” he assured, sitting back down on the barstool. “You guys are under a lot of pressure. This is a new relationship, and obviously neither of you knows how to talk about your feelings. People say things they don’t mean when they’re scared, and I don’t think one fight is necessarily a reason to throw your whole family away.”

Bellamy sighed and sat back down. “You know…I used to think you were really annoying back when we first met. And you are.” He threw him a sidelong glance. 

Murphy chuckled. 

“But you’re also a really good friend. Thanks, Murphy. I don’t have a lot of people left in my life who are this honest with me.” He gave Murphy a firm pat on the shoulder and smiled.

“You’re not so bad yourself, Blake. I would suggest you call Clarke, but if you decide you don’t want to I understand why. Either way, you’ve gotta keep living; this isn’t healthy for you or for Madi,” Murphy grinned back. “But first, please go take a shower. I wasn’t going to say anything, but you reek. Madi and I are going to go have a fun day with my kids.”

Bellamy laughed and helped Murphy clean up the pizza before following him to the door and waving bye to Madi. He had never been so excited to take a shower.

Murphy watched the giant double doors slam shut and readjusted Madi against his hip. He thought back to that first night when they had basically ambushed Bellamy and Clarke. New people usually made him nervous, and he had grabbed Bellamy’s shoulder so many times. Back then he had just thought they were Octavia’s brother and his wife, uneventful new neighbors. He had never really imagined it would end up like this. Bellamy was arguably his best friend now, but this was a level of crazy he had never seen before.

Reentering his own house, he plopped Madi in front of the TV with Clara and handed them both a bag of goldfish. Hopefully the food would act as an effective distraction. Giving them one last check over his shoulder, he walked through the house to look for Emori.

He found her in the backyard sprawled in a lawn chair with Genevie asleep beside her. She didn’t notice him enter, instead intently watching Eloise gracefully swim laps in the pool. He came up behind her and kissed the top of her head.

“She’s getting pretty good,” he observed, taking a seat next to his wife.

“An artist and an athlete-brace your bank account for Harvard, buddy,” Emori smiled, turning her head to face him fully.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t put it past her,” Murphy laughed, looking away from Eloise to meet Emori’s gaze.

“How was Bellamy?” Emori asked carefully. They had all been concerned after Clarke had seemingly vanished, but nobody had wanted to pry.

“Rough. He has a beard. It does not suit him,” Murphy joked, attempting to lighten her concern.

“John!” Emori huffed.

“Sorry, I’m deflecting. He’s in bad shape. Cliff notes version, Clarke decided Bellamy was sleeping with her because she was a good babysitter and then left after deciding she wasn’t fit to be a mother,” Murphy explained.

“Wait, what?” Emori sat up, careful to not jostle the baby and moved to sit on his chair.

“It’s all very confusing, and Bellamy was crying for part of it, so it was honestly hard to get details. But Clarke’s mom showed up to the art show too, and I guess she called her a bad mom. But also, he has a ring.”

“You’re doing a terrible job at explaining this ... like such a bad job you should win an award for it.”

Murphy laughed and decided cliff notes were probably not going to cut it for this one.

“Okay remember how I told you that they hated each other at first and have only been dating for like 3 months? Buckle in, because it only gets crazier from there…”

Emori’s eyes widened, and Murphy shook his head to affirm he wasn’t joking before jumping in to detail the entire saga. By the time he finished, Emori’s jaw was hanging open.

“I don’t even know where to start,” Emori murmured, eyes still wide.

“RIGHT!” Murphy exclaimed, waving his arms over his head.

“You know I hate meddling, but I think we should meddle…”

“You love meddling,” he snorted.

“That’s beside the point, I don’t think either of them are going to do anything about this. We can’t just let them be miserable. Well, I’m assuming Clarke is miserable, but-“ she rattled on, excitement growing in her features when a small voice interrupted.

“Miss Clarke has been really sad lately; she stopped teaching classes. And last week she came into the studio in her pajamas and started crying on Miss Harper during oil painting class,” Eloise said quietly, coming to stand beside her dad.

“Eloise, we’ve talked about eavesdropping. Sometimes we talk about adult things that you aren’t supposed to hear,” Murphy chided gently, reaching out to wrap a towel around her lightly shaking shoulders, “But we understand that you’re worried about Miss Clarke.”

“I miss her a lot. It’s not the same when Miss Harper teaches the class. Also, I have things that I want to tell her,” Eloise said in a small voice, squeezing Murphy’s hand.

“She’ll come back when she’s feeling better, honey. This isn’t forever. Why don’t you go inside and take a shower?” Emori suggested, reaching out to give her a hug. 

Eloise shuffled back inside and Emori stood, gesturing for Murphy to follow. She clicked on the Nespresso, making two cups of coffee while he put Genevie in her rocker.

Handing Murphy the mug, she took a seat next to him in the sitting room.

“So, what’s the game plan?” he asked, taking a slow sip from his mug.

“I’m not really close enough with Clarke to handle this myself, but I was thinking I would talk to Harper next time I drop Eloise off. Raven and Lexa both have a hard time being sensitive, so I might just leave them out of it. Especially considering you already made Bellamy cry earlier,” Emori said, a small smile creeping out at the end.

“I didn’t make him cry!” Murphy argued, “I just got him a little buzzed off of spiked seltzers and accidentally poked a soft spot or two.”

“You gave him my White Claws!?!” Emori gasped, swatting him.

“Babe, they’ve been sitting in the fridge for nine months,” he groaned.

“You’re buying me new ones,” she huffed, crossing her arms.

Murphy rolled his eyes and took another sip of his coffee. “I think your plan is solid. I don’t think Bellamy really knows what went down in the first place. Clarke is probably the person to go to for answers.”

“I agree. From what you said, it seems like he’s being reactionary. He didn’t purposely provoke anything.”

“I think we should give this a code name. Makes it more official,” Murphy suggested.

“You are a grown man. You have five children.”

“What about operation Blariffin? It’s a mashup of Blake and Griffin.”

“John. No.”

“C’mon! It’s like we’re spies!”

“I’m going to go check on the kids,” Emori teased, standing up to walk to the living room. As she was leaving, she called over her shoulder, “And if we were mashing their names together, Bellarke sounds way better.”

Murphy huffed. Somehow, even after fifteen years, Emori always managed to be right. Shaking his head, he stood and collected their discarded coffee mugs.

He entered the living room to find Emori leaning against a wall and stifling a laugh while the movie Frozen played on the TV. Clara stood on top of the couch wearing an Elsa dress while Madi sat on the floor in an Ana dress that was much too large for her.

“LET IT GOOOOOOO!!!” Clara screamed, jumping up and down on the couch holding the TV remote like a microphone. She continued the chorus while flinging herself off the couch and onto the carpet. Murphy winced when she landed directly onto a pile of goldfish, rubbing crumbs into the carpet. Unperturbed, Clara leaned forward and pushed the remote into Madi’s face as if she were sharing the microphone.

“Sing, Madi!” Clara commanded and Madi clumsily yelled back, “WET IT GOOOOO!!!!”

Clara cheered, grabbing Madi’s arms and dancing around the room to the music. Madi tripped over the hem of her dress but squealed with glee, bouncing happily.

Murphy grinned, edging over to Emori and bumping her hip with his.

“What do you think about having one more?” he whispered, wrapping her up in his arms.

“I think we can have one more if you want to carry it around for nine months and push it out of your body,” Emori responded, pressing a kiss to his jaw.

“Touche,” he laughed as Clara picked up Madi and spun in a circle, knocking over their couch cushion fort.

***

Eloise bounced in the passenger seat, her art bag resting between her knees. Emori knew she was sad that Clarke wasn’t driving her, so she flipped the radio to Eloise’s favorite station. She would listen to Shawn Mendes all day if it meant Eloise would crack a smile.

“Do you think Miss Clarke will be back today?” Eloise asked hopefully, fiddling with the handle of her bag.

“I don’t know, sweetheart. I hope so!”

“I really want to tell her about how me and Jenna are friends again!” Eloise continued, a smile spreading across her face.

“Your dad and I are really proud of you for that.  Not everyone can be the bigger person in a fight,” Emori smiled. They had been worried about the rift between Eloise and Jenna for months now. It had been quite the surprise when she had come home from school one day and announced that Jenna was coming over. It still riled her up that Jenna had been teasing Eloise for being small; it hit a soft spot from her own childhood, but she couldn’t help but be proud of her daughter for handling it maturely.

“She cried, mom! Miss Clarke was right. Bras hurt, and she was jealous that I don’t have to wear one. I couldn’t be mean after that,” Eloise replied, collecting her bag and hopping out of the car.

“Sounds like you and Clarke had a good talk then?” Emori said, wrapping her arm around her daughter and squeezing. She was glad that Eloise had another adult she could trust, but it also made her mad that Clarke had just dropped out of her life like that. Guiding her daughter into the studio, she stood awkwardly in the lobby after Eloise ran into the studio.

“Emori!” Harper called, emerging from the back office, “What’s up? Does Eloise need something?”

“No, she loves it here, I’ve never seen her happier. I’m actually here to see you!” Emori replied, tapping her fingers against the desk nervously.

“Oh,” Harper looked confused, scrunching her face before her eyebrows shot up, “Is this about Clarke?”

“Yeah, sorry I don’t want to come off as nosey…“ she began, trailing off.

“No, I’m glad you came. I’ve been worried, too. I don’t know about Bellamy, but Clarke is a mess,” Harper assured, glancing over her shoulder into the classroom. “Let me just get them started, and we can chat.”

Emori nodded, watching Harper retreat into the classroom. She was relieved that it had worked out. She hadn’t really considered what she would’ve done if Harper hadn’t been on board. That would’ve been seriously awkward. 

Fidgeting, she angled herself, so she had a view of the door. And watched as Eloise intently analyzed the fruit bowl in the center of the room, lightly sketching the outline of a banana. She was so enraptured watching her daughter paint that she jumped when Harper came up behind her.

“Oh my God,” she exclaimed, “You scared me!”

“Sorry, there’s a side door,” Harper laughed, guiding Emori into an office. She bent down, rooting under the desk and came back up with two Berry LaCroix. “Might as well make this fun!” she giggled, popping the tabs on the cans.

Emori laughed and took a sip; at least Harper had good taste.

“I don’t really know the specifics of what went down between Bellamy and Clarke, but it just seemed really weird to me and John. Plus, Bellamy is miserable. He’s grown this terrible sadness beard and is channeling some major mountain man anti-social vibes,” Emori explained, carefully reading Harper’s expression and continuing when she seemed receptive. “But I wanted to talk to you because Bellamy doesn’t really seem to know what exactly they’re fighting about, and I thought you might have some answers.”

Harper sighed, putting her can down and leaned back in her chair.

“Clarke and I grew up together,” Harper began, scrubbing a hand over her face, “We come from a pretty errm privileged background. Everyone we grew up with had parents who were…career oriented. Some balanced that better than others. My parents weren’t great at it, but they tried. Clarke’s mom didn’t really balance it at all. She’s one of the best neurosurgeons in the world, but she was basically never home when we were kids. All the parenting fell to Clarke’s dad. To put it kindly, Abby lost sight of who she was in the name of success.” Harper explained carefully.

“So, her mom being at the art show was bad.” Emori supplied.

“That would be putting it lightly,” Harper agreed, pausing to take a sip, “Her mom thinks being a doctor is the only real career path. She disowned her when she dropped out of college to go to art school. Although, I think it might also have had something to do with Clarke’s dad. I don’t really know why she came to the show, but she ended up cornering Clarke and somehow convinced her that she was an unfit mom. And anything Abby says completely goes to Clarke’s head, hence the freakout.”

“Basically, this is a giant miscommunicated mess,” Emori sighed, rubbing her hands against her eyes.

“Clarke’s mom plus surprise baby plus this completely out-of-the-blue relationship equals recipe for disaster,” Harper agreed. 

“Did they actually hate each other before all this? My husband has a tendency toward theatrics,”

“On multiple occasions, Clarke has referred to Bellamy as ‘Spawn of Satan’ if that gives you a better picture,” Harper laughed.

Emori shook her head, unsure of why she had willingly implicated herself in this cinematic disaster.

“As much as this sudden turn confuses me, Bellamy and Clarke make sense together. She’s miserable too, she just keeps going to Target for no reason and crying,” Harper added after a brief pause.  

“Soooo what you’re saying is that we should meddle,” Emori said, wiggling her eyebrows.

“Oh, we should 100% meddle. Clarke is the most stubborn person I’ve ever met, and she’s not going to fix this on her own,” Harper agreed.

***

Clarke rooted through her closet. She had been locked away in her apartment for over three weeks now and was starting to go crazy. Plus, she was running out of wearable clothes.

She had reached the back of her closet and was really hitting some winners. There were lots of Vineyard Vines Shep shirts and floral fit-and-flare dresses. But she knew she was really getting to the bottom of the bin when she found a Taylor Swift Red tour T-shirt.

 She laughed, bunching the old shirt in her hands and reminisced on how her and Harper had begged for months for front row tickets. It still smelled faintly of cheap vodka. She pulled the worn shirt on over her tank top and continued rooting through her closet, freezing when she grabbed onto a piece of tulle that was wedged between the shelves.  

Confused, she grabbed the fabric and pulled it out from behind the shelf, wincing when she heard it rip a little. It was a floofy forest green and cream dress. Her bridesmaids dress from Octavia and Lincoln’s wedding.

 

October 24, 2015

Clarke pushed the skirt of her dress down, willing it to stay in place. It was arguably one of the ugliest things she had ever worn. The color made her look kind of grey and the over dramatic skirt definitely made her look fat, but she had kept her mouth shut. It was what Octavia wanted, and that’s what really mattered.

“Clarke, where is your stole?!” one of Octavia’s sorority sisters screeched, throwing a cream fur at Clarke from across the room. Clarke caught it and wrapped it around her shoulders; her pride had long since gone out the window.

Adjusting the fur around her shoulders, she picked a glass of champagne from the makeshift bar and headed toward the room where Octavia was getting dressed. She entered to find a terrified hairdresser cowering in the corner of the dressing room while Octavia rooted through a make-up bag, throwing lipstick all over the room. Her hair was half curled, and she somehow looked both gorgeous and manic.

