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lost in love with you, it's a pretty thing

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Freshman Year 

 

The professor drones on and on about limits and derivatives, but Lexa isn’t listening. She’s got one earbud in, a soft indie tune playing and she’s using her pen to trace aimless lines in her notebook.

'Bored' doesn’t even begin to describe what she’s feeling. Math had always come easy to Lexa and calculus is no exception. Note taking is unnecessary. The stern older woman standing at the front of the room doesn’t exactly try to make the lesson exciting, either. She lectures without any enthusiasm, randomly calling on people she thinks aren’t listening. Likely, that applies to everyone in the room.

Lexa isn’t worried, though. She could do this stuff in her sleep...which is becoming more and more probable as she slumps further into her chair. Her father had always stressed the importance of good posture, but she’s tired and when she glances at the clock, the minute hand seems to be in the same exact position as it was when she looked at it last. Frustrated, she closes her eyes.

Her peace doesn’t last very long.

Something smacks into her face and Lexa jerks up in her seat, eyes flying open. For a moment, even though it’s illogical, she thinks the professor hit her, but there’s a paper plane on her desk and that seems the more likely perpetrator. She subtly glances around the room to find who threw it and why. There’s no one she knows in the class, so it probably wasn’t meant for her.

Sure enough, a blonde girl two seats forward and a few rows over is staring guiltily back at her. Even from across the room, Lexa can tell she’s blushing. The girl is beautiful and mortified and it almost makes Lexa drop her unaffected demeanor, but she doesn’t. She’s not that weak. She just raises her brows expectantly.

The girl points to the girl sitting behind Lexa, a strong jawed brunette who always seems to be angry. Right now, though, when Lexa turns to look at her and potentially hand off the paper plane to her, the girl has her face planted into her Calculus book, snoring lightly. Lexa looks back at the blonde and shrugs.  

The blonde smacks a defeated hand to her forehead, but then starts gesturing wildly with her hands and pointing at the paper in Lexa's hands.

So she carefully unfolds the plane, flattens out the creases, and reads it.

 

Hottest girl I’ve ever seen

Row 5

 

This time, it’s impossible to keep from smiling just a little. She’s the only girl in Row 5.

It’s a flattering compliment from anyone, but reading the messy cursive handwriting and knowing it was by the hands of the gorgeous blonde whose face is now buried in her hands...it makes Lexa’s heart race.

She folds the paper up into a small square and tucks it into her wallet as the bell rings.

The blonde avoids her eyes for the rest of the semester.

 


  Sophomore Year

 

The first time they actually speak to each other, Lexa is pretty sure that Clarke doesn't know she remembers her. Either that or Clarke herself has forgotten, but based on the way she stares at her with wide eyes, Lexa doesn't think that's the case.

Lincoln and Lexa are in the library studying together when he pauses mid sentence, seeming to have seen something or someone of interest.

"That's Octavia's best friend. Clarke."  

He and the angry girl who sat behind her in Calculus are a thing now apparently. He talks about her all time. Lexa is happy for him, albeit a little bitter about her lack of a love life. 

She looks to where Lincoln is pointing and it's the blonde.

Of course. Just her luck. Paper Plane Blonde. 

He waves her over before Lexa can argue against it, so she punches him in the thigh as a punishment and he winces, shooting her a confused glare.

"Hey, Clarke!" He greets her, recovering quickly as she approaches, but still rubbing at his sore leg. 

The blonde, Clarke, offers Lincoln a dazzling smile.

"Hey, Linc. Studying?" 

Her smile drops only slightly when she sees who is seated beside him, but she hides it well. Lincoln, oblivious, kicks a chair out across from them for Clarke to sit in, which she does. 

"For sure! Come join us! This is my buddy, Lexa. Lexa, this is Clarke."

Clarke lifts a hand and wiggles her fingers, giving Lexa a cute and slightly awkward wave. 

Lexa merely nods in response, not really trusting her voice. She doesn't intend to come across as rude, but she's been thinking of this girl for the better part of a year.

"I've got to go to the bathroom. Be right back!" 

Lincoln stands and Lexa panics, nearly grabbing at him as he turns to walks away.

"So..." 

She looks back to Clarke who is running her hands through her hair, offering a Lexa a nervous smile.

She's not sure what does it, whether it's the curve of Clarke's lips or the glint in her sky blue eyes, but before she can question it, Lexa is blurting out,

"Hottest girl you've ever seen, huh?" 