“Is everything okay in here?” Clarke asked carefully, approaching Octavia like she would a caged animal.  

Octavia didn’t respond, instead throwing the make up bag across the room and flopped on the floor. Taking a seat on the ground next to Octavia, Clarke reached out and gently stroked her arm.

“I can’t find-” she began before her voice choked on a sob, and she began to cry. Clarke recoiled. She didn’t really handle crying well. “I-I need…” Octavia tried again before breaking down into tears, smearing her makeup across her face.

Clarke gave Octavia’s arm a squeeze, “I’ll be right back,” she assured, gathering her fluffy skirt and hauling herself off the floor.

Slipping off her heels, she exited the bridal suite and jogged down the hallway. Pulling out her phone to re-read her texts with Lincoln before knocking heavily on the door to a suite across the floor.

The door swung open, and Bellamy stood in the entrance, shirt half buttoned with a tie hung loosely around his neck. His hair was mussed, and it infuriated Clarke that the horrible shade of Forest Green somehow suited him.

“I thought you were room service,” he groaned, leaning on the doorframe.

“Hi Clarke, what’s up? Come on in,” she mocked, pushing his shoulder and entering the room without invitation.

Bellamy muttered inaudibly and closed the door, turning in time to see Clarke tightly hug Lincoln who was currently being sewn into his tuxedo. Turns out they don’t make suit jackets for shoulders that large.

He had to admit, as much as he disliked Clarke, it was easy to forget that she and Lincoln weren’t actually related. They really acted like siblings.

To Bellamy’s surprise, Clarke stepped away from Lincoln and moved back to stand beside him.

“Is that a dead cat on your shoulder princess?” He mocked, fingering the cream fur around her shoulders.

“It’s a stole, you idiot,” she rolled her eyes and turned to face him fully. “Do you know how to tie a tie? Maybe I can find you a clip on.”

“Did you just come here to annoy me?” he snapped, reaching down to finish his tie.

“As much as it pains me to say this…I need your help.”

“Ahh, you finally caved. Need a little stress relief huh?”

“Ew. You’re disgusting,” Clarke grimaced, eyeing his fumbling fingers working at the tie.

She swatted his hands away and tied it herself, “Windsor knot,” she supplied with a passive aggressive shrug.

“Screw you, I was doing fine,” he argued, turning to examine the perfect knot in the mirror.

“Sure you were. Do you know how to tie your shoelaces? I can do those, too,” she smirked, looking down at his feet.

“If you’re done showing off your sliver spoon, feel free to leave,” he said curtly and turned to walk away.

“Ugh wait,” she whisper-shouted, pulling his arm back to face her, “Octavia is freaking out. I don’t really know why, but she’s sitting on the floor of the dressing room and crying. She won’t get dressed and she scared the shit out the hairstylist,” Clarke continued quietly, eyes darting toward Lincoln.

“Fuck,” Bellamy’s face filled with panic, “I think it has to do with our mom,” he explained.

“Okay, so you should go and talk to her. I’ll stay here and hang out with Lincoln, we don’t want to freak him out. It’s bad luck for him to see her before the wedding.”

“Of course you believe in stupid shit like that…” he rolled his eyes.

“Shut up and go,” Clarke gritted out, shoving him toward the door. Hearing the door click behind him, she walked back toward Lincoln. He was eyeing her suspiciously.

“You and Bellamy whispering has never ended well,” he groaned, stepping down from the fitting platform.

“You’re getting married, stop worrying about us! Are you excited?!” she deflected.

“Honestly, I have never been more excited than I am right now,” he admitted, a huge grin spreading across his face.

“I’m so happy for you. You guys are perfect together, and you deserve all the happiness in the world,” she smiled back, reaching out to squeeze his hand.

“I can’t believe this is really happening. I can’t believe she wants to marry me,” Lincoln continued, his eyes brimming with happy tears.

“Hey there buddy, save the tears for the altar,” Clarke chided jokingly, tearing up as well.

“Thanks for being here today. It’s nice to have someone by my side,” he continued, wrapping her in another hug.

“Love you, Linc, it’s an honor to be here. And don’t worry. I stuffed a bunch of tissues in my bra for when you inevitably cry.”

“You have no faith in me,” Lincoln gasped dramatically, “but I love you too.”

The door beeped, and Bellamy reentered. His hair was even more mussed, but he otherwise looked as unperturbed as ever. Taking it as her cue to leave, Clarke squeezed Lincoln again before standing up.

“I should probably get back to the bridal suite…” she explained, hip checking Bellamy and leaving the room.

 

October 10 th , 2019

Clutching the dress, she sank to the floor. It was a painful reminder of an easier time; the wedding had only been four years ago, but it felt like a lifetime away.

Looking back on the day, she and Bellamy had made a decent team. Even back then. Somehow it wasn’t surprising that Lincoln noticed it before she did. Tears sprang into her eyes; she had hated this stupid dress, but there was no way she could throw it away. It would have to sit in her closet as a very ugly reminder of her best friends. Her tears turned into a choked laugh. Octavia would have found that hilarious. In fact, she would’ve gotten a lot of satisfaction knowing that Clarke was keeping this stupid dress because of her.

She was shaken out of her nostalgia when her phone rang, dropping the dress on the floor, she jumped to answer it.

“OPEN THE DOOR!” Harper yelled, “I’m outside, and I brought you an iced coffee.”

Rolling her eyes, Clarke made her way to the door. Harper had been doing this a lot lately. It was probably in part to make sure that Clarke didn’t fall into her immense laundry pile and suffocate to death.

Swinging the door open, she was shocked to see Emori standing beside Harper, holding a box of donuts.

“Surprise!” Harper exclaimed, shoving an enormous coffee into Clarke’s hands and shouldering her way into the apartment. Emori stood in the doorway awkwardly before Clarke stepped back and gestured for her to enter.

She was confused, when did Emori and Harper become friends? Harper helped herself to a donut from the box and leaned back, propping her elbow on the pile of jeans next to her on the couch.

“What’re you wearing?” she asked, furrowing her brow and taking a bite out of the donut. “Oh my God…is that a Taylor Swift shirt?!” Harper burst into laughter, spilling crumbs all over the jeans.

“I was cleaning my closet,” Clarke defended, pulling awkwardly at the shirt, “trying to get my life back in order.”

“I can’t believe you still have that old thing…it probably reeks of the Mr. Boston I spilled on you afterwards,” Harper choked out. “But I’m glad you’re doing better.”

Emori’s eyebrows shot up as she took in the messy apartment and Clarke’s haphazard outfit. Clarke could tell she was confused by Harper’s optimism and Clarke was suddenly glad she had cleaned up a little last night. Even if it still looked like a disaster.

“Eloise misses you,” Emori said, picking at the sprinkles on her donut.

“I miss her, too. I didn’t mean for her to get wrapped up in this. I’m sorry,” Clarke answered guiltily, taking a seat next to Emori.

“She talked to Jenna after you talked with her. Whatever you said worked; they’re friends again,” Emori continued, ignoring the apology entirely.

Clarke smiled sadly, reaching out to take a donut so she could avoid having to answer.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect mom, Clarke, trust me. But you listen, you care and you always put Madi before yourself, which is a lot more than most people can say,” Emori added gently.

Clarke felt her eyes begin to sting and she ground out, “Some people just aren’t meant to be moms.”

Harper stood, squeezing on the couch next to her, “That’s true. To be honest, Abby was kind of one of those people-“ she began.

“And I’m exactly like her,” Clarke snapped.

“What?! How on earth did you come to that conclusion? No, no, you aren’t at all,” Harper assured, confusion filling her face, “Is that what she said to you when she came to the show?”

Clarke nodded, “Yeah, and she’s right. I always knew it deep down.”

“She’s not. She’s so blatantly wrong, it’s almost criminal. I don’t think you remember how we became friends. Your dad noticed I was sitting in my house by myself for hours after school. One day he invited me to come back with you guys from the bus stop, made me a snack and just kind of let me come over every single day after that. It’s exactly the kind of thing you would do and the kind of thing Abby never would,” Harper said, wrapping an arm around her.

“It’s something you did do,” Emori added, “You talked my daughter out of a closet and then brought her with you to your art studio even though she’s way too young to actually be there.”

“Abby doesn’t know you. She never really has. Don’t let her try to tell you who you are,” Harper soothed, rubbing Clarke’s back as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“She didn’t really say anything that I wasn’t already thinking…” Clarke admitted, wiping her eyes with the sleeves of her sweatshirt.

Harper’s concerned expression tinged with irritation, and Emori felt the air shift in the room. 

“Do you really think you would be okay with Madi growing up without you? Or with her calling someone else mom? I understand you’re upset, babe, but there are consequences to running away like this. Bellamy isn’t going to sit around waiting for you forever. I’m sure he gets a lot of interest,” Harper said matter-of-factly.

At the mention of Bellamy’s name, Clarke broke down into tears again. Shifting from silent crying to full blow sobs as she slid from the couch to the floor.

“You need to snap out of this. It’s selfish and destructive,” Harper finished, crossing her arms.

Emori glared at Harper over Clarke’s head and reached over to rub her back, sliding down to sit beside her. 

“This isn’t just about Madi is it?” Emori asked, gently pulling Clarke upright.

“Like I said, she didn’t really say anything I wasn’t already worried about. But she pointed out that it’s more than a little convenient for Bellamy to have me around. I’m basically just a free babysitter. If I had ever tried to be more, he’s her biological uncle. He has more rights than me,” Clarke said coldly, turning her attention toward a donut to avoid having to look at Harper and Emori.

All the feelings from the night of the gallery came flooding back, and Clarke felt the anxiety from it all burn in her stomach. She pressed her forehead against her knees, forcing herself to regulate her breathing. The last thing she needed right now was to have a panic attack.

“I know that this situation is a little ridiculous. Frankly it was kind of shitty for Lincoln and Octavia to do this to you guys without telling you. Especially to you, I know you and Lincoln were close but it’s a lot to ask from a friend-“ Harper began.

“I wish people would stop saying that,” Clarke snapped, jerking her head up from between her knees. “Lincoln and I were family. Just because we weren’t born to the same parents doesn’t make that any less significant. He was there for me when nobody else was, and I was supposed to be there for him,” she yelled, standing up and storming out of the living room, slamming her bedroom door behind her.

“That mayyyyy have been a bad plan of action,” Emori winced, turning to face Harper whose face was twisted into an unreadable expression.

This is why Clarke and I didn’t really stay close after we went off to college. Once she sets her mind onto something, she is impossible to convince. Even if it is the most illogical thing ever, she just doesn’t listen,” Harper huffed, standing up and pacing the length of the living room.

“Why don’t you head back home? I think you two might need some space from each other. I’m going to hang back. John can pick me up later,” Emori suggested carefully, standing to place her hand on Harper’s shoulder.

“I think that might be good. I’m sorry. I just can’t get into this with her; it’s just going to end up in a fight,” Harper said, gathering her bag and coffee.

Once Harper left, Emori sat back down on the couch. The living room was a mess. Well, frankly, the whole apartment was a disaster. Sighing, she reached down to pick through the jeans on the armchair. Clarke probably needed a few minutes to get her bearings, and cleaning up some of this couldn’t hurt.

***

Clarke tipped her head back, letting the spray of the shower pound into her shoulders. Her and Harper had never really approached situations the same way. It was part of why she had never told her exactly why she had run away from home all those years ago. She felt a little guilty for snapping the way she did but didn’t regret standing her ground. The first few months of their friendship, Lincoln had held her while she cried for hours. He had been so patient and supportive. He had always been there for her. She swore, leaning against the shower wall. Lincoln had never really asked her for much, and the one time that he had, she had abandoned his daughter.

Guilt creeping up her neck, she turned off the water and stepped out of the tub. Wrapping herself in a robe, she flew out of her room. She had to get to her phone. Bellamy aside, she had to deal with this.

She froze in the doorway of her bedroom; the living room was spotless. Emori popped her head out from kitchen, “Oh hey, I hope you don’t mind. I figured I would just straighten up in here a little bit,” she shrugged.

Clarke stepped forward and wrapped Emori in a tight hug, “Thank you,” she whispered against her shoulder.

Emori gave Clarke a squeeze and stepped back, guiding Clarke into the living room.

“Don’t worry about it, we’ve had a cleaning lady for a while now, and I kind of missed cleaning,” Emori said nonchalantly, “Plus I figured you could use some space.”

“Seriously, I cannot thank you enough. It looks amazing in here. I’m sorry about earlier. I don’t respond well to tough love. And well, it’s Harper’s MO.”

“I know what anxiety looks like, trust me. It’s okay, we all deal with things differently.”

Clarke’s heart filled with affection for Emori. They weren’t really even that close, and she genuinely seemed to care about her.

“I know I said it before, but I’m also sorry for leaving without talking to Eloise,” she admitted guiltily.

“She’s been having a rough year. She wasn’t happy about having another sibling, and she lost her best friend over a stupid fight. Out of all my kids, she’s the most like John. She doesn’t open up to people easily, and she has a hard time with change. The fact that she’s so taken with you is very telling to me. You are a good parent and person, Clarke. And a good role model to my daughter,” Emori explained, choking up with emotion.

“I can’t believe they actually made up,” Clarke said, smile spreading across her face.

“Yeah, Jenna apologized, it was a whole deal. You’ll have to ask her about it; she’s been dying to tell you,” Emori smiled, leaning back in the now empty armchair.

Clarke dipped into the kitchen and returned with two mugs of tea, pressing one into Emori’s hands.

“I miss her a lot…I miss everyone,” Clarke admitted carefully, taking a sip of her tea.

Emori smiled knowingly, setting her mug on the table. “Bellamy’s in rough shape. You can believe whatever you want to, but I don’t get the impression he was using you.”

Clarke groaned and leaned back against the couch. “I just wish we could have done this all normally. It’s so confusing when we already live together and are raising a kid. It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not.”

“There’s no such thing as doing things normally…” Emori corrected gently, “John and I were high school sweethearts. We got married when we were 19, and it was amazing. Until we went to different law schools. He was in TonDC for 3 years while I was here at ArkU. It was so hard that we actually got separated. But we found our way back to each other eventually, and now I couldn’t imagine my life without him.”