The response is instantaneous. Clarke groans and buries her face in her hands, just like she did on that day Freshman year.

Lexa breathes out a laugh, waiting patiently until the girl across from her pulls her hands away.

"So you remember." It's not a question, but Lexa still nods. 

She watches, mesmerized, as Clarke bites her bottom lip. 

Lexa's fingers itch to pull out her wallet and check to make sure the folded up paper is still there, but she knows it is. 

"You're memorable."


Junior Year

 

Lexa wakes to the feeling of a hand wrapping gently around her bicep. She grumbles, moving closer to the warm body beside her. She tucks her face into the crook of Clarke's neck, breathing in the familiar scent of her eucalyptus body wash. This her favorite spot. She presses a soft kiss to her collarbone then runs her nose along the flesh in front of her. Clarke's hand moves from around her bicep, trailing along her arm. It tickles, but she's too sleepy to tell her to stop.

The fingertips stop in a predictable spot on her forearm, tracing over her nearly fully healed tattoo. "I still can't believe you got a paper plane tattoo." 

The husky words are spoken straight into her ear and it makes Lexa shudder.

"And I don't regret it because it keeps getting me laid."

She starts to fade back into sleep, but Clarke pinches her bare hip with her other hand, effectively waking her.  

"It was pretty romantic at first, but it won't always have that effect, Lex. I'm not going to have sex with you every time I see your tattoo. " Her words are spoken with conviction, but Lexa just grins, content and maybe a little bit cocky.

"Yeah you are."

 

Chapter Text

Freshman Year

 

Clarke hates math. She hates it. Calculus is no exception. The fossil in the front of the room keeps talking in her unpleasantly scratchy voice, occasionally stabbing her pointer finger at the chalkboard to try to redraw attention back to herself when she notices that no one is paying attention. It rarely works.  

People watching is one of Clarke’s favorite things. It’s her only salvation in classes like this one. Maybe it’s the artist in her, searching for something to put down on paper... or maybe she just likes to find pretty people to admire. She starts to study her classmates, since she sure as hell won’t be studying Calculus any time soon.

The guy next to Clarke is watching a basketball game on his phone. Based on his scowl, his team is losing.  The girl in front of Clarke is humming some top 40 tune while picking at her nails.

Her eyes continue to scan the room. No one really keeps her attention, though. Everyone is just as bored as she is. Clarke momentarily curses the professor for assigning seats because Octavia is all the way across the room and class would have gone by so much faster if they were together. She tries to get a good look at her, but the person sitting in front of Octavia blocks her view. All she sees is an elbow and the corner of a text book peaking out from behind a wild mane of chestnut hair and a strikingly regal face. It’s not such a hardship, though.

Octavia who ?

This girl right here, Clarke decides, is the exact reason she puts pretty things down on paper.

It’s is a rare, beautiful sight that she doesn’t want to allow to be fleeting. She wants to remember this: how the girl stares blankly ahead, looking entirely unamused by her circumstances, jaw clenched and full lips pursed.  Clarke realizes her mistake a moment later, as her eyes try to take it all in. Everything is sharp, from her cheekbones to the look in her eye.

She doesn’t need Clarke to paint her or turn her into art. She already is art.

Clarke opens up her notebook for the first time that day, trying to quietly rip a piece of a paper out. No one is even awake enough to notice or care.

And so she she begins her note. It could wait until class is over, but it’s dragging on and on and Octavia needs to know that there’s an actual goddess seated right in front of her. She scribbles out the message without much thought and easily folds it up into a plane, just as her dad had taught her. Then she stifles a laugh, imagining what Octavia’s response will be, something along the lines of, “Why do you always have to be so gay ?”

The answer, of course, comes in the form of the girl in Row 5.

Clarke is confident in her accuracy. Overly so. As soon as the professor’s back is turned, she launches the paper plane back in Octavia’s direction.

Unfortunately, it reaches someone else first. The goddess...right in her gorgeous face.

Clarke’s first thought is to hide. The second is to look away and act natural.

Yet the idea of potentially making eye contact with the brunette is far too tempting. When stormy green eyes do eventually meet hers, Clarke is a goner. Try as she might, she can’t seem to figure out a way to deter the girl from opening the paper plane up. In fact, her frantic hand movements seem to encourage her. So she helplessly watches her read and react, the subtle twitch in her lips. Just the tease of a smile.