“You guys are honestly one of the best couples I have ever met. That’s shocking.” Clarke gaped. She couldn’t imagine a world where Emori and Murphy didn’t end up together.

“Exactly. It always looks like everyone has it figured out, but they don’t. Don’t compare your story to anyone else’s,” Emori explained. “But honestly I’m not really here to convince you to get back together with Bellamy.”

Clarke balked, “Wait what?!”

Emori shook her head, “I came here to tell you that you can’t opt in and out with kids. If you decide to keep away, then you need to accept that Madi won’t be a part of your life anymore and that it’s going to reach a point where Eloise won’t forgive you.”

She stood, resting a hand on Clarke’s back, “The decision is yours, but whatever you decide, you need to stick to it and live with that choice.”

Emori patted Clarke on the shoulder and quietly slipped out of the apartment. Leaving her by herself again.

Chapter Text

Bellamy hauled Madi out of her car seat. It had taken a lot of effort for him to leave the house, but Murphy was right. He needed to stop wallowing in his sadness.  It had been over three weeks, and there was no sign of Clarke. Every time his phone buzzed a small part of him hoped it was her, but it never was. There were a lot of times, usually late at night, when he clicked on her contact to call her. But he could never bring himself to do it. It was too embarrassing. She obviously didn’t want him. 

He plopped Madi into the seat of a cart and walked into the store. A wiggling skeleton greeted them at the door, and Madi clapped with glee at its goofy song. He chuckled to himself: a lot of things change but Party City never does. 

Weaving through aisles of party decorations, weird wigs and strangely inappropriate adult costumes, they finally reached the baby aisle. 

He flipped through the costumes. A few came in sets with matching adult counterparts, which would make his life a lot easier. 

His heart seized a little when he caught sight of a costume set from the movie Rapunzel. It had three pieces: Rapunzel, Flynn Ryder and Pasqual the iguana. It honestly would’ve been the perfect costume to do with Clarke. 

He lingered on it; the baby iguana costume was really cute. Screw it, just because Clarke was gone didn’t mean they couldn’t do it. They could just be Flynn Ryder and Pasqual. 

“Whatddya think Mads?” he asked seriously, holding up the fluffy iguana costume for her to analyze. Madi laughed and pointed at him, “Dada!” 

Bellamy chuckled and shook his head. This would work. They could just keep the Rapunzel costume for dress up or something. He pushed the cart though the store, picking up a plastic pumpkin bucket for Madi to use when they went Trick-or-Treating. 

He tossed the Rapunzel costume into the closet when he got home and forgot about it. Instead focusing on making applesauce for Madi in the blender. It was a huge pain in the ass that every store branded applesauce had soy in it, but his recipe had gotten pretty good. 

Just as he was spooning the applesauce from the blender and into a container, the doorbell rang. 

He groaned and hastily leaned over to wipe the counter; they were long overdue for a visit from Maya. He had been dreading it, the thought of having to face her after all this made his stomach churn. Scooping up Madi, who was half asleep, he made his way to the door. Bracing himself for the clipboard, he swung it open and froze. He almost dropped Madi in shock, as he took in Clarke standing in the doorway. 

His heart was racing and part of him wanted to slam the door in her face. But there was something in her expression that kept him from doing it. 

“I’m sorry for running away. I don’t expect you to forgive me. I’m not really asking you to. But I love Madi, and so do you. She deserves to have two parents who love her,” Clarke said desperately, pushing a strand of wet hair off her forehead. There were tears brimming in her eyes, and her hand was trembling against the door. “I’m also sorry I showed up like this, but I didn’t think you would answer if I tried to call you.” 

Bellamy felt frozen in place. He didn’t know how to react; all he could do was stare at her open mouthed. He wanted to forgive her, but anger built up inside his chest. The loneliness from the last few weeks stewed and mixed with the hurt from her words. It was enough to keep him from reaching out to kiss her. 

As he was about to tell her to leave, Madi wiggled in his grasp and reached out toward Clarke, “Mama! Mama!” 

He softened and loosened his grip on the door, shifting so Clarke could scoop her out of his arms. 

Clarke felt like her heart was going to explode when Madi grabbed onto her hair and snuggled into her chest, nuzzling against Clarke’s neck. 

“Hi, sweet girl,” she whispered, running a hand across the back of her head. Madi snuggled deeper and Clarke held her tighter, pressing a kiss against her head. 

“Where go mama?” Madi asked, pulling back to look at Clarke. 

Clarke could feel her heart breaking as she looked over Madi’s head toward Bellamy. She wasn’t sure which hurt more: the words themselves or the fact that Madi had grown so much in such a short time. 

“She’s been talking a lot more. Crazy how resilient kids are, huh?” Bellamy shrugged, stepping back so Clarke could enter the house. 

Clarke held Madi tightly against her body and followed him into the house. She had expected Bellamy to be standoffish, but it hurt a lot more than she had thought it would. She couldn’t really blame him though. He was hurt and angry and it was her fault. 

“You’re right though. Just because we didn’t work out doesn’t mean that Madi should suffer,” he admitted, leaning forward against the kitchen counter. His knuckles were white as they gripped the sides of the counter, and he didn’t meet her gaze, “But if we’re doing this, you have to promise me you won’t abandon her like that again. She cried for you for weeks.” 

The last piece of her heart broke, and she held Madi’s small hand in her own. “It was wrong for me to leave her like that, but I’m all in now. I’m not going anywhere.” 

“You don’t need to convince me,” Bellamy said expressionlessly, pushing off the counter and walking out of the kitchen. Clarke could hear him rummaging in the front closet before he silently slipped on his running shoes and strode out of the house. 

Clarke bounced Madi on her hip and flopped heavily down onto the couch. That had gone both better and worse than she expected. She had been worried that he would slam the door in her face; he honestly might’ve if it hadn’t been for Madi. It was more than she could’ve asked for that he let her back into Madi’s life, but it hurt like hell to know that he hated her so much. It was starting to become more and more obvious that they had never actually hated each other before because it had never felt like this. 

Leaning back, she clicked on the TV, letting Madi snuggle into her chest. 

“I love you,” she murmured into Madi’s hair, stroking her back. “And I’m sorry.” 

Sighing, she reached for the remote and clicked on the TV. Annie was already queued up on Netflix, and Clarke chuckled to herself. The songs made her heart ache from the sheer number of times that she used them to torture herself, but Madi’s glee ebbed the pain away. 

They were almost through the movie when the door clicked open, and Bellamy strode back in. He was shirtless, and dripping sweat from his run. Ignoring Clarke entirely, he bent down to peck Madi on the head and turned to go upstairs. 

It stung. His absence had been easier to ignore when she knew he was out of the house. But now the living room felt noticeably empty. The space on the couch next to her seemed icy as she watched Madi dance to the ending song. Part of her wanted to go upstairs and make things right, but his words from the art show rang in her ears. He didn’t think she was a good mom either. 

Well, she would prove them all wrong. She had to show him that she came back for Madi, not for him. If it meant she had to be miserable for a while, then that’s what she would do. 

XXX

“Are you sure this won’t be weird and crazy?” Clarke asked as she adjusted her ponytail in the passenger side mirror. 

“It’s toddler water aerobics, of course it’s going to be weird and crazy!” Emori giggled. 

“The toddler entertainment market is really out of control,” Clarke laughed, turning to face Emori. “Do we think I could profit off a mommy-and-me wine and canvas class?” 

“I think drama queen back there would love nothing more than grape juice in a plastic wine glass,” Emori said, pointing at Clara in the backseat. 

Emori pulled into the parking lot of the country club, and Clarke cringed. She had grown up in this place. It was filled to the brim with her mother’s nosey friends and snobby girls she had gone to school with. She had attended etiquette tea in the ballroom and sat through hundreds of boring rounds of Mahjong in the sauna. Her stupid coming out party had been hosted in the event hall. Even her first underage cocktail had been in the restaurant, and her first alcohol-induced vomit was in the bush next to it. In retrospect, most of those memories made her want to puke in the bush again. 

The only parts of this place that were redeemable were the golf course and the pool. Those had been her dad’s stomping grounds. He had brought Clarke here every weekend when she was in second grade and taught her how to swim. The sharp tang of chlorine and the heat of the pool brought back fond memories of clinging to her dad’s arms while he helped her kick laps. It made her heart feel warm. 

Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of an elegant brunette settling her chubby son into the water. It was Alie. Clarke groaned internally. Out of everyone, this was one of the last people she had wanted to run into. They had been childhood frenemies. Their moms were best friends and had always forced them to hang out, but they never really clicked. They were always too competitive with each other. Alie was everything her mother had wanted: a perfect, poised debutante with a respectable taste in men. Even now, she looked like an oil painting come to life. Who wore red lipstick in the pool for God’s sake? 

Clarke shot her a curt, closed lipped smile and pulled Madi closer to her body. Alie eyed her and her gaze flitted down to Madi before flicking away quickly. Clarke shrugged and turned to follow Emori. She knew that Alie would text her mom about this the second the class was over. Oh well, Clarke hoped Alie’s mom found out. The whole town could know for all she cared. It would be good for Abby to hear that her stupid advice didn’t work. She had always hated being wrong. 

“Why is that scary looking robot woman staring at us like that?” Emori asked out of the side of her mouth, tipping her head toward Alie. 

“She’s an old childhood foe, and she’s basking in all the gossip she can spread about me to my mother’s friends. ‘Clarke Griffin with an obviously ethnic child *gasp* the horror…’” Clarke chuckled, rolling her eyes. 

“The fact that you used to hang out with someone like that is terrifying,” Emori huffed. 

“Trust me, I know. Forget her, she’s way too passive aggressive to come over here. Let’s get our aerobics on,” Clarke cheered, bobbing Madi up and down in the water. 

Emori nodded, waving Clara’s arms up and down to mimic pumping weights. Clara threw her head back with a laugh and kicked her legs in the with the arm movements. 

Clarke laughed along, forgetting Alie entirely as the instructor slipped into the water and began teaching them choreography. The synth music pulsed through the water, and Clarke spun Madi around. The choreography was shockingly difficult and after a while, the weight of Madi in her arms was starting to exhaust her. It was kind of a rush though. She had never really been someone who thrived off exercise, but the endorphins didn’t hurt.

Before she knew it, the class came to a close, and Madi slumped against her body with exhaustion. They were in for a nice long nap when they got home. She adjusted Madi’s little polka dot bikini and climbed out of the water with Emori. 

“How do we feel about lunch!?” Emori asked enthusiastically as Madi and Clara cheered. Clarke wrapped Madi in a towel like a burrito and carried her into the locker room. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught Alie staring at her again but shrugged it off. 

Changed and a little damp, they sat in the club restaurant. Clarke giggled to herself when she caught sight of the teenage girls clustered in the corner with their smuggled mojitos. Some Saturday afternoon traditions never change. 

“Would we be irresponsible mothers if we got mojitos too?” Emori teased, pointing toward the girls. 

“If you go by what those girls are telling their mothers…they make them virgin here,” Clarke giggled. 

Emori threw her head back in a laugh and ordered them both an iced tea instead. 

“So, how does it feel to be back in the hood?” Emori asked, screwing the lid onto a cup of milk for Clara. 

“The hood?” Clarke coughed. 

“John says it when he’s trying to be cool. I thought I would try it out. It doesn’t seem to be catching on,” she shrugged, “But seriously? How are you?” 

Clarke paused, cutting up a grilled cheese into small pieces for Madi before turning back to Emori. 

“Honestly, it’s been kind of bad. I love being back with Madi, but things with Bellamy are…awkward. I don’t think either of us really know what to do with each other.” 

“I’m proud of you for coming back. I know it wasn’t easy,” Emori assured, reaching over her salad to squeeze Clarke’s shoulder. 

“To be honest, I’m tapped out on the bravery for a while.”  

“Take some time. Enjoy hanging out with Madi. Rushing into things is what got you in trouble, so maybe going slow is good.” 

“You’re so right,” Clarke agreed, squeezing Madi’s cheek. “Who wouldn’t love this face?” 

Madi ignored Clarke, instead focusing intently on her conversation with Clara, which was largely composed of gibberish. 

“They’re discussing the state of the economy…” Emori giggled, shaking her head. 

“How dare I interrupt this important geopolitical alliance,” Clarke gasped, ruffling Madi’s hair. 

They both collapsed into peals of laughter as the girls obliviously continued their discussion. 

“Speaking of, guess what Eloise wants to be for Halloween?” 

“Hmmm don’t most thirteen-year-old girls dress up like cats or cheerleaders?” 

“One would think so…but of course, she wouldn’t be John Murphy’s daughter if she didn’t think outside the box,” Emori laughed. “My daughter wants to be Joan of Arc.” 

Clarke continued laughing as she choked out, “Amazing, honestly. How do kids even think of these things?” 

“I know. It’s so much easier when they’re young because you can just put them in whatever you want. We usually do big family costumes, but Eloise is determined to be Joan of Arc.” 

“What’re the rest of you being then? The Pope and villagers?” 

“Yeahhh no. The rest of us are being farmers and the vegetable patch,” Emori chuckled. “Clara is going to be a tomato.” 

Clarke continued to laugh, “So you’re going to be Joan of Arc and vegetables. Abstract Veggie Tales!” 

“Have you guys picked something out for Madi?” 

“Bellamy might have picked something out, but I honestly don’t know. We literally don’t speak to each other.” 

“Wait so you just cohabitate and pass Madi back and forth silently?” 

“Pretty much, we mainly just give each other instructions. Lately he’s taken to writing sticky notes, which really pisses me off,” Clarke mumbled, violently stabbing her salad. 

“He’ll come around…” Emori comforted, squeezing Clarke’s hand on the table.  

“The thing is…I don’t really know whether I want him to come around,” Clarke replied hauling Madi up from her highchair. “I’m still mad at him too, but I just don’t want it to hurt anymore.” 

Clarke buried her face into Madi’s hair and took a long breath. 

“Clarke, I have to ask…why exactly are you mad at him? From what I’m hearing he doesn’t really seem to know what he did,” Emori asked very carefully, flitting her gaze down to her salad and back up at Clarke. 

“It’s not that he really did anything in the moment. I think I dismissed a lot of things that he’d done in the past because of the weird circumstances of our relationship. A lot of his past actions still sting, and it never really got addressed,” she answered simply. 

“I think a lot of your problems could be solved if you both just talked about how you felt,” Emori suggested as she scribbled her signature on the check. 

Clarke stood up and contemplated what Emori had said. At face value it seemed simple. But the thought of putting aside her pride and talking to Bellamy seemed momentous.  He probably wouldn’t want to listen anyway. 

 She was so lost in her thoughts she didn’t notice Emori’s eyes widening until a soft throat clearing brought her back to reality. 

 Furrowing her brows in confusion, she turned to face Alie who was standing primly beside Emori with a wide smile and her son propped on her hip. 

Emori blanched and forced a smile at Alie before backing toward the lobby. She mouthed that she would meet her outside, and Clarke couldn’t even blame her. If she could’ve escaped, she would’ve. 

“Clarke, it’s good to see you,” Alie said softly. Her voice was reedy and high, and it took Clarke straight back to middle school. The intensity of Alie’s gaze still made her feel awkward and small. 

“Yeah, you too Alie. You look great! Is this your son?” Clarke asked carefully. Alie seemed harmless, but the girl had always been a shark in sheep’s clothing. 

“This is Braxton Clay,” Alie answered, waving her son’s chubby fist at them. “And this must be Madi,” she continued, giving Clarke a soft smile. 

It took everything in Clarke’s power to stifle a groan. Of course, Alie had gotten a run down from her mom. She probably knew everything about her already. 

“Yup this is Madi,” Clarke gritted out, adjusting Madi on her hip. 

“I’m sorry to hear about her parents. Her dad was Lincoln, right? The sculptor? Logan and I have one of his pieces; it’s absolutely striking. He was brilliant,” Alie continued earnestly. Clarke softened; she felt a little guilty for thinking the worst of Alie. Maybe she didn’t actually have an ulterior motive. 

She smiled and smoothed Madi’s hair, “Yeah he was incredibly talented, a once-in-a-generation kind of thing. He will be very missed.” 

“For the record, I think what you’re doing is very noble,” Alie said, bouncing her son on her hip. 

“Thank you, that doesn’t seem to be the popular opinion right now.” 

“I’ve discerned as much. You know, your mother is really upset. She seems absolutely torn up about it. Have you thought about talking to her?” Alie said haughtily, “I know my relationship with my mother is the most valuable thing, and it just breaks my heart to see this.” 

On the surface it seemed that Alie was concerned but Clarke could see the small smile playing on her lips. She was relishing this because she had won. They had fought to be the best their entire lives and Alie finally thought she had come out on top. 

Clarke groaned, scrubbing a hand against her face. 

“I should’ve known better than to think this conversation was harmless. You literally don’t know what you’re talking about,” she snapped, straightening to her full height. 

“I know you Clarke, better than most people. You love being rebellious but deep down you know you want your mother to approve of your choices. Unfortunate really that some of us understand familial duty better than others,” Alie shrugged, flitting her gaze between her nails and Clarke. Her demeanor shifted to full on smug as she lifted a carefully microbladed eyebrow. 

“Oh please, you don’t care about me. We both know you’re just trying to score points with my mother, so cut the faux concern...its gross,” Clarke huffed glaring at Alie, “ And while you’re up her ass, please tell my mother that Junior League messengers are a low blow, even from her,” Clarke spat, turning and walking away without waiting to see Alie’s expression.

XXX

Bellamy was chopping vegetables at the counter when Clarke got home. He didn’t look up when she entered, and she glared at him as she dipped into the living room to put Madi down. 

He put the knife down the moment she exited; he needed to get a hold of himself. He was being too hostile; it was bad for Madi. The parenting book he was reading right now said it was important to consistently be talking around kids her age. The constant silence was going to interfere with her speech development. It felt like they were in limbo, not quite together but not quite separated, and it was messing with his head. 

Centering himself, he returned to cutting his vegetables as Clarke reentered the kitchen. He froze when she didn’t stop in the doorway but rather charged right up to him and stood less than a foot away.

Her proximity made his head spin and for a brief moment, he had to suppress the urge to reach out and pull her into his arms.  

“What’s Madi going to be for Halloween?” she asked, cocking her hip and crossing her arms. 

“Pasqual the iguana from Rapunzel,” he answered coolly without looking up, instead keeping his focus on chopping. 

Clarke was surprised. It was shockingly very cute. Damn, he had actually done a good job picking a costume. 

“Hmm that’s surprisingly really solid,” she finally replied, backing up from the counter. 

“Contrary to popular belief, I’m able to pick out a Halloween costume,” he snapped, slamming his knife down on the board. 

Clarke’s eyebrows shot up and she turned to storm out of the kitchen. 

Bellamy looked up to watch her retreating form and against his better judgment, he called after her. “It came as a set. I was going to be Flynn Ryder, and there’s a Rapunzel costume if you want to wear it.” 

Clarke looked shocked, and Bellamy momentarily regretted his decision to mention the costume. He should’ve just kept his mouth shut. The silence could work; maybe he could just start reading monologues to Madi. 

“That sounds great, thanks,” she replied quietly, giving him a soft smile. 

“It’s in the upstairs closet,” he shrugged, steering his gaze away from her. Interacting with Clarke had gotten a little easier in the past few weeks, but those intimate gestures still felt like a dagger through his heart. 

He didn’t look back up until he was sure she had left the kitchen. 

XXX

Bellamy balked at the aisles laid out in front of him. His family had never had money for places like this when he was a kid, so the concept of Costco still blew his mind. Madi chewed happily on a sample of blueberry muffin while the Murphy boys fought viciously over a firefighter costume. Apparently, there was only one left. 

“Hey guys!” he called to the fighting boys, who ignored him and continued to pull on the costume. 

“JACOB. JOHN JR!” he tried again, and both boys froze in place. It was honestly ridiculous; the costume was still pulled tight between them. “Do you know what’s even cooler than a firefighter?” he tried, widening his eyes exaggeratedly and bouncing on his feet.

“Nothing.” Jacob answered stubbornly, tugging on a sleeve of the costume again. 

“I don’t know…Ironman seems a lot cooler than a firefighter to me,” Bellamy shrugged, pulling two ironman suits out of the display. 

Jacob looked momentarily panicked and turned to glance at John Jr. who was studying Bellamy carefully. He looked back between the firefighter costume and the Ironman suit before loosening his grip. 

“Ironman can fly through fires AND he can shoot things out of his hands,” he stated matter-of-factly, dropping his side of the costume and reaching for the one in Bellamy’s hand. 

“Yeah,” Jacob agreed quickly, relinquishing the costume as well. 

Bellamy breathed a sigh of relief and retrieved the poor firefighter suit from the floor. Chuckling to himself, he re-racked it. The irony of convincing kids that firefighters weren’t cool wasn’t lost on him. 

With both boys happily comparing their Iron Man suits, Bellamy weaved through the massive aisles toward the candy display where Murphy was reading labels on wholesale bags of candy. 

“I swear every year turns into a contest over who gives out the best candy,” Murphy sighed, turning toward Bellamy, “These king-sized bars are rough on the wallet.” 

Bellamy chuckled, “My mom used to drive us to the nice neighborhoods on Halloween so that we could score king-sized bars from schmucks like you.” 

“Well buddy, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a schmuck,” Murphy retorted, tossing a bag of candy into Bellamy’s arms. 

Shaking his head, Bellamy reached out and grabbed three more large containers of king-sized bars for their house. He might as well embrace being a schmuck. 

Murphy subtly flipped him off and grabbed three boxes of his own. As he was putting the bars into the cart, he caught sight of the boys and groaned.

“Emori is going to be crushed. She had this idea that all the kids were going to be a vegetable patch, and we were going to be farmers,” he said, sadly glancing at the boys. “That’s the only part that sucks about kids getting older, you can’t force them to do cute things anymore.” 

Bellamy laughed, picturing the Murphys in their costume and thumped his friend on the back. 

“I mean, you’ve still got three vegetables left!” He said consolingly. 

“Oh no, Eloise is going to be Joan of Arc,” Murphy deadpanned. 

Bellamy dissolved into a fit of laughter as Murphy glared at him. 

“Points for creativity,” he choked out finally. “I picked out a family costume for me and Clarke too, so that should be awkward.” 

“Oh yeah, two stupidly hot people and a cute baby in a family costume, the horror.”

“Shut up, you know what I mean,” Bellamy rolled his eyes as they made their way to the checkout. 

“It’s just a costume. I wouldn’t sweat over it. It’s a good sign, things are going back to normal.” 

“Not really. It’s mostly silent in the house still, so I wouldn’t call that normal exactly.” 

Murphy was quiet as they loaded their purchases onto the belt and didn’t say anything until they were back in the car. 

Slamming the door closed, Murphy turned to look at him over the center console. “Be honest here, do you want to salvage this thing with Clarke? Or are you happy co-parenting with her like this?” 

“I don’t really know. I want things to go back to the way they were before but that’s obviously not possible,” Bellamy admitted, cradling his face in his hands. 

“No. It’s not. One of you needs to step up and initiate a conversation. God knows if Clarke ever will. So if you want to make things better, you’re going to have to take initiative,” he said with finality.

“It’s harder than it sounds. Every time I soften up and get close to saying something, she does something so infuriating that it reminds me why I’m mad.” 

“I don’t know, man…it’s in your hands is all I’m saying,” John shrugged and pulled out of the parking lot. 

Murphy was right though, one of them had to suck it up and bring this up. There were moments when it felt like there might be a window, but they passed so quickly he barely had time to think. Sometimes, late at night, he could hear her words echoing in the silence. The words that told him he was a manipulative player. He knew better than to believe they were true, but he also could admit that there were times he had been terrible to Clarke. It had been too much: losing his sister, being thrust into parenthood, moving in with a beautiful and annoying girl. Not being able to talk to Octavia about all of it hurt him deep in his bones. 

There were days when he was unspeakably angry that Octavia was ripped from this world when she was so young. She had always been so full of life and love; he had truly never known a better person. When she was a kid, she loved to leave little presents for him when he got home from school. Nothing crazy, a handful of M&Ms on his nightstand or a drawing of a flower tucked under his pillow. She never said anything about them, but he always caught her smiling when he walked out of his room. 

It was almost strange that even in death, she had left him with gifts. She had left him Madi and the opportunity to pursue his dreams. To a lesser extent, she had probably thought she was leaving him with Clarke too. Octavia had always held out a weird hope that they would somehow put their differences aside and fall in love. 

He genuinely wondered if that’s what she was thinking when she put together this whole thing. If that was the case, he was sending her a metaphorical wet willie up in the sky. If there was one thing that his sister loved, it was a good, convoluted plan.

 He had always wondered why she had set them up in the first place. Clarke had been so put together back then, and he had been dating girls who wore bras as shirts. They weren’t exactly each other’s type. 

Groaning, he rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands and dumped the candy on the kitchen table next to the Play-Doh that Clarke had bought earlier in the week. 

He flopped down in the living room and pulled out a book from under the couch. Settling Madi on his lap, he quietly read to her. If he and Clarke weren’t going to talk to each other, she had to hear words somehow. 

Clarke slipped back into the house from the side door, her afternoon classes had been long and tiring. Pouring herself a glass of water, she listened to Bellamy’s voice drift through the house. He was reading a children’s book to Madi, and the lilt of his voice was really soothing. She leaned against the fridge, letting the cool metal of the door press against her arm. It was grounding. She wanted so badly to walk into the living room and slide under his arm. Her run in with Alie had been eye opening. She couldn’t believe that she had fallen into another one of her mother’s traps. It had been years but it was honestly staggering how easy it was for Abby to get under her skin. Seeing Alie had been the jerk she needed to remember why she had stopped trusting her mother in the first place. Status and appearances were all that mattered to people like that. 

He wrapped up the book, and she heard gentle rustling as he went to stand from the couch. Pushing off from the fridge, she padded into the living room. 

Her heart tightened, and she immediately regretted her decision. Bellamy was wearing his glasses and had on the softest looking sweatshirt she had ever seen. He looked adorable. She longed to reach out and run her hands through his hair but stopped herself, arm hung midair with the aborted motion. Blushing, she stepped forward and plucked Madi’s sleeping form from his arms. She gave him a closed-lipped smile and turned to go upstairs, willing her heart to beat a little slower. 

XXX

Bellamy rolled over in bed, pulling the covers over his eyes. It was earlier than he would’ve liked to be up. Splaying his hand out, he aimlessly grabbed for his phone on the nightstand. He needed to figure out why he was awake. 

Clicking the lock button, he squinted at the bright light of the screen. It was 9:00 in the morning. Now wide awake, he leaned back on his pillows and contemplated why the universe was doing this to him. 

There was faint music drifting through the house. He couldn’t make out the song, but he was kind of surprised that Clarke was being so bold considering their recent cold war. 

After an expedited morning routine, he jogged down the stairs only to get caught in a giant fake spider web in the downstairs landing. Picking cotton out of his hair and clothes, he entered the kitchen to find Clarke spinning around the kitchen with Madi. The Monster Mash blared loudly in the background as they both jumped up and down to the beat of the music. 

Clarke caught sight of Bellamy and spun around, pausing the music with the remote. She was wearing a big orange Jack-O-Lantern sweater that went all the way down to her knees. She beamed and bent down to face Madi, who was wearing a matching sweater. 

Grabbing Madi’s shoulder’s gently, she encouraged, “Tell Dada like we practiced!” 

Madi shot him a toothy grin and clumsily exclaimed, “ ‘appy Ha’ween, Dada!” 

All his irritation from before melted as he looked between Clarke and Madi, bending down to scoop Madi up and pepper her with kisses. 

“Happy Halloween, peanut,” he said, spinning her in circles and relishing in her giggles. 

He carried Madi to the table, which was covered in plastic spiders and orange glitter. Just as he settled in her highchair, Clarke swooped in with a giant plate of orange pancakes drizzled with white frosting. 

Wordlessly, she served him a stack before settling with her own plate and cutting up pieces for Madi. 