Yes, Clarke is a goner. A tremendously embarrassing goner.

 


 

Sophomore Year

 

In another universe, Clarke is confident enough to approach her afterward. In this one, she avoids her at all costs. Eventually, the burn of the embarrassment fades, but she still feels her heart lodge itself in her throat whenever she sees her across campus.

The first time she saw her smile, a full real smile awarded to her equally regal and kind of terrifying looking friend,  Clarke had walked into a trashcan and Raven laughed for literally twenty minutes straight.

So when Lincoln waves her over in the library and the girl is seated right next to him, peering up at her intensely, Clarke tries to play it cool, even when she sees the panicked look that crosses the other's girls face at the prospect of them being left alone together. The plan is to pretend the paper plane thing never happened. This goddess, Lexa, has either forgotten about it or will be polite enough to pretend she has forgotten about it.

Instead, Lexa calls her the fuck out. Secretly, it makes Clarke like her even more. Lincoln comes back to tell them he got a text from Octavia saying that she desperately needs a ride somewhere right this moment. She suspects it's lie and that this is a setup, that he somehow found out about her crush from Octavia. She can't find it in herself to be mad, though. It's awkward at first, but Lexa slowly warms up to her. They talk and talk and talk. Neither realizes that their books remain untouched. 

By the hand of some generous god, she leaves the library with Lexa’s phone number.

They start hanging out and Clarke learns that Lexa is not, herself, a goddess. She’s as beautiful as she originally thought and more, but she’s also very human. She’s passionate about politics, foreign affairs, coffee, and flannels. She has horrific eyesight, but she hates how she looks in glasses. Her voice gets quiet when she talks about her family and loud when she talks about Republicans. Only after a great deal of badgering does she admit to Clarke she has a weakness for soap operas and she doesn’t really get what the big deal is about chocolate. “It’s not that good.”

The day Clarke realizes that they’re friends is the same day she realizes that friends is not enough.

They’re facing each other, both sitting cross-legged on a bench outside the dining commons and they’re bickering like always. Lexa face is scrunched up in a dramatic display of disgust at Clarke’s latest argument, even though what they’re arguing about is which dining staff member is the creepiest. The sun is out, Lexa is waving her perfect hands around to emphasize her point, and Clarke finally gives in to her desire to reach out and tangle her hands in her untamed hair. Lexa’s hands stutter in the air and then hesitantly drop onto Clarke’s thighs. She stops talking mid-sentence.

Their noses bump together at first, from nerves or perhaps to drag out the thrill of anticipation, but then their lips finally touch, soft and sure. It stays innocent for a while, but when she exhales heavily, unsure of how long she’d been holding her breath, Lexa takes that opportunity to teasingly slide her tongue toward Clarke’s open mouth. Their tongues meet in the middle and all bets are off.

 


 Junior Year

 

She finds the paper plane in Lexa's wallet six months into their relationship. She's searching for the Panera gift card that Lexa assured her was in there when she sees and pulls out the folded paper, merely out of curiosity. Clarke's jaw drops when she opens it and reads the familiar words. Even now, it makes her blush. 

"Did you find it?" Lexa asks, offering an apologetic shrug to the cashier who is still waiting for them to pay. 

"No, but I found this." 

"Oh."

Lexa, now blushing too, ditches the idea of the gift card and just shoves a handful of bills at the cashier. They don't even stick around long enough to collect the change. She just tugs Clarke along to where the food pick-up spot is, using her free hand to nervously rub at the back of her neck. Clarke knows that habit very well. It's the same tic she had when she was stumbling over her words months ago, trying to ask Clarke if they were girlfriends without actually using the word 'girlfriends.' 

"It's not a big deal," Lexa mumbles. Clarke can tell she's flustered, so she wraps her arms around Lexa's waist, pulling her close. 

"No, no. It's not. It's just...you never told me you were in love with me since day one." 

Lexa scoffs, trying halfheartedly to untangle herself from Clarke's grasp, but her grip is far too sure. Clarke's laughs and it only grows more delighted when Lexa begins to tickle her as a punishment. 

One week later, she shows up at Clarke's on-campus apartment with a bandage taped onto her forearm.

She instructs Clarke to peel it off and smirks when she hears her gasp.

Clarke, overwhelmed, clutches a hand to her chest to confirm that her pounding heart is still doing it's job.

"You were right. I have loved you since day one."