“I just love holidays, okay? Wipe that grin off your face, Blake,” she scoffed with a soft smile, zoning in on her pancakes. “There’s a pumpkin spice latte for you on the counter,” she added, still not meeting his gaze. 

Turning to grab his coffee, he smiled to himself. For the first time in a long time, it felt like the world wasn’t tilted on its axis. 

He might as well enjoy this moment while it lasted. 

“What’s on the movie marathon lineup for today? Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown?” He asked, trying to sound nonchalant, but he was impossibly hopeful that she wouldn’t snap at him. 

“I’m like 99% sure that’s a Thanksgiving movie, not a Halloween movie,” she retorted, over her coffee mug. 

“It literally has the word pumpkin in it!” he defended. 

  Your questionable taste in movies aside…I was thinking we would start with Hocus Pocus, a Mary Kate and Ashley classic.” 

“Ahh yes how could I forget. Then Casper of course,” he replied, taking a sip of his latte and humming approvingly. 

“Of course. Then we hit Spooky Buddies because who doesn’t like puppies?” 

“And ParaNorman to close out our child-friendly Halloween marathon?” He finished, punctuating his point with a bite of pancakes. 

“Complete with crafts,” Clarke wriggled her eyebrows, reaching under the table to pull out a bag full of pom-poms and pipe cleaners. 

Bellamy shook his head, adjusting his glasses on his face and gave Clarke a careful smile. It felt good to not be walking on eggshells around each other. It was moments like this that reminded him why he loved Clarke. She looked carefree and young, shoveling cinnamon pancakes into her mouth. Even if this truce only lasted for one day, he would take it. But he wished they could go back to being happy like this. It felt right. There was a small smudge of frosting on the corner of her mouth, and it took every ounce of willpower to not lean across the table and kiss it off. 

Instead, he collected the plates off the table as Clarke scooped up Madi and carried her into the living room. Abandoning the plates in the sink, he made two more pumpkin lattes and grabbed the bag of craft supplies.  

The living room was decked out: there were smiling skeletons hanging in the corners of the walls and more cobwebs hung up in the windows. Madi’s sweatshirt had been shed to reveal a “Mommy’s Little Pumpkin” onesie, and Clarke was bent over the TV setting up the first movie. 

He couldn’t help but stare at the swell of her ass peaked out from underneath the oversized sweater; she was only wearing a tiny pair of spandex shorts underneath. Following the curve of her ass, his eyes trailed down her legs and paused at the striped knee socks. As ridiculous as they were, they were hot. He could feel his body heating up, and he tore his eyes away. Instead he plucked Madi off the floor and settled down on the couch, placing her firmly in the middle so he could get some space. 

The movie clicked on and Clarke bounced back up, happily pumping her fists in the air. Madi cackled with glee and collapsed into a fit of giggles when Clarke flopped on the couch next to her. 

Clarke loved Halloween; it reminded her of being a little kid. It was just innocent and fun, the epitome of everything that was great about fall. If it happened to act as a convenient break from the constant silence in their house, so be it. She had woken up at the crack of dawn to put all of this stuff up, but it was worth it to see Madi’s face light up at all the colors. 

She peeked at Bellamy out of the corner of her eye. He was fast asleep with Madi snuggled under his arm, sippy cup of milk hanging out of her mouth. There were several pom-pom spiders sprawled across his legs and arms. It was honestly cute enough for a Christmas card. She felt guilt bubbling in her chest. It felt like a moment when she should say something, but she didn’t want to ruin it. Once again, she longed to push his hair off his forehead but refrained. Days like today made it seem like it was all worth it. Like Lincoln and Octavia actually knew what they were doing when they tasked them with this. 

Lincoln had been the most methodical person she had ever met. He had a steadiness about him that Clarke had never seen in another person. Everything he did had a well thought out reason behind it. Lifting herself off the couch, Clarke thought back to his letter. It was frustratingly vague. There had to be a reason why they had specifically chosen them to do this, but it still wasn’t clear to her. 

Thinking back on her memories with Lincoln, she pulled one of Bellamy’s chicken potpies out of the freezer and slid it into the oven. It was fittingly cozy for the day.  

XXX

Bellamy shrugged on the vest to his Flynn Ryder costume; it was shockingly realistic considering it was from Party City. Smoothing his hair with a small squirt of gel, he dipped into the playroom to get Madi into her iguana suit. 

Clarke stepped into the room just as he was pulling Madi’s hood over her head. She looked beautiful. The Rapunzel dress fit her perfectly, and she had woven flowers into her curls. Incredibly, she looked like a real life princess. He had always known that nickname was more fitting than she was willing to admit. Damn, he should invest in Party City. 

“Nice look princess,” he teased carefully. He hadn’t called her that since their fight, but he couldn’t resist. 

Clarke looked momentarily shocked, brows shooting up in surprise. She gave him an eye roll, but it was less disparaging and more…fond. 

“How’s my little Pasqual?!” she said finally, pressing a kiss to Madi’s forehead and finally tearing her eyes away from his. 

“All set to go Trick or Treating!” Bellamy replied, waving Madi’s arms in the air. 

“Harper and Monty should be here in a few, and then we can head over to meet everyone,” Clarke confirmed as the doorbell rang. 

Once Harper had been given the thorough run down of allergen friendly Halloween candy, Clarke scooped Madi up and started out the door. 

“WAIT!” Monty yelled, grabbing Bellamy by the back of the vest, “You can’t leave without taking a picture! This is too cute to pass up.” 

Bellamy snuck a sideways glance at Clarke. They had been having a good day, and he was weary of rocking the boat anymore. 

Clarke rubbed the back of her neck and gave Monty a half smile. “Of course, how could we forget?” 

“Here, hold this!” Harper exclaimed, pressing a frying pan into Clarke’s free hand. 

Bellamy scooted toward Clarke and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. Harper leaned forward and shoved them closer together. Clarke rolled her eyes internally, subtlety had never been Harper’s strong suit.  

With Bellamy and Clarke sufficiently pushed together, Monty bounced around with his phone. He took what felt like a thousand pictures from different heights and angles. Occasionally he would direct them to switch poses or shift Madi into a new position. 

“Okay, I’ll text these to you both!” He assured, pushing them both out the door. 

A light awkwardness hung in the air as they walked toward the mass of people standing in Raven’s front yard. There were costumed children running and screaming everywhere. Just as two small children ran between Bellamy’s legs,  Raven popped out of the crowd with two beers in hand. 

“A little suburban tradition,” she winked, handing the bottles to them both. “We might as well have a little fun too.” 

Bellamy laughed, reaching out to hug Raven before pressing farther into the crowd to find Murphy. 

“I’m not really sure when my idea of fun devolved into this. There was a time when I used to spend Halloween shotgunning limited edition pumpkin FourLokos,” Raven mused, bumping her hip against Clarke’s. 

“Oh God, ew. You’re giving me flashbacks. I just puked a little,” Clarke squirmed, gently shoving Raven with a laugh. 

Everyone had gone all out with their costumes. Clarke was grateful Bellamy had sprung for a good theme. These costumes were impressively nice; she admittedly felt like a princess. And as much as she hated to admit it, she had missed the nickname. 

By the time all the adults had finished their beers, the kids were starting to get restless. The older ones had long branched off, leaving only a few adults and the youngest babies. 

“Alrighty, Pasqual, ready to roll?!” Clarke cheered, bouncing Madi on her hip. 

“Down! Mama, down!” Madi yelped, wiggling out of Clarke’s grasp as they started down the sidewalk. Clarke put her gently onto the ground. She momentarily wobbled, but steadied and reached to hold a hand out for her. Clarke grasped her small hand and tried to continue moving forward but Madi stubbornly dug her heels into the ground. Reaching out her other hand, she turned. 

“Dada, WALK!!!” she persisted, making a grabby hand for Bellamy. 

Bellamy eyed Clarke carefully as he stepped forward and grabbed Madi’s hand in his. He had to bend down a little, and the gap between himself and Clarke was narrow. As they continued down the street, their elbows brushed, but they both steeled themselves and directed their attention toward Madi. 

They dutifully made their way through the entire neighborhood. About halfway through, Madi was worn out and slumped against Bellamy’s shoulder. By the time they made it back to the house, she was soundly asleep. 

Bellamy went upstairs to put Madi to bed while Clarke dumped out all her candy on the kitchen table. Flipping each piece over, she read the allergy information and separated them into two piles. She had almost finished by the time Bellamy reentered and swooped down to steal a Twizzler. 

“Thanks for today,” he said quietly, taking a seat across from her. 

“It was good, wasn’t it?” she smiled, unwrapping a Reese’s cup for herself. 

“Look I know-“ Bellamy began just as the doorbell rang. He groaned, sometimes it felt like the damn doorbell was plotting for his demise. 

“It’s probably some of the older trick or treaters,” Clarke shrugged, grabbing the bowl of Costco candy off the counter. “I’ll give them the rest of this and turn off the light.” 

Propping the bowl against her hip, she swung the door open. But instead of teenagers in lazy costumes, she came face to face with Maya. 

Chapter Text

“MAYA, HI!” Clarke exclaimed loudly, trying to signal to Bellamy. Thankfully he got the memo and came sliding into the kitchen moments later. 

“Sorry to bother you guys on Halloween, but this is the only day I could swing the drive up here,” Maya explained, adjusting her black and orange striped skirt. 

“No problem,” Bellamy grinned. “Come on in!” 

“Would you like a piece of candy?” Clarke asked absently holding out the giant bowl. She was panicking. They needed more time. Maya was going to ask them about their relationship. There was nowhere this could go except badly. Clarke wondered if they could take Madi away for this, which made her panic more. 

“Oh yes please!” Maya replied, digging through the bowl. “Wow you guys really sprung for the good stuff.” 

“Yeah, you get egged around here if you don’t,” Bellamy laughed, gesturing for Maya to go into the kitchen. 

“You need to calm down,” he whispered discreetly to Clarke. “You look like we’re hiding a dead body in the backyard.” 

Clarke took a deep cleansing breath that never actually worked and shot him a look before following Maya. 

“So how are things?” Maya asked, unwrapping her Snickers bar. “I like the costumes by the way.” 

“Oh, thank you,” Bellamy responded awkwardly, pulling at the Flynn Ryder vest. He felt a little ridiculous. “Madi was Pasqual the iguana. It was super cute. I wasn’t sure about the costume, but it ended up turning out great. She has allergies, so the candy part is going to be a little difficult, but I honestly don’t think she cares,” he rambled. 

Clarke groaned internally; Bellamy had no room criticizing her for being nervous. He was over-sharing. 

“Madi has been doing incredibly. She’s starting to put words together!” Clarke added cheerfully, trying to make up for Bellamy’s stammering. 

“I’ve been reading books to her, and I think it’s really helping with her speech,” Bellamy agreed. 

“And she’s walking faster than we can keep up with!” Clarke continued. 

“That’s great to hear! I’m glad she is developing well. It can be hard when children experience trauma so young. Sometimes it can lead to delays,” Maya nodded, writing on her clipboard. “How is the home situation?” she asked, not looking up. 

“I stay home full time now; I’m getting an online degree from ArkU in teaching. Just to have more stability in the long term,” Bellamy supplied. 

“I think that’s a huge factor in why Madi is progressing so well,” Clarke added, avoiding the surprised glance Bellamy shot at her. 

“We’ve been trying to read a few books a day with her, and I’m trying to limit YouTube and nonsense TV,” he confirmed. 

“Excellent, I’m really impressed with how hard you two are working to provide normalcy for Madi,” Maya smiled, clicking her pen. 

“Thank you, that means a lot,” Clarke said, relief filling her body that Maya seemed subdued. Maybe she had forgotten about the incident from last time. She was really busy after all. 

“Obviously I need to address the elephant in the room. We had discussed your relationship previously. Have you two made any decisions?” Maya asked awkwardly and Clarke had to suppress an audible groan. She had probably jinxed it. 

Both Bellamy and Clarke shifted, uncomfortable, before Bellamy finally answered, “We decided that it would be best if we weren’t together.” 

It was true, but hearing it out loud felt like a dagger in Clarke’s heart. They had been so happy sitting at this table only a few months ago, and it was all gone now. 

“It was just too complicated,” Clarke agreed, trying desperately to keep the sadness out of her voice. 

Maya gave them both a long look, flipping through her clipboard. “As a professional, I have to say that you made the correct choice,” she said curtly. 

Clarke tried to keep her gaze as level as possible, but she could feel her eyes burning. Bellamy wasn’t faring much better. The back of his neck was warm, and he tugged at the collar of his vest. He wished he had thought to change out of this stupid costume earlier. He kept his eyes locked on Maya because if he looked at Clarke, he was going to break down. 

Maya looked between them and put down her clipboard. Sighing, she rested her elbows against the table. “This is my last visit, and I’m moving your case forward for full custody.” She gave them a soft smile. “That being said, I’m going to take off my professional hat here for a second. I am genuinely sorry to hear that it did not work out between the two of you. Regardless of the status of your romantic relationship, you’re an excellent team. Madi is doing extraordinarily and by all accounts, you two are wonderful parents. She is very lucky. You may not be her biological parents, but you both are fulfilling that role beautifully. I was rooting for you, and it has been a pleasure getting to know your family.” 

“Thank you,” Clarke choked out, eyes welling with tears. Bellamy nodded in agreement, trying to wipe the tears from his eyes before they spilled out. 

“This job isn’t easy, but seeing people who genuinely want a child to succeed makes it worth it. I’m very happy that Madi is clearly your priority. That said, you both have made a lot of sacrifices to be here. Don’t lose sight of your happiness in this; you deserve better than that.” Maya gave them a long look and Clarke surged up to hug her. 

There had been plenty of times when she had been resentful of this woman but right now, she was so grateful. Maya hugged her back and shook Bellamy’s hand before slipping out the way she came. 

“That’s it…” Bellamy said quietly. “I feel kind of bad for slamming the door in her face so many times.” 

Clarke barked out a laugh, “She’s a good person but she does have impeccably bad timing.” 

Bellamy steadied himself, “No kidding…” he answered, flopping back down at the table. Running his hands through his hair he looked up to face Clarke. She was fidgeting nervously in her seat, and she kept picking up pieces of candy only to put them down seconds later. 

Clarke paused her fiddling, gauging him carefully before she finally spoke. 

“Can we talk?” she asked nervously, looking down at Madi’s pile of Halloween candy. “I started this whole mess, so I think I should be the one to initiate this.” 

Blood was pounding in his ears, but he nodded and gestured for her to go ahead. He truly had no clue where this conversation was going, and her prolonged silence was really unnerving. He could feel all of his pent up rage and frustration bubbling in his chest but he had to at least hear her out. 

“I think that the reason Lincoln and Octavia left Madi with us was simple. It wasn’t because we knew them best or that they loved us most. It’s because for some reason, you, me and Madi are a family. We make a really good team; we always have. All this time I thought I hated you, but I think I was honestly just in denial,” Clarke said, standing up to pace the length of the room. “I think it was easier to hate you than to admit that I had feelings for you because I knew you were a player and that you would never be able to settle down with me.” 

Bellamy’s pent up, pulsing rage and frustration burst through at her words. She wasn’t apologizing. She was blaming him for not settling down with her back when they barely knew each other? For a blind date that honestly should have never happened?

“What does that have to do with you leaving me, Clarke? I was committed to you, I thought I had made that pretty clear. Or with you accusing me of using you?” he fumed, clenching his fists against the side of the table. 

“Please just let me finish,” she pleaded, finally looking up from the pile of candy. “Moving into this house and raising Madi changed everything. You’re amazing, compassionate, gentle and you’re nothing like I expected. It threw me off guard. I wasn’t expecting to fall for you like this but once I did, I knew there would never be anyone else for me,” she finished, looking up at Bellamy with glassy eyes. 

He scrubbed his hand across his face and pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes.  She was trying and part of him wanted to give in. He missed her so much. But the pain of their separation was still fresh.

He sighed heavily, fingers knotting in his hair. 

She took a timid step toward him, but he held out his hand, and she stopped immediately as if it burned.

He took a deep breath. He knew what he needed to say, what she needed to finally hear.

“I don’t think you understand the gravity of what you did, Clarke. I know your relationship with your mom is complicated, but she didn’t force you to leave. Madi asked for you every day and I didn’t know what to tell her. I sat up at night thinking about how I would have to explain to her one day that it wasn’t her fault,” Bellamy said darkly, crossing his arms across his chest. 

Clarke’s face crumpled as though he’d struck her. Biting her lip, she squeezed her eyes shut before starting to speak with a broken lilt in her voice. 

“I’m sorry for what happened at the studio. I let my mom get into my head. She hasn’t gotten to me like that in years. Usually I can brush her off, but ... I don’t know. She was, I guess saying what I was already insecure about. I really thought Madi was better off without me, and I knew hurting you was the only way you would let me go. I needed to make you hate me, but I missed you every single day,” her voice was hoarse, and she was still crying.

“That’s fucked up, Clarke and it wasn’t fair.” 

She looked at him then with those bright blue eyes and he swore she could see right through him. 

“I know,” she mumbled. “I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve it.” 

Something inside him broke a little. 

“I could never hate you. I didn’t hate you even when Octavia died and all this happened. I was overwhelmed; she was my sense of balance, and I’ve never really had to do anything without her. You were the one who brought that balance back into my life and then you pulled the rug out from under me.” It hurt to be this honest with her, this vulnerable, but he knew he had to do it if there was ever a chance for them in the future. “So, I don’t hate you, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not furious at you,” he answered carefully, steeling his gaze down at the table to keep the tears from spilling out. 

Clarke finally let the tears run freely down her cheeks, “You don’t hate me, but you did call me a bad parent,” she gritted out. 

“You literally went off about how terrible I was for ten minutes before I said that! Obviously, I don’t think you’re a bad parent. But you can’t blame me for being reactionary!” he snapped. 

“It just hurt to hear you confirm what my mom said!” 

“I can’t read your mind, Clarke! I still have no clue what your mom said.” 

Her stomach clenched. His voice was devoid of emotion – he was shutting back down on her. Clarke covered her face with her hands, and she heard the scrape of a chair as Bellamy stood to leave. Somehow, talking had made everything worse. 

XXX

It had been a few weeks since Halloween, but things didn’t seem to be improving. Logically, Bellamy knew Clarke was sorry and wanted to make things work. She had lost the most important person in her life too, but he couldn’t shake the frustration at her lack of communication. If she’d had doubts about what they were doing, why hadn’t she just talked to him about them? Why had she let her mother feed her with lies and doubts? This whole thing was just embarrassing. And still, the stupid ring was still burning a hole in his dresser drawer. Despite his best efforts, he had gotten too invested again. True to form, he was a fucking idiot. 

Clarke hadn’t tried to have a deep conversation with him after Halloween, but things between them were a lot more civil. He wasn’t sure if this limbo was better or worse than the silent treatment, but he was grateful that the house felt alive again. It was harder to avoid her when he was home all the time. So he had taken to starting a dad’s running group just to have a reason to leave the house.  

He scooped up Madi and put her in the running stroller before leaning down to lace up his sneakers. Taylor Swift music drifted through the house, and Madi bounced happily in her stroller to the beat. Still kneeling down, Bellamy nudged the stroller toward the living room so Madi could wave at Clarke. 

“Be back in an hour,” he called. Clarke waved a paintbrush at him but didn’t look up from her canvas. She had been painting 24/7, and he was dying to know what she was doing, but it wasn’t appropriate to ask anymore. 

Shaking all thoughts of Clarke from his head, he kicked into a slow jog to the center of their cul-de-sac where the guys were waiting for him. 

XXX

Clarke leaned back to inspect her work. She had been trying her hand at modern abstract painting, and it wasn’t going too well. In fact, it looked shockingly ugly. Groaning, she set the paintbrush down and flopped onto the floor. This had never been her strength, but it reminded her of Lincoln and it kept her mind off of her broken heart. 

There didn’t seem to be much more she could do about her tangled up domestic situation at this point, so she was trying to make herself move on. It wasn’t working very well but in the meantime (especially when she had to witness Bellamy and his six pack being cute with Madi before taking her out into the sunshine to be part of his run), she could take out her frustration on her ugly artwork. 

Still, before she knew it, almost an hour had passed, and she was getting a crick in her neck. Grunting, she pushed back up onto her feet and was just about to head to the sink to wash the paint from her skin when the music cut off. Frowning, she jogged over to her phone and rolled her eyes when she realized it was ringing. The screen lit up and flashed Abby Griffin, buzzing against the table. 

Rage bubbled up in her chest as the phone continued to buzz. She had half the mind to ignore it but honestly, yelling at her mother would be a better outlet than painting. She was done running away; it was time to give Abby a piece of her mind. 

“Whatever you have to say, I don’t want to hear it,” Clarke said harshly, not even bothering to greet her mother. 

“Hello to you, too. I hear that you didn’t take my advice after all and that you were extremely rude to Alie at the club,” Abby answered coolly. “You made quite the spectacle of yourself.” 

“Yes, thankfully you didn’t convince me to ruin my entire life, and Madi still has a mother figure.” 

“I didn’t convince you to do anything, Clarke. I simply was trying to keep you from going down the wrong path.”  

Clarke’s face burned, and twenty years of pent up anger finally came to a head. It all started rolling out of her in a jumbled heap, every nasty thought that had ever passed through her brain about her mother. 

“I cannot believe you! You are incapable of thinking about anyone other than yourself. You didn’t care about dad and you don’t care about me! All you have ever cared about is what people think. This was a chance for you to make that right. Madi may not be my biological child, but she’s mine. You could have been a grandma. You could have tried to show her the love you always struggled to show me. I thought that was what you were trying to do what you came to my show. Clearly, I was naive to think that. Can you believe I was excited to show you how far I’ve come and to introduce you to the man I love?” 

She paused for a minute, panting heavily. The memory of Bellamy’s soft gaze on her face when they woke up in bed next to each other made her stomach clench. She forced herself to go on. “But you were too selfish to care. Too wrapped up in appearances to see that I succeeded in my field and that I was dating an incredible, selfless man. We’re going to spend the rest of our lives making sure Madi never feels the way you made me feel! I’m not worried about it though-- she has two parents who would do anything to make her happy.” 

Without even waiting to hear Abby’s response, she ended the call. Her chest was heaving, and she was waiting for tears that never came. She had expected to feel defeated, but she was proud of herself.  

The floor creaked, and Clarke whipped around. Bellamy was standing in the doorway with Madi. He seemed almost frozen in place as she stared at him. 

“How much of that did you hear?” she asked carefully, taking a step toward him. 

“Pretty much all of it,” he answered sheepishly. He set Madi down in her playpen and closed the distance between them. 

“It felt good,” she admitted with a tentative smile. 

 He was analyzing her, and his brows were knit together. There was barely a hair’s breadth of distance between them. Clarke looked at him, confused, before she realized that she had admitted she loved him. He gave her an almost questioning look, and she smiled. 

“I meant when I said, you know, I love you,” she said at last to break the silence, reaching out to grasp his hand. She smiled the tiniest amount when he let her. “And if I have to spend the rest of my life proving it to you, then I will. I’m not going anywhere ever again.”

Bellamy ran his free hand through his hair, tugging at the ends to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. Clarke loved him; she loved him back. All the anger and doubt from the past months slowly ebbed away as he took in her nervous smile. Her eyes were glimmering with tears, but they weren’t sad, they were hopeful. His gaze flitted from Clarke to Madi, and comprehension settled into his bones. This was his family now. Octavia had left him too soon, but she had given him this gift, and he couldn’t waste it. He was tired of wasting it, tired of doing everything alone. 

He surged forward and wrapped his arms around her. Clarke stiffened with surprise before relaxing into his hold. He buried his face in her neck and breathed in; there had been a part of him that had thought he would never get to do this again. 

“I love you too,” he murmured against his neck, almost as if he was trying to press it into her skin. The fragile, happy gasp he heard from her made his heart soar.  

“I love you .... so much,” she repeated more solidly, leaning back to press a sweet kiss to his lips before stepping away. He let out a small noise of disappointment, and she smirked as she walked to scoop up Madi. “And I love you, too…” she cooed, pulling the baby, their little girl, against her. 

Bellamy thought his heart was going to beat out of his chest as he strode toward them and enveloped them both in a hug. It felt too good to be true, but for once, he was going to let himself be happy.  

 

Chapter Text

“IT’S THE CIRCLE OF LIFEEEEE AND IT MOVES US ALLLL!! THROUGH DISPAIR AND HOPE! THROUGH FAITH AND LOVEE. TILL WE FIND OUR PLACE! ON THE PATH UNWINDINGG. IN THE CIRCLEE, THE CIRCLE OF LIFEEE!!!” Clarke sang, yelling across the center console at Bellamy. She smiled to herself, thinking back on all the times they had sat in the backseat of this mini van and rolled their eyes while Lincoln and Octavia sang. She hadn’t really understood how they could’ve been so unabashedly ridiculous back then, but honestly it was just part of being a parent. 

Madi clapped with glee, and Clarke couldn’t care less about looking stupid as she sang happily with Bellamy. She flicked her gaze from the rearview mirror and studied Bellamy’s profile. His smile took up his entire face as he sang, and her heart warmed. She still couldn’t believe this was her life and her family. Still singing, she reached across the console and laced their fingers together. He flicked his gaze briefly away from the road, shooting her a toothy grin and pressing his lips to her fingers. 

By the time they had made their way through the entire Lion King soundtrack, Madi was sound asleep in the backseat. Clarke picked through the greasy bag of Arby’s curly fries and handed one to Bellamy. She watched him chew and reached out to run her fingers through his hair. She reveled in the feel of it in between her fingers; she had missed this so much. 

“As much as it pains me to say this, I’m going to drive off the road if you keep doing that,” he groaned tipping his head back slightly. 

She smirked and ran a hand down the side of his jaw, rubbing against his cheek. 

“I missed a lot of things about you, but I think I missed your hair the most,” she grinned, pulling her hand back. 

Bellamy glanced back at Madi in the rearview mirror and turned to look at her slyly, “My dick is very offended by that proclamation.” 

Clarke squirmed in her seat and glared in his direction. “Ugh don’t remind me,” she groaned. 

They hadn’t had a minute alone since they had made up. The past few weeks had been filled with work, dads’ running club, Genevieve Murphy’s baptism and Bellamy’s first round of midterms. This had been the first second they had to breathe, and Madi was still asleep in the backseat. Sure they had snuck in a few quick make outs during naptime, but Clarke was itching to take it a little further. 

Bellamy reached out and rubbed the inside of her thigh, running his thumb along the seam of her jeans. 

Clarke squirmed and bit her lip, pressing her legs together to trap his hand. 

“Don’t start something you can’t finish,” she said breathlessly, flicking her gaze toward the backseat. 

He leaned across the console to press a quick kiss into her temple and pulled his hand back, leaving it resting on the top of her thigh. 

She placed her hand over his and scrolled through her phone to find a podcast. They needed something decidedly unsexy because otherwise they were going to scar Madi for life. 

“If you put on that damn motivational podcast again, I will jump out of this car,” Bellamy laughed. 

Clarke giggled, “I’ve decided it doesn’t work. Stupid deep breathing…” she muttered, putting on a murder mystery podcast and snuggling down into her seat. She tucked her leg underneath her body and held Bellamy’s hand in both of hers. She would never get over how good it felt to have their family back. 

XXX

They pulled into the driveway of the AirBnB and Bellamy beamed: it was perfect. They had booked this little cottage on a whim. Thanksgiving had crept up out of nowhere, and neither of them had wanted to celebrate in the house. It had always been Octavia’s favorite holiday, and it was too much to celebrate it without her. This was the perfect escape, and it felt warranted after the past few months of hell. 

It was a little blue cottage right on the water with a covered porch and a private dock. Polis was chillier than it was back home, and the leaves were a wide array of reds and yellows. Bellamy breathed deeply through his nose, relishing the feel of the crisp, cool air. Suburbia had its perks, but nothing beat wide-open spaces.  

He followed Clarke through the front door and set their bags down on the kitchen counter. The place was rustic and cute. The furniture looked like something a grandma would pick out but in a charming way. 

“They set up a crib in the second bedroom!” Clarke called down the stairs cheerfully. 

Bellamy smirked, heading back outside to retrieve his fishing gear and Clarke’s art supplies from the car. They would finally get some time alone. 

He hauled the last few tubs into the living room and flopped down into an overstuffed armchair, watching Madi stack blocks on the floor. Clarke came back into the room and laid down next to Madi. 

“This place is perfect,” she smiled, rubbing Madi’s back softly. 

Bellamy slid out of the chair and sat down on the floor, letting his leg rest against Clarke’s. 

“I think we deserve it,” he said, reaching out to tuck a stray curl behind her ear. 

“I know we bought groceries, but I honestly don’t feel like cooking or cleaning,” she groaned, nuzzling into his hand. 

 “We could go into the town? Explore? Walk around and maybe get Madi some ice cream?” he suggested, sitting up to pull Madi into his lap. 

Clarke dressed Madi in a fluffy blue sweater and tiny pair of toddler jeans. She loved fall clothes. It really was a shame that it never got cold in Arkadia because there really wasn’t anything cuter than baby jackets. 

Carrying Madi into the other room, she paused in the kitchen doorway. Maybe it wasn’t just fall baby clothes that were her favorite; she admired the stretch of a worn flannel over Bellamy’s shoulders and the way his jeans tightened over his ass while he was tying up his work boots. 

“Enjoying the view, princess?” he grinned, winking at her over his shoulder. 

“You wish,” she scoffed with a smile, nudging him to the side as she carried Madi out the door. 

They followed the dirt road from their house into town. The evening was chilly, and Bellamy tucked Clarke under his arm as they walked. Polis was beautiful; the town was small and quaint. Bellamy lifted Madi onto his shoulders so she could admire the twinkle lights as they started to click on in the town square. 

“Should we just move here? It reminds me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls,” Clarke swooned, spinning in circles with her arms spread out. 

Bellamy grinned, taking Clarke’s hand and twirling her. 

“I don’t know if you heard that, but it’s the sound of John Murphy running here to buy the house next door,” he laughed, guiding her toward the restaurant they had found online. 

It was a small, Italian café. It was formal but in a small town kind of way, with sticky checkered tablecloths and flickering faux candles. The waitress delivered a pile of crayons to Madi, and Bellamy reached out to doodle a small flower in front of her. 

“This restaurant reminds me of my childhood,” he said with a faint smile, still focusing on the flower. 

“Didn’t you grow up in Arkadia?” Clarke asked, brows furrowing. 

“Nope, we lived in the east suburbs,” he answered, gaze flitting up to gauge Clarke’s reaction. He could tell she was trying really hard not to flinch. “It’s not as scary as it looks but sometimes, we would drive out to the south suburbs for birthdays and go to places like this.” 

Clarke was silent, mulling over what he had said. It had never been more staggering how different their upbringings had been. The east side was rough; she suddenly felt stupid for complaining about her childhood so much. No wonder he had been calling her princess for years. 

“Stop doing that, whatever you’re thinking. You’re doing that thought spiraling thing, I can tell,” he warned, dropping the crayon.  

“I just feel bad for complaining about my childhood so much. I never even asked about yours,” Clarke replied, reaching out to grasp his hand. 

“Don’t apologize, we all have shit to deal with,” he shrugged, ripping a piece of garlic bread in half. He paused, smoothing Madi’s hair and turning back to face her. “My mom tried her best, but she struggled with mental illness. The east side wasn’t great, but it was home,” he continued gently. He didn’t seem bitter about it, just sad. 

Clarke nodded and squeezed his hand.

“We’re going to give her better than we had,” he said with finality, reaching out to rub a hand against Madi’s cheek. 

There was a heavy pause as they shared a long look. Their childhoods couldn’t have been more different, but they both had spent a lot of their lives feeling alone. The weight of their shared sadness was so overwhelming that Clarke had to look away. 

“Okay, we’ve gotta lighten up, Blake. Tell me something about yourself, something stupid,” she smiled, punching him lightly in the shoulder. 

“Uh when I was in second grade, I decided that I wanted to stand outside of Macy’s and hand out cookies. I somehow got onto a bus with an armful of Oreos and tried to stand outside to give them out. Someone called the cops within 5 minutes and I got to ride in a police car with a really nice officer named Jimmy,” he grinned. 

Clarke furrowed her brow together and laughed. “Was it Christmas time? Why Macy’s? That’s like stupidly cute but also crazy.” 

“It was February. I have no idea what came over me. I’m honestly surprised I lived to tell the tale,” he laughed with her and shook his head. “Your turn?” he asked expectantly, resting his chin on his hand. 

“Hmmm,” she considered, taking a big bite of pizza and chewing slowly. “When I was a kid, I had a real affinity for salt. Like I was crazy for it. I would put an insane amount of it on everything. So, when I was in kindergarten, we had this freak snowstorm and they put snow melting salt all over the sidewalk. I got curious and ate a piece. Five minutes later I projectile vomited on the slide,” she finished, choking on a laugh at the memory. 

Bellamy was doubled over laughing, “I can’t handle this…” 

Clarke mocked indignation before joining in with his laughter. “Based off these stories, I think parenthood is only going to get easier from here,” she giggled, wiping Madi’s mouth with a napkin. 

They finished up their dinner and strolled out into the square. There was a string quartet playing the Charlie Brown theme, and the whole town was covered in lights. It was beautiful, a perfect evening.  

She sat down on a nearby bench and let Madi toddle around in the grass while Bellamy dipped into a nearby ice cream shop for dessert. Madi was waving at passing strangers when Bellamy returned with two cones in hand. 

“I figured three would be overkill,” he laughed, pressing the cone into Clarke’s hand. 

“We can all share; we’re germy anyway!” Clarke grinned, giving the cone a cartoonishly large lick.  

Bellamy tipped his cone forward, holding it in front of Madi’s face. He wasn’t sure if she would know what to do with it, but it was worth a try. Before he could react, Madi leaned forward and smashed the ice cream directly into her face, cackling with glee as it got stuck in her hair.  

Bellamy and Clarke looked at each other in shock, choking out laughs as they lunged forward to dab her with bunches of napkins. Madi gave them a wide, innocent grin and reached out to wipe her sticky hands on Clarke’s cheeks. 

Their walk home was very sticky but full of laughter. While Clarke went to wash ice cream off her face, Bellamy carried Madi into the bathroom for a bath. 

Peeking at the bathroom door, Clarke rummaged through her suitcase. After tossing a few pairs of jeans onto the floor, she finally found what she was looking for. A lacy, red and black bustier with a matching thong, she had bought it for herself on a whim in college but had never had a chance to wear it. She held it up to her body and examined herself in the mirror; she was glad she had saved it.  

Bellamy finally returned from putting Madi down, only to find that Clarke wasn’t in the living room. Knitting his brows together, he climbed back upstairs and peeked his head into the bedroom. It was empty. 

“Get on the bed!” a muffled voice called through the closet door. 

“What?” he laughed, pressing a hand to his mouth. 

“Oh my God, just get on the bed!” she instructed. 

He grinned, flopping down on the bed while he unbuttoned his shirt. He leaned back on the pillows and turned to face the cracked closet door. Whatever she was doing in there, it was taking a long time. 

He was about to stand up and check on her when the door creaked open and Clarke emerged. 

Whatever he was about to say died on hip lips as he took her in. She was wearing an absolutely sinful piece of lingerie, and Bellamy felt like he had died and gone to heaven. 

He scooted forward, sitting on the edge of the bed so she could step between his knees. Hissing out a breath between his teeth, he ran his hands up her thighs. 

“Holy shit,” he whispered, pressing kisses to the top of her breasts. 

She ran a finger down the side of his face, tracing his jawline before tipping his chin up and sealing her mouth against his. She moaned against his lips as his hands ran from her thighs to her waist, fingering the lacy fabric. There was months of frustration, need and love built up into the kiss, and it was dizzying. He tightened his grip on her and pulled her on top of him, sliding back onto the bed so they could lay down. 

“Missed you,” she murmured against his lips, reaching down to unbutton his jeans and push them down his hips. “Need to feel you,” she moaned, sliding up to rub against him. 

“Fuck, baby,” he mouthed against her neck, running his teeth against her skin. 

“Yes, Bellamy,” she said breathily, tipping her head back as he used his teeth to pull down the straps of her bustier. 

Her breasts were finally free, and Bellamy wasted no time sucking a nipple into his mouth to roll between his teeth. 

She moaned, relishing in the feeling of his mouth on her but it wasn’t enough. Lacing her fingers in his hair, she pulled his mouth to hers. It was intoxicating. She couldn’t stop kissing him; it felt like she was trying to breathe underwater. It had been so long, but he still fit against her perfectly, after all this time. 

Bellamy pressed a soft kiss against her lips and gently pulled away. He kicked his jeans off, shedding his boxers while lying back on top of Clarke. 

Her hair was fanned out like a halo around her head, and he smiled, leaning down to nuzzle against her neck. 

“So beautiful,” he whispered, nipping her ear. He was still in disbelief that this incredible, beautiful woman loved him back. That she wanted to be his. Pressing a gentle kiss under her jaw, his mind drifted to the ring sitting in his suitcase. He had been carrying it with him everywhere lately. They had already wasted enough time; he didn’t want to spend another minute without her. But he just needed to find the right moment. 

She wrapped her hands around his neck, cradling his head in her hands and rubbing the base of his skull with her thumbs. 

He kissed a line up her jaw as he lined their bodies up and pressed into her. Her bright blue eyes were boring into his, and it felt like the most intimate moment of his entire life.  

The sensation and the surge of emotions was edging on too much and not enough all at once.  Clarke pressed her eyes closed, hands grappling on his back for something to hold onto. He hissed as her nails dug into his back and began slowly thrusting against her. 

“Love you,” she whispered as his thrusts grew more frantic. She wanted him closer, deeper. It was overwhelming and beautiful, and she never wanted it to stop. 

“Come inside me,” she asked, pulling back to cup his jaw in her hands, “Please.” 

Brief surprise crossed Bellamy’s face. “You sure?” 

She nodded. 

He pumped into her harder, a glowing layer of sweat building on his skin. “Fuck, love you. Love you so much,” he cried out, pleasure washing over him. The fill of him inside her was perfect, and the heat of it pushed Clarke over the edge. She buried her face into his neck, reveling in the press of his skin against hers. 

She kept her legs around his hips, locking him in place. She wanted to keep him as close as possible for as long as she could. 

“That was-“ he began, stroking her hair out of her face, “You are-” he tried again, before finally rubbing a thumb against her bottom lip, “Everything. My everything.” 

Clarke ran her hands through his hair and pressed kisses across his face, starting with his chin and pressing a final kiss onto his lips, “I never thought I would be lucky enough to have this.” 

XXX

The sun filtered gently into the room, and Clarke squinted, burying her face into Bellamy’s neck. Despite the overwhelming desire to go back to sleep, her brain whirred to life. Pressing a soft kiss into Bellamy’s neck, she rolled out of bed. She never got up earlier than him; she might as well embrace it. 

After tip toeing in the bathroom as quietly as possible, she padded across the hallway to check on Madi who was playing silently in her crib. 

“Mama! Hi, Mama!” she yelled cheerfully, waving her stuffed rabbit in the air. 

“Good morning, sweet girl,” Clarke cooed, scooping Madi up and adjusting her messy curls. It was striking how much she was starting to look like Octavia and in turn like Bellamy. It was heartbreaking but also stirred a part of her brain that made her wonder whether their other kids would look like Bellamy, too. 

Carrying Madi downstairs, Clarke made herself a cup of coffee and a sippy cup of milk for Madi. With both cups in hand, she grabbed a blanket off the couch and stepped onto the porch. 

The air was chilly, and Clarke could feel the soft morning mist in the air as she took a seat in the rocking chair. It was shockingly peaceful here, the water was still and she could hear the birds chirping in the distance. 

The door creaked behind her and she felt the press of lips on the top of her head. 

“Happy Thanksgiving, Princess,” Bellamy grinned. He was wearing his glasses and had an old kindle tucked under his arm. He looked positively domestic. 

“Dada! Muwah!” Madi called, making grabby hands for Bellamy until he pressed a wet kiss onto her cheek. Clarke looked at him slyly and tipped her chin up, waiting expectantly for her kiss. Bellamy smirked and pressed a kiss on her nose before sitting in the rocking chair next to hers. 

Clarke rested her cheek against Madi’s soft hair and peaked at Bellamy who had turned his focus to his kindle. She tightened the blanket around them and quietly joined in with Madi while she sang “itsy bitsy spider” to herself. 

After the song finished, Clarke looked up to find Bellamy smiling at them. “What’re you reading?” she asked, scooching her rocking chair closer to his. 

“A textbook about Genghis Khan,” he responded dryly, tipping the screen toward her. 

“Read it out loud!” Clarke cheered, bouncing Madi on her lap. 

“Are you kidding?” he laughed, quirking an eyebrow at her skeptically. 

Clarke looked at him earnestly, pulling Madi against her chest and closing her eyes. Bellamy shook his head and began reading the textbook aloud. He thought it was interesting, but objectively he knew it was extremely dry. Clarke didn’t seem to mind; he could feel her gaze on his face as he read. It was comfortable though. In a perfect world, they would spend every morning like this. 

Two chapters later, they went back into kitchen for a breakfast of toaster waffles and bacon. 

“I don’t think these are up to the gourmet Blake standard,” Clarke laughed as Madi sucked on a waffle and threw it on the floor. 

“I set the bar too high with my crockpot oatmeal,” he shook his head, retrieving the discarded waffle. 

“At least we know she won’t be sneaking Lunchables behind our backs.” 

“Who wouldn’t want to eat a little cardboard disk with cold tomato sauce on it for lunch?” 

They both laughed, cleaning up the remnants of their breakfast. Despite their best efforts, there was a tinge of sadness in the air. Normally, they would be eating massive pumpkin cinnamon rolls while Lincoln basted the turkey in the kitchen. It hadn’t been much, but it had been their family tradition. 

“Should we do a Thanksgiving dinner? This feels kind of weird,” Clarke said finally, cracking open a squeezy applesauce for Madi.  

“There’s absolutely no way we can get a turkey on Thanksgiving Day…especially in a town like this,” Bellamy replied gently. 

“We could try?” Clarke said earnestly, jingling the car keys in her hand and wiggling her eyebrows. Bellamy contemplated her words before flashing her a smile and an enthusiastic nod. 

Excitement bubbled in her chest as she sprung out of her chair and slipped on her moccasins. She was already out the door with Madi before Bellamy could even get his shoes on. He shook his head fondly. They were going to have to start making these holidays their own. Might as well start now. 

Clarke’s excitement died on arrival as she took in the small town grocery store in front of her. Bellamy had been right; it was completely cleaned out. The disgruntled teenager at the checkout eyed them and gave them a strange look before turning back to his phone. Large cardboard Thanksgiving displays lined the center of the store, but they were all empty. Clarke wilted, her fantasies of a last minute Thanksgiving were effectively dashed. 

Bellamy came up behind her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, rubbing the side of her arm. He felt bad for not thinking to stock up on food earlier. It hadn’t felt right before, but this was downright depressing. He turned toward Clarke, taking in her crestfallen expression and felt a surge of protectiveness. 

“Who said Thanksgiving has to be about turkey and pie? Let’s see what we can find,” he exclaimed, grabbing Clarke’s hand and pulling her farther into the store. They rifled through the shelves, sorting through piles of canned soup and EZ cheese to find fit ingredients for a meal. 

With their haul in tow, they took the winding dirt path back to their cottage. It wasn’t exactly a traditional holiday meal, but it was theirs. 

XXX

Clarke smiled and adjusted the bow on Madi’s head. She was really bundled up, but it was already mid-afternoon and it was pretty chilly. Turns out that even though baby sweaters are obscenely cute, Madi hated them. She tugged irritably on her sleeves as Clarke carried her down the stairs. The smell of whatever Bellamy was cooking wafted through the house, and Clarke’s stomach growled. 

“What’s cookin’, good looking?” Clarke grinned, shooting Bellamy an over-exaggerated wink and blowing him a kiss. Madi paused her tugging to copy Clarke’s movements and blow a kiss at him too. 

“The world’s best Thanksgiving dinner,” he proclaimed, untying his apron and scooping up two covered dishes. “Follow me,” he called behind his shoulder. 

Clarke laughed and grabbed their bottle of wine before following him outside. Much to her surprise, he passed the table on the porch and continued down the dirt driveway. Confused, Clarke followed him out to the dock. She froze when she caught sight of a picnic dinner laid out facing the water. 

Bellamy placed the dishes on the blanket and turned to face her, beaming. 

“You really know how to do a grand gesture,” Clarke murmured, stepping forward to press a soft kiss to his cheek. 

“Only the best for my girls,” he smiled. The smile on Clarke’s face was enough to make the entire day worth it. It wasn’t much, but he knew it meant a lot to her to at least try. Plus, they had to put this dock to use at least once; it was too beautiful to pass up on. The sun reflected out on the water as they settled down with their bowls of spaghetti and garlic bread. He reached out to clink his glass against Clarke’s, holding Madi’s sippy cup up, so she felt included. Their dinner was full of laughter and spilled sauce. Despite the unconventional food, it still felt like a celebration. 

Afterward, as they sat on the edge of the dock with their feet dangling into the chilly water, an overwhelming sense of gratitude washed over Clarke. This had never been how she envisioned her life turning out, but there was nowhere else she would rather be. This felt right, like family. They had a tradition now. 

She leaned over to rest her head against Bellamy’s shoulder and watched the sunset. In this moment, it felt like Lincoln and Octavia were looking down on them. She hoped they would be proud of what they’d built. 

XXX

“You head on inside, I’ll unbuckle Madi,” Bellamy called as Clarke tumbled out of the car. Her legs were stiff, and her knees cracked as she began to walk toward the house. Bellamy was acting a little weird, but Clarke thought it might be because he was sad to leave Polis. He was definitely a nature guy. Maybe they could retire out in the countryside, she mused, unlocking the door. 

Her brows furrowed when the giant doors flew open, and the house was pitch black. She could’ve sworn that they had left a few lights on when they had left. It was probably a little irresponsible for them to have made it so obvious they were gone. Running her hands through her hair, she shrugged and carefully stepped into the house. 

Suddenly, strings of lights flashed on, and Clarke jumped, pressing her back against the door. She looked around, confused, before following the path of lights farther into the house. As she walked, more lights began to flash on until she entered the kitchen. 

She gasped. 

The kitchen was beautiful. Hundreds of string lights were hung from the ceiling and spread across the floor. Black curtains were hung on the walls, and they were covered with pictures. Some newer, the pictures from Halloween and from their family outings, but a few were older. There were pictures where Clarke had on aggressive raccoon eyeliner and Bellamy’s bangs were swooped across his forehead. Clarke barked out a laugh when she caught sight of the picture from Madi’s first birthday where Bellamy and Clarke were fighting over a hat while Madi cried. 

It was insane, a visual timeline of their entire relationship. From start to finish. In between the photos were canvases. Clarke’s sketches from her show. The ones of her, Bellamy and Madi focused in the center of the room. She was gently running her hand down a photo of her and Bellamy holding Madi on the day she was born when a throat cleared behind her. 

She turned around with tears in her eyes to face Bellamy. 

“What is all of this? It’s incredible,” she whispered. She drew a hand to her chest, taking in Bellamy’s nervous expression. He reached out to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear before reaching out to cup her jaw in his palm. 

“I wish I could say that I’ve loved you since the moment I met you, but I don’t really consider myself to be a liar,” he began, barking out a watery laugh. “What I can say truthfully is that from the moment I first saw you, I knew you were a force to be reckoned with. You were beautiful and so fucking annoying. I swore to myself I would never see you again. Thank God I was wrong. No matter how many times I tried to avoid you, you somehow always ended up in my path. As much as I hated to admit it back then, we’ve always made an amazing team.  Looking back, I’m not surprised that Octavia and Lincoln chose us to be Madi’s parents because whether I liked it or not, you’ve always been my family. To be honest, that’s the beauty of family. You don’t always have to like them, but you always love them. And I will love you till the day I die. You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. This family was born out of a lot of pain, but it’s become a beautiful blessing. You’re my world, Clarke. I love you so much. I know we’re doing this all backwards, but will you do me the honor of being my wife?” he finished, lowering himself down on one knee and reaching into his pocket to pull out his mother’s ring. 

Clarke’s heart was beating so hard she thought it might fall out of her chest as she looked at the amazing man before her. His face was illuminated by the lights, and he was holding a simple princess cut ring. She had never been surer of anything. She wanted to spend the rest of her life with Bellamy Blake. 

She nodded, pulling Bellamy back up to press her mouth against his. He surged into her, sliding his lips against hers. She squealed as he hooked his arms under her and picked her up mid kiss, fully pressing her body against his. 

“Yes, yes, one thousand times yes. I love you, so much, oh my God,” Clarke rambled holding out her hand, so he could slide the ring onto her finger. The second the ring was fully on her finger, a loud cheer exploded from behind the curtain and people began pouring out. 

Emori popped out with Madi propped on her hip and squealed, running toward Clarke and enveloping her in a one-armed hug. 

“Mama and Dada are getting married!” Clarke cheered, bending down to hold Madi against her. 

“Mauiii’ed!!!” Madi cheered, not understanding what she was saying but seemingly excited all the same. 

Bellamy disengaged himself from Murphy and moved to wrap them both in his arms. He stared at the ring on Clarke’s finger and shook his head. He couldn’t believe he had actually pulled it off and that she had actually said yes. He was the luckiest man alive. 

Clarke sank into Bellamy’s embrace. She felt lucky and loved, like she would never feel alone again. Lincoln had known her better than anyone; he had known that Bellamy was exactly what she needed. He had given her everything. Her eyes welled up with tears as she held her beautiful daughter to her chest and looked up at the man she loved. 

Tightening his arms around Clarke, Bellamy looked around the room. Every single person who had kept them alive in the past year was milling around. Emori, Murphy, Harper, Monty, Miller, Raven and Miles…it was a weird group, but this was their family. The mommy blog squad had somehow turned into his best friends. A soft ache panged in his chest; he wished his sister and Lincoln could be here to see this, but he knew they would be proud of them. This is what they had wanted, for them to be a family. Octavia had given him this gift. A family, a wife, a best friend and he couldn’t be more grateful. 

Murphy jumped up on a chair and help up a glass of champagne, “To the most wonderfully annoying couple I have ever met. We love you guys,” he cheered, tilting the glass toward them. 

“To Bellamy and Clarke!” everyone cheered back, turning to envelop the little family in a gigantic group hug. 







Chapter Text

“Mama, Mama, can we watch the video before bed?” Madi asked, bouncing on her heels. She flashed Clarke a gap-toothed grin and perched her hands on the counter. Clarke threw a sideways glance at Bellamy and rested her hand on her stomach, leaning against the counter. 

“Whaddya think babe?” she asked, coyly grinning at Bellamy. 

Bellamy smiled at them from his spot at the dining table. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the first day of Kindergarten,” he said, re-capping his pen and rising to scoop Madi into his arms. 

Clarke smiled softly and waddled after them. She wasn’t quite as quick on her feet these days. Bracing her hand on her back, she lowered herself on the couch. Madi scooted next to her and gently laid her head against Clarke’s stomach. It was her new favorite thing to snuggle with her baby brother. Clarke ran her fingers through Madi’s curls as Bellamy fiddled with his phone and the TV came to life. 

Madi squealed and Bellamy settled down next to Clarke as the video came into focus. 

“I am so honored to welcome you all to the wedding of Bellamy Blake and Clarke Griffin,” John Murphy began, straightening his tie and smiling at his friends. The crowd was small, and he winked at Emori at the edge of the dock with Madi on her hip. 

It had been a beautiful fall afternoon is Polis. The sky was clear, and a light fall breeze rustled the yellow and orange leaves over the water. The camera panned over the lake and to the little blue cottage as soft romantic music tingled in the background.  It turned to pan over the lights that lined the dock and onto all their friends sitting in the audience. 

Madi bounced on the couch and began identifying each of their friends as they were shown on camera. It didn’t matter how many times she saw the video; it never failed to excite her. She squeaked when the camera reached Emori in the front row and panned down to her and Clara in their flower girl dresses. 

“That’s aunt Emori and me and Clara!!” she cheered and kicked her feet. Clarke smiled and looked over at Bellamy who was staring at the screen intently. The only person who loved the wedding video more than Madi was Bellamy. 

The music in the video shifted, and the camera panned down the deck as Bellamy strode down in his tux. 

Madi began cheering “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” 

Clarke’s breath caught in her throat, and she reached down to lace her fingers with Bellamy’s. He was beautiful. Objectively she had always known that, but something about this video always made her heart race. 

Bellamy reached the end of the dock and hugged Murphy, who try trying to subtly brush a tear from his eye. The camera panned back to the audience as Miller, Miles and Monty walked toward the line where the dock met the grass and took their places along the sides. 

The shot widened and swept over the entire landscape before focusing back on the little blue house. The panoramic shot had given Emori enough time to shuffle around the front and send Madi and Clara toddling down the aisle with their shared basket of flowers. They were closely followed by Jacob and John Jr. who were holding a pillow between them. It was cute from the surface, but to a trained eye, it was obvious that Jacob was pulling the pillow toward himself and that Madi was two steps away from tripping on her dress. Against all odds, they safely made it to the front and sat back down in the front row. 

The music shifted again, and the camera moved toward the blue house as the bridesmaids began pouring out. Eloise stepped out first and floated down the aisle to stand by her mom. She was followed by Harper and Raven. 

Madi hopped off the couch and leaned closer to the TV once Raven took her place. It was her favorite part and Clarke could practically see the excitement rolling off of her. 

The crowd stood and Clarke emerged from the house, in a floor length white lace dress with long sweeping sleeves. Her hair was tied up in an elaborate braided crown, and she held a bouquet of sunflowers. 

Bellamy felt tears prickling in his eyes. Even three years later the sight of Clarke took his breath away. He leaned over and pressed a kiss to the side of Clarke’s head and reached out to rest a hand over her stomach. There would never be a day when he didn’t feel like the luckiest man alive. 

“Mama, you’re so pwetty,” Madi sighed, climbing back onto the couch and into Bellamy’s lap. “You’re pwetty too daddy, don’t worry,” she assured, reaching up to pat her hand against Bellamy’s cheek. 

Bellamy chuckled and pressed a kiss into the crown of her head. The audio of their vows began to play over close ups of their faces and Bellamy turned to see Clarke bawling next to him. 

“I’m hormonal okay?” she said, wiping her eyes with a small smile. 

“Here I was thinking it was because I was so handsome it made you cry,” he teased, reaching out to wipe her cheek with his thumb. 

“Well that too,” she giggled, nuzzling into his palm. 

Their vows drew to a close, and the video shifted to shots of them dancing in the woods and holding hands. Right before they said I do, Madi squirmed out of Emori’s grasp and ran into the gap between Bellamy and Clarke. Bellamy scooped her up and tucked her against his side. With Madi sandwiched between them, they said I do and kissed over her head. 

Clarke wiped away a stray tear and leaned over to press a kiss to Bellamy’s lips. 

“Can we watch it again?” Madi asked, making puppy eyes at them both. 

“I think it’s bedtime,” Bellamy said, once again scooping Madi up to carry her upstairs. 

“Daddy, put me down!” Madi huffed, and Bellamy’s heart ached a little. Watching her grow up was incredible, but it still hurt that she was outgrowing being babied. 

“You’ll have another one to carry around really soon,” Clarke murmured, tucking herself into his side and smiling as his hand roamed over her bump. 

“In the meantime…” he grinned and scooped Clarke up in a fireman’s carry. She squealed and protested as he carried her upstairs. He pressed a kiss to her forehead and gently put her down in Madi’s room. 

Madi snuggled under the covers and patted both sides of the bed for her parents to join her. They both gently sandwiched her, and Madi immediately curled to rest her face against Clarke’s bump. 

“Can you tell me another story about my other mommy and daddy?” Madi asked, rubbing her eyes sleepily. 

Clarke smiled and glanced at the photo of Lincoln and Octavia on the bedside table before diving into the story about the day Madi was born.